Friday, 30 August 2013

More projects this week

I am trying to get an organised list of projects to get ready for going to the UK in December. I have started making a few gifts for my parents and a few essentials for the British winter time including a lovely pair of mittens which are my first. And this is to everyone who has seen something they would love to make but have not tried for fear of failure. Seriously I thought gloves and mittens were something for those who are professional knitters and crocheters and I have just made my first pair so If I can do it , you can . And that applies to all those crafts and things we think I can't . Today's the day we should say "I Can!!!". I can mend that door ( If I do  little research), I can make that dinner ( when I have a go), I can sing Karaoke (Because its fun / forget how good I am that bits not the point lol), I can learn a new language ( Its never too late - remember my grandfather in his final years learnt French !!!!)
OK will get off my soap box lol Back to projects bellow are the gloves for me .
 
 
Finished my dad's new winter hat finally Yay!!!!!
 
 
 
I made a pretty nice beanie hat for little Zak out of a recycled jumper which I unraveled. It kinda looks a little bit more ethnic than I was aiming for but when I finished it the result is really nice.
 

 
And a few decorative doilies for the TV table .... not bad.
 
Now the next scary project to try is socks. Socks ....... bet they r easy :)



 

Today's blessing

 
Today's blessing is probably the most taken for granted aspect of our lives. The air we breathe. We would not survive without it and yet its so part of our lives we don't even think about it for a moment. The way we breathe the air and how we take such a great part of our life from such an amazing gas. And yet so many of us ( myself included) don't take time to sit and really breathe and so truly relax. I can vouch for those days when my son is nagging me for things and I can't seem to find anything I need and the time is speeding by and my family in law misunderstand me and my husband is in a mood and I am ready to pull my hair out lol but just a few moments of deep breathing with my eyes closed brings everything into perspective. So here is an extremely effective breathing technique which I was given by my lovely mum which really helps when my stress boiling pot is about to blow.
 
 
Relaxation technique
 
OK. If you can put some calming music but also listening to birds outside the window or the wind also helps. Sit on a chair and have the soles of your feet planted on the ground. Close your eyes and breathe deeply concentrating on your breathes. Fell yourself becoming more and more heavy and imagine you are sitting under a wonderful shower of light and that there is a wonderful cleansing light pouring over you. See the light washing away all the stresses of your day. At this point I usually see that the worries and stress looks like mud washing away. After a minute or so I then imagine myself glowing with light and am feeling more focused to continue the day. And to conclude my relaxation I end with a visualization of strong roots growing from my feet deep into the ground to pull me back to reality and keep me focused so that when I open my eyes I can get on with the rest of the day without being sleepy. I always found the grounding helped me to return to an active day as usually relaxation and deep breathing tends to make me want to go for a sleep. So this does help wake you up after.
 
 


Friday, 23 August 2013

Projects for the end of August


I am now trying as hard as I can to finish the hat I started what seems like a millennium ago for my dad for Christmas. Note to self - stop getting distracted by all the quickie crochet patterns which would be oh so charming presents for family and do the larger jobs first lol.

 
 
Talking about distractions I found a lovely pattern online for a wintry bobble hat and scarf novelty topper for a bottle of wine and thought my parents would love it so am making a couple for them as presents for when I visit in December.
Waking during the night with a terrible headache I grabbed a cup of tea and two paracetamol and decided to make one to see how easy they were. Was pleasantly surprised by the result and will be making a couple. After watching the movie dramatization of Willkie Colin's 'The Woman in White' I went rather happily back to bed for a few more hours sleep . :)))))))
 
 


Today's blessing

 
 
Today's blessing is being able to find inspiration for my crochet, knitting and crafting in the world around me. Its amazing how the most mundane of objects can be transformed into the most beautiful addition to your home. For example this picture above and below are simply images from an ironing board cover I have at home. And yet this could be made into the most amazing embroidery piece. An embroidered pillow for the living room just with a little tracing paper and a bit of imagination. I am always looking for inspiration for my d├ęcor in and around my home and love to play with ideas and keep changing the general appearance every season and so keep everything fresh. Which reminds me will have to start thinking about next spring's cushion covers soon. I was thinking to have a set of embroidered covers for a change. But I think I might have to wait till my visit to the UK to get the white or cream material on which to embroider as I am rather low on material. Especially at the moment as I have been focusing on all things wooly lol.
 
