Taking Stock – February

Making : Slow Cooked Beef Brisket, recipe here except I added lashings of balsamic vinegar too. Cooked for 8 hours on medium, then sliced the beef and gently reheated it in the sauce, in a heavy based pan on the hob, the next day. I think slow cooked food is always better eaten the day after, to meld the flavours. I thickened the sauce with a tbsp of cornflour mixed into a little cold water. Delicious.

Cooking : the above to eat with potatoes, petit pois and kale

Drinking : lots of jasmine tea this morning, 2 x 1 pint mugs

Reading: I’ve just given up on the rather tedious The Old Curiosity Shop by Dickens. To be honest I had a sneaking suspicion I was going to do an Oscar Wilde. He reportedly said: ‘One would have to have a heart of stone to read the death of little Nell without dissolving into tears…of laughter.’

Wanting: to spend my Christmas gift cards, but still haven’t found anything apart from new socks at Fatface. These,these which I’m wearing now and this delicious pair

Looking: at these Dr Who props in the BBC lobby on Saturday. My friend and I walked past and went to peep in the windows. A security guard invited us to come in to look. We watched the last few minutes of the Winter Olympics curling on one of the huge screens. (We lost to Japan.)

Playing: my friend’s Adventure Bus Game on foot, my nifty adaption. You set off walking in a random direction, with no destination in mind and take turns to choose left, right or straight ahead at the next junction. We ended up in the BBC, then Regents Park. After 5 miles we went for a late lunch here.

Deciding: to go to the library for new books soon

Wishing: to meet the UK winner of Friday’s £78 million euro millions win. What did they decide to do first? I had a message when I was walking down Baker Street, London on Saturday morning – “Did you see this news article? (‘Massive Jackpot Split between one UK and one Spanish winner, £78 mil each’) Is it you?! Have you checked?”

Enjoying: lots of winter warmers featuring tasty sauces – lamb hot pot and that beef brisket last weekRegents Park croci

Waiting: for dried mealworms to arrive by post, the Blue Tits can’t get enough of them. The robin doesn’t use the stick on balcony window feeder here, but they do. You look up and see a little blue and yellow thing looking at you!

Liking: the bright blue skies and sunshine, although it’s very very cold. Currently we have wind blowing from Siberia, so on Saturday it was 5 degrees but with the wind chill factor felt like 1. Brrrrr. Also, really liked seeing the first blossom in Regents Park

Wondering: if the media are making a huge unnecessary OTT fuss about the ‘dire weather’ coming this week and next. My friend G just Whatsapped to say the news site is advising people to be home by 6pm tonight in her area. Woah!

Loving: my new slow start yeast, the bread is light and rises like a rocket

Pondering: which colours for the next strip, then realising my tension must have been way tighter so redoing the entire third strip

Considering: whether to sew or crochet the strips together, crochet usually wins hands down

Buying: lamb mince to make koftas

Watching: Grace and Frankie

Marvelling: at the ages of the four main characters, it’s excellent to see seniors leading a successful series

Hoping: I’m still as fit and able at Jane Fonda’s age

Cringing: at my renewed nail biting

Needing: a new book

Questioning: if any of you have read Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty? Good? Might have asked this before…

Smelling: Dry Roast Peanuts

Wearing: a head of Crystal Tipps (and Alastair) hair

Following: the dire water situation in Cape Town

Noticing: how dry my skin is in this weather Icicles on the water features at Waterperry Gardens shop

Knowing: there was no way Muller Light yoghurt can replicate raspberry doughnut flavour. Indeed, it’s horrid

Thinking: Ruby Wax’s analogy about thoughts being like leaves swirling past, along a pavement is very apt

Admiring: people’s openness in discussing tricky topics on IG and the respectful, often very supportive comments in reply

A rather deliciously wicked meeting place: Lola’s in Selfridge’s, Oxford Street London

Sorting: out which snowdrop pics to keep, so many taken at Waterperry Gardens yesterday

Getting: down to gently look at the insides of snowdrops. This is something I’ve copied from my Mum, it’s often surprising how much colour is inside these little white flowers

So many varieties: singles, doubles, dwarf, tall, big and plump, fine and delicate. Snowdrops are very special

Bookmarking: new recipes, any meatless recipes you enjoy and can recommend? Variety is good

Coveting: “What am I coveting at the moment?” “Other people’s gin.”

