Thursday, November 20, 2014

Autumn and Advent Thoughts

Late autumn already! It amazes me how the seasons change so quickly. Temperatures are finally getting cooler here in England after a rather 'mild' autumn. I'm glad about that - I was beginning to worry that we would have another ultra-mild winter. I like the seasons to embrace all their unique qualities so therefore winter needs to be cold and late autumn should be hinting in that direction :) 

The garden is looking rather unkempt at the moment, and inevitable thing for this time of year I think. Leaves keep falling and the beds are all bare compared to their summer glory. But with the leaves on the trees thinning I am able to see the birds allot more. I have hung up all manner of fat-balls and cakes for them to eat and they reward me with their winged loveliness throughout the day.

The hedge is now in it's full autumn glory. It's russets and yellows are so pretty, but soon it will be cloaked in it's brown winter coat. I'm glad that this hedge keeps it's brown leaves on in the winter, it keeps our garden a little more private than if it dropped all it's leaves.

My mind is beginning to turn to Advent-y things, it's not long now until the start of Advent, just over a week to go! The candles for my advent wreath have arrived and are safely tucked away, I have the girls Advent calendars already and I am collecting bits and pieces to make my own little family Advent calendar which I will fill with little treats and activities to do together over the season.

My plans are all sort of floating about my head at the moment, what I need to do is to sit down and put pen to paper and make sure I have all the things I want to do in order to make the celebration of Advent and Christmas special and meaningful. {I do so love putting plans on paper :)} We have quite a few wonderful activities to participate in within our church so our Advent season is looking exciting - I'll be sure to share our plans soon.
In the more immediate future, this Sunday is Stir Up Sunday! Already! I've been debating over whether or not to make our own Christmas pudding this year. DH and I LOVE Christmas pudding, but we are alone in that love in our home. So I'm thinking that although I love the thought of marking this day with this traditional family activity, I might just buy a small pudding for our Christmas dinner. Seems like allot of work to go to making one if only two of us are going to eat it!

Do you make your Christmas pudding on Stir Up Sunday? Do you have a favourite recipe that you use? I would love to hear some of your traditions if you have time to share :)

Have a lovely Thursday all...

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Late Autumn Yarn Along

Oh it is a heartbreaking task to have to frog something that you are just about done with! That's exactly what I had to do yesterday.

I am busy with some Christmas gifts at the moment, one of them being a lovely warm hat with a cabled pattern. With only about a third left to do I realised that I had gone horribly wrong. It's my own fault, I read the pattern but did not quite understand what they were saying so winged it a bit. After two afternoons of knitting I realised that my had did not look like the one in the picture. So after going through a couple of other people's Antler Hats on Ravelry I managed to work out the mistake. 

Working out where I went wrong is a good thing, however it meant that I had to frog right the way back to the ribbing! Arrrrgggg! :(

Anyhoo, I am once again making good progress and will have it ready plenty of time to spare.

Reading: I am still busy with my Amelia Peabody murder mystery but making slow progress. I'm just not getting much reading time at the moment, so I took out a book to flip through from the library yesterday on Fair Isle knitting - Fair Isle Style by Jane Mucklestone. I have limited experience with Fair Isle but do so admire it and really want to learn how to knit Fair Isle really well! There are a couple of lovely small projects to get stuck into so once I have finished my Antler had I will choose a project to knit for the next person on my Christmas list ;)

Joining Ginny today for Yarn Along

Monday, November 17, 2014

Tea At Eleven?

Monday is just about over and I completely forgot to let you know that today I am over at Treasured Up and Pondered chatting about 'Tea'. So if you want to see what I have to say please do pop on over and have a look :)

Friday, November 14, 2014

Frugal Friday Udate

Happy Friday everyone! I'm so glad that the weekend lies before us, time to take a break from school lessons and weekly commitments and just relax.

 This weekend is special for us as a family as both our girls are being confirmed (confirming their faith in the Anglican church for those who don't know :) ). What makes this all the more joyous is that they both wanted to be confirmed. Isn't that great? Each week they have attended confirmation classes and LOVED it! I was really quite surprised as DH shared his memories of confirmation - he hated the classes. Yet each week the girls looked forward to their classes and happily did their 'homework' with me each day following the class. It's makes my mothers heart very happy :)

Clean Dishes After a Marathon Baking Day!
Onto some frugal thoughts now. I'm pleased to say that another week has gone by where I have remained on budget. No overspending at all. I have to say though that I am slightly concerned about the upcoming week as I did my weekly shop this morning and don't have too much left for those small things that sometimes are forgotten in bigger shopping trips. 

Having said that, it just makes the upcoming week more of a challenge. A little more creativity is required, perhaps more vegetarian meals which is a good thing. The reality is that I do have more than enough food in my cupboards right now to make it work. As always fore-planning and preparation are the key to success. Without doubt, if I am not prepared or have a plan and all the ingredients on hand to execute said plan, that's when I fall off the waggon and end up spending on convenience foods which cost.

November's Meal Plan
Now I have my monthly meal plan all drawn out and stuck up in my 'control' centre in the kitchen, so I know exactly what meals I can throw together. This week my shop consisted of getting all those little bits and pieces required for trying out new recipes, and what I don't have, I will have to substitute and let my creative juices flow ;)

Adding 'treats' to the trolley (shopping cart for my American readers) tends to have a way of adding up and inflating that shopping bill! So recently I have steered clear of such things and rather spent a few hours baking for the week ahead. And that's exactly what I did today.

Both crock pots were put into action cooking two different soups. Beaters beat up eggs, sugar and all sorts of yummy things, the oven worked overtime and dishes and bowls piled up, were washed and piled up again. This has been the theme for today, but, the freezer and cookie jar is now well stocked for the week ahead. 

Pumpkin Seed and Walnut Rusks
I made two batches of soup, one butternut and the other leek and potato. By making soup in huge quantities, I have plenty of lunch options for during the week and perhaps a 'lazy night' option for Sunday (I always cook a roast lunch on a Sunday, but that evening I take 'off' )

So, for the freezer I made:

2 liters Butternut Soup
3 liters Leek and Potato Soup (not pictured) 
2 dozen choc-chip biscuits
9 Banana Muffins
1 Banana Loaf

Banana Muffins
Treats baked for the upcoming week:

3 dozen choc-chip cookies (in a lovely Christmassy tin :) )
3 dozen Pumpkin seed and Walnut Rusks (A South Africanism I shared a while back)

Once the bakes are finished I just have to reach into the freezer to replenish.

Double Choc-chip Cookies
Right! I think I am going to take myself off and have a well deserved cup of tea and sit quietly and knit - just for a bit - until it's time to start supper :)

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend.