Monday, 27 February 2012

A Certain Lack of Light.

I am going slightly barmy here thanks to the lack of any discernible spring light in Cornwall - well, my bit of Cornwall anyway. I hear of sun elsewhere; I see the proof in others' photos where balmy days out and gardening fun is had with that yellow light I am so desperate for. Why is it missing us out I wish to know! The blossom is blossoming and shoots are shooting all around yet still the sky remains flat and grey and I am going ever so slightly nuts and more than a little obsessed by the local weather report and quite frankly driving myself crazy by moaning about it!

The solution I feel is to stop whingeing and get outdoors even if it is cold and monotonously grey. After all, the herbs need potting up: rosemary, parsley and thyme sit in pots just by the front door and I brush their fragrant leaves each time I pass. That cheers me at least.

And then there is new wool or yarn as I increasingly find myself calling it. Just look at the colour of this. It cheers me more than I can tell you and I have started a new project without completely finishing my Veyla mittens because I felt it would be therapeutic...and it is! I will reveal the pattern next post as I am hoping to have sewn in the ends of the mitts first. Clean slate and all that.

I chose this yarn because it has such a wonderful slubby texture and is just perfect for spring/summer beach wear. Very lovely and such a gorgeous shade...did I mention that already? I want a whole cupboard of slubby slouchy knits in soft sea blues and greens and gentle orange like the colour you get when the sea and sunshine have bleached them down to the softest tone while still retaining that certain strength of colour. Know what I mean?

Oh those herbs...they smell so delicious.

The kitchen is being taken over by little gardening projects such as jars of rosemary and sage cuttings which will mould away if Isabella and I don't plant them up. Some potatoes which I would like to claim are chitting but truthfully were simply mouldering in the bottom of a long-forgotten bag are now waiting top be planted up too. Strange looking alien life forms lurking by the sugar bowl. A typically eclectic Pipany mix. I do like a project or two.

Talking of projects - things are hotting up for Mothers' Day. Just where does the apostrophe go? Is it Mothers plural or Mother as in singular? Oh who should be Mothering Sunday anyway and really life is far far too short to fuss over a little apostrophe. The point I was making is that much embroidering is taking place in my sewing room and I am very lucky to be so busy, so thank you to any and all who have ordered from me!

Well, I really should get back to work. Hopefully the drizzle will stop and the chill will go by the time I have finished the orders leaving a beautiful sunshiney day in its wake!

Till next time x

Monday, 20 February 2012

No Change!

Well, thank you for your lovely feedback on my blog: it seems to be fine as it is with its er, 'eclectic' mix of craftiness, home-making, gardening and businessy bits and so why change it? I'm quite relieved really because whenever I attempt to alter it I waste forever only to feel it is messier than before. It's the control freak in me!

And so, another half term over and a whole lot closer to spring. In Cornwall it is almost impossible to believe spring hasn't already sprung as there are daffodils appearing everywhere you look with fields swathed in golden yellow bordering every road it seems. I love this time of year, so full of hope and anticipation as the chill air hovers on the brink of change and each day brings a slightly later dusk, a slightly changed quality of light. The garden calls and Isabella and I spent a couple of days tidying around and re-familiarising ourselves with it all.

Isabella collected the bits and bobs that have blown into the garden over the winter and fashioned a birds nest which she duly nestled into the crook of the wisteria boughs. So sweet.
She really reminds me of myself as a little girl, always making something, always happiest in the garden following either my Dad or Grandad as they worked, absorbing a true love of nature that has lasted. We lit an enormous bonfire to chase away the late afternoon chill and to burn the brambles I cleared from the hedges. So good to feel the soil in my hands once more and to feel that familiar excitement that heralds the new season.

Indoors, a whole other world of making was taking place as Lucy concocted a chocolate gingerbread cake. This delicious cake has a more sophisticated taste than many chocolate based cakes thanks to the addition of crystallized ginger.

It cuts beautifully and is perfect with a cup of tea. Even Isabella loved it despite the fact that it lacked that sugary sweetness little ones usually look for.

The girls are both turning into remarkably good cooks and I really feel this should be encouraged. Of course, this could be entirely selfish as it means I have a constant supply of cakes to hand!

It seems that the mix of topics is what most of you enjoy about my ramblings and so I will end with a little reveal of the Veyla mittens I am knitting. This lovely Ysolda Teague pattern is actually a very quick knit...if one picks it up that is! I have the best of intentions but the reality in the evenings is often so very different.

Still, one mitten is completed other than sewing in the loose ends and the other has the pretty lace work on the cuff finished, so hopefully not too long now. I love the little detailing on the thumbs and first knuckle.

The lace cuff will need blocking to allow the leaf pattern to open out a little and then I have some little buttons to finish them with.

Very lovely, though I am already desperate to start my next project.

So there I end my Monday witter and off to work I go. A fresh new week with the sun outside the sewing room and birds singing their hearts out just outside the stable door. I also have a meet up with Diana later this week...woohoo! We haven't seen each other for ages, so a catch up, some knitting, some cake and a trip to a wool shop are in the offing...Hurrah!

I hope you have some good things planned too x

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Sloes and Sunsets.

Golly, I'm blogging again. I miss it when I don't and having renewed my love of photography I also seem to have renewed my need to garble on here. It makes some sense of my days when I can look back and see what the weather was doing or,come to that, what I have been doing. I had quite a gap toward the end of last year and now I wonder where on earth I was; what was taking place in my life that made it so easy to fall away from this diary of mine and ignore it. Anyhow, yesterday the sun shone and I hurried out to snap this pot of very advanced tulips sitting on the courtyard.

