Thursday Times Happy List

A little trip down blog memory lane at lunchtime had me happening across CaramelLatteKiss-es Happy List post from last year ago. I thought it was high time I did another Happy List of my own. So today's things making me smile are:
The Doctor and Donna are possibly my favourite Dr/companion pairing. Now don't get me wrong my Amy and Rory love is pretty solid but the easy bickering, joyful adventures and fierce loyalty of a close friendship is perfectly portrayed between The Doctor and Donna. I am not a massive fan of Clara Oswlad so rewatching the Tenth Doctor is keeping my Gallifrey habit sated.
The soundtrack to Smash played full volume in the car as I sing along. I was sat in a tapas bar in Valencia when I found out about this show. It was a short lived show about the creation of a new musical about Marilyn Monroe. Only 2 seasons long smash has addicitve storylines and brilliant original show tunes which made watching in any way other than a three week long DVD binge was impossible.
Hotels with baths. Since we moved three months ago I haven't been able to get into the bath. We have a shower but the joy of a bubble laced soak has not happened I far too long. Last night I soaked all my travel trials away and the world was a much better place!


A Very Red Blanket

Making is one of the ways I keep my stress levels in check. Weekends with multiple family visits often tend to bring out the crazy so I try to have something to keep my hands busy and my mind calm. One of these projects was The Very Red Blanket.

Sometimes I get a bee in my bonnet about things, one of these is the lack of blankets at my friend Dave's flat. He has no problem with this, in fact I'd go so far as to say he was actively against me bringing blankets into his home. But I love his sofa, it is ancient and the right amount of squish and plenty of leg room but no blanket. So when I needed a stress relieving project I knew a big old granny square blanket would be just the ticket.

I chose a red tweed flecked yarn, a solid red and silvery grey. I wasn't sure about the colour way but it turned out brilliantly, the different reds work really well together and the gentle grey really makes both of the reds pop. Made with super chunky wool it was an incredibly quick blanket to make, and is wonderfully soft.


Week in Pictures #6

Finding beauty in the details in the house is what I am focussing on at the moment. 
Handles on cabinets/ the charm of all our food prep feeling like we're camping / ambitious lists/ records should live in the bathroom right??/ custom labels make cooking in a microwave feel a little less crap.


Bake Off Blues

I love the Great British Bake Off this year. Chetna's orange converse alone are enough to keep me watching (BS is astounded that I haven't broken and bought myself a pair yet). Some years I have found contestants annoying or over edited to create a story, and yes there was some of that this year, let's not mention #bingate, but in general this contestants have all been likeable.

Trouble for me is that for the last three months I have had no oven. No oven, no kitchen cupboards for ingredients and definitely no space for my mixer. Each week has become an hour long showcase of baking I can't do and wont be able to do for a quite a while. Instead of moping I have collated together my 3 current favourite bakes from this season that are on my 'When I Get My Dream Oven I Will...' list.

image from BBC food 
 This vibrant concoction looked like hellish bake but I it would be the perfect birthday cake from one of my princess obsessed friends, and who can resist that much cream.

2. Peanut Butter Éclair's
image from
Peanut butter is one of my weaknesses, I love the gloopy sticky stuff especially teamed with something to cut through the sticky. I have never made éclairs but the thought of these tempts me to tackle the notorious choux pastry

3.Key Lime Alaska

When we lived in Oxford we went through a phase of celebrating all of our birthday's at Brasserie Blanc and the dessert of choice was a huge baked alaska. This kitsch delight has always tempted me and this key lime concoction of Martha's has me intrigued.

Have you been watching? Have you tried any of the recipes yet?


Autumn Days

Autumn days, when the grass is jewelled
And the silk inside a chestnut shell
Jet planes meeting in the air to be refuelled
All these things I love so well

Today is the first day of autumn. It is no secret that the summer is not my friend.  I love being cosy warm rather than meltingly warm, I will always choose boots and tights over sandals and shorts, and there is no one who can convince me that sunburnt shoulders are better than frosty toes and nose. This year I have to admit to having had a pretty awesome summer - it was a summer of booze and learning but they are stories for many future blog posts. 

But today, today is my favourite day of the year. There are leaves on the floor, a little bit of mist in the mornings and the slightest threat of rain. There are still thistles blooming in the garden.

It is acceptable to snuggle up with a brandy hot chocolate at the end of the day.

And BorderlineStraggler's bike looks resplendent against our leaf strewn lawn. 

Summer you were fun, but autumn will always have my heart. Happy scarves, tights and boots readers.


