Friday, 16 February 2018

Family walk, half-term Five on Friday

Hello, it's Friday, half-term and a sunny day, time to put on shoes, wrap up warm and head out for a walk. I'm joining 'Five on Friday' with 5 groups of photos from our walk. Do shout if you've been here before or recognise any plants (especially the yellow ones in my garden please). Unfortunately the flora and fauna are lacking at this time of year. Later in spring time through to summer there's an abundance of wildlife, birds, dragon flies, and beautiful pyramid orchids.   

One - Opening the gate, we head into Rimac a Natural England Conservation area, it's lovely and peaceful here. In the summer families bring children often with fishing nets. A few years ago, schools would bring children to 'experience' nature. I have to say, that I like it here. If you walk straight ahead, you will arrive at the sea, but it is a long walk. 

The hill on the right has been sign posted - Do not enter the grasses, birds nesting. In fact, on the level you should keep to the path due to ground nesting. Though I understand that we should protect the environment, it's difficult dragging children away from electronics only to restrict them again. 

We follow the path round to the patch of water on the left.

You can just see a raised platform with benches.

Schools would flock here to 'Discover the amazing wildlife found in the Rimac pond: water scorpions, dragonfly nymphs and more' with help from Natural England Conservation.

Two - 
There are information signs and sadly an abandoned education hut in the car park, which provided fun indoor activities for both school and holiday learning. I hadn't realised the hut was no longer in use,  Roger - one of the staff worked tirelessly, to see the hut was adequate with a heat stove and learning materials.

  Three - Climbing the top of the steps, we survey the area.

Four - Before descending for some family photos.

You should just see the sea in the distance.

Five - Plantlife.

The plants have yet to show except for thistles and grasses.

So back at home before we go in for a cuppa, I snap the first signs of colour from my garden.

Tete a tete


Thank you for joining me on my walk, I hope to return in the summer when there's more to see.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Valentines Day

Hello there, Happy Valentines wishes to you all. With pancake day the previous day and half-term this week, it's a busy week for many. We somehow forgot to make pancakes, so we'll catch up and eat ours on Saturday. Lemon and sugar are my favourite toppings, followed closely by maple syrup, but the teens like the chocolate flavours. We did however, make a white chocolate cheesecake for today as teen 1 was entertaining, with 'add your own toppings' pizza for lunch and fish & chips for dinner.  

At lunchtime I was given some flowers from M, a miniature rose pot plant - I'm hoping I don't kill this one. 

On the needles at the moment - the next pair of socks. King Cole self patterning 4ply sock yarn, I think this yarn is discontinued as it was purchased a long time ago. King Cole have introduced a whole new colour range since choosing this one. I knitted a pair a few years ago using a turquoise self patterning yarn.

On the hook at the moment - some crocheted bunting. Having finished crocheting a blanket, I had a small yarn stash. I've been wanting to crochet some bunting for a while and found this pattern by Nicki Trench, it's called Knickerbockerglory Bunting (Moorland style colours). It starts at the top and decreases down to a point and is in dc. I'm going to fit these bunting flags in between some sock knitting. The bunting will be hung up on family celebrations.

Today I had an appointment with the dietitian, in theory it should be the last one as I sort out the last few issues on my own. The above cards were purchased from the stand at the 'Friends of the hospital' cafe, a bargain at only 30p each. The top ones are National Geographic and they're all good quality, very pleased.

I've been experimenting with the flapjacks again. This one is chewy and chocolatey and has sunflower seeds in. With the butter, sugar, syrup mixture nicely melted, when I stirred in the oats, seeds and then 2 pkts of chocolate chips, they melted too! I had visions of the chocolate chips eventually setting hard as chips once more. Next time, I'll try stirring them in after everything has been mixed and slightly cooled before baking. I'm happy with the chewy part, 15 ish mins baking time avoids the hard crunch. 

                             book cover of Merry and Bright 

A while ago, I said I'd report back on the 2018 Book Bucket List Challenge. Working through in no particular order, the first book ticked off my list is 'Debbie Macomber Merry and Bright' with the -

Read a book that you can finish in a day. I had a day free a while ago and managed to finish it. It wasn't a thick book so it was never going to take long to read it anyway. It's sad that I've seemed to have forgotten the gist of the story, so I've been trying to refresh my memory. Oh yes, computer dating and office romance, well it's a cute story with Christmas thrown in to the mix. Mine was a Christmas present from M which I was pleased about. I was going to borrow it from the library. If you're not a fan of this author maybe this one won't be your style. It flows gently along and is predictable but enjoyable nonetheless.

