Thursday, 31 December 2015

An imaginary trip to the seaside

blackpool beach tower prom summer
I'm ready for my summer holidays now.  Last year we were cheated out of any agreeable weather, so Tam and I went all the way to Brighton in order to get some heat in our bones.  This year I'm planning ahead.  I'm not expecting any miracles where the temperatures are concerned, but I'm definitely putting together a list of possible locations early.  My main priority?  Somewhere by the sea.  Whether it's a cheesy tourist resort or a tiny beach town, I'm willing to consider them all.  Here's what I've narrowed it down to so far...

Scotland
Stonehaven - Home to an outdoor pool (heated of course) and within walking distance of the stunning Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven jumped straight to the top of my list when Tam mentioned it the other day.  The pool is only open in summer but that sounds like the perfect time for a midnight swim.

Machrihanish - I'm still holding out hope that I'll get to try surfing at some point in my life, and Machrihanish on the Mull of Kintyre looks like the perfect place to do just that.  Tam would like camping out and I'd like visiting one of the oldest cinemas in Scotland at nearby Campbeltown.

Wales
Llandudno - Ok, Wales didn't go so well for me in the past, but maybe I just need to see a different side of it.  Here there's a pier complete with a penny arcade full of vintage slot games, a beautiful beach and cable cars, something I've wanted to try out since childhood.

Barry Island - So it turns out Barry Island is not an island.  The things you discover when researching holidays...  It might be a fair way to go just for some cheese-tastic fun but I'd love to see the funfair and spot locations from Gavin and Stacey.

blackpool north pier sunset summer
England
St Ives - I've been saying I want to go to Cornwall for such a long time and it's a bit ridiculous I still haven't made it.  This year we narrowed it down to London or Cornwall for our September break, but ultimately chose London because we weren't fussed on flying.  My mum would love it here - the culture, sunshine and shopping are exactly what she looks for when we go away and I think St Ives would give us all these.

Blackpool - Sure, I've been a few times before, but I love how unapologetically tacky Blackpool is.  For some reason we missed a trip around the Illuminations on our last visit so I'd like to squeeze that in, along with gambling all my 2p's away and riding the rollercoasters.

Margate - Another place we had on our list this year that got bumped for an alternative.  For some reason, whenever I hear 'Margate' I think of ice cream and holiday camps and walking on the promenade.  I'm also wearing a vintage sundress in this vision so chances are I'm completely making it all up.

Has anyone booked their holidays yet?  Any favourite seaside places in the UK?

*post written in collaboration with Travelodge*

:)  

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Everything I made everyone for Christmas

Christmas is over.  Boo.  The holidays are still lingering though - I don't go back to work until Tuesday because Scotland is hanging on to its bank holiday. Gotta love a country that starts the year with time off work.  After giving my laptop a well-earned rest for a few days, I'm back at the blogging, and I figured I'd end the year with some fun posts.  So, what's more fun than talking about a whole bunch of crafting for others?  Here's a big long list of all the bits and pieces I made in the run up to Christmas (eh, except for this hat and this one, since I already talked about them.)

baby christmas gifts dinosaur dress sewing knitted sheep hat gingersnap cardigan converse
Matilda's Wardrobe
I can't resist making things for small people, and my favourite of all the small people is Matilda Rooftops.  Since Sarah and I both have fabulous taste in everything, I knew she'd appreciate some handmade and thrifty goodies, plus I was taking advantage of Matilda being young enough not to care that she got clothes as gifts.  That's certainly not something I was impressed with as a kid anyway.

The dinosaur dress came about by accident - I'd bought a jersey dress for M a few months ago then found a dinosaur t-shirt in the charity shop.  Some uncharacteristic quick thinking took place and I figured the t-shirt could easily become a tiny dress by using the original one as a template.  It worked!  I didn't even need to fuss with hems - the neckline on the top and the dress were the same size and the bottom half of the top became the skirt of the dress.  I couldn't get over the cuteness of the whole thing when I was done and sent pictures to pretty much everyone, except Sarah, of course.  I've held onto the original dress in the hopes that I can repeat the success with more fun finds.

