Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Rose and vanilla cupcakes.....part 2

top view of rose petal decorated cupcake Yum. In the end I did a bit of experimenting and settled for rose essence in the batter and vanilla essence in the icing, and then as you can see I decorated with the petals.

Two points for improvement. I used dried egg powder and you can tell.. Last winter Mr India and I purchased some dried free range egg. We decided that we could never knowingly eat battery egg and wondered what would happen to organic free range should there be an outbreak of bird flu. This seeems to us to be a reasonable compromise. There is a definite difference in texture when the powder is used. It is drier and more reminiscent of the texture of shop bought cake .I added more liquid to make up the difference but next time I am going to make it extra-sloppy and see what difference it makes.

Point two - my buttercream sucks. Well, at least in terms of texture. It's too hard. I want soft, buttery clouds - not something that I need to attack with a pick axe. Any suggestions?

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Saturday, October 28, 2006

Rose and vanilla cupcakes.....

... I can taste them now. There I was, wondering around Grassroots when this little pot caught my eye. Course, they may only be decorative, I may need to add some rose essence.But boy oh boy, I love the idea of vanilla buttercream and the elusive hint of something floral in the cake. If when I get the assignment done, this is going to be a culinary treat.

I have an auditory treat lined up, although I am sure my mum wouldn't see it that way - Meatloaf. Yeehah! Performing in Glasgow in MAy - how will I wait that long....?

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Monday, October 23, 2006

The mallorn leaves were falling...

...but spring had not yet come.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The wrong cupcakes

Well, Grommit ,lad, looks like we'll just have to have some Wenslydale...

orange-topped cupcake Well, what else is to be done when I made the wrong darn thing? True, this little piece of cakey delight is perfectly edible. And it is the season for a Hallowe'en cupcake. But I wanted to make the one with the pumpkin. Grr.

On the upside, I can report to Elaine that this is one cooked topping that does work

I have been cooking a lot over the past few days (shh, I know it's displacement activity). I have all 3 of the New Covent Garden Soup Company recipe books and I have decided to w ork my way through them. The butternut, vanilla and lemon is amazing. This is a bowl of Tomato, fennel and feta. Mm, mm, bowl of tomato, feennel and feta soup with a sprinkling of parsl;ey Do you like my arty dash of real homegrown parsley? Classy, eh?. In the pan at the moment I have the Smoked paprika, butternut and sweet potato. 'Cept I don't like smoked paprika, so I'm going with ordinary. I have decided that if I am going to be up to my eyeballs in work, I am going to have a whole load of great soup in the freezer, ready to go. Trouble is, it's so good none of it has made ot to the freezer :0)

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Saturday, October 21, 2006

in perfect harmony

My mood.... and the weather
what you can't tell from this pic is that it's absolutely belting down. Another miserable day on the west coast. Oh well, at least we aren't in a drought.


a special circle of Hell

Reserved for those amongst us who want to knit but have to study....

This is just awful. It isn't a particiularly difficult assignment - it's about what is now referred to as Additional Support Needs, but used to be called Special Needs. How society came to this position from the time that 'imbecile' and 'lunatic' had acceptable, legal definitions. What provision is made within the education system, how do mulitdisciplinary teams function (or not) in the pursuit of excellence....

Just another 2,735 words to go...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Listen to the voices in your head...

But only if they relate to your knitting.

There I was , happily knitting away on this: BUt when I got to the short rows to shape the top of the front, this little voice in my head was saying 'Wrap the stitches. Wrap the stitches.' But I ignored that voice. told it to shut up, I was following the pattern, thank you very much. It didn't say to wrap anything, never mind the stitches. So of course, when the time came to pick up the stitches to knit the bodice, there they were - holes, all over the place. That frog pond sure was cold and lonely (except for the voice of course, sniggering and whispering 'Told ya!").

Next, I've ripped out, re-knit and am up to the shaping for the armhole. And I'm a-thinking 'This doesn't look right.' Have a quick check of the pattern, keep going. Finish both sides. Still thinking it doesn't look right, but the voice has a plaster (Band Aid) over its mouth, so all I can hear is a vague mumble in my head. Finish both sides, try to set the sleeve in and guess what? It still didn't look right. Thought about it some more and I reckon that I started the shaping at the wrong side.

I have now made a big, BIG pledge to myself. When I start hearing the voices, start getting the 'Oh s*** feeling, I'm gonna step away from the knitting. And keep away until I've figured out what the problem is....

