Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Porn for Wives

......shhhh......*whispers* come here a minute.......d'you want to see what my Husband can do?

You do?

Be careful, it just might give you conniptions or, at the very least, clutch your pearls....

He made this:


A wholemeal loaf.  By hand.  All on his own.  Go on, have another look:

It's got honey in it too.  Imagine the smell of warm bread filtering through the house as it browns gently in the oven.  Mmmmmmm.  Wanna see what it looks like......inside?

Isn't that just the most desirable thing you've ever seen?  Especially when it's made by someone else.

And then.....and if all that wasn't enough......he went and made these (be still my beating heart, *flutters hand wanly under chin*):

Malted biscuits.  Golden shapes of chewy sunshine, made from flour, organic eggs, malt extract and golden syrup.

No, you can't marry him, but I might consider a lend at a good price (he's also good with computers, can put up wallpaper and can build a wooden bridge) - make me an offer?

Monday, 22 February 2010

Imminent collapse

Hello from soggy Surrey.  I'm getting very sick of this weather now.  I don't mind winter as long as the weather does something interesting.  Ice is interesting, gale force winds are interesting, snow is very interesting, but rainy grey is not.  Oh so very not.  Depressing.  Hate, hate, stab, stab, stab.  Snow is seemingly back again north of London but down here it's overcast and miserable.  I want sunshine and crocuses and daffodils.  I want Spring, goddammit!


Might as well do this cocooning thing properly then - I'm crocheting snuggly blankets and cushion covers so I decided to have a go at making bread too.  I'm pretty pleased with how it came out.

It lasted less than 24 hours because it was BLOODY FAB and once we'd started eating it we couldn't stop!!!  I just followed the instructions on the Hovis Easy Yeast packet which advises only one kneading and one lot of proving, thereby halving the time it takes before putting it in the oven.

I did venture as far as the back garden which, admittedly, isn't really very far, but I think it's safe to say that the Suki Memorial Shed* isn't going to last another winter.  I think this is it's tenth winter and the combined efforts of the weather and the squirrels ripping the gritty felting stuff that goes over the roof (thereby letting in the rain) have resulted in imminent roof collapse.  This is what the inside roof looks like:

Grim, isn't it?  The bulge in the roof, towards the back wall is like some kind of giant pustule, ready to burst downwards if given a strategic poke (which is very tempting).  Water drips from it and I've had to cover the lawnmower with large empty plastic bird food bags in a vain attempt to try and keep it dry.  We're really going to have to do something about it this summer.

Being unable to get out very much means that some time has been spent in the jewellery workshop and I've another new design to show you - this time it's one of my window jewellery suncatcher thingies.  In fact there's 2 new designs but I've only made one so far.  I'm going with a cosmic theme and so have made a Saturn suncatcher.  I think it works quite well.  It's made from fused clear and dichroic glass, and will be strung from purple organza ribbon (the rainbow shoelace was just for the photo, for which the sunshine very briefly emerged):



This particular design takes quite a lot of glass so I'm not sure that I'll be making that many of them but I think they're quite good fun.  The other design is of a sun but I've yet to see how that turns out.  I'll be keeping this particular Saturn and make another to put up in my Etsy shop.

The cats have been stuck indoors with us as well, but I don't think they mind all that much.  Apart from a quick dash out to the garden after breakfast for an empty, they cutch up with us for the rest of the day, or help a great deal when 'Important Work' is being done on the big computer in the study, viz.:


But, I have to say, what has got me through the past week has been watching the fabulous Winter Olympics from Vancouver.  TLH and I don't watch much, or partake in any, sporting activity but we love watching big events where you can see world-class competitors risking life and limb in order to be the very best at something.  I have friends and family who really don't understand this, they see sport as a complete waste of time and money and just don't see the appeal.  But I will happily sit glued to the telly for the entire duration of the summer Olympics (and you can bet your arse we're going to try and get tickets for the 2012 Games - I cannot describe just how excited and thrilled we were when London won the games) and even the football World Cup.  

