Friday, 29 January 2010

Ta-dah!!!! It's finally finished!

Although was it worth the effort? I guess it was, I think (and I hope you agree with me!) it looks quite beautiful. But boy did it take forever to make.

When I see it, I think of all those evenings spent watching tv with a needle in my hand and Boyfriend (rightly so) complaining that this tray with threads was always in the way...

Then there was the incident when the needle went missing overnight, only to reappear stuck in the front of my slipper the following morning... honestly, what was that all about?!

But hey, 'tis all done now. And I'm so proud. I finished it off the other day, I was on a cross stitching marathon I tell you, I just wanted it to be fi-ni-shed.

As you can see, it's a book marker and the cross stitching depicts lavender flowers.

So I stuffed some hand picked lavender from last summer inside and it smells divine!!! Can't wait to start a new book so I actually have a reason to use it!

Happy Friday all xx

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Heavenly sky

I actually ran out the house when I saw what was going on outside the other evening... Have a look...

I ran to the top of a hill and clicked away...

It took my breath away (quite literally actually - running to the top of a hill made for quite ghastly weezing!)

Happy Thursday all - hey, it's nearly the weekend! xx

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Sunshine Award

If you've been here before, you'll know that I love going over to certain blogs, to which I occasionally link to. One of my all time favourites is The Girl and she has just given me an award!!! Thank you very much, it makes me feel very special!!! If you've never been over to The Girl, seriously you're missing out. Think amazing writting skills and excrutiatingly funny. And quite oddly very similar to me in many ways!! ;-)

So the rules are to pass this on to 12 people. I'm going to cop out of this like The Girl and award it to however many people I want. So here goes... I love love love all these blogs, so I'll just try and summarize why I always go back to them in a few words.

The Praire Girl: simply and truly inspiring

Swirly Thoughts: cute, cheerful and full of ideas

Quilt While You're Ahead: great photos, funny, simply lovely

Fancy Elastic: always chooses really cool knitting pattern which I can't help but copy!

Tollipop: another world, stunning photos, amazing artist

Do you mind if I knit: go and get your explosive daily dose of colour!

I had others to add, but they'd already been given this award! Happy Wednesday to all of you! xx

ps: Hope you've enjoyed these photos, I thought I'd dig through some I took last year in July to fit in with this sunshine award... oh summer I await you with open arms!!!

pps: Oops forgot to post the rules! Here they are:
  • The Sunshine Award is awarded to bloggers whose positivity & creativity inspires others in the blog world
  • If you are awarded this award, put the logo on your blog or within your post
  • Pass the award onto 12 bloggers
  • Link the nominees within your post
  • Let the nominees know they have received this award by commenting on their blog.- Share the love and link to the person from whom you received this award.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

London Town

Last year, Boyfriend's sister got married. Because she likes me and she had this humongous amount of trust in me, she asked me to make her wedding cake. Yep, you read correctly, her wedding cake!!! Anyway, to cut a long story short, it all went well and both the groom and the bride were extremely pleased. So much so that they gave me a really cool present to say thank you: a champagne afternoon tea for two at a swanky hotel in Covent Garden. How cool is that?! I really didn't expect anything, because they paid for everything, all the ingredients and stuff, and I was more than happy to give some of my time. Since we had no plans for the weekend, I booked us in for Saturday afternoon. So off we went, dressed up a little and went down to London to enjoy a spot of tea and cakes. And you know what, it was lush!!!

We started the day by walking down to the British Museum. I love seeing random things, and this one Boyfriend spotted. Felt like a paparazzi taking photos of them, but it just looked so cool...

Being members of the BM, we get free access to special exhibitions, so made the most of it and went to see one about the Aztecs that was on for a final couple of days. I love just walking around museums, and the BM never fails to amaze me.

We then made our way down to the hotel, walking past an amazing flower stool. Possibly one of the most expensive I've seen recently. Honestly, London prices!!

Followed the afternoon tea. One word: indulgence. Now, forget I'm meant to be watching what I'm eating. Sometimes, you just have to let it go. Live a little. Well I certainly had no problem doing that!!

