Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Big Knit


I have something random and fun for all you NI knitters out there - Innocent Smoothies is asking knitters across the UK to knit lots of little hats for their smoothie bottles. These behatted bottles will then go into Sainsbury’s in November and for every one sold innocent and Sainsbury’s will give 50p to Age Concern. Almost 25,000 older people died of cold related illnesses last winter, and this is a chance for us knitters to do our bit. Age Concern will use the money raised to provide support to older people in winter including hot meals, blankets and advice on how to keep their houses warm. In 2006 knitters managed to raise £115,000 by knitting 230,000 hats. This year Age Concern and Innocent are dreaming about what £200,000 could do. The goal is to pile up 400,000 hats by 17th October and it is hoped that 16,000 of these will be made in Northern Ireland.

Alice (a friend that I met through APYOC believe it or not!) and I are organising a Belfast Big Knit evening on Monday 15th October at 7pm at Common Grounds Cafe in Botanic. Bring some double knitting yarn (if you have some) and some small needles! Pass the word on to any UK knitters that you might know! Here's the pattern if you'd like to get started now . . .

Beginner Pattern
- Using double knitting yarn and some small needles (3 1/4-4mm) cast on 28 stitches.
- Knit 2 rows. Then starting with a knit row, work in stocking stitch for 12 more rows).
- For the next row, knit 2 together to the end (14 stitches). And for the row after that, purl 2 together to the end (7 stitches).
- When you've finished cut the yarn leaving about 25 cm. Thread the cut end through a sewing needle, then run it through the loops and remove the knitting needles.
- Tighten the yarn and sew the little hat together at the side. Once finished, turn it the right side out so that the seam you've sewn runs up the inside.
- Sew a little bobble onto the top of the hat if you like.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Autumn's Here

I have listened to the song Autumn's Here by Hawksley Workman several times over the past couple of days. It's slightly melancholic but I'm okay with that and hey, autumn's here.

Speaking of melancholy, I just finished another Maggie O'Farrell book called After You'd Gone. I thought it was really good, but achingly sad in its description of love and grief. I made the mistake of reading the latter, saddest section in little chunks which meant that over the past week I've found myself near tears several times in the work cafeteria, on the bus and in a coffee shop. Probably should've just read on through with some Kleenex close by - lesson learned for next time!

We are just back from another lovely morning at St George's Market. We met the family of the Beard and also ran into a few other friends along the way. Randomly, I have come away with some beads to make a new necklace (haven't done any jewelry making for a while so I'm looking forward to that) and some chorizo sausage. I now have great plans to cook all afternoon and keeping with the autumn theme, I'm thinking of soups and stews . . . I'll let you know what I come up with.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Phew!

Yet again too many days have passed since I last blogged! Where does the time go?? I'm going to blog about the weekend and in doing so mentally transport me back to the good old days (er . . . of yesterday!) when things were calm and chilled out. You can probably tell that manic Monday's gotten the better of me tonight!

On Friday night after being out for dinner at Deane's at Queen's we watched Night on Earth, a bizarre but enjoyable movie from 1991 featuring five vignettes of taxi drivers in five countries. My favourite was the one featuring the lovely Roberto Benigni. It came highly recommended by our friend Dave (the legend) McNair and was random but I ask you, who doesn't need a bit of random in their life every now and then?

We met Stu's parents at St George's Market on Saturday morning and had a lovely time. On top of having a good old catch-up with the in-laws, I was delighted to run into several friends from my old work (including Beth and her family complete with two week old Dom - highlight of the day!) Now I know the place to go to bump into people! On Saturday night we had Indian food with friends (the Beard and the Celtic Angel among them - you know who you are!) and then on Sunday morning I did another 18 miler . . . mad props yada yada . . .

And so, I suppose that brings me to tonight. The new job is going well and I have nothing to complain about really, so I won't!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Take the money and run

Somehow I couldn't help but think of the bank run scenes in 'It's a Wonderful Life' when reading the news stories this week about crowds of people queuing up outside Northern Rock bank branches across the UK to withdraw savings. According to the government, the Bank of England will guarantee any funds deposited with the bank it would seem that things are safe enough. That said, I probably would've joined the frenzied queues had I banked there! Northern Rock is one of the first banks to offer 5x salary mortgages (yowsah - that can't be a good idea!) However, I should add that I don't think their lending policy had much to do with the current crisis. The finance guru's would suggest that the problem is due to the fact that the bank depends heavily on sourcing funding from money markets (as opposed to from customer deposits or from other banks) and that this has become significantly more expensive recently due to problems in the American property market. That said, I think the property market here (a favourite rant topic of mine) is going through an upset as well so watch this space for more scintillating analysis of these and other financial issues! (I really don't have a clue.)