Despite the amazingly cold morn I lingered and listened to the birdsong in the hedges, breathed deep of that icy air and noticed what was going on: little signs of life creeping out of the wintery chill to bring the delicate purple blooms of Arabis to my eye.

I soon had to seek the warmth of the house once more and set to preparing the evening's dinner. I had an idea for a meal consisting of a rich combination of flavours based around some delicious pork chops and for once jotted it down as I went along in the hope that it would be worth repeating sometime. This was to be a comforting meal full of rich flavours and mouthwateringly sticky juices mopped up with buttery mash, a meal to keep the cold at bay.

So, having finally managed to prise the lid off one of the jars of plum jam made last year from some of our enormous harvest of fruit, I poured the contents into a roasting dish and added three tablespoons (roughly) of our homemade sloe gin.

I then fished out the berries which, as usual, I haven't bothered to strain off and added two large chopped garlic cloves, two tablespoons of Worcesterchire Sauce and 1 tablespoon rice vinegar - you could use white wine or even cider vinegar here but I wanted to try this out. Next I added one tablespoon mustard - something with a little heat but any is fine.

Strew (I love that word as it makes me think of wonderful flavours and beautiful scents or an old English cookery book) some rosemary sprigs. About three or four will do as they can be a little over-powering if not careful.

Place your pork chops into the dish and work the mix into the meat well. Cover and leave to marinade for as long as you can manage - I only had about three hours by the time I got to this stage but it was still lovely. When you are ready place the covered dish into a low oven (gas 4) for about two hours before lowering to gas 3 for as long as you want - mine was in for three and a half hours all told.

Partake of a goodly slurp of aforementioned sloe gin to ensure you are equally well marinated.

Then take yourself out into your garden to take notice of the beautiful twilight fast descending. My favourite time of day when I am able to revel in the moment. There is a hush and expectancy in the air at this time where the birds settle and sing a softer song, and far-distant sounds seem muted by the unfolding blanket of night.

It is peaceful, calm in a way that I seem drawn to and watching the purples darken to mulberry black, the fading pinks blurring the edges of deepening clouds, seems to hold time still for just a moment before the hustle of a family dinner intrudes once more.

And so back indoors to warmth and the rich smells of sloe roasted pork chops, mashed potatoes, broccoli and red cabbage. The sauce was so gorgeous with a lightly Chinese taste to it but different if you know what I mean? Very, very sticky juices and the fat just melted...Mmmm. Did I ever tell you I love fat? A lot! Of course, a meal like this needs another glass of sloe gin to bring out the flavours.

Bottoms up!

By the way, I have been thinking of changing the blog to have different headings for garden, food, etc - any thoughts?

Bye for now x

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Just a Little Green.

Joni Mitchell... in the words of the wonderful Emma Thompson in Love Actually, "I love her."

I listen to her music frequently and today the sounds of her sweet voice singing one of my favourites made me look around my home for those signs, that fleeting touch of light or hint of colour that tells us spring is almost here. I looked for 'just a little green'...

and found it here in my kitchen where the soft gold of a variegated lemon thyme kept company with the forest green shoots of a pot of rosemary. I also have a jar holding some stems of rosemary which I got reduced at the supermarket with the intention of getting Isabella to pot them up with me to grow more little plants for our garden. Wrong time of year, but who says you have to follow the rules? Just have fun is a better mantra for me.

I looked through the living room window to see the 'grave' as I call the patch Isabella and Daddy planted last year on a day when I was poorly in bed; it looks awful but is packed with bulbs to provide cutting flowers for the house and so many shoots are now pushing through that I feel a little ashamed of the way I snorted with disgust at the sight of this rectangular patch of earth right in the middle of the lawn.

After all, the patch is always a mess anyway as it is where the paddling pool spends the summer so the children can play in it while Davey and I sit in the courtyard watching as we sip a chilled glass or two on hot days when the sun basks the front of our house with its wonderful light.

There will soon be daffodils and narcissi of all kinds, hyacinths and tulips for me to pick, a whole beautiful rainbow to cheer our little house and add some colour to these grey seemingly endless days and all because of those two scamps who disappeared behind my back with bags full of bargain bulbs...hmm, I'm so very glad they did.

Isabella even added some broad beans which are doing well if a little straggly. I feel so inspired by her' have a go' attitude to things and need to remember it is how I feel about life really. Nothing ventured and all that. She saw some beans, had a thought, acted on it and there you go: plants already thinking about producing a few flowers. There's a lesson there somewhere.

So, thank you dear Joni. I felt tired and fed up with winter's grey light

but then I found just a little green.

So prefect and not far so very far away.... x

Friday, 3 February 2012

A Golden Morn.

How beautiful this weather is: cold, cold, cold with golden light and signs of the coming spring all around. The cold is preferable to rain as far as I'm concerned but mittens are needed for sewing as my fingers get so chilly. The sunrise this morning caught my eye and ceased the school run preparations for just a moment.

It felt so good to bathe for the shortest while in that rich golden light before the icy air chased me back indoors.

I love the almost misty quality of these bronze-burnished branches against that soft blue.

I grabbed the camera on my way out and popped down to one of my old haunts. Penryn River is somewhere I have posted many photos of in the past and it felt time I visited again to capture the early morning light on this pretty spot.

Soft; golden; misty; ethereal...

poetic words drifted through my mind echoing the lazy flight of the river birds as they glided over the frozen banks.

And look just how very frozen those banks were. It always intrigues me to see such hard frost so close to sea water, but look how the sun has gilded the tips of the trees with its Midas touch.

Beautiful Cornwall at her best.

And now I must leave the river and return to work, albeit with a poorly little Isabella and her very chesty cough to keep me company, poor soul.

I hope you enjoyed a Friday morning nostlagia trip along the river banks. x