Snapshot

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Wondering: who buys these blue flowers?! I posted this on IG and one commenter summed the artificiality of them up perfectly in one word “Bonkers.” Indeed.

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Making: fast progress on my ripple. It’s a Christmas present and so is the motif William Morris inspired blanket. It’s full steam ahead with the hook. I’m enjoying the 1,2,3,4, 2, 2 rhythm and it doesn’t feel like a task in the slightest.

Funnily, after cancelling my sub to Simply Crochet, and not buying a few issues, I now find I’m downloading the digital copies. It’s excellent because I no longer have hundreds of post-its poking out so I can go back and look up websites and blogs; you just touch the active link and it takes you to the page. I have a too good to refuse digital sub for Inside Crochet magazine too. The patterns in the brand new issue of SC seem of a good quality. There are lots of pretty clothing and useful patterns. The skill level for many patterns has increased which is good for those who’ve been buying it since the beginning and are now crocheting at a higher level. BUT I’m not making anymore bobble mitts or shawls until the blankets are done. Famous last words?

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Looking: at my bags of woolly wotsits stowed away at the end of my sofa, they’re a pretty nice sight.

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Deciding: to save my yarn ends as I snip them after darning as I’ve seen some great ideas to do with them such as: gluing them over a mould and making a bowl, tying them together to make a scrappy yarn ball or putting them out in the spring for bird nest building. I’m not completely convinced at the wisdom of lots of acrylic floating around outside as I don’t know how degradable it would be, but brightly weaved nests creates a pretty mental image. It’s going to take me a while to gather a jarful anyway.

Feeling: happy that my car has been double checked at the beginning and end of the week, as the brakes suddenly felt very, very odd one rainy dark night when I was driving home from evening class. Stomach lurching is the best term. They feel fine again so hopefully the blip has been sorted.

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Anticipating: Saturday or Sunday brunch; an egg and bacon bap. It’s a dynamic eating experience. You have to be prepared for total yolk explosion, but that’s what the last bit of bap is for – mopping the plate! (Do the no-no etiquette thing and tuck your napkin into your top!)

Reading: Killing Floor by Lee Child. What can I say? Lee Child was on the book club on Simon Mayo’s Radio 2 show talking about his 19th Jack Reacher novel. I wondered what they were like as many people must be buying them if he’s onto the 19th. I downloaded the sample of the first book and as they cannily do it stops in a really gripping paragraph. Of course I bought the rest of the book and was hooked. Child writes in staccato sentences, there is rarely a comma which adds to the power and pace of the writing. Reacher’s just graphically killed 4 or 5 crims in one evening, and he’s a ‘good guy’, so it’s not writing for the faint-hearted. I might just have to look out for the second in the series sometime.

Listening: to a new audio book, Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler. It’s very early days but it’s good. The narrator’s American accent more than suits too!

Hoping: to meet up with a crochet peep, or two, in the next month. After being in contact through social media for ages it’s time to have a coffee, cake and craft together in real life. Weeeeee!

Baking: cheese scones are planned for the weekend. I write a pledge card each birthday listing a number of things I will bake or cook for Someone, some are specified like cheese scones, others are named recipe books from which I will make a certain number of dishes. It generally takes a year to the next birthday to cook everything on the card as I just do one occasionally as the mood takes. I’ve found the card is filled in with the chosen recipes and page numbers pretty quickly, then it’s popped under a magnet on the front of the fridge. It’s a fun birthday present, and I find it encourages me to use new or neglected cookery books. I also get to eat the dishes too. Win, win. I drew the line at saffron fish balls though last year.

What are you up to? Link to your snapshot post in the comments below if you’re inspired to write one, I enjoy reading them.

Cosy crocheting

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Because I’m fed up of having a really fluffy patch of carpet near my sofa I’ve come up with a cunning plan and fetched something from the kitchen for my ball of yarn. It’s a very stylish yarn bowl, don’t you agree? It’s working well and actually the ball unravels with ease, without constant tugging.

I shall have to get back on to my very good bloggy friend Trish of Made By Patch and see if her father is going to make me a super wooden yarn bowl like he made her. You’d think a lottery winner could buy anything she wanted wouldn’t you?
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So, I finished Brian the v stitch scarf / cowl the other day (I had just 7″ left to do in the top pic) and decided to continue something which would keep me as toasty as possible while I hooked. As I sit writing this in the gloom, at 430pm, I realise that it’s never really become light today, it’s Britain’s infamous iron sky.
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Still, there was porridge for breakfast, homemade butternut and sweet potato soup with crispy bacon pieces sprinkled on top. I may push the boat out and have a low cal chocolate coconut drink next. Comfort food and drinks along with cosy crochet are the benefits of autumn.

