Sunday, 28 June 2009

Pesto Pasta and some Knitting

I'm always trying to come up with quick and easy suppers to satisfy fussy Husbands and sons . Usually I give in and make (home-made) fishcakes or chicken nuggets for the kids , unless I'm being really lazy and then its (supermarket) fish fingers or Willie Winkies (miniature sausages) , but Husbands tastes are a bit more cosmopolitan .
So for last nights supper , I bring you the cheats Pesto and Pasta , its basically a bit from Jamie Olivers' Italy book adjusted by me , and some filled pasta courtesy of Tesco Supermarket (yes I can make my own pasta , but the effort is too much for Sunday evening supper! )
Take a good few handfuls of Basil leaves , a tablespoonful of olive oil and some chopped garlic , and blitz in a blender/food processor . Keep adding more basil leaves until its a thick creamy consistency , and add some sea salt and ground pepper to taste .
Gently grill a handful of Pine Nuts (try not to eat too many or you find you need to grill some more - I love pine nuts) , then add to the basil mixture in the Blender. Blitz once more , but not too much , as you want a rustic roughly chopped effect (well I do anyway!)
Next grate a handful of the best Parmesan you can afford , the one from Tesco is lovely , not very strong, but still tasty . Mix this in by hand or spoon! Then , if necessary add a bit more Olive oil to loosen the sauce . I sometimes do this at the blending stage , but each to their own method .
Meanwhile the filled pasta is cooking in boiling water , I used wild mushroom tortellini (Tesco's own , again very tasty) for 2 mins - try not to overcook like I do , as it tastes much better done for 2 mins and no more .
Once its cooked, drain and return to the pan , and add some of the pesto , or put the pasta in dishes and add some of the pesto on top (how much you add depends on your taste , I love loads) .
You can then add some more Parmesan and pine nuts , and perhaps a little grilled sweet pepper strips .
Its an easy and tasty dinner and DS1 was eyeing it up , so perhaps no more mini pizza (again courtesy of the supermarket) for him!
All this culinary effort has affected the knitting too ! Got some lovely coffee for the knitting group girls who are coming on Wednesday , so just had to try it out today (don't normally make coffee at home , usually go to Cafe Flava)
So DH and I had a gorgeous cup of Coffee from our Cafetiere , and I thought , it would be good if the Cafetiere had a cover , then the coffee in it wouldn't go cold as quickly , and then I came up with this idea for a cover which started like this .....
And ended like this .....
Well its not quite finished , a bit of sewing up , a wee lace or two to be added for tying it around the Cafetiere and Bob's yer Auntie !
An easy piece of garter stitch and cable in Fyberspates space-dyed greens , or as I like to call it Pesto Greens! It even matches my green Denby mugs which are great for coffee - may have to make mug cozies too .

They are Done!

My Sunshine socks are finally finished! I think I was a wee bit worried about the yarn running out before the second one was done , as the tension is much tighter on it! Still I have two slightly different sized feet and the socks fit perfectly.
First up , the obligatory heel view , just so you can see how well I picked up my gusset (I feel an "ooohh Matron " moment coming on here!) , and how neatly I did my heel .
Then the front , this picture truly shows the gorgeous colours of Gloria's Hand-dyed yarn . I will need to visit Stitching Time in Hamilton to see some more soon. The Colourway is called Hyacinth , and I used 2.5mm needles all the way . The socks feel great on , but the cuff is a wee bit looser than I'm used to , will probably tighten up after proper blocking .
And finally , an obligatory shot of the Stash , from Stash in Putney ,London ! Its Dream in Colours' Smooshy yarn , colourway is Bermuda Teal . These hopefully will become Eunice Socks from Cookie A's Sock Innovation book . Thankfully the Eunice pattern has a shorter cuff , so I shouldn't run out of yarn (fingers crossed)
Now I've got my Sunshine socks , I'm praying for the Sun to come back , its raining ......again..... Typical!

