Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Offerings of Poetry ~~~

Gentle Reader ~~~ Words only today, for I have been Spring Cleaning ~ are we allowed to say 'Spring' Cleaning ~~~ well I've been cleaning and clearing, New Year's Turning Out maybe? Along the way I found some long forgotten papers, folded up, yellow and faded, and no idea what lay within ~~~ so, with a little trepidation I carefully peeled them open and imagine my surprise to find poems I had written some years ago, some when I lived in Iceland and some I really don't remember when ~~~

~~~A long time ago, I had another online journal, Tales from a Celtic Heart and I shared a link to my Flickr Iceland album, which you can find here ~ so if you want, you can have a look at some of the pictures of Iceland that I took.  They are proper 35 mm film, and about 20 years old, so are grainy and gently faded, but full of character, and greatly loved and treasured for I was happy as a polar bear in snow when I lived in Iceland~~~

So, I am going to be brave and share, copy some of those long forgotten words here, and I will see what memories they bring for me ~~~

Iceland is a land of water, surrounded by water, with shining, shimmering water everywhere you look ~~~ you cannot avoid the water ~~~ rivers, lakes, waterfalls that will take your breath away ~~~ frozen water, glaciers, and snow ~~~ 

WATERS OF ICELAND

Silver, sprightful threads
Dancing in the breeze;
Cascading waters tumble
To the river far below and
Meander to the sea

Gushing, grubby torrents
Tearing headlong through the land
Spew forth from mighty glaciers
Ever~changing courses
Charging to the sea
~~~~~

├×ingvellir {pronounced Thingvedlir} was one of my favourite places to visit. Part of the Golden Circle it is the site of the oldest parliament, the Althing, and sits across the mid~Atlantic Ridge.  In my heart, I always felt very 'Middle Earth' when visiting this special place, and this was my tribute twenty years ago ~~~

THINGVELLIR

Silent you lie, in dreams of long ago;
Lives have been born and lost on your shore.
Here did the Settlers make their laws work;
Here Christianity first made it's mark.

Oxarafoss, the toy of the gods
Tumbles and falls over moss covered rocks
To Dreykinggar as it waits far below
Where many a sharp, scolding tongue did go.

Almannagata, that gate of all men
Stands high, overlooking Thingvellir plain,
Here Njal fought with friend against foe
Within the rift, formed so long ago.

Here East meets West, near the Shores of your Lake
~~~~~

Of course, there was snow ~ many kinds of snow ~ and for over half the year snow was a fact of life, something that you dealt with every time you left your apartment, so this is my little ditty about snow in Iceland ~~~

NORTH WINDS SNOW

The North Wind is blowing
and there will be snow e're long.

It howls and it moans about our heads,
It squeaks in the cracks, wakes us up in our beds,
The snow starts to fall in the shimmering light;
When we wake up tomorrow, all will be white.

The shovels and scrapers wake up with alarm,
Winter is here boys, get up now and arm!
We've slept for six months, but now is our time ~~~
The paths must be cleared, it is our time to shine!

The children can't wait for school to be out,
To "Deadman's" they'll rush, with a scream and a shout,
Up the hill, down the hill, up once again,
Soon Mom will be calling, "It's time to come in!"

The snow plough is out, Two Alpha's arrived
Sent home from work, in our homes we must hide.
Hope we've got food in, I don't want to starve,
The Commiss'ry's closed and the wind's blowing hard.

For the time it is over, the roads are all clear,
But it will be back, soon enough, don't you fear!
All Winter long the North Wind will blow,
And time after time, we shall have snow.
~~~~~

Well, there you have some of my poetry now.  I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I remember writing it ~~~ already I am editing the words I wrote! I have some more, but will save them for another day.  Sorry, I know I promised you the recipe for the Marzipan Mincemeat Palmiers, and I haven't forgotten, I just wanted to share these words and it, somehow, didn't seem right to share the recipe with the poetry ~~~ it will be shared very soon, I promise you.



Saturday, 17 January 2015

A Kiss of Frost

Gentle Reader ~~~ the sun is shining brightly in a clear, blue Winter sky and the storms have moved on ~~~

Thank you to everyone who took time to reply to my recent question.  You have given me much food for thought, and some of the replies have surprised me in that the font is easy to read on small devices.  I am not going to reply individually {as I usually do} but I have read everything you have said and am now sifting through the pros and cons.  I think the search will be on for something that is  more easily read ~~~sighs and moves over, once more, to the drawing board~~~ but in the meantime, for the next few entries, I am reverting to something more simple ~~~ and it is now more like my own handwriting ~~~ oh, don't you just love an indecisive Libran?

For three days, a Winter storm raged over our heads, with gusting winds of up to 80 mph.  We did not have snow.  Instead, we had rain, rain, and more rain, with some hailstones thrown in for good measure.  The chimney rattled and shook, the rafters in the roof rafted, ~~~ and my rosemary plant of twenty years was rent in two.

