Skyscrapers and String


Chunky Cross Stitch Stage 2

Momentous completion of centre section of my bluetit cross stitch! Yaay!

So this morning I got to turn the screws on my embroidery frame and reveal the top section.

It looks pretty straight forward so I’m hoping to zoom along.

But not right now, my puttering has to stop! I have a design to type up and a poetry magazine to edit.

All the problems at home of recent months are starting to recede and I’m feeling cautiously optimistic that everything will turn out alright.

Plus, I’m chuffed with my new swimming costume and matching towel.

Yesterday I took these to the pool to try out and it felt great to be smart.

My poor old cossie had died, my old towel was frayed, they had been well used and loved.

Today I shall stay home and get to grips with my duties and tomorrow I will swim again.

How long this state of equilibrium lasts I don’t know. But it’s one day at a time, isn’t it!


Mini greenhouse

I do admire people who are great at gardening.

My Grandad grew everything in this garden, leeks, potatoes, runner beans, raspberries, rhubarb, you name it.

I tried. Raised beds, seeds, mini plants that come in the post you plant outside, potatoes in growing bags, they were a success. Just too much faffing!

Flowers, I am good with things that don’t need anything done for them, I just about manage to deadhead once a week and I am very reluctant to weed.

Indoors, everything has it’s place and runs like clockwork.

Outside I barely manage to water my windowboxes.

So acknowledging the fact that we’re reluctant gardeners, every patch of soil is paved over and we have planted loads of trees and made a pond. You can sit on a bench by the pond and stare at the mini beasts in and on the water. It’s extremely soothing.

Last year I bought a mini greenhouse thinking I’m likely to enjoy growing salad and herbs.

I like the mini greenhouse and it’s full of basil plants. I have lost the salad seeds so I’m yet to try those.

Someone in my house really loves the mini greenhouse. I’m glad Philippa is getting the benefit of a heated throne.


Morning Smoothie

Weird food.

Ever since school dinners I have had the strongest aversion to certain weird foods. Apple Snow. Neon coloured puddings of all kinds. Mashed up anonymous vegetables.

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to consult a naturopath and most of her suggestions and powdered remedies for the detoxification of my liver (?) revolved around things I would put in my morning smoothie.

I didn’t have the heart to tell her I eat toast or bacon sandwiches first thing. Occasionally a croissant. Usually accompanied by multiple cups of dark strong coffee.

I used to smoke, so for many years cigarettes and coffee was the best I could do till lunch. (I still miss the fags, it’s like the lover you never really got over).

Smoothies are weird food.

Recently I tidied my kitchen cupboard and found my stick blender. As a consequence I started making thick soups, and thoroughly enjoyed eating lots of vegetables at lunch, so it became a regular thing.

The other thing about serving soup is that it feels like you’re being clever and thrifty, you can use up wobbly veg and salad and random odd potatoes and the last chicken quarter thus tidying your fridge.

I thought hard about how I could get more vegetation into my day and decided to eat an apple on the bus home after my swim in the afternoon. Then I added an easy peel satsuma and I felt like I was onto something.

At swimming, I have a friend who I chat to if we see each other and a couple of weeks ago she had a vast smoothie in a huge container that she was chugging from between laps. It was a rather royal purple and viscous and had loads of pips. She said it’s a good way of getting more veg, she always put kale or spinach or broccoli in first.

My blender cried out for more uses…so I thought I would give green smoothies a go.

I stocked up on frozen smoothie ingredients and started off. The first ones were a bit pants and relied heavily on mint.

The appearance of a green smoothie is not for the faint hearted. It looks like melting permafrost, or a blended defrosting mammoth.

It’s also impossible to consume rapidly and it takes me right up to lunch to finish one.

With all the frozen ingredients I use apple or orange juice as a blending base, coconut water is satanic.

Some people I have mentioned it to have poo poohed the intake of blended stuffs, saying that there’s a lot of sugar. I’m not very qualified to talk about nutritional matters but I know a smoothie is better than cigarettes/buttered toast, snacks and several buckets of milky coffee.

And, my stomach seems to like it. I’m a lot less bloated and gassy, my digestive tract seems to be functioning well on it.

I’m definitely getting my five a day most days of the week and when choosing what to eat I seem to be picking more vegetables than before.

So, raise your glass!

Today’s smoothie is spinach, apple, cherry and fresh strawberries. Disturbing colour, but tastes okay!


Socknado

Hello everyone

I hope you’ve had a splendid week and are looking forward to the weekend.

I’m in the middle of a socknado!

Deciding to knit socks for some of my friends for birthday or Christmas was something I thought would be both fun and thrifty. My yarn stash has heaps of sock yarn and I’m a veteran sock knitter of many years standing.

