Tuesday, 4 March 2014
Well here we go, March already, and I can at last begin to read my new book by Elly Griffiths. February saw me ploughing through THREE Game of Thrones books, and I am part-way through the fourth. To say I am hooked would be an understatement. As I mentioned last time, I cane late to GOT and have never watched it on tv, though I do now have the DVDs to the first and second seasons. I was surprised to find how much I enjoyed the writing of George R R Martin. He covers a very broad stage, peopled with a huge cast of characters, and he writes darned well. The story is fast paced and engaging, and I actually felt involved and interested in the characters - always a good start!
I have to say something about the language (and in the videos, the nudity). I am no prude. However, I think the stories are so good, and the screenplays are stupendous, it is a pity that the the language and nudity would preclude them being read or viewed by youngsters, who, I believe, would hugely enjoy the panoramic stretch of the writing. These are rattling good yarns about kings and castles, knights and ladies, dragons and galleons .....what youngster wouldn't enjoy reading about these things?
However, that is a side issue. I thoroughly enjoyed them and have another two waiting on my kindle for later on. Meanwhile, I shall be diving into The Outcast Dead, which brings our protagonist Ruth Galloway back to her own stamping ground, where she excavates a body from the grounds of Norwich Castle, who she believes may be that of a Victorian murderess, hung in 1867 for the murder of five children in her care. Meanwhile across the county in Kings Lynn DCI Harry Nelson is investigating the deaths of three children in contemporary time. Hmmm ......sounds a bit grim actually, doesn't it? But Elly Griffiths is more interested in plot and character than in gory details, so it isn't the kind of book that sensationalises the seamy side of life.
So, a short post, but to the point! Lots of good stuff has been happening which I will fill you in on in my next post....... I shall try and not leave it too long before I write it! Enjoy the emergence of spring - we have sunshine and blue skies today - hurrah!
Tuesday, 25 February 2014
So, in the pursuit of grain-free, dairy-free, low-ish carb meals, I have been looking lately at lots of vegetarian and vegan recipes. We aren't giving up meat or fish, or eggs, but I'm finding that starting from a vegan base is giving me lots of ideas for creating interesting meals which tick all my boxes. Then I can modify if I wish, and add whatever I feel we might like in the way of omnivorous eating - or not, as the case might be.
Here you see a large dish which is strictly vegan. Avocado chunks bathed in lemon-juice and olive oil. Sticks of carrot and mooli - a type of radish. And a heap of quinoa laced with extra virgin olive oil and finely grated garlic.
Added to this I made a bowl of hummus, dressed with olive oil and sprinkled with a spice mix called za'atar. Now together with the platter above, this would make a pleasing light lunch.
I also added a dish of roasted veggies - butternut squash, red and yellow and green peppers, aubergine, and onions Lots of extra vitamins here, and the meal becomes more substantial.
However, it was Saturday night, so we had some finger-licking chicken wings which I marinaded in oil and herbs before roasting along side the veggies. As a special treat I added a naan bread each.
So we veered away from vegan/veggie a little, and popped a few grains in with the naan bread, but it made a really interesting and satisfying meal for two, with quite a few left-overs. And before you say that quinoa is a grain - yes, you are right , but it is virtually gluten free, and a great substitute for rice or pasta. Added to which, this is the kind of meal I really enjoy preparing, and it is so easy to double up on the ingredients to feed a few more mouths.
I'm wondering whether to include a regular foodie post each month - what do you think? I'm not starting a food blog, but there have been a few foodie posts over the past year and you seem to have enjoyed them. It has become a bit of a habit too, to keep the camera in the kitchen, and Jim often sees a good photo-opportunity before I do!
I'd also say, food like this can be served all year round, it is pleasing to the eye, and fills up the tum nicely. You may like to whip the roast veggies out of the oven a LITTLE sooner than I did - they were just beginning to catch - as I'm sure you all spotted! Now I am away to bask in the sense of self-righteousness for having got a second post out within the space of THREE DAYS!!! (but don't hold your breath until the next one!)
Sunday, 23 February 2014
Seems a while since I posted about a Textile Jaunt then along come two in a row!
Last Monday I was privileged to make a visit to Gressenhall Museum of Rural Life and Workhouse, www.museums.norfolk.gov.uk/visit_us/gressenhall_farm_and_workhousewith members of Jane-Ann's textile group. Nadine had contacted the museum to ask whether we might view the collection of rag rugs which are not normally on display, and we were warmly welcomed and given 'every facility' as they say.
