Tuesday, 29 April 2014

52 Week Challenge

This should have been posted up on Sunday but real life has got in the way again and as a result I have been delayed in popping up this update.

For over a year I was knitting squares in white, lilac and purples and I have started knitting the border strip as well in white.  I am not what you call a natural knitter and I get bored ever so easily with knitting; I am trying to get to grips with that but I do try to be neat. Since completing the squares however it has all sat in a bag waiting for it to be stitched up.  I hate sewing up knitting as well.  However I have made a start; once it is all stitched up I can finish off knitting the border.  I decided to tackle this one first as I can work at it piecemeal a bit at a time until all the stitching is done.  I am aiming to have it sorted by the weekend.

Still a little way to go but nearly another project to bite the dust. 

It is my birthday on Saturday another year older; it is also Bank Holiday weekend so I am potentially looking at some time to play.  I have slowly been accumulating fabric to have a go at some patchwork  Anything that is cotton whether it be old shirts all has potential.  I have a couple of patchwork projects on the go UFOs so I might drag those out too.

I also have a new book by Debbie Shore called Half Yard Heaven it is £3.99 with the Book People at the moment which has a few little projects in that I am quite interested in. 

I also recycle material where I can and re-purpose it.  Unfortunately I managed to wreck an expensive pair of sheets with a sharp toenail which rent the sheets in half and made them un-usable.  I have plans to make a valance trim for the bottom of my bed to tidy it up all in the spirit of waste not want not.

Catch you soon



Monday, 28 April 2014

Friday catch up

Friday was a mixed emotion day  for me as two of my kittens (two little boys) went to their new owner.   I was a little upset and concerned as with the best will in the world you never know who they are going to.  However it would appear that they have gone to someone as soft as myself for which I am pleased and both boys are together  as she has decided to keep them both - originally one of her friends was going to have one of them.  So I am grateful from that perspective.    Although I have indicated that if for any reason they cannot keep them (one never knows these days) then I would take them back as I would not want them to be without a home.  Cats, kittens dogs are for life  - well they are in this household.

Molly has been calling for them and looking for them but she will settle and. at least she still has the other three at home which I am keeping (one more than originally anticipated). .The kittens keep looking for their siblings as well but they are still harum scarum and going and cuddling up with Aunty Squeak and curling up and going to sleep.  When they are not with her or mum they are all scrabbling to get on my lap which seems to be the favoured spot for which they all compete, but I make sure they get a turn each - fairs fair.

P.S.  Have found out that the boys are just starting to come out of their shells and are exploring their new home although they were a bit quiet for the first few days.  I do miss them though.



Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Sorting out the things you use regularly Part Two - Ham

Ham, Gammon, Cured meats

I very rarely buy sliced meat unless it is on offer. The exceptions to this being salamis or cured meats however I aim to tackle that one in due course.  That is on the list to have a go at.  

As I have said before for the best part I buy ingredients preferring to buy a chunk of ham or gammon or a ham hock and cook it from scratch.   I have more choice of what I can do with the meat this way on, quite frequently getting a full main meal out of this for a weekday tea with the addition of vegetables as well as for pack ups or salad and any bits and bobs left over can go into a soup (Pea soup sprinkled with ham hock is particularly nice or Risotto and of course I also get the ham stock in which to make home made soup and for adding to gravy.  It is a buy product of the cooking so why waste it. It adds a lot of flavour.  But ah you say gammon or a boiling hock are extremely salty.  Well they can be it depends upon the cure, but one of the things I do to reduce the salt level is to soak the piece of meat overnight in the fridge in  bowl in plain cold water changing the water every couple of hours. I then process the meat.  This is my method of processing the same.

I fill a pan up with water  - I use a pressure cooker base and either cook in the pressure cooker following your suppliers instructions for timings and processing or just filling the base up with water popping in the ham and then bringing it to the boil.  This will produce a greyish scum which if left in the ham and the water will affect the appearance of the stock and the meat.  After bringing the ham to a boil  I then  take out the ham (it is not cooked ye) tip away this first batch of water and refill with fresh water. Pop the ham back in then add, some carrot, parsley, thyme, a piece of onion or a shallot, whole black peppercorns, a couple of cloves, a sprinkling of white pepper a very small piece of celery (celery is strong so you have to be careful with this.  Then reboil until the ham is cooked (depends on the size of the piece of meat as to how long this will take).