So, decision made, I open the heaving wool cupboard and rummage through for some wool to start work with.

I found half a dozen skeins and started looking on Pinterest and on some of the blogs I follow.

I swiftly ran into trouble because all the socks everyone else was making had nifty colour combos, contrasting cuffs, toes and heels, stripes the whole nine yards!

I looked at my collection of skeins and I couldn’t bear to make boring socks.

I wanted to make cool socks. Socks that rock.

So I went online to Deramores and splurged on some 4 ply in neutral tones, I bought grey, beige, cream, and erm bright green and lavender. Well they’re kind of neutral! Aren’t they?

While I waited for my 4 ply to arrive in the post I found some aran weight yarn in my stash in buttery lemon and grey and cast on. Great start and totally from stash! Halo!

The pattern I picked is called Blueberry Waffle Socks by Sandy Turner, and they flew off the needles and straight onto a hydrangea bush.


Willow grove

In my local park there’s a grove of willow trees and they look like they’ve been there forever.

When we have heavy rain, the ground between the circle of trees fills up with water and makes a magical lake.

Today I went and spent some time with the willows and the lake and when I returned to the path a hawk was sitting there watching me.

She flew up to the willows and sat, glorious against the blue sky and the scudding clouds.


It’s been a while

For some reason I thought I had better things to do than blog.

But although my world has changed, I have missed coming here and visiting my thoughts and my doings with you.

There’s been plenty happening.

Hello world!


Deep Blue Something

Hello everyone!

I hope you’re having a jolly week and looking forward to the weekend.

Today is my day off and I love the peace of a long weekend. It is seriously good for the soul.

I have a lot of things to get done, my list is long, but they are all fun things in the main. Or productive tasks. For example, the week after next is a week off for Jon and I, and today we decided what we needed to get for the decorating we plan to do, so, tick!

The poppies were all sold, we raised over £1200 plus £4£ matched funding, which was amazing.

Amber got the Internship she had applied for, and was also asked to speak on a Panel debate on children’s human rights, which was being filmed, and, according to the reviews, and to us the proud parents, she stole the show; giving a passionate, thoughtful and rousing call to action which moved everyone, confident and strong even though she was speaking alongside some very eminent and respected experts, including a High Court Judge.

On the knitting front, Club met several times this week, we have been making plans for a charity christmas sale, so the juggernaut never stops. Accordingly, I have been racking my brains as to what I can contribute. Hmmm.

One of the sillier work projects on my plate has been removed, so I am very pleased, and I finished another that I thought would never end, so today feels like a celebration day all round.

Also knitting related, I have finally started my “Deep Blue Something” project. It’s the usual story. Stash builds up, colours sing to each other and I put them together, a random acquisition of gorgeous yarniness gets added, then you end up with a basket of woolly harmonies singing to be knitted next!

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I took them after Poppying and shawling this week, and swifted the 1200 grs of yarn into mini balls. Then I ordered the colours until I was happy.

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I loved the stripe pattern of the Alder Shawl by Kaffe Fassett; and thought I’d take that as the basis for my design.

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I’m using totally different yarn, in different colours, it’s a different size and a different construction, so is my “Deep Blue Something” an Alder or something else?

How do you decide if you have altered something enough for it to be your own design?


Shawling and Wrapping!

Hello everyone!

I hope you’ve been having a happy and creative time. It has been all go chez Jenny, what with poppy selling, knitting things for presents in a big flap and a rush and making wooly decisions.

On the work front it has been bonkers, lots of people are leaving and there is a lot of silliness going on. I am keeping calm and remembering to knit and drink mint tea.

I have had to fill in my appraisal, which is stressful as my boss has no self confidence and thinks that if you write down any achievements in any kind of positive language you’re unforgivably boastful, and need taking down a few pegs. If I’m not to write down what I actually did all year, and if I am not to say I am good at what I do, when I’ve done well, how can I fill in the form? Pfftt!

November is a horrid time of year for my family, it will be three years since I lost my beloved Poppa, and my dear Aunties were bereaved this month too, losing their parents and a husband in the same month. Also I have two friends who have lost their dads within days of each other. It is a gloomy time.

The charity poppies have been a big success, we’ve sold loads and the total stands at over £700 with more cash due to come in next week. I never realised how good it feels to raise money for others less fortunate than yourself, it truly makes your heart bigger.

On a wooly note, I have been wrestling with my time and my imagination. I simply have too many exciting things to do, and I want to start everything at once! I want to knit!

This is incompatible with two dinners out in one week, and swimming after work.

I also need to put my iPad out of reach as I seem to need to look up random facts mid row, then an hour of net surfing later I have run out of knitting time.

