Thursday, December 31, 2009


I'm not going to continue my "tradition" of blogging about my 28 achievements of my 28th year, because it's getting silly.
I think it's been a pretty good year, I've learned lots of new things. More importantly, I've got a plan for the next year. You'll get more on that soon (possibly tomorrow) but there's a life/health plan in the making.

I hope you all had a good year this year, 2009 has been interesting, here's to 2010 being a great year! I hope you are successful in all that you plan for.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Testing testing 123...

So, I have not yet tried blogging from my iPhone. This is it. So far, blogger is not hard to use on the small screen.
It seems that I can drop out of my mobile browser easily to use the address book too, which is nice.
I don't know about pics though, that might be a wish too far.
I can't find anything to let me blog a photo through iPhone. Oh well.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Making things

I have been making things, I promise! Just some of them have gone off in swaps, some of them are still ongoing, and - if I'm honest - I've been too tired and busy to bother taking any photos. Even these which I'm about to share aren't great! I took them with my iPhone, which isn't why they're bad, but doesn't add to the brilliance either!
I made a beaded bauble - easier than it looks. I ran out of the cord in the kit though (despite it being a kit for two baubles, I only got one small bauble out of the cord they supplied. Not pleased. I used cotton for the rest, but it tangles pretty badly...)
Bauble with beads
I've also made a cute beaded bracelet. I'm adding it to my slowly growing inventory of things I will try to sell on etsy when I finally get some nice photos taken of the stuff.
Beaded bracelet
And lastly, some mitred squares for the blanket I'm making. I actually made two more of these squares, but I gave them to the hamsters as bedding!
three blanket squares
So, there's some making for you. Now I have to go tidy up a bit so that I can clear all the books off the bookshelf and then move the bookshelf to a slightly different location. I've decided that moving the room round right now was a bad idea, but we're half way round now, so I either finish it or put it back. Neither is appealing, but at least finishing it would come with some sense of having achieved something. What I will have achieved other than driving myself nuts is questionable, but hey ho.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Beginning to look back...

It's getting close to the end of not just a year, but the end of a whole decade.
Where on Earth have the last 10 years gone?
What was I doing 10 years ago?
Laura Me and Abbie
The above photo is me and my flatmates in halls at the University of Westminster. I know this is probably November/December 2000 because I'm not wearing my own school tie (I picked it up over Christmas for later School Nights)

Something else I know - I didn't have a digital camera until just a couple of years ago, so unless I scanned the photos in (as I did with that one) they don't exist online. Which may be for the best.

I still love my iPhone, even though when I said "play Britney" it decided I meant "Call Rich". I was talking through my scarf at the time, so I forgive it!
I am trying not to be an iPhone bore though. There isn't an App for that.

Otherwise, Team Christmas Event tomorrow. The morning will be general info/messaging - there may be a quiz, but then again perhaps not.
Speaking of quizzes, I'm due to create one for my team meeting (last one before Christmas) so I should go do that.

I'm hopeful I'll blog again before Christmas!

Monday, November 30, 2009

There's an app for that

Thought for today:
It isn't what you eat between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, it's what you eat between New Year’s Eve and Christmas!
(From Rachel Cosgrove’s Blog)

Mum and Dad were up at the weekend. I had a good time. Mum and I left Boyf and Dad to turn around the door to the kitchen (it’s much better now, despite a minor plastering issue we now have) and we went into town.
It was very busy, but nonetheless we got some shopping done. I got a new dress shirt for Boyf, as his old on had curry on from last Christmas’s Christmas Curry, some gifts for the boys in our lives and…
Drumroll please…
An iPhone!
I wanted one of these when they first came out on O2, but there was no way I was going back to them after the poor customer service I had a few years back. Orange have always been very good to me, and I get free broadband with them. So, I was very excited when they announced that Orange was getting the iPhone. Excellent!
I’m really pleased with it! The only (minor) issue that I had was regarding ringtones. There is a function in iTunes where you can turn a song (mp3) into a ringtone, but it’s only available in the US. Frankly, Apple, I expected more of you. However, I downloaded a (free) program which can do this for me, and so I’m now happy once more with my Imperial March ringtone, and Captain Scarlet for the Boyf when he calls. Woo!

Now I just need some more nice apps. I have one game, a Wallace and Gromit comic and the Orange apps for Orange Wednesdays and Orange online billing.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What a weekend!

I’ve had a really good weekend. (As you can tell, since it’s now Wednesday and I hadn’t posted yet!)
Firstly, my new boots arrived in the post last week.

Aren’t they fab?

Anyway, I wore them all weekend and had toasty dry feet despite the weather.

On Friday we went to the Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate. This is the third year I’ve been there. There wasn’t the variety of stands that there were last year, I really had to hunt around for some things.

Here’s my haul

K&S Mosaic
1. Sublime, 2. Debbie Bliss, 3. mug, 4. Pretty Fabric, 5. Buttons, 6. Needles & Kit

Then, at the weekend, Boyf and I went to London. We had quite a nice time. I only took photos when we were in the dinosaur section of the Natural History Museum. It was good fun. They have an animatronic dinosaur, a T Rex, too.
We spent the night in a hotel just round the corner from our old University, and because the Metropolitan line was out of use, we accidentally went via my second year house in Wembley! Whoops!
It was good fun though, even though the bus journey was far too long. Next time we do London we’ll do it on the train! It wouldn’t be as bargainous, but it would be a darned sight better travel wise!

At knit night on Monday one of the girls showed me how to knit with beads, so you can look forward to some pretty beaded knits soon!

I have cast on for something for the NotMIL, but I’m probably not knitting anything else for anyone for Christmas.