gingersnap baby cardigan knitted colour block christmas gift
I fell for the Gingersnap cardigan as soon as I saw it.  I do love a bit of colour blocking on children's clothes and I had the perfect mix of colours in my favourite Bergere de France Recycline yarn.  The pattern was another simple make, although this time I had to knit everything in sections and sew it all together at the end.  My usual method is to knit the whole body in one go but there was no indication as to which row I'd have to split the body for the armholes, but I took notes as I went and if I make another one I know what I'm doing now.

toddler baby sheep knitted hat mittens purple dinosaur toy nici christmas gifts
We already know how gosh darn cute Miss Matilda looks in a hat, and what makes a hat even better?  Sheep of course!  I used one of the designs from the Baable hat and a simple bobble hat pattern from Purl Soho and off I went.  The crown decreases were especially pretty and obviously I added a pompom.

The gloves were made using the Toddler Mittens on a String pattern, except I ditched the double pointers and just knit them flat then added the thumbs.  I do not like double pointers.  I do like i-cords, however, so they were dug out for that part.  I used washable Aran yarn for both accessories - originally I'd planned to do them in the same yarn as the cardigan but I didn't have enough left of any one colour to make this set, so I used some of Aldi's finest.  It was lovely to work with despite the low cost and I'm not snobbish about yarn anyway.

The dino toy was purchased to go with the dress, so he had to have a matching scarf made.  All it took was cutting a strip of remaining t-shirt fabric, winding it round his neck a couple of times and sewing it in place.  The jeans were bought in Sainsburys (Tesco?  I've forgotten already.) and the Converse I found secondhand but looking brand new.  I love that everything together creates a variety of looks, and I might be planning to repeat this gift idea in the future...

blogger secret santa hand knitted crocheted gifts christmas candles sweets
Blogger Secret Santa
Jenny at The Geeky Knitter organised a great swap this year.  I really wanted to join in with Janet's again but knew I'd only have time for one, so this was the winner.  My giftee was Philippa and she specified that she liked dinosaurs and Wonder Woman so off I went to look for some fun crafts to make up.  I also added a few other bits and pieces - Scottish delicacies including shortbread and whisky fudge, some bath stuff and festive candles.

crochet dinosaur santa christmas decoration washcloth knitted gift secret santa
Among my creations was a Christmas dinosaur for hanging on the tree.  I used this crochet pattern for the body and improvised the Santa hat.  It looked a bit more beanie-like than I was going for but I guess the colours make it obvious what it is!  Tam thought I was making a Nessie so we could call this part of the Scottish theme too...

I also made my first washcloth, with a dinosaur design of course.  I love how quick and simple it was to knit up and I got to use some random DK cotton yarn I had in my stash.  Plus, the pattern name is awesome - T-riffic Washcloth, haha!

wonder woman fingerless knitted gloves christmas gifts secret santa blogger
The Wonder Woman fingerless gloves were exactly what I was looking for and I like that they're practical without being too obviously branded.  They're made with DK yarn and knit up flat before the thumb sections are made in the round.  I have a tendency to cast off quite tightly and I had to do the thumb part twice because they were cutting off circulation the first time around, but the second attempt went more smoothly and they fit much better after that.  Hopefully they'll get a bit of use when the freezing weather goes away.

christmas gifts knitted rib socks crochet monster vampire nosferatu stamped watercolour print
Crafts for a crafter
Tam might do different crafts from me, but he's still good at knowing when something is...well, a bit shit, so I feel the need to up my game slightly when I'm making for him.  The print was something I wasn't feeling too confident about.  Anything involving paints and mistakes that can't be corrected has a definite capacity for going wrong when I'm around.  I used (Tam's) watercolours and, after the paint dried, dug out my letter stamps and printed on the names of everywhere we went this year.  I knew I'd forget a few though and sure enough, Tam thought of at least three locations missing from it, but at least I got through it without making any spelling mistakes!  I'd recommend starting with the longest place names and working your way down to the shortest, thus ensuring you have space for them all.

crochet monster vampire nosferatu knitted socks basic rib mens christmas gift
Time for another crochet monster to add to Tam's collection.  I think this one is Nosferatu, so he sits quite nicely alongside the Grim Reaper and Cthulhu.  The pattern, like the others, is from the Creepy Cute Crochet book and I just discovered that the author has published some extra patterns on her blog that didn't make it into the book, so it's gonna take even longer to complete the collection now!  Maybe I should set myself a goal of making one a month this year...

