Tuesday 31 July 2012

Crafty Photo Scavenger Hunt: July

I picked the topics this month, and they were...

1. Something I made

I'm working on these roses all summer. They are knit on 10mm needles from double stranded Cascade and are about the size of my palm. Eventually, when I have knitted about 120 of them, I will felt them and sew them onto a slip cover for my work chair. This may take some time, though...

2. Inspiration

Wow, wow, wow! I love Olympic gymnastics and this routine by Beth Tweddle was just amazing. She (and all the other Team GB athletes I have been watching this week) has definitely inspired me to get myself to the gym a bit more. Here is her routine, filmed by someone in the crowd - there is a bit where she appears to instantly be facing the other way (something to do with the catching) which looks like actual magic to my untrained eye!

3. Art Deco

Last year we went to New York for a week and I couldn't get over the amount of art deco styling I was seeing. I always associate this sort of thing with Stalinist Russia, I suppose because I spent so much time looking at Soviet propaganda whilst at uni. So, it was odd to see it in New York!  

4. Ladybirds

I love ladybirds! I am currently trying to work out how best to knit myself a ladybird bag, as the watermelon bag is coming to the end of its natural life. This is a ring Parpy Jo made me out of a bead. In return I made her a lace scarf. I still think I got the better end of the deal.

5. Colour: Blue

I am spoilt for choice when it comes to blue - there is so much of it surrounding me, and in my pictures (I refer you to my Tuesday Ten: Blue Edition from earlier this year). So, in honour of one of my favourite bloggers, who sadly doesn't blog much anymore but had a penchant for a good blue pedicure, here is my latest pedicure. Sorry if you're squeamish about feet!

Please go and see this month's other participants -

Emma at the Gift Shed
Jeneveve at Timballoo
Rachel at the Awesome Lady
Ruth at the Goldhawk project

Ruth is hosting next month so pop along and leave a comment with her if you'd like to take part! I'll do a favourites post in the next few days.

Friday 27 July 2012

Fave Friday


This grows rampantly outside our home. It is all a-flower at the moment and smells amazing, particularly when I brush past it and disturb the blossoms. This happens rather too often because, as I said, it grows rampantly...


There are steps under there. They lead down from where we park the car to the front door. As you can see, it is a little overgrown. It's not great to walk up or down these steps when it's been raining (which is every day, at the moment) so the honeysuckle's days are numbered.

It does smell lovely, though.

Tuesday 24 July 2012

Tuesday Ten

Ten Goals for the Summer Holidays

1. Knit a rose every day for my planned work desk chair revamp.
2. Knit something else during the Olympics. It doesn't feel quite the same since the name Ravelympics was banned....no kidding, the spirit of the games has been lost. But I will be challenging myself anyway.
3. Do some gardening.
4. Clean the house properly.
5. Finally, FINALLY go to the tip.
6. Get a pedicure.
7. Have a birthday party. With lots of cake. And Hendrick's gin.
8. Get some Australia pictures printed and make a start on the photo album I have planned.
9. Get to a total of 30 spinning classes (my NY Resolution was 50 in 2012 and I am currently on...16. Sigh.)
10. Have a wardrobe clearout. I feel like I should do the "haven't worn it for a year, chuck it" thing but whether I can bring myself to do it remains to be seen.

It is nice to be at home for the holidays, so far at least....I know, it's only been two days. I have a few non-work work bits to be getting on with and the weather it gorgeous. Quite enjoying chilling out and having time to do normal things, like putting the washing away.

Friday 20 July 2012

Fave Friday



This is easily my favourite thing that has happened to me all week - and I went to Thorpe Park yesterday, and today was the end of term. BUT THIS BEATS EVERYTHING!

We had an assistant head at school for half a year who unfortunately developed MND. He arrived in his new post in June, walking with a cane, and by Christmas he had a walker, and was signed off sick. It was very sad as he has young children, and he was a very sporty man. But he's a scrapper, and he became a major fundraiser for, and the face of, the MND Association - Alistair the Optimist. He ran a leg of the torch relay in Yeovil and brought his torch into school this week for the students to see. I was sorry to miss him because, though I only worked with him a short while, I found him very inspiring: my teaching job is named for one of his pet phrases.

However, I did still get to have my picture taken with the torch!! SO EXCITING!

 I know there are a lot of people who are a bit humbug about the Olympics. To them I say - humbug.I am very excited about the whole thing!

