New House: Kitchen Must-Haves

I’ve really not talked about our new house on here, as seemingly everything that could have gone wrong has gone wrong so far and I haven’t wanted to jinx it. We certainly won’t relax until we have the keys in hand, but tomorrow marks 2 weeks until we get those keys! A little background…

This time last year, the Roommate decided to start looking for a house to buy. The second house we viewed was, we thought the one. Our offer was accepted, contracts were signed and we were planning on being moved in by August. So we were disappointed crushed when the solicitor called to say that the sellers were pulling out, literally hours before we were due to exchange contracts.

However, after a bit of time (and a lot of bourbon) we realised that maybe it wasn’t meant to be. And after lots of very unsuccessful viewings, we decided to go for a new build. Seven looong months later (and plenty of squeaky bum time moments when it came to mortgage offers) we are 14 days away from completing and excitement levels are approaching DEFCON 1.

We’ve been visiting the site on a weekly (and now daily…!) basis since the beginning of the build last October and it’s been fascinating and so, so exciting so see the house go from a patch of dirt to foundations, to brickwork, to roof timbers and so on. For months we’ve had the furniture picked out and have decided exactly what to grow in the garden (neither of us have had a garden in years so we are VERY EXCITED to have outdoor space!) Amidst all the excitement, I thought I’d create a few collages of some of the items that are on our shopping list when we do finally get the keys! First, the kitchen!

kitchen must haves

 

  1. Lana Smoked Glass 5 Light – Next
  2. IRIS Pot Holder – IKEA
  3. STRÅLANDE Chopper – IKEA
  4. Bormioli Rocco Storage Jar – Tesco
  5. IRIS Oven Glove – IKEA
  6. APTITLIG Bamboo Chopping Board – IKEA
  7. Magimix Inissia Coffee Machine – Nespresso

I realise this is quite IKEA-heavy, but I actually plan on making the pot holders and oven glove myself – I’d like to make use of my sewing machine since it’s had a clean bill of health, and they seem like pretty straightforward projects to try. Famous last words… The chopper is a funny one. I saw an ad YEARS ago for a product called a “Slap Chop” (hilarious infomercial here) and thought it was utterly ridiculous.  The Roommate got a similar product as a gift and I’ll be damned, it’s amazing. So amazing that it’s actually gone blunt from being used so much, so a replacement is in order. While it’s been so fun window shopping for all the bits and pieces we need, but boy are we looking forward to actually buying stuff!

x

 
PS. – Thanks to the ever-lovely and inspiring Dana at The Wonder Forest for her great Photoshop collage tutorial!



Ombré Baby Blanket FO

If you’ve seen my Instagram, you’ll probably have seen my most recent project, an ombré-style baby blanket.

Ombré yarn

The yarn is Cascade 220 Superwash, which is a firm favourite and my go-to yarn of choice. I wound this into a skein folded in half, so I could knit double while only using one skein. This did end up in a hell of a pickle though, and took a whole day to fix -_- However, it was worth it because I ABSOLUTELY ADORE THE FINISHED RESULT <3

Ombré baby blanket

Ombré baby blanket

I genuinely cannot remember the last time I knit anything in garter stitch, and I don’t normally love how it looks, but I think in this instance it is perf and I want to smoosh my face in it <3

Ombré baby blanket

Honestly, dem stitches! I’m so enamoured with this that I have told The Roommate that we WILL have a grown-up sized version and it WILL be absolutely glorious (he’s fully on board with this, yesssss).

This baby version, which is 23 inches square, is up on my Etsy shop now, and I’ve got plans for lots more beautiful colourways 😀

x



Recipe: Simple Healthy ‘Slaw

simple healthy slaw text

I was inspired to come up with this because I’m really rather partial to coleslaw, but the shop-bought kind is often packed with unhealthy mayonnaise, oil and cream, and I prefer to keep my vegetables on the healthier side. This recipe is pretty much fat-free, full of veg and really tasty without being gloppy and heavy. This makes quite a lot, so would be perfect for a big barbeque, and stores well in the fridge for a few days.

Ingredients (serves 6-8 as a side)

  • ½ red onion
  • 1 carrot
  • ¼ red cabbage
  • 3 beetroots, cooked
  • 80ml (13 cup) vinegar
  • 80ml (13 cup) water
  • 4 tbsp 0% fat natural yoghurt
  • 1½ tsp Dijon mustard
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Method

  1. Finely slice the onion, add to a dish with the vinegar and water, and allow to soak for 10 minutes.
  2. Shred the carrot, cabbage and beetroot into a large mixing bowl.
  3. Drain the onions and add to the mixing bowl.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients, mix thoroughly and serve.