Are you warm or chilly? What is keeping you cosy?

I won £25 on the lottery Saturday night. Woo hoo!

CROCHET

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Lately I’ve been whipping up dishcloths. I’ve tried a few different, slightly fancier, versions in the past but apparently the plain and simple trebles give good scrub-ability! I’ve been knitting or crocheting dishcloths for several years now as they’re very popular with a few relatives. One boils hers every week and so it’s been a stringent test of my darning! (Passed. Gold star.)

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I’m trying to get on with the motif blanket now. I’ve crocheted one motif in about four weeks so have to really get cracking ….tra la la la la, la la la la and all that….

I’ve darned as I’ve gone lately, but as you see some of the motifs I began with are not yet; so the middles are a bit pulled out, they’ll be nice and tightly uniform at the end.

Are you crocheting at the mo?

Brian – V Stitch Scarf / Cowl

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A couple of people have asked me what I’m crocheting at the moment. I should be concentrating on my motif blanket, and ripple, but I’m really enjoying simple crochet. I woke yesterday feeling really unwell and today don’t feel much … Continue reading

V Stitch Scarf / Cowl

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I finished this last night, while watching Birdsong. It was such a fast make and if you’re thinking of crocheting a C———- gift for someone this would be perfect, particularly if you’re a last minute crafter. I prefer scarves because … Continue reading

Snowshill Manor & Garden

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Yesterday we had yet another late Summer day; t-shirt, sandals and sitting outside weather. We’ve been really fortunate this week. It seems that oop north the weather is not being so kind. I overheard a couple from Yorkshire saying that … Continue reading

Waterperry Gardens

Although it’s quite a bit cooler now and the nights are drawing in at an alarming rate (curtains closed by 8pm) it still feels like late Summer.
I took a trip, with a friend, to Waterperry Gardens at the beginning of the week. It was lovely and warm outside, so I took a picnic for us to eat at one of the outside tables. I’m glad because car picnics aren’t much fun; tubs slide off the dashboard and you end up doing a balancing act with a plate on your knee!

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The gardens are so well tended it’s a pleasure to wander, or sit, and take in the colour. There is a new ‘Truth Walk’, it would be good to go along the paths when the snowdrops are flowering.

My friend knows many of the staff at Waterperry and we stopped to chat several times. Apparently two of the head gardeners at Sissinghurst, when Vita and Harold established the garden, were trained at Waterperry. I was asked if I’d had noticed any similarities in the designs? You can actually; as I mentioned after my visit to Sissinghurst Vita didn’t wish to see any earth between the plants, the beds were crammed full, this is also striking in the long border at Waterperry.

Have you been on any day trips lately?

Happy weekend all, have a good one.

All at Sea Shawl ….finished

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I’ve really enjoyed crocheting this V stitch shawl, I haven’t felt this keen for a little while. You know that ‘I’ve got to do just one more row before bed’ thing?

The pattern’s by Elisabeth Davis de Herraiz and is in issue 22 of Simply Crochet.

I used Lang’s Tosca Light DK with a 4mm hook instead of the lace weight merino used in the mag. You could make a really chunky version too. That might be really snugly for freezing winter mornings, or maybe nights on the sofa when you feel a draft on your neck or shoulders?

My shawl is larger as I wanted it to be big enough to wear around your shoulders, granny/hippy style or like a scarf with the triangle part to the front and the long ends wrapped around the back of the neck. So for R50 I just repeated from R14 onwards until I ran out of yarn after R37 which was clusters. Boo! This was annoying with only 11 more to go to complete my repeat of R14 -49, but I quite like the frilled top edge so I fastened off, darned the few ends and it was over.

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Look at what I noticed as I was unhooking the shawl from a tree…..

And last night on a very old episode of Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads….

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It doesn’t look Grannyish or exactly Hippyish, but I won’t be going out in a maxi dress and big cream shawl anytime soon!

Harvest Festival

I’ve had my own harvest festival this weekend; as I’d been offered the chance to help myself to anything in a relative’s garden while she’s away. Woo hoo!

