January 29, 2013

Granny Square Blanket

As one project finishes another one starts and when I found this lovely Rowan Cocoon (80% merino wool and 10% kid mohair) on sale in Knit Culture, I just had to buy it.  I had no idea what I'd make with it, but with four balls worth I have a decent amount of yarn.  No sooner as we'd stepped through the door at home, I was looking online for some inspiration.  I finally set my mind on making a crocheted blanket made up of several granny squares.  The idea being, that I will have several blue squares that will be joined together using a lighter yarn in either a grey or cream.  So far, I have crocheted 7.5 squares out of one ball.  So I'll have at least 28 squares when I've finished all the four balls.  I am contemplating getting more skeins in a different colour so I can make an even bigger blanket.  I just need to decide on which colour to go for, but that's the exciting part :) 

Rowan Cocoon 80% Merino 20% Kid Mohair

January 28, 2013

Week 5_Recover

After a bout of the cold, I am starting to feel a little more human again. This week's task is based around "Recovery".


I have been putting off using the dance class voucher that Patrick got me for Your Neigbourhood Studio.  But with all the drinking and eating out (especially over the festive season) my body has decided now is the time.  I have set myself a challenge to do at least one class this week, if nothing else.

I am also in the process of knitting something for the birthday boy this month.  I am planning to cycle to the yarn shop and spend some time there during the day doing some secret knitting.  I am also hoping to pick up some helpful tips from the ladies that go there on a regular basis.  I overheard the other day that Meryl Streep used to come into the store, which made me smile.  I also overheard about a new knitting store Downtown called Gather DTLA, which I can't wait to head to!

We also have a table booked at Industriel this week as part of DineLA, a two week dining event where select restaurants across the city do prix fixe lunches and dinners at reasonable prices.  It's a good opportunity to try restaurants we haven't been to. 

January 25, 2013

Oysters and the Mandrake

To keep up with our day of food, we headed to L&E Oyster Bar, a quirky little joint over in Silverlake.  I've had a quite a lot of oysters in my time, but I've never had so many to choose from in one sitting.  We started off with the days special, four of each of the following:
- Hollie Wood Zen from Denman Island, BC
- Hama Hama from Hood Canal, WA
- Chefs Creek from Deep Bay, Vancouver Island, BC
All from the West Coast Pacific.

Following that nifty dozen, we tried some from near Prince Edward Island in the northeast of Canada: 
- Beausoleil from Miramichi Bay, NB

We then had 2 more of the following:
- Peters Point from Buzzards Bay, MA
- Tomahawk from Southhampton, NY
All from the East Coast Atlantic.

We topped off our night by heading to a bar that we've discovered within a five minute walk from our house.  Mandrake Bar is a young and hip scene, much like the places you would see in either Brixton or the NQ in Manchester, so it was right up my alley.  They specialise in cocktails, but I stuck with my original choice of the evening: red wine (and my head very much paid for it the next day).  

The interior space is minimal in design with timber panelling wrapping up the wall and onto the ceiling over the bar.  The bar itself spans the length of the space in the main room and opposite is a long, fixed, black timber seating banquette.  In the second room is the DJ stand with a few raw timber bench seats and white walls.   Projected onto the far wall was old episodes of the Mad Men series.  Other walls in the room are used as a gallery for artists to display their work.  The current exhibition is by Dave Muller. The music, I thought, was really fun to dance to, but if you're looking for a quiet chat, you might want to find a spot closer to the bar.  There is a small outdoor space at the back which will be great in the summertime.  



East Coast Oysters

East Coast Atlantic

January 23, 2013

Robert Burn's Night

After our trip to Scotland in September, Patrick has been dying to eat some more haggis.  He searched for places in LA that have it on their menu and came across the Robert Burn's night celebration at the Tam O'Shanter.  Still feeling rough from the flu, we dragged ourselves out for some haggis, whiskey and hopefully a kilt or two.  Unfortunately, we were only to be disappointed by the lack of haggis.  When we were seated, they brought us some lovely bread to the table and what can only be described as gruel.  I'm not sure if it was a case of not being able to get hold of the real deal or if it was too outlandish for the American palate, but this was far from the traditional haggis I'm used to.  Dry, unseasoned mince is all I can say.  We weren't put off though, and when I saw yorkshire pudding on the menu I clapped hard  with excitement like a demented seal.  I opted for the "English cut" roast beef dinner.  The beef was thinly sliced, tender and absolutely delicious.  The mash potato was smooth and creamy and the yorkshire pudding was as you would find back home.  They brought us two options of horseradish: one which was a mild creamed version and the other, a much stronger 'hit you between the eyes and the crook of the nose' punch.  Coming from England, the sharper the better in my opinion (and watering eyes).     

The organisers went to a really great effort to celebrate the memory of the poet Robert Burns.  They had bagpipes, poem readings, the singing of Auld Lang Syne and a ceremony to address the (not so real) haggis. 

