Five weeks ’till Christmas, and …

Normally by this stage of the year, I would have already made several dozen crochet snowflakes and will be elbow deep in the thinned down PVA mixture that I use to stiffen them. Having passed the mid-point in November, the undecorating and redecorating should be well underway too.

This year is going to be a little different.

Firstly  – of course – while I factored the surgery in August in to my forward planning, and got as far ahead on that score as I could, I didn’t really count on bringing Golden Staph home from Hospital, or the resultant month and a half spent horizontal on the couch, too exhausted to even lift a book or knitting needle. Nor did I foresee the need to spend the next month or so all strapped up in splints and wrist braces.

The secondly, to that firstly, is of course, the imminent arrival of Chris and Nadie’s little miss, still affectionately being referred to as Cookie. We are currently at due date minus 4 days and counting, so I know not what my movements over the next couple of weeks will be.

Anyway, as you may have guessed, the crochet snowflakes are running a bit behind schedule, but I have not been idle.

In the absence of block clearing, goat wrangling, spinning, reading, knitting, crochet and quilting, there was … Pinterest!

I thought Facebook was a major timesuck [ and it is ]

I thought Ravelry was a major timesuck [ and it really really is ]

but Pinterest really should carry a health warning.

Inevitably I browsed [ amongst other things ] for Christmas ideas.

I rediscovered the salt-dough cookie ornaments that we all used to make forty years  a long time ago. So David helped me to whip up a batch

The results were a little … MEH!

[ Yes, of course I have a goat cookie cutter … and you were surprised, why exactly? ]

In the face of such underwhelmingness, I tried this recipe from Woodside Kitchen, which uses a much finer textured mix of Bicarb Soda and cornflour [ cornstarch ] which is cooked in a saucepan, much like the play-dough of yore, before rolling the mix out, cutting and baking for a fairly long time in a slow oven.

The first lot I used a cheap Black & Gold brand wheaten Cornflour, and the results predictably have a slightly wheaten hue but with a silken texture that is almost porcelain like.

The next batch I used a name branded cornflour and the results are slightly lighter, though still not the glossy white of the original blog post. One of the challenges was deciding how thick [ or rather how thin ] to roll the dough. IMHO thin absolutely looks best but there’s a definite point at which the number of accidental breakages increases exponentially.

I took a Pinterest-guided leaf from here on Katy Elliott’s blog, and freehand drew swirls, curls and hearts with a red felt pen on some of them before a top coat of spray clear varnish.

The last batch of ornaments, destined for the wee kitchenalia-themed tree in … yes … the kitchen, were made with a recipe that pretty much everyone accepts originated with Martha Stewart about twenty years ago:  Cinnamon Applesauce dough. This has a bit of Elmer’s Glue in the mix, which seems to be an American brand name for a PVA glue, so that’s what I used.

They do smell wonderfully cinnamonish, but you can also smell the glue in there, so next time I may try one of the versions that are purely applesauce and cinnamon.

Of all of these that I’ve tried, I think by far my favourite is the bicarb/ cornflour version, and I hope one day to find a brand that replicates that wonderful glossy white finish of the original.

Our Weekend: The Princess Bride Version

“Westley: Who are you? Are we enemies? Why am I on this wall? Where is Buttercup?
Inigo: Let me ‘splain.
[pause]
No, there is too much. Let me sum up.”

So this is me summing up this past weekend in pictures:

Friday night visitation from Tara, with extra tasty spinning goodness. Nadie is using her osage orange spindle with some navy/purple/jade sliver from the magic backroom at BWM. Tara is using her Trindle with some gorgeous stuff … was it camel/bunny /silk maybe?

Sumi decided to ‘ help ‘

After a chilly ‘is it really spring’ night, we woke up to:

I produced some of my world famous ‘OMG-we-have-visitors-coming-and-no-decent-biscuits’ amaretti [ and my equally world famous ‘ What’s-in-the-fridge-and-pantry-that-I-can-turn-into-soup’ Soup ]

Sumi spent some quality time in the garden with her dog.

