Thursday, 24 March 2016

Brag, Brag, Brag




Ooooh, look what the postman brought me this morning.  Squeeeeee I love these colours and I'M so excited. Will I tell you why?  For the first time ever I have decided to join a CAL.  It is the Mandala Madness by Crystals and Crochet.  At first when I saw this advertised I wasn't mad about the colours or the price tag of the kits.  At more than 400 Euros for one kit and 200 for the other, it was way out of my price range.  But last week on the day that it began I was reading about it in a Deramores post and realised that it was also available in a much more affordable version with beautiful hues of purple.  Just perfect for the sofa in Benny. It is called the colour crafter pack.


Just look at them all set and ready to go in my basket.  I know that I'm a week late with starting but I'm sure that I won't have a problem catching up!!



Yesterday I was in my LYS , The Baldy Sheep, and spotted this Louisa Harding Noema yarn on sale and I just couldn't leave without a few balls.  I have knitted with this before last summer when I made the capelet in the pattern book.  This yarn is going to make the cowl in the picture.  It is beautiful yarn to knit with and never splits.  and on top of that the colours available are just scrumptious.  I really do prefer when I have a definite idea for yarn that I buy.  I have found that sometimes when I buy yarn on sale it tends to sit around for quite a while waiting to be matched with the perfect pattern.  This cowl I know that is going to be really quick and easy to make.  It should be finished in just a few days........but first there are one or two projects that need finishing.  A baby blanket for a niece that is due in May (my first time being an auntie!!) and a gorgeous woolly jumper.  I have to be truthful and firm with myself and finish these first.  I know well that if I don't finish the jumper soon, the summer will come along and I'll have absolutely no interest in knitting away at a big chunky sweater.  But then again the Irish summer being what it is, I'll probably need to wear it!!

I was in such a crafting slump for so long.  Unable to knit or crochet without pain.  No ideas or inspiration coming to me.  Constant failing in my attempts to create something gorgeous at that terrible time. My crafting mojo just abandoned me.  It was driving me insane.  Something had to be done.

I began by crocheting some small colourful coasters and a granny square potholder, really must take some pictures of these pretty little things, to awaken my creative side again. Then in January I was back in hospital for my regular visit and I brought two new bigger knitting projects with me.  My chunky sweater and a shawl in soft delicate merino yarn.  

Now I love both knitting and crocheting and when I started these two projects, I found that I could sit and knit for hours in the hospital without and pain or discomfort. It was so much easier on my body then the crochet was.  I suppose that it is the constant movement with the one hand with the other just stabilising the work but with knitting it is just gentle movement with both hands.  For weeks I only worked on my knitting, not even thinking about my hooks.  But for me when I'm I just can never be away from the colourful world of crochet.  I just see it as being something fun that I can let my imagination run wild with.  Even though I started out learning to knit, it is crochet that just has me hooked!!  Sadly though I know now that I can only work for a couple of hours every second day otherwise the tennis elbow will return.

 

Talking about inspiration, I've got a new addiction.  Japanese crochet patterns.  They are simply beautiful and so very unusual even if they are difficult to read.


See what I mean.  Just look at those mittens and the intricacy of the coasters.  Just flipping through the pages leaves me drooling and itching to start.  But I'm going to be good and only do two projects at a time..........I so hope that I can be good.

Monday, 21 March 2016

A Bog Walk


Because this is a very special week for Ireland (we are celebrating the 100 year anniversary of the 1916 Rising), I thought that I might share some photos of the boglands at the heart of the country.  Normally this is an area that is not shown in the pretty tourist board photos probably because it is not always the easiest place to take nice pictures, unless it is dawn during the winter and the fog sits low over the bog.  Then it is gorgeous, but mostly it is just like a colour card for paint in various shades of brown! Seriously though I think that the bog is the backbone of the country and a good representation of life in the countryisde both past and present.  


Behind our house is a bog that was once stripped commercially for garden compost, briquettes for the fire or even for fuel for the nearby power station.  It has been about 20 years since this land was worked and it is only now that it is beginning to be reclaimed once more by nature.


It may look like quite a barren place but wildlife has once more taken over and when I bring my two mad animals out for a walk on the bog they enjoy nothing more than seeing what they can find and of course chase.  It was very funny last week when Fred tried to race a hare the length of the bog.  Needless to say that the hare left him eating dust and disappeared form view after a mere 15 seconds.  On our daily walks other than hares we have seen many pheasants, snipes, woodcocks, rabbits , long eared owls and foxes.


