Sunday, 30 October 2011

Lotherton Hall

It was a beautiful day here so after a lovely long lie in (or knit in in my case, as I usually end up knitting for a couple of hours whilst Mr Crafty Blueberry snoozes) we filled a Thermos with soup and went to Lotherton Hall. It was a fun and cheap day out because for £3.70 (paid for parking) we visited the large Bird Garden, the 12th century chapel, the deer park and walked around the estate and gardens. It was a fine Autumn day and I enjoyed having a slow, easy stroll around.

There are deer there in the distance, honest
With all the warm weather lately I'd almost forgotten how stunning Autumn is, and I'm uplifted by all that there is to see, even when I'm just walking to work. I'm apprehensive about Winter though; the cold, the dark and the I'll be buying ice boots and following this series of posts on Thrifty Household with interest.  I try to see the good things about Winter every year, and as I result I get through the season more cheerfully than I once did, so I'm on the look out for any resources that can help. If only there wasn't so much ice though - it makes living on top of a hill rather tricky!

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Hodge Podge

Today's post is a bit of a hodge podge of things as my posts have been few and far between thanks to first the laptop then the laptop charger being broken. Not using the internet at home for a while has been enough to break my bad habit of spending ages online doing very little and forgetting the time. So even though the laptop's been up and running for a few days I've not used it until now. Mr CB feels the same so hopefully we can change things from now on, for the better.

So, nice things that I've done recently; I've found a stall in the market that sells cheap bunches of fresh flowers and have enjoyed having a big bunch of flowers in the living room now that Autumn's setting in and things are getting grey.

Me and Mr CB ran our twice yearly charity cake stall for Hope Pastures horse, pony and donkey sanctuary the weekend before last and raised £65. I came home laden with lovely bits and pieces, like a cashmere sweater for 50p, a vintage plate (perfect for tea time biscuits) for £1.50 and the old jug in the top picture for £1. I also got a jar of renowned Hope Pastures preserve. One of the volunteers there makes lots of great marmalade and jams, and this apple and ginger jam is to die for.

I've got into making bread once or twice a week so that it's been a while since we've bought a loaf of bread. I'm enjoying bringing a bread roll and home made soup to work most days, it's comforting in the middle of a stressful day.

I've been busy at home and have finally cleaned up the cellar, which I've been meaning to do for about 6 months. Here it is before...

...and after...

I chucked out masses of rubbish and a couple if bags of things for a charity shop, rearranged things a bit and the result is a more useful, usable space. The house feels very homely and comfortable right now, although the boiler is broken but should be getting fixed tomorrow. On the plus side this has led to me putting the portable halogen heater on, which has resulted in this:
A very happy kitty

Friday, 21 October 2011

Internet time

It’s been strange not posting for a while but it’s taken over a week to get the laptop repaired and now we’re waiting for a new charger to arrive as that broke too. I’ve missed the convenience of being able to do things like look up coach tickets and things, and I’ve missed posting here and keeping up to date on the blogs I follow, but not having access to the internet at home has had unexpected benefits too.

For the last week I’ve had more time in the evenings. Time that would usually be spent browsing online, often aimlessly, has been spent talking, knitting, baking bread, and reading. Me and my husband have given each other more time and attention and that’s benefited both of us. My evenings after work have seemed longer and I’ve slept better as I’ve not been taking in loads of information just before going to bed.

So much for the benefits, but what will happen when we get internet access at home again? We’ve discussed it and agreed that we don’t want to fall into the internet attention and time sucking trap again, but how do we stop it from happening? I havn’t figured that out yet but it is certainly on my mind. I think the best we can do is just keep an eye on ourselves and be aware of the issue. Sometimes recognising that something is happening can be enough to alter things.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Onion Soup

I came up with this recipe on Sunday when I realised I had nothing in to make lunch for work on Monday - just lots and lots of onions. It's very simple to make and full of flavour. I'm not sure what the cost works out as but it's not much. Unfortunately my laptop’s broken so I’m using public computers and can’t upload any pictures.

Makes 2 portions

300g onions, chopped (this is around 2 decent sized onions)
250mls milk
200mls veg or chicken stock
Half a tsp nutmeg
4 to 6 tbsp instant mash potato powder
Black pepper to taste
A generous chunk of butter to fry the onions in

Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add the onions. Fry on a medium heat until the onions are soft.

Add everything except the instant mash powder. Bring to a simmer. Add the mash powder a bit at a time until it's a thickness that you're happy with. Simmer for 30 mins.

