Sunday, 13 April 2014

Spring Fresh

Hello friends, nice to be back. My ankle is pretty much healed - huzzah! Man, that was frustrating. So I shall tentatively return to yoga this week and hopefully to aerobics the week after, because I have been feeling like a right slug for six weeks now and I can't wait to get my body moving again! 

Happily, my re-emergence into society has coincided with the sun's tentative re-emergence from wherever she goes all winter (New Zealand, I suppose? Lucky girl). It is a bright sunny Sunday and I am at home putting my room in order. It was beginning to look a little neglected since my boyfriend got a new flat and I've been round there all the time (no housemates - such luxury!). I've been cleaning and tidying and planting seeds, and it's so rare that I can take a decent photo indoors I wanted to capture the lovely fresh spring light. So here I am with some hyacinths which have just started to peep out:

I'm feeling very seventies, as I usually do when the weather warms up. I am wearing a T-shirt I got at a clothes swap (which I am predicting I will wear to death) and my new favourite pair of jeans (flares!) which I got from Ebay sometime last year, but they'd been languishing in my sewing pile ever since, for want of two simple darts at the back to prevent bum gape-age. Shameful. I blitzed my sewing pile a couple of weekends ago and re-hemmed two pairs of trousers, cinched in these jeans, shortened a dress, and changed a dress into a skirt. Bam! Five new items of clothing to wear. Extremely satisfying.

What else have I been up to? Sadly those lettuce leaves I was attempting to regrow only made it to about two inches high then gave up the ghost. As did my charity shop salad leaves - alas! So today I've planted some coriander seeds which were not second-hand and so hopefully will be more productive. I love fresh coriander, it's a smell that always reminds me of Cyprus (as do lemons, cinnamon, and church incense).

Has spring spring where you are yet? Have you been cleaning and tidying and planting as well? Show me!

And as an added bonus, would you like to see an arty, pouty, just-out-of-frame picture of me in my natural habitat? Of course you would:

It looks completely posed but this actually happened completely by accident while I was checking my camera angles - I had to laugh. Hooray for unintentionally arty out-takes. I don't share pictures of myself very often on here - I don't generally do outfit photos unless there's some craftiness involved - but I love seeing you guys in your everyday environments: unplanned outfits, people's houses, pets, neighborhoods, etc, so I suppose maybe some of you might like a little glimpse into my everyday, too. It's always nice to have you :)

Monday, 3 March 2014

A Love of Things That Grow

Hello friends,

How have you been? I've badly sprained my ankle (simply by missing a stair - classic), but since Jennifer Lawrence fell over on the Oscars red carpet, being clumsy is actually terribly fashionable this week.

So, now I have a giant swollen foot I am being constantly reminded by my darling boyfriend how much like a hobbit I am: in addition to my large foot, I am also fairly short, and I most definitely share a "love of things that grow." I'm really ready for Spring, and my favourite flowers, the delightful daffodils, are beginning to pop up everywhere, so it's got me in the mood to grow some more things at home - no easy task in a draughty flat with poor natural light, but I do my best.

I've recently tried out a couple of household experiments which I read about online, so I thought I'd share them with you, my internet friends. I read an article about re-growing food from scraps, and there was one link that said you can re-grow lettuce by simply placing the stump in a bowl of water. Too easy to be true, right? Well, I gasped when I saw it for myself - look!

You can see the straight edge where I chopped off the original leaves, and after only about a week I now have a most triumphant new leaf reaching for the sky! It's a proper baby leaf, with teeny tiny veins and everything. I love it very much. I read some talk online about how re-growing lettuce this way would mean it's less nutritious as it's not getting any goodness from soil, so instead of just plain water (you have to change the water every few days) I've been using water leftover from boiling eggs and vegetables (I always try to re-use veg and egg water to water my plants with - it's a good habit to get into) so whether that will help or not I don't know. I'm mostly overjoyed that it actually worked, and hey, if I only get one new batch of leaves out of it then that's like two-for-one on every lettuce I buy henceforth, so I'd still call it a bargain! And without a garden how else am I supposed to save money on my salad?

