Friday, 28 August 2015

Friday Threes - Food, TV and Blogs

haribo minions sweets

trek protein bars box

nairns snackers crackers

1 - Nairn's Snackers - The lovely people at Nairn's offered me some free snacks last week and the day I, the Queen of grazing, turn down the chance to test a new convenience food will be a very odd day indeed.  These wee bags of Snackers were perfect for diving into after work.  The salt & vinegar flavour are particularly awesome, although I liked that the cheesy ones weren't overpowering.  Imagine a cross between crisps and savoury biscuits and that's what these are.  Oh, and they also threw in this handy tin to store my oatcakes on the go - who told them I'm obsessed with oatcakes and cheese for supper?

2 - Trek Protein Bars - Right after the Snackers people emailed me, the Natural Balance Foods people got in touch.  Did I want to try some new protein bars?  Hmm, let me think about that...  Um, yes.  I got four flavours in the box - the berry and the peanut ones were my favourites, especially since the latter reminded me of a Snickers Cruncher without the chocolate.  I liked the taste of the cocoa one, although it was a little dry, but the banana ones are still intact since me and bananas do not get on.  Tam can be my guinea pig for those at the weekend!  Each bar is chunky and squished full of fruit, oats and nuts, and they provided an excellent substitute to my early morning breakfast biscuits this week.  

Both the bars and the Snackers are made in Britain, so the lovely lack of air miles somehow makes them even tastier.  (Actually I have no idea if this helps on the taste front but it sure bothers my conscience less than usual.)

3 - Haribo Minions - From the healthy to the definitely not.  I can't think of any Haribo sweet I've met that I didn't like and since I'm a bit of a minion fan, I have no problem with the amount of these sweets people like to give me.  The latest batch was a pressie from my friend K and I made short work of one packet before taking the other into work to share.  Gotta limit those sugar-induced headaches, eh? 

secret life of american teenager episodes the office netflix

1 - The Secret Life of the American Teenager - I kept hearing about this show so when I saw it on Netflix I figured I'd give it a go.  I can't tell if it's trying to be terrible or if it's just happening naturally, but yeah, it's bad.  The acting, the writing, the costumes, the casting...  And yet I'm still watching it.  The main (and pretty much only) storyline follows Amy, a fifteen-year-old girl who finds herself pregnant with no clue how to deal with it.  I seem to spend most of my viewing time wondering if teenagers really are that stupid (I highly doubt it but I only know one - my cousin - and it seems a long time since I was that age, so...)  Seriously, why am I still watching this?!

2 - Episodes - I've been watching this in stages since Netflix only had the first two seasons until recently, when the third one appeared.  Starring Brit comedy stars Tamsin Greig and Stephen Mangan, and Matt LeBlanc as himself, this show is hilarious and totally what I now think the US TV industry is like.

3 - The Office US - I pretty much just watch this on a loop.  It might be my favourite show ever, or at least in a three way tie with Friends and Parks and Recreation.  I've now reached the post-Michael Scott episodes and might just have to skip to the last season...  As much as I love James Spader, those constant filler episodes were hard to watch.

1 - Three knitting skills that scare me on Wool and Wheel - Mostly linking to this because of the first point - steeking.  Cutting your knitting.  Are people mad?!  There's so many chances for that technique to go horribly, terribly wrong...

2 - Groovy duvet dress on What do you make of my cake - Jo made a dress that matches both her door and wallpaper.  I want to live in that world.

3 - The first Vegfest in Scotland on Natbee's Fashion - Anastasia alerted us to a veggie food fair happening in Glasgow in December.  I'm not veggie but don't eat a lot of meat, plus all that lovely food she's been making looks just like what I love to eat... you know, when Tam makes me it.  Cooking and me don't mix - it bores me too much for me to get good at it!

What's the weekend plans, people?  We were hoping to do a car boot on Sunday but the weather is not looking favourable...  There was also an idea to tick off more activities of the Super Summer list but a lot of those are weather dependent too - we were clearly far too optimistic at the start of summer.


