Baby it’s cold outside!

After marvelling about the geraniums still blooming with more buds to open and roses on bushes during November and into the beginning of December, and lots of mutterings about climate change, the weather decided to move into a proper old-fashioned winter. The type we used to have. It started with a heavy frost last Saturday and then snowed on Sunday morning. It’s been very cold all week.

The grocery delivery was delayed on Tuesday morning because the driver said she helped tow someone out of a ditch, as their car had slipped off the road. What a heroine.

It’s really cold out today, it was -6 at 7 o’clock this morning, it’s now noon and is 0°. The snow still hasn’t melted in places, but it looks absolutely beautiful, it’s a winter wonderland!

I’ve loved wrapping up warmly and going for walks. As long as you keep moving briskly, it’s fine. And however cool the house is when you return it feels absolutely roasting in contrast.

I made mulled cider with a measure of Angostura rum on Sunday, which was definitely warming. It practically put me to sleep by 8 o’clock.

I’ve cooked a spicy lentil parsnip and apple soup this week, you can find the recipe here on BBC Good Food site. When I first made it last year I found it a little sweet, so I cut down the amount of apple down to half, but it’s obviously all down to personal taste. It’s worth looking out for Justine Pattison’s recipes, I think she’s really good.

When I’ve been for an icy blast of a walk, soup is what I crave to warm me up and fill the gap at lunchtime.

I’ve made a double batch of mincemeat this week. Ooh the smells in the kitchen were amazing. It’s made with dried cranberries, a mixture of raisins, sultanas, citrus peels, fresh orange zest and juice, Bramley apples, mixed spice and a quadruple of something very alcoholic! It’s a make and use now, or store in a cool place for six months recipe. But it’s so good, there’s no way there’s going to be any left in a month’s time.

I’m making my own pastry for the first time in absolutely years next week and taking mince pies to share with two special people. Wish me luck with the pastry!

I’ve been waiting for publishing day to tell you about The Secrets of Rochester Place by Iris Costello. It’s a goodie.

There are multiple characters and timelines from 1937, leading to the beginning of the Second World War and the current day.

The Secrets of Rochester Place begins with a ship of Basque children being evacuated to England, following the bombing of Guernica in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War. There is also detail about the Irish famine and the fight for independence from The United Kingdom, when Mary is introduced into the story, plus there is quite a bit about Grace O’Malley, the 16th century Irish pirate Queen. In short there is a lot of history, which roots the story and characters into their times and helps to illustrate their motivations.

The story moves on to the beginning of the Second World War and the Blitz. There is a lot going on! (Lots of further reading too, with a helpful bibliography at the end of the novel, for those who are interested in learning more.)
There are a few mysteries at the heart of this book; what has happened to Theresa the young child who has been brought to England as a place of safety, who is Mary Davidson the woman who fosters Theresa and where is Theresa’s sister? And many more missing people, but I will not reveal any more for fear of plot spoilers.


I was gripped. I really liked the quality of the writing, the pace of the book, the jumping back and forth in time and the (mostly) London setting. Overall this is a really absorbing read. Let me know if you try it?

As for crafting I’m still hooked on bobbles. I’m crocheting a Christmas tree! Of course I am, aren’t we all at this time of year?! Free pattern on See Love Share blog here.

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What are you doing, cooking, reading and crafting?

I hope you’re managing to stay warm and cosy, or cool and comfortable if you’re not waking up to -6° temps.

* I am editing this while balancing on my wooden 66 Fit rocker board for 5 minutes. Google if you don’t know what it is. I think you might be impressed! I’m multitasking; blogging while doing some of my physio.

Yarn Along – November

Crocheting: I started this Hot Water Bottle Cover in early spring and added to it gradually. I crocheted the bobble edging recently. I’m really chuffed with it, looks sweet.

Now I just need to darn in a couple of ends and thread some ribbon or a crochet chain into the plain row of trebles at the neck. Then it’s ready to give. This cover is for a relative and I’ve called it: ‘I can’t sleep if my feet are cold.’ Self-explanatory really.

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Reading: My reading speed seems to have slowed down recently, but I’m still managing a chapter a night. My concentration is generally all over the shop again.

I am on the last book Broken Ground in the Karen Pirie series by Val McDermid. It’s a really well written police detective series, I’d recommend them all. Read them in order, if you can, because stuff happens and is referred to in subsequent books. Plus Karen’s personal life and work situation naturally change as they go on. Broken Ground was published in 2018, so hopefully Val’s been busy writing another one this year.

Joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along once again. Why don’t you join us?

Playing with new stitches

S: “It’s a fine example of skill, I’m just not sure it’s a fine example of scarf”

M: “That’s really different, I like it! The green is lovely”

R: “But is it a bit court jester?”

M: “No!”

S: “A bit”

Court jester and lack of style aside, this is actually not the softest scarf you would want against your face, especially when it’s mostly double crochet as it makes a dense fabric. It feels slightly scratchy. Stylecraft works well for blankets, hats and probably gloves too but perhaps not scarves? (Shame as I have another Stylecraft scarf on the go, but it’s not a dc heavy pattern so might be ok.) I need a gorgeously soft merino type wool to make another version of this bobble scarf. I’ve written down what I did so that’s not a problem, but the purse jangling with coppers might hold the making back a while.

In the meantime I made a cover for my iphone yesterday, using my new found knowledge of spike stitch. It’s my own pattern, which means that it might be a bit dodgy, but for me it’s very early days of designing my own things and you have to start somewhere. Let me know if you try it and if you find a glitch.

Gadget cover

(DC Spike stitch: put the hook into the row below the next dc, yo and pull through, yo and pull through the two loops on the hook. Easy!)

>Chain 13
>Dc into the 2nd ch from the hook and to the end of the chain. (12 dc)
>Ch1 then dc into each dc – repeat this row three times
>Change colour (I didn’t cut off the yarn, I just carried it up the side and picked up the colour as I figured the strands carried up the side wouldn’t show when it was made, and they don’t, so there wouldn’t be huge lots of darning) and work alternating spike stitch then a dc along the row
>Dc into each st of the previous row – repeat this row three times
>Change colour and do another row of spikes, I alternated mine so they are staggered with the previous row’s spikes but you could do them above the others
Carry on the pattern until the strip is long enough to fold over your gadget, I did 14 stripes
>SS across one top edge to make it a bit thicker then dc the sides together with the ws together (I like the dcs on the outside, but you could sew yours up inside out or, or dc it rs together if you don’t want to see them)
>Turn the cover inside out, cut the wool to leave a long tail to use to dc the other sides together, thread a needle and weave the end through stitches at the bottom of the cover
>Turn it back the right side out and dc the other two edges together
>SS along the other top edge, fasten off and darn the ends in.

Finito!

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What are you making this weekend? Crochet, sewing, knitting, cooking etc etc? I love to know as I’m basically a very nosy person.