Monday, 31 December 2012

Happy New Year from my little corner of the world

Here's wishing all my family, friends, Internet friends and forum friends a Happy 2013.

I hope it is filled with love wealth and happiness and would like to thank you for following my little blog and my frequent mutterings and for your support whether quietly in the background or posting comments.

May this year bring you everything your heart desires

Bottoms up and Happy 2013



Last Full day of 2012

Well we are officially into the last full day of 2012.  It is cold here but not as cold as it has been but the wind is howling her head off and making wooden fences swing in her long exhales attempting to blow the flimsy panels into oblivion.  It is quiet in the house; the cats are asleep never far from me cosy and warm OH is upstairs fast asleep with Missy.  OH is working tomorrow and I am awaiting on the tumble drier drying his work clothes.  They will not be long and then I can put them to air.

However whilst I am on my own it is  time to let my mind wander to look back on the past year which in parts has been very good although the drout then the torrential rain and its impact on our growing season has been quite immense and impacted on us all indirectly.  All  of us are suffering from the lack of sun as it does our bones good.  It gives us vitamin D although we do not need over exposure to her rays we do need her warmth for other benefits.  It is always for me a contemplative time to look fondly back to the past from the present knowing that change is coming in and wondering whether she will be as friendly to us as the past year has been.  Change is inevitable we all need to move onwards otherwise things become stale.

I consider myself very blessed and lucky in the greater scheme of things for many reasons.  As one door closes another one always opens leading us to pastures new.  We just have to learn to go with the flow rather than trying to dictate and negotiate how things should happen.  Things happen for a reaso and how they happen is always important to.  Sometimes the way things happen can be better for us in the long run rather than the way we had hoped things would happen. 

In any event whatever happens to us  is not the pivotal point - the main event its how we cope with things and make the best of  our situations.  We have to be positive and deal with what we have rather than that we do not have and we often gain more strength and satisfaction by dealing with things this way round.  It makes you a more rounded person and able to deal with anything and everything.  Real life is often stranger than fiction but it is how we deal with things that makes us stand out from the crowd.

Have a lovely day



Sunday, 30 December 2012

Sunday Catch up

Hello everyone hope you had a good Christmas.

It has been a lazy day here today - I am recovering from how not to do Christmas - everything went wrong at the last moment - but Christmas still happened even though not how planned and I nearly made myself ill in the process. But apart from that it wasn't too bad. Needless to say that is not going to happen again so I have decided to start Christmas early i.e. from the 1 January 2013 in an effort to get things done so that I can in future enjoy the run up to Christmas properly and take pleasure in the preparation work. 

OH was not around due to his working commitments when he was needed and because at the moment I do not drive and have problems carrying things it became a bit of an unnecessary and sometimes painful  slog.  I have also decided to budget for Christmas and my preserving exploits from early in the New Year so that I have the pennies there to take advantage of seasonal fruits and also have Christmas paid for without having to dip into the bank account.  I also thought that I might be able to pick up some lovely presents for friends and family and/or make the same (taking advantage of  if I have a bit more time to play with and get myself organised a bit more. I have already had my large page a day diary out plotting and planning things for later on in the year and I have a large plastic box in which I am going to pop the prepared items basically so that I can find them when they are needed.  Besides I am a little tired of the excessive consumerism that seems to hit any kind of celebration it is excessive an a lot of it is totally unnecessary.

Christmas by my reckoning is not over until Twelth night i.e. 6th January 2013 - I still have a few decorations up not many as that was part of the shambles - yes we have New Year's in between but I went round to my local Co-Operative store yesterday only to file Cadbury's Easter eggs in bags (the sugar coated ones) and the Malteser bunny rabbits!  I thought that this was more than a little off and out of order.  Consumerism Argh!

It has been a lazy day here today the cats have been sprawled on a sofa each for the best part of the day both sprawled both comfy thank you very much.  Occasionally Missy pops down to check that I am okay and that I am still in the land of the living and to sprawl on the new bright red hearthside rug and to roll on it.  She is quite taken with it as am I, I have always been a bit of a beggar on sprawling on a fireside rug since being small whether there was a fire there or not (we sadly have the fireplace with a dreadful gas fire in situ which is disconnected) I would love a proper fire and then I would be in my element.  One day. 