Think scones, clotted cream, jams, chocolate brownie, finger sandwiches, cupcakes, fresh strawberries... YUM!!!

After having filled up our not-so-small bellies, we went down for a walk around Covent Garden. I went in this lovely shop for the first time ever, and didn't stay very long, it was just so busy!!

Had fun in another shop, reminiscing about past (think teenage years) shoe ownerships... They were dead cool back then!! F., see those with the union jack?!! Boyfriend couldn't believe it when I told him you had a pair like that!!

And we finished up in one of my favourite places, Covent Garden market.

Hope you enjoyed this little post as much I did writing it up and going through all the photos I took! xx

Monday, 25 January 2010

You make me happy

Thank you!! Honestly, I don't know how many times I've said this before, but I'd like to say it again, THANK YOU!!!!! I guess I'm always so amazed at how kind you people are. Thank you to all of you who took the time to leave comments recently, you won't believe how happy they've made me. And more importantly, they were all interesting, and inspiring. You shared some of your experiences, and I thank you for that. Sometimes, in the crazy environment that we live in, it's easy to forget that other people go through similar troubles, that people have similar issues and uncertainties. Everything seems to go so fast, people appear so focused and determined, it's easy to feel like you're falling behind. But reading your comments has given me energy and drive to sort things out! So once again (and I promise it's the last time, well at least in this post) thank you!

Right, moving on. I'm very proud to say that I managed to tick off quite a few things off my to-do list this weekend. Listen to this (can you hear the drum roll...?) I went to my gym class on Saturday AND went for a jog yesterday!!! Hip hip, hooray!!!! No but honestly, I feel very proud, even if a little stiff today...! Didn't get round to looking at my CV though, so I'm going to do that before the end of the week. That's my goal for the next few days.

And regarding the healthy snacks, well I got plenty of fruit and low fat yogurts for the moment. But that just sounds a little boring compared to the snack ideas that Felix has give me. Thank you so much (doh! I've done it again!). Well I don't care, you deserve a massive thank you Felix!!! Thanks for taking the time to give me all that advice, goodness knows I need it!

So, what else was I up to this weekend? It feels like I had quite a relaxing time, which is a really nice feeling. I feel content and it's Monday morning, what's going on?! Well I guess all the cross stitching might have helped. The end is near so that fills me with joy!! I have to admit, I don't think cross stitching is for me, it's just so slow moving... It just doesn't give me the excitement I get from other crafts, maybe I'm just too impatient!! If you want to have a look at a hilarious example of cross stitching though, go and check out The Girl, it's hilarious!!

Another thing which made me really really REALLY happy this weekend is this (and you're now going to understand what the first three photos have been about!):

Reggie I love you!!!!! Reggie the cat has sent me this wonderful super cute pinny. I love it!!! Blogland is such a wonderful place, full of immensely generous people. Thank you Ali!!

Right, I've got more to tell you about, but I need to get on with things so it'll be for another day! Hope you all had a lovely weekend and that you've got a happy Monday in sight xxx

Friday, 22 January 2010

Thanks and threads

Ladies, I feel overwhelmed by your messages!!!! Thank you so much for your kind words, your much needed advice and encouragement. I feel so much more positive about things. You're really brilliant. What I mean is that, sometimes, it's difficult to mention certain things to even your closest of friends, due to various circumstances. Here, I know that I'll get honest opinions, and I value that very much. So thanks again for taking the time to read this little blog of mine and sharing your views with me, I'm really grateful.

Felix, I'd love to receive some tips on snacking etc, please please send them over!! I'd considered joining WW at the end of last year, but counting just isn't for me! It would drive me insane! I need to change my entire behaviour, and more importantly need to enforce some serious portion control!

