Saturday, 7 November 2015

Take 5

1) Did you know that the collective noun for mice is a 'mischief' of mice?

Following very wise advice from Penny and Sarah (thank you both!), to try and have some small things on my Christmas Fair Stall, I've been making lots of mice finger puppets from scraps of wool. I could be slightly addicted to them!

2) I really don't know what the collective noun for pixie hats would be. Perhaps a posse? But there have been lots more of those made too. Some plainish...

And a couple with some applique...

Difficult to see in a photo but the wool for these stars has a lovely sparkly metallic look to it, and they're sewn on with silver thread.
3) Things in the garden have changed a little since the last update (quite a bit tidier, all the blueberries planted, lots of leaves gathered to compost...), but my garden is not pretty enough, nor my garden photography skills good enough, to merit more photos. Instead, I thought I'd share a recipe. We're not generally big fans of butternut squash or pumpkins here (except the seeds, love the seeds roasted!), so I've been searching for inspiration for using them. Last week we had Shepherd's Pie, and they worked really well chopped up finely in that, but at the same time I also made an Indian version of Shepherds Pie and apparently (I'm a traditional Shepherd's Pie kind of person so I'm taking the non traditionalists' word for it here!) they were delicious in that. The original recipe is from 'Curry Easy' by Madhur Jaffrey, here it is:

3 tbsp olive oil
2 cinnamon sticks
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1 tsp peeled and finely grated fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
900g minced lamb
3 tbsp natural yogurt
3 tbsp tomato passata
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp salt
285g potatoes, peeled and cut into 2cm cubes

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat, when hot put in the cinnamon sticks and let them sizzle for 5 seconds, then add the onion, stir and fry until it just starts to brown at the edges. Add the ginger and garlic, stir for 1 minute. Add the lamb, stir, breaking up the lumps until the meat loses its redness. Add the yogurt, tomato passata and the remaining herbs/spices. Stir for 1 minute. Add the potatoes and 475ml water. Stir and bring to the boil. Cover, lower the heat and cook gently for 30 minutes.

I've made it just like this before and it's always been really popular. It's actually a very mild dish and even I, a complete non curry eater, can manage a mouthful of this, though I much prefer a non spiced version personally, but the curry lovers in the family appreciate it. This time, with several butternut squashes from the garden to use, I did half the potatoes and half cubed squash, and the curry lovers were very happy with it.

And since I have no photos of that, I'll pop in a photo of a few of our pumpkins. If you ever have a green pumpkin that won't turn orange before Halloween, then the girls reckon the perfect thing to do with it is to carve it into a frog.

You knew that middle one was supposed to be a frog, right?

4) Maria has had some thank you cards to do for a while, and there's been a serious lack of motivation to get them done. So last week, I decided to tempt her into doing them by suggesting some sewn cards. Of course it worked!

Perhaps with echoes of Halloween still in our heads, we went for a black cat design. Happily it was also very simple and effective.

Just some green felt eyes cut out and sewn on to the black card with matching green thread. You might be able to see 2 triangular ear shapes sewn up the top in metallic black thread, but they do show up better in real life. And then some white whiskers. Possibly easier to see the sewing on the reverse actually.

I had to work the pedal (Maria's legs aren't long enough!), but with the sewing machine on its slowest setting Maria managed all the turning and guiding of the card herself. It felt like an excellent, simple introduction to machine embroidery skills. We did a few cats and now Maria has plans for some different designs.

5) Near the end of the Summer we had a lovely day out, swimming and picnicking, at a place called 'Salmon Leaps', near Castle Drogo, on Dartmoor.

The river was dammed back in Victorian times to create a large, deeper fishing stretch, and 3 graduating pools were then built into the drop in level, to help the fish when it came to swimming back up stream in the Autumn for spawning.

In the Summer, everyone swam, but Theo in particular loved tumbling down the pools. 

Personally I tried out the pools once and hated being in them. Despite the fact that they were only chest deep at most I really struggled to find my footing in them with the torrent of water knocking you around, and I felt a momentary panic that I could drown in them. Needless to say the girls were not allowed to give them a go!The rest of the stretch of river was lovely for swimming and perhaps I would have enjoyed the pools if the river had been a little less high and fast. But the thing I most wanted to do was to visit again in the Autumn and see if we might be lucky enough to spot salmon leaping up the pools.

