Wednesday, 19 March 2014

WIP Self-Discipline

Having decided that my reading of late hasn't been interesting enough, I struggled to find something a bit more challenging that I could settle in to. I tried a few things from my academic bookshelves, but I only get to snatch a few pages of reading at a time at the moment, and that just isn't enough to settle into anything like that. After that I turned to my shelf of unread literature in search of something a bit more highbrow. This is what I found:

I think I bought this around the time Ms Lessing was awarded her Nobel Prize, but I have never got around to reading it. It certainly isn't bland! The basic plot, without giving much away, is a re-imagining of the genesis of humanity, but with women as the originator, as opposed to the biblical story of Adam as the origin of Eve. Interestingly Lessing has chosen a male voice as narrator, and this certainly isn't a fluffy portrayal of womankind. This was exactly what I needed: something intelligent enough but not to intellectual.

To add some yarn to this yarn-along, this is my finished garden view scarf blocking. Having made the Moses basket my location for photographing works-in-progress last week, I decided to make use of Sausages' bed for blocking. My house seems to be full of unused children's beds...and my bed seems to be full of children! I was really pleased with this shawl, and I'd love to knit it again, but much bigger and in the specified yarn weight. I also managed to get an action shot of my finished Aviatrix. Yes, he does look like he's sleeping on his face. I can't get him to go down any other way. I am watching him very closely. How quickly those little cheeks have filled out, that tiny chin disappeared into a cushion of baby fat. Delicious!

Thanks to the advent of the face-down nap, there has been a bit more quality time for Sausages going on. This picture probably sums up our afternoon today:

Since I'm linking up with Tami's Work in Progress Wednesday, I thought I'd mention my WIP situation. I see on Ravelry that there are five official WIPs listed: the gift shawl; the gift-from-a-friend shawl; the Christmas-gift mittens; a Christmas jumper for Husband; and an exploring sleeveless for Sausages. My queue is massive, and of course there are additional items in my mental queue, some of them already represented by bags containing patterns and yarn. This is madness! I have a two-month-old baby who will not be put down, and a three year old who needs my input all the time and is capable of turning the entire house upside down the minute I turn my back. These are all bigger projects that are plodding along in the background, but I do need those quick and simple projects (such as the garden view scarf) to give me that "finished object" fix in the mean time. I'm not going to get a sense of achievement from my untidy house, messy kitchen, or mountains of laundry right now! I guess what I'm saying is that I defend the long-term WIP/short term satisfaction project set-up, even if it does add time to the longer projects. After all, my cousin will still be married whenever I finish this shawl, and there will be another Christmas this year. Sausages is growing fast though...I'd better get cracking on that one!

What are you reading and crafting this week? Do you have long-term WIPs? Come on, 'fess up!


Monday, 17 March 2014

Simple Supper Recipe

I haven't posted a recipe here for a while, so in belated honour of St. David's Day,* here is one of or family favorites: leeks on toast. 

First a note on toast: I always use our homemade sourdough. Its sharp taste and firm texture is really well suited to being loaded up with rich and delicious topping. Stick two or three slices per head under the grill and get started on the leeks.

Melt a knob of butter in a frying pan (I always use my wok) and add the cleaned and chopped leeks. I allow one large leek per head. Sweat the leeks down like onions, with black pepper and thyme. Our thyme comes from a very healthy potted bush in the garden, and is abundant all year around...but do check for caterpillars!

Don't forget to check and turn the toast!

When the leeks are cooked add a sluice of cream and mix it in with the buttery leeky juices, then add a couple of handfuls of grated cheese. I use mature cheddar because it's always in the fridge, but you could use anything. I'd love to try Stilton but Husband objects. Mix in the cheese until it has melted ad thickened the sauce.

Ladle the leek mixture onto the toast and put it back under the grill until the cheesy sauce starts to colour, and serve. The whole prep should take about ten minutes, and the food is hot, filling, and at least a little bit nutritious. I hope some of you try it, do come back and let me know how you get on!


* Yes, I do know it's St. Patrick's Day today, maybe I'll randomly give you my recipe for ham, cabbage and champ next month!

Thursday, 6 March 2014


Well, predictably the lace shawl isn't going to be ready to gift to the bride on her wedding day. It's just too intricate and lightweight to make good progress. There has been progress since the last time I posted it, but because of the thin yarn and, er, unputdownable baby, it really doesn't look that way:

In the mean time a lovely friend came for a new-baby visit and gave me two balls of spring-coloured green acrylic that she had fallen out of love with. I was in need of an instant gratification knit to go alongside the lace, and thought that the green was just crying out for a leaf pattern, so I cast on the Garden View Shawlette. The pattern is written for aran-weight, and I am just knitting it with the needles that match the green yarn, so I hope it turns out ok with blocking. It looks good already, but it doesn't lie flat at the moment.

I'm plodding on with Change of Heart. Ms Picoult really does have a very addictive writing style, very much like Joanne Harris, whose content again I find a bit "women's fiction" for my taste, but whose writing is absolutely compulsive. Looking back at recent yarn along posts, I seem always to be dissatisfied with my reading. I was discussing this with my friend on Monday, and I think it's because I'm reading a lot of the style of thing I used to read around my academic work, but no longer reading the academic texts. I think the next thing I start will have to be either something from my study shelves, or some more demanding literature. I do have some literary classics waiting to be read. Hopefully it's a sign that my brain is ready for something a little bit more engaging!

Sausages and I (and now Bob, of course, but his presence is distinctly passive at this stage!) attend a weekly outdoor playgroup held in local woodland. We really love it. We spend a lot of time outdoors, visiting national trust grounds or just the park, but this group and it's lovely leader really help Sausages to engage with the woodland in a way I don't really have the concentration to facilitate at the moment. For the last two weeks we have had wonderful weather, and this week we were treated to some brilliant daffodils, and lots of emerging insect life.

At snack time, after sharing hot potatoes, Sausages was delighted to find a star anise in his cup of hot mulled apple juice. He thought it was really special, and it was the thing he chose to tell Husband all about when they had their reconnecting time at the end of the day.

Getting out of doors really does make the day go so much better! The boys both have stonking colds (no sleep for me!), but they were both happy and settled all afternoon after a big dose of fresh air. And I was too!

I'm joining in with Ginny's Yarn Along and Tami's Work-in-Progress Wednesday this week. What are you crafting and reading? What do you do when you hit the literary doldrums? I hope you're having a lovely week and enjoying the change of seasons as much as we are.