Sunday, 24 September 2017

A Trip to Johnson the Butchers of Old Hurst

We love going on a little jaunt to Johnsons the Butchers at Old Hurst which is nearer to Huntingdon than to Peterborough. It was a good peaceful drive out in the sunshine although there was a bit of a wind and the wind farms were in full swing as we travelled to our destination.  Johnsons of Old Hurst is a working farm with a very lovely farm shop, a CafĂ©/Tea Room called the Eccentric Englishman which serves up a super coffee (Arabica fresh ground) or tea and a rib sticker of a breakfast which we indulged in this morning so more of a brunch than a breakfast.  They also have crocodiles, Ostrich, and lots of other wild animals not native to this country including Deer, Capabari, Wallabys, parrots, unusual breed chickens, ducks, loads of including mandarin ducks, and there is a small walk around the farm.  The farm also sells a lot of Game, and at different times of the year you get seasonal specialities on the meat front as well.

The Butchers is superb.  I have bought some beef skirt just over 1kg to make my own Cornish style pasties for the freezer.  We have also bought some of their own which are delicious and they are cooked.   (Indeed because we have had a breakfast out each we are now stuffed so unusually we are only going to have a Cornish pasty each for tea).  That will do very nicely.  The pasties I will be making will be made and then frozen uncooked.  I am going to make my own pastry for this. probably flaky but will see.

I have also bought a selection of different cheeses, a blue goats cheese called Ribblesdale blue; which I have had before and is a firm favourite.

A new cheese called Sticky Toffee Cheese

Amber Mist which I have had before. This is a whisky based cheese and sublime.

Red Devil which has chilli in it

I have also bought two small fruit pies a blackberry and apple and Raspberry and apple pies.  They are big enough for us.

The Butchery Department is superb; I have come away with 1kg of beef skirt for the Cornish pasties, their chicken breast and sausage individual portion (known as Chicken Dinners and they are tasty).  A yellow curry type chicken breast beef shin, two trays of stewing steak so that should keep us going for a day or two.  Unfortunately they did not have any Marmite sausages today - we normally get a few and they are lovely.

They also have a superb drinks section - lots of different styled drinks (a lot of which I could do at home).  Alcohol is pricey wherever you go and I would rather find my own way around some of the vodka or gin based drinks; however it is a superb selection.  

They bakery counter (the bread is proper bread and very tasty and supplied by a good old fashioned bakery) and an excellent sweetie section.  I tend to be mean when it comes to the sweets as a lot of them if I have the time or plan my time out I can actually make myself and have done so in the past. I have a lot of relevant equipment for this.  That is one of the reasons I bought so much chocolate in Waitrose whilst it was on offer.  I also use it in home made chocolate mousse as well. For instance I don't buy Turkish Delight or the different variants on this - I make it myself.  It is not difficult to make and there is a process involved but each time I have made it, it comes up really well.  If there is any left over I just shove it in a bottle of Vodka and you have Turkish Delight Vodka.  No extra sugar is necessary as the Turkish Delight is so sweet.

The fresh veggie section is really good.  I have come away with two very large cauliflowers and two Romanesco at 70p each and they are big and really fresh.  So some of that is going into another batch of piccalilli the rest will go with dinners during the week.  We like our fresh veggies.  They had Bramleys at £1.29 per kg when I went in but as the veggie section was in the part where you pay I left it until then by which time they had gone.  They use local suppliers and the veggies really do grow well in the deep rich dark peaty fen soil.

I am always very selective when I go to places like this as there is always a little bit of a mark up. I suppose where I tend to spend the most money is in the Butchers but then again this is not common place stuff this really is proper bacon, including Green bacon, Black bacon, smoked, streaky etc. sausages in all sorts of different variants and I mean it really is proper stuff with a lot of flavour.  I did not buy as much as I usually do as OH is proper off his food at the moment.  

However I really draw the line when they charge £5 for a bottle of fruit coulis to pour over ice cream as this is really simple and easy to make and for the lay out you will probably get at least a couple of bottles for the price of one bottle.  I will pop up a recipe shortly for all to share.  It uses the baby steriliser for processing the same sized bottles (so you end up with a long storage life on the bottle of coulis as well) as are being sold in the store.

