Thursday, August 21, 2014

Fighting the winter blues: Apple cinnamon pnacakes with vanilla blueberry sauce.

The days are getting longer and buds are springing up in the garden. While these are indicators that spring is coming, it is still REALLY BLOODY COLD. My fingers feel like they are in a constant state of chill and I have given up even pretending that I am moderating the heat in my house (it's ALL the way up ALL the time!). Today, because I crazy (and blah blah heart health maintaining fitness blah blah), I went for a swim. Who does that when it is 13 degrees outside? I clearly need some sort of professional help.

After that swim I felt cold, miserable, a little bit fitter and very very hungry. I wanted something sweet and hot but not too unhealthy, so I grabbed a bunch of stuff from the fridge and pantry and made these delicious morsels:

They are without a doubt the most divine pancakes I have ever made in my life! And, since they contain two different fruits, they are basically a health food. Plus cinnamon is an anti-inflammatory and I'm sure I read somewhere that vanilla is good for something. I am on to a winner!

 So I don't forget the recipe, I am writing it down here. Would it be bad to have it again for breakfast tomorrow? Surely something that feels so right could never be wrong...

Apple cinnamon pancakes

1 cup plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 granny smith apple, peeled, cored and grated
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp cinnamon
1 free-range egg, beaten

Mix dry ingredients. Add grated apple and wet ingredients. Cook over medium-high heat until golden, 3-4 minutes per side.

Vanilla blueberry sauce

1 cup frozen berries
1 cup water
1 tsp vanilla essense
1/4 cup sugar

Bring to the boil in a small saucepan then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook until the berries have broken down and the sauce is of the desired thickness (about one hour for me but I have a very slow electric cooktop).

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Victor Hugo at the State Library

Today's post contains no knitting. This is largely because, well, I haven't done any. I have read blogs of people who have written books and completed medical degrees while churning out socks and jumpers; not so for me AT ALL. The second I get a bit busy, my knitting becomes a talisman for warding off stress and a symbol of future blissful free time (and is always, always stockinette).

However, as pointed out by Stanley Kubrick, all work and no play makes Jack completely bonkers (and kind of a boring dinner party guest), so yesterday I left my warm and cosy desk and drove into the State Library to see the Victor Hugo: Les Miserable from page to stage exhibition. The State Library always makes me happy and yesterday was no exception. Not only is it a gorgeous building, the staff are so friendly and always feels like such a vibrant part of the city. Plus, weird things happen to your photos!

I took that from the fourth floor balcony. It looked normal at the time but kind of eerie in the photograph...

Les Mis is not one of my favourite stories - I've actually never seen it in full nor read the book. I still did find the exhibition interesting, though, because of the historical context. Les Mis was a huge influence on the French Revolution and in it Victor Hugo personified the concerns of a nation. It was a time when a novel could actually change real-life events!  (and not just by inspiring people to name their children ridiculous names like "daenyres", which I know is spelt incorrectly but refuse to look up.)

It's pretty fascinating stuff.

Plus they have a bit at the end where you can dress up as a character!

I didn't do it because all of the women's clothes were very complicated and with lots of boning in the uncomfortable-looking corsets, but my friend Christian looked very dashing in his top hat and brocade jacket.

When I got home, Lucy wouldn't talk to me. She sat a metre away from me to make sure I didn't leave again, but refused any other form of interaction.

Stupid cat! It was nice to be home, though :)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

WIP Wednesday: Windblown edition

It's a cold, blustery and grey day today in Melbourne, so it is the perfect time to share some photos I took on Monday when the sky cleared for what felt like the first time in two years (more like two months, really, but I was very excited).

See how the branches look like they're reaching out to the sky? That's how I felt. Now today it is grey again :(

Since it is Wednesday, it is also the perfect time to show you what I have been working on this week. About nine years ago, I had this grand plan to make the mittens from Patons #1239 for my mother and sisters. No-one I know wears mittens but I'd just started to knit on tiny needles and the mittens only took one ball each so it seemed like an excellent plan.

Needless to say knitting six identical mittens got real old real fast so I ended up with no completed pairs but lots of teeny tiny partial balls of Patonyle. I didn't want to throw the balls out because Patonyle but there wasn't enough of any one colour for a pair of socks, and besides the dividing of the wool into smaller balls meant I had no idea which way the faux fair isle sequence went. One ball became a baby hat and a pair of fingerless gloves, one ball got given away but the third has been balefully staring at my from my sock yarn stash every time I open the lid to the box. Last weekend, a solution came to me:

If I pair the wool with a solid colour of Patonyle, it will not only mean I have enough yarn to make a whole pair of socks, it doesn't matter that the socks won't match - it will be in a random "stripy" pattern rather than in the faux fair isle of the original ball. I'm making it for a woman so it is zipping along and I am very chuffed with the whole thing.