Tam's one request when I asked about Christmas presents was a pair of knitted socks.  I had no excuses not to make them since I got a whole set of sock needles for my birthday, so I went to work.  I'm fairly certain they took almost as long to make as the sweater did, or at least it felt like it.  Double pointed needles feel so stop-start to me, which is definitely not my preferred way of working, but I did quite like the rhythm in the end, and they weren't in the slightest bit complicated to make.  I used the Basic Ribbed Sock pattern and the instructions were super clear.  Since it was my first pair, I went for some cheap yarn from Tiger, of all places, although I have a couple of skeins in my stash in more girly colours that I want to get around to using soon.

scented potpourri christmas fabric bags pouches sachets check floral gifts
Crafts for creatives
So, more gifts for creative people.  I kept things simple when I was making these bits and pieces, since I wanted to make something practical but pretty, something that a fellow crafter would be happy to use.  I had some fabric squares and ribbon offcuts in my sewing bag, along with a packet of festive potpourri that I picked up in a charity shop in the summer, so these wee scented sachets were a quick make.  I sewed the squares corner to corner (like folding one of those paper games in school) and left part of one side unsewn so I could turn the fabric right side out and fill them, before hand sewing them closed.  The floral one was my practice go, so I also got one for myself!

zipped pouch bag handmade christmas gift bird fabric
My mum got a bonus gift in the form of a lined zipped pouch to keep all her knitting accessories in.  I've make these before years ago but I followed this tutorial to make sure I kept the fabric facing the right way at all times - it's far too easy to go wrong when it comes to putting one of these together.

handmade tote drawstring bags crochet mandalas decoration christmas gifts
My mum, Tam's mum and his auntie all got the same main gift, with slight colour differences on each.  I used my tote-bag-to-drawstring-bag method to make the craft bags and bias binding for the handles then decorated them with crocheted mandalas.  4 ply yarn made them a bit more delicate looking, although sewing them all onto the bags took aaaages.  I'm not so patient when it comes to hand sewing so this was like torture for me, but the effect was worth it.  

handmade crochet mandalas tote drawstring bag christmas gifts
See?  Pretty and practical.  I got the heart print bias binding from Remnant Kings - it was the first time I'd been there in years and they had so much good stuff I had to really restrain myself from planning all the craft projects.

garter stitch knitted grey scarf pompoms faux fur
Teenage Approved
My cousin is almost fifteen and likes pretty much the opposite of everything I do, style-wise.  (Our opinions on various You-Tubers are definitely corresponding though.)  Still, I couldn't resist making her something and figured a simple scarf would be safe enough.  This one took 300g of chunky yarn, a whole bunch of garter stitch and an old furry cowl, cut up and refashioned into giant pompoms.  I think it worked out ok, especially when I saw an identical one in the window of Next a few weeks ago.  Hey, I'm trendy after all!  It's debatable whether she'd think Next was the definition of what's in style right now, but she did a good job of looking pleased with it all the same.


I'm glad I managed to make some time for handmade gifts this year.  I've been trying to buy locally and/or secondhand more recently but when it comes to gifts, it's hard to say 'I'm not getting you something you asked for because I don't want to give that retailer money.'  I try to stick to making useful things that suit the recipient's style, but it can be difficult to predict how much that person will like this thing, so really I just went with what I thought would work and hoped for the best.  The only thing that needs work with my method is carving out more time to make even better gifts next year...

Who else made handmade pressies this year?  Or get any good ones?