 

 
 
 




Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Clearing out my space today!!!!

 
Its amazing how much better you feel after clearing out a space in your home and reorganizing things a little. Today I finally got round to reshuffling the furniture in my son's bedroom and so making it a more play friendly area. Before I had two single beds in in which took up too much space and meant his room was not really a place for playing. So I moved the second bed next door and made my spare room into a guest bedroom so not bad. I will have to organize my crafty stuff better though as its in a bit of a muddle.
 
My blessing of the day is having a clear and clean home in which to live. I am blessed to have such a lovely home as I do and be able to move things around as I have to optimize the space available. I think its also a blessing to be able to put your personality into your home too. I love changing things all the time - such as the wall art and the cushion covers and carpets. It keeps my home environment fresh and vibrant.
 
I will be writing some exciting posts this week . Some tutorials and recipes and be sharing more photos with you so keep posted.

Monday, 19 August 2013

An easy meal for a busy day


 
Now this is an especially easy and quick meal which is also vegetarian and filling and my son loves it. I actually cooked it today for his lunch and he guzzled a whole bowl and then he asked me for more so defiantly a thumbs up. The first time I saw this recipe was many years ago when I was at university and on holiday in France. The only difference I have made to the recipe is to not add sugar and to use an alternative kind of cheese to the parmesan used in the original.
 

Ingredients

 
Rice wise I use a coffee mug for myself my son and my husband ( so a mug for every 3 people)
salt
Tinned chopped tomatoes
dried or fresh basil
dried or fresh oregano
dried or fresh thyme
cheese of your choice
short spaghetti ( I have no idea of the name but its like thin spaghetti chopped into tiny lengths)
corn oil
tomato paste

Method

  1. Wash your rice 5 or 6 times using warm and then cool water.
  2. Put a small amount of corn oil in a pan and add a handful of the short spaghetti and fry till golden.
  3. Add one and a half mugs of hot water for every mug you wish to cook.
  4. Add salt and bring to the boil and then simmer until the water has been soaked into the rice. And the rice is cooked.
  5. Meanwhile put tomatoes and herbs into a pan and heat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Also add a little tomato paste at this stage.
  6. Simmer gently until the rice has cooked.
  7. Then put a portion of rice into your plates and mix in the tomato sauce. Sprinkle the cheese on top. And there you have it!!!!
 
 
  1.  
 


August projects so far

 
This month despite the crazy hot temperatures I have still given a thought to knitting and crocheting some bits and bobs for when the colder weather comes to visit Jordan. Above is a shawl I have made this month ( yup pink again). It is an adapted version of a wavy scarf pattern I got from Ravelry.com. it was intended as an Eid present for my mother in law but as she mentioned she would rather have black or gray than pink this found a new home with my sister in law who saw it and asked me if she could have it .
 
 
A warm wooly hat for my dear husband for the winter time. He was very happy with result and the fit and so I was inspired to make another for my own dad and will maybe make another for little zak- if I have time along side the huge list that seems to be growing every day. Not enough hours in the day lol!!!
 

 
Trying to re-organize my stash of wool. I actually don't have much wool at the moment and am waiting for the opportunity to replenish it when I get a chance. So meanwhile I have reverted to taking unwanted old jumpers apart for their wool again. Its quite therapeutic unwinding a knitted piece and gives me  a warm feeling inside as I am being very eco friendly re-using my resources so yay to me!!!!
 
 



I also started making a grandma style banner for my parents with a Christmassy theme for when I go to the UK in December. I got so into my research for appliques for the project that I ended up going to bed after 2 am. Drinking lots of coffee today ( ZZZZZZZZZ) lol.

