Monday, 28 December 2009

JYC Prompt 28

My favourite Christmas indulgence... baked goodies! Shop bought or home baked I don't mind which! Mind you, home baked is definitely better!

I'm still trying to catch up with all the JYC Prompts that I've missed. Its going to take some time though as I'm waaaay behind!

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

JYC Layouts

Sorry for having been absent the last week.. or two.. or three! You all know how it goes, Advent arrives and you swear its going to be calmer and  more organised than last year; and then before you know it you're running around like a headless chicken. Well, its happened again!

The good news is that we are now with the extended family and have been forced into a more sedate and calmer way of life. Which also means that I've been able to get some essential stuff sorted out on my laptop... things like - organising the mess of photo's I'd just dumped on my laptop for the past 8 or 9 months, and also sorting out my digi scrapping kits that I'd downloaded and then done nothing with. Anyway, they're all sorted now and actually inspired me to do some scrapping! Going along with the theme of catching up, I decided to do some layouts for Shimelle's 'Journal Your Christmas' class! So here are the two that I've completed today.. and hopefully there will be more in the next week or so, so keep checking back to see my progress!

Friday, 11 December 2009

Madam & Eve

Fun Friday is here again and this week I'd like to introduce you to one of my favourite comic strips! I love this strip for its uniquely South African view on life. Most of the time the comic strip is a commentary on the politics, news or social state of the 'Rainbow Nation', which means you really have to understand what is happening in the country... something which I must admit I have lost track of. However, sometimes they produce a gem that works no matter what nation you live in. This is one such time!

Madam & Eve takes a humorous look at the daily lives of two people from very different backgrounds as they experience life in postapartheid South Africa. The strip's main characters have become icons of a changing South Africa, providing light relief through the days of transition to democracy. Madam, is a typical white South African madam struggling to come to terms with the new South Africa.Eve Sisulu, Madam's "domestic maintenance assistant" actually runs the household. Always fighting for a wage increase, Eve often sets up mini-businesses to run from home to supplement her meagre income. Madam & Eve fight a lot, but they secretly like each other, even though neither of them will admit it. Mother Anderson is Madam's mother from England. She's a guest who arrived but has never left. Her hobbies are watching TV, drinking gin & tonics and fighting with Eve.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Spiced Yummy-ness

Yummy-ness. Yup, in this household its a technical term! I'm sure it is in some other households too, although the Oxford Dictionary people would probably be turning in their gravy right now. The reason for using this technical terminology is... baking. Hmmmm.... there is much yummy-ness to be had whenever baking is being done, but especially when the festive period arrives and I get the urge to bake. It doesn't happen often tho', which is a pity! I don't really see myself as a baker. That was always my sisters forté. 

We used to go to my Gran's house whenever my parents needed to go shopping. Once there, she would sit me behind her old treadle Singer sewing machine with some fabric, thread and a big tinful of buttons. Then she would scuttle off to her small kitchenette with my little sister in tow to do some baking. My sister would have hours of fun measuring and mixing and then out of that small kitchen would come the most delicious things. I think that was when I realised that working in the kitchen could produce more than just food to fill hungry tummies. Working in her kitchen would produce the most mouth watering stuff which could only be considered as treats. Scotch pancakes (which we called crumpets), brownies, cakes, pancakes, scones, fairy cakes and biscuits. My Gran and my sister made all of those in the times we visited her. I suppose my Gran did most of the work in the early years - my sister would only have been about three at the time - but over the years my sister became more proficient in her own right. My sewing improved too in those years, and so it became that while sewing was 'my thing', baking was always the province of my younger sister. Even now, when I try to bake it doesn't always come out well. Its always a bit hit and miss. However, occasionally I find a recipe that always works well. 

The one thing I don't ever remember my Gran baking was muffins. I'm not sure if they're largely an American thing or a modern thing or just not my Gran's thing, but muffins were never on the menu. Me? I luuuuuurve muffins of all flavours! Luckily for me I found the most delicious muffin recipe... and it seems to be one of those that always works! Yay!! We had invited some people around for Saturday afternoon as a housewarming/christmas/birthday party and had decided just to invite people around for coffee and biscuits. However, I decided to do an extra little something in the form of some Spiced Cranberry Muffins and some Mulled wine too. So, on Saturday morning I did some baking and produced some lovely yummy-ness! They turned out well and everyone who had one said they were delicious! 

So, for those that visited and asked for the recipe... and for those that are sitting at home wanting some, here's the recipe!

You will need:
300g Plain white flour
2tsp baking powder
½tsp ground cinnamon
½tsp ground nutmeg
finely grated zest of 1 orange
125g demerara sugar
75g frozen cranberries, defrosted
50ml sunflower oil
225ml skimmed milk
1 egg

Preheat oven to gas mark 6/200C/Fan oven 180C. Line 12 hole muffin tray with muffin cases. Sift flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl and stir in cinnamon, nutmeg and orange zest. Add sugar and cranberries. Beat together oil, milk and egg and pour over dry ingredients.

Mix well with a wooden spoon to make a soft batter. Spoon mixture into muffin cases and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the muffins are well risen and golden.

I have made a couple of changes to this original recipe. Firstly, I used dried Cranberries as I couldn't find any frozen ones; and Secondly, I put more mixture into each muffin case so I only got 9 muffins out of the recipe rather than 12.

Don't you think these are just the epitome of yummy-ness? I do! In fact, I have a few left.... I might just go knick one now. Shhhhh! Don't tell the kids!!

Friday, 4 December 2009

More Fun!

