Sunday, 28 November 2010

And it's still only November

C has been busy checking the bus times for tomorrow morning, as yesterday's snow is an icy crust underneath today's fall. Like me he hates the early morning trains where you're crammed in like sardines, but our bus route has recently been extended so it has its terminus on the same road as his office. It was so beautiful this morning - we both went out to the green at the end of the road before breakfast, and met another neighbour out with his camera. He's off to Frankfurt next week  - at least he's getting acclimatised already. C went to a trade fair there one year and said he had never in his life been so cold.

Our dinner guests didn't come because of the snow, and not much chance of us going up to Dromore in the evening either, so I spent my morning discovering that it's quite possible to colour fabric with watercolour pencils. At one stage I had bought some fabric paints, but when my sister expressed an interest I gave them to her thinking I would replace them, which I never did. After stamping I stretched my fabric on an embroidery hoop to keep it taut, and used Caran D'Ache Neocolour crayons to colour the images in. Keeping the brush quite dry there was very little bleeding, and I'll definitely be trying this again.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Good Grief, it's only November still

...and when I looked out the front curtains this morning the garden and road were covered with snow. C looked out the bedroom window and wasn't impressed, but he changed his mind when he looked out the front and walked down to the shops with me. Just as we left there were strong gusts of wind, and all the leaves blowing across the still fairly pristine road were really beautiful. My hat took off too, I had to run after it. Thankfully that wind died down for the rest of the walk, but I wish I'd been able to capture more than just the memory of the dead green leaves swirling across. Lots of food out for the birds today.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Although we don't celebrate Thanksgiving Day over here, it's a day I always remember. The one and only time I was ever in the States was over Thanksgiving. My mother had just come out of hospital the previous day after a heart attack with several complications, so there was a lot to be thankful for.

Photo challenge this week on SCS is Browns...I spotted this hedge yesterday.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

A Miscellany

I went to the doctor on Monday evening. I was glad that the appointment I got was quite late and I could ask C to drive me, as the weather was really bad. And I was even more glad when the indicators stopped working just as we started on our way back. Motorway driving and several roundabouts with no indicators is not my idea of fun. A new relay seems to have solved the problem at least temporarily...
The doctor wouldn't take any money for the visit. So I was glad that I had this card from C which he made over the weekend as a thank you for the last time he went when she didn't charge anything either! He put a lot of work into it, making it twice as he wasn't happy with the first one. We need to find a better source of white card. A rushed photo,  because there wasn't much time between him producing it from the atlas where it was being pressed flat and when we had to leave...

More bare trees - for some reason there was a shower of white berries on the ground round this tree in particular, and very few left on the tree. The thrushes seem to like these berries a lot - I've now seen them chasing other birds away from similar trees several times, quite aggressively.

Saturday, 20 November 2010


It was lovely to discover that this year Farmleigh is staying open all year round. Monday was a beautiful sunny morning, and after I'd done the housework I decided that a walk would be nice, even though I still wasn't feeling well. And it was lovely there, apart from seeing a poor dead squirrel on the ground. I also found a little dead sparrow on the bench on the patio when I was hanging the wash out later on in the week - no signs of what had killed it, and it hasn't even been as cold this week as it had been. I suppose it's possible that it could have been there for a few days, though -  Monday morning was bitterly cold in the early hours - C almost decided to take the car rather than risk the motorbike on icy roads, but I was glad he left it for me. And since he'd finally admitted we needed a new battery and got one on Sunday, there were no problems starting. Even if the sunniest of the morning was over by the time I was free to go out, it was still a peaceful, relaxing space in the day.
I hate editing on the laptop, so I may have to replace these pictures once I see them on the PC, but they'll have to do for the time being...

I spent some time watching the heron on the little island in the lake, and then he flew up to a branch near me, with the cafe verandah making a great background behind him.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest...

