Wednesday, 28 January 2009

A little knitting

I finished knitting these fingerless mitts at Christmas but keep forgetting to photograph them.  They are starting to look a bit scruffy, I must have worn them almost every day.

I have been a big fan of fingerless gloves but I've not worn mittens since I was about eight!  I love these though, great for when I am out with my camera, my fingers are free to hold the camera and then when I put it away I find myself curling my fingers up tightly inside the mitts just like when I was a small girl!

The yarn is a Regia sock yarn, Kaffe Fassett Mirage in Earth and I used just one ball.  Its 75% wool 25% nylon which is warm as well as hard wearing and the colours are a nice mixture of browns, olive greens and bright blues.   

These were a quick easy knit and good value too at £3.65 for a pair of mitts.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Winter colour

On a grey winters day, here are some colourful pictures of the lichens growing on my blackcurrant bushes.

Not only are they a bright cheerful yellow but viewed up close the structure is amazing too.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Brighter days

Rhubarb just starting to grow again

There always comes a day around about this time of year when I "feel" that spring is not too far away.  Saturday was a bright day that seemed to have so much more energy than the recent grey days.

The sun is now high enough in the sky to shine into our garden.  We live in a modern house built (as most new houses are) very close to other houses and in mid-winter we get no sun in the garden as it is completely shaded by the surrounding houses.  As the hours of daylight increase we get more sunshine, until at last the sun is high enough in the sky to shine over the surrounding houses and into the garden. Today in the middle of the day, there was a small patch of sunlight on the patio.  We have a garden bench placed in this sunny spot and I took a cup of coffee outside to enjoy the return of the sun.  I was soon joined by two chickens who seemed to be enjoying its gentle warmth as well.

I don't have anything in flower yet in the garden, the shade makes it a cold spot, but with the birds singing and the sunshine spring must be on its way.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Sunday at the seaside

We live about sixty miles from the coast and in the busy summer months the drive can take hours so we don't go very often.  In the winter the journey is much easier and this Sunday was bright and sunny perfect for a trip to the sea side.

We walked along the almost deserted beach watching the waves

and looking to see what had been washed up by the tide.

The bright sun picked out the colours of the seaweed.

We also found this complete tile amongst the pebbles - wouldn't it be interesting to know the story of how this came to be on the beach.

Its cold, wet and grey here today but I have the photographs from yesterday to remind me that winter can be the perfect time to visit the beach.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

A day in my life

Its the 14th and time for "a day in my life".  This month there are over thirty of us joining in with this project which is coordinated by Jenny.  Its interesting to read accounts of the daily routines of lives across the world in different seasons and time zones, lots of differences but many similarities as well. The complete list of this months participants are in this post of Jenny's.

I was awoken this morning at 6:15am by two alarms.  My husband has been away this week and when I am on my own I always worry that I will sleep through the alarm and we will all be late, so I set the one on my phone as well.  They went off a couple of minutes apart on opposite sides of the bed thus ensuring that I actually had to move to switch them off.  I know I've said before how much I hate getting up in the dark and January is the month with the darkest mornings.  Still each morning does get a little lighter even if it will be at least another couple of months before I can get up in daylight.

Straight into the morning routine making porridge, making packed lunches, waking my son and drinking coffee.  It was dark, freezing cold and foggy when I drove my son to the station just after seven but by the time I returned home the sky was just starting to lighten.

Wednesday is usually a home day for me but this week I have been asked to work two extra days and today was one of them.  I heated some of yesterdays parsnip soup to take in a flask for my lunch, and then rushed through the morning chores, washing up the breakfast things, making the bed, letting the chickens out and giving them fresh water.

Work was busy and passed quickly enough.  I finished by two o'clock and so I was home in tome to take my eldest son to work. Once I had dropped him off and returned home, I had just under an hour free until I had to pick up my youngest son and ignoring all the things I had to do, I decided to go out for a walk.  It was foggy and cold but still nice to be outside in the fresh air.

The only photos I have for today are from that walk.  As I walked along the lane I noticed lots of little animal paths and tracks up and down the banks on each side.  I wonder what animals regularly pass this way wearing these definite paths,  possibly badgers, or a fox or deer?

This isn't a very good photograph because the light was poor but this is the first celandine I have seen this year - spring must be on its way.