We had our Turkey from here last year for Christmas Dinner (the one I did not cook because of my foot operation).  Whilst in the shop I discussed with OH if we were having the Turkey from here again and he agreed. (This Christmas I am back on Turkey duty again). They are not taking orders at the moment but as soon as they are the order will be placed and the Turkey paid for.  I also need to sort a shopping list out of some of the things I would like to have and then place an order for that as well.

I will also send off for the "Stinking Bishop" direct from the producer.  I buy a whole one. It is expensive but we like it and occasionally very occasionally you have to have a little of what you fancy.  Here is the link  It is expensive but it does last a good six weeks.  I always store it in a sealed box in the fridge.  It is an acquired taste but we absolutely love it.

They did not have any pumpkins in the Farm Shop this week, however we saw a Pumpkin patch on someone's smallholding and I noticed that they were selling them from a stall in the grounds but we had gone by and I only saw it out of the corner of my eye.  We absolutely adore pumpkin here.  I make it into marmalade, we have it roasted, cooked, I freeze it and hopefully if I have the canner going this year I will be able to bottle it as well.  Especially for pumpkin pie.

It was also a lovely drive back home in the afternoon sun.  It makes you a little sleepy.  Now back home but have had a nice little jaunt.  Will walk the dog a little later.  Am going to check on crab apples and rosehips and I may have a little walk with the dog sometime in the week if we do not have time today to collect some.  

Right had better get a wriggle on.  

Catch you later.



Dried Chillies, Harissa and Pickled Jalapenos

OH is a chilli freak no question.  He quite happily munches his way through lots of chilli products and does not bat an eyelid.  Me only a very little now and again apart from sweet chilli sauce and  sweet chilli jam and jelly.  Otherwise I tend to stay clear and if I have a curry it is very mild.  Bit of a wimp me.

I dry chillies and use them whole in my pickled onions.  I string them up and then hang them from my dresser.  Just recently I have been able to buy fresh chillies from the Co-Op but they are in mixed packs of about four or five some red and some green.  It is the red ones I used for the pickled onions.  Using a pair of gloves,  (very important when handling any chilli as it can burn you and it  is not very pleasant.  I speak from experience), with a bodkin and string I thread the chillies onto what is in effect a long string and then hang them off my dressers to dry.  Then they are used in the pickled onions and shallots.  Once dry however you can whizz them up in the food processor and you have chilli flakes.  That is one way of using red chilli.  You can for Christmas hampers also cut out of card (breakfast cereal card is ideal for this)  a circle and then cut out a circle in the middle and then cover the card with some toning paper and then hand stitch the chillies onto the card, add a hanging tag, and hang up to dry.  Once dry the wreath can be covered with cellophane or placed into one of the cellophane cake bags and popped into a hamper for a keen cook. 

You can also make a shelf friendly Lay Chilli flakes which is a wet preserve and I will pop the recipe up for this as a separate item.

You can also make Harissa which is a very pungent hot chilli paste from Scotch Bonnet Chillies. I am going to source some of these during the next week as OH is particularly fond of Chillies.  Here is a link on how to make this very hot preserve together with links for the recipe.

Bearing in mind every time we have a home made chilli OH indulges in lots of pickled Jalapenos, I thought that this might be a good way of using up the green chillies that I have been left with after drying all the red ones.

I have made plenty of pickles over the year but I have not ever had a go at Jalapenos, so this is a first for me; but first of all I needed a recipe.  Having a mooch around the Internet I have located this one here: 

So this is the one I am going to have a bash at.  Hopefully other half will approve  = this is not my thing so I hope he eats it all up.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

A little trip to Waitrose

I use Waitrose a lot but I do not buy everything from there. I certainly look at the offers but I am also looking for things to put up in the pantry for Christmas essentially but also other occasions like a special birthday treat, a family dinner etc. etc.

First of all, many of you will realise that I am in Christmas mode, plotting, planning and buying bits for Christmas already.  I have already bought some bits and bobs for the Christmas celebration.  However at our local Co-Op they have had quite a few bits and bobs on the sweetie line instore and available for a couple of weeks or so.  I had spotted some Ferrero Rocher chocolates and as these are a favourite in this household, I went to buy some but stopped and put them back.  I was not paying £8 for a large tray of them.  I am so glad I put them back because tonight in Waitrose I have managed to find them at £6.50.  So I am quite chuffed about that.  £1.50 a tray is a lot of money to lose and could be put to something else so for two trays I saved £3.  That is all we will need.

