Sunday, 1 March 2015

Learning to Knit ...

Three years ago there was an event in my hometown that knitted the community together, literally.

As part of  the Flock to Ossett celebrations, the centre of the small town was yarn-stormed into a woolly wonderland by the town's knitters and crocheters.

Unfortunately I couldn't make much of a contribution because I couldn't knit more than a few wobbly rows, knitting being a half remembered skill barely picked up in childhood. As the daughter of a confirmed knitter, I was the rebel who didn't.

But believe me, there's nothing more shaming than sitting in a pub backroom with a hoard of committed knitters formulating a new kind of wool based anarchy when you can't actually knit. Nothing ...

Not that I let it get to me. Not at all. Not me.

It might have taken me three years to find the courage to pick up the knitting needles without hideous flashbacks to the scorn of that pub backroom, but I think I've finally got to grips with the woolly arts.

Over the past month, I've taught myself (via the marvellous medium of the world wide web) how to knit AND crochet.

Or more accurately taught myself how to cast on, knit a neat(ish) square of wool and, this is an important bit, cast off again without it all unravelling.

I am currently accumulating a small pile of squares which I intend to turn into a blanket at some point in the future, though that could be anytime between now and when I die.

I'm still incapable of thinking of knitting anything more exotic or useful beyond a square a wool, but in time I might tackle knitting a scarf.
A scarf is just an extra long square, how hard could it be?

Amid this newly discovered burst of wool-based confidence, I decided to have a go at crochet too,

Crochet has always looked even more arcane than knitting to me; a mysterious flurry of twisting, turning and knotting wool while waving a small stick, but I had a go anyway.

Mainly because I was assured that it was in easier to crochet than knit and I'd already cracked that knitting thing.

It took a tour through the free crochet tutorials on Little Tin Bird's blog but I managed to twist and turn some wool into something approximating a granny square at my first attempt.

Then unexpectedly I unearthed a hitherto undiscovered ability to make crochet flowers, so I did, and I am.

Lots of them.

They take about ten minutes each to make, and that includes stopping for the occasional slurp of wine. Or so I've heard *shifty look*

They also manage to look like the work of someone who knows what they're doing with a crochet hook, which I most certainly don't.

Now almost four weeks to the day since I first approached a ball of wool with serious intent, I have created an actual thing.

Not yet a blanket, or a scarf, or, sadly, a granny, but a Thing That I Have Made.

Alright. so I took an pre-existing woolly hat, put a button on it and then buttoned a crocheted flower on to that.

But it was the crocheted flower that I made with my own two hands so I think it counts (probably).

Child3 being remarkably impressed (sort of) with her new (sort of) hat.

*Takes on the backroom of the pub* 

The Alphabet Project: G is for ..


G is for graffiti

Silent Sunday ...


Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Old El Paso - A Review

Home may be where the heart is, but our stomachs are international globetrotters so when Old El Paso offered us the chance to review some of their range of Mexican foods we were delighted.
We're big fans of Mexican food and dine south of the border quite frequently. 

The Man, like all men who know their way around the kitchen, has his own closely guarded chilli recipe of which he is (justly) proud, so when I arrived in the kitchen with the Old El Paso Chilli Spice Mix, eyebrows were most definitely raised.

But with just an onion, a packet of mince, a can of tomatoes, one of kidney beans, and the Chilli mix, I produced a very tasty, rich chilli in about a third of the time The Man takes AND with just a tenth of the mess. 

Next up we tried Old El Paso's seasoning mix for Mexican Wedges .

The wedges are mildly spicy, crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Perfect for children, even The Boy who doesn't like to try anything new food wise until I'm on the floor crying with frustration generally.

They also proved pretty perfect for me too, because they require the minimal amount of preparation and attention. Chop potatoes into wedges, add a little oil and the sachet of seasoning, shove in the oven.

Ta - da, yummy wedges, sensational dipped in sour cream, guacamole or, as The Boy discovered, tomato sauce. I know, he's got no sense of authenticity, *Rolls eyes*

Fajitas are our favourite Mexican dish and it was with some trepidation that we tried Old El Paso Roasted Tomato and Pepper Spice Mix, a version new to us. 

Rich, ever so slightly sweet and spicy with a slow burn heat, we'll definitely be trying this again.

