Happy New Year! It’s 2011 already, really? Time flies when you’re ridiculously busy. I so didn’t get 20 hats knit for the ‘Big Knit” maybe about 6 in the end, I’ll just have to start earlier next year. My exams in December were pretty grim, I’m still waiting for the results so fingers crossed they’re not as awful as I’m expecting. Ireland was buried in snow for a few weeks, the most snow since records began, so the libraries and then the college were closed for a few days, not very helpful when you’re trying to cram. Our last exam was very nearly canceled because of the weather, in the end I’m glad it wasn’t, it’s one less exam i’ll have to think about next semester.

I may have got bored of the snow quickly, but I know someone else who definitely didn’t…

The photo above won a competition on facebook- I got a €100 voucher for a pet shop!! I’m considering using some of it to buy Grizz a coat, I know he’ll look ridiculous, but he shivered so much in the bad weather when we took him out I felt cruel making him go for walks. On one or two really icy days he downright refused to go out! Most days though he just loved jumping around in it.

I had a nice quiet Christmas at home in Dublin with my family, we usually go to our holiday home in West Cork for Christmas but this year the weather was insanely cold and the roads were icy, so we stayed in our nice warm house until the 28th when we headed south. The house was freezing for the first day or so but the sense of community we have down there more than makes up for it. Grizz loves it as he can run free across fields and along the beach every day, and play with his doggy friends.

I finally finished knitting this hat, I finished it before, then realised it was too small as I did one less pattern repeat than i should have before the decreases, woops. Oh well it’s finally done now and its very cosy. I think dad is jealous, I might have to make him something similar for his birthday in February!

I didn’t get to do nearly as much baking as I would have liked over Christmas, mainly because we seemed to already have a mountain of sweet treats to last us until March! I made some Peanut brittle for the first time for my mum for part of her Christmas present and it worked out amazingly well for a first attempt. Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo of it, but I imagine I will be making it again soon as it was very popular! I needed a recipe with no sugar thermometer required, and no corn syrup. You can’t really get corn syrup in Ireland but sugar syrup does the job. I subsequently tried to omit the sugar syrup and change the sugar and water amounts to account for it but it didn’t turn out as well at all. I also changed the measurements to metric for those of us on this side of the atlantic!

No Thermometer No Corn Syrup Peanut Brittle!

edited from http://www.couldntbeparve.com/2010/12/peanut-brittle-2/

400g granulated sugar
240ml water
120ml sugar syrup (recipe below)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp margarine
1/2 tsp baking soda/bicarbonate of soda
200g peanuts

Sugar Syrup = 200g sugar, 80ml water (makes more than is needed for this recipe)
Directions: Add sugar and water to a pan, gently boil until sugar has dissolved and mixture is syrupy (about 5 mins). Keep excess to make more brittle later!

Line a rimmed baking tray with parchment paper. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, water, syrup and salt. Bring to a rapid simmer over medium-high and cook until deep golden/until mixture has reached hard-crack stage, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Stir in margarine, baking soda, and peanuts (mixture will foam). Stir until mixture is no longer bubbling and caramel is smooth, 1 minute.
Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and spread with a lightly greased spatula. Do this quickly as the mixture sets quite fast. Don’t be tempted to have a taste until it has cooled completely- it’s REALLY HOT!!! keep kids and unsuspecting family members away! when it has cooled break into pieces, SMASH tray on a hard surface so peanut brittle dramatically shatters- clearly the best way to do it!


Tiny little hats

I’m a little late to the game, but I’ve decided to knit some teeny tiny hats for the Innocent smoothie ‘big knit’. The idea is they ask people to knit tiny hats that fit on their smoothie bottles. For each yummy smoothie that is sold wearing a hat they give 25c to the charity Age Action. I think it’s a really fun idea to raise money for a worthy charity.

Irish website link http://www.innocentdrinks.ie/thebigknit/
UK website link http://www.innocentdrinks.co.uk/bigknit/

I have pledged to knit 20 hats, I am doing a lot of sitting around at the moment as I had to have surgery on my leg last Wednesday. So far I’ve knit 4, but the deadline is 10th November, so I better get knitting!

