Saturday, 6 March 2010

This man was not a knitter................

"If you have a garden and a library then you have everything you need"


I think the above quote is spot on, apart from the knitting omissions LOL

And possibly tea.

Have a lovely Sunday.:)

Friday, 5 March 2010

And what of nature itself..............

" say - that callous and cruel engine, red in tooth and fang? Well, it is not so much of an engine as you think. As for "red in tooth and fang", whenever I hear the phrase or its intellectual echoes, I know that some passer-by has been getting life from books. It is true that there are grim arrangements. Beware of judging them by whatever human values are in style. As well expect Nature to answer to your human values as to come into your house and sit in a chair. The economy of nature, its checks and balances, its measurements of competing life - all this is its great marvel and has an ethic of its own. Live in Nature, and you will soon see that for all its non-human rhythm, it is no cave of pain. As I write I think of my beloved birds of the great beach, and of their beauty and their zest of living. And if there are fears, know also that Nature has its unexpected and unappreciated mercies.
Whatever attitude to human existence you fashion for yourself, know that it is valid only if it be the shadow of an attitude to Nature. A human life, so often likened to a spectacle upon a stage, is more justly a tirual. The ancient values of dignity, beauty, and poetry which sustain it are of Nature's ins[piration; they are born of the mystery and beauty of the world. Do no dishonour to the earth lest you dishonour the spirit of man. Hold your hands out over the earth as over a flame. To all who love her, who open to her the doors of their veins, she gives of her strength, sustaining them with her own measureless tremor of dark life. Touch the earth, love the earth, honour the earth, her plains, her valley, her hills, and her seas; rest your spirit in her solitary places. For the gifts of life are the earth's and they are given to all, and they are the songs of birds at daybreak, Orion and the Bear, and dawn seen over ocean from the beach."

This beautiful, stirring and inspirational passage comes from the closing pages of The Outermost House - a year on the great beach of Cape Cod, by Henry Beston. A wonderful book, the writing is faultless all the way through,a completely honest and unsentimental writing on nature and the wider world. A true classic.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

It is time................

It's amazing what a couple of bright, sunny, early spring days can do for my demeanour! I am raring to go with spring cleaning, redecorating and a big spring push, so I can have as much time outdoors as I can in the summer.
Plans were thwarted well before Christmas due to illness, and again afterwards due to a long recuperation. However, I feel ready for the off now, and have a plan of order in my mind, starting with the bathroom and working through and down. I'll start with redecorating the bathroom, as it's not a huge job, but it will be very different when I'm done - going for pink/green/roses this time; it's blues at the moment, but needs a lick of paint and a bit of a change about - new pictures, new curtains made, a wooden towel rail, paint the shelves, new plants. Nothing expensive or fancy, but it will make a big difference in there:)
Next, out on to the landing, which also needs painting, the floorboards done and new curtains made for there too, and teh chest of drawers rejuvenated, a new runner made for it and the drawers sorted out for storage. Then into my bedroom - lots to declutter and clear, move some furniture around and strip some wallpaper for the moment, maybe paint the windows. Then, on downstairs, via the stairwell, where I have another couple of quilts waiting to be hung.
Then there's spring cleaning to do downstairs - deep clean the sitting room, make new curtains for it too, a new rug, and some cushion covers.
In between, I'll be outside doing the jobs as much as possible to keep on top of the seed sowing, planting and tidying.
Lots of decluttering to be done en route too, especially my books, which need another really good sort out.
Oh yes, and the windows.................I love the sunshine, but it doesn't half show that they need cleaning lol
Anyone else feel as optimistic and raring to go with the sunshine? I hope so!

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

St Clement's cupcakes with mascarpone icing

Named after the soft drink of the same name, these St Clement's cakes are a nice mix of zesty lemon and orange. Citrus fruits are good prices throughout the winter, and what nicer way to look forward to spring than with a lovely little cupcake?

6oz butter, softened
6oz sugar
3 eggs, beaten
6 oz self raising flour
zest and juice of 1 lemon
milk for mixing

1 tub of mascarpone cheese (250g)
icing sugar to taste
colouring if required
zest of 1 large or 2 small oranges

Cream butter and sugar, beat in eggs. Add flour, beat well, and add milk, zest and juice, mix to a soft dropping consistency.
Divide between 12 muffin cases ( or smaller fairy cake cases; mix makes 12 large), and bake in a hot oven until risen and golden, and firm to the touch. Cool on a wire rack.
Icing: beat cheese with enough icing sugar to taste, add zest and colouring as required. Pipe into swirls on top of cakes and decorate with thin strips of zest. Leave to set for a while. Alternatively, spread icing over the cakes with a knife, then decorate.
Kettle's on...............:)

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Upalong and downalong............. they say in Dorset. I managed to get out for the first walk around the lanes of this year; bit later than normal due to weather and illness restrictions, but I chose a great day for it. The weather here is glorious today - no other word for it.
First of all the lane, down off the main street into another part of the village, very quiet; the next one shows some ice still there on the dark side of the road - fantastic patterning - an old high door in a barn I pass on the home stretch; an old culvert, newly visible after the winter's clearing of the verges and ditches, and a badger run up and under the hedge - there is a matching one on the other side of the road.