I have stocked up on some white wine vinegar.  I have plenty of olive oil in the house.  I have also bought a couple of bottles of red wine vinegar which I think I am going to use in a red onion marmalade.  I will need to go back for Cider vinegar though.

I have also bought two bottles of a very sweet wine that I have not heard of before which apparently has peachy overtones so they have also been put up in the cupboard as well.  I noticed that Waitrose have quite a few offers on at the moment with spirits although as always it pays to shop around on these.  They also have an awful lot of offers on in relation to pasta sauce £0.79 per jar, Passata 0.75 per bottle, tins of different beans including mixed beans and other base consumables.  So it may well be worth checking them out.

I have also managed to find some dried figs.  I have bought two bags of these.  I have a preserve recipe which I wish to make utilising dried figs so I am glad that I have been able to locate these.

I have also located some Scotch Bonnetts so Harissa is definitely on the cards.  Quite a lot of chilli related items on the cards at the moment but that is for OH rather than for me.

I always look at the cake decorating section and today I picked up a couple of tubes of liquid glucose and also some glycerine.  I use the glycerine when I make Royal Icing.  I shall be going back for bits and bobs in the coming weeks and I find if I do not do deal with buying items this way on a few a week, they would not have what I wanted later on in the season.

I have also picked up a little cake decorating kit.  I would not normally do this, but this one is slightly different although a little pricy, but it is something different.

However picking up this little kit did make me think as around about this time of year the shops do start doing little kits for the kiddies to make things and its all very nice and good but a lot of the time you can do this yourself at home and for a lot cheaper.  There was a little stars cookie kit for children and I think they wanted nearly £4 for this.  

I then thought about Mayonnaise.  Most people buy this but in fact is very easy to make with a hand blender, all you needs is a jamjar, some oil, vinegar and an egg whizz it up and you have a jar of mayonnaise.  You can also flavour this with other ingredients.  Then all you do is store it in the fridge when not using.  So I am going to look more at making these sorts of things myself.  OH likes French Dressing and that is easy enough to make as well and there are other variations on a theme.

I absolutely adore fresh figs and so I have bought a small case of these home as well.  I may just eat these fresh as they are super and one of my many weaknesses.

So in all not a bad little jaunt out it has saved me some money and I have some more goodies stashed on the pantry shelf.

However on the way through check out I was talking to the young assistant amd explained what I was doing with regard to Christmas and he seemed quite worried to start with and said that as long as you are not putting your Christmas tree next week that's okay with me. I explained that it normally goes up a day or two before Christmas  I said no I am not that bad, its just something that my family has done for years.  It helps cash flow come December for Christmas presents etc. all we really need to get in is the fresh food and we are not putting it on credit cards but are paying for it as we go so we do not owe anyone anything and we are not paying all year or more to pay it off.  He seemed quite interested at that so may be another convert.  

I also nipped in to get some milk from the Co-op plus a couple of other goodies and I got copped by the young man on the till who indicated that he thought my way of doing with things was a good way especially as it would save money in the long run and he was going to try it himself.  

Catch you soon.


P.S.  Forgot to say that Waitrose have an offer on the really good cooking chocolate at £1 per pack (think it is the Swiss one not sure but has a bright green wrapper).  This is for the dark, white and milk chocolate.  I bought four of the dark and four of the white and will pop back in during the week to stock up on more.  I also bought two jars of stem ginger in syrup as well.


Going the whole hog for Christmas

Speaking literally that is but I really like to push the boat out in all areas when it comes to Christmas. (Told you I was a bit of a Christmas nut). I like to set the scene with all the lovely things that I have collected together out on display or being in use.  A lot bought from the Charity shops at reasonable prices but all in all mixing and matching and blending in with everything else I do have.  To achieve this I like to keep things as simple as I can and most things fall into a couple of themes.

I sort of go for traditional  Victorian style decorations, red, gold, green and white although there are other colours added in too but these are the base colours.