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I thought it was silly to bring the beetroot and carrot tops home with me, so cut them off and went across to the compost bins in her garden. One lid I couldn’t pull off, so I decided to try the other, quite forcefully yanking it off. A tangle of worms flew off the bin lid, scattering onto the outside of the bin, sliding down my jeans and onto my boot. Knowing my pro gardening relly these worms will have been flown in for their special composting services – so I’m there with a large crinkly leaf scooping them up and putting them back into the composter. Argh! I did take a quick photo of some, but it’s rather blurry as they are pretty fast wrigglers and I didn’t want them to get away.
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After that mini episode of The Great Escape I took a bit of time out to stare at the flowers.

I can’t describe the sweetness of the crisp carrots, we munched a couple raw and had a few cooked for dinner. It’s like having your own kitchen garden just ten minutes away! I hope she goes away again next summer, just when the vegetables are ripe for the picking.
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The tomatoes and peppers are my own. The yellow tomatoes are stacked up like a pyramid now as I gathered more this morning, ready for using. The bowlfuls around the house are multiplying as I’m picking more every day. Even I’m surprised to find a pyrex dish full of them on the windowsill in The Little Room when I draw the curtains! It’s a good job we love them isn’t it?
I cooked a couple of the green peppers and made Balsamic Chicken, one of my favourite easy peasy recipes, last night. We tried a slice of raw pepper first, just to taste it. I’ve grown chilli peppers several times, but not pepper peppers (capsicum.) Tonight we’re having a yellow tomato greek salad, pitta, taramasalata and other delights as we’ve had a return to summer today. I’m really enjoying thinking of tomato based meals to enjoy, it’s so much more satisfying to use homegrown. It will be salmon with cherry tomatoes and couscous tomorrow and Nigella’s tomato curry with coconut rice from Kitchen later in the week. Mmmmmmm.
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Are you having your own harvest festival, or heading into Spring and dreaming of all that to come?

Nine Random Things

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I stopped my subscription to Simply Crochet a few months ago because I was a bit bored, I reckon it’s stuck in a bit of a rut. When they asked readers to complete a questionnaire some months ago I requested more garment patterns. I know I’m not alone in feeling fed up of patterns for small items you don’t want or need. However ( a little positivity coming up now!) I really fancied crocheting the scarf pattern I’d seen Heather of The Patchwork Heart posting pics of on IG. So I picked up a copy last week, there was the added temptation of pretty pins too…but oh! They are mostly rusty – albeit silver coloured rust, not rust coloured, but it’s rust all the same. I can’t use them at all. Boo!
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Ooh now this is a good magazine related bit of news – I’ve been given a year’s subscription to this beauty. I’ll turn into a green eyed monster at times (beautiful homes and expensive lovelies to buy) I know, but I am very pleased.
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This is my catch up reading pile. I asked for my birthday subscription not to be continued for a third year to Mollie Makes, again it’s feeling in a bit of a rut. I really can’t face yet more patterns for felt animals and the target audience feels like it’s for young twenty somethings. That’s fair play especially if it’s encouraging them to develop or learn some crafty skills; I just realised that I hadn’t used any of the mini packs, let alone made any items from the magazine for ages and ages.
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Just because I saw this in a gift shop in Broadway, in the Cotswolds, and it made me smile. It’s one of those things you’d love to say when someone’s being all one-sided me-me-me.
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While I was wondering around Broadway I kept hearing yelping and barking. I ducked down an alley to pop into the Sue Ryder charity shop and saw two pens of hounds. They must belong to the local hunt. I’m a baby where dogs en masse are concerned so this is as close I got.
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I’ve seen these chargers in airports etc before, but how handy to find one in John Lewis (High Wycombe) for free charging.
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My friend gave me a bumper lot of thoughtful presents including this lovely tin. It’s my new things crochet tin as the other was bulging at the seams, especially with a new bigger notebook. Isn’t it similar in design to the Cath Kidson tape measure and needle book? It’s such a good match and right up my street.
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Warning. Warning. Tomato talk incoming! I’m still cooking with my home-gown tomatoes, this time it’s a bacon and olive sauce. Yum. I usually halve the olives but this time left them whole. The house is full of bowlfuls in various stages of ripeness. I never imagined eight plants could produce so much fruit (or did QI state they are wrongly regarded as fruit, when in fact they are the vegetable we all grew up believing them to be? Or have I dreamt that?!)
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I’ve been wincing at sightings of the C word; usually in relation to crafting for ………… but look at what fell out of the new issue of Country Living. With the change of weather and the end of the summer holidays looming it doesn’t feel too early to contemplate booking tickets. Are you going?