:)

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Photo an Hour - December

craft bags boats santa christmas basket
09:14 - I didn't have a very specific plan for Saturday, just a lot of things I needed to tick off my must-do-before-Christmas list.  I had finished my last lot of gift knitting late the previous night so it was a slow start to the day.  Above is some of my crafting stuff - the Santa bag holds all my pompom makers.

crochet bunting christmas tree snowflakes stars garland
10:13 - Another seasonally appropriate picture.  I got my parcel from Jenny's Secret Santa gift swap last week - Philippa and I were swapping with each other and she sent me some awesome festive bunting and some crocheted snowflakes, among other goodies.  My friend was particularly taken with the Game of Thrones themed recipe book!

christmas presents wrapping fair isle knitting theme paper handmade stamped luggage labels
11:50 - I got a burst of energy and took some pictures of my handmade gifts before I did all the wrapping.  Look out for a bumper post after Christmas!  I found some knitting type wrapping paper in Home Bargains and finally got to use the labels I made way back in March.

tartan check plaid pyjamas target
12:49 - Still in my pj's.  I've now forgotten what I was doing, but it must have been productive... surely...  Let's say I was hoovering, that sounds likely.

outfit monsoon dress charity shop mens cardigan
14:12 - Hey, I managed to get dressed!  I'd packed a bag or two for going to Tam's and was ready to go.  Wearing charity shopped cardigan, Monsoon dress and Office boots.

rough collie dog christmas happy
16:36 - Made it to Tam's house!  This cute wee face doesn't stay still long enough to get a good picture, but I love this one anyway.  I got Jake a bag of biscuits from Harry's Treats for Christmas and he went mental when I brought them out.  And then again every time I went near the bag.  I might have to take him some more often!

rough collie dog christmas
17:25 - I know I moved off the couch at some point...  It might not seem like it from these pictures though.  Watching TV with Tam and Jake.  We did some pressie opening in between - I got many goodies, including a vintage milk bottle, a book about Shetland and this jumper from Long Tall Sally.

knitted rib socks christmas
19:05 - Apparently I was too busy eating chips to take a picture at six.  Gotta love a chippy on a Saturday night!  And here's Tam's Elise-made socks!  No surprise, I wasn't really a fan of sock making to begin with, but I got into it towards the end.  Not sewing up seams has got to be the main advantage to this kind of project.

blanket patchwork squares charity christmas knitting
20:23 - Knitting blanket squares.  I got a bunch of pink ones done on Saturday night, some orange ones on Sunday and the rest on Monday.  Now it's taking me the same time again to sew them together.  Sigh.

watching tv christmas minion mug
21:09 - Tea time!  We started watching Life of Pi then recorded the second half and went to bed.  Happily, it was as good as I remembered it from the first watch.

christmas presents food fudge scottish african dark chocolate
22:32 - One of my pressies for Tam - some Scottish fudge and African dark chocolate.  Oddly enough, they're sitting on top of last years Christmas present.

Keep up with Jane and Louisa to find out the date for next year's first Photo an Hour day!

:)

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Yarn Along

knitting patchwork baby blanket charity reading mandy lone star library book
Knitting - Patchwork baby blanket
My Christmas knitting is done!  I'll be doing a post about all that next week but for now, I can breathe a sigh of relief that just about everything got completed in time.  Last year I was slightly burnt out after so much crafting but this year I'm still desperate to knit and create every free minute, although there's been fewer of those than I would have liked this week.  Next week I'm committing to nothing but watching movies from the couch!

Anyway, right now I'm working on a blanket to be sent out to the neonatal unit at St George's Hospital, where it'll help keep a tiny baby warm over winter.  Sunrise Senior Living have partnered with preemie charity First Touch this winter to campaign for crafters to donate some knitted hats and blankets, and they sent me this gorgeous cosy yarn to make my blanket (Stylecraft Chunky in Spice and Pomegranate).  I'm also going to make a couple of wee hats to go along with it - the patterns for both are available on the Sunrise blog if anyone wants to find out more about this fantastic project.  The squares knit up super quickly and the blanket only takes around 300g of yarn, so it's a nice budget-friendly way to help.

Reading - Mandy by Julie Edwards, Lone Star by Paullina Simons
Mandy is my Christmas book, although the story is actually told over the course of a year, with the four parts being set seasonally and ending up at Christmas.  Mandy lives in an orphanage and longs for a family of her own.  One day she sneaks into the woods to explore and finds an abandoned cottage, which she spends time fixing up and making into a place of her own.  It's more interesting than I've made it sound, I swear!  Plus it has that delightful feel-good vibe of a classic children's book, perfect for festive reading.

