Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Red Gooseberry Jam

My lovely in-laws had a glut of gooseberries at home, so kindly gave us a kilo of deliciously bright red gooseberries - there were initially a few more, but after a few days forgotten in the back of Hubby's car, they weren't worth using!

I used a couple of different recipes from the Pickle and Preserve blog and Delicious Magazine - I ended up using 1kilo of gooseberries, 200ml water, 250ml elderflower cordial and 1k sugar. I added a little less sugar than suggested, as the gooseberries were so ripe.

The cooked down gooseberries made such a lovely coloured mush!

After adding the sugar, I boiled the jam down - my new jam thermometer came in very handy at this point. It took 12 or so minutes to reach setting point - it still looked very watery but passed the wrinkle test.

I've now got 6 very full jam jars cooling in the kitchen - looking forward to my jam and toast tomorrow!

NB - Don't try and cook dinner on a tight schedule (Hubby had a meeting) at the same time - it'll just lead to more stress!

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Babies and Presents

There seems to have been a bit of a baby-explosion within our circle of friends recently. I've been knocked out a bit by a viral infection, so have been making various presents as it doesn't require too much energy at one time!

So far, I've been working on a cross stitch and two cushions for the newborns, and also a present for hubby's cousin, who's just turned four (better late than never!)

I decided to try out some letters that I've been after on Ebay for a while, and this was a good excuse! This tutorial on the Felt Sew Good blog, and the Hobbycraft Ideas Library notes on a similar design (here) were really useful for helping me figure out how I wanted her present to look. The plan is to make five hearts, two as bookends, and three in the middle with her initials on. I'm adding ribbon to the top of each so that they can be hung up together in her room.

Progress so far:
Felt (from the_felt_fairy on Ebay, which is really good quality) has all been cut to size, using heart shaped templates that I printed from Google:

I've started the darker purple hearts that I'm planning on putting on each end of the chain:

These are the letters to spell out her initials:
Hopefully she'll like it  - this is the first time I've tried anything like this, and even had to learn how to do blanket stitch too (the guide here was excellent)!

Edit: the finished article!

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Reading at the Minute....

Anyone who knows me well will know that the background to this site is apt - I read a lot. Our house is covered in piles of books despite the three huge Billy bookcases in the dining room and the two other bookcases in the spare room and the lounge!

Recently, I've been reading a quite a variety of different genres.

A friend recently mentioned how much she enjoyed reading Game of Thrones, and with all the hype surrounding the TV show and the fact that I know other friends have read them in the past, I decided to give them a go. Mum and Dad recently bought me a Kindle (obviously feeling very generous!) so I downloaded Game of Thrones, and off I went. In the last two months, I've devoured all the books, including the newest, Dances with Dragons.  I love the characters and the setting, and GRRM's take on this style of fantasy (i.e. absolutely brutal!) but I'm not convinced by his latest offering. Maybe a re-read after a few months to calm down - I won't say why to save spoilers, but OH MY GOD!!!!! - might change my mind.

As I've not been very well, I've been re-reading "comfort" books - lots of Chalet School and other Girl's Own type - not very taxing on the brain, but familiar and with a lovely sense of family and homiliness which is exactly what I needed.

I'm also still marching on with Les Mis (62% complete according to Kindle, but not suitable for reading when ill!) and Birdsong. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas has been in my bag as a "bus book" for about three weeks now, but I've still not cracked the covers....