Thursday, 28 November 2013

Catching up

Well it’s been a little while. Typically winter illnesses, days out and general busyness have put paid to blogging.
I’ve been ploughing on with ‘the list’ and combining that with a couple of days out alone and days with the family.
A couple of weeks ago I redeemed a birthday present and went to “one pot wonders” at Betty’s Cookery School in Harrogate. It was such a fantastic day. On the way to the course, I was surprised to find myself completely alone. Alone in the car. Not even a sleeping child. It was a bit strange really. It was a super day, plenty of time to think about food and to eat some really delicious things. Lunch was spectacular especially the passionfruit and chocolate bombe. All the dishes I cooked on the day were brought home and enjoyed by the ABO and myself (Sausage cassoulet, lamb meatballs in a spicy sauce, salmon with vegetable ribbons) and BigR (seasonal fruit back to front cake – made with plums and blueberries but so easily adapted to lots of different fruits). I discovered a couple of new tricks which I can adapt some of my current recipes and they gave me some great ideas for new things I can cook. I often rotate round the same dishes in spite of having a bit of a cook book addiction (and yes I have asked for 2 more cookery books for Christmas) so it’s nice to think about new things the whole family would enjoy, and certainly with the reduction in salt both BigR and LittleR could and would enjoy.

Last week, I travelled, again to Harrogate, with my knitter friend to the Knitting and Stitching show. We arrived just as the doors opened and our first stop was for coffee. I wasn’t sure what to expect really. I’d been to the Good Food show before and really enjoyed that. Lots of tatsy things to nibble on and then buy and lots of star spotting...the longest queues there were for Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood doing a double siging of their first bake off book. Anyway, I digress. It wasn’t too busy when we first arrived so we sedately made our way round making a mental note of what we’d come back to see. I was in awe of the fabrics galore stall...I just couldn’t resist touching the beautiful liberty fabrics. My companion bought the pattern and yarn for a beautiful dress. I was rather more restrained selecting only some sashiko needles and cotton along with a printed fabric to attempt and from Baa Ram Ewe a pattern for a toy dog. I picked up the wool needed for 2 dogs in 2 colours....let’s see if that’s a project for 2014!! There was so much to see and so many beautiful things to make, for both the beginner and the very experienced alike. By 1pm we both needed a break, some food and a sit down plus the show was now packed so we left and ate in town. This was followed by a short walk to the (second) Baa Ram Ewe shop where again I was very restrained before heading home.
I’ve managed to get out in the garden. It was such a sunny and warm day, well for November it was. Whilst LittleR slept, BigR played on her scooter and helped. We had one side of the garden completely dug out  (by a professional with a huge lorry!) and new top soil replacing the weeds, pieces of concrete (!??) and brambles that were there in the first place. We kept a couple of very established shrubs, some roses and a salvia that I bought this summer. I liberally planted daffodils and tulips both the usual and dwarf varieties in a myriad of colours. I have some blue and pink geranium to go in from my Dad's garden. This would be the perfect opportunity to have colour themed our garden. I’d like to have a garden that was coordinated with different height beds. I know myself better though and this is not likely to happen. I’d see something I liked in an opposing shade and the theme would be over. My main aim for next year in the garden is to have some colour all year round. Our spring flowers are very few and comprised just a few daffodils but I have plans to change that with some seasonal bedding and pots alongside the other bulbs I planted. We should have flowers during our garden’s lean period from February to May.
In other creative activities I’ve been trying out knitting on circular needles using magic loop. A few YouTube videos would make me an expert right? Well I’m a slow knitter anyway and this has made it slower still BUT! I have a circle of knitting. Hopefully a few more rows and I might have a cowl and it might even be suitable for a gift....if I learn how to weave in the ends neatly.