Red Onions

Soaking the onions in water helps to get rid of their harsh flavour when raw, and adding vinegar adds just a bit of tang (I love pickled onions). This was a revelation as I don’t mind raw onions but can’t bear that harsh taste that hangs around – blergh!

Simple Healthy Slaw
Finally, I absolutely love the bright and practical Joseph Joseph Nest 9 set and the Joseph Joseph Rotary Peeler for its julienne peeler blade – it makes shredding the carrot into cute little sticks SO much easier! (90% of the kitchenware in this house is JJ and it is ridiculous <3). x



Recipe: Orange Hot Chocolate

Orange Hot Chocolate

I’ve really developed a taste for orange-flavoured hot chocolate this winter. I don’t normally drink hot chocolate but we’ve been making frequent boredom-busting trips to coffee shops and I don’t always fancy a coffee. Costa do a delicious orange hot chocolate using orange simple syrup and so I decided to make my own version, using orange zest instead of syrup to reduce the amount of sugar going into it.

Ingredients (makes 1 serving)

  • 200ml milk
  • 30g/3 pieces (approx.) chocolate
  • zest of ½ orange

Method

  1. Add milk and orange zest to a saucepan and warm through on a low heat.
  2. Strain the milk, removing the zest, and return to the saucepan.
  3. Add the chocolate to the pan and stir until melted.
  4. Optional: Before serving, whisk the hot chocolate until it is frothy – a balloon whisk will do it but I love using my Aerolatte whisk!

    Orange Hot Chocolate

    Deee-licious!

    x



2014

Happy New Year!

As usual, I’m a liiiittle bit late with my New Year post!

1. Beanie hat, 2. Mittens, 3. Mini Christmas stockings, 4. Fingerless gloves, 5. Vanilla syrup, 6. Mittens, 7. Ishbel shawl, 8. Bias-knit scarf, 9. Avocado + Beetroot Tartare

I’ll be honest, 2014 hasn’t been a good one. House purchases have fallen through, jobs have been lost and there’s been an awful lot of stress and ill health. My resolutions for 2014 have not gone well either. I didn’t graduate as anticipated, I’m finishing the year without a job and I’ve not read a single book this year. All in all, I’m really quite glad to see the end of 2014.

Onwards and upwards, however, and I shall still set myself goals for 2015.

  • Take better care of myself, both physically and mentally – Top of my list is to work on my health. It affects every area of my life and I need to take control of it. I plan on getting more exercise and trying yoga for a start.
  • Get more involved in blogging – I find that blogging (both reading blogs and writing them) sparks my creativity and encourages me to try new things, so I definitely want to blog more. Which leads me to…
  • Create more – whilst I’ve been knitting a lot in 2014, I really want to try creating different things. Whether I dust off my sewing machine, try something like hand lettering or even give a bit of woodwork/DIY a go (!), I’d definitely like to broaden my skills.
  • Graduate – this one appears again this year out of sheer stubbornness rather than anything else.

Come on 2015, let’s do this.

x



FO – Mini Christmas Stockings

Mini Christmas stockings

If you follow me on Twitter you’ll have seen me tweet about mini Christmas stockings. I’ve been thinking of making these for a while but as I’m not used to knitting socks and am quite the perfectionist, it took many many many attempts before I came up with a pattern that I was happy with. And when I did, I knit. A lot.

Mini Christmas stockings

I think I’m a convert to socks – miniature ones, anyway. I can certainly see the appeal of knitting socks, but trying to make a full-sized matching pair that will properly fit actual adult human feet is still well beyond me. No, I’m happy to stick with the miniature. They’re FAR more adorbs, anyway (I won’t admit to how long I spent squeezing stacks of these stockings, squealing at how utterly cute they are, but it was a loooong time).

These, as well as a selection of mittens, scarves and fingerless gloves are now available in my Etsy shop 🙂

x



Recipe: Vanilla Simple Syrup

Calling this a recipe feels very, very wrong as it is (barely) three ingredients and takes 5 minutes to make, but that’s how I roll.

I love this in coffee (I’m one of those terrible people who can only drink coffee when it is a syrupy latte; please don’t hold it against me) but it would be equally good in cocktails or drizzled over fresh fruit for dessert.

Ingredients (makes approx. 250ml)

  • 200g/1 cup sugar
  • 250ml/1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

Method

  1. Add sugar and water to a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring continuously
  2. Once the sugar has dissolved, add the vanilla extract and reduce heat slightly, to a gentle boil. Keep stirring.
  3. After a couple of minutes, remove from the heat and allow to cool.

