Monday, 28 November 2016

Shed Tales -Monday Night

Still no internet connection so I am continuing to draft posts even though I am not able to post them just yet.

OH and I have been out in the garden this evening together with a powerful halogen work lamp and the wooden frame is starting to come together.  We have all the walls up and together the floor down.  Tomorrow evening we are aiming to get the roof on.  We have done a couple of hours work not starting really until 8:00am after we had had tea and then we had to go back to B & Q as the lamp he had bought did not have a bulb in it.  Was not missing they just did not supply it and OH had thought was within.  So a productive evening all round even though it was bitterly cold.  I had two pairs of gloves on and my thick anorak over a couple of thick jumpers.  I was pleased to get in.  Lovely clear sky though tonight often find that with a bitterly cold night.  Its nights like this when I am desperate for a log fire to snuggle round and keep the fingers and the tootsies warm.

I am on holiday for a week from tomorrow night in order to try and get organised a bit before I go into Hospital.  Wish me luck.  I think it is going to be a very busy week.

Right had better potter on every little helps.

Catch you later.



This shed is not going too well

Or perhaps that should be the base is not going too well.  OH was in a hurry and ended up skimping and the base was even more higgly piggledy.  He was keen to get the shed up for me. 

However we ended up having words about this as it just was not right and I was not paying out good money to have it bodged and I told him so. 

He eventually came round to my way of thinking and we eventually got the base sorted out after going a couple of more times to get the fixative.  We have also got the fluorescent lights, extension leads, wiring, light switches, cover for the wire so it does not get wet etc. etc.  But the base is done - hurrah but it was dusk again before we finished and so the shed has not been started.  We are hoping to do a bit during the week of an evening when OH gets home. 

OH has been suffering with his back again today  - he has a disc that pops out and causes problems every now and then and so has to take it steady when like this and humping all the sacks of fixative as well as the slabs will not have helped.  But at least the base is sound and is going to hold the shed safely, but we needed to pad about six of the slabs quite heftily with the fixative because of the land being out so much.  I had visions of my freezers going downhill all the way!

We did not have Sunday tea roast per se tonight but had a pre-cooked meal each which was warm and saved me messing around too much.

We also watched the first of a new series of Return to the Chateau on Channel 4 at 8:pm with Dick Strawbridge, new wife Angel and their children and their efforts in turning the Chateau into a running business as well as a home.  Was quite good.

I ache tonight with all the humping of slabs and the fixative - I did my fair share of shifting things about because of OHs issues with his back..

Right must get a wriggle on.  Work in the morning and lots to do before then.

Catch you soon.



Saturday Catchup

Work started in earnest and we stripped quite a lot of vegetation out of the area where the slabs were to go.  OH last weekend had laid the slabs out roughly where we wanted them to place the shed on.  However we needed to get the fixative underneath.  We spent quite a bit of time trying to do that with not very good results.  The slabs needed quite a bit of lifting up due to the ground being sloping and at the bottom.  In the end we realised that we did not have enough fixative and would need to be able to go and get some more on Sunday morning.  By the time we realised it was dusk, and extremely cold so into the house we retreated.

We really need to get the internet and the TV sorted out.  We have an Amazon Fire stick but there are problems with the loading of the films we believe the signal is too slow the same with the Internet.  So that will have to happen next week when I am home.  I will strip the front room out so that we can solve the problem hopefully.  This room needs to be nice and tidy as does the rest of the house as it will in effect be my bedroom for a couple of days after the operation until I am able to get myself upstairs.

I also had my pre-operative assessment and further Xrays of my feet last week.  Not looking forward to this, one iota.  The only good things out of this are that I am not diabetic, and I have lost more weight.  I am the lightest I have been in a long time, but still need to shift some more if I can.  I am not dieting just watching portion control and walking everywhere if and when I am up to it.  If I am not so good I take things steadier  - frustrating but the only way to deal with things.  One thing I am going to have to do is to prepare a sock or two to cover my tootsies as the boot (according to the nurse will leave my toes uncovered).

Oh well upwards and onwards.  Tomorrow is another day.

Catch you soon.