I also have evidence of an FO. For your delectation, we have :Tithe. Da dah!

Knitty gritty:
Pattern from Noro Unlimited
Yarn: Noro Silk Garden, colourway 87
Size: Small
Needles: Bammboo circs, size 5mm
The fronts and back are reverse stocking stitch, the sleeves regular stocking stitch.
Do I like it?
That's right, I.Don't Like.It. I LOVE IT!!!
Lots of folk, even non-knitterly strangers in coffee shops, have been complimenting me on this little beauty.To be honest, it is one of the few patterns that I like from this book. In future I am going to have more confidence in myself as a knitter and refuse to buy something for ONE pattern. Surely I am capable of designing my own garment by this time? I really felt that the designer had let the side down. It wasn't that the patterns were too simple, it was that they look unfinished, as if not a lot of care and attention went into them.Disappointing. Ho hum.

Been working on the assignment today. Think I may achieve some major progress soon. Mr India reckons I will. He has identified several stages in the assignment-writing rpocess. You know the ones he means - the 'Don't talk to me about it, I have too much oven cleaning to do.' or the well known 'Of course I need to go to Outer MOngolia for 3 weeks, with no books, mobile, internet connection.' phase. Not to mention that much-loved and misunderstood stage - 'Assignment? What assignment?'. So I am apparently close to 'The end is nigh' phase. He means the damn essay. I mean myself.

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Monday, October 16, 2006


My Favourite...
Actor - Viggo Mortenson (well, when he's being Aragorn)
Actress - Cate Blanchett
Animal - Cats
Band - erm, Coldplay, Snow Patrol, Greenday
Book - An equal music, Vikram Seth; The Time Traveler's Wife, Audrey Niffeneger
Bubble Bath - don't use it
Candy - organic chocolate
Color - various shades of purple
Drink- tequila and cranberry juice (sophisticated, eh?)
Flower - 'Just Joey' - a rose
Food - Indian
Lip Balm - BUrt's Bees
Lotion - Burt's Baby Bee
Movie - The Lord of the Rings Trilogy - what else? Followed fairly closely by The Mission
Place- An t-Eilean Sgitheanach
Song - Creep - Radiohead
TV Show - ER
Yarn- bloomin' eck. Hard to know where to begin. I love alpaca, but Lorna's Laces/STR probably top it.
Vacation Spot - n t-Eilean Sgitheanach a-rithist

Ok, I know that I have given some plural answers, but that was as close as I could get :0) .


Friday, October 13, 2006


I was interested by what Akrylic said on her blog about feminism, particularly the bit about ' Mrs'

Any of you fellow gaelic-learning sufferers will understand why her use of 'the genitive' had me running for the hill ;0) When I recovered myself, I considered the reasons behind the taking of Mr India's name, given that I am so, erm, independent (or just plain cussed).

When I was very young and very stupid, I married husband number one. Well, to be fair, maybe the marrying him wasn't stupid, but the staying with him was . Anyway, being an unliberated kind of gal, I took his name. Along came by darling son. When I finallyleft his father, we both kept the name, probably out of habit. When Master India was old enough we discussed the merits of a name change but elected to keep what we had.

My first instinct when I remarried was not to change my name. But then I thought about it - if I had kept the name of a real jerk, surely it would be a huge insult not to take Mr India's name? In the end, I decided to compromise. It wasn't down to Mr I, it was my decision. I kept the first name, as it is a link to my son (not his dad) and then I added Mr I's name to it.

I guess that is what I like about feminism - I can make all of my own choices. They din't have to make sense to anyone else. Most of the time, they don't even have to make sense to me.


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Suggestions, please

Nice ones, only, folks :0)

As I said in a previous post, I had been sure that I had purchased 2 hanks of the Tencel blend. Seems my memory is playing tricks - I have looked in every possible nook and cranny (took some effort, that , let me tell you) and there's no sign of hank number 2.


So, bang goes my original plan of knitting a largeish shawl. What I need is a suggestion or two for a scarf/shawl pattern that only needs 300 yards of yarn.

C'mon, you can do it. Help me out here!

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

domestic abuse, there's no excuse

Man walks down the street, punches a random stranger in the face. Turns out he has 'issues' from his childhood. Who do you feel sorry for? I figure people usually feel sorry for the victim/ Strange thing is, when the victim is the man's partner, sympathy is often turned to the perpetrator. Yup, you read it right. Some folk feel sorry for the guy who threw the punch.

