Sunday, 23 December 2007

Christmas message.

Every year in the UK the Queen makes a televised speech on Christmas Day. Many households watch ( many like ours completely ignore her, I'm afraid ) and many more fall asleep in the middle. This year the Queen and her Christmas Message will also be on You Tube, which is just asking for trouble. Next year she'll be wanting a skateboard.

Obviously, I couldn't possibly compete with Her Maj so I have chosen one of my favourite poems as my festive gift to Mogblog visitors. Along with some photos I took on a walk around the village and the woods this afternoon.

Putting Out The Ashes

A night such as we have never known,
millions of stars, shooting stars, a moon.
I stand and breathe the sky. It is breathing.

The supernatural light rests on the bin

freezing it to a palpable brilliant vase

from Greece perhaps, though it is packed with waste.

This is a marvellous spendthrift universe

a poet throwing off verse after verse.

Iain Chrichton Smith.

However you celebrate this marvellous universe, I hope you have a wonderful time.

Friday, 21 December 2007

Chilliness and finished things.

I'm a bit late in blogging this week on account of a slight hangover. I'm rubbish at drinking these days. I was the most sensible ( it's all relative ) person on the night, in terms of my alcohol consumption but I always feel rotten regardless. There might be a lesson there....

It looks like being a boozy time though - a delivery man appeared this afternoon with a case of six bottles of wine for us. Another of my mum's prize winning efforts. Lovely New Zealand white wines and sparklers. And last week we had a letter to say that we had won a three night stay at a distillery with a tour, a whisky tasting class and the chance to bottle our own tipple.

Things have been finished chez Mog - Nell's roar and the accompanying cuddly item for Es has been sent off and I finally sewed up Archie's 1960's Vogue sweater. I was morally obliged to on account of the temperature here going down to minus 8 degrees. It was a faff to sew and I'm not entirely happy with one of the shoulders, however it really suits him and it is super cosy.

We had a gorgeous day on Monday walking in Glen Esk, it was too cold to go far but the landscape was stunning. Some places hadn't seen the sun at all that day and there was thick frost on the ground and ice on the river. As you can see - I took the opportunity to wrap up warm even though I do look like a demented elf. The orange and yellow gloves under my fingerless mitts were knitted when I was 21 and living in, of all places, New Zealand. I had a much greater alcohol tolerance in those days and no taste for fine wines. How things have changed !

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

This one's for Mary Jane !

I let my fellow blogger down yesterday. I had posted a picture of some chocolate mousse on Flickr and poor Mary Jane came over to the blog for more details. What did she get? A picture of Magnus modelling the latest line of plastic bag couture. I will now make amends!

I recently bought a snazzy grinder/blender called The Tribest Personal Blender in a fit of enthusiasm after reading about raw food. Every morning since, I have been drinking home made hemp milk and trying to up my veg and fruit content. Here is one recipe that sounds odd but is quite honestly a tasty thing. It contains cocoa nibs which if you haven't tried them before, are worth a go, if only as a science experiment. Eaten on their own they taste a bit like dust with a slight cocoa undertone. Add any sweetness, a date for instance or a dried apricot, and you get the taste of chocolate. Proper chocolate too, not the wierd milky stuff that the UK is used to, the real 70% cocoa solid stuff. This mousse is a variation of one I found in Raw Food Made Easy by Jennifer Cornbleet.

Chocolate Mousse

Two avocados - very squidgy, blended till smooth.
1/4 cup dates soaked for two hours or so.
1/2 tsp vanilla ( optional )
1/4 cup of the best cocoa powder you can lay your hands on.
1/4 cup of the date soaking liquor
Chopped macadamia nuts
dried sweetened cranberries
cocoa nibs.

Add the dates to a blender with the water and vanilla. Blend till as smooth as possible. Add avocado and cocoa powder and continue blending till smooth. That's it - mousse. Taste and check if you want to add another sweetner, I didn't but you could add agave nectar, maple syrup, concentrated apple juice....

Layer a glass or bowl with some mousse, then follow with some nuts, cranberries and nibs. Continue layering till everything is used up. Go easy on the nibs, you don't need too many as they are strong. maybe a teaspoon in total. You can never have too many cranberries and macadamia nuts.

I'll admit, you can tell that avocado is one of the ingredients, in the beginning, but then your tastebuds latch on the the cocoa/nut/cran combination and all else is forgotten.

Monday, 10 December 2007

A cat in a bag.