I have been making a shawl for my dear friend Alex’s birthday, and it has been very jolly.

Firstly it was using stash yarn, which feels virtuous, and secondly, because I had a random amount, I didn’t know how big the shawl would be. But, in some ways, that made it more enjoyable!!!

I had some Shilasdair in a beautiful tawny plum shade, some Isager twinni in a russet/spice and some coral spindrift. Lovely colours!

Oh but being on a deadline! Yikes!

It’s one of my “Jennifer” shawls, which means I just knit straight out of my head. This week I had a wonderful note from my dear friend Barbie and she asked me to write the recipe up, so I will! Isn’t it kind of people to take the time to send encouraging messages!

Here you can see a before picture, Alex did love it, I’m pleased to say!

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And after:

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I hope you’re all well. I have never been so happy!


Poppy time!

Hello everyone,

I hope you have lots of happy plans for the weekend! I am on the tail end of a massive hangover from Thursday night; my old boss left and he and I are known to egg each other on and I always end up very much worse from wear on wine which I don’t normally drink much of.

The leaving do was funny, such is the climate at the place where I work there were 8 people leaving from the same department on the same day.

Even though I rested up, and relied on many cups of sweet tea and chocolate for breakfast, I was fit for very little.

Thursday was super. knitting club gathered to show the poppies we have made for sale for Help For Heroes.

Here you can see just some of the poppies we’ve made this year:

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Here you can see one of the tiny crochet poppies, this year, small is definitely the vogue, all the tiny poppies have been snapped up.

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Last year Knitting Club made £860 for Help for Heroes, this year we plan to beat that total! We also get matched funding from our firm, so it does add up.

This week also has been fun on the knitting front, I’ve done the first few rows of my autumn poncho:

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It has taken me literally years to find suitable yarn. I am loving how it is turning out already!

Also, Amber spotted that “Cats” is back on in London at the Palladium which Jon has been very keen to go to (handily near Liberty and John Lewis for pre show wool browsing..) so that meant he and Amber spent Monday and Tuesday night searching for tickets online. We found three seats together in the good rows in February after about 7 hours of researching on the theatre booking page. Good luck with that one if you have a mind to go.

My brown Colinette mitts are finished, I managed to get these sweet cabled beauties off the needles yesterday, and sewn up during many episodes of TV, one good thing about a hangover lol!

I was delighted how two long mitts came off one tiny skein, I thought that was great value as they cost £2 each at Ally Pally. I think everyone who went to the show bought some of those, I would love to see what everyone does with their mini skeins! I’ll get some good pictures once we have daylight.

Last weekend I went to visit my Mum who is in a home as she has bad dementia. It was nice to see her. She was smiling and happy, and was pleased to see me.

What a terrifying place though. I was sitting there, Mum had a doll on her lap, and she was tending to it, people with slack faces were shuffling round like zombies and there was a constant backdrop of screaming.

Mum chattered constantly, she doesn’t make much sense, and now she is losing the ability to even use regular words, so the phrases would contain random syllables joined together.

Today is going to be exciting, I am meeting my friend Lesley and we’re heading for Loop. Lesley has this year become proficient in crochet and she requested we visit my favourite shop on earth to buy wool. Once I have finished writing I am going to try to sort mine as I swapped the money I paid for my friend Mary’s ticket to Ally Pally for some red heart shimmer yarn from Deramores. I think I have a bit too much wool now in fact. But it is beautiful!

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I forgive myself

Hello everyone.

After watching Susan Sarandon on TV yesterday discussing candidly how her life was made beautiful by all her failures and mistakes I have been struck by the profound nature of her words.

Having the house all to myself this morning has meant I could have a long bath and read uninterrupted for an hour.

I’ve always been a quick reader, and some books are more padded out than others. I’ve been reading a book called “Forgiveness” by Iyanla Vanzant.

This lady is one of my personal heroes, alongside Oprah. Both these ladies are my moms, alongside Flylady.

Her name Iyanla means “Great Mother”, which is appropriate seeing as she grew up without a mother. She has been a dear mentor to me without her knowing, for two decades. She will never know how grateful I am.

In the bath I have read up to about 13 chapters of the book, and as I read through I was thinking yes, uh uh, I get that and so on. I decided to get up and go out and pulled the plug and as I wrapped my hair in a towel, these words popped into my head: “I forgive myself for not trying hard enough”.

The irony of those words hit me like a tidal wave and I was then heartbroken and sobbing my heart out. Readers, if I ever was to criticise myself it would not be for the want of trying hard. My life story if I was to write it out in full would be of the child who tried so hard she nearly died trying.

So that is my lesson for today. I forgive myself for not trying hard enough.

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