Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Flowers - again

...and green tomatoes. I hope we have enough sunshine to ripen them. These aren't even the ones I planted - these are ones that grew from seeds in the compost. Plum tomatoes, evidently. And the Cosmos has finally decided to flower - I hope it lasts till after we get back from holidays. Maybe I just didn't feed things enough.
Been watching To Kill a Mocking Bird today. I started re-reading the book for the umpteenth time, and then it mysteriously ended up on C's side of the bed. I got it back again, but decided to watch the film too - no hardship watching Gregory Peck. I'd forgotten how many of the little details the film leaves out, though.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

More flowers - and a recipe

Hmm, didn't realise I'd copied the Chicken Kebabs with Satay Sauce from the laptop and already posted what else?
This is my regular Swiss Roll recipe, which we often have at the weekends. I am afraid to say that the two of us can finish it off between us, with morning and afternoon coffee, breakfast on Sunday and maybe Sunday tea.
My recipe come from Alison Uttley's Recipes from an Old Farmhouse. My copy is an old hardback one (1966) which came from my grandmother's house. It was still in print as a paperback fairly recently, because not long after my mother gave me that copy, someone gave her a brand new paperback one. Mine is illustrated by Pauline Baynes, who did the illustrations for the Narnia books.
I loved the Little Grey Rabbit books by the same author (illustrated by Margaret Tempest) when I was little. I still have a little wooden Fuzzypeg hedgehog in a pram made out of three quarters of a coconut, which my dad made for my fifth birthday. I was in hospital having my tonsils out on the day, but when I came home, the cord for pulling the pram along was peeking out from behind the sofa, so that I would find it. Little Grey Rabbit was what I got on my star chart when I was being good and not too sulky - on those days I got a crab. They are one of the books I can remember going to the bookshops in Bray and Stillorgan to buy when I had money after my birthday and Christmas, and I still have them all. Some are more battered than others! She also wrote a very good book for older children about a traveller in time, who went back to the time of Elizabeth and Mary, and a plot by a landed Catholic family to get Mary back on the throne.
The cookery book harks back to her own childhood on a big farm, and is interesting to read, as well as having several recipes I often use.
So - for the Swiss Roll, at last. It's 4 eggs and six ounces (3/4 cup) castor sugar beaten till very thick. Then gently fold in 4 ounces sifted flour with 1 tsp baking powder (about 1/2 cup flour after sifting), and vanilla essence. Also lemon zest, if you like. Bake in a large swiss-roll tin lined with baking parchment in a hot oven. It takes about 8 minutes. Allow to cool for a minute after removing from the oven, then turn onto a clean damp tea towel sprinkled with castor sugar. Cover with the rest of the towel, and when cool spread with jam and whipped cream.
When she made it, they had to beat it over hot water, by hand, and it must have taken forever. I am very glad to have a mixer that only takes about five minutes! Especially when I remember Laura Ingalls Wilder's accounts of beating the eggs for her wedding cake, and how long that took.
More flowers from yesterday...pretty sure the third one is some species of Echinacea, just not the one I have in the garden.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Botanic Gardens

There was such lovely light last night that we were expecting good weather this morning, and planned to go to the Botanic Gardens if we were right. The weather forecast I had looked at said sunny spells, the one C looked at said heavy rain. I think my forecast is more reliable!
We saw very few squirrels today, but were lucky to see a moorhen and some little chicks out on the lily pads. Just look at the size of the chick's feet in the first picture - they are ginormous. The picture of the mallard is older - I was checking out some older moorchick photos from a couple of years back when I was temping in the Cancer Society and used to walk along the canal at lunch time.

A couple of flower pictures - I'll probably post more tomorrow, as I re-sized several. The first one is a reflection in one of the glasshouses, it was fascinating to look at.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Quick shot

My new computer arrived on Wednesday. It's like greased lightning compared to my old one - 2 GB of photos transfer in 2 minutes. And we can watch DVDs again easily. We have no television, so the advent of DVDs for computers was wonderful.
We are currently watching The Beiderbecke Trilogy. I saw it a long time ago with my mother, but somehow C has only ever seen the second and third series, and is now laughing his way through the first one. He chuckles his way through the book too, every time he re-reads it. If you like good writing and dry humour, either the DVDs or book are worth looking into. The book, alas, is long out of print. When a friend thought she had lost ours, I was more than a little upset. After discovering that a secondhand copy would cost over sixty euro, she redoubled her efforts to find it, and succeeded. It will never be loaned out again without a written undertaking to return or replace it.
This is just a quick shot of a little lupin that is flowering in a pot by the back gate. It was perfectly backlit when I went out to open the gate this afternoon before C got home. But a lupin in August - I am sure I have often had them in May. After it's flowered, I'll take it out of the pot and plant it in the border - it should come up again next year.

