Saturday, 30 January 2010


It snowed again last night. Not much. Just the barest covering. It meant, though, that I was able to see where the deer had browsed, in the cover at the edge of the wood. An otter had been through the garden, too. His/her footprints showed up , backing up the evidence of the spraint on the marking stone.
All of these things, I noticed as I walked Poppy. Then we went indoors, and made up the fires, my hands raw from the cold.
It's nearly Spring.

(Above, Helleborous orientalis, near my back door.30/1/2010)

Friday, 22 January 2010

Jolly Birthday Mitts

A birthday present for a dear friend. I couldn't show them until they had been unwrapped by the recipient. N. seemed delighted with them- A bit of jollity in these dank, dark days.
The pattern is from 'Kristin Knits', but with extended thumbs. Yarn is odds, and part balls, of Jaeger D.K.
I am winding 100gram skeins into balls, at the moment. Undyed (natural) fawn, pure alpaca, aran weight. I bought nine skeins last summer at Coldharbour Mill, and intend to make a Jean Moss cardigan. The style is quite short, fitted, with a shawl collar. I can't remember the last time a made a sweater or cardi for myself.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

More winter baking.

I do find that this wintery weather brings out the baker in me. These Chelsea Buns were made to a standard recipe. (Elizabeth David.) The filling is cinnamon butter, and then sprinkled with the zest of a lemon. Bake as usual, then when cool, drizzle with icing made with the juice of aforementioned lemon. The recipe made thirty-five buns. Lucky that I have people around, ready to eat them for me.

These lovely little magnets were in my Yule stocking. The detail on them is quite remarkable. And they pander to my love of anything Dragon-y.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Using up the bits

Half a jar of mincemeat is not something one wants hanging around endlessly. These little slices of a bakewell-like cake used it up deliciously.
Rub 5 ounces of butter into 6 ounces of plain flour. Stir in a tablespoon of sugar. Tip the mixture into a prepared 12''x8'' tin. (approx 30 cm x20 cm).Smooth with the back of a spoon. Spread the mincemeat ( or jam, if you'd rather) evenly over the base. Cover with sponge mixture (I used 4 ounces each of margerine, flour and caster sugar, bound with 2 eggs). Cook in a medium oven (190 c) until firm and golden. (Aprox 40 minutes). The base is somewhat like shortbread.
I finally finished the Eyelet cap last Wednesday. Too late for Yuletide gifting! It will be saved for the birthday of the intended recipient. I do think it is a lovely pattern. I used a much thicker yarn than the recommended one, so had to go down several needle sizes to get the guage. 2.75 mm needles(!), and Coldharbour Mill Alpaca D.K. The pattern is in the current Designer Knitting (formerly Vogue Knitting).

The pattern for these fun little mitts is from 'Kristin Knits' by Kristin Nicholas. I am changing the colours, to use up some odds and ends in my stash. The book has really fired my imagination. The colour combinations she uses, are just so vibrant. Fantastic for brightening these short, cold days.
We put out food for the wild birds throughout the year. One of the great joys is the huge variety of birds that we see. They come right up to the window, and give us hours of pleasure.( Better than television!) Best Beloved found this Bullfinch in a hedge, obviously exhausted. So he brought it home, and put it on the grain feeder.(These finches are grain feeders- look at his beak) what did the little tyke do? flew up and ate all the buds from my winter flowering honeysuckle!!! I don't mind really. What a treat to see a Bullfinch.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Winter scene

This very pretty scene shows why only four wheel-drive vehicles are getting out. Halfway down (or up, depending on your position) is a sheet of ice. Everyone here is prepared, though, so we have not been complaining about the state of the road.
The Bees were well provisioned, at the start of the winter. They aren't moving much, at the moment.
These Deer were startled by people coming out to Toboggan. It is usually very quiet here, and they are able to browse undisturbed. They made themselves scarce vey quickly.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

A little cheer.

There, that's what we need on a cold day-a cup of tea, and some.....Cake.
Dundee cake.

I have three recipes that I alternate, according to whim and/or size required. The first is my family recipe (from my maternal Grandmother). The second is from ''Mrs Beetons' Household Management''. The third is from a television programe featuring Gary Rhodes. He later published it in a book, ''At the Table''. This last one is Mrs Beetons, with additions. It is also the recipe I have used this time.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Full Moon

The first full moon of 2010, rising over the hill behind my house. It's the first time I have tried taking photographs at night, and so I am quite pleased with how this has turned out.
It was an extremely cold night, minus 4 celsius. The stars were bright. It was still, and quiet, and the Owls were hooting and shrieking in the wood. A Vixen screamed occasionally, down by the stream. All very atmospheric.
I know that elsewhere in the country was much colder. In fact, we have been reasonably lucky with the weather, but each of us goes by our own experience.

The next morning, I found these toadstools growing on the remains of a woodpile, on the edge of the wood. We have made lots of random piles of wood, especially for wildlife use. All sorts of insects and amphibians use them to hibernate, or otherwise overwinter, in.
Or perhaps the Faerie Folk have set up home here?