Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Yum yum yum

This is one of my favourite suppers:

It's a savoury bread and butter pudding.

This recipe makes enough for supper for me and MrK and we're greeeeedy. It would serve 3-4 with a side of some sort (baked potatoes maybe?). I make it in a lasagne dish, any shallow dish would work.

You need:
Yummy savoury bits (caramelised onions, fried bacon, mushrooms... whatever)
4 eggs and 1 extra just in case
A Ciabatta loaf or other tasty bread product, can be borderline stale.
Butter. Real butter. None of that marge crap.
Salt, pepper, herbs of your choice

1. Cook any of the savoury bits that need cooking; soften your leeks or brown your onions, fry your bacon and mushrooms etc.
2. Cut the bread into slices and butter the slices (I only butter one side and I don't go too mad with the butter) and also grease the dish.
3. Arrange the slices in the dish and shove the savoury bits down between the slices.
4. Break 4 eggs into a measuring jug and add roughly half as much milk as you have eggs. (So if your eggs come up to the 100ml mark, top up to 150ml with milk - this isn't an exact science though so just slop in some milk). Beat a little and add your seasonings of choice. Pour this mix over the bread and bits, making sure all the bread gets dampened. If your bread's standing well out of the egginess, mix up a little more with your spare egg and top up.
5. Put it to one side for an hour to soak up all the juices.
6. Top with grated cheese and bake at 180degreesC until the egg is cooked and the top browned. About half an hour.

There are loads of variations you can make with this. Made with brioche it's so sweetly savoury it's wicked. Good quality chunky beefburgers cut up make excellent, if bulky, 'savoury bits' and sometime I'd like to try it with chicken. I bet it would be great with croissants too. A caramelised onion and mushroom version is an extremely tasty veggie meal.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Pagans and Pseudo-Science

Yesterday I went to the Leaping Hare Pagan convention and, apart from my hacking cough, had a nice time. There were just one or two minor niggles and here I want to put a plea out to Pagan speakers:

Steer the fuck clear of science unless you're a scientist. You only make yourself look like an idiot.

When you're talking about some energy you think spiritual entities might feed on, don't choose a well known form of easily detectable energy. Electro-magnetic energy might sound 'woo woo science kewl' to you and anyone who knows eff all about science but to anyone else (even me with my ickle bit of science) it makes you sound crazy.

If you're going to use the structure of the atom/structure of the solar system to make an 'as above, so below' point, you might want to know that electrons don't actually 'orbit' the nucleus in neat little ellipses like planets. In fact, steer clear of subatomic anything if you're doing the 'as above, so below' thing because the whole problem of Quantum science is that 'as above' doesn't work like 'below'.

So please, Pagan speakers either learn your science or steer clear. It's particularly disappointing when the speaker's reasonably credible from a religious point of view.

Oh and I know I broke my own rule because I'm not a scientist either. MrK's a science teacher and a lot of my friends are science types but my own qualifications run to a Physics A-level and occasionally reading New Scientist magazine. But what the hell, I'm not making easily disprovable claims.

Friday, 25 March 2011

So what's with this blogging malarky?

Here I am with this shiny new blog and having a great time talking to myself and a few passers by (and one or two friends who are willing to read my gabblings) and I occasionally have to ask myself

What on earth is the point?

I enjoy writing, so I guess that's a reason.  My creativity does seem to seep out of me in little unfocussed spurts; a bit of blog writing here, half a poem there, a knitted jumper, a sewn bag, a crap drawing of Thor, a necklace and a weed ridden garden. If only I could focus I'd be like some kind of creativity god wizard thing. Or not. 

I am really enjoying this though, the gods only understand why. I thought I didn't care whether anyone read it but my mild (ahem) obsession with the stat page suggests otherwise. Maybe all art only really becomes complete when there's an audience? Art...?! This? Pah *cackle*

So, gentle reader, do you blog? Why the feck do you do it? Egomania? Promoting a business? Because it's more socially acceptable than muttering to oneself?

