Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Dan Lepard's easy white bread

Every time I looked out of the window today, all I saw was dreary grey. It felt like it did not stop raining from the moment I woke up - it was certainly too wet for either me or Lucy to go outside. So, what was left for me to do but warm up the house by doing some baking?

The recipe I used was Dan Lepard's easy white bread. I borrowed his book The Handmade Loaf from the library with the aim of developing my bread-baking skills further, only to discover that anything other than the most basic recipes was completely over my head. Simple it is, then, and it doesn't get much more simple than this - this dough doesn't need anything but the most basic work. Consequently, it doesn't have a lot of depth of flavour but its ease of construction means that I will definitely be making it again. I also think it would be a fantastic vehicles for other flavours - I think my next one will be garlic and parmesan (or rosemary and garlic or capsicum and cheese...).

Freshly made bread may not make the rain go away or the winter gloom lift but it does make it a bit easier to get through the long gloomy days (plus, my house smells completely awesome!).

Thursday, April 24, 2014

WIP Wednesday: Allaying the post-holiday gloom

While technically I am posting this on a Thursday, "WIP Thursday" just doesn't have the same ring to it. Instead, I'm taking the philosophical approach that time is bendy and a construct anyway and pretending that now is in fact yesterday. *clears throat, glances away shiftily*

To the WIPs! The first one is an oldie (six/seven years old at least) that I was inspired to pull out of its longterm hiding spot behind the couch when I got back home from Queensland and was cold. Since I took this photo I have sewn all of the pieces together and just need to knit on a garter stitch border. The problem I am having is that the blanket is so heavy and large that knitting on it is a logistical issue. I'm pretty excited about the finished project, though, so hopefully that will inspire me to push through the pain.

Sam works with a man who I just don't like. This man recently married and knocked up a woman who I also don't like. There's nothing really wrong with these people - they don't kick puppies or hate rainbows or anything - but they're just not nice or interesting. They're the kind of people who never respond to an RSVP or bother to turn up to a party or give you a birthday present, no matter how much you spent on the Christmas and birthday presents you gave them last year or how important the party is to you. They don't bother to remember your cat's name or your research topic or any of the little details that help build a connection between people. In short, they're just not my type of folk. However, Sam and he get on really well and so Sam asked me very kindly if I wouldn't mind pretty please knitting something for their soon-to-arrive baby. I would usually totally mind but fortunately I have the Shades of Purple blanket from last year that just needs a border and it's done. I do find it hard to motivate myself to work on a project for people who won't even say thank you but Sam doesn't ask for much, so I am doing it for him. I know he will appreciate it.

My final WIP of the week is a new project. When I got home from QLD I was super chuffed to realise I had run out of portable stockinette sock projects because I had finished them all! Yippee!  I immediately cast on a pair of bright and cheerful stockinette socks to help me deal with all the upcoming winter gloom. 

Until next week, adieu (I saw The Sound of Music on the weekend. I'm sorry but I just couldn't help myself).

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Gone fishing...kind of

Hello and happy Easter, everyone. I'm back!

I didn't mention anywhere that I was going, mainly because I am repeatedly horrified by bloggers who blog under their real names and post photos of their local area and house and then tweet things like "Just dropping Fido off at the kennel then off to Bali for two weeks! #holiday". I don't know why then don't just pop a placard in their front window that says "My house is vacant please rob me". Of course, my paranoia is incredibly ridiculous because a) I had a housesitter, so my house wasn't vacant b) other than my adorable cat and 10 skeins of the type of sock wool that was fashionable five years ago, I don't have anything anyone would want to steal and c) I only have about five readers (love you guys! Don't go away despite my irregular postings and too frequent pictures of my cat), BUT STILL!

The holiday started off on shaky grounds when we arrived in Noosa at the same time as the rain band of Cyclone Ita. It was wet and windy but I'm from Melbourne, so if there's one thing I know it's how to deal with wet and windy (and how to complain about it too...) so we packed up the car and went driving to Pomona, a local town with a random great big hill in it.

We tried to drive up to a lookout point but the little Hyundai i20 we'd hired couldn't handle the incline. It was pretty funny hearing the engine go chug chug chug chug chug (although less funny when we slid backwards a little bit. But we returned the car without damage, so no harm no foul).

There was a gorgeous art gallery there in a converted railway station. It's filled with art from local artists and had a wonderful artistic community feel.

Unfortunately, there was not much else to do that was inside, so I went home and drank champagne in the spa (no pictures of that! But it was delightful.)

Fortunately, the weather cleared up and we were able to hire a boat for the day.

Sam said it was like driving an incredibly slow water-capable dodgem car. The hire came with fishing gear, so I had a go at baiting and casting.

Have you ever seen such a natural fisherwoman? However, fishing is incredibly boring, so I lasted about three minutes before pulling out my knitting.

Sam approached his fishing experience with a lot more enthusiasm than me but without much more luck, so we ended up returning the boat with the supplied (optimistically sized) bucket for caught fish completely empty.

The holiday also contained of poolside cocktail drinking and al fresco dining, which was fantastic. It was a lovely holiday and I certainly did not want to come back to cold, wet, windy Melbourne.

The only downside of going away was that I couldn't take Lucy with me. Despite the fact that she was very well looked after while I was gone, she was both incredibly cross with me and incredibly happy to see me. Everywhere I've gone since I've got back I've been followed by a little furry shadow. Her favourite pose is this:

Still able to keep an eye on my but letting me know very clearly that she is Not Happy.

Oh, to be on holiday still!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

WIP Wednesday: New socks edition

Before I get to my new project, I have something exciting to share:

My first capsicum! Unfortunately, when they start to grow capsicums look like butts but still - how exciting! I planted them too late this year to end up with much of a harvest but, since I now know how easy it is to get capsicum seeds (use the seeds from grocery store capsicums - thanks Jamie!), I'm going to plant them much earlier this year.

I finished another pair of socks (pics coming soon once I've found a male to model them) and I figured I'd been so good in finishing off pairs of socks that I had earned the ability to start a new project...more socks. I was so excited to be working on something new that I have zoomed through the foot part of the pair.

It helps that these are for a woman so there's only 64 stitches in each round - that 8 stitches really does make a difference! I've only got 60g of yarn so they'll either be ankle socks or I'll do a cuff in a contrasting colour. Sock knitting is such fun :)