Today's blessing

 
They say a picture says a thousand words. So my blessing today is photographs and the world of photography. I have always had a great love for photographs and the messages they tell. This one above is a little obvious but I loved this stair case I saw in Palestine just after I got married and took a photo. I love the pealing paint behind the image which makes you think about the passage of time and life long love.
 

The most Moorish chocolate dessert I devoured at Charingworth manner hotel a couple of years ago on returning from my wedding in Jordan to the UK mmmmmm! I think that photos are my version of the wish most people have of being able to bottle their most cherished memories . I love to look at old photos and remember the happy times gone by. My memory is really quite sensory and so when I see a picture I can sometimes almost smell the smells and remember the sounds around me in the moment the picture was taken. Its my special way of being able to re-open those memory bottle I have stored away and re-live them again. Not bad eh!!!

 
The pungent heady scents which laced the air when I visited a wondrous open gardens near to my family home in Derbyshire, famous for its beautiful blooms. I can still remember that day as it had been lightly raining which brought out the perfume of the flowers even more and  it caressed me like a warm blanket as I walked around taking in the sights. Bliss !
 
 
 
And of course the winter wonderland I experienced in my first winter of married life. This was taken in the woodland which lies behind my parents home. I love the shadows left by the trees and the crisp sound the snow made that year under the boots I borrowed from my  dear mum. 


Friday, 16 August 2013

Todays blessing


Todays blessing for me is quite current and important because of the terrible heat we are experiencing here in Jordan at the moment. So Todays blessing for me is the wind. I have been sweltering all day helping my mother in law clean her home and the lack of an air conditioner makes things really quite hard at times but simply opening the window on this blustery day for a moment and you feel soo much better. I love the wind and the whistling noise it makes as it whips around our home. I love the winds here in Jordan as they seems to freshen the air which otherwise would be extremely stuffy. I love the winds in Europe and their cool rainy feel which always seemed to wake me up when I had an early rise.

One of my favourite movies of all time  ( The English Patient) has a scene in which the hero describes the many winds across North Africa. And the way he retells his tale about their effects upon the inhabitants of the lands in which they appear transforms me back into a small child full of awe at the power and spectacle of the natural world in all its splendor.

Lifes back to usual with Potty training, house organising and a visit from Palestine to boot!


Yes, life over here is in full swing again. With getting everyone back to their normal routine. My sister in law coming back from her holiday to Palestine and more family coming for a few days we have had plenty of things to fill our time here lol. Its rather hot at the moment ( 38c plus) and everyone is turning their home fans up a notch.
I am trying to potty train my two and a half year old and am having mixed results at the moment. Sometimes he really seems to get the idea whilst others ....urm.... well lets say its a process!!!lol We also have got some cousins of my husband to visit from Palestine and so the house is rather busy with everyone coming together as in Ramadan, cooking and catching up  so have been having plenty to do. At times my family in law's home feels rather like the London underground during a busy time but having grown up an only child the hustle and bustle is quite a pleasant change from what I am used to.
We cooked a really lovely meal this week called Malfoof so I will give you the recipe to have a try. Its one if those meals which fills your stomach and makes you feel very comforted without the worry about the cholesterol. Especially as Cabbage which is one of the main ingredients is apparently one of the only vegetables in existence which burn more calories than  it has so not bad.

Malfoof recipe

Ingredients
short grain rice ( if you can get Egyptian its absolutely divine)
all spice
cumin
lamb mince
lemons
olive oil
salt and pepper
garlic

Method

  1. Mix the rice, meat, all spice, olive oil, salt and pepper and cumin in a bowl .
  2. Meanwhile separate the cabbage leaves and Blanche for about 5 minutes and drain.
  3. Then get a cabbage leaf and put a small spoon of the rice and meat mixture on one side and create a small parcel with the cabbage.
  4. Place the parcels into a large pan and cover with water and a couple of chicken stock cubes.
  5. Cook for an hour before serving.
  6. At the end fry about 4 cloves of garlic in a small pan with a little olive oil and juice your lemons.
  7. Add the garlic and lemon to the pan and serve.
And Enjoy!!!!!!!!!!
This is one of my favorite  Arabic meals - its absolutely scrummy!!!!!!!!!!!
Give it a try today  :)))))))))))) and drop me a message in the comments as to how it went :))))))))

 

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

A Huge belated Happy Eid to everyone!!!!

