Sunday, 2 December 2012

Kindle - A conflicted review

Today I bought a Kindle.

To me this sounds like a confession, an admission of guilt.

Today I bought a Kindle.

Anyone that knows me might think this an ideal purchase - I love to read.

Anyone that knows me well will understand my hesitation - I love books.

I have been vehemently set against e-readers since they began emerging.  To me it was a prophetic herald of the end of the bound paper book.  People would no longer waste the money and resources to print books when they could be produced much easier and cheaper through electronic formats.  My mind raced ahead to books becoming a rare collectable commodity, housed in museums and private collections, accessible only to the few thanks to the expense of their rarity, no longer read for fear of damaging their fragile paper nature.  A future where children would no longer recognise books, having never see one let alone owned one of their own.

I wanted no part in this future.

I love books.  The beauty of bindings, images and colours chosen to highlight themes within the story, paper or fabric coverings protecting the pages within.  I love the feel of books, the paper sometimes parchment thick, so thick you are convinced you must have turned two pages at once, sometimes tissue paper thin so every page turn feels like it risks ripping.  I love the smell of the paper, the potential held within each binding, I love to look at books.  I spend many happy hours organising my collection into whatever order seems most sensible at the time, arranging onto various bookshelves by author, category, age, size, preference, and love to sit back and admire the view of those many spines together.

All that enjoyment before you even get to the story.  How could an e-reader compare?

It cant.  That is the simple truth, no less true now I have bought one.  An e-reader does not, can not, compare to the printed, bound word.  It does not replace the book, nor does it even come close to competing with it.

However, it may begin to complement it.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Time for a wedding?

I have not posted on the blog in a very long time.  I had all sorts of wonderful plans to chart the progress of the wedding with all the things we were making, but as it turns out the making things took up all my time, it takes time to plan a wedding, who knew?!

So now it is over and we are settling into married life I hope to pick up with the writing again, and hopefully will go back to some of the things we made, because I'm really quite proud of them.

But for now here is a visual summary.

My Dad and I entering the church

Monday, 7 May 2012

Cake for camp

My Rangers are off to County Camp this summer which is very exciting and for some of them is the first time they have been on a Guide camp (for me too!).  Given we are a new unit and haven't camped before we didn't have any camping equipment. Some things we can borrow but there was still a lot of expensive equipment (i.e. tents!) that needed to be bought.

We have been fundraising throughout the year with a stall at the church's Christmas Fayre, and face-painting at various events.  I have also done a couple of cake sales at work which have gone very well.  The people in my office are very supportive of good causes, particularly when it involves cake!

As I came to bake for the last sale I had all the ingredients piled up on the side and it was a pretty impressive pile!  So I took a picture.  Here it is, my last cake sale from this:

To this:

There is:
Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting
Lemon sponge with icing
Chocolate brownies
Caramel Slice (Millionaires shortbread)
Jam and coconut sponge
Chocolate tiffin
Vanilla sponge with butter icing

They went down well and we raised over £100 which is amazing, huge thanks to everyone who ate cake!.  A friend at work is doing a cake trolley this Friday to raise funds for Alder Hey Children's Hospital, Imagine Appeal so I will be baking for that and will try and remember to take lots of photos and blog some of the recipes.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Dozens of doilies and a giveaway

Doilies in crochet and Tennerife lace

I have been eagerly awaiting this weekend not just for the bank holiday but because I have been wanting to do a post about the doilies for my wedding dress now there is getting to be quite a collection and I've been waiting on the arrival of a batch of doilies from my soon to be mother-in-law and her craft group.

Doilies in crochet and Tennerife lace

They arrived today and in total I now have around 70 delightful little doilies ready to go on the final dress.  They are all different and all stunning in their own way.  This post is a celebration of them, I wanted to share some photos of the current doily stash and hold a little giveaway as a bit of a celebration.  I have decided to give one of you lucky people a 'Big Book of Little Doilies' so you can enjoy making some of your own pretty little doilies.  If your interested in the book (there are some photos at the end of this post) just use the Rafflecopter widget at the bottom to enter.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

A Camomile Lawn

Our garden is long and thin and has curved raised beds down the sides and in the corners, it also has a winding paved path running down the middle.  When we moved into the house the gap between the paving and the beds (at that time not raised) was grass lawn.  

We wanted extra space for growing so when we built the raised beds we extended them each slightly into the lawn area.  This resulted in small curved areas of grass which became very difficult to mow, it was not easy to use the mower in the space so we ended up doing most of the cutting with the strimmer.  If you have ever had to use a strimmer for extended periods you will know that this is not fun.

As well as difficulty in keeping it trim the grass would get very patchy, no matter how much grass seed we bought there still seemed to be some areas of dirt.  It all seemed like far too much effort, so we started considering alternatives.

Camomile (Trenague) is a low growing, ground covering, non flowering variety of camomile, ideal for lawns.  It does not need mowing, ever (huge plus), it smells delicious when you walk on it, it does not irritate hayfever sufferers and produces a really lush green covering (even in dry summers).

