Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Run - last run in the dark

Hurrah! Now the clocks have changed, our evening runs after Easter should be in the light, or at least the twilight. I love the first runs of late spring / early summer, especially as the bluebells will be blooming and we might catch a sunset every so often.

But back to this evening's run - a lovely 6 miles with my running group, including a decent amount of tempo running - with another mile from running to and from our meeting place, so 7 miles altogether. Apart from 8-10 miles at the weekend, all my runs this week and next week will be around 4 miles. Except for the 12th April, when hopefully the trainers in the photo will look after me for 26 miles.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Cook - kale crisps, a revelation

Who would have thought sticking a load of kale in the oven for 20 minutes could have such a delicious result?

I had Kale Crisps from Pret the other day and thought it must be possible to replicate them at home, so I found this recipe for Kale Crisps on the BBC Good Food website and followed it exactly.  They were awsome! I say 'were' because they've been devoured by myself and my middle child (just hoping eldest doesn't see the evidence or we're in trouble for not leaving any). The ras el hanout adds just enough spiciness, and I sprinkled a bit of salt on too.  They were as simple as anything to make (I particularly enjoyed massaging the oil in!). I'll be be making them again very very soon.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Craft - nearly a blanket

I am very excited as I have nearly finished my first blanket.  This is the second one I've started - the other is still very much a work in progress. But this - my 'travel' project which I started last year to give me something to do on holiday, is very very near completion.

Just a few more rows of the border, then a light steam, and it's done.  I will attempt to take some artfully styled photos once it's finished. And give full details of what I did (if I can remember).

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Run - spotted

My run today was hard, heavy-legged plodding. I had to keep reminding myself that I felt like this a couple of weeks ago and then had a great long run this week - better to get the bad runs out of the way now. One of the reasons it was so hard was due to running solo - I love running with others because its so social, and the chat is a welcome distraction from thinking about how heavy my legs are, or wondering if I need to stop for a wee.

But running alone does have the advantage of being able to stop where I like, especially if I see something worth photographing.  These lovely little flowers (I think they're dog violets) were hidden among the foliage at the side of the path I was running down - I was very pleased to have spotted them (not just for their distraction qualities).

Friday, 27 March 2015

Craft - a bit more blanket

An hour or so of gentle crochet feels like the ideal way to recover after a day of walking around London - the mega-stripy blanket is progressing, albeit slowly (this is the last stripe on the main section - hurrah!)

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Craft - a new project bag

Oh dear.  I seem to have made plans to start another blanket - the Stylecraft Lily Pond crochet-a-long. In the helpful 'getting ready' instructions we're told that we really must have a project bag to keep everything in - so it was very lucky that I saw this beauty when I was shopping today.

I love these Orla Keily bags from Tesco (and I must have bought around 15 of them over several years and they're all still in good condition and in use). They are cheap (around £4) sturdy, a brilliant size for shopping / carting around sports stuff / beach use / craft projects, and most importantly of all they are very beautiful. My lovely bag is now getting slowly filled with the yarn I'll be using (Stylecraft Special)  - the CAL starts in a couple of weeks and I already have most of the colours, but I may need to do a spot of yarn buying ...

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Read - Elizabeth is missing (#4/52)

The best description I've seen of Elizabeth is missing by Emma Healey is 'unsettling'. Not because of the mystery surrounding the missing Elizabeth, or the mystery of the disappearance of Sukey, sister of Maud (the main character), but because of the way the author imagines how it is to live with dementia and have fluctuating memory capacity. Maud is an extremely sympathetic character but at the same time is infuriating, spiteful and tiresome, especially for her loving but long-suffering daughter. Dementia as depicted in this novel - and who knows how realistic it is - is a truly terrible illness.

I think this is definitely a book worth reading and it would be good for a book group (although it's not on either of my book club lists currently - I need to crack on with books I'm actually supposed to be reading).

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Cook - roasted cauliflower soup

Cooking! Haven't done anything apart from day-to-day sustenance for a while and excitement has been sadly lacking.  Today I decided to do something with a cauliflower which has been sitting in my fridge for some time.

I roasted it with a splash of garlic oil for about half an hour. Then I softened an onion in butter on the hob, chopped up a parsnip and a couple of small potatoes and stirred those in.  After letting it all sweat gently for 10 minutes or so I added the cauliflower and enough stock to cover (I used chicken, vegetable would be fine).  Simmered for about 20 minutes until everything was soft, then blended and added seasoning and milk to get the right consistency and flavour.  Simple and tasty - lunch is sorted for the next few days.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Run - last long run

21 miles done! The last long run of my marathon plan is out the way - now it's just a gentle taper till the 12th April.

