Paddy and Plunkett – The Hunt for Red October

Hello Beastie friends! I hope you all had a spooktacular Hallowe’en! We’ve been busily stitching away here in Beastie Towers, so it’s lucky for you that Paddy and Plunkett have been in touch… Otherwise you would have been treated to a series of pictures of me at my craft table today. After their recent adventures in the most northerly parts of Northern Ireland, the lads tell me that they have been taking advantage of the latest lockdown and having a quiet October at home.

Unfortunately, they have also been spending quite a lot of time on the internet, and they are now suffering from the dreaded FOMO (fear of missing out).
Paddy has FOMO - October - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Awww, Plunkett! Look at all the fun they’re having down in Dublin! I want to go out and collect colourful leaves in the park with Autumn Beastie!”

Like a lot of humans, Paddy is feeling the pinch of these antisocial times. But isn’t it lucky that Plunkett has an answer for everything?

“I know where we can find some colourful leaves. Come on, Paddy!”
Not So Colourful Leaves - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Taaa-DAAAAAAH!”

Paddy is unimpressed.

“Huh. Bit green, aren’t they?”

“Only for the moment, Paddy. For this to work, we’ll need to climb the tree where these came from…”
October Leaves - Paddy and Plunkett - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“… And wait for a bit. That’s it, straight ahead.”

Let’s get climbing! And look, it seems that Plunkett is not wrong…
Reddening Leaves - Red October - Paddy and Plunkett - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties… As the leaves had turned vibrant red before he’d even finished climbing up to where Paddy was sitting among the branches!

“How’s that for Autumn colour, Paddy? I think our work here is done!”
Climbing Down the Tree - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesAnd with that, Plunkett started to clamber back down to ground level.

It’s a pretty spectacular display of colour though, isn’t it?
Red October Leaves - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesAnd now Paddy can scoop up giant pawfuls of red leaves, and give Autumn Beasties everywhere a run for their money. Nice hat, Paddy!
Paddy and Plunkett and the Leaves - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesI still haven’t figured out why Beasties love Autumn leaves so much, but hey, at least they’re happy!

And I know we’re into a new month now, but did you have a colourful October? Be sure to share your many-hued Fall (or Spring) stories with us in the comments!

Ready to harvest and eat! H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

Paddy and Plunkett – Harvest Time!

Hey there everyone! Now, if the title of this post has you thinking that it’s really too early to harvest anything, please read on… You might be surprised!

After planting courgette seeds a few weeks ago, Paddy and Plunkett are back out in the garden… And, unsurprisingly, they’re on the lookout for some lunch.
“Look, Plunkett! It’s that courgette plant we potted up a while back… And it’s flowering!”
Paddy, Plunkett and the Courgette Plant - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“I’m going in for a closer look – give me a leg up, will you?”
“Alright… Yeowch!”
Inspecting the Courgette Harvest - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesPoor Plunkett! He didn’t think “leg up” meant “I’m going to stand on your head”.

Paddy’s impressed with what he sees, though…
Courgette Flower - Harvest Time - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Lovely! Hey, Plunkett – we could fry these up in batter like they do in fancy restaurants!”

But then, Paddy spots a baby courgette growing behind the flower… Can you see it?
Not ready to harvest yet - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Hmmm, better leave that for a bit. But I’m STARVING now!”

Just then…
“Paddy! You might want to come back down here!”
Plunkett’s made a tasty discovery.
Ready to harvest and eat! H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Oh, that’s a beauty! Stand back, Plunkett – I’ll take it from here.”
Paddy and the Courgette - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“HEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAVE!”

And after only a bit of persuasion, the courgette breaks free!
Beastie Courgette Harvest - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Nice one – a successful first harvest, Plunkett! Now, let’s get it to the kitchen.”
Well, it’s lucky there are two of them.
Bringing home the courgette - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Y’okay back there, Plunkett?”
“Uuuuurrrrhhhhh! Is it much further?”

Oh dear. Seems this has been a more energetic outing than Plunkett was expecting. Hopefully he’ll feel better after he’s had something to eat!

So, what’s growing in your gardens (or on your windowsill) these days? I’ve already been enjoying fresh rocket, radishes and nasturtium leaves so far this summer. And after a couple of lazy years, my strawberry plants are finally bearing fruit! All I need now is a little bit of sunshine to ripen those green berries up. Yum!

