Friday 29 June 2012

Fave Friday

This week...
Red and white spotty cake stand. This one came from Sainsbury's but it's not available anymore.

My friend Ali bought me this for Christmas, knowing it would pander to my twin obsessions of polka dots and cake. I always feel a bit sorry for cake stands, though, because they can only really come out for tea parties - there's no point in leaving cakes on it because they'll go stale, surely?

So I'm displaying fruit on mine, instead of putting it in a bowl. Works like a charm.

Friday 22 June 2012

Fave Friday

This week...
Rachel's Organic Ginger Yogurt

You might be able to tell by the surroundings of this product that I am a fan of yogurt. I don't like milk, so I try to have some every day. I particularly love Rachel's Coconut Yogurt, to the point where I can't really keep any in the house because it's impossible to stop until the spoon hits the bottom of the tub. This is almost as good: it has a nice kick to it.

I have been eating it spooned over a rhubarb cupcake, and we also tried the recipe from the website - mixing it with lime juice and using it as a marinade for chicken. I really liked this. just needs to be sold in shops near where I live and I will be happy!

Tuesday 19 June 2012

Tuesday Ten

Ten Things on my To-Do List

1. Pick up THREE parcels from the PO tomorrow. I have been speculating about what these might be. One is a regular parcel, one is a signed-for, and one requires payment of £22 in customs charges. I have narrowed it down to the free yarn from Sublime due to the dodgy dye lot for the sailor top; (2) the book contract I've been waiting for and (3) no idea. I haven't ordered anything from the US. I am desperately hoping that I was the winner of the Jimmy Beans Lorna's Laces giveaway this month and have a limited edition Knit Red skein of every yarn, but that is a huge hope.

2. Go to London and attend three social events. I am meeting up with good friend Siany on Wednesday, who went to Australia but has come back; having dinner with my examiner team on Thursday; and meeting the proprietor of the Gift Shed on Friday before I head back to Brizzle.

Phew! Does that count as six things already?

3. Shark around the online standardisation on Saturday. Now I have been promoted to the dizzy heights of Assistant Principal, I don't actually have to run a meeting - just pop in and out of other people's. I think.

4. Standardise my team of team leaders. Crossing my fingers this goes smoothly because...

5. From Monday, plan every lesson for the next fortnight on the new official proforma and prepare myself for an unannounced drop in. It seems obscene to be having lesson observations this close to the end of term, but there we have it.

6. Properly plan my workshop for the history conference the first weekend in July. I have mapped out a rough plan, after having a minor wobble about it over the weekend and trying to work out if it would be professional suicide to pull out; but it needs more work yet.

7. Ensure the residential AGT conference I'm running for seven schools goes smoothly. This is my fourth time running it, but the butterflies persist!

8. Finish knitting the baby jumper I started at the weekend. (I could quite easily put three more work things on here but it would be too depressing).

9. Make my lunch for tomorrow, and dry my hair, so I can go to bed.

10. ....last but most pressing - finish the familiarisation marking I have been distracting myself from for the past half an hour!

Friday 15 June 2012

Fave Friday

I'm resurrecting Fave Friday, but instead of making it a list of favourite things, I'm just going to have one thing I am loving at present. OK? Well, it's going to have to be :p

This week...
Emma Bridgewater Cake Tins

I picked these up in John Lewis over half term. At first I thought there were only two in the packet (they nest, you see) so I was very pleased to find three, especially since they were Not Cheap. But then, it's Emma Bridgewater. I saw a beautiful cake stand they're selling within the current patriotic range and it was £75. I know it's hand painted, but still! It wasn't particularly intricate, in construction or motif.

Anyway, I allowed myself a little splurge with these because my cake tins are all either old chocolate ones, recycled from Mother Hand's house, or plastic. I love them because of the colours and the attention to detail - a row of red stars on the rim under the lid, for example - and they are nice and deep. I fitted in three layers of cupcakes in the medium one for their first outing.

Monday 11 June 2012

Weekend FOs

Two this weekend! You can tell I've just had a week off. 

