Running in the rain

I love running in the rain. Seriously would rather run in the rain than a blazing sunny day (probably good I live in the UK then). But man, yesterday totally put that claim to the test when I did my long run. It rained solidly for the full day.

It was lightly raining when I set off for my long run (7miles this week) and I thought, no prob, this is awesome. Then the rain picked up from light to steady after my first lap of the park. And stayed that way for the entire rest of my run.

I think by the end of lap 2 I had water in my shoes. By lap 3 my shirt (a technical wicking running shirt mind you) was so water logged it was extra weight and suctioned itself to me. As I came around for my shorter 4th lap I was a drowned rat and starting to get cold. I was even getting wrinkled fingers as if I had been in the bath for hours. I was so soaking when I got home I had to quickly peel everything off to wring it all out over the sink as I was creating puddles by just standing still.

Definitely a unique experience. But on the upside, with that much rain the park was mostly empty but for a few other brave runners & walkers. And it was pretty as a picture.

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Hey hey

Well, hey, it’s been a while blogosphere… I’ve been meaning to pick this back up. I was going to start a running blog (yea, I run now. Who’d have thought.) and then thought, ‘why? I can’t even post to my blog’ and so decided to do my running posting here. So more posts coming your way in the future talking about running, sewing, baking, my general exploits, and of course, knitting. Possibly a few other things in between.

Hey hey

Well, hey, it’s been a while blogosphere… I’ve been meaning to pick this back up. I was going to start a running blog (yea, I run now. Who’d have thought.) and then thought, ‘why? I can’t even post to my blog’ and so decided to do my running posting here. So more posts coming your way in the future talking about running, sewing, baking, my general exploits, and of course, knitting. Possibly a few other things in between.

Huh, so I do still have a blog…

Yea, I’m crap about keeping this thing updated. More frequent updates soon, I promise.

Saturday in Pictures

Technically Friday eve, but one of my host cats on a cat quilt

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Cawdor Castle

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Beautiful tea colored river behind the castle

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A most amazing homemade dinner of pork chops & mash w/ a cider gravy w/ apples

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Playing Munchkin the boardgame until the wee hours. And I even squeaked out a win!

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Inverness

I had one of the closest calls making a flight in pretty much ever today. Not only had I misjudged how much time I’d need to get to Gatwick by about 30min but it was also one of those days that Southward overland train service was a step beyond shit.

But, after some quick rerouting and sprinting through London Bridge and East Croydon stations, followed by some sprinting through Gatwick, being ‘that girl’ who is late for her flight & begging folks in the security line to let her cut (they did and are made of so much awesome), and finally sprinting to my gate, I made it. And even had some time to spare. I’m not entirely sure how I managed to screw up the timing of my flight. I know part of it was a 18:00 vs 8pm confusion that had me thinking I had tons of time but how I never managed to plan in enough getting there time I dunno.

A bit wild, but hey, I made it to Inverness so I can visit some friends for a lively weekend in Scotland. Totally worth the sprinting to see the gorgeous scenery while in the taxi ride from the airport.

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Reversible Skirt Trial #1

The backstory:
So last Summer, I ended up wandering in John Lewis in a last ditch effort to see if they had any of the millinery bits I needed after I did not manage to make it to any of the habidashery shops in time for them to be open. After having no luck in the habidashery department of John Lewis either, I wandered the rest of the store a bit to kill off some of my annoyance. I also saw a really cute coat as I was riding the escalator upwards to the habidashery floor. The coat was less cute when on me (and in something of the £600 price range…ouch) so I wandered away from it and noticed they still had a bit of the summer sales lingering in the ladies fashion department. Nothing much exciting until I came across the White Stuff area when I noticed this cute skirt and how it said “reversible” on it’s tag. I took at closer look and was quite intrigued by the clever construction that allowed this which was mostly due to the button closure instead of a zip that allowed it to button on either side. It was on sale, I liked the functionality of it for travel (2 in 1 skirt = less to pack) and I kinda wanted to take it home so I could deconstruct it a bit more to use it as a basis for making my own, so I bought it despite not being 100% in love with the fabric pattern (though it has grown on me since to being like 95% love).

