Monday, 31 October 2016

I have a date

For my surgery.  It is to be 13 December 2016.  My grandsons birthday. Not looking forward to it but I need to keep mobile and as such really have no choice in the matter as the pain element has been increasing and therefore I need to see an end to certain problems especially in relation to my back and my feet.

Now I have a date that means that things will have to be done a bit quicker than anticipated.  I have in effect six weeks before surgery and to get ready for Christmas.  I will also need to sort the Christmas pressies out as well.  Things are going to be hectic and I also need the house sorting and shed sorting.

It is Halloween and our little dog Missy's birthday.  I can hardly believe that we have had her for six precious years.  She has bought a lot of joy and a lot of laughter and needless to say has her humans well trained.  Even though predominantly she is OHs dog there are certain things that she will not let him do as they are mum jobs and even if he offers her certain things she will not take them or even eat them unless I hand them to her.  Terribly affectionate though and certainly likes being with us.

Halloween where has this year gone.  It was a proper creepy evening walk with Missy tonight as the mist is starting to rise on the fields near the river.  I have taken some photos unfortunately they have not downloaded as yet.  Will add to the post as soon as they clear.

The kiddies are already out trick or treating with parents in tow.

We have our Sunday dinner tonight.  We bought a leg of lamb from the butchers yesterday and so are having it with all the trimmings this evening. (Have since had and it was absolutely delicious - studded it with garlic cloves and mint jelly then served with mashed potatoes, roast potatoes, shredded cabbage, mixed broccoli, cauliflower and carrots and then peas.  Went down very nicely - now nicely stuffed.

Am very drained this evening but then that is not surprising really after the busy week I have had this far.

Hope you are all keeping well.

Catch you shortly.



The Kitchen

During the process of cleaning out the kitchen I have actually started to paint the skirting and pipework to freshen it up.   It has been sometime since it was last done.  I have also managed to get it all over me.  What a shock.  The paint is currently still drying off will leave it a couple of days as it is only a first coat and needs to be rubbed down a little before the next coat is applied.  Once this has been done I then hope to actually get the walls filled where needed and then to be able to get the paint on the walls.  I have chosen a lemon colour for the walls and the handles to the pine units are green. 

I have some of the fabric for the cupboard skirts which is an apple green gingham but still need some more for the kitchen sink and pelmet frill and curtains.  I shall hopefully get the balance this week as the market trader indicated that he was having more in this week.  I also want some extra to make a couple of ironing board covers as well.  So it looks as though I am going to be at the sewing machine for a while as well.

Once it is all tickety boo will post some photographs.  hopefully it will look simple and fresh when it is finished which is what I am aiming for.

So lots to do as usual and too little time.   Catch you soon.



Plans afoot

We have no choice - we need a shed.  I have far too much gardening stuff, and preserving stuff  - all of  which is used regularly so cannot be downsized. 

The dining room currently houses my new fridge, the large chest freezer, the upright freezer which houses OH fishing bait, a large pine dining table, 8 chairs two of which are carvers, two 6 foot pine dressers, a corner pine dresser, a large chest of drawers which houses most of my CD collection, and a pine dresser top.  

I have seen a shed I am interested in an 8ft by 12ft one, but before I purchase this we need to get a slab base down in the back garden.  I am hoping to get that sorted soon.

This is the shed I am currently looking at.

The plan is then to place the chest freezer into the shed with the upright freezer. I will then be able to get my wine chiller and small dehumidifier for experimentation on the Charcuterie front which I am very keen to get started on and which is something I have wanted to get going on for a while.  I was listening to a Jamie and Jimmy cooking programme the other evening and I caught part of a section on home cured charcuterie by Jimmy of Jimmy's farm fame.  Their guest was Kirstie Allsopp.  So I am hoping to catch it again.  What I did see was a simplified version of making your own home cured charcuterie.  I also want to have a go at making salami and the wine chiller together with the dehumidifier is apparently the ideal environment for curing them in.  I want to watch the programme again just to check a few things for my own satisfaction.  Hopefully all of this will happen well before Christmas so that I will be able to get started with the Charcuterie and my Gravadlax as well as experimentation with jerky and biltong.

I have since located the programme and have watched it.  Very interesting and I like the concept as using a wine chiller and dehumidifier for drying the meat means that it will be kept in optimum condition and temperature which is something I have been concerned about.  The link is here for those of you wanting to have a go as well.  OH seems to be interested in this also.

Since doing further research on this I have also found this article by Jamie on how to make your own drying/curing chamber which is similar to the link above.   I post the link on this for reference.

I then intend to get new flooring down in the dining room, and to decorate - needs new wallpapering will probably go for a patterned  Anaglypta type paper one that we can just paint to freshen up. 

All my empty preserving jars and bottles will also be transplanted from under the stairs into the shed as well, which will free up the under stairs area probably to pop my cleaning equipment as well as still use as my jam store.

