Thursday, January 17, 2013


Well I'm stuck in Papworth for a bit... Sigh. I had a bronchoscopy past Thursday as a way of hopefully ruling out my having nasty microbacteriums that would prevent me being eligible for transplant. The bronch went fine, in that I can't remember any of it! But since then I've been left with very sore lungs and nasty high temperatures... It got so painful that nearly called n ambulance on Saturday night, which anyone who knows me will agree that I must have been in agony if I was prepared to go to Addenbrooks A and E on a Saturday night! Fortunately, I could call the unit at Papworth and talk to a doc so I avoided that joyous experience. Sadly the temps and pain remained so they have dragged me in to sort me out. Very dull but alas necessary.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Hat a week/month progress

I've actually managed to do a bit of hatting over the last couple of weeks, which has reminded me just how much I enjoy it. I've been making a very large brimmed cerise sinamay hat, which I've edged with black and will have black decorations. Sadly, tomorrow I've got to have a bronchoscopy and start IVs so I probably won't be able to finish it for a while.  I need the bronchoscopy to try and decide one way of the other if I am harbouring a rather nasty micro bacterium.  I had one random sample come back positive for it in early October, but I've had five reasults since that are negative.  The problem is, that if I do have it it will almost certainly stop me being considered for transplant... My doctors do now seem fairly sure that I don't have it and that the positive was just one of those things that sometimes pop up, however, to make absolutely sure I need to be thoroughly searched by broncoscopy to be declared totally bug free.   This has been a very stressful and distressing time to put it midly! The idea of not even being able to be considered for transplant rather knocked me for six.  Knowing that one day I might be able to have a really positive outcome from transplant and get some of my strength and stamina and life back, has aways helped me carry on fighting when I've been feeling rubbish and struggling with this bloody disease - which has been rather a lot recently. So to have that little glimmer of hope taken away was really, really hard.  Having had all the negative results has restored my mental eqilibrium a bit, so hopefully the bronchoscopy will go well and also come back totally negative and I can try and get back on track health wise and head wise. Fingers well and truly crossed.

Anyway, as my hatting will be a bit on hold for a while, I thought I'd post a few pictures of my making it so that I feel a bit better about my lack of sewing! The pictures were taken with my iPhone so they are not great quality (and some are a bit out of focus!) but you can see how huge it is...
About to start blocking the brim.  The Crown is done and hiding in the background.

The blocked brim.  It took nearly every milliner pin I have.

The brim with its edge wired, its a long way around this brim...

Half way round sewing on the brim binding.  Clothes pegs are so useful in millinery!
So now I have to decide how to decorate it.  I've made some sinamay decorations but I am still not sure quite what I want.  I didn't make it with a particular event or outfit in mind, it is more an experiment to see if I could do enormous hats as well as the mini ones I usually make. I really like the simplicity of the shape as it is so I may leave it plain for now until inspiration strikes.  With two weeks of IVs to look forward to starting tomorrow I will have plenty of time to think about it...

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Christmas baking

Christmas is definitely a time to bake as much food as possible and then eat as much food as possible. This is definitely a family tradition and the ability to over cater is genetic on my mum's side of the family. So, I managed to bake lots of different things, but a new discovery were these lovely little almond meringue biscuits called Batons Marechaux. I found the recipe in my Leith's Baking Bible, which is one of those books that has a recipe for pretty much any baked item you can imagine and quite a few you could not.  Sadly, it doesn't have a lot of pictures, which I love in a cookbook, so I'm not sure if I got them quite right, but they taste great. They are based on a basic meringue which is so much easy to make with my kitchenaid then with a handheld mixer. all you have to do is sit and watch it turn egg whites and sugar into lovely, shiny, clouds. I have a feeling I may be making meringues and meringue based things quite a lot in future... You then fold in ground almonds and pipe them into fingers. These are sprinkled with hazelnuts before being baked. They are then sandwiched together with chocolate- om nom nom! As you can see from the picture i am not that good at piping consistent shapes... but they still taste totally gorgeous.
Batons Marechaux waiting to be sandwiched together with chocolate.
As Christmas simply would not be Christmas without mince pies, I had a go at some of these too.  My first go came out somewhat too large as I didn't have any bun tins so used muffin tins... They were really a bit big for mince pies, so for the next lot I went to the other extreme and used mini muffin tins.  These turned out very dinky indeed  and made a very nice couple of mouthfuls. I used the sweet short crust pastry recipe from Short and Sweet, which was surprisingly easy to use for something as irritatingly fussy as pastry normally is.  The idea of topping them with a little star was from Nigella's Feast.  I did have a bit of a problem with this, as the mince mixture had a tendency to escape through the holes and glue the pies into the tin! I had to spend a rather annoying few minutes chipping the dried sugar away from the pies so I could then lever then out.  I'm not sure if using less filing would actually help here, as I made them in two batches and used less in the second than the first but they still leaked all over the place.  So next time I may stick with tradition and just use lids to avoid annoyance!

Continuing with the mini these, one of the most popular things I made over Christmas was a large batch of MIni Christmas cakes from Nigella's Feast. She claims that the mixture will make 18, I managed to get 28! I think they look rather fun in a big tower on my cupcake stand, finished with a little icing sugar snow.