Monday, 30 September 2013

a very social september

Summer's definitely on its last legs but that didn't stop it from from being one fabulous month! PLUS I made some excellent progress with the 4 things challenge :)

De-clutter: I'd bagged up a few clothes at the beginning of the month with the intention of taking them to the charity shop. And there, by the front door, they sat all month until this Saturday when, as luck would have it, another Give and Take was taking place in Brixton. I donated a box and bag of stuff and didn't hang around for fear of picking up more stuff than I'd dropped off! Unfortunately, on unpacking all of my winter clothes and reintroducing them into my wardrobe when I returned to the flat, I found quite a few other bits and pieces which could've gone to Give and Take as well. A new charity bag has been started. Goal for October is to actually take stuff to the charity shop and stick to the one-in-one-out policy on wardrobe and shoe rack. Also, I really need to start filing the paper trail connected with the wedding - I've even got the perfect folder for it!

Health: I've joined the gym! And I'm actually going to it! Current goal is 3 times a week, at least half and hour on weekdays and about an hour at the weekend. 4 weeks in and so far, so good :)

Money: What with joining the gym and saving for the wedding, it's been a bit of a poor month and it looks like October will be much the same. I really do need to curb my spending and start thinking more thriftily about really simple things like making my own lunch everyday (not just the odd day here and there and in the last week before payday). I'm also attempting to drink less booze. It's not a cap on socialising but I'm going to try sticking to two drinks in an evening which will probably benefit my health too. I think this one will be tough but hey, Ill give it a go!

Do More New: I completed my first ever baby quilt and attended my first non-family christening. I interviewed the first man to be featured in the quilting magazine at work - and not just any man - knitter, quilter, needlepoint-er, and fabric designer Kaffe Fassett (he was so lovely and his studio in Kilburn was - so many colours and patterns all over it). My parents met Mitch's parents for the very first time and I went to my first  live comedy show at the Hammersmith Apollo. Lots of new stuff :)

Friday, 27 September 2013

recent reads

Oh Comely - the space issue

OH COMELY + SPACE STUFF  (+ wearing my awesome 'in the beginning' jumper by ArtDisco while I read it) = ASTRONOMICAL AMOUNTS OF JOY

Obviously any issue by Oh Comely is a winner but I'd been looking forward to issue 17 for a good couple of months :) As always there's lots of interesting little articles inside - my favourites being the interviews with the lady who helps to design spacesuits and the pope's astronomer. There's also a very though-provoking short piece about discovery and loneliness linked to the third member of the Apollo 11 crew who didn't land on the moon, as well as some excellent illustrations of the animals who made it into space and postcards from other worlds. Added bonus of a v.cute knitted WALL-E on the back. I do love Oh Comely.

The Hundred Year Old Man who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared (2009)
If a person had lived for a hundred years, you'd imaging they'd have quite a few stories to tell and Allan Karlsson, the protagonist of Jonas Jonasson's novel, is no exception. The book follows the story of how, on his 100th birthday, Allan decides he's had enough of the old peoples' home and quite literally climbs out of the window to embark on a bizarre journey. Lead by coincidence after coincidence, he meets some other odd characters and causes rather a lot of trouble (including a number of deaths). Interspersed between Allan's progress in the present (2005) we're given a thorough breakdown of Allan's past - starting at his birth and ending with his arrival at the old people's home. It's a very amusing but dense read, SO much stuff happens in the backstory segments that it turns into a kind of trip through the major historical/political/cultural events to have happened on the planet over the last century, all told from the point of view of our fictional character, Allan. Some of the situations he finds himself in (in fact all the situations as a series of events) are completely insane, but this doesn't matter thanks to Allan's character. By not troubling himself with politics and religion he's able to focus on the things that do interest him - science and vodka. Indeed, these two interests pretty much shape his adventures as he breezes through his extraordinary life. Because the backstory stuff was so interesting, I lost a little bit of momentum when reading about his adventures in 2005. However, it all comes together at the end with a pleasing, and of course belief-suspending, conclusion. That phrase about "being in the right place at the right time" is certainly a big part of the book. Although, Allan's very casual attitude to things does get him into a lot of trouble at times, it also allows him to travel the globe and forge great friendships. It sort of made me think of my 'do more new' challenge in that it's usually a good idea to say 'yes' to stuff (unless, of course, Stalin is asking you to build him an atomic bomb) and to see where it takes you. Highly recommended!