What have you been up to lately?

Did you see the ice cream debacle on The Great British Bake Off last night?

In my next post I’ll show you the shawl I’ve been crocheting from the current Simply Crochet. It’s sweet, though I do have a shawl related question: there are so many patterns for them at the moment, they seem to be on trend but……have you actually seen anyone wearing one out? Anyone?

Roasted tomato & garlic summer soup

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I’m happy to class myself as a tomato bore at the moment! I don’t mind if you’re thinking it…

There are various bowls around the kitchen full of ripe and ready to eat tomatoes, alongside those still ripening. It’s fun deciding what to eat them with. We had bacon and vegetable risotto with roasted tomatoes (simply cooked in the oven with a drizzle of olive oil, nothing else, they are so sweet) last night.

When I got up this morning I really fancied making a light summer soup for lunch. The temperature has dropped by about 10 degrees in the last few weeks, instead of a blissful 28 0c it’s now 17/18 0c at best and feels so cold!
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There are many versions of this soup floating around the net and I’ve made own version; using homemade garlic oil. I always have some on hand for when I’m feeling lazy and use it instead of fresh garlic, or if in this case, I want an extra garlicky kick to a dish. It’s easy: just add 3-4 peeled and halved garlic cloves into a glass jar or small bottle of olive oil and leave to steep for a few days. When it’s all used up I throw away the garlic, wash the bottle and begin again with fresh.

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I love all the bright colours. Don’t worry about the amount of garlic in the recipe, when it’s roasted garlic loses it’s stinkiness and just becomes rich and sweet in flavour. I’ve just opened the door for a delivery and the guy didn’t recoil when I breathed over him to sign for the box!

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While the vegetables roasted I hung out a basket of washing, a lot of looking at the sky, muttering and toe crossing went on. So far it hasn’t rained…

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The tray of charred vegetables might not look like much, but they smelt delicious. Ok, so this next bit might not seem a good advertisement; but if you do have a smoke alarm I’d recommend keeping the kitchen door closed while you’re roasting the vegetables. That’s a little tip I’ve learnt when I make my roasted butternut soup in the winter time!

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Make sure you scrape the roasting tray out well;  you want to use every bit of caramelized vegetable that you can, to give the soup as much flavour as possible.

The black specks you see in the soup is ground black pepper.

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Yum, yum in my tum.

Roasted tomato & garlic summer soup

1 tbsp (garlic) olive oil
500g ripe tomatoes, quartered
2 large red onions, peeled and cut into wedges
1 bulb of garlic, divided into peeled cloves
1 red pepper (or 1/2 a red & 1/2 a yellow pepper) deseeded and quartered
600ml / 1 pint hot vegetable stock
3/4 – 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3/4 – 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Salt & pepper
Fresh basil leaves to garnish

Preheat oven to 220 0c/400 of/ gas mark 7

::Put the vegetables into a large roasting pan, drizzle with the olive oil and season
::Roast for about 45 mins until the edges are charred. I gently turn them all over after 15 and then 30 minutes. The house fills with a delicious smell.
::Remove the tray from the oven and leave the vegetables to cool
:: Whizz the roasted vegetables with the balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire sauce (add quantity to taste, I’d recommend 3/4 tbsp of each) and stock in a food processor or a liquidizer
:: Put the soup through a sieve to remove tomato skins, easing the last of the liquid through by rubbing the vegetable skins etc with the back of a ladle
:: Reheat, scatter with torn basil leaves to serve

If it’s tropical where you are (lucky things!) you can serve this summer soup well chilled with a few ice cubes in the soup.

Serves 4

Enjoy!

Designer Yarn Play

Near the end of May I received an email from Black Sheep Wools asking if I would like to review some new designer yarn. Well of course the answer was yes! Who isn’t going to want to try brand new designer yarn, for free? Then I was told I’d need to complete a non-disclosure agreement, I was not to tell anyone about the yarn or even that I was to be doing a review. How secret squirrel was that?! I’ve been sent yarn and other products before from various companies and have never seen a disclosure form. I admit that I felt quite excited and started to look around for crochet patterns; this would be the time to start on my first crochet garment, no more blankets, hats or scarves for me, this was obviously going to be a lovely big bale of yarn, suitable for a cardie, jumper or huge wrap, otherwise why all the secrecy and legally binding paperwork?

