Sunday, 18 March 2012

Blog soup!

I didn't originally intend to be adding a new post to my blog today but this morning E was out in the sunshine, digging over some of our small veg plot in preparation for this year's planting, when he discovered that we still had some root veg left. Last October it was the remains of what we'd grown in the summer, but was very small, and so we left it............and it had continued to grow over the winter without being eaten by bugs or suffering from frost.

Admittedly some of it was a little worse for wear but after removing roots and leaves etc we found we had quite a reasonable amount of organic carrots and beetroot! My intial thought was to roast some of it in the oven  but then I had a the better idea of making vegetable soup.

I already had some celery so added that with a couple of onions, a few whole cloves of garlic (so that it was sweet rather than overpowering) and a teacup of red lentils.

After first frying the onions in olive oil........

.....I then added the chopped beetroot and carrots......

........followed by the celery and the lentils.

Then, after adding a handful of dried herbs, 3 tspns of vegetable bouillon and approx 2 pts of water........

.....I put the lid on and left it to simmer quietly for an hour.

Then the decision, to blitz or not to blitz?

I blitzed!

The taste was excellent (even if I do say so myself!!!!) so we decided to have it for our Sunday dinner with some wholemeal bread rolls that E made yesterday.

There was still plenty left so some will be travelling to work with me for lunch tomorrow and the rest will go in the freezer.

Thank you winter veg!! :)

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Small hats

I have been quite busy of late, creating some small hats........and by small I do in some cases mean very small!

At the moment my only opportunity to crochet is in the evening when I get home from work, and by the time we have had our tea, done the usual jobs and sorted the ironing, there is very little time to work on something that would take me months to finish if it were anything of any reasonable size.

So, I thought that maybe creating lots of small things, rather than one big one, might be the way to go and would also result in me feeling as though I had actually achieved something. I also have lots of individual balls of yarn that would be suitable for projects such as this and children's/babies hats seemed like the ideal solution, but I would invent my own patterns as I went along, hopefully creating a more individual look.

The first hat was started a couple of weeks ago, in a pixie-style, using a ball of cotton/bamboo mix.

Worked in a granny-stitch pattern, it looked a bit like a crocheted Christmas tree at first (!!) but is very soft and warm to the touch with plenty of ventilation.

The top is then folded over, secured, and I then added a multi-coloured crocheted cup shape which is attached to the front for decoration and to break up the lime green. This hat is suitable for either boys or girls aged 0-3 mths.

The next hat is even smaller and would be ideal for either premature or very small baby girls.

It is crocheted from soft pink acrylic yarn, has a small brim to keep the sun out of little eyes and is decorated with a small pink button on the front left.

This hat can also be worn with the brim turned up.

Finally for now, I have created a hat for girls aged 6-12mths.

Crocheted in cream acrylic arran yarn, it started with a circular top.

Onto this I then crocheted straight sides in a smaller stitch.

It too can be worn with the brim up or down and has a small strawberry-shaped button attached to the front left. Warm enough for winter, it also has plenty of ventilation so that it is also suitable for slightly cooler late spring days too.

I'm really looking forward to developing what I have learned with these three hats and making quite a few more.

Monday, 5 March 2012

A spring weekend in Derbyshire

We had a lovely couple of days this weekend staying with family in Derbyshire. Travelling over to Chesterfield on the Friday evening, it takes us about two and a quarter hours via Knutsford, Macclesfield, The Cat and Fiddle Pass, Buxton and Bakewell.

The weather was quite misty but we got plenty of nice views as the last of the evening light disappeared. We had no idea that this would not be how it looked on our way home!

On the Saturday we went for a walk in Staveley (where we found a doggy day-care centre called 'House of Waggles'!) and then along the Chesterfield canal on the Trans-Pennine trail next to the Canal Basin at Mill Green.

Built in 1771 by the Chesterfield Canal Company, the canal gave Derbyshire an outlet to the River Trent. The working boats were horse-drawn carrying coal, stone, bricks and agricultural produce. This continued until the 1840s when the arrival of road and rail transport brought about the start of a gradual decline in the use of the waterway system. The collapse of a tunnel in 1907 meant that the Derbyshire section of the Chesterfield Canal was suddenly isolated and this then led to dereliction.

By 1950s there were hardly any working boats left in the UK but a rise in interest in the canal waterways by the leisure and holiday industry in the 1960s gradually led to multi-million pound restoration schemes by the 1990s, and in 2002 the stretch from Chesterfield to Mill Green was reopened.   

There is a growing wildlife popluation with new planting and we had an excellent walk along somewhere that at one time, despite all it's history, was in much need of rejuvenation - so nice to see.

Spring had certainly sprung this weekend. Everything was either covered in buds or just bursting into leaf and there were several different kinds of willow as well as hawthorn and bullrushes.

The weather started to change just as we decided to head back and although the rain didn't get anywhere near us we were in the right place to see a huge rainbow.

You do wonder how this original bridge at Mill Green stays put though (even with it's additional metal support underneath!) when you look at the angle of some of those stones.

On our walk back to the canal basin the dark clouds soon cleared leaving us with beautiful blue skies..............

........and some lovely snowdrops! 

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The journey home on Sunday was a different matter, but no less picturesque.

Setting off at lunchtime, the rainy weather very soon turned to sleet and by the time we reached the start of the Cat and Fiddle Pass at Buxton, the hillsides and moorland were covered in snow.

How much can a landscape change? So different from Friday, now in shades of white and grey - even more bleak but just as beautiful.

We had an excellent and relaxing weekend. Back to the grindstone now but so nice to spend a couple of days with family, out in the fresh air in the Derbyshire countryside.