Monday, 3 February 2014

Weekend in Wells

Sorry I have been quiet the past week, I was feeling a little under the weather.

But back to it now and I wanted to tell you about my weekend away in Wells Next to the Sea with my Dad, his partner C and the Gentle Giant, not the weekend just gone, the one before.

If you are planning on a weekend away in England then I would highly recommend it. It has everything you need for a classic British get away. Great pubs, traditional village shops and one of the most beautiful beaches in the country. We are very fortunate to live just a couple of hour's drive away.

Dad, C and The Gentle Giant at the Docks in Wells

We stayed in the Bowling Green pub which two double rooms in an annex out the back and is a lovely, warm, traditional pub with great food and two (!) open fires. Perfect in the winter.

Me, Dad and C - Sheringham Park

We had a very busy day on the Saturday; up early for breakfast (fruit and cereal for me but the fry up is gooood) then off to Sheringham park for a good old yomp.

The Gentle Giant and myself -Sheringham Park

We then walked through the park to Sheringham town. Had a little look around their quaint station and stopped in the yarn shop (obviously) where C purchased some fantastically colourful fat quarters to play with on her new sewing machine. I'll be honest, the jealousy is killing me.

From Sheringham, we walked along the coastal cliff top for a little while, with spectacular views even when the clouds began rolling in, then cut back in and walked back to the park.

Where we were spied by a very suspicious looking character.

Things then turned a little dramatic. Back in the park, Dad took us up a hill then lots of steps to a Gazebo.
At the top of which I burst into tears. I am mortified. I hate cry-ers but clinging on at the top of this flimsy structure, swaying in the wind, my fear of heights took a hold of me. Ok, so maybe it wasn't flimsy and maybe it wasn't swaying in the wind but give me a break!

At this point the men in my life really did me proud. Gentle Giant stared at me in shock and Dad took a photo of me. Brilliant. Thankfully, C was there and she took me back down to safety. Men!!

100% recycled wool - £13
During the drive home we hit an impressive lightning storm and I was very glad of the purchase I had made in the National Trust shop.

Yes I do realise I am supposed to be knitting a throw for the futon but it is a slow process and you can never have too many throws!

We arrived back to base to find the pub in darkness. So while we waited for the power to come back on we sat down and played word games (to Dad's dismay) by candle light. I was a little disappointed when the lights filled the room!

Sunday was a bit of a wash out. I caved in and had a fry up. Delicious. Then we walked down to the beach. A lovely walk on a nice day. Not so good in torrential rain and unforgiving winds. To say we were soaked is an understatement.

We did go in a shop called The People Tree where I picked up this Indonesian clay cooking pot for £5 though so it was definitely worth it!

RRP -£20. This one is chipped so I got a bargain!

Thursday, 23 January 2014

A knitting lock in

Today Gentle Giant accidentally picked up my set of keys along with his own when he left for work this morning. As he works a good half hours drive from home this rendered me unable to leave the flat. I was dismayed, as I'm sure you can imagine. 

So I did some washing, cleaned the highly neglected en-suite bathroom, emptied the dishwasher, moved some piles of stuff around and then, when I could put it off no longer, when there was no other possible option, I knit. I knit for hours and hours. Poor me. 

I started by casting on Gentle Giant's jumper. This took some time as I'm working with double knit Merino which has turned out to be quite splitty and it requires 246 stitches. Joy. But the worst part is done, now I can get on with the good stuff. 

This sort of looks a little purple-y but in actual fact it is a navy blue

I did a little of the ribbed edging but I get a lot of pain in my fingers so I moved on to something larger after a while. I find working with the lighter weight yarns, surprisingly, causes me more bother.   

So I then moved on to making squares for my futon throw:

This is such an easy pattern for guaranteed square squares. I like making these because they are mindless and quick.
Here's the recipe:

Cast on 2 sts.
Row 1: k1 knit in front and back of 2nd stitch.
Row 2: k1 kf&b of 2nd stitch, k to end of row.
Repeat row 2 until edge measures 19cm.
Next row: k1 k2tog k to end of row.
Repeat until 2 sts remain.
Cast off.
You have your square. 

At some point in between the chores and knitting I did a bit of online snooping and found this amazing website. Anybody interested in turning their balcony, porch, windowsill into a veg patch should really take a look. I think it will be a daily hit for me!

Anyway! I could happily bore you for far longer but Gentle Giant will be home soon and he's cooking (such a treat!) so I want to go and check the kitchen is presentable.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Starting over

Good girl points were swinging wildly up and down this week. 

On the one hand, I had a vicious row with Aunty L on the weekend, losing me several hundred.