At the beginning of June a little parcel was popped through my letterbox, just as I was heading out. Oh…
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I’d obviously been very convinced and convincing about the quantity of yarn due to arrive, as Someone said “Is that it?!” “Mmmmm, yes it seems to be.”

Shortly after that an email came full of guidelines for the blog post; must be no shorter than xxx words, must contain no more than 4 links to the website, but should include one to x and x and x, the review must contain both positives and negatives, though obviously more positives than negatives, an original design could be submitted to the company website and would be appreciated, along with the blog post etc, etc, etc…

I may be about to fail short of some of these guidelines but this is my space, I have used the yarn and will tell you as many details about it as I can, given the quantity. The moral of the story is that sometimes bloggers get free things to play and have fun with, other times freebies come with expectations. Be prepared. But Black Sheep Wools seem like a good company and obviously have very discerning tastes in craft bloggers (the need for a winking smiley feels strong here, but I will not break my no emoticons in a post rule) also I can’t imagine ever writing a ‘review’ which wasn’t honest. If you want an honest opinion I’m your girl.

I’ve never used any Louisa Harding yarns before so this was a new experience.

Here goes…

Yarn details:

Louisa Harding – Esquel
60% merino, 20% llama, 20% silk
50g ball, 106 yards (97 mts)
Suggested neeedles: US 8 (5mm)
Suggested tension 18 sts x 24 rows

This lovely yarn feels quite soft but also due to its thickness of the strand (and the silk?) it’s strong. The band doesn’t say, but I think it’s aran as it needs 5mm needles and is thicker than other designer DK yarns I’ve used. I decided to make more fingerless mitts as it seemed just the right amount of yarn for a pair. I’m going to give these away as a present.

I used much smaller needles than the recommended 5mm, but the resulting fabric is thick and makes warm mitts.

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Although it’s really annoying it seems that it’s sometimes inevitable that wool yarns have knots in them. This is one disadvantage to using woolen blends, unlike acrylics which rarely have this problem, but most synthetic fibres do not have the quality feel of yarn like this. Unlike a ball of baby cashermino I once used which once had 4 or 5 knots in one 50g ball, this ball of Esquel had only the one. I decided to cut the yarn and start the cuff again, the fewer darned ends in a pair of mitts which will see plenty of wear and tear, the better.

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Lots of gratuitous tomato pics today I’m afraid, in my search for better light they seemed as good a backdrop as any. It’s great to come home after a hol to 8 plants groaning with ripe and nearly ripe red and yellows! Sorry – back to the yarn…

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I would recommend Esquel, because it comes in such lovely colours, the feel of the knitted material is fairly soft and also seems as if it will be hard-wearing and warm. I bet a knitted, or crocheted, jumper would be super toasty in the winter.

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If you’d like to check out Louisa Harding’s Esquel in Black Sheep Wool’s online yarn shop it’s currently £5.35 a ball.
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As I photographed the mitts outside on my emergency-stepladder-storm-resistant-stand-up-tomato-plants-please-don’t-fall-over-device look at what I saw…I’ve grown a rabbit!

Here endeth the review. A Manhattan is waiting for me on the other side. Happy cocktail hour weekend everyone!

Whitstable

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Old Neptune, Whitstable

Another week away, it’s not a proper Summer holiday if it doesn’t include the sea.

Yes, lots of pictures of dead fish but aren’t they great to look at? All shiny fresh and ready to make delicious meals. I’ve included the price board in the fish market because someone will find it interesting. I occasionally write down prices in my diary, knowing I’ll be comparing then and now, fascinated in the future.

I have to capture the colours of the fishing boats in the harbour, the blue sky and the fluffy white clouds. I love staring too, drinking in all the colour and movement. The fishing boats draw a crowd of onlookers. After elbowing a few children aside and pushing a couple of Grandmas into the water I was able to peer into the boxes stacked with fish, exciting but I really couldn’t tell you exactly what kind.

