If the sense of relief I felt on Monday was anything to go by, I made the correct decision in moving out of my place in London. I had two busy weekends of sorting and packing things, but all that work should make it fairly straightforward for me to move in once I find my next place, which I’m hoping to buy rather than rent.
I did have a little break from packing to darn one of my dishcloths before putting it into storage.
I also marked my compost bin in the hope that a new tenant will keep using it.
A lot of craft time has been dedicated to my Oran do Chaora/Sinister Catdigan again this week. I’ve finished both sleeves and joined them into the body, which has now been set aside.
I mentioned last week that I’d started doing the maths for the colourwork yoke. Well, unfortunately I made a really stupid error with that calculation that resulted in me spending about four hours reducing the body section by one stitch.
Fortunately I re-checked my sums before I did anything too major and realised my mistake. I’ve now picked that stitch back up and the numbers on my Oran do Chaora body and sleeves should match the numbers on the finished Sinister Catdigan yoke.
I’ve done the crochet provisional cast on for the yoke and the first row of cats has emerged! It’s quite hard work managing the tension with long floats and a slippery yarn but I think it’s going okay so far.
It’s funny that I was looking forward to knitting the cats and it’s only now that I’m recalling how laborious this kind of knitting can be. Working the fair isle requires quite a lot of attention. It’s very easy to make errors and I’ve had to do more than my share of undoing. But it is fun to see the cats emerge row by row- in fact it’s pretty addictive.
I’m already starting to think about how I will do the decreases for the shoulder section. I’m not that fond of the neckline of SC and I think it will look odd to do a saddle shoulder above the fair isle section. Some more planning and maths is in order next week I think.
I fed my sourdough starter again in preparation for making my first loaf. I looked at some recipes and started to get a bit stressed because of all the equipment needed. I don’t have a banneton, baking stone or a dutch oven.
The loaf is a little disappointing. I used a pan as a lid following some advice online and I think it actually restricted her growth. Now I’m contemplating investing in a Dutch oven.
I finished my pineapple Tulip Skirt in plenty of time to take it on my minibreak to Hamburg. Here I am posing in front of some street art.
I posed in numerous other locations also. Here I am befriending a local fisherman.
I didn’t make many changes to the pattern. The size 10 is right for me, and I moved the pockets up as I always worry that my phone will fall out of the pockets on my original fuchsia version. I would probably make the pockets EVEN BIGGER in future. I would probably also use self-fabric rather than lining fabric if possible.
I have a feeling that this will be a great skirt to wear with sandals in the summer.
Pattern: Tulip Skirt by Sew Over It (size 10)
Fabric: 1m linen-cotton mix from SOI
My eyes locked on to this fabric from across a crowded room and I knew I had to have her. I really can’t resist a fruit print and these pineapples are so much fun! I instantly pictured myself in a cute skirt, frolicking joyfully during a mini-break. For a while, I thought that we couldn’t be together. The lady in the shop told me that the fabric was all used for online orders. I was heartbroken. But then I checked the website and was able to buy her there. She’s worth the postage.
I decided to take a risk and try to squeeze this skirt out of a metre of fabric. When I measured the last tulip skirt I made, it took 1.1m of fabric. I really hoped those 10cm wouldn’t cause me too many problems…
Nope! Most sizes could easily be cut from 1m of 145cm wide fabric. I didn’t even have to use a different fabric for the waistband facing.
Having seen the gorgeous sample in quilting cotton in the Sew Over It store, I decided to use lining fabric for the pockets. This cotton-linen blend is quite heavy. I used the pocket pieces for the Day Dress because the pockets on my first tulip skirt aren’t quite capacious enough for my liking.
Doing the pleats and darts was a breeze as the linen in this fabric allows it to hold a crisp fold. I’ve never worked with linen before, either as a knitter or a sewist, so it’s been fun to learn about a new fibre. I’ve just realised this skirt will probably crease like billy-o, but I’ll be too fabulous to care.
I wanted to overlock the pattern pieces as both the fashion fabric and lining fray easily. However, I ended up pulling out my trusty overcasting foot and finishing the edges that way. This is the most excited I’ve been about a project since my zebra shorts and I couldn’t wait to get to a sewing cafe.
I couldn’t find a suitably coloured invisible zip at Liberty or John Lewis, so I decided to use an exposed zip. I followed the same tutorial I used before. I’d forgotten how laborious it is to put in one of these suckers! It took forever. I also had to use a 7″ zip (8″ recommended in pattern), which gives me just enough wiggle room to get this thing on and off. Be careful of using a shorter zip for this skirt if you are pear-shaped!
I have to say that my perfectionist tendencies came out big time when installing the zip. I found myself getting very frustrated that the two sides weren’t symmetrical. Fortunately, I decided to give myself a little break from the machine and try the skirt on. I was very relieved that it fit! I decided to use my mother’s old trick of cutting some pattern pieces on the selvedges to save finishing those edges. The problem with doing that on the centre back seam was that I wouldn’t have been able to let the skirt out if it had been too small. I’m not sure I’ll do it again in future.