This is a beautiful piece of bog oak that has been uncovered by the big milling machines.  The bog oak that is found in the area is hundreds and thousands of years old, perfectly preserved in the bog.  This particular one has been bleached by the sun as it lies still half buried in the ground. It makes me smile every time I walk past it. I just love its bare beauty.


Most Irish people from the countryside will have memories and stories of bringing turf home from the bog during the summer months.  I myself grew up in a town and would tease my friends that had to spend their summer hols on the bog.  They would head off in the morning with flasks of tea and sandwiches and return home with sore backs and ripened red by the sun.  Now my friends laugh at me because I'm the one living in the bog and complaining about having to foot turf.


Even though it is March I still wear my handmade tweed coat whenever I go for a walk.  This poor coat has been with me for years ever since I bought it for 1 Euro in a charity shop.  Since it makes me look quite chubby, I tend to keep it for gardening and walks.  Honestly it is the coat that makes me look plump and not my obsession with biscuits!

Here you can see the different levels of the ground as the machines cut away more at one part of the bog.  The land is highest in the background of this picture stepping down into the foreground.  In between there are deep drains.  Patrick's favourite pass time has to be jumping the drains.  Tempting fate a he tries to make it across wider and wider drains followed closely by the two dogs.  Needless to say most of the time he comes home covered from head to toe in turf mould.  Well I say turf mould because that is what its called by the locals but to the rest of us it would be bog dirt.
Molly on the other hand loves nothing more than swimming her way down the bog in the drains.

 

There are still some sign of the industry left on this part of the bog but even this is slowly being hidden by nature. Can you see the digger close to the trees in this picture?


Here it may be nothing but a variations of the colour brown but every now and again there is the most beautiful splash of sunshine like this coarse and prickly gorse bush.

That brings us to the end of my local bogland.  I hope that you enjoyed it.

Rosie xx

P.S. Well Bernie do you miss it at all?

Monday, 11 January 2016

Oat Flour Pancakes


A few months ago I found myself drawn to the artisan section of a local supermarket.  It was but mere moments that this beautiful buttery yellow package caught my eye.  I must make a confession and say that I absolutely and utterly hate porridge.  I have done so since I was a child when I was faced with a bowl of frog spawn like gloop each morning before school.  My father always told me that it would taste so much better with a spoon of sugar in it and each morning I would create an island in my bowl and watch it sink slowly into the milky mess.  Sadly though, no matter what additions I made to my porridge, there was never any improvement that I could make to the texture.  Sitting across from me at the table was my brother who scraped his teeth against the spoon with every mouthful as though it would somehow burn or wound his lips if he touched them against it.  Time and time again he did it and more and more tenser my mother became.  I would look over then to see him lift his bowl routinely because he was convinced that my mother had somehow rigged the table so that a tube coming from below and into his bowl, would replace every painful morsel that he swallowed.  When he could take no more, he then resorted to flattening and shifting the porridge around the bowl to make it look like he'd eaten more than he actually had.  This never fooled my mother though.  We sat there glumly staring at our bowls and wishing it would disappear until the moment came when my mother could take no more and sent us off to school.

This memory of horrible textures, flavours and atmosphere at the breakfast table has probably turned me off porridge for life.  Strangely though my kids love the stuff and ask me to make it the next day for them as they head off to their beds.  I really struggle with the smell of it even now when I cook it despite trying many different varieties for my kids.  I'm delighted though that they love to eat it so much because I can feel like a real Supermum sending my kids off to school with a really healthy, hot breakfast every day.

This all leaves me looking always for new and different ways to eat my oats.  No I do really love granola and my Oatie biscuits but these are too high in sugar for me to eat for breakfast every day.  God know that I need to loose enough weight as it is.  So when I saw this cute little package in the shop it just called out to me to bring it home and try it out.  When I make pancakes I always try to make my blueberry syrup to drizzle over the top.  This is not just totally scrumscious but it is also a great way to get my kids to eat blueberries.  I simply just don't understand why or even how kids of mine don't have the passion of fruit as I do.  They are natures sweets and perfect in every way.  Mysterious!!