Thursday, 27 August 2015

Stripes and disco shoes

oversize stripe shirt M&S

I had to wear socks on Tuesday.

Wearing socks in the summer is unacceptable to me.  As soon as it's warm enough to ditch them, my feet are freed for that brief couple of months we call summer, then October hits, I accept my fate and go back to wearing socks once again.  So I'm not against socks in the slightest when it's practical, only when it's too warm for them to be worn without feet sweat-age (apologies for that lovely mental image).

Anyway, the reason for the dreaded sock-wearing was down to a completely self-inflicted injury I sustained at the weekend.  After our long walk on Saturday, I went another long walk on Sunday.  Not intentionally, I might add, but the sun and the heat presented me with a rare opportunity for some enjoyable outdoors time, so when I started walking I just...didn't stop.  On both days I was wearing shoes that are generally comfortable, but have a delightful tendency to start rubbing my heels at random times.  One pair are trainers, which makes matters even more irritating.  So, in return for a few hours exercise, I got bloody feet.  I hobbled my way through Monday in my mocassins but by Tuesday, I accepted my fate and put on socks.  Bah.

oversize stripe shirt M&S tall skinny jeans converse

oversize stripe shirt M&S tall skinny jeans converse

On the bright side, I got to wear this new shirt I found in M&S at the weekend.  The only one left was a size 22 but as soon as I saw it I knew I was taking it home.  It's pretty unflatteringly gigantic on me but I don't mind - any time I can go to work in something resembling pyjamas is a good as far as I'm concerned.  And if I had to wear socks, at least I can hide them somewhat with my favourite jeans and some disco themed Converse. (I also got this checked dress in the sale, which will be modelled at the weekend if the sun reappears!)

glitter disco converse shoes trainers

shirt - M&S
jeans - Long Tall Sally
shoes - Converse


Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Finished Knitting - Moss stitch baby blanket

moss stitch blanket baby green orange knitted

i-cord knitted edging baby blanket green orange

moss stitch blanket baby edging green orange

I had to wait a while to share my latest knitting project since I wanted to give it to Sarah and Matilda when I visited them and well, Sarah knows where to find me online...

This is the blanket I started before going to Orkney and it sort of turned into a bigger project than I expected.  It's all done in moss stitch (K1, P1) using two strands of Aran wool.  No idea what brand unfortunately since it was in my stash for yeeeears.  The edging is an attached i-cord which I just learned for this project and I love it - such a neat effect!  The yarn used there is Bergere De France Recyclaine (again!) in Orangeade.  I had a ball of it already but ordered a couple more since I thought it might take an extra one, and also I figured there might be a difference in the dye lots.  There was, so I used one of the newer balls, but it took less than 50g so I now have two balls of different shaded yarn in my collection.  Ah I'm clever, aren't I?  Learn to trust the pattern, Elise!

I also foolishly forgot to measure the blanket before I handed it over but it was about twice the size of my usual makes.  Maybe about one metre square?  Except it was more rectangular in shape.  Ergh, I'll just give up now.  There was a good 600g of yarn in it anyway...  My friend gave me an Amazon voucher for my birthday and I finally got around to ordering a digital scale, so there'll be no more guess work with leftover yarn weights!

the new moon with the old dodie smith book paperback paddington bear bookmark

Now for what I'm reading, since it's Wednesday and that means Yarn Along day!  My current book is The New Moon with the Old by Dodie Smith, recommended by Alex many, um, moons ago.  It's frightfully full of good manners and utterly inplausible situations and I love it to pieces already.  I'm also back to my old faithful Paddington bookmark since the puffin is a bit big for this wee paperback.  It'll be back soon, no doubt.

What's everyone else knitting and reading?

Linking up to Ginny's Yarn Along.


Tuesday, 25 August 2015

A walk along the Clyde

river clyde glasgow

I've now lived in Glasgow for over a year.  It doesn't seem that long somehow - I don't get lost so much any more (I call it 'adventuring' anyway) but I think I know a handful of place names near me and a few in the city, then after that I need landmarks as place markers when I'm giving directions.  Obviously I worked out pretty quickly where the best charity shops were, but ask me about the best bars on my street and I'll refer you to my out-of-town friend who knows where to get the best and worst of everything food and drink related in the city.  I did manage to boost my knowledge slightly over the weekend though, with a walk along the Clyde.