We ran along the canal again - this is the midway point, looking deceptively cloudy although the majority of the run took place in lovely sunny (but not too hot) weather.  Really relieved to have got this done - just hoping taper madness doesn't strike too hard over the next 3 weeks.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Craft - listed wallpaper

A sneaky night away with some good friends mainly involved eating too much, chatting a lot and doing little else. The hotel was an oddity, tucked away in the middle of a housing estate in Surrey (presumably built on the former grounds of the house). This website has more details about the history of the hotel than the official website, including a mention of the amazing bonkers wallpaper, which is apparently listed,  covering all of entrance hall and gallery.

I love it - another inspirational pattern to add to the collection.

Run - second day of spring

Another day, another run. 9 miles in the morning, reasonable weather, ok pace. Just counting down the days now really (with one very big run to go - hopefully on Monday).

Spring isn't really springing quite yet in the local countryside, although a bit further on there was a lot more greenery.  I do love these browns - the browns of spring feel fresher than those in autumn, maybe it's the different light? Or maybe the earth is ploughed differently? Whatever the reason, pondering this sort of thing is a great distraction while running.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Run - first day of spring

I had high hopes for a lovely medium-long run this afternoon, in the countryside with the sun shining.  Instead I got to squeeze in a short run round the roads in the dark. Oh well - at least I still managed to see a few daffodils.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Craft - inspiration

Although I ran this morning, I failed to take a photo.  And I haven't done anything else worthy of photographing or blogging - for various reasons it was a topsy turvy kind of day with an unintentional 5 hour lunch break from work, which meant I felt I should stay late when I finally returned and  didn't get home till after 8.30pm.  So no crafting or reading or cooking so far, and none likely to happen now as my bed feels very tempting.

Instead I thought it might be nice to show a picture I took a while ago of some tiles in the lobby of Falmouth art gallery / library.  I love taking pictures of tiles - I like the colours, patterns, textures. And I want to start experimenting with printing so I think I might use tiles as inspiration.  

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Craft - a blanket to-do list

It feels like the (somewhat far-off) end is in sight for the enormous stripey blanket.  I took some time yesterday to work out what's left to do - I think there's a bit too much to finish by deadline A (3 weeks away) but it might be feasible to have it done by deadline B (around the end of June).  If not, deadline C (September) should be no problem. Hopefully.

The photo shows everything done to date: 1 nearly-finished enormous stripey middle with a single border attached, approx 20 additional completed border squares, approx 22 border squares in various stages of progress. 

To do:
Crochet 3.5 granny-cluster rows of shrimp + 2 granny-cluster rows of meadow
Complete 22 daisy squares
Finish off ends of 32 daisy squares
Finish off stripey row ends of about half the blanket
Attach remainder of daisy border squares to main blanket
Decide on final border - number of rows, colours, stitches
Crochet border

Sounds straightforward, doesn't it?  

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Run - more night running

I'm very lucky that I work part time so am able to run in the day time more often than some of my friends. But, at this time of year especially, night runs are also part of my weekly schedule.  One of my favourite running group sessions is on a Tuesday night - hard reps or efforts with a great bunch of friends.

We did minute efforts (with minute recoveries) this evening - sounds quite gentle but after 45 minutes it certainly doesn't feel gentle. Luckily my calf held up ok, although I don't have that lovely feeling of flying along yet - hopefully that will come in time for the marathon.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Craft - easy win with washi tape

I didn't actually mean to do any crafting today apart from maybe half an hour of gentle crochet in front of the tv at the end of the day.  Today was supposed to be all about tidying and sorting (two activities which are frequently neglected in my house).  But what to do when faced with a load of old birthday cards which are too pretty for recycling, a boring unused pinboard and a few rolls of washi tape? This is what I did:

I guess it's a cross between a collage and an inspiration board.  It took less than 5 minutes start to finish - I covered the frame with washi tape (which is luckily exactly the right width) and then pinned my favourite cards on (and recycled the rest). I'm trying to persuade myself that I can classify it as tidying.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Run - rolling

I'm back running - hurrah!  A sensible week of rest, cross-training and brutal sports massage has eased off the tightness in my calf so I did a gentle jog yesterday and a slow steady 10 miler today, and everything seems fine.

My sensible head is telling me to stick with the stretching and rolling to hopefully prevent future muscle tightness, so I'm frequently to be found balancing precariously on a big blue foam roller (when not being rolled on, it's often repurposed by my boys as a battering ram ).  It's all worth it though - 4 weeks to the marathon and I really want to get to the start line in good shape.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Craft - stone crochet

I went to a lovely Crafternoon for Comic Relief today - adults and children crafting (in some cases in the loosest sense, as it appeared to include Minecraft), playing and eating (LOTS of) cake . I took along one of my crochet blankets to work on, plus a bag full of other bits to make pom poms and some cotton thread for my friend who wanted to learn how to crochet, and more specifically, cover a stone.

