Friday, February 26, 2010

Making new from old

Although most days I have a lot of drive and energy, and want to accomplish deeds both great and small, today is an exception. I woke up with very stiff shoulders and upper back and can't seem to loosen up (am reclining in bed now with a hot water bottle behind my neck). Even feeling so stiff, I would normally have gone out walking with the dog; except it's pouring rain with strong winds. I think I'll just stay in bed.

I broke into my studies for a bit, and did a small amount of sewing before making this decision. And I took photos of my newest sewing projects. One of which is this hot water bottle cozy. I cut up an old cardigan to make it. I have only recently started doing it, but I love cutting up old things to make new things. Other things which I have cut up: curtains, curtains, curtains. Two individual plus a pair of curtains have become fodder for my projects, including a dog bed cushion (not yet finished--I started it only to realize I didn't have enough stuffing), three grocery bags, a baby bassinet cover, and a pj top.

The bassinet cover

Detail from the bassinet cover

Detail from the bassinet cover

Pj top

Sunday, February 21, 2010

We woke up to another multi-inch snowfall this morning. For the past few days it's been clear and sunny, and we haven't had snow for several weeks. Just as I thought my spring gardening schedule was off to a flying start.

Part of the physiological changes involved in pregnancy give me a skewed sleep schedule. I woke up at 4.30AM the other morning, and after laying in bed for half an hour, decided I wasn't going to get back to sleep anytime soon; I got up and made a coffeecake: it didn't last long. Instead of Mardi Gras, here we celebrate a very sedate tradition on the day before Lent called Pancake Day. All over the country people make/buy pancakes on this very special day. British pancakes are actually more like crepes which are filled with various fillings, then rolled up to eat. I understand that on Pancake Day itself, the pancakes are sprinkled with lemon juice and sugar before rolling. We went the more avant-garde route with butter and icing sugar, jam, or nutella. If you don't know nutella, I'm very sorry for you.Partner tells me that pancakes in this country are often filled with savory fillings like ground beef and cheese. This is SO gross.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Toads, bonfires, and tea

Oh what gardening fun we had this weekend. Partner promised to level out the new vegetable bed and put in a walkway.While doing so he found a bleary toad. Far too early to wake up from hibernation, Partner took it to a pile of leaves in another corner of the garden.
The very same day I suggested we cut down some overgrown elders that cast shade onto our new vegetable plot: this ended up becoming a two day operation. One such overgrown tree was cut down and into manageable chunks, and the next day another two trees came down (incidently, the tree behind Partner in the above picture was one of the unlucky ones--check out the photo of me below: clear view of the neighbor's shed and no tree). What to do with all this green wood? Burn it! And where is our bonfire pit? In the new vegetable bed! It took two attempts to get this fire going. It's HARD to make a fire of green wood--we didn't have any old seasoned wood. The first attempt went through ten newspapers. The second attempt took ten cardboard boxes plus the contents of our paper recycling.
Not to mention that in order to burn efficiently, the trees needed to be cut into logs and sticks, which then needed to be trimmed. If they weren't trimmed, the twigs on them (green and stubbornly fire-resistant) held the wood too far from the coals and flames to burn; this is why our first attempt failed: there was too much of a gap between pieces of wood due to the tangle of twigs.

We had tea, sandwiches, and scones while out coaxing the bonfire. Don't worry, Partner washed his hands after grappling with the toad.
Altogether we sat with the fire (adjusting and fanning the flames often) for about six hours. We did not have the raging inferno of Bonfire Night, though it wasn't for lack of trying. If there hadn't been so much wood in the first place (too much to stack, in other words), I would've given up after the first attempt. All gardening/tea party photos are here:

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Messages and nightmares

Since I got some alphabet magnets for Partner for Christmas we've been leaving each other messages on the fridge. As there is only one copy of each letter, though two of each number, it can make for interesting spelling. This is a joint message: one from me, one from him, and one first by me then altered by him. If it doesn't make sense to you, don't worry about it. I don't get it either (and I wrote it).

