sirisa clark

the things I do and the words I choose


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Spinning a yarn

Lo and behold, the scarf is complete!

And it’s so long! If I hold it up it’s pretty much as tall as me – and like me, it enjoys nothing more than draping itself lovingly around Mr Jones’ neck.

I am pretty much beside myself with happiness at this point – it feels really good to finish a project, especially when I’ve had so much flak for how long it has taken me to complete.

And better yet, it’s ready in time for Ben’s birthday! I made him pose in the garden wearing it, but then I took it back so I can wrap it up all pretty for his birthday.

So, I can tick that off on the Life List. I’ve now made the List a link at the top of my blog, so you can follow my progress from there.

I’m already full of ideas about what I want to make next – many of them waaaay too ambitious, but it’s good to dream big.

By the way, the scarf is not as narrow as it looks above – Ben has folded it in half. I have not spent a year knitting a shoestring.

 


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The Life List

For a while now – inspired by Mighty Girl (and actually borrowing some ideas from hers) – I’ve been meaning to write a life list, or bucket list as some people call it. Without wanting to go all hippy-visualisation bidness on you, I do find that writing down my goals seems to bring me a magical step closer to achieving them. Like Deathnote, but without killing any of my enemies.

So hey, if this post helps me achieve any of the following, that would be awesome!

  1. Visit the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland
  2. See the Aurora Borealis
  3. Take a dip in a thermo pool in Iceland
  4. Walk the Camino de Santiago de Compostela
  5. Spend a week on a narrowboat
  6. Travel around the UK in a campervan
  7. Take a flight in a hot air balloon
  8. Visit a redwood forest in California
  9. Ride in a gondola in Venice
  10. Take a helicopter flight over the Grand Canyon
  11. Grow my own food
  12. Visit Yellowstone national park
  13. See the Great Wall of China
  14. Sail a yacht
  15. Visit Cuba
  16. Go to carnival in Rio
  17. Go to Mardi Gras in New Orleans
  18. Visit New York
  19. Ride a tram in San Francisco
  20. Sky dive
  21. Dance at the Swing Ball with Ben
  22. Ride the Orient Express
  23. Be in a film
  24. Tango in Argentina
  25. Get published
  26. Take a photography class
  27. Read Ulysses
  28. Do a 10k run
  29. Grow a bonsai tree
  30. Have a garden with a hammock
  31. Finish knitting Ben’s scarf
  32. Make a dress
  33. See Radiohead live
  34. See Tom Waits live
  35. Sleep in a treehouse
  36. Learn Italian
  37. Go island-hopping in Greece
  38. Visit Uluru
  39. Swim in the swimming ponds at Hampstead Heath
  40. Throw a Holi party
  41.  Attend Loy Krathong, the sky lantern festival in Thailand
  42. Swim with bioluminescent plankton in Puerto Rico
  43. See the Iguazu Falls in Argentina

 

And a handful of the really awesome things I have already ticked off the list:

Give blood

Dinner at Rick’s Café Americain in Casablanca

Do a 5k run

Learn to swing dance

Dress up as a geisha in Kyoto

Cross Thorung-La: the world’s highest mountain pass in the Himalayas

See a meteor shower

I didn’t get a photo, but it was a lot like this

Be a DJ

Believe it or not, I am DJing here…

Perform onstage

Onstage at Robin’s Well with Ben, Timmy and Sarah

Marry Ben


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Mad dogs and English girls

Another beautiful day in Southern Italy? Another trip to the beach!

We took a picnic of cheese, tomatoes and bread, and hit ridiculously clear waters with a lilo – the perfect way to simultaneously enjoy the sea and also sunbathe.

After about five minutes in the water, I started to notice a strange sensation: tiny white fish nipping at my feet! I don’t mind a fish pedicure, but these little guys were going for the softest, living bits of my feet.

Now I’m sure the Italians are all thinking: these English girls are maniaci! What on earth is she doing, knitting on the beach??

Why yes, red is my favourite colour!

Well, let me put it this way i miei amici italiani: not everybody gets 30C weather in September. Tomorrow we go back to London, where Autumn has already established dominion over the climate, and British hearts brace themselves for the rigours of Seasonal Affective Disorder.

More importantly, Ben’s birthday is just a few weeks away, and so suddenly I am working to a deadline.


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How long is a piece of string?

A short post tonight, because I left work at 7pm (ironically, working late on a new website for my department). And as I left I sensed the light failing, and I felt the chill in the air, and I knew it in my tired bones.

Winter is coming.

It’s not all bad though, I’m looking forward to the return of Game of Thrones and some other fun shows!

