Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Supply of Yeast for the Bakers amongst us

Many people wish to get hold of fresh yeast from time to time. I have been lucky up until now, but had problems getting hold of this as the store I get it from had run out. I also think they may be selling up in the not too distant future, so it may well be I will be utilising this link myself too.

By chance I found this link the other day for those of you wishing to obtain a supply of fresh yeast for breadmaking . You can keep this in the fridge, but I would suggest freezing the same in ready portions to maximise your usage and expense. It works out at £4.77 for a 500 g block.

This link also shows various other different yeasts some of which are suitable for wine and beer making.

I hope that this is of assistance to you all

The link is

Then on the search facility type in: Kitchen & Home then type in yeast.

Hope this helps



Sunday, 24 January 2010

Things to do this week

There are a few things that I would like to get done this week, although I don't want to over-extend myself at all, so we will start small and if I manage to get these done then at least will have an opportunity to add some more to the list.

  1. Make the Seville Orange Marmalade.
  2. Make Lemon Marmalade.
  3. Make Pumpkin Marmalade
  4. Do the ironing [part done 25.01.10]
  5. Make the crab apple and cranberry jelly (frozen cranberries)
  6. Knit at least another square for the knitted throw/blanket. [started]
  7. Pot up the Amaryllis kit I was bought for Christmas.
  8. Pot up the Paper Whites kit that I was bought for Christmas.
  9. Start off a fresh ginger beer kit. [done 25.01.10]
  10. Cut some more strips for my denim clippie rug.
  11. Pheasant Casserole for tomorrow night (was still frozen tonight) Did this last night before I went to bed - got it on the go. Added, home dried mushrooms, leeks, carrots, peas, the remains of the gravy from Sunday lunch, mixed herbs, teaspoon of marmite, thyme, parsnip, marigold vegetable powder, Hugh Fearnely Whittingstalls Souper Mix 2 teaspoons, white pepper, two oxos, water to mix stock. Pop everything into the slow cooker, brown pheasant in butter in frying pan to give a better colour - I did mine on low overnight in the slow cooker, really doesn't need as long -next time will put in about 45 minuters before completion. But it was very tasty. (Eaten with gusto with Mash potatos, peas, broccoli. -It was nice to have a nice hot meal waiting).
  12. Respond to emails
  13. Put ironing away in wardrobes and drawers - currently airing
  14. Do washing up
  15. Make appointment to have my eyes tested [forgot glasses today and couldn't see a thing OH had to come to the rescue] not good when you are at a computer screen most of the day.
  16. Wash cat bedding completed (26.01.10)
  17. Wash dog bedding completed (26.01.10)

Too tired to do very much tonight - its a very cold night here again - the cold gets into my bones and slows me up. Maybe tomorrow will be a better one.

I think that will do for starters.

Wish me luck.

2010.01.24 My Day

Its been quite a leisurely day today, nothing to strenuous, more washing and drying done - have the ironing to do tomorrow night. After making a start on organising some of my seeds into plastic sleeves for my Lever Arch folder we sat and watched a biography programme on Mark Knoppfler. OH and I both like his music a lot. It was quite apt actually as I had bought OH his latest single as part of his Christmas present and it turned out a couple of the songs played were actually on the album which I had bought him. After that finished we sat and listened to the CD. It was extremely good. Really shows the influence of Folk and other types of music on his life.

It was a case of one man and his dog after that.

I then de-frocked the freezer of some items for tea. I took out some lamb chops, carrots,cauliflower, a pheasant, some red cabbage, some pumpkin, some French Pate, and some plums, all for use either today or for the next couple of meals during the week.

I always make my own mint jelly, and another way to use this up is to smear it all over lamb chops, or if using a joint, I usually use rosemary and garlic, and then cover the top with the jelly. It helps give a good flavour to the meat juices from which I make the gravy.

Today We had roast lamb chops with home made-mint jelly smeared all over them, a dash of water and a covering of tin foil cooked gently in the oven. Then had with mashed potato, runner beans, brussel sprouts, carrots, peas, broccoli and cauliflower all served with gravy. Then for pudding stewed plums and custard. Very tasty it was too,

I intend to do pheasant casserole to serve with Mashed potato, carrot and swede puree, roast sweet potato, and cabbage for tomorrow nights tea so that we have something nice and warm to come home too. Tomorrow night is ironing night and I have a big stack of ironing to get out of the way. So I may not get on to here until much later.

Hope everyone has had a good day.

Take care



Household Organisation/The Garden

I am currently trying to organise load of bits and bobs into a Lever Arch file(s) in order of month. I have put dividers in From January to December and any snippets of information relevant for an individual month including recipes, food in season, wild fruits and offerings in season, gardening bits and bobs, winemaking, beer making etc. being put under the relevant section. Well thats the plan, sort an extension of my diary really but very much work in progress. Will be sort of a check list of what I can actually do that month, but whether I actully do it is open to the vagaries of life and of course whether I can afford to do it or not.

I thought that I would take this strategy a step further and try and organise my seed collection, which currently has no rhyme or reason to it, and is just shoved in a box. I therefore thought that I would put the relevant seed packets into plastic sleeves under the relevant months. Where there are a couple of months where the seeds can be sown mark these up by putting in the file "file forwards" on a slip of card or paper directing me to the relevant section (where the seed packet is) so that I can take advantage of the premium sowing times and also add an intervening crop if the opportunity presents itself.