That’s all for now, but we’ll be back later in the week for another Flashback Friday… See you then!

Courgette Plant - Growing Veg - CrawCrafts Beasties

Paddy and Plunkett – Growing Wild!

Hey there everyone! After a bit of a wild weekend (weather-wise, of course. We’re still confined to quarters here at Beastie Towers) the sun has returned… And so have a pair of familiar woolly faces! It’s been a while since we’ve seen Paddy and Plunkett, hasn’t it? Let’s drop in and see what they’re up to.
Paddy and Plunkett get growing - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesAha! Looks like they’ve hopped on the gardening bandwagon and are getting into growing their own veggies.

Well, Plunkett is. Paddy has other ideas for what to do with the courgette seeds.
Paddy and the Courgette Seeds - CrawCrafts Beasties“Check it out, Plunkett! Sustainable jewellery!”
“Well… Yes. But they work better if you put them in a pot…”
Planting Seeds - Paddy and Plunkett - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“… Like this. Now, courgettes grow quickly – you might want to stand back a bit!”

Courgette Plant - Growing Veg - CrawCrafts Beasties
Wow, that really WAS quick! And it’s not done yet.
Paddy, Plunkett and the Growing courgette plant - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“I think we’re going to need a bigger pot, Plunkett!”
“Don’t worry, I saw one outside… But we’d better move this plant now before it gets too big to go through the front door!”

So, much huffing and puffing later…
Courgette Plant's New Home - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesThe plant looks much happier in its new home, doesn’t it? Plenty of space there to spread out its roots and keep on growing!

“Will we hop up for a closer look, Paddy?”
“Yeah! I want to see the courgettes – they must be nearly ready by now.”
Any courgettes growing yet? H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Ah, it’s a bit early for that yet, Paddy. But if you look veeeery closely…”
Courgette Floweres Growing - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“… You can see the first flowers starting to appear under the leaves. We won’t have long to wait!”

And once those courgettes get started, they’ll keep the boys fed for the entire summer. Hopefully they’ll find a way to send some of the crop Dublinwards, because they’re so tasty and versatile! I love to slice ’em thinly and cook them with red peppers and tomatoes for a pasta sauce, or fry them with lemon juice and garlic and serve the mixture on toast for a quick lunch. Yum!

All this talk of vegetables is making me hungry… So if you have any favourite courgette/zucchini recipes to share with me and the lads, please tell us all about them in the comments!

Aaaand we’ll be back on Friday with a Beastie pet retrospective (Pet-rospective?), so be sure to join us then!

Cookie Beastie Checks In!

Hey there everyone! The sun is shining here in Dublin, and I hope you’re all enjoying some fine weather in your part of the world too! It’s also nice to see life returning to something like normal in places – here in Ireland certain shops are starting to reopen, and we can now meet in groups of 4 or fewer. We are still being asked to stay at home as much as possible, but that’s ok with me… The Beasties are keeping me busy as usual. And it seems I’m not the only one! Last week I got a lovely update from Melissa and her Cookie Beastie… With pictures!

So, Melissa had just settled down to enjoy a nice cup of tea when…
Melissa and Cookie Beastie - M Bruner/CrawCrafts BeastiesHey there Cookie Beastie! Where did you spring from?

I suppose this little monster fancied a nice refreshing brew to go with that jellybean cookie. Tea and biscuits is always an irresistible combination. Also, check out the colour coordination – surely that’s no accident!

Not content with hijacking half of Melissa’s tea, Cookie Beastie thought it might be fun to take a tour of the garden… And pose for a few photos on the way. Check out this wall of cacti and succulents!
Cookie Beastie and Cacti - M Bruner/CrawCrafts Beasties I do love a good cactus, and it seems Beasties are no different. That said, it’s pretty hard to relax with all those prickles around… How about we find somewhere else to put our paws up for a minute?

This sunny spot looks perfect. Aaaaaaaah!
Cookie Beastie in the Garden - M Bruner/CrawCrafts BeastiesCan there be any better place to spend a tea break?

Mind you, it’s not all laying back among the flowers here. During quarantine, it’s especially important to stay fit and healthy. Next stop – the gym!
Pumping Iron - M Bruner/CrawCrafts BeastiesUm, you might have to put the cookie down if you’re to make any headway with those weights.

“What, really? Oh, okay… Maybe I’ll just spot you this time around, then?”

You know, that sounds like my kind of exercising!