Monday, November 16, 2009

A word (or several)

Over the weekend we cleared out the shed. I say “we” but really, I mean “he”. In fairness, most of the crap in there was the boyf’s and not mine. It’s much tidier in there now. I even managed to get a space on the shelf for my few plant pots and tools. I’m not very green fingered, but I am enjoying trying!

So, after we (this time I do mean we) took all the crap from the shed to the tip (everything from bike tyres to cardboard boxes) we made a start on the living room cum dining room.

You see, we live in an old Victorian terraced house. Once upon a time it would have been two rooms downstairs, but at some point (probably in the 70s or 80s) the owners decided to knock through and make it into one long awkward room instead of two small dark rooms. While I can see the logic, I’m not a fan of knocked-through. It was one of the things I compromised on when we chose this house. I’m going to be less easily swayed this time, I promise.

Anyway, for the last year or two we have had the “dining room” end at the front of the house and the “living room” end at the back. It works well that way round, except for the wiring issues.

However, we’re thinking about selling the house and moving somewhere with a little more space, preferably a drive and/or garage, space for chickens and possibly further livestock*, out-buildings would be nice, or more rooms than we need inside.

Of course, there’s no way we can afford a house which has all of that, and is in a fit state to move in to without much work, and so we need to consider that. After the nightmare** that fitting the kitchen has been, I’m not especially keen to do it again. However I’m not enamoured with new-builds because they tend to have very, very small gardens.***

Anyway – where was I? Oh yes, the room. So since we eventually want to sell the place we’re going to put it back to the “conventional” way around. Or rather, we partially have, this weekend. It’s not so great at the moment because we’ve only moved the sofas, computer, fridge**** and dining table and chairs. This has not worked because there’s a big old bookshelf in the way of where the sofa should be, and therefore the sofas overlap in a bit of a mad way at the moment. We can live with it until we move the bookshelves, DVD shelf, CD shelf, Hamsters and the Welsh dresser. (Indeed).

Yeah, so not content with the chaos we had, we’re making more.

On the up-side, we have made an appointment with our mortgage lender and our bank to talk money, because if we can’t borrow what we think we need, we’re not going anywhere for now.

I’ve a lot planned for the next few weeks, it always gets a bit hectic around this time of year.

Firstly I’m off to Harrogate on Friday for the Knitting and Stitching show. This will be my third year there! I’ve given myself a much smaller budget this year than last, mainly because I already have quite a lot of yarn^, but also because of my next point…

Secondly we’re going on the work “London Weekender” trip. Mainly because the overnight stay is in our old university town of Harrow (well, almost – it’s in Kenton) – the boyfriend and I met at uni, and have fond memories of Harrow especially. We’ll probably do some free stuff in the day, like visiting the Natural History Museum^^. I’m also thinking about going to one of the London LYS, but I’ll check if they’re open first.

Monday next week we’re at the mortgage people.

Wednesday we’re at a party/dinner/charity thing.

Then, the weekend after that my folks are visiting to help turn the kitchen door around, to take away the fridge (and hopefully some of the tools) and such. I also plan to buy an iPhone that weekend as we will have been paid.

And then!

Christmas party: 4th Dec (before which I need a haircut)

Two whole free weekends pass before my Team Christmas Lunch (on a Tuesday), then Mum and Dad are visiting for Mum’s birthday – we’re taking her to Betty’s.

After that there’s just One Week until Christmas!^^^

*Potentially including goats, sheep, rabbits, ducks and/or geese. But probably not a cow.
**Okay, so it hasn’t been that bad, but being without a kitchen for a time is not fun, I get fatter and don’t get to cook (which I enjoy), and we spend too much money on takeaways.
***Not that our yard is that big, but I don’t want a six bedroom mansion with a garden the size of a postage stamp.
****So we have a new fridge in the kitchen, but I promised my Mum she could have the old fridge freezer, so it’s standing in the middle of my “dining room”.
^Now, I’m not going to suggest that I have enough yarn, or dareIsayit, too much, but I do have a lot.
^^If we actually make it there, since this will be at least our third “trek” to Kensington, and we’ve not made it into the museum yet!
^^^closely followed, six days later, by my birthday. No it’s not a cool day to have a birthday on. Most people I might think of inviting out to do something (usually a quiet meal, depending on if I’m working on the 1st Jan^^^^) are already doing something to celebrate the New Year, and I don’t like hijacking parties%.
^^^^I know, I picked the wrong job. I sometimes (every year for the past 5, maybe 6) have to work on the 1st January. Last year I was out drinking til about 5am. Even a gourmet burger on the company didn’t help much with that hangover. Boo.
%Especially not parties with people “singing” to SingStar (srsly, I thought I was not very good at singing, compared to these guys I’m Pavarotti!), and trying to have “incidents” involving areas of Newcastle that I don’t fully understand but know that one is bad…

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Organic Veggies

Ok, so my own home grown veggies haven't been so successful. (Except the beans, I have enough runner beans to last til this time next year)

However, we can get an organic veggie box delivered to our door.

We chose the "mini" box, and here it is:
Organic Mini Box
It contains courgettes, broccoli and cauliflower,
Organic Mini Box
And shallots, and what's that? An Avocado? Amazing. Organic Mini Box
Oh, and carrots, potatoes, chard and a lemon.
I can't wait to see what's in the next one!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Getting back to it

So, I was sick a couple of weeks ago, and I only went to the gym one day last week due to car and boyfriend things.
That means I’m a bit out of practise. Or so I thought! I’ve actually done pretty well this morning. I made some reasonable lifts, and I think I can go heavier on some of them. Here’s today’s workout:
  • Warm up
  • Bench press, 8x20kg, 8x23kg
  • Squat, 2 sets 8x60kg
  • Upright row, 2 sets 8x15kg
  • Bent over row, 2 sets 8x15kg
  • Shoulder press, 2 sets 8x15kg
  • crunches with 5kg weight, 2x15
  • treadmill (eep) random elevation, 8 mins at 6.6kmph, 3 mins cooldown
I don’t really like the treadmill, but looking back to when I was running, I looked pretty good.
Me 'running'
Though in that pic I was struggling to run – too hot! Hence the red face. But that was back in August 2007. I’m not as slim now as I was then, but I am stronger and more toned – or I think so anyway.
I am really enjoying the weight training, but I think a short burst of running might help me to feel more like I’ve worked out. I’ve been reading Rachel Cosgrove’s blog, she talks about not feeling as toned when she’s training for running events (Iron Man) as when she’s doing her normal regime. Hopefully I’ll get her book for Christmas.