Computer Issues

I am not sure what is going on with the computer but am finding it difficult to keep a consistent signal the internet keeps shutting itself off so I have not read many other blogs or posted as a result.  I am going to have a fiddle with it but I think it is something to do with the router and the fire wall but I need to strip that out in the front room and it is not easily accessible at the moment so will have to do what I can when I can.  So I will carry on posting and somewhere down the line I hope that the posts actually post and you are able to read them.

The migraine is still hanging and making life impossible but I am back at work after two days off

Because of the rough weather at the weekend we were unable to get all the slabs down and the shed up.  We are hoping to get it done over the weekend although I think we may be a tad ambitious about this.  Fingers crossed and toes plaited and all that jazz.  Wish us luck.

Catch you soon.



Dreadful Migraine

I ended up being off work for a couple of days last week with a horrendous migraine that just came on.  Trouble is that when I get a migraine I end up being in bed until it subsides in a dark room.  No computers no TV as the light always jiggers me up.  I am light sensitive in any event and that is how they discovered I had epilepsy by putting me under a strobe light which in turn triggered a fit albeit an absence a petit mal.

Never mind these things are sent to try us so that itself has put the Christmas preparations on hold.  Fortunately next week from Tuesday night I will be on leave for five days so I am hoping to catchup then.

Will be playing catchup all week as a result of this.  Never mind these things are sent to try us.

Catch you later.



Sunday, 20 November 2016

Sunday update

Disappointingly we did not get out to do the shed and lay the base because of the weather.  We have the powdered cement base that you put down and then lay the slabs on top and it then sets itself.

Despite indications to the contrary it just did not brighten up and there was a proper  mizzle in the air.  So we stayed in and pottered. 

Evenutally OH did manage to get the slabs into the garden - so everything is to hand ready for us to get stuck in when we can.  Bit disappointed that we have not got further but hey ho these things are sent to try us.

We have however had a very nice tea tonight.  I prepared the roast beef by placing it on a sliced raw onion in the bottom of a roasting pan and then popped a foil lid over the tray and cooked it on Gas mark 4 checked it halfway through and took the foil off and there was a lovely natural gravy in the bottom of the pan which formed the base of the gravy for our meal with the addition of some other bits and bobs.  I served it with shredded cabbage, mixed broccoli, cauli and carrot, mashed potato and peas and lots of gravy.   I must say it was very tasty and went down very well. No Yorkie Puds or roasties for a change.  I am now as they say stuffed!

Its cold and damp out but at least it is warm in the house.

Right must get on and get ready for work tomorrow.

Catch you soon.



Well I think today may be a washout

Weatherwise the sky is still grey and cloudy but lighter than it was.  However I think today is a complete washout when it comes to doing the shed.  Something may be salvaged we will wait and see but at least we have all the pieces to get on with stuff and maybe even get the patio done with one fair swoop which will stand us in good stead.

We have just had a sausage sarnie each and a milky coffee (mine Masawatti style) and a bit of a chin wag as you do.  I am going to get on in the kitchen downstairs in the hope that I can get it squared to get on with other things that I have and need to do.  Including my own personal washout  - more laundry.

We have been to the Butchers and  have bought a piece of beef to have later on for tea with home made Yorkshire pudding and a few veggies. We have bought a few other bits and bobs as well.  We do not do badly on the food front and tend to buy the best we can with the money available to us. I normally like the  routine and simplicity of Sundays - no hurry compared to the rest of the week just pootling along all very relaxed as a norm.  In the winter months I love watching old films or new ones snuggled up on the settee just taking things easy.  That is not going to happen today though too much to do.

My back is bad today after yesterday humping things around so I am gingerly doing things as I do not want to be totally incapacitated.  However hopefully will be able to help OH with getting the slabs into the garden as he will not be able to manage them on his own.

So am off to pootle in the kitchen although in reality want to snuggle on the settee and watch a film.

Right must get on.

Catch you later on.



Rain, Rain Go Away

It has been raining since about 11:00pm last night.  Only gentle but then getting a tad rough with the wind getting up in the early hours for a brief time.  This morning we have arisen to grey cloudy skies with intermittent drizzle and we are now hoping for a break in the weather so that we can continue with the slabs and get the shed up.  If that does not happen will have to do a bit of an evening during the week.  Alternatively I will get on with something in the house instead.  So it will be a busy day one way or another.