The new shed might also be an ideal place for my wine making equipment and also the plans to have a go at beer and cider making as well as a place for storing my sack of spuds and my nets of onions.

The plan is then to buy another new fridge the same as I bought the other week as in practice I do use a fridge an awful lot and there are also some long term preserves mostly oil based which can be volatile unless stored in a regularly chilled environment.  OH is particularly keen on sun kissed tomatoes.  The second fridge should give me the capacity to prep up fresh food and be able to store it properly.  In effect it will give me the capacity to store a lot of fresh fruit etc. when on offer until I can process it.  Not to mention that I need the new fridge for my planned attempts at making cheese.

So a lot of plans and hopes afoot.  I just hope that they come to fruition.  It will not be for the lack of trying.

Catch you soon.



Saturday, 29 October 2016

Trouble with plumbing

Whenever I start sorting things out or doing things something always raises its head and today it was the kitchen.

Why is it men do not listen properly.  I informed the OH the other night that there was a problem with the sink in that the pipe had come adrift from the sink unit and that it was not the overflow.  I have then waited patiently for him to fix it  - no result  -in the meantime I have not used the sink which has been frustrating.  Anyway he comes into the kitchen this morning and turns the tap on to me shrieking don't do that it will go on all my stuff in the unit.  Needless to say the tap was turned off rather smartly. 

After being blamed for breaking it  - which I refuted completely and dug my heels in and gave him what for.  it turned out that the screw that held the plate and the sink together had sheared and that was the reason for the break. 

So off to B N Q we went and could we get a replacement  - yes but not the size of our sink fitting. apparently since the sink was fitted they have changed the sizings. We have been here 29 years and I think the sink is far older than that. We ended up buying a kit for 20 pounds to get the right fitting and then it was a bath fitting rather than a sink.  But it works and I am easy pleased as I have my sink back and a new plug.  Well happy.  Simple things please simple minds.  Now I can do my normal jobs more easily I have the sink.

Catch you later.


Friday, 28 October 2016

Things are not going to plan.

There was more work than I bargained for.  The pantry is more or less there. unfortunately before it is completely finished I need some more storage boxes to finish it off.  I had more grub in the pantry than I thought I had.  Which is not a bad thing as the cupboard is not bare and very liveable out of for the next few months so should not need to buy as much just top things up as they run out.   however will still pop the housekeeping up and put it separate in a jar - so that is it budgeted for and if the freezer needs re-stocking then I will have the funds available.  That is the plan anyway.  I am very pleased with the shelving its made a difference as I can find things a lot easier and the rest is stored in tubs by item. 

I had hoped to post some pictures but my cats have drowned my phone and killed it.  So I am patiently waiting for a new one to arrive.  An expensive accident.  The new one has insurance; when the previous policy was taken out they did not offer insurance for that particular phone which we had not appreciated at the time. however the company were very good.

The kitchen is nearly done as well been scrubbed out from top to bottom including all the walls and the skirting boards.  I must say I am very impressed with the new steam cleaner it is doing a very good job. I just love it when everything is clean. Next up the bathroom.

Catch you later on.



Tuesday, 25 October 2016

The pantry

is coming together nicely.  Still stuff to sort and get in there but I have had one major sort out and got rid of a lot of rubbish.  Sadly I can only do a little of what I want to with this pantry however it is better than it was and I have sorted it so OH can find things easily.    i have also managed to get the bread bin in situ as well.  I was hoping to get my bread crock in there as well - its a terracotta one; I will if I can.  I have lots of lovely things for the dream pantry, picking them up as I come across them.  For the dream pantry I am after a couple of meat safes that can be stripped back and restored and a pie safe

Ideally the shelving was for my sweetie jars but I still have to accumulate some more so in the meantime whilst I am waiting for that to happen I am using the shelves for other items and when I get the jars I will try and fathom what to do with any items not used.

I do have a cupboard under the stairs which is my main preserves store. however that needs tidying out as it is stacked with new bottles and jars.  I am planning on these going into the stone shed.  I also have a lot of beer bottles that I have collected as I want to have a go at making some beer as well.  The ones that you can see in the photos below were on my dresser waiting to be popped into said store but as I had some space I thought it might be easier to pop them into the main pantry instead.  There are bottled apricots, cherries, picallili, honey for use in making nuts in honey an ice cream topping and also stem ginger that I use in cooking a lot.

I still have lots of other stuff to do and the house is still a mess but hopefully it will get better over the next few days.  its better than it was last night already and at least I can find things now.  Some of the items are in boxes on the floor but that is the easiest way for me to store things.

Right had better get to bed morning is just around the corner and another early start is planned.

Catch you later.




Well I went to get my phone for taking the photos and there has been a bit of a accident.  I had left the phone on charge in what I thought was an out of the way spot from the cats but unfortunately they have knocked the phone into a bowl of water.  I am not a happy bunny.  So will have to post photos later once I get something sorted out.