Megan, who curates the collection, took us up to the archives and there were two tables set out for us, with printed sheets for us to make notes for ourselves, and to add to the museum's data base.
First we were able to view and examine some rugs which are out on display. We didn't see those which are in the 'houses', these are rugs which,shall we say, can stand up to being walked on and man-handled by the public.
Yvonne and I get to look closely at some of the rugs out on general display. This is a prodded rag rug onto rug canvas. Below you can see a close up of the detail. We spotted wool, tweed and many man-made fibres in the rags used.
Then we donned gloves and proceeded to look in detail at a selection of rugs which were not on display, some of which were so delicate they were falling to pieces. For someone such as myself, who is a complete rug-hooking novice, the knowledge and expertise of some of the group members - notably Jane-Ann and Nadine - was astonishing and I learned so much. We were able to estimate roughly the decades in which the rugs were made, the materials used, and sometimes where they might have been used in the home.I know Megan was very pleased to be able to tap into their extensive knowledge, and has invited the group back to see more, and to help catalogue the archive. One small disappointment was the fact that most of the rugs we saw were prodded wool rugs, there were not many actual rag rugs, but I believe there may be in the archive.
This is a hooked rug, made with recycled clothes. You can see the reverse, very neat, where it has been turned back.
This is a wool rug, probably an early Redicut kit, in a typical sunburst pattern. Hooked into rug warp.
Another wool prodded rug, in a chequerboard pattern, a detailed close up of the header photograph. It is Jane-Ann's favourite and mine too. That colour-scheme wouldn't be at odds with a contemporary quilt.
And here is a shot of the sort of storage system used by the museum. There are many more rugs hidden away waiting to be catalogued!
These photographs were taken by Jane-Ann as I had - astoundingly - left my camera at home, for goodness' sake! Many thanks for sending them to me so that I could produce this post, Jane-Ann!
And thanks to Megan for all her help and enthusiasm, I know there will be more collaboration between the Museum and the group.
All in all a splendid few hours, fascinating to examine and investigate the rugs; also I might add, the museum is a jolly interesting day out if you live in or are visiting mid-Norfolk. Children are well accommodated and will love the exhibits too. And of course there is a great little cafe serving snacks and meals - what more could you want! I was there last year with the Ouse Washes Molly Dancers for Apple Day, and as well as performing some dances, we played for the Wassailing which was great fun.
My second Jaunt was to the Fenland village of Cottenham, to the College which each year hosts a textile exhibition of the work of the City and Guilds students, Textiles in Focus. To further entice you along, there is the Traders' Hall. All I can say is I am very proud of the fact that I did NOT buy any more books! To be fair, Yvonne and I decided that between us we probably had most of them, and could probably have written a few of the rest!
We enjoyed the 'professional' exhibition by The Material Girls, and I do have permission to take these photographs, but obviously they preferred that I didn't take detailed shots. Some really lovely work and the standard was very high.
I am told the person to contact is Chris Spencer at www.chrissythreads.com
We did treat ourselves to a wander round the traders hall, chatting to some old friends as we went.
We LOVED this stand:
A small sum was parted with at 21st Century Yarns - as usual, then we moved on to see very old friend Magie from the African Fabric Shop.
Managed to sneak up and catch her unawares! I have SO MUCH African fabric in my collection. If you get chance to hear Magie giving one of her talks do go, she is incredibly knowledgeable about the cloth she imports, having started out collecting it when she was cook for a Safari Holiday company (years ago!) and came upon the cloth in the villages they passed through. Magie takes her stand to all the big quilt and Knitting and Stitching shows and to local guilds and Regional days too.
Some of the smaller quilts made by Magie using these wonderful fabrics.
And some of the beautiful baskets she imports. I resisted this time, but I do have a couple. I find there is always room for another basket in the home!
So there you have it. Two jolly interesting days full of textile wonderfulness. I hope you've enjoyed the photographs and the stories too. Catch you next time - I AM trying not to leave such big gaps between posts!