We've had such winds here that it's hard to imagine how some of these leaves are managing to cling on at all, let alone those ripe looking apples.
But I'll start with an earlier photo as my theme today is trees; this first picture was taken in late October.

Hard to tell if this is one nest or two, although I have a feeling that actually what it is is last year's nest and this year's...

There is a thrush well camouflaged in the berries who was very protective of them, and chased two magpies off several times.

I made a card today to celebrate all those bare trees and blue skies

Saturday, 13 November 2010

A crow of delight

The birds were out in force this morning - which was bright, sunny and cold.
I can't quite tell what tasty snack this crow found but it didn't last long...

Then I watched a flash mob of starlings finding some bread that somebody had thrown out on the grass - it attracted the gulls quite quickly. They were still there when I was on my way back. It amused me seeing the three birds in this picture, and the pigeon behind the gull made me think of a game of "Grandmother's Footsteps".

Evidently someone had been driving across the grass last night or this morning - a green road to nowhere.

I wanted something spicy and apple-y today. First recipe I turned up called for semolina, which doesn't figure in my store cupboard. It must be one of those things you love or hate - it's my aunt's comfort food. My mother's comfort food was buttered bread cut into squares with warm milk poured over, which was really odd because she normally didn't like milk at all, and especially warm milk, having grown up with boiled un-pasteurised milk in France. I don't think I know what mine is!

Sour Cream Apple Squares - recipe from Boston Tea Parties

2 cups flour
2 cups brown sugar, packed down
1/2 cup butter
1 cup chopped nuts
1 1/2tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp soda, 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
2 cups finely chopped apple

In a large bowl mix the flour, sugar and butter together till it resembles fine crumbs. The recipe called for soft butter and beating at low speed. I used chilled butter and my pastry blender, as the amount was too large to fit in the Magimix. Stir in the nuts, and then put 2 3/4 cups of this mix into an ungreased 13" x 9" pan and press down firmly.
Add the cinnamon, soda, salt, vanilla, egg and sour cream to the remainder of the crumb mix, stir to mix well and then stir in the apples. Spread this over the the base. If you wish you can sprinkle an extra 1/2 cup of chopped nuts over the top.
Bake at 350F, 170C for 25-30 minutes. Makes 4 dozen - which means I cut mine too big!

Friday, 12 November 2010

Recipe Time

It's been a long time since I last made these little bread rolls. And to be honest, I don't remember any of the butter leaking onto the oven floor and creating a stink last time - the second batch were on a baking tray with a rim, but by then the damage was done. I know I've done these when cooking for camps - maybe the kitchen was just too warm this evening. They were still lovely, and we managed to eat half the amount I made, along with a carrot, potato and celery soup.

Aberdeen Rowies - recipe from Elizabeth David's English Bread and Yeast Cookery
She describes them as "nice high flaky knobs of uneven size and shape", with a "homely" appearance.

Make a regular plain dough using 3/4 lb (about 2 3/4cups) strong white flour,2 tsp salt, 1/2 oz fresh yeast and about 1/2 UK pint (10 fluid ounces) tepid water. The dough should be a little soft, not too firm.
Cover and leave to rise in a warm place for about three-quarters of an hour.
Take 6 ounces (3 sticks) butter and cut into small pieces, divide in two and put half in the fridge.
On a surface dusted with cornflour or rice flour, roll the dough out into a rectangle approximately 10" x 8".Dot the butter over two thirds and fold as if you were making puff pastry. Roll out and turn a couple of times, again as for puff pastry. Cover and leave in a cool place or the fridge for about fifteen minutes.
Repeat the process with the other half of the butter, and again cover and leave in a cool place for at least fifteen minutes.
Roll out once more, making the rectangle as neat and regular as possible. With a sharp knife cut into approximately 24 pieces.
Arrange on baking sheets (with rims!!) which have been dusted with cornflour or rice flour.
Cover and leave in a cool place (not warm, or the butter will melt too much) for half an hour.
Bake in a hot oven - 220C, 425F, Gas 7 for about fifteen minutes, till golden.
Yes, it's a lot of butter - but then you don't butter them when you're eating them and I do try to balance our diet out.