Wednesday 18 July 2012

Fish Pie

I have wanted to make a fish pie for a while now. The excellent Kingswood fishmonger sells a fish pie mix but it isn't labelled, so when I went in there and looked confused for a while and he enquired as to what I wanted, I said, "I want to make a fish pie" and he sold me some of the mix, about a pound, and five gigantic prawns. I really love the fishmonger, he's so helpful.

I then read quite a lot of recipes. I read enough to know that (a) I didn't want my fish to turn rubbery, (b) I didn't want it to taste bland, (c) I wanted a mashed potato topping and (d) I didn't want to make it too fancy with cheese or egg or any of that shizz. Here is what I came up with.

Peel, cut up and boil about four potatoes (or as many as you'll need to cover the top of your pie to your designated thickness) until soft. Mash with a knob of butter, some milk, seasoning, and a good teaspoon of finely chopped fresh dill.

Bring a pint of milk to the boil in a saucepan with a few peppercorns, the dill stalks and some parsley stalks (you'll use the leaves later). Add the fish and poach for five minutes. Meanwhile, put some frozen peas in the dish you'll use for the pie and cover in boiling water. Drain the fish, reserving the milk; drain the peas. Put the peas in the dish with some prawns, if you like...


...then add the fish on top.

Fry an onion in about an ounce of butter until golden, then remove with a slotted spoon and put with the fish. Add a bit more butter to the pan if you need it, then add some flour and stir to make a roux. Add the fishy milk a bit at a time until you have a good thick sauce. Use a little more milk if you need to....my hand might have slipped with the flour.

Stir in a good tablespoon of chopped flat-leaf parsley, and a big handful of fresh spinach. Pour over the fish mixture and stir in.


Layer the potato mixture over the top and add a little grated cheese if you like. Mine was meant to be fish-shaped. Bake at 180 degrees for about half an hour.
And very delicious it was too! I will definitely be making this again.

Friday 13 July 2012

Fave Friday

Not the clearest picture, but it was taken from my car (don't worry, I was stationary in traffic at the time with the handbrake on). 


This stand of trees in somewhere on Lansdown, just outside Bath. They are quite special to me because I can see them on their hill from my house, so when I drive home every day and they come into view, I know I am only 20 minutes or so from home.

I've been commuting the 25 miles each way to and from work for nine years now and sometimes it is a bit tiresome. Seeing the trees helps!

Monday 2 July 2012

June Goals Round Up

I'm a bit annoyed with June, if I'm honest. It raced away from me like a raindrop down a window pane (and I've seen enough of those lately to know what they look like...) so when I woke up on Sunday and realised I'd missed my deadline, I was most put out. Two of these things I had planned to do on Sunday, but now I haven't done them at all, in a fit of pique. Guess what's going on next month's list then....

Cast on for a new garment.
No. I have swatched for three, and got a free pattern from Kristen Omdahl for leaving a nice comment on Ravelry about her scarf pattern, which is perfect for my new stash of Egyptian Cotton, not least because that was free also. I was going to cast this on on Sunday. But I didn't because I was sulking about it being July.

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.
I did this, and I am about half way through. The usual garter stitch baby jumper in Rowan All Seasons Cotton. Will I ever knit another baby pattern? It seems unlikely.

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.
Yes. Nobody came to the first one. Two people asked for help on the second. The day was on Friday and it was a resounding success, I think. Waiting to see if there is any negative feedback, but I baked a massive amount of cake yesterday to say thank you so hopefully that will ward off any part time whingers.

Plan an assembly to get students on board also.
Yes, did this. Well, "plan" is a strong word. But I did the assemblies.

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. 
I did this in brief a couple of weeks ago, and in detail yesterday. I am still very worried about it. I have decided this is because I really don't think it's going to be very good; and somebody else is running basically the same workshop, and he is much better than me. But I have resigned myself; and if it is poorly received then the worst they can do is not invite me back next year.

Something housey...hmm. Measure up for the shelves I want in the spare room.
Yes, another Sunday job. I have been meaning to do this for months and it really wouldn't take long.

Get rid of the spare room bed. Anybody want a 2 foot 6 single bed? Free to a good home!
I got home from Asdal on Saturday night and realised I had forgotten to put a card up. I'll have to do it next time.

Four out of seven...not too bad. It COULD have been 7, though, if June had 31 days in it and/or I had a better memory.

Sunday 1 July 2012


I love a good curd. Lemon is the king, of course, but this weekend I have also made gooseberry and rhubarb.

