Monday, 28 November 2011

I've been busy

Well although I am on holiday this week, it has officially been designated operation Christmas mop up in readiness for the Christmas celebrations in a few weeks time. I have therefore been pottling away and getting stuck in.   I have been washing and ironing washing and ironing and at long last I am pleased to report that mission impossible has now been accomplished and the washing and the ironing is now completed.  Phew.  Now just have to persuade the wardrobes that they really do want to accept further donations into the darkest depths of the closet or two or three....  One major job done, quite a few more to go.  Tomorrow we have operation toilet and bathroom.  Out will come the steam cleaner again; hopefully should not take me more than a couple of hours.   Well in theory anyway. Then that will be the bathroom and the kitchen completely done.  Then we have the pantry, yet again that should not take too long either.    Once they are accomplished I have the dining room to bottom out and then the lounge.  So I have a lot to do before I go back to work next Monday for a week.  I am back at work a week and then off again, but that is to get the last minute shopping done, cooking done and decorations.  So I have my work cut out.  Will have to get a wriggle on.

Catch you later



Saturday, 26 November 2011

2011.11.26 My Day

I have this week off and I have an awful lot to do.  Today  my first day off and I haven't really done very much, haven't had a lot of energy today so have rested.  

The weather has been very cold here and the wind is more than breezy and is howling a little.   Today I Have done a bit of shopping and managed to get one or two more items for the Christmas box such as some Paynes Chocolate Brazils and some salted peanuts.  I paid a visit to the veg shop and have come back with some oranges, clementines, lemons a leek, some root ginger,  some beetroot and two large cauliflowers.  Not much but things I needed.  The cauliflowers were 60 pence each and they are massive. Fen grown locally and on speaking to the veg shop owners they did not think that there would be any fresh cauliflowers like this around come Christmas.  I therefore bought two cauliflowers to make some cauliflower cheese for the freezer.  If they have anymore in the week I might well nab a couple more and freeze the florets down.  The Oranges I am going to make a Ginger fruit relish and with the clementines I am going to make Orange Water Ice.  The beetroot is to be boiled and then pickled.  The lemons are going to make some more lemon curd (we go through a lot of it and it is particularly nice mixed with home made plain yogurt and then served up as a pud.  I also want to get some more soup made for the freezer as it is handy to have during the week.

I am on baby sitting duties for Tiddles my friend's cat.  Have been over a couple of times already and fed and watered him.  Will go again in the morning to check on him.  He was pleased to see me.  I taught his mum how to make a Christmas pudding last night have done a round one - its her first Christmas pud.  Have used my recipe  - a variation on a Delia recipe where I add in a few other ingredients as well such as apple, carrot and Cider.

Have a pile of ironing to get on with so must dash

Catch you soon



Souper Mix

I made this recipe for the first time just after receiving the Preserves book by Pam Corbin  from River Cottage not long after it was first published.  It has been a fixture on my pantry shelf ever since and very useful in the kitchen for making gravies, adding to sauces  it gives a really good base. I am not a fan of stock cubes in a mug of hot water but this was very palatable indeed as a quick warm me up instead of a tea or a coffee.   All you do is put a couple of teaspoons or more into a mug and top up with boiling water. I always make double the quantity of the recipe and it never seems to last that long or perhaps its me uses too much of it; but I like this to hand in my batterie de cuisine so to speak as you can do so much with it.  After all cooking is about adding layers of flavour to whatever dish you cook or make

Here's a link here to the recipe

Its well worth making some as it has so much flavour and the flavour changes as to what vegetables you use and it is very easily made.



Tuesday, 22 November 2011

What a Busy Week - So far

It seems to have been all go at home and at work this week seems to be zipping along like nobody's business.

This morning did not start well; we both slept heavily and OH turned the alarm off and went back to sleep - me I didn't hear it I was still deep in slumber; and then it was all rush and tear in order to get to work on time.  I am not good if hurried in a morning I like to come too gracefully and gradually!

I have been given a load of plums from someone's freezer today so have some plum jam to do.  I also have a batch of stock paste to make think will do that this evening - have lots to do just not have the energy to do it.

We have pizza and garlic ciabatta with pate for tea - wanted something lighter than last nigh.  We had Cornish pasties,mashed potato and  onion gravy which was scrummy and warming and proper comfort food especially after a dark damp day.

