Made from scrap

Made from scrap
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Wednesday, 29 February 2012

February Photograph Collage

These collages usually amaze me.   Looking through the photographic evidence for the month is fun.  I thought February had been quite uneventful, then I look at the photographs and think how busy it has been.

  • Spinning 
  • De-cluttering
  • Egg collecting
  • Valentines Day
  • National Chip Week
  • Pancake Day (Shrove Tuesday)
  • Pie Days
  • Lucky Stars
  • Wobbly Teeth
  • Chickie Bedtimes
  • Crochet
  • Alpaca Alpaca Alpaca
  • Snow
  • Spring Flowers

This February it is a Leap Year.  I won't be proposing to my other half!  Someone told me today that they have a friend who is going out tonight to celebrate their Grandmother's  18th Birthday!  Cute.
Wow Goodbye February. . . . Hello March.   XXX

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

I am Proud to be Bistitchual

Your can buy these cute badges on Etsy 'Here'

         For a change I have been busy knitting.  My Grandmother taught me to knit before she taught me to crochet.  I still consider myself a beginner and get quite flummoxed with most knitting patterns, even those rated as 'easy' or suitable for 'beginners'.  I like knitting though.  I am trying to use stash and finish wip's (works in progress).  This was a stash 'busting' exercise.  
I received two balls of this beautiful yarn as part of a swap parcel at Christmas.  It shouted 'Nice warm cowl' at me.  So I listened.  I also received this gorgeous Cowl as part of a Christmas Swap.  (Christmas Swaps are sooo much fun)!
It is so soft and warm and I was so pleased with it I hardly took it off for two weeks.  It kept my shoulders lovely and warm.  Then I realised, doh!  I had been wearing it upside down!  Versatile is the word, it is a versatile cowl, two looks for the price of one.   The pattern is 'Shawl Collared Cowl'  by Alana Dakos and you can buy the pattern Here on Ravelry.
This is the correct way to wear it!

The Green Yarn desperately wanted to be a 'Shawl Collared Cowl'.  Less than half way through, I realized I would not have enough yarn.  Panic stations!  I hate frogging.  So much for de-stashing.  I really didn't know if I would be able to find this yarn.
Thank goodness for the internet, within five minutes I had tracked down and ordered enough yarn to complete the job.  I love good service.  I ordered from Marmalade Yarns and within 24 hrs the yarn had arrived safe and sound.  How fantastic is that?  I would definitely recommend 'Marmalade Yarns' and would use them again.  Now I have no excuses I must get on and finish this cowl now.  I am looking forward to going on a button hunt too, I need to find three suitable buttons.

I was delighted with the response to my request for Crocheting Oompa Loompas and they are busy behind the scenes.  The quality and credentials of the applicants for the Crocheting Oompa Loompa positions was truly humbling.  Thanks.  XXX

Sunday, 26 February 2012

'Delusions Of Grandeur' You may be able to help?

I am really pleased with the results of my latest 'Fete accompli' in the Granny Chic, Granny Stripe department.    It marks my tenth dabbling with 'design' adventures.  I have decided albeit tentatively to go up a notch and see where I can 'go' with this 'design'.  So for now I will keep it a 'secret'.  I am not good at secrets of any description, I can't keep them and if anyone is trying to keep one from me, it darn near kills me!   I have a Monday Birthday coming up at the beginning of March, I am not overly keen on birthdays and I really don't like Mondays so I have to be good to myself.  I am old enough to try the spirit of 'She who dares wins'!  Life is full of 'What ifs?'  I can give myself a birthday gift of being brave, risking failure and trying something new.  Really what have I got to lose?
Now where do you come in to assist me with my 'Delusions of Grandeur'?  I could really do with the equivalent of 'Willy Wonka's secret team of Oompa Loompas'.  I could really do with 3-5 crocheting Oompa Loompas to test this 'Top Secret' new pattern for me.  I can e-mail a 'pdf' of the pattern to you if you are interested and I promise it should be easy, quick and fairly pain free.  You will need scraps of  DK yarn / worsted weight.  If you are interested in becoming a trusted crocheting Oompa Loompa please apply formally in writing, via the 'comments box' and leave a method for me to contact you, either Ravelry ID, e-mail or Facebook.  I will have your credentials checked over by my Security Team (consisting of . . . . me) and will get the confidentiality agreement drawn up.
Now back to reality and  the 'Sunday Roast', my troops are starving!