Speaking of salad, I took a chance on a grow-your-own salad box from a charity shop. I thought it was too sad to leave potential plant life languishing unloved on a shelf, even though there was no date on them to suggest how long they had been there. I brought them home with a vague warm feeling about having rescued something, but also with a sneaking suspicion that they would not grow. I planted and watered them as per the instructions, then did Totoro's dance around them for good luck (if you don't know what I mean by that then please purchase this film immediately, and I promise you will not regret it).

I squealed aloud - they grew! Is there anything as joyful as that first peek of new leaves coming up through soil? I wish I'd taken a picture when they first appeared, as they were so precious, but I'm glad I waited because now they're heart-shaped...

The moral of that story is that if you find a kit for something that should be growing left unloved in a charity shop, bring it home. You will feel good.

My final green-fingered foray is much more of a slow-burner. Can you guess what this is?

His name is Sputnik, and he is an avocado stone. I have no ambition that he will ever actually bear fruit (hello, I live in England!), but it was another 're-growing food from scraps' project I read about online, and apparently he will become a rather nice plant, at the very least. So, you stick cocktail sticks into an avocado stone so that it can rest its bottom in a glass of water, then after a few weeks of changing said water every few days, a crack will appear in said bottom, and from such a crack a root will appear! Although it takes about six weeks for anything to happen, so in the meantime Sputnik looks like a rather lovely modern art installation. I'll let you know how he gets on!

Has spring fever hit you yet? Are you growing anything weird and wonderful in your home? Do share!

PS: I attempted another internet experiment which I will save you from: ice cream bread. Just don't bother. It's a waste of ice cream (you can't tell what flavour it is once it's cooked) the result is most definitely not bread (it's barely even cake), and if the most basic cake recipe of eggs, sugar, butter, and flour are too complicated for you, then just go and buy a cake from a shop - you will enjoy it much more than crumbly, flavourless "ice cream bread." On the plus side, I now have half a tub of raspberry and pistachio ice cream in my freezer, which is a novelty. Frankly I'm resisting the temptation to put in on my ankle...

Thursday, 30 January 2014

St Mungo's Ribbed Beanie

Ta-da! I've finished knitting that hat for St Mungo's Woolly Hat Day:

It was a really, really quick and easy pattern and although it looked enormous on the needles I love the fit. I have a pretty big bonce, so I do struggle with hats sometimes (remember this tiny attempt?). It used just a teeny bit over one ball of chunky yarn - a most excellent stash-buster of a project - so I think I might make myself another one to keep.

I think it could benefit from a pom pom. What do you think?

But then again, most things would benefit from a pom pom, don't you agree?

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Creepy Kitty

I'm still here! And the blog has a new mascot. Meet Creepy Kitty:

I actually rescued him from a friend before Christmas. They'd found him in the attic of a house they moved into once and had kept him around because they thought he was unbelievably sinister. But I think he's adorable, so now he's mine, and he's watching me type. That silver thing was originally stuck in the middle of his bow, which I admit made him look significantly more like Damian from The Omen, but I feel I've resolved that particular identity crisis. Still, he's watching...

Creepy Kitty doesn't really relate to anything else I'm about to say, but I wanted to include a picture instead of just a bunch of links (such is my own personal blog-reading preference - do unto others and all that) and, well, he was staring at me in that way he does.

I feel like I've caught up on some blog-reading (aren't you all looking fabulous?) but of course by the time I've finished reading everyone else's blogs I am too tired to update my own - I am never in bed early enough.

Still, I just got back from a yoga class, my first in years, and I'm feeling all floaty and connected and of course yoga always makes me think of darling Ali over in the States, whose yoga blog has always inspired me, but did you also know that dearest darling Sarah is training to be a yoga teacher, too? What a useful friend to have :) She went to Peru recently. Peru!

So, yoga made me want to blog. Reach out, be part of something bigger...I don't think the two are incompatible.

And now for some more traditional blog-worthy news: I'm knitting a hat for charity - St Mungo's Woolly Hat Day - and hoping to finish it tonight, which is a good plan because the official Woolly Hat Day is two days away. St Mungo's are a homeless charity and every year they have a Woolly Hat Day, which used to involve people wearing woolly/silly hats to work or school or whatever and raising money from donations. However, this year they have jumped on the knotty bandwagon and published some super-easy patterns so we can knit hats for them, to be auctioned off to raise money. Huzzah! I'm totally going to buy a hat that another supporter has knitted. In fact, hang on...I just did, here. If you get a Lucky Dip Hat (as I have just done) then you will receive a hand-knitted one from a benevolent crafter like myself. I'll show you when my New Mystery Charity Hat arrives!