Lager shandy, chips, a lemon sherbet or rhubarb & custard in the car, miles and miles walked each day, wild plums picked and eaten, trying to spit the stones out as far as possible while walking along a coastal path (but usually just bouncing next to my shoe, useless) intending to buy greengages while they’re in season, but inexplicably not getting around to it, reading The Memory of Lost Senses by Judith Kinghorn and not knowing whether to shout ‘Just get on with the reveal!’ or revel in the slow pace and unfolding of the not-really-a-mystery, navigating old style; leaving the Sat Nav shut away, searching for sea glass treasure; trying not to put my iphone in the same pocket, enjoying the folk music, Morris dancers and the Tap & Sync Appalachian dancers (from Northamptonshire which is surprising somehow) at Broadstairs Folk Festival, losing a pounds-worth of two pence pieces in an arcade, feeling no need to crochet, knit or sew until going into a Margate Vintage shop and seeing someone crocheting behind the counter, then really having that itchy fingers feeling, lingering in shady lanes looking for geocaches and receiving curious glances from dog walkers, laughing at out of context fragments of other people’s conversations, feeling a curious hint of Autumn in the air, noticing darker early evenings, cooler breezes, beginning to anticipate cooking soups, casseroles and Autumn fruit crumbles….

Off to the South coast next, the last seaside trip of the summer.

The next post will contain knitting, and nothing else but knitting. What a treat to see craft on a craft blog!

Summer snapshot

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Eating fresh vegetables from the garden on the same day they’re picked or dug, such a Summer highlight! One day visiting family I came away with peas in their pods, beetroot, potatoes, shallots, carrots, cucumber and courgettes. What a haul.

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Baking lots this Summer; I’ve had a bit of an obsession with muffins. So far I’ve baked citrus muffins, chunky cookie muffins and my favourite: fig and marzipan muffins. Cheese and Marmite scones (see BBC Good Food website for the recipe) my own cheese scone recipe, raspberry and amaretti cake, lemon drizzle cake and my weekly loaves of bread. I usually only bake cakes and other treats when I have guests or an occasion to cook for, otherwise there’s too much naughtiness around, it’s better shared! So far this Summer there have been lunches, teas and picnics. Hurray! I’ve always enjoyed being in the kitchen with the radio on and whipping up a cake etc. It probably stems from a cosy childhood helping to bake cakes and mixing a mug of icing at home when little. We would sometimes mix up three mugs of icing and make ‘traffic light cakes’ – pale green, red or yellow icing to top fairy cakes.
The cream tea was my favourite of all the recent occasions. It included a discussion of whether it should be cream or jam first. Mine is the neater looking scones, cream first, but with the far messier (homemade) jammy plate!

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Nerding and walking a lot; about 26 miles in the last week, some of it Geocaching. I’m not a hardcore cacher and it’s taken me years to reach my very low tally, but when I set out to find some it’s fun. They are all around you did you know? If you didn’t its worth having a look at the official website.

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A few friends and I came across this fine fellow while looking at a lovely Japanese garden, after finding a cache. Aren’t peacocks stunning? Apparently some believe peacock feathers bring very bad luck, refusing to have them on the house. I prefer to see them in situ anyway

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Crocheting rows of the ripple blanket in my friend’s favourite colours. It will be a surprise present at Christmas since I’m also going on with the motifs for the William Morris colours inspired blanket. I’ve put the ripple away in the Little Room as I’ve got to get on with the other. I also have another thing to make nearer the end of the month. I’m partly regretting agreeing to that, but we will see!

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Enjoying The House of Illustration Quentin Blake exhibition. If you’ve read Roald Dahl’s books you’ll recognise some of the illustrations on display. You can also stop and play in the magic fountains of Granary Square, Kings Cross.

Picnicking at Cliveden, a National Trust property which was the former home of the Astor family where I met three other girls. Two of them were my little nieces. They are currently obsessed with doing cartwheels and handstands, so mostly I saw them upside down as they twirled around the gardens, apart from when they were eating lemon drizzle cake and marzipan & fig muffins!

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What are you up to this Summer? Link to your snapshot post below if you fancy sharing.

Al fresco crochet

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It is such beautiful weather here at the moment that it just feels wrong to stay inside.

I started a ripple on Monday night but had to order some yarn before I could continue. Luckily I already had two of the greys I wanted to use as they’re the same I’m using for my other blanket, so at least I could make a start. I actually haven’t touched a hook for weeks; a combination of a sore elbow (acupuncture is really helping) and just wanting a break. It was a refreshing break, but I was absolutely raring to go once my plan was approved at the weekend. I’ve offered a crocheted blanket birthday pressie to a special someone as I’ve had her kind of colours in mind for ages, and fancied crocheting another ripple. I’m a little surprised I’m so keen as I became quite bored by the end of The Rhubarb Ripple. My offer was immediately taken up and so I’ve been happily zipping along the rows today. The motif blanket will wait for a while. This is easier crochet; it’s fast to add new colours and decide which next. I tend to need my leg up to join as you go (do you?! Is this just me?!) so it makes it sofa crochet, not al fresco crochet so much.

