Sunday, December 19, 2010

Bright spots

I have one cyclamen on my windowsill at the moment. I look past it out the window when we eat meals, or when I work at the dining room table. Often, its one of the few bright things in my field of view, and I'm enjoying it so much. I'm also enjoying the last of the apples, now on the ground and being devoured by a motley flock of birds every day. Most days we have 15 or 20 birds in the garden at any time, gradually making their way through the last of the crop.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas cheer

The sloe gin is bottled. The gift bags have been made. The shortbread has been baked (and eaten!), and tomorrow I think we'll cut the Christmas cake. What a most excellent time of year.

I bulk bought the bags for the wedding - treat bags for our very little guests - and had some left over, so a wee scrap of ribbon and hand printed labels (not by me!) made them a bit more festive. I really love how they came out. The ribbon and labels are from Flash in the Pan - a pop-up shop in Summertown at the moment. Very much worth checking out - lovely lovely stuff in there!
The sloe gin is not destined for gift bags - it is destined for a years eeking out, its such lovely stuff. It is quite a light colour this year, I think my sloe-piercing was less than thorough. But it still tastes divine.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

pride and falls and so forth

Yes, I promised pics of newly spruced kids rooms. And evidence of this nesting that I've apparently been doing. But really, all I have to show for the last two weeks is some thermal backing on our downstairs curtains (not inspiring at all but most wonderful in keeping us just a little warmer during this first chill), and a chest infection (and at over 35 weeks I really don't have the lung capacity to spare). Its been a week of colds & 'flu and I've really had enough of it. So I've submitted to the magic of antibiotics in the hope of still eeking out a few weeks of pleasure with my gorgeous and entertaining two year old and a few days of calmness and creativity for me. Fingers crossed!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

And there was

So yes, if you were wondering, I've started nesting. 32 weeks pregnant, and I have just spent two days on annual leave tethered to my sewing maching. There are a few things to show off, but the one I have pics of is this:
We just couldn't find a lightshade we liked, so I made one. I have a small stash of this Mairo fabric from the wonderful Northlight, and a few cushions purchased from them too, and the plan is that this is the 'theme' fabric for our lounge. Anyway, the kit was from Duffy London and was super-easy and quick to make. You can use it as a lampshade too. Thanks to the lovely slubby linen, the lampshade looks best in the evening, with the light shining through, although this was a bit tricky to capture - you get the idea! Next - turning our little boy's room into a little boys room, not a room with a cot and some boxes in it.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Christmas come early

So this year, I seem to be ludicrously early on the Christmas front. I might have forgotten all sorts of important dates throughout the year (sorry again, mum!) and been writing February when it was actually April, but suddenly its October and I'm on the ball. Admittedly, I do have good motivation - my mum will be here for Christmas, as will a new baby :) So I'm doing things while I have the time, assuming that things will just get busier.
So cake is done - Delia's recipe, which seems to be the UK standard. And I was getting ready to make fruit mince (S likes the odd mince pie) but my supermarket didn't have any veg suet. For 3 weeks. In the meantime, I got the River Cottage book on preserves out of the library, and there was a recipe for fruit mince without suet, but with fresh plums and apples. I happened to have some plums in the freezer that needed to be used to make way for more substantial fare, so I gave it a go. The stuff is delicious. I'm not a huge fan of fruit mince - too sweet and cloying. But this is lovely and fruity. I'm just annoyed now that I only made a half batch (thats how many plums I had)!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


We recently spent most of a week in the lovely town of Barneville, on the Normandy coast. It was sunny, warm and generally delightful. We visited the beach each day - and the boulangerie! B managed to turn up to our accommodation covered in croissant crumbs, which set the tone for the remainder of the holiday. The beach was what I think beaches should be - enormous, empty, windswept, with shells and seaweed and stuff for beachcombing. But the tides were something else - when the tide went out, it went out for miles.

We became market groupies and visited towns according to when their markets were running. We also visited a fantastic family run calvados & cidre business, ate lots of seafood (especially mussels) and had a nap nearly every day. The perfect holiday!

Monday, October 04, 2010


Its quince time here in the UK. I've managed to get hold of a few enormous beauties while on holiday in France, and a bag of lovely little gems from a local tree. I cooked four of these tonight using this recipe from Nigel Slater. I have eaten a lot of quince in my time - it is one of my favourite fruits - and I have to say that I think this recipe has resulted in the most concentrated quince taste (and also the most beautiful colour). I did overcook at both stages, and it was still lovely.
So, if you're in the UK, go find some quinces. Or if you have a tree, let me know :) If you're not in the UK, you'll just have to be envious!

