Friday, 24 February 2012


1) TV suggestion, 2) Site for free ebooks 3) Recipe of the Week, 4) off the needles

How many times do you hear the plaintiff cry “There is nothing any good on the tv”, this of course despite the fact that there are numerous channels to surf in the vain hope that something will appeal.  Well, for pure entertainment, especially of the Whodunnit* genre, its worth tuning in to the Parliament Channel. Don’t dismiss it as “boring”, it is an eye opener. I have been surprised how engaging it is! The stars of the show never fail to impress in the way they can totally obfuscate any issue presented to them.  I often wonder if the Job spec reads “Can you fail to give a straight answer to a straight question?  Can you deviate without hesititation?  Can you churn out the party line and loads of statistics that bear no relevance to the matter in hand?  If you can answer “yes” to all these, than a post on the front benches awaits you.   Which considering how much they bang on about “transparency” is rich.  Each office has specified question time in the house, and its better than most quiz shows as the viewer wonders which side of the house will win today. 
*Whodunnit…..well, that is for the viewer to decide, because many Ministers are past masters at the “not me guv” technique. 
  More info can be found here
There is stuff on there going bak years, and if you miss something you can “catch up”.
If you really want to know what your own MP does (or does not do) for you, check out their voting record here This site is really informative about each individual MP. If you really get hooked (how sad), then you can even have an email regularly telling you of their activities, (in some case their inactivity).
Trying to find free ebooks for the Kindle can sometimes result in “same old, same old”, and this site  has some really interesting content.  I have used it successfully, and it even has a number of books for children which is not always the case on other sites.

3) RECIPE: Hearty Tomato Pasta
(Honestly, it tastes better than the pic suggests!) As always, ingredients are usually in the larder, easy to make, and of course tasty!  Make it prior and it can be reheated later if required, cannot spoil by long cooking.  Do check that the maker of the sausage doesn’t advise against reheating, in which case only add them prior to eating.
Hearty tomato pasta Ingredients:  1 chopped onion, 1 tin chopped tomatoes, 1tbs oil (olive prefereably) 1 tbs tomato puree, 1 tsp sugar, 1 crushed clove of garlic, seasoning, 4 oz macaroni or pasta twists or penne,  4  sliced vegetarian sausages cooked or ready to eat type.
Whilst the pasta is cooked according to the instructions on the packet, make a tomato sauce by putting garlic and oil in a saucepan and cooking the onions till soft.  Add the tomatoes, puree, sugar and seasoning and cook for about 5 mins. Then add the sausages. 
When the pasta is cooked, drain it and add it to the tomato sauce.  At this point it can either be eaten or put aside for eating when reheated later.

Kiri from  an excellent free pattern, which is particularly appealing as the knitter can decide the size as the project is knitted, whereas many shawls start with hundreds of stitches and decrease down to the base, which does not afford the knitter with any size choice.  Kiri starts from the point and works up.  I could have done a shawlette with just 2 balls of the Rowan Kidsilk Haze, but decided to do a full size one which meant starting on a third ball.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Choices, decisions!

This week not so much of a museing but a rant, a highly recommended pattern to knit, and a nice blog to check out,  and something vegans eat!  Podcast suggestion with a podcast that has something for all tastes.

Ahead of the game for once

Well for once I have been ahead of the game in the fashion stakes.  Apparently grey hair is not only acceptable, but de rigeur in some circles!
I don’t care that this is a Daily Mail link either!  I am shameless today!
Colour/racial prejudice is quite rightly totally unacceptable but there are many other prejudices still practised and not frowned upon.  Apparently it is OK to taunt people with red hair and call them names like “Ginger Nut”, obese people are fair game to some unthinking idiots too.  The myth that goes with overweight is that the person who is obese is lazy.  Well we all know someone who is overweight and not lazy.  Vegans and vegetarians get singled out for the treatment too.  Eating out is not such a delight when the only choice afforded is the anonymous “vegetarian option”, very often the restaurant doesn’t even bother to elaborate upon that until the waiter disdainfully advises what that option is.  Betting folk know the odds are ten to one on it being pasta based, eight to one on the omelette.
Back to grey hair, it does actually have some advantages, I have noticed a marked difference in that more  drivers stop more readily at zebra crossings for me to go across, than when I had my hair dyed whatever colour took my fancy that week.  But now I wonder if I should be in favour of this sort of positive discrimination...... However,  on the footpath it is still women with pushchairs that rule the territory.  I am more than happy to give way to them, but would appreciate a smile in return rather than a continuation of the fixed glare that says “move because I am coming”  
Its time these prejudices were left were they belong, back in previous centuries.  I hope this doesn’t sound a paranoic rant, but I have been “teased” for being fat, speaking with a Birmingham accent,being short of stature etc etc. (By now you will have recognised Mother Nature was having an off day when I was produced)  And for “teased” which is how the perpetrator describes it to make it more acceptable, read “bullied”, “intimidated”.
I don’t want to be treated differently because I am old/fat/grey/short/vegan.  I want to be treated with the same respect that I afford others.  Am I being naieve? Optimistic perhaps?  Well I think it will happen one day.  And on that note, did you just see the pink pig fly by?

