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...)