Friday 20 September 2013

Weekend FO: Cream Caramel Cardi

LAST weekend, this is. I forgot that September would be so stupidly busy, between re-marks and writing jobs and, yknow, my actual job and that.

Cream Caramel Cardi
(With the same affected pose in every picture because I was too tired to get creative)


Pattern: Neaty by Marie Wallin
Yarn: Delicious, snuggly Rowan Cocoon, 6+2 balls
Needle: 6mm and 7mm
Mods: I knitted the sleeves in the round, two at a time, and I made them longer than suggested because I like a good long sleeve, especially when I'm typing a lot.


This was a really quick knit, being so chunky. I like the length and it's like a big, soft hug. Originally I had intended to put these buttons on it -


...which is king of why I called it Cream Caramel to begin with, because I think they look like caramels; but when it came to it, I liked the bronzed glass buttons better. I didn't have much agreement from the ladies I asked at the knitting meet I went to last weekend, but I thought, since it's me wearing it, I would just go with it.


Someone on Ravelry suggested wearing it backwards. I like this idea a lot. It might need a hook and eye or a popper to keep it from gaping between the top two buttons, though; or perhaps I should block it. That would probably be a good idea.


Fave Friday

This week - autumn.

I hear a lot of people say autumn is their favourite season and I don't think I could be decisive enough to agree; I like all the seasons, really, and it is the change in season that I especially like. Probably because I am quite fickle, it is nice to get something new happening.

Here are my favourite things about the change to autumn:
  • Getting the coats out (especially my new Boden spotty trench coat)
  • Accessing the cobwebby bits of the wardrobe again: thicker skirts and long sleeves
  • Soup. Especially pumpkin. It tastes at its best in autumn.
  • Making chutney. I have about a thousand apples in the boot of my car to do this this weekend.
  • BPAL spiced apple pumpkin perfume. Definitely a seasonal one for me. 
  • Autumn drinks in coffee shops - pumpkin spice soy misto FTW. Not paleo, but I'm sure I can sneak one in here and there, with the pumpkin loaf cake on the side.
  • Darker evenings. I quite like them.
  • Hundreds of dewy spider webs in the garden every morning.
  • The return of long hot baths. I definitely don't favour them in the summer, so it is nice to haul out the bath stash and make the most of it again.
  • When the tree outside the front door goes this colour and, during sunny Saturday afternoons, the light is reflected all through the hallway.

Friday 13 September 2013

Fave Friday

I got this dress while I was on holiday. It is from the Issa collection for Banana Republic, and after googling for a picture I found out it is modelled on the dress that Kate Middleton wore for announcing her engagement.

I went into Banana Republic to have a look at it and decided it would look like a sack on me, but then I was trying on some tops in the sale and the SA was collecting what I was picking up and putting it in the changing room, so I had my hands free and thought I might as well try it. Glad I did, because it is ultra-flattering. The blue is darker than it appears here and it has a really nice drape. I wore it for the first time today, with my new spotty trench coat, and lamented again that I did not also buy it in the purple. I told the SA I would be sorry, but it was 42 degrees outside and I could not envisage needing two autumnal dresses at that point in time.

One bad thing: for some reason it has a concealed zip under the arm which is a little irritating. Why anyone would put a zip in a stretchy jersey dress is beyond me. I don't need to undo it to put it on or take it off.

Sunday 8 September 2013

First week of Paleo

As I mentioned in my goals post last week, I am giving the Paleo diet a go. I decided earlier this year that I had better have a proper crack at losing weight again since it was becoming an irritation in a variety of ways, hampering or even preventing me from doing the things I like to do. I did a couple of detox weeks and gave up sugar for Lent, and both of these things taught me quite a lot about how I feel when I exclude certain foods and, probably more importantly, increase certain others.

I have a book on Paleo but I haven't read it yet, so mostly this week I have been following the food list my trainer Jenny gave me, reading about the theory and pinching recipes from Paleo websites. I don't think I'll ever be doing it 100% correctly because I'm not eating grassfed meat - it's just a step too far because I have to order that stuff online or drive quite a long distance to get it, so it's not perfect, but, meh.

Basically, I have this week cut out all grains - wheat, rice etc; beans; dairy; sugar, except fruit, of which I eat 1 or 2 portions a day; alcohol; and most caffeine - just one cup of coffee a day. The idea seems to be to cut out things from which one's body might create sugar. Hence, I have eaten meat, fish, salad, vegetables and lots of nuts. I've also been tracking my calories on Sparkpeople which isn't really Paleo but I love nuts and could eat them by the barrowful so I thought this seemed like a good idea.

Thoughts? It's OK, actually. The first day was KILLER because at 4pm when I was falling asleep driving home (first day back, no sugar, no caffeine....argh!) I couldn't stop for fruit or chocolate or a little piece of cake or whatever else I might have to keep me awake. Instead I had....roast chicken. And even that had some sugar in it in the form of lactose. But then I read the list again and discovered one cup of coffee was OK, went to the gym, got a good night's sleep and Tuesday was easier.

Giving up dairy is not a problem - I limit it anyway because it makes me feel quite bloated. Giving up grains wasn't a problem except at dinner time, when the plate looked a little sparse with no rice or potatoes on it. Sugar was OK as well, even on Monday when my new head of year passed around the home made scones and jam. I'm well weaned off caffeine now so didn't get a headache or anything.

In fact, it was not as hard as it sounded like it would be. I was hungry quite a lot but that was mainly because I didn't really have anything to hand that I could eat; I have solved this in the short term by keeping nuts in the car and have bought lots more veg for this week. The biggest problem was the fruit; Jenny said one piece a day but I've been having 3 servings. Also I've been having pea protein in my morning smoothie, but it needs using up and I can't face whizzing a raw egg up in there instead. I'll have to build up to that one. Finally, I was away this weekend and packed mini chicken fillets and walnuts to eat on Saturday during the conference I went to, and that got really boring.

