Monday, 14 November 2011


I'm so sorry I've been absent for so long but I've been in hospital having an operation, and then I got an infection which 'put me back' a couple of weeks.  The good news is that since I taught myself to crochet at the end of the summer I have been able to do a lot of crochet work while I've been convalesing.  And...... I've set up an Etsy account for some of my creations :-)

Here is one I made earlier......

This the 12" Blooming Flower cushion that I showed you (being created) in an earlier post and was from one of Lucy's patterns at Attic24 and was crochetted for a friend.  As you can see I got it finished and I think it turned out totally gorgeous.  Now I have to get one done for myself :-)

I made a few pairs of these:-

.... and a few Amigurumi dolls in various colours.....

Hope you like my creations.

Blessings to you all.   Willow x

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Nature's blessings


Here are some of my favourite photos from 2011 so far ~~~

Black swans at Fairburn Ings, Yorkshire

Bee on blackberry blossom

Fungi in the woods

Very large fungi in the lane at the top of my road

Cricket in a poppy field

Bee on blossom

Fungi in woods in Gloucestershire

Fungi on Crook Peak, Somerset

Fungi on Crook Peak, Somerset

Fungi on Crook Peak, Somerset

Fungi on Crook Peak, Somerset

Fungi in woods in Yorkshire

Beetle on grass in Gloucestershire

Some kind of monster fly in the garden

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Rosehip Syrup

1kg rosehips
1kg caster sugar
a big sieve and a clean cotton cloth


This recipe takes a while to complete but it is a delicious syrup full
of vitamin C when it is finish. It can be used as a topping for ice
cream or waffles etc or can be diluted to make a soft drink.

Wash and chop the rosehips.
Put 2 litres of water in a big pan and bring to the boil.
Add the chopped rosehips and bring back to the boil.
Remove from the heat and cover and leave to infuse for half an hour.
Give it a stir from time to time.
Line a sieve or colander with muslin or use the very strong kitchen towel I mentioned in the Sloe Gin recipe.
Strain the rosehip mixture over a very large bowl.
Set the strained juice aside and put the rosehip pulp back to the pan, along with another litre of boiling water.
Bring back to the boil.
Remove from the heat, infuse for another half an hour and strain as before.
Throw away the pulp and combine the two lots of strained juice in a clean pan.
Bring back to the boil. Continue to boil until the volume has decreased by half.
Remove from the heat.
Add the sugar and stir until it is dissolved.
Return to the heat again and bring to the boil. Boil hard for five minutes.
Pour into warmed, sterilised jars or bottles and seal.

The cooling syrup will seal the jars totally…. like the ones you buy at the shop

Monday, 10 October 2011

Crab Apple and Elder Jelly

1 lb crab apples
half a pound of elderberries
1 lb sugar

wash fruit and remove stalks..... cut crab apples in half
put in large pan and cover with boiling water
boil for 30 mins
squash the fruit against the sides of the pan when it is soft while boiling
strain through a sieve lined with strong kitchen towel or use muslin

boil the juice and add the sugar
test by putting a teaspoonful on a cold plate ... leave for 5 mins .... and push with spoon or finger... if the jelly 'crinkles' it is at setting point

leave for 15 mins...... then pour into warm sterilised jars.... place lid

because of all the pectin in the crab apples there is no need to add any extra

hope you like it :-)

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

my religion

I just found this lovely quote from The Dalai Lama

"This is my simple religion
There is no need for temples,
no need for complicated philosophies.
My brain and my heart are my temples,
my philosophy is kindness".

Isn't that beautiful.  I will take that on as my mantra.

Could you ever meet a more amazing soul than the 14th Dalai Lama (real name Tenzin Gyatso)

Elderberry Vodka

this year I've made 5 litre Kilner jars of it ~ this should make around 3 litres of drink.
here is my recipe

1 pound of elderberries
1 bottle of vodka
half a pound of sugar

take all the berries off the stalks as the stalks are very bitter
wash berries
place in a kilner jar
add sugar and vodka to jar
fasten the lid down

place in a dark cupboard
shake once a week for a couple of months
strain and bottle in clean glass bottles
try to leave it for 2 years before drinking.... although I found it very palitable as soon as it was strained and bottled lol

tastes like port wine :-)

Monday, 3 October 2011

Sparkling and Blooming in October?