I am very much a novice gardener, but I seem to have been successful in growing stuff from seeds and bringing them up to small plants, its from thereon in things tend to go to pot, but each year I do something it seems to get a bit better, so I think there is some hope for me somewhere. Put it this way it isn't for lack of trying.

I am aiming to organise my time a little better than I normally do especially with me working full time. Growing from seed seems to make more sense to me in the longer term as I don't have unlimited funds. Like-minded friends also do the same and we end up doing exchanges of plants. Growing a few extra plants is also useful to help raise funds for small organisations/charities and it also helps others on a lower income access plants to grow in their own gardens and feed their families. So everyone can really benefit at the end of the day - what I call a win win situation.

At some point I also intend to do a crib sheet for the relevant plants, but first things first lets get the seed packets into the plastic sleeves. I think this may take me sometime, but then if I break it into smaller chunks hopefully I will manage to get everything sorted quite quickly in the scheme of things. I think more and more people are going to return to growing their own veg or salad stuff, and if you have room for raspberry canes, strawberries, apples etc. make the most of your resources and grow them especially with the price of things at the moment. We all have to do what we can do. After all, our efforts are for a better quality of life for ourselves and our loved ones at the end of the day.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

My Day and Saturday night tea

Its been cold again, very cold, and after the period of snow, its nice to see a bit of sunshine now and again, but today alas was not one of them, its been cold and grey and last night it chucked it down with rain. Its weather like this that tends to make my arthritis flare up - and for this past fortnight I haven't been too bad, so will just have to keep myself warm. If I go cold - I find it very difficult to warm up again.

Its been a long old week and I still have the remains of the dreadful cold bug that has been tooing and froing in our neighbourhood, but I am a lot better than I was. However it has left me very tired, so I haven't done very much today apart from pottering around doing housewifely chores, i.e. the washing machine has been whirring away, load after load, closely followed by the tumble drier. Now it is fixed it is working much more efficiently at drying its contents.

I managed to watch a programme I had recorded during the week, My Dream Farm with Monty Don. I quite enjoyed the programme and it was nice to see Monty back on the screen as well.It was nice sensible advice, that was given which was thoughtful and I think helped a very much get up and go couple focus on practical ideas, rather than missing the pertinent issues. The couples emphasis was about a good quality achieveable lifestyle for them and their children, that could be sustained over the years. If you haven't seen it, it was on Channel 4 on Thursday night at 8.00 p.m. Apparently there are six very differen couples having a go at doing something different, and after enjoying this first part I am looking forward to the rest of the series.

I then set too and did the washing and drying up and got the kitchen nice and tidy again and the pots all put away, in an effort to keep it nice and tidy after its scrub out the other day. I prefer things to be tidy, but don't always manage to achieve it, but its what I aim for.

I then went and visited my veg shop. We don't have many pennies at the moment and so are largely living out of the freezers and pantry, but I do like to have fresh veg and fruit where I can. When I visited last week I specifically looked for some Seville Oranges. Very unusually they did not have them; they indicated that there were not many about and I therefore asked them if they would be having any this week - they said that they would ask the boss, and if they could would get some as several people had been asking for them.

So today I bought 2 kg of Seville Oranges for £1.50 kg = £3.00 and am looking forward to a Marmalade Session. I love home made Seville Orange Marmalade it is delicious.

I also bought two punnets of blueberries at £1 a punnet. I would have had more if I had had the pennies, but the two I bought are destined for the freezer, in readiness to drag out when I decide to make some blueberry muffins which are one of my favourites.

I did also buy some more carrots, cabbage and broccoli to boost the veggies I have left over from last week.

We couldn't decide what to have for tea straight away, but I ended up disappearing into the kitchen to check the freezers and the pantry and fridges to see what I had lurking there and ended up doing a home made prawn stir fry, by just literally using what I had to hand.

The veggies I used were:
Spring Onions
Carrots cut into julienne strips about three carrots
Quarter of cucumber chopped into cubes kept the skin and pips in.
Pickling onions about three quartered
Bag of home frozen mixed peppers
Remnants of a bag of frozen beans
Half a cabbage finely shredded

But you can use whatever variation of vegetables that suits your taste.

Half a bag of large prawns
About 6 squares of crystallised ginger soaked in warm water and then cut into tiny pieces (use the soaking water in with the vegetables as well)
Sweet Chilli dipping sauce
Vegetable Bouillon
A little sunflower oil
Two teaspoons of sweetcorn relish
Tin of pineapple in natural juice (using the juice as well as the pineapple)

Prepare all your vegetables and then

Using two frying pans:

Put your oil in the pan and heat until nice and hot, then add the vegetables that take the longest amount of time to cook i.e carrots, potates, swede, parsnip, and then add the rest of veg in order of how long they take to cook.

Put on Jasmin Rice to cook - I do mine in the microwave. For each cup of rice I use a cup and a half of water so for two cups of rice you will use 3 cups of water. It only takes 12 minutes to cook in the microwave. I then take out of the bowl and fluff up with a fork.

Once all the vegetables are cooked, put in the ginger and water, with some extra water (about 3/4 pint including ginger water) the bouillon and two teaspoons or more of sweetcorn relish. Put on a lid and turn the heat down. Leave to cook a littl longer and then taste the juice and season to taste.

In the second pan add the oil and then your prawns (I used frozen) and heat through until nearly cooked then add loads of chilli dipping sauce to taste (If you don't like too strong use only a little) and cook in with the prawns - very quickly, then thicken the sauce with some cornflour to thicken up.