Downsides - it is quite expensive, as it is non-flowering it cannot be grown from seed so you have to buy cuttings and this is not cheap.  Also although it does not need mowing, it does need looking after, until the plants are well established they are not very competitive so you need to be weeding.

Camomile lawn with some grass invaders!

Saturday, 21 April 2012

1000 paper cranes

This week I have been mostly......

Cutting out paper squares.  1000 of them to be exact, doesn't look all that many now they are done!

1,000 paper squares, paper clipped in batches of 25
 I have been looking a number of wedding themed blogs and websites recently  for inspiration and ideas and a friend who is also getting married this summer suggested I look at Boho Weddings as she had found some things she really liked on there.

So I had a bit of a look around and there are some lovely ideas and some very beautiful weddings showcased.  Then I saw the article on 1000 paper cranes backdrop and thought it was a really lovely idea that I would like to recreate.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Getting friendly with Herman

A couple of weeks ago I was given 'Herman' by a friend at work.  Herman is a German friendship cake.  For those of you who haven't heard of this before, a friendship cake is sort of like a chain letter, but without the horrible bad luck/your puppy will die bits and the added bonus of cake at the end!  My sister and I had one when we were at school and I remember it being a lot of fun, it sat on top of the fridge bubbling away in a very bizzare science experiment way!

Herman is a sour dough cake, you get given a small portion, keep it for 10 days during which time you feed it and stir it and he grows.  At the end of your ten days you give portions to friends and mix up a cake from your portion.  Below is a photo diary of my ten days with Herman, at the very bottom of the post is the instructions for Herman, including how to start your own if no-one you know has one.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Ideas for a dress

So, you're getting married, what's the first thing you think about?  I have been looking at wedding dresses since Arthur proposed some time ago I even have a little book of cut outs from magazines of all the ones I like, but none of them were quite right and all ridiculously expensive so I decided very early on that I would make my own dress.

There were a couple key themes in the dresses I liked, lace (apparently I'm a fan and who knew!) and accents of colour (yellow being my colour of choice of course).  Having thought about it for quite some time I also decided I didn't want a floor length dress and train as I am clumsy enough without 3 feet of fabric to fall over!

So this is what I was thinking when I caught a tantalising glimpse of a photo of a lace dress made from crochet doilies. I'm fairly certain that I saw it in an issue of Mollie Makes magazine but having been through all my copies of the magazine this evening page by page I have failed to find it.  So I cant be sure where I first saw it (or if I dreamed it...!), if anyone has seen this in Mollie Makes and can tell me what issue (and even what page if your keen) I'd really appreciate it as I'm starting to think I'm going mad!

Anyway, after a quick Google search I found some more stunning images of this dress and wedding over on pursuing the picture perfect wedding and 100 Layer cake blog.  

I love the crochet overlay, think it looks fantastic so this is what I (along with a small group of crocheting friends!) will be doing.

I think I'm going to use the pattern I drafted for my green dress as an underdress, and layer the crochet doilies over it, stitching to the bodice and letting them hang loose over the skirt. I haven't yet been able to decide on a colour for the under-dress, I like the idea of the dress being all 'white' (whatever shade) but I also really like the colour statement.  I think I will make up a couple of different under-dresses in different colours (as that bit is the easy bit!) then see which I like the best.

I ordered about eight different shades of white/cream/silver/beige crochet cotton and ran up some test doilies to decide on a shade

They may all look the same colour just blame my photography! In real life they look very different.
And the winner is...  Anchor Aida 09002 (cream) come on down! I have ordered lots of this now and am ready to go (hopefully my happy helpers are to!)

I have a selection of doily patterns to work with and I'm hoping some of my crochet team will have their own (or make some up) so they are all different.  Also one of my friends does crochet 'doodles' in wool that look amazing and she has agreed to do some in the cotton for my dress so there should be lots of variety :)

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Not quite raisin schnecken!

We visited Achern in the Black Forest in Germany when I was younger and where we stayed a bakers van drove round every morning selling the most amazing baked delights.  My favourite of these was raisin schnecken, a spiral cinnamon sticky bun with a glut of raisins.  I've tried several recipies to replicate them and as yet have not found anything quite right.  

This was another failed but tasty attempt where I combined a Nigella recipie with a chocolate bun recipe (minus chocolate!).  The Nigella recipe is 'Schnecken' from Domestic goddess, the chocolate recipe is Richard Berinet's 'Chocolate Buns' from 101 Best loved chocolate recipes by Hotel Chocolate.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Bake the cold away

Today has been a cold day.  Throughout the week the weather has been getting warmer, the skies bluer, the evenings are longer and the garden is waking up, all signs that the year is moving on, out of the darkness and into the light.  Then today it was cold, and wet, and dismal.  A parting gift from Winter reminding us that he's not yet ready to give it all up to Spring.

So today I wanted to bake, I wanted the warmth of the oven, the security of the kitchen and the sweet comfort of some baked goodies. But what to make?  Well Karen from Lavendar and Lovage and Kate from What Kate Baked host a monthly blogging and baking event called Tea Time Treats.  The March event is being hosted by Kate on Lavendar and Lovage and the theme is scones.