Unfortunately my Internet ran out of steam sos to speak so I had to get it re-charged this week and that meant I was not online for Eid. And so I am writing a small post today about Eid. Usually at Eid in my extended family here in Jordan its a chance for everyone to get together and have a lovely meal to celebrate the end of all the fasting of Ramadan. Its a little like Christmas day in the sense that presents are given out but this is mostly in the form of money which we either save or buy ourselves some treats with.

 On the morning of Eid My family in law always cook a type of salted fish which they fry and serve with spicy fried tomatoes, pickles, flat bread and lots of piping hot tea. Usually after the breakfast we have aromatic Arabic coffee with Special Eid cakes and chocolates. Its a really lovely day as everyone buys new clothes for the occasion and wears them so its rather like a Christmas day party. There is a kind of sadness that Ramadan is over but also a relief as now we can get back to the normal routine of eating during the day rather than in the middle of the night.
this Ramadan has been one of the most difficult I have experienced since I converted as It has been during the Summer  and so I have found the lack of water during the day a big test in itself. Though I am very happy I took part and am quite proud of myself for having been able to rise to the challenge.
So Happy Eid to everyone and may you have a wonderful end of Summer !!!!!

Monday, 12 August 2013

Just a note to say

 

EID Mubarek Eid Mubarek Eid Mubarek

Eid Mubarek

EID Mubarek Eid Mubarek Eid Mubarek Eid Mubarek

EID Mubarek Eid Mubarek Eid Mubarek

Eid Mubarek

EID Mubarek Eid Mubarek Eid Mubarek Eid Mubarek

 

Monday, 5 August 2013

Evening thought


Whilst sitting with my extended family and eating our evening meal I was struck how luck I was to have  people who care around me and who can teach me so much. And for me it has meant being able to adopt a new culture as well as maintain my own . I have been able to have the best from both countries though living here and having my trips to the Uk to see my parents once a year. So I guess this is a second blessing for me today. By living here I have widened my horizons and I have been blessed to be able to meet new people all the time from different places on the globe and talk to them and understand their perspective.
It is what could be the last week of Ramadan and so there is a sense of being on the last leg of the road to Eid in terms of waking up early and eating before sunrise. But there is also a sense of wanting to make the most of the last days too. I once had a group of friends who used to sit up late during the final week of Ramadan and order pizza. They used to chat and read their Qurans and laugh and have what would normally be seen in any other time as being a sleep over ( give or take a few things) . The sense of community and the general need for people to come together during this month makes everyone feel connected to each other.  I love this time of the year here in Jordan as People are extra helpful and there is a little bit of magic in the air. Just as there always seems to be in the Uk during December.

Kuba recipe

This is a new recipe which my mother in law has cooked today which I wanted to share with you as its really lovely. The measurements are basically for a family of four  but the amounts are easy to estimate for more or less.
1. Firstly soak 2 cups of Bulgur wheat in water for about half an hour.
2. Then after sieving it add some mince, finely chopped onion, white pepper, mixed spices , ground cardamom and salt and put into a grinder and make into more of a pate style mixture. Then add a little warm water and mix a little more.


3. Meanwhile put your remaining mince in a bowl with finely chopped onion, pomegranate molasses, a pinch of salt and some chopped walnuts and mix well.

4. Now is the slightly fiddly part. You get a handful of the pate and flatten it in the palm of your  hand and put a tablespoon of the meaty mixture in the middle and close the pate around it. Shape it so that the pate is closed around the meat and then flatten it slightly using your palms so that it is circle shaped . Pre heat your oven to high and pour a little corn oil into an oven dish before adding the pate parcels. Place two almond slices on each pate and bake for half an hour before serving.

