Tuesday, 10 August 2010


Okay, here's the problem. I have no space. Well, that's a little bit of a lie because I have quite a bit of space, just no organization. I need to have tins and boxes and the like so that my sewing things aren't just thrown into a bag. I need to have shelves to put said boxes on. I need to have a space to put my sewing machine that isn't also the space that James works in the evenings. I have seen so many beautiful workrooms on various blogs that invoke some serious lifestyle envy, and think I need to set about creating a space that makes me feel happy to be in it. Especially with my PGCE starting in a mere two weeks time, I'm going to need a big dose of inner peace before the start of September.
Rant over.
Well almost.
I cannot find the camera. Somewhere in the house (James' parents') there is a Canon G9. I have searched and searched, but no luck. James says he remembered putting it somewhere safe in case somebody came in the back door and stole it. Whilst this is reasonable, as our back door is open pretty much all hours of the day, it would be a better plan if he could remember where the safe place is.
Now it's over.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Hello, my name's Helen and I'm a courgette-a-holic.

After a bit of browsing yesterday, I found a recipe for curried courgette soup. It was on a really beautiful blog, and I copied and pasted it, closed the web page, and it was lost forever. So if this was your recipe, I give you the credit and apologize for my clumsiness! I could happily eat courgettes every day, but I think James would get a little bored.

Curried Zucchini Soup with Coconut Milk
adapted from Great Food Fast
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 1/2 pounds zucchini (I used 3 medium-sized), sliced thick
1 baking potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
4 cups stock (the original recipe just calls for water)
2/3 cup coconut milk
toasted almonds for garnish
1. Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and curry powder and continue to cook, stirring constantly until fragrant (another minute).
2. Add the zucchini, potato and stock. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until vegetables are tender (15-20 minutes).
3. Add coconut milk. Puree with immersion blender or in batches in blender until very smooth and velvety. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Seasoning depends on stock and potency and freshness of curry powder (my soup needed very little seasoning).
This will be on my table tonight, as apparently courgettes can grow in one day. Amazing.
I have also found a pattern for a skirt that I'd like to make, I'm imagining it in a mossy-green thick cotton. Alas, it's an American pattern, so more searching is required for an English counterpart. I hate shipping.
One last thing, I am (as mentioned in yesterday's post) thinking about Christmas gifts already. One idea I had came from a bit of inspiration from Linen and Roses, where Fiona's sister made her a beautifully embroidered framed initial for her birthday. I thought this sort of thing would be ideal done on little purses or cloth bags, and managed to find some pretty templates for monogrammed letters, which I can embroider with flowers.
That's all for today, camera and photos coming soon I promise!

Monday, 26 July 2010

And the beat goes on

I've started knitting and sewing Christmas gifts (I know, it's too early to even think about the 25th), cardigans for family babies, little lavender pillows and purses for the ladies, and chunky winter-warmer scarves for the men. I really would like to learn how to knit socks, but just can't get the hang of double-pointed needles. Any tips? I've also been scouring craft blogs for ideas for printable gifts, and found some really cute seed packet templates here, which I've printed on the back of beautiful printable papers from Non-pareil DIY weddings (each of the projects has various papers and other downloadable goodies!), perfect for the green-fingered recipients.
On a more summery note, I've had vase after vase of heady-fragranced sweet-peas from the garden, and more courgettes than I can shake a stick at. Any recipes other than ratatouille made solely from courgettes?
I went charity shopping with my sister today, it's so nice to see her as for a few years I've been living away at university. I bought some beautiful egg cups in CK-style pink/blue/yellow/green, a pretty ceramic storage jar and a lovely old edition of Darwin's 'The voyage of the Beagle' for James' stocking (Christmas again, I can't help myself).
After a wonderful day, I was driving home only to be slightly annoyed by an arrogant motorcyclist who thought it necessary to ride 6 inches from my bumper with his headlights on full. Sometimes it's hard to keep calm.
Hope everybody had a lovely day!