Even though I realised the zip looked absolutely fine when I tried the skirt on, I also noticed that the placement of the pattern isn’t amazing on the back. There are lots of pineapples cut in half. As usual, this is something that I would probably ignore if I bought this skirt RTW, but it bothered me that I hadn’t foreseen this problem. I just need to take it as a reminder to be more mindful of pattern placement when using such a bold print in future.
Fabric: 1m (145cm wide) cotton-linen mix from Sew Over It
Pattern: Tulip Skirt by Sew Over It (size 10)
I’m on a bit of a kick of making brunch at home at the moment. This is another recipe from Jamie’s Superfood, and I have to say that I really like it. It’s also a great way to use up stale bread. I used tiger bread.
I made few changes to the recipe. I used frozen blackberries rather than raspberries. I left them to defrost in the fridge overnight, sprinkled with a tablespoon of sugar. This makes the dish taste a little like blackberry pie, a specialty of my late grandma made with berries foraged every autumn.
I added a little squeeze of honey to the banana and egg ‘custard’. Because this is a diet/clean eating show (despite Jamie’s vehement protestations to the contrary), it is light on sweetness. I would rather have 50 extra calories and find a dish delicious,than 50 fewer and find it just okay.
I’ve tried two-ingredient pancakes before and found that they just taste like eggy banana. I think the combination of blitzing the mix, which means the eggs go lovely and fluffy, and having it with something makes a huge difference. I also used the full banana and two eggs to serve one, as I’m trying to get more protein in my diet.
Top tip: don’t use a knife to make the pocket in the bread as Jamie suggests. Maybe this works if you have super sharp chef knives and very fresh bread. I found that it ripped my slice into bread shreds. Scissors work much better.
I try to eat well, and a big part of that is healthy snacks. I eat quite a lot of Nakd bars, and always wondered how easy it would be to make them at home. I recently tried out Deliciously Ella’s new range of energy balls, which are very tasty but also pretty expensive. I’m sure she already has a recipe online somewhere, but I just looked at the ingredients on the back and made up my own.
- 40g almonds
- 60g dates
- 2tsp nut butter
- 1/2tsp coconut oil
- 1tbsp cocoa powder
- A sprinkle of salt
Blend all the ingredients together. I just used my little hand blender.
After a while, the ingredients will start to come together.
Roll into balls. I added a little too much coconut oil, making them a bit shiny. They probably would have re-mattified once the warmth from my hands dissipated, but I decided to roll them in some cocoa powder. I was trying to trick myself into believing I am eating truffles.
This was so quick and easy! The texture is somewhere between a Nakd bar, some varieties of which have bits, and a smooth Ella ball. My little blender wasn’t able to make the nuts totally smooth. I think the taste is lovely too. I’ll definitely try out more varieties in future.
We who run according to the academic calendar are limping towards the end of the year with relief and exhaustion in equal measure. This means a few celebrations are in order, and I decided to bake for my team. I wanted a fairly simple recipe and decided on muffins. I had a chocolate and cream cheese recipe that I’ve had pinned for a while in mind, but then my uncle requested blueberry and I decided to go with that.
I’ve never made blueberry muffins before so I just googled a recipe and this one was very well reviewed. I made no changes except being very generous with the fruit. I used £5 of blueberries in 14 muffins. That’s the equivalent of nearly $1! I think it would also be wonderful with fresh blackberries.
I found the sponge a little dry. Although it was hard to notice because of the juicy fruit, I might try a recipe with buttermilk next time.
I should have filled the liners up more (I got three extra cupcakes from the mix) but I was scared they would overflow. I needn’t have worried.
I choose to believe it was the delicate scent of freshly baked muffins that enticed an exotic visitor to join our party.
The new year found me in Indonesia guiltlessly munching on fried foods and ice cream- I was on holiday after all. However, I couldn’t resist the call of January to lose weight, get fit, save money and generally become a perfect human creature.
I decided that the first step would be to start having green smoothies for breakfast. 2015 was the year I discovered green drinks in all forms. A well made green smoothie not only gives you a sense of smug self-satisfaction, but actually tastes good. I had developed a worrying dependency on the guy who makes smoothies outside Sourced Market at St Pancras station, sometimes travelling there specifically for a hit.
I decided to break the cycle, cut out the middleman, and make the smoothies my damn self.
Green juice purists might disapprove of how I make my smoothies. I add a little dried fruit for sweetness and fibre. I use fruit juice rather than water, and have banana as well as some frozen berries. I sometimes even add a touch of honey if my smoothie tastes a bit too virtuous.
I use my electronic scale to help keep my measurements on track.
