That September Term Feeling…

The start of the September Term… (Higgins…who chewed my pencil case?)

September Term - back to school for Higgins the dachshund!That September term feeling.  It never goes away really.  By the time you’ve done umpteen years at school yourself, and then however many with children buying shoes and sewing on name tapes then it’s sort of ingrained in one’s psyche.  (I DO need a new pencil case!)

So it’s a good time to start something new and inspiring, to make something happen.

To that end I have signed up to the Business Bakery’s 100 Day Goal which started on 1st September.   If you’ve not heard of it, the 100 day Goal is a fantastic way of giving procrastinators like me some much needed oomph and focus instead of just drifting along.  I’ve been adrift for sometime!

So, my goal is to give Planet Penny a bit of spit and polish, and possibly a sprinkle of glitter.  I’ve been blogging since 2007, definitely time for a spring clean.  You might find my 100 days of actions just a teensy bit tedious if I list them, but I hope as the weeks go by you will notice some differences, and spot a few sparkles!  And of course, any feedback will be gratefully received.

Do you get that September term feeling?  It’s much easier to make new plans at this time of year whilst you’re still shaking sand out of your shoes.  Not during the dank days of January when you are trying to eat the remains of the Christmas cake and left over toffees in the Quality Street tin!  (or maybe that’s just me!)

See you soon…x

Crochet Scarflet – Rowan Hemp Tweed Chunky

A little while ago I was asked if I would like a sample of a new yarn to try  (I’m sure you can guess my answer!) and the postman duly delivered a gorgeous ball of soft sea green loveliness, Rowan Hemp Tweed Chunky, a mix of 75% wool and 25% true hemp.

Rowan Hemp Tweed Chunky - SeaIt’s sometimes a problem to find just the right pattern to show off a sample, isn’t it?  I really didn’t want to just knit a swatch to look at, I wanted a ‘thing’, and a lovely one at that. Fortunately, in the wee small hours one night, Madame Serendipity came to call and I came up with a pattern which I think ticks all the boxes.

It’s simple, it’s cosy and makes use of every scrap of the 100gms of the Rowan Hemp Tweed Chunky.  I couldn’t ask for more.  So without further ado, just a quick Ta – DAAA… may I present my Chunky Scarflet with Pompom…Rowan Hemp Tweed Chunky Scarflet …or button…Rowan Hemp Tweed Chunky scarflet with buttonor even a pin…Rowan Hemp Tweed Chunky scarflet with pinIt’s a really quick and simple weekend project suitable for all skill levels and a perfect little snuggler to pop in your handbag in case of unexpected Autumn chills.  The yarn is lovely to work with and makes up very quickly.  I used a 7mm hook, didn’t have any problems with splitting and the yarn is soft and light.

I am working on writing basic instructions in much the same way that I did for last year’s crochet sweater so if you are interested do let me know in the comments.   The Rowan Hemp Tweed Chunky yarn itself is available for pre-order from the online knitting and crochet shop Laughing Hens and there are eight fabulous colours (so maybe I need to make one to match everything I wear!)

It’s been a busy summer and I’ve missed being here but I have that September ‘New Term’ feeling coming up (does it ever go away?) and lots of things to share.

I’ll be back soon…x

An aside…

Ernest Shepherd, illustrator of Winnie-the-Pooh

Ernest Shepherd, illustrator of Winnie-the-Pooh

I’ve been conspicuous by my absence I’m afraid, trapped in the corner by the elephant in the room.  Thinking that my blog is NOT the place to discuss politics, but being completely unable to move around, over or under the situation to carry on business as usual.

I’ve been in a hole since I woke up on June 24th.  so this blog post is me digging my way out of it.  Please bear with me, or ignore me, I’m shall say this only once…

One of the great things I have discovered since starting this blog is how small the world is.  I love being in contact with people of all nationalities, different cultures in different time zones.  “We have far more in common than which divides us.”

To wake up the morning after the E.U. referendum and find that Britain had voted to leave the E.U. was a shock.  It appears no-one expected it, especially those in charge of fighting for that very thing to happen.   Since then chaos has ensued, because no one has a plan.  You don’t need me to explain it, Mr Google will supply pages and pages of information and misinformation!

But what troubles me the most is this.  In a world where we are ever more interconnected, Britain wants to cut itself off, close it’s borders.  The racism and xenophobia unleashed in a small minority of people is frightening.  Half the country is angry with the other half.   This is not the country I know and love.  The Brexiteer slogan was ‘We want our country back’  well I want mine back now, but I don’t think it will happen anytime soon.

What I’m hanging on to is that we in the global creative world can still hold together with what we have in common.  I may be naive, but I hate confrontation.  I would rather reach out and hold hands than hold a grudge.

So I’ve got to climb back out of this hole and find my creativity again.  Go out with my camera and find something beautiful.  Pick up a pencil, a crochet hook, a needle…find some joy.  Just a little thing every day.