Serve in bowls with the rice, the vegetable mixture and then the prawns.

It made a very tasty meal and made use of what I already had. Made my own sauce and didn't have to buy any just by using what I already had to hand.

Needless to say I am now stuffed.

There is a little bit of rice left but this will not go to waste as I will give the cats it in with their meat tonight.

Its nice to have a meal consisting mostly of fresh veg and some prawns, very easy on the system, but getting all of the natural goodness out of the food is important to me, as it is much better for my system as it is fresh food pure and simple - not processed.

This method of cooking is quick and nutritious and you literally can use anything you have to hand.

Go on have a play - its a good way of getting to grips with what goes with what, and is something I do every so often, rather than just make soup (although I do that too as it is lovely with a big hunk of fresh bread).

Enjoy the preparation as much as the eating.


A message for Blakefawc

You seem to have posted a message to me - unfortunately I have been unable to read it. If you would please like to try again - I was having problems with blogger yesterday evening so this might be the reason for me not being able to read the message.

Thank you


Sunday, 17 January 2010

Sorry have been missing

I am so sorry to have been away from my blog for a little while I have had a most horrid cold which I still haven't shifted, I have had two colds in the space of a fortnight and a half, both stinkers, the second one being a lot worse than the other. I spent two days asleep in bed off work and then went back, really before I should have done, but I am hoping am experiencing the tail end of it. Fingers crossed toes plaited. But having colds piggy back as I have has left me feeling very drained and tired and as a result I have had a few early nights to try and get myself recharged. As I tend to loiter on my blog later at night - something has had to give in order for me to rechage.

To make matters worse I have been going spare as my mum was re-admitted to hospital on Thursday and I haven't been able to go anywhere near her which has driven me absolutely crackers and I only live at the end of the road. My lovely brother though has been going to visit her and has been keeping me updated. Why is is that everything happens at once. It has been very frustrating to say the least.

Hopefully will be back in the thick of things very shortly.

Take care everyone.



Sunday, 10 January 2010

2010.01.10 My Day

Its been a quiet day here in Peterborough today, nothing much doing, no hurry to do anything but just chill for a short while. Most of the snow has melted again, although it is extremely cold out at the moment.

Have got most of the washing done, and dried now that my tumbly drier is working again, so nice clean clothes again.

I sat down for a little while this afternoon as wanted to look through a couple of books at recipes and also a couple of books that I have had for a while.

Wasn't able to get the veg for dinner today from our Greengrocer, we think they have had the weather really bad, living out in the fen but they didn't put in an appearance, and quite frankly I cannot blame them.

We took Missy for a walk down by the river again tonight,and let her blow off some steam; everytime she heard something she yapped, big brave pup that she is. We had her on the lead to start with but then let her off for a while and she kept moving off a little way and then coming back to either myself or OH, she was never far from our feet.

There was quite a bit of wildlife out, the river was frozen solid as was the rowing course, apart from the end bits where it had melted, and which the ducks had gravitated towards. The rabbits were out as well, it made me wonder how they managed to get themselves a meal in this blooming awful weather we have. We also saw two foxes, both came over the frozen river at separate times, we think intent on having a duck or two, but they veered away whilst we were down there. Whereas the snow was really thick last night and no grass was showing through we are now down to the last remnants of the snow, but it is freezing hard so it will be nasty come the early morning.

Of course I forgot to take the camera this evening, so have been unable to capture the wonder of nature. Its always the same.

Missy is settling down, she doesn't like it if one of us goes out of the room and when that person gets back there is a happy little dog tail going nineteen to the dozen wanting a fuss and reassurance that we were there and hadn't left her. At the moment after her run she has crashed out and is in other halfs arms, safe snug and warm, every so often as she dreams her legs twitching in response.

Squeak is being brilliant with her, Tyson is coming to terms in his own time at his own pace. He came and sat on me in the early hours of this morning, wanting a fuss, wanting some warmth and reassurance that everything was okay boy does he weigh a ton. He is currently slumbering under the bed next to the radiator. Merlin, my big white daft moggie is petrified of her, both times he has come into contact with her she has frightened the pants off of him and he has scarpered like he has the devil after him. All Missy wants to do is play and they aren't playing ball.

Poppy and Tinky haven't been introduced yet - although lovely cats, both can be a bit grumpy, but then they are well old.

We have a roast shoulder of lamb currently on the go for tea, just done with a little rosemary and some water under foil to give some flavour and create some stock for a gravy, served with green beans, mashed potato, carrots, cauliflower and cabbage. Am looking forward to this, as have got a little chilly whilst out walking, and I don't know whether I have the cold back that I had at the beginning of the year or a second dose of it, I don't feel too clever at the moment. Will have to keep on dosing myself.

Hopefully will be able to do a little more knitting tonight.

Take care wherever you are, keep warm, keep safe and only travel if you really have to.



Saturday, 9 January 2010


Yesterday we more or less got rid of all the snow; it started with a small heavy snow shower early evening quick heavy and silent and then it stopped. However, it was extremely cold. So cold I kept the heating on overnight, as this house is a cold house in any event and despite us having thick quilts on top of the duvet and my hottie bottie I still get very cold; and I didn't want the animals to be cold, bit soft really, but it has paid off becuase the house has been nice and snug most of the day.

I had to get up early morning about 3.30 a.m. and we had had tons of snow at least 2 to 3 inches, a proper winter wonderland with the dustbins wearing white top hats. The quietness at that time of morning, especially with the snow falling is eerie as the snow muffles any natural sounds.