I've read almost all of Paullina Simons books and, although The Bronze Horseman remains one of my all-time favourite reads, she's a bit hit-and-miss as far as I'm concerned.  I'm only a few chapters into Lone Star but Goodreads has assured me it gets a bit less Nicholas Sparks at some point.  It's long enough that I'll give up soon if it doesn't improve anyway.

Linking up to Ginny's Yarn Along.

:)

Thursday, 17 December 2015

#oneforyouoneforme gift guide

long tall sally christmas gift guide wish list winter 2015 pyjamas sweater boots blanket scarf bobble hat
That's the way to survive Christmas shopping, isn't it?  'Right, I'll buy cousin Marigold some lovely new slippers...and I might as well get myself some new pjs while I'm here.'  Here being Long Tall Sally of course, since I ain't fitting into pyjamas from any other store.  (Btw, I don't have a cousin Marigold, but I bet she'd be tons of fun if she actually existed.  She'd be as tall as me and twice as snarky, if such a thing is possible.)  That's right, it's time for the only wish list that matters this holiday season!

When Long Tall Sally asked me to come up with a gift guide showing what I'd buy all the best ladies in my life, I landed on a 'cosy' theme pretty quickly.  One look at my outfit posts and anyone could tell that's the word I build my wardrobe around.  Luckily, just about everyone I know is also this sensible, so they'd be super simple to shop for.

I'd stick with tradition and get my mum some fluffy check slippers, and for Tam's mum it would have to be a faux fur hooded gilet - perfect for dog walking on cold mornings.

My friend Aileen is into leather ankle boots and blanket scarves and I think she'd love these two.  I'd have to 'borrow' that scarf when she's not looking though...

My sister-in-law is the short one in the family, but I bet she wouldn't mind this chunky cable sweater being...well, a bit chunky.  Giant sweaters for the win!  It'd go perfectly with the faux fur trim gloves on a frosty day (of which we've had one, but no doubt more are just around the corner.  Sob.)

Lastly is my cousin, a typical trend-conscious teenager.  Surely she'd be happy with a fairisle style sweater or a bobble hat and matching chunky scarf with pompoms?  Coincidentally, I've just made her a near identical scarf in grey, so maybe I'm actually the trendy one?  (Haha!  I'm not.)

Oh look, there's two things left in my virtual basket!  The Secret Garden super soft robe and pyjama pants.  There's no one left to shop for, so I guess I better just pick these up for myself.  It's debatable whether I'd need another robe and pjs set but you can never have enough of those, right?

What's everyone wishing for this Christmas?  Is your shopping method as clever as mine?

*post written in collaboration with Long Tall Sally*

:)

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

FO - Crochet minion

crochet minion handmade
The minion is done!  I reluctantly handed him over on Monday, but not before taking pictures of course.  I have a tendancy to forget how long it takes to crochet something that has so many different parts to it - I thought he would be finished over a week ago, then Thursday, then Friday...  I finally got everything stitched into place on Saturday, then launched straight into my next (much smaller) crochet project.

So, the details.

crochet minion parts feet arms dungarees
The minion pattern was a fantastic one I found on Ravelry (where else?) - it was very detailed which I appreciated!

I used double knitting yarn doubled up and a 6mm hook to make him big enough - I think the final height was about 9.5 inches.  The pattern says it'll end up at 11 inches tall using a single strand and smaller hook, but my projects always ends up much smaller than they're meant to since I crochet so tightly.  It become clear, after a couple of false starts, that this one was turning out typically Elise sized so it was time to do things my way i.e. double up the yarn and pray.

The body and the dungarees are made separately then stitched together, as are the eyes.  I improvised the straps since I thought they would look too wide if I kept them as the original.  I did the same with the head strap and they both turned out fine.

I didn't really like the hair on the pattern minion, but I'm not sure I like the hair I did on mine either.  He looks a bit bald from certain angles!  I think Bob had less hair than the others in the movies so we'll say he's a Bob.

What do you think?  I was a bit sorry to part with him, especially since I'm not sure I'd put in the effort to make myself one!  It was fun to do something a bit different for a change though.

crochet minion dungarees dress pinafore denim vintage
See why I was saying yesterday that my dress was a clue?  We match!  In that Tam calls this dress my dungarees, and 'Bob' is wearing dungarees, so...