It has been a very foggy past couple of days resulting in teeming rain last night.  Its been grey and cold today but thankfully some of the mist had gone which made travelling a little easier although it is still damp and cold.  Oh for a log fire.  One day I am determined I will have one, one day - hopefully sooner rather than later.  I have the things like the coal scuttle, the companion set, horse brasses etc etc so I have all the accoutrements to show it off - just need the actual fire!

Will have to get a wriggle on - am not in tomorrow night am off out and about again and hospital again on Thursday dinner, up town on Friday dinner and then on holiday for a week but a working one. 

Front garden needs tidying up now OH has attacked the Cotoneaster Bush/Tree we seem to have a much bigger garden where weeds have sprouted so I will get stuck in and get that sorted so it looks neat and tidy.

House needs tidying and bottoming out kitchen is done now have to complete the following:

  • Bottom out the pantry and re-arrange and restock the same
  • Bottom out the Dining room, the Jam Store and sort out the Freezers.
  • Finish off the Bedroom.
  • Bottom out the Computer Room
  • Back Bedroom.
  • Carpets to be washed
  • Front Room to be bottomed out
  • Brass and Copper to be cleaned and polished
  • Bathroom to be swabbed out.
  • Ironing heap to disappear
I really intend to get stuck in and get as much done as I possibly can in this coming week in order that I get time to cook and play properly on the second week that I am off i,e, with the decorating and crafts too.

I also need to retrieve some of my items from storage too notably my square pine coffee table to put in the front room and stand my Christmas tree on but that won't happen until everything is tickety boo.

Well upwards and onwards

Catch up soon



Saturday, 19 November 2011

Deep Clean

Sorry I have been absent, been cleaning all day a real deep clean of the kitchen which I do inbetween regular cleaning at least every couple of months or so.  This is when I zip into cleaning anything and everything in sight with the steam cleaner.  This is all part and parcel of my preparations for Christmas.  With it being an old house and one that is rented, the owners have when they have had work done, had cheap tradesmen in who don't finish of the work properly and there are lumps and bumps or things are not straight. In between the cleaning I have also been sorting out cupboards I have found some more things I had forgotten I had like the Raclette, the popcorn maker, the candy floss machine, the chocolate fountain and the health grill!  Well no doubt I will press them into use over the festive season or in the next few weeks or so at the very least.  I have had much of my equipment for many years and I look after it as best as I can. 

I still have the cooker to clean down in the kitchen, but OH had a disaster with that during the week, he caught the glass oven door and it shattered. He was very sheepish when he picked me up and explained.  But there we are accidents happen. It still has jagged bits of glass in it so I am going to have to be extremely careful when cleaning it.  I have been on the Cannon website and located a replacement but it is going to have to wait until I get paid as it is about £75!

I really love it when everything is lovely and clean again and sparkling makes me feel almost virtuous.

Tomorrow it will be finish off the kitchen and progress to the pantry to sort out everything in there and from there to the dining room. Its going to be a very busy week.

Its been very cold here tonight and Demetri is becoming very much a home bird these days.  I whistle all my cats in and you can hear him clunking over the neighbours fences and calling to me to wait so that he can get in.  He is so funny and affectionate.

Well am shattered its time for bed as I have an early start tomorrow to continue with the deep clean.  I want the house to be tickety booh for Christmas.  However I do have one job that I have to do and I am not looking forward to it.  Cleaning the brass and copper I do manage to get in a mess with it.

Anyway off to Bedfordshire

Catch you soon



Monday, 14 November 2011

Brown Bag Cookie Moulds/Shortbread pan

I fear the next few weeks are going to be frantic with one thing and another.  Fortunately I have 10 days holiday in December to look forward to, but I intend to do as much as I can in the weeks to come.  I have in mind a lot of sewing projects which I cannot tell about yet (as some are Christmas presents but will show photos later on) and also a lot of cooking projects also.  I also intend to give the kitchen a lick of paint - revamp the kitchen blind and also sew a skirt for the sink.  This has only been decided to day when I found a lot of material I had forgotten I had which is truly fortuitous.  (Just need to get the paint organised).  Together with a couple of further UFO's which I had totally forgotten about as well as some more kits and sewing bits and bobs.  There is also the ironing board cover which will get done this week probably Wednesday night as it will be my first night in this week as am out on Monday for a short while and out on Tuesday evening also.  Thursday am at the physio at lunch time doing my back class.  In the evening I will be ironing Friday night am out at my friends so things are going to be a tad hectic to say the least!  But hey it makes the time go faster.  I also have some one a day things to do this week too.