Catching Fire (2009)
What can I say? I bloody love it. It's even better than the first Hunger Games instalment. The story picks up almost exactly where it left off and now that Katniss and Peeta have returned from the arena to embark on their victory tour, things are starting to get a little out of hand in the districts and there's a whiff of rebellion in the air... With an even longer build up to the Games in this book that the first, which is not necessarily a bad thing, suspense is your friend, the stage is perfectly set for the quarter quell. The concept behind the arena in this book is pretty horrendous but also v.clever and the big reveal at the end is ace. I basically consumed this book in record time and now I cannot wait for the film. As I've said before, yes it's not a piece of literature but it's a damn fine bit of escapism. If people read Marion Keyes seriously so I will read the Hunger Games saga, seriously. Now to get my mitts on the last book!

Mr Pye (1953)
Well known for his Gormenghast books, Mervyn Peake also wrote and illustrated a number of other books including the short novel about Mr Pye. Like Gormenghast the text is rather dense and very descriptive. It follows the story of Mr Pye, a v.kindly gentleman who arrives on the Isle of Sark with his mission to inspire and spread the love of God amongst the islanders. And this he does - carrying out good deeds and spreading his teaching. Then one day he finds two curious lumps, one on each of his shoulders, and they start to grow until he starts to sprout feathers... I don't really want to give much more of it away as it's only a short little read but excellent none the less. It almost feels like some sort of fable or cautionary tale, and raises thoughts about faith, good & evil and the struggle between them all.

Suicide (2008)
The last thing I read whilst on holiday. Not the most cheery subject you'd imagine but actually it's far from miserable. The book is addressed to "you", his fictional friend that committed suicide years earlier, and reads almost like a list of all the things the narrator remembers about "you". No insight into the reasons why "you" committed suicide are given and, apart from at the beginning and end, there's very little mention of the act. With no chapters or much structure to the memories/stories about "your life" that the narrator recalls, the book is very much like a stream of consciousness which, for me, was very refreshing as I rarely, if ever, read books like this. The last few pages of the novel are dedicated to a number of three line stanzas. There are some beautiful little sentences in the main text but the poems at the end are perfectly balanced, succinct, and rather haunting, thoughts. I actually read some of them out loud. Aside from being entitled 'Suicide' much noise was made about this book when it was first published due to the story of the author, Édouard Levé, who committed suicide not long after submitting the manuscript to his agent. I think this is one of those books which I would have loved to study and pick a part as it's interesting to read about all the links and differences between the author's novel and his own demise. I highly recommend giving it a read, it won't take long or leave you feeling empty.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Eyes Down Ears Up and don't forget to Touch The Frog

A very lovely weekend – which included an all day family get-together at my parents' house, a friend's engagement party, a good work-out at the gym and some sewing – was sandwiched between two excellent nights out. It all started on Thursday night...


This year, for her birthday, my sister had asked for "things to do" as opposed to "things to have" so I got her (and myself of course) a ticket to Musical Bingo at Drink, Shop & Do! It's quite probably one of the best nights out to be had in London. The last (and first) time we went was for my birthday last year - I wrote a post about it here.
Not much has changed in terms of set-up - you still get four themed rounds of glorious bingo, the chance to win some truely ace/horrendous prizes, a lovely list of seriously tasty cocktails including the signature tipple, bingotini (although they're nowhere near as strong as they used to be - which, it being a thursday night, I was grateful for), excellent tunes and your fabulous host for the evening, Jess Indeedy. Although we were blessed with beginners luck on our last visit, we weren't so fortunate this time. However, as DS&D have moved Musical Bingo to their downstairs bar area, Katie and I managed to get two seats at the bar, right in the middle of the action, and had enough space to have a good old dance (which we didn't last time). So, I didn't get to win to an awesome dinosaur poster but I did get to dance like a looney on a thursday night (my memory is hazy but I have a sneaking suspicion that there might be photographic evidence of this thanks to Jess's photographer...). As ever, if DS&D in Kings Cross is a bit of a faff to get to, you can catch Jess Indeedy and Musical Bingo at various other locations in London.


On sunday night I met Mitch in Hammersmith and after a pizza at Pinch, we headed off to the Apollo to see comedian Adam Hills. Last summer when the paralympics were on, Mitch and I were ardent followers of the show The Last Leg, hosted by, largely un-known to us, Australian comedian, Adam Hills. Thanks to the frankly hilarious conversations of Adam and his regular sofa occupiers/co-hosts Alex Brooker and Josh Widdicombe, the people at Channel 4 granted them their own show of the same name after the conclusion of the paralympics. We even got to be in the live audience of one of the recordings of the show earlier this year. Mitch booked tickets to see Adam perform live soon after the recording and we had to wait about 9 months before the day finally came! It was definitely worth the wait!
alex brooker, adam hills, josh widdicombe

