Sunday, 18 May 2014

How long is a piece of string?

In this case it was about three hours (groan):
This is a 50g hank of linen yarn which came on a skein and wouldn't separate out properly. Yes it took three hours on and off to get it wound into a ball. It is undyed and much softer than the other linen yarns I have - maybe the dye makes it smoother. When it was wound I crocheted another flower ( I do love crocheting flowers).
Some of them are going to be made into a garland - probably not the bright rust coloured one at the moment though, I might save that for something more autumnal.  Steph and I have taken a stall at the school's Summer Fair.  We are busy making lists and samples of bits and pieces we want to make.  I'll have to be super organised - not to get everything ready in time, but to make sure I do the housework! We are going for a fresh theme because it's summer. The fabric, yarn and paint will direct us to what we actually make but we have quite a few ideas.
Some shirtings I got from America (Primitive Gatherings), some ribbon and lavender and buttons from Naturaleigh:
A little bit of hemp rope to go on gift tags,
We (the PTA) decided that each stall at the fair should offer a raffle prize for their chosen charity. We will be opening an ASD unit in September for 9 pupils (ASD = Autistic Spectrum Disorder). I decided to knit a rabbit to raffle to raise funds for extra equipment.  I contacted Julie from Little Cotton Rabbits (her son is autistic) to ask permission to use her pattern. She readily agreed so I have started:
This is the beginning of the head and is knitted with the bamboo yarn that was left over from the little cardigan I knitted recently. By the way the baby was born last week - Ellie Rose - 9lbs 11oz. Wow I bet that stung! Mother and baby doing well.

We have had a few eggs from the Silkie hens this week but weren't sure which one was laying.  Today one was laid in the hen house and one in the pen. Hens can lay more than one egg per day but it is very unusual and often suggests a bit of a log jam rather than a prolific layer. Since the ladies are fit and well I am hopeful that they are both girls.
Will cooked some for our breakfast this morning - they are lush! Three little silkie eggs and one from the Cream Legbar. Free range eggs are much heavier than commercially produced eggs and they are very filling.

I had a lovely lunch today too:
Papaya and medjool dates all wooshed up in the liquidiser. I also added some of this:
Normally this is quite expensive but I picked this packet up at Aldi for £1.99 and it added a lovely nutty taste to the smoothie.  There was enough for two and, although I normally like to drink them as I make them, I have saved some to take to work tomorrow. Dates are high in iron and the medjool dates are lovely and sticky - like fudge. The seeds are good for the digestive system and the papaya has superfood enzymes. I'm not an avid follower of superfoods though. I just think you should get a good balance of things. I just wish I didn't like chocolate and cheese so much, it undoes all my good work.

I'm in the pink this week
Raspberry and yogurt cupcakes for the quilt class,
 and pink gerberas to brighten the sitting room.
How beautiful are they? Look at the lovely inner petals and the deep deep chocolate brown centre. 

This evening I am planning to do some more squares,
When I have completed the unfinished ones shown here I will have more than sixty.  I'll do these whilst watching Vera and nibbling on a couple of choc chip cookies, fresh from the oven - and yes there is a half one on the top row - a cook should always check for taste!
Let's hope the weather stays as lovely this week as it has been for the last few days.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

My favourite sounds.

I am one of those people who loves the sound of silence.  I need some to start and finish my day.  If I can get plenty in between then I'm happy too. Lately though I have been thinking about the sounds I really love and there are so many different things that make me sit up and listen.  As I am typing away on the keyboard I am aware that this sound is one that fascinates me.  I love the gentle clicks of an Apple keyboard. Not like the clatter that I made when I was learning to type on a Remington manual!

I have been indulging in a week of crochet - this is where I am with my squares:
I completed the squares from the larger circles as Lewis Hamilton drove his way to a thrilling victory in the Spanish Grand Prix. The little circles are stashed away for the coming weeknights. Two per night should be do-able. I came across another sound I like - the noise of the crochet hook on the table when I put it down to cut the threads. It doesn't work with wooden hooks. It needs to be metal.

Now do you want to hear something sad/weird? These little squares do not show the circle as well as I thought so I went trawling on Ravelry and found a square that shows the circular centre better. I couldn't get this out of my mind and had to try it.  5.30am on Wednesday found me sitting in the beautiful morning sun making one of these:
Obviously it won't fit in seamlessly with the other squares but I will be making some of these in the future. About an hour later I heard another sound I love, the gentle pitter patter of rain on the window when I am cosy indoors. The next noise was me blundering around trying to get ready for work because I got engrossed in the pattern and completely forgot the time.  If I leave after 7.15 even a few minutes late, the traffic on the A1M is a nightmare. We meet every morning at 8am. Made it by the skin of my teeth.