Catch you later.



Saturday, 19 November 2016

Shed Catch Up

Its been a really cold day but it has not stopped us bogging in and getting things done.  I managed to get the path clear in the garden - got rid of pots where the plants have been spent  and put the pots for washing another day to one side.  The delivery man came and unloaded and popped the shed into the front garden for us - I was nearly there with the garden when he arrived. 

Here is where we got the shed off, and I got an extra 5% off as well.  Very pleased in the end with the service received from them and the delivery driver. 

We then went off.  First to the cash and carry as  needed more soap powder and ended up with a couple of other bits and bobs as well.  Including Fentimans Dandelion and Burdock - 16 bottles for £7.99 normally £1.50 a bottle in the shops.  We also ended up getting trolley for moving sacks of stuff and furniture around.

Will probably call in again before Christmas as there were a few things on the fish and  meat front that would quite like but do not have room for them at the moment.  I need to sort the freezers and make room for stuff.  Another job for the list.

We then went on to collect the alarm and then to the reclaimation yard both of which were next door to each other so things seem to be working out right at the present.  Very serendipitious for a change.

We decided that we were going to go for slabs for the base from the reclaimation yard.  Very pleased with what we ended up with at a fraction of the price.  Will go and have a good look around another day as at that price we can if we can get more of them afford to  put the patio down as well which will certainly tidy the garden out quite a bit.  Still no end to do but at least its a start;  Loaded them all in the car and got them home safely.

Then had to unload the front garden and get everything safely in the back garden which was hard going but we have it done.  Now cream crackered.  Will put the tiles down in the morning and then get the shed up.  We also got the alarm and lock system that they had tried to deliver yesterday.  It all looks very good.  So it has been a very busy and very eventful day - moved on a little further with our plans but a heck of a lot to do tomorrow.

I keep nodding so I had better go and do something else not quite sure what at the moment but will find something.

Catch you soon.



Bits n Pieces

Jigsaw time here big time.

I have been up since 6:00am pottering around trying to get a bit more sorted for the delivery of the shed.  A little low loader turned up with a stocky very helpful little chap who unloaded for us.  He had come from Newark and had several deliveries in all today.
going in a circuit next to Bedford then to Leicester a couple of places there then Nottingham and finally back to Newark.  When he first turned up I though the contents were just for us big gulp where are we going to put it all.  Then I realised  - silly me.  But the shed is here it appears to be very well made.  Now we have a lot to do and I suspect that it is going to be a garden based day today as a lot of sorting needs doing and then we have to start building the shed  - that is after we have got the slabs and then go them down.  OH had the foresight to get the stuff to put under the slabs yesterday. It is bitterly cold we have had a very hard hoar frost and the rooftops were lovely and white this morning.  I have already gone through two pairs of gloves (they have got wet).  I have just come in for a few minutes to get my fingers going again and then I am going to be starting again.

So I may be absent for a while.  Hopefully will be able to pop back later.  Its 9:14am and the sun is still trying to break through and there is blue sky so have to be grateful for small mercies.  At the moment it looks as though it is going to be a good garden day.

Catch you later.



Friday, 18 November 2016

Major panic at 07:00am

arising from the fact that at 07:00am this morning I received a text indicating that my goods from so and so were going to be delivered today 18 November 2016.  Really serious major panic because we are of course talking about the shed.  Could not speak to the company concerned until 08:30am or the providers of the shed until 09:00am.  Was really concerned as nobody was going to be home!  Was getting in a right two and eight about the whole thing and trying to work out what the heck I could do whilst waiting to speak to them.

Not good for the old blood pressure especially before breakfast.

Eventually getting through to a very nice lady who with a couple of words was able to confirm that indeed my shed is due for delivery tomorrow and it is in their list for tomorrow.  Big sigh of relief!  I had ordered an alarm system for the shed and we believe that is what they have tried to deliver today.  I was expecting it all to come together and arrive tomorrow!

They have tried to deliver today we don't know what assume it is still the alarm.  Have to go and collect it.  Fortunately it is near where we are going to get some slabs for putting the shed on so we can kill two birds with one stone.

This evening have had a text from the delivery company indicating that they will be with us at 7:30am apparently we are first on the list.