We learned a new word.  Thundersnow.  This is the new buzz word I'm hearing or reading it everywhere, or so it seems. We did not have thundersnow, we just had a lot of thunder and lightening with plenty of rain. No snow.  I would love to see thundersnow, for I know it would give an interesting light for photographs.  I see such beauty and possibility in even the most adverse weather conditions, as long as everyone stays safe and free from harm.

We did have some frost! Not very much, but here are a few quick snaps for you ~~~ this first one fascinates me with all the puddly bits underneath the grass ~~~



This one is just frosty kisses on a delicate moss {the current scourge of my lawn} ~~~



After Hallowe'en, I put my pumpkins {the ones that didn't get eaten} in the garden for birds to peck, and this is what it looks like with a dusting of frost ~~~ I see so much in this and I'm itchin' and twitchin' to do some print making from this ~~~



I do not dead head until the Spring, leaving berries and seeds for the birds to forage naturally, as well as supplementing their food from the feeders. It is important for them to forage too ~~~



Tiny speckles of glistening frost on what I think might be a daisy plant ~~~



One of my favourites ~~~ rosy red and orange rose~hips with a backdrop of a frosty pumpkin ~~~



It is time for filling comfort food, and one of my favourite dishes to make in the depths of Winter is my Broccoli and Cheese Casserole.  It is very simple, and quick too, deliciously tasty, and warmly filling ~~~ here is the recipe ~~~

Ingredients ~
10 oz frozen {do not use fresh} broccoli
1 tablespoon flour
1 egg
3/4 cup cottage cheese
2 ounces Cheddar cheese, grated
1 teaspoon grainy mustard {optional}
salt and pepper to taste
1 oz butter

Method ~
Blanch the frozen broccoli in boiling water for two minutes. Remove and plunge into cold water to prevent any further cooking.  Drain well and set to one side.
Pre~heat your oven to Gas Mark 5 {375F or 190C}
Place the butter in an oven proof casserole dish and put in the oven to melt.
In a bowl, beat the egg and stir in the flour and mustard, salt and pepper if using, adding both the cheeses.  Stir in the cooled, drained broccoli.
Tip the mixture into the melted butter in the hot casserole dish and bake for about 30 minutes, or until the mixture is hot through and the cheeses are bubbling and golden brown.

Serves two with hot with crusty bread as a vegetarian main dish or four as a side dish. It is also very good cold, and reheats well.



I have also been using up the Christmas left overs and made some delicious marzipan mincemeat palmiers and will share those with you next time!  In the meantime, remember, despite the Wutheringly Wild Winter Weather ~~~

~~~A Gardener's Work is Never Done~~~

Saturday, 10 January 2015

A Question and An Announcement

This Thread Is Now Closed to Comments. I Will Delete it Shortly but Leave it for the Time Being as There is No Other Way to Remove.
Thank You Everyone for Your Input.

Gentle Reader ~~~ I would like your help, please.

You will have noticed the change in font that I made recently.  First, I must tell you that I have been looking for a font to use which is different from the stock offered, says "this is me", and one that I can settle on as a keeper.  This is why you have seen several fonts appearing and disappearing over the months.  

When I found this style of handwritten font it spoke volumes to me on many levels, including my love of calligraphy; it has a Jane Austen~esque style that also appeals, but, more importantly, it is incredibly similar to the hand writing of my grandmother who was the single most significant force behind my gardening, and the reason for starting this journal.

Several of you have commented that you love it.  I must admit that I do too. However, I have been told that it might not be suitable for ease of reading on smaller devices.  I use a laptop so can only speak for what I see and it never crossed my mind that things change visually to such a point that they may not be readable on something smaller.  

Anyway, here is my question, and my plea for help ~~~ your honest opinions, please ~~~ what do you think?  Do you use a smaller device such as a tablet or phone to read blogs?  If so, how does this font appear? Is it easily readable or does it cause problems ~ of any kind on any device or computer ~ remember, I want honest opinions and input!

The announcement is that I have decided I am going to give up my Facebook companion page in the very near future in favour of focusing my efforts solely on this journal.  It is  more than double the work to try to find something fresh for each page, and I do not like to be constantly repeating myself across both pages.  Everything is suffering because of this, so the decision is made ~ Facebook is going.

So, there you have it!  I await your help in the comments box or via messages and thank you in advance for your help.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Cranberry Relish

Gentle Reader ~ Will you accept my sincere apology? I showed you a picture of my bowl of perfect porridge topped with that oh! so delicious ~ my go to recipe ~ of fresh Cranberry Relish ~ and I didn't share the recipe ~~~ my head hangs in shame ~~~



So, I shall put that right immediately!

I think the reason I overlooked this was I shared it on my companion page over on Facebook and promptly forgot to share it here ~~~ no excuses though, and I am very sorry ~~~ It is so very easy and really tasty and I'm sure it is quite good for you too if you reduce the sugar, or don't think about it too much, but we all need a little sugar in our day sometimes ~~~ 

Here is the recipe ~~~

Ingredients

2 cups of fresh cranberries
3/4 cup ***brown sugar {I reduce this to 1/2 cup sometimes, depending on how I will use the relish}
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 grated orange peel
1 tablespoon lemon juice {or use port for special occasions}
1 grated lemon peel
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon each of allspice and ground cloves {again, I often double up on the spices just because I love them so much}
1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts {optional}

Method

In a food processor bowl {do not use a blender} process all the ingredients except the nuts, until the berries are roughly chopped.  Stir in the nuts, if using.  Pour into a clean glass jar {food safe polythene is fine} and store in the refrigerator.

***I use a very dark brown molasses sugar from Traidcraft, but any brown sugar is good.

This keeps for a good two weeks and improves with keeping.  It also freezes well.  I don't keep it just for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Right now, I have several boxes made up in the freezer to keep me supplied through much of the Winter as I use it often for a topping for my porridge {oatmeal}



I also mix it in with home made, or shop bought, mincemeat and use it in mince pies and mince meat cookies or tray~bakes ~ they are just so good, especially if you use pastry for the bottom of the pie and marzipan for the lids!  You just have to use your imagination and experiment and you will see how versatile this little jar of yumminess can be!

If you want to give as gifts, use pretty jars that are  sterilized and add some pretty ribbons for presentation.   The porridge, by the way, looks so dark because the sugary juices from the Relish have melted over ~~~ yum yum happy tum!



I know we all have our own favourite porridge recipes too, and mine is to make the porridge using half a cup of oats to a cup of almond milk, adding more almond milk as needed to get the consistency I like best.

Food fit to keep a hungry gardener going all morning from breakfast until lunch ~~~ because ~~~