My friend A lives a few streets away from me and we'd been discussing whether we could walk from her place into town along the river-side path.  After a bit of zig-zagging to get ourselves down there, we started our walk at the Meadowside Quay flats and wandered all the way up to St Enoch Centre near Central Station.  Thinking of walking that way too?  Here's what to look out for...

riverside museum glasgow

Riverside Museum & Tall Ship
From Kelvinhall to the Riverside, the transport museum is one of my favourite places to visit in Glasgow.  Not only is it entirely free, it has such a fantastic collection of historical pieces on diplay, from old cinema memorabilia to 1930s dresses to toys from the 70s.  Oh, and not forgetting the original transport theme - my favourite vehicle is an ambulance identical to one my gran used to drive, but the wall of cars is pretty special too.

sign clyde river walk glasgow

glasgow science centre tower river

Science Centre, TV studios and Glasgow Tower
Across the river is another place of learning - Glasgow Science Centre.  The only thing of interest to me there is the IMAX cinema (I'm not a huge fan of interactive type museums) but the building is a pretty gorgeous window-fronted affair.  Next door is the BBC studios and further along are the STV ones.  Then there's the tower.  I sort of want to go up to the observation deck but with the patchy opening hours and history of problems, I also would rather just gaze on it from afar...

covered bridge glasgow bbc

sse hydro concert glasgow

SECC, Clyde Auditorium and SSE Hydro
Back on the north path of the river, we came to Glasgow's biggest music and conference venues.  I've seen many a concert and been to many a random fair in those halls, although I still haven't made it to the Hydro yet.  I nearly pulled the trigger on Florence and the Machine tickets the other day but I'm still not sure.  Part of me thinks it might just be too big a venue to be an enjoyable experience.

clyde river walk crane tower glasgow

finniston crane glasgow clyde river

Finniston Crane
This is where our knowledge got a bit patchy.  We knew the crane was for loading ships at one time or another, but that's about it.  Further investigation revealed it was also used to for fitting ships engines, and it's the largest of the four cranes still left along the river.  Apparently it still works, which would definitely be worth seeing.

squinty bridge clyde arc glasgow river

kingston bridge glasgow river

There's the squinty bridge, the Kingston bridge, the pretty footpath bridge, the semi-covered bridge, the railway bridge...  Yup, I only know one of the actual bridge names.  Although for all I know, the squinty bridge is actually called that.  (Just checked.  It's not.  It's called the Clyde Arc.  Oooh but locals call it the Squinty Bridge!  Check me out, all Glaswegian.)

the ferry bar glasgow clyde river

The Ferry
It's mostly bridges, apartments and offices between the Hydro and town, but this cafe drew our attention.  Mostly because we couldn't work out if it was still in business or not.  I could have sworn I saw someone inside but we passed after noon when any regular cafe would have been open, so...  Another Google search revealed that it's open during the week, 9-5.  Useful.  Although it also seems to be a function venue and has a mad retro website, so it could be worth a look some time to see what lies inside...

clyde bridges glasgow

ladies waiting room building glasgow river

lady statue glasgow river

Ladies waiting room and statue
After walking under a couple of bridges we emerged to find this awesome sign and this statue.  We learned on the Central Station tour that there are only seven statues of women in Glasgow and we just accidentally found one of them - a tribute to the men and women who fought against fascism in the Spanish Civil War.

We left the river at that point and walked up to St Enoch Centre to have lunch, then along to Once Upon a Tart for cake (always cake) and M&S to check out the sales.  Our walk took about two hours from start to finish, but it could have been a bit quicker if we hadn't been pootling along, taking our pictures and exercising our mouths as well as our feet.  Personally, I like our way of walking best.

Has anyone done this walk?  We need to go further along next time and investigate Glasgow Green and the surrounding area.  Or better yet, the south side.  I'm still not good at anywhere south of the river and I think the charity shop possibilities might be good down there...