Also a couple of shots of the little robin. I was just looking at the first ones I took of him, he's grown so much. Being ruthless I deleted 200 photos from my July folder.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Mission Accomplished

Yesterday morning, before I started the housework I stood in the back porch for half an hour, after hanging up a bag of peanuts. My feeder has a side for nuts, a side for seeds, and fresh water in the centre. It's a great idea because the light doesn't get at the water, so it doesn't go all green and slimy like my last water feeder. But some big bird or other managed to damage the mesh on the nut side, so until I could patch it up a bit, I didn't like to put too many in. Then the birds could just grab whole ones out, and that's not so good for them. So I thought if I hung the net up, the tits might perch on it for longer. And they did.
Great tit and blue tit together.

Then talk about pecking order - do you see that big bully of a great tit chasing the poor little blue tit away.

Great tit back, ruling the roost.

Chastened little blue tit in the tree.

Little blue tit allowed back after the great tit finished.

Even after drastic culling there are still some more pictures from yesterday to share, but I'll save them for later on in the week. I am hoping, hoping, hoping that the new computer will arrive tomorrow, and then I won't have stuff spread across my limping PC, my external drive and the laptop. I had to restore all my archived emails to find our travel insurance certificate to print off, as we have a holiday coming up soon.
I am also hoping that my Olympus software will install AND work on the new computer. For pig iron I tried it on this one today to see if it would install after the total format; for the first time in months it did actually reinstall and register all the picture files on my PC, and worked for all of five or ten minutes - and then it crashed, yet again.

Monday, 17 August 2009

A walk in the park

It was mostly lovely weather today - sunny, only a couple of rain showers. Mind you, it was so dark at one stage in the morning that when I was taking bird photos I had to up my ISO to be able to keep on hand-holding the camera. Those photos are for tomorrow - these are from a walk in Phoenix Park this evening that ended up longer than we had planned because it was so lovely. When we saw the heron, there were loud lamentations from C because I didn't have my super-zoom with me. He would have carried it, and never said a word. Probably true, unless he'd carried it and I'd never used it.

It's raining now - and thanks to the walk C never cut the grass. Hope it's dry again tomorrow.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Flurry of sparrows, fleeting sighting of Great Tit

I had my macro lens on to take a detail shot of a shaker card I made for the Cardvaarks Winter Wonderland challenge.
Just in case, I put the zoom back on when I was finished - and was rewarded with the young Great Tit hanging around for longer than he ever has before. Not long enough to do anything other than point and shoot, so I was pleased with how well the pictures came out.

Even the sparrows are getting more timid than they used to be. When I went out at some stage, they all flew off to a tree beyond the end of next door's garden. I like this shot, even though only two or three sparrows are actually perched and in focus. C always complains about the sparrows eating us out of house and home. When I counted over twenty (in the picture after this, when they had all settled), I was just surprised that the feeder stays full for more than five minutes - especially as in this weather I only fill it about a quarter full or less. And surprised that the other birds get a look in - I saw the chaffinch again today. C is sure he saw a little wren hopping around on the grass the other day, I'll have to keep an eye out for that.

Thursday, 13 August 2009


I'm still betwixt and between computers. All my stuff is on my external drive, and because of the problems I was having with messages warning about drive integrity, I am a bit unsure about plugging it in. The PC has been stable since Monday, and as my new one hasn't dispatched yet, I would rather let sleeping dogs lie. So the walk (from my archives) down the Promenade Plantée in Paris is going to have to wait for another day.
Today I just had time to snap a couple of shots of some swans on the Liffey. I liked how they were swimming just where the reflections of the houses and tree started. If we finish work at a time when the bus leaves the city centre, then I know I can get that bus if I jog most of the way to my stop - which doesn't leave time for any pictures. But if we finish five or ten minutes before the bus leaves the terminus, then I can afford to walk and take time to look at things more.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Work in Progress

My knitting is getting along nicely - it will soon be too bulky to bring in to work. I got a lot done over the last few days while I was working on my computer.
It collapsed again last night - couldn't boot from CD, rescue disk didn't find anything to rescue. So this morning I set it up all over again. My sister suggested I wipe the disk and then format it - that will be my MO next time it collapses - if it doesn't last out till my new one arrives - but while it's working I'll let sleeping dogs lie.
This jumper was started from the neck, and you can see where the sleeves will be knit down from the yoke. I like sleeves that are knit down - when the time comes to repair the cuffs, it's so much easier. In fact, I need to make a mental note to knit C's sleeves without cuffs, and then pick up and knit the cuffs down. His watch straps are very tough on wool! I have some wool left from the Guersnsey I knit a friend's son, so I'll look out a suitable pattern and start something for my newest nephew, who is nearly 6 months already. That will be more portable for bringing into work.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

