Friday, 9 January 2009

Cold here again................

Goats in winter!

Took a couple of pics of the girls to show you. The close - up shows teh woolly winter coat that Marty has grown due to the cold weather recently. I see Fancy Day's isn't far behind now; I want to get up there with a brush and get a bit for spinning - if they'll let me, and when the weather gets a bit warmer. They need it more than I do LOL

Perfect mashed potato

Mshed potato, when well made is one of the very best vegetable dishes you could possibly eat!Mind you, when it's bad, it can be very, very bad, and a huge disappointment! This is how I make my own perfect mash.

Choose a good floury variety of potato; peel thinly, and cut into equal size pieces - this way it all cooks at the same rate and is ready all together - no hard half-raw bits in it, I hope. Have ready a colander in theink, and drain the potatoes through it. Try and drain the lquid into a bowl, and put it byfor vegetablestock/base for soups and sauces, add to casseroles, bread recipes, etc. Failing that, put it ont he garden if you can!

Give the potatoes about two or three minutes to drain thoroughly, shaking thecolander a couple of timesto get them moving. In the interim, put a large knob of good butter into the hot pan and swirl it around, then add a dash of milk, a good grind of black pepper and a pinch of salt.

turn the now dry potatoes back into the pan and mash with your preferred choice of masher. I've used all sorts over the years, but have come down in favour of a traditional wooden one, just a shaped piece of wood - it's a lovely thing to use, and to look at. I tried a ricer once, but it was a bit much faff for me LOL. When good and mashed, give it a good whisk around with a fork to make sure the butter and milk and seasonings are well incorporated, heat through if required and serve.

It's also a good base for other recipes - colcannon, for example. I try and make a bit extra if I have room in the pot and the extra potatoes - used then for croquettes, tattie scones, shepherd's or cottage pie topping, etc.

Can't beat it!

January giveaway!!!

It's that time again! For January, I have a treat of a book to give away - The Spend Less Handbook - 365 tips for a better quality of life while actually spending less, by Rebecca Ash. I think it's a great little book, quite inspriing, lots of tips in there. I'm sure a lot of us do a lot of the things (or not, as the case may be), but it'sa good read. Whilst you're reading, you'll need tea, so I've popped in a packet of Fairtrade tea, and a knitted mug-hug to keep the tea warm whilst you read.

Hope you'd like to enter, just leave a comment somewhere and I'll pick it up, or e-mail me at

Good luck!

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Spring can't be far behind..............

These are my hyacinth bulbs in the kitchen, well on their way now - they have grand roots on them too.The sent of hyacinths is one of my very favourites, and one stem can scent a room for a couple of weeks. I've had the container for a long time- it's an antique German mould, ceramic, but with a couple of cracks in, so probably wouldn't hold liquid. It's well past its best, so couldn't sell it either, so rather than throw it away (horror of horrors!!!), I used it for this; think it's quite funky LOL Can't remember what colour the flowers are, so that'll be a nice surprise. :)

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Meet the chickens.............

.............. well, some of them, anyway! At the moment, I'm leaving the run gate open, and the come out into the garden; there's not too much dmage for them to do at this time of year, but I see they have kindly ploughed up the greenhouse beds for me, and eaten most of the Swiss chard LOL. It's so nice to be able to see them pottering around outside the kitchen window, noseying into every pot, nook and cranny! The cockerel is called William, as in William Barnes, the Dorset dialect poet. Not sure if his crowing is in dialect, but it's mighty loud :)

St Distaff's Day - 7th January

In former times, 7th January was jocularly known as St Distaff's Day. It was the female equivalent of Plough Monday: nominally the day on which work resumed after the Christmas festivities, but effectively a day of transition between the two. The stereotypical tool of the trade for women was the distaff, used for the spinning of flax.

Partly work and partly play
Ye must on St Distaff's Day:
From the plough soon free your team;
Then come home and fodder them.
If the maids a-spinning go,
Burn the flax and fire the tow:
Scorch their plackets but beware
That ye singe no maiden hair.
Bring in pails of water then,
Let the maids bewash the men.
Give StDistaf all teh right:
Then bid Christmas sport good-night
And next morrow, everyone
To his own vocation.

Robert Herrick, Hesperides, St Distaff's Day.

