Saturday, May 16, 2015

100 Crafty Days: with a sudden halt in the middle, but a sweet bit just afterwards

Having an acute asthma episode(s) left me totally wiped out.  There are times when even sitting on the sofa takes effort, and during those times a person should do as little as possible.

It's also at such times I re-discover my love of the National Health Service.  It cost me more to take a taxi back from the GP's surgery than to see him, and come away with medication that makes it so much easier to breathe again.  (sigh) Breathing is something that should never be under-rated!  

After a week of being weak, I managed to swim half a mile on Friday afternoon. I'll be hitting the pool again on Monday afternoon, and again on Friday.  At this rate it is not going to be long before I've finished the swimming section of the slow triathlon!

I baked for a coffee morning, only to find I'm a day early.  Here's a picture of the cookies:

The top ones have a walnut half pushed in before baking.  The cookies on the bottom tier are the same mixture with a bit more flour added.  Then rolled into balls and baked.  They were then topped with some water icing and a jelly sweet.

And, (yes, there's more of today to describe), the lovely Mrs B was a very patient teacher today.  She talked me through how to crochet a star blanket.  The only problem is that my hook is a metallic red, and it clashes horribly with the red yarn I'm using.  Thankfully the red yarn is just the centre of the blanket, and I'll be able to clash some orange against the hook soon.  

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

100 Craft Day: a new chip, and a complicated pattern

It passed me by!

It's now 128 days since I last bought yarn. This means that just over a week ago I earned my Cold Sheep 120 Days chip.   It passed me by, and I didn't even notice.

Last night I was working on a pattern called 'Dutch Windmill'.  It was going well, and I decided to draw it to make it easier to piece it together. 

It wasn't until I had drawn it out I realised that the repeat is 100 squares!  The design is really simple in concept.  There's a tessellation of purple and cream plus signs, and in each plus there's a little windmill. 

Iron May: a rest day

Four weeks ago, if anyone had said that cycling four miles would count as a 'rest day' I would have laughed and laughed. Quite a bit can change within a month!

My muscles/joints were a tad achy due to use, and horrible weather.  I've long known that the best remedy (for me) for aching joints is to take some gentle exercise.  It feels as it the movement allows my joints and muscle to work out their kinks, and be far less grumpy. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Iron May: mini triathlon

I can't express how delighted I am not to be in last place on the board!  I'm currently second last, but I can deal with this. It's far better than I had hoped for.

This morning on day 4, and having not yet exercised, I have cycled 17 miles and walked 3.  I'm right on schedule with the walking, and a bit over with cycling.  Today in my first swimming day, and I'm going to turn it into a mini-triathlon.  It starts at home with 4 miles of cycling, then a walk to the swimming pool (1 mile) and finishing with a swim.

There's a mini-challenge of a 'sprint triathlon', and I hope to be able to work up to that.  There's 400m of swimming, 10 miles cycling and 3 miles walking. 

One of the benefits of the IronMay is that I'm eating better food.  I want, crave, lots of vegetables and fruit.

100 Craft Days: A very crafty weekend

This weekend has been pretty full on.  It's been great.

Saturday started with a trip to Peel for the WOSAT festival of arts.  We met with Nicola Dixon, a wonderful Manx artist, and we bought a few tiny paintings and a large print.  These are going into my new craft room (it doubles as a dining room when needed).

Another artist's work we bought was Juan Moore.  The one that really took my fancy was a sepia water colour of a giant walking nose with a hankie.  When I was in my teens my parents could tell when I had wakened by the sneezing.  
My elder offsping has the same thing.  «sneeze» Ah, H has just woken.

Saturday also included a trip to Sweet Ginger.

This was primarily to buy fabric for C's blanket, but also to buy some new fat quarters for the Friendship Blankets we started at Messy Church.  I've managed to make 6 little lap blankets.  These will be given to people in the church family would would love to get along to church, but aren't able to do so. 
The crafty road trip concluded with a stop at Joan's Wools and Crafts.    

A few more fat quarters were purchased, as was a wad of fleece for backing C's blanket.

It was rather touch and go whether I would be able to get all the blankets finished for the Sunday service, but they were.  The minister invited me up to help explain what they were about, and was asking questions about Messy Church.  Six people who had been involved in the making of the Friendship Blankets came up to the front to hold them up so everyone could see.