We bought a thing

I mentioned before we bought a house this year. It is our biggest ever joint purchase and it makes me think back to the first thing we ever bought together. We had been together about 6 months and there was the gorgeous Tracey Emin retrospective released. It was a big glossy coffee table book and cost about £50. At the time both BS and I were on pretty tight budgets so didn't have that kinda money to just throw about, but we could afford it together. I remember standing in Borders bookshop on Magdalen Street in Oxford and suggesting that we buy this book together. The look on his face was priceless, the idea just wouldn't fit in his head. Like the idea of owning something as important as an art book together was this massive watershed moment in his life, and in a way it was for both of us. It's probably worth pointing out that at this point we had been married for several months but it was the act of buying this book together that made it real for him that we were going to have a future, a future in which this book could be ours.

For me it was buying this house. It was a very precise moment, I was painting our fireplace black and it hit me. This was our house. Bought together. And that was a Thing. Which is awesome, (I mean at the moment its all just boxes but the awesome is coming) and I want to say Hello, lovely people and welcome you to the story of how we make it our very own.


On the road again


Yesterday morning I got a very puppy dog eye-d email from nbnq, bemoaning my lack of blogging at the moment. To be honest I have been missing blogging more and more recently. I still read lots of blogs but all of the pressures of life and work mean that actually getting round to blogging hasn't happened. Time to change that, inspired by an upcoming real life visit with my very favourite bloggy friend Caramel Latte Kiss I reckon it is time to get back on the horse.
I have spent a lot of my time recently enjoying the view up there. My Dream Job has involved an awful lot of time on trains up and down the country or pilling into my trusty car Jeff (he's a honda jazz and you can't resist a Fresh Prince inspired name) and discovering that I now have a favourite service station*. This has led to lots of unexpected adventures including spending the night in a care home, many random overnight staying with friends and a lot of time using free wifi. None of which is all that inspiring for a crafty blog. 

Over the summer we bought our first house and my beloved studio is still in boxes while we wait for building work to finish, which means knitting has been my only crafty release. And my goodness there has been a lot of knitting. While moving BS kept finding more and more of my yarn stash and gathering it together. Once it was all in one place there was an awful lot of gorgeous single skeins of yarn, not enough of anything to make a decent scarf but perfect to knock up a hat or the garter girls 'Burberry inspired cowl', which is one of my most favourite things to knit - I have three of my own that I'm rarely out of during the winter. If we are people who exchange gifts expect something knitted this year. 

So how have you been? 

How was the wedding/holiday/christening/job interview/house move? 

Did you ever see that chap again and find out if coffee was just a hot drink or a complicated code for i liked you when we worked together that time and now you're here, I'm here, this should be a thing?

*Hopwood services if you're interested, about an hour away from home and just about the time i want  cup of tea or snickers bar.


BEDM:the best thing about being an adult aka winning at Mondays

I was going to write a post about the wonderful realisation that as an adult my friends understand that people are complicated and make mistakes and don't judge.  But between drafting that post and now I got a bonkers text inviting me to a prince gig.  Yes that Prince.  On a Monday night.  In Birmingham and it was awesome.

So the thing I love most about bring an adult is having friends with great jobs that include free Prince tickets and having enough money but not so many responsibilities that I can say yes to things like that. 


BEDM: Local History

For this (rescheduled) post I've mixed it up a little bit. George from Caramel Latte Kiss and I are real life friends, in fact we were real life friends before discovering either of us were bloggers. Since then she has become one of my favourite blog buddies, we even attended the first Blognix together in secret - though that is a different story all together!

In an odd twist of life choices George now lives in Coventry, the city I grew up in, and I live in Hereford, where she grew up. Over cocktails and burgers last week we both admitted to not being particularly fired up about discovering our local history for this post so we swapped. George told me about Hereford and I told her about Coventry. You can find my post here, and here is hers:

Hereford is a much older city than it appears (as we’ve successfully flattened a lot of the oldest parts, like the castle and the city walls). Hereford was a Saxon city (its name is Saxon for a place where the soldiers crossed the river) and for a while was the capital of West Mercia, making it an important and busy place during England’s wars with Wales. A lot of Herefordshire has very sounding Welsh place names, which shows the shifting borders and confusion of land ownership in its early history.

Hereford Castle once rivalled Windsor in size, and was an essential stronghold for keeping the Welsh at bay. It was often used as a base by English kings when on campaign in the Welsh Marches. Unfortunately, nothing is left of the castle now, after it was dismantled in the 18th century.

Hereford pops up in other important moments in history too. Owen Tudor, after being defeated at the Battle of Mortimore’s Cross was executed in Hereford,  and there’s a plague in high-town to mark the spot (mmm, grisly!). During the Civil War, the city changed hands several times before being finally taken for Parliament in 1645. To show his gratitude, King Charles gave us a pretty fancy coat of arms, with the three lions of Richard I of England, ten Scottish Saltires, a lion crest and a peer’s helm.

