Friday, 31 October 2014

Photo Scavenger Hunt : October

The months are really flying by and I can't believe it's already time for the latest Scavenger Hunt. Thanks as always to Greenthumb at Made with Love for organising the hunt. I thought a couple of the categories were going to be tough but, in the end, I finished a few days ahead of the deadline. Here's my entry.

O is for...? : Origami.

6pm : Cooking dinner. You'll see the result in my next cookery book challenge update.

Morning : Grey Heron silhouetted against the lake in the pink light of morning - see below for the sky.

Something you bought : A snuggly throw and butterfly cushion from Aldi. Chickpea's boyfriend loved the throw so much, he bought one for himself!

Light : The atrium at Liverpool Central Library, looking up to the skylight.

Close up : A shield bug on the last of the rudbeckia flowers in my garden.

Favourite : One of my favourite things is to try out new cake recipes from my favourite cake cookbook. This is the Harvest spiced apple cake I mentioned in my last post.

Lunch : Mum's homemade pea and ham soup.

Childhood : Photos of me (and my Mum and brother) before I was 5 years old.

Your sky : 7am, 20 October 2014.

Colour : Beautiful autumn leaves.

Your shoes : New trainers bought over the summer. They're actually a bit big for me and I'd meant to take them back. Luckily I didn't, as they're the only shoes I can currently wear as my little toe is still recovering from a soft tissue injury (and that's also why the lacing on my right foot is so loose).

If you're intrigued and fancy giving the hunt a go, hop over to the Hunt and you'll find the categories for November. It's just a bit of fun and no-one minds if you have to dip into your archive or even miss a couple of categories out: it's just interesting to see what everyone comes up with.

Last but not least, I wanted to say hello to my new followers - you are most welcome. Thanks also to those who regularly visit and comment.

Happy Halloween everyone! x

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Harrogate quilt festival

I mentioned in my last post that I picked up some of the supplies I needed for Louise's quilt at the Harrogate quilt festival, but I realised I haven't shown you any photos from it yet. It's held at the end of August and me and my quilting friends always make the annual pilgrimage over to Yorkshire. As usual, there were some stunning quilts on display and here are some of my favourites.

Cosmos - Stephanie Parker

Life Challenge - Maggie Taylor

Colour Wheel - Liz Merckel

Late Bloomers - Elaine Vickers

Dreamcatcher: caught a dream - Birgit Schueller

Sunrise - Josephine Bardsley

Storytime - Carole Galbraith

Elephant walk - Anne-Marie Tye

Rainbow in the Dark - Claudia Taeubert

New York Beauties - Mary Ranby

Fireworks - Susan Lax

Harry's Quilt - Kathleen Burrow

Although lots of these quilts received rosettes, none of them were crowned Best in Show which just shows how subjective the decision is. I'd struggle to choose one favourite but I do have a soft spot for the last one and the miniature elephant quilt. Which would you choose?


Yesterday we went for dinner at Sue and Gordon's for 'Welsh Night'. We've invited them over twice now for Burns Night (see here and here) and enjoyed it so much that, this year, we thought we'd try doing something to celebrate other parts of the UK. October was chosen for Welsh Night as it's the centenary of the birth of Dylan Thomas tomorrow. We ate a traditional lamb cawl and I presented Sue with a bouquet of flowers and leeks! Great food and lots of laughs.

This morning I've baked a new cake recipe, Harvest spiced apple, from my favourite Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook and can't wait to try it later - it smells so good!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend. x

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Acorns and birds

Well, I finally finished the little birds quilt which was my 2nd blogiversary giveaway and, as it's now arrived safely with Louise, I'm able to reveal all.

The design is by Elizabeth Wall and I've made two versions of the quilt before which you can see here and here. This time inspiration came from Louise herself who asked if the design could contain nuts. I knew immediately that I wanted to do an oak tree in autumn colours complete with acorn buttons. It wasn't until my visit to the Harrogate quilt show though that I was able to find the fabrics and buttons. The animal fabric has been in my stash a number of years and was perfect for the backing, with just a little mouse sneaking onto the front :0)

It's the first quilt I've ever made for someone else though I've given away quilts to Project Linus. Nerve-wracking but I also enjoyed the challenge of working to 'commission'. Now though, I need to concentrate on finishing my large quilt which has been on the go for about a year!