On the subject of wind, this is what my cat has looked like for the last two days:

She is completely discombobulated! She thinks the wind is attacking her every time she goes outside, so she comes inside for refuge. However, when she's inside looking out she can't see the wind so then becomes convinced it is no longer windy and goes outside, only to be attacked again. It's heartbreaking but at the same time, really really funny (yes, I am clearly going to hell!). 

It must be hard to be inside Lucy's tiny tiny cat brain...

Monday, July 14, 2014

Slogging away (or technically, blogging away...)

Today I am at a different campus from my normal one. This means I don't have an office, but I have managed to set myself up pretty nicely in the library with all of my favourite things.

As you can see, I have started a new sock, which means I finished the World Cup socks before the final, as planned. For me, I'd have to flip a coin to decide whether knitting the same pair of green socks for a month was more boring than entire soccer match, but now they are both over and I don't need to think about them for FOUR MORE YEARS. That deserves a yippee!!

The other day I bought Lucy some flea and worming stuff from Aussie Vet Products. To my delight, it was $25 cheaper than it is from my local vet. So, I used the money to buy myself something I did not know existed until last Friday - a beginner's fountain pen.

Apparently fountain pens are something you built up to, which makes sense given that the good ones cost hundreds of dollars. I can imagine you'd want to make sure you really like a product before dropping that kind of coin. I can safely say, now, I love them! Since it arrived yesterday afternoon I've been reading pen blogs (who knew they were a thing even?) and investigating different types of ink to fill my new toy with. Apparently there are wet inks and dry inks and all sorts of fun fun things. I can feel a new expensive hobby coming on...

Friday, July 4, 2014

FO Friday: Here's something I prepared earlier (2014 FO #11)

Ever year, on the 1 June I get a bit sad. It's the first day of winter and a fairly predictable indicator that at least the next three months will be cold, grey and wet. To cheer myself up, I cast on a pair of woollen socks for me in the brightest wool in my stash.

The yarn is Stitchjones Supersock 100% Superwash Merino in Casual Friday. The colours are lovely and bright. The yarn itself is a little bit thinner than what I'm used to working with but still nice and soft.

I did a slip stitch heel because I hoped that would work well with the variation of the hand-dyed yarn.

They are comfy and warm and they really did brighten my day. Plus, I only used 60g to make these socks, so with a contrast colour for heel and toe, I should have enough yarn to make another pair. I love it when I use all of the yarn in a skein!

Of course it wouldn't be a photoshoot if Lucy didn't try to get in on the action. She also hates winter and (apparently) also loves brightly coloured socks.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

WIP Wednesday: The World Cup's Almost Over Edition

Happy Wednesday, everyone! I am in a fantastic mood today because I just had another chapter of my thesis okayed by my supervisor, which means I am halfway done with the writing up of my loooooooooong ongoing research project. THIS IS FANTASTIC NEWS!! The thing with long-term research projects is that you work and work and work and work and work and work but often don't see any result from your work except for pages of notes and increased knowledge. Both of these are vital for writing the thesis yet (unfortunately) neither are submittable in their original form. To have not only words on the page but words on the page that are of a good and convincing quality feels fantastic and like one day I might actually get this thesis done.

Of course, in order to get the chapter done I spent a lot of time sitting at my desk. A lot of time, like ten hours a day. When I put on my jeans to go to the footy on Saturday, I noticed a definite difficulty in getting the zip up. I have worked too hard on maintaining my fitness since breaking my leg to lose muscle tone just to get a mere postgraduate qualification, so yesterday I started working at a standing desk.

The kitchen bench is the perfect height for me to work at standing. This is how I work, with Word open on my laptop and my notes and reference materials on my iPad. As I have said here before, I held off on getting an iPad because it felt so unnecessary and decadent. An iPad is unnecessary and decadent but it makes nearly every part of my life easier. I imagine I feel the same way as my grandmother did when she got a washing machine and no longer had to run clothes through a mangle - pure unadulterated joy. My iPad is now my my fourth most loved item, behind Lucy, Sam and my football team. If St Kilda lose again this weekend, it's moving into third place.

My World Cup socks are slowly progressing, much (it feels) like the World Cup itself. Surely it has to finish soon. I swear it has been going on forever and is possibly never going to stop. That said, I am knitting awfully slowly at the moment! Hopefully by the time I finish the foot and find my darning needle, the soccer will have finally stopped. Fingers crossed :)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

WIP Wednesday: 12 bubbles and counting

In non-knitting WIP news, this is my starter as of 9am today.

Day 5 Starter: 12 Bubbles

Peter Reinhart said it should start bubbling furiously by now. There are a few bubbles but not many, and certainly not enough to make me think this starter is working. I "fed" it to 100% hydration (equal parts starter, water and flour) and transferred it into a jar. Fingers crossed that I get some sort of bubble action tomorrow.

The World Cup socks are zooming along! I am past the gusset and onto the foot now, which is unbelievably fast for me and a pair of men's socks.

It turns out I knit awfully fast when I am trying to avoid watching any soccer. Who knew a sport could have that kind of effect on my fingers?

Now, I'm off for a mid-winter swim. Brrr!!!!!