Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Kerchief? Bless You.

I've been exiled to Knitting Headquarters while the live in decorator paints downstairs. The living room is shrouded in dustcovers like some neglected eighteen century ballroom and I'm in the attic with only Magnus and Daphne du Maurier for company. Neither of whom are great conversationalists although Daphne tells the better story. I've been working on some simple crafty things after realising that good concentration and DIY just doesn't work for me. So I've neglected my socks and lace in favour of a log cabin square and when that fails I have been sewing some little fiddly things.

Today I made a scarf out of some second hand fabric and the lining of an old skirt. It is a triumph of my sewing machine skills, none of which include either neatness or accuracy but the end product looks just fine. I had planned to make a kerchief/bandana but on reflection found that a rectangle was much easier to sew than a triangle. Later on in the quiet of the room with only the distant sound of sandpapering for company, I did what anyone would do under the circumstances.

I dressed up the cat.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Pick a favourite picture

First of all, thank you all very much for the catty good wishes. Magnus is extremely well indeed and was last seen in the middle of a tree helping Archie fill the birdfeeders. ( It is still dark here which explains the rather poor quality image. )

Talking of images, I'd like to offer one of mine. I was looking at Craft Hope this morning and all the items that have been donated by the kindness of the craft community to support the people of Haiti. It got me thinking that I'd like to offer something. Then I looked around a house filled with dust, bathroom renovations and badly shaved cats and realised that there was no way I would be able to sort anything out before the deadline for donations.

So I have come up with an alternative plan. A competition. I would like to invite blog readers to donate to MSF or the DEC or any other charity supporting the work in Haiti and to leave a comment letting me know that you have donated. I don't need to know how much and will take it on trust that a donation has been made. If you have already given, then that will still count although if you would like to donate again then feel free.

There are many designers on Ravelry who are donating profits from pattern sales this month and that would be a great way to support independent designers and make a donation at the same time. Here is just one example - Ysolda Teague

I'll leave the comments open until the end of the month and will then randomly pick a winner.
The winner will in turn be asked to pick a favourite image from the blog, or my Flickr pages and I will get a print made and sent off. I hope that all makes sense - bathroom up-doings aren't very good for the concentration.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

One of us

Has been in the wars. We are not exactly sure what sort of war, if it was a catty virus or a bad bird eaten but he was very poorly indeed. For the first time in living memory Magnus went off his food. Emergency enough coming from a cat so greedy he has been known to eat slices of bread left out for the birds, but coupled with a general malaise, floppiness and look of utter misery, we were worried enough to take him to visit David the vet.

Lots of tests were done, blood was drawn on both sides and Magnus was left overnight with a drip to restore his fluids, if not his temper. The boy is now officially the most aggressive cat the surgery has ever known but thankfully the results of the tests indicate that nothing awful is amiss.

We took him home the next day, stinking and grumpy ( he wouldn't let them clean him up ) so our home currently smells of wee and disinfectant. He is feeling much better, eating like a cat possessed and within minutes of arriving home was on the kitchen worktop licking the breadboard. He was shaved in three places for the drip and for some x-rays so he looks for all the world like a bridegroom after a particularly raucous Stag Night.

In the meantime I'm knitting socks, making jam, and hoping that the smell will go soon.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Comforting Soup.


First find two leeks, two onions and a handful of small potatoes sulking in the blue plastic tub in the cupboard under the sink. Seek out a couple of cloves of garlic. Some honey in a jar. Spices.

Remember there is no milk in the house.


Wash and slice the leeks, peel and slice the onions and garlic.
Add to a pan with some olive oil and butter if you have any.
Peel potatoes in readiness.

Let the leek, onion and garlic fry away gently till very soft and a bit mushy. Take this slowly, it brings out the sweetness in the veg and allows you the time to realise that you are wearing inside out long johns and no socks. For no apparent reason.

When the onions, leeks and garlic are soft, add a teaspoonful of the Scottish Heather Honey that was recieved as a gift then left on a shelf and forgotten about. Which is daft as you really like honey. The honey will help the mixture to caramelise and to further aid the process, turn the heat up and leave the pan alone. Don't stir, take the opportunity to stop cooking and look out of the window. Count the goldfinches on their special birdfeeder and enjoy the sight of someone else clearing the path outside. Return to look at the pan when it begins to smell toasty but before it smells burnt.

Chop the potatoes, add to the pan and stir, making sure that you dissolve the toasty brown stickiness on the base of the pan, this is where a lot of the flavours are hiding. Add stock ( bouillion powder and boiling water in this case) and cook gently for about 45 minutes till the potatoes are beginning to melt into the soup. Don't add too much stock as you are just about to ask the path-clearer if he will go to the shop and buy the milk which is needed to finish off the soup. *

On his return, place a cup of milk in another saucepan, add a couple of bay leaves, a clove, some peppercorns and some fennel seeds. If your spice collections boasts a little packet of juniper berries, now is the time to bash one or two with a spoon and add it to the milk. Bring to the boil and then straight away turn off the heat and leave to cool down.

When the soup is ready, strain the spiced milk into the pan and gently reheat. Do don't boil. Boiling can cause upleasant curdling.

Divide into bowls to share with the path-clearer/milk buyer and saviour of the bird table. In the best of all possible worlds, eat with some oatcakes and sharp cheese and a glass of whisky.

* More organised households would have enough supplies in order to allow the spices and milk to be prepared in advance to allow for the fullest flavour to develop.