Etsy items

Monday, 31 October 2016

Etsy discount!

In honour of all things Hallowe'en and all things NaNoWriMo, I'm offering a 25% discount on purchases in my Etsy shop between Hallowe'en and the end of NaNo (30th November, for the non-writing peeps out there!).  Just use the coupon code HALLOWEEN16 if anything there takes your fancy!

Cooking experiments

Mmm... one of the small but significant pleasures in my life is the smell of tasty food cooking - sometimes I think I enjoy that more than actually eating it, although I do like my food!  And it's one of the many reasons I love my slowcooker so much - I get to come home from work and have the house smelling of (hopefully) tasty food, without having to do anything further.  A small amount of time and effort in the morning, and dinner is ready that evening.  Amazing.  Given the varying demands on my time, it's pretty much a Godsend!

However... I'm also very like my mother, in that I like recipe books.  I have a great many recipe books. I enjoy leafing through them, reading them, deciding which ones I'd like to make.  And then, when I actually cook, seldom actually using a recipe at all.  I blame genetics.  It means that a lot of my cooking is a throw-it-in-and-see what happens (I got a really nice beef and tomato curry recently by doing that). 

Today, I have soup in my slowcooker - not for dinner tonight (and unfortunately not for lunch today, as it wasn't ready when I got in).  It's an attempt at tomato and lentil soup, which will be divvied up into me-size portions, and then frozen, so I can have soup for lunch as it gets colder.  It should be healthy and nutritious, it's definitely cheap (I have no standards when it comes to buying tins of chopped tomatoes; the really cheap ones are fine), and it is smelling really, really good!  Mine is literally 4 tins of el cheapo chopped tomatoes, "some" lentils (I just chucked them in until I thought it looked like enough), a veg stock pot, some water, salt, pepper, smoked paprika and garlic.  Stir, and leave on low for the day for a good-smelling house and hopefully some good-tasting soup!  (You could also add in a couple of teaspoons of Bovril (or supermarket equivalent) for extra flavour and nutrients, if wanted).  I'll whiz mine up with a whizzy stick (hand blender, for the more technical among you), as I prefer my soups smoother and thicker a lot of the time.

My cooking today does not stop there, though; in an effort to combat my autumn/winter sluggishness and inability to get going in good time in the mornings, I'm making myself some breakfast bars - essentially flapjacks with dried fruit, nuts and seeds, and rather less sugar than usual.  They're based heavily on the recipe from  Nadia Sawalha's Greedy Girl's Diet book (found in a charity shop quite some time ago!), but altered to use what I had and what I could find.... I do use recipes sometimes, you see, but they're often guidelines rather than rules!  They're also smelling tasty, and I'm hoping it'll make my mornings easier if I only have to grab one and take it to work with me to have with a mug of tea.

Sunday, 30 October 2016

It's that time of year again...

Ah, yes.  The nights (and mornings) are darker, it's colder, the handknits are being retrieved from storage, porridge is very definitely back on the menu, and my hot-water bottle is in regular use. 

All of which means... it's NaNo time again!  Yep, it's about to be (well... in a day and a bit) National Novel Writing Month.  For the whole of November, insane and desperate people writers across the world will be diving headfirst into their keyboards, notebooks and pen, and trying to create a novel (or 50,000 words of one) in just 30 days.  It's mad, it's bad, it's NaNoWriMo!

This year I'm branching out a bit.  I generally end up going for fantasy or "literary fiction" (whatever the hell that is), as those tend to be the strongest ideas I have.  But this year, it's all about the sci-fi, post-apocalyptic genre.  Oh, yes.  I've never tried it before (and after November 30th, I may never try it again), but the idea is there, and it will be written.  I'll be up until midnight tomorrow night (also Hallowe'en, which I love with all of my geeky gothy heart), just to write the first few words of the novel (I do this every year; it's a 'thing' now).  And then, every day for 30 days, I will delving hard in the word mines, trying to meet my daily quota lest some dire fate should befall me.

(Also, I'll be using the time to write more of my thesis; I find creative writing can often make academic writing a little easier, as I'm in the writing zone already, and the time pressure of NaNo may as well be put to good use elsewhere.)

So... wish me luck?

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Quick projects

I seem to have been working on a lot of things recently that are fairly slow and time-consuming.  That's fine, I'm not in any mad rush for any of them, but sometimes you just want something quick and easy, for a bit of instant (or near instant) gratification!  This was on my mind today as I left work... and then I saw that my local fabric shop had pieces of fleece fabric quite cheaply (£1.99 for the cut piece), and I remembered that Mr Geekygoth had expressed a desire for a cushion he could put behind his back when he's driving.  Upon further examination, it turned out that the fabric shop also sells cheap cushion pads  (£2.10 for  a 16"x16" cushion, and a bit firmer and less lumpy than if I stuff it myself), and it was clear what I was going to be doing this afternoon!

I hand sewed it; I know it would be faster using the sewing machine (and probably less, er, characterful), but my sewing machine isn't currently easily accessible, and there's always the hassle of clearing a space for it, so I couldn't be bothered.  It didn't take long, and now he should be able to drive in more  comfort.

Monday, 17 October 2016

That's next year sorted!