Hereford’s history of being squabbled over gives it some great urban myths; my favourite is a classic one that we seem to share with a lot of towns that border Wales. Legend has it that you can legally shoot a Welshman with a longbow within Cathedral Close on a Sunday. Chester has a very similar legend about shooting a Welshman with a bow and arrow within the city walls after midnight. Better be careful when you choose to talk about Hereford’s history with Wales…

BEDM: British Sandwich week

taken from The Guardian 

Today sees the start of British Sandwich Week. Sandwiches form a big part of my weekly diet, though I have to admit to giving them very little thought. The lovely BorderlineStraggler makes the lunches in this household. His devil may care attitude to food means that I never quite know what I am going to get when I bite into a sandwich, there are sometimes outstanding successes like the mini sausages which were fried to perfection and served with onion chutney, there have also been epic failures like the blue cheese and hummus bagel affair that is never to be spoken of again.

Despite these culinary excitements we are guilty of having the same few things every single day. When nbnq and I went to the Harry Potter Experience, the lovely JC packed us off with an amazing hummus, chilli and veg bagel that is making my mouth water to just think about! To celebrate British Sandwich week I am going to try and make lunch this week, and make some extravaganzas of taste sensations. Hopefully I'll be able to include the sandwich above which is taken from Thomasina Miers Mexican Food Made Simple (a book I waxed lyrical about earlier in the week) it is a Mexican Club Sandwich.


BEDM: Gadgets

I have lots of gadgets, I have a smart phone, an ancient iPad, I am rarely without my Kindle but the gadgets that have the most impact for me are my crafting tools. Number one of these being my quilt frame. This thing changed my life - you can read about it here. It has saved me from the hell of basting and makes quilting an absolute dream. There are things that would make it better, like a machine with a start stop button, or a longer lead on my machine pedal, but other than that it is pretty much my favourite gadget.


BEDM: Passion Projects

Hmmmmm Passion projects. There are lots of things I am passionate about. I have a fad-y approach to most of my passing passions. I will find something that I'm interested in and decide this is it, this is now definitely the thing that I love, this is the best thing that has ever happened to me. A little bit like a schoolgirl pash (a 1930's phrase to describe an infatuation that I just love). Invariably these passions get lost along the way, if they are crafty things they may end up in the never decreasing UFO's box(s), or if they are activities I'll slowly fade away from them, replacing them with new more exciting commitments. But there are a few things that have made the transition from pash to Passion.


I make things all the time, I am happiest when I am in my studio making, be it quilting, or crochet, or printing. My practice is mainly textiles these days, but I am pretty sure they'll be a new fad along soon to turn my head and convince me that I don't know.... whittling wood is definitely the next thing I should do. DEFINITELY.


When I started BEDM it was because I really wanted to be inspired to get back to my blog. Blogging is a passion for me, sometimes I may not have the time or inspiration to write myself but I I read blogs several times a day, my bloglovin account is full to bursting with inspiring writers giving glimpses into their passions. Hopefully by the end of May I'll be back on the writing horse and posting here more frequently.


BEDM: Cinco de Mayo

Two years ago we bought Mexican Food Made Simple by Thomasina Miers, having caught the show on the Food Network. It was a revelation. The food was fresh and exciting, and surprisingly easy to make. It quickly became our dinner party food of choice - now we are both firmly in our thirties dinner parties have become a staple party of our social life. People are always excited when you say your making Mexican, and even more so when this doesn't mean fajitas.

One of the best things about this book is the ingredients section. Thomasina gives a very thorough introduction to all the different supplies you'll need, where you can source them in the UK and more importantly what you could substitute for ingredients more easily found. If you have never tried cooking Mexican please give it a go, it brings a little bit of sunshine to the darkest days, and on the rare days that you can eat in a sun dappled garden it tastes divine.

You can find a selection of Thomasina's recipes on the Food Network website. I'd recommend starting with one of my favourite dishes a potato and chorizo quesadilla, it is perfect for lazy hangover days


BEDM: Star Wars day!

Oh BEDM there are just too many options today for this topic! I could chose to talk about Hereford Rollers Girls Star Wars themed bout which will see me hanging up my NSO boots for a while

..or I could wax lyrical about my new found obsession with Ready Player One - specifically the audio book read by Wil Wheaton 

....or my love of geek craft and the people I get to make it for

Instead I think I am going to talk about my sci-fi fandom of choice, and there are several to choose from. I've flirted with the Whovian realms (inspired mainly by organising the greatest hen do of all time - evidenced in the form of shoes for the bride see above), there is my love of all things Potter and even my love of a good post apocalyptic YA novel, but when it comes down to it I am a Whedonverse lover through and through.