Hello, Sailor!

Pattern: Amelia Hoodie by Fiddle Knits (via Interweave)
Yarn: Sublime Egyptian Cotton DK, 8 balls
Needles: 5mm, 4.5mm, 4mm
Mods: A few. Go and look at my Ravelry page where I appear to have written a tome. Mainly - I changed the way the colours worked together, I knitted the bottom third in a needle size up for a better fit, and I lengthened the sleeves using short rows.

This is a great pattern: I can thoroughly recommend it. Somewhere I saw the shaping called "dramatic" and it really is when you look at it flat - a real hourglass shape on the back - but it works really, really well. It was quick to knit: once I'd stitched the patches together (a job I put off) it was about two weeks from start to finish, and that's not knitting it every night.

If I did it again (and I might), I would knit an inch less of hood and I'd probably leave the patch stitches live instead of picking up. There was a LOT of picking up that needed to be done.

I love the yarn, too - great colour, feel and drape. I am gutted, though, that one ball is quite clearly a different colour to the others. This isn't too obvious when the garment is being worn but I think it's a bit sloppy of Sublime, because they were all the same dye lot (I checked at least three times, and the SA at Get Knitted checked too). I have emailed Sublime to let them know but it's not like they can do anything now.

Drop Stitch Mobius

Pattern: Echo Reversible Drop Stitch Mobius (Ravelry link: it's impossible to find this on the Interweave website as an individual was in the Spring 2011 copy of the magazine but it's not listed in the contents on the website. Umm....)
Yarn: Colinette One Zero, two skeins
Needle: 9mm
Mods: None. I thought I might make it longer but, as it turned out, I had exactly two feet of yarn left at the end of the BO according to the pattern instructions, so it was just right!

This isn't a mobius, because it has a full twist; according to the comments on Ravelry it's not a drop stitch, either, because you unravel two stitches from the bind off row. But it is lovely, and my stashbust for May. I also used these amazing dichroic glass buttons I bought at Fibrefest in 2009.

They were made by the people at Crafts from the Dungeon, who unfortunately don't have them on their website. I remember a man at a dichroic glass stall in Wells scoffing at me when I asked if he made buttons (I already had these, but wanted more), on account of how it would be impossible to put holes in them. Think outside the box, scoffy man! And also I'm not buying any of your stuff now.

This yarn was a gift through a secret 2010. I vividly remember the day it arrived because I had been supervising students on a climbing day in Bristol and had a touch of sunstroke. It came in a red and white spotty box with some chocolates and some pretty stationery and I wanted to knit with it immediately. I am only sorry it took two years to get round to it!

P7080635 P7080638

See, I told you it was hot that day. I'm not naked though, promise: note the vest strap.
The lovely lady who sent me this has just finished her PGCE and will be a fully-fledged primary school teacher in September! Congratulations, Tina Spoons, and thanks for the yarn!

Sunday 10 June 2012

On Cooking Fish

We have a new fishmonger up the 'wood. They're very good. The first time I went in, I was dizzied by the sheer variety of fish on offer; I love fish but almost never eat it as Mr Z does not like fish that is not fresh (and by that he means, still kicking) and also because, well, I don't really know much about cooking it. The conversation went thus:

Fishmonger: Hello madam! And what can I get you?
Me: Er...some fish.
Fishmonger: Sorry, we don't have any fish.

Funny. They are a nice sort. The head fishmonger keeps a bag of lollies to hand out to children that go in with their parents; I love this because firstly, it is quite olde-worlde-local-shoppy, and secondly, he is being extremely clever, because the shop naturally hums of fish and by giving the little ones lollies he is creating a pleasant association with that smell. I don't know whether he's though of it like that.

It has been my mission, therefore, to try a new fish every week. I have been having snapper and hake for lunches (hake is the winner), and I have tried sea bass, which Mr Z cooks extremely well; monkfish, a la Delia; sprats, which led to some extremely amusing angst on my part ("They're so small, I can't eat them! I feel awful! But if I don't eat them, THEY'LL HAVE DIED FOR NOTHING!"); fish kebabs for the barbecue, which were a win, and calamari, which were not; and last weekend, some whiting.