I am so glad to have discovered that the Polish shops stock fresh yeast - even if it never seems to keep quite as well as the yeast I used to get from the Irish Yeast Company. Now I just need someone to tell me what all the various types of flour they also stock are and what they equate to.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

A Cold and Frosty Morning

is what it was today. Our car has been reluctant to start on cold mornings, and I wanted to prove to C that we really do need a new battery - now! But the locks were so frozen that I still hadn't even got into the car let alone tried to start it before it was time to go to work. I still had time to snap a couple of shots of the frosty leaves on the green, and a not so good one of the frosty roses in a neighbour's garden.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Little Boy Blue

This goes to baby J tomorrow. He's only 7 weeks, I am sure he will get at least a couple of months out of it. It was a nice pattern to knit for a baby - the raglan sleeves mean that there is no bulk in the seams, and there are three buttons down the side of the neck and part of one sleeve seam to make it easy to fit on. I had to raid my craft buttons, nothing suitable in my sewing button box.
Thanks, Lorraine, for the Picture This stamps!
Couldn't manage to find anything specific last night about my photo-uploading problems except that other people seem to be experiencing them too. Time to post on Blogger help, I think...

Friday, 5 November 2010

Beach Bums

After a very wet and windy week which has brought almost all the leaves down, it was good to look back at some holiday photos this evening. Mind you, the day all these were taken we were far from being beach bums. It was the longest walk we did, several kilometres each way along the beach, and when it did get a little cloudy it was a welcome break from the intense sunshine. Even though we started quite early in the morning, soon after it got bright, it was still getting close to the midday heat when we were returning. Part of this was not intentional. We'd had to cross two rivers, one of which had a bridge, one didn't. C doesn't like walking barefoot on the beach, so to cross the one with no bridge he has to take off his sandals, get across, then dry his feet and put his sandals back on. Well, that's the way he does it...We stopped and turned back when we got to a third river. So, on the way back he decided, rather optimistically, that he could take a running jump over the one with no bridge, and save having to take his sandals off. He still maintains that he could easily have jumped that distance if he'd been taking off from firm ground, but my point is that he knew he was taking off from soft sand. And of course he landed in the middle of the river, and wanted to give his sandals time to dry off a bit by towelling them. At first I just stood in the shade, but even there the flies were biting me, so I decided to go for a swim, and then C decided that he'd get in too and then his sandals could have even longer to get dry. It was a lovely swim, and totally isolated except for one fisherman, but it certainly prolonged the walk.
On the outward bound leg we'd seen so many things washed up along the shoreline... a lot of these tiny little fishes. By the return journey the wasps were feasting on them.

A dead dragonfly...

Some little sea snails - at least these were still alive...

We're pretty sure this was alive too - it moved, and it seemed to have antennae, but more than anything else it reminded me of those little Lithops plants that look like stones.I think the green things were wing cases.

Traces of birds...(we saw the birds too)

And these last photos should really have been first, chronologically speaking.

At last I am starting to feel a bit better, but not quite up to investigating why Blogger is being so uncooperative about uploading photos this week. It seems to have partially cropped the photos, but if you click on them you can get the full picture. I think I'll take the laptop to bed with me now and do some research.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Barring the Way

The photo challenge for this week on SCS is Barring the Way. I wanted to take a photo of the level crossing, but the weather has been so wet, and I've been trying to throw this cold and cough for good before winter sets in. I tried a still life with some Duplo, but that didn't turn out either.
These two photos were taken along a short-cut to the local shopping centre where I usually go on Saturdays for the paper, milk and fresh meat and vegetables.
Talk about needing to catch up - time to make a new folder for November photos and I'm still trying to organise my September folder.
Plus I'm trying to get a little baby Aran knitted by Sunday, before the baby gets too big to wear it...