Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Hooked!


I can crochet!!!  I love it!!!  What else can I say?

Probably nothing very earth shattering or inspiring, but i am very capable of wittering on for a few paragraphs, especially since the genuine interest initially shown by John and James seems to have lost it's spontaneity.
"That's reeaalllyy gooood, Mummy"  seems to have a slightly patronising edge - hmmm. True, I have been accosting anyone in my path, waving a few remnants of yarn in their face screeching things like - "Look! decreased trebles!"
Anyway, I thought I would share my new found skills with you here, as I know there are some who might appreciate my excitment.

I am "corrie fisted", born into the age when society was just getting over the idea that there was something wrong with being left handed. My father, also born a leftie, was forced to use his right hand at school by some rather draconian teaching methods.  It seemed a big deal to everyone  - parents, grandparents, teachers etc, so as a child I was aware of this 'handicap' and probably hid behind it to an extent. " I can't knit/crochet/peel potatoes because I am left handed".  It all sounds so unbelievably barbaric now, but it is true.  Eventually, though, I learned to knit and peel potatoes and write very neatly, and had a very happy childhood.  But I could never crochet. Many lovely people tried to show me, left handed and right handed ways.  There was just some block there - I couldn't pull the wool though - got totally tangled up and was unable to see what I was supposed to be doing.  I just couldn't find the key to that wonderful room marked crochet.
So, I just picked up the knitting pins and cast on.  I like knitting, but I am very s-l-o-w, and I get bored quickly with my current project - always drooling on Ravelry and in yarn shops for the next thing.
In fact it was in our wonderful new yarn shop the other day - Thursday, it was, when I found out they were taking names for various workshops - crochet being one.   I duly signed up for it (and the quilting, and the finishing for knitters :0 ), but then, I was hit by an irresistable urge to crochet RIGHT NOW!


Sorry - I suddenly saw a few folks nodding off at the back there, so felt I needed some pictorial stimulus!

Anyway, I found a wonderful little booklet - Crochet unravelled - for beginners of all ages - umm - that'll be me then; bought a 4mm hook and headed home to my stash basket.  It is a really good book - very concise, as the cover says, and I learned really basic but crucial things like how to hold the hook and yarn -duh - it makes such a difference!
So there I was on Friday, chaining away for all I was worth. One of the great things about crochet is that it is sooo portable - no more sharp pointy needles sticking out of the bag, or stitches unravelling.  I can just stuff the wool and hook into my pocket, camera round my neck and off we jolly well go!
By Sunday, with some extra help from the very obliging Donna, Mikey and others on Youtube, I was half trebling with the best of them - and the great thing is, I now kind of understand what is happening.  I can see how the stitches work and how they are constructed.


It isn't perfect by any means - the petals on my Daisy face cloth (Debbie Bliss eco cotton)  are a bit wonky, but I love love love the whole hooky thing.  I started this late last night, and I am almost done!
Of course there is soooo much crochet goodness out there to inspire - here, here and oh - here.  I feel as if I have stepped into a whole new world of colour.


I feel that I could almost be ready to Ripple!   What do you think?

Oh - and since this is Wednesday, and this is a bit of a yarn, I thought I would join in agin with Ginny's yarn along -quite exciting to have to add CROCHET to my linky thing.
Aside from the aforementioned Crochet Unravelled, I am  reading Amanda and Steve Soule's Rythm of the Seasons.  I will be doing a book review for The Mother magazine on this - but just lets say it will probably be favourable :)
I am also re-reading my other favourite magazines, as I feel very homey now that Autumn is beginning.  The new issues will be out in the next few days, but I am in need of a cosy country homes fix just now, so the pile of back copies are being raided.
James is completely fascinated by ships at the moment. We have quite a few books on boats and shipping, but he found this one about Hebridean shipping at the library yesterday.  it is quite nice - lots of lovely old black and white pictures and not too many dull facts and figures - quite useful for the bedtime story reader.
Well, that is me at the moment - if you stayed to the end - thank you for letting me babble on about my latest crafty fad.  I think the hook is now my best friend - I have just created a "crochet" tag on the blog, so I am sure you will see it feature over the coming months.
xxxx

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Summer Loving

Still August - still Summer - still loving



Beach days



Wild flowers


Messing about in old boats



or just messing about on the water.