Tuesday, 18 February 2014
I know! I've done it again.... so sorry, 'stuff' just gets in the way, and believe me, you non-bloggers, once you get out of the daily habit of checking out the blogs and thinking about your own, the days pass amazingly quickly with nothing written, no photos taken, and people saying 'where is your latest blog post??' Which is very nice in one respect, but then it's a mad dash to put something together if you haven't got something planned. Which I do, sometimes, honest!
So...... right, here are some tiny blooms in the pot next to the back door; and here are some larger ones neath the beech tree .....
NOT my favourite flowers AT ALL, those awful massive great leaves floppin' about all over the place, but Jim likes them so, hey, he does the gardening.
And on the subject of flowers, here are the lovely daffs - I don't know why but I want to call them Jonquils - but then I know nothing about flowers really. They just look beautiful in my Siennese jug, and they come as usual, from Victoria: many thanks Victoria.
Not a great day to be taking photographs but the splash of colour is welcome, isn't it? (Oooops, have just noticed the bedraggled basil plant dying gracefully on the right there .... sorry about that!)
What else have I been doing? Quite a bit of music playing as it happens. I am in a frenzy of learning a new and somewhat difficult tune, so lots of teeth gritting and a few mild expletives when it doesn't sound right, also getting some tunes together to send to Stephen who organises the Burwell Bash each year . HURRAH!!! Have just booked my place and this year I will be in the new MELODEON class so it is bye-bye to the fiddle group and 'HELLO ANDY CUTTING!' Yessssss! There is a smidgeon of mild hysteria going about at the moment on that score but I'm sure we will all settle down soon and start behaving like adults. We need some tunes which melodeon players like to play, so the fiddles and guitars will be ok with them, the flutes and whistles might find some of them a bit awkward. But it is give and take - a lot of whistle tunes will be impossible for the DG melodeons, wrong key.But this is just in the evening sessions, and they are always a bit of a free-for-all. So I am having a bit of a re-cap on tunes I should really already know, but have slipped off the playing agenda of late.
I have been kept up to the mark in the stitching department, as I need to have more completed items for May's Open Studios and time passes quickly. Here is what I've been working on the last couple of weeks.
And this cushion cover is nearly there .....
Apart from pincushions and bangles, I don't enjoy making more than one or two of anything, but this cushion "One Bird Upon a Hill Beneath a Star" is quite popular, I have sold three, and funnily enough I do love stitching it. I make tiny changes each time I make it so actually they are not identical.
I promise to have a one or maybe two posts at the end of the weekend, very textile related, so I hope to get back in your good books!
And speaking of books, how are you getting on with your A Year in Books book? I have read two and need another to get me to the end of the month when I can begin March's book. I must say, it is never a hardship finding time to read. I hope the week is going right for you all and the weather is as kind as we can expect it to be in Winter.
Thursday, 6 February 2014
For the rest of this year, my first blog-post of each month will be devoted to the novel I will be reading that month. I've joined The Year In Books and you can find out more about it (if you aren't already taking part) by popping over to Laura's blog Circle of Pine Trees, and joining the group. You can go the whole hog and do all the technical stuff, or just register your intention. I did finally manage to get the 'button' onto my blog - it is a bit tortuous for a technophobe like me!
I'm a little late joining, so here I'm reviewing January's book which I read without actually being part of the group. I'm sure that you, like me already read more than one book a month! I did re-read a couple of old favourites in January, I've always got one on the go, and I have been re-reading Anne Granger's 'Mitchell and Markby' series; I finished 'Flowers for his Funeral' and 'Where Old Bones Lie'. They aren't heavy, just a jolly good read if you like English detective fiction .... more updated Christie than anything too modern. As you can clearly see, these books have been read more than once!
The new book which I read was a Christmas present from Jim. Elly Griffith's fifth book in her "Ruth Galloway' series, "Dying Fall". Elly writes about Ruth, a forensic archeologist working at the University of North Norfolk, who unwittingly becomes involved in a series of murders, a very married, bluff Northern detective working in King's Lynn, and a cast of truly original and fascinating characters. Ruth lives with her baby daughter in a cottage on a windswept isolated spot on the North Norfolk coast; however this book takes her up to Lancashire to find out more about the death of her old University -pal,Dan, a lecturer at the Uni up there. Dan contacted her out of the blue excited that he had made an astoundingly important archeological discovery, and fearful that his life may be in danger.