Bring the pan off the stove pour off the stock into a separate jug or jugs and pop into the fridge to keep it cool until you get time to process it - I quite frequently freeze mine in sauce bags for soups and into ice cube trays. That is the stock.

 However how you finish off the meat depends on what you are going to do with the meat.  If you want a glazed or breadcrumb finish you need to strip off the outer skin score it with a knife I usually cut diamonds.  Sometimes I pop in a single clove in each diamond glaze with honey or marmalade and then sprinkle with brown sugar.  Marmalade and ginger is also nice as is redcurrant jelly and orange.  It is then popped into the oven and cooked until a caramelised effect is achieved.  This is the fancy way often used at celebrations like Christmas etc.

However if you are just going to use it for a one off meal, and then use the ham for sandwiches, the kids pack ups, with a salad then our family tends to pop the ham into a deep bowl pop the ham in and then pour the stock over the ham until it is covered and pop into the fridge. Using the stock this way keeps the ham nice and moist and you can use the stock in gravies etc during the week.  The stock will become jellied.

I use both ways but tend to go the fancier way if entertaining.

You cannot afford a gammon or a ham - look out for ham hocks they can be processed in the same way although perhaps this cut keeps better with the stock being poured over it.  Then it makes  nice addition to a salad, to sandwiches, in quiches, in pancakes. 

If a larger ham you can always cut a few slices prepare a couple of leeks so you keep them in stick form, wrap with a slice of ham, place into a square/oblong baker and then pour on a cheese sauce, sprinkle with grated cheese and then bake until cooked. Makes a very quick supper.  

You really can use all of this and soaking the ham hock or ham first gives a smoother stock that is not over salty and if you cook one of these it should keep you in sandwiches for the best part of the week which will help keep the household budget down by making sensible choices.

Nothing nicer than a ham and mustard sandwich.

Catch up soon



Monday, 21 April 2014

Photos of the Kittens Part One

For those of you with kitten envy just a few photos of the little darlings.  There are five in all, three little boys tabby white and grey and two little girls the little tabby who is the runt and who is called Mischief, one of the Grey and white tabbies is called Bumble and the Little black and white one is Tinky 2.  This is a little photo heavy and the photos have been taken with my phone so are a little hit and miss.

They are into everything but very very affectionate

More to follow later on



Experimenting with crochet

As I have indicated in a  previous post I am intent on experimenting with different crochet stitches and expanding my stitch repertoire as up to now I seem to have concentrated on trebles and variations thereof.

I am quite taken with the popcorn pattern and I have located a tutorial here:

For the single row version


 For the double row version:

And a pdf written pattern here.  The written pattern provides for one row of the popcorn stitch where in the video tutorial a double row is used although in complementing colours.

Here is the link to the pdf.


Here is a photo of my first attempt - I was quite surprised how quickly I got to grips with the popcorn and I really like this pattern.  I just need to work on the tension a little bit and placement of stitches in the centre.  I also did an extra row of the popcorn stitch  - might have to pull this down as it seems to have worked up tight.  Will have to see.

I think that this would make a lovely bedspread - a future project - I have the bulk of the wool but I need to get some UFOs out of the way first.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

52 Projects

Well I am lagging notoriously behind on the 52 Projects challenge and perhaps I should have given up on this but that is not in my nature and I do not give in easily.  I will get there in the end.

Despite for the past weeks not being able to do any needlework of any nature this weekend I have finished off a couple of spiral scarves that I had started crocheting and not finished, so that is another couple of UFOs off the list.  Still many more to go but at least it is a start.

I just love the colours of these two scarves

I have also downloaded a couple of crochet tutorials off of You Tube as I want to expand my stitch library so research and shortly practice will commence -  I have the wool I just cannot find the right sized crochet hook at the moment they are not where they were left so I may well have to purchase a couple of more hooks. I decided in my infinite wisdom that I wanted to try some different stitches. Up to now I have predominantly used trebles or a combination of singles, doubles and trebles and I quite like the effect of the popcorn stitch.  I shall report more and give the links etc.once I have had an opportunity to play a bit.  I like to find my way around a new stitch so I get used to working it pretty quickly.

