Sunday, 30 December 2012

Wool Basket Projects

I have this basket by the fire in the front room. Its where I throw most of the free wool I get with knitting magazines, plus any other oddments that are too small to make something out of. Consequently its a bit of a random basket see...

I was looking at it on Friday evening, looking at the wool that had fallen out of the basket because there is too much in there now. So armed with a glass of wine, and google I set about sorting it out and finding some suitable projects to use it up (well, use up enough so that it at least fits in the basket anyway!).

I started with this little bird from Lucy (attic24-Bird), which a few hours later (including a night's sleep) found a home in my plant...

He's great but really didn't make much of an impact in the basket. I did like the colours though so I progressed onto a cover for the old pasta sauce jar that now contains needles and hooks. This took up the majority of my spare time yesterday but it was finished by bedtime.

I even made a few little flowers to decorate it...

Well it used up a little bit more but not really enough. Hey ho...I'll just find a another basket instead I think!

Friday, 28 December 2012

Just call me Nigella!

Hello! I love being at home all day sometimes. I am a total home girl no matter hard I try not to be. Friends tell me about all the things they like doing away from home like holidays, walking, days out, shopping etc. etc. and whilst I understand why they like to do those things, I can't help but admit that there is no place I would rather be than home, especially in the winter. To me it makes perfect sense. It contains the people I love most in the world, it is the environment I feel completely safe in, and that I created (hmmm...creating maybe!), and I get to spend hours doing all the things I love. Summed's where I am happiest. I think I am very similar to my Grandmother in this sense. People did accuse her of being agoraphobic, I don't believe she was at all - I think that she was very like me (or me very like her I guess), I think she just loved her home, and being in it.

So today, the furthest I went was the local Morrisons for cooking supplies (a 2 minute drive). I decided that, as the weather was rubbish, that I would stay at home and take on a bit of cooking challenge. I have to face cooking things that kind of scare is the whole point of me doing this recipe challenge thing really. Forcing myself to cook those things that I previously ignored the recipes for on the basis that 'it just never goes right'. 

One of the problems I face with this project is 3, well 2 mainly, offspring that don't like eating 'weird food'. 'Weird food' to them is anything with vegetables they don't eat on a regular basis, anything with lentils and pulses etc, and anything else they decide isn't 'normal'. Don't even mention Polenta or Tofu...its just not worth the battle! So I guess announcing that I was planning on cooking everything in a vegetarian cookery book, that is packed with 'Weird food' wasn't their favourite moment. Determined to prove them wrong, I trawled through the book this morning looking for something that I knew they would like. Remembering that it was Friday (anyone else having problems keeping up with days of the week lately??) I realised that traditionally, at Vivod, this was 'Pizza day' (aka...I have been working all week and really can't be bothered with any food that requires either time or effort). 

Well that was simple then...Pizza it was....GULP! I have tried making various breads and rolls etc in the past...'it just never goes right'. I realised I would have to get over this issue with Yeast and Dough pretty quickly considering this book contains a whole section on the damn stuff! So off to Morrisons I went.

It was midday when I returned so I decided that before attempting anything more complicated, that I would make myself some lunch. Baked eggs with mozzarella and fresh tomatoes! It looks and sounds delicious, and I love eggs. Half and hour later I took this out of the oven, and it was nothing less than DIVINE!

I am considering making them again tomorrow. 2 of the nest even looked mildly intrigued too so they may be persuaded to try them too. :-)

Following this it was time to face Dough making. I admit now, that whilst I was a little dubious at first, it was actually ok!  Before long I had produced 2 of these (Basic pizza base)...

These were then baked and turned into these...

Later toppings were added, one vegetarian (Cheese and tomato pizza) and one non vegetarian to keep the nest happy and on side...

And then baked...

I think I could of left them in for a few minutes longer but on the whole I would give them an 8 out 10 - not bad for my first ever totally home made pizzas!

I did even make the topping (Classic tomato pizza topping)...

So that's four recipes in one day! - The project page has been updated. Vivod & Sarah Brown Project.

The finished result was delicious and did receive full nest approval. Long may it continue.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

And so that was Christmas...