In other news… the car needs some more work. Yey. We had a new exhaust fitted at the service and it seems it’s been done wrong. The result of this is twofold – one is that we don’t really trust the local garage any more; the other is that we need to get it fixed because the exhaust is “blowing” and that’s not very efficient. We also have to get the fuel filter fixed because it’s leaking. So we’re going back to VW by the looks of things. The prices they quoted for those things aren’t bad, so I don’t mind too much.

On the knitting front? Well, my sock design is now being test knit. No pictures because I’m hoping to publish it. The sweater is also going well. I’ll probably have that test knit before I self publish that. Quite exciting!
I’m going to have to try to get through some of my outstanding knits, I have quite a lot on! There’s the toy for a friend’s baby’s First Birthday, the mittens which I may or not finish. Booga bag just needs a photo to stop being a WIP. The hat for Boyf might have to be frogged; the pattern calls for DK and I’m using Aran and it’s not really working for me, it’s just too stiff. The bag I crocheted on the plane needs lining, Boyf’s socks will remain a WIP until published or rejected. The rare pillow is a nice easy knit, I just need to get on with it. Phoenix (the jumper) is half way down the first sleeve. The two lace scarves… well, I plan to finish the one from VLT, but I’m umming about frogging branching out. I’m not sure I like it enough to finish it, I fancy making something a bit more interesting – not that I dislike the pattern, but it’s not memorise-able (for me) so I end up having to read the instructions each time…and the yarn is lush and should be made into something nice. And Boyf’s cloth just needs the ends weaving in and a photo taking! (Oh, and a quick wash and dry to neaten it up).

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Boris and Felt

This article about how Boris Johnson Saves the Day made me smile this morning. The mental image of Boris wielding an iron bar, whilst cycling towards a gang of “hoodies” is brilliant.
It’s also great to see that he isn’t all talk and no trousers. When someone genuinely needed assistance he stepped in, probably without considering his own safety. He showed he has principles, and guts. Something which many politicians are sadly lacking.

Now, I feel I should share my recent felting experience with you. There isn’t an FO photo yet, though I’ll put it up when there is.
I decided to make a Booga Bag for myself from South West Trading Company Karaoke yarn. I used my 6mm circs and made the big old bag (pre-felting).
The pre-felting dimensions were: 4.5 x 10 x 13 inches and the i-cord was 97 inches long.
I bunged it into a pillowcase, and stuffed that into the washer with some old jeans. I washed it on the hottest cycle (which I thought I did last time I felted) and let it run for the shorter cycle. When I took it out of the washer I was a little surprised.
It turns out that Karaoke yarn felts really well at 90 degrees.
So here is my bag, blocking on two light bulb boxes (to give you an idea of scale too!)
Small Booga Bag
It needs a shave too…
So, measurements after blocking: 3 x 5.5 x 4.75 and the i-cord is now 33 inches.
The bag is now 66% x 55% x 36% of its original size, and the i-cord is just over 33% of its original length. Whoops!
I had envisaged a knitting bag – something big enough to put a small project, some wool, some tools (scissors, crochet hook etc) and a pattern in. I might be able to fit a sock project in, if I don’t mind it sticking out the top.

Oh well, it’s a cute bag!
I think I did it on 60 last time! I’ll try felting by hand next time I think!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Cowl, not Simon.

I haven’t shared my latest knitting with the blog.
So, here it is:
Pretty Thing Cowl It’s called “Pretty Thing” and it’s a Yarn Harlot pattern. You can get it here.
It’s lovely. Here’s the knit down:
Pattern: Pretty Thing Cowl, from Yarn Harlot
Yarn: Violet Green Mulberry Silk & Merino 2ply Lace Yarn
Needles: 3mm circs
Modifications: Extra pattern repeat due to the finer yarn and thinner needles than suggested.

I like it. but I already need something warmer! I might have a go at something similar with some of the naturally dyed yarn I dyed a while ago: Naturally Dyed It’s a heavy DK, approx (I haven’t tried a swatch or done a WPI measurement, we will see...)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Ever feel like you’ve been led a merry dance?

I’m referring, of course, to the imminent nomination of Tony Blair to become President of the EU.
The BBC talk here about Number 10 lobbying his case. (Interesting that they recently reported that Number 10 said quite the opposite)
They also tell us that “Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg are reportedly among those that believe the president should come from a country that uses the euro and is part of the border-free Schengen Agreement.”
This all comes about as a result of the (yet to be ratified) Lisbon treaty. The Lisbon treaty which was originally vetoed by Ireland (they kept asking them until they got a “yes”) and the treaty which we in the UK were promised a referendum on, and then denied a referendum on – on the grounds that this treaty is not a constitution. But if it creates a president, and therefore a “United States of Europe” then what else is it but a constitution?
I can’t say, now that there’s all this talk about “President Blair” (cringe) that I’m surprised that we didn’t get to vote on it.
It all begins to fall in to place – all the international meetings, the interest in the peace processes in Ireland and the middle east, the very pro-European stance that he’s had from the beginning. Blair has been planning this for a very long time I think. Perhaps not exactly this, but something akin to it.
I think that the thing which most irritates me is that we could be represented by someone who we didn’t elect (EU President is not going to be elected like the US one is – though that could be fun!) and not only that, but by someone who has been accused of lying to the country about the case for war in Iraq.