Friday, 26 June 2009

Summer Holidays and a Deadline

Today is the last day of Nursery and School for DS1 and DS2 , they are demob happy , and I'm stressed with all the final arrangements. Like Gifts and Cards for Teachers! Don't remember doing this in the Dark Ages when I attended school , but hey ho , packages galore were arriving at school for the staff , so thought I'd better make an effort.
Considering the options , I thought it would be nice if the boys made their cards and gift , so off to the local craft centre for supplies . DS2 ran riot and took no interest in the card making stuff , but managed to find a Thomas the Tank Engine that he "REALLY NEEDED!" I escaped with card making supplies and a little jewelry making kit for his older brother to make a necklace for his Teacher . So far so good!
Back home , bribery and corruption had to take place to encourage them to "make the blessed cards!" (my words) . DS2 got into the spirit of things , gaily putting stickers on the cards then commanding his Mother to write the message inside . For one of his teachers (there are three Nursery teachers) , he wanted the following written on the inside of the card "I will not forget you , but I will NOT miss you !" When I corrected him , he said emphatically , "NO , I will NOT miss her!
Thank Goodness he can't write just yet .
DS1 took a more laid back approach to his craft making duties , "Mum , could you do it for me , I'm just so tired after school!"
DS2 then decided he wanted to make a gift for his teachers , a drawing of himself! So I dutifully gave him a small stretched canvas board and some oil pastels and off he went to create his Masterpiece . He hoped the teachers would put it up in the Nursery for everyone to see!
Meanwhile I , daftie that I am, made a lovely necklace and card for DS1's teacher , he then shoved them in his bag after numerous reminders NOT to forget them.
Thankfully , all cards and gifts were gratefully received , and yes , the drawing of DS2 is to be hung in the Nursery .
Next year , I do NOTHING!
On the knitting front , I am almost finished my Sunshine socks JUST in time for the "Makin' Cookies KAL" deadline of June 30th . Shoulder started to bother me again , so another visit to the Osteopath to get it working and help me finish those blessed socks . The pattern is actually really nice to knit and looks great , that , combined with the gorgeous yarn , has made a winning combination.
Wasn't sure if I would have enough yarn to finish the second sock , so was making alternative plans , like a contrasting toe or throwing them in the Stash basket in disgust! However its looking like I will have enough , just !
Looking forward to my shopkeeping duties this Thursday and Friday at Old Maiden Aunts store in West Kilbride , only the big question is ...... Can I resist buying anymore yarn ??? Find out next week !!

Monday, 22 June 2009

London Calling!

Had a lovely wee weekend visiting my friend who lives in London , or Putney to be more exact. And as all us British Knitters know , Putney has a fine wee yarn shop called Stash ! Of course we had to pay it a wee visit , just out of interest !
The lady who runs the shop is a lovely American lady who was very friendly and helpful , although the lady who came in asking for knitted socks (!) didn't seem too impressed. She wanted handknitted socks , but instead was told that, yes , she could buy the yarn and perhaps sign up for a class to learn to knit socks , but no, handknitted socks were not actually for sale . We worked it out that to knit someone socks , it could cost £120 , given that the minimum wage per hour is £5 , it can take up to 20 hours to knit a pair, and sock yarn costs anything from £7 up to £20 .
And then my friend asked it I would knit her socks , as a gift ! And knowing how she would appreciate them , I agreed , as I only knit for people who appreciate handknits! But I needed to get some practice in (heavy sarcasm here) , so I treated myself to a skein of this in Bermuda Teal colourway !
It was a very relaxing weekend , pottering about Putney then Richmond , eating in gorgeous Deli's and restaurants (wonderful Fish and Chip down in Wandsworth , and a gorgeous Goan restaurant in Putney just opposite Stash!) , and sitting out in a Pub by the river in Richmond , having a lovely glass of Chardonnay. I would recommend it to all busy knitters !
Have finally started Sunshine sock number two , but dragging my case into London has put my back out (again , after all that Osteo too!) , so this sock may take a wee bit longer than I had hoped , and there is only eight days until the June KAL ends , sigh!

Thursday, 18 June 2009

A bit of a catchup!

Had a lovely time at Carries on Saturday , the World Wide Knit in Public day/weekend . Carrie had made a fabulous lunch , which we all stuffed ourselves with and then had the cheek to go back for seconds! Matt , Carries husband , had done a lovely spiced chicken to add to the goodies. There was Home-made quiche (including the pastry ) , roasted sweet potato and squash and warm pasta salad .
THEN there was AFTERS ! Look at the magnificence of that cake! And the gorgeous bijou cheesecakes with raspberries courtesy of our Kimmie , who claims she is not domestic but could give Nigella a run for her money in my opinion!
Since Kimmie had made the super gorgeous bijou cheesecakes with raspberries on top , she got an uber sized piece of the sponge cake , which will now be referred as a Kimmie size portion of cake ! Ours were no less generous , and I literally couldn't eat until later that evening, well after my normal dinner time . There is Cedric the elephant guarding the goodies from stray animals and uninvited guests.
And here are some of the lovely girls from Flavaknits , Sandy is sporting a beautiful sun visor she bought from M&Co . I may have to try and find one myself . Poor wee soul has her leg on a stool as she hurt it badly hill-walking , evidence if any , that too much healthy exercise is actually bad for you!
There was much spinning and knitting and spindling going on amongst all the eating . Karen was spinning a gorgeous red roving into singles , hopefully to become socks . Kimmie had her day-glo green roving and was showing Carrie how to spin on a spindle . I missed Innes giving a spinning masterclass as I had to leave a little early . Still it was such a lovely day , and I got a lot of my sock done. The first sunshine sock should be finished this evening! Hurrah , a wee bit of sunshine even though it is now raining.
And my boys got another lovely day for their Sports Day too on Tuesday . DS2 was very keen , and wanted to make sure he won and not his friend! DS1 is more like his mum , Sport Day is to be endured because you get to go outside and be with your pals!
The juniors getting placed for the first race ( and yes DS2 did beat his pal in that race! )
And an action shot of DS1 in the egg and spoon race , although the egg was actually a potato! And a lovely salad one at that!
Sadly the sun is only managing to peep out in between the heavy rain showers now , thank goodness I'm going to London for the weekend , where its to be sunny! And perhaps get to visit IKnit!

