The Owl and the Pussycat had a Potter Around

I wasn’t sure which blog to put this onto so there will be a link on Plummy Mummy to here. But it’s definitely a craft thing so [somehow] I’ll file it under “Paper” ūüôā

This is not a sponsored post.

Last week, I took the tot off to Potter Around which is based on a farm in Kirknewton. You go up a bumpy gravelly path and approach the farm. I parked outside but later saw that the building that the studio is based in has more parking. ¬†Now I have to tell you, it’s flipping fantastic that 5 mins drive from our house we are in farmland. I am slowly realising and beginning to appreciate that we may be living in Semi Rural Scotland. Livingston is a sprawling mass of shops and housing but near us we have gorgeous country parks, and lovely villages. And great places to do craft on FARMS!

Potter Around has all sorts of craft stuff including wool (ooooh!), fimo (oooooh!), jewellry making stuff (aaahhhh!) …oops I’m starting to do a parody of a rural person. Must stop. But predominately, it’s a pottering studio. The great thing if you are like me and tot, who have never pottered is that you go in, choose a model and then are let loose on all the paint and glitter your wee heart desires. And it turns out, I’m rather a big fan of glitter. It’s not cheap so we would only be able to go once in a while for a treat, but I like how the price is clearly marked, and you aren’t charged extras. I chose a rather modest owl but my daughter’s eyes lit up when she saw the Hello Kitty.

Having picked the model, we were shown what acrylics we could use so that we could take the models away that day. If you want the model to be fired, you use different paints and have to come back a week or so later. We don’t do deferred gratification, we are all about instant gratification so slapped on some bright colours and waited for them to dry. I kind of got into it. Little one did hers quickly and wanted to go off to play with the horses and their big house. However, Irene who is the knitter in the studio, patiently sat with my daughter and encouraged her to fill in the white bits. That done, she got down to playing with the toys in the studio while I finished my owl. While we waited for them to dry I went off to look around buy some wool and buttons.

We were there for hours. Karen who is one of the co-owners, is very welcoming and great with the little one. We were given lovely tea and juice and had a great time and best of all, my house is now covered in glitter as I may have gone a bit overboard in what I shook onto the models…it looks glorious in our record breaking Scottish sunshine.

Potter Around

Address:
Potter Around
Overton Farm
Kirknewton
West Lothian
EH27 8DD

Opening Times
Mon-Sat: 10-5pm
Sun: 1-5pm

    

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Mad hatter

After finishing my daughter’s pink and red blanket, I thought I’d have a go at making hats. It’s amazing how many patterns are out there and so many generous designers provide them for free as long as you give them credit, and don’t nick their patterns to pass off as your own and don’t sell the goods made from the patterns for profit. Hats off to all these lovely generous crafters.

All fine by me. I have a load of acrylic wool which I bought cheap. Some of the colours do not suit me. And I think for now we have enough blankets so hats for charity seemed a great idea. (p.s. ulterior motive is I want to buy new yarn in bright colours but should use my stash up first to make room under the bed).

Here’s what I’ve made so far:

Hello kitty hat – designed by Elizabeth Trantham

As I am not great at sewing on parts, I decided to embroider the face. Also ears are made using half circles rather than the pattern design.

 

Rib wrapped cap – designed by Heather Schott

This was my first go at post-stitch. The instructions are very clear and the designer has provided a few helpful photos.

 

Crochet Vision Hat Рdesigned by Marty Miller 

Such a lovely thick hat.

Shell stitch beanie – designed by The Dainty Daisy

This is a gorgeous pattern for little girls. Will be making another one when I get hold of some cotton yarn.

Chunky Beanie Hat – designed by Elizabeth Trantham

My second pattern from this site. She’s a talented lady. This pattern was so quick and easy so I made two.

 

 

Kiss me bag – designed by Claire Ortega

It’s not all about hats though. I needed a handbag to take to a wedding reception so made one! I had to change the pattern a bit as the yarn I was using is very stretchy. I’m pleased with the outcome and once I’ve washed it, will line it in a bright colour.