It has been grey and dull again today with the occasional drizzle.  I have a lovely new book which I have been trawling through and which I got for £5 from our local remainders shop (The Works) on Friday called Gifts from the Garden by Debora Robertson ISBN 978-0-85783-081-4.  It has a lot of lovely ideas in it and some lovely recipes.  It will go very nicely with the other books I have.  The idea being to create presents to give to your nearest and dearest from what you have available to you including a section on how to propogate your own plants from cuttings, ideas on how to prepare your own materials for gift wrapping, making home made cassis, mushroom ketchup, herb cushions, moth repellants, fabric conditioner, Antiseptic vinegar, fragrant firelighters, home made cosmetics, lavender ironing spray, lavender hand warmers; parsley dog biscuits, Queen of Hungary water, etc etc etc. It is basically a little gem of a book with some lovely simple green ideas in which has a different take and a very creative bent on those things that many of us could have to hand with ideas of what to add to expand the repertoire.  It is nice just to occasionally slob out and come too and breathe again and to start plotting and planning for the year yet to come.  

I always have mixed feelings at this time of year as it is sad to say goodbye but it is also exciting because something new is coming in to replace that which has come before and to rejuvenate our situations.  As one door closes another one always opens. 

 Here's hoping that you have as relaxed an afternoon as me. 



Monday, 24 December 2012

A little piece of me

Wants to wish you all a very Merry Christmas where you are safe, warm and dry and with your loved ones just simply being

I wish every single one of  my friends in real life, and my followers here and my friends in blogland and the different forums I frequent a happy fulfilling time over this holiday period enjoying each other's company but also having a little compassion for those less fortunate than ourselves.  However you celebrate have a good peaceful holiday.

From my home to yours






or Henry Livingston

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;

And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,

Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,

Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow

Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,

But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,

I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,

And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!

On, Comet! on Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!

To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!

Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,

When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,

So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,

With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof

The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

As I drew in my head, and was turning around,

Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,

And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;

A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,

And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!

His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,

And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,

And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;

He had a broad face and a little round belly,

That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,

And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,

Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,

And laying his finger aside of his nose,

And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,

And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,

"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."


Sunday, 23 December 2012

Quick Catch up

Things have been a tad hectic round here this last week or so and in the past day or so I have started grocery shopping for ingredients not ready made things. I object to paying through the nose for items that I can quite easily make myself.  I love cooking and I am not one of these ladies who cannot cook.  Granted I am a plain cook but the more you practice something the better you get at it.  Bit like riding a bicycle you fall off your perch once or twice until you find your way around it and then its free wheeling all the way.

I am no different to many other ladies and gents doing the shopping but I do not drive and this year I have not had the services of the OH to run around to either come and collect shopping from town or to run me down into town; due mainly to the shift pattern he has been rostered on to so I have to walk everywhere.  The walking does me good, but when you have some extremly heavy bags and you live over a mile from town (without going round town) I am slightly knackered and I have got drenched a couple of times in the process.  (drowned rat syndrome).

It takes me longer to do the shopping as I buy the ingredients not a finished product and I don't overdo things we have the choice of a couple of things but I do a batch bake and then those items that a more volatile/fragile I make as we need that way we do not over-complicate matters or waste anything unnecessarily.  To tell the truth I tend to just buy basic items as I need them so it has been a bit of shock on the price front and I have not gone overboard.  The shopping I have done is not just for the Christmas period it also has to take me through to the end of the month.

I went back into town this evening about 6:30 p.m and it was wonderful so different to earlier on when we were playing bash a shopping trolley and so I was able to do Marks and Spencers and Waitrose.  I still have a couple of more items  to get from both shops but I just could not carry them tonight.

Christmas Eve is by tradition my family's baking day. I remember as a little girl watching my mother bring through a big meat platter (which was a blue and white print plate) stacked full of mince pies, jam tarts, coconut cheesecakes and lemon curd tarts as well as all the preparation for the Christmas feast;  The Turkey used to be cooked overnight on Christmas Eve (after all the baking had been done) and mum had a gas copper in which the Christmas Pudding used to be cooked.  I still have to go up town again tomorrow and on Christmas Eve to finish present and food shopping.