I'm poor. I'm fat. I'm lazy. My house is full of cardboard. Well, that must mean that Christmas is over? 

I love Christmas, but thankfully it is over (for all the reasons above!). I did actually take the cardboard to the skips earlier but there is still more to leave for Flintshire County Council! 

We had a great time, the nest are all very happy, and I got some fantastic gifts this year...I'll show you in a minute!  So, Christmas day was quite normal. It started with me waking up first at 7am and announcing to myself that I have 'Rubbish Children' that were still asleep before proceeding to make as much noise as possible to wake them up...even Oscar the cat joined in with this and failed. After an hour (!) Child #1 did finally wake up and then woke the other 2 8:15am (most normal kids had been up for at least a couple of hours by then!!).

Stocking were opened, before we stopped for tea and breakfast. We then opened everything else that 'Santa' had left - I think Child #3 was just going along with the whole santa thing this year just in case it might be true but didn't actually believe it anymore.

The remainder of the day was spent cooking dinner (my nut roast was delicious - I was so pleased that I made the effort), building lego, picking up endless rubbish, and eating. I think the best present received by my children were the headphones the Child #2 requested. They were expensive but it seems that I no longer need to listen to the 'music' that she listens to at the same time...well worth the expense!!

Anyway, back to my presents! I got some brilliant stuff this year. 

I got an Emily Peacock Hug kit which I have started (but I have also finished my jumper which I have yet to show you). 

My mother made lots of jewellery....

And a parrot to hang in the window...

Child #2 bought me this candle...

Child #1 bought me these bracelets....

and this sweet sweet little set of Cath Kidston buttons!...

I now own this fantastic bird cage umbrella...(I love rain all of a sudden!)...

and finally...a Kirsty's Vintage home book... (Signed copy!)...

Along with the usual chocolates etc. I think that most of my presents really reflect the things I love to wear and do...well done to everyone that contributed and hope you also had a very good Christmas!

I'm off to do a bit more of the Hug kit, drink some really good red wine, and watch a DVD with Child #2 (stocking gift!).

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Christmas, Cleaning, and Cooking

Christmas appears to be a full time job at the moment. Its great that we worked and schooled until nearly Christmas as the nest don't get so over excited and bored but on the downside I am so disorganised this year. Consequently I've spent the last 3 days shopping, cleaning, wrapping, planning, washing, ironing and cooking! I think I must nearly be ready now though, especially as these have been put out too...

I do have a couple of things to do tomorrow but then I really am done, I have to be because there really are no more funds left for Christmas now either!

Yesterday I made scrambled eggs on toast for breakfast and realised it was one of the recipes in 'the book' so I took a pic....

Whilst I didn't follow the recipe I checked afterwards that there was nothing special. I actually only learnt to cook scrambled eggs properly last year - I know that sounds ridiculous but it's true. I read it in another cook book and followed it exactly, until then I had been cooking them wrong for years (I generally used the microwave and produced a rubbery, tasteless and watery result - I rarely eat them then!). 

So I figured that now I had started the cooking project I may was well carry on and make the nut roast in there for Christmas day. I'm quite impressed with the result. I am still picking bits of hand blended nut out of my hair several hours later...I really need to invest in a food processor if this project is to be successful. I did have a quick look on Amazon for one...I gave up when it returned nearly 800 results!! 800?? I clearly need to do a bit of research first! 

Anyway, this is what I will be eating on Christmas day...and probably for a few days afterwards too!

In the meantime, I have more cleaning to do :( , bye for now.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

All sorts!

Well my last few posts have been about specific things really but around all of those things the general day to day stuff is continuing so I feel the need to just blog about all the things I have left out of the last few posts, in a kind of 'catch-up' way.

They are in no specific order so I will start with today. Today I finished work until the 8th January. I love the Christmas break for so many reasons but mainly because its a bit of a serious re-charge. As its Christmas I don't feel obliged to do that much and the nest don't care what we do, even if its not much as they have their new things to keep them entertained too. Work today was great, and my amazing team had me on the verge of tears at one point! They are fab! Why? because they are thoughtful, hard working, they have a bond (despite their minor niggles day to day), they are happy and they get the job done. I always buy them all a bottle of wine for Christmas, and whilst it was a surprise the first year, I know that although they would never expect it now, they know I will. They deserve it too, for all the reasons above. This year, they bought me a gift too. There are 12 of them in the main team, and they secretly put together a series of comedy photo's (one of them for each month) and bought me a calendar with them all in. Its brilliant, and I have already shown it to lots of other colleagues that love it too. They each have one too which is even more brilliant.