 

Going back to my roots / turmeric

Well unlike Kunta Kinte, I have no baby to hold up to the sky. What I do have is a bit of raw turmeric – which I got from Morrisons. I have to say I’m impressed with the local shop as it stocks a lot of “Ethnic” veg. I just wish they had little placards explaining what they were and how to cook them. While I was shopping there, a few people stopped me to ask what various things were – I love the opportunity to show off so didn’t mind, but even I was limited in my knowledge of what to do with a Cassava (apart from fry it like chips which is sooooo delicious doused with red chili powder, salt and lemon and eaten with beer on a hot summers day).

I’m digressing. Gujaratis love pickles. And they love pickled roots like one called garmar (sorry don’t know the English name but it’s like a really mild ginger), ginger, turmeric, radish, and pickled veg like carrots and chilis and fresh peppercorns. These are eaten with hot ghee smeared rotlis, rice, ghatias or as an accompaniment to a main meal…basically anytime.

I thought I’d have a go so I picked up a little bit of turmeric and brought it home. I pickled it using lime but think in future I’ll use lemon as I prefer the sharper taste. ¬†You can also add ginger (prepare in the same way as turmeric below) and chilis if you like a kick. The amount below is probably enough for one person for a few days. BTW it tastes better if you leave it for a few days to get properly soused! You will need a sterilised glass jar which you can get by putting a jar in the oven at 100 degrees for an hour or put it into some sterilising fluid.

A BIG NOTE TO NOTE: turmeric is used to colour a bride’s skin in the days before her wedding. The colour represents purity and makes the girl go a golden colour apparently. It’s also used in powder form dissolved in water to clean gold. The stuff stains. If you are going to handle it, use gloves and DON’T wear your favourite white shirt. Don’t believe me? Look at my hands….

Another note: boring this one but the interweb seems divided on whether you should eat turmeric if you have gallstones. From what I can see, turmeric is useful for preventing the stones but if you already have them, then avoid this spice.  From what I have read, there are some health benefits to this spice but seriously, the only reason I eat anything is the taste. My ever-expanding waistline is testament to that though it might just be the encroachment of middle age (now imagine me running off sobbing hysterically into my hanky).

Ingredients:

  • 25g turmeric (once peeled weight is 20g)
  • 1 lime or half a lemon
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Preparation:

  

  • Wash then thinly peel the skin off the turmeric. Use a vegetable peeler and take off as little as possible. The flesh of the root is bright orange. When I was doing this I had to keep washing the peeler as the stuff was sticky.
  • Wash and pat dry
  • Either chop into small disks or into matchsticks
  • Put in a bowl with the lemon or lime juice and salt
  • Leave for about half an hour out in the open
  • Put the turmeric and juices into the sterilised jar and store in the fridge. Should be good for a few weeks.

E’s Tomato and bean soup

My recent trip home was great – especially when I was fed by friends including the lovely “E”. She quickly put together the most delicious home made soup which was served with home made croutons.

She’s allowed me to put the recipe here for all to enjoy (not that she had much choice as I posed the question “You don’t mind if I post this up do you?). Now like a lot of recipes, quantities are per taste as long as you have the core ingredients in sufficient quantity everything else you add as much or little as you want. The core ingredients here are onions, tomatoes, butter, stock and some form of white bean: butter beans, cannellini beans or chickpeas. Don’t leave out the butter, it’s VITAL to the silky taste here and with this soup you are covering 3 of your five a day (tomatoes, onions and beans) so fab all round.

When I made it, I added in a handful of fresh basil leaves because the plant on my window sill is getting too big for it’s boots. But hey, that’s me. It’s a versatile recipe, add what you wish but do have a go as it’s yum.