I buy glassware in green, gold, red and clear.  They might be different shapes, different colours, but because of the base line colours they all blend in well.  There may not be a full set of some but it all goes towards creating interest and a "set" of usable items especially for celebrations.  Although in the past I have been able to make full sets as I have been able to add to those glasses by finding a duplicate set elsewhere. So in that kind of a situation it is a win win.

My main dinner set is the BHS Ivy Garland dinner service of Greens and creamy white.  I have the tureens, and other bits and bobs to go with them.  I also have my Great Grandmother's Tureens, Soup dishes with decorated ladles, the largest and smallest meat platters which are los a shade of green and white. I have also built up quite a substantial Victorian Green Glass collection to go with this dinner service. I have  white Turkey platters and meat platters, and accompanying dinnerware serving dishes that Marks & Spencers did many years ago so they because of their neutral colouring blend in with everything else.

I also have plenty of plain white and coloured table linen and napkins, some patterned, embroidered, printed Christmas fabric, etc together with napkins.

I have a weakness for nice things and also have lovely cutlery/tableware to lay to complement these.  My furniture is predominantly pine and my dining table seats 8, and if I had the dream home that I have always hankered after I would want another table the same size and seating for the kitchen, as to me the kitchen really is the heart of the home and meant to be the place where everyone meets and eats together.  Bit like the long table in the Walton's Family Christmas home and also in the "Kirstie's Christmas home".

I highlight these lovely items in their own right by using candles and fresh flowers and greenery - which gives the overall effect of a "Country Christmas" which to my mind is cosy and decorative and natural.

So what is she going on about.  Most of the things I have collected together over the years have been acquired over many many years and have not been put together in a day.  Do not however be discouraged as you younger ones can aspire to doing the same by starting to check out Charity shops and the like now and starting together your collection of useful items for celebrating Christmas. or other family occasions.  Remember it is cheaper to celebrate at home and to do the catering either yourself or together with other family members so the effort and the cost and the skills are shared. 

I started collecting bits and bobs as a reaction to not being able to buy brand new at that particular time of my life or as good a quality as some of the second hand items.  I started off with Victorian pressed glass cake stands.  If you buy different sizes these can be stacked to pop cakes on or to actually put candles on and create a lighting display in your home.  So there are always alternative uses for some of the things I have acquired and pulled together.

You too can acquire a home that you only dreamed off by being savvy in in this way.  When you look at some of the beautiful Christmas books with their beautifully presented photographs showing off a beautifully decorated Welsh Dresser for the Christmas season you in turn could have this eventually once you have set your sight on what it is you would like and what style, but in the interim you can collect the little bits whilst you save up for that central piece or pieces a bit at a time. 

Sometimes that central piece is a well battered find in a second hand shop which needs a little tlc and that may be the only way that you are going to be able to afford that central piece, but you love it you buy it and you make it work for you.  Whether that is by stripping, reoiling or revarnishing or painting you are making it an extension of you and a very big part of your home. and an extension of what you are all about.

It does not matter whether it is brand new, second hand, antique as long as you are happy about it.  There used to be an awful lot of snobbery by certain individuals of only wanting to buy brand new and no way would they ever consider anything second hand etc. In this day and age though you do what you can to achieve your dream and really it is no one else's business but yours. It does not really matter though in this day and age apart from that it fits in with your needs and lifestyle and it is useful then that is all that really matters.

So this year; you decide you want some gold fancy glasses for the table.  You cannot find anything in the shops that you like that is not particularly expensive.  Why are you not haunting the charity shops and the like to see if you can spot a bargain on this front.  There may only be five glasses; don't leave it just because there are five and not a full set, take them you may find in due course that you will find some more to go with it or something that will blend in with them.  Keep looking through the year as well.   The thing with Charity shops especially the smaller concerns is that they genuinely do an awful lot of good and the prices are reasonably relevant. Charity shops are normally a win win situation, you buy an item which gives them funds to help someone else less well off than you.