So, actions for this weekend include:
  1. go to my Saturday gym class tomorrow morning - first time back since way before Christmas, I know I'll be panting like a horse at the end, it's not going to be pretty!
  2. update my CV so it's all ready to send out to potential employers
  3. fill the fridge and cupboards with healthy snacks
  4. go for (what should become) my regular Sunday run

Bring it on!!! Hahaha!! Right, before I go mental and collapse in front of this mountain of self expectations, I'm going to show you what I've been doing on the crafty side of things the last few evenings. I've put my big knitting needles aside and picked a somewhat smaller one... Yes, I've been doing some cross stitching! To Boyfriend, it's all "knitting" but you know better! What happened was, a while back, I'd picked up these two kits from a shop. One I completed a little while ago, but the other has been taking up floor space. I actually started it last year, around November time I guess. It even nearly made it as my nan's Christmas present, but that obviously didn't happen! (It's ok though, she loved the shawl!!).

So there, I'm determined to see this all done fairly soon! Only because I'm organised like that, and I'm itching to start something else that I've actually designed myself!! I'm so excited to tell you about it, but I'll have to keep it secret for a little longer! Oh, and apologies for the rubbish photos, I haven't quite mastered my new camera yet, hence the funky mid-field focus...!

Have a lovely Friday xx

Thursday, 21 January 2010


That's how I'm feeling. Well, vaguely. Thank you so very much to those of you who left me such kind and above all interesting messages to yesterday's post. Seeing how hard I'm finding the controlling what I eat/ doing some exercice thing, I think I'm going to go with Swirlyarts and try and focus primarily on getting fit. Hopefully the eating with get itself into check automatically without it feeling like too much of a chore. Thanks for the advice!

And onto the work front. I found what you all said really interesting. Jane's story in particular was very thought provoking. I need to find something that makes me happy. And hopefully I can earn enough when doing whatever it is I end up doing so that I can live comfortably. I think this has made me realise I really need to start applying to new jobs. Looking quickly yesterday made me realise that there are a lot of January application deadlines out there, so I better get a move on! And thinking more seriously about possible business ideas...

In the meantime, I better crack on with what I'm meant to be doing, ie what pays the bills at the end of the month! Hope you all have a nice Thursday x

ps Sorry for the random photos, I was having fun with my new camera last night! More on that soon!!

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Funny times and knitty times

Good morning all! I meant to write a little post yesterday, but couldn't quite find the right words. Things are fine really, but there's one thing bugging me and it's work. It's making me have a little rethink about what it is that I do and if that's really what I want to be doing in 10 years time. I'm doing a job that I trained for for quite a significant period of time (about 5 years of university), but now I find it quite boring and the pay's not great. So what should I do? There's lots of jobs out there, but you need specific qualifications for them, so that's a no-no. And there's others that seem ok, but would involve taking a significant pay cut. A pay cut from a not so big pay to start with leaves you with not very much... There's things that I wouldn't mind doing, like setting up my own business, but you need quite a lot of cash to get things like that sorted. And unfortunately, I don't have that kind of money! So what do people do? What do you do? Survive on very little so that you can do something you enjoy, or swallow your ambition and desires and stick with something because it pays well?

While I leave you to ponder this existential question that I'm sure you didn't quite expect so early on a Wednesday morning (sorry!), I'll leave you with this. My last knitted project. It's beautifully soft, made with Debbie Bliss Alpaca and Silk. Honestly, does it get any better than that? Alpaca AND silk?

I made up the design and I'm really quite chuffed. If you haven't guessed, it's a neck warmer. I managed to get a (let's face it, quite rubbish) photo the other day, but man is it hard to take a photo of yourself! As you can see, I didn't do so well at conveying the true colour, which is shown properly on the above images. But for an action shot, here you go...

I love the chunky buttons, I like the way it finishes it in (what I hope is) a stylish way.

ps after Sunday's run, things aren't going so well. I put my hands up, I feel quite ashamed. The whole work thing you see... You're probably going to think I'm a right old pig. Last night I had a whole pack of Doritos and dip. And no, not the small size. Anyone else comfort eat??!

Monday, 18 January 2010

Good morning!

Good morning! Hope you all had a nice weekend! Not much going on over here, just enjoyed being at home...

Enjoyed the lovely roses I have around the house...