At coffee time afterwards, one person asked that we do not stop with the blankets, and make more as people's situations change.  Another person said she would be very happy to get involved with the blanket construction.  Children and arty/craftsy adults said they would be happy to make more squares for future blankets.  I'm delighted.


Saturday, May 2, 2015

Iron May: Top of the Leaderboard

I was the top of the Iron May Leaderboard for a whole 14 minutes.  Then my crazy friend came and pushed me off the top slot!

The relative rankings appear to be worked on how much of each stage of the triathlon a person has completed.  One mile of swimming counts for far more than one of walking/running, which weights heavier than cycling.  The swimmer of the mile would have completed 42% of the swim,  the marathon-er, almost 4% and the cyclist would be pootling along  at less than 1%.

So far, I've managed 8 miles of cycling, and 1 of walking.  After posting this I'm going to get in another mile of walking.

100 Crafty Days: Cooking up a storm in the kitchen

Yesterday was a high successful day with regards to the kitchen. Creative chaos was perpetrated, and deemed extremely tasty.

First up was apple and cinnamon pancakes at breakfast time. 

At dinner time I was inspired by a tale of a glorious Cottage Pie. The idea of a meat dish being topped with potatoes stayed in my mine.  My chicken dish started out with two onions sautéing in a pan.  When they has been softened, chopped garlic was added.  A few minutes later stock joined them, along with cream cheese and then end of a lump of Stilton.  Water was also added until it all looked saucy.

At this point diced chicken, sweetcorn, broccoli florets and sliced courgettes joined the sauce.  This was transferred to an oven-proof dish, and was finished off by adding sliced potatoes to the top, which were brushed with a little butter.  It was left in the oven until the tops of the potatoes were a beautiful golden brown and everything was hot and smelling fantastic.

The day was rounded off by 'apple roses' - apple slices tucked into a dough (gluten-free shortbread for me) and arranged in such a way as to look like a rose. The roses tasted fantastic, but a great deal can be done to improve them. Three big things come to mind. Use a softer dough. Cook the apple slices for longer - this makes them far more flexible, and this is required. And lastly, line the bottom of muffin tray. I buttered it, and that was not enough. The roses look good in the tray, but not so good when hacked around when I try to remove them!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Iron May, or A Slow Triathlon

One of my friends has roped me into taking part in a 'slow triathlon'.  Normally a triathlon is completed with a 17 hour window.  With the slow version you still swim 2.4 miles, cycle 112 miles and walk/run a marathon, but instead this being confined to 17 hours, you have the whole of May to do this.

Today, being the first of May, saw the start of the slow triathlon.  At 6am I was up on my exercise bike for 17 minutes.  The Iron May Challenge rates this as a 4 and a 1/4 mile cycle ride.  Having been ill recently, I know that the chances of this being accurate are small.  My pace will be picking up as my health improves, and as the month goes on. Tonight I shall walk my first daily 1 mile walk.

My goal is complete the challenge by breaking down the cycling and walking into daily chunks.  The swimming will happen in bigger chunks.

100 Crafty Days: an update

One of the most important things I have learned from this experiment is that don't just suck at giving daily updates, but I truly, truly suck at it.

Since my last post, almost a week ago, the knitting on the cardigan has been finished and it has been blocked.  Now it's time to add the crocheted edging, and then add the decoration.

I've also been playing with watercolours, and am part way through a paper and watercolour picture of a sunset at Peel Castle.

On the baking front, I'm adapted my great-grandma's recipe for Scottish pancakes.  Out goes the refined sugar, and instead in comes apple sauce, apple juice and cinnamon.  These pancakes are now gluten-free and dairy-free, but they still taste good. :o)

The recipe is:
2 cups of self-raising gluten-free flour (eg Dove Farm)
1 egg
1 heaped tablespoon of apple sauce
1/2 level teaspoon of cinnamon
about 2 cups of apple juice.

Mix the ingredients, and then pour some of the pancake batter onto a warm, but not hot, non-stick pan.  When there's lots of bubbles all a- bubbling, turn the pancake and cook the other side.

My family has enjoyed them with butter, and also Nutella.