We have had the most glorious weather all week here in North Yorkshire, with temperatures reaching almost 29C (unheard of for summer ... never mind late September!).  With weather too lovely for sitting indoors I've been working on a piece of crochet seen on the lovely Lucy's blog Attic24.  I'm new to crochet and have only crocheted square and oblong stuff.  But when I saw this Blooming Flower cushion cover I just HAD to give it a try.  Lucy's instructions are so clear that even I managed to work it out lol. 

Of course it needs a light pressing.... but I am so thrilled with it!!!  I've almost completed the back, which doesn't have the petals.  When I've finished it I'll post a picture as this one doesn't do it justice at all.  Take a look at Lucy's lovely creation here.

The week was rounded off really well with a weekend at Gorton Monastery Mind Body Spirit Fair organised by BSSK.  This takes place in Manchester..... so it is a two-hour drive for me but it was broken up by driving over to a friend's house first (about an hour away) and then driving together, over to Manchester. 

We did several workshops on the Saturday but didn't have much time for looking around the venue or talking to people.  But we found time to sit outside and eat lunch in temperatures of 29C (in October??)..... while listening to Terry Oldfield and his wife Soraya produce some wonderful music.

I stayed overnight with my friend and then we decided to go back to Gorton again Sunday for a mooch around.  My friend spotted this quartz crystal self-healed cluster.... and bought it for me.

It is just so gorgeous and I can't help looking at it all the time :-)

Here is a close-up of the fabulous self-healed part of the crystal.

I have such lovely friends.  I am so blessed.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Sloe Gin

1lb sloes or 450g
8oz caster sugar or 225g
1 litre gin (just cheap stuff is best)


1. First the really boring bit:- Use a clean pin or needle to prick the skin of the sloes all over, and put in a large sterilised jar. Told you it was the boring bit (but it is worth it).  A friend of mine washes them and then puts the sloes in the freezer overnight.... she swears that it improves the taste as well as saves the boring pricking of each berry.

2. Pour in the sugar and the gin, seal tightly and shake well.

3. Store in a cool, dark cupboard or pantry and shake every other day for one week. Then shake once a week for two months.

That is it!!! Easy eh? just save your empty gin bottle and strain the sloe gin into a jug and fill the empty bottle ;-) .... I use that really strong kitchen roll and a sieve to strain...... you know the one that changed its name recently showing you just how strong paper can be. or.... if you are posh you might have some muslin

Some say that the sloe gin will now be ready to drink, but I think it improves a lot with keeping for a year….. if you can wait that long! I am drinking sloe gin from 2007 sloes and it is wonderful.

I’ve tried making it with vodka…. but gin is better.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Last Day of September

Today is the last day of September and the temperature is soaring high at 28C...... but feels hotter after having such cold weather.  28C is about as hot as we could ever expect in the height of summer here in North Yorkshire.  We have cloudless blue skies..... glorious... but too hot for me.  But it is all set to change again on Sunday (if we are to believe the weather forecasters).

My poor battered ten foot sunflower is still standing after all the storms, now set against an amazing blue sky ......

and as you can see the seeds are developing beautifully.

The fennel looks stunning in the late afternoon sun....

... and there are still some gailadia and verbena flowering....

a spider spins her web..........

and I collect the last (somewhat weedy) courgette.........

...... but the gargoyle still looks grumpy. 

Perhaps the weather is far too hot for him too.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

At Last!

well, at last I have a date for my gallstone operation....... two weeks today!   I've been waiting for 19 weeks.  seems such a long time when you are on a restricted diet of mainly beetroot, green beans, courgettes, cucumber and humous LOL

will keep you updated.... but for now I have a bit of jumping around with excitement to do ;-)

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Goings on in the village

Just a quick update on goings on in the village.  I'm refering to our pub :-)

The rendering is all off the south side nearest to the Tescos and the new sewage pipes have their trench dug.

The old archway is now all exposed and ready to have all the in-fill removed.

The foundations are all in for the new and probably impressive bay window (the cause of all the road narrowing and road closures).

There doesn't seem to be much left of the old, original, pub but I'm sure it will look old when it is finished.  I discovered today that the pub has been in a state of restoration/repair for well over 10 years, so I'm sure everyone in the village will look forward to it looking less like an eye-sore.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Cherry and blossom

I’m well blessed today.  Look what I found in my breakfast strawberries!  

Who would have thought some pretty blossom would greet me today.

