Saturday, 30 May 2009

Back again.

Not been up to writing anything for a while. Bit of a rough patch. But I'm feeling a bit better now, and am back.

For as long as I can remember, there's been a cartoonist for The Guardian, Steve Bell, and every now and then, he's replaced, and it just says "Steve Bell is Away." When I was young, I always used to think he just took a lot of holidays, and how I'd like to be able to go off like that. It was later that my mum let me know it wasn't holidays, it was apparently due to mental health problems. I never have found out if that was true, but it does strike me as a little ironic, that every now and then, I have to go off for a bit, for (less severe, but) the same reasons.

But in my absence, I have not been idle.

My garden has been dug over, and planted up a treat. My mum came over, and we planted runner beans, french beans, geraniums, petunias, courgettes, and two aubergine plants she gave me, that she was given from George who has the allotment next to hers. I gave her some of my ocurgettes, and I think she has passed some of them on to a friend with an allotment, so it all sort of balances, in the great scheme of things.

I also happened across the BBC's Dig In campaign, and their van, in Walthamstow last week, and have got pack of seeds to sow. Theres butternut squash in there, that I love, but have never had great success with pumpkins, so am a little wary. Worth a go though.

I'm getting all the stuff together for my Monkey Swap partner. But as it's all a secret, I can't tell you any more about it. A bit worried about it - I should have been working on stuff the past couple of weeks, but to be honest, I know to only do what I feel I can handle. It's not that I can't do anything, its just what my reaction will be if it goes wrong. It's daft, but I have to be careful of getting too stressed, or upset, as it can set me off for ages!

I've also spent some time thinking about what I want from my life, and my future. I'm not happy in London, and I really can't live here too much longer and am planning my escape. (I mean in a year or so, not months or weeks - not that desperate!)

I've had some good fortune, in receiving a refund of some college fees, from my time at The Arts Institute at Bournemouth. As I didn't complete my degree, it was the refund of some of the fees. Not much, but enough for a few things. So I bought these. And loved them in the box. But they are just a little too big, so had to be returned, for a pair I could actually wear. Not so happy a bunny, as not so pretty, but practical. And comfortable. And sensible. But not red...

So thats pretty much been my past two weeks. There was a leaving do at my old job for one of my friends, so I went along to that, and had TWO DRINKS! My first since Christmas. I'm not really a big drinker these days, you'll gather. Bit of a "been there, done that" type of thing. So I really was feeling quite wobbly afterwards, and was a bit fragile all this morning!

Theres no pictures at the moment, as I appear to have misplaced my camera. Sure it'll show up - think it's a sign to clean my flat up. So its all links to pictures and sites at the moment. But I have to find it before I go to Taste later in the month!

My mum has been keeping an eye (and ear) on me with regular phone calls, and I think I'm back up a bit now, so there should be proper stuff on its way. Including my huge pile of knitting w.i.p.s. Theres a bit of a backlog...

Thursday, 14 May 2009

changed my mind

put the following bit back on. I've got McAfee, It'll be fine!

Four Day Weekend!

Yay for unused holiday two months before the year end!

Today is my Friday. Tomorrow, I'm off to my parents, for a day out in Cambridge. It's not the most exciting plan, but its a nice enough place to visit. I went with my dad on another day out earlier in the year, and we did find a wonderful cake shop, recommended by famous people. (I remember there was a quote from Stephen Fry in the window, at least!) Just got to think of some way to spend the rest of the weekend. And Monday. Maybe I'll dye my hair - roots are getting a bit too noticeable!

This is some small consolation, from my misfortune earlier in the week. I can understand being rejected for a job on grounds of being under qualified, or just not the right person for the job, but I was refused before being considered, because a form I know I submitted with my application, stating how I've never been bankrupt, or arrested, went missing. Apparently it never arrived in their office, however it did leave my flat. Possibly squirrels in the post box?

Saturday, 9 May 2009

I'm gonna ache in the morning...

Today, I have gardened. A lot. And not the nice pottering about in the soil, tending to flowers type, but the digging kind. But I now have most of my garden ready for the plants to go in, for the summer. Ive dug over beds, added compost and manure, and made wigwams for climbers.

The tall one is for runner beans, the shorter for French beans.

Theres another for sweet peas, in a pot, and one by a wall for tomatoes. Theres still some sticks left, for more tomatoes, but it was getting on for 6 by the time these were up, so they'll wait till tomorrow.