I started watching Buffy at exactly the right time. It started airing in the UK when I was 15 going on 16,rocking some awesome teen I'm-so-misunderstood angst and in Buffy Joss Whedon had so created such a rich world and mythology you could lose yourself in it completely. And I did just that. It was also around the time that I became aware of the internet and as everyone knows if you want a place to link up other like minded obsessives newsgroups were the way to do it.

I would spend hours debating plot lines and pouring over hypothesis of other fans. There was Buffy FanFic to enjoy, I even clearly remember listening to audio recordings of episodes that had aired in the US long before they got to the UK.....what can I say I was 16, and I have totally grown out of it. Kinda. A love of Buffy or in fact any of the Whedonverse including Firefly, Dollhouse, Angel or even a little Dr Horrible has always stood as excellent shorthand to help me find out how much I have in common with someone. Caramel Latte Kiss will tell you the night we became firm friends was spent sat in our favourite pub singing the lyrics of Firefly to each other. Good Times. When I met BorderlineStraggler one of the reasons I worried he might be a figment of my imagination was that he knew all the words to the Buffy Musical and would happily sing the Xander/Anya duet with a virtual stranger.

There are countless reasons I love Joss Whedon's work, some of them simple like his perfect characterisation, or deft skill of manipulating genres. Some of it is bigger reasons like the normalisation of strong female characters in all of his work and how powerful a message that was to a teenage Penny. However right here, right now it is the friends I have through a shared love of his work that brings a smile to my face and makes me proud to be a sci-fi lover.

BEDM: weekend morning routine

I used to love a weekend routine. On a Saturday we would get up, clean the house, run errands and go to the library that was just across from our flat. The afternoon would be spent pottering, maybe making before either seeing friends or settling in for some quality sofa time. Then I chucked it all in to run away to Art School. Since then our weekend routines have been nothing but a distant dream. With BS and I both working odd schedules and a variety of jobs no two weekends are ever the same. It looks like things might start to calm down soon but till then I'll have to make do with my fantasy weekend routine. It all starts with brunch.......

One of my favourite places in the world is my best friend's kitchen. Her parents own this beautiful house in Oxford which oozes French farmhouse charm, and not fake shabby chic charm, they are a French family so this is all family furniture that has been shipped over. Its all warm wood and creaky floorboards, and chairs that may or may not fall apart if you sit on them too roughly. Every so often we have a lazy brunch at her house. A BB Brunch always begins with walking to her house laden down with bags of food, newspapers and sparkling wine. We lounge in the kitchen, everyone drinking coffee and reading papers while BB and I make pancakes, Eggs Benedict, fruit salad and stacks of bacon. The rest of the day passes in a food induced coma, lazing in hammocks and on blankets if the weather allows or snuggled in sofas watching french movies on BB's ridiculously small TV. These BB Brunches are my most favourite of weekend mornings and I can't wait till the next one. If only she'd hurry up and come back to the UK.

BEDM: 5 fave posts

As I mentioned yesterday the real world has recently got in the way of my blog, but for a few years this was one of my favourite places, and writing gave me an enormous sense of well being. Here are a few of my favourite posts.

The one in which I learn how much I've learnt at college
Circle of college life

The one where I finish my degree collection
Enough is enough

The one with the origin myth
What's in a name?

The one with a typical Rats week
Around here

The one where I run an arts project. Little do I know how much this will change my everything.
The Red Suitcases


BEDM:What is your blog all about?

I am taking part in blog every day in May challenge.  Today's prompt is what is your blog about.  Very simply my blog is about me finding my crafty way in the world.  For the last year this has meant getting to grips with my life outside of the blog. I finished my degree in applied arts and started my first postgraduate job. I'm now about to start my (newly discovered) dream job,  I've stepped away from a lot of commitments that I was finding draining rather than inspiring, and I am excited to have this blog back in my life.
Currently I am on holiday in Valencia and I couldn't resist bringing some crafty joy with me. And that sums me and my blog up- wherever I go I'm always making!


Water, water everywhere

This year started so well. I had scheduled blogs, I was full of ideas for posts and a new-to-me point and shoot camera meant that I was back on blogging form. Sadly the weather and our dodgy roof had other ideas. You may remember this isn’t the first time that the Rats HQ has sprung a leak. But with 2 years of the luxury of a watertight roof I’d got lax. January 2nd rocked up and I was ready to blog my heart out only to find we’d had another leak, all over my laptop! It is dead. There is no hope to revive it and my insurance doesn’t cover it, but I am hoping to be up and running at the start of next week. Please check back soon for more bloggy fun.
Until then you can always follow me on twitter @catsizerats or on instagram @ratsasbigascats
Au Revoir for now...


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