more random thoughts …


trees in January

Random thoughts on a slightly bleak January day.


1. What did the cheese say when it looked in the mirror? Hallo Me. I am making halloumi cheese using a kit that I was given for Christmas. The ingredients are minimal but the instructions long. There appears to be a good deal of waiting for things to happen. With luck it will happen.


2. I have staggered back from the library with a bag full of books. If the blurb on the back of the books is to be believed, then in time I shall be master of mixed media techniques, fabric art, metal clay jewellery, knitted pets, colour in the home and aboriginal art. All in the three week loan period.


3. What is the point of three quarter length sleeves on jumpers and how have I managed to buy jumpers without proper length sleeves?


4. January can be a cold and grey month. The wind is blowing outside and seems to find its way through every crack betwixt frame and window or door. I am wearing muffatees as I type because it is so cold and draughty (see number 3 also). If you’d like to know more about muffatees, Annie gives an excellent description here, together with a pattern should you wish to knit your own. Muffatees are superior to my fingerless mittens because they don’t have a proper thumb and so can be pushed back to act as wristwarmers without an empty thumb waggling around. Perhaps muffatees are of little interest to you if you’re sweltering in midsummer heat, but they’re a very useful addition to the layers of clothing needed when working all day in a large, unheated barn*. My tip for knitting muffatees is to use an i-cord bind off as it looks neater and wears better than a normal bind off.


5. Since my last “random” post, more blogs have disappeared. As I don’t travel to work on a train or wait in the car for schoolchildren, I see little attraction in Facebook or Instagram, which is where I suspect some of the bloggers have migrated too. Perhaps some new ones will show up. Any suggestions?


6. A brisk walk on a cold windy day lifts the spirits and frees the mind. I have my best ideas on a good walk, though on a day like today my brain is used mainly to avoid slipping over on a muddy track.


7. The tomatoes in the greenhouse are not going to ripen and should have been cut down months ago. The sight of dead tomato plants still tied to the canes in January alongside the vibrant green of the weeds growing next to them is not the sign of a good gardener.


8. The days are getting longer. Hurrah! Soon be spring.




*Despite my best efforts to spend December in the warmth of The Barley Barn, I was (apparently) more useful in the Christmas Tree Barn and so instead of selling pretty baubles and gin I was stuck in a big unheated barn standing on a cold concrete floor.

34 thoughts on “more random thoughts …

  1. Always entertaining, Anne. I was tempted to give one of those halloumi kits, but in the end gave my parents 4 x deliveries of cheese throughout 2015.
    By the way, which cheese do you use to get a bear down from the mountain? Camembert.
    And which cheese do you use to hide a horse? Mascarpone.
    All from a Christmas panto…

  2. I enjoy posts like this, Anne. January is a time to reflect. I mean really, what else are we supposed to do in this dreadful weather? Perhaps I should go to the library… Your halloumi kit sounds intriguing too.

    Not sure why some of the blogs have disappeared. I’m with you though- I much prefer a well thought out post instead of rapid fire picture sessions. I don’t see half of them anyway. The latter is much easier, and could be the reason for migration.

    Enjoy the weekend.x

  3. I quite like three quarter length sleeves…. these work better under the lab coat than long sleeves but I agree, otherwise they don’t keep you very warm. I think I am going to buy my Halloumi, I am not so patient. Have a lovely week and I do hope that you manage to keep warm.

  4. 1. Halloumi sounds wonderful! We like to cut ours into slices and then stick it between the plates of the sandwich press – far easier than getting a saucepan out. Of course, that assumes your halloumi happens.

    2. This is what the online book renewal function at the library website is for. 🙂

    3. Jumpers (I love that you call them jumpers and not sweaters, that’s what we call them here too) with 3/4 sleeves are daft. Summer kaftan tunic tops with 3/4 sleeves are brilliant.

    4. Muffatees sound fantastic! It hasn’t been cold enough here in a couple of years to even wear gloves, which now that I think of it, is very odd.

    5. We’re getting new IMK posters every month if you’re looking for new blogs (honestly I’m trying to be helpful and not just shamelessly self-promoting :))

    6. Do take care. I saw the funniest cartoon telling folks that when they were walking on ice and sleet, they had to remember to walk like a penguin. I’ll see if I can find it and tweet it to you.

    7. Ah well, bad luck on the tomatoes. Avert your gaze from the greenhouse. 😉

    8. Hooray! Spring is just around the corner, but I always find your photos and descriptions of winter in Essex very evocative and in an odd way, comforting. I feel like I’m sitting by the fire with you, sucking down sloe gin. 🙂

    Much love xxx

    1. Goodness, what a comprehensive comment 🙂 Will try walking like a penguin while weariang muffatees and full length sleeve jumpers. I try to click on most of the IMK links when I have time and have found some wonderful blogs. There’s nothing wrong with a little shameless self promoting.