So I have a bit of sorting out to do tonight to try and get things tickety boo in readiness for the delivery tomorrow.

Its been a very cold day again here in Peterborough and it is really cold out at the moment.   When I left for work this morning it was 2 degrees.  Have not checked to see what it is at the moment but I know its perishing - I have been going into work with two woolly jumpers on in an effort to keep warm!

So this weekend it is operation shed - although a lot of work it should make things easier in the long run I hope.  Fingers crossed and toes plaited.

I am off to get a wriggle on.

Catch you soon.



Salt, Salt and Salt

and maybe at some point Sea Salt as well.  I like to keep this in but I have noted that I am running low.  I bought curing salt, Prague Powder 1 and 2, a salami kit, a culture for helping with salami curing and various other little bits and bobs and sausage/salami casings which are to be stored in the fridge.  I even bought some Agar Agar gelatin as well.  I did not expect it all to arrive on the same day and it was from three different companies.  I am still waiting for the Prague powders maybe they will come tomorrow.  However I am getting the bits and bobs together so that I am organised and I can set too and play once the house is sorted out a bit I have so much that I want to do.

I also purchased some boning tweezers to remove the pin bones on the salmon.

The hog casings are in the fridge and I have a new book by Paul Peacock (well to me anyway) "make your own bacon and ham"....and other salted, smoked and cured meats.  On first glance there is an awful lot of practical information in there.  There are also a lot of simple recipes in which to use up your preserved meat as well.

Catch you soon.



Thursday, 17 November 2016

Cinnamon Sticks and Candles

I just love candle light through the year but I think it is even more atmospheric come Christmas.

A Couple of years ago I made some Christmas candle decorations which involved making an outer container in effect made of Cinnamon sticks.  However the sticks were not really long enough but I made the best of what I had but I had always promised myself that I would when I had the opportunity buy some new Cinnamon sticks and have another go.  The original design I did was graduated lengths around a very tall candle and the prices vary considerably for cinnamon sticks I happen to think this link is one of the better buys.

I must stress these are not my photos but the designs are simple and beautiful and I have shared them to show you the sort of thing I am thinking about doing.  I obtained the photos by just typing in Cinnamon candles and these came up.  However Credit must be given as these are not my photos.

The other day I did just that - I went mooching round Ebay pricing up the different products and eventually settled on this one

A one Kilo bag of long Cinnamon sticks.  I must say I am very pleased with them. £9.99 for the kg.

Now I need to get some smaller ones for wreaths and garlands and then I can have another play.

I did manage to pick up a pack of medium sized church candles 4 for £9.99 the other week so when I get a minute I will have a play and then pop the photos up on this post in order to keep everything together.  I love the smell of spices, vanilla candles, a burning log fire with some fir cones on you get the wonderful scent of the sap as it is released by the heat.  As I have said before you can create your own magic happiness and memories.  Happiness can be fleeting and that is why it is oh so very important to embrace it while you can and to enjoy and live in the moment.

Take care.

Catch you soon.



Achievement - Shed is arriving this Saturday

Well something seems to be going right.  I have had a little bit of a success in getting the shed to be delivered this Saturday so it looks as though it is going to be all systems go one way or another.  Now to get the slabs sorted and the access way sorted.  Looks as though its going to be a couple of busy evenings ahead. 

Once the shed is up and running we can then empty the dining room and get that back into order and then hopefully I can really start getting stuck in on the rest of the house.  Looks as though it will be an early start in any event this coming weekend.  Told you before its just the depth that varies.

Well I cannot complain I am bored can I. There is always something to do and I don't really do bored.  Frustrated yes, need more time yes but never bored.

Then once the shed is up then I can start getting organised to have a go with salami and bacon and my Gravadlax as I plan on having a curing cave in the shed based on a wine chiller and a small dehumidifier.  Well that is the plan at the moment.  Just because I do not have my own land or my forever home yet does not mean to say I cannot practice some of the skills or learn new ones along the way.

Right had better get a wriggle on. 

Catch you Later.



Wednesday, 16 November 2016

More Christmas Decorations and Festive Bits and Bobs

I had a little lottery win at the weekend and so I have used that little win (a syndicate we run at work run on the bonus numbers) and have put it towards some more Christmas decorations. Some years I don't see anything I like and then other years it goes barmy.  I am trying to be sensible but occasionally very occasionally its nice to have a little splurge.  