On the other, I let it go, took a deep breath, picked up the phone and apologised, gaining me a few back. Thankfully, for all our faults, our family is unyieldingly forgiving. Only with each other, mind.  

Again, on one side of the coin I found a gorgeous pair of silver and black stone earrings for my mum, to replace the pair she lost. And to counter act this good deed I completely over indulged on the weekend, stuffing my face with wine and chocolate.

So I've decided the only thing I can do is to draw a line under last week, reset the scoreboard and start again. 

After 2 manic episodes on the exercise bike and a strict eating plan I am hoping my weight is back on track and yesterday I started The Gentle Giant's Christmas jumper. Yes, thank you, I am well aware it's January. I've opted for the fashionably late style of present giving... Or early perhaps?! Pictures to come.

So, so far so good. 

I am off to cook dinner now, Spag Bol; a personal favourite and NOT from a jar. I will post my recipe for you soon as it's a little different. 

Then I'm off to knitting and spinning tonight for the first time in ages. Up until this week I have been working late and not making it home until gone 8pm so I will be basking in the luxury of an evening spent knitting, chatting and possibly, possibly, indulging in a biscuit.


Sunday, 12 January 2014

A Sunday at home...

Today has been lovely. We are away such a lot on the weekends it has been absolute bliss to just be at home today. Don't spread this around but I actually got up and had a shower this morning and then put my pyjamas back on!

After a very yummy breakfast of chopped banana and Greek yoghurt I dug out my copy of:

Everybody should have one of these - I retrieved this one from a bag of stuff Mum had put to go out to charity - I still can't believe she was going to give it away!
 Donned my new apron, and set to and made these beauties - I can't believe how well they turned out!

Please excuse my fluffy hair!

This is the recipe I used:

I used a quarter of the suggested quantities. I brushed them with a mixture of milk and a beaten egg and instead of baking them for 40 - 45 mins at 230 degrees, as suggested for the loafs, I put them in for 20 mins at 200 degrees and they turned out really well.

I have added a copy of my calculations below for you if you fancy trying it out.

I hope you can read my hand writing!

While the dough was proving I fixed us up some home made soup out of left over veg from the week. This turned out to be carrot, potato, cabbage and mushroom with rosemary, fresh thyme and garlic.

Gentle Giant and I watched Last Vegas whilst gobbling this up. A film I can highly recommend for an easy watch and a bit of a giggle.

This afternoon has been spent on the computer, first getting my planning done for my early morning sessions at the Primary School and then I was onto the fun stuff: searching for an answer to my cereal box problem. After a fair while of snooping about I stumbled upon these:

At £7.99 each from Amazon I will have to wait for pay day to purchase these and it can't come quickly enough!

During my search I found, a brilliantly crafty blog. On this blog I found a list of tutorials on how to make your own storage boxes and some of them look really, really nice.

 I am planning to give them a go myself (just as soon as I have saved up enough for a sewing machine!). I particularly like the look of tutorial 3:

and tutorial 9:

Clicking through Ayumills blog (creator of tutorial 3) lead me to her free tutorial on tissue box covers. This is something I've had on my brain to try making for a while and I absolutely love the reversible pattern she has designed.

Here's the link:

Let me know what you think, or if you have any other sewing patterns you think I should add to my Things To Do List!

This evening will be spent catching up on BBC's Atlantis with a glass of wine and my knitting. I think I will make my first square of my patchwork throw for the futon. Have a lovely evening!


On a roll!

All in all I've had a pretty good first week back at school.

We have made great progress around the flat with several storage solution purchases made yesterday (take that Storage Beast)...

2 x wicker baskets - Dunelm
Medium - £3.99 (sale)
Large - £5.99 (sale)
This is the smaller of the two which I am using as my "Current Projects Box" (These are the dungarees, in case you were wondering, not much progress has been made, I'm still in the planning process haha!)

Glass TV stand - £35 - The Range
A little bare at the moment but will soon be filled with Gentle Giant's consoles...

2 x leather storage trunks - £20 each - The Range (sale)
Full of jumpers and wool....

Gentle Giant has earned some brownie points fixing the coffee table...



And somehow I have managed to lose 7lbs in 5 days.

However, I am currently in the throes of The Battle of The Boardgames.
I am not winning. 

We love our boardgames but finding a place to put them is never easy. This is but a few of our collection.

Friday, 10 January 2014

The Sifting Process

Following an evening with our neighbours across the hall B and P, an elderly couple with bucketfuls of energy and a heart-achingly nice flat, I have come down with a serious bout of home-envy. 

Don't get me wrong, I love the flat that Gentle Giant and I live in, we are so lucky to be here, it's what we put in it that I have the issue with. We both have so much stuff! And, all right I admit it, I am not the naturally tidy person I would have my friends believe I am. I do hope they aren't reading this!