Edit:  Great News!  The Troops have all been fed and I have a 'Team' of willing victim  Crochet Oompa Loompas.  Thank you very much.  I will be in touch this evening.  XXX  

Saturday, 25 February 2012

National Chip Week Celebrations

This is what I find most mornings.  I photographed these this morning, before I touched them.  How clever of my Chickie Wicks to lay them all neatly in a row, waiting for me to collect.  Good, clever girls.
My daffodils are multiplying in the Spring sunshine in spite of all the danger, as they are under almost constant attack from a child, a dog or chickens. The backdoor has been open all day and the dog has been snoozing in the garden for the first time in months.  My parents popped down as my Dad wanted some of my Raspberry canes to transplant, today was a good day for pottering in the garden.  The chickens enjoyed dust baths in the raised beds nearly burying themselves in the soil and flapping madly.  They better make the most of those raised bed dust baths because I have been on Ebay looking for 'vegetable protection solutions'.  My other half constructed a pretty serious looking fence last week straight across the middle of the garden.  To say he was a little miffed about all the Crappity Crap the chickens create would be an understatement!  It is starting to look like Alcatraz out there!  Now I just have to solve the problem of their wanton vandalism of the vegetable beds.  My chickens are keen gardeners, a bit too keen.  I can forgive them as their eggs are delicious, not to mention they are clucking cute!
   For lunch we celebrated 'National Chip Week' in style.
You really can't beat homemade chips with a fried egg.  I was going to use a Parsley garnish for the purpose of the 'Egg and Chips' photo shoot but I didn't want to 'over egg my pudding' and the chickens have had all the parsley anyway!
I am also working on another small crochet project, in among the madness.  It should be ready for revealing soon, today or tomorrow.  The problem with my Granny Square/ Granny Stripe addiction is there are a lot of ends to sew in!  I hope you are enjoying a relaxing weekend.  It feels like Sunday to me today, so officially I am having a long weekend as I get to do Sunday all over again tomorrow.  Yippee!  Hoorah for delusion and confusion.

Friday, 24 February 2012

'Cherry Pie' Day Friday and Hooray it is National Chip Week!

This Pie is proof that beauty is skin deep.  It pie may not be the most beautiful of pies on the outside, but, oh my!  On the inside it is full of juicy, cherry lovliness.   Now this is what I am talking about. . . . this is what Pie Day Fridays are made for.
This pie was far far more popular than Pilchard Pie.  Cherry Pie with a bit of Squirty Cream, what more could you ask for?. . . Well yeah . . . ok. . . .  maybe a nice bit of clotted cream, or double cream or ice cream.  The boys deserved a Cherry Pie before they became 'Pie Phobic'.

Shortcrust Pastry
2 jars of Dark Cherries in Syrup (470g jars)
20g of cornflour
30 mls of water
25 g sugar
egg and milk beaten together to glaze the pie.

Strain the syrup from the cherries and place in a pan.  Warm the pan of syrup, until it reaches a slow simmer.  Add the sugar and stir.  Mix the cornflour with the water and add it to the syrup, simmer and stir for a couple of minutes until the syrup has thickened.  Gently stir the cherries into the syrup and let it cool.  Line your pie dish with pastry.  Put the cherries in the pie and top with a pastry lid.  Brush the lid with a mixture of beaten egg and milk.
Bake in a medium to hot oven for 30 - 40 minutes until the pie is golden brown and shouting 'Eat Me!' when you look at it!