Needless to say whilst I have been involved on my research I have had company.  I do not know what it is about a kitten and a lap top but each one of  them has taken it in turns to sprawl on the computer whilst I am trying to type and then has to be manhandled to get them off they are extremely reluctant to move and need some persuasion.

I think I shall drag out my single bedspread yellow and green bedspread/blanket that I have been crocheting and see if I can get that finished or at least worked up a bit more in time for next week's 52 Projects challenge.

Right upwards and onwards.

Catch you soon.



Happy Easter

Happy Easter to all of you I hope you have a lovely day although the weather is very uninspiring dull and grey and wet here in Peterborough a duvet kind of day.  I was woken by the gentle pitter patter of rain drops upon window panes that gentle constant noise where you are not quite sure of whether it is raining or not and a quick look out the window quickly confirms its damp and wet which you knew anyway.  A curl up sort of day to browse, to dream to plot and plan and to remember.

Always on holidays like this my mind goes backwards to those memories of family gatherings and to those loved ones now passed; many have now gone and only a few remain.  Our holidays were so much about being together with loved ones, good food, diverse fun personalities and awkward ones who looked after the children, put them right gently, allowed them to be children within safe parameters and learn at the feet of our elders.  The older younger children took their turn in the nurturing process too when the adults wanted to talk they would keep their eye on the youngsters and this fell to each of the younger generation by turn as they advanced in years and more youngsters appeared on the scene.

We were also intergrated with older people from a very young age not necessarily family members but friends who were going to be on their own at celebrations like Easter and Christmas there was always room at the table for one more ans we learned to socialise at a very early age.

Learning - we still all have so much to learn but teaching a child within family boundaries means that they learn without realising it and it becomes second nature to them as they just seem to breathe it in and then have a go. It is also a way of passing on family values, family skills to the next generation a link from the past to the present.My Great Grandfather, Grandfather and Father believed in education as the means and the door to open up new opportunities and he was so right.However some people are more practical than academic but the end of the day we all have gifts to bring to the table.  There is space for each of us we just have to find the niche.

I am on a learning curve at the moment which is taking me out of my comfort zone and in turn is stretching me and making me grow.  I would liken it to something like shaking up a feather pillow and plumping it up so that the pillow does not become hard and lumpy.  This shake up in reality is way overdue and is happening so that I  do not stagnate and I learn to walk a new pathway.  Although I am not finding this one easy.  I have five lovely kittens and I want to keep them all but in reality I know that is not feasible but it is tugging at my heartstrings and I am finding it very difficult to let go as they have been so enchanting, naughty but enchanting.  Two of them are due to go next weekend to their new homes  I know I need to let go but I am not finding it easy as I have so enjoyed them. 

Right I had better get a wriggle on as there is a right royal game of tag going on with the kittens and if I don't slow them down there will be an accident of some sort.

Hope you enjoy your Easter day today I am off to have some hot cross buns.

Catch up soon.



Sorting out the things you use regularly Part One

Lets face it all of us have things that we use regularly either on a day by day or month by month basis; and it is also a given that each household is different and has different requirements. Take for instance my family unit which consists of the two of usI like to keep in food that is good and solid and with the addition of a few other items can make simple substantial meals that you do not pay through the nose for. 


 I like to keep a sack of potatoes in the house.  Normally at this time of year it is a little late to get a sack of spuds but today I fell lucky acquiring a 25kg bag of Nadine Potatoes, which will keep the two of us going for at least six weeks probably more and cost me £7.  Work out how much you are paying for the bags you pick up from the supermarket and see just how much more you are paying for a larger sack; having the larger sack also means that potatoes are sorted for the time being so it is one less thing to remember to put on the shopping list until you run out again  then I go buy another sack. My veg shop is just over the road and one of the owners  actually delivers the sack to  my door.  I appreciate that I am lucky but perhaps you could get together with some friends(preferably one who can drive and either buy a sack between you or a sack each - perhaps best to go to a farmer or a farm shop or a greengrocer who sells sacks of spuds like the one I go to.