Sunday, September 05, 2010

new acquisitions

This arrived in the post this week. I love the colours, and that it is handmade. There are a few little wear marks, and it has very little batting, but I'm very happy with my new acquisition! It will most definately do whilst life is too busy to make my own double bed sized quilts :)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Believe me

Knitting! I know, incredible. This is Meret, in Lang SilkDream in charcoal (a gorgeous yarn gifted to me in a swap by the lovely Jinnee, all the way from Switzerland).

And some sewing from a few weeks (months?) ago - a skirt from an old 70's pattern and a top from a new Simplicity pattern, both in Amy Butler fabrics. Although I love the Coriander fabric of the skirt, turns out I don't wear white-based skirts much. Had you asked me this beforehand, I would have agreed, but I just didn't think. Still, it is nice. The top is huge, but I'm growing into it :)
Now I'm off to find out who turned the date stamp on the camera...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Last days of summer

That time of year is of picking, freezing, preserving, arguing about how much fruit is in the freezer as a proportion of overall freezer content, bottling, eating and generally being obsessive about hedgerows and farm shops. Loving it.
The berries were picked last weekend, and turned into blackberry & apple crumble (with our new apples) and blackberry & apple crumble cake (yep, doubling down there, but they were both delicious). The raspberry jam is on my extremely successful and yummy white sourdough, which is my other pride and joy. I have to say that, to my mind, there is little better in this world than fresh homemade bread, good butter and new raspberry jam. Although a little clotted cream could squeeze its way in, I reckon.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Rainy Tuesday delights

So what to do on a rainy Tuesday morning in Oxford? Well, my suggestion would be to pop into town early to nab an easy park, wander through the back lanes and past the colleges to the High St. (make sure to stickybeak in every possible door and window), nip into Northlight to do a little essential shopping*, duck across the road to Toast to buy up on a few maternity-suitable trans-seasonal items*, back over the road to the Vaults for delicious coffee, cake and babycino for the boy (who will behave delightfully and entertain all those in the vicinity), then home to a newly cleaned house before the rain comes down, with a child who goes directly to sleep leaving you to catch up on reading some blogs.

Couldn't have scripted it better. Hope you are having a lovely Tuesday morning too.

*there is nothing essential in Northlight, it is all entirely and deliciously frivolous. How I love design focused shops.
*how I would dearly love to curl up on their big couch and knit and drink coffee and watch people come in and out, but I'm not sure they'd be up for it.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Buckwheat Blinis

S bought some buckwheat flour last time he was at the supermarket. Voila - blinis for breakfast. Yum. Served with vanilla poached peaches.

Sunday, August 01, 2010


Sometimes, even when you really want to be in somewhere , its harder to get out than you expect (this apparently includes laundry hampers). We've moved. Today we (finally) handed over the keys to the old house, which means we can stop finding more things to do to make it cleaner/tidier, and start properly unpacking the new house. I love the new house (although its a long way from our friends over the road/next door/round the corner - well, not that long, 6 minutes in the car!), it is light and has a big empty-canvas garden and is quiet. B loves it too - he runs and runs. So as soon as I find the cable to link the camera to the computer, there might be pictures. But to be honest, very little knitting or sewing. Quite a lot of jam though...

Monday, July 05, 2010

Norwegian Wood

We've been on a jaunt to Norway the last week. It was very very beautiful, and B was delighted to travel on planes, trains, boats, buses and all manner of transports. He also led by example in attaining ultimate relaxation.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

New but vintage

So as previously stated, I bought some fabric at the V&A exhibition, some of which became a dress for my niece. Some became a dress for another girl-baby-to-be:
Same pattern, this time in 'Coral' with same lining. Excellently cute pattern.

