Thursday, 31 March 2011

Wooden it be Good

A couple of my photos from the wood photo challenge on SCS.

The little fruit dish and fruit come from Greece - Crete, I think, though at this stage I can't be sure. The little dish is about as tall as the first joint of my thumb. I've no recollection at all where the little chalice came from - it lives in one of my thimble racks.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Needles and Pins...

Instead of "wood" photos today,  now that I know my latest knitting arrived safely at its destination I can upload a couple of photos of that...
I haven't bought speciality wool for a long time - I  buy most of my wool mail-order from Scotland - and there was quite an array when I went into This is Knit to look for something really nice.
This is what I found:

 I was disappointed that there wasn't more of the light green in it - a lot showed on the ball of wool, but with space-died yarns you get what you get.

I also had fun with this - the design was from a book of Crewel techniques. My normal scissors fob design is just 2 1/2" square, so I had to reduce the parrot by over half and change some of the stitches to suit the smaller project. The silk was left over from a dragonfly embroidery I did for my sister, and guided me into choosing the blue in the bird instead of the green I was originally going to use.

Happy Birthday, Lorraine :D.

p.s. - the mandarins were still there this morning.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Shades of Grey

I've been a bit remiss in posting some of my photos for the Splitcoast photo challenges.
Last week was Shades of Grey, and of course it was a bright, sunny week. At one stage over the weekend C even broke out the suntan lotion - hard to believe, but true.

I had two grey trees -  holly and birch.

And a gravel path. I remember seeing the black retaining mesh before it was laid down, I had no idea what it was for.

And some silver/grey kegs - taken on one of the greyer days in the week.

I'll be back with some wood photos tomorrow, all being well. We're up and down to the North several times this week, which is great for my current knitting project - a baby shawl - but is making for a slightly hectic-feeling week.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Bathing Bird

These shots are also from Thursday morning. It never ceases to amaze me how birds, who spend so much of their time in the water, still bathe themselves!

After that, I just had to put a gull on a card I made on Friday.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Low Tide = Birds

The tide was exceptionally low in the river yesterday. I was able to get a good bird's eye view of this mallard and her mate on  a bank just below the bridge.

I was nearly at Frank Sherwin bridge, keeping an eye out for the heron (not there!) when I spotted a glimpse of colour across on the far side of the river. I've never seen a Mandarin Duck in the Liffey before. I do believe that once when I was little we saw them in Stephen's Green, and I hear they are there now - I'll have to take a trip southside and have a look. He was with a hen mandarin, but I couldn't get a good photo of her. I really need a longer zoom or a converter...

I was lucky enough to see, but not lucky enough to get a good photo, a swan flying up the river just level with my face.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Triumph of hope over adversity

I was putting some bottles out into the bin yesterday waiting for a trip to the recycling centre, and spotted some daffodils on the patio. These were bulbs that had been in a container last year, and when I emptied the soil out the bulbs got left sitting in a pot. Somewhere along the way they must have been knocked over, and despite the lack of soil (and lack of light too, as they were in a narrow passage between the back of the house and the raised grass area, they still managed to make a brave attempt at blooming.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Happy Spring

Today was somewhat nicer weather than yesterday, so I took a quick walk in Farmleigh, and enjoyed the surprising warmth!
The first violets I've seen

And some more blues in the mix

Even a few tulips

And a busy buzzing bumble bee

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Recipe Time

We were going to finish up some leftover lamb curry for dinner last night. Plan A was to make some naan bread to go with it. Plan B was not to bother with the naan bread because I had a stinking headache, and by the time I'd got home from work and done all the housework I didn't feel like making bread. Plan C was to make the bread after all, because after I'd had a lie down I felt somewhat better, and I wanted to make it to use up some yoghurt that was in the fridge. The problem was that there turned out to be less curry than I had thought, so I needed a reasonable vegetable dish to do duty as half the meal - and there wasn't a lot in the fridge. No cauliflower, no green beans and no cabbage, which are my go-to veg for a main dish. There was a courgette, but I didn't feel like that. A quick look in one of my books turned up this recipe which was a success and will be going into my repertoire.