Apples


Rain freshened mornings



new perspectives


Cloud watching.



and more beach days



So, where will the road take you this week?


This will be the last of my Summer Loving posts for this year.  The land is beginning to take on a richer hue, and Autumn is seeping in at the edges.  I have loved sharing snapshots of our Summer days with you all, and would like to thank you for joining me, and leaving such lovely comments.
I hope you have had a wonderful Summertime, and that your harvests have been joyful and abundant.
Blessings of the season to you all ♥

Friday, August 26, 2011

This Moment. by James



A single image, no words, capturing a precious moment from my week.  A simple moment that I want to pause, savour and remember. 

James is delighted to join in with Soulemama this week, with his own photographic moment.
We both wish you a beautiful weekend.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Come inside.... The Old Barn


John spends quite a lot of time pottering around in our old barn.  Men and sheds - what are they like?  Admittedly, much pottering is required in here, and, in fact a complete gutting out and replacing of all the timber, not to mention a new roof, will be happening before we go much further.  Now that we have been using this space for several months, ideas and plans are beginning to coalesce and we have some notion of how it will be after the renovations.


Anyway -  John is away to the spring lamb sales in Stornoway today, so we can have a little browse around.  Want to come in?  Come on then, lets have a peek inside.


The barn is divided up into 3 spaces.  This is the first room as your enter.  See - he has a little chair and his toolboxes stacked there, and I notice he has left his flask and a little pile of peapods he must have been snacking on - naughty! The concrete partition was originally where the calf was tethered, while it's mother was being milked.



An old metal bed base was stacked  against the wall when we came - isn't there always? Now it has become a handy tool rack.


More tools hanging on some of these massive iron nails that have been hammered into the stone wall.



Old hay making tools that were in the barn already, and John's scythe lean in a corner.



This area was where the milking stall was.  We think it will play the same role for us too, but all those timbers are rotten, so will have to go.


Above  - sorry it is not a terribly good picture - but there is a hayloft. Again, we intend to keep the original usage basically the same, so a new hayloft we will have!  Love those home made ladders too.



At the opposite end of the house is where the living space was.


In living memory, this was used as a weavers shed, and I have posted about it somewhere - oh yes - here.  At the moment it is a store room for feed bins and our bikes.


We intend to renovate it as a basic kitchen space.  Somewhere to pop the kettle on the stove and take a break from the farm chores.  A table at the window, a dresser, maybe and a small cookstove in the fireplace there. Maybe do a bit of cheese or butter making when we get our milk cow thing going.  Please stop me buying the curtain material now!  It will happen though - hee hee.

Oh - and smoking too!  Hams and fish and things like that, I mean.  These holes in the chimney breast have iron bars set in them, so you can hang your produce up to be gently smoked!  Isn't that wonderful? I surely think so.


The middle, and largest space - well we don't quite know yet.  it has a low partition of the ubiquitous corrugated iron, and at the moment has various old kegs, rolls of fencing wire and sheep netting etc.  There is a large pile of foam packaging that I don't yet want to move, as next doors cat has made a very comfy bed - just right for her afternoon naps when the sun slants in the window.


It will probably continue to be used as a storage area, so apart from the wood replacement, it will stay much the same.  

Of course, there are lots of interesting bits and pieces dotted around.  An old Ferguson tractor engine, for example.  There are, in fact, several pieces of this old machine lying in various parts of the croft.  Sadly not enough to rebuild it, but - well - you'll see!  


See how clean and well oiled that engine is?  I think John has been using the oil can again.  I can see it must be nice sitting there, with your oily rag, bringing old rusty things back to life.  The male equivalent of knitting, I suppose.


See what I mean?  Something to do when the rain stops play for a while.