The fishmonger is very helpful and will do almost anything you want with the fish before bagging it up. Here he had descaled and cleaned the whiting, and cut it into largish chunks for me. He recommended tossing in egg and then flour before shallow frying.
His advice seemed good. I was a bit worried I might undercook it so I left it in the pan for 10 or 15 minutes in the end.
I served it with a spectacular pasta salad made with leftover cooked pasta and leftover guacamole. It was all very delicious. I liked the whiting a lot.

I have since bought Mitch Tonks' fish recipe book and am looking forward to getting stuck in. Mitch Tonks owns Rockfish in Bristol, where I had one of the best restaurant meals ever, so I have high hopes for the contents of his book.

My only issue with the fishmonger is that he keeps live lobsters, sitting on the ice. It makes me very sad. Yesterday the biggest one appeared to be trying to pinch his own nose with the smaller of his graspers (the big ones were obviously rubber banded up), perhaps in an effort to commit suicide. I can understand it a little better if they're in a tank, but it seems so cruel to have them lying on the ice like that, and they really don't look happy. Perhaps I am wrong and they don't mind it, but it is a struggle not to buy them and then pop down to the Weston and release them.

I do have a bit of a soft spot for lobsters and crabs, though. Knitted versions of both are in my Ravelry queue.

Saturday 9 June 2012

June Goals

Late, so late! How is it June 9th already?! I blame the Queen. She may have had an amazing Jubilee celebration that I very much enjoyed...celebrating, but I cannot get the hang of half term being in June. I feel like somebody has hoodwinked a week away from me.
  • Cast on for a new garment.
  • Cast on for a new accessory/baby item using something that was stashed before 1/1/2012 - that 65km of yarn is not going to knit itself, after all.
  • Run some helpful after school sessions for the upcoming "Bring Your Own Device" day I have been planning, so that hopefully my colleagues will be mostly on board.
  • Plan an assembly to get students on board also.
  • Plan BYOD workshop for the History conference. I am starting to have a panic in the pit of my stomach that I cannot shake - this is now less than a month away, and marking starts in two weeks, and after that there won't be any time to do anything, argh! And breathe. 
  • Something housey...hmm. Measure up for the shelves I want in the spare room.
  • Get rid of the spare room bed. Anybody want a 2 foot 6 single bed? Free to a good home!

Weekword: Bird

Sally picked this week's weekword: BIRD.


We have a lot of birds visiting our garden. Mostly big fat pigeons (we call them coos) like the one above, and a large number of blackbirds (we call them dickories), but for the past few years we've had robins and blue tits, all of whom are much too quick to be caught on camera (by me, anyway - Mr Z has some lovely pictures of a robin somewhere) and, this year for the first time, a group of goldfinches who have come and picked our copious dandelions clean.

I quite like watching the birds, as does the mitten, who loves to sit half-in-half-out of the back door guarding her property, or under her favourite bush in the garden where she has a chance of swatting the baby birds as they conduct their flying lessons between the two fences: luckily she has not caught one so far this year. We do try and keep her in a bit more, even though I feel really mean; but she has a terrible habit of sitting by our next door neighbour's fence, looking straight up at the bird table in the garden next to that, which is owned by a very grumpy and unpleasant sort of man who we fear might harm her if she manages to catch a bird feeding at his table. He dispatched the squirrels robbing it a couple of years ago so I think our fears are probably grounded.

Anyway, Mr Z has got to be a crack shot with the water pistol and is working hard to train her out of her wily ways under the bird table. The birds seem unconcerned. They quite like the cat, to be honest. She leaves fur all over the fence posts which they love. We see them in pairs: one collecting, the other swinging on a piece of the bamboo that grows at the end of the garden, acting as a look out. I think there's some marvellous poetic justice in them lining their nests and coddling their young in the fur of their aggressor.

Good word! Go and have a read of the other posts, won't you?