I’m doing Dry Lent once again….

Disliking: The taste of sweeteners

Opening: bird books and many websites, then putting a pic on my Instagram account to ask for help to identify a bird – the consensus was that it’s a female chaffinch

Giggling: at Barty apparently not deserving his new catnip toys. Sunday morning Mum was in her sitting room and noticed a sparrow walking across the carpet in front of the window!

Feeling: thirsty, I always seem to write that when TS

Snacking: on radishes

Helping: motivate a friend, but not taking my own advice

Hearing: an aeroplane

Mixing: tonic water with ice and lime, pretending it’s as good as a G&T

Worrying: well, there’s always something

Slicing: onions for virtually every recipe this time of year

Catkins and beautiful twisty trees at Waterperry Gardens

Celebrating: the busy garden birdlife, since I’ve been typing I’ve seen: a Robin, multiple Blue Tits, a Coal Tit, a couple of Great Tits, a male Blackbird and the female Chaffinch is back

Forgetting: what I need to add to the shopping list

Winning: at life? Urgh, smug expression

Pretending: nothing

Sneaking: extra oddments of nibbed hazelnuts, flaked almonds and walnut pieces into the museli. It’s getting close to being an end of packet dust situation!

Embracing: brighter and longer days, it’s light at 520pm still

For the full list to fill in your own Taking Stock post visit Pip. It’s fun to do.

Sleeping beauty and the kiss of crochet

I’ve started doing some cross stitching for the first time in a very, very  long time and am enjoying it. It’s funny though because I was always a bit down on cross stitching because I thought it relatively skill-less when I was younger. I used to do tapestry and embroidery more in those days. I’m working up to more sewing but have lost confidence through lack of practice and have forgotten lots of techniques. I also need to take a refresher on using a sewing machine since I have forgotten the teeny leetle bit I used to know.

 
 
 
 
I had to drive cross-country to work for about eight years and all the gear changes really aggravated my elbow, and so I actually gave up everything crafty. I just packed my hoops, frames, wools, threads, needles and books away. Then I got into study and stuff which left no time. I feel like sleeping beauty in lots of ways where craft is concerned as I didn’t do any for most of a decade. It seems extreme now, but I really was in pain at the time and used to find that even stirring cooking and cutting out with scissors aggravated it.
 
It’s much better nowadays and learning to crochet, then discovering the world of craft blogs, has awakened a gradual desire to try my hand at different skills again. It’s really exciting!

 
 
 I’d forgotten I had so many threads, fabrics and books tucked away. These books are now on the shelf here in the Little Room with my crochet and knitting ones, it’s becoming a bit of a library. S saw these and exclaimed ‘Una Stubbs?!!’ Well…yes….Una Stubbs. Now playing Mrs Hudson in Sherlock
And there she is going strong playing his landlady, bless her. I originally knew her from Aunt Sally in Worzel Gummidge.  I wonder if she’s still sewing in between filming?
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I’m not sure whether there’s a law of cross stitching (or, x stitching as it’s now known as in the 21st C version of kool crafts) as in all the stitches must universally go in a particular direction, but figure as I’m a leftie the top stitch goes L-R diagonally and as long as all stitches are in the same direction it’s ok. You see; I really have lost my mojo….!
 
 
 
 …Obviously quite  a close-up! The holes aren’t this big I promise…
Back to Crochet
 
On another tack; I was wondering about starting a CAL – a crochet along – here as I’ve owned this superb book for a while now but haven’t used it apart from for referencing stitches and techniques. Would you be interested in making 2-3 squares (or fewer? Is that too many?) with me a week?
 
