Saturday, August 13, 2011


Charity shopping is great, but there's something about the US term 'Thrifting' that I prefer. Maybe it's because it reflects more of the reasoning behind it on behalf of the shopper- I'm happy to be supporting the charity, but equally happy to be finding useful stuff for us at a low cost. Today's finds- the results of a sneaky child-free half hour in town following an eye test- also included the additional joy of second-hand shopping, something that probably wouldn't be found new. We used to have one of these crank-handle graters, acquired when my Grandma cleared out her kitchen, and it went some way to alleviate my hatred of grating (don't ask, it's not rational!). Plus, once assembled, the blades are out of the reach of little fingers so it allowed P to join in with cooking. Sadly, that one got broken through some over-zealous drawer closing on C's part, which is why I was delighted to see this apparently unused and boxed replacement, with not one but three grating options! With what I'm fairly sure is an Ikea tablecloth and six matching napkins my total spend was less than £5- happy days!

Friday, August 12, 2011

This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savour and remember. Inspired by SouleMama.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Introducing the Coniston Sweater...

...and the world's grumpiest knitwear model!

This sweater has had several incarnations before I finally got to this version, however the inspiration has remained the same- Coniston Water, for which it is named. It's a place we like to go in all weathers, within easy reach of our house, but with less of the tourist crowds and Beatrix Potter/fleece jacket and walking boots/William Wordsworth overload of Windermere (where these pictures were actually shot- it's not as appropriate I know, but sometimes you have to grab an opportunity).
Sometimes when we drive up the lake road the water is so still that the fells are perfectly reflected in it like a mirror. It's so strikingly beautiful there have been times I've had to remind myself to drive the car instead of being mesmerised by the view. Those reflections, of steely grey clouds, of rocks that shoulder their way through the turf at the side of the road, of slate drystone walls, of moss and dark green forests are all there in the converging, alternately smooth and textured stripes of Rowan Renew- the shade colours are, appropriately enough for my boy, 'Digger' and 'Truck'.
The still flatness of Coniston is also the reason it was where Donald Campbell set the world water speed records that eventually ended in tragedy. Speed on the water is a lot more restricted now, but I thought that it was fitting that the stripes on the sweater also reminded me of those found on diagrams of the Doppler Effect, where the lines showing sound waves get closer together as an object moves past at speed. By the way, I'm not that much of geek (at least not when it comes to Physics!) but fellow Big Bang Theory fans might recognise this episode.

Theories and inspirations aside, the sweater is mainly meant to be a warm, comfortable layer for days out exploring the beauty of the outside world. My model is a very discerning customer and it says quite a lot that the sweater even stayed on him long enough for these shots to be taken- if he really hated it, it would have been dragged off over his head without a thought for all those hours of loving mama-making. No, the grumpiness was down to the fact that it was far too hot for a sweater, as far as my little fashionista was concerned, and that the only bribe I had on me for this brief episode of cooperation was a rice-cake. A favourite snack, granted, but not really what counts as a 'treat'...

I only grabbed these pictures so that I could get on with getting this pattern tested, as all being well this is going to be an early venture into selling my designs. On that front, I've had some very exciting news recently regarding another project, but I'll have to wait to share it. In the meantime, I'm going to wait until the inevitable turning of the year and the cooler weather that might just make this reluctant wearer a little bit more appreciative.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sweet memories

If you grew up anywhere other than my home county of Kent you might think that a 'Gypsy Tart' was a rather politically incorrect insult. Obviously I'm far to much of a left-leaning, Guardian-reader type for that- in fact it's a ridiculously sugar loaded bit of nostalgia in the form of a pudding which apparently originated in 'the garden of England'.
I can't remember the exact circumstances that led up to me dredging up the memory - I think it was something to do with custard tarts- but I was determined to introduce my sweet-toothed Northerner of a husband to this pud. There are several recipes on the internet (just be careful to put recipe after 'Gypsy Tart' in the search engine, or I wouldn't like to predict the results!)
The one I used was based on this one, although as I was making a roast dinner at the same time I cheated and used a ready-made pastry case. Apart from that it's really just muscavado sugar and a tin of evaporated milk. The recipe says to hand whisk for 15 minutes so I used my new/old Kenwood Chef until the motor started to smell hot, proabably about 10 minutes. I ended up with far more filling than could fit into the case, which probably saved us a trip to the dentist, because this is a seriously sweet treat.