Green Pepper and Potato  (serves 4 as a side dish)
3 tblsp oil
pinch of asafoetida (optional - sometimes I use it, sometimes I don't want the lingering smell)
1/2 teaspoon each mustard and black onion seeds (kalonji)

9 oz potatoes cut into 1" cubes
9 oz green (bell) pepper cut into 1" pieces
1 tsp each ground coriander and ground roasted cumin seeds
1/2 tsp each salt, garam masala. turmeric and cayenne/chilli (I used less of the chilli, mine is a hot one)
1/4 tsp garam masala and 1 tblsp chopped fresh coriander/cilantro for garnish.

Heat the oil and fry the asafoetida, mustard and onion seeds till they start crackling. Add the potato pieces and fry till lightly browned, stirring often. Add the pepper and cook for one minute. Stir in the dry spices, reduce the heat to low and cook for a further ten minutes, or until the vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with the garnish and serve.

I recently turned up this photo which I had mislaid after taking several off a noticeboard. It's an old photo, but I thought I'd share it - it's always made me smile. I still don't know how he got into that pot!
Brambles was one of my parents cats, acquired from a friend of my brother's who was leaving the country. Before that he'd been a much loved and cosseted only cat who had always lived indoors. Moving to a house where there were already two other cats and a dog was a bit of a shock to his system, and for a while he didn't leave two upstairs rooms. Then he gradually started venturing out via my parents bedroom window, and he started mixing with the other animals. When they moved down to Kerry he became a fully-fledged country cat - and happy to be one, as you can see. He was a sweetie - big and good-natured.

Today was almost a day for basking just like Brambles - even now at 9.30 in the evening I still have one of the attic skylights open.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Birds and Flowers

It seemed pretty grey when I got up, but by the time we'd had breakfast there were bluer skies and the worst of my headache had worn off, so we went for a quick walk in Farmleigh.

A friendly, inquisitive robin perched on a gate in the walled garden.

C was focussed on another thrush pecking away in the dirt under a tree, but I spotted this one near it, hunkered down in the grass.

Also fossicking around under a tree was this blackbird. He seemed to be digging quite deep - a bit like that squirrel in the Botanic Gardens recently, his head was well down in the earth. All he seemed to come up with was a little seed!

Magnolias - little and large, white and pink...

A valiant last stand by a few crocuses...

We had bean and vegetable soup for lunch, and decided we didn't need a dinner. So I made jam doughnuts, using some organic unbleached flour I bought recently to try out.  You would want to be a fervent macrobiotic addict to have thought that the raw dough looked at all appetising (and in fact I nearly started again from scratch with bleached flour, only I couldn't bear the waste) but once they had puffed up and taken some colour from the frying, they were just as tasty as usual. However, I am not sure that the unbleached flour will be on my shopping list again. I think I was hoping for something more like an 81% flour we used to get years ago where you could still see the golden flecks of wheat-germ in it.

Happy St. Patrick's Day

I see, from my second photo, that last year I managed to capture St. Patrick on a sunny day with blue skies.
Despite the fact that we've had a good amount of sunshine recently, the day I walked up Watling Street last week was grey, cloudy and overcast. Oh well - that's Ireland for you!

From last year :D

The 40m-tall St Patrick's Tower, built around 1757, is the tallest surviving windmill tower outside the Netherlands.

George Roe & Co Distillery on Thomas  Street  was powered by the largest smock windmill at that time in all Europe. Today the windmill's tower still stands and graces the Dublin skyline, blue capped with copper sheeting and a wind vane in the likeness of St. Patrick. It is known as St. Patrick's Tower, and it is located on what is now Guinness property. In fact, it was two years after Peter Roe established the Thomas Street Distillery, that Arthur Guinness set up his famous St. James' Gate Brewery across the street - quoted from

We've had long-tailed tits visiting the garden; I've seen them in the neighbourhood before but never at the feeders. We've both seen them now, so they must be coming fairly regularly.  And we definitely have a pair of robins, I've seen them together several times now. Looking forward to the warmer weather when I can sit in the back porch with the door open and watch them without freezing. Today was another frosty morning - when I first got up it was sunny and misty and quite beautiful, but by the time I went to get the bus it was just grey and damp.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Little Boy Blue mark 2

C is going to post this off for me tomorrow. Just as well I've made this one in a larger size - if I'd gone for a newborn or the next size up it probably wouldn't fit by the time it arrives. If it's not raining tomorrow I'm going to walk into town after work and pick up some fine wool for a christening-type baby shawl - it's raining babies just now, it seems!