But I've decided there's something special about the Winter Olympics.  These are stupifyingly dangerous sports, as exemplified by the tragic death of the 21-year old Georgian Luge slider, Nodar Kumaritashvili.  Why anyone would think that lying on the equivalent of a tray and hurtling down an icy slope at 80mph is a good idea is beyond me - but I'll enjoy watching someone else do it.  I mean, there's little danger of you getting seriously hurt, maybe even killed, if you're just running around a track or jumping really high, but look at the view a ski jumper gets once they've launched themselves:

Or how high the snowboarders can get when doing tricks down a halfpipe:

And whoever decided on introducing Ski Cross as an Olympic sport deserves a medal themselves.  The men's was on yesterday and was completely mental:


Basically, four skiiers race as fast as they can around a twisty turny course with lots of bumps and jumps, with the fastest winning.  There's loads of jostling and spectacular crashes - real heart-in-mouth stuff, and more than a little dangerous.  I was texting my brother during the race (as we were both watching it) and he likened it to something from a Bond film where our hero is being chased at full tilt by evil henchmen.  Brilliant!  The women's race is on later in the week:

Unbelievably exciting - doesn't make me want to do it though, I'm not that stupid....

* Suki was our first cat who was 19 when she died in 2000, the same year we put up the shed, hence the name.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Mrs Speccy Four-Eyes updates

 Been a while, innit?  It's not that I've been lying around, wanly demanding bonbons, gazing out the window at the leaden skies and not really feeling in the slightest bit guilty about not being able to get to the allotment in order to start planning the next season (although there has been a certain amount of that).  I have, actually, been, like, really busy, yeah?

First of all, my rather wonderful mother paid for a new pair of glasses for me as a Christmas present.  I've worn glasses since I was 18, and toyed with contact lenses about 6 years ago but I just didn't really get on with them.  I have one eyeball that's attractively shaped like a rugby ball so I had to have a toric lens for that eye which had to be put in and then manipulated around until I could see in focus.  But it would move about so I'd have to poke myself in the eye to shift it about, and it would dry out and there was the increased risk of introducing germs due to the increased pokage and, in the end, it was all just too much of a faff, so I stopped using them.

I don't mind wearing glasses but, it would appear, and contrary to my personal life's gameplan, I seem to be growing older (I know!) and when you get to my age, i.e., forty-mumble, the lenses in your eyes apparently harden.  I'm not an optician so am not entirely sure what this means but what happens is that you end up needing bifocals or varifocal lenses.  And I now need them.  This means there's graded lensey-ness from the top to the bottom of the lens.  So, at the top of the lens is my long-distance seeing bit (for telly-watching and driving), the middle of the lens has my middle-distance seeing bit (for when I'm using a computer) and the very bottom has a close-up seeing bit.  What I had been finding with my previous, single lens specs, was that, although I didn't need them for close up stuff, like reading, or making jewellery, or doing crochet - so I'd take them off - if I then wanted to look at something a bit further away, I'd have to put them on again.  Made it a pain to read books or crochet in front of the telly, constantly putting them on and then taking them off.  What I really needed was some reverse lunettes, with just a lens on the top half of the glasses frame but no-one's been imaginative enough to develop these yet.  I'd wear them, probably even in public too.

So, here I am in my new specs: 

Yes, yes, I know it's out of focus and opinion might suggest that my specs aren't doing their job and I need better ones, but this was taken on my iPhone so there was a bit of a wobble when I took it.  But I really like the effect.  I don't generally look great in photos but this one makes me look really quite acceptable and non-horse frightening.  Perhaps I'll have to carry a clear plastic vaseline-smeared shield in front of me at all times in order to look this good.

At first the new lenses were dead weird.  Because I favour a narrow lens from top to bottom, the relevant distance bits are extremely small and, bizarrely, if you move your eyes (rather than moving your head) to look through the far sides of the lens, it all goes out of focus.  To be honest, I'm not sure this is a good thing to experience when you're driving so I may take my old single-lens glasses with me when I drive anywhere.

They were also eye-wateringly expensive, which is the downside but, realistically, I do need to be able to see in order to function in this world (and I'm not letting anyone stick a laser anywhere near them), so I have little choice.