When I was first married I was bought a very big glass punch bowl with cups that hung off the side of the bowl and a big ladle.  That punch bowl would be about £15 over 35 years ago.  I still have it; it is still bought out for use at Christmas, but last year I managed to find another exactly the same and with all its cups, hooks and ladle intact for £5.  Punch bowls can be used in the summer too especially for fruit no alcoholic punches or Sangria and if you are having a garden party or have a houseful at Christmas then everyone gets a cup in their own right and the aesthetics look good.  Ideal for Pimms too.  So everything has its place.

However this is how I have managed to get a lot of the things that I liked and aspired too without having to take out a second mortgage.

My first husband was one of a large family, and I am part of an extended family so I always tend to think in multiples in any event but this is how I made things a reality for me rather than just having something to dream and think about.

Another for instance that there was a stage quite a few years ago where people were outing their lead crystal decanters in all shapes and sizes.  As there was an influx at the Charity shops at the time I managed to pick several up for £5 apiece and they look classy on the side at Christmas or in the drinks cabinet if you have one.  There is also a lot of elegance and charm in using older pieces in the way that they were destined to be used.

This is just another element in the things that I do to set the scene for Christmas.

However before fitting out a room with its decorations and select pieces for the Christmas celebration each room is scrubbed within an inch of its life and all wooden furniture is given a good dose of beeswax polish and elbow grease to buff the furniture up.  When the house warms up you then get the smell of the beeswax permeating the air and it smells clean and warm and fresh and of home.

My biggest problem at the moment is that I see pieces of furniture that are just what I am aspiring to and which I would like and have been looking for.  However because I have no way to get them home and also have space restrictions I have to leave as I just have nowhere for them .  Well one day.  They say everything happens when the time is right.

So there is always a lot of preplanning going on in the background of most of the things that I do which all blend in to one at the end of the day and the aim is to have people together look after them feed them and make sure they enjoy their day in lovely surroundings.  In reality its not always achieved but that is the aim.

Catch you soon.



Friday, 22 September 2017

Its a Holi Holiday Hurrah

As in the words from the song by Boney M!  Now I am showing my age.

Phew I am now on holiday for the week.  I intend to do nothing this evening apart from flop for a change.  OH has gone fishing so am on my todd.  It is more or less dark here.  I want to do some more research on a couple of things but apart from that I do not intend to do much.  I will have a busy day tomorrow so I think I have earned the chill out time.  Its nice just to potter and do one's own thing.

I have had a few more Kilner jars and Mason jars arrive. I buy these periodically off of Ebay or Amazon.  If you are careful you can pick them up a lot cheaper this way including the carriage charges.   On average in the shops the standard Kilner jar costs £3 apiece with the larger jars going from £3.50 or more for a jar. The standard Kilner jar screw lids and seals will fit Mason jars of the same size which is very handy.  I am stocking up in preparation for using the canner which I have not tried yet.  I need the kitchen sorted before I start dabbling with that so that I can get to things easily; that is one of the aims of this holiday try and get a lot of practical stuff out of the way with, get organised and also get to play with my new machines and possibly the canner.  That's the hope anyway.  You don't get chance to stand still very often here.  I am also realistic to know that I won't get everything done but a large percentage can and should be achieved.

I also have quite a few other bottles and bits and bobs that are to be stored in the shed so I need to get that sorted out as well.  I need to make some room in the freezer so I hope to be doing a lot more cooking from scratch again so that I can restock the freezers in readiness for Christmas.

Today I have also stocked up on some tinned fruit, some tins of strawberries and also some pineapple rings.  We use the pineapple rings when we have gammon steaks but also in stir fries and things like that, so technically they are for the Christmas store but will more than possibly be used before then.  It all tops the pantry up anyway.

Right off to do my research.

Catch you soon.



Thursday, 21 September 2017

It's arrived

My embroidery machine is now home with me.  I have yet to unpack it, which will be sometime over the weekend as I had not realised how big it was (well the box is terribly large).  It is to be based in the computer/craft room, but I need to sort that out from top to bottom and get organised a bit.  I have my other new Janome sewing machine as well to get to grips with.  So I am very much looking forward to some serious play time and hopefully it will start next week.  There are so many lovely patterns on many different sites, but that is half the fun finding something that will look lovely and pretty.  So I am very relieved that it has arrived.  OH will have to bring it upstairs once the room has been bottomed and cleaned.  To tell you the truth I am ever so excited as I did not in my wildest dreams ever really think I would be the proud owner of such a good machine.  Thank you Anne.