Currently reading: I heard most, but not all, of the BBC Radio 4 serialisation of The Far Pavilions by M M Kaye, and picked the book up the last time I was in the library. It's a mammoth book, but I'm enjoying it and making good progress. I always like Kipling's Kim and have read it several times; this is set in a similar period. For lighter entertainment I'm reading  The Man Who Ate the World: In Search of the Perfect Dinner - well written and very enjoyable. It's a good balance to Eat Your Heart Out: Why the food business is bad for the planet and your health, which I am almost finished. We don't eat a lot of processed food anyway - reflected in the fact that when I was adding up how many times we had put our bin out for collection last year to claim a tax refund, it was only 8 times in the whole year. Even the bins that are free to collect usually only get put out for every third collection or so. But a couple of chapters in that book left me wondering how I could change a couple of other things in my purchasing patterns - and would it have any impact on the big agri-businesses if I did. I always remember that my mother boycotted South African goods during the apartheid years - we learned very early on not to choose South African oranges or other fruit.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Troll Alert

I meant to include this in my rag-tag collection of photos yesterday, but it wasn't on the memory card I'd brought upstairs. Someone with a sense of humour had spray-painted this little tag on the footpath on Rory O More Bridge.

Summertime photo of the bridge. Given that the Hapenny Bridge or the Boardwalk might possible count as rickety-rackety, I'm now curious as to whether there's more graffiti on any of the other bridges.

It rained today, and rained and rained and rained.

Wishing everyone a dry and warm weekend.

Thursday, 10 March 2011


of photos, scraps of food.

Lichen on a sign post.

I had a vague idea from my gardening books, and after looking at one again today, I think these little blue flowers in Farmleigh are Scilla (Squill).

They inspired this card with its blue flowers.

We had some lovely corned beef from the butcher recently - tasty and tender- but after having already once reheated it in the cooking broth I wanted to find something to do with the leftovers. I remembered a recipe from Ronald Johnson's An American Table, which made a good dinner for us last night. I think he called it Hashed Corned Beef with Eggs. Corned Beef Hash was a favourite of ours when we were little, but I know my mother always made it with the tinned stuff. This recipe called for about 2 cups of finely chopped corned beef - no problem. Cook some potatoes in their skins in the broth. When they're cooked and cool enough to handle, peel them and crumble them in with the corned beef. Chop and fry some onion in a little butter, then stir in the beef, potatoes, a little cream, plenty of chopped parsley and seasoning. Press into a buttered shallow dish, dot a little more butter on top and bake in a hot oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, reduce heat a bit, make indentations in the top and break an egg into each one. Season and return to the oven till the eggs are cooked.
The one I remember from my childhood had the lots of parsley, but it was chunks of meat and potato, and had a tin of tomatoes and some Worcestershire Sauce for a bit of zing, cooked on the stove top.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Sunny Monday Morning ...

...meant a walk along the canal to get bread, instead of just walking down the road.
There was so much rubbish floating in the canal, though - I don't know if it's always like that on a Monday morning. It's been a while since I walked along that stretch.

A thrush enjoying whatever pickings were to be found in the grass:

And two swans feeding on some crumbs somebody had left for them under the bridge.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Black: Bird: Singing??

Blackbird singing in the dead of night...
Not a blackbird, and not the dead of the night - it was about quarter past eight in the morning. I was highly entertained by this crow trying to sing. I promise, he wasn't just cawing and croaking away but really truly trying to sing - it must be Spring. My bus was coming, so I didn't have much time to try to grab a quick shot.

A real blackbird too, this one not singing, alas. I went out to visit my aunt today, and walked up Church Lane to try to get a couple of photos for the current and an older photo challenge on SCS.