Yesterday I met up with some friends in Liverpool and, among other things,we visited the new Central Library: an amazing space. The text is a poem, 'Liverpool', by Levi Tafari. I can't show you any more as I might be using some of the photos for the Scavenger Hunt!

Today the wind has really picked up as the remnants of Hurricane Gonzalo heads our way. Of all weather conditions, strong wind is the one I like the least :(

Enjoy the rest of your weekend and stay safe wherever you are . xx

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Cookery book challenge : weeks 33-36

Another month and another update on my cookery book challenge. Overall, I think it was a pretty good month, so let's take a look at what we found and what we tried.

Week 33 : Delia's Winter Collection - Delia Smith

One of the downfalls of randomly picking books out of a hat is that there's always the chance you'll end up with a winter cookbook in the middle of summer! Luckily there was still plenty to tempt us and we ended up choosing one of the more summery dishes.

Seared spiced salmon with black bean salsa

I couldn't find black beans in the supermarket so substituted pinto beans. I don't know if it would have made much of a difference as we found it very tasty anyway. Simple and flavourful. The recipe is here if you fancy trying it yourself.

Week 34 : Chinese Food Made Easy - Ching-He Huan

Chickpea is a huge Ching fan so was thrilled when this finally made an appearance. Unsurprisingly she picked out a lot of recipes to try but, for some reason, I just wasn't as enthusiastic. Looking back now, the photos look tempting and the recipe I chose was delicious: I guess sometimes you just have to be in the mood.

Bang-Bang chicken

I'd definitely be in the mood to eat this again. It took me a while to make but only because I'm slow at chopping. The dressing couldn't be easier as you just chuck everything in a blender and then warm it up. Fresh and tasty. You can find the recipe here.

Week 35 : Jamie's Dinners - Jamie Oliver

Another of my Jamie Oliver books: I own six and I think there are still a couple to go though it's hard to keep track after all these months! Lots to tempt us so I ended up choosing two recipes.

Tray-baked chicken Maryland

Chicken stuffed with banana! It was just so intriguing I had to make it.

I'm not sure the banana did add anything except sweetness. Odd but not unpleasant! However, chicken, bacon and sweetcorn are such a classic flavour combination that it couldn't really go wrong. Surprisingly, what made the dish for me was the fresh mint. I don't think I'd have thought to add mint myself but it worked so well and really lifted the flavour of the whole dish.

I'd make this again, with or without the banana, and especially because it was a one-pot meal and so saved on the washing up! If you're as intrigued as I was, you can find the recipe here.

Chicken Tikka Masala

I expected this to be full of flavour but was underwhelmed. It was good but just not memorable. You might think differently, in which case you can find the recipe here. I notice his latest cookery book has another version though which might be worth a go.

Week 36 : The River Cottage Family Cookbook - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall & Fizz Carr

This was close to being the first cookery book from which we chose no recipes! Not that there aren't recipes but they're aimed at beginners so there was nothing to really grab our attention. Having said that it's an interesting read with lots of information about ingredients. It's just not something I'll be consulting on a regular basis for meal ideas. Having said that, I did manage to pick out a cracker.

Spicy bean stew with sausages

Oh my, this was so good! You can't really go wrong with beans and sausage but it was so full of flavour and I particularly liked the unusual addition of ground cloves which added a perfumed warmth. This would be lovely eaten around the fire on Bonfire Night. The recipe can be found here.

And so concludes this update. I'm surprised I'm still going strong after 10 months and reckon there's about 3 months worth of books to go - the finishing line is in sight!