On this day, when the nation is contemplating love and what it means to themselves, I'll leave you with a thought about love and what - 'love itself' means.

Image result for love is patient

Have a good week

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Socks - January 2018

Hello there, my socks are finished! I may not have met January with a big finish but I'm claiming a January finish anyway. These are the first ones finished this year - I know that doesn't make sense, but... This pair was started way back in the summer, I wrote about them here and here previously.

These are for M (husband), though I quite like them myself - the colour blue, green, cream and grey are pleasing and soothing. Green remains a favourite colour of mine, though I often choose reds, purples and pinks. I purchased this yarn in a wool shop, which is always a bonus, as you can 'look and feel' before you buy.

If you've been following for a while, you'll see that I unpicked one of the socks as it wasn't matching its partner at all well. So it's been a learning experience in planning ahead. On the whole, I've enjoyed knitting them. Previously I've knitted on dpps and using 2 short circular needles. The 2 needles made a lot of sense at the time, as one knits the front and the other the back part with the heel. The  pattern for this is included in Debbie Macomber's fiction book 'A Good Yarn'. Her book is part of The Blossom Street series and is based loosely around a knitting shop, highly recommended.

All things considered, I prefer the short circular needle for knitting socks. You do have to use dpps for the first 2 rows, heels and toes, but it's still quick, or can be if you stick with it of course. At some point I'd like to try knitting 2 pairs at once, I can't quite visualise the process at the moment so for now I'll carry on as I have been.

The materials and pattern I used were - 4 ply Rico Superba Harmony yarn here. The pattern, I found on Winwick Mum's blog and later purchased her book. She leads you through the pattern, fully photographed with detailed instructions in 3 methods of knitting. Magic loop, short circular needle and double pointed pins. I vaguely remember starting with 3 mm needles before changing to the 2.5 mm. Her blog contains links to information, to help you. 

Have you tried knitting 2 socks at once? What colours do you like or tend to plump for? How are your craft related new year resolutions going? 

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Cookery Calendar Challenge - January

Hello, I noticed that Penny at The Homemade Heart is back with her Cookery Calendar Challenge! I'd taken these photos a while ago, shutting myself in the kitchen to do some serious cooking. That's me, doing what I love without thinking about ironing and cleaning etc. I bought this cookery book, 1000 Freezer Recipes a very long time ago, whilst living in Hampshire.

For anyone living nearby, I've lived in Purbrook, Southsea near Portsmouth and Cowplain among a few other places too. I've holidayed frequently in The New Forest, both as a child and with my own family. I loved Staunton Park, though as kids we called it Leigh Park Gardens, Langstone Harbour and Bosham, which was M favourite place.

At one time I worked in Petersfield and visited a book shop. I came across this particular cookery book when requesting the set books to begin my Open University learning adventures. After a few years I took a break from learning, later completing a teaching assistant qualification and continued the higher level through the OU. I then finished my BA degree some 20 years later. The courses themselves were a lot of work, I've not looked at any study books since but this book has been consulted many times.

The book has cook, freeze and thaw guidelines for each recipe. The contents page has the usual sections to tempt you such as, vegetable dishes, hot and cold deserts, cakes, cookies & tea breads. My copy has been well and truly marked and thumbed through. It cost only £2.50 at the time and is surprisingly still available. There are no photographs artfully styled and presented beautifully, instead the recipes are on cream paper with a smattering of line drawings of food, pots, pans and utensils throughout.

I've chosen 2 recipes to cook from, both are ideal comfort food for this time of year. The first is in the soup section - Leek and Celery Soup. I must confess to being a bit of a Delia Smith fan and have cooked many of her recipes. I had misgivings about this recipe in terms of flavour, not a good start but I'd set out with the makings for Leek, onion and potato soup on my shopping list. Trying to ignore Delia's instructions engraved in my mind that would've had me sweating the veg for 20 - 30 minutes in butter with plenty of salt and pepper, I cut and cooked the vegetables for this soup for only 5 minutes. Soon it was time to simmer until soft in the stock then season and blend it smooth. Perfect for a Saturday lunch.

I can't say I particularly liked it but the family did. Unable to buy fresh watercress at this time of year, I'd bought a watercress, spinach and rocket mix in the salad section. I threw it in and blended it the next day. The spinach gives a strange taste but I thought the peppery watercress improved it in flavour.   

Sauteing with a red onion
Leek and Celery Soup with lots of salt and pepper (fancy pepperpots from my brother)

The second recipe is in the poultry and game section, Chicken and Wine Casserole.