We have had one or two more flurries since then, although the through roads are remarkably clear the local Council have done a good job on them.

Well we took Missy out for a little while this evening, being as she had been cooped up all day in the house. It wasn't really the weather for walking but we took her out for about 15 minutes. I was worried about taking her out because of the snow, she is only little and I didn't want her getting cold. She was quite funny because she kept running off in the snow and then come hurtling back to me, each time asking to be picked up or resting her feet on my shoes or scarf so that she didn't feel the cold of the snow.

There is a little dog in these pictures honest somewhere

Because she is so small as well you don't always see her by your feet - she is very easy to trip over. When we bought her home she had a mad ten minutes playing with her toys - I think the walk woke her up. Since having her food she has been flat out upside down nearly falling off the settee - I think its what you call comfortable.

What a state to get into. She subsequently fell off the settee and had to be rescued. She is now currently fast asleep again with her head on my lap.

Introducing Missy

Hello I'm Missy

Well we have only had her one day so far and she fits in just fine. At the moment she is currently snuggled up on a quilt next to other half fast asleep. You have had a busy day little girl.

Tyson is not a happy bunny - well for the best part he is a grumpy old man, and he has clipped Missy across her snout this afternoon which really upset her. Bless her she went in heart and soul tail swishing backwards and forwards as the household that she came from had cats and Tyson just clipped her. She was just being fussy and curious and in happy to meet you mode. He knew he had done wrong because he went and sat on the bottom of the stairs waiting for me to go to him and when I did he bit me! Give it a bit of time he usually comes round eventually.

The Culprit

We had a better introduction with Squeak

Missy and her touched Noses and sniffed and although her tail puffed up a bit she seemed more accepting of Missy. Squeak was just as nervous as Missy.

Most of the day she has been with OH either sat on him draped round him cuddled in his jacket when we went out just her head peeping out. OH has also spoken to and reassured her previous Mum that she is settling, even to the point where she has christened OH's jacket, which has had to be washed. She is so tiny, but so loving. Here are some photos of her.

And Finally Oh she does love her Dad


There has been a long tradition on both side's of my family for handicrafts, dressmaking, crafts etc. In fact one Great Great Aunt (My mum's Great Aunt Sue) was a Tayloress by profession and my Great Aunt Ivy on my Dad's side of the family always was doing something, but she made the most beautiful crotchet mats; one set which she made for my Nan was a set of graduated mats with pansies crotcheted on to them. I have these mats somewhere as I inherited them from my Nan as I had always admired them. This was one of the reasons why I wanted to learn to crotchet in the first place.

As a result since I was a youngster I been able to crotchet in a fashion, (never quite like Aunt Ivy) although I encompassed an odd way of doing it to start with - more like finger knitting. However when I went to college every Wednesday afternoon was a recreational afternoon with a three hour period of either crafts, sport or cooking. I chose to do crafts and the teacher who saw me and my efforts promptly took me in hand as I wasn't doing it right and she made me practice until I got to grips with it. I wasn't holding my tension finger correctly.

Years on, I am still only have basic techniques at crotchet which sometimes go awry, but in our area there has been a new part work release called the Art of Crotchet. I had a look at this, thought about it hard, and then decided that yes I would just get this one (despite the fact that I was intent on not really buying anything this year - but this will in fact help me use some of the materials I already have upstairs up, and thus create more room). I am one of those people who learn new techniques by watching, and reading, rather than just reading it from a book and going terribly wrong.

I have been impressed by what is encompassed. This part work provides a basic DVD with working everything from the slip stitch to the foundation row. I think it is a very good way of learning how to crotchet. It also comes with wool and crotchet hook for 99pence for the first part £2.99 every week after that, which is not too expensive. The idea is to work various sample squares in different stitches and then make up a sampler quilt at the end. The throw is very colourful and I was immediately attracted to it as it is so cheerful.

They yarns are according to the information section are made by Debbie Bliss. It also provides clothing patterns under Designer Style, items for the home in Around the house, Bits and pieces encompassing items likes scarves, Crotchet Techniques, a Stitch Library and Question and Answer section. You can also visit them online at

When I got it home I sat and played with the first sample square with the practice thread that they also provide you with and to my delight I have been able to achieve this just with the use of the basic stitches and I have learnt a new pattern. (don't know what it is called but it is a new pattern) This for me is why I am going to continue with this is to progress my crotchet skills, learn new patterns and be able to make further nice things for my home.

This little sample is a thick textured stitch which looks very attractive. Now I can do this will work the proper sample square which is in a lovely rich redcurrant colour. In part 2 of this partwork techniques include joining yarn, half treble crotchet, an evening shrug, striped rag rug (this looks very interesting) a rustic shopping bag, plus a ball of rose coloured wool for the next square. Part 2 also comes with a binder and dividers.

So if you would like to learn to crotchet or like me you can do the basics but want to go on and do different things, this is a very good detailed guide in order for you to progress your skills evcen further. If I can surprise myself so can you.

2010.08 My Day

Well it was another busy day at work today and another cold day. We had several flurries of snow which were quite heavy and then magically they disappeared the sun came out, melted all the snow and we were virtually snow free to all intents and purposes.

We had to nip to the animal feed store which is nearby where I work - just to get some more cat food to keep the moggies happy. I ended up looking around the store at the animals they had there which is fatal. Fortunately we came away without anything apart from a number to ring for my OH. Equally dangerous.