Today was a really nice day at work too, involving lots of wishing others a happy Christmas, a kind of student Carol/dance thing at the end of the day, followed by a bit of an informal staff thing in reception to end it all. Oh, and I also got a big box of chocolates from work too. (The healthy eating will be re-started in the new year I think - 18 bottles of wine arriving tomorrow too which isn't going to help!)

So, aside from today, I have lots of other things to tell you. I made this recently...

I did mention it a couple of posts ago but I promised to show you the final thing. I still fancy making a slightly bigger one too though.

The students held a handmade market recently and I purchased these...

Cartfef means 'Home' in Welsh. Their theme this year is home hence there were lots of things like this, and also stuff with cups of tea etc on. 

Child #2 and I always do a Christmas Jigsaw and this year I bought us a new one as we have been repeating the same one for three years now!...

I couldn't wait any longer so we started this on Saturday evening...its ace as I get some quality time with child #2 although a little helper came and joined for a short while too this year...


So, until my final stock arrives (which may be at the post office right now!) I am unable to put my first Felicity Stitches kit up for sale so I will wait until then to show you it. In the meantime I have been knitting (existing project which I should complete by the end of the year). I have also been reviewing my cookery books to pick out a suitable Julie & Julia project book. I am quite excited by the thought of learning new cookery skills and trying some foods I might otherwise shy away from like STILTON!...bring it on! So I think this is the book...

Its got all sorts in it from basic stuff to entertaining type things. Wish me luck! So from now on it will be known as the Vivod & Sarah Brown Project!  I might begin the project over the next few days, in the meantime I have created a page with all the recipes which I will update as I cook them all. You can view this here Vivod & Julie Brown Project.

I think that's it for now. It was all a bit random but that's life!  See you soon.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Julie and Julia?

This is the second post today and must be a record for me?!

Its just a quick post to consult with you all! work...we have a 'Book man''. I love these little book companies because I love books, and they are sooooo cheap! Anyway, amongst other books I purchased this...

Its a brilliant book that cost me £5 (not as much of a bargain as the quilting book that cost me £3 though!)

Anyway...its been sat on the dining room table for over a week and today, on my cleaning and tidying mission, I finally took it into the kitchen to put it away. Now, I did have a quick look through it and thought about writing down some ingredients and going to Morrisons but I didn't. It was then that I stopped and looked at all the other cookery books I have and sighed!

Look at them all...


Hmmmm! I reckon I have made about 20-30 recipes from these in total. I have my favourites, and once I find them I stick to them! 

Well...I love a new project for a new year (this years was suppose to be a knitted tea cosy for each month. I got to May and then the 'Felicity Stitches' thing happened and so the tea cosies stopped!) so I was thinking today that maybe I should do a bit of Julie & Julia. Not with anything as adventurous as the French cookery book but with one of my many books sat here on my kitchen worktop. 

If you haven't heard of Julie & Julia its a story (true, I believe) about a woman, called Julie Powell, who works her way through the famous cookery book (524 recipes) by Julia Child called Mastering the Art of French Cookery. Julie Powell wrote memoirs about her experience, I would use the Vivod blog obviously.

I know I lead a busy life and this does hinder certain projects I undertake but I have to eat! This may also mean that I actually eat a little better, and in turn, so will the nest.  Being a peskatarian, I may need to adapt some recipes unless I go for a fish recipe book or a vegetarian one, but thats ok.

So what do you reckon? New year, new recipes? I feel quite excited already!

New beginnings

Wow its been cold here. I'm not built for winter...I was a summer baby born on one of the hottest days of that year apparently! I don't mind winter in general but I think the point at which I stop enjoying it is around 4 or 5 degrees...less than this and I prefer not to leave the house. Snow just isn't funny. The only reason I like winter is that there are far more reasons to knit and I can wear lots of layers of clothing and add scarves, gloves, hats or snuggle up under home made blankets. Spring, Summer and Autumn, however, are just far nicer...I like to be able to feel my ears, nose and feet when I go out for a walk!