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Long time no blog

Well, finally finished university with a 2:1, not too shabby! Now I'm back living with James and his parents, with long days filled with housework etc. I didn't realise cleaning up after 2 people would be so much more work than 1! I also don't really know where the days go. I get up and washed and dressed, then start the cleaning, cooking, washing cycle and before I know it James is back from work and it's 7pm. Does anybody else find their days go this way?
I think I should start making time for more lovely knitting and sewing. Last week I made the Sunday dinner hostess apron from 'Weekend Sewing', written by Heather Ross whose blog can be found here. This week I'm starting on Christmas presents, I'm still very poor from student life, so it's homemade treats all round. I'm knitting little baby cardigans now, and for later in the year, I've seen some lovely Rocky Road over at Vanessa's blog Coco Rose Textiles which I think would look just perfect with some Christmassy ribbon. In fact, pretty much anything in a Kilner jar with ribbon round makes a wonderful gift.
Now that I don't live with Becky I have no camera again, but hopefully will resolve that soon...
Have a lovely day all, this should be the start of more frequent blogging!
Helen xx

Friday, 30 April 2010

So Little Time.

Indeed, so little time and so much to do. Having worked late yesterday evening on a group presentation I'm now very sleepy. I have finally made a revision timetable, the final push! Every moment of every day is now assigned to reading journals and writing notes. And memorising, lots and lots of memorising. The two little dots on the bottom are the last of the exams, and come the 3rd of June I'm free from exams forever. A good feeling, but seems an awfully long way off.

In other news, James finally got back from Spain (circa volcanic explosion) via an epic drive through France, which he actually quite enjoyed. Also there was a stop off for a gift for me, these strange chocolate covered almonds which are made to look like olives (?!) from an apparently famous shop called la cure gourmande. Strange but true (and delicious).

Also, a couple of weeks back when I visited him in Cornwall, he gave me one of my birthday presents a bit early (21 on the 25th May!). Long story short, at that point he was going on a research fellowship to Israel, and thought he wouldn't see me around my birthday, but then he was offered a full-time position by an ecological consultant company near where we will be living. I was completely amazed by how he chose this for me. He could have knocked me down with a feather.

I'm writing a thank-you letter this evening, hopefully something that makes the recipient as happy as sticking that little stamp on and popping it into the shiny postbox makes me. In our neurodegenerative diseases lectures, a carer and/or patient often comes in for the last 15 minutes to give a 'real-life' account of the disease. Today we talked about Parkinson's disease, and Mary Shorter and her husband Peter (who has PD) came in. She was amazing, and talked as well as the lecturer! I really felt that she wanted to share with us, and I thought it was very (I want to say brave but that sounds patronising) of her and Peter to come in and stand in front of a hundred students to be studied. She is the chair of the Southampton Parkinson's disease society, and they run fantastic events for sufferers of PD, and also a group to provide support for the partners of patients. A lovely lady.

Finally, my only craft happening at the mom
ent is patchwork, because I can do it in bed when I finally fall in about midnight. The fabrics are all small samples from various shops (John Lewis do a fantastic service and send out up to 6 pieces about A4 size each. Cath Kidston also does small samples of selected fabrics online). In the true student spirit, this venture has cost almost nothing, the thread and home-made card templates costing pence. Once I've made them all, I need to decide whether to make more cushions (maybe a little dull) or be adventurous and go for a small quilt. Or maybe somebody has an idea for something a little different?