I went to TK Maxx fatal.  I had actually gone to look at the glass and the china but there was not too much on that front today maybe another day things will be different.  I am very pleased with today's purchases though even though they were not quite what I had gone for.

Anyway here it goes the most expensive item was the Angel.  at £14.99.  She is however very different to a normal Angel more classical and in a pale green which is the traditional colour for Father Christmas.   It looks gold in the photo but is a lovely pale limey green.  I am however very pleased with her and she should go very well with what I already have which is more to the point.

A string of Angel Lights - I might try and get some more of these.

An Angel Lantern which I really like.  Might try and get another of these if they have them.  They only had the one in store today.

Two Candle rings that go beautifully with something else I bought today.

There is only one shown here but I actually bought two of these as well.

Two beautiful candle lamps should look lovely with a couple of large Hurricane Lamps which I have recently purchased.

Snowflake Cookie Cutters.  These are a lovely pale blue colour on the outer edge.  Should go very well with all the other Cookie Cutters I have.

One of the things that I try and do each year after Christmas presents have been opened and the tree is left bare underneath is I have a selection of toys that go in place of the presents.  These are traditionally themed like I have soft toys, children's horses, musical boxes, teddy bears, stacking boxes, raggy dolls, an old sweet tin in the shape of a tradition drum together with the drum sticks, Jack in the boxes, Automaton Santas and other ephemera.  This does double jeopardy as if we have any little ones come over Christmas there is something for them to play with and keep them entertained.  If not it just dresses the tree up a little more.  This little suitcase will go beautifully with some of these bits and bobs and will be able to store them as well - and the sentiment I think is very appropriate as we all love being home for the holidays.

I am hoping to be able to get started with my beading projects in the New Year so hopefully I will have some modern heirlooms to pass on.

Have you acquired any Christmas decorations for this Christmas or do you have a particular favourite from years way back.  Would love to hear from you.

Catch you shortly.



Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Catch Up

Well the shed saga continues.  I have been on email on and off most of the day.  And I have purchased it now and hopefully it will be delivered soon.  I have asked for confirmation when. I am hoping this Saturday but that might be a tad over-optimistic. 

However it will certainly help me tidy the back room up and then we should be able to move again in there and I should be able to get sorted with all my jars, bottles etc.  I am hoping to get them all into the stone shed so that I can clear the under stairs for dual purpose for my jam store which it partially is now but also to get my cleaning equipment put away properly and also storing some of the Christmas food away plus the dog and cat food.  Well that is the plan but actually getting it to work may be a different story altogether. 

Now the work starts and we have to get the slab base down so that OH can get the shed up and then we can get electrics in and strip light in. and the shed painted.  I quite like the idea of a sage green to colour it.  Once the shed is all sorted.  I can then tackle the dining room.  I have from the evening of 29 November off until 6 December.  So I am hoping to get the last minute things done then.  Including putting the Christmas decorations up.  I really must get a wriggle on.

Catch you soon.



Christmas Tree Traditions and Making Crackers for the Christmas Tree

When we were younger one of our family's little traditions or should I say my father's was to have a little extra present on the tree for each of us.  I always used to be in the kitchen with mum when I was growing up clearing up after her and once she had got what she needed to be done done I would be allowed to do something myself. That is really where I learned to cook at the heels of my mother. I always helped her for Sunday dinners and also on Christmas Day when things got hectic. 

Being the Father he was (and I happen to think he wasn't perfect I saw him warts n all but as a father he was pretty special to me and to my brother) he knew how much work went into preparing everything and after dinner one year he went to the Christmas tree and procured three little presents for us all (including my brother) as a thank you.  I still have what he bought me and also what he bought my mum and the special little notes that were popped into the little boxes expressing his love and thanks year on year.  For that first Christmas tree present  Dad had bought us a small piece of jewellery each.  Mine was a single pearl and mum's was a watch that she had seen and quite liked but had never expected.  That was the first of many such thank you's.  It varied from year to year as to how much he could afford but there was always a little trinket of some sort but it was always the love and thought that went into it that meant the most.