When I got home, my tumbly drier was fixed so I was really pleased to be able to get on with the washing pile that had accumulated during the week. There has been more washing these past few weeks as I and my partner have been wrapping up with extra layers of clothes to keep ourselves warm and we both have fresh clothing every day.

That number was rung, which sounded promising and we then had a journey to Ramsey out in the fens on a very clear night. We were worried about the road being clear as it is a fen road, but surprisingly Peterborough side of the road was as clear as anything. There is a change of councils part way along the road, and it is very noticeable that Huntingdon District Council had different priorities as the road was well snowed up, its a very bendy road at the best of times. We eventually found where we needed to be and went in to have a look. Her owner had three dogs (including Missy's Mum) they were really all lovely natured family animals and Missy is very good natured like her mum. The owner really not want to lose her as she had grown very attached to her. We were both smitten and came away with a young Jack Russell pup, primarily for OH to go fishing with him during the season as a bit of company but also as a family dog. Ostensibly Missy (as she is being called) is OH's early birthday present. We had trouble getting out of the drive of the house in Ramsey and I had Missy wrapped up in my thick all weather jacket with her head popped out under my chin and she travelled as good as gold all the way back to our home for the best part fast asleep. This is one well laid back extremly fussy, curious pup whose tail goes round and round in excitement when you have been out of the room and come back in, by way of greeting. She is approximately 10 weeks old. Her owner said thaqt she was born on the 30 October 2009. Now the fun begins. The cats are a little concerned at the moment, but they always are when someone new comes into the household. But we will get there as I love all of them and am very patient when I have to be. Will post up some photos shortly as wouldn't you know it the camera battery was as flat as a pancake when we got home, and is currently re-charging.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Tumble Drier Woes

Working full time I rely quite heavily on my washing machine and tumble drier (well in the winter months) to keep me in lovely clean dried clothes. Well that's my normal expectation, but during the spring and summer months I use my washing line. The other evening I put a load on to dry and went back about 5 times to it not realising there was a problem and my washing was still shall we say slightly damp. Mentioned it to OH who made investigations and then could not decide what the problem was - I told him straight away no heat thought the thermostat had gone (well I am an Engineer's daughter). Tonight it decides to take it to pieces and then says I don't think its the thermostat that looks intact. I think you had better have a word with your brother! (Tumble drier was orignally my brother's and when he upgraded he gave me this one he is a very good brother) Therefore two telephone calls later Brother to rescue. Told OH what he needed to do and yes the thermostat had gone and explained where he could get a replacement. I am therefore hoping - my toes are crossed that I will have a working tumble drier tomorrow evening so that I can clear the washing. Things do choose their times to pack up and I am not keen on having washing hanging round the house to dry at the moment. It would make the house damp and its too cold anyway.

These things are sent to try us my fingers and toes are crossed!

Hottie Botties for toasty warm tozies

Okay I have succumbed to having toasty toes rather than frozen ones. Yes I have bought the hot water bottles out of retirement - not something you tell everyone is it that you have a hottie bottie lurking in the cupboard, let alone two, now literally warming up my bed. OH is not impressed, but then he does not have arthritis, raynauds syndrome etc. and he objects quite vociferously if I dare to stick my cold feet on the back of his legs. Well it's what I thought they were for! !I'm very naughty

Ok you are saying it is not strictly cool and it my affect my street cred (not that it is high profile anyway) but I would rather have my hottie botties to keep me snug and warm than freeze. I think I have an old stone one somewhere as well. Now I think I could make them a little more glamourous think I have some crazy cover patterns somewhere. Now that might be an idea for a present or two later on in the year. Pink Fluffy ones quite appeal!

Now where was that sewing machine.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010


Today January 6th is my blog's birthday. It is exactly a year since I launched myself into the world of blogging (and I wondered what the heck I was getting myself into) and I've learned a lot, but what I didn't expect was how much I have enjoyed doing it and for all of the friendships I have made along the way and for what I have myself learned.

Thank you very much for your support, feedback and friendship it means a lot to me, and to top all that I have had over 10,000 hits within that period. Here's to the next year.

Thank you all so much



Monday, 4 January 2010

2010.01.04 My Day

Well it was a tad difficult first thing. OH hasn't used our only mode of transport for about four days and had it parked off road at a friend's house because the tax needed renewing, [we don't have any parking] which he has subsequently dealt with. Went to start the van which was caked up with thick ice, found that he had a flat tyre, and then the van wouldn't fire up, so he rang me and said that I would have to walk to work otherwise wasn't going to get there. Got myself kitted up in my walking gear just got out of the house and fort knox all locked up and he had managed to intercept me to let me know that he had managed to get the van going and the tyre pumped up so I did get a lift into work after all.

Whilst taking me to work, OH realised that he had left his phone in the house and would have to go back for it. Then he dropped me at work - I realised I couldn't get in and had to go through Reception to borrow an electronic fob which allows me to go about my business at work. Fortunately, since then things have calmed down a bit. Its not good too much stress first thing in a morning especially on a first day back.

Its been a long and busy day and I am now a bit headachey - haven't managed to get the Christmas decorations put away will have to do them tomorrow night. I am out on Wednesday night so it will have to be tomorrow.

There was the most marvellous sunset this evening a Red Sky at Night, Shepherds delight sunset ; it painted all the buildings near us a soft pinky colour against the dark looming bluey black velvet of the night. I only glimpsed a little of it through the windows to the office where I work and I wished I had my camera with me to capture nature's stunning work. It was glorious.