Enjoyed some lovely Beaujolais in Boyfriend's new decanter...

Enjoyed a lovely meal of roasted guinea fowl and vegetables in a wholegrain mustard, lemon zest and white wine sauce...

Enjoyed making some bread (although the kneading part did drive me mad at one point when the dough was ridiculously sticky!!) with some lovely granary flour bought during our Norfolk holiday last year from this mill...

And enjoyed going for my first jog of the year - no photo of that I'm afraid, it really wasn't a pretty sight! What did you enjoy this weekend? x

Friday, 15 January 2010

10 things about me

Well not quite. More like 10 things that make me happy. Kind of similar. You get the idea!! And why would I make that list? Well I've been given an award!!! My first ever!!!! Thank you The Girl!!!!

I've thought about this for a little bit now (like literally, a few minutes!), and I've decided I'm not good at making lists like that, that involve a lot of thinking. No problem making lists of things to do, and people to call, and shopping lists, but 10 things that make me happy....  So you know what, I'm going to give it a go right now. To stop all this thinking that's driving me mad!! And see what comes out. So, in no particular order:

  1. Knitting - I love you and you make me happy - I love all your yarny goodness, although I'm not too sure what to make of that pain you occasionally give me in my finger joints when I go on knitting marathons... obviously not a good one! But regardless, I can't see my life from now on without you.
  2. Boyfriend - don't want to sound all mushy, but you do make me happy - thank you!! And as much as you sometimes think we argue and disagree and I moan and have a temper and I get moody , I love you. You make me happy. I hope I make you happy too x
  3. Crisps - had to steal this from The Girl I'm afraid. A life without crisps is not worth living. Well actually, I curse the person who ever invented crisps. They could have at least invented crisps that don't make you fat. Like you could eat a whole family size packet and not feel guilty. Or fat. Honestly, is that too much to ask?! And if you really want to know, my favourites are Salt and Vinegar McCoys and Salt and Vinegar Discos. A-ny-time. Like now maybe? No, never before 12 ;-)
  4. Walking - long walks in the countryside. It clears your mind, you get to enjoy magnificient landscapes, discover new places, watch some wildlife, and feel terribly lucky that you can enjoy all these things.
  5. Animals - dogs, cats, love them all. I go completely mushy when I see any, and always, always try and call cats over when I see one in the street. Can't help myself. And get a little hurt if they're more busy doing something else!
  6. Food - I don't want to sound like I'm really sad here, but yes, I put my hands up, I love food. Life would be rubbish without lush food. And hey, don't think I'm a pig ok?! I'm just gourmande. I also very much enjoy feeding people. And by that I don't mean force feeding them (!), but rather watching the enjoyment they get out of food lovingly prepared for them. Food brings people together.
  7. Dancing - don't get to do it so much these days, I think my clubbing days might be behind me really, but I love a good boogie! May it be in the living room, or even in the street (much to the despair of Boyfriend!), I do honestly love to move my backside around. And goodness knows there's a lot to move! ;-)
  8. Friends - I've never been in a situation where all my friends have lived within 10min of my house. Not even as a kid. And these days, it's even worse. They're all scattered around the country, and some are abroad too. It means we don't get to see each other often, and at times it can be hard to stay in touch. But it's all worth it. Life without friends can't be much fun.
  9. Talking. Now, this may be a bit of an odd one to put here, but I'm sure Boyfriend will agree with me, I LOVE talking. And I mean talking, like talking for ever, non stop, a continuous dribble of information and commentary. That's me. Honestly, I can't help it. Don't be angry.
  10. Watson's jumper. All you need to know is that it's a fleece. A really nice, big, warm fleece. Not remotely attractive. It's even got a cigarette burn in it (no idea how it got there). And if I could, I'd live it in permanently. It's that warm (I can't stand being cold) It's not mine though. And it's not Boyfriend's. But you know what, it's too long a story to tell you here!
Well, I made it! Never thought I'd get there, I can tell you it really wasn't easy!! And I realised coming to the end (before the jumper bit), that it might be getting a little too serious perhaps? But anyway, there was my list of 10 things that make me happy!!