I jut love this home made seed - erm - can't find the word, but you tie it round yourself, - put the seed in and off you go, walking up and down the field, scattering the seed left and right as you go. A seed scatterer?  Made from strong fence wire and an old seed potato sack. I will ask John to model it for you some time.



There are yards of this rope hanging around.  Before baler twine took over as the main tying medium this was the business.  It was referred to here as Tearlach's rope - (Charlie's rope) after the man whose shop sold it.  Our next door neighbour exclaimed with delight when he saw this hanging from the rafters, it brought back some memories which we were happy to sit and listen to.


So there you have it - a wee tour of the barn.  Hope you enjoyed it and come back again - for a cup of tea next time.  I might have my lovely farm kitchen-y curtains up then too.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A letter from America


Well - today - the postman brought me a little package all the way from America.


So that was my day taken care of.
How was yours?


♥ ♥ ♥

Monday, August 22, 2011

On the menu today

Butternut squash soup with nut butter

I have wanted to try this recipe for ages - ever since I saw the lovely Gill from River Cottage making it on one of the programmes.  I do actually have every available River Cottage episode downloaded to my iplayer. For weeks on end, last Spring,  James, for some inexplicable reason of his own, would eschew any bedtime stories in favour of watching Hugh.  I was happy to go with that, I can tell you, so we would snuggle down, lights out, and feast on the varied delights that issued magically from that tiny screen. Then, suddenly, he moved on to reading about Lifeboats and Firemen and The Titanic.  Hugh et al were cast aside without a raft.  So it was with a sense of nostalgia today that I replayed (several times) the part of the Lunch episode from River Cottage Everyday, where the dashing RC chef  creates this quick and easy lunchtime dish.
Except we had it for dinner.  It was very filling, and we just picked at our chicken salad afterwards.  Want to try it?  Here's the recipe then.



Melt some butter and oil in a pan. Cut the squash into 1 inch diced cubes - notice that mine are not mathematically perfect, but the cuboid police were busy elsewhere, so I think I might have got away with it.  Add to the pan with a finely chopped onion and cook slowly until the onion is translucent. 



Add a garlic clove - or two, and about 3cm grated ginger.  A pinch of dried chilli flakes or a small chopped chilli is suggested here, and I do think it would improve the soup further, so go ahead.  Unfortunately J still finds even the merest background hint of heat TOO HOT, so we don't.



Now add a litre of your stock of choice and season to taste.  


Bring to the boil and then simmer for about 30 minutes.  When the squash is very soft, blend it to a smooth consistency 


Zazazoom!


Whisk a ladleful of the hot soup with the contents of small jar of peanut butter in a bowl, until well blended. I only had the crunchy stuff, but I would use smooth the next time (and there will be a next time).



Add peanut butter mixture to soup and reheat gently - check your seasoning and adjust as necessary.


Just before serving, add the juice of a lime and some chopped coriander. Garnish each bowl with a dollop of yogurt if desired.


Very desirable. 


quick edit - for U.S. readers. 227g is near enough 8 oz.  I grew up in the imperial age, so am more comfortable with that system, but most UK recipes now use metric.  100g roughly equates to 4 oz.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Summer Loving


This week, I have loved having my younger daughter, Kristine here for the first time.  As well as enjoying her company, it has been such a pleasure watching her fall in love with this island..  Almost immediately, she claimed the camera, and I would see her heading out the gate to capture the same beauty that first entranced us. This week, then, the snapshots are hers.  I hope you enjoy seeing our home through her lens.


The Callanish Stones are always the first place to be visited.


Then the beach.


The sky, the land, and the water,


 and the random beauty around us.

It is, indeed, a place that captures your heart and never lets go.


We were sad to see her go, and hand over the camera again, but I have a feeling that - just maybe - we will be seeing her here again very soon!

Summer is such a busy time, and so much is going on that I want to hold on to - especially now in these last precious days. Each Sunday I am posting a series of snapshots of things I have loved in the past week.  Those ordinary but special moments that might have gone unnoticed or forgotten  Trying to distill the love and joy from this hectic Summer season to remember with gratitude and warmth when the days are short again.

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