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New blog – Meret

I finished Meret on Thursday

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I didn’t add any extra repeats, so there’s no slouch. I’m not sure if I’d add more slouch next time or not

 

We had monsoon like weather on Sunday morning but I braved it in order to get to the farmers market where I bought lots of cherry tomatos

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And here they are with chopped garlic, caster sugar, basil leaves & olive oil just before they went into the oven to be roasted for sauce

 

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They didn’t produce a massive quantity of sauce, well they were only little cherry toms after all, but it was very good. After being squeezed through a sieve the sauce was quite rich so I added some Elmlea to it. Double cream would work just as well.

Slightly Delayed Making Monday Post…

I finished knitting the case for my HTC One X and, although I now I have a hard plastic protective case, I’m still very attached to its knitted counterpart so it’ll be staying in there for the time being. 🙂

Knitted HTC One X Sock

I’ll post the pattern later in the week.

This weekend Doug and I went to the Southcoast Slam. It’s an annual pinball show and, as its name suggests, it’s located on the South Coast of England. Now, occasionally at shows I’ve seen a couple of the same types of machines sat next to each other but I’d never seen a wall of Black Knight 2000 before. It was an interesting spectacle to see six of them in a row.

Row of Black Knight 2000 at the Southcoast Slam 2012

 

I was hoping to knit some more rows of She’s Electric during the traveling back and forth to the show but I realised that I’d misread the instructions yet again and so I ripped out the colour work for probably the fourth time. Now that I look at it I can’t believe I misread it, it seems so obvious! Basically I hadn’t released that although the first and last three stitches are always knit in the main colour, that doesn’t mean that the rest of the stitches are always knit in the corresponding colour. The yarns alternate over the different rows. That’s why my colourwork looked so weird and messy. It wasn’t actually colourwork! I still hope to finish it soon, I worry about getting so tired of revisiting it that it’ll end up percolating in a bag somewhere in my craftroom. I’ll have to try and make a special effort to ensure that doesn’t happen. But I can’t guarantee it….

Plus I’m starting a new sewing project this week. I worked the Easter bank holidays so I have some time off and I’ve decided to spend it making a dress. This dress in fact.

New Look 6723

I’ll be making it in view D in the polka dot and cherries print I bought in the Flo-Jo Boutique

I met for lunch with the lovely Amy today and she brought me some wild garlic. I was so excited to have some to try because I’ve yet to spot some “in the wild”. But I hope to be able to spot it next year. The flowers are edible too.

"Wild? I was livid!"

Brownie points if you can correctly name where the reference in quotes comes from.

I used some of the wild garlic tonight in a pasta sauce – dead easy, heated some regular garlic puree in olive oil with chopped wild garlic leaves, added a tin of chopped tomatoes with salt, pepper and a bit of oregano and then simmered to reduce it. Although the leaves smell strongly of garlic, the actual flavour is more delicate than the garlic bulbs I’m used to. I still have lots left and think I’ll use some in a risotto tomorrow although I’m also tempted to make pesto from it too. Thanks, Amy 🙂

Sewing the Week Away…

Yesterday, I made blueberry muffins

I’ve been neglecting the blog, again, there’s a surprise!

I’ve had four days off this week which has been great. I needed them so much. Plus I’ve been focusing on sewing and have made one and a half dresses so far. It’s not quite the target of four dresses that I’d set myself but then that was a little ambitious. My main reason for spending most of my time sewing is to make my dress for the Sew Weekly UK Meet Up this Saturday.

As I wrote in my last post, I’ve been fretting and stressing about this dress which defeats the whole object of the project! Tuesday night I cut out the Burda pattern I’m using and then yesterday I cut out the fabric. I sewed the lovely, full skirt first. I find sewing the skirt is a great way to start off a project because it’s usually fairly simple and gives you the boost of knowing that you’ve already completed half your project! Things went a bit slow after that because I realised that I’d forgotten to make dinner. I ended up sewing bodice darts until 1.30am.

Things have been a bit slow again today, not surprising really after a late night, but I’ve sewn the front bodice and have one final dart in the back bodice. Now, to finish the rest!

How’d you like them apples?

Sadly not from my garden, but a colleague was selling 2 kilo bags of apples from his garden for only £1 which was a steal.  I usually make apple crumbles but I might venture out into making a pie.  Depends on whether I can cope with making all that pastry 😉

In other news, this arrived yesterday

A beautifully wrapped package from BackStitch which even had a hand written note.

And what was inside?

It’s the Oolong dress pattern from Colette.  As you may have gathered from the name, it’s a tea dress style  which is cut on the bias.

This is the first Colette pattern I’ve ever had and it’s different from the commercial patterns I’m used to. The instructions appear very clear and detailed and are sewn into the card wallet.

Goodness knows when I’ll get around to making this., always the way!, but it does look very interesting and excellent service from Backstitch.

Pinballs or what I did on Sunday…

In a departure from my usual writing about things like knitting, sewing, cooking etc. I’m going to talk to you about pinball since I took part in a pinball tournament last Sunday. I got into pinball through Doug, it’s one of his passions and he has five pinball machines in his house. When we were first dating he had three – The Getaway, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (one of only two in the UK) and an Apollo 13. He’s since acquired a Star Trek Next Generation, swapped Apollo 13 for a Doctor Who and earlier this year he won a Popeye, in a raffle at a pinball show!

It would be useful if I had some photos of his to show at this point but I don’t so I’ll just show you someone elses instead.

Knitting pinball fact – Annie Modesitt likes pinball and is apparently very good at it. If  I have time at some point I’ll upload the pinball conversation that got cut from the interview I did with her for KnitCast.