Friday, 21 August 2015

Friday Threes - Moments, Movies and Blogs

aberdeen park theatre flowers

1 - Visiting Sarah and Matilda - Obviously the highlight of my week was going to Aberdeen to meet Matilda!  She's every bit as adorable as she looks and we had a great chat about how striped clothes are the best, although we did disagree over whether toes or cake were the tastiest.  Sarah and I discussed more adult topics like the business of blogging and which place served the best cake.  Did I mention there was cake?  I also got lots of train knitting done and no-one even sat next to me on either journey despite all the reserved seats.  I think a return visit will be booked soon!

2 - Making plans for Doors Open Day - Glasgow has a whole week of Doors Open events coming up in September so my friend and I are already working out where to go and what to see.  We're aiming for the Saturday at the moment, although I may do a walk or two during the week.  Is anyone else going?

3 - Finding a weird bite on my leg - I think a bug attacked me on Monday.  There's a red lumpy area at my ankle that alternates between throbbing, itching and just...being there.  Fingers crossed I don't need to call on Dr Google, cause that never ends well.  (Recently I read about tonsil stones and looked them up on Google images.  DO NOT DO THAT.)

baby boom man on wire welcome to me movies

1 - Baby Boom - I hadn't seen this film in years before last week.  Diane Keaton is a high-powered business-woman, striving to get to the top of her game.  Then she inherits a baby in a frankly completely implausible turn of events, forcing her to find another career path thanks to blatant sexism and falling for a country vet.  So basically, your typical 80s romp.

2 - Man on Wire - Tam found this excellent documentary about French tightrope walker Philippe Petit, who had a dream to walk between the Twin Towers on a wire from the time he found out they were being built.  Philippe and his team told the story of his journey and it got rather tense at times - he's too good for you to ever believe he'd fall, but when they explain how they got up there in the first place...that's pretty scary stuff!  It's obviously a huge spoiler alert for the upcoming movie version (The Walk) though.

3 - Welcome to Me - I've been unintentionally binge watching Kristen Wiig movies lately - they just keep appearing on Netflix.  Welcome to Me is about a woman with multiple personality disorder who becomes a millionaire and pays to star in her own TV show.  I'm now starting to think that Kristen Wiig just plays basically the same character in everything but, meh, she's still awesome.

1 - 'Five tips to get swimming' on Polkadot Pink - Handy and practical advice from Donna, and it makes me miss getting in the water.

2 - 'Our summer travels: Montreal' on Words That Can Only Be Your Own - Janet went to Canada and it was beautiful and now I can't wait to go explore somewhere new.

3 - 'Cover love: Middle grade books' on Wool and Wheel - Beautiful children's book covers found by Kristin, which sort of reminded me of Janet.

What's everyone's plans this weekend?  I'm going a huge walk around Glasgow on Saturday (weather permitting, which it doesn't seem like it will be...) then on Sunday I'm gonna get stuff done!  Or, ya know, stay in my pjs and knit and mainline Netflix.  I'd be ok with either outcome.


Thursday, 20 August 2015

A trip to the Falls of Clyde

dog standing wall woods new lanark falls of clyde rough collie

wooden horse playground new lanark falls of clyde

fence woods new lanark falls of clyde

wooden seats benches forest new lanark falls of clyde

wood art leaf bench new lanark falls of clyde

new lanark falls of clyde waterfall rocks

On Saturday we went down to New Lanark with the intention of having a wander around the mill and generally just playing at tourists for the day.  Unfortunately, someone *cough* didn't realise it was only the Glasgow schools that went back last week, so the place was packed.  I guess the weather helped a bit too!  It was such a beautiful day, finally a weekend of sunshine and warmth.  We were so excited to be out in it that we decided to just ditch the museum visit and have a wander to see the Falls of Clyde instead.  The last time we went was on a rainy day in autumn which made for a nice contrast when I was looking back at pictures the other night.  