The light faded early today as I made my way home.  A quick trip to the station to pick my son up and then back home to cook dinner.

Dinner today was pasta, penne with a tomato and red lentil sauce, topped with cheese sauce and baked in the oven, followed by fruit crumble.

This evening I have made the packed lunches, chatted to my parents on the phone and written this post.  My son is getting a lift home from work tonight so its a welcome chance to have an early night - perhaps I won't find it so hard to get up tomorrow!



Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Parsnip soup

In my last post I mentioned that I was looking for ideas for recipes using parsnips as mine have done really well this year.  Moonroot left a comment suggesting soup which is a brilliant idea as I often have soup for lunch in the winter.  After a quick google search I chose this recipe as a starting point.

I changed it a bit to use ingredients I already had and ended up simmering (in enough water to just cover)
  • four parsnips
  • two leeks
  • two crushed cloves of garlic
  • one teaspoon curry paste - korma
  • half teaspoon vegetable bouillon powder
  • about a tablespoons of olive oil
It took about 15 minutes to be soft enough to blend using my stick blender. I had to add more water as I blended to get a good consistency.

I have to say that the colour of the soup isn't the most appetising but the flavour is brilliant.  I have plenty left so lunch is sorted for a couple of days.  It also pleases me that it is very economical.  Since my leeks and parsnips were grown from saved seed they cost me virtually nothing so the cost must work out at less than 10p a mug.  The ingredients above made enough for four portions.

Thank you moonroot for the suggestion.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

At the allotment

I have neglected my allotment over the past few months.  Last summer was not a very successful year for salads and vegetables generally although I my soft fruit did quite well.  

At the end of the season I had lost a lot of my enthusiasm. Luckily the allotment didn't know this and quietly all by itself produced this midwinter harvest for me.  The leeks aren't very big but there are plenty of them and I will be harvesting them over the next couple of months.

Parsnips have done well after an almost total failure the year before.  We enjoy roasted parsnips but we have loads and I will have to find some different recipes to make the most of them.

Another welcome success was lambs lettuce.  I have never had much success with winter lettuces but lambs lettuce seems to be foolproof.  It isn't attacked by slugs and although the local deer population have been feasting on my spinach beet and american cress, the lambs lettuce has been left untouched.

Another reason I like it is that I no longer need to buy seeds each year.  I always let some of the plants go to seed waiting until they have shed most of their seeds before pulling them up.  If there are seeds remaining I give the plants a good shake as I carry them to the compost bin. After several years I now have plants self seeding all over my plot.  I have to clear some to plant other crops but I still have plenty growing all around the edges of the beds and even under currant bushes making use of vacant patches of soil.  In places they grow really thickly to form an edible weed-suppressing ground cover - all for free!

The rest of the allotment is lying still at the moment waiting for the spring and it is time for me to start planning next summers crops.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

New Year thoughts

I have been thinking about New Year resolutions. I picked up a pen this morning to scribble down a list.  Then I decided that I have enough lists in my life already.  My days are run by lists and there aren't many mornings when I don't have a new list in my notebook.

Having decided not to write a list of worthy things to do, I looked at the items on today's to-do list.  Although they all need to be done sometime, not one of them absolutely had to be done today.  Most days I get frustrated at not finishing everything on my list yet when I think about it, the things I am fretting over are not essential. 

One of my New Years resolutions from last year (and probably from the year before that) was to try to slow down, to stop rushing around frantically filling every moment.  This resolution has always failed as I invariably schedule more activities than I can possibly fit into the time available, making me always busy and always rushed.  So this year there is to be no list,  just a resolution to think a bit more carefully about the way I plan my time, trying to concentrate on the activities are the most important.  I'm not sure how I am going to do this yet, maybe getting the family to help out more or striking a few things off the list altogether.  

However I tackle it, 2009 is definitely the first new year that instead of making a list of things to do, I have instead resolved to do less!

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Happy New Year

We had perfect New Year weather here today.  It was cold and quiet with a white frost.  We decided to walk a few miles from home and as we reached higher ground the frost was so thick it almost looked like a covering of snow.

It was like a winter wonderland, all the plants and twigs outlined in white.

After all the bright colours of Christmas, shades of white and grey were the perfect setting for a new year walk.

Wishing everyone a very peaceful and happy new year.