This all came about because Janine, craftivist extraordinaire, has set up a Craftivism Club in Bath! We'll meet once a month to knit and natter (or crochet and catch-up, if you prefer) and hopefully create some crafty things which will help some other people. I can think of few finer uses for my time or my needles (or indeed, my yarn stash).

So, a few questions arise from today's musings:

1. Do you own anything that everyone else thinks is creepy but that you adore?
2. What's your favourite hat?
3. What is your ideal Dream Hat? Did you have one, then manage to find it in real life? Now that's a story I'd love to hear. I did that with a coat once.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Conquering Crochet

Finally, I have learnt how to read crochet patterns!

Meet Maurice:

Maurice is a tortoise.

A tortoise I crocheted! I have always wanted a tortoise, but until I have a garden, crocheted tortoises will have to do.

He comes from Ana Paula Rimoli's adorable book: 'Amigurami World: Seriously Cute Crochet' which Steve gave me two Christmasses ago but I've been too busy/lazy/chicken to attempt any of the patterns because I'd got it into my head that I couldn't crochet. Shameful. Don't talk yourself out of things. I've realised I do it all the time and I'm really working on stopping that.

So, I finally watched some crochet videos online and consulted a friend who is an expert, and surprised Steve with this tortoise this Christmas. He named him Maurice. Maurice can either sit up or crawl:

Have you achieved something lately that you've always convinced yourself you couldn't do? If so then congratulations, I am proud of you, and I hope you are proud of yourself :)

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Second Sick Day

I'm off sick. It's Day Two of being off sick. Yesterday I slept all day - ALL DAY - but this is what today has looked like so far:

Awake enough to spend an hour on The Sartorialist, but certainly not awake enough to be at work. It's taken me years (and some training from my counselling course - seriously) not to feel guilty about taking a day off sick from work, even though when someone else is ill in the office, I'm the first person to tell them to go home and rest. You've got to be kind to yourself (name that song?). Plus, nobody else in your office will thank you for dragging your poorly ass in and making them get sick, too.

The empty plate with a nice healthy (albeit straight) banana on it also had cold pizza on it at one point. Don't judge me.

I am sure you were also admiring my beautiful Liberty knitting bag, weren't you? That was a 30th birthday present, and it contains my longest-running knitting project (according to Ravelry I started it in March 2012 - seriously?!). Once complete, it will be a delicious green thermal jumper:

Mm, delicious! This second picture shows the dainty little waffle stitch better, but makes it look like kind of a pukey colour:

I think I need another nap now, but maybe I'll get some knitting done later.

I hope you are all in good health. How do you take care of yourself when you're sick? Or are you lucky enough to have someone to take care of you when you're sick? Steve was round briefly yesterday and brought me soup, tea, and juice in bed. It was the first time in my adult life that anyone has brought me soup in bed when I've been ill. It was a wonderful feeling.

Friday, 3 January 2014

And another thing...

Here are a couple more thoughts for this week.

I got three pairs of slippers for Christmas. I was in charge of making the Chocolate Log for the family, and it was a roaring success. I didn't take a picture, but I assure you, it looked like a log.

I am proud to inform you that I have now read all of the Harry Potter books, and 'A Christmas Carol'.

Bandwagon alert: Haim. Holy crap, where have I been?

I forgot to mention that I swam in the sea this year. It's been a couple of years, so it felt really, really good. Despite being a rather weak swimmer, I absolutely adore the ocean.

I adapted my favourite pub game, 'Would You Rather...?' to use as an icebreaker for a meeting at work. Two of the questions were, "would you rather be an owl or an eagle?" and "would you rather be a whale or a shark?" Can you guess what my preferences would be? Please tell me yours.

Here is a picture of me amongst the tall, tall trees in the Lake District:

The trees in Atlanta are even taller, but I didn't know that back in May. We don't have enough trees in Bath. Although the plane trees on the Circus still fill me with awe. I suspect they're Ents. They are most certainly wise.