The performance on sunday night was actually being recorded for Adam's DVD - Happyism and thanks to a mix-up about the start times printed on the ticket we (those who arrived early) got a bonus performance from Josh Widdicombe! It was such a great night, I basically laughed my ass for two and a half hours. Adam Hills is an excellent story-teller, that's basically what he does, tells stories, really funny stories. Also, on all (or at least most of his tours) he has on stage with him a sign language interpreter who repeats everything, and I mean everything, for the deaf members of the audience. It sounds rude but this was pretty funny in itself as a lot of the signs for words such as 'wanker', 'balls' and 'cockfosters' (as in the end of the piccadilly line) were surprisingly easy to recognise! Live comedy is bloody great, I just wish I got around to seeing it more often! Oh, and incase you were wondering 'touch the frog' was in reference to Adam meeting Kermit the Frog and doing a show with The Muppets - cool no?

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Tuesday's Tees - People Tree

Some pretty tees from People Tree - some of which are in the sale :) The non-sale items are a little pricey but you can be rest assured that all their stuff is made ethically and sustainably, which, of course, can't be said of some of the most well known high street stores...

Wednesday, 18 September 2013


I'm not entirely sure why, but over the last few days I developed a serious want for a checked dress!
Any of these beauties would certainly fit the bill, now I just need (money permitting) to pick which one. Or a couple.

1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7 // 8 // 9 // 10 // 11

 Number 6 is probably my ultimate favourite but it's actually sold out. One day I hope that I'll be able to recreate it.
How about you, got any autumnal clothing cravings?

Monday, 16 September 2013

Making & Baking - a rainy weekend

Although the weekend's evenings were filled with lovely social stuff, the rain-filled daytimes meant that I didn't really venture out (apart from a v.good sesh at the gym on sunday).

Of course I was hardly stuck inside (I've got a perfectly good pair of wellies and a raincoat) but it was rather nice being cooped-up in the flat. It was, in fact, the perfect opportunity to get on with some creative shiz, in particular, needlepoint!

It took me an age to secure the canvas to the stretching frame but it was worth it. Needlepoint is probably the most satisfying thing ever, even more so than knitting or crochet and is nowhere near as scary to start as a complete beginner. With just a few uber simple stitches, which you essentially just repeat over and over, you can make a v.pretty pattern.

Admittedly I did buy the wrong type of canvas (3 strand weave rather than a single weave) which means that the patterns with vertical and horizontal stitches don't look as tight or neat as the patterns which require diagonal stitches. But hey, you live and learn. Plus, this canvas is great to practice on, I'm kinda treating it like a piece of paper to doodle ideas on. Mitch said he thought it looked nice but wondered (I detected a hint of concern at yet another craft related hobby) what I was going to make with it. I think something simple to go in a frame might be the best place to start and then perhaps a cushion.

This is my favourite pattern so far, it's called bargello (hello chevrons), and I reckon it would look pretty ace as a cushion.

I also got around to doing some baking and made some strawberry and white chocolate muffins. They don't look great - or anything like muffins - but I can assure you, they taste guuuud! I used this recipe but switched the raspberries for strawberries as we had some in the fridge. Also, I ran out of muffin cases and went for the baking paper method instead which definitely contributed to their strange shape but whatever, I'm not in the Bake Off.

After much wining and dinning at a couple of friends' houses AND eating most of the muffins I made, an hour at the gym seemed like a v.good idea. It's only been two weeks but I love it! Of course it helps massively  that it's the fanciest gym I've ever been to and is only a 10 minute walk from the flat. Feeling v.positive about my new exercise regime (at least 30 mins 3-4 times a week is the plan for the mo), now all I need to do is address my diet!

Hope you all had a fun-filled weekend whether you were in or out :)

Thursday, 12 September 2013

needlepoint swooning

Thanks to a new project being tested at work I have now become slightly obsessed with embroidery and needlepoint. Anyone who follows me on pinterest will probably have noticed a stitching themed pin-athon over the last week or so. Perhaps unsurprisingly I'm particularly drawn to the geometric designs (triangles galore!). Here's a few of my favourites at the moment - pretty non?


Yesterday, the insanely talented textile lady I work with v.kindly gave me some of her old embroidery stuff! She's given me a bunch of threads, a canvas stretcher AND, perhaps most excitingly, a big DK book full of all the stitches and how to do them, written by herself no less! I cannot wait to get started, watch this space :)

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

cocktails, clapham and crochet

Woah, what a busy weekend! After a reeeeally good week I continued to ride the wave of positivity into the weekend and indulged in a very fun-filled couple of days. The rather over zealous exploits of Friday night at a friends' birthday at the ever-awesome Effra Social left me feeling a little worse for wear, but! Saturday was my sister's birthday and I wasn't about to let her down :) She, her lovely friends and I gathered in The Shoreditch to take full advantage of their 2 for a tenner cocktails and I tell you now, they were guuuud. Of all the pages of cocktails to choose from (about 30 different ones) my favourite was the Happy Buddha. At 9pm the venue opened their downstairs 'club' area and we danced the night away. Aside from the happy hour prices I also greatly enjoyed The Shoreditch's penchant for jazzy wallpaper!