That morning I discovered another sound that makes me feel good inside. Delibes 'The Flower Duet' - and that got me thinking about all the music that makes me feel good:  piano, violin and clarinet solos top the list. The silky sound of Madeleine Peyroux, the haunting voice of Etta James. The deep tripe rattling drums in the 1812 overture. Is it then the feel of the sound, like the chattering noise of mah jong tiles, the clickety click of chocolate chips before they melt? The crunchy sound of pure cotton sheets as you flick them over the bed - am I strange or do you have sounds that stop you in your tracks just so that you can listen with pure pleasure?

I was very organised this morning and got our Sunday dinner prepared and all the ironing done before I sat down to crochet to the sound of F1 cars (sadly not a patch on previous years because they've changed the engines this year). We haven't has a roast for a few weeks but I got a nice little joint of pork yesterday. Enough for the dinner and some cold cuts after.

A tip from my mother in law - use two small eggs or an egg and an egg white (they freeze well) and your yorkshires stand tall! 
Talking about eggs looky look!
One of my little silkie hens has laid an egg - don't know which though. How sweet are they are and dinkie compared with a normal hen egg.

Sorry about the crochet fest but I got these done too:

From a pattern that Karen B kindly gave me.
And a mandala pattern to be sent to Lucy at Attic 24 for Yarndale 2014. I'm quivering with excitement for that but it's not until the end of September. Some things are well worth waiting for though.

I had to have a smoothie to celebrate! 
Saturday's choice was banana, blueberries (frozen), blueberry yoghurt and a splash of milk.

I'm not keen on drinking too much milk with my smoothies due to the extra calories it provides but have found a good alternative - almond 'milk':
Which became a Sunday mid-afternoon pick me up.
Apricot and almond smoothie with some milled linseeds for extra goody nuttiness. Almond milk makes lovely rice pudding too. Fruity smoothies are my weekend indulgence. The vegetable smoothies are more energising, especially the dark green ones.

Now I'm going to dive into my sweetie jar just for the hell of it.
Non-fat treats. Then I'm going to do - well, nothing, I'm all up to date. Pure joy. A couple of chapters of my latest book 'Bad Luck and Trouble' by Lee Child, watch a bit of 'Vera' and record the last bit for tomorrow, a good night's sleep in my cotton sheets (aahh) and I'll be ready for the week ahead.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Coming up for air

I've been on hold for a while because of huge commitments at work.  They haven't changed much but I'm just coming up for air. The air this week arrived on Wednesday:

But I had to wait (not patiently) until Saturday morning until I could start these:
A granny square with a circular centre
Second circle
The last round turns it into a square
 They are totally addictive - I couldn't help myself 
By Sunday night I had to discipline myself to stop this hooky-fest.  I sewed all the ends in and these are the first 21 squares of my 144 square blanket, inspired by Lucy of Attic 24. She is the queen of lush colours.
Other things have been going on, so here is a quick photo tour of the goings-on at Strawberry Patches:
The Silkie chooks are full size now - but which way are they facing!

Ben is at the 'I wish I could pickle them' age: 
More napping
Testing centrifugal force
Wearing porridge
Cooking Special K
Cooking tea (let's hope he's a tidier cook than his Daddy)

just being cute...

Still drinking strange concoctions (me, not Ben):
Spinach and apple
Mango, guava and lime - always worth a rummage in the cheap fruit section for overripe things that would have been really expensive.

Blueberry and pear, bacon toastie and Machu Pichu coffee - I love breakfasts on a Sunday.

Mother's Day:
Me to Steph and....
Steph to me. (The boys do things for their Mammy, dig, cook etc as I don't like them spending their money on the commercialisation of a special day but it's nice to have a someone who does pretty!).
Beautiful linen napkins from the White Company when I went in to Newcastle and, strangely, found myself in their shop.
What better way to show my gorgeous coloured eggs thanks to my hens. (None from the Silkies yet though).

Re-cycling pretty jars:
The lids are covered with tissue paper
Painted with light buttermilk, then a plaid pattern added,
Green hearts painted on top of this,
Some pen work added and some buttons put in.

I have more jars to do!

There has been a bit of a yellow theme in the kitchen:
Mango ice using jars we got from an Indian takeaway.
Creme caramel
Tarte au citron
Omelettes (in case you are worried about the cholesterol these happened over a few weekends - not all on the same day!)

A teenage girl I know found herself in the family way and abandoned by her own family, so the ladies at work are putting together a hamper of things for the baby and some nice stuff for her too. The baby was due last week but no sign yet. These are my contributions
A cardigan made from Sirdar Baby Bamboo - I decided to make the 6-12 months size.
A cot quilt - 'Cute as a Button'.  It was super quick to make and I have just got some turquoise fabrics to make another version with a pattern to follow.

I've been having a lovely time at High Street Quilting teaching, chatting and laughing with the ladies who come to the class. If there's one thing I've discovered about teaching, it's how much I learn.

So that's a round-up of the things that have been keeping me sane.  Today I'll be making some revision materials for the Year 11 exams and then a BBQ for tea. Tomorrow it's back to the maelstrom that is my life at the moment.

Would I change it? Probably not. As Diane Ackerman said: 

"I don't want to get to the end of my life and find that I have just lived the length of it. I want to live the width of it as well."