I have carried on the tradition with my extended family.  But I wanted something different to do with them and I think I have found it so that the present is in full sight on the tree but hidden if you know what I mean.

Last Christmas I was blessed to receive from my OH a Big Shot paper cutting machine and I have slowly been adding new dies to my stash, having had a recent blow out on all things Christmas.  For many months I have not had any new crafting stuff and when I come across something I like or something that could be very useful if I can afford it at that time I have a little splurge.  I am lucky - I know I am but my crafting stuff is like my books always in constant use.

One of those little splurges has seen me buying the dies for a larger Christmas Cracker and a smaller one which I believe is tree sized and ideal for a little favour or Christmas Tree present.

So this year the Christmas Tree presents will be there for all to view.  They just won't know it at the time.  I thought that I would make them in metallic card in different colours the colour denoting the recipient's name.  I also have some little tiny box/carton plates and also a plate for pillow pockets which can have a little pressie added and then wrapped like a Christmas parcel.  There are all sorts of different ways that the templates can be used to make something very individual.

I have also got some poinsettia dies to build up flowers from paper and I thought something like this on the outside of the cracker would be festive and distinctive as well as making some paper decorations for the tree probably three D little wreaths and once they are finished sprayed with varnish to preserve them for use another year.  After all that hard work it would be sacrilege just to dump them!

I have also sent for some Debbie Shore of Crafters Companion festive fabric dies to have a play with as well.  If I don't get much mileage out of them this year I will next.

I thought that this might be a good project to do whilst I am off my feet.  Will have to see how things go.  Right had better get a wriggle on.  Catch you later.

Pattypan xx

I never knew ordering a shed could be such a problem

Maybe its just me  - I attract chaos of one sort or another!  Well I told you it was just the depth that varied.  You would have thought that ordering a shed would be quite a straightforward business.  I just need a shed in which to store excess items and make a workable work room for doing up some projects and for doing my potting on of plants in the summer. As well as storing the freezers, a curing chamber and a wine chiller.  Simples or not as the case did not turn out to be.  I think its me that is the rogue element here.

However is it just me being simplistic but I want four walls and a roof with a couple of windows in.  How complicated is that.  It is going to have my freezers in so we are going to put a slab base down so that it is nice and even and firm.  But all the firms want to offer you this whether you want a different finish, whether you want it installing etc.etc. etc.  Then the delivery service on most of them dumps them in the front garden but will not leave it round the back and so on and so on. That is not safe around here as if you leave anything in the front garden it grows feet and walks rapidly even old things that have bust. In the end before I have even placed an order I have sent an email wanting some answers to my questions as I am not prepared to spend a lot of money until I know what I am dealing with .  I need the shed to sort out the dining room.  Hopefully it will get resolved soon.  It did not help that I forgot the name of the company I was looking at originally, but I seem to have found a better offer with a bigger shed for similar money.  So we shall see what we shall see.  Hopefully things become untaffled soon and I am in possession of a shed.  I need to get the shed in situ so that the dining room can be sorted out.  Hopefully I will get a response today.

Catch you soon.



Monday, 14 November 2016

Long Day

Its been a long day today - too long.  Started at 6:00am got OH sorted out with fresh laundered clothes and also pack up and then out to work.  Then I made me and Missy a cup of tea and then started to write a couple of posts before starting to get ready for work.  It was raining full blast this morning and so I did not walk I called for a Taxi - when its wet and damp my body just does not wish to cooperate despite me pushing forwards.

Dinner time saw me at the post office and then on to Argos.  I have bought a dehumidifier in an attempt to stop some of the moisture in the kitchen and the bathroom.  The bathroom condenses up quite badly and we have told the Landlord this ever since we have been here  - 29 years.  Every so often we get a build up of mould on the skirting edge in the bathroom despite me using specialist cleaners.  The outside wall of the bathroom which is a separate loo on the outer wall and then on the inside the washbasin and bath.  The loo really needs a little radiator in there and I think it would make a heck of a difference it would be certainly be warmer.  I may well suggest this when we have the next inspection.  As it is I have a list for them to do whether we will get it done or not is another matter but it will not be for the lack of trying. 

