Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Ripping Yarn!

Every night before I go to bed, I'm writing down everything I've done in bullet-points. I want to look back and not wonder what I did for the whole of June.

The thing is, I've been a bit under the weather for about a week now, so most of what's up there is:

  • Poirot.
  • Crocheted a snowflake.
  • Made brownies.

It's not quite as productive as I'd hoped! I also have a code. If I had a singing lesson: (Y) If I did singing practice: (X) and if I went for a 30 minute run ( ✔). I'm also trying to do a plank every day and build up my time. I have practically no core strength! I hit 60 seconds this week and was SO HAPPY!

Considering I can't do a lot of running around at the moment, I've been doing a lot of knitting and learning to crochet!  Here are a few of the things I've been making!

Add caption
I love this headband! I made it in a really nice earthy green aran yarn (which was on sale!!)

Such is my amazing talent at crochet that I can follow the same pattern and come up with two completely different snowflakes. That's talent, right? Oh... you mean that's NOT mean to happen?!

Again, I followed the same crochet pattern and came up with different sizes of jumpers. The teaspoon is for scale. Aren't they sweet? They're a present for a local bar/restaurant in Cork. :)

This was to show the difference between using usual acrylic yarn and using proper cotton thread. The yarn looks nicer with this pattern, I think. 

I've been making this quilt for about four years. I'm nowhere near done! Maybe this will be the year that it finally gets done? It seems that a patchwork quilt is a massive undertaking. I wish I'd known this four years earlier... It's pretty, though. And I've learned to follow patterns and to make new stitches through making this. Following a varying pattern is way more fun that plain garter stitch.

Hopefully I'll recover in the next few days, and I can post all about my adventured with avocado chocolate mousse... :D x

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Meaning of Life

At the end of this week, I am FINALLY going to sit down and watch The Great Dictator. I love Charlie Chaplin. This speech will never stop being relevant, it's incredible.

"You the people have the power to make this life free and beautiful! To make this life a wonderful adventure!"

Just listen. Then live.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Le Petit Chat Noir Vintage Fair

The greeting-ladies set the tone for the event with
 their fabulous hair and make-up..
On Sunday, Cork saw it's only proper vintage fair arrive at the Flying Enterprise complete with victory rolls and bunting. I have several friends in the UK who craft and sell at vintage fairs and I wonder all the time why we don't have more of them here. It seems that (in Cork, at least) there is quite a strong interest in the vintage and classic.

Just inside the door I found Aoife from Potty But Posh. Aoife makes beautiful hats, as I learned at the wedding of a mutual friend in February. (I'd meandered over to the table she was sitting at because all the ladies had such  amazing headwear!)

Below are some examples of  Aoife's work. She also sells her hats and headpieces in  Miss Daisy Blue, in the English Market in Cork. Miss Daisy Blue is a vintage clothes shop and also had a stall set up at the fair.

Potty But Posh
Potty but Posh

A treasure-trove, as usual!

This was a stall by one of my favourite shops in Cork (also in the Market!) Peacock and Ruby had a selection of their fine vintage-style wears on display. I love this shop so much and always bring friends to stop in when they visit from outside of Cork.

The 'peacock' from Peacock and Ruby

A purchase! From 'The Gilded Rose'
One of my favourite stalls was this one called 'The Gilded Rose,' which was run by a very nice lady! We had a great chat about her crocheted flowers and I ended up buying the pale blue barrette you see above

Congratulations, Le Chat Noir! It was a lovely event - I hope we'll see more soon!

I thought these hairbands were
 very cure and great value for money!
A selection of hand-crocheted soft-furnishings by 'Flour'

This was unusual! Historical coins. 

These cakes were INCREDIBLE! I had a mint grasshopper mini
cupcake. Seriously - Swell, if you're reading: can I PLEASE have
the recipe?!

Note: This is how you set out an eye-catching table! These designs are by Silkscreen Sweetie. She wins bonus points from me for having bunting... :)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

International Yarn Bombing Day

 This morning my knitting group engaged in a spot of 'Yarn Bombing' in Electric. We subtly knitted bits and stuck them to things. I am responsible for the hideous tea cosy you see pictured. Liz from Reckless Knitting made the cake-stand cosy! 
The staff at Electric must have liked them, though, as they gave my my latte for free! And later they tweeted that if my knitting group knits them a jumper, we'll get a free lunch each! There are plans in motion...

Friday, June 8, 2012

How to Organise Your Fridge in 3 Easy Steps

 Dear friends,

In the interest of inspiring others (and in shaming myself into action) I am letting you see the awful state of my fridge.
Look at it. It's awful. There's so much food crammed in there and none of it is organised.

In my defense, it's been a crazy few weeks and I'm not the only person who lives here. Most of that food is not mine.

Recently on Pinterest I saw a picture of someone's freezer, which had plastic baskets keeping it tidy. I had to try this! In a pound shop I found exactly the right sort of baskets for just €1.50 each!

Is this not a most beautiful sight?

Empty the fridge and throw out ANYTHING that needs to go, or that won't get used. Any dairy products that are past their use-by date need to go. Condiment bottles that are nearly empty - let them go. 