Perhaps had he been seen to be more trustworthy then I would not think that this is of his making. But sadly I suspect that his hands have been itching at the thought of an EU president, that he sees the power he could wield.

So we’re all relying on the Czech Republic. If they declare the Lisbon Treaty to be illegal under their law, then it can’t be ratified by all 27 member states and it goes back to the drawing board. That process would take longer than to next May, by which time we will hopefully have a different government.

We can but hope.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Handspun Mittens

Okay, so I don't always post when I finish knitting something, but this one is special.

Way back in 2008 I was part of Secret Pal - this was one of my parcels I received some fleecy stuff to have a go at spinning.

I eventually turned it into this handspun yarn, in gloriously red-crimson-orange.

And then I did nothing with it for a long time.
Kicked into action by being asked if I had ever knit anything I had spun, I picked it up, wound it into a ball and looked for a pattern.

I couldn't find a pattern for a small enough amount of yarn (I hadn't spun much, and it was quite fine on average) so I wrote my own pattern. Handspun Self Designed Mitts

You can download it by clicking here, or by going to the Ravelry Page for it.
Let me know what you think anyway!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Back to the gym

I’ve learned something new today. In the gym this morning I saw a girl doing what I thought was a squat with very bad form. Having asked Boyf about this, I have learned that there is an exercise called “Good Morning” which looks a lot like what the girl was doing. According to Wikipedia, there’s a school of thought that suggests that this is a move which is likely to cause injury. Now, I don’t do that exercise – mostly because I’ve never seen it before, but also because I would be very concerned that I might hurt my back and/or legs in doing it. I’ll stick to my squats thank you.
Speaking of squats, I’ve upped my weight on my first session back from holiday! Woo! I squatted my third set at 67.5kg. I’m quite proud of that, now I just need to get the weights up on some of my other lifts. I struggled with the shoulder press at 17.5kg, but I did manage to complete both sets of 8 lifts. I added a new exercise this time too; I did 8 bicep curls. I didn’t enjoy it! I managed to use a 15kg bar for those.
I’ve also stopped the slim fast plan. I really can’t stick to it for long periods, and it’s been several months anyway. I’ll be trying to eat healthily though. I intend to make packed lunches for Boyf and me, probably starting next week. I think I need to buy some more lunch boxes, or possibly some differently designed ones, to include snack compartments.
This morning after the gym I have had a Promax Diet shake. I made it up with a whole pint of milk instead of the 350ml of water it recommended. I had that at about 9:15 and I’m still not hungry at 12:15, so that’s good. I might get one of the snack bars while I’m getting my lunch today, but if I do I might not want my tea tonight!

One of the hardest things about eating healthily, for me, is being organised enough to eat healthily. I don’t dislike the sorts of food I should be eating, things like salmon, tuna, chicken or turkey fillets, eggs – I have absolutely no problem with those sorts of food. I’m not a big fan of lettuce or other salad leaves, but I like tomatoes, cucumber, and things like that. In fact, there aren’t many foods I’d list under dislikes. Black olives, beetroot, and celery – those are my least favourite. I’ll not eat black olives at all, and I avoid beetroot and celery where possible.
Prior to the holiday Boyf and I had two wheat-free days. It was great! Boyf missed having toast, I think. For me, the main benefit of bread is its convenience. However it’s not exactly top of the list for foods to eat while dieting! If I could slice the home-made stuff a bit more thinly that might help. Still, now that we do make our own bread i get to choose what goes in it, so we can have some very exciting loaves! I have all sorts of flour (somewhere in the boxes of stuff that is yet to be moved into the kitchen).
So, yesterday I posted a picture of me in my bikini (sort of) and I wondered about doing a before-and-after type thing. Sadly there isn’t a picture of me in the same getup “before”.
However, I do intend to lose even more of that flab, so perhaps this photo can serve as the before for the next phase. Though the chances of me being in a bikini at Christmas are slim…

Monday, September 28, 2009


Boyf and I have recently come back from Lanzarote. We had a lovely time, and I’d like to share some of it with you.

We flew out in the morning, meaning that we arrived at the resort early afternoon. I found that quite pleasing. The flight itself was almost four hours, which isn’t bad really. I had some magazines and some crochet to keep me entertained. (I have finished the large bag, but it needs lining. You’ll see it soon enough).

So as not to completely bore you, I’ve created a collage with some comments/captions for you. If you click on the collage you’ll be taken to Flickr. If you’re interested from there you can view all my holiday snaps.

Lanzarote Mosaic 1. Timanfaya - Vulcan Grill - We got to eat food grilled on top of a volcano!
2. Timanfaya - Vulcan Grill - We got to see the national park of Timanfaya, including the volcanoes.
3. Timanfaya - Vulcan Grill - We even got to get out of the coach, which you can’t do on many of the tours!
4. Evening drinks... after earlier drinks
5. Ready to head to the beach - I promised you a bikini photo, and here it is. I’m pretty pleased with this new bikini actually, it’s by Panache from Bravissimo… (There are even photos of me in a smaller bikini too – but you can only see those if you’re my friend on Flickr!)
6. Local Tipple - I tried the local wine. I tried quite a lot of the local wine, actually!
7. Jameos del Agua a Cesar Manrique creation, like something out of a Bond movie!
8. Jameos del Agua - and my handknit shawl out in the wild!
9. First Evening - on the beach front for dinner, very pleasant!

(Created with fd's Flickr Toys)

We had a really nice time, and then to top it off we spent Sunday at the Masham Sheep Fair! Woo! I bought yarn, fleecy stuff, more carders (shiny silver ones!), books and soaps. There were lots of sheep to look at, sheep racing and all manner of craft suppliers.