Your comments on yesterdays post made me laugh, yep I was/ am happy, sunshine and Spring flowers are meant to do that!  I also discovered wisdom in my Doormat. . . . If you are going to be a doormat . . . there is nothing to stop you being a glam, happy doormat.  Hoorah for doormats everywhere.  Love your doormat today!  I think National Doormat Day would be good, the one day where you pay homage to trusty old doormats, a bit like 'Mothers Day'.  Talking of National day got even happier when I discovered Here at Lavender and Lovage it is National Chip Week!  Blimey life is so bright you gotta wear shades!  Pancake day and National Chip Week in the same week.  If National Chip Week has passed you by so far, the great news is you still have time to catch up.  Chips chips chips!  Eat as many as you can!  Chip Butty for lunch and Egg and chips for tea!  Now that is fine dining!   Pop over to Lavender and Lovage for fascinating chip facts and a new spin on the humble chip 'Crispy Squashed Chips'  I am definitely crisping and squashing my chips from now on.
Happy Pie Day Friday Folks. . . hope you are all having a good one.  X 

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Welcome Home

Look at my lovely new Door Mat.  It is the best door mat I have ever seen.  Most 'doormats' are just taken for granted, walked all over and nobody pays any attention to them.  Nobody could overlook this doormat, she is almost too good to step on.  I think I will find it painful if people wipe their feet on her.  I will need a doormat before we get to 'The Doormat'.  Yep I like my new doormat.  Every time I come home I think she is going to make me smile.
I couldn't resist a lovely new cushion also.  What a cushion.  Just what I needed, I am sure I will find it is just what I needed.  I am not usually patriotic, but this country is celebrating this year so the Union Jacks are creeping in through my front door, albeit non traditional Union Jacks.  Our Union Jack really would look better in shades of pink!  Red, white and blue is soooo yesterday!  You gotta have a love heart bang in the middle too.  Her Majesty should really think about moving with the times and having a change...the future is not orange, it is pink with love hearts!

Today there is the warmest sunshine we have had in quite a while.  It has brought out the first blooms in the garden.  You need sunglasses for this photograph, my camera does not seem to like yellow very much.  It does like purple though.
Very pretty.  A post Winter tonic, surely Spring has sprung?   Before I leave you to continue with the Spring Cleaning, here is a little Spring ditty to end with....
Spring has sprung,
The Grass has riz,
I wonder where
Them birdies is? 

There seem to be a few versions of this little poem around and it's origins are debated.  

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Question - Do Chickens like Pancake Day?

You bet they do!
Euan learnt a lesson in self moderation, I hope.  After eight pancakes he waddled away from the table.  Henry learnt his lesson last year he ate just four pancakes this year.
We ate our Pancakes the traditional way, with sugar and lemon juice.  (The chickens had theirs plain).
The Pancakes were rolled up like fat cigars.

I have never given up anything for Lent.  This year I think we may give up Pancakes.  

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Purple Haze 'Mini Granny Square Scarf' - 'Tah Dah'

Yeah!  Finally, 'Purple Haze' Scarf 'Tah Dah'!  
I had a willing model to demonstrate the versatility of the scarf and to demonstrate some of the ways it can be worn.  I was going to model myself but the photographer repeatedly managed to take shots of me looking exasperated and he did not manage to capture my natural radiance and beauty!
He found it some what incredulous I wanted to take more than one photograph.
By style three we were getting a rather forced smile, well it could be termed more of a grimace really!
This was the final shot of the photo shoot and it is clear the model has that far away look and has drifted off.  Nice pose though.  I like the Italian Widow look, this scarf is long enough to keep my head, ears and neck warm.
78 Mini Granny Squares of Purpleness.   468 ends to sew in of Purpleness!  I have worked on it in the car, on a train, in waiting rooms...what am I going to do without all this purpleness in my life...certainly not a bed spread.  (Ah I know I have a little bit of Alpaca to spin!)  The journey all started here 'Purple Haze Crochet Craze'  in Glastonbury High Street with a chance viewing of an 'On Sale' scarf in a shop window.
I can't tell you how many times I thought 'Why didn't I just buy that scarf?'
Should you wish to replicate my experience the instructions are here:

‘Purple Haze’  Mini Granny Square Scarf
Materials:  Double Knit (worsted weight) Yarn in colours of your own choice
Hook Size:  4.5mm

Abbreviations: (UK Crochet terminology) 
Chain - ch
Double Crochet – dc
Treble Crochet – tr
Single Crochet – sc