I have rescued my box of cookie cutters and also my brown bag shortbread dish and cookie moulds which I bought a few years ago and forgot about.  They were in the box I emptied.  I would love to be able to have more as there are all sorts of designs available. For those of you interested here is the website for the designs.  For the shortbread pans and for the cookie moulds and

I don't know whether you can get them very easily over here (mine were bought over 10 years ago) and I am looking forward to having a play.  There is also the shortbread pan as well.

I am looking forward to playing.

Catch up soon



Sunday, 13 November 2011

Unpacking a Box

Yesterday I started to unpack one of my boxes as the box was far too big and the plan was to pack the contents into two smaller boxes.  I had forgotten what was in the box and it was exciting rediscovering bits and bobs that were well wrapped. I was initially going to pack the contents into two separate boxes, but like most best laid plans of mice and men things changed and I am keeping the contents  out for use over Christmas.

First out were some cut glass sherry schooners

Second two thernal pots brand new never used (told you all i was a squirrel) and I have decided to keep these out for use over Christmas for probably some really nice coffee. They are a pale blue which actually goes with a small blue flower in one of my dinner services, but that aside I think they will come in very useful in keeping things nice and warm over the seasonal festivities.

A square brown bag cookie dish and brown bag cookie moulds (several) see separate post

8 dishes think you  call them gratin dishes like the ones above

10 Ramekins -  these are always useful for making chocolate mousse or any other individual pud

12 corn on the cob holders (we are rather partial to corn this way)

2 baking sheets

A breafast trio for marmalade jam and honey and a large porcelain fish pate/mousse dish

My old brown glass vinegar bottle

A pretty striped batter bowl

3 miniature matching picture frames

2 Art Nouveau picture individual tea trays

4 egg cups

6 tablemats
6 coasters
2 standing mats

6 China mugs

Catch you soon



New to me Bookshelf

As part of the bedroom tidying I have managed to get OH to put up a small bookshelf that I picked up second hand for about £5 from my local charity shop.  It has a couple of kittens on the top playing with a ball or ball of string which rather appealed at the time of me buying it. [Those of you who know me well will know of my love for cats and dogs and at one time, when I started this blog I had five.  Three passed last year and one this year and I still have Squeak together with Demetri who is very slowly making himself at home. ]  I have also managed to acquire through one means or another several books that are on the to read pile but which have no home, so having it put up sort of kills two birds with one stone.

The cat picture below which is a favourite was also a charity shop find - the same shop, but about a couple of years ago.

And the top shelf provides a home for some of my teddy bears.  My oldest one is as old as me and was put into my cot just after I was born by my Gran.  Its one of the things I would save if there was ever a fire that and the photograph album.  God forbid.

Needless to say the bedroom will not be quite finished today.  Although I have managed to rehome all my shoes in the closet wardrobe.  I still have a lot of items to rehome and find a space for elsewhere

However OH is cooking tea this evening - He is using the Rotisserie to cook a chicken with roasted mixed vegetables underneath with plenty of garlic - I wish you could smell the aroma it looks promising.  OH had wanted chips with it - but as he only had chips last night I said not.  Plus its healthier this way on.

Catch up later


Saturday, 12 November 2011

Catch Up

Its been a funny old week dismal grey raining - the rain we need but this time of year it does get me down.  I hated being confined to quarters as a child by the rain, but as an adult you have different responsibilities.  OH suffers from bipolar disorder and also SAD he has been very down in the dumps this week and I have found myself gently chivvying him along and ensuring he is okay in between doing everything else.

I had a rare lay in this morning  - I was shattered and hugged my bed a lot later than I usually due as I was flat out for the count after an extremely busy week.  When I did get up we walked Missy.  OH walks her every day but I only get to play at the weekends.  Its been warm here after the past few days which have been very cold.  It was damp, the golden beautiful foliage of the trees, on some trees is coming off with a vengence whilst on others they are still well covered.  The leaves become slippy when damp and I nearly went skiing a couple of times.  Everything is closing down for the winter months.  We were privileged to yet again see the Woodpecker in full flight darting amongst the trees and across the playing fields; it lives in a bunch of silver birch trees.  No doubt we will walk Missy again in the morning and I aim to get some more teasels for my Christmas decorations tomorrow.