I have the cranberries for the fresh cranberry sauce/relish that has Cointreau added, the bread sauce, the pastry, the shortbread, the tiffin, the regrigerator cake, the almond clementine cake, the Yule log etc.  and I have a batch of Tiger rolls to make on Christmas day so that I have fresh rolls for when mum comes to dinner on Boxing Day (for tea).  I have puff pastry in the freezer to make sausage rolls with and some savouries and I may well have a go at doing some home made Danish Pastries and also some Stollen.

Right I am going to wend my way upstairs to Bedfordshire as I have an early start in the morning.  OH has tomorrow off so he is taking me to the Butchers to collect the Turkey and then off to Sainsburys.

Take care



Monday, 17 December 2012

Christmas Bath

No, not me the dog.  Every so often we give her a freshen up in the sink tonight being the designated night  - it takes two of us to sort her out as she is none too keen at going in but not too bad once we have started.  Much as we love her she was getting a little too pongy to be bought out into company - so bath it was.  We got her in lathered her up rinsed her off (we use a gentle shampoo that can be used for the cats and the dogs). [ Think Demetri and Squeak might  be next].  Dried her off - they have their own towels as well and she stands and lets you give her a good rub down then it runs  - it goes stark raving lunatic material running backwards and forwards like a highly trained athlete, back wards and forwards then we will roll in mum's washing pile then off we go again into the front room slide along the carpet - you would think she was on ice skates.  She then stops starts licking her lips as much to say say where's me tea then.  (she likes a cup of tea) and once received then settles down and goes to sleep.  Life of riley - yes Missy has it good - she has her humans trained.  I wonder what the OH would do if I started behaving like that.... Let you know later.

Catch you soon



Sweetmeats for Christmas

I acquired a couple of books about Christmas the other day for £1 a piece with some really different bits and pieces in.  One of these has a whole section for sweetmeats.   Originally and traditionally "sweetmeats" referred to a table with lots of little bits and bobs of "tempters" to tease the palate and in the Victorian age to tempt the gentlemen to linger over port.  A tradition that is carried on to this day although probably more better known in a different guise.  What exactly are sweetmeats, Fudge, chocolate rum truffles, pretty frosted fruits, chocolate covered tangerines or grapes, coconut ice, Marzipan fruits, Turkish delight, Turrone, Torrone Molle Peppermint creams, toasted almonds or hazlenuts, sugared almonds etc etc.  The tin of sweets on the coffee table that we all tuck into and nibble at whilst we are watching the Christmas TV (well that is the commercialised version) all constitute sweetmeats and come Christmas I always try and make a few to tuck into.

One of the books in particular had some quite different ideas which I am going to have a go at making later in the week once I have the heavy stuff out of the way with.  This one could perhaps be left to any children in the family to decorate (after of course the adult has melted the chocolate).



8oz unsweetened chocolate
1-2 teaspoons Cointreau


Melt the chocolate with the Cointreau in a double boiler over simmering water. Peel the Tangerines and divide into segments.  When the chocolate is melted remove from the heat and using a cocktail stick dip the segments into the chocolate.  Allow any excess chocolate to drip off and place the segments on a piece of baking parchment to set.  Store somewhere cool.




1lb  (450g) Almonds blanched and skinned or 1lb of ground Almonds
12oz  (340g) granulated sugar
17 fl oz (500 ml) water
3 egg yolks beaten lightly
Decoration (optional) toasted splinters of almonds


Line a shallow tin 16 x 16 cm with rice paper or baking parchment.  Grind Almonds to a paste in an electric grinder/food processor or mince them finely.  Alternatively buy ready ground Almonds.

Dissolve the sugar in the water over a low heat stirring constantly. Boil rapidly until it will form small hard balls when dropped on to a cold surface.  Remove from the heat and add the ground almonds and beaten egg yolks. This should form a thick paste.  Press it into the prepared tin levelling off the top.  When cold mark the top with a knife in a trellis pattern.  Place a splinter of almond in the centre of each diamond.  Wrap in paper and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


Another two recipes to try I shall pop some further recipes up later on

Right have things to do catch up with you later on.


Saturday, 15 December 2012

Panettone and Torrone

I love Italian goodies like Panforte, Ricciarelli, Amaretti, Panetone, Torrone., Mostarda da fruita..... sounds very sexy before we realise what in actual fact we are eating and then it does not fail to disappoint.