For the Mini Granny Squares:  Make 78
For the first round:  Make 6 chain.  Join with a slip stitch.  Ch3, tr2, ch1, tr3, ch1, tr3, ch1 tr3, join the round with a slip stitch and change colour. 
For the second round:  Chain 3, Tr 2,   (Tr3 into the corner space, ch1 tr3).   Repeat twice.  Tr3 into the final corner and join the round with a ss.  Change yarn colour.
Third round:   Chain 3, Tr 2, tr 3 into the ch space of the previous round.  (Tr3 into the corner space, ch1 tr3).   Repeat twice.  Tr3 into the final corner and join the round with a ss.  Fasten off.  Sew in the ends.
To make up:  Sew the squares together into 23 rows of three.
Work two rows of dc around the entire scarf to make a border.  
Apply Fringe:  I used nine tassels along each end. 
(I used a steam iron to block the scarf but as it is acrylic I did not touch the fabric with the iron, I used a steam setting and steamed the scarf about 1cm from the fabric, pulling and stretching it into shape as I did so).

Friday, 17 February 2012

Pie 'In the Sky' Day Friday

There won't be a pie today in this house.  My 'One Woman Decluttering Mission' is to blame.  More of that after the 'Pie' which is actually Quiche.  I made this last week.  It is a very simple and tasty 'Leek Quiche'.  Very few ingredients but a very tasty 'pie'.   Quiche is not appreciated by my brood but it is appreciated by my parents so I had half and they had half.
Leek Quiche:
Shortcrust Pastry Base (blind baked)
1 Leek finely chopped
1 Onion finely chopped
Butter for frying
150g strong Cheddar cheese, grated.
2 eggs (From your bestest Chickie Friends)
100ml milk

Gently fry the onion and leek gently in butter, until they are soft but not coloured.  Spread over the base of the quiche.  Sprinkle with the grated cheese.  Beat the eggs with the milk.  Pour the eggs and milk over the quiche filling.  Cook in a medium/hot oven for 20-30 minutes until it golden brown on top.   Enjoy.

I feel I must take this opportunity to update you with my 'One Woman Mission' to Declutter the house.  It certainly cures your insomnia!  Not that I had insomnia, but I did have to have an early night, which has meant this morning I was awake before the Sun had put his hat on and before the birds!  Yesterday I achieved what I set out to do, declutter my room and make trips to the tip and the Charity Shop.

I made a list using a tally chart of what I manged to declutter.  There were 71 items for the chartity shop.

13 tops/shirts/jumpers
5 T shirts
3 pairs of children's trousers
3 Cardigans
25 books
14 magazines
1 Toiletry set
3 bottles of Body Lotion
2 preschool games
1 video
1 blank audio cassette

71 items to the Charity Shop!  I have a bit of a thing for round today I may look for another 29 things, then that will make a nice round 100.  Which sounds fantastic.  I must have got rid of over 100 items but some of it went to the 'Tip' so sadly destined for landfill.  This included:

Very old clothes
2 Dead Vacuums (It is a long story!)
Old work files
Floppy Disks
A black sack of general junk

I also recycled a big box of paper.  I rediscovered parts of my bedroom carpet!  I have also found some lost treasures, including a favourite crochet hook and bookmark.  I actually found cash!  I also found coupons £15 and saving stamps £30 (of course you have to be disorganised enough in the first place to lose them)!  It was good to be reunited!  It was like finding a fiver in your old coat pocket!  All was going well and I was feeling rather smug.  Euan has been very complementary about my efforts and has been and had another look today and consolidated his praise!  Yes that's right all was going well....  I had three loads of washing to do last night.  I put the first load in my trusty old tumble is older than my oldest son so that makes it about 17 years old...well its given up the ghost!  Hasta la vista Baby!  It will be destined for landfill ASAP!  I did not wish to declutter large electrical appliances!  Today I will have to go and find a new one.  It puts the stoppers on my 'One Woman Mission' to Declutter, it interferes with 'Pie Making' and it makes a mockery of delusions of imminent 'Tah Dah!' crochet moments.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Five of My favourite Blogs Today

I need to say a big than you to Jude over at A Trifle Rushed because I won a prize.  I won this great book in Jude's Give Away.  I love a Trifle Rushed there are great recipes, cooking tips and ideas.  How exciting is it to win a prize?  It really did cheer me up when this arrived in the post.  I have never won a Blog Give Away, but now I have.  I am hoping to be creating professional looking iced biscuits sometime in the near future.