Hurrah! My new yarn came this morning! I could hear the rustle of the sack arriving from my spot (reading in the bath, hard work these summer hols.) Deramores have been undercut by Wool Warehouse on Stylecraft Special DK by 30p a ball at the moment. I have to say that as both offer speedy service and free p&p when you spend £25 it wasn’t a tricky decision to use WW for this order. 30p less for a ball is 30p saved. Or, spent on more yarn…

The bright pink was always going to be a gamble without actually seeing a ball. It’s not quite right is it? It jars with the scrummy raspberry, the sharp lime green (new colour) and the delicious graphic, silver and grey. The darker shades are midnight blue and emperor penguin purple. Someone suggested I use the bright pink to embroider “Get off, this is Mummy’s!” Ha! I must tell her this when I give the blanket.

My charity shop find basket is perfect for al fresco crochet. It’s very good at standing to attention with the yarn ball in use rolling around on top. I need a yarn bowl really, but it does the job of keeping it off the grass. Can you see I replaced the bag’s sequins? I preferred the scuffed brown originals really I realise, now it’s done. Too late!

What are you crocheting or making? Or are you having a crafty break?

Create Make Bake Nurture Enjoy

This is maybe a bit of a syrupy sweet title but it nicely describes my Summer days at the moment.

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Picking strawberries; Mum on one side of the row, me on the other. Trying to keep up my end of the conversation with strawberry juice running down my chin! Sun warmed, juicy and sweet they were – oh yum.

Three large punnets of raspberries and one of strawberries picked, some very posh meringues bought from the farm shop and then home to my sugar mountain.

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The recipe was from my Good Housekeeping Book of Preserves It’s here in my jam making post from 2012 if you fancy making some too. It’s so easy and pretty fast; my eight pots were full of raspberry jam by 10:30.

Brrrr if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere! It seems to be all about sock knitting, blanket making, log fires and snowfall with some of you this week.

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Homemade breakfast. Yum. There is nothing more satisfying than eating homemade toasted bread and jam. It really gives a glow to know that you’ve created something from scratch; whether it’s food, flowers or craft, doesn’t it?

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I’m doing the sourdough starter thing again, I started this on Monday.

Get a 1 litre kilner jar, or similar, put in 70g strong white bread flour and 70ml water, mix well until there are no lumps. Repeat this feeding process daily for a week. After 3-4 days it should be bubbling nicely. At the end of the week it’s ready to use. It’s as easy as that.

Google sourdough starters at your peril; there are so many sourdough starter nerds and pages of bumpf out there detailing exact temperatures and micrograms of this, that and the other when it’s basically a very simple process that people have been doing for hundreds (thousands?) of years.

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I took these two pics yesterday afternoon, it was doing great. Then late last night I came downstairs to whip the aerial out of the socket, after seeing the sky lighting up with strange horizontal silent lightning, and smelt the starter really strongly. The jar was sat in a puddle of starter, it was seeping out of the closed container like a slow volcano! It was about 28 deg here yesterday, probably hotter in the house, and look how much it grew in a few hours. I must have trapped some super-powerful natural airborne yeast! It’s now in a large mixing bowl…

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My first posy of sweetpeas. I sent Trish a packet of seeds as part of her birthday present in the Spring and we’ve been sharing pics of our first sweetpeas on IG.

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Some Saturday mornings I get up and really feel like baking something. This morning I chose to bake Citrus Muffins from this book. A little like lemon drizzle cake with a zesty lemony syrup drizzled on top when they were hot from the oven. You also put lemon and lime zest in the muffin mixture. I’d double the zest next time to make them even more citrusy.

Have you created, made, nurtured and enjoyed something this week?

Sissinghurst Castle

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I’ve wanted to visit Sissinghurst for a long time. I’ve come across Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson many times when reading books concerning English social history in the last century, but their garden is also famous of course. I loved … Continue reading

Food glorious food

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One of the nicest things about coming back from a holiday is seeing how much the plants in the garden have grown. There are tomatoes all over the vines now. I harvested some new potatoes yesterday and just picked the first ripe cherry tomatoes. Hurrah!