Its getting colder at night

and our heating has been on a couple of times this week as I have been perished and I do not want the cats to get cold, particularly my old lady so on it has gone for a little while each night.  I do wish we had a log fire though.  Would make all the difference to heart and soul.

I have been struggling with the arthritis this week because everything is so damp It really seizes me up like the tin man from the Wizard of Oz and I am only young I still have a lot of living to do.  Must be grateful for what I have rather than what could be.  Could be far far worse.

It depends on which way the wind is blowing as to how warm or cold the rooms are.  generally speaking the front of the house is colder than the back apart from the kitchen and bathroom which gets perishing when it has been frosty or snowing. I will have a look at the weekend to see if I can find some suitable thick cloth off the market to make a door curtain.  might get some thermal lining as well to make it extra snuggly.  With this being an old house and no double glazing at the back when it gets cold it is perishing.  I make sure there are lots of throws and blankets though and keep the doors closed and the heat in where I can but I like everyone to be warm.

Right better get a wriggle on still in the pantry but things are coming on and I am getting the jigsaw puzzle done.

Catch you later.



Missing in Action




Monday, 24 October 2016

upside down part 3

The shelving is up hurrah and I am well pleased with it.  Once it is painted up it will look very practical and neat.  I have also bought some of that non slip matting to pop on the shelves when they are all sorted out.  At the moment I am swerving towards cream shelves with lemon walls which should make it look fresh and tone in with the kitchen.  I have yellow, mint green and white for the kitchen itself.

OH has worked his little socks off.  Nearly knocked himself up in the process.  He is diabetic and has high blood sugar and is 61 years of age; however he has done it the shelving that is.  The flooring will have to take place at another point.  it is a grey slate laminate flooring the same as is in the kitchen.

At the moment I am washing everything down again and sorting my jars out and the rest of the stuff that I have taken out of the pantry.  Now I have the jigsaw puzzle to put back together again.

Fortunately I am on leave this week so I intend to really get stuck in and then hopefully out of chaos normality will raise its head little by little. Fingers crossed and toes plaited.

Catch you later.



Crab Apples

Well I got some crab apples two different colours yellow and green; I would have liked some red ones as the colour is so suitable for the seasons of autumn into winter especially for Christmas. There is nothing more cheerful than a jar of bright red jelly but the yellowy green is pleasant too However you have to be grateful for what comes your way which is a blessing in itself.  I am however certainly looking forward to some roast pork served with some apple jelly.

I have written prolifically about crab apples and what I do with them in posts gone by.  here are the links if you want to check them out including the recipe I use.  I did the jelly in my jam pan but you can use the same quantities in a maslin/preserving pan. I tend to make jellies in small quantities I was always taught where jellies were concerned that you use the equivalent amount of juice to sugar i.e. 1 pint of juice  use 1lb of sugar.



Now I have to find time to process them.

Catch you shortly.



upside down again part 2

Well one wall has four sets of shelves up.  another shelf is still required below - did not bring enough from the shop - so will have to get another couple tomorrow.  unfortunately the walls and the plaster are not good in this house as we found out in the front room one day when one set of bookshelves had collapsed onto the floor - fortunately nothing was broken.  So we end up with shelving here but the brackets have to go where they are safest not necessarily in the same place all the way down.  Its a means to an end. 

OH has top shelf to screw down in the morning so I can put more of my sweetie jars in situ.  But I am very pleased thus far.  I hope to paint out the pantry at the weekend and once that is done and everything has been sorted I will do a reveal.  Think the shelves are going to be white gloss they are natural pine at the moment with lemon or pale green walls  - not quite decided yet; but work has commenced and it is getting there.  I still have to source some more jars but that will happen in time.

hopefully I will get everything returned to the pantry tomorrow evening after his lordship has popped up the rest of the shelves and done the flooring.  ideally it would all be painted out before returning anything to the pantry but I have other things to do first which necessitate outside parties coming into the house because of prior appointments etc.  That juggling process again which causes so much effort and time.

By tackling the nerve centre problem as it was hopefully now I will be able to find everything when I want it  i.e. when i am baking and it will be all nice and clean to boot.  In the dream pantry of my dream house I would have a pair of vintage Greengrocer shop scales in situ so that I can do all the weighing up of the ingredients in the pantry as well.  I would also have everything in one pantry.  most of my bottled preserves and jam, cordials, pickles, chutneys etc. are stored elsewhere.

Right had better get a wriggle on 101 things to do as usual.

Catch you later.



Sunday, 23 October 2016

upside down again

That's the kitchen the dining room the pantry and the hallway.  Why cuz I emptied the pantry out today so oh could commence operation shelving and flooring.  We had some flooring left over from the kitchen so I suggested we might use it in the pantry to make it cleaner and tidier.  So we went and got the shelving for my sweetie jars and I am to get some large boxes to put under the deep shelf tomorrow and then curtain the under section off to hide the boxes which are to store excess items.  once the shelving is done I will paint the pantry out to tidy it up a bit and then I will be able to get my jars altogether and out of the way.  So it really is a major upheaval.