Oh, and since it's Wednesday and Yarn Along day, I may as well tell you that I gave up on last weeks book and moved on to something more interesting - I'm now reading The Movie Doctors by Simon Mayo and Mark Kermode, the almighty film critics.  It's due back at the library in a couple of days but I think it'll be getting renewed and carried around with me over the Christmas holidays - it's too heavy to actually carry around in my bag but I'm sure it can manage a trip in the car when I go home to Mother's next week.

:)

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Denim, stripes and crazy knits

charity shop outfit vintage cardigan denim pinafore dress layers ankle boots office
charity shop outfit vintage cardigan denim pinafore dress layers ankle boots office
office indiana boots shoes tan ankle leather western cowboy style
It's a shame I never seem to find much in the way of awesome shoes in the charity shops, otherwise I could say this outfit was totally made up of secondhand bargains.  Well, not the tights and socks obviously.  That'd be kinda gross.  They count firmly as underwear in my brain though, which doesn't really count as part of an outfit.  Even though it's a necessary starting point each time you get dressed...  Let's move on.

I realised I hadn't had this cardigan on for ages when I pulled it out the wardrobe.  It's one of those things that I'm conscious doesn't really work with many of my clothes because of the amazing/crazy design.  This denim pinafore is one of very few plain dresses I own, so they were clearly meant to be together.  I'm still wearing the disappointing boots - I sort of stopped caring that they look a bit scruffy and instead I'm viewing them as on their way to being perfectly fitted to my feet.

This was Sunday's outfit, the only day I was around at midday.  Okay, 2pm.  I was in bed at midday.  Awake and crocheting, but definitely not prepared for the day.  Tam and I decided to go a wee walk and get some lunch and cake (we're ridiculously predictable) so I took the chance to snap some quick outfit pictures and also photograph my latest finished craft project.  It'll be on the blog tomorrow but in the meantime, my dress can serve as a bit of a clue as to what it is...

cardigan - charity shop
tshirt - Tu via charity shop
dress - charity shop
socks - Target

:)

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Dinner at Beefeater, Newton Mearns

festive menu beefeater newton mearns christmas glasgow
Unlimited chips.  Has there ever been a sweeter sentence spoken that contains those words?  As someone who could eat a bowl of chips every day for the rest of her life (okay, more than a bowl, let's be honest), I think not.  Turns out, the people that make the menus at Beefeater agree with me - they offer bottomless refills not only on their soft drinks but also on their chips.  That might just be the cleverest marketing idea I've ever heard.

I'm getting ahead of myself though.  When I was invited to test out Beefeaters new festive menu at the Castle in Newton Mearns, I had no inkling of the carb-fest that awaited me.  I just made a date with two of my favourite people, Aileen and John, and got mildly excited that I'd be eating my festive meal a few weeks early.  The restaurant is in a handy location right off the motorway, not far from Silverburn and Glasgow city centre, so it was the perfect place to meet.

sharing platter chicken potatoes garlic mushrooms dip festive menu beefeater newton mearns christmas glasgow
Much time was spent poring over the menu after we'd settled ourselves into a booth, although we worked out pretty quickly that the Beefeater Sharing Platter was the only way to go as our starter.  The chilli and lime potato dippers and piri piri chicken wings were the highlight for me - those wings are hot stuff!  Also on the plate was garlic mushrooms, cheesy bread and BBQ mini ribs.  We barely made a dent in the pots of BBQ, blue cheese and ranch dips, but we gave it a good go anyway.

roast turkey dinner vegetables festive menu beefeater newton mearns christmas glasgow
steak unlimited chips peppercorn festive menu beefeater newton mearns christmas glasgow
Then came the main course and my turkey dinner.  I don't eat much meat - in fact, I seem to have a mental block where protein is concerned - but I love all the elements that go into a festive meal.  You've got your turkey, your veg, pigs in blankets, stuffing, roasties and Yorkshires.  And gravy if you're not me, because I love all the elements except that one.  Aileen was fine with it though, and John went for the festive steak with chips and peppercorn sauce.