So we headed off that way again last week. And there aren't many places I'd say this about, but it was even more beautiful in the Autumn than the Summer! The leaves were just gorgeous.

The water is beautiful and clear, but it has, in the Summer as well, a very rich, peaty brown look to it. Which just seemed to emphasise the reflections of the amazing colours. And the leaves floating downstream really shone out of the water like jewels. There was something quite mesmerising about watching them drift down the current, and dipping a hand in every now and then to pluck out a particularly special one.

A heart shaped leaf!
Theo contemplating a swim!
He couldn't resist, but it was proper cold!

But best of all, we did see salmon leaping up the 3 tiered pools! I found it such a magical sight. I'm afraid they were far too quick for my photography skills, but they were pretty big fish, and there was a steady succession of them as we sat and watched. The river was quite a bit higher and faster than in the Summer when I found it so hard just getting down the pools, so I was full of admiration for those salmon getting up them! Of course gills do give them a huge advantage over me, but even so they were seriously impressive!
There's a slightly camouflaged Sam sitting and watching the salmon leaping in this photo.
It's definitely going to become a regular Autumn outing from now on.



  1. The mischief of mice are adorable, and I really feel like I knew that name for a group of mice but misplaced that knowledge long, long ago.

    For butternut squash and pumpkin, we like to make soup. In fact, we made some tonight for dinner. We bake the squash and pumpkin (tonight it was squash, yam, and potato) in the oven on 450 for about an hour. On the stove top we boil carrots in a large stock pot and in a small pan we fry about 1/3 of the total carrots. After everything is done cooking, we combine everything into the large stockpot and blend. We tend to add a fair amount of garlic and salt and we shoot for a pretty thick soup.

  2. That walk is one of my very favourites (we also used to ride part of it too) Did you do it as the circular walk? From the castle, down to Fingle bridge, over the bridge and back along the river on the far side? Aren't the salmon wonderful.
    Damn now i'm missing home.
    Love all your crafting for the fair, its all looking wonderful!

  3. the mice are so cute! love the sound of that recipe, and that salmon walk looks just a delight.

  4. Those mice are SUPER cute, Sally and they'll look appealing on display in the basket. Love the black cat card. I put my little one on my lap, then a small kids' chair under the table, with the foot pedal on the chair.

    Your photos are spectacular!!! The Autumn colours are so pretty. And how amazing to watch the salmon. I would love to see that.

  5. I am so going to buy some of those mice for my niece, too cute! We haven't done the walk yet, think its too late for the Salmon?

  6. Wow! You got some incrediibly beautiful photos!

  7. I always enjoy your photos. The area you live in is stunning and seeing your children, enjoying the outdoors, is always so joyful. Love the black cat cards and that frog pumpkin, just might be my all-time favourite pumpkin........ever.

  8. You really live in a gorgeous part of the world, Sally! I just want to see more and more of your spectacular photos.

    Theo must have gills of his own to be allowed in water that you feel is too wild for yourself - my heart clenched a bit over that! I calmed myself by remembering that (of course!) you know his capabilities and wouldn't let him swim if you feared for his life. What a fearless and able tribe you are raising.

    I noticed a heart shaped leaf in the water below Venetia - I wonder if it is the same one? Tell Maria I would have picked that one out of the water, too. :-) Also, please tell her I'm suitably impressed with her black cat card. She did a very nice job of steering.

    Your mice are adorable, by the way. What an appropriate name for a group of the little pests! Gosh, what a great post. So much going on! We also love watching salmon run when we visit the right place at the right time - not locally, though. More like an 8 hour drive into the next province. But, there's really nothing like it.

  9. Thank you for this post. Beautiful! My daughter and i would love a link/tutorial for the pixie hats, please. We are beginner knitters and are just starting to sew with a machine (we do a lot by hand). If you have a chance, we would really appreciate your help. Thank you, merci! Marie and Juliette : )

  10. What lovely makes! These mice are adorable and I'm sure up to mischief as well :-)

  11. Oh oh oh! How I love your little mice... and the pixie hats aare just adorable.
    I just love all the the beautiful fall pictures. All those colors, just breath taking.


Please post a comment, I love to hear from you!