The gooseberry involved the following -

Stew 2lb of goosberries in 2floz water until soft. The original recipe says to top and tail them, but since you then press them through a sieve I really do consider this to be a waste of time.
Press through a sieve and place the resultant puree in a bowl with 3 beaten eggs, 2oz butter and 1lb sugar. Mix well, then place over a saucepan of boiling water. Cook like this until thick - mine took an hour and even then was not the thick consistency I would expect from a citrus curd. But it will do.

I used this to fill a cake which I topped with elderflower buttercream. Very delicious.

Then I decided to try rhubarb. I had some rhubarb syrup - quite a lot of it actually - made according to this recipe. This syrup makes a mean rhubarb and ginger martini but there are only so many one can drink (on weeknights - one) and so I decided to try and curd it up.

Because it was already full of sugar, I didn't add any. I put a cup and a half of the syrup in a bowl over boiling water, with 4 beaten eggs and 4oz butter. This one didn't even thicken as much as the gooseberry but it is still passable and will be excellent in cakes or stirred through yogurt.

In terms of colour, the gooseberry came out slightly green but the rhubarb is unfortunately a shade of pinkish grey. I think the combination of yellow eggs and heat killed off all the lovely pink colour the syrup has.

Trying to decide what to curdify next. I blended up some strawberries today for a cake, which sparked my imagination, but I am enjoying eating them as strawberries too much to waste them in another recipe just yet.

Crafty Photo Scavenger Hunt: Topics for July

I'm hosting Crafty Photo Scavenger Hunt this month. Here are the topics:

It was tough to narrow it down!

The Rules:
On the 1st of each month the host will post 5 categories.

Two categories will be the same every month: ‘Something you made’ and ‘inspiration’. The other three will change each time. You have the rest of the month to take a photo for each category.

By the last day of the month you should post your photos in a blog post and let the host know by either e-mailing them or posting a comment on their blog – make sure you give them the url of your blog so that they know where to link to.  The host will link to every participant’s photos and will also choose a favourite for each category and post them on their blog a few days into the new month.

The host for CPSH is going to change each month from now on, so let me know if you'd like to host next month.

Crafty Photo Scavenger Hunt: June

Emma picked this month's topics. Be sure to go and look at what everyone else has posted!

1. Something I made
I won't bore you with even more pictures of the sailor top, but instead show you something I knocked up quickly last weekend -

I needed a clipboard for work as I've been doing observations this week. Paperchase did not have the selection I had hoped for: in fact they had precisely one clipboard available, and it was a very dull clear plastic affair. So I covered it in this cherry print paper I found on the third floor of aforementioned Paperchase.

I fear Emma will be most disgusted that I have not done this at all properly or followed her advice, and have just taped it on and stuck some library film over the top. Sorry Emma! But I was in a hurry to get it done. It meant that, on the first day of observations, I could co-ordinate my clipboard with my outfit, as I also wore the big cherries brooch I got from Oliver Bonas ages ago. 

2. Inspiration
I won all this yarn from Jimmy Beans. It is the Lorna's Laces LE colour for June - Stitch Red - and I have a skein in every weight. I was overwhelmed when it arrived and it has me buzzing with new ideas for things! I love it all, but I think the Helen's Laces is my favourite because I would never have splurged on a skein of this until I had a chance to feel what it was like, so that makes it an extra special treat.

3. Summer
Summer, for me, should always involve the sea.
This picture was taken from the little hill that sits next to Southsea Castle in Portsmouth. It was my absolute favourite place during my teenage years and it still sits in my top five now, even though it might have slipped from the top spot. Haven't been back in a while but with a long free summer stretching out ahead of me, I might have to pop down for a visit.

4. Holidays
Here's a picture from my last holiday -

Seems incongruous in June!

5. Motifs: Childhood
 Willo the Wisp was my favourite.
Mother Hand would argue that my favourite was actually the Flumps; possibly Mr Benn. She, of course, can remember my formative years a lot better than me. However, I do remember when I was in my early teens and Willo the Wisp reappeared on TV for 5 minutes before 6pm on C4. I appreciated the retro a lot, and so this is probably why I remember it so fondly. I liked all the characters but Edna held a special place in my heart. I'd quite like an Edna t-shirt. Must go and have a look at what Cafe Press can do for me.

Thanks for the topics this month, Emma! I'm hosting Crafty Photo Scavenger Hunt for July, so look out fot eh topics which will be posted very shortly.