Obviously you will need to get hold of a copy of the book since I can’t post patterns here as I would be infringing copyright. It seems to be a book that many crochet fans already own, and is very easy to get hold of too. See the book link to the right of this page>>>>
 
I thought I could post links to your blog and photos of the completed squares as we go on a weekly basis, maybe at the beginning of the following week?
 
I’ve run the idea by (clever) Patch who has suggested having a colour theme such as: Sea and Sand, Moonlight and Stars or Autumn Leaves. I love it! I’m drawn to Autumn Leaves since I wanted to make a blanket for my living room which ties in with my favourite rug there. It’s reddy, brownie, yellowy-goldy coours. BUT I can set up a poll for votes and alternative suggestions. I’m all for democracy. Once the theme is decided we would buy our own choice of colours, according to the theme, and type of yarns then compare notes.
 
Would you be interested in doing a CAL with me? I’m enthused by the idea since I haven’t got a social crochet group together yet, and this is a step in the right direction, albeit online. I’ve also never taken part in a CAL before either. pLeAsE sAy YES!
 
It’s holiday season so I reckon the best time to begin would be the first week of September, but that depends on you. It’s a busy going back to school week for many, but then you’ll probably need the meditative power of crochet and the sharing of progress in a social crochet kind of way won’t you?
 
To finish I wanted to show you this beautiful creature. I opened the curtains the other morning and there he was sitting on ‘his’ shed roof enjoying the morning sun. He’s either Ziggy or Spike, I can never remember and can’t ask my neighbour again!

Knitting at Wimbledon

Did you see the woman knitting during the coverage of Andy Murray’s match? I did and heard the commentator mention it. At the time I wondered what she was knitting in that bright pink yarn.  I was actually impressed at the good use of her time multi-tasking.

Then surprisingly on Radio 2 yesterday lunchtime there was a whole discussion on the resulting Twitter exchange of pro/anti views on knitting while watching a Centre Court match: A waste of a ticket? An insult to the players; what if one of them had looked up and seen her knitting? Is there a safety issue to the players? Is the noise distracting to others? Can knitters concentrate fully while they knit?

Jeremy Vine interviewed a woman while she knitted a scarf; to see if she could maintain eye contact, concentration and hold a conversation. Unsurprisingly she could do all three. He also talked to a student who knit in lectures as the Christmas holiday loomed and her presents were still being created, and a woman who teaches knitting and takes hers on the train. The only negative comments were read out and seemed largely to be from men!

If you can access the BBC iplayer the discussion was on Radio 2, Jeremy Vine 02/07/12 around 141 minutes into the programme. This link will only last for about a week.

Newspapers have asked ‘Are you the woman who was knitting at Wimbledon? Do you know this woman?’ Here’s one article from The Telegraph.

And here are a few pro-knitting at Wimbledon tweets, predictably from a couple of Knitting magazines:

Knitting Magazine@KnittingMag

Woman in ‘knitting whilst watching tennis’ shocker. It’s called multi-tasking…. http://fb.me/28oVNbBXi

Let’s Knit magazine@Letsknitmag

We love this woman who #knitted at Wimbledon! http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2167281/Wimbledon-2012-All-eyes-Andy-Murray-interested-knitting.html

Knitting Magazine@KnittingMag

Katie here! After the Wimbledon debacle I think we should all go for some public knitting to increase awareness… http://fb.me/1igLEV6JT

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So, what do you think about public knitting, particularly at a sporting event like Wimbledon?



Martha’s school dinners

Have you heard about Martha (aka ‘Veg’) Payne’s blog NeverSeconds?

There was an item about it on the Radio2 news this afternoon and intrigued I logged on to look at Martha’s blog (along with hundreds of others; I’ve never seen a blog counter increase as fast!) You must look too. Read and look at the pics from her first post at the end of April to today…. and beyond….

If you are also impressed with what this clever girl has accomplished then make a donation to Mary’s Meals.

What a girl!