OH has received a lovely present from his new employer (apparently every member of staff gets this at Chrismas) a Pannetone and a bar of Torrone (Nougat).  The parent company of the firm he works for is Italian and apparently they ship in from Italy these items for every member of staff ( and its a large Pannetone in a lovely big box which is designated to be recycled into a hat box for my closet  with some additional decoupage additions -  everything has potential in an effort to waste not want not).  

Pannetone can be used in several ways.  I intend to get a couple of pots of Christmas Compote from M & S to serve with this  (Next year I intend to bottle my own) and some cream but it also makes a delightful bread and butter pudding.  It would also be ideal to serve with home made Rumptopf or Hodge Podge or with some home made syrups..  One way or the other every little bit of it gets used up one way or the other. 

The one we have received is nice and deep and when I was in Marks and Spencers today they were selling them only half the size.

The Torrone I am very fond of anyway as I love nougat of any description.

I think we are very lucky.

I have managed to put a few more bits and bobs up today under the stairs in readiness for the Christmas celebrations the bulk of the shopping will be done later on in the week.

Catch you soon



Have you bought your cranberries yet.  I always buy some at this time of year as I make my own Cranberry and Apple jelly to go ostensibly with the Christmas Turkey, however in reality what usually happens is that I make a lot of fresh cranberry and orange sauce/relish to go with the main event and then to be eaten up with cold cuts over the next few days and then when the Cranberries are reduced either just before Christmas or Just after I buy a load more and then turn them into Cranberry and Apple Jelly for the coming year as Cranberry sauce is used a lot in this household whether a smidgeon is popped into flavour gravy, used in sandwiches or an addition to a sauce lets just say I usually go through quite a lot of it.

Its quite funny really as I was less than impressed on my first introduction to it as to my darling father was putting Jam on his Turkey.  It did not help that my mother was less than impressed at that stage too and a child always looks to its parents for reassurance so when they were both not singing from the same hymn sheet it used to make us cautious.  However dad did persuade me to try some and after that initial tasting I liked it and it became a firm addition to the family traditions.  Even mum grew to like it.

However I went on to make it myself as I became very frustrated with the size of the jars and having to feed a family the jars did not last five minutes and they started to become readily available so I set to and made my own.  I am still using the initial recipe I used when I first set out as it has turned out to be a good one.


3lb cooking apples
2lb fresh cranberries
2 pints of water
2lb sugar

Makes approximately 3 1/2lb

  1. Cut out any bruised or damaged parts from the apples then coarsley chop the apples wthout peeling or coring them.  Might as well save yourself some work where you can.
  2. Put the apples into a preserving pan with the fresh cranberries.
  3. Pour in the water just to cover the level of the fruit in your pan adding a little more if necessary.  Simmer for approximately 30 minutes or until the fruits are very soft and pulpy.
  4. While the apples and the cranberries are cooking prepare a jelly bag for straining the fruits by scalding the jelly bag by evenly pouring through boiling water.  Squeeze it well. Then suspend over a non metal bowl. (I use glass or pottery).
  5. Ladle the fruit pulp which will now be a glorious red and leave to strain for a few hours (I normally leave overnight) but no longer than 24 hours.  Make sure that the jelly bag is not squeezed or shaken while the pulp is straining or the jelly will be cloudy which will affect the appearance of the jelly.
  6. Measure the strained juice and for each 1 pint of juice weigh out 1lb of sugar.  Pour the juice into a clean preserving pan.  Warm the sugar through (I place in a bowl in the oven to warm through) and then add  to the juice.  Stir over a low heat until all the sugar is dissolved with a wooden spoon.
  7. Once sugar dissolved inrcease the heat and boil  rapidly without stirring for 10 to 12 minutes or until the jelly reaches setting point.  Don't panic if it takes a little longer (sometimes a little less) .  Skim off any scum (but what I do is add a nob of butting during the boiling stage if scum starts to form as this acts as a defoamer and removes the bulk of it although not completely).
  8. Pot the jelly once set is achieved into warmed sterilised jars.  Seal the jars and label.
 PS.  Do not discard the pulp I will pop a recipe up fro cranberry and apple cheese later on - we want the maximum amount of produce out of our ingredients and there is no point in wasting anything.

I make a couple of batches of this at least to last the year.  I know it is making work at this time of year when so much is going on but to take advantage of seasonal foods we sometimes have put a bit of effort in so that we reap the maximum rewards for our families.  Makes a very good extra Christmas presssie.