We were going to the tip this afternoon but that has been sidelined for tomorrow night once I have finished work.

We needed to walk Missy in any event so I went armed with my carrier bags and have managed to get my crab apples.  Two large carriers full.  I will go back for some of the rosehips and the larch cones another day.

So its been all systems go here and the evening is not finished yet.  It will stop for Poldark but then will start again.

no peace for the wicked. hope you have had a lovely day wherever you are.  catch you soon.



Saturday, 22 October 2016

Saturday Afternoon/Evening part 2

After our bacon butties - we had them late about 400pm as muggins had no idea what the time was. Whilst it was still light we took Missy for a walk and I decided to investigate the position with regard to the crab apples.  They have swelled to what they were and some of them have fallen but I can get to them easily enough so am going back tomorrow with my foraging basket and a couple of carriers to collect a load to make crab apple jelly which is divine with roast pork used as an apple sauce. its also lovely used with the cold pork in sandwiches afterwards .

I have found some more cones in a different size so I would like to snaffle some of them some are larger than others but I need both sizes.  I need them to decorate some wreaths, to make some cone baubles, to use on the outside of a Christmas present as a decoration with pretty ribbon and possibly for use on some cards.  These little tiny cones cost an arm and a leg if you have to buy them.

There are also rosehips so I want to get some of those as well.  They are growing near the crab apples so they should make a good combination of rosehip and crab apple jelly.  I also want to dry some for use as a vitamin c boost during the winter months and make some rosehip cordial.  The rosehip cordial can be used to make a sorbet and also used as a syrup to soothe a sore throat.

There are also loads of teasels which I also intend to harvest also to make some Christmas decorations with the use of some gold spray paint and some polystyrene wreaths and balls.  Where OH goes fishing there are mushrooms so I will see if he will take me next week to see if we can collect some to pop up on the pantry shelf.

I have been slowly stripping the kitchen out as well but there is a lot to do so its going to be a  late night.  But once its done including the pantry it should feasibly tidy up other areas of the house.

Right coffee break over.  must get a wriggle on.

Catch you later.



Its been a busy day so far

It started with a visit to B n Q to get some door handles for the kitchen dining room doors. I have eyed up some more flooring for the dining room and that will be sorted soon. 

On the way back we called into Lidl supposedly for some crispy buns so that we could have a bacon butty each - but it ended up a bit more like a shopping trolley full.  Mostly stuff to put up for Christmas like I have stocked up with nuts etc for baking and bought some Cassis, the proper Christmas mulled wine, some cider.  I shall probably pop back in the week to add some more goodies to the Christmas stockpile as well. Its all pretty flexible really but as I say I do have my Christmas box. 

It all helps ease the pennies in the month of December if the majority of what is required is stockpiled down beforehand. Having plenty of food in the pantry always gives me a sense of security and as prices are starting to go up a little here and there it all helps as when things really get tough we just live out of the pantry and that way on we are able to concentrate on the bills and I only buy a little bit of fresh stuff in.

Well we had the bacon butty and it went down a treat.  The buns were crispy and soft and I liked them from Lidl but the pair of us are now stuffed and not in the mood for having chilli as we had originally planned.  That has therefore been put on hold and we will have a deli platter of cooked meats, cheese, crackers and chutney and pickle a little later.  Saves on the washing up.

Now the hard work starts operation kitchen.  I may be missing for a few hours well more than a few hours as I have the pantry to strip out as well and that definitely needs doing as does sorting the shed out tomorrow morning.  We have a couple of trips to the tip scheduled for tomorrow so if I can get that done it means I can liberate under the stairs and pop the jars and bottles I have in there in the shed outside and then liberate the space under the stairs for the Christmas goodies.

Catch you soon.



Bottles, preserving jars, for preserves and for storage

When I first started preserving I started off with something very simple.  Pickled onions, then pickled beetroot, then pickled shallots then chutney.  year by year I progressed trying new recipes finding ones I would use again and equally not use again.  It has been very much trial and error in equal part the failures being as much of the learning process as the successes.  To start with I used recycled jam jars and then when I could I ended up buying new jars atypically from Lakeland because they did the replacement seals and supplied standardised lids. many of the jars I recycled I found were a perfect fit for those Lakeland lids and even the Sarsons vinegar jars can be reused with the Lakeland seals.  In those days there were not that many providers of jars or lids and seals so you took them where you could get them.  If I gave preserves or jams away as presents or pickled onions I would always ask that the recipients give me back the jars and nine times out of ten they did.  Gradually I have built up my stock of jam jars mostly Lakeland although this year I have also added the jars that Wilkinsons sell to my tranche as they have worked out a lot cheaper.  I tend to pick these up when I can.