I've also been crocheting like a demon.  I really, really enjoy doing it.  I've now finished a scarf for myself in a fantastic ripple crochet design which is so simple but stunningly effective, especially when using bright colours:

It took quite a long time to do and there's about 15 different colours in it, but just look at it:


I'd like to make a blanket for our double bed in this stitch but I found it quite tricky to hold the scarf on my lap while adding new rows so god knows how I'd cope with an enormous (by comparison to a scarf) blanket.
You may remember that I've also started a circles and stars blanket/throw/shawl/whatever, that I'm adding to slowly when I want a change from doing ripply lines or granny squares.  This is also coming along and currently looks like this:

It's quite psychedelic.  I realise it's a bit clashy with my Gudrun Sjoden tablecloth, but I do like me a bit of colour in my life.

I've also been doing a bit of baking too (damn, who knew I could be so domesticated?).  A friend in America commented on her Facebook page that she'd made Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting for the Superbowl and I demanded the recipe off her.  I made them.  They were fantastic albeit extraordinarily calorific and liable to give you instant diabetes the moment the crusted, yielding frosting and crumbly sponge touches your lips:

Peanut Butter Cupcakes just out of the oven

 Peanut Butter Cupcakes now with Cream Cheese Frosting

This is what they look like out of the case...

The sharp-eyed amongst you will notice the pots and jars of pearls and beads in the last two pictures.  The photos were taken in my jewellery workshop where the computer I'm using to type this is located.  Which reminds me I have a new jewellery design to show you.

This is a brooch based on the Ancient Roman fibula (from whence our safety pins arose). 

Please ignore the little clear plastic box which is being used to prop up the fibulae.  I can make these in any size and in any colours (if I've got the relevant beads, that is).  They're designed to be worn on the right hand side with the swirls pointing downwards and can go on knitwear, hats, scarves, etc.  I'm rather pleased with them, and they're available at my jewellery website.

Hmm, it's lunchtime now, and I can hear the last of the cupcakes calling to me from the kitchen (if you want the recipe I'll post it next time)....

Friday, 5 February 2010

Cushiony goodness

I've finished the crochet cushion cover that I started a few weeks ago.  It's come out really well.  I used a jumper from a charity shop for the back.  The colours just sing together.  The picture below is before I made it up although the squares have been sewn together (the tablecloth is from Gudrun Sjoden)

I used a jumper from a charity shop for the back, and got a 14" square cushion pad off eBay.  And this is what it looks like finished off:


I'm now in the process of finishing off another cushion cover, this time mostly in black (yes, I know there's a square missing at the top):
I have a black jumper for the back of this one.  I'll show you when I've finished it.

I'm also making some granny triangles.  Not sure what I'll use them for at the moment, but they'll make some interesting shapes when sewn together.  Perhaps a scarf or something. 

The circles and stars blanket/throw/thing is slowly getting larger, I'll post a picture next time.

And, frankly, this is what I've been doing for most of this year so far.  Not much to talk about which is why I've not been blogging.  I've kind of fallen into a bit of a fugue state - I have life full of ennui at the moment.  I'm sure there's stuff I could write about but, you know, I just can't be arsed right now. I don't seem to have that ability to make good copy out of everyday life so I hope you'll forgive me if my blogging gets a bit sporadic.

TLH and I did, though, go and stare at our new niece this afternoon.  I presented her with the crochet baby blanket I made specially for her - she looked suitably thrilled:

Because she came out bum first, her head doesn't have that weird squashed and pointy look, although she's still channelling Winston Churchill:

She didn't have much to say for herself although her dad says she's perfected farting already.  Can't think how she can possibly be related to me then.....

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Welcome to Planet Earth, Lyra Eileen Dorothy....

I have a brand new niece.  She was due on 31 January but obviously decided to stay in the warm for a bit longer yet.

There were, apparently, a few twinges last night but nothing that a bacon sandwich couldn't sort out and then, this morning, at 6.15am, I was asleep when I heard the unmistakeable 'ping-ping' of a text message arriving.  It was dark, I wasn't sure what time it was but I guessed it could only mean one thing.  "I'll leave it" I thought, "the message will still be there when I get up later".  I rolled over.  "Who am I kidding?" I muttered to myself, "I can't leave it" so bumbled downstairs in the dark to get my phone to see a message from my brother saying his new baby girl had been born at home, in a birthing pool, at 5.53am.

I went back to bed grinning like an idiot.

Welcome to Planet Earth, Lyra.  May you live long and prosper.

PS.  Have just found out more details - labour took about 5 hours, Lyra was 9lbs 12oz  but also breech.  All I can say is 'ouch'.