Something’s nibbled a couple of the strawberries, but as I’ve already picked a bowlful I don’t mind. Share and share alike. There are runners coming off the plant so I’m starting new – that’s the reason for the smaller pots around it, there are another two behind. I’ve promised a few new plants to friends and family.

The pumpkin plants (one shown) are both coming on in leaps and bounds. I can see where the flower buds are forming. I’ve never grown any before so this is exciting.

There are lots of tiny peppers on the three plants, but as you see only one decent sized pepper so far. It’s a waiting game at this point…

I’ve been searching for light and healthy recipes, after many holiday treats (and a few too many when I was laid up in June with the spider injury) and have started a board on Pinterest if you fancy sharing them with me, if you’d like to send more my way too that would be fab. Googling 5:2 recipes brings up lots of lovely things – whether you’re doing the ‘fasting’ thing or just aiming to eat lighter food. I’m taken with roasted red pepper & tomato and also courgette & watercress soups. I used to make a roasted red pepper soup and can’t think where I’ve put the recipe.

What are you up to at the moment?

“I’ll just pop in for my free pom-pom maker”

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Yeah right…impossible isn’t it?!

There’s a sale on fat quarter packs -they’re half price so this felt like a good buy for £6.50 as the fabric is 100% cotton and has a good thread count. It’s so much easier, and nicer, to sew with good quality fabric. I really wanted a new skein of lime green thread, it’s the colour I’m drawn to at the moment, and the sequins are to spruce up the following.

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I discovered great charity shop treasure on Saturday, when browsing my local shops with a friend. I’ve been looking out for a basket, for crochet and knitting storage, in regular shops for ages. I just couldn’t find one which was lined, which would stop any wooly stuff snagging. This is fully lined with an internal drawstring bag which extends the same height again of the basket. The drawstring will keep everything clean and intact during holidays.

I think I’ve seen this bag in M&S in the past. The silicone packet was still inside and the lining was spotless. I doubt it’s been used much. The only issue was scuffed and scratched sequins, which might have happened while it was hanging on a hook, or in a wardrobe. They spoilt the overall look so I snipped them off – a very satisfying task. I was hoping for red, blue or green replacements, but gold will be fine.
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The bag was £3.50. The free Clover pom-pom maker (leaflet from Mollie Makes mag) from Hobbycraft cost me £8.39 for the visit! Not an expensive shopping spree really.

Have you found any bargains lately? Claimed your free pom-pom maker?

Snapshot II

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Wondering if embroidery in hoops displayed on the wall is much cooler than on tea towels? I somehow doubt cool and embroidery are two words that have ever gone together. I don’t really care. I especially enjoy embroidering something which has a practical purpose. I need more tea towels – I’ve got more ideas. The glasses were from one of my Sublime Stitches transfers books, the writing is mine, scruffy and all.

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Harvesting strawberries! So yummy and surprisingly the birds haven’t gone for them. The other day a squirrel was spotted in a friend’s garden picking their strawbs, holding them gently in both his paws and nibbling away!

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Loving the scent wafting up from my pot as I come in and out of the front door, waiting for the apple blossom geranium I chose as a tiny plug plant months ago, to reveal its flowers.

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Opening a free copy of Garden Illustrated to my best page first! I’ve said:”Really sheds are so expensive but just think; when you move you just roll this onto the back of a truck and take it with you!” to raised eye brows.

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Carrying my blanket yarn in a completely coordinating bag. This was a coincidence but made me smile when I realised. The motifs are now joined in one long strip of about 180cm, this is the length of the blanket. I’m halfway along the second row now. Zippidy do dah.
Reading The Lieutenant by Kate Grenville, only to p.5 so far but it’s going to be a cracker. I read the first of the trilogy The Secret River in Australia one visit.
Not missing resting my injured leg. I’ve washed laundry, hung it out, hand washed my car, washed up, baked 2 loaves of bread, cooked dinner, cleaned walls, hoovered, cleaned the filters, folded laundry and tidied it away, watered all the plants, emptied the bins, cleaned bins, re-potted plants, rearranged outside pots, ironed (the tea towel above ha ha strenuous!) driven – once so far, yesterday, but it was fine with an old lady tubi-grip, food shopped, collected a library book, am walking downstairs nearly normally again. It’s good to be busier again.

How about you, what are you up?