This recipe has a fruity tang with the wine, grated rind and juice from an orange and sweetness from the sultanas. The onion is fried gently first then the seasoned, coated chicken portions. Once everything is in the casserole dish, liquid is added and it cooks for an hour in the oven. Wanting to avoid the barley malt in Worcestershire sauce I swapped that for balsamic wine vinegar.

After clearing the kitchen of the washing up and sorting laundry (as you do, whist dinner cooks) soon it was time to dish up.

Served on a bed of rice with vegetables, it was delicious. You could thicken the sauce with cornflour and add cream to make a richer sauce. I would definitely cook this dish again. 

The rules for the Cookery Calendar Challenges are changing, allowing you to cook anything in future. I'm going to cook from Peter Sidwell's Simply Good - Family Food cook book next time. I've only cooked a few things from this book, so it'll be nice to try something new.

Thank you for visiting the Cookery Calendar Challenge, I'm off to visit the others.

Friday, 26 January 2018

Getting it right

Hello, It's Friday! I hope you had a good week. I thought I'd join 'Five on Friday' today with five things that have been 'happening' in my home this week. Grab a cuppa and something nice to eat, today there's cake. There's been cooking, finding lost things, eating muffins, listening to talking books and unpicking, yet again! 

Today when M arrived home, he gave me this beautiful bunch of flowers. They look so bright and cheerful, especially after all the Christmas colour has been packed away. His Christmas mug is ready for outside jobs, plenty of borders to straighten out. 

Correct pattern sequence on the needles

I've been doing some unpicking this week, as usual M would say. When I bought this yarn, I'd wrongly assumed it was a self patterning yarn with a total random pattern. Even after knitting the first sock it hadn't clicked that I needed to 'sort out the yarn properly'. Hence the 'Getting it right' title of this blog. In future I'll definitely be taking this into account, though it wasn't a big problem to sort out. The yarn is Rico Superba Harmony 4ply and the pattern is in Winwick Mum's Super Socks book. Her blog is very helpful and I discovered the Kitchener stitch on her youtube video. I have made 2 pairs of socks a while ago and felt a bit rusty. 

Wrong pattern sequence rib cuff!

I've cut off the this first piece of top ribbing as it's completely the wrong colour and started again. M said he didn't mind but I just wanted it to be right. I made some blueberry muffins before unpicking and starting again. I suppose people talk about their OCD nowadays, I just always thought I was a fuss pot and would need to unpick it. Many times I've sat nattering away at knit & natters, only to return home and unpick it that evening. M calls it my anti-knitting. Well, it's sorted now and I really do need to pull my finger out and get this pair of socks finished and given to the husband. Afterall I had said I wanted to knit a pair of socks a month. I can't remember if I actually put that on my blog already but I've said it now so...

I seem to have been cooking a lot this week with Muffins, gluten free Millionaires Shortbread, Cheese and Onion Pasties and 2 recipes for the Cookery Calendar Challenge that I'll blog about in February. We had some gluten free sugar coated puffs in the food cupboard, they were awful! Not at all as I expected them to taste, I was convinced they were rice crispies when I bought them, apparently not. After stirring in some melted chocolate and leaving them to set pressed into a tin, the taste was much improved. A kind of rice crispie cake with attitude, lots of chewy crunch.  

On Wednesday I realised I'd lost one of my gloves, they weren't purchased as a set but were a good match. The scarf was from Lidl one year and the gloves were a reduced bargain. On checking the label, it seems they're originally from Marks & Spenser. Later in the day I found it under a chair, it's the little things that please here in this house.

I've listened to another audiobook at the weekend. Lucy Diamond writes a very entertaining story with satisfying plausible plots. She does include lots of fruity language that some may find unwelcome but... c'est la vie.

At the moment I'm listening to Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol. I know it's getting a bit late, or early, whichever way you look at it but every year I fully intend to read the book and then forget. So I decided I'm going to listen to it instead. I quite like Charles Dickens and his humorous observations of the class system. In fact my favourite book of all time is one of his, Great Expectations. With Estella bred to break men's hearts by making them fall in love with her, but never to return their love. Pip the young lad is sent to 'play' with her and later believe Miss Havisham to be his benefactor of great expectations, a misunderstanding that is exploited most cruelly. There have been many film adaptations of this and they all have a slightly different ending.

What have you read this week?
Would you read a Christmas story after December? 
What would you have done about the socks, would it have bothered you?

Thanks for stopping by, have a great weekend.