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Ch ch changes ...

Bit of an emotional day today ... DS2 had his "induction to Primary One" . It was no nursery , but an afternoon spent in the company of his peers and new Primary One teacher , and he did very well. His exact words were "I had a wonderful time at school today!" . He did better than his mother, who was a bag of nerves after discovering that he wasn't in the same class as his friends , whom he has known since a babe in arms . I then proceeded to put the incorrect name on his forms , after panicking because I couldn't remember anything from when his brother started Primary One - slow down life , you are going too fast!
Which is why I spent the morning and the rest of the afternoon helping him build his birthday lego models to play with! Here he is with his CrazyBones Gogo characters (another obsession)
Never mind , a bit of knitting some sunshine will help calm me down - here is a wee snippet of sock number one (from Sock Innovation book , pattern Sunshine) . I am quite please with myself as I only started this a few days ago and now I am at the heel . Its a twenty row pattern repeat and only requires 3 repeats for the cuff. It also fits very well , so I think I'll stick to the 2.5mm needles for future socks as it produces the right tension.
I am using Gloria's gorgeous hand-dyed sock yarn , in Hyacinth colourway. Its quite a "thin" yarn compared to the arauncania , but feels denser once knit up , and the colours are evenly spread . Such a lovely shade.
Meet Cedric , my lovely Liberty print elephant bought at the School fete last month . He sits in my stash basket , and helps to welcome any new yarns that arrive ! Here is my latest Unicorn yarn , from Natural Dye Studio in colourway Zanzibar , its very summery and I think I may use it to knit a wee Cami-top . There is not much yarn coming into the house for Cedric to welcome , as I am now officially on a yarn diet ........ until Karen opens the LYS . We are all so excited about this in out knitting group , it will be great to have one of a kind yarns on our doorstep .
Also am very excited for this evenings Flavaknits - Karen met the Rowan Rep, and I think she may need to put in a BIG order after we see the shade cards tonight !

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Too Hot to Handle !

Its been a hot weekend! Really hot , okay 24deg C hot , but that is really hot for Scotland!
So what did I do on the hottest weekend , I finished my Glynis socks of course , now there are a pair of Glynis! Don't they look lovely (excuse the poor photography, used laptop camera)
Its hard to model woolly socks when the rest of the world is sporting swimwear!
In fact I keeled over in the heat! And got a nice side view of socks!
In between all this knitting to deadlines , DS2 had a 5th Birthday , and kept telling everyone how this was the best birthday in his WHOLE life ever! Until today when we discovered the parcel at the Post Office was not his , but his Dads contact lenses , D'oh! Then it was the WORST birthday ever ............ until he realised there was money in a card from his Auntie , and decided to buy yet more Lego !
In fact his collection is fast catching up with Big Brothers , and when we got home we discovered another parcel for him which contained ........ yet more lego . Soon I will have Legoland , Gourock , and will be charging folk for Day visits!
Still , both of the boys were great when my car broke down , in John Lewis' car park , and then we ended up spending three and a half hours stuck in a garage . There I was worrying about the cost , whether I should just look for a new car etc. , and they were making laser guns out of lego and scooting about on wee toddler push cars . Kids are great .
More good news , my good pal Karen has taken the plunge and is working away at opening up an Artisan Yarn shop in Gourock! We are all so excited ! It will stock one of a kind yarns from independent suppliers and even better will have Knit Pro needles - Hurray ! Hopefully it will be open by summer , but I think she may do some Knit nights and sell stuff before the actual shop opens - always the enabler !
Now , I am off to peruse my holiday brochure from Center Parcs , and see what activities I will book .......... for the kids !