Wednesday, 27 February 2008

planty news

It's amazing what a bit of neglect and some thinking time in a box can do.... I've been trying to take a nice photo of this amaryllis for a few days now and have finally given up (it's much nicer in person). The last time we saw this flower was in its first year with us, in the spring of 2006 before we'd started our Nordic adventure - unfortunately that year it wasn't in a heavy enough pot and ended up falling off a table. In 2007 it had some leaves but didn't do much else, but this time after feeding it during the summer and encouraging its leaves, and then letting it dry out, cutting it back and putting it in a box for our move to Finland it has done us proud.
There are actually two bulbs in the pot, so lets hope both of them will flower next year.

And while I'm getting excited about plants....
I planted some seeds on Sunday, it's maybe a little early, but the growing season is relatively short and it seems to be getting lighter so I thought I'd take a risk.... I'm a little earlier than last year when I managed to wait until April. From left to right I've planted chillies, peas (g), San Morzano tomatoes (g), tumbling tomatoes (g), spinach (g), chard (g), pepper, and cabbage wintergreen (g). I'm not sure if you can make it out in the photo, but there has already been some germination going on... the ones in the list above followed by a "g" are the ones that are showing signs of germination. It's very exciting, or at least I'm very excited by it!

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

knitted purse #2

Another week is plodding along here at the Monkey House.

We went to dinner last Saturday with some fairly new friends and had a great time, although I think we may have drunk a little too much. These friends are both non-meat eaters, and served us a lovely mix of vegetables cooked in various interesting ways. It made us realise how generally uninspired we're being at the moment about food. We have an occasional blip of inspiration (eg last weeks sushi) but not as on-going as it used to be. We had been making a concerted effort to eat less meat and only eat meat we knew where it had come from and generally experiment with vegetables, non-meat products such as tofu etc and fish, but we seem to have come to a bit of a halt. So, I'm going to try to kick start us back into being inspired (and hopefully healthier) - I went to the supermarket today and bought Jerusalem artichokes, beetroots, sweet potatoes and cous cous so lets see if anything exciting comes out of them?

Work's quite quiet at the moment so I've been trying to make progress on some bits and bobs that are floating around project-wise. Today I've finished a waistcoat for David for the wedding and a knitted change purse I've had on the go for me. The change purse has been knit for quite a while, it just needed a lining putting in. It's done now, and change added:
I think that's the last of the change purses I wanted to make, although I am tempted to make a bag at some point - something for me to think about.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Green tea cheesecake

We had David's boss and his family (wife and 3 kids) over for dinner on Sunday afternoon. David did most of the cooking, apart from the dessert, which is usually seen as my department. We cooked a Japanese inspired dinner and decided to try to make a green tea cheesecake for dessert.

We've previously made green tea ice cream, which was surprisingly good so we thought this was the next logical step. I used a basic baked cheesecake recipe from Sue Lawrence's Book of Baking and then added green tea powder instead of the lemon juice and rind. It worked, and was tasty, although I still think I prefer the original lemon one.

Keeping on the Japanese theme we found the little Japanese shop I blogged about visiting the other week and then didn't think I'd be able to find it again. It's called Common Japanese Standards and has a website. It's well worth visiting if you're in the neighbourhood. The couple that run it are ever so friendly and they have some beautiful things for sale. They also give you some green tea to drink while you look at everything and have a chat.

Here's the start of my latest project. It's going to be a zipped jacket (it has a little way to go yet!) but will hopefully look something like this once it's done.

The skiing lesson last weekend went well - the instructor was very funny and made it a lot of fun. He gave us a lot of tips and hopefully started us off with some good techniques. We just need to get out there and get some practice in now. The snow's still a bit patchy (although it has just been snowing) so getting practice around here might not be so easy.

Friday, 15 February 2008

Giddy with the sunshine

I'm feeling almost giddy with the fact that the sun has come out here. It feels like it's been damp and grey for ages, but we've now had 1 1/2 days of sunshine. Proper big blue skys sunshine. Hoorah. The temperature's gone down below freezing (I don't care the sun's out) and there's still no snow (I don't care the sun's out). So, in celebration of the sun coming out I've finished my red cardigan (lemonade). It may be a little ahead of the weather, but it's ready for the summer! Not a particularly great photo, but I was so amazed at the sun being out that was all I could manage.

My parents visit went well despite the grey and damp weather they had. They made positive noises about Helsinki and no doubt will be back at some point to see the city and its surroundings in a different season.

We went to the cinema last night with a few people from the Jolly Dragons group. We went to see Lust, Caution! I enjoyed it - David's written more about it here so I won't say much. The film is in Chinese with Finnish and Swedish subtitles, so we got the gist from the Swedish subtitles and of course the images. I would be interested in seeing the film again with English subtitles just to see what I missed.

What else - oh yes, we're having cross country skiing lessons this weekend despite there being no snow - David went to check if it was still on during the week and they apparently bring snow in to keep the track open. It seems pretty mad that they have to do this - is this climate change or is something else going on? So, wish me luck - I'm not exactly renowned for my love of skis!

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

winter or spring (or neither)

We're still waiting for winter to properly arrive in Helsinki. We did have a nice covering of snow on Sunday night. Some of it has melted already but I'm optimistically going to hope there's some more on the way. This is a photo from my office window before it started to melt. And while we're waiting for winter I'm still going with my spring sock. I've knit my first short row heel ever. I don't think I've done too badly for a first attempt - it's not perfect, but then not being a perfectionist that doesn't bother me, as long as it's close enough (which it is). I'm enjoying the fair isle pattern - I think I've definitely decided that I prefer to create my own pattern rather than using self-striping etc wool.
The sewing went well last weekend. The dress is done and ready for my parents to take it away with them. I've also started on a wasitcoat for David. So, now my thoughts are turning to what I'll sew next.... I have some ideas but need to think some more first and not get too far ahead of myself.

We have visitors coming this week - my parents - which will be good. And we've also got our friends Jo and Andrew booked to visit us for the weekend at the end of February - so I'm sure there's some mischief to be had.