Oh. My. Goodness.

I just found THIS on Ravelry, and my heart went pitter-patter.  I squee'd a little.  There was girlish, geeky, gothy glee.

Now, I've always shied away from colourwork in my knitting.  Far too complicated for me; I'll never be able to do that, etc.

But I don't think I have ever seen a jumper I want more than this one. 

So next year... next year, my big knitting challenge to myself will be to knit this jumper. 

I can't wait!

Friday, 7 October 2016

Hats and drawers...

Currently sitting at home, watching stuff on Iplayer (I love the BBC!), and knitting a hat (it's a Christmas present, of course, and going very quickly; maybe everyone should get hats!). Of course, I don't want my yarn rolling all over the place (not least because, frankly, we're a bit overdue for some vacuuming...). Given where I'm sitting, there's the possibility of it going under the coffee table, or one of the two sofas. I really can't be bothered rummaging around after it. So... Behold my improvised "yarn bowl" - one of the drawers of the coffee table! It's sharing space with our PS2 games and a random remote (no idea what that belongs to, oops). It seems quite happy in there, and I'm happy because I haven't got to keep picking it up. Genius!

(For anyone who's interested... The hat is Jamie).

Sunday, 2 October 2016


I think Autumn (or Fall, as some nations have it - which I do actually like as a term, and which makes a lot of sense) has properly arrived now, rather than just hanging around the edges of things.  The evenings have drawn in considerably - it's just after 6:30 in the evening and I've closed the curtains for the night!  It's not dark yet, but it's gloomy enough to need the light on, and there clearly isn't going to be any last minute sunshine to brighten it up again.  Our living-room gets the sun first thing, which is pleasant over breakfast, but it does mean that our main room gets dark quite early and quickly, which is a little disheartening!

I have the same problem that I have every year at this time; I love autumn, it's one of my favourite seasons; I even love winter (although I prefer looking at it to being outside in it!).  I love the changing colours, the bleakness, the cooler temperatures, the excuse to dig out all my knitted things and cosy up.  I like the change to porridge for breakfast, and the need to drink much more tea to keep warm.  I like the blustery winds and the sudden rain showers, the moody skies and the crisp mornings with a hint of woodsmoke in the air.  Unfortunately, my ardent admiration for this time of year is not at all reciprocated.  The change to cooler, damper weather makes my arthritis play up, and the darker mornings and evenings cause me to struggle massively.  I've never been officially diagnosed with SAD, as I think it's just been lumped in with the normal depression, but it is definitely a problem.  I struggle to get up, struggle to motivate myself, and constantly want to just hide away and take naps.  In summer I wake early, and generally get up early, being reasonably alert and capable of doing things.  Once the mornings become darker, and I start needing the light on when I get up.... well.  Not so much.  I struggle to wake up at all, and it is a real and difficult fight to get myself out of bed in time to achieve anything other than dressing and leaving the house in time for work.  I can feel my mood becoming more withdrawn and darker, and it's hard to keep myself going during the day.  Why I get like this I don't know; every year I look forward to autumn arriving, and every year it kicks me in the teeth when it does!  (I also currently have the sniffles, which also tends to be a reaction to changing seasons.  Hmph.)

But the wet days and dark evenings are good excuses for snuggling up with my knitting, so all is not doom and gloom!  I finally managed to sort out the test knit; the pattern is absolutely fine, and I feel very ashamed of myself for being so impatient and stupid; it turned out that I simply hadn't received the charts that go with the pattern, which is why nothing was making sense to me!  I had some problems downloading the email the designer sent, and presumably something got cast adrift in the ether at some point in the process.  All sorted out now; I have the charts, and the cardigan is progressing nicely!  I'm going to love it when it's finished; it's a gorgeous green, and I love the cabling.

Other knitting has been taking place in the form of another pair of (plain, sober) socks for my father for Christmas.  His colourful ones are awaiting wrapping!  I'm using DPNs for these ones, as I wanted to see how I got on with them as opposed to my normal magic loop, or the mini circular I used for the colourful ones.  I definitely prefer DPNs to the mini circular; I think I'll get rid of that.  I like magic loop, but... well, I knit nearly an entire leg and the heel yesterday, without working at it especially consistently or hard, and I think that's faster than I could have done with magic loop.  I love the DPNs I'm using, and have just stuck the set (of standard sock-knitting sizes) on my wishlist for Christmas!  I certainly find them much, much easier for doing flap-and-gusset heels; I've always struggled with those on the magic loop, which is probably why I've been experimenting with short row heels recently.  But yesterday the heel whizzed by, and picking up the stitches for the gusset was a piece of cake*!  Obviously if I want two-at-a-time I'll stick to my magic looping, but otherwise I may be a convert to the joys of sock-knitting on DPNs.

I've also been reintroducing foods this week, as my low FODMAP time has finished.  So far wheat seems to be fine, so long as I don't overdo it, but I think dairy/lactose is a problem, so I'm going to cut down on that as much as possible.  I have no intention of giving it up completely - perish the thought! - but cutting down and not having it too often or to much at a time is probably wise.  Otherwise, so far so good!

*Speaking of which - the total raised for MacMillan by my coffee morning came to over £100.  I'm pretty pleased!