However I do lurk on Ebay, and spock, freecycle, and freebie sites as quite often you can get a bargain when it comes to jars especially if they specify collection only but even if not jars can go very cheaply as in practice people want shot of them.  Car boots are also worth checking out as well. I also buy when jars or bottles are on sale and I have a couple of suppliers that I use on a regular basis.  Equally I recycle coffee jars and the like for general storage of items and more recently the Cadburys Roses glass sweet jars for bulk storage of basic ingredients.  These can be expensive on average they go for about 10 to 12 pounds apiece however sometimes you can get bargains when buying multiples as this helps bring the price down.  I now have over 20 of these jars.  If you can find them with relatives or friends for next to nothing grab them and use them.  They wash up well in a dishwasher.  I initially set out just to collect the Roses jars with the blue lids but I have since gone on to add black lidded sweetie jars too. I am not specifically seeking jars with labels as these tend to attract a higher price. Hopefully this weekend OH is going to fit out the pantry with shelving and also pop the new flooring down.  Then hopefully I can get really sorted in the pantry.  It will just then need painting out then.

This year I have also invested heavily in original Kilner Dual purpose jars.  These can be re-used properly with the Leifheit seals and rings.  If it comes to the point I cannot use the jars because we cannot get the seals then they will be used for pantry storage but while I can I am using them for preserving fruit in.  I have particularly gone for the 2lb and 4lb jars

However I normally buy new Kilner jars from Lakeland for a set of three for 6.99 and equally have scored some real bargains from TK Max in relation to jars at silly prices. The Quattro Stagioni jars with the solid seal can be recycled with the new kilner jar replacement rings and seals equally you can use the Quattro Stagioni seals on Kilner jars  - I am talking about the new jars here. 

With Mason jars you have standard neck and wide neck jars and seals.  The standard size can be used with the Kilner and visa versa.  The wide mouthed ones cannot be interchanged with standard sized jars.

I also buy in bulk hex sauce bottles from a company in Wales.  In bulk so far I have found them to be the cheapest.  I have found these the ideal size to pop into my baby steriliser to hot water bath process sauce, elderflower cordial etc.  This time round I have also included bottles for juice as well.  I shop around a lot on bottles, jars and preserving jars as there is always a bargain to be rootled out somewhere.

With the new style Kilner jars as well I try and buy a few extra packs each month so that I always have the jars to hand.  It is an ongoing process but a little every often works easier on the pocket especially during the winter months when there is in my household at least always some preserving of one sort or another going on but not to the degree it does during the autumn months.   I also do the same with the rings and the seals. The more I build my stockpile up the more I use but then once the initial outlay has been paid for I can build up quite a stockpile of things like apple sauce, bottled tomato sauce, bottled fruit etc. and have a little more variety on the shelf as a result of my forays to the market, grow your own farms, bargains obtained in the supermarkets as well as taking advantage of products from the wild larder.  I also hope to do the same in time with my dehydrator and getting that into full swing so that I waste very little in the greater scheme of things.  Making my own bouillion powder with reduced salt, marigold and herb mixes, making my own soup mixes.  Drying that excess mashed potato for use as a thickener in soups. making my own crackers from healthy ingredients stuff that you cannot necessarily buy off the supermarket shelves.  That's where my interest lies.

Where I can I recycle jars, Pataks sauce jars can be recycled with Lakeland lids, as can many other well known sauce brands including Sharwoods.  Their jars add a different shape and dimension to the pantry shelf.  I am always looking for different shaped jars and as long as I can find a supply of new lids that fit that is all I am bothered about.

We have a problem with the central heating at the moment it is not working and the separate control we think has had it as it is not showing the digital screen at all.  We therefore have a trip to the local DIY centre to see if I can obtain a replacement.  Lots to do over the next few days or so.

Catch you soon.



Friday, 21 October 2016

Silver Birch Bark, Fir Cones, Twigs, polystyrene balls and cones Teasels and Larch cones,

I have found something different on Pinterest by way of Christmas decorations made from silver birch bark.  I had never heard of it being used in crafts before and the article I read told me I could purchase silver birch bark off of Etsy.  And so you can.  I am waiting for a couple of packs to arrive so that I can have a go at making a silver birch garland reminiscent of those paper chains and using glue just the same.  When I started looking I found lots of things using this to me relatively unknown commodity so it may be that I could well be ordering more in due course.  I have also seen a nice idea for making some tea light covers as well.  however since then I have also purchased some tree trunk candle holders in three different sizes.  In case you have not twigged - excuse the pun I do tend to favour au natural decorations/Victoriana style.

At the weekend when I went walkies with Missy I also came across a lot of twigs that had blown off the trees in nice clean condition so they got scooped up and brought home.  They have been sat on the dresser ever since.

I thought I might turn these with the aid of some raffia or twine into some Christmas stars to hang off the garland decorations that I have up throughout the house.  Something simple and effective but which cost an arm and a leg in the shops.  I want the satisfaction however of doing for myself and my family and being the tight skate I am for next to nothing apart from the time that I have popped in to creating and making.  I want to be able to enjoy the process stop and smell the roses, and have the odd glass of  mulled wine or two along the way as well.