Serve with crusty bread or, if you're bread's past it's best, cut it up, drizzle it in olive oil, toast it and have it as chunky croutons.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Dahlias and home brew

I got these lovely dahlias on my way back home through a trail of Lincolnshire villages. They were on sale outside someone's house for £1 a bunch and I couldn't resist getting two. They're a bright, though temporary, sunny souvenir. All week I saw lots of home grown produce for sale on little tables outside houses - flowers, apples, vegetables and eggs - and it felt very bountiful and autumnal. I loved that people were selling things they'd grown themselves.

Speaking of home made, today is the beginning of my Homebrew Experiment. I've been wanting to try it for awhile so today I got a 'U Brew' 7 day white wine starter kit and got it going. The boozy experiment is now sitting on a tray on the coffee table, fermenting and looking totally out of place, but it's the best place in the house to keep it at room temperature; the cellar and spare room are too cold, it would be in the way wherever I put it in our bedroom and the kitchen is tiny.  In seven days I'll have six bottles of something...I just don't know if it will be drinkable or, er, something else.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Back From My Hols

I got back from the seaside yesterday and although we were only away for four nights we packed a lot in. Whilst in and near Mablethorpe we experienced great weather...

...local heritage...

..and unusual beauty spots...

The beaches in that part of the Lincolnshire coast are beautiful, a mixture of seaside postcard and more natural. Whilst strolling along the sunny beach in Skegness we saw a wild grey seal popping it's head out of the water (it vanished back down again every time I tried to take a picture). There were loads of hares in the caravan park so it was great seeing them, and we met a very friendly, soft and fluffy beach donkey in Cleethorpes that tried to nick our greasy, sugary doughnuts. We visited the Mablethorpe Seal Sanctuary and oohed and ahhhed at rescued baby seals.

We enjoyed cooking good food in our cosy caravan each night then snuggling up to drink wine and watch a vast amount of 'Carry On' films. My finished granny square blanket came in handy on the last night when the temperature dropped more than it had all week.

I finished the socks I was working on and the leg of the first sock of one of the Christmas pairs.I made progress on the long cardigan but I'm finding it a bit of a slog.

We both picked up second hand bargains whilst we were away. I got these two big glass jars for £1 each to put my flour in so I don't have to have scratty flour bags sitting on the kitchen shelf, and Mr CB purchased a fine pipe for £4 from Ye Olde Curiosity Museum -  a packed, bizarre and fascinating cross between a museum, a shop and an attic full of miscellaneous treasure and nonsense.

With all the trips to the beach, exploring, seeing new things and spending all our time together it's been a fun, cheap and very cheerful holiday and we both had a great time.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Holiday, socks and crumpets (again)

This will be my last post until next weekend as - yay! - I'm going on my hols. Me and Mr Crafty Blueberry are going to stay in a caravan at the seaside and are both looking forward to in immensely.  The granny square blanket is very nearly done so it can join us on our jaunt. I'll be using all the time in the car to finish a pair of birthday socks and start knitting socks for Christmas (3 pairs this year) and I'm bringing the long cardigan to work on too. Today we'll be packing then tomorrow morning we'll be off to the sea.

I made my third batch of crumpets yesterday and, after changing the recipe based on the two batches I've made so far, they came out just right. The only issue was that I didn't grease the crumpet rings enough and they came out very ragged around the edges so despite having inner beauty they look terrible, thus no piccies here today. We had a barbecue last night (I can't believe how warm it was) and toasted the crumpets on it at the end; buttery barbecued crumpets really work. A friend put chocolate spread her's and Mr CB followed, but I don't know if I'm open minded enough to embrace this modern approach to crumpetry yet. 

Farewell for now, I hope to return with pics of the finished granny square blanket, progress made on the long cardigan and feeling refreshed and full of sea air.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Innocent Bear

Here's the last of my three patterns for Innocent Smoothies Big Knit 2011 - the other two patterns are Innocent Cupcake and Innocent Apple.

Innocent Bear is another fast little knit that needs very little yarn and is straightforward to make.


4mm needles
About 5g brown double knitting yarn (or white for a polar bear!)
Very small amount of black double knitting yarn to embroider the bear's face


Using brown yarn cast on 28 sts.

Knit 18 rows in garter stitch.

Decrease for the top:

Rows 19 and 20: K2tog across the whole row to the end.

Cut yarn, leaving an 8 inch tail, thread through live stitchess and use to sew up the side seam.

Ears (make 2)

Using brown yarn cast on 6 stitches.

Knit 4 rows in garter stitch.

Row 5: K2tog, k2, k2tog.

Row 6: Knit

Cast off

Sew the ears to the top of the hat and embroider the facial features as shown in the photo.