~~~A Gardener's Work is Never Done~~~






Thursday, 1 January 2015

January is Here!

Happy New Year 2015

Gentle Reader ~~~ is it not hard to believe that January 2015 is here already? Where did the last year fly to?  I've put up my Susan Branch calendar and if you hurry, there may still be some left.  

The wind of Winter is blowing from the East, so maybe Mary Poppins will drift by one day soon?

Cold and chill, no longer fragrant with the faded flowers of last Summer, whip and whistle through branches stripped of leaves long fallen to the forest floor.  Time to reflect on a year gone, and wonder, ponder what the New Year will bring ~~~

Here are some of my favourite pictures that I took towards the end of 2014 ~~~ some late Autumn colours, like a sprinkling of confetti, a remnant of a memory, scattered over the barest branches ~~~

A mossy wall and ivy clothed trees bring green to the muddy brown landscape ~~~ 


This particular bridge has always fascinated me ~~~ there is no vestige of path leading up to it, it is surrounded by fields on both sides of the bank, and it is quite a clamber to the top ~~~ it just sits there, the endless waters running underneath ~~~ my lovely, lonely bridge to nowhere ~~~


The newly refurbished clock faces on the cathedral tower ~~~ my, how lovely they do look, indeed, marking time and ever marching to the future ~~~


The wild and wintery looking sky of late afternoon across the Shire ~~~


Some amazing fungi ~ do you remember the secret fairy doorway? Well, it was hiding a great secret indeed ~~~ just look at what sprung up in the doorway ~~~



Here is a short musical interlude ~~~ the Tower Bells peal out across the gardens and the meadows of the Shire ~~~


Now Autumn is gone and the Winter sun sits low in the sky preparing for the long, slow climb ahead, and makes a nearby outcrop look quite spectacular in the late afternoon sunshine at Christmas ~~~ do I espy some people who have climbed all the way to the top?




There is a new tapestry, custom made to fit an alcove in the north transept of the cathedral ~~~ 


It is dedicated to Saint Caradog ~~~


The tree is lit in the village, on the Square ~~~


My hand shook taking this one, but I do love how each tiny light looks like a jolly jingling note of music, strung across the Square ~~~


Here is a picture of one of my favourite breakfasts during the Winter, when warm and filling food is called for to stave off the biting winds that blow ~~~ porridge made with almond milk, and topped off with a sprinkling of muscavado sugar and a generous helping of my home made Cranberry Relish with some whole almonds ~~~


The wind is whipping wildly about my cottage tonight and I am glad to be indoors and sitting by the fireside.  There are gardening catalogues by my chair and I peruse their pages often through the day as I plan what will be planted in the garden in the Spring ~~~ but in the meantime, remember that ~~~


~~~ A Gardener's Work is Never Done ~~~