The second lot show a lovely old willow, with it's branches traced against a stunning blue sky; it's in the garden of the cottage getting its roof re-thatched, you can see the thatch waiting on the scaffolding; a view out and over the Blackmore Vale; the early morning sun squinting through an ancient hedge.

A morning full of the optimism of spring.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Exquisite signs of spring..............

These little irises have just opened in the back garden - stunning. It was a lovely morning here - clear and bright, after a bit of frost overnight. It's clouded over now, though. I did get out and get the mistletoe berries on to the apple tree, and checked over the metal greenhouse, watering the first lot of sweetpeas. It won;t be long until the broad beans pepp through now either. I spent half an hour in the kitchen pricking out tomatoes - sadly, all the names have disappeared from the labels, it can't have been a permanent marker I used, so I'm not sure what is what now LOL I know which were the Gardener's Delights, though, so that's something at least. I'm sure they'll taste just as good if I don't know their names.
We steadied the beehive yesterday too - it was leaning precariously to the left - one careless knock from the wing of a gander and the whole lot would have literally gone flying. It's more scure now on a sturdy level paving slab. I was pleased to see them out and flying in the early spring sunshine this morning - a sight for sore eyes, and a lovely sound.

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Tip booty!

A quick trip to the tip this morning in the pouring rain, but we had to empty the ash bin and take some rubbish, so my knitting and I hopped in the car and went along. Just as well I did, came back with this lot for the princely sum of one British pound LOL

Three balls of wool, three pairs of good knitting needles. an unused card of decently wide bias binding, a lovely old wooden cotton reel with a few yards of black linen button thread ( 7p from dear old Woolworths.............), and just over a yard of a nice piece of lace.
Oh yes, and what it's all sitting on - an almost new, unused Le Creuset griddle pan!
You can keep your John Lewises and your shopping centres, your fancy schmancy "cookware" shops and your overpriced under quality "haberdashery" (not sure if it any longer qualifies for that lovely word to be applied to some of the stuff we have to put up with these days) - give me secondhand from the tip any day LOL
I know how lucky I am for lots of reasons to have access to such a wonderful facility.:)

Full moons and red skies at night..............

Another full moon tonight, I'm hoping that some of the cloud will shift to give a better view, but hopes of that are fading fast. The weather here this morning is grey and bleak, with a very slight wind just getting up; the forecast is for heavy rain and wind later, so I'll try and get on with outdoor must-dos as early as I can, I think. Still wish people would see the positive powers of a full moon, rather than blame all sorts of nonsense on it, it's very common.
In the meantime, some more on our Lady moon:

"In the days before written calendars, our ancestors had their own methods of keeping track of the months and seasons. One of the best was to note the changing phases of the moon, with its new and full moons. A full moon happens once very twenty nine days, which means that on average there is one moon a month (originally, this word was a "moonth"). How simple, then, to give each month's moon a name that was associated with the natural world at that aprticular time of the year. The names varied slightly from one region and culture to another, but here are some of the names that were- and still are - used in the northern hemisphere.

January - Wolf Moon
February - Snow or Ice Moon
March - Worm or Storm Moon
April - Pink or Growing Moon
May - Flower or Hare Moon
June - Strawberry or Mead Moon
July - Buck or Hay Moon
August - Sturgeon or Corn Moon
September - Harvest Moon
October - Hunter's Moon
November - Beaver or Snow Moon
December - Cold or Winter Moon"

This is taken from a new book called Red Sky at Night - the book of lost countryside wisdom, by Jane Struthers, newly borrowed from the library. I'm not sure I'd call it *all" lost wisdom - there's a lot in there that I and others still use for weather watching and taking note ot what is happening in the world around us. That aside, it's a lovely book, full of interesting bits and pieces, covering a wide variety of subjects - the best high tea, hand-dipped candles, hill figures and stone circles, quarter days, edible flowers, a whole chapter on birds, trees, foraging and the life of a buterfly. Nothing is gone into in great depth, but it's a lovely book for dipping in and out of. Recommended.

I think the front and/or back cover would make a lovely applique quilt design too.

Photo at top by Darrell E. Spangler, from