The story unfolds with many a fascinating twist, more bodies , and the unexpected close encounter with Ruth's ex-lover, Detective Chief Inspector Harry Nelson, father of Ruth's daughter. Well written, very enjoyable, though this was my least favourite novel by Griffiths as it takes Ruth Galloway far from her stamping ground in Norfolk; I found I missed being able to place the characters in an environment I am very familiar with, recognising the places and roads travelled. That's not to say it isn't a good book - just that I enjoyed it less than the others. It hasn't stopped me ordering her next one when it is released.
SO, my Book for February. I must be one of the last people to discover A Game of Thrones! My friend Katy bought and read ALL the books, and watched the serial on Sky Tv long before it was on general release here. I borrowed the first book in the series, written by George R. R. Martin, A Game of Thrones, but fell at the first hurdle. It is a big book, which wouldn't normally deter me, but I took one look at the list of characters and quailed - there were hundreds of them, and I thought I would be incapable of sorting the four Houses out, and which character belonged to which. And so I gave up after half a chapter, and never bothered watching the series when A Game of Thrones fever hit the UK. However, some face book chatting sparked my interest, and I decided to purchase the first two books in Kindle form, and here I am, ready to go! I'll let you know next month how I got on. My photograph, at the very top, is of the DVD cover, as I bought the kindle editions, and treated myself to the first two seasons on DVD. I look forward to reading the choices of those of you who have signed up.
Friday, 31 January 2014
Looking forward to Spring!
Dearie me! I've had a couple of those weeks. You know the kind. The kind which last year I was determined not to have any more of. The kind of week where I focused on ONE thing to the exclusion -almost - of all the other things which make me happy. I have been ensconced in the kitchen.
One of last week's favourites: mixed vegetable fritatta. I made it with coconut milk as I am laying off the dairy for a while. Packing in the veggies, though!
I was searching for some anti-inflammatory recipes to pin onto my "Recipes for Health" Pinterest board, and I got completely carried away. Pinning late into the night, and making shopping lists ..... followed by four days of solid cooking . Apart from a lovely day in the studio at Jane-Ann's last Saturday, not a stitch has been stitched, I haven't been into my sewing room ALL WEEK. But we have eaten some fabulous - and very healthy - food, which I am pleased to say have met with approval from Himself as well as me.
We had this yesterday. It is a vegetable loaf, made with eggs and coconut flour and coconut milk.
It was delicious, both hot, with a homemade tomato and leek sauce, or cold with a little sauce smeared on it. It was a little like quiche and fritatta and .....strangely enough - a little like a savoury drop scone!
Below is a little something we had as a side dish with some cold left over chicken on Tuesday. Sweet potato, mushrooms, red and yellow peppers, (garlic of course!) red onion and spinach just wilting down gently.
This little lot became a deeply nourishing and quite ridiculously delicious Smokey Butternut Squash, lentil and coconut soup. We had it two days running and scraped our bowls each time. Yum!
Below you can see the dish of homemade hummus/humus/houmus/humous however you care to spell it. I added some very finely grated fresh turmeric for its extra anti-inflammatory properties. Jim had his on sourdough bread and I dug in with slices of carrot and celery. MMMMmmmmmmm!
And this mixture below became meatballs the following day, after a night in the fridge for the flavours to mingle.
This is celeriac and cauliflower mash - into which I chopped fresh coriander leaves to give it that lovely green colour and a subtle addition to the flavours. They really do go together very well.
Here it is in my favourite kitchen bowl. I'm topping today's fish pie with the remains. So we have eaten some very tasty and interesting new dishes these last ten days or so - I didn't photograph each one!
I have of course been playing music, that doesn't get forgotten. However I am beginning to feel the need to get my hands on some fabric again, so this weekend I will be back in the sewing room and revelling in cloth, wool, thread and yarn. Speaking of which - see what I have modified to help me sort my threads out!
The spot lamps which Jim bought me a couple of Christmasses ago were twisted around and put to good use:
All neatly packaged and ready to be threaded without a fight! I just looked at the lamp last week and suddenly the light bulb went on!!! So, finally, I can end this post with a photo which bears some relation to Textile Treasury! One of these days I will have my life arranged so that I do a little of everything in proportion, every week. How nice that would be! Hopefully I shall be heading for the sewing room tomorrow and into the weekend. to make up for all the time I haven't spent there. Have a good weekend, and I promise to find the time to read the huge backlog of your blog-posts which I have neglected.