These are really delicious ! I hope you enjoy making them too :)

Adding a summer bunting to the house

This is a very easy pattern I made with 5mm knitting needles and some scrap balls of worsted weight wool in various bright colors.
Basic triangle shape
1.Cast on 21 stiches and garter stich the first line
2.decrease 1st at the beginning and end of the next row
3.garter stich the next row
repeat 2 and 3 until there is only one stich left and tie off and weave in the end.

 Its soo simple to make just make as many triangle patterns as you like to get the desired length and then create a crochet chain of about 13 and slip stich in the first chain to make a look and then start attaching your triangles using slip stiches until they are all attached. Then at the end repeat the beginning pattern of making an additional loop with 13 chains and tie off and weave in the ends hang and admire. Yay!!!!!!:)




 

Today's blessing


The weather in my blessing for today. The warm sunshine and especially at this time of year here is Jordan. Its this lovely warm weather which makes the local produce so great! It makes everything look brighter and more vivid than ever. The colour of everything seems lovelier and makes the whole atmosphere feel much like It used to when I was a child during the summer holidays ( relaxed and contented).
In the autumn and winter Jordan is rather like the UK in terms of temperature and weather. It has even snowed once or twice since I moved here which was an interesting experience.
I do however love the weather in England especially the rain . I have many wonderful memories of shopping days with my mum in which we would go and hit the sales of whatever season and finish up in a coffee shop surrounded by the comforting steam of cappuccino and the aroma of freshly baked cinnamon rolls - heavenly. Incidentally I have not had much opportunity to get to a Starbucks in Jordan so will have to make a point of going to one at Christmas when I am in the UK. I used to love the smells of the coffee shop intermingled with the rainy air and the smell of wet coats and slightly muddy boots of the people coming in and going outside again with their card cups of bliss. There was always a feeling of relief that I had got everything I needed at last and would not need to go back and could now go home with my mum and have a relaxing evening in front of  some new BBC period drama of the time. lol I have always loved period dramas.
I love hail though I haven't seen the really huge hail. I have heard stories about the hail in other countries getting as large as golf balls. Which makes me more grateful to be in a country at the moment which inly has tiny small hail. I love thunder and lightening as It has such a gothic feel to it. It reminds me of Mary Shelly's Frankenstein or Dracula .
I love the snow and sleet and the many memories I have of building snow men and throwing snow balls and of the beautiful scene it creates and how it turns the world into a romantic wonderland even if for a short time. The weather is an amazing thing which I feel blessed to be able to experience every day. :)

Sunday, 4 August 2013

A guide to the real England - Derbyshire part 2



 

Matlock

 
Matlock was developed during the nineteenth century as a spar town and was extremely popular and fashionable due to the cleansing powers of its waters and the wonderful scenery which surround it. On the 22nd of October 1832 the  then princess Victoria ( later to be crowned queen Victoria) visited Matlock Bath and took the waters which further increased its appeal to the public. The first know records of a spring existing though at Matlock goes as far back as 1698.
Other famous people have written about Matlock Bath, including Lord Byron and Mary Shelley, who mentions Matlock (Bath) in her novel 'Frankenstein': "We proceeded to Matlock (Bath), which was our next place of rest. The country in the neighborhood of this village resembles Switzerland; but everything is on a lower scale". In those days, many people used the name 'Matlock' when they meant 'Matlock Bath'. John Wesley found it "pleasant beyond expression"; Ruskin expressed his delight as did Nathaniel Hawthorne. The extremely observant 'Poet Laureate', Sir John Betjeman, wrote a poem about the village, which is actually called 'Matlock bath'.
This village  is very close to my childhood home and so conjures up many memories. I worked one of my post university jobs here in the wonderful Hodgekinsons hotel and restaurant which by the way is still open and well worth a visit. Most weekends on a Sunday there is the perfect opportunity to see the many bikers who love to visit this spot. Its quite a sight with all their black leather and Harley-Davidsons parked in lines. On the more tranquil side there is a beautiful river which runs through the village  and also the heights of Abraham which is a rather nice place to visit. You can take a cable car up to the heights of Abraham and have a coffee whilst viewing the sights and the rolling English countryside.
Every year from Saturday 31st August to Saturday 26th October is an event called the Illuminations in which boats decorated with lights float down the river . Every year there is a different theme and its really worth a viewing. As is the choreographed firework display which follows. Its a fantastic family evening out and well worth wrapping up and going out for. As there is a such a lovely atmosphere in the air as well as a carnival feel . There are usually many stands where you can get a good meal to take with you as you have a walk about. .
 