Our Hearts and Thoughts go out to you

Friday, 14 December 2012

Historical Fair In Peterborough

 I nipped into town this afternoon as I was looking for a few small Christmas presents some of which I found but I was quite surprised to find an event on the Cathederal grounds.  Peterborough has just as much history under the streets as York if not more. We have a beautiful Cathederal and I have thought for sometime that we needed an event through the town and in the Cathederal grounds like the Christmas Market in Lincoln.  I came upon it by chance I had not seen any advertising for it and I am local.  So if I missed it quite a lot of other people have.  I had a quick wander round and everyone was in costume and there were lots of old traditional crafts as well. I must say I was very taken with it.  The event started Thursday night and is on until Sunday afternoon at 4.30 p.m..  Tonight and tomorrow night the event will be open until 9 pm at night with various things going on throughout the day within the Cathederal grounds.  I believe also that there are events situated around the museum.  So go on if you are Peterborough over the weekend pop in to give them some support.  Further details on the attached link

Thank you


Here are some of the photos I took this afternoon with my mobile when it was pelting down with rain

Within the Cathederal grounds

Here's a better shot; the stalls and their holders were all smartly dressed in period costume and there were lots of different stalls including a herbalist, a carvery, how to strike your own coinage, helmets and battle dress gentleman in soldiers uniforms.  Most people do not realise that the stone gateway off the main square in Peterborough between Bridge Street and the Queensgate Centre leads you straight into the Cathederal Grounds.

The festive lighting by night in Cathederal Square in front of the Guildhall

A further photo of the Cathederal stalls

Bridge Street Christmas Lighting


CHRISTMAS by Sir John Betjeman

The Bells of waiting Advent ring,
The Tortoise stove is lit again
And lamp-oil light across the night
Has caught the streaks of winter rain
In many a stained-glass window sheen
From Crimson Lake to Hooker's Green

The holly in the windy hedge
And round the Manor House the yew
Will soon be stripped to deck the ledge,
The altar, font and arch and pew,
So that the villagers can say
"The Church looks nice" on Christmas Day.

Provincial public houses blaze
And Corporation tramcars clang,
On lighted tenements I gaze
Where paper decorations hang,
And bunting in the red Town Hall
Says "Merry Christmas" to you all.

And London shops on Christmas Eve
Are strung with silver balls and flowers
As hurrying clerks the City leave
To pigeon-haunted classic towers,
And marbled clouds go scudding by
The many-steepled London sky.

And girls in slacks remember Dad,
And oafish louts remember Mum,
And sleepless children's hearts are glad
And Chrismas morning bells say "Come!"  
Even to shining ones who dwell
Safe in the Dorchester Hotel.

And is it true? And is it true,
This most tremendous tale of all
Seen in a stained-glass window's hue
A Baby in an ox's stall?
The Maker of the stars and sea
Become a Child on earth for me?

And is it true? For if it is,
No loving fingers tying strings
Around those tissued fripperies,
The sweet and silly Christmas things,
Bath salts and inexpensive scent
And hideous tie so kindly meant

No love that in a family dwells
No carolling, in frosty air,
Nor all the steeple-shaking bells
Can with this single Truth compare - 
That God was Man in Palestine
And lives to-day in Bread and Wine.               

NB  For those of a younger generation here is a link to a reclaimed Tortoise Stove  (we had one at the cottage we lived in as a child)

Crystallised Pears

I have had a rare treat in the past couple of days the December edition of  Country Living and the January edition.  Both have lovely things in.

However I have spotted this recipe for Crystallised Pears in that said publication which I had hoped to actually make for this Christmas; unfortunately now I do not think I will achieve this as I got somewhat distracted with other things and also forgot to put this post up in time  However I pop this up now in order that you can pop it in your recipe list for something different to make for the cost of some fruit some sugar and a segments of time over a ten day period when you have not so much to do.