There is a recipe for the pancakes on the packet but it only makes 5 and involves weighing out ingredients, which is something that I'm not going to be doing first thing in the morning plus I wanted mine to be a little lighter and fluffier so I added in some self raising flour.  If you can't get self raising flour then just use plain flour and use 3 slightly heaped teaspoons of baking powder.  So here is my version.....

PS If you cant get this flour don't worry because I saw somewhere before (sorry can't remember where) that you can just give some porridge oats a blitz in the blender until fine.


Oat Flour Pancakes

125g punnet Blueberries
3 tablespoons Maple syrup
1 cup Oat Flour
1 cup Self Raising Flour
2 level teaspoons Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Salt
2 tablespoons Cornflour / Cornstarch
3 tablespoons Soft Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 Egg
2 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
2 cups Full Fat Milk (or more if required)
1 teaspoon Vanilla Paste


  1. Before starting out with the batter, put the syrup on to bubble away and thicken.  Just rinse the blueberries and pop them into the pot with the maple syrup.  Cook it slowly over quite a small flame.  It will become beautiful and glossy with little balls of berries ready to pop in your mouth. Yum!!
  2. Put all of the dry ingredients into a bowl, stir and leave a well in the centre.
  3. Measure out all of the wet ingredients, including the vanilla paste, in a jug and whisk together quickly.
  4. Combine the wet and dry ingredients until it it forms a silky smooth batter.  It should not be so thick as to stay in form when it's put into the pan but it also should not be so runny as to be perfect for crepes.  
  5. Rub a little oil over the pan with a piece of kitchen paper and heat the pan until quite hot. On the packet it says that no more oil is required after the first application but I do find that wiping it with the oiled paper every few batches of pancakes does help if you haven't got the best pan like me.
  6. Using an ice-cream scoop dollop the batter onto the pan in batches of three or four.
  7. When bubbles form on the top of the pancakes, flip them over and fry for another minute until golden brown.
  8. As oats always do, the flour will soak up more liquid the longer it sits stoveside so just add in extra milk in small amounts.  Don't add too much at once or the batter will be too runny.
  9. Serve with the syrup spilling all over it and down the sides.  
  10. Enjoy greedily and you're set up for the day!!

Monday, 4 January 2016

Where The Hell Were You?

Well that is a question you might well ask!

Several things have kept me from my blog in 2015.

The first reason for me staying away from my blog was a total disillusion with blogland.  As I had known it when I started out, it was a fun and friendly place. I had made many many friends who were starting out just like me and we supported and helped each other through both of the hard times and the creative times.  I had needed to take a break half way through 2014 because of spending much of my time in hospital.  Returning last spring, I realised that blogland had become a very strange and foreign place.  Blogs that I had once conversed with on a daily basis had become so big, they somehow seemed to lose their welcoming friendliness.  There were no responses to questions or enquiries for their well being.  Don't get me wrong, I don't in any way harbour any feelings of jealousy  or resentment towards these blogs that have grown in popularity.  On the contrary I am quite delighted for them and I understand that bloggers that have more followers would have more comments coming in on their posts which would probably be quite hard to get through.  It's just that it was not the world that I had left behind and somehow I just did not fit in any longer.  I felt like a complete outsider or a lost traveler that had wandered into unknown territory.  And even when I began to look out towards other blogs that might in some small way pique my interest, I just could not muster the same passion for this space on the web that I once had.  At this point I must also say a big thank you to the wonderful ladies that have stayed in contact with me over this whole time.  Those who have sent the odd caring and considerate email to help lighten my mood.  Strange to say as this is, I have never met you nor probably will ever have the chance to meet you but you are all great friends indeed.

Secondly with my mothers health not great during the year and surgery that brought to light some more problems for her, the stress and strain took more out of me than I expected.  I honestly think that when people need me, adrenilene keeps me going during that time, regardless of how long that time is.  I can keep pushing and pushing through it.  My limit hidden with the need to just get through this day and onto the next.  Unfortunately as soon as the pressure lightens and life starts to return to normal, all of the pain and strain that my mind has been blocking rushes back and hits me like a shovel to the back!!  And this time it really stopped me dead in my tracks.