Where we walk Missy there are several trees with tiny little larch cones in them.  After all the rain last week they were too wet to harvest so hopefully I will be able to gather some for use this weekend when we walk her.

And this is what I intend to do with them, a polystyrene ball a glue gun some glitter and mock snow maybe even a few beads or two.

I have bay leaves to dry this weekend in my dehydrator I also have lemons and tiny oranges that I want to dry whole to yet again turn into garlands for the dressers and The bay leaves are also needed to be used in cooking and to be mixed with salt for curing pork.  I use bay leaves a lot.  I also want to dry some orange slices and lemon slices and create some little mulling kits to give away with a nice bottle of wine for a Christmas present.

I have also come across wreath bases made from plum stones and peach stones washed and coloured or left au natural and then glued onto a polystyrene base make a very good and interesting base for a wreath or candle holder surround so I shall research that further and come back on that another day.

However I have also found a link for this wonderful nut wreath with tutorial that I am going to have a go at. here is the link.

Have you got any Christmas decorations in the pipeline to make or found anything different you want to share.

Catch you soon.



Thursday, 20 October 2016

Christmas preparations update

I am ahead of the game so far this year but then I need to be.  I have quite a lot of luxury items stashed as they have been on offer.  I still have more items to obtain and lots of things still to make. including some items I have never made before like salami.  I also want to do my own Gravadlax and make some bagels and pastrami. I will make as much as I can as to me that is where most of the pleasure lays.  It also comes in useful for giving as pressies to friends who don't cook or do not preserve.  They seem however to like the offerings I give over.

From the wild larder i need sloes, for sloe gin rosehips for drying and for rosehip syrup, and rosehip jelly and crab apples for crab apple jelly both plain and spiced and also for cheese and pectin.

There is already over 60 jars of jams alone prepared and now its time for the pickles and the chutneys.  I also have pickled red cabbage, pickled cucumber to do.  hopefully some of that will be addressed this weekend coming.

I also intend to get a couple of batches of ginger beer on the go and i want to get a couple of beer kits and wine kits on the go as well.

I did not get to the pickling onions and shallots  so still have that to do of an evening so that will take me out of the loop possibly for the week.  I want to get them done and out of the way with.  I also have some more preserves to make and I really need to get organised on that front.

The freezer also needs sorting out as I need to make room for sausage rolls and mince pies so that they can be cooked from frozen and served fresh.  I want to be able to do some like this for my brother and his family also if at all possible.

So an awful lot of things still to do, just need a clear run time has been very precious of late but somehow or the other I need to get there one way or another.  it however seems an uphill struggle at the moment.

I am worried as to when I will be called in for this operation.  They wanted me to go in on a cancellation this Tuesday past but it would appear they had not taken into consideration that I would need to come off my medication for six weeks prior to the operation.  So I do not know when that is going to be now but I am hopeful that I will get everything done including meals in the freezer so that we can eat well over that period also.

Too many balls to juggle - something is bound to come crashing down before long.

Catch you soon.



Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Autumn and Pumpkins

Two of them jumped into my basket when I went to the Co-Op this evening.  They are quite a decent size as well and at 2 pounds each quite good value.   The photo above is one of mine but is not of my current pumpkins.  I have not bought the pumpkins primarily for decoration but to cook with. however I could well end up getting double duty out of them both.  In this household we love roasted pumpkin with Sunday lunch and I always snaffle a load to freeze down so that we can eat this little treat throughout the winter months.   To freeze it I strip the outer skin off the pumpkin and then deseed and remove the fibrous tissue and seeds which should leave you with a  thick segment of flesh.  I then cut this into pieces and blanch it briefly in boiling water then drain and cool in cold water. I then pat dry and package into portions for Sunday dinner and pop into freezer bags and then into the freezer. 

To me when you see the pumpkins it is well and truly mid autumn.  I like the seasonality of the pumpkin to decorate the home and then to put to good use.  As I say I prepare it for the freezer and then I always make a batch of pumpkin marmalade which I love this time of year especially on thick cut hot buttered toast. Here is the link to the recipe which I posted some time back for those of you interested in having a go.

I intend to have a couple of more pumpkins yet as I love pumpkin soup and I also want to have a go at a pumpkin pickle as per the recipe used by Pam Corbin.

Pumpkins like squash will keep well in a nice cold place I have had them last into the new year before now although my intention with this years batch is to make sure that it is well and truly preserved and ready for use.

I am going to research canning pumpkin though as it will be a very useful addition to the pantry.

Right upwards and onwards.

Catch you soon.



Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Starting to play a litttle and a pick me up put me down

I have another crochet blanket on the go made up of individual squares in Christmas colours of red and white.  Its good to play and I wish I could do so much more of it as it when I start to play that the creative streak comes out and spins me off in other directions. I am at my happiest when I am crafting. 