I think from reading the article the recipe is by Alison Walker.  She has a book out called A Country Cook's Kitchen which I intend to get in due course, it is a bit pricy at £25 but it sounds like my sort of book apparently covering all aspects of the country kitchen.  And we all subscribe to that one way or another.  Apparently according to the write up she covers artisan breads, farmhouse style cheeses, preserving the harvest for year round enjoyment and "curing. smoking and salting meats".  Definitely my kind of book which I think is only available via Country Living at the moment. [Updated Amazon currently have the book on line for £16.00]

 This preserve is made over a period of several days.  I have made crystallised fruit before but not pears so I am quite looking forward to trying this one out.  I intend to make some of these after Christmas and pop some up for use during the year and then next September intend to do some batches as I think they would make some very special Christmas presents together with other varieties of crystallised fruit.


1kg pears peeled cored and halved
white granulated sugar


First Part

1.  Put the pear halves in a large stainless steel pan add about 600ml of water and simmer for about 15 minutes until the pears just go tender.

2.  Remove the fruit with a slotted spoon and place on a wire rack to drain (so make sure there is a drip tray underneath). Keep the cooking liquid and pour into a jug.

3.  Measure the liquid and weigh out 350g sugar for every 600ml of liquid.  Place both in a pan along with any liquid from the drip tray and dissolve over a low heat then bring to a rolling boil.

4.  Put the pears in a bowl and pour the syrup over them.  Lay a cartouche of greaseproof over the top of the bowl and place a small plate or saucer on top to keep the pears submerged.  Leave for 24 hours.

Second Part

5. Remove the pears onto a wire rack set over a tray.  Measure the syrup and for every 600ml weigh out 125g of sugar.  Dissolve and boil as before.  return the pears to a bowl and pour the syrup over them.  Stand as before for 24 hours.

6.  repeat step 5 above for five more days.

7.  On the following day (i,e. the eighth day) weigh 175g of sugar for every 600ml of syrup.  Boil and stand as before but this time for two days

8.  Repeat step 7 then leave int he syrup for four days.

9.  Remove the pairs with a slotted spoon and arrange over a wire rack set over a tray.  Leave to stand in a cool but not cold place dry place for two to three days.  The fruit is ready when it stops feeling sticky.

10.  To store pack the fruit between layers of waxed paper in a box or a tin where they will keep for at least six months.

Another recipe to go into my recipe cache to sit alongside Panforte, Marrons Glace, Candied Cherries, Preserved Ginger in Syrup and home made jellies, membrillo etc.

I would dearly love a dehydrator in which to make fruit leather rolls and other wonderful goodies.  We will have to see what happens.

Catch you later



Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Orange Wine/Le vin d'orange

For a long time I have had a recipe for a fortified Orange wine which was published in the Aromatic gifts book by Stephanie Donaldson and a smashing book it is too.  This first recipe uses red wine and sounds all very scrummy to me and was first introduced to her by a French Au Pair who had been living with them.  It is traditionally opened on Christmas Eve (reveillon).  Ideally should be made at least two months before Christmas but once made will keep for three or four years.  Might be one to make and put up as Christmas presents.

The second recipe I found in January's edition of Country Living but this uses white wine.  The methods and ingredients for both recipes use the same ingredients and have different curing times and just a slightly different process between the recipes in producing this home made liqueur.

Here are both recipes for you to decide to make one or the other or both.  I thought I would make a couple of batches of each version in January after the Christmas rush in readiness for next Christmas - I know its early but it will be easier on the pocket making up a couple of batches through the year when you have the pennies to hand.


Orange Wine


5 oranges washed and quartered
1 sliced lemon
1 vanilla pod
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 bottles (1.5 litres of Red Cotes du Rhone
Granulated sugar
300ml / 1/2 pint pure eau de vie or marc  (or vodka)
Glass Jar or demijohn with cork or similar glass container (2.25 litres/4 pint capacity)
bottles, corks, labels etc.
Makes approximately 4 bottles


Place the oranges, sliced lemon, vanilla pod and nutmeg in the glass container.  Pour on the wine and cork tightly and leave for 40 days.  Filter the wine through the muslin and measure.  For ever 1 litre (1 3/4 pints) add 100g (4oz) sugar.  Return to the glass jar, add the eau de vie/marc and seal tightly and leave for at least one month.  Bottle and label.


Le Vin d'orange

This recipe traditionally uses Seville Oranges but if you cannot locate Seville Oranges substitute the juice of sweet oranges but add the juice of one lemon.