Shar and Toni arrived from Melbourne via  Bendigo Woollen Mills [ which for the uninitiated is 40 or so kilometres past my place ] so a slight detour … but hey! … all’s fair in love, war and the pursuit of a yarn bargain.

which brings us to sunday which was spent

gardening

blowing bubbles by the dam

more Nadie spinning – and trying to get an accurate picture of same

there was also the finishing of one long term project, some dyeing, and the starting of something new

but that’s for another day

The Toes Never Lie

Saturday and Sunday were nothing short of glorious.

The kind of early spring days that make one wax all Wordsworthian-lyrical about nodding daffodils and suchlike.

We had visitors from Melbourne on Saturday who were, I trust, suitably impressed by the halcyon country experience laid on for their gratification. There was dam-admiring, bush rambling, and goat patting-and-photographing.[ They certainly approved the hundreds-and-thousands pikelets produced for afternoon tea, and the repeat of same which became necessary when Chris got home from work just as we were wiping the last of the evidence from our lips ]

Sunday was Dave’s birthday.

Jessie and Robyn joined us for a small but select afternoon tea

There were balloons, streamers, cupcakes and a birthday cake … and sprinkles … and candles … and mini marshmallows.

Ergo to David and Jess it was a party.

Thanks to some inattention on my part, and the mad ninja skills of MissC, the first lot of cake batter ended up as animal fodder.

As a result –  given a distinct lack in the eggs department, after all the pikelet and pancake making [and not being in the vicinity of a 24hour supermarket ] –  half of the cupcake batter was partially repurposed to become the world’s second smallest birthday cake.

I don’t think cupcake batter is quite the same as full sized birthday cake – certainly couldn’t have been anything wrong with my baking skills after all – because the result was a little bit tough  chewy … but that was cleverly and cunningly disguised by mega levels of icing, hundreds-and-thousands, marshmallows and a tacky colourful bunch of plastic balloons in the middle.

After presents, we adjourned outside for post-prandial bubble blowing, which totally freaked out the goats [ who refused to repeat their synchronised gallop-madly-in-the-opposit-direction for the camera … buggerit ]

so here’s a perfect rainbow  bubble instead

Still later, there were more presents and something that only vaguely resembled dinner, given our sugar and junkfood saturated state.

Take the post-dinner knitting and tv watching as a given, okay?

which brings us to yesterday morning:

When I woke up, it looked to be just as glorious as the  days preceding

So why were my toes insisting  [ vehemently ] that it was about to rain ?

Nonsense

Ignoring my nether extremities, I spent the next several hours alternating between periods of raking-piling-and-burning, and sitting-with-a-dog-a-book-and-a-cuppa-supervising-the-bonnies.

The temp reached 28C

Another day in paradise

and then:

The skies darkened.

Savage wind gusts came out of nowhere

and we spent the rest of the day/night listening to the sound of rain on the tin roof

… and now?

apart from a whole new layer of bark and leaf detritus obscuring all evidence of yesterday’s raking, and some general dampness, you’d never know that Monday’s 100+ kph wind-and-rain ever happened.

but I know

and my ever so smug toes are resting there at the end of my footsies with a distinct ‘we told you so’ air.

I will never doubt their veracity again!


Gluten-free Hazelnut Macaroons

I’m not sure where my son-in-law found the original version of these totally lush biscuits [ cookies ] but you don’t need to be on a gluten-free diet to enjoy the slightly gooey macarooniness of them [ it is SO a word ]

makes 24

ingredients:

100 grams  hazelnuts

250 grams icing sugar

150 grams almond meal

1 egg + 1 yolk

Preheat oven to 190C and roast hazelnuts for 8 minutes.

Rub in a clean teatowel to remove skins, and grind in food processor until fine.

Add icing sugar and almond meal. Add the egg and yolk and process until combined.

Roll into a dough sausage, cover in cling wrap and refrigerate for an hour.

Heat oven to 200C

Slice into thin rounds and dust with icing sugar if desired [ we didn’t ]

Cover biscuit tray [ cookie sheet ] with baking paper, spray with oil lightly and bake for 10 minutes.

Cool on tray.

Try not to eat them all in one sitting.