Needless to say, it is bitterly cold here tonight and I have the central heating on and it is nice and cosy, we would be up a creek without a paddle if we didn't have the central heating as there is no other form of heating. But oh for a log fire. We are lucky that we do not have snow at the moment. Fortunately Peterborough is pretty low lying being in the Fens. If we get snow it is usually pretty difficult in the surrounding villages, lost of windy lanes that do not get salted, but at least at the moment we haven't got it as bad as other parts of the country. I am very grateful for small mercies although it looks as though snow is forecast for tomorrow. I do feel for anyone who is blocked in and unable to get out and about.

I managed to get yet another blanket square knitted yesterday; have cast on another square and am a few rows on with it will do a little more before I go to bed. This blanket/rug is very much a long term project but I am using up what wool I have to hand first. I may have to add to this shortly, but I can always fluctuate between the ongoing projects I have to hand and get as much done as I can on each project before having to replenish supplies where necessary.

Well must get on.

Catch up soon.


Sunday, 3 January 2010

2010.01.03 My Day

It has been another quiet day here - it makes a change to actually get to relax rather than chasing around trying to catch my tail, so I am enjoying and trying not to feel guilty.

Yesterdays snow, after falling quite hard after about an hour disappeared and we had no more snow fall, but the temperatures fell round here last night and it was quite slippy this morning. In fact I am not quite sure whether the temperature has increased or not today. I went out to the dustbin this afternoon at about 3 p.m/. and had to tug at it the lid as it was frozen solid. Even the tops of the lids were rhimed up. We are very lucky compared to other areas of the country. This winter to me is very reminiscent of what the winters were like when I was a child, growing up. In particular I remember the winter of 1963 where there were deep snow drifts and roads blocked off. What I do find incredible though is that despite the roads being salted the pavements in this region never are. This is where the most damage is often caused especially to our elder members and younger members alike. For the want of a little more salt it would save a lot of grief. I have just seen this evenings weather forecast for the week and more bad weather is to come. So please wherever you are please take care and keep safe and pop in on elderly neighbours to check that everything is okay with them, especially if they are on their own.

I have been sorting through some bags this afternoon and have found some more projects part finished and also located the threads for finishing off the small lavender needlepoint sachet which is part-worked. I have married some of the work up into bags per project (OH has a habit of moving things but not keeping bits together which kind of exacerbates any attempts at me doing things - he tends to intervene when I am not around instead of leaving things alone).

Well I have a lot of hard work on my hands - but I am sure I will get there eventually. Should all look lovely when completed.

First there is a the lilac and white crotchet bedspread - I have quite a few squares worked already - long term project.

And then there is the single bed crotchet throw in yellows and greens to match bedding.

Then there is the cross stitch sampler I started a few years ago - I need to locate the pattern for this, but I have all the threads - shouldn't take too long once pattern located. There are two more of the flower garlands to work and the border.

Then there is the second cushion centre to be worked in needlepoint - I have made a small start on this.

Then there are three new kits the first is a sister kit to the Brotherswater long stitch kit which is Loweswater.

Then there are two trammed rose needlepoint cushion fronts one in red and one in pink. I have already worked one of them and given it a cream background.

Well thats just for starters I had better get my finger out fast, but I am determined to clear a lot of the backlog in an effort to discipline myself, give myself something to do in these hard financial times, keep my hands and fingers going and create some nice pieces for my home. It might also give me some more room to organise my craft stuff so that I can find materials in the longer term.

Whilst unnearthing these few craft items this afternoon I also found two expensive stamps that I bought a couple of years ago and also my decoupage knife and cards for doing Christmas cards.

I will try and give a report on how much has been accomplished at the end of the month.

Tomorrow it is back to work - and tomorrow evening I will start to take the Christmas decorations down and pack them away to be put back into storage in readiness to be bought out again at the end of the year.

Catch you all again later



Saturday, 2 January 2010

My Day

It has been a quiet relatively lazy day here at chez pattypan today. True to my word last night I started to continue with a long term piece of craft work i.e. a knitted blanket/rug that I started last year. I am working it in different shades of lilac and white. I had some wool available and it was easy to get at, so I continued knitting into the quiet of the night apart from the clickety click of my needles. I was subsequently late to bed as I lost track of the time. Working and concentrating on my knitted square losing myself in my thoughts and the repetivive rythm of the needles and the wool.

Needless to say I wasn't up early and I was watching the television and the weather forecast (I nearly put knitting forecast!) and was just remarking upon the fact that there seems to a lot of snow about again. I literally turned from the television and looked out of the window and this scene greeted me.

Within the course of ten minutes quite a bit of snow had fallen and large flakes of snow at that and it was beginning to settle. After about half an hour of snowing and stopping it stopped and hasn't started up again since. The roads now are completely wet and it is freezing so I think it will be nasty on the roads tomorrow. The street I live on is one of the main thoroughfares through to the centre of town but it still gets nasty especially when temperatures have been below freezing.

I am feeling a lot better although the cold is still holding on a little. OH is suffering thought it seems to have got its gum boots on with him. I keep on dosing myself. I made a scuttle full of French Onion Soup last night and I had that together with some bread for my lunch today. Full of onion and full of garlic nature's natural antisceptics. It was very yummy and has been very soothing to my throat. I have also had lots of fresh orange juice as well for a vitamin c boost. I would rather eat or drink something that will help with colds or illness than pop pills.