3 Seville Oranges
750ml dry white wine
200g granulated sugar
150ml vodka
1 vanilla pod


Blanch the oranges in boiling water for 3 minutes to kill off the natural yeasts on the surface of the orange that might cause fermentation.  Drain.

Halve and squeeze the oranges.  Place the juice and the shells into a large bowl or sealable jar with the other ingredients.  Cover and infuse for at least one month.  Strain through muslin into sterilised bottles and seal.  Once opened it keeps up to a year in a cool dark place.


There is also a third recipe which can be found at

There is not much between the recipes and I have decided that this is one of the recipes (amongst others that is going into the to do list for January). It would seem that you can use Red, Rose or White wine.

Catch you soon



Sunday, 9 December 2012

Sunday Evening Round up

Well that's all the brass cleaned for the lounge.  Still have a load to go through for the dining room.  £3 a tin of Brasso sacrilege.  I have problems with my hands in that I cannot grip or hold anything for too long and if I am continually scrubbing at things it hurts my hands.  I have found that Brasso is the best for cleaning all my ornaments what I do is put it on with tissue rub it in well until it is going  black then take off any excess with another cloth.  Tonight I have used a couple of microfibre cloths I had to finish it off and I am extremely pleased with the results. 

The lounge itself is more or less done apart from the carpet which will get cleaned tomorrow night after I come home later on.  I am going to a friends tomorrow evening which I am quite looking forward to so it will be a bit of a rush when I get in tomorrow, but hey its that time of year.

Then once the carpet is done it is just the cushion covers to be washed and the lounge is nice and clean again.  Then I can start on the Christmas decorations the nice bit.  Then I can close the lounge off to keep it nice and tidy.

Then I can get on with the rest of the house!  No peace for the wicked.

I am back to work tomorrow so happy days - only four and then I am back here to carry on with getting everything sorted for Chrimbo.

Hope your Christmas preparations are going well.

Hopefully catch up Shortly

Love and Light




Its a bit like playing sardines here at themoment.  We have the Christmas decoration boxes in just and this morning have been to get a new TV stand for the television; which OH promptly built up; as a knock on with that we have had all the cables out from under the TV cleaned them and retied them; I have polished the Video and DVD shelfs behind and sorted out everything tickety booh. It looks quite smart.  I will have to put some of the brass and copper ornaments out of the way as with the new TV stand it has taken up more room than I anticipated.  We are having to move very gingerly and carefully.    Hopefully it should look nice once I have finished. 

Have just stopped for a tea break am hoping to get the lounge completely finished tonight and then another night I can start on the Christmas tree and decorations.  Will post piccies when all that is sorted out. Fortunately I sorted the bookshelves out the other evening.  That is the front door out of use now until the Christmas decorations go back.  The front door leads straight into the front room but I put the Christmas tree there every year (it is only a small room) but comfy.

Right better get a wriggle on hopefully be able to pop back later on.  Very cold bright but windy here.

Catch you later



Saturday, 8 December 2012

Good Evening

Hello and good evening everyone sorry I have been away for so long I had hoped during this week off that I would have been able to get on more regularly and pop some posts up, but the best laid plans of mice and men.  This week was ostensibly to get the house ready for Christmas - I have another week off commencing this Friday coming, but I had hoped to be well along the line with the Christmas preparations than I am and it is not because I haven't been bogging in and not working. I haven't stopped.  I have been getting up at normal time all week!  We have had one fly in the ointment though OH has been very poorly with this Novo virus infection - lets just say he has spent quite a bit of the week closeted somewhere!  Excuse the subtle pun.  Trouble is when you have this you have to stay in and not go anywhere so that the infection does not spread elsewhere.  You cannot even go to the Doctors.  OH had a telephone appointment with our regular GP who confirmed that is what he has.  Fortunately matters have settled down and he should be returning to work on Monday morning; he has to be clear for 48 hours before he can go back and past couple of days he has been okay.   I am just hoping that I do not get it and of course we haven't been able to go anywhere near my mum bless her heart.  I am sure she thinks we have gone off of her.

One thing I have managed to accomplish completely is the ironing pile plus I am up to date with all the washing, blankets, quilts, anything that hasn't moved has been bunged into the washing machine (that's what happens when I get it into my head that everything needs to be sorted).  And I have refound the bath!  Whoopee guess who is going to have a nice long soak tomorrow night.  

