Happy New Year! It’s 2011 already, really? Time flies when you’re ridiculously busy. I so didn’t get 20 hats knit for the ‘Big Knit” maybe about 6 in the end, I’ll just have to start earlier next year. My exams in December were pretty grim, I’m still waiting for the results so fingers crossed they’re not as awful as I’m expecting. Ireland was buried in snow for a few weeks, the most snow since records began, so the libraries and then the college were closed for a few days, not very helpful when you’re trying to cram. Our last exam was very nearly canceled because of the weather, in the end I’m glad it wasn’t, it’s one less exam i’ll have to think about next semester.

I may have got bored of the snow quickly, but I know someone else who definitely didn’t…

The photo above won a competition on facebook- I got a €100 voucher for a pet shop!! I’m considering using some of it to buy Grizz a coat, I know he’ll look ridiculous, but he shivered so much in the bad weather when we took him out I felt cruel making him go for walks. On one or two really icy days he downright refused to go out! Most days though he just loved jumping around in it.

I had a nice quiet Christmas at home in Dublin with my family, we usually go to our holiday home in West Cork for Christmas but this year the weather was insanely cold and the roads were icy, so we stayed in our nice warm house until the 28th when we headed south. The house was freezing for the first day or so but the sense of community we have down there more than makes up for it. Grizz loves it as he can run free across fields and along the beach every day, and play with his doggy friends.

I finally finished knitting this hat, I finished it before, then realised it was too small as I did one less pattern repeat than i should have before the decreases, woops. Oh well it’s finally done now and its very cosy. I think dad is jealous, I might have to make him something similar for his birthday in February!

I didn’t get to do nearly as much baking as I would have liked over Christmas, mainly because we seemed to already have a mountain of sweet treats to last us until March! I made some Peanut brittle for the first time for my mum for part of her Christmas present and it worked out amazingly well for a first attempt. Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo of it, but I imagine I will be making it again soon as it was very popular! I needed a recipe with no sugar thermometer required, and no corn syrup. You can’t really get corn syrup in Ireland but sugar syrup does the job. I subsequently tried to omit the sugar syrup and change the sugar and water amounts to account for it but it didn’t turn out as well at all. I also changed the measurements to metric for those of us on this side of the atlantic!

No Thermometer No Corn Syrup Peanut Brittle!

edited from http://www.couldntbeparve.com/2010/12/peanut-brittle-2/

400g granulated sugar
240ml water
120ml sugar syrup (recipe below)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp margarine
1/2 tsp baking soda/bicarbonate of soda
200g peanuts

Sugar Syrup = 200g sugar, 80ml water (makes more than is needed for this recipe)
Directions: Add sugar and water to a pan, gently boil until sugar has dissolved and mixture is syrupy (about 5 mins). Keep excess to make more brittle later!

Line a rimmed baking tray with parchment paper. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, water, syrup and salt. Bring to a rapid simmer over medium-high and cook until deep golden/until mixture has reached hard-crack stage, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Stir in margarine, baking soda, and peanuts (mixture will foam). Stir until mixture is no longer bubbling and caramel is smooth, 1 minute.
Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and spread with a lightly greased spatula. Do this quickly as the mixture sets quite fast. Don’t be tempted to have a taste until it has cooled completely- it’s REALLY HOT!!! keep kids and unsuspecting family members away! when it has cooled break into pieces, SMASH tray on a hard surface so peanut brittle dramatically shatters- clearly the best way to do it!


So Shoot Me

A few of my friends have warned me not to dress up my dog as they think it will make him soft and make me look like an idiot. I’m not about to go dress him up like this or put diamanté collars on him, but I think bandanas are cute. So shoot me.

Dog Collar Bandana

Hmm, OK I don’t profess to be amazing and perfect at sewing, but nonetheless I will show you how I made this little bandana for Grizz. This bandana is designed to slide on over you dog’s regular collar.

You will need…
1 dog collar that fits your pup (remember when fitting a collar to leave enough room to fit 2-3 fingers between the collar and his neck)
A square of material big enough so that the diagonal is longer than the length of the collar (see pic below) Mine was 20x20cm square, the collar is 25cm long. I got the fabric in the scraps bin in Ikea, 100% cotton, bargain!
A Sewing machine, or needle & thread and patience.
An Iron for ironing the seams etc
Measuring Tape (entirely optional)

1. Cut your material to size. Use the collar to measure against the diagonal of the square, leave some excess for seams. Ignore the screaming puppy who wants to get out of his crate. If it is a collar with a buckle measure from the hole that you use to close the collar to the end, not the whole length of the collar. If your pup still has a bit of growing to do you can make it a bit bigger.

Fold in the edges and iron along the creases to form the seams.

Fold in half diagonally and place the collar along the diagonal. Measure the width of the collar, leaving an allowance each side. Mine was 2.5cm. This will be the point that the collar will slide into the bandana so don’t make it too tight.

Unfold the square again. Double the measurement you took, using this measurement fold in one of the points of the square until the edge measures this (5cm in my case). See the photo below for a better explanation.

Iron these creases. Your collar should now be longer than the diagonal side of the bandana.

Sew along these creases and then cut the excess material on the inside

Return to the other two corners that will form the point of the bandana. If you can figure out a neater way to make them look tidy then well done, but here is how I did it. Fold the corners as in the photo below, you can snip off the very point of the corner to reduce bulk, iron the folds and pin them.

Fold the bandana in half and sew along the ‘V’. Remember not to sew the points where the collar will enter and exit!

Slide your collar through the bandana, put on your pup and gather family members/friends around so that everyone can say…

…1, 2, 3, Awwwwwwwwww!