A post of many things

A few things to catch up on and think about:

Thing the first – new knitting project!
One of the things that I managed to do while I was in England was raid the John Lewis store for their Rowan yarn sale, which was fabulous. There is a cowl-necked sweater that I’ve been itching to make for ages, so the first bag of yarn from the JL sale is being used to make that sweater. It’s RYC Cashsoft 4ply, a gorgeous yarn, in a fantastic shade of purple called Pomegranate. I’m at the waist shaping on the back already, having started on Sunday, and loving the way that the yarn knits up. It’s 4ply so it’s light but has a nice texture, the yarn has a good twist so it isn’t even slightly splitty and it’s beautifully soft and springy. Yup, I’m in love.

Thing the second – another knitting project!
My parents gave me a beautiful book of vintage knits (they really knew how to design for shaping and fit fifty years ago) and I happen to have just the right amount of Cashsoft 4ply (in green – Folly) for a short-sleeved sweater called Sun-Ray Ribbed. I’d already decided that it would be a spring knit, but the group for the book is started a knit-along next week for this very sweater. I may be casting on for it ๐Ÿ™‚ Or at least doing a swatch at the weekend to see what needle size I’ll need…

Thing the third – my cooking mojo is back!
This weekend I shall be baking an amazing-sounding brownie recipe from my chocolate recipe book that the lovely [info]historyterry gave me for Christmas. I’m very excited about this book and already plotting a number of forays into it. There’s a recipe for mint puddings sounds look gorgeous and, best of all, the recipe indicates that I can make them in advance, freeze them and cook from frozen. Anyone have any advice on pudding vessels that won’t shatter if they go from cold freezer to hot oven?

Also, I’ve been browsing around some foodblogs and identified two recipes that need to be tried out now now now, plus a host of others book marked for later. And I have a Tapas book to start working through, plus a couple of other cookbooks that I want to buy. Sunday I’ll be making healthy baked chicken strips with honey dijon dip (mmm, dip…) and Monday will be crab and shrimp cakes with lemon aioli (mmm, dip…). There may be a theme there ๐Ÿ™‚

I have developed some fairly strong feelings about the kind of cookbooks I like. All those celebrity chef books (including Mr. Oliver) aren’t user-friendly for the home cook or baker, I feel. Between hard-to-source ingredients, insanely complicated preps and esoteric equipment, there are usually only one or two recipes that are even attemptable. What I want is tasty, interesting meals that can be prepared after work when I’m tired and don’t have three hours to prepare and cook things. I’m happy to do more complicated things at the weekend, but even here there are limits and I’m not likely to do it if I can’t get leftovers that can be re-used at a later date.

I’m a big one for creating my own frozen ready meals ๐Ÿ™‚

I don’t need a fancy photo of every dish because what catches my eye is usually the title of the dish and the ingredient list more than a picture. If there’s a description or story behind it, that can seal the deal. In all honesty, I’ll never replicate the photo of the food so while it may be nice, it’s not the big selling point.

My Tapas book is fab (with only a few scattered photos) and two of my favourite foodblogs have recipe books out now that look pretty useful for a home cook, but I still find it tough in bookstores to find cookbooks that have interesting recipes that are really do-able. Lots of them look good due to the photography, but I take one look at the ingredients and long method description for a few recipes and put the book back because I’m not the person they’re aimed at.

Speaking of, does anyone have a recommendation for a really good pasta book? I love pasta, but my repertoire of sauces etc. is ridiculously limited.

Thing the fourth – no travelling this year, how about a bedroom reorg?
One of the ideas with my ‘no trips this year’ plan is to save a bit of money, but there are a few things that I’d like to do around the house anyway. The kitchen is a project Mum and I will be tackling in the summer and the parents are financing it (as it’s their house), but I’d like to change a few things around my bedroom.

I bought a bed when I arrived her and my uncles and aunts bought me a blanket box for my birthday, but that was all I did in there. I’ve got the bed, box, a bedside table and a chest of drawers. There’s a walk-in closet for most of my clothes. My room looks a little sparse and there are a few inconveniences.

The big one is my toy collection. These are the cuddly toys from my childhood, which I don’t want to give away or pack into storage, but they’re currently sitting on my blanket box so I rarely clear them off to actually put blankets away. That seems a little silly. So I’m wondering whether there is another way to sort that out, maybe by putting up a shelf for them to keep them off the floor but still out on display. I’ll have to see what my parents think before I make decisions on that.

I’d also like to get some low bookcases in there, partially because the cases in the office are getting full and also so that I can have old favourites and books to be read right there at hand. The bookcases would also give me somewhere to put a potted plant or two and perhaps a couple of boxes for CDs to get those out of my closet.

When I moved, I decided against having any kind of TV in my bedroom because I thought it might help with the insomnia issues and it felt ridiculous to have two TVs in a house with one person in it. One of the things that I noticed when I was visiting England is that I use the TV there differently to the way I use the one in the living room. I’ve missed waking up to the news (the news radio stations here put on gentle music before 7am – WTF?) and I often had nights where I watched something in bed rather than the living room so that I’d settle down earlier or watched the evening news in bed rather than downstairs or watched something mindless if I woke up from a particularly bad nightmare. I’m not very good at going from doing things in the main house to getting into bed quickly! TV in bed ensured that I settled down earlier if I needed to.

So I’m thinking that I’ll look for a small TV (and maybe a cheap DVD player) for the bedroom to sit on my bookcases. IKEA delivers, even if there is no store here, so that’s where I’ll be looking for the new furniture after I’ve done some measuring to figure out what will fit where.

I’ll do some pricing, work out how much I need to save and hopefully in a few months I’ll have some nice, comfy extras in my bedroom to make life that bit easier.

There is no thing the fifth, because this post has turned into an essay ๐Ÿ™‚

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