They’re really fun to knit and great for using up scraps, and you even feel good about yourself while doing it as it’s for charity!

The website proved a few hat patterns and there are a few more on Ravelry, but my own imagination has run away with the prospect of being able to knit such fast little projects with such instant gratification. Here is one of the patterns I concocted.

Checkered Pixie Hat

Using 2 colours of sock/baby/4ply yarn (or whatever you want to call it) and 3.5cm needles (that’s US size 4) needles, Cast on 28 sts
Join in round and k 3 rows in k1p1 rib in main colour (MC)
row 4 & 5 (knit 2 sts in CC. knit 2 in MC). repeat till end of row.
row 6 & 7 (knit 2 mc, knit 2 cc) repeat to end of row
repeat rows 4 to 7 two more times
Row 16-(mc) k2tog all the way around (14 sts).
Row 17 (mc) k2tog all the way round (7 sts)
Row 18 (cc) k2tog 3 times, k1(4 sts)
Rows 19 to 28 (cc) knit these 4 stitches as i-cord, changing colour every 2 rows.
row 29 k2tog twice
cast off & weave in ends.

Ravelry link http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/innocent-smoothie-checkered-pixie-hat

For guaranteed laughs take silly photos of family/friends ‘wearing’ hat, by holding it in the foreground and with them in the background, like this- http://www.innocentdrinks.co.uk/bigknit/fun_corner/

If you have any questions about the pattern just ask, and I would really love if you showed me photos if you knit it!


Back in the swing of things

Well it’s back to the ol’ studying for these repeat exams I have. As you can see I’m far better at procrastinating than studying. I have to keep a notepad beside me to write down all the distracting thoughts that come into my head, so I don’t go act on them immediately as an excuse to get away from the desk!

If anyone has some good notes on cattle reproduction let me know…

Looking forward to getting my stuff from threadless too


So Long Summer!

Well, Summer has been and unfortunately is gone, far too soon if you ask me. It has been pretty hectic, hence I haven’t had a chance to post in months. Grizz is a tiny puppy no more, rather an 8 Kilo lump, but still pretty cute if you ask me.

Here are some of the things I did this summer

Taught sailing for 6 weeks
Went to Essex with the scouts
Taught the dog to sit, give the paw, lie down, roll over, spin around and high 5!
Saw a big air-sea rescue operation up close
Lots of walks on the beach
Learned how to play flip cup
took 26 kids on the london tube at rush hour
Went to a high ropes park
Didn’t teach the dog to come when called, hmm i gotta work on that
Failed two exams but repeating them next week
Made marshmallow fondant icing
Went to Thorpe Park
Got Grizz a lifejacket and brought him on the boat
Ordered some cool stuff from threadless.com
Won a €50 token for an online pet shop
Went to the cinema
Made a campfire blanket
Turned 24

Made new friends and caught up with old ones. That was the best part.


So Shoot Me

A few of my friends have warned me not to dress up my dog as they think it will make him soft and make me look like an idiot. I’m not about to go dress him up like this or put diamanté collars on him, but I think bandanas are cute. So shoot me.

Dog Collar Bandana

Hmm, OK I don’t profess to be amazing and perfect at sewing, but nonetheless I will show you how I made this little bandana for Grizz. This bandana is designed to slide on over you dog’s regular collar.

You will need…
1 dog collar that fits your pup (remember when fitting a collar to leave enough room to fit 2-3 fingers between the collar and his neck)
A square of material big enough so that the diagonal is longer than the length of the collar (see pic below) Mine was 20x20cm square, the collar is 25cm long. I got the fabric in the scraps bin in Ikea, 100% cotton, bargain!
A Sewing machine, or needle & thread and patience.
An Iron for ironing the seams etc
Measuring Tape (entirely optional)

1. Cut your material to size. Use the collar to measure against the diagonal of the square, leave some excess for seams. Ignore the screaming puppy who wants to get out of his crate. If it is a collar with a buckle measure from the hole that you use to close the collar to the end, not the whole length of the collar. If your pup still has a bit of growing to do you can make it a bit bigger.

Fold in the edges and iron along the creases to form the seams.

