Our daily bread

Home baked bread

I can’t take credit for baking this bread, or even taking all the photos. That credit goes to my hubby¬†(I took the last photo). But the photos were too good not to share.

Home baked breadAnd yes, it did taste as good as it looks ūüėÄ

Home baked bread

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Looking back, a year on

A friend who is currently planning her own wedding suggested I write this post. R and I are celebrating our first anniversary this month, so looking back with the ¬†benefit of¬†hindsight¬†what were the most important aspects of the day? What do we still think about, talk about and laugh about and what really wasn’t as¬†important as it seemed at the time. Maybe this will be useful to other couples planning their own weddings.

(c) Half a Dream Away

(c) Half a Dream Away

R and I¬†actually¬†had a civil ceremony with just our families to take care of the legalities before our real wedding where we made our vows to each other. That moment in the registry office, with just our parents, siblings and the registrar hit me like lightening. This is what it’s all about, just me and R committing to spend the rest of our lives together. It was such a special moment and really cristalised what marriage is about for me. I loved every minute of our wedding with all our friends and family, we had a great day and a big party. But that’s just the wedding, that’s not a marriage.

When I think back to our wedding day the thing I remember the most is laughing with friends. It’s the one time you’re likely to have all your friends and all your family in one place so cherish that. That was the most important thing to me, to have all the people I loved around me, that’s what made the say special. I felt like I was floating all day.

(c) Half a Dream Away

(c) Half a Dream Away

I remember dancing with my best friends to songs that we danced to when we were 17 (she’s a maaaaniac, maaaaniac on the floor, ahem, sorry). I remember being in the car with my brother and dad and wondering if this was really happening. I remember my face aching from smiling and laughing so much but I didn’t care. I remember that my earings actually cut my skin from all the hugging but I could hardly feel it because I was so happy. I remember getting ready with my girls and having a surprisingly calm morning. I remember the waitresses coming up to us with canap√©s when we were getting our photos taken because we had mentioned to the caterer that we didn’t want to miss them. I remember looking out and seeing my aunts smiling back at me during the ceremony. I remember so many of our guests complimenting the food, which had been a huge motivation in choosing Ballybeg House. I remembering bursting into tears when my dad saw me in my dress for the first time. I remember laughing so much. I remember feeling so happy I though my heart would burst.

(c) Half a Dream Away

(c) Half a Dream Away

So, things I’m glad we spent money on: The venue (Ballybeg House) but only because it had exactly the atmosphere we wanted, relaxed and informal and fun! The staff at Ballybeg were also really excellent, just fantastic. But a field with all your friends and family would also do. The food, mmm the food was so good, we had a buffet which again added to the relaxed feel to the day and oh my, the food was so yum (did I say that already?). And I’m so glad we have the most beautiful photographs that I still love to look through and smile at the memories. The dance floor was packed all night, I even had a lampshade on my head at one stage. So I’m glad we had good music, although you wouldn’t necessarily need to have a band for this.¬†We had a jazz band and then a DJ who really listened to my¬†request¬†for 90s music.

Everything else is just window dressing, lovely window dressing but just not really all that important in the grand scheme of things. The shoes, the favours, the flowers, even the dress. They are wonderful to have but what a wedding is for celebrating your love and commitment to your partner with the most important people in your lives. That’s what it’s really all about.

Tips on how to read a knitting chart

I love knitting lace. Mostly because I don’t need to make it fit, but also because it keeps me interested. My big first lace project was my Ballybeg shawl and this meant learning how to read knitting charts. So I thought I’d share with you some of the tips that were shared with me when I started reading¬†lace charts.

1. Colour coding

The first thing I do when faced with a lace chart is colour code it. I even bought a packet of markers that live in my knitting basket just for this purpose. So for example in the knitting chart all YOs might be yellow, K2tog orange. Then I colour code the key that accompanies the chart so it’s easy to quickly identify the stitch the symbol stands for. The image below gives you an idea of what I mean, the photo is blurred on purpose so you can’t see the individual symbols in the lace chart.

Knitting lace chart - colour code2. Count (and note) the stitches

In pretty much every lace chart I’ve ever used the knit stitches are blank squares and the purls stitches are dots, on the right side. (On the wrong side they switch which can be confusing, more on that later). If there are a number of plain stitches between symbols I count these up and write the number onto the knitting chart, so I’ll have all these little numbers all over the chart. I¬†usually¬†do this if there are more than three or four plain stitches, so I can clearly read¬†how many stitches there are before the next symbol.

3. Add arrows

If you’re knitting flat (as opposed to in the round) it can be helpful to add arrows to your knitting charts showing which direction you’re knitting in. This can really help you to¬†read your stitches. Right side (RS) rows run right to left and wrong side (WS) rows run left to right.

4. Use post-its

When you actually start knitting from the chart, I place a wide post-it to just under the row I’m currently working on. This serves two purposes, it reminds you which row you’re on and it also makes it easier to read¬†just the stitches you need to concentrate on.

Knits and purls

One thing that really confused me when I started reading lace charts is that a blank square means knit on the RS and purl on the WS. Similary a square with a black dot means purl on the RS and knit on the WS. At first this made no sense to me. At all. But if you think about it, if you see a chunk of your chart is made up of blank squares you know you have an area of stockinette. I hope that makes sense.

So busy…

I have 4 weeks of lectures left in my Masters and I am literally up to my eyes. As the¬†Dowager Countess of Grantham so succinctly put it “What is a weekend?“.

I have finished a shawl and am half way through another, but haven’t gotten around to blocking or photographing either yet. Soon, maybe.

Dexter 8 week old Jack Russell foster puppy

But I do have a foster puppy called Dexter at the moment. Isn’t he a cutie? Dexter is an 8 week old Jack Russell puppy. His mum was tragically found dead and the kind members of the public who went to check to see whether she was dead or just injured found a 5 week old Dexter beside her. Mum wasn’t so lucky¬†unfortunately, but now little Dexter is thriving.

He’s been with us for three weeks and is great fun to have around. He’s the perfect antidote to all the assignments I have stacked up at the moment. He’s getting his first vaccinations on Thursday will be ready to find his ¬†forever home a few weeks after that. He’s been no trouble at all – he’s so tiny, and although not house trained, when he does go to the toilet it’s pretty tiny too. He’s got the softest coat and has quite long hair, not like most Jack¬†Russells¬†I know so he might be crossed with something else.

Ok, enough puppy talk from me and back to work…