A couple of points about this; granulated or caster sugar works best, and only use really good vanilla extract for this (I always use Neilsen-Massey – vanilla ‘flavouring’ or ‘essence’ isn’t real vanilla).  I find this keeps in an airtight container in the fridge for a good couple of months, although it’s never normally around that long 🙂

x



FO – Ishbel

Ishbel shawl
Yarn: Malabrigo Sock (100% Merino), Violeta Africana

I’m not a shawl person. Shawls strike me as being rather lady-like, and a lady I ain’t. But I couldn’t resist knitting another Ishbel, taking into account changes I wanted to make to previous projects (mainly, using a softer yarn and making the larger version). I much prefer to wear scarves wrapped round my neck rather than dangling loosely, and I’m no different with shawls, so the bigger version is much more practical.

Ishbel shawl
Ishbel shawl

The biggest challenge with this, unusually, was the cast off. I did so as the pattern suggests, using a p2tog cast off, and started pinning it out to block it. And then it literally started unravelling. I have no idea how or why, but the whole cast off edge just came undone, starting in the middle. Fortunately I managed to salvage the live stitches and cast off again with no problem, but I’ve never had an issue like that before. I can only imagine that I maybe missed a stitch, but I’m not even sure how that happens with a simple cast off like this! How peculiar…!

Silk and Cashmere ScarfSilk and Cashmere Scarf

And finally, I’ve added the second lot of lace scarves to my Etsy shop, and am currently working on some C******** (I still can’t say the word, it’s only September) items 🙂

x



August Scarves

Well life’s gone and done that thing again where it all goes a bit tits up. My response to this has been to knit. A lot.

My favourite online yarn shop shut down recently (just to clarify, this isn’t what’s gone tits up, but life sure does like to pile it on, right?) and so they had a big clearance sale. And I can’t resist a good yarn bargain.

yarn
I realised when it arrived that there was 4.4 kilometres of yarn here O_O

The Cascade 220 was always destined to become winter mittens and hats, but the Malabrigo and Manos del Uruguay at the back were more of a chance; I didn’t really have a plan for these, other than “really effing lovely stuff”.

The lovely violet Malabrigo has become 95% of an Ishbel – I say 95% because I started it in June, knit my fingers off, and then floundered at the very last repeat. Naughty Smurf.

The Manos lace has become summer scarves. Yeah.

Now I know the idea of wearing a scarf in August probably sounds ridiculous, but I’m British, and sry2say, August does not preclude the need for knitwear. A case in point:

British Summer. Not even kidding.

This picture was taken on the FOURTEENTH OF AUGUST. A good 2-3 inches of hail fell (or rather threw itself violently out of the sky) in about half an hour, the fog afterwards was ridiculous and I could see my breath in the air. It was DEFINITELY the wrong day to sit outside for lunch.

Bias-knit scarf
Bias-knit scarf
Bias-knit scarf

I absolutely love the concept of Manos del Uruguay yarns; they are kettle-dyed by craftswomen in rural areas of Uruguay, working as part of cooperatives to provide economic, social and cultural opportunities for themselves and others. Plus, Manos is certified by the World Fair Trade Organisation, and that can only ever be a good thing. And I haven’t even mentioned that the lace yarn is baby alpaca, silk AND cashmere, and is ergo amazing.

I thought I’d let the yarn speak for itself and stick to a simple pattern, and so I had my first go at knitting on the bias. I think it really shows off the natural colour variations, what do you think?

You can find these scarves, plus more to follow shortly, in my Etsy shop

x

 



Recipe: Avocado and Beetroot Tartare

Avocado + Beetroot Tartare
This recipe was inspired by a recent meal out – I had a similar dish as a starter and it was so simple and delicious I had to try it. The original dish used mosto cotto but balsamic glaze or even regular balsamic vinegar is fine too.

Ingredients (per serving)

  • 1/2 avocado, diced
  • 1 cooked beetroot, diced
  • 1-2 slices goat’s cheese
  • Drizzle balsamic glaze
  • Handful salad leaves

avocado and beetroot tartare recipe

Method

  1. Spread a handful of salad leaves on a plate and place a round cookie cutter/mould in the middle
  2. Dice the avocado and carefully press down into the mould
  3. Repeat with the beetroot on top
  4. Remove the mould, top with slices of goat’s cheese and drizzle with the glaze

avocado and beetroot tartare recipe

So simple but so very tasty! It looks even more elegant when the avocado and beetroot are more finely diced but I was hungry, cooking for myself, and ain’t no-one got time for that. I think this would make a lovely light summer dinner with some buttery baby new potatoes and smoked or baked salmon.

x