This is the original skirt:

Side 1

Side 1

Side 2

Side 2

Side 2

Clever button closure

 

 

 

 

 

 

My end goal is I want to make one of these skirts with Dr Who fabric on one side and Firefly fabric on the other. (Yes I am that level of dork. Shut up.) However, I knew the first go or two (after watching my housemate do this in her never ending sewing quest for the perfect wrap jersey dress) did not have a high chance of being spectacular. So on my trip home to the US for Christmas I scouted out some cheap(ish) printed cotton that was still cute and would be wearable should it work out, to use for making a stab at a first go.

Now about a month ago I finally got around to drafting a pattern out and cutting the fabric. Then I got busy. Then I decided to finish my last Clothkits skirt instead. But then Saturday afternoon after getting back from macaron class, I was raring to go on it and getting it done. Now for a first go, it wasn’t all that bad. There are a few construction things I could have done smarter when putting it together. And a few other things I’ve worked out that would be better or need to be fixed. But I do have a wearable reversible skirt:

I opted for this one to do different color buttons on the two sides mostly cause I didn’t have enough in one color to do both the same, but I like it how it turned out.

Trial Skirt Side 1

Trial Skirt Side 1

Trial Skirt Side 2

Trial Skirt Side 2

Trial Skirt button close

Trial skirt button close

 

 

 

 

 

Things to know for next time:

  • Current pattern is a bit tight in the hip (and loose in the waist but if there is more space in the hip then the skirt should ride lower) so needs adjusting to add maybe a half inch to an inch.
  • Doing the button tab in a really contrasty color not so great as thought. Try using the two skirt fabrics one on each side.
  • Make the opening slightly longer.
  • It might be better to attach the panel and do the hems of the two skirts before seaming them at the top into the reversible state.
  • To add the peek-a-boo panel at the bottom, I would double fold over the skirt hem. Tuck the rough end of the panel into the fold so it’s facing upwards into the skirt (instead of down). Do the hem like this. Then fold over the panel to it’s proper place (and iron) then do another hemline to keep this in place. I think doing it this way should help reduce any potential fraying but does require making the panel taller.
  • Get better at doing the button loops and actually make them the same size.
  • Sew the buttons on looser.

So not quite ready to jump to my sci-fi geekette of awesome skirt just yet, but not a bad first go.

Macarons

I spent my Saturday afternoon in a pro(ish) kitchen with my friend Josh (and a few strangers) learning how to make macarons. Basically my baking buddy Josh & I saw a voucher on Living Social for a course at the On Cafe and decided that learning now for cheap was better than our original plan to take the Eurostar to Paris and find a(n English speaking) chef there to teach us. I still wanna do that option too (and I’m pretty sure Josh would be as well), but this option produced a more immediate turn around with less planning.

I will start with I love macarons. I mean, don’t get me wrong I’m a chocolate chip cookie girl at heart and always will be, but I absolutely adore macarons. They’re colorful. They’re cute. They’re a tiny bit of a sugar rush that makes your teeth feel like melting. And when done right, they are amazingly tasty.

Taking pics of the pretty display macaroons

Taking pics of the pretty display macarons

So how stoked was I to finally get to learn how to make these little delights? I’d been meaning to give it a go on my own from instructions and recipe I found online but frankly, they seemed like a lot more planning than I’ve had lately. And as I learned on Saturday that is not only true, but has many reasons why.

Josh & I arrived a little early (really only like 8 minutes but didn’t stop us getting remarked that we were “really early so would have to entertain ourselves”) but it was kinda nice to get to look around the kitchen a bit before anyone else got there. The course started off with the chef Loretta explaining what we were going to do and laying out the structure for the course. She would demo the whole process out to us and then we would crack on doing it ourselves. Her teaching manner is a bit brusque but she was straightforward and pushed observation over talking by telling us to hold our questions until the end, which worked for the most part until I forgot mine.

She told us to focus on getting the hang of three main things for the day and then the rest could be tweaked through our own trials and practice at home. The three things to strive to learn were 1) identifying the meringue was in the right state, 2) the folding technique so you don’t collapse your meringue, and lastly 3) the piping technique. Now #3 I felt pretty confident I’d be okay on as I have some mad skills with a piping bag from growing up with a mom who decorated cakes as a side gig for a few extra bucks. For #2 I also figured I could swing the hang of pretty quickly as sounded mostly like just adjusting stirring techniques I already had (and I bake enough I do know how to “fold” things into a batter, I just rarely do it for lack of caring/patience), so I wanted to focus a lot on getting down #1 since I knew being able to spot the correct state of a meringue was going to be more tricky and require focus.