Today Most of the decorations have been retrieved including the tree although we may have to go back to the storage unit next Saturday if I cannot locate the tree decorations.  OH seems to think they are in the back bedroom and I am not so sure.  I have a lot of lovely decorations but this house is not big enough to display them all.

I have found several nice bits and pieces this week on the linen front at the charity shop several small tray cloths at 50 pence each which I am going to turn into cushion covers/nightdress cases or hankie cases, but the piece de resistance was a full size super king quilt for £15 just like new as though somebody had bought it and then decided they didn't like it;  the quilt has now been laundered and aired and is now over the top of my duvet. very chuffed with it.  It is lovely and warm (with my hot water bottle as well without being too heavy).

Squeak approves too she has been camped out on the bed most of the day.

I mentioned the other week that I had put my toe through one of my super king sheets boy did I ever but not all is lost I intend to salvage what I can to make a valance for the bottom of the bed in the spirit of waste not want not.  I have another one of these sheets that I have done the same too so there should be plenty of fabric, and may be some left over for me to back up some of the tray cloths that I obtained earlier in the week.

The Turkey is ordered and the Rib of Beef for Boxing Day when Mum is coming for dinner.  Just have the rest to sort out night I think there might be a few late nights along the way.  I am only working four days this week and I am out three nights this coming week socialising as well.

Right upwards and onwards

Catch up with you all again soon



Monday, 3 December 2012


Well its been a busy few days here  and I still seem to be no further forward although I have located my fancy cake pans (well a couple of them at least) and I have found my chocolate moulds, and ginger bread cutters and snowflake cookie cutters so I am well chuffed about that.  Mind you we nearly had a cave in with the boxes locating them.

Earlier on today I paid a visit to the charity shop round the corner from where I live and I have managed to pick up quite cheaply three  flat sheets which will be very handy for backing a quilt(s) in the future. A yellow double sheet, a willow coloured single sheet and a double peppermint green sheet together with a very colourful tea towel, and about four tray cloths which are going to be re-found and turned into something else in due course.   I also picked up a gorgeous gold coloured tablecloth, the tray cloths and tea towel were 50pence each and the double sheets £2 each and £1.50 for the single I have lots of ideas for the future and am currently in collate mode where I am collecting colourful old tea shirts (destined to be made into a rug), jeans for a clippie rug,. Old woollen skirts and woollen fabric destined to be turned into a throw/blanket.  All items have been washed and dried and I have just ironed them.  I love crafts and making something unique out of what to all intents and purposes is just a load of old tat really appeals to me. I have also managed to get into the drawers that hold some of my fabric stash so I am hoping to start on one of the quilts over the Christmas/New Year period. I have also located some more wool so I will be able to do a bit more to my biggest blanket which is about three quarters done and which I refer to as my rainbow blanket.

I have also decided that next year early on I am going to tackle some of these UFOs and hopefully get them completed and put up out the way so that I can start some new projects that I have my eye on.  I do need to go and get my eyes tested though.

This evening I have been doing a bit of ironing, still have a little more to do but  have sat down for a few minutes break as my back on my left hand side and my achilles tendon in my lower right hand leg are giving me some jip despite having sprayed them.

Right upwards and onwards catch up soon



P.S.  Since this post earlier on in the week I have paid a visit to the charity shop again.  How extravagant three times in a week.  Normally I only get to go on a Saturday as I am usually working and they are closed by the time I get home in the week.  Yesterday I picked up a super king sized quilt which is a double sided one can use it either way in pinks and greens which are the colours of my bedroom.  It looked brand new and the price was only £15 the make says Hamilton McBride.  It is also shaped at the corners so I think it will fit well on my wrought iron bed which has a top headboard and  footboard, I am well chuffed with it and it has already been laundered (my new washing machine accommodates large quilts like this very easily and it has been in the tumbler and is now airing.  So I feel really lucky.  I am continually on the look out for warm quilts, blankets, and throws as when it is cold you can pile everything on and get nice and snuggly.

I have also managed to pick up some lemons and some limes for making lemon curd and lime curd and if I get chance some grapefruit curd and cordial. (Have yet to get the grapefruit but they were pink and they were seriously eyeing me up yesterday).

Right must dash have a front room to get cleared of the ironing pile which is now very much concluded.  Needs putting away now.

Catch you later



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)