Sunday, 30 September 2007

Gooseflesh and fish eyes.

My mum enters competitions, for her it's a cross between a hobby and a way of life. When I was growing up I was the only kid in the playground picking up the sweetie wrappers so that she could get entry forms and there was that time that the cat had to eat dog food for months. It was a Pedigree Chum competition and there was a sticky moment when we went to the local supermarket to collect the prize - a trailer tent, no less - and the Pedigree Chum lady asked us if our dog liked the food. We didn't have a dog. However, we did have a holiday in Italy on the proceeds of the sale of the tent.

Anyway, this competition frenzy has only increased now that mum is retired and I look forward to the post arriving in the morning. This week we won the two Bourne DVDs and dad won £100. The best ever was our holiday to Hawaii. Mum enters us all into competitions which is great as I never win anything by myself. Except this once when I was the 5 millionth ( at least it should be ) visitor to the Gooseflesh blog. Helle, aka Gooseflesh makes beautiful jewelry and my prize was this amazing coral necklace. It has already been admired and tried on by many. Mr and Miss Frugality came over for a flying visit this week and Miss F is truly envious of my prize. My brother is home from the US and I will be wearing it when we all go for a meal out. Thank you so much Helle.

Other fleshy gifts this week came from Sylvia our chum. She is a vegetarian and was looking for somewhere to offload a surplus of frozen meats. We duly took possession of tons of venison, smoked goose and other treats. Next morning I went to see if Magnus was in his basket and happened to glance onto the floor next to the freezer. Horrors! I'd forgotten to empty one of the bags and there on the floor was a slightly ripped plastic bag ( thank you Mog ) with one glassy eye staring back at me. A whole trout had quietly defrosted on the floor overnight. Luckily Magnus does not like fish and other than having a damaged bag, the trout was unmolested. Archie swears that it was delicious baked with lemon and dill. I'm with Magnus, I'll stick to the venison!

I knitted a bit too - pics of my first ever handspun knitting to be posted soon.....

You can find Gooseflesh at

Friday, 21 September 2007

A bad smell.

Harvest mice, originally uploaded by lulubryan.

A slightly morbid mouse update. You may recall in my last post that I threatened our little visitor with trapping should any harm come to my stash. The mousetrap will not be needed now. A bad smell loomed in our storeroom for a day or two and using my nose for dowsing, I tracked the fumes to the back of the freezer. Archie duly moved the freezer and found the mouse, stone cold and smelly. Cause of death? Not sure, but Magnus is saying nothing.

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Tardy mouse infested blogger.

I'm behind in my blogging - put this down to an excess of spinning, the arrival of two out of three stepchildren and a general malaise which left me in bed for a while. So not much has happened in the land of Mog this week or so, except:

A visit to Twist Fibre Crafts in Newburgh. After having such fun with someone else's spindle I decided to get my own. I love this place - I had what amounted to a one to one spinning tutorial, a history lesson, bible study ( did you know that the Bible bans the mixing of flax and wool for clothing ? Check Deuteronomy for details ), and the chance to squeeze lots of potential spinning fibres. And then what happened? Peter the shop owner sold me the cheapest spindle in the shop, because it was the one that suited my needs best. That's good service in my book. I also came home with some more merino in lovely green shades, some undyed merino with added silk and some soy. I have already thrown some of the soy onto Sylvia's fire because in my untrained hands, it is super tricky to spin with.

There has been a considerable amount of lying in bed feeling sorry for myself but as this downturn in health co-incided with beginning a fantastic book, things could have been a lot worse. I've been reading The Courtesan's Revenge, by Francis Wilson which is the biography of Hariette Wilson. Harriette was the Mistress of many influential chaps, including the Duke of Wellington and the book often quotes from her own memoirs. It's a fascinating world of intrigue and it seems that even though their position in society was a lot more precarious than the virtuous upper class women, the courtesans had a much freer and more interesting time of things. Until the gentlemen moved on to a newer model of course.

Then there was the mouse incident. This took place on Friday night after Archie had spent the day photographing old newspaper articles, as you do. So the batteries in the camera were spent and I have been forced to rely on memory to create my artist's impression seen above. The mouse sat quite happily on Archie's coat for about ten minutes until I went to get a dishcloth to catch it in. Mouse moved and hasn't been seen since although I half expect it to turn up asleep in my coat pockets one day. It was a thing of great beauty and cuteness but if I notice tooth marks, or worse, in my yarn collection, it will be time for the mousetrap.