  • Better quality sleep
  • Less tired during the day - in spite of it being the first week back
  • More energy for workouts: on Wednesday I managed both a session with Jenny and an Aquafit class, thanks to a timetabling mix up; although when I got out of the pool it did feel like a giant hand was pressing me down into the floor and I slept like a log that night
  • No food cravings (other than craving food when I was hungry)
  • No bloated feelings after any meals
  • Not much different to how I usually eat during the day - evening meals have been the only puzzle
  • Some weight loss
The recommendation is that you should try and stick to it for 85% of the time which roughly equates to having three meals "off" a week. Since I had a whole weekend away, which included a Tesco takeaway curry, a Chinese, a healthy helping of wine and a latte for breakfast today, this made me feel much more cheerful because I knew I wasn't really cheating. It also stopped me from that "Oh, well, it's ruined now so...." mentality that would have had me troughing down the free mini pastries at the event all day, like there was no tomorrow. And when I ate the meals, I turned down the dessert, and I didn't feel rotten afterwards.

There might be something in it. I'll let you know.

Friday 6 September 2013

Fave Friday

I've tried this new shower gel recently. I managed to stockpile so much shower gel during my Lush-hoarding phase, thanks to forum specials and secret swaps, that I haven't allowed myself to buy any for years, but I am finally on the point of running out so when I saw this in Boots last week I treated myself.

I like grapefruit anything, so it's no surprise that I am a fan of this. It smells like a grapefruit version of those orange and lemon jelly slices one buys to decorate cakes, with a bit of a zing to it. It leaves a little bit of itself behind on the skin which is a refreshing change after using Philosophy gels (which make a point of not doing this).

Tuesday 3 September 2013

Tuesday Ten

Ten New Year's Resolutions (school year, obvs)

1. Keep a tidier desk. That three-layered sorting tray I bought? Use it.

2. Organise teaching resources in filing cabinet. This is a huge job that will probably take all year. It is also slightly dependent on me acquiring a filing cabinet in which three out of four drawers are not broken.

3. Aim to leave school by 4pm at least two days a week.

4. Bottom set books: mark them every week.

5. Learn to do more swanky things on the interactive whiteboard (I learned a new one today, it is awesome).

6. Apply for all the jobs I see that I might be interested in.I could certainly do with the interview practice.

7. Remember that an hour in the gym means at least two more hours of productive work at the end of a day. Make a sign to remind self of this if necessary.

8. Make a big success of the whole-school project I am doing, WITH evidence, to help with future job applications.

9. Use my frees profitably. This is always easier to do when I am getting enough sleep, but I've made so many empty promises to myself about getting enough sleep that I can't make a single one more. I suppose the problem is, I don't really give myself any instruction on HOW to get more sleep.

10. Make more of an effort to wear my whole wardrobe. Jewellery and make up included. I really need to get some of the clothes out of the wardrobe first, though, and stash them somewhere else (things like sun dresses and skiing gear) because at the moment it's too packed for me to see everything. #firstworldproblem, I know.

Sunday 1 September 2013

Goals for September

New term, new goals....I am all filled with the motivation that only a new year can bring.Here's what I hope to achieve this month.

  • Stick to my new intended eating plan (I decided I'd give the Paleo diet a try since the sugar-free Lent seemed to suit me so well) 85% of the time
  • Use my gym membership 12 times (or
  • Get the new techs project baselining done
  • Start the new techs weekly sessions going
  • Launch and recruit some techie kids for the project
  • Finish knitting my big, squidgy, cream caramel cardigan
  • Start knitting the red Christmas jumper I have been planning for two years
  • Recruit a cleaner
  • Reorganise the wardrobe so I can actually see my clothes
  • Blog at least 15 times. One down!

Crafty Photo Scavenger Hunt: August

It has been so long since I participated in this. I have missed it! I started to worry while I was on holiday that it was my turn to pick topics but luckily that's a couple of months away yet and this month it was Rachie's turn. I expect you're thoroughly sick of hearing me rabbit on about my holiday by now, but since I spent most of August on said, holiday, unfortunately - here we go again.

Something I Made

Cheating a little with something Mr Z made, because I already wrote about my FOs this month. He likes to whittle. This was one of his early efforts during the trip - a tent peg tidy.


The colours at Lake Tahoe had me imagining a blousey, flowing summer top knitted with a dark blue top portion and a more aquatic bottom portion, flowing out of an empire waist. Something else to knit in my copious free time.


Stills from the footage I took on my GoPro when we went rafting on the Truckee River. It was an excellent birthday treat for me.


Being as how we were in California for a large part of August, it would have been rude not to partake of their wine. There was no repeat of the bizarre situation at Yosemite, where the camp shops carried exclusively Australian, French and South African wine (??!!!). The Cupcake chardonnay on the left was a bottle we ordered with dinner at the Caboose motel. I am not a fan of chardonnay because I don't really like oaked wines, but it was recommended on the menu and I couldn't resist the name. This was lovely - and better on the second glass (or mug, since I finished it at the next campsite).
The bottle on the right was a lovely pinot gris. I don't see pinot gris here (I haven't looked) but I have been quite a fan since my friend Beccy put me onto it during my trip to Australia.

Motif: Cameras

This one was pretty hard. I kept a look out for camera-print fabrics or pictures of cameras or some such thing, but I didn't see anything. I didn't really even have any pictures of Mr Z toting around our his DSLR, except for this one -

I took this at Lassen. You can't see him or the camera very well, but this is the best I can do! Sorry!

Thanks for picking such good topics this month, Rachie.