Next week looks busy as well. We’re going out for the day to visit family. We’re looking at local schools for BigR. We’re trying to get the bulk of our Christmas shopping done and dusted (we have a very small family) so it shouldn’t be an arduous task. I’m also due to have a meeting with my boss. I’m a bit nervous about it and about going back to work more generally. I wasn’t nervous last time; I practically skipped into the office to get my brain back into gear and enjoy a hot cup of coffee!! So I don’t know what’s changed. I do (please note the positivity of the present tense) really enjoy my job, a combination of research and teaching. Maybe it’s me that has changed, having 2 children does that I guess. Priorities change, things change and your focus changes. It’s just going to be a case of adjustment. Anyway, I’m sure it’ll all be fine and it’s just anticipation.

The plan for next week is to appliqué stockings for BigR and LittleR. I have grand plans for a blanket for BigR to play with. I bought a fleece blanket in Ikea and have the fabrics and ideas ready but I’m starting small. My first plan for the stockings was to buy felt and sew the stockings myself. It was cheaper to buy a readymade stocking than to purchase the felt to make one, so considering my maternity pay has finished I felt it prudent to do that. This week I’ll work with the bondaweb and perhaps even embroider their names onto the stockings. As it’s a surprise it’ll be an evening job I think. Plenty to keep me busy.


Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Creative endeavours

Since the clocks have changed I seem to have been able to be a bit more proactive and rather than pondering on what to start or spend time looking at all the things I could be doing and being inspired I've actually been doing. 

Plans are coming together for the garden. I've bought some bulbs, a simple mix of daffodils and tulips, but they're not yet planted. That was to be today's job but, it was raining during nap times and I'm feeling a bit of a fair weather gardener at the mo as it is noticeably chillier this week. It will be done as we're forecast a sunny spell later in the week. I've also been browsing the seed catalogues. Its cheering me to think about how our garden will look next spring. The last couple of years the garden has taken a back seat and certainly this year with a newborn. Last year was very reliant on perennials and my Dad bringing me some cheery geraniums, petunias and begonias. I'm in awe of the people who manage nighttime feeds and a stunning garden! BigR has asked for sunflowers so I'm sure we can oblige her request. She'll have to watch where she kicks her ball for them to stay standing! She has a killer volley!

I've managed to do a little embroidery; the owls for LittleR. I used this as my inspiration. It was a pattern I bought about 18 months ago when my friend had her little boy. I stitched this for him, adding his name and date of birth too. Although the owl stitching is complete (I think - I always have a little wobble maybe I should add a little bit here or there), it is not quite finished yet. It needs pressing and mounting, and I should be able to do this this week as I have bought the frame (thank you Ikea). 

I've also sought knitting inspiration. I wanted to try out an idea for some Christmas presents. I'm not making all the presents this year but i know some people would appreciate a homemade gift. I saw this  and then this and then got over excited and had a go. It didn't turn out the same....I think I 'ribbed' rather than 'moss stitched''s not bad for a first attempt. I started a second straight away, in the correct stitch this time, and it's looking how it should now!

I've also been making some eating treats too. I love lemon desserts, cakes, tarts - anything lemon. So I used my trusty Nigella lemon cake recipe. The ABO does not share my love of lemon so he received some date and ginger slices the recipe taken Peyton and Byrne British Baking. The first time I made these I cooked them for the stated time, but they were a bit crumbly. So, this time I left them to cook for a further 10 minutes and they were much better.

Although it's bonfire night tonight, I always think, better late than never, I did carve a pumpkin for BigR last week. Well I started and The ABO wasn't that impressed with my knife skills so helped me out. She was very impressed with the two tealights I put inside it.  I used to do this for my brother when we were children (there was 6 years between us so it isn't as weird as it sounds!) It's reaching the end of it's life now so I should really remove it to the bin. Does that count as a creative activity?

There wasn't any bonfire activity this year. The ABO is working and it's a bit cold for LittleR. The local display appears to still be going on....way past bedtime BigR's bedtime. It's good to warm and cosy at home catching up with things.