I've had a day off today and spent it with my friend, Sue - oh the luxury of a mid-week day to myself! We had lunch and went to the cinema to see The Maze Runner. We both really enjoyed it and, if you like sci-fi or enjoyed films like The Hunger Games and Divergent, then I think you'll like this one too. Hope you've had a good day - the weekend is almost here :0) x

Saturday, 11 October 2014


There's been a definite change in the weather and seasons this week. Autumn has finally arrived in all her russet and golden glory (plus the blustery showers and downpours) and I've been marvelling at all the wonderful colours. However, I still have a couple of summery things to show you, so let's go back in time.

After visiting the singing ringing tree in July, I really wanted to visit some of the other panopticons in Lancashire. So, at the end of August, we (with the addition of Chickpea's boyfriend) headed to Wycoller Country Park, near Colne, to see the Atom. First we headed into the village.

I was amazed to learn that there had once been plans to put a reservoir here so all of these lovely cottages would have been under water. Thank goodness they changed their minds.

There are only a handful of houses in the village which lay abandoned for many years after the residents (mostly weavers) moved out to find work. There's no through roads and only residents and disabled visitors are allowed to bring in vehicles.

Ahead of us were the ruins of the 16th century Wycoller Hall. You can either cross the Beck using the ford or walk over the bridge...

Wycoller was also known as the Valley of the Seven Bridges, three of which are very old. This one is the Packhorse bridge which is of uncertain date but seems to be from sometime between the 13th and 15th century.

Like a lot of the bridges, it's pretty narrow and not for the unsteady!

Wycoller Hall is rumoured to have been the inspiration for Ferndean Manor in Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre.

Leaving the Hall, we crossed back over the beck using Clapper Bridge (also called Hall, Weaver's or Druid's Bridge), which is equally as precarious as the Packhorse. It originally had a clog-worn surface but it was chiselled flat many years ago after a farmer's daughter died after falling from it.

Next stop was the cafe for a spot of lunch.

For such a small place and isolated location, there was a really good menu and very reasonable prices. I couldn't resist the pie, peas and gravy for a bargain £3.95!

Tummies full, we headed out to follow the path up to the Atom.

Along the field boundaries were these unusual slab stone walls, which look a bit like gravestones. They're known as vaccary walls and are thought to be unique to the Pennine area of Lancashire and Yorkshire. These are believed to be medieval: vaccaries were cattle farms.

Another view of the vaccary walls with Pendle Hill in the distance.

And there's the Atom in the distance.

It's made of ferro-cement and is coated in a metal-based paint. Can you see a stump in the middle inside? That once held a polished steel ball but some horrible person(s) has stolen it! You can see what it would have originally looked like and photos of it during construction here.

Having played around peeping in and out of the windows and admiring the amazing scenery, we carried on following a circular route back to the village.

The rocks on the hill are part of Foster's Leap where foolhardy souls try jumping across the gap between two of the larger ones!

Small Copper

The path took us straight through the manicured lawn of the farm ahead of us, which I felt a bit awkward about. However, they must be used to people tramping through their garden and it is a public footpath.

Over another small wooden bridge to cross the beck.

This is the last of the historic bridges, Clam Bridge, and by far the oldest as it's believed to be over 1000 years old.

I don't know how old the Copy House Bridge is but we crossed this one to follow a short path through a new plantation.

I'd love to know what bird this feather comes from. Chaffinch?

Back down on the main path, near to the village, there are willow sculptures and a tunnel.

Caterpillar of the white ermine moth

And that brought us to the end of the trail. It's well worth a visit if you're in the area as it's such a beautiful place. The Pendle and Bronte Ways pass right through the village too if you fancy a longer walk. There's lots more information and downloadable fact sheets on the Friends of Wycoller web site too.

Do you have anything planned for the weekend? We'll be having a quiet one again though not really through choice. I've managed to hurt my little toe and can't put a shoe on at the moment. Remember how I said about Autumn arriving this week? Well, I'm still having to wear flip-flops! Nothing a bit of rest and relaxation won't sort out though that's not exactly my strong point. Hopefully I'll be able to finish the scarf I've had on my knitting needles for absolutely ages and do some other crafting.

Enjoy your weekend whatever you have planned. x