I had a day off yesterday, again with both boys busy at work/nursery, so spent the day gardening/sewing/preserving artichokes. I finished this:
which is the shirt from Heather Ross' Weekend Sewing, in fabric by Michael Miller. And yes, he does now have matching shirt & shorts :) Poor child. I have to say, I didn't much enjoy sewing the shirt and it isn't especially tidy around the collar, but it does look fantastic on, especially now that summer is about again.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The first free Friday

Its a long story, but B has had two Fridays at nursery (when he is usually home with me), meaning I had two Fridays to myself! Luxurious. The first Friday, I went to the V&A quilt exhibition, which was outstanding. I got a bit teary at the Changi quilt and was wonderfully surprised to see the transportation quilt at the very end. I have seen this quilt before, and it is a wonderful record of the women transported from London to Van Diemen's Land. This quilt reminds me of how lucky I am that I can choose to move between these two places as I wish, not as someone else commands.
Anyway, I bought some of their lovely fabric at the end, some of which ended up as this:
The pattern is the Itty Bitty Baby Dress from Made by Rae. Its a great, free pattern and looks super cute. I also got the ric rac from V&A - they sell everything in their amazing shop! This is for my new niece in Western Australia - hopefully it gets to her while it still fits. Speaking of babies - we are expecting another one at the end of the year, which kind of explains the crying at the quilt exhibition and the current lack of knitting. It'll be back, I'm sure.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Long Shorts

There has been less knitting than sewing going on here lately. For example - new shorts for B. (sorry about the first pic - I guess he's just movin to fast).
Based on a pattern from Ottobre, using Michael Miller's 'Zoology' print. I think these will last for some time - the elastic is too big (based on my guesswork rather than measuring) but hangs on thanks to cloth nappies :) My guess is by next summer they'll fit as regular shorts.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010


So in my long list of imaginary posts, there are several about food. Spring produce has reinspired me to cook more interesting things, and so there has been a list of new hits and revived favourites. So, my current faves:

Raspberry Shortcake (pictured above): Apparently this is called Louise cake in NZ. Whatever, it is delicious (even if this version is blackcurrant, not raspberry). It turns out I was a little overzealous in my jam stashing, so there is a little extra to use up at this end of the jamming year - this is the best use of it! This was one of my favourite cakes as a kid, and just one mouthful takes me straight back to childhood.
Asparagus pasta: I came up with this last year in an effort to use all of the asparagus I was buying, not wasting the ends. With asparagus season on us again, it has returned to the repertoire with vigour. Basically, you take your snapped-off ends, take the worst woodiness off them, pop them in the base of your steamer to boil. After 5 minutes add some peas, and put the rest of your asparagus in to steam. Take it all off when your good asparagus is cooked. Blend up the ends, peas, some oil, herbs (mint is nice, or basil) and maybe a squeeze of lemon. Stir your pasta through with this sauce and top with your asparagus. Doubling down on the old asparagus there, yummo. You can lighten the sauce with some creme fraiche too, if you like.
Pancakes: So I found some buttermilk and bought it to make the American pancakes from Rachel Allen's Home Cooking (a new acquisition). They are totally delicious. I'll never use my old recipe again.
Corn Bread: In an effort to use left-over buttermilk, I made cornbread - great for sunny Sunday lunch, and I took some to a neighbourhood barbeque too, went very well.
My other experiment at the moment is getting a sourdough starter going. It all seemed to be going well, but now it smells - well, fairly unpleasant. And its stopped bubbling so much too. But fingers crossed.

Times a changing

So it turns out I haven't blogged since March. Which is in some ways surprising, both as I was sure I had posted more recently, but it turns out these were all imaginary posts, which are fairly common, and because in April & May we were back in Australia getting married. Which, as you can probably guess, took some small amount of time and organisation just prior to the event, and some celebrating just after. For those that couldn't be there, we had a fantastic day with glorious weather and lots of family and friends to celebrate with. These pictures give you and idea of what it (and I looked like). One of my favourite things of the day were the flowers - the florist (Cristina at Flower Flower) was absolutely brilliant and made something I love without me knowing what I wanted! And I love how they look on the cake my wonderful mum made.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spring belle

I am getting oodles of joy from the ongoing delights of my Golden Syrup tins. Remember them?

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Highs and Lows

There's been lots of highs lately...a great visit to Megan, a lovely visit from Katie & FB, a really good run with Jennie, Chinese takeaway with the neighbours, a trip to Woodstock farmer's market and sunshine on the weekend! There was also chocolate pudding (while nowhere near as nice looking as Laras, it was still tasty!), and anzacs - a little taste of home!