When I came back I went to the veg shop - limited funds this week so having to prioritise what I need first until I get paid again.  I needed a tray of eggs, picked up some reduced tomatoes and eating apples, a cabbage, swede,parsnips, leeks.  I picked up celeriac and fennel yesterday from the main market in town.  Then I popped and got the milk for the week and three bags of sugar as unusually for me I am fast running out.

I then came back and started on the bedroom again; last weekend OH fitted out what was my old airing cupboard (but the the fitting of a new gas boiler in the back bedroom earlier in the year has become redundant and it has been turned into a walk in wardrobe.  Just recently a friend had given me some very high quality hardly worn clothes and I desperately needed hanging space for everything. That problem is now solved and I intend to get some plastic drawers (sold in sets in Wilkinsons) to put to the side of the walk in wardrobe for want of  a better phrase to store my curling tongs, hairdryer etc -  the bits that you need to use but which rather get in the way if not stored properly.  I am still doing the bedroom but hopefully that will be well sorted by tomorrow evening and everything will have a home an organised place to be kept.  I have the carpet to wash in the bedroom tomorrow after finding a home for the bits I unpacked to use over Christmas; one of the bedside rugs has already been washed and I have the other to do tomorrow.

Half way through the afternoon I popped over the road to my friend's to hang her curtains for her, had a cup of tea and then came away after giving her a couple of jumpers that I no longer had a need for as they were too small.  She was well pleased with them.

We had a simple supper of egg and chips - simple good homely food that went down well with a couple of slices of bread and butter   quickly followed by a couple of mugs of hot tea as I wanted to get on with the bedroom again.

This evening I have sorted OH's wardrobe out so it is tidy.  He still has to go through it to sort out some of those items he does not want any more but I think that will be something for another day.  I have also found why I had a coathanger shortage  - he has been storing them in his wardrobe - I thought it funny I couldn't find any and went and bought some more the other day.  I now have stacks again.  On the cards for tomorrow is my main wardrobe.  Then there are the "dressing tables" to sort.  Once it is done though it will be a job well done as I will then be able to get the rest of the ironing put straight away after airing.  However before I can accomplish this I have to make myself a new ironing board cover!  So I have lots to do as usual.

Well have to get on still things to do before I can get to bed.

Catch up tomorrow sometime

Take care wherever you are 



What to do with Pumpkin

Other than use it to make a Cinderella Coach! Or to Carve Pumpkin for All Saints Night or Halloween.

I became rather fond of pumpkin on my trip to Australia many years ago, where I got to taste lots of new flavours and came home loving them and wanting them on my own seasonal food menu as a result and Pumpkin or Squash has featured ever since.  I am particularly fond of roast pumpkin or squash which is delicious served with the Sunday roast.  I always freeze some down as a treat for the colder months, but I also do other things with pumpkin. It is one of those vegetables that is seriously good for you, warming, filling and nutritious.

Whilst the pumpkins are in the shops and I intend to nab a couple this weekend as they are one of my favourite vegetables and I have a couple of recipes that I really must make.  Pumpkin Chutney and Pumpkin Marmalade as well as pumpkin soup and pasta.
I absolutely adore pumpkin roasted, in fact I am very fond of squash as well, as they are a good slow release food for your system that help you sustain energy levels. Looking for something different a few years ago, I found a recipe for Pumpkin marmalade. I wasn't sure whether to make it at first, but then decided to make a few jars to test it out. I was a little concerned because then and in my experience, marmalade wasn't made with anything other than oranges, limes and grapefruit I tend to test out new recipes, test drive them and then if I like them, they get put into my favourite recipe book and made year in year out - as long as supplies are available. I particularly like this preserve on toast for breakfast. It is relatively simple to make. The recipe will follow in a later post.

My friend Eve (as a way of thanking me for all my personal cooking tuition and various other bits and bobs) had some very good fortune last week in that she won a small sum at bingo.  Knowing that I would not accept money or a present from her - she colluded with the Veg shop owners, set me up and left a sum of money behind the counter to pay for my weekly fresh veg. with the instruction that they were not to take the word No from me.  This was a lovely surprise and came just when needed when funds were low.  As part of that little surprise I came home with three large pumpkins originally priced at £3 apiece.  I came home with all three at £1 a shout. i.e. £3 rather than the £9 they were priced at.  So I felt doubly blessed.