If I could add a no.11 to that, it would be this...

The colours haven't come out great, the buttons are actually a nice pink, orange and mauve. I hope they enjoy their trip via the Royal Mail and find a happy home on the other side!! Happy Friday everyone x

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Princess slippers

When my mum came over at Christmas, we had a lot of fun. There was a particular occasion when we actually couldn't stop laughing. All three of us (mum, Boyfriend and I). In stitches. Quite a funny sight. And the reason for our belly and cheek paralysis? Boyfriend's knitted birthday gifts. I now see I may have overdone it a bit (ok quite a lot) on the knitted presents. That's all he got pretty much. And even though I did spend an enormous amount of time, effort and love making all these things, it was more about what I thought he might like, rather than what he actually wanted.

So there, we laughed. And laughed. And laughed. But at the end of it, by the time all our faces were bright red and I had a permanent massive grin, mum said she quite fancied a pair of those slippers for herself. Something to keep her feet warm in bed during the cold winter months. No sooner had she left that we made a little trip to John Lewis and I got some nice yarn in the sale to start on that project! I altered the pattern slightly to make them smaller, and didn't make pompoms (she wasn't too keen on them). I thought some ribbon would be pretty and more practical anyway, since she can tie it up to make sure the slippers stay on her feet. What do you reckon? I think they're so so cute!!! I hope she likes them! :-)

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Yummy easy curry

After sharing the broth dinner with you the other day, and seeing the positive comments I got back (thanks so much to those who tried it out and liked it!!) I thought I should let you in on another closely guarded recipe of mine. Boyfriend wasn't too sure about it (the sharing bit), but I reckon you deserve it, your a lovely bunch of people. So there. If you hate anything curry-related, then look away now. Otherwise, welcome to the easiest and most versatile curry dish ever.
This dish is similar to the broth one in the sense that you can use whatever veg you have lying around. It's a good one to use up stray carrots. Trust me.
So start by chopping up whatever veg you'd like in your curry. We usually make this vegetarian, but you could add some chicken too, it's up to you really. But here, we're going pretty much vegetarian, so don't skimp on the veg. I'm using onion, carrot and mushroom.

Heat up a little oil in a frying pan. When hot, add a teaspoon of cumin seeds.

The seeds will start popping within a few seconds. Add the chopped onion and finely sliced carrots. The thinner your carrot slices are, the quicker this dish will take to cook. If they're quite chunky, you'll need to up the cooking time (details to follow).

Leave to cook for a couple of minutes. Now it's time to add the curry spices. I'm fairly generous when it comes to spices. And not always consistent. I just rummage around in my spices cupboard and select all those which can be used in curries. So this time, I used a generous pinch of each of these: ground garlic, ground cayenne, ground paprika, ground cumin, ground turmeric, ground ginger, garam masala, asafoetida and freshly ground black pepper. If you're missing one of these, it's really not the end of the world. I was out of fresh garlic, hence the ground garlic. If you have a curry powder mix, that'll do the trick too. I just get spice happy ;-)

Mix everything together to coat all the veg in the lovely spices.

Add a tin of tomatoes. Bog standard chopped tomatoes are perfect.

Add a little water (wash out your tin!) and leave to boil gently for 15 minutes. This is where the cooking time needs to be altered depending on the veg you're using. If you have large chunky bits of carrots or cubed potatoes for example, you might want to up this to 45 minutes on a low to medium heat. Make sure it doesn't dry out, add more water if necessary.


Serve up with some basmati rice. Or naan. Whatever you fancy!! (I added some leftover prawns I had in the fridge too).

Recap ingredients list used here for two:
  • a medium sized onion, sliced
  • about ten buttercup white mushrooms, sliced
  • one carrot, sliced thinly
  • a tin of chopped tomatoes
  • selection of spices: garlic, cayenne, paprika, cumin (ground and seeds), turmeric, ginger, garam masala, asafoetida, black pepper
  • some basmati rice
Hope you like this recipe too!! x