I went to the local shop to top up with a few ingredients that I had run out of and OH decided he was cooking tea tonight (for a change)we subsequently ended up buying a chicken and have had boiled chicken, curly kale, tartiflette and carrots with gravy. It went down very well and the chicken was lovely and moist and very good eating.

I have since been sat knitting again and listening to a film. I am quite content just listening. I have now completed another square and have casted on for the next square. Any remnants of wool left over from the squares are being utilised in the strip crotchet blanket (that I call my rainbow blanket) so I believe that both of these blankets will be finished near to one another which may be some time off yet. Which blanket I work on depends on how much wool I have available at that time - I go between them if I run out of wool. The idea of these blankets is to give me something to do with my limited time during the week. It also keeps my hands moving with the knitting needles and the crotchet (as I have arthritis which is often quite painful).

When I was younger I used to listen to the radio a lot and still do when OH is not around (he is not keen). I sort of remember things from my past and associate it with radio programmes. Mum would always cook Sunday lunch and bake whilst she had the oven on. The radio would ofen be on usually Family Favourites on a Sunday morning which without realising it I used to listen to and take in.

These days, If I am working in the kitchen I always have the radio on usually Classic Gold as it plays quite a mixture of music.

I have found another couple of projects part done Work in progress. I show them as they are at the moment. I intend to get these completed as well.

The first is a long stitch kit "Brotherswater" a Sue Dakin design which I have had for sometime and started a while back and then got distracted from and it fell by the way side. This kit is approximtely half way though so it is a good one to get my teeth into. I already have a couple of these kits already done. When they are all completed I will get them framed all together.

Here is a picture of the completed project and also a picture of how far along I have managed to get with the kit.

The second is a little needlepoint heart worked in purples and lilacs which needs completing and putting with the other ones already completed. They then need making up with pretty back fabric and little lavender sachets to be inserted inside and then hung from coat hangers in the wardrobe to keep the wardrobe and my clothes nicely scented.

I hope everyone is safe and snug wherever you are.

Please excuse me if I disappear for a little while I have things to get on with. Be back soon.



Friday, 1 January 2010

January - Gardening

January - according to the books (I am only a novice gardener so don't really know) is the ideal time to plant:

Jerusalam Artichokes








Red and white currants

January - Preserves etc. to make this month

Just some ideas as to what to make for the Pantry this month or as I call it the "Putdown". They are just ideas - some of them I will achieve other's I won't but its good to have a check list as a reminder as what is potentially open to you to have a go at this month. This is just my list - it is very much work in progress and no doubt will be added to in due course.

Just because Christmas is over doesn't mean to say that there isn't work to be done i.e. squirrelling away a few pots of this or that to ensure that there is something interesting to put on your family's table, and some items are seasonal like Seville Oranges and its nice to have a few jars of this available to give as presents and/or the basic ingredients to hand to make a batch of marmalade etc when you do have time to play. I have had bought Seville Marmalade but there is nothing quite like home made Seville Marmalade that really is a treat for the palate.

Sometimes ingredients come your way unexpectedly and it would be a shame not to make use of this "manna from heaven" especially in this day and age, where priorities are changing and the most important things are keeping a roof over your head, food in your belly and heat to keep you warm. As long as the basics are covered everything else is a blessing.

To help eke out our slender income at the moment, I have tended to not buy ready processed foods, but do all this myself as it works out a lot cheaper and you end up with more jars of produce than you would do if buying it from a supermarket often with more flavour. This way round you can also keep tabs on where the product came from and whether it fits in within your own set of ethics when it comes to being grown along organic lines, free range etc. and if you have children that have sensitivities its a good way of making sure that they are not consuming any nasties.

I tend to make a load of preserves, but I also freeze a lot of basic ingredients for use later on as well. Frozen in their natural form gives you more options as to what you use them in. This can be handy stop gap as if you run out of your favourite preserve part way during the year at least you will be able to re-stock up again. Although this is not always available to do depending on the ingredient but often there are other options available than freezing. I tend to get what I can in the freezer but then if I am running out of room I turn to bottling and/or making jams or other preserves. Its just about finding the best way for the ingredient involved. It is also very satisfying to be able to go to the pantry or the freezer and be able to get what you want without having to nip out to the shops and for a treat to produce something out of season.

After Christmas and before they disappear


I adore these roasted but they make a lovely pudding that can be stored in the freezer.

They also make a lovely jam.


One of the things I tend to do just after Christmas is to try and get hold of Cranberries at a reduced price I then make a big batch of cranberry and apple jelly -we use this preserve prolifically throughout the year, along with other preserves. There are certain preserves I just have to have in the kitchen a nd this is one of them. I use my local veg shop and the market but I also pop my head in the supermarkets occasionally specifically looking for reduced fruit and veg - things like blueberries are very handy to get hold of at reduced rates as they can be used to make a compote to add to yoghurt or in blueberry muffins. I am fortunate that my local veg shop has a reduced basket and you can quite often pick up plums and pears etc at a reduce rate which is ideal for making up a few pots of jam, or bottling or even making chutney or pickle. Anyway I diverse.

There are lots of ideas for using Cranberries, especially if you manage to get enough of them. Here are just a few ideas:

Cranberry Gin or Vodka - in readiness for next Christmas

Cranberry Curd

Freeze them - then when the freezer is full

Bottled Cranberries

Cranberry and Grand Marnier Sauce

Cranberry and Orange Compote

Cranberry and Juniper Jelly

Mandarins, Clementines, Satsumas and lemons Oranges and Grapefruits

You can make curds out of these from the juice - save the peels and either blitz them in the food processor with oils and spices to make your own scented oils for burning in an oil burner or adding to pot pourri or dry the skins and use them ground up or the dried peel whole in casseroles. Or if you have a coal or log fire dry the skins and then burn them on the fire they scent the room beautifully.
Or you can candy the peels and make your own mixed peel for use in baking and/or next year's Christmas pudding and Christmas cake.

