Wednesday, 27 June 2012

A quick garden update

I don't really have much to show you because as I haven't been living at my parents' house since January and I haven't had much spare time (and the weather has been awful), I haven't really done much in the way of gardening. But I've been back home for a little while sorting stuff out before I once again move out into my new flat, so here's a little garden update.

As you can see, my veggie patch is bare. Surprisingly bare. My mum admitted she'd grabbed a few weeds here and there, but I'd expected my little dirt patch to be completely overgrown. Either a) I've done a really good job clearing weeds in the past and they've finally admitted I've won the battle, or b) all the nutrients are gone. Hmm. There was a lone survivor...

It's a leek! Standing tall and proud on its own with a big bud ready to burst out into flower. So my vegetable patch has produce a vegetable all by its self this year. Not sure how, but there you go.

Anyway, a year and a bit ago, my mum and I planted up some tubs by the front door of our house with succulents. They looked like this:

Pretty sparse, eh? Well now they look like this:

They've filled out beautifully and have flourished really well. Each of the succulents have been flowering too.

The great thing about them is that they're really low maintenance. I guess in the future they might need a bit of liquid feed to keep them going, but for now they seem happy chugging along.

Well, I wish I could write more about the garden, but aside from mowing the main lawn, I've essentially done absolutely nothing, so there's nothing to say. Might try sowing some winter crops to make use of the bare patch, but I never have luck with root vegetables, so I don't know whether I should bother.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

One pan dinner- Chicken with Butternut Squash

I like food. A lot. But like most people, I don't like washing up. So any meal that uses the least number of pans is a good meal in my opinion.  Today I had a butternut squash and some chicken to use up, so I made this:

Chicken with butternut squash, roasted in the oven, with boiled rice and broccoli on the side. It took just 2 pans- an oven tray and a small saucepan- and about 35-40 minutes to make, including all prep and roasting time. I'm calling it a One Pan Dinner because the rice is optional, you could choose a side dish that doesn't involve cooking, like bagged salad.


  • Chicken breast- 1 small one per person
  • Butternut squash- 1/2 will serve 2 people
  • Red onion- 1/4 per 2 people
  • Fresh rosemary (I got mine from my mother's herb garden)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Garlic (fresh or puréed)
  • Olive oil
  1. Turn on your oven to 200°C and get out an oven tray.
  2. Cut your chicken breast into 1 inch strips and put on the oven tray.
  3. Cleave your butternut squash in half with the biggest, sharpest, weightiest knife you've got, and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Peel off the tough outer skin, and cube into chunks about of about 1inch and put on the oven tray.
  4. Dice up your onion and sprinkle it over your squash and chicken.
  5. Tear up your rosemary and add.
  6. Season with salt and pepper. Add your garlic. I used puréed stuff out of a jar because we were out of fresh, but you could use fresh and crush it, finely dice it, or add whole cloves depending on how you feel.
  7. Generously drizzle over olive oil and get stuck in with your hands, spreading it all over everything.

At this point your tray of goodies should look like the picture above. Shove in your lovely hot oven and roast for ~25 minutes. I have a fan oven so you may need to roast yours for a little longer. It's a good idea to open up the oven couple of times during roasting and move things around so everything stays covered in oil.

During this time you can also prepare a side dish- carbs or more vegetables. The boiled rice and broccoli I made took about 15 minutes to cook.


Obviously it tastes disgusting, as evidenced by this photo of how much was ignored and pushed around our plates.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Another year at uni finished (sort of)

On Friday I had my end of year assessment and


Hooray! I was the last student to be assessed so by that point my tutors were probably thinking more about having a pint or a nap, but we had a lovely talk about my work and its themes and what direction I might be headed/where I'm going next, and how I felt the year had gone. To be honest I am really very pleased with myself for sticking through this year, despite having spent the first term commuting every day, then having to move at short notice on New Years and lastly being evicted a couple of weeks ago. I told my tutors the truth: that if I had a tenner for every time I'd thought about dropping out then I'd have enough money to buy a kiln, a wheel, and change left over to go to Mashiko in Japan.

But none of that matters because it's all over, woo! I've got a few more weeks of term left to tie up odd ends- glazing unglazed work, casting more stuff if I want to (of course I want to!), maybe making some logo transfers. My tutor also wanted me to finish a graphic novel I had an idea for way back in the first term, the steampunk bullshit thing. I might have a go at that over the summer.

Anyway here are some photos of my final piece, without the finished glaze (I don't have glaze yet)

And here are some illustrations I did in Adobe Illustrator. I am still really bad at Illustrator and these were done in a hurry.

So, goals for the summer? Well now I have Photoshop and Illustrator, I think I should try digital drawing a little more. There are loads of online tutorials, not to mention books in the uni library that could give me some help getting started (I don't have a clue where to begin and I don't want to take forever learning just by playing around, because I find the lack of progress frustrating).

I've got 2 jobs lined up for summer- one is only for a month, but the other is ongoing bar work so I should be able to save up lots of lovely rent money to carry me over into the new year. Other than that, I've got friends in Yorkshire to visit. And I really feel like having an adventure, damn that Wes Anderson film putting ideas in my head of camping and frolicking through woods in a cute mini-dress.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012


Today I threw together what may become my long term design logo for putting on the bottom of tableware, on clothes labels, and anywhere else I feel like plastering it (drawing watermark?). I made it in Photoshop- finally got around to installing the CS5 master collection on Monday. I still suck at Photoshop and Illustrator so I think I'm going to set myself a challenge in addition to my daily doodle to do a weekly digital drawing. 

Well anyway, logo.

The font is Rockwell. I like it a lot.

Feedback is appreciated! I am no graphic designer.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Flip-flop socks

Last year, while rummaging through the bargain bin that is The Book Warehouse, I stumbled across a book called "Learn to Knit Socks" and snapped it up. It's where I got the pattern for the socks I made for my granddad last year. Anyway, one of the weirder patterns in that book was one for flip-flop socks.

Yeah, flip-flop socks. Socks with a separate toe that you can wear with flip-flops. As one of my closest friends is moving further north, to Belfast, and has a habit of wearing flip-flops in December, I just had to have a go at making them. I also just fancied a challenge, and had some yarn to use up. It was salvaged from a cream jumper that was horrendously unflattering.

The cast-on was a weird technique called Turkish cast on which I only got right after watching this video repeatedly. But by far the hardest bit for me was attaching the big toe to the main section after knitting them separately. For both socks, I somehow knitted them on upside down.

Uh-oh. And even when I reattached the toe on the second sock, I purled or knitted wrong and ended up with a weird bumpy bit. But I didn't care and kept going.

The great thing about toe-up socks is that you can try them on as you go along. And the great thing about flip-flop socks is that you can put them on your hands and woop like Dr Zoidberg.

And here they are finally, ready to be sent off. I don't have any action shots of them with flip-flops because at the time of making my pair were under a snake's tank in Aberystwyth (they still are, but now I have another pair).

I wrapped them in sheets of newspaper supplement with naked feminists on, added a note instructing that my friend dye them, and popped them in the post. And that was the last I saw of them, although I did get a text along the lines of "OHMYGOD I love them!", which is the exact response I was hoping for.

And that's that. Flip-flop socks.