See that waterfall up there? ^^^ Can you spot the guy standing in the middle of it?  I was sort of horrified and jealous when I saw him!

boardwalk new lanark falls of clyde

pipes new lanark falls of clyde

new lanark falls of clyde mill

rough collie dog family portrait new lanark falls of clyde

We tried to get a picture at the falls with Jakey but as you can see, he was having none of it.  Although he managed to sit nicely until the second before the timer went off obviously.  That dog is crazy restless!  I'm sure we'll find another chance to wrangle him into shape...

Has anyone visited?  We're already planning to go back at some point - maybe third time lucky for finally getting into the mill?


Wednesday, 19 August 2015

How IKEA saved my sanity

ikea algot six drawer frame system yarn stash

There's a chance I'm being a tad dramatic with that post title.  It sounds good though, right?  I also considered using 'how I store my mighty tower of wool',
'how I spent close to forty quid on a basic looking storage system' or
'how I grew my yarn stash to fit an Algot'.
All good, but using the phrase 'saved my sanity' seemed like more of a grab.  It's totally true though.  A few months ago, my yarn stash outgrew my plastic storage drawers.  Actually, let me revise that.  Over a year ago, my yarn stash outgrew my storage drawers and a few months ago, I decided to do something about it.  (Side note - look at the teeny tiny amount of yarn I had a couple of years ago.  That escalated quickly.)

My mum had a trip to IKEA planned so I tagged along in the hopes of finding something suitable to fit both space of room and volume of wool.  A wander through the store didn't turn up as many options as I expected.  I had finally settled on one of these giant wicker baskets to house the overspill when we reached the warehouse and came across the Algot range.  Seriously, why do they keep all the best stuff to display at the end?  I seem to find more of what I'm looking for in the last few steps of a trip to IKEA than in the rest of the visit.  I really ought to just start there in future.

So Algot was the winner.  After a quick pick up of the frame and drawers, I drove merrily home to get building.  About a day later I realised that the range was much bigger than I originally thought, so off I went again to buy a top shelf and some wheels.  Let me tell you - if I didn't love it before, I sure did after the extra bits went on.  I should point out that the instructions state the wheels should only be used in the four drawer frame and not the six drawer one, but I figured since I wasn't putting anything heavy in there that it was worth skirting around that rule.

Then came the fun bit - filling the drawers!  Here's how I have it arranged...

4ply wool yarn stash fluffy algot

1 - 4ply and 'novelty' yarn - I don't really work much with finer wools so I was surprised to almost fill the top basket with these.  There was a bit of space left to squeeze in the few random balls of fluffy wools I have too.

double knitting DK yarn wool stash algot ikea

2 + 3 - Double Knitting - My creative bread and butter, if you like.  Colourful DK is usually my first choice for anything I make, unless the pattern calls for something radically different.  I went a bit overboard on the organising here so the upper basket has the lighter shades like whites, yellows and pinks, and the lower one is filled with greens, purples and blues.  So many blues.  I like to keep it stocked with a good variety of colours - Stylecraft Special and New Fashion Woolcraft are my weapons of choice, with the odd ball of Robin thrown in.

multi coloured yarn wool stash algot

4 + 5 - Bulk lots - Here we have more DK, this time of the fun, multi-coloured variety, and a bunch of yarns that I have in larger quantities, ie enough for making a sweater or bigger items.  It's mostly DK but there's about ten balls of super chunky that I got to make a scarf last year and didn't get around to.  Fingers crossed it happens this year, if only to clear out some space!

aran wool yarn stash algot

6 - Aran - This yarn comes a close second on my list of the best weight to work with.  Bergere De France Recyclaine is a firm favourite and I have a few colours in the stash that I got on sale recently.  There's also leftovers from Tam's sweater and a few odd balls, and of course some Scottish brands - I have some gorgeous North Ronaldsay wool to make another hat (one can never have too many woolly hats) and some New Lanark that I found on sale in Helensburgh.

wool yarn stash basket

I've not even mentioned the chunky wool...  It lives on the top shelf in a lined basket I picked up on sale in TK Maxx before Christmas.  There's not a lot of it since I really just like it for making hats when I have a few hours to spare.  Also, I've not found an especially lovely brand of chunky yet. Any suggestions?