Come the summertime I was exhausted like I've never felt before.  I had every ounce of pain that I had missed out on and I had no desire to do anything else other than sleep.  I had been buzzing along for months, going for walks with the dogs and working in the garden, using these activities to destress and let my mind relax and be free of worries even if it was for mere moments at a time.  When I went into complete melt down, I was totally gutted. The kids holidays were just beginning and I was looking forward to finally having a normal summer and spending time with my kids doing things that parents and kids do together without a second thought.  But sadly it was nearly two months before I started to return to normal or well as normal as a person with fibromyalgia could ever be.  Thankfully time and rest has healed my body and I've become probably as active as I've been for more than 10 years. Ready for whatever life has to throw at me next.  Well all except for one thing..

Tendonitis.  During the year I developed tendonitis in both of my elbows, both my shoulders and my neck.  The steroid injections that followed curiously caused a bad flare up.  I say curiously because I have been getting these jabs in my hips every year for nearly a decade now.  This time though they caused jelly like swells around my neck and on both wrists.  This has meant that I have really struggled with all of my crafting passions.  For months now no yarn, fabric, hook nor needles have been held in my hands for more than ten minutes at a time.  Because of this I have found that I have totally lost my creative mojo and I must say that this saddens me terribly.

One good thing has come out of all of this and that is a return to one of the first loves of my life, food!  And about time too.  Over the past years of being unwell, I turned my back on this love.  Handfuls of tablets at a time both sickened and tired me.  I had to teach my husband how to cook for himself and the kids.   And God love the poor divil he tried but being what in Ireland is called a total bogger, his selection of food always, and I mean always, included a mountain of spuds, veg and some description of meat.  My kids loved this when they were younger as he did but for me the sameness of it all was somewhat off putting, to coin a phrase of my mothers.

For me I need a variety of textures and flavours.  I need the heat of spice and the creaminess of parmesan, gruyere and mozarella.  I need not just potatoes but pasta and rice too.  I need a roast at the end of the week that is so tender that it melts in the mouth and whose leftovers leaves any amount of meals that can be created from them, limited only by your own imagination.  Thankfully, as I have returned to take back my place in the kitchen, my children have become more open to new flavours.  They now adore chilli spiked food and the more cheery little red slices that appear on the plates laid before them, the happier they are.  How lucky am I to have two kids that love spices as much as I do?  I am so delighted they are also now taking an interest in the kitchen.  Lucy loves to bake and is very good at it too, I must say.  Patrick on the other hand loves the savoury side of cooking and I always have him on standby as my professional taster.

With these things in mind I have made a decision about this little space of mine in blogland.  I'm going to regard this as a little diary. A diary of new recipes that I try out from my very voluminous collection of cookery books.  A diary of all the recipes that I have invented myself, inspiration usually waking me in the middle of the night.  I want to keep a record of all of these so that I can share them with friends and family.  If there is anyone else out there that may be interested also are welcome to use these too.

And if by any small chance at all, that my arms allow me once more to crochet, knit or sew, I'll post a few words about them too.  I'm hoping to get back to blogging quietly in this little space of mine.  Happy to just record all of the glorious food that we enjoy both eating and cooking together. I'll be delighted to see any visiters pop along and would love to see any comments that they may wish to leave.

Hope to chat soon with a new recipe for Oat flour pancakes....seriously yum!!

Rosie xx


Monday, 27 July 2015

Summer update

Sunset in easkey. It's just so beautiful and peaceful. Even my kids stopped to watch.
We've been down here a few times already since the holidays started in May. Each week hoping that the river would be perfect for the salmon to run upstream. I personally think it's cruel to catch the salmon when they've travelled so far to return their birthplace to spawn but it is so very exciting to see these stunning fish burst free from the water as a glistening streak of silver. To see them means that they have survived all the trawlers and dangers of the sea to make it home.
Rod fishermen are often blamed for the fall in salmon numbers here. But it is something that has been done for hundreds of years. And while I don't believe in the pastime, I also know that one fisherman with a rod can only catch a certain number of fish. He is not a problem. It is the trawlers out at sea, catching tonnes of fish at a time that is depleting the salmon quantities that survive long enough to spawn. Many salmon that are caught in the river are badly scarred from fishing nets that they have managed to free themselves from.  This is a subject that I discuss with my husband regularly and that we both feel really strongly about, to the point where my he returns all fish to the river that he has caught. But just one person won't make much of a difference and each year less and less salmon run the river during the season and soon there won't be any at all. It makes me sad to the core.
I hadn't meant to come in here ranting and raving tonight but do you know what?  I'm so glad that I did because it has made me feel so much better.
Anyway,
Night night all
Rosie xx

Thursday, 21 May 2015

An Afternoon In Galway

Lately I have been getting quite a lot of pain when trying to knit or crochet.  I would need to put my work down after only five minutes of work.  My hands cramping. My wrists aching.
So I decided it was time I went to see my rheumatologist in Galway.  About twice a year I need to get steroid injections in my hips and in my feet.  Seriously painful in the feet, people!!  The doc gave me the worst news that any crafter could hear, tennis elbow in both arms requiring at least two weeks of rest. What???  I got the mandatory jabs and left feeling very sorry for little ol' me altogether.