The new Knitty has arrived and one of the articles linked to this blog -

As far as I can make out, The Yarn Snob is spearheading a campaign to reduce the stigma of mental illness as well as promoting the use of knitting as a way to feel better and reduce stress.
Knit and Fight The Black Dog is well worth checking out and who knows, if I get really brave, I might post my own contribution.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

It was only a matter of time.....

I was Knitting Bee hostess this week and was all ready to continue with my latest commission - a green goalkeepers outfit for a Panda football player. Sam who is manager of the toy team has been fundraising for strips and I will be paid ten whole pence for my efforts. Julie and Kit, had other ideas though and they came armed with drop spindles and fleece. I had tried my hand at spinning once before but it was in a room full of people all wanting a go and I didn't do too well. This time I was left alone to make as many mistakes as I wanted and it was great fun. So much fun that I haven't really done anything else all weekend. I called up the wonderful Twist Fibre Crafts in Newburgh on Friday and by the next post they had sent me out some dyed merino in various blues, reds and purples, some Jacob tops and some flax. How is that for service - they must have heard the urgency of the newly converted spinner in my voice. The flax is particularly appropriate as our village was built around the flax spinning industry and as it was Dundee and Angus spinners who made the sails for Lord Nelson's fleet, we might even had something to do with winning the Battle of Trafalgar.
It is lovely to take up a craft with such a long, prehistoric even, history. I get a real sense of kinship when I'm knitting but this goes back even further and when I saw a picture of a 6000 year old drop spindle and it was basically the same as mine - just mindblowing. You might argue that prehistoric peoples didn't have access to old CDs and glittery stickers but the design is the same!

Another reason for calling Twist Fibre Crafts was to book some tickets for a day with Debbie Bliss. She is doing a talk and showing samples in October. Should be fun - I get to go with my SIL, Babs (hello!) and she makes amazing patchwork.

Righto, I'm off to drop my spindle again ( that must really annoy the downstairs neighbours ).
If you know any good spinning sites, let me know, I have a feeling that this might be the beginning of something good.

Saturday, 1 September 2007

Bringing the house down

York was a lovely place to visit with lots of history and some amazing places to eat. Who would have thought that tapas and antipasti would be so good in North Yorkshire? Sheepish the LYS is also fab, I managed to visit three times in four days and left with a bag full of lovely deep red Rowan aran wool. One of the shop assistants there was a little concussed. She had recently been hit on the head by a melon. Moral of the story? Don't store melons on the top shelf of the fridge. They don't like it and will let you know by throwing themselves at your head.

We travelled First Class on the train as the tickets were a competition prize. A woman in our carriage looked familiar. When we got home, I checked IMDB the movie database and I'm pretty sure it was Rhea Perlman, aka Mrs Danny De Vito. Further googling showed that she is acting in London at the moment and we were on the London train, and she got on at Edinburgh, home of the International Arts Festival. Could it be? It's almost as odd as the time that a friend saw Rosanna Arquette in the grocery queue in Safeways in Glasgow's Byres Road. That turned out to be true - she was dating a Glaswegian musician at the time, but Carla from Cheers?!

Talking of things Glaswegian, while I was away, my old friend Kevin sent me a link to a BBC news site with the picture above . This is Wilton Street in Glasgow where we used to live as just graduated impoverished people. The room right at the top with the bay window was my bedroom. Yes, the one on the right with no wall left. Yikes! We used to sit on that roof smoking cigarettes and drinking wine while music played and we argued about who was going to climb back in through the window to change the CD.

When we got home we realised that just like Miss Frugality, we have a bumper plum crop so for her and anyone else blessed with abundant stone fruits, here is my recipe for Plums To Put In The Freezer And Eat Later.

Plums - as many as you have
Carton of grape juice ( the original recipe said wine but we never have any left. )
Star Anise ( one flower shape's worth )
A couple of cloves
Some cinnamon bark.

Halve and stone plums and put them face down in a dish. Don't overlap them, just fill the bottom of the dish. Add grape juice but not so much that the plums are covered, maybe just to their middles. Add spices and a couple of tablespoons of sugar to each dish. I make this for my mum who has diabetes and we don't put any sugar in at all and it is still lovely.
Oven on at 170 degrees ( that's about 350 I think ). Cover dish with tinfoil and bake for about an hour. Eat hot or leave to cool. If your liquid is too thin, strain and boil up till it is reduced to your liking. Lovely with meringues, cream, creme fraiche, ice cream, yogurt......

Stick in freezer bags or containers and bung in the freezer. Eat smugly some months later.

If you have any plums left - make jam. I can give you a recipe for that too!