For a traditional roast beef dinner, an open fire and a decent pint, we'll definitely be going back!  

Robert Burn's Night Celebration

'English Cut' Roast Beef
 and Yorkshire Pudding!

A wee dram O' whiskey

I wonder if I should be worried?!? :)

Ode to the haggis

January 21, 2013

Week 4_'Catch-Up' / Careful what you wish for...

This week, I thought it was about time I caught up on some emails that I've not had the chance to reply to.  I like to be able to sit down with a cuppa' and take the time to properly catch up with people.  So, that is my task for week 4.

And so it began . . .  

When I was in London, me and my good friend Little James Scott would always have conversations about how much we love the cold, miserable, English weather.  He always looks forward to the winter months arriving.  So much so I spent last winter (and summer) making a scarf for him to wear throughout the cold season.  I was emailing him yesterday and saying how much I'd loved being in the snow over Christmas.  And that it had made me really miss the grim cold back home.  I told him that since getting back to LA it has been sunshine and blue skies so far and that I needed a day of rain.  Well, the heavens could not have opened up much further today.  Sorry folks of LA, it seems that when the British girl wishes for snow in Connecticut, the girl gets snow and when she wishes for rain in LA, the girl gets rain!  Fortunately and unfortunately, I'm laid up with a cold and Patrick seems to be catching it too.  I only wish I had an Emmerdale or Coronation St. omnibus to catch up on and it would feel like a sick day off school.  Perhaps I should wish for sunny days in England for all my people back home.

Today will be spent crocheting in bed.  Inspired by my friend Riannon's granny square blankets, I've started my own in a red yarn.  It's going great so far.  However, I have been reading a blog by Folk Fibers and I'm inspired to start quilting, so I might rummage through my fabric supply to see what I have suitable.  Although I keep getting told off by Patrick for not staying in bed to fight off my sickness.  I guess it has been lingering since before Christmas.

January 16, 2013

Planting Out

My friends Maddy and Mike bought me some lovely seeds and pots for my birthday.  I wanted to start off with some 'easier' seeds, so I planted out the ultimate salad bowl, coriander and parsley.  I am already checking every five minutes to see if anything has sprouted.  If these guys turn out ok, I'm going to buy some bigger pots for the other seeds: beets, carrots, chard, fennel and spring onion.  I love the design of the packaging, which are all individually illustrated.  It would be really great to get my own urban balcony garden going and hopefully attract some bees.

January 14, 2013

Leg Warmer

I thought it was about time for me to start the second of my pair of leg warmers seeing as I finished the first before Christmas.  I've been putting it off because I have to knit it on double pointed needles, which I'm not a huge fan of.  However, when I started it again it actually wasn't so bad. The yarn is a Rowan Purelife British Sheep Breeds Chunky Undyed and the colour is Steel Grey Suffolk 954.  

My good friend Adam got me the first ball as a present from Baa Ram Ewe, a lovely yarn shop in Leeds, Yorkshire in the North of England.  It is run by the wife of my friend Chris who I used to work with at an interior design agency in Manchester.  I have yet to visit the shop, but I can imagine it to be well designed and beautifully laid out.  To my luck, I found the second ball in Los Angeles at the store Wildfiber in Santa Monica.  One thing I love about this yarn is that it is 100% British and has the most wonderful, natural smell, which reminds me of the farms at home in England.

The pattern:  I was inspired by the Luxy Leg Warmer from the Pickles website. I have adapted the pattern slightly and in order to suit my chosen yarn.

Progress so far:

Leg warmer part 1

Rowan Purelife wool . . . smells like farms :)

Double pointed needles size 7mm

Bubba helping me out with my yarn organising

Week 3_Home-made

I've decided to give each week of the year a task.  Last week was the week of "Healthy Eating and Fitness!".  Unfortunately the fitness part didn't come into play whatsoever (apart from a hike up Runyon Canyon, which was closely followed by a pastrami sandwich).  So let's be honest, the healthy eating didn't come into play either.  'Onwards and upwards' I say, and this week is a brand new week.  The healthy eating and fitness still apply, however this week is called "Home-Made".  

Monday, I whipped up a quinoa salad with tomatoes, avocado, pinto beans, fresh herbs, seeds and a dressing made up of olive oil and lemon.

Quinoa Salad

Thursday's salad was tuna with tomatoes, red onion, capers, fresh parsley and rice with an olive oil and lemon dressing.

Tuna Salad

Uncle Pepe (Steve), kindly bought me a salad spinner, which is one of the best kitchen tools ever and I geeked out when I first used it.  No more soggy leaves in this house.  I have also used it for beans, strawberries and herbs, but not all at the same time!

January 13, 2013


We hit the store Wildfiber in Santa Monica to pick up some thick needles for my yarn basket.  Whilst we were there I ended up impulse buying some wool so I could make a blanket.  I have been itching to have a go at making one for some time now and I'm encouraged even more by us being in the midst of our cold weather season.  For those reading in the UK, believe me when I tell you that LA does actually have it's chilly winter spells (I'm sat here wrapped up on the sofa in sweatpants and a hoodie).   