Of course, the only reason I like winter at all is because it contains Christmas. I can't believe its only a week or so away. I am nearly done with the gift buying now, just a couple more to get. Then I just need to finish the wrapping, post some gifts to Kent, hand some out next week at work and then I am done. I am impressed at my eldest this year. For the first time she has planned ahead, earn't pocket money and told me not to give it to her so she won't spend it, and is today off to Chester to buy some presents. She's so thoughtful and selfless sometimes. 

Child #1 is also 'favourite child of the week' (I don't really do this but I like to say it and wind them up a little) because she bought home a school progress report yesterday that proved she has really turned things around at school since year 8. In year 8 she didn't really understand that school was there to help her and consequently ended up in most teachers bad books. Year 9 was then tough...she did see that she was in the wrong but had to build up her reputation again. This year most teachers love her...she's clever, she pays attention, she's mature and she's kind. Child #2...well...she's in year 8 and anything her sister can do...she can do better...enough said!! Hopefully she too will soon realise that this isn't the best way to get through school!

So what else have we been up to then recently? I collected these last weekend...

I do like the girl's efforts quite a lot, especially the trainer that child #2 worked so hard on. That mug that I did is now at work and proving to be the best coffee mug in the world...ever! I love it. 

Last weekend I also sewed together a little Owl cushion kit that I bought at the knitting and stitching show. I need to buy some stuffing to finish it off...child #2 has already claimed it for her room. That's ok...I like the pattern but the not the fabric so I shall make another, slightly larger, for downstairs, from other fabric. I will show you later.

The thing that has been taking up most of my time at home, for some weeks now, is very very very nearly ready. It's a little business venture called 'Felicity Stitches'. It was an idea that I played for a couple of months back in the spring when I came home from Wonder Wool Wales. I decided that I wanted to sell kits of some sort after watching people, myself included, spending the day buying other peoples kits and thinking 'I could do that better'. I was going to go with knitting kits to begin with, and then maybe crochet kits. At the same time I was busy completing my Emily Peacock cushion kits too. Now I don't think I can do better kits than Emily Peacock, but they could be as good. So this is the path that Felicity Stitches is currently on...tapestry kits.

I have produced 1 kit. It has taken months. What I didn't appreciate was how complicated and time consuming starting a business was. I didn't expect to be spending a few hours of my life looking at samples of different clear plastic bags and trying to decide if bag A was better than bag B, or bag C,D etc etc. Its the little things like that that have taken up weeks of my life. The actual production of the first cushion only took about a month...everything else has taken far longer!  So, anyway, in some ways it has been really fun and really rewarding. I am now only a couple of steps away from launching the first kit online.  There is still lots of other things to do, like finish the website, produce a few more kits etc etc but once the rest of my stock arrives and I have had a few more pictures taken I can finally launch the first kit, via Etsy! How exciting.

I'll show you the kit shortly - it deserves a post all of it's own. Partly because of the effort put it but it's also special for sentimental reasons too. 

For now I have to go and restore organisation within Vivod. Starting a business has taken its toll on the house to say the least!!  Back soon.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Mumford and Sons - Manchester Arena

Ok, so 'be back tomorrow' actually translates into 'see you in a few days' when I'm busy. I will come back soon and tell you about the other things we have been up to but I have been too busy to blog over the last couple of days. The busier I am, the more I have to blog, but the less time I have to do it...its a real catch 22!

Anyway, one of the reasons I haven't had time was because of that little event called the MUMFORD AND SONS CONCERT!!!!!

If there is one thing that successfully brings my girls and I together, without fail, its live music. I think we would all pick live music over anything else every time. Yesterday, however, was a little bit more exciting than just any live music. This was about us all experiencing something that we absolutely love everything about.  Words cannot describe how much fun it was, and how great it was to share that with my daughters. 