1_On the needles
On the needles, this week I have started a shawl in Rowan Kidsilk Haze, I have started a couple of projects and decided I did not like knitting them because the result was disappointing.  I then tried knitting on smaller needles than the patterns recommended and liked it a whole lot more.  At the moment I am concentrating on Kiri by Polly Outhwaite, 2087 projects for this on Ravelry, and I am not surprised.  It is well written, charted for those who prefer, or longhand for those who don’t like charts.  It is free and details on Ravelry are here  It was written as an alternative to Sharon Miller’s Birch which too is hugely popular, but having started both, I prefer the Kiri as due to its construction one can determine the size better, whereas the Birch starts at the neck and the size is determined at the outset.
2) Seen this blog?
During the week I visited a blog I found delightful and decided to share it  Pop over there and have a look.

3) Choices, choices, or even Choice Choice!
Another answer to “what do you eat then?”  is  “if I want little preparation, something quick, something hot, something tasty, then stir fry fits the bill”.

Two choices are then afforded, 1) the easy way and 2) the not so easy way.
First the easy way:
Fortunately the supermarkets are vying with each other for the stir fry market at the moment!  I know it sounds unlikely doesn’t it!  But for around £3 one can get all the veggies, noodles and pour over sauce.  And what does one need to do to create this culinary experience?  Step 1) open packets, step 2) heat a little oil in the wok/pan, step 3) hurl in the contents of the bags and stir around for a couple of mins and then 4)add the sauce and stir well.  And before you can utter the words “take away”, there is a filling tasty meal.
Second the not so easy way:  Choose what veggies are to be used and peel and slice them to bit size.  Suggestions are: sweet peppers, carrot, sweetcorn, mushroom, cabbage, onions, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, ooooh the list is endless, just decide on combination that seems tasty.  And then once the veggies are prepared, the steps 2 to 4 above apply.

4) Podcast ….. 
For potted biographies of a wide variety of people its worth checking out  Each episode is no frills factual presentation of the chosen subject.  When going to the link scroll down to a list of those whose biography has been done, quite a surprising mix I thought, and ideal listening for a commuting jourmey where the listener doesn’t want to embarrass themselves whilst listening, which can be the case for The News Quiz and Wait Wait Don’t tell Me!

Friday, 3 February 2012

Minor miscellany

Change to usual format this week, back to podcasts/patterns/ebooks/recipes next time.  So just: 1) When am I tool old?  2) Knitting done and Out Damn Spot  3) Crochet done
1) When am I too old to…..
Well if I can have innovative thought processes like my mother (see below) then I don’t see why age should be a barrier to much (mentally if not physically).    “age appropriate” is a phrase I have never liked.  I have never stopped liking jumping in puddles and love swings, but can see that some one in a white coat could decide that my behaviour is not “age appropriate” and decide either I am eccentric/nuts/senile candidate or whatever.  I think I have always been a late developer as I was about 30 before I learned to ride a horse.  In my 40s before learning some German.  I was in my 50s when I began cycling to work.  So now in my 60s I am looking for something new to learn/do.  All ideas greatfully received (though nothing too expensive!) ). 
But I am rapidly reaching the stage where I may be getting too old to add to my stash as I am reaching the stage where I may not live long enough to knit all of it!  So I have joined a Ravelry group SABLE (Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy)!
2) Knitting done: and Out damn spot
I have knitted two projects this week with hand dyed yarn (not my own hand dyed). The first was a delight and I made this Lingonberry Shawlette by Andrea Arbour Lingonberry Shawlette

 and the other I did was this Wingspan by maylin Tri'CoterieDesigns:
The patterns for both were really good, being explicit .both of these are easily accessed on Ravelry as free downloads and the links are to there.
The problem with the Wingspan was not the pattern but the yarn, in that the red was not fast.  Well not fast until it had transferred itself to my hands, at which point it seemed to be a permanent dye. The yarn was red and white originally!  Have never experienced this before, and even the wooden needles have not escaped and look as if Jack the Ripper used them in his dastardly deeds as they now look bloodstained.

Lesson learnt?  You bet.  I shall only really trust my own hand dyed in future, and commercially dyed yarn.
3) Crochet done: 

This was for my mother who specifically requested I make her one to keep her hands warm, which was why I was baffled to learn from the Residential Home in which she lives that “She is using that thing you sent her, she is using it to keep her newspaper with her”.  Presumably she was rolling up the paper and shoving it in the tube.  Well that was lateral thinking I suppose.  The pattern is my own and written on my project page showing this item in Ravelry.