She's never crocheted before so I did a prototype (which needs its ends sewing in - as can be seen above) and showed her step by step how to do it.  I used slightly too thick cotton with a too small hook for mine, and made the whole thing a bit too big,  - I think it would have worked a lot better with finer thread and a bigger hook to get the spacing right but it's getting there. I can see it being something I'll attempt again, and I just love the Purl Bee website generally - it's full of inspiring and extremely cool projects.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Cook - experimental smoothie

I like a smoothie for breakfast - the composition is usually dictated by what's in the fruit bowl or freezer.  Today's was a bit of an experiment and there's certainly quite a lot of room for improvement.

Avocado and mango smoothie

Ingredients (1 serving): 1/2 avocado, 1/2 mango, c.200mls soya milk, 1tsp or so almond butter
Method: Blend together and drink

So it was lovely and creamy, but a bit too avocado-y for my tastes - I think next time it needs more mango than avocado, and maybe a touch more of the almond butter. Maybe I should also mention that I had a headache and stomach ache for most of the day (but I'm sure it wasn't smoothie related!).

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Craft - crochet stripes

Some progress on the mega-blanket today.  I'm going to pull the stops out to try and get it finished for my daughter's birthday in a month's time (with a secondary target of September if that doesn't quite work out).

Today I've managed to complete 4 rows, mainly at book club (where we were discussing We are all completely beside ourselves) - it was a bit odd indulging in a book/craft club mashup, but my fellow book clubbers were very tolerant of me.

I think there are 15 more rows to crochet.  Then comes the fun (= complicated) stage of working out how many more daisy squares are needed for the border and how exactly I'm going to attach them. And finally I'll crochet a couple of rows around the edge to finish off.   A month is feeling quite optimistic ...

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Run - crosstraining again

More crosstraining today. I took a yoga class for the first time in ages and remembered how much I love yoga.  I'm not a natural yogi - lack of flexibility and the inability to focus my mind on all the breathing stuff means I'm never quite in sync with the rest of the class.  But it's very relaxing and an hour of yoga makes me feel like I've had a lovely massage. Often bits of me I didn't know existed ache (in a good way) the next day.

Picture fail today - I tried to take a photo of my feet in an interesting yoga pose but quite frankly the combination of knobbly feet and electric lighting made the photos truly repulsive. Maybe I'll manage two photos tomorrow instead.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Run - crosstraining

No running today or for the next few days, I think, as my calf is still stiff (but gradually improving).  I've decided to be sensible - my training's gone very well up to now, so if I do some cautious crosstraining and let my leg recover I shouldn't have lost too much fitness.

Today's exercise was an aqua fitness class. I wasn't looking forward to it at all - swimming is not my favourite thing, especially when it doesn't start till 8.15pm - but surprisingly (to me) it turned out to be very good and just what I need right now. Tomorrow it's yoga, Thursday I'm having a sports masssage and then I'll reassess after that.  

Monday, 9 March 2015

Craft - ends

I've made all the squares for my spotty blanket so now have lots of ends to sew in: I think it's 217 if my mental maths is correct [edit: it's not - on recalculation, I think it's at least 266]. I've done about 35 so far.

I only managed to do that as I've spent a fair part of today static on the sofa (with a stiff calf) trying hard to distract myself from worrying about missed training ...

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Run - half marathon

I ran a half marathon today as part of my training plan. The race was well organised, the route was lovely and the weather was perfect - slightly sunny but not too hot. I was very pleased with how I ran the first 11 miles - unfortunately my calf started tightening in mile 12 and was very sore by the end, which slowed me down a bit. I'm not sure if I ran too hard earlier on, or if it would have happened regardless as it's been playing up a lot this week. Luckily I have a massage sorted for later in the week which I hope will help - I'm just a bit concerned that I may need to miss some training to help it recover.

I guess I should be reasonably happy as it's my fastest half for several years, and the pace felt very comfortable for most of it, but I think I'll feel better about it once my calf's sorted out.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Craft - felting at craft club

Craft club is one of my favourite things. A while ago a friend and I were idly chatting about making things and trying new crafts, and wondered if a couple of like-minded friends would like to get together every so often for the odd evening of crafting over a glass of wine. A year on and there are around 12 of us who meet up once a month and try different crafts. We've done quilting, crochet, enormous tissue paper pom poms, Christmas decorations, and this week we tried felting.

I loved it - I made around 14 balls of varying sizes and colours - not sure what their end purpose is yet but I think I definitely need to make a few more to practice. 