So I am now on holiday from tomorrow for a week and I really have got a lot to do.  So many lovely things to potentially have a go at -  a lot of them new crafts to me.  I want to have a go at patchwork.  I have the Accuquilt system to help with the cutting out and to use this I need to have a clear desk.  I have a large computer table/sewing table in the computer/craft room which once clear will be good for using the machines on and also as a cutting table for the Accuquilt.  For cutting out clothes for dressmaking I will need to use the dining room table as it is longer and has more room.  It is certainly going to be a learning curve in the next few months on all fronts.  Its good to learn as it expands your frontiers and you grow as a result.  Now I just have to get my head around things where the embroidery and sewing machines are concerned. I have been warned that the embroidery side of things is very addictive

I have papermaking, card making, Christmas decorations, soapmaking, candlemaking, beeswax polish, patchwork to have a go at as well as all the UFOs lurking in the cupboards.  Now I need to get organised, but am so so pleased that the machine has arrived at long last.  I am so so lucky for which I am very grateful.

Catch you soon.


Preparing for Christmas - Updated Timetable Amendment 1


Things to do

Start to add items to the shopping trolley.  Items with a long stop date.  Even if you do one thing a week it will soon build up and be less to fork out for later on. Take advantage of offers on baking consumables and especially dried fruit.  Especially if you are going to make your own Christmas cake and Christmas pudding.  The more you get your pantry and Christmas items sorted before Christmas (if you can) the more cash you will have to hand to pay for Christmas presents (if not already bought). These days we pay cash for Christmas and do not utilise credit cards.  I appreciate that it is each to their own here but it can get out of hand if you are not careful.

Make your own flavoured sugars.  I make vanilla sugar and use it when I bake in cakes and also decorating the top of and in home-made custard.  It costs about £3 for two vanilla pods and all I do is find a big jar put the sugar in and then push one of the vanilla pods into the sugar it is well covered and then put the lid on and leave it for a few weeks.  Lavender sugar can be made the same way.  To buy it costs an absolute arm and a leg.  You can use caster or granulated.  As the pod is whole you can then use in its own right for egg custard etc.

Buy tinned goods with a long stop date.  Having tinned fruit and beans, tomatoes etc in the pantry gives you a lot more scope,  when it comes to making meals and baking as well.

Don’t forget the freezer stock up there too.

Bottle peaches in syrup.

Bottle pears in syrup.

Spiced Pickled Pears.

Mulled Pears.

Mixed white fruits in syrup.

Mixed red fruits in syrup.

Make home-made pasta sauce.

More Apricot Jam and Apricot Chutney.

Make Five spiced peaches.

Make Chutneys from seasonal ingredients.  Especially peach chutney, use the fruit whilst it is available and does not cost the earth.  Carry forward to September if not available to you at this time.

Make piccalilli.

Take advantage of Victoria plums and bottle some for later use in puddings but also to make some Victorian Sugar Plums for Christmas.

Do pickled onions and shallots. Carry forward to September if not available to you at this time.

Make home-made wines and beers and ciders either from fresh ingredients or kits.


Look out for wild mushrooms especially puffballs they are delicious and can be preserved.

Make Mincemeat from dried fruit that needs using up

Make vanilla caster sugar

Make vanilla granulated sugar

Make cinnamon granulated sugar

Make Cider and Perry

Pickle onions

Pickle Shallots

Pickle Red Cabbage

Pickle Spiced Eggs

Pickle Chillis

Chinese Five Spice Sauce


Brown sauce

Chilli Jam

Chilli Jelly

Sweet Chilli Sauce

Dried Chiilis

Dried Herbs

Make Christmas cakes.

Make Christmas Puddings.