You can also make Cordials and jellys as well as bottle the Mandarins, Clementines and Satsumas in syrup.

Preserved lemons

The following is only a rough check list more like an aide memoire and I will post up the recipes I use under their own headings separately. If you are looking for a specific recipe please ask I have an extensive collection of cookery books and am quite happy to check and look to see if I have the recipe you are after.

Marmalades of all persuasions

Seville Orange Marmalade

Seville and Ginger Marmalade

Seville Orange Gin/Vodka or Brandy

Ginger Marmalade

Ginger Wine

Crystallised Ginger

Ginger in Syrup

Apple Curd

Lemon/Orange Curd or as above

Apple Jelly with the last of the crab apples

Rhubarb Schnapps

Rhubarb for Freezer

Bottled Rhubarb

With any left over dried fruit why not start the Mincemeat for use later on in the year and/or Christmas

January - Food what is in Season this month

This is just a list of the items that are potentially available during January - Some items are at their best others readily available. If you have access to a good vegetable market and/or meat/fish market or Butcher it will help you choose what you cook for your family - our Fish/Meat Market in Peterborough is very reasonable price wise and they also cater for the mixed community in Peterborough so you do tend to get some unusual things. I noticed when I was in there the other day that they had dried salt cod avaialable and half a pigs head/full pigs head, oxtails, fillets etc. I bought a load of pigs liver for making pate from here quite cheaply.

With regard to vegetables if you can afford it is worth investing in a vegetable box scheme or alternatively if you don't have a market it might be worth making friends with an allotment owner or better still having a go yourself. It will bring you all kinds of new experiences and lots of friends.



Cooking Apples
Eating Apples
Lemons (imported)
Forced Rhubarb
Seville Oranges
Pears (Concorde, Doyenne du Comice and Conference)


Jerusalem Artichokes
Brussel Sprouts
Brussel tops
Cabbage - Red, White and various green varieties
Greens - Spring and Winter including Purple Sprouting Broccoli
Kale (borecole)
Pak Choi
Kohl Rabi



Shellfish and Fish

Wild Salmon
Sea Bass
Spider Crab


Wild Goose
Farmed Goose
Wood Pigeon

Things to try and achieve in 2010

Not resolutions as such but a list of things that I need to get done and/or achieve during this New Year.

I need to buy some heavy duty fabric to make a door curtain for the back door together with a wind stopper for the bottom of the door to keep out the draughts. I already have the curtain track and the curtain tape and pad for the wind stopper.

I am intending to try and use up a lot of the bits I already have in-house rather than going out and just buying (which I cannot afford to do I can only window shop). I have kits that I have started and then put to one side and I have other brand new kits that I haven't even started. I have various knitting on the go as well.

I am seriously looking forward to having a go at playing with different crafts this coming year. This list is just the first draft no doubt I will add to it as I go along:

Start making Christmas presents/cards now for next year. My friend Margaret really impressed me with the little cross stitch card she made for me which I mentioned in an earlier post. So I am going to have a go at stitching my own. I have to just sort out a pattern or patterns which I have a lot of somewhere upstairs.

Start collecting bits and bobs for use in presents and/or decorations such as:

Flower wire and stub wires
Ring bases/wreath basis
Silk flowers
(When I looked before Christmas I had difficulty in finding any). That was as a result of Kirstie's Home Made Christmas programme).

In particular look out for baskets and or hampers of different sizes and shapes in your local Charity shop/junk shops. They can always be re-vamped with a bit of fabric or decoration and/or paint or varnish and re-used either to deliver a plant in or as mini hampers to give home made produce in for your nearest and dearest and/or friends.

Make a stock of homemade cards and tags:

For Christmas
For Birthdays
For Births
For Marriages
For loss

Make some presents suitable as birthday presents

Try and finish some of my current work in progress items such as the various blankets have on the go and the cross stich items.

Start my clippie rug/rugs

Have a go at making soap

Start wine making seriously again (used to do this regularly years ago but somehow got out of the habit of doing the same.

Start making own beer - never made this before so something new to try.

Get more organised than I already am

Stop procrastinating and putting things off (one of my biggest problems)

Get the Garden sorted so that I can have a proper go at growing my own veggies and help supplement the housekeeping. I can grow things from seed and get them potted on it tends to be a bit hit and miss from thereon in need to be stricter on my timings and planning.

Get a shed so that can get the freezers out of the dining room to give me more space to move and also somewhere to store my jars and bottles. Unfortunately I do not have the use of an attic or a garage so storing things becomes a bit of a problem.

Get the greenhouse up and running again

Sow my own seeds and get plants up and running

Get the front garden tidied

Start making cider

Would like to have a go at making own bacon, sausages, salami and possibly have a go at a ham at a later stage.

Have a go a making my own Goats cheese

Have a go at making labna cheese from yoghurt

Have a go at potting meat

Try and get a serious grip on patchwork

Start dressmaking again - have a lot of fabric just need to get cracking

Get some more beading projects finished

Finish off jumpers which are work in progress

Keep an eye out for any opportunity that comes my way no matter how small and make the most of them.

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)