- A small handful (about 20g) oats
- A small handful (10-25g) almonds
- A little dried fruit- I use a dried fig or a couple of apricots depending on what I have on hand
- 200ml apple juice or water
- 80g avocado- this is half a small avocado or a quarter of a large avocado
- 80g (1 small) banana
- 80g frozen spinach
- A small handful (about 40g) frozen berries
- 80g (1 stalk) celery
- 80g cucumber
- 1tsp (about 10g) fresh ginger
- 1tsp spirulina (optional)
- Ice or water to bring smoothie to desired texture and temperature
- To save time in the morning, I often soak the nuts, oats and dried fruit in the juice overnight, along with the unfrozen veg. Since my smoothie machine came with two bottles, I prepare two in the same evening
- I sometimes chop up bananas and keep them in the freezer as a further time saver (it means I don’t have to run to the shop for bananas every three days)
- I do the same with the fresh ginger, buying large fresh pieces when I see them and storing them prepared in pots in the freezer
- This recipe is super flexible. You can substitute most ingredients for whatever you have on hand.
- Don’t drop the blade of the blender on your foot. It hurts.
For me this smoothie is really balanced. It’s fresh with a lovely zing from the ginger. The avocado and banana give a nice smooth texture. I don’t know what spirulina is meant to do, but it makes the smoothie a nice colour and helps me feel like I am taking care of my body as I prepare to exit my twenties.
I finally got the chance to do my first from-scratch bake of the year, and decided to make these brownies with a cherry cheesecake topping. I spent some time on Pinterest last year looking for recipes to use up the 400g glace cherries I inherited from my old housemate. This was the recipe I settled on.
I think these brownies were really tasty, though I think the balance is a little off. I would have preferred slightly less brownie and slightly more of the baked cream cheese topping. It’s so good. Maybe if I made these again I would try and do three quarters of the stated amounts for the brownies. It would probably be safe to freeze some of the batter for future midwinter sugar cravings. I liked how simple the brownie recipe was, though I do think other brownies I have made in the past were nicer.
I made no changes to the recipe as stated except improvising my own ‘cherry pie filling’
- 200g glace cherries* **
- Two tinned apricots, or dried apricots that you have soaked until soft
- Lemon juice (to taste)
- Red food colouring (optional)
*I think this would be nicer using tinned or frozen cherries, but I had glace cherries on hand so that’s what I used
**Eagle-eyed readers will notice that I had 400g cherries but specify only 200g here. I did use all 400g cherries but it made too much cherry sauce
Combine all ingredients in a food processor until you have a thick sauce consistency. Add the lemon juice to taste. If you do use tinned or frozen cherries, taste and add sugar if needed. The sauce should be sweet, but balanced. Add a teaspoon of water at a time if your ingredients are not mixing well.
Check out this brownie cheesecake GIF.
This week I finally finished making a knitted toy elephant I started working on a while ago with the yarn I had left over from the first pair of socks I ever made. This is as far as I got.
The problem was the ears, which the pattern instructs to crochet. I found this a bit of a stumbling block. In between putting the elephant down and learning to crochet, I managed to lose or throw away the remaining yarn, so I had to improvise. I did a few practice ears trying out weights of yarn.
The one on the right was done with the yarn held double. I then decided that I would prefer green to pink ears. Also I think I have laid the ears backwards in this pic. Oops. I did this project as part of the HPKCHC Headmistress Challenge, which had a garden theme and so I took the finished pictures in my pumpkin patch.
A few years ago, I overcame the dramatic and turbulent changes in my weight that I’d seen in my late teens and early twenties. One of my remaining bad habits was that I never ate breakfast. After finally losing weight, I was worried that increasing my food intake would lead to increasing my waistline. But I was also aware of some of my blood sugar highs and lows throughout the day and eventually I took the plunge.
I’ve never looked back since and I remain a committed consumer of brekkie. I love porridge in the winter, but had more difficulty finding healthy and filling ways to break my fast in summer. Cereal with fake milk was okay, but I was always starving by 10am. One day, I saw a former Australian housemate making something for his lactose intolerant sister, who was visiting. He grated apples. He did stuff with oats. He manipulated nuts and seeds. And I learned that Bircher Muesli exists.
I love Bircher Muesli in the summer. I am going to give the basic recipe I use. Please note that a little variation in the quantities is no problem. You must prepare this at least a few hours before serving, preferably the night before.
- 1 apple
- A squeeze of lemon juice
- 25g oats
- 75ml fruit juice or smoothie
I normally make five servings at a time and leave it in the fridge throughout the week. I add the following items to taste each day.
- A handful of berries, fresh or frozen
- A couple of tablespoons of Greek yoghurt
- A couple of tablespoons of nuts
- A little dried fruit
- A squeeze of honey
- Grate your apples. I think it’s important to do this by hand and use unpeeled apples to ensure a great texture (no pun intended)
- Squeeze over some lemon to prevent the apple from browning
- Add oats
5. Stir well and refrigerate.
6. In the morning, the oats will have soaked up lots of liquid. Stir in what you like just before serving and savour.