Ingredients:

  • 1 or 2 tbs olive oil
  • 10g butter (I used this much, not sure how much E uses but I suspect the quantity may change from batch to batch)
  • 1 large onion diced finely
  • 1 leek (optional but I like the taste so core to me) wash out the grit, slice up green and white bits
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 cans good quality chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cans butter beans (or alternative, use what’s in your cupboard) discard the water in the can and give them a quick rinse
  • 1 pint vegetable stock
  • Dash of soy (optional). Don’t go overboard just a quick flick of the wrist dash is all you want here

Cooking:

  • In a heavy based pan or pot, heat oil and butter over a medium heat
  • When butter has melted add the onions, garlic and leeks. ¬†Sweat the onions only i.e. cook until they start getting translucent
  • Add tomatoes, beans and soy sauce.
  • Bring to the boil then simmer for a little while
  • Blend up the soup and serve with lovely home made bread croutons (or if you are me, shop bought bread!)

This makes enough for about 4 bowls of soup. As my little one doesn’t eat much I’ve got a delicious batch in the freezer to have in the next week or so.

 

Quick spring greens

I like spring greens but they can be a bit rough especially compared to spinach. However, I found a recipe for quick collard greens which sounded great. I adapted it for spring greens and the result was very tasty. Hubby and kid had it with pork sausages and mash. I just gobbled it up with the mash.

Ingredients:

  • 350g spring greens – this was around 3 bunches
  • Water to cover the greens
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 10g butter
  • 1 small onion diced finely
  • 2 garlic cloves sliced thinly
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp crushed red dried chillies
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

  • Boil enough water to cover the greens – I used about 2 pints
  • Discard the mangy greens that are normally around the bunch.
  • For the remainder, pull each leaf off the bunch, wash it then remove each leaf and cut out the stem along the middle. Chop into 1 cm slices and put into the pan of water

Cooking: 

  • Boil the greens for a few minutes until the leaves begin to wilt. Turn off the water. Scoop out a couple of ladles of the water and set aside as you will use again.
  • (I poured the rest of the water out to use to boil potatoes for mash)
  • In a large heavy based saucepan or frying pan pour in olive oil and butter. Once butter melts add in the ginger and greens.
  • Stir for a minute or so.
  • Add the garlic slices, cumin, cinnamon and a ladle or two of water.
  • Cook until the water evaporates. If cooking for children remove a portion now then add the chili, salt and pepper to taste to the remainder. Stir through and heat for a minute.
  • Serve with mash and sausages.

Pretty in pink

My kid loves pink. She assures me she loves all the colours of the rainbow, but given a choice she utters “Pink” with glee. I therefore bought loads of different pinks to make her a blanket out of Patons UK Fab DK – an easy to use acrylic yarn which makes great home projects.

Did I mention she likes pink. Well turns out, she doesn’t like all pinks and poo-poohed some of my choices. So we duly marched to the local yarn shop to get more shades….and came home with bright RED acrylic yarn. Yippeeeeeee good girl. Unfortunately, the weight was wrong so I order some more Fab online. The shade I got was darker than her choice but the end result of a pink and red blanket was lovely.

    

 

The design is a fudge as the number of stitches meant I ended up with 3hdc at the end of each of the 1 and 2 rows. Has something to do with maths I think. Anyway, it’s not like she’s noticed and I wasn’t about to unravel it all just to fix it.

 

A really simple design. Foundation chain of 141

First row: HDC in fourth chain. Skip 1, 2hdc in next chain. Repeat from * to* until end. Do a single HDC in last chain. Chain 3 turn
Row2: 1HDC in first chain (this forms the first shell together with the turning chain), Skip 1, 2hdc in next chain. Repeat from * to* until end. Do a single HDC in last chain. Chain 3 turn
Row 3 and 4, single DC in each chain across, chain 2 turn.

Repeat is
2 x Row 2 followed by row 3&4

When you are happy with the length, finish with a row 2.
Simple border of dc all around.

I had 3 skeins left over but my daughter really wanted the blanket so I finished it off with a simple border.

