Thursday, 29 August 2013

Lytes Cary


Lytes Cary is a lovely old National Trust property in South Somerset, just near the A370 & Somerton. Boy & I went last October when he came down to visit me. It was a very cold day but lovely and clear with sunny intervals and we were snug-ly wrapped up in coats & scarves. Of course we took full advantage of the sunshine and photographed the garden to within an inch of its life.
We walked down to the River Cary too and through a really picturesque little wood - that might appear in a later post - but didn't make it into the house. I'd like to go back and see inside, and to see the garden in another season. I love autumn for its low warm sunshine, orangey brown leaves, and crisp edge, but most  gardens really should be seen in May or so too :)

Sundial . . . . .

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Finished: New Look 6154

I look like I'm about to jump
I made another skirt! A better one! After my Simplicity 2451 turned out too big I knew I should go down at least one size. This is New Look 6154, which I reasoned probably had the same sizing as the Simplicity skirt and in fact every pattern piece apart from the skirt front is suspiciously similar, although I haven't overlaid them to check yet. I added the first review on Pattern Review which surprised me, but then I suppose it's quite a basic pattern.
I wanted to make a couple of adjustments, namely moving the centre back zip to the side, cutting the back on the fold, and lengthening the whole thing a couple of inches. I muslined it using a second-hand Ikea bedsheet and it was a good thing I did; I added extra seam allowance at the sides but forgot to take it off the back and ended up with a seam there anyway and a foldy mess on the yoke. Lesson learned.

I don't know if the zip is this obvious without flash...
I sewed the skirt over the course of several evenings, but saved the zip insertion and hemming for the bus to work - time I can easily lose to gazing sleepily out of the window. This was intended as a very cake-y and work-appropriate garment - the summer equivalent to my favourite navy cord skirt.
The final version is made of some medium-weight navy cotton from Fabricland which leeched an incredible amount of dye in the wash (even my very bleed-y pink & red bedsheets fell victim) and shrank a little. This, I thought, was fair enough - one is meant to pre-wash - what annoyed me though is that on the first wash after wearing as a completed garment it leeched still more (thankfully I remembered the colour catcher) and shrank more! The fit is no longer what you see above, instead it sits a bit higher and moves around annoyingly. I only washed it on 40! Boo and hiss. It also wrinkles a fair bit - these photos were taken after one day of office wear and half a bottle of cider.

Failing to show off my bias binding'd hem. Why yes, that is a mop
Before the aforementioned laundry incident the skirt was very comfortable and just what I needed for work. I was even happy with my shirt tucked in. Next time (and there will be one, possibly with more of this fabric and the pockets from Simplicity 2451) I'll re-pre-wash the fabric and attempt a full bottom adjustment as I think I have a combination of that and sway-back. It's hard to tell from these exuberant photos but I don't think the side seam is quite vertical - at least it isn't now that the skirt has shrunk. Hmm.

Productive commuting
For the yoke facing I used a scrap of fabric leftover from the time a misunderstanding led my Mum to shorten a new skirt of mine, thus ruining it  - childhood trauma made good -  and a scrap of purple bias binding from her collection at the hem. I didn't attempt any levelling on the hem, just turned it up a roughly even amount all the way around. The zip is one of my 10 for £1 from the Rag Market at the Birmingham Sewists' meet, put in by hand as I don't have a zip foot and find it reasonably simple to do. It's centred as that also seems like an easy option, but perhaps not so good for a side seam? I don't know if the light blue zip is so obvious in real life. I decided that laziness could be euphemised into stash busting and didn't bother buying a navy one.
I had to re-sew the yoke facing around the top of the zip a few times as I'd got it caught up in various places which was annoying but not the end of the world. With a little more care it should be easier next time. I'm still not sure what the pattern instructions wanted me to do with the bottom of the yoke facing - it seemed to be telling me to zig-zag the edge and leave it - but I turned it under before stitching in the ditch, as you can see above.

Ta da!
More straight-up details can be found over on pattern review.

These photos come courtesy of my friend Alice who invited various of our friends around for dinner that evening and cooked us tasty bruschetta, then goats cheese, polenta & spinach parcels with roasted veg, followed by an enormous banoffee pie. There was good food, good company, a cat, a garden, and beer, wine, & cider aplenty. It was a very good evening.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Chicken Itame, or Spicy Coconutty Soupy Noodles

 One of my favourite things to eat at Wagamama is chicken itame - it's a very comforting hot, slightly spicy, yet refreshing bowl of noodles, vegetables and chicken in a spicy coconutty soup. You have to be quite careful while eating it that you don't drop noodles back into the bowl and splatter yourself with soup!
Yesterday I borrowed the original Wagamama cookbook from the library. It didn't have the recipe for itame in but it inspired me to try and replicate it anyway. I googled a bit and found a couple of other replications (here, here and here) but, as usual, when it came to making I went off-road and improvised my own version. I ended up making it with roasted pork loin (also easy - I followed the packet instructions) as I couldn't work out where Morrison's had hidden the chicken section! My life is so hard.