Well, off for a nice cup of tea, yoghurt for dinner :(

Monday, 26 April 2010

Delicious Miss Dahl Music

This is the first post for quite a while, I've been busying myself over Easter with digging the allotment and driving up and down the M5. I've been watching The Delicious Miss Dahl quite religiously (she makes things with lentils which makes my vegetarian stomach happy). The show in general is a bit contrived, but the music is lovely, as are the poems and excerpts featured. I tried to find a list of the songs on the show, and couldn't find one, so decided to settle down with a cup of tea and make my own. It's not complete, but most of the songs are on here and are fantastic. Also the kitchen (which I'm sure is a studio set but nevertheless) is absolutely fantastic, hold me back from the car boot sales and ebay!
iTunes at the ready:
Title sequence: The boy least likely to - Hugging my grudge
Songs from 'Selfish': Edie Brickell - What I am
Emiliana Torrini - Nothing Brings Me Down
Nouvelle Vague - Dancing with Myself
Feist - I Feel It All
Muse - Feeling Good
Songs from 'Romance':Melody Gardot - Baby I'm a Fool
Nouvelle Vague - I Just Can't Get Enough
Sia - I Go To Sleep
The Veronicas - Untouched
Adele - Make you feel my love
Nouvelle Vague - Ever Fallen In Love
Florence and the Machine - You got the love
Songs from 'Nostalgia':Taken by Trees - Sweet Child O' Mine
Talking Heads - Once in a Lifetime
The Stranglers - Golden Brown
Black - Wonderful Life
Badly Drawn Boy - Time of Times
Altered Images - I Could be Happy
Blondie - Sunday Girl
Yazoo - Only You
Songs from 'Melancholy':Melody Gardot - Who will Comfort Me
Jose Gonzales - Heartbeats
KT Tunstall - Under the Weather
Paloma Faith - Broken Doll
KT Tunstall - Black Horse and the Cherry Tree
Fontella Bass - Rescue Me
Amy Winehouse - Tears dry on their own
Justin Timberlake - Cry Me a River
Songs from 'Escapism':Ingrid Michaelson - Far Away
Goldfrapp - Little Bird
Noah and the Whale - 5 Years Time
Aimee Mann - Great Beyond

Enjoy, I'm off to make some of the delicious Miss Dahl's spicy rice to have with leftover lentil dahl for lunch.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010


I hit a big wall with writing last week, so I stayed at home in sunny Wiltshire for a few days at the beginning of this week. Being able to wander around fields for a while each afternoon really cleared my head and now I've very nearly finished! A few hundred words to go, then proof reading and binding, then I can finally get that weight off of my shoulders.
Waiting for me in the enthusiastic arms of James on Friday evening was the Sew! by Cath Kidston book. He's such a clever boy, although I have warned him that it means almost all of the things I make for the house will be floral. I also took the opportunity for a quick wander around Bath, and found some pretty lace and ribbon in the Guildhall Markets.
Spring has almost sprung, the bulbs I planted in winter are finally flowering, bringing some much needed colour to the garden. I hope everybody has been enjoying the beautiful weather, it certainly puts a spring in my step!

Saturday, 13 March 2010

A Lovely Thought

A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely. From Roald Dahl's 'The Twits'. So completely and invariably true.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Mum's The Word

I've finally managed to get hold of a camera (Thank you Becky) and so this will be a fairly picture-heavy post, apologies in advance! I've been knitting away in bed these past few nights, and have nearly finished the mother's day scarf. The pattern is a super easy one that I made up as I went along, this yarn is REALLY springy because of the way it's woven (sort of plaited), so CO 25 sts then the first 5 rows are a k1,p1 rib. Then every even row (starting row 6) is K3, K2tog, (yo, K1)x2, K2tog, k7, k2tog, (yo, K1)x2, K2tog, k3. Every odd row is K3, P19, K3. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Yesterday I managed to write my dissertation word target for today as well, so I went shopping. This was partly for mother's day things and mother's birthday things, but a few other bits and bobs may have jumped in while I wasn't looking! The other part of my Mum's present is a pretty mother-of-pearl photo frame with a picture of me and my sister when we were little.