I promised a recipe...

so here are Chicken Kebabs with Satay Sauce.
My PC seems to have finally died, after working OK for several days. Hope the one I ordered on Friday arrives soon - I got an invoice on Saturday morning, so it's looking good.
This is one of C's favourite recipes. It serves a double purpose, because if I keep just 2 tablespoons of the satay sauce in reserve, then he gets one of his other favourite dinners - a Chinese curried beef and potato stir fry. Another one of his favourites is devilled grilled chicken, so you can see the recurring spicy theme. Along with those, there is the zesty noodle stir-fry I posted a while back, and the good safe standby of steak, fried onion and chips. With, on my side, a compulsory green vegetable.
Anyway, here are the Chicken Kebabs.
Chicken Kebabs with Satay Sauce.
To serve 4:
1 lb boneless chicken pieces (thigh, breast)
1 inch fresh ginger (1 tsp paste from a bottle)
¼ ounce minced onion
4 tsp light soy sauce
1 tblsp lemon or lime juice
1 tsp coriander, ½ tsp sugar, ¼ tsp cayenne (ground chilli) pepper
Make a marinade from all the ingredients apart from the chicken. Cut the chicken into 1 inch cubes and marinate for up to 24 hours. Thread onto skewers and grill for about 5 minutes a side, till cooked.
4 oz fresh peanuts, dry roasted and skins removed
2 cloves garlic
1 oz shallot or onion, finely chopped
2 tblsp sunflower oil
½ tsp each cayenne and salt
2 tsp muscovado sugar
4/5 tsp lime or lemon juice.
Freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Grind the nuts as finely as possible in a blender or coffee grinder.
Heat the oil in a pan, and gently fry the onion and garlic till lightly browned.
Add ¾ pt (450ml, 2 cups ) water, the cayenne, salt, sugar and ground nuts. Simmer over a low heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with pepper and lemon/lime juice.
A basic unedited photo from Farmleigh last week - I'll have to put GIMP onto the laptop for the next few days. I thought the sky looked almost painted.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Three more Bs

Last night we went for a walk down to the next railway station and back up the canal. Because we left in a hurry before it got too dark, and I'd been spending a long time picking a new PC to order, I didn't even have my pocket camera with me. And the light on the canal where the *marina* is was just lovely. Not only the evening light, but the reflections in the water from the tall light you can just see sticking up behind the buildings. Believe it or not, there is a motorway exit just beyond there! It was a major engineering feat getting the canal and the railway and the interchange - a friend studied it when he was doing engineering in college.
So - today wasn't exactly going to be the same light, not at ten in the morning, but when I went out to do the shopping I brought my camera, and was lucky enough to see the heron. I'll have to go back another day with tripod, probably, and longer lens, definitely. And I didn't have my macro either, so was pleased with how the bee one turned out.
I was going to share a recipe today, but as we have someone coming for dinner and C has left to pick her up, I think it will be tomorrow.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Break in transmission

We apologise for the break in transmission, normal service will resume shortly...

My PC woes continue. I was going to upgrade my motherboard anyway - but that meant a new PSU as well, and in order to run better graphics drivers, an OS upgrade too. And since data keeps disappearing from my hard drive, possibly that is flaky too. So in the end it was just as cost effective to order a new PC. I'll be sorry to say goodbye to this one - we built it ourselves, and parts of it are over ten years old. It still has my original dial-up fax modem in it, and my first floppy drive too. But C is hoping he can work on it and make it good enough for a spare for him...

The photo challenge on Splitcoast this week was the letter B.
I wasn't expecting to work today, only got a call at ten last night. And this morning I was taking photos of my lilies because I realised the ones I took yesterday were all set for a high-key I only took my little pocket camera with me in the dash out the door. Even so, B's came bowling in.

Three shots of the Brazen Head, two including barrels.

A Bus advertising the Body Exhibition - bit of serendipity, that, given all the ads it could have been.

One green Bottle, sitting on the wall, one green bottle, sitting on the wall.

Blossoms and Buds - I've been nursing these through several years now. Last year I left them in a pot on the patio, thinking they would scent it nicely. I must have been optimistic to think we'd have the weather to sit out and enjoy them. They were battered by rain in a this year I cut them and brought them in.

Birds having a Buffet Breakfast

Berries - the neighbours had been having a skip delivered early this morning, and the truck must have knocked these rowan berries off the tree and into the road.



And that's not including the barbed wire, buddleia and broken bottle shots!