And before I could finish off my strawberries and yogurt I heard someone cutting down a tree.  So I rushed off to investigate (like you do).  It is so sad that the cherry tree had to come down as it wasn’t diseased…. just in the wrong place!  But I couldn’t do anything about it so I begged two lovely pieces from the trunk as seats, and some smaller branches for my whittling. 

The trunks have beautiful ring patterns and will look lovely as a 'stool' and a small 'table' by my seat next spring.

I have half a dozen branches now waiting for me which I need to keep 'green' :-)

Now……. what shall I whittle today?

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

The Village

I took a walk into the village today to get shopping.  I don’t normally walk when I have so much shopping to do but the village is impassable at the moment, and to get to the shops at the north end of the village I would have to drive south into the next village, then on to the roundabout and join the bypass, then drive a further mile or two along the bypass, and join the village at the north end.  The local ‘Lord of The Manor’ is restoring one of the terrible rundown pubs in the village to its former glory with a bay window!!!  So for 6 weeks our village is closed!!!  It doesn’t matter that the pub has looked derelict for at least 10 years……. now is the time to disrupt the whole community and cause chaos to the independent retailers.  The jeweller’s is closed until October… not sure if that is because of the road-works or for some other reason. 

Anyway I thought I would show you what my walk was like today.

Here is the first notice to say road is closed

The trees are decidedly autumninal

The road to the west is closed as you can see..... so no detour there with the car... and the two roads running east are also closed with access only with police waiting to give motorists an on-the-spot fine :-(

Cars and trucks still think they can get through somehow so ignore the signs

But as they get nearer they can see that barricades block the whole road

Here is a view of the pub and road closure from the north end of the village

But despite the chaos, the day ended beautifully with this wonderful sunset ...........

So I suppose we will manage and get used to the disruption.  Well there are far worse things happening in this world than the road closures in a small village in Yorkshire :-)


ps...... I'll post pictures of the pub when it is 'restored to it's former glory'

Just blogging

Gosh!  I’m really getting into this blogging thing.  I spend up to an hour a day searching and reading other people’s blogs ~ at first it was to get a feel for blogging ~ but now I can’t stop coz I am so ‘hooked’.  I’ve found some amazing blogs and bloggers.  Crafty people; gardening people; family people; and just plain talented people!  You can see for yourself what I mean by clicking on one of the bloggers in ‘My Blog List’ on the right-hand side of my page.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Self sufficient? I think not!

Weather has been pretty grim for September.  First it was the tail end of Hurricane Katrina which battered all the plants in my garden and then the storms arrived with rain and cold temperatures…. and more winds. 

The ducks even thought about having a dip in the bird bath but decided it was too turbulent!

Having said that, we have had some gaps in the clouds and a little sunshine peeking through from time to time.

I have a tiny greenhouse of about 5’ tall by 2’6” wide which I put in to use this year.  Most of the produce has been harvested or died off while I was away on holiday.  Everything I’ve grown has had to be in pots as I have a very small garden full of stones, and underneath there is builder's rubble so I have no energy to dig it over to make it suitable for growing veggies (maybe I'll get a 'man' in next year lol).  I do grow herbs in large pots and they have been very successful again this year.

So am I happy with my first year of greenhouse growing? 

I’ve raised cucumbers and tomatoes.  The cucumbers were a good crop of dwarf fruits but the tomatoes were very poor, with very few fruits at all.  Perhaps I didn’t feed them enough. 

The seeds planted have given me butternut squash plants ~ but as yet no fruits (probably planted them too late);
beetroots ~ lots of lovely medium sized ones;

courgettes ~ beautiful dark green skins with creamy insides (delicious);

8 lemon ‘trees’ (a big surprise as I didn’t think any of the 10 lemon pips would germinate);
and cabbages ~ all eaten by caterpillars!  (I need netting for next year!).

Unsuccessful seed-plantings were:- coriander, basil, chives, spinach, cucumber (all died before maturity), cherry stones, blueberry seeds, apple pips.  I still live in hopes for the fruit pips and seeds, and I’ll give them a bit longer before giving up on them.  The rest of the ‘failures’ are relegated to the compost heap which I started this summer.  It is very surprising how many kitchen peelings and scraps can be saved from the dustbin and landfill… and next year I should have some compost of my own to use on my garden.

Most people would say that I had a bad year… but I say that I had a good year… I learned a lot…. mainly that plants do not grow successfully by themselves … there is a right time and a wrong time to plant…. and that there are more things wanting to eat my produce other than ME!!