A massive monster THANK YOU to Melissa… Not just for sending awesome Beastie pics, but also for being one of the essential workers who are keeping the cogs of their communities turning while the rest of us are staying safe at home. You rock!

Aaaand if you’re at home and in need of something to put a smile on your face, why not spend a quarter of an hour with The Book Owl? This is a new podcast series hosted by Tammie Painter, author and human in charge of wayward book-lovin’ Beastie Finn McSpool. Every couple of weeks, she explores a literary curiosity… And the most recent episode, about kids reading to dogs in libraries, is real feel-good stuff. Enjoy!

So, hopefully that little lot will see you through until Friday, when we’ll be back and revisiting some more Beasties from days gone by. See you then!

Kale! Vegetable Garden - CrawCrafts Beasties

Winter Garden Wandering II – Into the Vegetable Patch!

Hello there Beastie friends! It’s got a little chillier since we last saw each other, but that doesn’t seem to have dampened Paddy and Plunkett’s spirits. Here’s where I lost track of them last weekThrough the Archway - CrawCrafts Beasties… And look, I’ve finally caught up with them – in the vegetable garden!

There’s Paddy, reveling in the green glory of some particularly vigorous parsley. No wonder I didn’t spot him straight away!
Paddy in the Parsley - Vegetable Garden - CrawCrafts BeastiesMeanwhile, Plunkett is checking out his rhubarb for signs of life. Hmmm, looks like we could almost have an early harvest soon!
First Rhubarb - Vegetable Garden - CrawCrafts Beasties

Even beds that seem empty at first glance are already putting up shoots… Shoots that Beasties notice before humans do! Paddy is already excited about these future raspberries.
Future Raspberries - Vegetable Garden - CrawCrafts BeastiesBut, pleasant as the thought of hot summer days spent munching juicy raspberries may be, that’s not going to fill any Beastie bellies today! And the first rumblings of Paddy’s stomach add a sudden note of urgency to this vegetable garden foray… What can the boys find to eat right now? Surely there has to be something better on the menu than parsley and baby rhubarb stew?

Luckily, there is.
Kale! Vegetable Garden - CrawCrafts BeastiesHurray for kale! Super tasty, and super good for you… And very much in season, even right now! YUM!

Grab one of those big frilly leaves each, boys, and let’s get to the kitchen!

And here’s what I’ve been doing with my kale lately – a tasty, filling soup using dried stuff from the cupboard and the kind of veggies you can usually find stashed in the bottom of your fridge. I adapted this recipe from the River Cottage Veg Everyday cookbook – out of necessity at first, because I was missing a few of the ingredients, and had to substitute what I could find to bulk it out. Then, after making the “real” recipe, I decided I liked my version better! Give it a try, and see what you think…

Kale and Barley Broth

You will need:

  • 2 Stock Pots (or stock cubes) made up with 1 litre boiling water
  • 50g pearl barley, rinsed
  • 50g red lentils, rinsed
  • 2 big handfuls of kale leaves, washed and with tough stalky bits cut away, then cut fine
  • 1 big carrot, peeled and cut into small dice
  • 1 stick celery, cut into small dice
  • 100g frozen peas
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste

Bring the stock to the boil in a big ol’ saucepan, then add the lentils and barley, turn down the heat, and simmer for 20 minutes. Use this time to prep your vegetable ingredients!

The barley should now be almost tender, so add your diced celery, carrot and frozen peas to the mix, and wait for it to come back up to a simmer.

Then, add in your kale and cook for another 2-3 minutes. You want the kale to be tender, not soggy, after all!

Taste a spoonful, and season with salt and black pepper if you think it needs it.

Then grab a bowl, and feast to your heart’s content!

Well, hopefully that will keep you all going until next week, when I’ll have a new Beastie for you to meet! And if you do give the recipe a try, leave us a comment below to tell us how you got on!

Paddy, Plunkett and a Random Marigold - CrawCrafts Beasties

Winter Garden Wandering with Paddy and Plunkett!

Hello everybody! Well, we may be in the very depths of winter here in the northern hemisphere, but since we all made it through Blue Monday yesterday, it’s onwards and upwards from here! And after introducing a few new Beasties recently (catch up here and here) I thought it might be nice to get out for some fresh air, and take my new camera for a spin.

Of course, Paddy and Plunkett were more than happy to put themselves forward as models! So, we headed out into the garden to see what’s growing… Care to join us?