Friday, 6 March 2015

Craft - finished project #2

The front of this cushion cover was the very first thing I made after learning to crochet a year ago.  I felt too nervous to tackle a big project so I found a pattern on the internet, bought a few balls of wool from The Creative Sanctuary, where I learnt to crochet.  That turned out to be the straightforward bit - once finished it then took forever to find a suitable jumper for the backing panel and for me to finally get round to putting it all together.  I've finally finished it - turns out the front panel is actually quite wonky, I'm hoping that's a product of my novice crochet skills, and I've improved a bit over the past year. But I still love the colours and pattern, and it will sit proudly on my sofa.

Pattern: Wave pattern (from Lanas de Ana blog)
Cushion construction: Attic24
Yarn: Bergere de France Magic+ (this link goes to The Creative Sanctuary, but I don't think they stock the colours I used any more) in Criquet, Seneve and Estuaire  
Hook: 5mm 

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Cook - peanut butter honey granola

This is one of my favourite recipes - easy, cheap and immensely satisfying.  The recipe was published in the Guardian and led me to Jack Monroe's brilliant blog (A girl called Jack) - which is full of fantastic recipes, most of which are also very cheap to make.

The full recipe and quantities are here: Peanut butter honey granola , but all you need to do is melt butter, peanut butter and honey together, tip in some oats and mix well, spread out on a baking tray and cook for 15 mins then leave to cool.  Simple! I usually make double quantities which is just enough to fill my big Kilner jar and lasts about a week, depending on how many of us are around (the orange scoop measures out a medium portion - but some of us eat a lot more than that!)

I've started having it (maybe with a chopped up banana - I'm still experimenting) as my pre-long run / pre-race breakfast as it's easier than porridge (both to prepare and to eat - less stodgy) - it's also more portable so if I'm away overnight or need to eat on the move, it will be easy to take with me.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Read - The improbable story of Orion Goss (#3/52)

I've just finished reading a print book - a real rarity as I read most frequently on my kindle nowadays - The improbably story of Orion Goss by Vicky Woodcraft. I can admit that I would never have read this book if it hadn't been chosen by one of my book groups. But all in all, I'm glad to have persevered with it. It was a gentle, enjoyable read; I'm not sure how realistic a depiction it is of early 20th century Cornish life but it's not badly written and the story moves along at a reasonable pace.  I've definitely read (several) far more badly written books for book club, by far more established authors.

The thing I liked most from a personal viewpoint is that it's set in Falmouth - a place I've visited several times over the last year or so, so I enjoyed trying to place bits of the action.  In fact, my very first post  featured a glimpse of Falmouth from the coastal path - and I must have gone past several places mentioned in the book on that very run.  If the book hasn't made its way to a charity shop by the next time I visit Falmouth, I'll try and take it along for some location spotting.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Craft - nearly finished

I managed to work on my cushion cover today. The front was crocheted last spring, then it took ages to find a suitable jumper to back it, then it was getting close to Christmas so it got put into a bag (like lots of other works in progress) and forgotten about. Now my sewing machine is set up I have space for crafting, and today I had the time to get on with putting it all together, in between a mammoth food shop (the checkout operator asked if I was doing a monthly shop - no, just a week), general family stuff and running.

I've made good progress, all constructed and only 3 buttons left to sew on, but once again my bed calls so I'll finish it off another day. The end is definitely in sight though.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Craft - a quiet spot

Normally I can't keep my sewing machine out all the time as there's no designated room in the house for craft (with the result that crafting stuff occupies almost every room).  I'm feeling very pleased with myself as I've just commandeered a table as a temporary craft area. (I have future plans involving a whole room, but that will involve an immense amount of decluttering,cleaning and organising so that's on hold for a little while).

So my faithful sewing machine was set up this morning, my cushion cover is ready and waiting to have a back added.  But I'm tired after a day of training and an evening meeting and need to head off for an early night right now, as I think I'd just sew myself together if I tried any crafting this evening.  The good news is I'm off work tomorrow - fingers crossed something creative can be slipped in among the chores.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Run - highs and lows

Today's run was a mixed affair.

Highs: the first day of spring, beautiful sunshine, lovely running friends, 20 miles completed - hurrah!

Lows: strong winds, my niggly calf (a perennial problem), one friend's calf injury causing her to stop after 4 miles, finding the last few road miles very hard work

But I guess that's how marathon training goes, and there are only a few more really hard weeks before we taper and then do the race itself - eek.  I think it would be a good idea to get some other events in the diary for early summer to have something to aim for after the race - it will be all too easy to ease off for a bit too long (about 5 years in my case, if previous marathons are anything to go by).

This is from the midpoint of today's run - not as scenic as some of them, but a reminder of a good achievement nonetheless.