  5. For someone who has her arms forever up to the elbows (almost) in soil, lime plaster, sawdust and mouse droppings, three quarter length sleeves are a godsend.

  6. Lol [whispers] my tomato plants and a cucumber plant are still in the greenhouse, tomato plants are still tied to the lawn fence and bean plants are attached to the bean poles. All are looking brown and need clearing. I need to get motivated. The weather isn’t helping 😀

    1. I have finally cut down my tomato plants but now of course the glass looks very dirty and in need of a good clean and there’s moss growing through the roof …

  7. Dead tomato plants in the greenhouse is the sign of a busy person.
    Reading books and blogs is the ideal January pastime although I have to add tiling and decorating!

  8. Such a interesting round up Anne! A good friend of mine makes beautiful halloumi, she makes it look easy! Good luck with your cheese making venture. Stay warm, that photo certainly captures a bleak winter moment.

    Do you ever visit the Australian blog Local is Lovely? Most Fridays Sophie shares a list of new blogs she is reading, they are always beautiful and inspiring. I have no idea how she finds them all but they are always worth a read. x

  9. Anne I wonder if you thought my blog had disappeared because it did for a few days in mid December!!! I thought I was being clever by going into my domain host dashboard and setting up email forwarding by myself but I actually managed to delete my blog from cyber space 😦 Back on track now after a lovely chat on the phone with what sounded like a 12 year old boy who connected me again. Think I’ll stick to picking flowers hehe

  10. I agree with you on 3/4 length sleeves, can’t see the point in them as I hate cold wrists! Off to look at that pattern now.

  11. Add a little snow & your tree looks like those in my yard. After coming off a cold snap, we’re now dealing with that lovely mix of rain/sleet/snow, changing over about every 10 minutes. Good day to sit home & knit, read, and blog….maybe make that button from my kit but then ‘someone’ would have to go out & get some heavy cream.
    1. Agree with you on the cheese directions. Someone gave my daughter a kit for making mozzarella & I fell asleep reading the instructions. Lots of steps, lots of hanging & dripping it sounds like.
    2. I read so much that I’d be broke if I didn’t use our library. That’s a lot of material to cover in 3 weeks – do they allow you to renew for an additional 3 weeks? Mixed media…I played with that after a friend suggested I might enjoy it. From what I’ve seen some people do a very nice job & have interesting pieces while others (including this friend) are just slopping paint & whatever pieces of paper, coffee filters, ribbons & other junk around a canvas. I guess it can be whatever you want which certainly makes it an easy enough project to try. Fabric art is more my thing & I’ll wait to see if you come up with anything in that category.
    3. I HATE 3/4 length sleeves. You only wear them in the winter & that’s when you need full length!
    4. I’m bad – I just turn up the heat. I figure I’m too old to suffer.
    5. What category? I’ve noticed a lot of blogs dropping off & was wondering if the way the holidays fell this year had something to do with it.
    6. My dog would agree with you
    7. you’ve got months to pull those plants
    8. I’ve been carefully watching. I think you’ll get a real spring before we will

    1. Having now read the book about mixed media, I agree with you. Some of it is just plain weird and wacky. We can renew our books online but unless I’m completely fascinated I tend to take them back and try something else. The halloumi turned out successfully and worth the waiting for things to drip and cool, which really is not unlike waiting for bread to rise. At least I could get on with something else. Hope your weather is improving – rain/sleet/snow sounds a pretty depressing mix.

      1. Did some of the mixed media remind you of giving a kid crayons & paper? I know of a woman who calls promotes herself as a Mixed Media “Artist” and she basically takes stencils & colors them in, then slaps a bunch of paint all over the place. I guess to each his own though.
        I’m afraid winter’s not done with us yet. Wind watch coming this afternoon & evening.

  12. The library makes winter bearable.

    Fingerless gloves keep me happy.

    Sorry about your feet on the cold Christmas tree barn floor. I had that experience last Saturday when we worked cattle in our hay barn. The concrete slab that holds the cattle chute is especially cold the morning after a 14 degree F night!

    Buddy dog wants to join you for a walk. Me, too!

    My garden has all sorts of bad gardening signs right now. We press on.

    Let us know how the hallou…cheese works out!


    1. I shall have to have another go with the cheesemaking but it worked, which was the main thing. Concrete is pretty unforgiving isn’t it, especially at 14F, which sounds far too cold for me. I hope that having some cattle around you warmed the air, if not your feet.

  13. Anne, I’ve never been on either Facebook or Instagram. I have enough to do just to keep up with my once-a-week blog posts and Twitter. If you’re looking for more blogs to check out, I have a Sites I Visit page link on my header. You might like some of those. I am going to check out those muffatees. They might be just what I need, but if they are, I’ll have to get one of my crafty friends to make them for me — any kind of needlework makes me cross-eyed and crabby!

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