Well, now we’re back to the grind, we’ve a kitchen to finish! There’s actually not that much left to be done, only finishing. However, as I know from my knitting, it’s the finishing that’s the killer! I have to touch up some paint tonight where there have been some additional unexpected renovations. We have to put doors on, handles on, tile and skirting. Oh, and a window sill!

I have the lining to make of the bag I crocheted on the flight, but I also made this smaller one out of the leftovers. I lined it with some fabric from my stash (yes, I have a fabric stash too) and I’m pretty pleased with it overall.
Note to self: when there are straps, buttons and lining, do the lining last otherwise you have to take it out again…
Small Crochet Bag
I’m using one of Boyf’s old shirts to make the lining for the bigger bag. I might put a pocket in this one, as it’s quite a bit bigger than the little bag. I also can’t decide how the bag should fasten – or indeed whether it should fasten. Hmm.

I’m also joining in another dye-along. I don’t know exactly what colours yet. The theme is “inspired by flowers”. I went on a mad photos-of-flowers mission over the past few days, so perhaps that will help. It’s amazing how much you see when you’re looking for pretty things to photograph!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Not about the kitchen!

I know, I haven't posted in an age. Bad blogger!

So, anyway, I know I promised a post about the kitchen. I'm afraid that I've failed in that respect. We haven't uploaded any photos of the kitchen and I'm now in a situation where I don't have access to a wire to do so.

The best I can do is post old pictures which went on a while ago, or else take photos with the camera on my laptop.
Which is actually not bad, for a webcam.

So, anyway, instead of talking about the kitchen, I have a bunch of other things to talk about.

As I breifly mentioned at the end of the last post, I've been lifting some pretty heavy weights in the gym. I have mixed reactions when I tell people about this. The majority of people seem to be concerned that I might get “too muscular” or something. Well, if that were my goal then it would be none of their business, but it's not. I'm not worried that this will happen though. I'm already squatting 65kg (yep, a new personal best again). I bench 20kg, I dead lift 20kg, I can shoulder press 17.5kg, but it's hard.
I read two really good blogs about women and training, specifically weight training rather than cardio. (I hate cardio with a passion, really – who enjoys spending hours running on the spot in a dull old gym?) one of them is Cassandra Forsythe. She's a nutrition expert, and has co authored a number of books about weight training for women, including The New Rules of Lifting for Women: Lift like a Man, Look like a Goddess which I own. The programs in there are pretty tough, and there's a lot of bizarre exercises, but the main point of the book is that women can, and should, lift heavy weights. The other blog I read a lot is Rachel Cosgrove. Anyone who has looked into male fitness might recognise the name. She's married to a famous male fitness expert, but is well qualified in her own right. Anyway, go on and take a look at those two blogs. Especially at the photos on Rachel's blog. Then come back and tell me whether those ladies are too muscular.

Anyway, I haven't just been lifting – to be honest until about three weeks ago we haven't been going to the gym regularly enough to make a proper difference. However, about three weeks ago we started going every morning. One morning we do strength training, the other morning we do 15-20 minutes of slow swimming (and then sit in the spa/sauna for a while too!)
I'm finding that pretty satisfying. However, it does make breakfast a challenge. I have been on the “Slim Fast” diet. Yeah, I've slimmed. My work trousers are a bit big around the waist now, which is quite satisfying. Also my stomach (my current least favourite part) looks more toned. (But not enough to show you pics)
Anyway, I've had enough of the slim fast. My actual weight hasn't changed that much, and while needing a belt for my jeans and having work trousers a bit big is nice, it's really not enough.
That's not to say I don't feel pretty good, I've bought some new bikinis for my holiday in the sun, and I'm reasonably confident that I'll look okay on the beach. Perhaps even pretty good, if I'm having a good day.
Not having been to the gym for a week prior to the holiday will not help, and I might have to do some crunches or something to make myself feel better.

So, yeah, that's going well. I'm going to move on to a low(ish) calorie diet. The main points I plan to hit are: high protein, low wheat (at least baking our own bread means we can do that!), eating little and often. Lots of grilled fish, chicken or turkey, and prawns!

Knitting. Crochet. So, as I alluded to above, I'm off on holiday soon. We're going to the Canaries again...
After much debate (mostly with myself) I'm not going to take my knitting on the plane. Technically knitting needles aren't in the forbidden list, but the FAQ clearly states that knitting needles are not allowed. So, I am going to crochet. I have tried this before and created nothing of use, so this time I have a very simple pattern: [rav link] The Easy Peasy Crochet Bag [Non Rav link]. I'm going to make it out of some yarn I have purchased especially, it's two shades of Sirdar Crofter (60% Acrylic, 25% Cotton, 15% Wool). I'm usually a yarn snob (avoiding synthetics) but this is great because it's inexpensive, hardwearing and pretty. Here's a webcam picture of it!
I'm actually quite excited about the bag, I haven't yet decided whether to go for the handles as described in the tutorial or another sort.
It's a four hour flight, so I might even finish it! Though I do have two magazines to read (and two more in my luggage for the way back or the beach) as well. Boyf just has a book, so I might have to talk to him!
I'll almost certainly have some pictures for you after the holiday, some of which might even be of me in my bikini (then you can judge for yourselves exactly how much further I have to go...)

Til then, TTFN.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Bunting for Fyberspates

So, I'm quite a fan of one or two indie dyers out there in the yarn world.
You might remember me posting about my Forest Canopy Shawl which I knit in a yarn called Scrumptious, from Fyberspates. Well, Jeni (the dyer behind Fyberspates) has moved premises, and one of the other girls in the Ravelry group suggested that we make some bunting to decorate her new unit.
You can read Quesselchen's blog post about it here - I think that the pink flag in the second picture might be one of the ones I did. I also did a green-with-pink-letter "Y" flag, so that we could spell Fyberspates!
How cool is that though? Anyway, Fyberspates is one of my top three yarnies, which also includes Violet Green and Wensleydale Longwool Sheepshop.