Potatoes keep well and are often kept in clamps until they are needed and are often many months old before the consumer gets to take them home and eat them so they do keep very well.  I keep the potatoes under the stairs which is nice and cold and I make sure that the bag of potatoes is kept sealed and no light can get into the bag otherwise the potatoes start sprouting and we do not want that as we want as many meals as we can out of that sack of spuds and you do not have to just stick with mash or boiled potatoes you can  ring the changes by making home made chips, scallops, champ. colcannon, rosti, roasties, baked potatoes, potatoes boulangere, to name just a few ways of eating the humble spud.  If you have not experimented with different recipes for using the potatoes experiment find out what you like and do not like and create your own core recipes in the process.  Everyone's palate is different so it stands to reason that each family has different likes to another.

Most of us like crisps; however in each pack of crisps is less than one medium sized potatoe.  Would you pay over 70p for just one potato.  Make your own crisps at home.  I have a gadget that I use in the microwave for making my own crisps which is literally a plastic rack to separate the potato slices so that they dry properly with the aid of a microwave.

Onions and Garlic

I use a lot of onions and garlic for flavouring and I get a net of onions for about £1.50 a bag which again will last a good six weeks or more.  The Coop for 3 same sized onions are charging about £1.05 for 3 onions.  .I shop around for the best price on the garlic.  Both are natural anticeptics and both get quite a bit of hammer as they help perk up bland food into something that is very tasty.  I fry onions until golden brown, serve them with steak, beefburgers, hot dogs, Toad in the hole,onion gravy, make relish from the end of a net for the pantry so I do not waste a thing.  I also use leeks in the same way when I have a freezer I freeze them and add them to stir fries and roast them to go into sarnies.  During their season though I buy them as I need them.

Two to four Simple ingredients that can give so much variation and so much flavour, both staples of my Pantry and ones I would not be without.  By keeping them in bulk store where you can you also have the comfort of knowing that you have ingredients in the pantry to cook to make a splendid meal.  Take some nice sausages, mash some potatoes and serve with onion gravy fills you up and is comfort food of the highest order one that fills you up and keeps the hunger gremlins at bay.  You do not have to serve lots of veggies as a matter of course you need veggies but be sensible you do not have to blow them all on one meal but use them throughout the day.  To me at the end of the day its the flavour that is important.

Catch up soon



Saturday, 19 April 2014

A bit of a catch up

Hello everyone so sorry I have been absent for way too long, partly to not being 100% partly due to writers block, but I am pleased to say that I am starting to get back on track.  After my accident I was left with an extreme amount of pain which hey ho I have been working at and we are starting to get that back under control as well.  However a week last Thursday I received a copy of a letter from the Hospital after my last Consultants appointment in February which to all intent and purposes was a copy of a letter sent to my GP.

That letter confirmed that I have for the best part got all the nasties under control however there was a PS on the bottom of the letter indicating to the Dr that after the last round of blood tests it appeared that I was extremely low in Vitamin D and could they please prescribe high dose vitamin D medication as quickly as possible.  The appointment was at the end of February, the transcription was dealt with on the 5 April, and according to the envelope the letter was sent out on 7 April and was delivered to me on 10 April.

Accordingly the following day I rang the surgery and explained I had received the letter and the contents and asked if the GP would be able to deal with the same and the Receptionist indicated that she would get the GP to come back to me, which he did but he could not prescribe as he had not received a letter confirming this.  I subsequently arranged to go to the Surgery that evening and arrange an appointment with the Receptionist, I had a prescription to pick up in any event and arranged to drop a copy of the letter off for the Doctor to look at.  

Subsequently I have seen the Doctor and I have been popped on the medication.  All I can say is what a difference a little pill has made to me.  A lot of the discomfort I was experiencing the toothache in the bones and especially in my hips and lower back, the general bruised feeling I had has subsided - I still have some pain in the lower back but I a moving a little more easily than I was doing and my energy levels seem to be a little better I had felt constantly fatigued and my get up and go had got up and gone.  As a result I have not been able to do as much at home which has really been frustrating me and I have not been able to concentrate on my needlework and craft work so  I have just rested for a change and have simply just taken some time out  to "simply be" which I have not found easy.

However the trees are in blossom the sap is rising its lovely to see sunshine (which apparently I have to expose myself to on a more regular basis) as this is the vitamin I am low on vitamin D otherwise known as the sunshine vitamin.  Apparently if we do not get enough of this vitamin it affects the auto immune system, how your body absorbs calcium which we all need for our bones and our general well being.

Thank you for all your good wishes and messages  it is much appreciated and I am getting there hopefully this post will be a return to normal service!

Love and light to everyone

Catch up soon



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)