Kanelstrand - Declutter Your Life  I spotted this article this morning, after yesterday's efforts.  It is a very useful article if you are on a one woman mission to declutter.  It has motivated me to keep going today.

The Zero Waste Home Someone was kind enough to e-mail me a link to this website.  Click on the 'About' section, scroll down a little and watch the short but very inspirational video.  This is fascinating.  Never mind decluttering, this opened up a whole new world to me.  Zero waste is 'Food for thought' indeed.  It seems unobtainable to be but there are some fantastic ideas to work towards.

Simply Life is having a 'Give Away'.  Many of you have said you find spinning fascinating, well here is your chance to win a little starter kit of a Spindle and Fibre.  I think Claire is being very generous here and it is a great prize for spinners and non spinners alike.  Do pop over and have a look.  Good Luck!

Running Away - I'll Help You Pack Finally on this blog this morning is just a great story regarding Universal Law.  Dreams can come true.   A very quick uplifting read.  It made me feel happy anyway.

Now I am off to continue my mission to declutter.  I intend to count the items I am getting rid of today.  I am hoping it will involve a trip to both the Charity shop and the town's local tip.  Which will all result in more space for fibre   good, clean, simple living!  Yippeee, how exciting.  It is going to go something like...half an hour and a cup of tea....half an hour and a cup of tea....half an hour and a cup of tea.
         I am so close to a fantabulous Crochet Tah Dah moment, but working on it is going to be reward after decluttering.  It is taking all my willpower as I am not good at delayed gratification.  Hope you are all having a good one.  It is bright and sunny here and all the little birds are busy in the garden.  X 

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Creating A Pretty Crafty Home - Hmmm Not Quite!

I am not sure I am cut out for this Making a Pretty Crafty Home malarky.   This is an after shot!  I am to ashamed to show you any of my before shots of anywhere in this house!  I tidied the whole kitchen this morning for about an hour and a half, which is a housework marathon by my definition.  I went in all the drawers of Crappitty Crap and cleared off nooks and crannies.  The drawers actually open now!  Disgraceful.  I found all sorts of ancient paperwork and dusty stuff!  These little shelves were a disgrace, piled high with junk.  I know they look like they need another de-clutter.  Now the kitchen is the tidiest room in the house I will have to tackle the living room.  I am finding Tina's advice is crucial, to tackle areas in small chunks.  If I look at is as a whole I find it soul destroying and don't do any of it!  I really think I am allergic to housework.   I have been reading lots of articles and find 'Kanelstrand' a really interesting blog.  This article Bliss Through Innermost Simplicity was fascinating, particularly the video link to here to 'Innermost House':
Armed with my black bags, I am on a one woman mission to throw everything away!  Not my yarn, fleece, needles, hooks, spinning wheels or any of my crafting paraphernalia though.  Hmmm come to think of it it may be that creating all the mess.  Surely after all this tidying a girls deserves a bit of Yarn fun!

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Hug in a Mug - Valentine Mug Cosy Free 'Pattern'

Valentines Day is rather like Pilchard Pie in this house!  I am the only one that likes it!  I really like this time of year and it is all about baby lambs and birds with nesting materials in their beaks, Daffodil shoots and Snowdrops.  Soon we will be admiring the Spring Violets and getting busy in the garden again with flowers springing everywhere.  Rule number one regarding Valentines Day or any other day for that matter, is 'You have to love yourself'.  So if you don't have anyone to make this 'Mug Cosy' for, make it for yourself, you know you want one.  They take little over an hour to rustle up and are very easy.  They certainly add a bit of extra love to your Hot Chocolate.