A few bites in and we all admitted we were somewhat surprised by the quality of the food, not to mention the generous helpings.  I think we all had some preconceptions about chain restaurants and bland pub grub and Beefeater definitely challenged these.  Despite having my turkey sans gravy, it was far from being dry and boring as I feared it might be.  Tender and flavoursome would be a better description, and the accompanying cranberry sauce made it even more exciting.  John's steak was cooked to perfection, although he admitted that the peppercorn could have used a little more kick.

Then there were the chips.  You knew I was working my way back to them, right?  Despite John being the only one to order anything with chips, our awesome server Mark brought us a couple of advance refills when he realised we were all tucking into them.  Light and fat and fluffy with a slightly spiced seasoning dusted onto them, these chips were heavenly.  I said more than once that I'd go back for them alone and Aileen agreed.  In fact, we were still talking about this meal the next day as we drove to work, as we sat down for lunch, as we drove home...

chocolate melt in the middle pudding ice cream festive menu beefeater newton mearns christmas glasgow
costa coffee festive menu beefeater newton mearns christmas glasgow
Unsurprisingly, dessert was also a shared affair.  We got a rich, gooey, chocolate melt-in-the-middle pudding with vanilla ice cream and three spoons, and the others also got fancy festive coffees to round off the meal.  We had a bit too much fun watching those chocolate lattice things melt into the froth...

Thanks to Beefeater for having us and providing us with a lovely meal!  The festive menu is available right up until the 30th of December and prices start from just £15.49 for two courses.  So, what are you waiting for?

:)

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Yarn Along... in progress

knitting crocheting minion christmas hat beanie tom weir tiny jumper
I've got a few projects on the go this week so I figured I'd just share a bit of each!  No prizes for guessing which is my favourite...  Yup, it's the crochet minion of course.

I'm using this pattern for the minion and it's been super clear so far, although I've been using the yarn doubled up to get the size required - my colleague asked me to make it for her friend and we quickly realised the pattern wasn't going to make it as big and squishy as we were going for, so rather than faffing with gauge I just employed my usual trick of going up a couple of hook sizes and thickening the yarn.  I know, so professional.

The red hat is another commission, this time from a lady on Twitter who was looking for a Tom Weir style beanie.  Since I'm a bit in love with making hats, I was happy to oblige.   Only a pompom to add and it'll be handed over soon.

Another beanie hat from the never-ending stock of charcoal yarn was made for my boss, who's my recipient in Secret Santa this year.  I also made him a tiny 'Christmas' jumper in a replica of his daily uniform of a navy sweater.  Hopefully, he sees the funny side.  I have a tiny coat hanger to add (made from paperclips) and then it'll be ready to be popped into the gift bag, along with some cider and his favourite chocolates.

library book secrets of the sea house paperback cinema paradiso postcard
As for my current reading progress...  Slow is the best word to describe it.  I'm feeling a bit meh about this book, Secrets of the Sea House by Elisabeth Gifford.  Set in the Hebrides, it's one of those stories told with a thread in the past and one in the present, presumably with a crossover at some point.  Mer-people have been mentioned several times but apparently that doesn't make a story as interesting as one would think.  I'm not getting much time to read though so it could just be that I haven't had a chance to really absorb myself in it yet.  I'll keep going for now.

My bookmark is a postcard I found in a shop in Brighton.  One of my favourite movies, immortalised in cardboard?  No way it wasn't coming home with me!

Linking up to Ginny's Yarn Along.

:)

Saturday, 5 December 2015

An archive Christmas window

christmas window display work knitted lights jumpers minions
It's December again, which means Christmas Window Month has arrived at work!  My colleague and I started this 'event' last year to give everyone a chance to share their creativity and bring a bit of colour to the place - when you work in a building that has more internal windows than views of the outside world, life literally gets a bit dull at times.  We were the first ones to get organised and put our own creations on display this year, so take a look at what I've made.

bobble hat bunting christmas window knitted pompoms crochet lights
tiny knitted christmas jumpers sweaters window display
christmas minions cracker knitted old film standard 8
christmas window display old film reindeer pompom minion santa
No surprise, mine is (mostly) yarn based.  I had less time for sorting things out this year since I decided to make more gifts than I originally planned for, but I think it worked out fine.  The Christmas jumpers, 'paper' chains and holiday lights are recycled from last year and my small remaining supply of minions were brought out again.  The day I left for the Christmas holidays last December, half our staff asked for their own so I found myself distributing them around the building!