Whipping some egg whites and sugar into shape

Whipping some egg whites and sugar into shape

There were only three mixers so we had to go in groups of three for using them but Josh & I were lucky enough to get in the first group. I popped in my eggs and started that puppy up. Then after a minute I added my sugar and let it do its thing while I watched closely. The mixers all had timers with them as they knew how long it would take to get to the right stage for each of them (and all mixers are different) so we were pretty sure when the timer was up it would be fine, but I really wanted to see if I could catch it myself. I about did but not quite though I do know what to look for. (And I also now covet one of those mixers. I mean, I always wanted one anyway, but now am doubley reminded why).

Next came the other tricky bit which was folding the meringue into the ground almond and powder sugar. The key here was you had to be fast but gentle, otherwise if you were too slow, the meringue would collapse before you got all the dry ingredients mixed in or if you were too rough you could collapse the meringue. I started briefly at too slow a pace but then I got the feel of their type of spatula and found my rhythm and got it all mixed up perfectly. You also have to be careful not to over fold it otherwise the batter gets really runny (cause the more you fold it the wetter it gets) so you have to keep checking for the slow drip once it’s about mixed.

My piped out Macaroons

My piped out Macarons

Then came the fun bit, piping them all out. I love working with piping bags and always find them fun, so this was no different. Loretta even decided I was skilled enough to show me the fancy flick so they don’t get a spike on the top. I had all mine piped out pretty quickly and about the only fault was that I wasn’t overly consistent in making them the same size, but I wasn’t too fussed since I wasn’t trying super hard at that.

All baked up

All baked up

Once everyone had theirs piped out, they all went off to get baked up. We got a chance to buy things off the kitchen that they stocked so I snagged one of the nice silicon baking mats so I can remake macarons at home on it. Another reason to go to Paris will be to go shopping in the cooking supply stores for more gear. Soon they were all baked up and then we got to fill them with the lovely chocolate ganache that Loretta whipped up during the demo. I didn’t quite mind not having to do that bit of making as ganache is pretty brainless to make, though I did learn why some have butter and some don’t: the butter makes it shiny so if it’s for decor, you may want to use it, otherwise it’s optional.

And then there was a lovely box of macarons I made to take home and gobble up. I think I ate about 5 of the 30 on my own by the end of Satuday. My housemates were well impressed. Now I really want to give it a go making them on my own at home and I feel reasonably like I should be able to do so.

Finished and ready to eat

Finished and ready to eat

Chef Loretta was a bit rough around the edges but she’s a hardcore chef who definitely knows her stuff, which kinda makes you want to please her all the more by showing that you got it (at least for me and I think Josh felt the same way). I was beaming a little when after seeing me folding the batter she could tell I was an experienced baker and again later when she deemed me worthy of learning the piping flick. As I was hanging about for Josh to finish filling his macaroons with ganache she randomly asked if I was planning to run my own baking business and I was a little like “who me?”.

Maybe my “backup plan” (you know the one you have for when your day job goes to shit) of maybe having my own little cafe/bakery place someday isn’t so crazy. Well maybe it is, but that’s why it’s a backup plan.

Sicily first day

We just arrived in Sicily today. However my bag did not seem to leave Rome so I am currently without it which is driving me mad. It should be in Sicily tonight & delivered to hotel tomorrow but still makes me crazy especially as my friend’s bag made it. However I’m determined to be chill about it & not let it make me more upset than the initial melt in the airport.

So instead of moaning, I bring you pictures from our dinner tonight.

Our starter: ricotta bruschetta topped with pistachio cream with sliced pears

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Primi: vegetable risotto with smoked cheese

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Seconde: filet steak in a Marsala orange sauce. Sorry no pic of this one as we killed it in about a minute.

Dolci: some kind if chocolate torte we saw them walk by with but wasn’t on the menu so we asked about. Deliciousness

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Vino Rosso

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Sicily Bound

That’s right folks, this time tomorrow I will be on my way to my third year in a row of spending Easter in one of the most delightful and one of my favorite places, Sicily. I love that the UK has a four day weekend for Easter and the easy application of a day on each end gets me a lovely six day holiday.

I’m already counting down to enjoying all the good food, fantastic wine, delicious gelato, and awesome coffee. And bonus, it’s supposed to be full of sun and mid-60′s (Fahrenheit) weather. Yay for travel!