If you haven't heard of Mumford and Sons they are generally classed as a folk rock band. I can honestly say that I enjoy every single one of their songs. I have my favourites but I never feel the need to skip any, they are all brilliant. This is why yesterday was so special too.

It was child #2's first ever concert too and it was great to be there with her. We got there early so that we could watch the support acts too. These were Post War Years (I quite liked them) and Dawes (an American band - some songs were ok, others were better), and also a comedian/magician called 'Piff the Magic Dragon'. Piff was pretty good to be fair - his humour was similar to Jack Dee's but the fact that he was dressed as a little green dragon, and his funny (but limited) magic was also pretty good, made it even better.

So this was the 'Manchester Arena' (formally called the M.E.N. Arena - this was news to me yesterday - I didn't realise they had renamed it - and spent some of yesterday trying to figure out if the 'Manchester Arena' was somewhere different!) when we got to our seats just before 7pm...

Post War Years were on quite early, after 20 minutes of the dragon. Then Dawes were on at about 8, followed by another Piff session (funnier). Then finally, at 9pm...when the Arena looked more like this...

It was Mumford time! They were fantastic, we laughed, clapped, danced and screamed it was all good. I didn't take many pictures - I didn't really see much point - you can't hear a picture! They did the usual first 90 minutes but the encore was a little different and so lovely. They exited the stage in darkness, made their way past the standing area and onto the little stage at the back of the sound and light engineers.

From the stage...(just about visible here)

To close!

It was here that they proved just how good they are without all the supporting bands and fancy lights etc etc. They sang 2 songs, stood around a single microphone, with a couple of guitars/banjos to support them. They played and sang relatively quietly, and then switched to a cappella for the second song.  Complete talent!

They then made their way back to the stage to perform three more songs, ending with (with their support act joining them) a fantastic version of 'With a little help from my Friends'. It was amazing and well worth the money. None of us wanted it to end, and we played their music all the way home (after managing to find the car - thank heavens for Google navigation!). We got home at 12:40am...and I had to get up at 5:45am to go and collect my was a long day!  

Back soon...promise!

Saturday, 8 December 2012

The Christmas Tree

I haven't blogged for a week and now I have lots to tell you about. Today I'm going to show you just how Christmassy our house is now looking though.

I LOVE getting the Christmas tree almost as much as I love Christmas itself. Its just brilliant (even with a slight red wine headache!). We always have a real tree, it just wouldn't be the same without a real one. I get ours from the Hawarden Farm Shop. Its not the cheapest place but the trees are beautiful and its only once a year so I try not to think about the cost too much! It always takes a while to pick the right tree - I usually find one straight away but then I have to go and look at lots of others just to make sure they aren't better - really I should just go with my instincts at the start. I don't usually take any of the nest with me because the tree has to travel home in the car and there is only just about enough space left for me in there, let alone anyone else. We'd never agree on the same tree if we went as a family either!

This was the tree smelt gorgeous in there!

While the guys in there netted the tree and trimmed the trunk etc I got time to browse the Farm Shop. It a good thing that we only go a couple of times a year because it is expensive but it is packed full of the most delicious, and luxurious products, all so well presented...look...

They sell things like chutneys, spices, wines made from various fruits, handmade biscuits, fresh bread, specialist teas and coffees...and cakes, which I couldn't resist!

The drive home wasn't bad considering the 7ft tree in the car was making some aspects tricky (like parallel parking - way more difficult when you can't see anything to the left apart from pine needles).  Getting the tree in the stand was easy...the thing that took so long today was sorting the lights. This was difficult for three reasons...

1. There were 2 sets of lights tangled together to begin with
2. The tree was huge and I'm only 5ft 2" 
3. I was hungover

I got there in the end, no injuries this year either - not even a broken nail! (I usually end up with some kind of tree related injury each year so quite pleased with myself today.)

So this was the finished was all worth it!

I even managed a few extra lights around the rest of the room too. I love this room at Christmas - possibly because its painted red and green at the moment and therefore looks a bit festive all year anyway. So now I just need to befriend the cat again - the bay window seat is his place - he's nosy and likes to sit there, on the cushion, so that he can see out of the window. He's not impressed with the tree at all!

I'll be back tomorrow to tell you more about my week. See you then.