Like knitters,  pinball players like to get together, talk about their interests, projects (since most games tend to be quite old they’re usually repairing something), compare and  play each other machines. Pinball is also a sport and if you take part in the league competitions and other competitions – you can be a world ranked pinball player. My ranking isn’t great, last time I checked I was 5000 and something, so a long way to go. I do want to get better but since I’m usually at Doug’s every other weekend and we tend to do more than just stay in the house and play pinball, I don’t get to practice that often. It’s funny, like most things whether it be sewing, knitting or cooking, you tend to get your best results when you relax a little and stop worrying about things being perfect. I still want to get better scores though 😉

Last Sunday we went to the final South West Pinball meet of the season. It was hosted by Dave Rolfe in Abergavenny. Whereas Doug’s pinballs are from the 1990’s and have various computerised modes, Dave’s are from the 70’s and 80’s and are what’s called solid state machines. Even though they’re different, they’re still fun, difficult and frustrating to play at times. Just like all pins! Dave had at least twenty pins and also some arcade machines.

I was really interested in the artwork on them, some of the designs of the games are just beautiful. Central Park is a very old game that wasn’t set up but the backboard is lovely. Just to the side of it is a PacMan sign. It’s stood on top of a Rolling Stones pinball.

I loved the designs on these backboards for quite old games. This pic of Gigi didn’t come out very well, sadly. There’s something quite charming about these designs. Although I’m not too sure how I feel about the clowns!

Although, something to bear in mind is that a common feature among some pinballs that I’ve noticed is that if there’s a female character in the art, she tends to have rather large breasts! As a comic book fan I recognise this trend theme from interests that tend to be dominated by, or at least aimed at, straight males. I don’t remember April from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles being that well endowed there but look at the pinball table and there she is, busting out of her jumpsuit! Reminds me of the time I decided against buying a Marvel Black Cat action figure because her costume was unzipped to her navel. Here’s Strikes and Spares as an example.

And check out the lady on Mystic too

Doug achived the highest score of the league on Flash Gordon. Bizarrely, although he doesn’t feature in the film at all, William Shattner voices the narration on the game.

This one could be really frustrating, because if you pulled the plunger to release the ball two strongly the ball just rolled right down the middle. That happened to my first two balls on the game.

I quite liked Vector, mainly because Doug thought it might be based on a film and I really fancy seeing the film.

It looks like a really crap sci-fi film and I love the idea of seeing them spinning around on their wheels with their weird bat hands. As a geek, you have to have room for some bad sci-fi movies 🙂

I didn’t quite “get” pinball at first but now I’m quite competitive about it. And like everyone else I’m fairly frustrated when I lose the ball.  In fact, no one ever looks happy with their scores because their game/go finishes they’ve just lost the ball. In a tournament you usually have to play a set number of machines which are on tournament settings. So, no extra balls if you do well and they tend to be fairly hard too. So how did I do? Well, I came 17th out of 18th. I still have a long way to go although Doug says my performance is getting better. He came very close to making the UK Finals but got pipped at the post and came in at 6th.  The next competition will be at the Pinball Party in August. Last year I was just following Doug around and recording his score. This year will be different. I have no idea how I’ll do on the day, lets hope I can relax 🙂

(BTW I’ve changed my blog template but haven’t finished tweaking with it just yet)

Frustration

I sometimes feel as though I am battling against tasks and self imposed deadlines. That my garden should be perfect and bursting with flowers and vegetables, my home should be tidy and organised, knitting projects should be started and finished, I should sew more, cook more etc.

And yet instead it’s usually a bit done on the garden, a few rows of knitting completed, nothing sewn but a pattern cut out and sewing machine dug out.  I decide to cook something from scratch and end up leaving it too late so it’s a dinner of fish fingers and hashbrowns again.

I find myself in danger of not appreciating the little things, of not stopping and smelling the roses – although, I did manage to cut two stems from the garden and put them in a vase last week – of not stopping.

I know that little and often is the way to success, baby steps and you’ll get the job done without feeling as though you’re drowning in it. And yet, despite knowing all of this I fall into the same traps again.

So, today I am having a cup of tea while sat at my new garden table. In a moment I’ll go inside and cut out and start to sew a dress. It would be nice to finish that tonight but we’ll see. I have a couple of days off for my birthday and will spend one of them in the garden straightening it out a little bit. Small steps.

First Post of the Year

And it’s about hot chocolate…

I’d fancied making this vanilla hot chocolate mix ever since I heard about it on Twitter earlier in December. It sounded pretty simple to make. I already had homemade vanilla sugar but not four US cups worth so I only made a quarter of the mix. I also added up both the chocolate quantities into one although I did use two types of chocolate since I had some plain chocolate from a friend for Christmas. The majority of the chocolate I used though was ultra cheap supermarket chocolate and the resulting drink was excellent!

The hardest part was grinding down the chocolate. I used my Kenwood food processor and it still took some time. As the recipe calls, I had roughly chopped the chocolate. In the processor I soon ended up with what resembled chocolate boulders. I pulsed and used a variety of the other speeds. The chocolate ground down but it also compacted under the blade so I had to switch it off and break up the compacted bit with a spoon before running the blade again.

Here’s my reduced quantities.

8 ounces chocolate

1 US cup vanilla sugar

1/2 US cup cocoa (I used Cadbury’s Bournville cocoa)

Even making a small amount still filled this large tin. This is part of a set that Doug bought for me some time ago with a fab cup cake design.

The tin I used to contain my hot chocolate mix

And this is what the resulting mix looks like.

Essentially it looks like something you’d buy in a store.

Epicurious suggests using 1/2-1/3 cup with 8 fluid ounces of milk. I opted for the 1/3 and it was very rich. I still can’t believe how good this was considering the cheap chocolate I used.

I have now given up on trying to get the photos in this post to centre and to stop the text from going where it shouldn’t! Argh! I used to have this problem with Typepad as well.