While googling I noticed that itame doesn't necessarily mean what you get in Wagamama - it seems to mean something like "stir" or "sauté" - and in fact it's something different in Australian Wagamama to in the UK.
In the UK it's:
"rice noodles in a spicy green coconut and lemongrass soup topped with stir-fried chicken, beansprouts, chillies, red and spring onions, bok choi, peppers and mushrooms. garnished with coriander and lime"
While down under it's:
"succulent strips of chicken marinated in ginger, garlic and lemongrass, stir-fried with red chillies, zucchini, broccoli, red onions, mint, basil, coriander, ginger, garlic and chilli oil. served on steamed jasmine rice and garnished with a wedge of lime"
There are definitely some elements the same, but it's interesting to see the difference -  and good to know that looking for "chicken itame"won't necessarily get me what I expect. Now I've got my own recipe I don't have to worry about Wagamama taking it off the menu and never being able to have it again either :-)

Anyway, here's my version:

Itame - or Spicy Coconutty Soupy Noodles - for 2+

I'm leaving this general (and almost veggie) as the way I made it the elements are assembled at the end, so any protein-y element isn't cooked along with the rest anyway. I think this is a fairly authentic (whatever that means) method, and has the effect of keeping all the different parts fresh and distinct rather than becoming a homogenous mush.
There are lots of ingredients here but it's not complex at all. You can even prepare your protein beforehand and let the soup heat it up at the end.
To go veggie, omit the fish sauce and check the packet of anything that has >1 ingredient. Dried mushrooms might help the depth of flavour in that case (do let me know if you try it).

You will need:

Noodles - fresh ones that don't require much cooking
Mild-flavoured oil (or something that goes, like sesame, just not strong olive)

LOTS of coriander, chopped
1 can coconut milk - I used low fat
Half a stock cube - you could use a whole one but it doesn't need it
Fish sauce - 4 tsp
Soy sauce - 2 tsp
Ginger - a small lump, grated
Lemongrass - 2tsp of paste or equivalent (remove the sticks before eating if you have those!)
Half a red chilli, chopped - or more if you like things spicy
A pinch of basil and/or mint - I used dry but fresh would be far better
One small red pepper, chopped
Chinese greens, beansprouts, mange tout would all be good - I used green beans as that's what I had

Spring onion, chopped
More coriander, chopped
Juice of one lime


Boil the kettle. Empty your can of coconut milk into a pan, add another canful of boiled water (careful, it'll get hot), and the half stock cube, fish sauce, soy sauce, ginger, lemongrass, herbs, and chilli. Bring to the boil and simmer for ...a while. Maybe 15 minutes, you can't go too wrong here, just make sure the liquid doesn't boil off too much - you want enough for 2+ decent bowls.

After that, heat some oil in a frying pan and stir fry your noodles (as it says on the packet). While heating your pan, add your pepper and other vegetables (but not the spring onion) to the soup. Leave any leaves quite late as they'll cook very quickly.

When you're ready to assemble it all, take the soup off the heat and stir in the lime juice. Put some noodles into your serving bowls, add the protein and spring onion, and pour over the soup. Garnish with coriander and enjoy.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

25 Before 24 - August Update

Pretty leaves at Trelissick in 2011

It's been a busy & exciting month - the boy and I went to Cornwall, graduated, had our parents meet for the first time, decided we'd like to move in together, and took a day trip down to Exmoor with a friend. I went to my sister's Oxford graduation (Fancy! Latin!), visited the Bath Vintage & Antiques market, moved desk at work, made my first quiche, made a skirt, taught myself to knit, and even read a bit. Gosh.
I had a few weekends of busy-ness which made me very thankful when I got a slow one to myself, I've taken pleasure in cleaning and tidying the flat when I could, and impressed myself with my ability to keep on top of things like laundry and making lunch. I could do with being better at going to bed earlier though.

25 Things

  1. Cycle to Bath
  2. Visit K at RHUL
  3. Go to a sewing meet
  4. Make 5 items of clothing - New Look 6154 is complete, post soon!
  5. Go to Cornwall and/or somewhere warm - we've fixed up to go *again*
  6. Learn some Perl/Ruby/C++/SQL - I'm slowly picking up Perl at work, I don't like the lack of strict types as it allows people to write some horrible horrible code
  7. Keep a list of things to cook and make 2 new ones per month - I'm not as deliberate as intended but I made a quiche and some frozen custard
  8. Read twelve or more books - Catching up a bit - I read the first and third Scott Pilgrim graphic novels and am halfway through "Toast" by Nigel Slater
  9. Cut down my photo-uploading backlog - I'm into 2012!
  10. Scrapbook - Things are still scattered on the floor but I have good intentions...
  11. Visit 5 new towns or cities
  12. Keep job/get good/become independent - I've moved across to sit with my team instead of the cluster of new people :)
  13. Go to a pop-up restaurant or supper club
  14. Finish things
  15. Mend/alter - Added Boy's torn shirt and a missing button to my pile :/
  16. See cousins
  17. Go to a gig/film/... every month - Alela Diane at The Louisiana & Dark Dark Dark at The Fleece
  18. Walk lots - I took a scenic route home once and visited St Andrews Park for the first time
  19. Visit new cafés/things - Finally visited Grillstock and Café Provencal
  20. Do something creative every week - Numbers 4, 7, and 22
  21. Make an effort to go to things - Went to a distant pub meet, a work dinner, and a party in Chippenham
  22. Learn to knit properly - "How To Knit" by Debbie Bliss, coupled with larger needles, has helped me achieve double moss stitch and ribbing
  23. Listen to the radio regularly - I realised I can stream 6music at work, hurrah! Helps me get in the zone a bit more too
  24. Use stashes - A few bits of stash went into NL 6154 but I picked up some white viscose for lining from Fabric Land and some spotty cotton from Minerva Crafts. Oops.
  25. Find a dentist & get teeth fixed
Right, I should probably go to bed now!