I would have a photo of a Fajita, stylishly wrapped in a warm soft Old El Paso Tortilla Wrap, adorned with fresh salad, a generous dollop of sour cream, a splat of guacamole and a frisson of grated cheese at this point. but the buggers ate it all before I could take a photo. *Sigh* 

All Old El Paso seasoning and spice mixes take the hard work out of putting together a feast of flavours for all the family. Better still the Old El Paso range gives a clear indication of the heat of the eventual dish so no-one's surprised by the spice content AND there's a list of ingredients needed for each one. Pick a pack off  the supermarket shelf and it becomes an instant shopping list 

And when you're stranded in a supermarket shopping aisle in a hurry, uninspired and non-plussed, Old El Paso rides to the rescue. With chaps on.

Disclaimer. I was sent a variety of Old El Paso products to try for the purposes of review. All opinions, photos and  burnt bits are entirely my own. Also if you don't know what chaps are, you haven't watched enough westerns.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Teenage Tattoos: The Rules.

The TeenTwins have been threatening to get a tattoo since they passed the legal age to get one. Consequently mother/ daughter discussions have for the past 14 months ranged through the What and the Where and, slightly more often, through the Not That and Not There.

There has been, I'll be honest, moments of despair, incredulousness and sheer horror but then no-one want's a daughter with Jedward tattooed across her forehead*.

But it's hard to be overly judgemental arguing against making indelible marks upon a body when you have one on your own. "Everyone else has got one" is an easy one to deal with. "You've got one." Not so. Unfortunately.

I've had a lifelong fascination with tattoos. My father has my mother's name tattooed into a heart on his forearm and has had since he was a teenager. It's faded with the age of all the years they have been together but it's there still; a memory.

The memory might be my mother throwing her engagement ring at him because he'd got a tattoo of her name in a heart but still. Memories; you can't choose what they are. AND she married him anyway so ...

At college I made a special study of tattoos which sounds like I spent long hours sat on long-haired tattooed men's knees peering intently at their skin and, to be fair, it'd be right, but it was part of the studies that contributed to the Psychology Minor part of my degree. Honest. I got excellent marks too so I'm actually officially qualified to sit on rock star's knees. Just saying.

Eventually, at the grand old age of 29, I got a tattoo of my own. I wanted a blue butterfly. Had always wanted a blue butterfly. I walked into the tattoo parlour to get a blue butterfly. I got a red rose. I have no idea why.

A year later I added a daisy to the rose because in the intervening time I'd given birth to twins and to each of them those floral middle names. That the TeenTwins are were in complete ignorance that one of them was named because I had a suitable tattoo and the other because I didn't mind having another we will rapidly gloss over and get back to the Tattoo Rules. Because we have rules. We do.

These rules are in no way of any relevance to previous tattoos that might have been had by anyone involved in the setting of the rules.

Rule 1: No tattoos anywhere that can be seen by other people in everyday, normal life.
  As the TeenTwins everyday, normal life appears to involve wearing nothing more covering than a stylishly adapted popsock, this is a good rule.

Rule 2: No tattoos behind the ears, top of the neck, inner wrist , ring finger or foot.
  I don't care you think it can't be seen in everyday, normal life. I. Will. Know.

Rule 3: No names.

Rule 4: In fact no words at all.
  Spelling.. grammar... bad handwriting. SO many things that can go wrong.

Rule 5: No all black tattoos.
  Because that's so last year and the year before and before that  ...

Rule 6: Nothing designed by a friend.
  I've met your friends.

Rule 6: Think very, very carefully about what you are choosing to have tattooed into your epidermis for the rest of your life. Do not, under any circumstances, just turn up at the tattooist and randomly pick something else for no apparent reason.


This week the TeenTwins finally did go and get their very first tattoos.

They broke Rule 5 but what is life if you don't break a few rules in the making of it.  They had to be black though...

... because the TeenTwin's tattoos are tributes to the black family cat which might, I realise, not seem reason enough to some to mark one's skin forever but he recently died at the grand old age of 20.

The TeenTwins have spent all their years with him in their lives. They miss him and they don't want to forget him.  So now he's become a memory not to be forgotten, on their skin. A cattoo if you like....

I'm booking myself in for one next week.

*She was joking, I hope.

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