And some new knitting to go with the spring feeling - the colour in the pic doesn't do it justice, its a lovely spring green (RYC luxury cotton in Lettuce).
Unfortunately, after so many highs we are now in the midst of some lows, as baby is feeling poorly. Our washing machine is getting a good workout and I seem to have spent most of the day cajoling him to have a few mouthfuls of liquid, but hopefully he is now on the mend. And I have nothing but great things to say for the lovely nurse from NHS Direct that spent a good half hour talking to me this afternoon.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Grey Winter

Maybe its that the English winter has finally worked its charm, but I seem to be wearing, knitting and coveting more and more grey at the moment. Off my needles in January was this lovely Drops cardigan/jacket. Its knit with Eskimo, a chunky Drops yarn thats really just a big single ply. Its cosy, chunky, and just a tiny bit prone to pilling. To be honest, I've hardly taken it off. It goes with nearly everything (except my new red coat - it would look great if only I could squeeze my giant smooshy grey arms into the svelt red sleeves!)
Theres more info here (Ravelry link). Excuse the squinty face - there was real, actual sunshine here - we dashed to the park to remind the baby that such stuff existed, and took advantage to take some pics (I think it took me longer to take photos than it did to knit this thing!).
Also on my grey list - a new grey scarf (left overs from this jacket), a cool grey poncho/cape/cardigan thing from St Martins (love their stuff) and participation in the great grey swap of gorgeousness (who could resist?!)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Winter weekend warmers

Delicious! I feel slightly like an Enid Blyton character, but fresh crumpets on a cold grey weekend are perfect (if slightly time consuming - note the crumpet 'pancakes' that occurred after I got a bit bored!).

Friday, February 12, 2010


I can never bring myself to throw out these golden syrup tins, they are so lovely. At last - a use for them!

Monday, February 08, 2010

Baby sewing

So it turns out that sewing for babies has all the benefits of knitting for babies (small projects, rapid satisfaction, minimal body shaping, able to indulge in all sorts of cuteness) and all the benefits of sewing (much quicker than knitting!). And thanks to Ottobre magazine I managed to finally sew something cute and wearable that fits (even over a big cloth nappy).

Pattern: Dala Hast dungarees, Spring 2009 Ottobre
Fabric: Petrol fine cord from Dots n Stripes and a little Amy Butler lovely spottiness (I think it is Full Moon dots from the Lotus collection).
I see some more of these on the horizon...! (PS check out my shoes! Yes, walking now!)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

2009 in Review: Words

So when I started this blog, I had an idea that it would be about words (books, mostly) and stitches (knitting, mostly). The stitches part worked out, but I rarely write about books. So when I thought about doing a bit of a review of 2009, one of the first things I wanted to talk about was books. I love reading, but I have a terrible memory for what I have read (particularly the name & author - I can remember the content pretty well), so hopefully this will serve as a reminder for me. And maybe suggest some new reads for you.
2009 was the year I really got into using the library. Brilliant. This means it was the first year of my life where I didn't do very much re-reading. Anyway, here are some of my favourite books that I read in 2009:

The Children's Book, A S Byatt: brilliant. Didn't want it to ever finish. A wonderful examination of the artifice that adults impose on children, and of a strange period of time. Includes very interesting discussions about the Arts and Crafts movement.

Outlander, Gil Adamson: Easy to read, great tale with a wonderful sense of place. Beautifully written.

Thousand Acres, Jane Smiley: My number one book of 2009. A re-telling of King Lear, set in modern rural America. She writes beautifully, and there was that great Shakespearean sense of dread as all inevitably collapses. I'm now reading Horse Heaven, another of hers, and while the topic is not something I'm especially interested in, she is a master of words.

Secret River, Kate Grenville: So close for number one - I can't stop thinking about this, even nearly a year on. Haunting, a brilliant portrayal of early Australian life.

Yummy Yucky, Leslie Patricelli: Fun book about all the things that are yummy and yucky. I love it as much as B does :)

Forty Signs of Rain; Fifty Degrees Below; Sixty Days and Counting, Kim Stanley Robinson: Nerdy trilogy about climate change and the impact on our way of life. As usual with KSR, the writing and characterisation are flimsy at times, but the ideas are great. I keep thinking 'why can't we just do that'....full of good, big ideas and a bit of hope.

so there are some of my top picks for 2009. I'd love to hear any of your top books that I could add to the list for 2010!

Monday, January 04, 2010

Remembering October

I just managed to get these pics from our camera (how lazy!), but I like how they remind me of the late autumn sunshine. And of all the delicious goodies in my cupboard.