Saturday, 16 January 2010

A Dose of Man Flu

Well, I suppose it had to get to me eventually: the cold/flu bug that seems to have affected bloggers all over the WWW. I'm not very good at being poorly and have been crawling into bed at every single opportunity. I'm starting to feel a little better - it feels more like a cold now, so I thought I would share a couple of my secret weapons with you all. First, elderberry vinegar:

The recipe I had was for blackberry vinegar, but elderberries are full of good stuff that fights against colds and flu. For every pound of elderberries, you need a pound of sugar ( you can use half that amount if you are particularly health conscious, but it won't be quite the same) and a pint of vinegar - you can use posh stuff if you want, but I just use cheap and cheerful malt vinegar. Put the elderberries in a bowl and cover with the vinegar, stirring and mashing twice a day for 3 or 4 days. If you don't mind purple hands, get them in there and give the elderberries a good squeeze to get all of their juicy goodness into the vinegar. You can also add warming spices such as cloves, root ginger and cinnamon if you fancy, but you need quite a lot for the flavour to come through. At the end of the infusing period, strain through a sieve or muslin into a large saucepan, making sure as much of the juice is out of the elderberries as possible. Add the sugar and bring to the boil for 10 minutes, then pour the vinegar into warmed bottles and screw down the top (I use the old vinegar bottles). To use, you can either have it by the spoonful or two (preferred by my little people), or, my preferred way, pour about an inch into the bottom of a mug and top up with boiling water. The vinegar makes it quite sharp and that's why I use a pound of sugar to make it a bit more comforting. I make a batch of about 6 pints a year and generally have requests from a couple of friends for some, 'cos once you've got a cold it goes quite quickly. Sorry to give you this info when elderberries aren't available, I'll remind you at the end of the summer. If anyone has blackcurrants or blackberries in their freezer still, you could try those.

My second secret weapon has also been a firm favourite with poorly people: Tomato Rasam (spicy tomato soup). Now if you're thinking creamy or Heinz, forget it! This is nothing like that. First take 2 teaspoons vegetable oil and heat in a saucepan, add 1-2 tablespoons curry powder mix of your choice ( I have the whole spices because I'm a curry fiend and so grind a mix of my choice, but don't be put off, any curry powder mix will work just as well), finely chop an onion and add to the frying spices. Then add a tin of tomatoes ( you could use fresh, but it's a bit of a waste of flavour in my opinion). Bring to a gentle simmer and add 1-2 chillies according to taste, 2-3 cloves garlic and the juice of one whole lemon- the last two are crucial ingredients. Simmer for about 5 minutes and then serve.

This Rasam should have a sour taste and will do a sore throat the world of good, so if you want to add more chillies, garlic or lemon, go ahead. Now, this will make you sweat whilst eating and you will need to blow your nose frequently. If you have stuff on you chest, you will be coughing it up for the next few minutes - sorry, but we're all friends right? So be armed with tissues when you eat this. This will serve 1-2 depending on your appetite, but at only 200 cals for the pan full, you can afford to have a second bowl. Like all good curries, casseroles & stews, it tastes better if left a day before eating; but if you can manage that, you're a better woman than I am!
I just thought I'd post a picture of my rescue rabbit Missy who's lived with us since August. She was only 9 months old and had already had 2 litters - breeding to supply pet shops apparently. She was really wild when she arrived at the Small Animal Rescue in Barwell with the lovely and devoted Liz. She was supposed to be a lionhead, but didn't look like one. She was incredibly underweight and wouldn't let anyone near her. Now on a good diet which includes lots of love and cuddles, she has gained weight, her mane has grown and here she is helping youngest pixie face learn her letters:

And here she is whispering the answer, I think:

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Reduce, Re-Use, Recycle

..The mantra on every thinking woman's lips. Having a large stash, as every creative should, if they can;  combined with persistently freezing weather and a distinct gap in my wardrobe, I decided to warm myself in more ways than one. I'm struggling to get back into the creative zone, so needed something that I could do in front of the fire sitting with the rest of the family (not painting or printmaking, my first loves). I decided to turn some of my stash into practical garments for THE BIG FREEZE. I made myself some fingerless mittens for wearing around the house, but they became a bit baggy and the arm bits kept falling down making me chilly. So, I made myself another pair and shaped them in at the wrist- lovely and snug!

Having knitted these on double pointed needles with 50g of wool bought in a sale, I then turned my attention to the other end of my body and have started knittng some socks with 60% wool yarn from Lidl - £2.99 for 200g- enough for 3 pairs of thick walking socks. Anyone who hasn't knitted 'in the round' with either circular needles or DPNs - don't feel inadequate, I'm a far from accomplished knitter and it really is quite easy (I'm not just saying that)

A really handy pattern with unique formula is found here

                             For anyone that followed an earlier post of a desire to make cushion covers out of charity shop bargain clothes :

   will be pleased to know I have thus far made a few, and a draught-      excluder along with further cushions is on my ever-expanding to do list

Although part of my plan was to reduce my stash, I can't resist a bargain (who can?), and I happened across a dreadful long cardi thing whose redeeming features were that it was
a) purple
                       b) 100% chunky wool
c) £3
So, I had to buy it & deconstruct it (unravel to you and me). I now have over 1100grams chunky pure wool, waiting for the right project to come along:


Thursday, 7 January 2010

Snow Induced Play

Well I'm back! I had fully intended to continue blogging over the Christmas period, but the festivities and snow meant I was too busy living life to document it. I hope you all had just as much fun & my hat goes off to all of you who managed to keep us informed and entertained with your blogs - I am ashamed (well, almost). My Christmas present was a shiny new (to me, of course it was second-hand) digital SLR camera. Eventually I may be able to post some professional-looking photos on my blog. just give me a year or two to figure out how everything works : yes, all the gear, no idea. I have been able to take some images of what I've been doing during my absence.

Trips to the park with youngest pixie face who loves being photographed:

Walks in the woods:

Which quickly turned into a walk in a blizzard with subsequent ambush:

New Year's Eve with impromptu parody of 'Allelujia'

And then the snow and tremendous frosts...

And helping to push cars up our hill - no mean feat!

Happy New Year!