We have had a chicken dinner tonight.  Basically this is a meal in itself from the farm and consists of a chicken breast, stuffing, chipolata sausage and a piece of back bacon.  They are strung to keep them together and then cooked in the oven at Gas mark 5 for about 45 minutes or so until they are cooked.  We have had ours with Yorkshire puddings, swede, mixed veg, mash potato and gravy and it has gone down well.  I am now warm on the inside.

I don't know where this evening has gone to.  Better start getting ready for tomorrow.

Catch you soon.



The Old Tea chest in the attic

For many years mum kept the Christmas decorations or the bulk of the breakable ones in a large old wooden tea chest that for the best part of the year was kept in the attic.  A nondescript box that belied its contents.  That box was treated with great reverence and respect as it held Mum's German glass ornaments and other little bits and pieces of Christmas ephemera like the paper garlands and little plastic angels that her mum had given her for the tree when she first got married.  Of particular pride of place were two bells one pink and one blue with dots on them.  They were unusual in that they were proper bell ringing bells when you moved them they used to ding the ringer being buried inside the bauble.  The pink one got broken when we moved to Deeping but the blue one prevailed until the tree collapsed a year before mum passed and then it and many of the other special baubles got broken.  We have a few of the remnants each but the really special ones got broken and mum was really upset about that as she had looked after and treasured them for years.

We always knew when Dad got that tea chest out of the attic that it would not be long before the tree went up and the magic would begin.  When tiny we were never allowed to hold the ornaments or to put them on their hooks but as we became gentler and older mum used to let us hook the baubles and then pass them to her one by one to decorate the tree.  We used to take it in turns year by year passing the crowning glory for the tree the ballerina fairy with the golden crown to mum, so one year it would be me who handed it to her and the opposite year my brother.

When I went to school the routine  changed in that when we get home from school the tree would be up and then we would spend a couple of hours helping decorate the tree and just spending time with each other.  The baubles from the chest were always handled reverently like treasure.  We would sing carols, the fire would crackle  and in that dim winter light suddenly the lights would go on the tree and suddenly magically it was Christmas and it was special. 

We would be given the first of the mini tangerines each then; it was always part of the tree decorating ceremony and then the peel would be thrown on the fire to release the scent from the skin and permeating the air with orange.

The baubles were treasured because they were colour and brightness at a special time and people did not have much then.  But they were treasured for memories too and I think that is why to this day both my brother and I treat our Christmas decorations as special, something to pass on to the next generation.  But most of all memories of happy times with loved ones no longer with us, a different way of life, different standards and full of love.  Always full of love.  That is something we were given spadefuls of and it brought us all close together. 

Both mum and dad always involved us and Dad too used to take any opportunity to make Christmas magical for us.  Like the time he took us up into his darkroom in the attic and then threw his voice and made out that it was Father Christmas and having a full scale conversation with the two of us as to whether we had been naughty or good and some things he wanted us to do.  Or when there was a thunder storm to keep us calm it was always its only Father Christmas turning over his sack of toys.  Nothing to be bothered about.  There were always stories and stories from the relatives about family members which have been passed on to the younger generation as well.

There was always laughter and love and a lot of fun and we were encouraged to use our imaginations.  We were walked for ever even in the snow (we used to live in Uppingham which was on top of a hill and we used to get a lot of snow).  There would be sledging as well in the deep deep snow and when out in the snow wrapped up to the nines we would be given nature lessons especially if there were rabbit prints or bird prints.  A good way of getting us out into the fresh air and out of mum's way for a little while.

And then on twelfth night the decorations would come down and the decorations returned to the tea chest and then the tea chest returned to the attic for another year.  When Christmas would dance for us again.


Ice Cubes and Ice Bowls - things to do for Christmas

Most of us like long cold drinks at Christmas especially when things start to get hot.  So now is the time to get the ice cubes sorted out.  One of the things that I do is to cut a lemon into wedges or a lime and then add the wedge to an individual ice cube tray and then poor on water and freeze.  All you have to do then is when you want an ice cube is just pop them straight in the freezer.

If you only have the one ice cube tray once they are frozen decant into polythene bags and then you can reuse your tray.  Keep doing this until you have enough.  Don't want anything in them just leave them plain or fill the ice cube trays up with diluted lemon barley water and freeze.  These are lovely in a long cold glass of Coca Cola or Pepsi.