I'd been looking forward to sunday, and slightly dreading it for a while. The reason why was because my parents were meeting mitch's parents for the first time. Eeeeee! We all met at the Windmill on clapham common for the pub's delicious roast. Thankfully the meet up was a total success (obvs it was always going to be and I just tend to worry my myself to bits) - we've even got another meet up planned :)

On sunday I also managed to dash out to brockwell park to carry-out some yarn bombing in aid of Meredith's SheepishBloomDrop. Flowers were the theme and we were encouraged to make them using any creative means. I found this tutorial and attempted to make a little chain of three. Not as good as the original makers' but pretty cute all the same :) Hope you all had a lovely weekend too!

Sunday, 8 September 2013

pattern love - bridget riley

The fabulous paintings of English artist Bridget Riley. As one of the foremost advocates of Op Art - colour and shape are her speciality. Two of my favourite things. I've read that there's a collection of her paintings at MoMA in NYC, so when I go back (because I must) it's definitely on my list to see.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

star block baby quilt

Finished! And in the nick of time :)
I managed to finish the quilt just in time for the Christening at the weekend (it was a seriously close call what with making the label and stitching it on about 15 mins before we had to leave for the church).
Due to its tiny recipient, this is the smallest quilt I've made, and took around six weeks to complete. I'm quite pleased with how it turned out - the fabrics and colours suit a baby quilt I think and the variety of star blocks look cute together. However, in true Annie style, it is in no way perfect. The edges are rather wobbly, the blocks are anything but straight and don't even get me started on my corners - why are they so difficult? - at least they're an improvement on my first quilt's corners.

Although it was a bit of a rush to get it finished I really loved making this quilt. The small size meant that it was a (relatively) short project to do and the star theme gave me boundaries but also a bit of variety in terms of shapes to construct.

Now that it's over and the quilt is in its new home my hands are idle again. Watching a film or something on iplayer without making something just feels odd so I'll need to start a new thing soon. I quite fancy making another quilt (that said I do have another one on the go  which is more of an on-going project), or perhaps it's time to pick up the knitting needles again and get cracking on that scarf, or the crochet hook as Meredith of One Sheepish Girl is organising another yarn bombing... the possibilities to create stuff are endless and I bloody love it!

Monday, 2 September 2013

good timing

Last friday I took the day off work and Mitch and I jumped on a national express bus down to bournemouth. Little did we know that it was actually the first day of the bournemouth air show. So, not only did I get to be beside the sea (the driving force behind the trip - I bloody love the sea and don't spend nearly enough time by/in it), we got to eat our picnic on the beach whilst watching amazing stunts performed by pilots in a number of different aeroplanes - including the red arrows! Talk about good timing eh? The beach near the pier was v.crowded but we walked westwards along the coast to a much less populated stretch of sand. Intermittent snacking, snoozing, paddling and plane watching (not to mention dog-petting) was how we spent most of the day and it was absolute bliss. On thing's for sure: I cannot leave such a long interlude between now and my next trip to the sea.
On the way back to the coach station we took a little wander around bournemouth. Although this aviary was full of so many different types of birds and the this little covered shopping bit was pretty, what I reeeeally wanted to visit was a bit too much of a trek away. Guess it just means I'll have to come back - not a bad thing at all!

Saturday was super laid back, although, it did get a little frantic in the evening when I had to finish the baby quilt (more on that another day). A late breakfast and a stroll into Brixton to get some stuff for said baby quilt was followed by a whole afternoon at Brockwell Lido. In the two years I've been living in Brixton I'd never swam in it, nor experienced the culinary delights of the lido cafe until this weekend. I'd seriously been missing out. Despite the lovely weather we had over the weekend, the pool was very quiet and I actually managed to swim a few lengths rather than just lounging around on the side in my fabulous swimming costume that makes me feel like wonder woman. Even though the setting was perfection I almost had to cut short the day's relaxing thanks to forgetting to bring sun cream and was definitely starting to burn when...the NIVEA people turned up and were giving out free sun cream! I was so impressed with their timing that I actually agreed to hold their promo beach ball and be photographed for their website. Horror and regret set in about 2 mins after they left but at least I was able to stay out in the sun for a few more hours.

And sunday was spent in the company of the most gorgeous little baby in honour of her christening. Here's Mitch having a cuddle with baby Ava. I  took this pic  just before she started to cry - good timing no? Cute.

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