I feel like yet again it's been forever since I've blogged! We had a good and busy weekend which included lots of autumn/veggie cooking which I have been loving. We had friends for dinner on both Friday and Saturday night (we don't do that often enough!) and we also spent a good chunk of our weekend at our church. The Micah Centre opened on Saturday and the newly refurbished church (it's beautiful - pics will be forthcoming!) opened with some special services on Sunday. I might also add that I ran 18 miles early on Sunday morning . . . did I mention I did it on my own as Stu's injured and that it was raining?? (A bit of harmless self promotion on the blog, it would seem, never hurt anyone!)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I'd rather be canoeing . . .


Indulge with me, if you will, in a bit of vicarious living . . . I have been enjoying looking at my sister's absolutely amazing photos from her recent epic two week canoe trip on the Nahanni River in the Northwest Territories (spot me green with envy!) I can't help but post of her snaps with the hope of being transported there for a moment, if only in spirit!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Ginger Power

It's a bit early days to report on the new job so all I have for you tonight is a story about the cutest ginga kid that you ever will see (thanks to new mom of two(!!) Beth for signposting me to this story although me thinks her motives were malicious . . . ) No, this is not my kid, but 'if' I ever have one, I hope she looks like this . . .

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Right Moves

I can hardly express how good the Josh Ritter concert was in Dublin last night! His new album The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter was just released in Ireland on Friday (but annoyingly not in Northern Ireland) and the whole evening was absolutely wonderful. I am basically in love with him but I think that's okay because Stu is too. I should also add that the gig was opened by Canadian Jim Bryson who was very funny and very good - he did the True North proud and kept the attention of the crowd which is rare in a support act. Josh (yeah, we're on a first name basis) finished the night with one of my all-time favourite songs 'Me and Jiggs' from the Hello Starling album so I was happy! I can't wait until he comes back to Belfast in December!

We had a quick trip down to Dublin on Saturday afternoon in our brand new car (I sound like the Price is Right announcer!) We unceremoniously said goodbye to the Mazda on Friday morning and fickle folk that we are welcomed a very shiny black Polo into our lives - gotta love that new car smell! Before the concert we hit Wagamama for some noodley goodness and the wandered around soaking up the Dublin vibe on a beautiful warm evening.

The trip to Dublin was a great end to a very busy week. Stu was away in London for most of the week and I worked my last week in my job - I have been overwhelmed by the kindness and goodwill of my friends and co-workers as they wished me goodbye - I feel very fortunate to have met such lovely people!

For anyone who doesn't know, I start a new position in a new workplace tomorrow (email me for specifics since I am slightly paranoid about work blogging.) I've got a bit of that night before the first day of school feeling this evening. Earlier in the week I was speculating with a colleague about what my veal-fattening pen will be like (my old office was very open plan) and then stumbled upon this website featuring all manner of work places through the Globe and Mail's office blog. Forever the optimist, maybe my new office will look like this one - not likely!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Home is where your heart is

Bear with me for a minute - I am going to selfishly use little old APOYC to indulge in a bit of a rant . . . (I mean really, if you can't use your blog to talk yourself off a ledge then what can you do?!)

I had planned a nice and relaxing evening tonight which involved some reading and a bit of computer time. Maybe some browsing of knitting patterns or surfing some foodie websites you ask? No, I foolishly clicked my way to depression by looking on Property News for a selection of astronomically priced first time buyer properties in Belfast.

Long story short, I am now frantically searching the house for a brown paper bag to regulate my breathing. The property market is officially insane here (as seems to be the case everywhere so I'm sure some of you renters out there will sympathise!) All together now - Arghh!!! . . . And don't even get me started about the tiny house we viewed a few months back that had an outdoor toilet (yes, you read that right!) and a hole in the roof but still ended up fetching over the asking price. (Sadist that I am, to add insult to injury I like to translate the prices into Canadian dollars whereby making myself feel even worse.)

Taking a deep breath and moving on, I am now chilling out by drinking Bengal Spice and listening to Sarah Harmer's wonderful album I am a Mountain. You'll be relieved to know I think it's working.