What on earth do I want those for I can hear you say.  Primarily for making Pumpkin marmalade, which is delicious on toast for brekkie in the morning, but also some for soup and also some for stuffed pasta.  I particularly like Pumpkin, but also use Butternut Squash in a similar fashion also.  I have some serious cooking to do and lots of other things besides I think I am going to be busy over the weekend.

What are your favourite veggies and how do you prepare them would love to know

Catch up soon



Thursday, 10 November 2011

All I want for Christmas is...

My two front teeth,  goes the song.  Only about 8 weeks to go and a lot to do in between times.

What type of Christmas would you like?  In reality what I would really like is a simpler Christmas with lots less razamatazz.  Now the party poopers amongst us might say the stores are far too early in putting the Christmas bits and bobs on display - in one sense they are but in another, its something we can also take advantage of especially when there isn't much money about as there is a distinct lack of for a lot more of us this year.  Last year was tough, but money isn't going as far as it did last year.

When my mum was a girl it was a rarity to get a Christmas present; their Christmas present usually consisted of a stocking filled with sweets, and nuts and fruit and a brand new penny.  Mum recounts a story that one particular Christmas her Uncle Tom bought her a miniature china tea service.  It was very unusual to receive an actual present like this (Mum was one of ten and they lived in a two up two down).  She was so enthralled with it that she took it upstairs out of the way and on the way up the stairs, tripped fell down the stairs and broke the little china set - she was heartbroken it was bad enough to break it but to lose it on the same day as she received it  was ten times worse.

Rewind 70+ years - today's children want designer gadgets and it is all want, want want or has been up until this year but  I am hoping that this year parents will not give in to their off-spring as easily out of necessity more than anything else and only afford what they can.  Children need to be able to experience situations  that happen to family groups and see their parents' own reaction to such events as they learn so much from how their parents react.  To face a problem where there is not much money about helps teach the value of money by experience and to working out problems and finding a way round them.  If Children have no experience to learn from how are they going to be able to react to any situation that may come their way.  It is those sort of lessons that are special lessons they need careful handling - and of course I would not want a child to go without, but you have to be realistic times are hard.  Our children will still do well compared to our forebears, but I am hoping that common sense will prevail and that the emphaisis is on celebrating the season more simply remembering the real reason for Christmas i.e. the celebration of the birth of a special child to a special family and celebrating your own family and relatives and friends in the process.  To me its about making the most of what you actually have rather than what you haven't got.  It helps you live within the day and brings creativity to the fore as when people cannot afford to buy things they look for alternative ways of achieving something by either having a go at making something themselves, or buying something second hand.  Anything that is done with love and pure intent is worth more in the long run as it comes from the heart - is the best kind of love unconditional - now that cannot be bought or bottled  thank goodness, but we can teach our children where that comes from and how to achieve it.

I wish you love, warmth affection and good food  and special times with your family and loved ones - anything else is a bonus

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Something nice happened to me today

The firm that I work for introduced last year long service awards for long-standing members of staff.  Today we celebrated one of the Lawyers having worked for the firm for 40 years; another member of staff in the Accounts Department 25 years and three other lady colleagues 15 years.  I wasn't going to go to the awards as I had arrangements at lunch to meet with friends, but the firm celebrated in style and I was eventually persuaded by one of my colleagues to just go for a little while so I did.  It turned out that I also received an award for 15 years service withe firm and I was given a pretty bouquet of flowers and a bottle of Champagne (which I have popped up out of the way for Christmas Dinner - am a bit partial to Bucks Fizz at Christmas).  So it was a lovely surprise - who says nice things don't happen.  They certainly did for me today.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Just a quick hello

Hi everyone am okay  - its just one of those periods where life has got in the way and I really don't have much time for blogging as am very busy at work and equally busy in the house when I get in and by the time I get to sit down I am very tired and just clear off to bed. (its these darker winter nights making me want to hibernate. I haven't even had time to play catch up on what everyone else has been up to either - and am getting serious withdrawal symptoms.  I am hoping to get back in the swing of things in the next week or so (if not before).  Please hang in there hopefully normal service will be resumed shortly.  Am currently working my way through a very large ironing pile and seem to be running out of coathangers! (this is just one of many long jobs I have on my to do list which I am determined to get shot off.

Take care and look after yourselves wherever you are


xA qi

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)