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Two New Necklaces

I have two shiny new necklaces courtesy of Corbin of Splendid Fish Studios. I think I might be a little bit in love with the man and have a little addiction to his jewellery. Just a litte one.

First up is the Mask of the Crow I comissioned:
I call him Corvy and he sits just at the base of my neck on a fairly short chain.

Next was a wonderful surprise. My enamelled flutterby:

 Corbin's work is just awesome. I wonder how long I can hold out this time before I crack and have to get some more?

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Slice of Springtime Heaven

This was a good chunk of yesterday afternoon:

That's a pile of my favourite veg and herb gardening books, tea and some lovely March sunshine. I've not been quite 100% and had spent a good chunk of the morning cooking and knew I was in for a late night. So decided it was in my best interests to chill out, rather than getting stuck into the garden. A good couple of hours later and I had a list of herbs to grow, along with lists of plants and seeds to buy and bits that needed moving in the garden, and a little plan of the herb beds.  

The books are:

Food from Your Garden by Reader's Digest which is my bible of veg gardening. My parents had it as I grew up and I snapped up a copy from a charity shop. It's old fashioned and fantastic with lovely illustrations. It also assumes you have at least as much space as a full size allotment and says amusing things like 'for a family of four, two 12ft rows should be sufficient'. I love it.

Organic Kitchen and Garden by Ysanne Spevack, Christine Lavelle and Michael Lavelle. A great book which is half gardening, half cooking. The gardening section has a lot of general info on organic methods plus directories of veg, fruit and herbs with cultivation requirements, timings, spacings etc. The book I usually go to first. 

Allotment Month by Month by Alan Buckingham. To be honest all the info in this book is in the others, in fact they have more info, but I bought it because of its month-by-month arrangement which makes organising myself that bit easier. 

Grow your own Drugs by James Wong which is a fun book I still haven't made anything from. 

Jekka's Complete Herb Book by Jekka McVicar which is my herb bible. There's no magical information, obviously, but otherwise it's just great for someone like me who dabbles - I don't need great textbooks of info and Jekka strikes a good balance here. I can see how a dabbler like me could get by with only this one book. Obviously it isn't my only book as I'm a bit of a book fiend, but since I bought it, it's often the only one I open.

Saturday, 19 March 2011


It's a glorious spring day and I'm sat on my doorstep peering at my screen because I'm determined to write this outside in the lovely weather but the sun is making that rather difficult. All it needs is a glass of Pimms and it might be June. Ok maybe not June... but the point is that Spring has most definitely sprung. This evening I shall be going to Wuffacynn's Hrethe Blot so i thought I'd find out a little about Hrethe, a goddess I know little about.

It turns out that one of the main reasons I know so little about her is there isn't much to know.

Simek, in his Dictionary of Northern Mythology writes:

"Hrethe or Hretha  (OE 'the famous', 'the victorious'). The eponymous goddess of the OE name of the month Hredemonath (=March) mentioned by Bede in his De Temporibus Ratione. An OHG female personal name Hruada tempted J. Grimm to connect the name with ON hrothr 'fame'; thus the goddess could have a similar meaning to the eponymous Roman god of the same month, Mars."

So as a goddess linked to March she is associated with the burgeoning of fresh growth for modern Heathens and may also have a warrior goddess aspect.

This lack of information is going to make finding good toasts for the sumble difficult! 

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Some inspiration

I love the fresh young leaves of Lady's Mantle. The way water hangs on them, the way they're so neatly pleated from the centre, even the colour of them is just fantastic. Looking at some the other day I pondered whether it would be possible to make anything of similar form by knitting or sewing fabric. The outer edge is much longer than a simple circle of its radius because of all the pleats so I imagine if you were sewing you'd make pleated wedge shapes and then join them up, but the centre would be difficult to keep neat, if not impossible, with all those seams coming together. It might be easier to create that extra volume in a knitted fabric but then you'd probably need some sort of support to keep the shape, although I suppose you could make the knitted fabric so dense it was very stiff. With individual stitches I'd imagine you could build them up in a way that mimics the arrangement of cells.