In fact, this has just this very minute occurred to me.  I’m giving myself (and you if you would like to join me) an Instagram challenge.  To find something to be joyful about everyday, using the hashtag #justalittlejoyfulness 

daisies

I’d love to hear from you if you are joining in.

I’ll be back soon…x

Guest Post: Higgins and the Pawsome Box

Higgins miniature dachshund reviews his Pawsome BoxHello!  Higgins here.  It’s been sooo long since mum let me loose on the keyboard but I really wanted to tell you about my Pawsome Box, cos I love it when I get my very own post.

(Mum gets soo grumpy when I open hers.)

Pawsome BoxI had to give it a bit of a chew and a thump about to get in, but when I did it was PAWSOME! Pawsome box contentsThere were TREATS!  treats for Higgins the miniature dachshund from the Pawsome BoxThere were TWO bones! And some more treats, a lead, and some wiping things to make me smell cleaner (Hmmph!  I smell lovely already!)Higgins and Pawsome BoxI LOVE the stripy bone…it squeaks!Stripy bone(Well it did, until I had a little accident) but I STILL love it…Toy from the Pawsome boxAnd the other bone I can just chew…and chew… and chew…Higgins jumpingI thought this was just for me because I’m special, but mum says ALL the dogs in the WORLD can have this treat too because there is a special code from the lovely Pawsome people to get a discount.  So I thought I’d better tell you all so that my doggy chums can have some post too.

You just have click here to find out all about the Pawsome Box and use this discount code ukbtswem when you buy.  

It’s my birthday next month… I’m not hinting or anything, mum…..MUM?

An office in the sun!

Well, this is a rare occurrence,  Higgins and I have moved outside.  We’re on the veranda outside the studio, there’s blue sky, sunshine, flowers, birdsong…What could be better?office_in_the_sun

Only last week we were huddled under a blanket (in Higgins case, three blankets) watching the rain lash down so I’m making the most of every minute now.

There is just one weekend left of Open Studios here in Norfolk and it’s been good, as usual.  Really nice to meet the people who come to visit who are really interested in what we do, and in who, in turn, have interesting stories to tell.  Higgins has been working well with the meeting and greeting, he even had an assistant!Higgins&CocoIt did get very tiring in the end though…tired Higgins

I have been been diligent in my decluttering efforts.  So many things which I have made in order to create patterns, but eventually I have to reluctantly part with them in order to make room in the studio, and in my head, for new ideas.

It’s not easy! The knitting mobile has been sold…Knitters Mobile from Planet Penny

it’s off to Germany as a present.

And the Hearts and Flowers Mobile is off to grace a little ones bedroom which is lovely.  It’s nice to know it will have a good home.

Hearts and Flowerts Mobile from Planet PennyQuite a few little needlefelted pieces have been sold too, although I’m not going to part with Clover the sheep!

Flock of needlefelt sheep - Planet Penny

Clover is the one in the middle!

So if you are in the area next weekend do call in.  There’s bunting and baubles and fairy lights and books too!  I’m never going to rival decluttering queen Marie Kondo, but I’m trying!

Back soon…x

Sourdough – science in the kitchen

In my last post I touched on my latest cookery book, ‘Perfecting Sourdough’, by Jane Mason.  I’m finding it all so amazing (I know, I’m very easily amazed!) I really had to tell you about it.

Perfecting SourdoughI’ve tried to get a sourdough starter going before but just got a nasty, smelly, watery mess in a jam jar but an article in one of the Sunday papers recently set me off again.  I followed the instructions to the letter and got… another nasty, smelly, watery mess.  (One of the reasons for a failed starter, apparently is a too clean house…)

Once I’d picked myself up off the floor and wiped my eyes I headed off to the internet, where I found Breadtopia, where Eric had the answer to my problems.   Eric uses unsweetened pineapple juice in the starter and it worked perfectly.  I love the whole science lab experiment thing of creating a new life form on the kitchen worktop (rather than the back of the fridge where they usually happen) 

Once you have a happy, healthy starter you use a portion of it to make a loaf and the rest sits in a jar in the fridge for next time.  Once it gets a bit small you refresh it with a meal of flour and water and it just keeps going.  There are reports of some starters being over one hundred years old!

Making sourdough bread is long process, but not an intensive one.  Apart from the kneading stage, which takes ten minutes and is a good anti ‘bingo wing’ activity, the rest of the time it just sits about rising and requires a bit of poking now and then.  The result is DEE-licious.  Much more flavour than ordinary bread, the slow rise makes it more digestible, and its just wholemeal flour, water and salt.

Sourdough

I was horrified to learn that one of the 17 ingredients of a standard sliced loaf was actually palm oil.

So that’s why I splashed out on this book.  Lots of lovely recipes for different breads, cakes, pancakes and waffles using a sourdough starter which I’m looking forward to trying out.

Have I whetted your appetite?  I’d love to know if you decide have a go at making your own starter, or if you are a seasoned baker and have some tips to share.

See you soon…x

 

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