‘Hug in a Mug’

Materials: Scraps of Double knit Yarn in Chocolate Brown and Red.  Three buttons.
Hook Size:  4.5mm

Chain - ch
Double Crochet – dc
Treble Crochet – tr
Single Crochet – sc

For the Mug Cosy in ‘Chocolate’ coloured yarn.
Make 15 chain.  Turn.  Skip the first stitch work a dc into each ch.  14 dc.  1 ch turn. 
Work 1 dc into the back of each previous dc (14 stitches) 1 ch to turn.
Repeat until your work is long enough to fit around the mug of your choice.
To Make Button Holes:
Work first 2 dc then work 5 ch, skip the next 3 dc and work the next 2dc,  make 5 ch, skip next 2 dc, work the next 2 dc, make 5 ch skip the next 2 dc and work the last 2 dc.  Fasten off.

To make the Heart in Red Yarn:
Ch 5, join them with a slip stitch.
First Round:  Ch 3 then work 10 tr into the circle.
Second Round:  Sl st into the next tr, (1 dc, 2 tr) into the next tr, (2 tr, 1 dc) into the next tr, sl st into the next tr, (1 dc, 2 tr) into next tr, (2 tr, 1 dc) into the next tr, sl st into the next 3 tr.  Fasten off.

Making up:
Sew in all ends.
Sew the three buttons into place.
Sew the heart motif onto the mug cosy.

Copyright: 'In The Sky 1' 2012

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Wild Fibres - From Nettles to Soy Silk

Teresinha with a Flax stook from flax grown on her allotment

Today we went to our monthly meeting at The Birmingham and District Guild of Weaving, Spinning and Dyeing. It was a members morning where we get a chance to work and chat together on our own projects and in the afternoon Teresinha Roberts gave a very interesting, fun and informative talk, Wild Fibres - From Nettles to Soy Silk.  Last year she gave a talk 'Wild Fibres - From Angora to Yak'.
           Teresinha is a very interesting, knowledgeable and enthusiastic speaker, she asks very thought provoking questions and welcomes questions and discussions from her audience.  She also brings masses of samples of plants, fibres, yarn, cordage, knitted and woven samples.  These are passed around the group so you get a tactile, hands on experience with fibres you may not ordinarily come across.  Teresinha's enthusiasm is quite infectious as she talks about her trials and tribulations with growing her own plants for fibre and dye and preparing them.  Today was the first time I have handled flax, cotton, bamboo, corn fibre, soy silk and others.  I felt like I learnt a lot in a really great multi-sensory way.  I am interested in the concept of preparing plant fibres and have read a little about nettles for fibre.  The closest I have got to spinning with nettles is Raime Beaded Yarn Here.  Raime is native to Asia and is a close relative of the 'common' Stinging Nettle'.  Raime has been grown for at least 6000 years as a fibre plant and it is one of the 'bast' fibres, in that the fibre is made from the inner bark of the plant.
This is my Raime Fibre which is lustrous and lovely.  The Fibre is naturally white and therefore does not need to be bleached.  I spun it into a sample of beaded yarn here:

I love the look of bamboo fibre and yarn, but not the texture.  A fibre I would be interested in experimenting with in the future is Soy Silk.  I did not take a notebook with me today and really should have done because I have a head like a sieve where facts and figures are concerned.  We discussed the different properties of fibres for example 'Coconut fibre is one of the few fibres that does not corrode in salt water, therefore it is excellent for rope on boats, Kapok, floats and is very useful in life jackets but can be dangerous to transport as it burns very easily.  40kg of Nettles would yield enough fibres to make one shirt!  That is a lot of nettles.  Teresinha grows her own flax on her allotment as well as many natural dye plants and has also managed to grow her own cotton plant in her conservatory.  I would love to grow a cotton plant just to see how he works.  I would be delighted when the seed pod popped open to show cotton wool.  I do not really have any suitable hot spots in my house though.
           It was a very enjoyable day.  I managed to get some more spinning done.  I spared everyone the 'Dirty Alpaca' that is on my Ashford Kiwi wheel.  I took my Ashford Joy, this wheel folds up and is designed to be portable.  I love my 'Kiwi' so much I tend to neglect the 'Joy'.  I look at her sitting all lonely in the corner and think I should really find her a more loving home.   Today we bonded a bit more though and I don't think I would like to part with her.  The Kiwi is a little 'work horse' that doesn't mind getting dirty with Alpaca, I don't think the Joy would appreciate me getting her all dirty.
I am sure it is just a case of getting used to using it.  It is quite different to spinning on the Kiwi.  The Kiwi is double treadle that I can control with just my feet and the joy is single treadle.  The Joy also has more ratios (but they are a bit like gears on a bicycle I don't quite understand them).  I am trying to finish odd projects and bits and bobs I have lying around, (hmmm, that may take me a while).  Today I did manage to finish spinning some fibre that the lady I bought the Joy from kindly gave me.  I also Navajo Plied on the Joy for the first time, it felt rather clumsy and I ended up with a skein of considerably over spun yarn.
I can only identify the fibre as wool and silk, I have no idea what sort of wool it is though, I do quite a lot of 'mystery' spinning.  Half of the skein is thick and over spun, the other half is not too bad at all.
My Mother has a gift for saying encouraging things to me, as only a Mother can when they can see disappointment or discouragement.  When I said 'Oh look at that, it's all lumpy and over spun!  What can I use that for now?  Nothing!'  She replied 'That is fine, it is very nice, it would make a nice stripe on a hat!'  So before anyone asks me what I will be making with it, it is going to be a nice stripe on a hat! 

Friday, 10 February 2012

Pie Day Friday - Another Under Rated Pie To Try

"QUALITY CANNED FISH FOR OVER 50 YEARS. CONTAINS OMEGA 3. GLENRYCK PILCHARDS are of the finest quality and freshly caught from the ocean for canning. "In value for money, GLENRYCK PILCHARDS provide more first-class protein than does beef steak." GLENRYCK PILCHARDS contains more calcium than cow's milk. A serving of GLENRYCK PILCHARDS can provide 33% of the "Recommended Daily Intake". (One can contains four servings). "Omega-3 fatty acids naturally found in GLENRYCK Pilchards add to the dietary value of a good, hearty meal". Allergy Advice Free From Additives, Free From Artificial Preservatives Ingredients South Atlantic Pilchards (64%), Tomato juice from concentrate (34.7%), Salt, Modified Maize Starch, Thickener - Guar Gum, Spices" 
(Taken from the Information on the can).

Sounds like good stuff to me.  Not to anyone else in the house though.  I am continuing with my plight to work my way through our 'Store Cupboards' and the Freezer.  If I get on my hands and knees and feel about in the back of the cupboard, I am coming across all sorts of things like these Pilchards.  It is a shame to throw food away if it is edible.  As a child I can remember eating Pilchard Sandwiches, Pilchard and Tomato Sandwiches, Pilchards on Toast and once a delicious Pilchard Pie made by my Uncle.  Uncle Keith whose name was Dave was my dads older brother.  There was a lot of that in those days wasn't there?  Jack who was Reginald, Nancy who was Kathleen, Bill who was James, I have never really understood how that happens.  Uncle Keith went back to being called Dave after about thirty years, but I never got the hang of it, he was always Uncle Keith to me.  He sticks out in my memory for many things, he was an ex Paratrooper and suffered with a very bad back.  He told me 'You are not safe unless your feet are on the ground!'  That makes perfect sense to me.   He had four children and I think home cooked nutritious meals that did not break the bank were crucial to many families.  I can remember a very tasty Pilchard Pie that he bought to our house for my Dad.  Pilchards seem like a 'super' food to me if you read their nutritional resume.  My sons would rather go hungry than eat a pilchard though!  Not for all the tea in China would they eat a Pilchard.  I am on my own again with this Pie.  I am really getting the hang of this 'Pie Making' lark and can rustle one up in about ten minutes, I used to think pies were tricky but like anything the more you make them the easier it gets.