Am I going to do it? Hell no. You think I have time for that with all the blogging and computer gaming I do?

Sometimes I wonder, just for a moment, whether my priorities aren't a little skew whiff.

(Also, that would require mad crafting skillz which I clearly lack.)

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Feminist and Proud!

Well, I know I'm a bit late as Internation Women's Day was earlier this week, but I've been reading a few feminist blogs and just wanted to say...

I'm a Feminist and proud of it!



Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Wind in my sails

Well, I'm well and truly out of the doldrums. Since that whingy post I have cast on three items; a pair of plain socks in a funky coloured yarn, a squishy purple toy for a friend who's expecting (shh it's a secret - the toy not the baby) and the lacy jumper Cherie Amour from Knitty in a blue through purple squishy acrylic (yay for machine washable yarn!) although I only got two rows of the latter done before realising I'd twisted as I joined the round and had to frog. Doh!

I also pulled out my sewing pattern and fabric only to find that my blouse really wasn't going to come out of the silk I had. So I zig-zagged the raw edges of my back-up plan red cotton and washed that, so I'm ready to go on cutting the pieces out. Stop me or I'll burn out.

Now I have some delicious purple silk which is hanging around with nothing to be...

Oh and now I remember what I was supposed to be doing with this time! I'm giving a talk to my local Pagan Moot on the Basic of Heathenry next Monday and have I planned? Have I feck.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Goddesses in bikinis

Interesting how we project our current culture onto the gods, isn't it? Do a google image search for Freya, go on I dare you. There's no actual porn on the first page, you're relatively safe. In fact type in the name of pretty much any goddess and you get the same thing. For the less SEXAY ones you get more pretty pretty girliness than T&A, but search for Freya or Aphrodite you get a lot of tits and fake tans. Not that the somewhat wet pretty pretty stuff is much better in my book. At least the bikini goddesses are probably having a good time, not just sitting by a brook and sighing a bit.

Where's the power in all of this? It sure as hell isn't being portrayed by most of these pictures. It's being made safe, neutralised, turned into something our culture can understand with it's teenage-boy understanding of sex. It's so one dimensional. Real life women are so much more than T&A and if it's true for us, how much more true must it be for our goddesses?

Saturday, 5 March 2011

A green jumper for Spring

I've finished my very first jumper.

It's loosely based on the Yoked Pullover from Elizabeth Zimmerman's 'Knitting Without Tears' but I heavily modified the design based on the ideas put forward by Amy Herzog in her 'Fit to Flatter' series. If you're a woman who finds the whole bodyshape category system involving fruit (apple? pear? what the sweet crispy fuck?) useless and ridiculous, hers is much more rational and, frankly, less insulting. According to Amy's categories I'm proportional and straight, meaning I am not significantly top or bottom heavy (my shoulder and hip lines are pretty equal) and I don't go in much at the waist.

The 'Fit to Flatter' inspired features of my jumper are, in no particular order, the waist darts, balanced details at bust and hip, the detail at the elbow and the bust detail and bust darts. I go in at the waist more at the back than the front (in other words I have more arse than hip) so I put most of the waist shaping in the back. This eliminates excess bags of fabric sitting above my bum which has the effect of showing off my waist. However I think I should have put more of that shaping in the sides as the view from the front is a little too straight up and down. And I really shouldn't have put in the vertical lines - drawing a rectangle on my already rectangular body just isn't flattering.