Taken from Chambers Book of Days

So there you go, I can spend the day in transition, spinning by the stove. think I'll pass on the bewashing of the men, though LOL

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Things found - postscript

I have just taken a book off the shelf which caught my eye, whilst looking for another one; it's an old craft book called News Chronicle Needlework and Crafts. No date on it, but I suspect mid 1930s or thereabouts. The frontispiece has a picture of a very pretty embroidered cushion cover with a spray of lilac as the design. The covering sheet for the photo, like a thin transparent tissue paper, bears the legend "A transfer of the design is enclosed in the envelope at the end of the book"

Against all odds, the transfer is indeed still there, and unused to boot. I bought this book early last year, probably from the tip, as it has no price inside, but had yet to look at it. I'd love to make the cushion cover, so will investigate what I need in the way of materials and raid the stash LOL.

Two books in a row bearing little treasures. Good start to the New Year :)

Things found.................

I'm presently reading an old book called "Come into the garden, cook", which was written and published during WW2 - I'll write about the book itself later. One thing I love is to find little snippets and bits of paper inside books - I have even been known to buy an otherwise uninteresting book from a charity shop just to explore the little slips of handwritten paper peeking from the pages :)

Right in the centre of the Constance Spry book was a small piece of paper, with neat hand writing on it:

Difficult to read on the screen; this is what it says:

It will never come again -

the scent of bracken and rain;

the flip of the wind through the trees

and - the touch of a hand.

I think that's beautiful, and I've spent a while pondering on who could have written it, but ofcourse I'll never know. The piece of paper will be kept inside the book for future readers to discover and get the same thrill as I did.

Monday, 5 January 2009


I love making bread, but don't do it as often as I would like, and tend to get stuck in a plain white (albeit organic, unbleached :) ) bread rut. So, from this month, I'm going to do my own personal bread campaign:

I find it a great idea to get others involved - encourage each other, make suggestions, give the occasional behind (usually mine LOL) a kick.
I want to try new recipes; grind flour more often and better; grow wheat again (and try and stop the pigeons from eating it); try foreign breads; different shapes; different flours; sourdough starter again; read books on bread - you get the idea.
Bread is such an important part of life - physically, spiritually and metaphorically.
I'll post pics, recipes, etc as I go along - feel free to join in here or on the forum (link above), or jsut read about what others are doing - you'll end up being inspired I bet.

Happy kneading LOL
A little poem about bread:
Grow wheat,
Four feet,
Stook reet,
Good and neat.

Grind flour,
In an hour,
Hand power,
Dough sour.

Make bread,
To be fed,
Fire led,
Coals red.

In the bowl,
Grains whole,
This your goal -
Feed your soul.
(copyright S.Dean)

MrsL hits the sales!!!!

After a fashion, that is! Our local garden centre has a stunning Christmas display every year, and alongside all the Seasonal stuff, there are usually some lovely household bits and pieces. We go along to see the display (takes about an hour to get around and see everything), and inevitably buy one or two small bits for Christmas; this year's wasa lovely little red plant pot with Happy Christmas written on it, and a wee bird on the rim; at 3.00 it didn't break the bank, and will be put away carefully for future use.

However, what is even better is that after Christmas, all things in teh display are half price :) Big grin..............So, the first outing is part recce to see what I would like when it's reduced in price; mind, you have to get there quite smartish, as lots of folk have now cottoned on to this!! I managed to get the things I had my eye on - the lovely vintage style French magnetic calendar; the antique flower print coasters; the pink floral coaster; the antique style mirror compact - all half price and very very beautiful.

Buying any non-essential is a treat, which is as it should be , but when you get it at half price, the satisfaction is multipiled many times!


I love the word itself - homespun. Captures it all for me! Anyway, here's the latest homespun from me LOL

The skeins are 50g of alpaca which I spun yesterday; I have to admit I didn;t really enjoy this one, but it's a Guild challenge, so, as Chairman, I felt duty bound to come up with something. I now have to make it into an article, but not sure what yet; I may dye it first, but teh enxt stage is wshing the skeins today.

Remember the little red teapot from a while back? Well, here it is in its cosy - hadspun white North Ronaldsay. Not the best bit of fleece I've bought off e-bay to be honest, there wasa lot I couldn't use, but I managed to eke it out just enough to knit this mini rare-breed cosy with about 3 ft of wool left:) Sweet, isn't it?

Gardener's world

On this day in 1968, Gardener's World was first broadcast on the BBC. The pic is of the inimitable Geoff Hamilton; he was the presenter of the programme when I got my first house and garden, and was very much an influence in my early gardening years. I have come a long way since then, but still remember his easy going presenting style and enthusiasm for all things that could be grown; never patronising, sensible, practical and with a sense of humour. I stopped watching the programme several years ago now, as my gardening has gone off in more eccentric directions LOL, and the magazine isn't quite my cup of tea either, but I know GW has been and still is a great influence on gardeners everywhere.
One of the BBC's better ones, this!