I do however, work hard at making myself be tidy. You know what I mean, going back to the pile of books on the floor I have just stepped over, picking them up and spending the next 20 minutes scratching my head, trying to find somewhere to put them (preferably not another pile).

The Storage Beast (see my About page) is the bane of my life. We have a good amount of room for a 2 bed flat but there aren't any built in storage spaces and any storage solutions we do come up with are gorged on by The Storage Beast before we can say "oh look, there's some space". So we really struggle to fit everything in tidily. 

Particularly as our hobbies take up a lot of space, if a drawer, side or patch of carpet isn't swamped in Gentle Giant's many hundreds of wires for his gaming devices, it is taken up by tangles and tangles of yarn. Match made in heaven.

Some progress has been made however, I have buffeted The Storage Beast into a state of confusion this week as I have spent a LOT of time moving items from one room to another (this method has been coined The Sifting Process by Aunty R - the theory being that if you shuffle everything around enough, eventually all your things will fall through minuscule holes in the floor and disappear). It seems to be working, the lounge is looking much, much clearer despite the arrival of an Xbox One - Gentle Giant's latest toy and the spare bed has stayed clear for 5 whole days.

We have also made some storage and organisational purchases that have done themselves proud:

Week planner - £2.75 Wilkinson
 Hey Foxy File box - £2.50 Wilkinson

Magazine box - £2 Tesco (sale)
(Please excuse the red splatter on the wall - it is candle wax before you get any sinister misconceptions! Any ideas on getting it off??)                                          

Bathroom Chest of Drawers - £28 Tesco
I bought one for the main bathroom and one for the en suite - they have made such a difference. I didn't know men needed so many beauty products!

Next on the agenda: The Battle of The Cereal Boxes.

It looks so bloody messy! Any suggestions would be gratefully received.

Really, though, I shouldn't complain, as we speak Gentle Giant is clearing out the drawers in the spare bedroom to create some more space (and it's all quiet on The Storage Beast front, quiet grunts and snores are wafting from the airing cupboard). You have to admire Gentle Giant's restraint considering the 2 day old Xbox one that is calling to him through the walls...

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Decision Made.

As you may have noticed, my one week in hiding turned out to be more like two months... Apologies.

2014 has crept up on me somewhat and with it, for my little patch of cyber space, comes a change.

Although knitting is, and will probably always be, my chosen and most loved craft, I have decided against chasing a career in the yarn industry. I suppose this must seem quite a contradiction, considering my previous mission statement but I retain my right to change my mind! 

The silence that proceeded this entry was a side effect of a couple "future altering" decisions being made, all of which I took my time coming to. 

After spending the most part of last year investing much of my time and available cash on making hand knitted items to sell, I have come to realise that profiting from knitting is something that brings me no joy. For me, the pleasure I get from my hobby does not lie in making a monetary profit (or not making a monetary profit in my case!). Knitting the same pattern several times to put on a shelf to be picked up by an anonymous, faceless buyer brings me absolutely no satisfaction and furthermore, I did not receive any kind of rush from the little amount I did earn. In fact, I spent most of the time feeling stressed and miserable, pining for the freedom to cave into my Startitus and impulses to make fibre based purchases.

No, the warm fuzzy feeling that keeps us knitters knitting comes to me in the process of choosing a pattern and yarn that is just right for the friend or family member in mind, imagining them enjoying it with every completed row and finally... finally presenting it to them. Nothing beats it.

This Christmas, the fuzzy feeling came in the shape of a fair-isle Christmas stocking I made for my Dad and his partner. I finished it on the eve of Christmas and, in my haste, neglected to take a photo... Doh!
I will try and get one for you next time I visit. 

I cannot lie, my enjoyment of the craft is not entirely selfless. I don't think any aspect of the hobby excites me more than designing and knitting up a jumper, scarf, pair of dungarees just for me! What? I'm allowed some indulgences, don't look at me like that!

So, with the decision made, I have finished my final order, wrapped it and will deliver it tomorrow. I know I have said it before but knitting is my favourite, favourite, favourite thing and from now on nothing is going to spoil it.   

So here we go with another year, I am stepping into 2014 with new aims (see the list below) and with that my blog will have a whole new focus.

Things To Do:
  • Complete a PGCE at Colchester Institute
  • Make a throw and cushions for the futon
  • Turn our little flat into a home
  • Find storage solutions(!!!)
  • Join the Colchester WIGirls
  • Lose weight (at least 1 and a half stones)
  • Build a mini vegetable patch on the balcony
  • Be good
  • Make more lists
  • Etc...