The new crochet blanket/throw is specifically for Christmas and is made up of individual squares which are easier for me to handle and build up.  playing with this one blanket has given me ideas for other blankets made up in the same colours but in different stitches and combinations. The wool I have used below looks red but is actually an autumn rusty colour burnt orange.

I am also playing with some knitted fingerless gloves for myself and depending on how they come out will depend whether I start knitting a stash in the New Year for next year's Christmas presents.  This is one side just one on its own when knitted on 4mm needles is not big enough so I m wondering if there was a fault with the pattern I picked up as a freebie off the internet.  I have however worked out that if I knit two because my tension is reasonably firm it should fit me nicely especially with a pair of woolly gloves underneath.  I know how to cast on both ways however the edge is never neat enough for my liking do any of you have any good practical tips for making this neater.  Any tips gratefully received.  I was taught the basics of knitting as a nipper but I am not really a knitter although the older I am getting the more soothing I am finding it.  If I could just make the edge neater it would make all the difference or am I striving too much for perfection.

I was so full of good intentions for this year but it just has not happened for one reason or another.  I have also found a pattern for a star blanket worked in navy and white which is speaking to me quite prolifically.  Come new year then maybe but too many UFOs to clear first.  I really need serious time to play.  I am getting a little frustrated. 

One thing I am trying to do is print off patterns as I find them.  I am then transposing the patterns into plastic sleeves in a folder so that when I am mooching around for something to do I have them easily accessible instead of rushing around trying to find a particular pattern and not being able to locate it.

I have also been stockpiling fabrics, kits, some partially worked which need completion, new cross stitch kits, including two wedding presents. One for March next year and the other for September.  Both at Orton Hall Hotel in Peterborough one for good friends and the other for my step son and his fiancĂ©e.

I have embroidery, cross stitch, needlepoint, patchwork, raggy rugs, to do and the only way I will possibly get them done is if I cut down some of my time on the computer and spend regular and consistent amounts of time on each individual piece. I shall still post regularly but will be more structured with my time and probably prepare ahead. Time is moving on and I have some beautiful pieces to work and I want them out and on display. Some of the patterns/kits I have had a while and I want to bring some focus back and get them done.  Some of the vintage pieces need finishing off by either being made up into cushions or framed and mounted for the wall.  I am hoping to be able to get stuck in soon now the autumn soon to be winter nights are upon us.

I have also been playing with some match pots of paint from Wilkinsons, wooden coathangers, paintbrushes, scissors and decoupage and varnish.  I had seen a post on Pinterest which I was quite taken with and so have been experimenting.  I am quite chuffed with how things are coming together.  I have quite a nice bluey colour I am working with at the moment which I think will do very nicely for a small tallboy linen cupboard that I have which is desperate for a re-vamp, together with some toning fabric to tart it up on the inside and new china handles should totally revamp it and make it look reloved.  Told you that crafting inspires me to do something else.

Well I won't just be doing new projects.  I have a heap of UFOs to complete as well.  So I thought I might do a new project then a UFO and keep alternating them so that they eventually all do get done. It will be good to get them sorted at long last.  however I always tend to have some long running project on the go that I can pick up and put down inbetween doing everything else. 

A pick me up put me down is essential for when I do not have that much time but still need to be doing something.  This tends to be something like my crochet blankets.  A very good friend has recently lost her mother to cancer and she has been sorting things out and has very kindly given me some wool which I am also looking forward to making up into a lovely blanket or two.  I was looking for an ultra sized crochet hook today as I have an idea in mind for this particular wool.  They did not have one so I will have to have a mosey on the internet when I get a chance.

I also want to get some pretty rag rugs made for the bedrooms.  I have a denim rug on the go which is a proddy rug - that is a UFO and I am hoping to get back to that as well.  Some of these will be ideal for when I am incapacitated.

Catch you soon.



Monday, 17 October 2016

How do you store your leftoversand food in the fridge

When I was growing up nothing was wasted.  Even a little bit of fat from the roast dinner was put to good use.  I am of course speaking of the days before oil was available and most fry ups were done with that little bit of fat left over from the joint or a little bit of lard or beef dripping for frying eggs and chips,  This stemmed from the war years where everybody did what they could to save food and make a meal.  A time far removed from today's wasteful society.

Growing up on the heels of my mother and practices she used to use she followed through faithfully with this concept all of her life.  I think also growing up in the war years one of ten children 12 in total counting the adults in a two up two down.  They were relatively comfortable until Granddad did not come home after being demobbed when the youngest child was 10. my grandmother went to get his pay and was turned away as he had been demobbed and there was nothing for her.  It was thanks to my grandmother that they managed to survive.  Grandad had himself a lady friend and mum believed that she had a half sister somewhere.  Indeed they nearly got back together again later on but grandma put the children first and so it never did quite happen.  Granddad had wanted to move somewhere new for a fresh start.  They never did divorce though.