Make Dundee Cake

Bread and Butter Pickles

Various Chutneys

Vanilla Vodka

Spiced Orange Slices and Clementine Slices

Ginger Beer and Apple Pop

Make ginger ice cream topping

Make rum n raisin ice cream topping

Make honey and golden sultana ice cream topping

Hazlenut/Filbert in honey ice cream dressing

Toasted Pecan and honey ice cream dressing

Raspberry fruit Coulis

Strawberry fruit Coulis

Mixed fruit Coulis

Blueberry Coulis

Blackberry Coulis

Passionfruit Coulis

Lemon Syrup

Orange Syrup

St Clement’s Syrup

Lemon and Ginger Syrup

Grapefruit Syrup

Start gathering twigs, larch cones, acorn husks, beech mast, and teasel heads for use in Christmas decorations.  Also honesty.  I always buy nuts at Christmas and if any are left over I keep them and use them in decorations also.  With the aid of a glue gun you can make some very different home made decorations.  I have this year also sourced long sticks of cinnamon which will be turned into Christmas stars.  I also have lots of small cinnamon sticks which are to be turned into some garlands with the addition of bay leaves, dried orange and lemon slices, and nuts.  Also buy star anise in bulk as you can make Christmas table balls by painting a polystyrene ball with gold paint and then sticking whole star anise to the bauble with a glue gun.

Start gathering a few extra items a week and try and take advantage of offers such as two tubs of sweets (i.e. Celebrations, Roses and Quality Street for £9 or £5 each. The Co-Op have said offer on at the moment but there are no guarantees that this offer will stay on until Christmas.  Therefore seize the day. Take advantage if you can or other goodies.  I also use the Pound shop in this respect.  Always check the long stop date.  Often this will go into the New Year say to February or March if not later.

Trial Nan’s fruit bread between 2 recipes

Start collating suitable recipes for Christmas

Start making home-made cards and presents

As you buy presents - if you have the wrapping get them wrapped up one at a time.  Will save time at a future date.

Start looking at Lidl and Aldi and other supermarket sites and start looking for a few bottles of wine here and there.  The reason I mention this is that things notoriously go up in the run up to Christmas, I know there are offers on as well but if you get some of it out the way at a cheaper price then all well and done.  Same with bulky bottles of pop whatever variant.  I notice that Lidl would appear to have some very good offers on sweet ines at the moment.
Sunday 24 September
Start Christmas Cakes and Christmas Puddings 2 for Brother and 2 for us

If you have an open fire and young children in the house.  Make a song and dance about them writing a letter to Santa Claus and sending the messages up the chimney with their wish lists for what they would like or hope for.

Start the kidlets making Christmas decorations from items gathered on walks, from fabric, felt from paper etc.  Start them early as it will take a little time but also keep them occupied and involved.

Make home-made sausage rolls and open freeze them without cooking.  Pack into a suitable number say 12 and bag them.  Then when you want some take out of the freezer and straight into the oven to cook.  This will save time when you have so much else to do.  Same with mince pies and coconut cheesecakes.  Also make some plain pastry cases large for things like Bakewell tart or some smaller cases to be filled with fruit or custard or the like.

Make home-made Pork Pies and freeze uncooked.

Make Home-made feasting pie and freeze uncooked.

Make mince pies and do the same as well as coconut cheesecakes and pastry tart bases for jam tarts filled with your home-made jam.

Make fruit curds.
Sunday 19 November 2017
Make Nan’s Plum Bread Loaves 2 for my brother and 2 for myself
Sunday 26 November 2017
Beginning of December: Post out the Christmas cards and get them out of the way to family and friends.  Get this out of the way together with a personal letter to family members

The week before Christmas say a couple of days make the pork pies, feasting pie, and cook the ham.
The night before Christmas Eve Saturday 23 December 2017
Go to the market and do final shop in town.  Getting the fresh vegetables and other bits from town and any other last minute bits and bobs.

Make up a batch of Hazlenut Liqueur.  This is not a long keeping liqueur a bit along the lines of Egg Nogg.  The recipe for this first appeared in the Land Love Magazine for October 2017.  Which recipe have popped on the blog.  Then sit and enjoy a glass or two.  You are allowed to have fun too.

Make local deliveries of presents to family members near.
Christmas Eve Sunday
24 December 2017
For us mostly a day of preparation.  Traditionally my family or the ladies of the family have always done the big bake for Christmas on Christmas Eve. 

Meet the Moggies

  • Merlin (approx 18 months)
  • Squeak (approx 2 years)
  • Poppy (approx 16 years)
  • Tyson (approx 17 years)
  • Tinky (official name Clover approx 18 years)