Making things

December 28, 2010

One thing I’ve realised this year is that I really like making things – I find it very relaxing and good fun.  So I’m going to do it more often.  To get things off on the right foot, I’ve made a few things recently.

Here’s the lemon curd I whipped up a couple of weekends ago:

God, what a palaver!  It wasn’t as bad as the elderberry jam making I tried a couple of months ago, but it was still a real schlep – so much stirring involved, and all for the sake of one little jar of the stuff.  It’s yummy, though – very nice on toast.

Yesterday I made these superb chocolate chip cookies:

The recipe came from the most recent Nigella Lawson cookbook, Kitchen and they’re made with both caster sugar and brown sugar, which is why they’re quite dark-coloured (and very toffee-tasting).  They are delicious and if I make them too often I will end up turning into one of those women about whom documentaries are made, on account of their vast size.

On the non-food front, I’ve made a present for our friends Geoff and Jane (and I won’t say any more now, in case they ever read my blog – I’ll take a photo of it when I’ve given it to them).  And I’m making myself an embroidery.  It’s going to be a picture of a Union Jack and it may well take me the rest of my natural life to finish it.  I’m stitching it on 18 point aida fabric – for those amongst you who don’t settle down with some embroidery every evening, that means that there will be 18 cross stitch stitches per inch of fabric.  This is very fine indeed and might send me blind, but it will look great if I manage to finish it before I die.  And I’ve upped the ante by taking the standard pattern and expanding it three-fold, so my finished Union Jack will be a mighty 25.5 inches wide and 13.5 inches high (for those of you who live with me in the modern Metric world, that’s 65cm wide and 34cm high). 

Before I started my mammoth Union Jack, I crocheted a scarf for myself:

The quick-witted amongst you will have noticed that I made the scarf with vertical stripes, instead of horizontal stripes.  That’s just the kind of girl I am – crazy and unpredictable.  I used three balls of Rowan Big Wool, which is lovely stuff to work with.

Finally, I’ve been separating stamps from their envelopes again, with plans afoot to make some art in the near future (as per the NZ stamp picture that I made earlier in the year).  Here are the stamps, just waiting for a second lease of life:


Weekend in Edinburgh

November 21, 2010

Here are a few photos from our trip to Edinburgh.

A cool sculpture in the middle of a river, passed as we walked into town from our hotel.

As promised, my pre-rugby lunch at the Chocolate Lounge in Harvey Nicks.

Jane and I sorted out some All Blacks branding before we all headed to the game.

After the game there wasn’t a taxi to be found and one of our party was dealing with some minor mobility issues, so we decided to catch a couple of tuk-tuks back to our hotel. Fair play to the tuk-tuk guys: it was mostly uphill and each one was towing two of us.

To round off the weekend, Tristan and I went to the Remembrance Day parade in the cold and rainy Sunday weather, and Geoff and Jane checked out the castle.

Edinburgh is a really nice place. The weather would do my head in, though. I was freezing by the end of that parade.

Pre-rugby lunch

November 15, 2010

We were in Edinburgh over the weekend, watching the All Blacks destroy the Scots.  Kick-off was at 5pm, so we mooched around town during the day and had lunch at the Chocolate Lounge in Harvey Nicks.  Full from a cooked breakfast at our hotel, I decided that an ice cream sundae and a glass of champagne would do the trick.  Stay tuned for the photographic evidence – my work computer is too spacky to cope with uploading photos.

Jelly ladies

October 20, 2010

Anthea visited me from Oslo a couple of weekends ago and brought me some jelly babies. Awesomely, in Norway they’re actually jelly ladies – they have boobs!

Tonight’s dinner

September 13, 2010

Yum: a big plateful of baby spinach and pea shoots, with a slice of ham, some crumbled goat cheese and a ripe peach.

Pudding will be a cup of tea and a slice of the banana, coconut and mixed berry bread that I made last night.

Progress: 13 September

September 13, 2010

Blimey, I’m tired. This morning Tristan was up before 5 because he had to fly to Scotland for a couple of days, to begin his MSc.  So I was up early as well:  I took Tui the Wonder Dog to the dog sitter’s house for the next two days and then caught a train just before 7am.  As I parked at the station (because I’m still not supposed to walk much and I did quite a lot of walking over the weekend, as it turns out), I realised that my front right-hand tyre is almost completely flat.  I didn’t notice anything weird when I was driving, so either it happened as I got to the station or I’m a really bad and unobservant driver.  Anyway, that will be fun to sort out when I get home this evening.  I’ve already programmed the telephone number of our emergency breakdown cover service into my phone, because I have more chance of making a car from scratch than I do of changing a tyre myself.

This weekend I achieved some of my goals, but not all of them.

Things I did do:

  • Watched the rugby (and the All Blacks beat the Wallabies at the last minute, which was awesome)
  • Went to Tamara Drewe (which was pretty entertaining, albeit fairly ‘slight’)
  • Ate sweets
  • Did lots of embroidery while watching Sky Plussed episodes of Masterchef Australia (and Tristan has decided to bow to the inevitable and watch this series with me, which is the path of least resistance given that this programme is on TV six nights a week for the next fourteen weeks)
  • Bought birthday presents for two nieces: Gabriella (who turns ten at the end of the month) and Claire (who turned fifteen last week and who had the three-week trip to Europe at our expense earlier this year)
  • Walked Tui the Wonder Dog twice
  • Spent the whole weekend with Tristan

I also:

  • Went to London with Tristan, to help him as he bought new trousers and jumpers
  • Bought a new jumper and a new cardigan, both from the Uniqlo mensware concession in Selfridges
  • Drank a good vanilla milkshake at Gourmet Burger Kitchen in Soho and ate a fairly rubbish burger there as well
  • Baked a damned fine-looking banana, coconut and mixed berry loaf (which I will ice this evening)

However, I didn’t:

  • Write anything
  • Clean the house
  • Colour my hair (although I did order that Colour B4 stuff that I mentioned the other day, so I should have regained my natural hair colour by the end of the week)
  • Obey my own rule about not buying clothes (obviously)

Also, please note:

  • I’m nine for nine when it comes to breakfasting at home on work days
  • I’m also nine for nine in the ‘take lunch to work’ stakes (although it was easier today: I had a lunchtime training session and sandwiches were provided)
  • Friday was a no spending day and today will be one as well, so that’s six days so far this month

Right, it’s time to tackle the vast number of unanswered emails in my work in-box.  I have been run absolutely ragged since Alice departed, so thank goodness that Emma, her replacement, is starting this Wednesday.

God bless M&S

September 9, 2010

There are days where you eat a healthy breakfast at home, take a nutritious lunch to work with you, avoid snacks all day and then eat at home in the evening, enjoying the tasty dinner prepared by you or your spouse, using ingredients easily found in your well-stocked kitchen. It’s all very responsible and cost-effective.

And there are days when the prospect of going to the supermarket, or even waiting for dinner to be prepared, is too terrible to contemplate. If you live in the UK and are anything like me, these are the days that you head to your nearest branch of M&S and buy delicious ready meals, chocolate puddings, double cream and chocolate chunk cookies. And to hell with austerity for tonight!