The 2×2 row pattern is gorgeous and I will definitely use it again for baby/child blankets though I would use a softer yarn for a baby. Fab DK is nice but I found the cherry colour wasn‚Äôt as soft as the candy.

And I would walk 500 miles to Leith

Ok, we didn’t walk, on Saturday we drove into Leith. I wanted to see what it was like to drive around Edinburgh and also to check out the food shops in Leith.

Driving would probably have been more straightforward without all the diversions caused by the tram works but the only time we hit any traffic was on Queen Street. I didn’t mind so much as I got a good chance to look at Queen Street gardens which I will take the little one to next time we visit by train. We found Leith fairly easily.

On this trip we went to two Asian shops:

Rajah’s supermarket¬†33 Albert Street¬†¬†Abbeyhill, Edinburgh EH7 5LH ¬†tel:¬†0131 555 1619

www.rajasupermarkets.com/

There was a lot of double parking on this street but further up we easily found a place to park. Unfortunately, this is probably where our car was damaged so I wouldn’t recommend parking here. If you do park, fold your mirrors in so that some eejit doesn’t hit them.

The shop has a very small front but there is a lot in this shop. A butchers, a cloth department downstairs selling material for salwar kameez and a large section at the back selling frozen and dried ingredients. The veg near the entrance was tired looking and in some cases mouldy. This was a shame as they had things like tindora and drumsticks but I wouldn’t waste my money on it.

We didn’t spend much time in the dress department as it was mostly for those who want to make punjabi suits. They did have a few ready made items but unfortunately, nothing in our sizes. There were also quite a lot of ¬†bangles and other Indian accessories.

The dried ingredients section is extensive and not overly expensive. I was super pleased to get some normal strength chili powder. It’s a bit hard to walk around as there is not much space between the shelves and the freezers situated in the centre of the aisles. A little boy kept getting in my way and I was tempted to put him into the empty freezer!

When we went to pay we chatted to the friendly owner. He used to live in Uphall which is in Livingston and said he was happy to deliver to North Livingston….not sure he heard when I said a couple of times that that was great but we lived in South Livingston!

My overall impression of the store is that is a bit grubby but if you are after dried ingredients it’s definitely worth a visit.

Polypak Continental Foods 336c LEITH WALK, Edinburgh, Scotland EH6 5BR tel: 01315 535711

www: don’t bother as it’s not working.

Before going into the city I looked up shops and decided to visit Polypack  on Piershill Place. However, as we drove to Leith I saw this shop called Polypak. According to the cashier the one on Leith Walk is the original one. They used to run the one in Piershill Place too but have sold that off and the new owners kept the name with a slightly different spelling Polypack vs Polypak.

The veg in Polypak was better looking that in Rajah’s however, yet again not much choice. I picked up some okra. The helpful cashier explained that they used to stock guar and valor but there wasn’t much demand and the veg would go off. I could either get the frozen stuff or they could order some fresh in for me. She called over the manager who told me the cost, which I would have to pay upfront a few days beforehand and then take the whole box. The price for a whole box wasn’t bad but paying upfront is not practical when we live in Livingston and he couldn’t guarantee the quality. So for now, I am just going to try frozen.

This shop is really clean, there is plenty of space to walk in the aisles and a separate well stocked freezer section. I walked away with some more dried spices, frozen paratha and guar and hubby picked up a tray of barfi.

We finished out day playing in Pilrig park (loads of parking on this street but remember, fold your mirrors) and then some yummy coffee and home made Moroccan baklava in Eco’s cafe.

I like Leith Walk with it’s mix of food shops, cafes and other interesting shops – I am planning to go back by train (with the Proclaimers playing on my shuffle) to visit the Sewing Bee Cafe for lessons and the Elvis Shakespeare¬† shop (FAB name!!!). With regard to food shops, there are some Chinese supermarkets to visit which I saw with a quick glance stocked Asian spices and some veg too. And who knows I may venture further afield to see what the other Polypack is like.