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Handspun merino yarn project, completed.


I have now completed the first project of 2015, which is a handspun/handknitted merino yarn jacket. I blogged about it here and have made other things in between but it was really nice to make something completely from scratch.

This is the back detail, which I made in a mixture of the purple and grey yarn. I’m pleased with the way it turned out.

The collar is large, but it lies comfortably on my shoulders and will give extra warmth. I will have to wear a higher collared something or other underneath though or else I’ll get a cold neck come the Autumn onwards!

Here is the pattern I used:

and these are the yarns:

so now I can think about the next project!

Date and Banana Cake


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This is a delightful cut and come again cake using healthy main ingredients, i.e. dates and banana.

Here are the ingredients:

8 ozs self raising flour

pinch of salt

4 ozs of soft margarine

4 ozs caster sugar

1 large banana

4 ozs of chopped dates

1 large egg

4 tablespoons milk

For the topping:

1/2 oz of chopped walnuts (optional)

2 level tablespoons demarara sugar

Method:

Measure out the self raising flour and put into a large bowl.

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Measure the soft margarine and add it to the flour.

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Take the stones out of the dates and chop them up.

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Then measure out the sugar and add it.

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Rub the flour mixture into the fat and the sugar until it looks like breadcrumbs. I usually add the sugar after the fat.

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Mash the banana and add it to the mixture with the chopped dates.

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Add an egg.

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Add 4 tablespoons of milk and mix together all the ingredients with a fork.

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Put a paper lining into a 2 lb loaf tin. No need to grease.

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Smooth the top with the fork or a knife and sprinkle with the demarara sugar and/or the chopped walnuts.

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Bake the cake for one hour at gas mark 4 or equivalent on the medium shelf of the oven.

When it is done it should look like this:

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Leave to cool, then turn out onto an oblong plate.

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We like to eat ours with a cup of tea on Sundays. The outside of the cake is crisp and the inside is soft. This cake will keep for two or three days under cling film or in a tin.

Have a wonderful Sunday; Oma

The difference between Sinterklaas and Santa Claus


My mother was Dutch so I was brought up with both Santa Claus and Sinter Klaas, although I only had one set of presents! I love this description of the two gentlemen in comparison and couldn’t resist sharing with you as we start to think about the Christmas period to come.

Dutch Community

The majority of Dutch emigrants are as fond of their traditional Sinterklaas celebrations, as their new friends and neighbours are of Christmas. However, Sinterklaas is almost entirely unknown outside of the Netherlands and many foreigners mistakenly believe that he and Santa Claus are one and the same. Yet, although both festive figures are based on the real-life Bishop of Myra, who lived in Turkey during the fourth century, their associated folklore and customs have evolved in largely different ways. This means that Sinterklaas and Santa Claus not only look dissimilar, but also that their stories are celebrated in a totally different manner.

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Starlight Promotions – 2


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So during the 90’s I was bringing up teenagers! three boys! and the house was full of guitars and then came the amplifiers; small ones, large ones and my youngest decided to be a bass player and the most enormous amplifier entered the house. There was music in every room, morning, noon and night only not so much in the morning… These were the days before musical downloads. That was in its infancy and we had a lot of CD’s. It was hard to know whose was whose. Where’s my  ….. CD was a frequent cry.

Then there were the practises. Lots of them. Friends coming in and going out and trying out new songs. Luckily the house is detached and nobody here took up the drums. I doubt there would have been room for a drum kit although we did have an electric one.

Meanwhile I am getting gigs for all and sundry and I decided to give ‘myself’ a name and charge commission. So in effect, I became the fifth, sixth or whatever member of the band. I arranged the gigs, took the money and shared it out. I was meticulous with the book-keeping. I was fair to the bands. Entertainment agencies, Estate agencies etc. have a bit of a bad name. I wasn’t having any of that. I was quite honest about it and encouraged the musicians to join the musician’s union if they hadn’t already.

So now I had a set-up. I did most of it by phone. Then I bought a fax machine. Remember those? It was useful at the time. I used the internet and realised that I needed a website. I had no idea about websites then so I did a bit of research. A young lad called Robbie contacted me and offered to make me a website for a reasonable fee.  He was very young, about 16 as I recall. I was amazed at how much he knew. He designed a lovely website for me, mostly blue with pages for all the bands and a contact page – everything I needed at the time.

Then he gave me a playpen so I could practise updating the pages myself.  One of the most important things about a website is that it has to be updated regularly. Nobody wants to read something that appears the same as yesterday. I bought a software programme called Dreamweaver and taught myself how to use it. All exciting stuff.

Once I got the website, things really took off.  I was inundated with demo. discs and biographies from bands, duos and goodness knows what from all over the place. I loved playing the CD’s

So now I had three things going on. I was collecting information from the bands, entering it all on a database – I used Lotus 123 and putting it onto my website. I was receiving enquiries from potential customers and sending them details and prices and I was ‘mothering the bands’ because they aren’t really very good at administration, I discovered.

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to be continued …

 

 

Tea-time


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My pansy teapot

 

The ‘Divine Harvester’

The discovery of tea is said to go back to Shen Nung, the deity with a bull’s head and the father of agriculture, who ruled in China in about 2737 BC.  Resting at the foot of a bush and being thirsty, he is said to have asked a servant to boil him some water.  A few leaves fell from the bush into his cup.

Seduced by the sweet and restorative beverage thus produced, he is said to have ordered this plant to be cultivated throughout the land.

from ‘The Book of Tea’ by Annie Perrier-Robert

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Tea-time in our cottage is between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. depending on how hungry/thirsty we are, but tea drinking is an occupation that goes on all day. It starts for me at 7 a.m. when I have my first mug of tea. Then coffee at mid morning break, followed by more tea at lunch-time. Water with lunch, then coffee and another cup of tea at 2 p.m.  The next cup is made at 4 p.m and again at 6 p.m. At 9 o’clock it’s cocoa these days but sometimes tea again. Do you think that is excessive!

Just lately I have become hooked on Red Bush Tea.

Red Bush Tea

This tea has a unique flavour. It’s quite strong and definitely an acquired taste, but if you like your tea strong and I do! this could be the one for you. It’s certainly worth a try. Now I have an admission to make: if it wasn’t for the fabulous books by Alexander McCall Smith about the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency, I don’t suppose I would ever have tried that tea; but it is a favourite of Mma Ramotswe. Mma Ramotswe sets up a Ladies Detective Agency in Botswana and with the capable help of her secretary, Mma Makutsi, she has lots of adventures. I am hooked, totally hooked on the doings of the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency and cannot wait to read each new book. Mma Ramotswe drinks Red Bush Tea all the time so I thought I must try it. When I saw it on the shelves in Sainsburys, I picked some up. Since then I haven’t looked back and I’ve also noticed that more and more of it has been appearing on the shelves.

Mma Makutsi on the left and Mma Ramotswe waiting for the kettle to boil:

Mma Makutsi and Mma Ramotswe

Assam is supposed to be the finest tea, but nowadays I find that lacking in flavour. No doubt my taste buds are getting old as well as the rest of me.

Do try it and let me know what you think of it.

Oma