 


More pink hats lol for anothe niece


Again this is a hat I found on the net in which I made the brim with triple crochet stitch rather than double . And I used part of a pattern from a Turkish knitting magazine called Alize which seems to be one of the only knitting and crochet magazines I have managed to get my hands on here in Jordan. I am hoping to make another hat for my nephew and two new ones for my son for the winter so will be posting pictures over the  next week or two. I used to be quite intimidated by the thought of making a crochet hat but actually once you have found a good pattern and have got the idea they are easy. Now the next thing I want to be able to make is fingerless gloves and mittens. And also tonight's breakfast is going to be really delicious and so I am going to post the recipe  this evening . I will be getting plenty of tips from my lovely mother in law so keep posted.

Todays's blessing



Today's blessing is books. I absolutely love books and could quite possibly write a volume of my own explain why... maybe a box set lol, because books are simply one of the greatest inventions of all time. Through paper and ink we can express ourselves and tell our stories to the world in a way which is beyond priceless. Through novels we are literally able to time travel to the era of Jane Austin, Thomas Hardy, Charles Dickens and experience what they saw using one of our own greatest skills- our imagination. And its a life long love affair from childhood when we excitedly delve into the world of Rohl Dahl and Beatrix Potter and allow our young minds to see the possibilities. Through the teen years when we look to find a heroin who experiences things as we do to adulthood and our reflections on the meaning of it all. I love the smell of new books when you get them home and are just about to start reading them as though embarking upon a journey into unfamiliar lands. Both full of anticipation as to the story and characters and what will befall them.
I feel that good non fiction has the ability to touch people on the same level as fiction. Cooking books now a days seem to invite their readers into the authors home for a cup of tea whilst they entertain us with tales of their kitchen and teach us some delicious new meals to cook. DIY and hobbies books for me serve as an education as I am always wanting to learn more and develop my skills. I love history books as they cause my imagination to go on overdrive much like fiction does- reading about the Tudors or the second world war with a more than real understanding of what happened. Now because I love book does not mean I am the biggest book worm on the globe. Possibly the opposite in truth. The books I read I love very much but I have in the past been more of a hands on crafting girl rather than an in the corner beanbag cushion reader. I am however changing  it this year and will be reading a great deal more and adding book reviews for the books I read So Keep posted.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

This weeks projects


Just thought I'd post my recent crochet projects to inspire you guys to get going with your stashes of wool. I  have been continuing the pink theme of this month some more as I wanted to make a lovely cloche hat and scarf for her for the winter months. And she really loves the colour pink.

I was thinking about the 1920s when I made this. And this is actually a good example of adding your own touches as I have with the extra band round the bottom. The movie I had in mind was the Artist and especially one scene in which you see the heroin watching the hero from a distance and its such an iconic shot. The way she is dressed and the single tear that crosses her cheek - very moving.
 
I am especially happy with this scarf I made to go with the hat as its a collaboration of several patterns I put together to make something unique. I love the dangly flowers. I might even make one for myself now as its soo cute.


 
And this cap style hat has been crocheted from some re-purposed  wool from an unwanted over sized man sweater my brother in law didn't like. I have been asked to make some winter wear for one of my nephews and this is the first piece. I have quite a lot of it so I might try and make a vest and scarf to go with it.