It seems the Olympics are back again. I don't know how I missed that one; I haven't seen any preview material or build-up for it. Really strange. I have half an eye on the men's ski jump as I type this. Although I've been here in England for several Olympics now, I'm still not used to the style of commentators. From what I understand, the channel which covers it has a team of "sports commentators" who may or may not know anything about the event they comment on. For instance, one is a former Olympian: in dressage. Every so often they make a comment which is just so asinine--it's obvious Britain doesn't have a heritage of winter sports.

Partner wanted me to take a picture of his injury--I think he must be proud of it. At about 12.30AM the other night, I was in the other room reading when I heard Partner start yelling, like really making some serious noise, and then I heard some struggling. I threw down my book and listened, because my first thought was that he was being attacked, and if so, I would need a weapon (the iron was close to hand). But I quickly realized that if there was someone else in the house, I would have heard them come in, and I could only hear Partner.

By now he'd been shouting for about thirty seconds. I turned on all the lights as I rushed over to the bedroom, but before bursting in, I called out, "Honey, I'm turning on the light." He stopped making noise. I opened the door and turned on the light, to find him stood up in bed: there was a picture off the wall in his hand and another one smashed at his feet on the bed. Somehow, he gave himself a huge welt and bruise on his thigh; we surmise it was from the corner table next to the bed. How he managed to smash the picture, I don't know, but there were shards of glass everywhere in the bed; at least he didn't cut himself. He told me he was having a nightmare about being trapped in a tunnel with a train coming at him.

Myself, I was mostly amused, after the initial moment of panic. I picked up what glass I could see, ushered him out, and made him a warm milk. We both slept in the other bedroom that night.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Gardening in 2010

Finally I did some gardening! It's been several months since I last did anything in the garden other than escorting the dog back in from her bathroom break (unsupervised breaks end up with her sneaking next door). Well, truly told, I didn't actually do this in the garden--I planted four kinds of seeds: cabbage, celeriac, broad beans, and sweet peas. The first two are in plastic trays on my kitchen windowsill. The last two are in toilet paper tubes and rolled newspaper tubes.

I folded a sheet of newspaper in half the long way, then using a narrow jar as a mold, rolled the newspaper into a tube and folded the edges over on one side:I think I made about thirty of them:I filled them up with potting soil separately and packed them into a seed tray:
That's one tray of broad beans and one of sweet peas, now residing in my cold frame. I've had very little luck with planting seeds straight into the ground so I almost always plant in trays first: seeds planted in newspaper or toilet paper tubes can be put into the ground once they're big enough; no need to peel away the paper/cardboard first. Since beans and peas of all descriptions dislike their roots being disturbed, this is the ideal way of keeping them alive and happy.

Fingers crossed my sweet peas actually sprout: I harvested my own seeds last fall.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Opera, and dressing for it

For my homemade deli foods this week I made potato salad and barbecue chicken drumsticks. Unfortunately, neither lasted more than two days. This is my broccoli and cheese quiche--it lasted three days.

We saw Mozart's Cosi fan Tutte last night. The only reason for our attendance: Partner got free tickets through his work (I'm not a Mozart fan; I wouldn't pay for that rubbish*). The best I can say for it: ok singing and orchestra--although Partner insisted one of the instruments was flat through the whole thing. I didn't notice personally, though I did notice the two trumpet players kept sneaking off for a smoke.

*Partner once accused me of buying a Mozart cd. Never! (Ok, I do own one--but I ripped it from a library copy. I swear.)

Earlier in the week he asked me if I had opera clothes. I didn't, but I searched my closet and came up with a stretchy red skirt and a black tank top. A few snips and stitches gave me this new dress which, unlike the previous dress, will definitely last me the rest of the pregnancy; I'll be wearing it to the ballet next month. I suppose if I really cared about the details I would have taken it apart and lined up the stripes in the skirt, but for a half-hour job, I'm quite pleased.

All of the maternity clothing I own I either made or alterted myself. It's true I don't own a lot, and I can still wear several non-maternity items like tank tops, leggings, and cardigans. I've "borrowed" a few of Partner's button-up shirts which look cute over leggings and cinched with a belt. Only whenever I wear one he sighs: "I wanted to wear that today..."