So while I was surfing around YouTube the other day I came across this video. I think its fab! But I also think that it completely confirms that I spend waaaaay too much time on YouTube looking at silly videos! There will probably be many more on Fun Fridays to come, I hope you don't mind!

I think this is the perfect combination since I love the Muppets and I adore Queen. What could be more fun than a combination of the two?!

Oh, and a big Happy Birthday to my little sister!! Have a fab day, m'dear!

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Another Year Older!

Happy Birthday to me, 
Happy Birthday to meeeeee...
Happy Birthday dear meee-eeee.
Happy Birthdyay to me!

OK, so I have officially lost the plot! Still I'm happy today, because its my birthday. I have had a few presents, my girls are behaving well and in general life is good! I haven't had a particularly eventful day but that is good too. Sometimes eventful days are things nightmares are made of!! 

This morning I was presented with a digital slow cooker. Lovely! I haven't had a slow cooker since the last one packed up. I used to love doing roasts in it. Lamb, in particular, used to be done to perfection in it. But since the last one went phizz I haven't had the money to replace it. Hubby, however, has taken care of that with this new one. It's a biggun' too with a whopping 5ltr capacity! Which means I should be able to get a good sized joint in there! Also, I'm hoping that this one is better for stews and casseroles too. The last one used to leave a really funny taste in the casserole. Not pleasant! I really hope this one doesn't do that. I know that a slow cooker wouldn't be everyone's idea of a good birthday present, but I'm dead chuffed!

Another pressie from hubby was another coat. "But you just got a new one!" I hear you say. Well yes, I did. But when I was in the shop trying on coats I really couldn't choose! In the end I asked hubby to choose for me as they were exactly the same price, both fitted well, both looked good and both would go with my current wardrobe. And then this morning I found the other one nicely wrapped up! Now I can have choice of coats... which is my idea of heaven!

The girl's gave me this book! Perfect! I love Simon's cat... he's hysterically funny and I see so many of my previous cat's character traits and behaviours depicted in cartoon format. Reading it this morning I had to laugh out load as the pictures showed him trying to fool birds into thinking that his mouth was a bird box, attacking his owners bare legs, getting the dog into trouble whilst having a perfectly innocent look on his face and demanding food with menaces... to name but a few! It makes me seriously consider getting a cat again. If you want to have a good laugh then check out  Simon's Cat on the web! Thanks girls for getting me a fabulously funny read. 

And now, I'm going to tootle back to my crafting space to continue making my Christmas cards. Or maybe I'll treat myself and do some scrapbooking instead!!

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

And so it begins!

The Christmas madness, that is! Its slightly frustrating as I'm trying to keep the focus on the various birthdays happening in our family over the next week or so, but I know that everyone else doesn't give a fig about that and just wants to concentrate on that extremely commercialised, de-Christianised, overindulgent, who-will-be-the-number-1-pop-jingle, waiting-for-that-episode-of-Dr.-Who-and-snoring-through-the-Queen's-speech, festival. Now, don't get me wrong - I'm not all "Bah! Humbug!" or anything. I just like to get the birthday's done with before I go dashing headlong into this period of madness. At least that's what I always resolve to do. The reality is usually far different! I get past my birthday on the 2nd, and my sister's birthday on the 4th, but then by the time I get to my Mom's birthday on the 8th I'm itching to get the Christmas tree up and start being festive. Come the 9th of December I'm usually running around like an overexcited child!! Then by the time the 20th arrives I've found that my whole festive period has turned into an exhausting fiasco which involves me doing my ingredients shopping at 1 in the morning at the local 24hr Tesco, posting my cards two days *after* the Royal Mail posting deadline and hoping that they get there in time, spending Christmas Eve wrapping millions of presents, eating far too much between Christmas and New Years and then collapsing in a tearful, quivering heap on the 2nd of January. At which point I write a long list of New Year's resolutions that I know I will completely fail to do anything about before January is even over! Does this sound familiar to anyone? Please tell me you do the same thing and that it's not just me?!

In an effort to reclaim my Christmas sanity this year I have decided to take part in Shimelle's 'Journal Your Christmas' class. I signed up for it 2 years ago, and then again last year - but ended up not doing anything at all and letting my Christmas simply degenerate into the fiasco as usual. However, this year I am determined to remain calm and serene and to enjoy it to the full with Shimelle's help. Obviously being a crafting sort of person, Shimelle tries to encourage us to produce a wonderful album full of beautifully scrapbooked memories of this season. However, I am going to keep this simple. I intend to blog about it most days, and will occasionally produce a layout when I have the time. I am not going to end up running around like a demented person. I am going to enjoy my Christmas. I hereby give everyone notice that I am reclaiming the festive spirit, and all the serenity that is *supposed* to go with it!

So, here is my declaration of intent:

"Starting today, December first, I will keep a Christmas journal. In it, I will write something every day to reflect on the holidays of my past, enjoy the holidays of the present and dream about the holidays of the future. To some, this would be a stack of papers and trivial scribbles, but not to me. I am taking back my Christmas, I am letting it be something I relish and most importantly I am giving at least fifteen minutes to myself, every day, no matter how crazy this season becomes. This Christmas I will make something with my own hands, my own words and my own memories."

Later, I might add a picture or a finished layout to this post. But right now I'm going to go finish making my Christmas cards so that I can actually post them early this year! Well, earlier than normal anyway. May everyone have a very Merry Christmas, a relaxing festive season and many happy memories. As for me, I'm looking forward to my birthday tomorrow!!