2 x 150g Cans of Pilchards in Tomato Sauce
1 tablespoon of Olive Oil
1 Large Onion Peeled and finely chopped
1 small yellow pepper finely diced
1 small red pepper finely diced
1 small green pepper finely diced
1 tablespoon of tomato ketchup
A Jolly good squeeze of lemon juice
Salt and pepper

Line a pie dish with shortcrust pastry and roll out the top of the pie crust.
Fry the vegetables in olive oil until they are tender.  Mix all the ingredients together well and season well to taste.
Put the pie filling in to the pie and place the pastry lid on.  I liked decorating the top of my pie with two little smiley fish, with little swishy tails and scales and everything!  Ok I had a bit too much fun making little fishies to decorate the pie.

Bake in a medium to hot oven until it is golden.
Serving suggestions:
This pie is tasty hot served with New potatoes and green vegetables such as peas or beans or it is also delicious served cold with a salad.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

A Very Chilly Bedtime For Chickens

The garden looks very uninviting, the snow from five days ago is all dirty and icy.  More snow has been predicted and tonight we have had frozen rain which crackles as it falls.  When the light gets to this stage in the evening, three chicken girls waddle their way reluctantly to bed.  Kids do not like bedtime and neither do chickens.  They have supper each night, if they eat before bed it is supposed to keep them warmer for the night.  Tonight they had a can of sweetcorn.  They also like 'Chicken Candy':
Mixed Corn
Tonight I thought I would photograph their bedroom for you.
These are not supposed to be their bedroom, these are the nest boxes.  I have naughty chickens and they do not all roost on their perches, they use one nest box for laying, always the box on the right and they like to sleep in the other nest box.  If more than one chicken needs the nest box at any one time they form an orderly queue rather than lay in the left nest box.  I think it is very cute if they are running around the garden and one  needs to lay they will run back to the nest box.  It is very convenient for me as I do not have to hunt for eggs. They keep the laying side very clean.  Even at this very cold, dark time of year they are still laying one egg each a day.  I expected them to stop for the winter, I think maybe next year they will stop, because it is their first year and they are young and fit they have just kept going this year.  We love our eggs.  I don't usually pack the nests with so much straw but it adds insulation for the below zero nights.  Chickens can cope with the cold as long as there sleep area is dry.  Damp is more harmful to chickens than cold.  I use a thick layer of eco-friendly, wood pellet Cat litter to line the indoor part of their coop.  It is highly absorbent and goes in the compost bins when it is spent.  Organic Chicken Poo is sold by the 5kg and is very expensive at our local, upmarket Garden Centre as it is excellent fertiliser.  I point this out to my other half when he moans about the Crapitty Crap everywhere!
When you have more than one chicken you have a pecking order.  Poppy is the top of the pecking order with my trio.  I am lucky they are all sweet natured but Poppy is definitely the boss.  She was the first to come and see what I was messing about at.
Poppy is closely followed everywhere by Daisy.  These two spend nearly all of their time together and they they like to sleep huddled together.
Finally Rosie wonders where the other two have gone and comes to investigate.  Rosie is like Winnie The Pooh, the bear with very little brain, she acts daft and is the bottom of the pecking order but I think she is actually the cleverest in her own way.  She quite literally thinks outside of the box.  She seems more interested in people than chickens.  She doesn't seem to mind sleeping by herself and I have checked when it is very cold all three sleep together.  

It all gets quite cosy at bedtime in the coop.  There is no light in there the light is from the flash of my camera.  I can tell the chickens apart easily by the coloured rings on their legs.  You can see in this photograph Daisy's Nictitating Membrane, chickens have three eyelids on each eye, the Nictitating membrane is translucent and can be drawn across they eye for protection without the chicken losing vision.  Chickens are very vocal, I don't mean noisy, I mean they chat a lot and use a wide range of vocalisations.  They were very intrigued with my camera at their bedtime and had a little sing about it.  I shut them in at night and there is usually a fair bit of shuffling going on before they settle for the night.  I have seen a fox pass by my house a couple of times in the last month or two so I like to make sure they are safely tucked up and locked in for the night.  I am always pleased to see them in the morning and they are always pleased to see me ( or breakfast). I open their door and they nearly fall over each other tumbling out in such a hurry.  They get their breakfast before the rest of us.  If it is cold they like a bit of warm porridge for brekkie, nice life if you can get it!