They had nothing and what little they did have by way of vouchers etc were sold on to provide other basics which they were so dreadfully short of during the war.  Life for some was not how it is portrayed in the history books in an ideal world everyone is always catered for but then we did not live in an ideal world.

Up until Granddad joined the Army he had run an allotment to feed the family but they could not even afford to keep that on which was a big loss to the whole of the family.  Those years of scrimping and scraping left their mark on my mum especially having to wear hand outs or jumble clothing which was classed as being second class then.

For storing left over liquids, fats, soups and stocks my Mum used to have some long tubes of stoneware in beige or white which were used for storing fat in or stock or soup and kept on the cold shelf of the larder until fridges came in wherein they were stored in the fridge.  Sadly they do not seem to make them these days they were about 12 to 14 inches in height and about 5 inch diameter. Mum used to get them off the pottery store in the market. 

Above roasted vegetable stock for the base of a soup or gravy.  I tend to make this in bulk and freeze it down but any left over or to be in use is kept in the fridge in the interim.

Next to it my home prepared feta in olive oil with herbs and chilli.

Mixed fancy mushrooms preserved in olive oil.

However I have found my own solution to this and for storing liquids I use the large glass jars available in Lakeland what are being sold as the large size pickling jars four for 5.99 the pack of four.  They are recyclable and the lids can be reused.  I store my excess gravy, stock for soup and gravy, soups in them and that way I get to be thrifty and not waste anything either.

For storing left over food I use an old pyrex casserole dish or pie dish and then cover and pop into the fridge.  if there is mashed potato as part of the combination you can make bubble n squeak cakes They go very well with cold chicken and or game of any sort and pop them in the freezer for a later day.  I prefer glass or pottery for storing stuff in as I just do no do the plastic thing.  It really is not me.

I also use these jars for my home made deli items such as feta cheese in olive oil with fresh herbs, chilli etc.  These jars are 2lb in size and so a fair size.  I also use them for doing mushrooms in oil and goats cheese in oil and for roasting leeks in the oven in oil and butter and then using as a fresh relish in sandwiches or baguettes or popping on home made fresh pizza.  I also make my own gravy base and then store some in these jars in the fridge and freeze a load down.

Do you save the little bits of food and rehash them.  if so how do you store them and what do you actually re-hash them into.  Does anyone actually do this in this day an age or am I the oddity.

Look forward to hearing from you.

Take care.



I have a new larder fridge

Sorry its been a while but quite a bit has been going on and I have been juggling too many balls again as usual.  Will try to get back to those who have left me comments over the next few days.  Also looks as if I have some new followers welcome, get yourself a mug of tea and cozy and start to browse there is lots going back over the years of my experiments and play time.


Please note this is not an advertisement as such just something I am completely thrilled with  I have not received any inducements, and this is totally my opinion.  Anyway I digress  - I am of course talking about my new larder fridge.  

This is my new friend which I purchased from ao;

There is also a short video presentation so that you can get a look and a feel for it.  The service as usual has been second to none.  They keep you in the loop all the way through the process.

I really had my eye on much more expensive fridges and in particular I would like an American style fridge freezer that has its own drinks and ice making functions which would really help me when it comes to drinks especially cold ones which I like a lot of but also with my pastry making.  my hands are constantly cold until it comes to making pastry when I can and usually do end up in a sticky mess.

However the one I was interested in cost too many pennies and needed to be plumbed in.  If it was my own house it would be different - you always go the extra mile but I needed something that was reasonable in price and would suit my usage needs. i.e. be very practical about what I needed it for. I have also gone for the metal colour the link above refers to the metal colour but they also do it in white  which is cheaper.  I have also had an eye to the fact that this is not my forever home. This or a couple of these fridges will fit in my plan for a large walk in pantry eventually at my forever home.  Therefore if I have an eye as to what I am trying to achieve everything will slot into place I hope like a jigsaw puzzle.

Now here it is stuffed to the gunnels;

I hasten to add that a lot of this will last the month.

I am also planning for two sheds at the bottom of the garden as I have a big chest and small three quarter sized freezer in the dining room which I propose to move them into the sheds.  I also thought that the fridge I was purchasing could also go down there but I am now considering other options I.e. rejigging the dining room to put my dresser top in the corner near the window and to put my corner pine dresser for the time being into storage then find a small unit to go underneath.

I totally love this new fridge.  A proper cooks fridge. So much so I am considering ordering another as I always have a lot of fresh stuff in which this fridge is holding a proportion of but now I need a fridge for the bits and bobs that I make for the week, my home made delicatessen stuff and holding more raw fruit and veggies. 

In my dining room at present where my dresser top is and the chest freezer underneath I would put both the fridges.  That would make things a little easier in the dining room space wise.

We will have to see that is what I am contemplating at the moment; but plans do change very much a WIP - Work in progress.  We shall have to wait and see what evolves.

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)