I felt I had left this issue behind for a while, but it seems to be cropping up in a number of blogs I've been reading lately. Also, at the Buddhist Centre recently, a fellow explorer of the Middle Way (not one of the order members, but a fellow attendee) tried to convince me that these poor men who abuse their partners are more to be pitied.

No. Way

Let me put it on the record. These 'poor' men who have 'anger' and 'control' issues generally manage to control their anger when they are in the company of a 6' rugby player, or a policeman or generally any member of Joe Public. They generally manage to control their anger enough to avoid making any visible injury. Of course, sometimes they screw up, pour souls - you can tell when because their partner manages to walk into (yet another) door. Or they go just a wee tad too far and kill the woman. Mind you, I dare say she was asking for it - probably didn't get his tea to the table on time.

Here are a few stats: 1 in 4 women may experience violence in their relationships with men (Women's Aid Federation [England] report, 1992) Severe, repeated and systematic violence occurs in at least 5 of every hundred marriages in Britain; Between 40 and 45% of murdered women are killed by thir male partners; Between 1 and 2 women are murdered by their male partners every week; more than 25% of all violent crime reported to the police is domestic violence of men against women, making it the second most common violent crime; (Domestic Violence - Action for Change, G. Hague & E. Malos, 1993) 100,000 women per year seek treatment in London for violent injuries received in the home (Punching Judy, BBC1 TV programme, 1989)

You won't be surprised to know that I have suffered domestic abuse at the hands of a previous partner - apart form my obvious interest in the subject, the statistics alone make it fairly likely.

I won't tar all men with the same brush. Mr India is a wonderful man and I will not insult or demean him and men such as him by implying all men are the same. However, I REALLY WISH that folk would engage their brain on this subject. Why is it that when ever the subject of violence against women comes up I hear the refrain 'But women abuse men, too.' I know this. But I Was talking about violence against women. Why is it that people seek to justify the unjustifiable? ' He was worried/drunk/had a hard time as a child.'

You know what naffs me off the most? Just as in the example at the Buddhist Centre, it is usually the women that espouse this heap of nonsense.


Profound thoughts

They don't come to me very often, but every now and again I strike gold.

There I am , in a messy heap reminiscent of road kill, draped elegantly on the sofa, mountain of useless 'cold cures' piled up beside me, contemplating the weekend. Mr India's mother is giving us what some would call a long overdue visit.

Now, you will be amazed to know that keeping every surface dust-free is not the highest priority in my life. No, really, it's not. While I do maintain much more than the minimum level of hygiene, I am a bit slapdash. Mr India is better, but a bit snowed under at work these days.

What, I pondered, if Mum-of-Mr India has one of those 'Hmm, can't eat my dinner off that floor' moments.

That, gentle reader is when it struck me like a bolt from the blue. My inspiration, my moment of clarity, even, dare I sayit - ENLIGHTENMENT.

THAT is what PLATES are for!! Genius, eh?

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Monday, October 09, 2006


Ill again - quel surprise!

In the midst of what I hope is my only, but is probably only the first virus of the season. I feel really crappy.... I have barely been able to get out of bed today. Something tells me I will not be at work tomorrow.

In the meantime I have actually finished some projects. Unfortunately, I fogot to take a picture of my Noro cardigan and I swear I will collapse if I try to walk up these stairs again. So, in the meantime, here is a pic of my handspun Blue Faced Leicester scarf. No doubt some of you will recognise it from the cover of Knitting on the Edge. This has been a perfect union of fibre and pattern. Knit on 5mm bamboo, it is a real beauty

I also spun the lovely Tencel and Merino blend I bought in the summer, before I was having my crises of conscience regarding Merino. Here is a skein of the most gorgeous laceweight I have seen in a while. Well, I'm calling it laceweight, you might call it something else. Now, I am sure that I bought two of these in the end, but can only find one.....

That's all for now - I feel like I am going to collapse over the keyboard any minute.


Sunday, October 01, 2006

Secret Pal 9 - come and get me!

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?