Fold in half diagonally and place the collar along the diagonal. Measure the width of the collar, leaving an allowance each side. Mine was 2.5cm. This will be the point that the collar will slide into the bandana so don’t make it too tight.

Unfold the square again. Double the measurement you took, using this measurement fold in one of the points of the square until the edge measures this (5cm in my case). See the photo below for a better explanation.

Iron these creases. Your collar should now be longer than the diagonal side of the bandana.

Sew along these creases and then cut the excess material on the inside

Return to the other two corners that will form the point of the bandana. If you can figure out a neater way to make them look tidy then well done, but here is how I did it. Fold the corners as in the photo below, you can snip off the very point of the corner to reduce bulk, iron the folds and pin them.

Fold the bandana in half and sew along the ‘V’. Remember not to sew the points where the collar will enter and exit!

Slide your collar through the bandana, put on your pup and gather family members/friends around so that everyone can say…

…1, 2, 3, Awwwwwwwwww!


Puppy Puppy Puppy!

He’s finally here!

We Brought Grizz home on Wednesday, he was good as gold in the car and jumped straight into his crate when we introduced him to it. I had given the breeder a blanket and toy so that he had something with a familiar smell on it and it seemed to do the trick.

Boy does he take up a lot of time, it’s very hard to get any work done with a puppy around. I’ve been trying to write this post for three days! He is very wonderful though, everything he does is unbelievably cute. Well, nearly everything, peeing on the floor and waking me at 5am isn’t that cute, but I forgive him! He has settled in pretty well and even Tigger has started to come around a little bit. She is still very wary of him but they have been within about 2 feet of one another without anyone losing an eye.

He has been scratching a lot so I got some Stronghold flea treatment from the vet on Thursday. This didn’t make a difference so I gave him a bath (very cute!) but again this didn’t help. The vet recommended a bath in Baking soda (aka sodium bicarbonate or bicarbonate of soda- not baking powder!) so the poor thing got 2 baths in one day! He’s much softer and less dusty feeling, although he is still scratching a bit, so I brought him to the vet this morning.

The vet thinks he’s ‘the best puppy you could get’, and agrees he was worth the wait, which is very complimentary for someone who sees tons of dogs every day! He squeezed out his anal glands- lovely, and wormed him with Milbemax (the rolls royce of wormers so he says) and put drops in his ears, so he’s well and truly covered. He said not to worry too much about the scratching as long as he’s not loosing any hair, but I’ll keep an eye on it.

The new camera is brilliant and I’m so glad I got it now so I can capture his puppy days, as I’m sure they will go very fast.


Sugar and Surprises

This morning was hectic. I was in charge of our scout’s Cake Sale to raise money for our summer trip. I guess I could now call it our annual cake sale as this is the second year we have done it! Yesterday I spent the day baking- 3 batches of cupcakes, a lemon drizzle cake, and dolling-up some shop-bought muffins that a parent donated. Unfortunately I was too busy for photos and my brothers camera was nowhere to be found. All in all the cake sale was great- oddly we made the Exact Same amount of money as last year, €640, very strange!! We probably would have made a little more had the scouts not helped themselves to lollipops and a few cupcakes! They were over the moon when I told them this would be enough to add a theme park to our agenda for the summer camp.

This afternoon I was puppy-proofing the house for the new arrival on Wednesday. Tigger was too busy sunning herself in the hot weather to be concerned with what I was up to, taking down curtains and putting away ornaments and rugs! The weather here has been unbelivable the last few days, around 25ºC which is practically unheard of in Ireland. I sat outside for about 20 minutes eating lunch and my arms started to get sunburnt, that is how fair-skinned I am!

This evening I had a big surprise, I knew it was coming, but not in the quantity that it did. I finally got my overpaid tax back! I’ll tell you that it is enough to buy myself that new camera I’ve been drooling over for the last while, the Pentax Optio W90; waterproof, shockproof and most importantly sandproof, as thats how my last camera ‘bit the dust’! Hopefully this will mean lots more photos to post up here.

I’m also going to order Grizz’s name tags from here http://www.indigocollartags.com. The tags slide onto the collar so they don’t jangle and there is less chance of loosing them, I think they look great!