The first colour to catch my eye was a vibrant peacock blue.  I further selected two more bright colours to compliment it: pumpkin orange and kelly green.  I teamed these up with a soft beige yarn to create a mixture of bold and neutral stripes.  

The pattern: I was inspired by the Hudson Bay Blanket from Purl Bee, so I am doing a variation of this.  To start, I have cast on 160 stitches using 6mm needles.  I think it's going to take me some time to make, but with the season three of Downton Abbey starting here, it will be my Sunday evening ritual :)

7 Skeins

Beige ball ready to go

Slow process...

January 12, 2013

Yarn basket so far

I got to work on this project pretty quickly.  The grey yarn is much thicker than the pink, so it didn't take me long to get through it.  It is not quite big enough yet to complete the basket, so I'm planning to track down more of this lovely grey yarn. 

As soon as I laid it down on the sofa, Theo climbed on top of it.  He has such a love for soft blankets.  I think he's hinting for me to make him one :)

Yarn Basket

When I was in Connecticut for the Christmas holidays, I received a lovely package sent via the Royal Mail.  My best friend Jemma had posted me a present for my birthday.  The package contained a chunky grey yarn from a store in Manchester, called Purl City Yarns and a beautiful bracelet in celebration of the last year of my 20's.  My task with this wool is to create a yarn basket to hold my ever increasing range of knitting materials.  I wanted to combine this soft grey with the hot pink that I got from Purl Soho. I am going to knit the basket based on a pattern from Pickles but adapting it ever so slightly to suit my yarns.  I required different knitting needles, so I purchased the super chunky size 15mm.  I am excited to get started and see how it turns out.   

Grey yarn from Purl City Yarns

Hot neon pink from Purl Soho

Pink wound and ready to go

Grey wound and ready to go

January 11, 2013

New Bike Accessory

Since the new year has begun I've been hopping out on my bike a lot more. I'm getting used to the roads now (although Patrick would beg to differ saying I'm still too slow) and enjoying discovering new places in the sunshine.  On a visit to the yarn store in Santa Monica, we stopped off at the Linus bike shop in Abbott Kinney.  I treated my bike to a new accessory: a lovely wicker basket to hang from the handle bars on the front.  I am not sure that Bubba or Theo would fit into it but you can be damn sure I'm gonna try :)

January 10, 2013

Purl Bee Garter Cowl

Whilst in New York for my birthday, we visited a store called Purl Soho.  I've been following their blog for a good while and once I realised they had a store I was dying to go.  I purchased the bag with the hot neon pink lettering (pictured below) and some yarn for Patrick's Mom, who I refreshed on how to knit over Christmas.  I also bought a ball of hot pink yarn for me, as well as a blue and red merino yarn to make the Purl Bee Garter Gaiter pattern.

It took me a while to get this project started.  I attempted it using the magic loop method but realised that wasn't going to work so had to buy more knitting needles.  I could open a shop with the amount of needles I now have! It's a beautiful pattern and the yarn was $20 a ball, so there was no way I was going to mess this up.  I got Theo to model the working progress, and I think he quite liked it.

I have yet to finish it.  I have a habit of starting a project and moving onto another before finishing.  Currently I have four projects on the go including this one, and a list as long as my arm of things I'd like to knit :)

Garter gaiter so far . . .


"We'll help out in a minute, honest"

"Its my wool, not yours!"

Hiking in Runyon Canyon

New year, new work out: For the dogs...

With the pooches gaining a combined four lbs. over the last year, it's time for them to get their LA workout on.  So, on this sunny Thursday morning, we set out for a hike up to the summit of Runyon Canyon.  

Lovely weather, great views, ideal workout and perfect for people watching!  
As rituals go, a trip to Runyon is usually followed by a stop off at Canter's Deli for a quart of matzo ball soup and pastrami on rye with a pickle.  Not really in the New Years resolutions (trying to cut down on the meat), but try to come between me and my pastrami and you're a dead person! :) The girl loves her pastrami!  Plus, I've been trying to shake off a cold since before Christmas and matzo ball soup is the perfect elixir.

Hopefully see you next week Runyon.  We're aiming to make this a weekly venture to keep the boys young and fit.

Nice day for a hike!

View over the city

View of the Hollywood Hills

The Hollywood sign

View of Downtown LA

Super Theeeeeeeeeee!!!

Matzo ball soup, pastrami on rye and pickle:
The ultimate cure for a cold!

January 09, 2013

The Local Peasant

After a day out in Pasadena, we headed to a place called The Local Peasant to meet up with some friends of Patrick.  I really loved the beer mat (pictured below).  The food was amazing too.  I had burrata salad with heirloom tomatoes and beetroot.  I hope to go back soon for one of their signature dishes: a fried egg topped beef burger.  They come with rectangular cut chunky chips, just like they make at home.

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