Today we celebrated the exhaust being checked by the garage - honestly, the mechanic just looked at it and the damn thing fell off - by going out for lunch and a small trip to the local charity shops. Lunch was a huge turkey and ham salad at The Castle Club in Forfar. The Club has the strangest decor, hand picked from many eras in history. Fake medieval tapestry and exposed beams, Art Deco lamps, Shaker style roof tiles on the bar and Victorian portraits of famous Scots. Crackers on the table as well. We refrained from crackering but there was a nasty moment when the table next to us pulled theirs and a pencil sharpener from inside a cracker flew past Archie's ear, narrowly missing his christmas pudding.

The charity shops were much safer and we came home with a 1948 copy of Practical Home Needlecraft in Pictures and a pair of soft grey curtains which are already hanging in our living room. I'm hoping that the creases fall out with hanging otherwise I might have to use the iron.
The big bag the curtains came in was an instant hit with Magnus and we had hours of fun rumpling the plastic and waving it at him in the manner of a bullfighter.

We had chums around on Saturday night and we sampled last years bramble vodka and plum gin. They really do benefit from a year's worth of maturing. The plum gin was a revelation with a wonderful prune flavour. I'm hoping the sloe gin is as good if we can hold off till next year. In case you thought we were stingy with the gin, another half a litre was added after a trip to the shops!

Friday, 7 December 2007

Handspun and flatworms.

It's a lovely peaceful Friday afternoon in Mogland, Molly the dog-on-loan is snoozing in front of the telly and Magnus is asleep in front of the fire. Cats always get the warmest bit. The Christmas light count in the village has gone through the roof and believe me, if the householders could get onto the roof, there would be even more shiny stuff. Some have put lights around their chimneys which in my mind could cause a tripping hazard for anyone trying to climb down on Christmas Eve.

Today is my big brother Tom's birthday so I hope he is having a good one and that many presents have been forthcoming. Me, I'm awaiting orders as to what present he would like although I do know of a knitted Dalek pattern......

The Knitting Bee was great fun except that my carding advisor couldn't make it so I will have to live with grazed knuckles for a while longer. The Bee hostess, Marianne made the most spectacular squidgy chocolate brownies which were gone in seconds. I spun some dyed Wensleydale and it turned out fine. Not sure what to do with it next though. Nell's thing that requires a roar has finally been finished - see above for details. It's very good for making funny faces with and I'm sure the roaring will be load and scary. All I need to do now is finish her little sister's bird and my holiday knitting will be over.

The icky worm picture is a true horror story - New Zealand Flatworms are living in my compost. This is a very bad thing as they eat earthworms by curling around them and disolving them with stickiness. I had to report them to the Scottish Crop Research Institute to help them to map out how widespread they are in Scotland. As the name suggests, they are not a native species. Apparently the best thing to do is to boil the buggers by pouring a kettle of water onto the compost. It might sound a bit medieval but the earthworms need revenged!

Tonight a man is coming to our house to collect a juicer, some hair dye, some Jiffy bags for posting and a couple of DVDs. I put them on Freecycle yesterday and he was the person to write the nicest email. It will clear a bit more unwanted junk from the house and hopefully improve my Karma after the Flatworm boiling incident !

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Adventures in colour

I've joined two groups on the Rav this week - the Greenies 2008, and the Stash Knit Down 2008. Forward planning at it's most enjoyable. The Greenies aim to buy yarn that is socially responsible and for me that will probably mean not buying any ( that's the most responsible thing to do anyway. ) I have tons of yarn in Knitting HQ which is waiting to be used up and that fits neatly into the Knit Down plan. Spinning and the possible purchase of spinning equipment will continue and I am going to do my best to buy UK fleece. I bought some carders this week and had a mini tutorial in how to use them. I have great plans to dye my fleece and blend the colours by carding. Next week is Bee week so I will bring the carders along and get the experts, aka Julie and Kit, to help me out.

I dyed a couple of things for practise - a whole 80 odd grams worth. I used the Ashford Acid dyes and the same dye bath for all three. Scarlet and blue, with slightly more scarlet than blue. The blue must have taken up mostly in the first dyeing. I dyed the last lot as fleece to make sure I could do it without making felt. Not that I don't like making felt, it's just a bugger to spin.
Molly was here for dog sitting so I asked her to model the finished skeins. Like any other highly strung supermodel, she doesn't always follow instructions so things got a bit blurry.

The weather here is awful, sheets of rain and misery falling from the sky. Just the right time for the village Christmas lights to go up. We heard the sound of a brass band on Thursday evening and lo, the tree was up outside the church. In November? When I was a lass our decorations didn't go up until the seventh of December which is also my brother, Tom's birthday. Never in November, it's too soon. Sorry to those who love the festivities, I seem to naturally err on the side of Humbug.

Next week is filled with excitement, Tuesday we go to see Scottish singer Jackie Leven playing the Montrose folk club and then the Bee on Wednesday. I'd better start practising my carding.