I am allergic to Rowan Kid Classic, even though I am not allergic to any of the component fibres. I am a self-confessed yarn snob, so I really don’t like cheap , manmade yarns. I love Lorna’s Laces, STR
2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?
I have a couple of needle rolls for my DPNs and straight needle. Circulars are kept in a CD case – I don’t really like it, but it’s the best I have come up with so far. Most of the straights are kept in a vase on the mantelpiece.
3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?
I am an advanced knitter who learnt at her mother’s knee, aged four. That wasn’t yesterday……
4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?
Yes – must update it though
5. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products, etc.)
6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?
Oh yes indeedy. Organic chocolate. And when I am ‘slumming it’, I love Reeces Pieces.
7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?
I spin. I would love to try some dyed Blue Faced Leicester from across the pond. And something that I think is called Cormo and looks great.
8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD) Snow Patrol, Katie Melua, Meatloaf, Rush, ELO, Muse. Coldplay. Computer plays MP3s, but as Mr India is a Computer Scientist I cannot/will not play anything that has been copied. Darn.
9. What's your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can't stand?
I love pinks and purples. I am not overly keen on yellows and oranges.
10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?
A grown up son, a husband and two Siames cats
11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?
All of the above, but I’m better now – no longer wear ponchos.
12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?
Just about anything. Really into socks at the moment
13. What are you knitting right now?
Where do I start? A Noro cardigan, Lady Eleanor’s Stole, various socks, hats, scarves.
14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?
Loved the stitchmarkers that KnitWit Momma sent me
15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?
Prefer circular bamboo. Unless I’m knitting socks, then I like wooden DPNs
16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?
17. How old is your oldest UFO?
Erm, can’t remember – about 20 years actually – I just remembered a 4ply cotton thing
18. What is your favorite holiday?
Out in the Western Isles
19. Is there anything that you collect?
20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?
Yep – I’ll update this as soon as I can get my brain in gear
21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?
22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?
23. When is your birthday? (mm/dd)
4/11. Now, for our North American cousins, that means the fourth of November. Coming up real soon :0)

Right now...

...I Should be working on my Gaelic or my assignment, preferably both but not at the same time. The Plan had been - up out of bed early, take a few pics for the blog, post a pots, have bath, get dressed (I hate studying in the nude) and get down to work. But. Clever Clogs (me) managed to knock over the bottle of bee that I had opened last night, but not drunk. Thankfully yet another wonderful thing about Mr India is his ability to get noxious fluids out of carpets. Me? I supervised. Moral of the story? Drink the flaming beer.

I knocked the bottle over trying to get a picture of this: shrine with rupa, incense, candle, flower, beads Now, I here some of you wonder, what is a Buddhist doing drinking alcohol - what about that old line where one refrains from intoxicants? Well, if I ever decide to go the whole hog (soya-based of course) then I'll have to work on that one....

So, what is all the paraphernalia? The statuette is a rupa . There are lots of different ones, representing different Buddhas and Boddhisatvas . I don't know what this one is, but I like it. People will often choose a figure which has special meaning to them. The beads are prayer beads, useful when meditating or saying mantras. I use them to fiddle with when I am trying to meditate because I find sitting very still very difficult. I have heard of various meaning s attached to the use of incense - for example, it can be representative of the fact that intentions are powerful things - look at the way a small amount of incense can perfume a whole room. However, like incense, intentions don't last very long...... Other reasons, relating to mortality, can be found here

Lotus flowers have a very strong symbolism in Buddhist culture - the bud in the mud is seen as the unenlightened mind. The journey to enlightenment is represented by the rising of the bud through the mud to the surface, where it is pure and free from the attachments of everyday life. No lotus flowers in my garden, so a few busy lizzies have been utilised instead. The fading of the flowers also serves as a reminder of impermanence.

All in all, I like my little shrine. It needs a few tweaks and I am sure it fails to meet the 'accepted norm' of Buddhist shrines, but it's mine. I have seen photos of other western shrines and many people put other objects on them, ones which have a deep personal significance. So, where is the yarn........

Anyway, you no doubt realise that if you have any burning questions about western Buddhism, I am definitely not the person to ask.

Mr India and Master India are not so sure about the shrine-thingy. In fact, young MAster India told me he " Wouldn't be coming home while you have evidence of a cult in the house." Part of me wanted to laugh. However, as some of you know, I have had reservations about the FWBO, relating to a few things which happened in the 70s. Mr India remains watchful for any behaviour which is more odd than usual and I retain a healthy scepticism. Meanwhile, I haven't come across anything at the centre which has given me any cause for concern. I will remove the shrine when Master I is about. I have given this a lot of thought and while there may come a time when I feel strongly enough to retain the shrine, that time isn't yet.

Right. Off to do some studying :0(