The kitchen is coming along, I'll have a kitchen-photo-heavy post for you shortly. I've finished the Roman blind, framed my cute animals pictures and painted a canvas, among other crafty things for the room. It still needs doors and handles, and tiling, but the main bits will be there.

Oh, but the plumber? Sheesh. Leon was sure he'd booked him for last Thursday (27th Aug) but it turns out it's actually next Thursday (3rd Sept) instead. So, I left work early to be in for the plumber, who didn't turn up. So I called him to be informed that he wasn't even meant to be here. Boo.

Oh, I've also been making some jewellery to go with the shawl I still haven't finished. I'll photograph that shortly too.
And I finished these Jaywalkers in Wendy Happy "Leo", I think they look cool. I have three other colours of Wendy Happy (Gone a bit mad on it? Me? Never!) one of which is destined to be pretty plain socks for Boyf. Probably. I might knit him some of the Schoppel Wolle ones first (Brown) Happy Jaywalkers Last thing, before I go, I set a new PB on the squat the other day. I've managed a 60kg squat for 2 sets of 8 reps. Smashing! Now I'm aiming for 70kg.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Kitchen Update! Travelling Scarf! Yarn!

Kitchen Update
Yes, things have moved on in the kitchen somewhat. The last I showed you is the new floor. Since then we have... Kitchen with lights and action! by Hayzee C, on Flickr Lights!
Aren't they great?
And yes, that is cabinets you can see there. Also Kitchen with Worktop by Hayzee C, on Flickr Cooker hood! Worktop! Wall units! Freezer! All in place!
Ok, so we need to cut a hole in the worktop for the hob to go in, but otherwise woo!
Tonight we plan to put up the other wall cabinet, add the extra supports for the oven space in the oven unit and put drawer runners in for the oven unit.
(I say we, I mean the boyf)

Travelling Scarf
I've been part of the "UKarma Travelling Scarf" group on Ravelry
My scarf came home just recently.
I wasn't expecting it to be wearable, but I was hoping for something I could display in my craft room. What I got blew me away! UKarma Travelling Scarf by Hayzee C, on Flickr (more pics are in this set on my Flickr)
How funky is that though? I'm really impressed! Big thanks to all the knitters who took the time to knit a section on my scarf!

Stash Flash! STASH! by Hayzee C, on Flickr Yes, that's a double bed.
On the pillows: Laceweight.
On the left hand side: Chunky, Aran and DK.
On the right hand side and bottom: Sock/4ply.

Too much yarn?

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Just For Fun!

I found this on facebook, but can't work it on there, so it's here instead...

Using only song names from ONE ARTIST, cleverly answer these questions.
You can't use the band I used.
Try not to repeat a song title. It's harder than you think...

Pick your Artist:
Girls Aloud

Are you a male or female:
Girls Allowed

Describe yourself:
Something Kinda Oooh

How do you feel:
Sexy, No no no

Describe where you currently live:
Real Life

If you could go anywhere, where would you go:
Live in the Country

Your favourite form of transportation:
Love Machine

Your best friend is:
Racey Lacey

You and your best friends are:
We Wanna Party

What's the weather like:
Long Hot Summer

Favourite time of day:
Forever & A Night

If your life was a TV show, what would it be called:
You Freak Me Out

What is life to you:
All I Need

Your fear:
Deadlines and Diets

What is the best advice you have to give:
No Good Advice

Thought for the Day:
I'll Stand By You

How I would like to die:

My soul's present condition:

My motto:
No Regrets

If you decide to have a go, drop me a comment and I'll come look. It's actually good fun. I'm off to try it again with some other artists!

Ground Floor – Kitchenware and waste disposal.

The new floor is down, we had a man in to do it, not least because even though it’s a square room, we wanted it to be a proper job, nice and all.  Floor In These pictures are a little misleading; the floor isn’t as red as it seems in them – the flash made everything a bit orangey. It’s more grey and green than it looks.

There’s a lot of green about at the moment on my blog, isn’t there?

Well, anyway, I received my last Interweave Knits subscription issue today. I can’t decide at the moment whether I would prefer to subscribe again, buy it in Borders when I fancy it, subscribe to something else, or what.
The fall issue is quite inspiring to me, there’s lots of beautiful garments – hardly any are spot on what I’d like, but I’m game for a challenge!
In the meantime, I’m continuing with the fichu. I’ve done some complicated maths on it. I’ll update my project notes with the details, if you’re on Ravelry you can find them here.

I guess I’d better do some work now.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Kitchens, Gardens, Dyepots and Knitting

Since I have only blogged infrequently of late, there are many things to update about (again).
Sorry about that.
Yes, I did some more dying. Orange Kool-Aid on lace and pink and green food colour on aran. Both were done using variations of dip dye. I did the pink and green in two plastic pint glasses. I did the Orange by putting one sachet of Orange Kool-Aid in some water, adding all the lace, then lifting some lace out and adding some more Kool-Aid, and so on. I think that the Orange is very good, but I’m less sure about the pink/green. I guess I’ll defer judgement until I’ve knitted it up!
 Yarn Mosaic 1. Orange Kool Aid Lace, 2. Food Colour Pink & Green… Created with fd's Flickr Toys

In the Garden I’ve been growing things! Ok, so I’ve been growing things for a while, but now I’m starting to see fruits (and veg) of my labour! I’ve harvested the sugar-snap peas, and also (as pictured) I’ve harvested some of the beans. There is a marrow growing (woo!) I know it looks like a courgette at the moment. I’m still trying to find out whether they’re actually different plants or whether it’s just when you harvest them. And, the monster is my Pumpkin plant. All those flowers will eventually be pumpkins. I don’t know how big they’ll be – I think I’m meant to wait until late September or October to harvest them.  Garden Mosaic 1. marrow, 2. beans, 3. pumpkin Created with fd's Flickr Toys