I have included details at the bust/neck and the hip/cuff to maintain the balance of my proportional frame. People whose hip and shoulder/bust lines aren't roughly equal might want to bring things more into balance visually by using details more on the smaller half. Apparently elbow length sleeves enhance the waist curve (don't ask me how but they do, no really) but I wanted to have full length sleeves for a cozy jumper. So I tried putting in that purl ridge just below my elbows in the hope of creating a similar effect. I can't really tell if it worked! Also being, er, delicate of bust, I put a purl ridge at my full bust line in the hopes of making it seem more of a full bust line and less of a half-full bust line. Bust darts ensure a close fit here too which helps.

Overall I'm really pleased with the final results. It's not perfect, but it's my very first jumper and I pretty close to designed it myself. I chose plain stockinette stitch with garter stitch details in order to keep the knitting simple but I think it works really well with this beautifully rustic yarn too, which is JC Rennie's confusingly named Chunky Lambswool (confusing because it's aran weight, not chunky). I love this yarn. It has a wonderful texture (which sensitive skins might find rough - fortunately it doesn't bother me), softens beautifully on the first wash and comes in some seriously gorgeous colours. It will probably be the yarn I go to for a rustic aran-weight wool in the future.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011


I'm feeling in the doldrums a bit craft wise. I just finished a major knitting project in the form of my jumper and don't feel like putting any time in on either of the current ongoing projects. First up is a moss green mohair shawl which has very long rows in a very boring stitch. It'll be lovely when it's finished, if I can ever face the monotony of those huge rows. Also it's a mohair/silk blend yarn and on metal needles it's somewhat slippery and although it's boring knit-in-your-sleep stuff, it therefore requires concentration. Argh! There is also a lovely scarf knit in one of Mara's gorgeous yarns in a simple but pretty lace pattern. I just don't feel like knitting it right now. For the first time in months I'm sitting in tea-break at work and not knitting. Most odd.

I have made a mock-up of the blouse I'm planning on sewing and it fits really well. So now all that's left to do is take my chosen fabric (beautiful plummy purple silk), check I can get the blouse from the yardage I have (backup plan is a nice deep red cotton), pre-shrink the fabric, cut out the pattern pieces and sew it all up. I just don't feel like doing it. Specifically I don't feel like doing all the preamble; if I had the bits of fabric cut out already I'd be sewing away merrily.

Part of the preamble is the fuss of getting my machine out and set up, clearing space etc. Fortunately MrK and I have just become a 0-PC household, both having laptops, which has freed up some space for a crafty-corner for Maythe. Having some space specially set aside will make it much easier to tap into the fleeting feeling of 'oh I fancy doing X' which at the moment is often shut down by 'oh but I'll have to clear the table and get out the stuff which is under the other stuff and oh I can't be bothered'. 

Of course we actually have to get round to clearing the space, buying a table, moving the bookshelves, ferrying my stuff upstairs... so maybe by next winter I'll have a craft corner.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Crafty bits

I've finished my very first ever jumper! Hurrah!

I can't get decent pics indoors so it'll have to wait until the weekend. Boo!

At the weekend I will waffle about it until you are bored to tears. Hurrah for me! Boo for you!

In the meantime ... Mara and I went to a beading fair at the weekend and I managed to only spend moderately too much money. I got two of these lovely pendants:

They are pretty amazing and my crappy little digital camera in indoors light just can't do them justice I'm afraid. Somehow there's a real aspen leaf in there. It's like magic only more precise.

Unfortunately matching findings (for non jewellery makers - findings are the functional bits, the earring hooks, clasps etc) are hideously expensive so I bought some gold plated earring hooks for them. When I got home I cobbled together a pair of earrings with some gold wire and a couple of garnets:

I'm going to keep my eye out for some beads that work with both the colours of the leaf and the gold findings. I suspect that, even if I could find decent ones, copper earring wires would irritate my ears so I'll be sticking with gold and I feel the need to bridge the colour gap between leaf and findings. The red garnets aren't doing a bad job for the time being but this definitely feels like a temporary solution.