I caught up with Plunkett while he was tending to his hyacinths. He’s very proud of them, as you can see.
Plunkett with Hyacinths - CrawCrafts BeastiesBut then Paddy popped up, and suggested that it might be nice to take a wander outside.
Paddy pops in with an idea - CrawCrafts BeastiesTurns out he’s pretty persuasive.

And look! You can still find colour in the garden if you search in the right places…
Paddy, Plunkett and a Random Marigold - CrawCrafts Beasties… Although some of these places are easier to get to than others.
Climbing Beasties! CrawCrafts BeastiesStill, if it’s winter colour you’re after, this cheerful display of berries certainly fits the bill!
Paddy, Plunkett and some berries - CrawCrafts BeastiesThe view’s not bad either. Look how green everything is!
Enjoying the View - CrawCrafts BeastiesAnd when the boys spotted some long grass on the other side of the hedge, they knew exactly what to do next…
Hide and Beast - CrawCrafts BeastiesThere’s always time for a quick game of hide and seek!

But wait a sec… Where are they off to now? Wait for meeeeeeee!
Through the Archway - CrawCrafts BeastiesUh-oh! Looks like they’ve momentarily given me the slip. Hopefully I’ll be able to track them down before next week’s post!

How about you? Are you eagerly awaiting the arrival of spring before you venture back outdoors, or have you been enjoying walking in your own winter wonderland? Be sure to let us know in the comments!

We’ll be back next week with more from Paddy and Plunkett. I’m sure I’ll catch up with them eventually…

Paddy, Plunkett and the Sundials - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

Kings of the Castle!

Paddy and Plunkett at Arundel Castle - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesHmmm, who’s that lurking in the undergrowth outside Arundel Castle? Paddy and Plunkett picked the perfect day to explore this mediaeval castle in West Sussex – just look at that sunshine! Let’s join them as they take a trip around this incredible place, which has been the home of the Dukes of Norfolk (and their predecessors) for nearly a thousand years!

Given the most un-British weather that day, it made sense for them to start in the rose garden…
Paddy, Plunkett and the Sundials - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesThere were a only a few roses out, but the boys found a sundial to keep themselves entertained! That said, it wasn’t long before they were overcome with curiosity… Time to explore the castle! Let’s go!
Climbing the Stairs to the Keep - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesPaddy Gawps at Arundel Castle - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesArundel Castle is a bit of an architectural hodge-podge – the oldest parts were built in the late 11th century and subsequent generations left their mark on the building, both inside and out. In the late 16th-early 17th century, the 14th Earl of Arundel (nicknamed “the Collector Earl”) went on a bit of an interiors shopping spree, and many of his purchases can still be found in the castle today! Although the castle was damaged in the English Civil War, repairs were eventually carried out in the early and late 1700s, and a further round of restoration, completed in 1900, produced the remarkable building that stands today.

All this means that architecture buff Plunkett is in seventh heaven! However, Paddy maybe isn’t the most willing audience for his musings…
Very Different Beasties - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties…Not when he can hang out with the man-at-arms and his cat, anyway!
Paddy, Man-at-Arms in Training - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesAt least it’s given Plunkett a chance to brush up on his Latin.
Plunkett and Monk, Latin Enthusiasts - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesThey also met a former castle resident in the private chapel – well, kind of.
Paddy, Plunkett and the Duchess - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesBut the bright sunshine soon lured the lads back outside. It would be a shame to miss the opportunity to see the gardens in all their glory! First stop was this formal garden, created as a memorial to the “Collector Earl”, which was full to bursting with beautiful tulips. Then they headed to the Stumpery – a novel concept garden where native woodland plants are encouraged to grow over the stumps of felled trees. This creates a really unusual and artistic display… and a great habitat for local wildlife!
Arundel Castle Gardens - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesThe boys also encountered a few curiosities on their travels… A whole family of scarecrows, and a rather unusual sign!
Arundel Garden Curiosities - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesPaddy thought it might have been the first cryptic clue in a treasure hunt… He spent the rest of the day trying to figure out what it meant. Perhaps he’ll have something to show for his mental exertions next time we catch up with these two!

What have you all got planned for the weekend? For any yarn-lovin’ folks out there, don’t forget that tomorrow is World Wide Knit In Public Day – what better excuse to grab your needles and make a start on a fun new project?