Knitting the scarf has been taking a backseat over my new found love of English patchwork. There's something very therapeutic about handstitch, and so far I've made these beauties:

I'm not sure what it'll be yet, probably a cushion cover. I don't think I'll have the patience to make anything large like a quilt, but I'm going to try to persuade my Mum to make me one as a housewarming gift! Speaking of which, for anybody who doesn't know my current situation, I live in Southampton and my partner lives in Cornwall. It has certainly been a long time coming for us to live together, and I can't wait for this summer, a new house means so many fantastic opportunities to make and buy new things, curtains, cushions, cakes for visitors, cakes for us, and many other things besides. All the luxuries currently hard to come by as a student! Although I think ours is the only student house with a permanent 'cake table'. (You bake something, put it in a tin, label it, put it on the table, and then it's a free for all. Genius.) My other shopping was almost entirely things for me, and today Primark came up trumps. They had some really pretty underwear and pyjamas:

I also bought a new square cake tin to make the cherry and almond sponge cake from Dolliedaydream's blog, and a massive cooling rack as I never have enough space. Maybe that's a sign that I should make and eat less cake? Well, I'm quite exhausted after all that uploading, so I'm going to go and make a cup of tea and continue with lecture notes. Have a lovely evening one and all.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

I went shopping today to cheer myself, bought a lovely throw, it's reversible blue polka dot and CK style candy stripes. Also a rose print bag, a blue polka dot pencil case and two pairs of pretty floral-y lace-y knickers. All for just a shade above 20 pounds. Then I returned home and did some baking, cupcakes with pale green icing to remind me that spring is almost here. However, had a bit of a mishap with the green food colouring, knocked it over whilst trying to get the bowl off of the mixer, and it went everywhere. I mean EVERYWHERE. I opened the cutlery drawer after I'd thought I'd cleaned it all up, and proved that I hadn't.
On the knitting front, several things on needles, very few actually being finished. Lovely scarf for mother's day in Rowan Lima yarn, with a sort of ladder-lace pattern (photos to follow).
Onwards to the television, weekly dose of Lark Rise to Candleford is calling.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Sunshine At Last

What happened to February I will never know. I do know that it is finally sunny and this makes me smile, it makes dissertation writing so much more pleasant. I have also finally gotten round to beginning the shawl with the lace yarn, it's so soft but very thin so much concentration required. I've just made a batch of delicious oat and sultana cookies (From the Hummingbird Bakery's cookbook), and eaten three (Whoops).
I went to Cornwall last weekend, and went swimming in the sea. Only wearing a summer wetsuit. Once the initial shock had gone it was lovely having the waves crashing in around us, very liberating and good for the soul etc.
Off to the library tomorrow morning, need to keep up my word target for the week. Therefore must go for sleep soon, lovely clean sheets tonight (and ironed) mmmmmm heaven.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

First proper post, having just got back from the library (Final Year exams are all about the 14 hour days). I am consoling myself with the fact that my lovely new yarn will be here soon. It's Claudia's pure silk lace weight from www.modernknitting.co.uk, who incidentally have the most amazing selection of yarn. It doesn't come cheap at £30, but it will (I am promised) make a reasonably-sized shawl. With colourways like 'Last Night's Wine' and 'Plumicious' who could resist? I opted for this slightly more muted 'Blue Ridge', heaven.

I also got some Trekking Maxima sock yarn to knit some socks for James. I'm sticking to the 'No Jumpers Until 10 Years Together Otherwise He'll Leave You And You'll End Up An Old Maid' rule, so socks and scarves it is.

This means I have something to look forward to after the exams (1 down, 2 to go). Wednesday morning I'll be off on the epic drive to Cornwall, to drink tea on the beach and go swimming at Porthtowan Tidal Pool, which has become my all-time favourite place to swim. Last time we went there it was early morning, drizzling with rain, deserted, amazing.

Off to sleep now for beauty rest etc, back to the library in the morning :(

In the beginning...

This is my brand new blog, dedicated to my great loves; plants of all descriptions, winter picnics, baking, music, knitting, sewing, and of course, my greatest love of all, The Sailor. I hope that the things that make me smile from day to day will do the same for you.