I cooked up a batch of macaroni cheese, Ben and I vegged out with Breaking Bad on the telly, and I… pulled my knitting out again!

I took up knitting last Autumn when I joined a club at work and the girls showed me how to knit and purl. I started on a scarf for Ben, which went through several patterns:

Franken-knit

In case you’re wondering, those are not intentional pattern changes. I got bored of just knitting, so started throwing in some purls. Then somehow dropped a stitch and inexplicably flipped from seed stitch to ribbing. Which caused the end to taper and gave it that weird hot water bottle look…

Good practice, but I’d be ashamed to see my husband walking around in Franken-knit. So I started again:

That’s a bit more like it huh? But then wedding planning and summer took over, and who wants to knit in summer?

So it’s knitting time again. Unfortunately, in the middle of a climactic drug deal season finale on Breaking Bad, I got distracted and completely screwed up the final stitch on the row. Luckily for me, my knitting guru subscribes to my blog, so hello Jenny! I’ll be asking your advice in the morning!

 


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Make like a tree and shrink

I’ve been wondering what on earth to do with my sapling from Saturday’s race.

I picked out a silver birch, because I love their pale shiny bark, and their leaves. Their leaves are so numerous, and yet never dense, like a shiver of green sequins.

Not that my sapling looks anything like that yet – it looks very much like a leafy twig, its regular old brown stem thinner than a pencil, and sprouting five rather scraggly-looking leaves.

I’d love to give him the chance to grow into a strapping great tree, but I don’t have a garden in which to plant him.

I tried to give him away to my neighbour, a keen gardener with an amazing garden and quite a few established trees. But he didn’t want him, and even as I was proffering my scraggly twig-tree, I felt like I was trying to palm off a puppy or a kitten. A tree is not just for Christmas y’all!

Then a friend at work made a suggestion: bonsai. Bonsai! Of course! I have always wanted a bonsai tree, or at least since I was very little and lived with someone who had a bonsai. He even had tiny ceramic men who stood under the tree and added a degree of proportion to its shrunken world.

A bonsai will have all the characteristics of the adult silver birch, but in miniature.  It can go with us wherever we move, garden or no. And it will go really nicely with the four orchids from our wedding, which I am delighted I have not yet killed!

I just have to learn how to bonsai now… I’ve spent half the evening reading up and getting largely contradictory information. I think I am getting to grips with some of the general principles, but I’m not sure how to get from my little twiglet to something that looks like a tree that’s been hit by a powerful shrinking ray.

But, I’ve just stumbled upon this video, and I think this is the kind of no-nonsense (Aussie), suck it and see approach I can get on board with.

If any of you have any hints or tips on how to get started with bonsai, please hit me up in the comments!


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how do you like them apples?

I went for it – I made the apple tart.

Step 1: thinly slice your apple. Discover apples are a bastard to slice thinly, due to slippery nature of a sphere.

slippery bastards

Step 2: Remember to turn the oven on.

Step 3: Toss apple slices in lemon juice, brown sugar and cinnamon.

Mmmm, cinnamon

Step 4: Wonder where the hell your only baking tray is.

Step 5: Find it in the oven. Decide the oven hasn’t been on long enough to heat it.

Step 6:  Find out you are wrong. Run burnt finger under tap.

Step 7: Spread ready-made puff pastry sheet on baking tray. Hope it hasn’t been sitting in fridge too long and lost all its puff.

Step 8: Pause periodically to take photos for blog. Wonder how other bloggers a) have patience to stop in the middle of everything to take photos, and b) do absolutely everything in life beautifully lit in natural daylight.

Step 9: Decide apricot jam would make a good glaze and smear all over pastry, right up to edges.

Artfully located Bonne Maman jar, so you know it’s top notch

Step 10: Carefully lay out apple strips in long thin lines fanning across each other.

Step 11: Find there are many strips of apple left. Try to smoosh them in without messing up attractive pattern. Find yourself tucking apple slices under each other, and wonder when your life got weird.

Step 12: Pop that shizzle in the oven!

Step 13: Remember you need to take a photo for your blog. Pull that shizzle back out again.

Oh well. The taste is more important than the look.

Step 14: Cook for 10 minutes.

Step 15: Check on tart, find pastry is not puffing. Cook for a further 15 minutes.

Step 16: Check tart again. Find pastry is still not puffing, but there is a mild smokiness going on. Unsure whether the pastry really was too old, or the jam glaze hampered puffing, but decide it’s definitely time to take it out.

Nae bad! Ignore sticky black oozy bit.

Step 17: Husband arrives home conveniently just as you are slicing up the tart. Resign self to having to share.

Step 18: Serve, with a generous splodge of Greek yoghurt!

Not puffy, just tasty