Sunday, 28 September 2008

London calling

I went to London for the day yesterday. It's always quite tiring fitting it into a day trip as we live 2 hours away from Paddington. As the early morning autumnal mist swept around the Houses of Parliament, I went for a long walk along Milbank before my 'Inspiration Day' began around the corner. I noticed a great deal than I did before when I worked in Westminster, that's for sure. I had never walked by the river for a start. It was so quiet and quite wonderful.

After my 'course' finished I rushed to Oxford Street to cram in some shopping before my train home. I'm so glad I did because look what I found! The perfect DK Tweed 50g Rowan ball ever to knit a Teddy Bear! It's so soft and has a very creamy texture.

I also found myself in paperchase. There are branches of Paperchase close to me here but they don't seem to stock the full range of notebooks. This one just has lined paper in. On the train home I managed to fill 5 pages of it with one heck of a 'To do' list and a whole list of thoughts...

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Rowan bliss

I've finally tried the Rowan range of yarn, and have vowed never to touch a ball priced under £3 ever again! The difference is unbelievable. First of all the ball band contains so much more information. Secondly, and most importantly, the yarn feels beautiful in my hands. I can't wait to pick my knitting up. I was knitting till late last night and it was the first thing I picked up this morning. I keep stroking the ball and can't believe how wonderfully soft it is, yet it's knitting up so strong. I found a second hand Debbie Bliss book for baby clothes for beginners a couple of weeks ago so am knitting up a pair of baby bootees. Not for me, (gladly!) but for donation to a local organisation to sell for funds, and if I make another pair for a charity. They are for newborn babies from 0-6 months and all the children in my family are toddlers or over 5.

I was so lucky to find two balls of this colour of DK handknit cotton in my local Rowan wool shop. It's not a small shop but it stocked about 10 colours in this range. There was another stunning shade of blue I wanted but there was only one ball left. The shop assistant was so much more helpful than the department store where I have gone previously. She couldn't wait to help and I may not have gone for the right length of needles if she hadn't rushed to my aid and given me two lengths to choose from. How wonderful! I won't mention names, but she certainly has replaced another craft shop in my town as my favourite purely because of the customer service!

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Pretty Notes

Alice regularly blogs about her latest stationery obsessions, so I thought I would follow suit. As a writer I have the usual, relatively normal, fixation on notebooks: quality of paper, colour on the outside, the cover, whether it's spiral bound or glued, and how big it is. For example, does it matter if it doesn't fit in your handbag?

Over the years I've tried all different shapes, sizes and colours of notebooks. My favourites and most useful are usually A5 size, very pretty and spiral bound. When I was a student I scrimped and saved by buying cheap reporters notebooks, but they just didn't inspire me to write anything. Whenever I looked at the notebook I just felt poor and depressed, a bit like drinking out of a chipped mug!

I found this notebook in Waterstones who are stocking the 'KTwo' range. They are similar to Cath Kidston style but have a much wider range of notebooks. I particularly love the storage pockets at the back for receipts and vouchers. You can't see the 'To Call' section or the first page of the 'To Do' tab as I've filled a couple of pages already in the last two weeks. I've carried it around with me and it's not that heavy. It's so good to write a list of things that are floating around in your head before going to sleep!

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Lavender Pillows

This is my very first foray into stitching freehand. I had found a long lost pattern for lavender that was buried deep in my room (I knew it was around somewhere). I was in a strange mood when I started this - I had just come in from a shopping trip bordering on heat exhaustion a couple of weeks ago, went upstairs, grabbed a pillowcase and sat down with my pattern and my threads. I hadn't planned it at all, in fact I had searched for the pattern and bought the threads to make lavender sachet bags to sell. Perhaps the act of planning things out bores me when making things...

Of course it isn't quite finished yet - but I'm pretty proud of the way it's turned out for my first attempt!

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Blossom and fruit

A few months ago I was in awe of the mound of apple blossom overhanging the shed in the corner of our I'm in awe of all the apples! We picked a lot of them (with our landlord's permission) a couple of weeks ago - but supply has hugely outweighed demand and we are left with a lawn full of fruit! I wish I had my camera when the blossom was out it was the most beautiful I've seen. I can't remember our apple tree when I was a child blossoming so spectacularly.

I did try one of them but wasn't sure about the dry watery taste to them - I was going to use them to make apple crumble but I'm not sure if they're strong enough. I'm probably being dumb here and there's lots of tasty things you can bake from watery weak apples!

If you have been reading this blog regularly you'll have noticed that I'm not hugely keen on summer, and autumn is my favourite season. My birthday is in early October, which usually coincides with the leaves falling for the very first time and that beautiful sunny cold crispy air that only just requires a jumper. I can't wait.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Rum and Chocolate

This is a Cherry Cream Sundae. You can store them in the freezer for two weeks and take them out as you want them.

Makes ten

You will need:
284ml carton double cream
2 tbsp icing sugar
200g/8oz toasted almonds or hazelnuts, chopped (I would make it 150g/6oz or even 100g/4oz if making it again)
2-3 tbsp dark rum
10 amaretti biscuits
10 fresh or canned cherries
50g/2oz dark chocolate, melted to drizzle

1. Arrange ten paper muffin cases on a baking sheet. Whisk together the cream and icing sugar until stiff. Fold in the almonds or hazelnuts (it will seem like a lot but don't worry) and the rum.

2. Crumble the biscuits and put the pieces in the bottom of the cases. Divide the cream between them and top with a cherry.

3. Freeze for 1-2 hours until firm. Remove from the freezer 20 minutes before serving and drizzle with the chocolate.

Each one contains 329 calories so go slow...

Julie at Little Cotton Rabbits is blogging again as her children (she has an autistic son) are back at school. Her blog is a cool blend of knitting, family stories, gardening and flowers with a dash of Cath Kidston for good's a great mix. She's celebrating her second anniversary (all my favourite blogs tend to be this old :@)) and is running a competition to win one of her beautiful knitted toys...all you have to do is leave a comment...but bear in mind there are 400+ already there!
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