I feel so much better now that my stash has went from scattered all over the room to being housed all in one place.  It makes me smile to look at everything all neat and plan what I'm going to make next.  The only downside I've noticed is that the baskets aren't quite deep enough for two layers of 100g balls, so a fair bit of squishing goes on in some of them. 

I'd love to know how everyone else stores their craft materials.  Drawers?  Baskets?  Boxes?  Shoved under the sofa? 


Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Dinner at Frankie and Benny's, Glasgow Fort

menu frankie and bennys fort glasgow

Who's been to Glasgow Fort recently?  Before last week, it was easily six whole years since my last visit, which I see now is insane.  There's so much out there!  With M&S, Fat Face and Wagamama newly opened and Hobbycraft already there to tempt me, it's like someone took all my favourite places, gave them fantastically long opening hours (9am-10pm on weekdays, people!) and stuck them within easy driving distance, just waiting for me to discover them.  

What was the reason for my triumphant return to out of town shopping, you ask?  I was asked to review Frankie and Benny's new Red Sauce Revolution menu and since I never miss an opportunity to avoid cooking dinner, I was in.  I took my friend A along, who has been kicking ass on Slimming World this year and was worried she wouldn't find anything suitable to eat.  Luckily the menu is so extensive that she not only found something but had a hard time working out what to choose.

fruit frozen cocktails frankie and bennys fort glasgow

First though, we had to tackle the serious task of choosing which mocktail to drink first.  (Guess who drove us there after work?  I regretted that after seeing the rest of the drinks menu, that's for sure...)  It was Frankie's Fruit Punch for A and Gentle Breeze for me, both sweet and refreshing concoctions.  A followed her punch up with a frozen Pina Colada that also got the seal of approval, especially since it helped us pretend we were abroad somewhere instead of Scotland...  Still, we timed it perfectly to try out the outside seating - it might have been the warmest night we've had all summer!

rosemary bread oil balsamic dip frankie and bennys fort glasgow

ceasar salad starter frankie and bennys fort glasgow

On to the starters.  I chose rosemary bread with oil and balsamic to dunk - I just can't pass up anything with rosemary at the moment.  The bread was thick and perfectly seasoned, but I ran out of dip before I was done - luckily there was a bottle of hot sauce in the condiments caddy so I made it work.  A had the Ceaser salad and, after some initial confusion over the lack of chicken, declared it bread salad and worked her way through the generous helping of lettuce and croutons. (Eh, it wasn't meant to have chicken, we were being daft and not reading the menu thoroughly enough.  D'oh.)

chicken pesto pasta frankie and bennys fort glasgow

spaghetti bolognese pasta frankie and bennys fort glasgow

If the starters felt a little lacking, the mains more than made up for it.  We both lingered over the pasta menu, finally picking out chicken pesto pasta for me and a classic spaghetti bolognese for A.  I also went for some sides of fries and coleslaw.  After years of hating coleslaw, I now can't get enough of the stuff.  Go figure.  We realised our mistake as soon as the pasta appeared though.  Huge bowls piled with food, not to mention the giant handfuls on the side dishes.  A only managed half of her spaghetti, but I hoovered up all but a few bits of chicken from my plate, and most of the fries (eh, and coleslaw...).  Speaking of fries, they were perfectly crispy and the pasta had just the right amount of pesto.  I'm horribly fussy about both these things so it's nice to feel like they were catering for just my tastes!

mint waffle ice cream dessert frankie and bennys fort glasgow

Neither of us needed dessert, but I had to take the plunge when I saw the mint waffle on the menu.  It's actually a regular cinammon waffle with two scoops of mint choc chip ice cream and a topping of chocolate sauce and honeycomb pieces.  YUM.  A helped me out by requesting two spoons.  I knew I took her for a reason...  Somehow we destroyed that gooey, crispy plate of awesomeness, and were left too stuffed to even check out the shops.  We're definitely planning a return trip now.

Check out all the info for Frankie and Benny's at Glasgow Fort and book a table here.

*I received a voucher to treat myself and a friend to dinner in exchange for an honest review*

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