My mum came over this morning, to bring over a dress I ordered from the Dorothy Perkins website, and had delivered to her address. So she also brought over a few courgette and cucumber plants, to add to the piles I already have! I'd already been out to do my shopping, so we sat drinking tea, eating what are possibly the best hot cross buns (a year round thing in my family) I've ever had. They're from Percy Ingle - a fantastic chain of bakeries, originally from Leyton, but now spread over East London, Herts and Essex. I like to think it's supporting a local business, while getting great bread and cakes. As she'd travelled all that way, I had to send my mum back with a couple, but kept a few for myself for the weekend, to keep me going through more gardening tomorrow...

At least I've Monday to look forward to - Due to the Bank holidays and too much holiday left at the end of the year at work, I'm not working any Mondays in May! Yay for three day weekends!

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Im not stopping!

Knitting my top, that is. Following a burst of activity this evening at my knitting group, and comments from others, my lovely top (which has been going rather well), may become a dress! I'm going to do a bit of research on Ravelry, to establish where to increase, by how much and whether I will have enough yarn but it should be a cross between a dress and a long tunic, just above knee length, so I can wear it with tights, or over jeans. It does mean I have to wind the rest into balls from hanks though, which I'm not looking forward to.

What I am looking forward to, is the two swaps I've signed up for! One is a Monkey Swap from Claire's Crafty Blog, and the other is a Seaside Swap from Contented. I've received the details of who I'm sending my monkey stuff to, so I'll have to have a bit of an investigation, and see what I hope will be suitable. It's a secret one, so I can't mention who, or let them know I've been looking!

I wasn't planning on being in two at once, but I saw the seaside one, and just had to sign up. I really miss living by the sea, and would love to move back down to the south coast. I still look for jobs in Dorset, Devon and Cornwall. If something half decent shows up, I'll do my best to relocate, and see the sea every day again.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Knitters of the world, unite

Anybody else see Britain's Got Talent last Saturday?

They may not be the best entry for a talent show, but these ladies made me smile.

And they've tried to bring knitting to the masses!

Oh, and the carrot cake - very successful. Could be a hard one to beat!

Saturday, 2 May 2009

The Worlds Best Carrot Cake recipe

Alas, I have not found the worlds best carrot cake recipe yet, but I am on the search.

I have a thing about rabbits. Always have, probably always will. I have a toy rabbit I was given at birth. My dad used to tell me bedtime stories about him, going off to bunny school, and I we even made him a passport for a holiday. A man at immigration in Florida stamped it for me, as I was 7, and very cute. (Can't see them doing that now!) I was never allowed to watch Watership Down unattended, due to the tears (no, really. I still warn my mum if I'm planning on watching it.) I still spend a large amount of my time, if in a car or train or something near a field, looking for bunnies. So unsuprisingly, I love carrot cake. Now, I love most cake. It is a problem, that I've learnt to accept and embrace, but I'm never going to be a size 8 (UK!) again, partially due to my love of cake. I may see a size 10, but it's 50/50. But carrot cake is a real winner, on a par with a perfect Victoria sponge.

I also believe in the tradition of passing down tried and tested recipes from generation to generation, whether within families, or swapped along the way. I remember hearing about a woman on Womens Hour on Radio 4, who had one from about 4 generations back, and the little bits of family history that were intertwined - her mothers notes, her grandmothers careful writing. And i realised that my family has many recipes that my mum taught me, growing up, that she'd picked up from her mum, and these weren't recorded. Now I have a notepad, and they are getting written, as we decide what to keep. But its also being brought with me, and I shall add new recipes as I find and love them.

So I have started a venture, to find me a perfect recipe, for carrot cake. Its going to involve a lot of grating, and a lot of cream cheese icing, but I shall find it, and pass it on.

That said, I have made a start. My first one is adapted from a book I've had for a long time - The Best of American Cookery, by Lynette Baxter. It's been made, and iced, with a couple of little amendments - I added in a bit of allspice, and knocked the honey out of the icing. Am I the only person who hates the stuff? I've not tried it yet, as it's also my dad's favourite cake, and I'm taking it to my parents house later, but I will update, to see if its gonna be hard to beat, or the page torn from the book and burnt. Its looking pretty good so far, and the raw mix tasted ok, and thats usually a decent indicator of the finished thing.

After this one, I've a recipe I found on the BBC website, and one from a girl at work. She's a girl who knows her cake, as well, so I've a good feeling about that one. Theres also a recipe on offer from another woman at work, from her mum, but apparently its a rather alcohol infused version, so I may have to go slowly with that one!

So any good recipes out there, let me know, and I'll give them a try!

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