This fit my mood very well today.  Scones are comfort food, they are hearty and warming, yet synonymous with summer afternoons and luxurious afternoon teas. So scones I decided to bake.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Here comes the bride!

Arthur and I have set the date!  This September we will become Mr and Mrs, it is all very exciting :)  We have booked the church:

© Copyright Richard Law and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence 

and yesterday we went to see the registrar so even if we get nothing else on the list done the wedding can happen!

Of course I'm sure we will work our way down the list, and as we are doing a lot of it ourselves (with much help from friends and family!) there will probably be a lot of wedding themed blogging over the next few months, including dress, bunting, felt/origami flowers, cakes... and much more!

So fair warning!

Friday, 2 March 2012


We have a multi-fuel stove in our living room which has been very useful over the winter.  I love the flames, find it very relaxing and it kicks out a powerful amount of heat.  I was playing around with the camera the other day and here are some photos of what I enjoy so much.

I like it in black and white too!

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Leap year - Do something great with your extra day

This year, 2012, is a leap year which means in 2012, we all have an extra day, what a gift!  What will you choose to do with yours?

Girlguiding is the United Kingdom's largest voluntary organisation for girls and young women, with around half a million members.  In my district alone (Wellington) there are 3 Rainbow Units, 5 Brownie Units, 3 Guide Units, and 1 Ranger Unit, providing guiding to over 250 girls, with more on waiting lists.

A recent census of Girlguiding UK members counted 538,247 members in total.  There are around 80,000 volunteers who give their time to help girls reach their potential, but with around 44,000 girls on waiting lists additional volunteers are always needed.

Last Wednesday, 22nd February, was Thinking Day and Girlguiding Members across the world joined together for celebrations.  Locally we held an indoor campfire (no actual flames involved!) and sang all our favourite camp fire songs.

Hundreds of girls from Wrekin Divison enjoy a Thinking Day Celebration
Guiding offers many opportunities for adults and children, whether it is events like this, camps, learning a new skill, unique travel chances or making new friends.  Girlguiding provides something special to each member and is a wonderful, worldwide family to be a part of.

You may think you don't have time to volunteer with guiding, but it doesn't have to be every week, Girlguiding UK run a 12 hour challenge encouraging people to volunteer as little or as often as they can, it's amazing what a difference 12 hours can make to your local guiding groups, and this year you've just been given 24 of them.  I'll leave the maths to you!

More information on volunteering with Girlguiding UK can be found on their website where you register your interest in volunteering with a group near you.

Information for parents/carers looking for groups in their area can also be found on the website.

Volunteer with Girlguiding and help girls and young women to shine!

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Busy Bee Candles

I stumbled across Busy Bee Candles on twitter a while ago when someone re-tweeted a comp they were running and as I like candles, I like bees and I like Wales, I gave their website more than a cursory glance!  But it's fragrance, how much can you tell from a written description, is it really worth taking the risk without having a good old whiff in person?  Well when they had a 30% off promotion some time ago I decided the risk was worth it and possibly went a little overboard.

I ordered eight of their mini me candles.  When I started trying to choose scents it became very difficult, and since the postage was a standard price I didn't want to order just a couple and pay almost as much in postage.  This was a good decision.

The candles smell fabulous, and they look pretty cute in their hexagon jars I shall definitely be ordering some larger versions of some of the scents.

Here is what I ordered and (after finally trying out all of them!) my thoughts on the scents.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

A messenger hat for charter day

Today in Wellington was Charter Day, a celebration of the town's earliest recorded market charter, granted by King Henry III eight centuries ago.  The charter document at the National Archives in London is dated 29th February 1244 so local heritage group Wellington H2A had the idea to celebrate the last Saturday in February as Charter Day.

This year was the first of these celebrations and there was a great get together in the square, there was music from the Wellington brass band, the Kings Messenger arrived on horseback to read the charter, and the ancient manor court ceremonially appointed a market clerk and a new ale taster for the year ahead.

I had been asked to make a hat for the messenger to wear for the occasion, which was exciting as I have never really made hats before, but is something I keep wanting to have a go at.  Here is the hat in action!

The King's Messenger presenting the charter

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Shortbread - made with love

One of my friends gave me a cook stamp for Christmas from Accessorise.

'Made with love'

There was a shortbread recipe on the back that it suggested you use it with so I thought I'd give it a go.  When I looked at the recipe though it seemed a little excessive, it used 500g of butter (equal flour) and suggested it made just 12 biscuits!  Didn't sound at all right to be and I remembered that Angela recently made shortbread over on her blog Garden, Tea, cakes and Me so I thought I would use her recipe instead.

I did make one change to the recipe, the one on the back of my stamp had vanilla essence included and I liked this idea so added a tea spoon.  Then rolled out the dough and stamped.

The stamp isn't a cutter so I cut around them with a similar sized cookie cutter.

Then sprinkled with sugar and baked.  I was really pleased with how the stamp looked on the dough, was really easy to use and looked very cute, unfortunately once they were baked they didn't really hold the stamp clearly, but they tasted delicious, thank you Angela!

I shall try the stamp again with a chilled dough and see if that makes any difference, anybody got any other tips for keeping the stamp clear after baking?
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