In the Kitchen We’ve been making progress in the kitchen too. We’ve selected from 9 different shades of green (amazingly they’re all different and also not all what we expected!) – ended up with the Homebase “Lime”. And then cracked on painting the wall. The ceiling finally dried out enough for me to put some coats of white on there too! It needs another coat, but that has to wait…  Kitchen Mosaic 1. green testers, 2. green wall phase 1, 3. wires for lighting, 4. green wall phase 2 Created with fd's Flickr Toys

…because today the “floor man” came to put the self levelling stuff down for the floor. All being well tomorrow it will be ready for laying the lino on. Even though it is a straight forward room, no jutting out bits, we’re getting the lino fitted.

Knitting  Red Shawl There isn’t masses going on, on the knitting front. I’ve started a new shawl from knitters’ magazine. There’s information about it here - you need to scroll down a bit for the pictures, it’s the red one (not that they’re very different). I’m concerned that it’s not going to be as long as in the picture (or indeed long enough) so I’m working out how many extra rows to knit. I think as long as it has multiples of 6 then I should be fine (that would be the number of edge stitches I need to pick up for the ruffle!)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Some thoughts...

...Kitchen update and knitting update coming soon...
Happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have - Anon
Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go - Oscar Wilde
The essentials to happiness are something to love, something to do, and something to hope for - William Blake

and lifted in part from my Yarn Harlot calendar:
When I give someone a hat, I don't really mean, "Hey, here's a hat." I mean, "Take this. I made it for you. I want you to be warm and safe and careful in the big world. I want you to know I love you."

What makes you happy?
Who makes you happy?
...did you tell them today?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Dying instead of painting

Ok, so since I couldn't paint the kitchen this weekend, once we'd been shopping for some wires so that Boyf could do the wiring for the lights (which is going to be changed now) I decided to join in a dye-along.

I'm in a group on Ravelry called I'd Dye for Britain - it's for British dyers to talk about dying, among other things.
Anyway, they're having a dye-along. So, I decided to join in.
The rules are that you can only use primary colours (red, yellow, blue) to make other colours for your yarn.
I started with some yarn that I got through another group, UKarma.
Then I slapped on the food colour-vinegar-water mix.
Then I cooked it in the steamer.(not shown)
Then I hung it out to dry.
Once it is dry I'll re-skein it.
Dye Along 1

I'm a Little Plastered

(Another Kitchen Update)
So, the plasterer has finished and we now have to wait for the plaster to dry. Which is going to take a while because it's pretty thick in places. We've got the dehumidifier on in there, but it's still going to take most of the week to dry out. Sigh. (Yes, that's the same corner as last time, and the time before. Boyf keeps taking that same photo, which is great for comparisons!)

There was also a mishap.
(Sorry about all the crap outside, we still haven't taken everything to the tip yet. Perhaps tomorrow if it's dry enough!) Anyway, we're working out what to do about the window. I've already called my insurer and a guy is coming out to us on Monday. Of course they only work office hours, so Boyf is going to be late in to work. Whether they're going to fix it on Monday morning or not is anyone's guess. Shame they couldn't come at the same time as the floor people, who will be here on Wednesday to measure up. After that it's a week for the floor to be ordered. That means I should still have time to paint all the walls before the floor goes down.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Kitchen Update, Part 2

This morning we had removed everything from the kitchen ready for the plasterer. kitchen improvements And then he filled all the holes and levelled everything out. kitchen improvements Can't wait to see it finished tomorrow! Then it will be all ready to be painted (or, when it's dry it will...)

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Seems like Monthly then...

Yeah, I know, no updates for a while. I've been busy!

Anyway, here I am.

So, what's been going on? Well, I went to Woolfest. Around this I wrapped a week away in the lake district. Beautiful part of the country by the way.
We started off going to Cambridgeshire, to visit Boyf's folks and friends. It was Livestock again (I'm sure I've mentioned it before) I thought it was better this year, though that could be down to the cherry beer I was drinking rather than pints o' wine. Anyway...
After that we headed off up the M6. Like, literally the whole way up the M6. We stopped off at Stafford Castle, which is approximately half way. We spent three nights in Bowness on Windermere, which is a lovely little town on the side of the lake. We spent a day in Kendal. I have a couple of points to make about Kendal:
  1. The one way system is horrible if you're not big on driving. Take a bus.
  2. The Chocolate shop is amazing, go there and have chocolate instead of lunch.
  3. The Quaker Tapestry is beautiful. They also have an amazing quilt there, and the garden is lovely and peaceful. You can't take pictures inside so you'll have to take my word for it. Go there. (They do have a cafe which is meant to be good too, but we didn't try it after all the chocolate!)
flower in the Quaker garden I'm sure there's loads more to do, but that's my impression of Kendal.

We also spent a day on the lake, on a big tour boat and got sunburned. (No pictures of that I'm afraid)

When we set off for our next destination, we went via Coniston to see the Bluebird exhibition in the Ruskin Museum. That was really interesting. They also had some local lace samples and local wool products available there. (Herdy too, which is a new initiative using Herdwick wool, that's the breed of sheep Beatrix Potter was interested in) and then on to the Bond Museum in Keswick. We also went to the Cars of the Stars exhibition. If you only have time to do one of those, go to the Bond museum. Neither takes more than an hour or so, but the Bond museum is much more interesting, and the staff were nicer.