Clean, scour, scrub! Take out the shelves, clean and dry them, wash the sides down and make sure it's all ready for the food.

Fill the baskets. Use one for cheeses, one for vegetables, one for jars, etc. Make sure that the bottom of all jars, bottles and cartons are clean before you put them back in the fridge

Vegetable basket.
The cheese basket.

This has worked out so well! And it's lovely to know exactly what's in there. I'm hoping that the baskets will keep things a little neater, and show more clearly how much of each thing we have. :)

The finished product! 

I'd love to know if you try this! Let me know how it works out! :)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Lucky, Lucky, Lucky.

When I first heard Duke Special's cover of Radiohead's incredible 'Lucky' I wanted to learn it and sing it. Even before it was over, I knew that I couldn't give this song what it needs. As a performer, I'm not restrained enough to not let all my thoughts come straight though and ruin it. As a human being, I don't have enough wisdom to do this song justice. (This is not a love post for the Duke. That will come on a different day.)

What's so striking about this song is that we know what it's about - not from the lyrics, but from the marriage of the music and lyrics.

I think that most people have been in the place this song is about. We're walking through life smiling and talking and doing things. To others it might seem that everything is going our way, but inside we're feeling dark. It's going through the motions, doing your very best not to alert anyone to how you're feeling, because if you're honest with yourself, you don't know what this feeling is, how to fix it or how long it will last.

"Pull me out of the aircrash,
Pull me out of the lake
'Cause I'm your superhero
And we are standing on the edge..."

There's a very tangible sense of restraint through this song. The narrator never says anything directly, or at least he never says anything that we can make full sense of. He's dancing around the issue. Nothing is certain with him: he's ok, he's not sure if he's ok.

"I'm on a roll, I'm on a roll this time,
I feel my luck could change..."

In the original Radiohead version, the track is introduced by a sort of high-pitched scratchy noise which remains throughout most of the song. It reminds me of a device sometimes used to make listeners feel uncomfortable. If you ever watch a horror movie, there may be a subtle high-pitched sound - as you're focused on other things, you're not aware that you're getting more and more anxious because of this persistent noise. I think it's all linked in to the psychological aspect of this song. It's getting right in there, and explaining something that most people can't put into words.

In the Duke Special, the accompaniment is so beautiful. It's very measured and again, very restrained. It supports what's happening with the voice, but has its own story to tell. To me there's a sense that it wants to just go absolutely insane with running chords and scales. There's a slight hint of this coming through around 3 minutes in, where the piano wants to take off, but it restrains it. (In the Radiohead version, there's a very tortured guitar with a lot to say. It almost sound like it's crying.)

All in all, it's pretty sad. I want the guy in the song to just scream and shout and run until he can get this feeling out of him. I want the music to rage and the voice to cry what it's really feeling.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Crochet, flowers and summer time!

St. Brigid Anemones
Huge weights have been lifted off my chest. Tonight I feel lighter and less restricted than I have in months. As of today I'm down to teaching one day per week until the end of June, though I'm still studying and going to lessons for various music exams and auditions coming up.

The decision to fill this summer with as few travel plans as possible came quite naturally after an intensely busy travel year last year. Since Christmas I've sorely felt the need of a nice quiet sit down on my own. There will, of course be adventures with friends in the UK, but for my health and sanity, I need a few weeks of calm, baking and crafting.

My fabulous Cork KnitUp group has begun again after a slow start to the year and I am enjoying it so much! About two weeks ago, the lovely Hilary taught me to crochet and it's really pulled me though these tough final weeks of work.
On Saturday we had our biggest turn out yet with around eight crafters coming! I'm really looking forward to the group every Saturday and it's motivating me to finish projects!

For my birthday I was given a Cath Kidston crochet cusion kit by my friend Orla so that's what I've mostly been working on for the last fortnight. I can't wait for it to be finished and on my bed. :)

Tonight after walking my dog, the neglected packets of seeds that I bought weeks ago called to me. I planted at least 48 sunflower seeds, lettuce, love-in-a-mist, cornflowers and nasturtiums as the sun went down (and the midges came out.) I'm loving the garden right now. The dozens of bulbs I planted in the spring are finally coming into bloom and it's so satisfying!! My herbs are doing really well too and all of the fruit bushes are heavy with unripe berries! 

Singing-wise, things seem to be going well. I had a lesson today,though I was quite worried about it beforehand because I didn't feel I'd done enough practice. I hate the feeling that I could have put more work in. This week was CRAZY with teaching and exams, though, so I really didn't have more time. This week I intend to put in consistent work every day. I'll need to do an hour every day of actual singing.

I find that when I'm out running, most of what I think about is singing. Posture, breathing, mouth shape, facial muscles, placement of breath, meanings of songs and ideas for compositions and concerts are all on my mind for the 50 minutes that I spend out of the house. I think that must be the reason why I'm improving despite not having enough time for long practices.

Having this week's lesson over with is contributing to my feeling of lightness. :) I am so content right now. It's late, but I don't have to be up for any particular reason in the morning, other than to run. :) Leisure!

How are your summers coming together, blog friends? Will they be chilled out, or jam-packed? (Mm...jam..)