My hubbie had taken the day off work to come down with me as I'm often unwell and in pain after the injections.  I was really glad of the company when I left and it was great to get to spend a little time together on our own. We don't often get the opportunity to just be a couple.


The weather was really bad and there was some very heavy showers. But in between Galway was beautiful as always.


We walked along the the river, amazed at how high it was for this time of the year. It flowed so fast it made us dizzy just walking alongside.





Grey skies threatened us constantly and the rain pounded us when it fell in heavy downpours, leaving us soaked to the core.


This city is so full of surprises and you never know what you'll find around the next corner.  This cafe for example. I think that it is called the Jungle Cafe. An covered outdoor restaurant that looks like it belongs in Brazil more than the West coast of Ireland.


There is some beautiful artworks here and even the shop fronts get painted with colourful and intricate murals.  I felt they won't get to experience the real beauty of Ireland.  My hubby said that he read a report that most tourists don't come here expecting good weather, but still my heart went out to them.


The llittle back streets are a delight to wander down with their small shops and seating outside coffee shops.  It's just a shame that it was for only a brief moment that the sun decided to shine while I took this picture.


These have to be my two favourite shops in Galway.  Twice As Nice sells amazing lace and the most delicate linens and crochet garments.
And Wooden Heart is a place we always stop when the kids are with us. It is a toy shop where are the toys are wooden and vintage.  The type of toys that I would have played with as a child, like dominoes, wooden snakes, spinning tops or wind up mice.  I'm just a big kid and I just have to test out every toy that I can find.



From there we drove out to the little village of Spiddle and one of my most favourite places in the county, the crafter's village.  Here you can meet weavers, basket makers, glass workers, jewellery designers, potters and so much more.  Sadly I was there on a Monday, the day most are closed.

But I did find this little beauty.  They are little glass beads, which is something that I would normally stay well clear of in case I would break or drop them, but they are so bright and colourful, I just couldn't resist.  A little treat for myself since I'm not going to be allowed to stitch for a while now.

Monday, 11 May 2015

A Little Glimpse At Benny


I never thought that the day would come that I would actually be getting out into Benny.
It was only two weeks ago we organised the last of the boxes.


My Attic 24 Blanket keeps us warm on the cooler days on the little comfy second hand couch. (it's still waiting for the ends to be woven in, too busy lately to get around to that)


Hateful as plastic is, living in the bog means moths and lots of them so to keep my yarn safe I have to sort them in plastic boxes. A box for each yarn weight.  There is probably about 12 boxes out there and I won't tell you a lie, there is still a lot more stored in the attic!


The threads and scissors are waiting for a display stand to be put up on the wall.


Pardon the blurry picture!


I love these door knobs. My hubby bought them for me last year as a little pressie.



This just had to come out here with me. I bought it in Munich a few years ago and I love it. 
The picture is painted on the reverse side of the glass itself.


I bought these wooden mushrooms at the Lamb festival. 
One Is worked from Ash and the other Hazel.


This also came from the Lamb Festival and we nicknamed him Ouch as he is to become my new pincushion!


The first job that I had to do when I moved in was to sew a new ironing board cover.
It's probably the worst sewing job that I've ever done. 
I really need practice more with my sewing, the machine was stored away for far too long.


Here is one little visitor to the studio that does not want us doing any work, except of course if that entails giving her tickles under the chin!!

It's hard to believe that Benny was once a sad mobile home with a leaking roof and holes in the floor.
Now he is bright and cheery and a home from home for me.
My little escape and just what I've always dreamed of.

Rosie


 

Little bits are slowly popping up around the mobile.  Decorative pieces that just seem to grow and appear naturally.  Not planned in any way.  Just the way that I like it.



I'm not even in it two months and already my work table is a total mess.  At least the trees outside the window are growing rapidly and offering no distractions.