Past experience tells me that every time I tell myself not to do something that's all I want to do. Like the time I decided to give up coffee and proceeded to drink more of it than i had ever done before…although the recent purchase of a coffee machine hadn't helped.  It took me a further 7 years to kick that habit.

Recently I was complaining that i was eating too much sugar and how it makes me feel exhausted and if I eat too much I get a cold (Hannah can attest to this) so I made the brave/rash decision to drastically cut down consumption. what has happened is I have systematically consumed more sugar laden goods in a week than I did all last year.

I had an overwhelming urge for sweet pie and ice-cream and it would have been rude to ignore it. Apple and blackcurrant pie with a coconut crust was the one that popped into my head. I used to make this most days when I worked in the restaurant and I used to do daily battle with the pastry, it was a nightmare to work in a hot kitchen…it just fell apart far too easily. But, oh my, so very worth it.


The thing is, with it only being the two of us, what do you do with left over pie? I've always found that the pastry starts to soften once cooled and it never reheats well but I discovered a solution to this problem (while watching TV) with the Pie Shake!


Oh pie shake where have you been all my life?! This is just not a British or Scottish thing at all (which is I suppose a bit surprising given that Scotland is home to the deep fried mars bar) but seems to have originated from the USA. All you do is combine a slice of pie and some scoops of  ice-cream (I also added some thick coconut milk because it was a shame not to) with a hand blender and ta da!! Pie shake! It really shouldn't work. It's wrong on just about every level.! However..


(I'm in the process of improving the recipe so I'll get it up next week).

in the bleak midwinter…

A frozen stream in the woods a couple of Solstices ago. Bleak or beautiful?

Christmas. Yule. A time of celebration, feasting, lights, sparkle and joy, rest and relaxation and all your favourite people, food and activities. Is it? Is that what it really is for you?

About seventeen years ago I was hugely pregnant with my daughter who was due on Christmas day. My GP told me he would be on call that day. I voiced the idea that surely that must be quite nice, I mean who would call the doctor out at Christmas except for the most dire of medical emergencies? He looked at me bleakly, and then dashed the whimsical, possibly pregnancy hormone influenced *snow outside, doctor warm by the fire with a glass of mulled wine* vision out of my head. (soundtrack to vision: 'chestnuts roasting on an open fire', played very mellowly on an antique grand piano)

His Christmas would begin at midnight when the elderly and infirm (who should not be out of their warm beds in the middle of the night, midwinter, Northern Scotland) started collapsing in church before, during and after Mass. The daytime was mainly filled with people who have conditions that negate the eating of rich foods and drinking of alcohol who were then suffering the various consequences of having done so.

But the evening was the worst. All day long family members who rarely see each other and like each other not at all had been suppressing their bitterness, gritting their teeth at Great Aunt Mildred's jibes and generally seething. By about 6pm things were breaking down. Literally. He was expecting nervous breakdowns, domestic violence, suicide, murder attempts and sobbing. Lots of sobbing.

People. It's not worth it. Think about the Christmas you really want and have it. Make it happen. It took me almost forty years to achieve it. Don't wait that long. It was scary. It faced opposition. I mean could it really be Christmas without 48 hours of food preparation for extended numbers of people? Without cleaning the house top to bottom early in the morning? Without having to get dressed up? Without bribing children to demonstrate orthodox ideas of good behaviour? Without complete exhaustion? Without having nearly bankrupted yourself to buy ridiculous amounts of presents for ridiculous amounts of ridiculous people who probably won't like them anyway? Umm…

It's so simple now.

Authentic picture of the fire last Christmas Day 🙂 Snuggling up in front of it is so good, as are: normal quantities of good food; closeness with the people you cherish most; crap on telly and festively shaped chocolate. The beauty of midwinter is much easier to see in these conditions.

Of course some do thrive on stress… if that's you, well, great 🙂 If not…

Ice Cream Bombe that was consumed on a perfect, peaceful Christmas. Recipe here (is very easy and can be made much in advance), extra preparation pics here.

Disclaimer: The Modern Housewife Series Vol I can take no responsibility for any consequences that come about as a result of following the advice above or discovering the Power of No. Wheedling phone calls of the 'we'll just pop in for a little while' ilk are not our fault. Conversations urging you not to streak naked through the woods are not our fault (fiction for humorous purposes of course, that one… err…)

The fact that putting your foot down over your Christmas may extend out into the rest of your life leading to much self authentication, joy and freedom? Again: all you.

I will be more positively festive and less Grinchy in the next post… promise 😉

early morning

legwarmered up (yes on arms too) for workout.

procrastinate by staring out the window at grazing deer (and taking pictures of them).

sip tea between each exercise… this one is nettle, red currant leaf and mint, all dried from the garden in the summer *pompously makes self sound all Domestic Goddess like* (very misleading)

Then it's a bit of this (note carpet's non-hoovered condition):


a bit of that:

and that's me ready to thoughtlessly abandon housewifery duties in favour of artistic pursuits all day long 🙂

More vintage patterns for knitters

Ghostbusters knitted jumper pattern

Does a pattern count as vintage if it's from the 80's? Thought not. Still, you have to admit these are quite snazzy. While I really have no intention of knitting I like the idea of using the pattern as an embroidery guide. I'm thinking of a selection of beautifully crafted hand stitched Ghostbusters logos and A team vans.Guess what everyone's getting for Christmas?! Hope all my friends are as geeky as me? Wait, I know they are!

I continued flicking through my fine collection of patterns and when I came across this one I felt deep sorrow for the small boy in the jumper and the unfortunate haircut inflicted upon him…

Samsyco girls jumper

then I noticed it was a girl! Girls jumpers it says! I hope she didn't need counselling. I'm still scarred from a page boy haircut as a child when everyone used to think I was a little boy. It didn't help that my mum let me run around in pants and a vest while my friend wore girly dresses and had long hair tied up with ribbons.

But the horror didn't end there, no! Once when I was about 17 I accidentally asked a hairdresser to cut my hair short and a child on a busy quiet train turned round to her father and, pointing at me, asked loudly and clearly "is it a boy or a girl"? I have kept my hair fairly long every since.

Patterns for the discerning knitter

Along with my aquisition of eyes and noses came three folders of quite outstanding retro and vintage knitting patterns. Reeeeeally outstanding. 

I pity the fool who doesn't own this:

knit with Mr T

C'mon, who wouldn't want Mr T's face on their jumper although I am more drawn to the simpler "A Team" motif… 


knitted A Team jumpers

 Almost on a par with the A Team are these fetching his and hers Batman knits but really they don't scream basketball to me…


knitted Batman jumper

…must be wrong!

This next one is genuinely my favourite and although I don't knit I have every intention of mastering it so I can whip up selection of these fine hats. Perhaps I will have completed one by winter but I wont hold my breath. 

vintage knitted hats

 Beautiful and so very different from the usual knitted hat.

One final booklet of hats which I probably wont be knitting…

knitted boys bonnet
…lovely! Wonder if the Nephews would thank me for these…?