The bobble hat bunting is new and I blogged about it here.

The film element was a last minute addition that I rather love.  Last week I was shredding old films that we were getting rid of (yup, I totally felt like a murderer of memories, although it was an oddly satisfying task) and I had a brainwave to keep one of the standard 8 reels back and make the window somewhat relevant to the workplace.

As for the non-handmade elements, the string of lights were from Home Bargains last year (a whole 99p if I remember correctly), the pompom reindeer were from Tesco and the felt hearts were a gift from a colleague - I suspect they were also from either Home Bargains or Tesco.

Want to see the window next to mine?  My competition is even fiercer this year - check out that fireplace!  Apparently I work beside a papercraft master...

christmas window design display fireplace tree scene stockings
:)

Friday, 4 December 2015

Hanging at Hotel Indigo

hotel indigo sunday socials sounds of the neighbourhood glasgow
Sunday lunch and live music.  Not a bad way to spend an afternoon in Glasgow as far as I'm concerned.  Last weekend saw the final stop on Hotel Indigo's Sounds of the Neighbourhood tour, a UK-wide event bringing together locals and DJs, with Edith Bowman at the helm.  Tam and I were invited along to hang out and hear the chilled out sounds of the Glasgow music scene, mixed by Edith and electronic musician Mylo.  I'd totally forgotten my song of the summer in 2004 was by him - who else remembers 'In My Arms'? (and when you play it on YouTube, all the 'playing next' songs are like flashbacks to that time...)

Hotel Indigo on Glasgow's Waterloo Street is the perfect venue for an event like this.  The open plan reception-bar-restaurant area meant that when we were eating, we could hear the music streaming through - much better than a naff background CD, I think we'll all agree!

beef roast dinner hotel indigo sunday socials sounds of the neighbourhood glasgow
sunday lunch gnocchi hotel indigo sunday socials sounds of the neighbourhood glasgow
hotel indigo sunday socials sounds of the neighbourhood glasgow
Tam went for a classic roast beef Sunday lunch and I had a bowl piled with gnocchi and parmesan, followed by a wee plate of oatcakes and cheese.  It turns out blue cheese is not my thing, but Tam took care of it for me!

dining room hotel indigo sunday socials sounds of the neighbourhood glasgow
hotel indigo sunday socials sounds of the neighbourhood glasgow edith bowman
We moved round to the bar after eating and drank cocktails while Mylo and Edith manned the decks.  There was a bit of excitement when the Breakfast Club song came on!  It's a shame Hotel Indigo doesn't get a lot passing trade at the weekends, being surrounded by office blocks, but they're hoping to make their lunch and music combo a monthly event, so it's a great excuse for us Glaswegians to get out the house on a lazy Sunday afternoon.  Oh yeah, I'm totally a Glaswegian now since I've lived here for over a year.  And I totally made up that rule but I'm sticking to it.  Sunday lunch comes in at under £20 for three courses, or just drop by for a cocktail and a seat in the bar.

edith bowman dj hotel indigo sunday socials sounds of the neighbourhood glasgow
Check out Hotel Indigo's Glasgow playlist (and all the others) on their website and then go look up the music on my Scottish themed list.  I love that one line of a song can evoke a burst of memories as soon as it's turned on - King Creosote makes me think of standing in Glasgow Green in the pouring rain on my birthday and of every other (countless) time we've listened to that From Scotland with Love soundtrack.  'In Demand' takes me back to high school and my Texas obsessed friend who knew every line of that song.  'Caledonia'....as long as I heard it I knew it was gonna be one of my lifetime theme songs.  And Mimmi just reminded me that Admiral Fallow existed and how awesome they are.

Admiral Fallow - Old Balloons
Chvrches - Clearest Blue
King Creosote - For One Night Only
Texas - In Demand
Mylo - In My Arms
Twin Atlantic - Oceans
Aztec Camera - Crying Scene
Dougie MacLean - Caledonia

Thanks Hotel Indigo for a lovely afternoon!

:)
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