We then spent three nights in Cockermouth, which is where Woolfest happens. More on that soon.
We arrived in Cockermouth on the Thursday night and had plenty of time to check out local eateries. We found a great little Mediterranean cafe for lunch (we had lunch there twice!) and the restaurants were all lovely too! There's a real-ale microbrewery pub called the Bitter End. the Bitter End It's a lovely town, and is central for walking and cycling too. (We didn't do much walking due to it being so hot, and no cycling.)
So, Friday?
Friday was Woolfest
Woolfest is organised by a cooperative in Cumbria called the Wool Clip. It's a place where all things fibery come together under one roof. There were sheep, alpaca, angora goats, angora rabbits, more sheep, spinning wheels and supplies, so much yarn in so many beautiful colours, both dyed and undyed. I had a blast.
I met some other knitters who like Howies clothing.
Oh no! Same Outfit! And I bought a haul! Stash Enhancement Much fun!

On the Saturday we went for a bit of a walk, and then on to the Jennings brewery for a tour. It was an interesting tour, I'd recommend it. You also get beer, so Boyf would recommend it too.


So, moving on, what's going on now?
Well, I have 10 projects on the needles, officially. I'm only working on a couple though. The one I want to mention is inspired by my haul at woolfest, and also by the Log Cabin blanket that Yarn Harlot is making. I'm using one of each rare breed yarn to make a square-pattern cushion. (a throw is beyond my patience and budget for this yarn!) Rare Breed Cushion The lightest one is Wensleydale, the darkest is Jacob, The dark grey is Herdwick and the light grey that's in progress is Swaledale. Cool huh?
I'm finding YH's explanation about the difference between "pick up" and "pick up and knit" to be invaluable, so it's here, if you're doing anything where you need to pick up stitches you should check it out (unless you already know the difference!)

Well, that's all folks.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Geek Love

If you've ever been asked out by a geek, you might have heard one of these:
Twitter to 10 Geek pickup lines

My Favourite is:
Roses are #FF0000, Violets are #0000FF, All my base are belong to you

(though I think the Joss Whedon one rocks!)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

As Promised... Kitchen Update

We're renovating our kitchen, as I have mentioned. Here's how it looked a month ago (we'd removed one door at this point, but nothing more) Kitchen with one less door So, we ripped out that cupboard so that the plumber could get to the pipes to move the boiler... Damp and original Victorian tiles - honest! And then, last weekend we finally sorted ourselves out and ripped out everything but the sink. No More Kitchen Any More This weekend my folks are coming up to help us with the electrics and plumbing. Then we need to get it plastered, painted, the new kitchen built and fitted, worktops ordered and cut, appliances (we only have some) ordered and delivered, floor ripped up and floor underneath revealed, restored and sorted... not much left then!? Haha.

In the meantime, we're officially on holiday from next Thursday. Depending on the kitchen status we might be in Cambs on the Saturday/Sunday, then we're near Lake Windermere for three days followed by three days in Cockermouth with Woolfest on the Friday.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Finished Sweaters...

I finished Corsica at last. Here it is.
Corsica by Hayzee C, on Flickr I read that the sleeves run small, and indeed they do. Though it could partly be the fact that I didn't get gauge as well as I could have (it should have been fine after washing...)
Anyway, the pattern isn't to blame, I think. I underestimated the size of my bust, I over estimated the length of my arms and the cast off needs re-doing for stretch. And frankly, I don't like the fit. The V-neck is too high for my liking, the cable band doesn't sit under my bust (because I underestimated the size of my bust, as I said) and though the cables look great, I'm just not happy with the sweater.
So despite the many hours of knitting that have gone into the sweater, I'm going to frog it and knit something else with the yarn. I'm planning to make a top-down raglan and use the yarn at a DK gauge. I'm going to make it up though, so it could be interesting!

I did make a top I'm happy with though, this one:
Shrug That by Hayzee C, on Flickr This is using Rowan Pure Wool Aran leftovers from Boyf's sweater. 6.5mm needles, top down raglan using the Shug This pattern from one skein wonders (and free online)

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Busy Bank Holiday Weekend?

For us it was.
We visited my folks on the Saturday and bought some exciting local food and such while we were there. Smashing black pudding and raisin sausages, Lincoln Blue cheese (yum!) and flour from the local mill (yes, a real windmill!)
Earlier on Saturday I had received a parcel of two sticks.
So we went to B&Q and bought some pots for the sticks (they'll be roses when they grow up).
While we were there I got a little carried away, and we bought compost (we did need that) some lettuce plants and a herb set. (pictured: herbs)
And then, well then I really got carried away... And what did look like this: Now looks like this: On the up-side, there's plenty of room for me to plant more things (the Lettuces are going in next to the rather sad looking flowery thing in front of the ex-bush, but I need to protect them from slugs...)
I think it's lots better, and the garden looks bigger.
This weekend, I'm planting some pak-choi seeds in pots and ripping out a kitchen, or starting to. I'm planning on photo diary-ing the kitchen renovation.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Lost somewhere...

I've not blogged for a while. I can't say I've missed it. I've had lots of fun things (and some not so fun things) to be doing, so that's a good reason for not blogging. It's not like I get paid for blogging! Ahaha.

So, anyway... Check these out: OH's swanky new shoes These are 100% natural materials. They're wool on top (wicked tweed, no?) and have coconut husks in them, as well as natural (ethically sourced) latex. Spot on.
They're boyfy's new shoes. He's bedding them in at the moment.

Also... OH's swanky new shoes A new FO! These are the VioletGreen waterfalls socks, using VG yarn too! Woo! I'm really pleased with them.
Pattern: Waterfalls, from Violet Green.
Yarn: Violet Green Socrates 4ply
Needles: 2.5mm Modifications: None, really. I did the second sock in reverse colours to the first.

And lots of new yarn.
Recent Yarn 1. Fyberspates British Merino, 2. VG Lace, 3. Fyberspates British Merino Sock, 4. Fyberspates Nef Lace, 5. Red Handspun