You can also add fresh cranberries and mint leaves and just suit the ice cube to the drink.

In the same way you can also create festive ice bowls to serve home made ice cream out of - something simple can be made absolutely stunning by making its own customised dish.  I have a proper freezable bowl kit that I use but you can also use a couple of different sized bowls and some sellotape and build you ice bowl up in this way.  

You can also make a wine bottle cooler in a similar way.

Here is an excellent easy link on how to make a balloon ice bowl or a bowl for showing off fruit or ice cream.

Just make sure you have a decent container underneath to collect any melting water.

It is often the simplest things that create the most effect.  I am going to pop some holly and fir in mine together with some cranberries and maybe a few rosehips and holly berries.  The contents will not be edible but they will look effective.  Just make sure you leave room in the freezer.

Have fun playing. 



Sunday, 13 November 2016

A little jaunt and a few ideas

We went to the Van Hage Garden Centre ostensibly to have a look around.  I saw far too many lovely things as usual. 

They also have a food department (what a shock) and as I am concentrating on the food side at the moment  that was where my primary focus was today.  I am nearly there when it comes to the food apart from the fresh stuff and the meat. We enquired whether they still did Stinking Bishop cheese (we both like this) and they do so hopefully will be able to order some.  They do but did not have any in today. I did come away with some different jams  - ones that I have not tried before and so if I like them I will be looking for a recipe/recipes and also different flavoured ciders, some different bread flours, including a French Bread mix that can be used in the breadmaker and also and apple and cinnamon bread mix and a seed mix and the Easiyo yogurt mixes.

So when I go back to have another look I will primarily focus on some lovely decorations that I saw there.  They really had some beautiful displays. Proper traditional displays.  There were one or two things I would quite like but will have to see.  They will blend in very well with items I already have.

They had a lot of Cottage Delight preserves and goodies as well as a large meat selection, deli counter, cheese counter. Wine and mead, lots of Easiyo yogurt mixes, with different flavours to what I have seen before. Tiptree preserves lots of interesting mixes.  They have also stepped out into flavoured gin production as well.  Raspberry, Damson and Little Scarlet are the flavours that I saw today and they are about £19 a bottle.  The bottle is about the same size as M and S Liqueurs. 

One of the things that does get my goat is that you pay through the nose for things at Christmas on the packaging. So tight wad as I am I tend to save pretty tins or if I locate them new and I like them. I buy a few and add to the collection and then you can add your own stuff to them and you only pay half the price.  I do this throughout the year.  Comes in very useful.

One thing I forgot to mention is that yesterday I picked up two hamper baskets from Waitrose made of wood in which to package Christmas produce.  They were £5 each which when I have seen other packaging for far more is very reasonable for the price.

The other thing I tend to do is look what producers are doing and providing for the customers and then I go looking for recipes and pop them up  and then when it comes to next year I have a ready made list of things to make and add to the pantry.  However yet again I do not pay through the nose for it.

I also sent for my meat curing bits and bobs last night.  Thank you Dawn you helped a lot. So hopefully should be able to get some meat curing in before Christmas as well.

I also need to look at the sausage and salami side as well as the biltong and jerky.

I also bought a couple of little nets of chestnuts yesterday as well.  I love these roasted but these are designated to be turned into Marrons Glace.  I just need to source some glucose syrup.

Catch you all later.



Recent Purchases and Recent Finds

I have been buying the odd thing here and there just recently over the past couple of months or so  and they consist of:

From the Charity Shop

A vintage toast rack and jam dish with both dishes intact.

Some egg coddlers

Another Punch bowl

An embroidered tea tray

A green glass jug which will go with one I already have  - need to source some more tumblers for this though.

A beehive Cheese dome and platter in the shape of a bee skep.

Bought items

Two silver and two red star tealight holders which I obtained from Wilkinsons.

A cake tray from Lakeland to create an individual Christmas tree cake.

Pans for pies, a bacon and egg pie mould, a large oval pie mould and I also have the individual pie mould tin as well.  After the Pork Pie making class I invested in the shaped pans as this is something I am going to continue with.

A fancy cake pan from TK Maxx.  Normally these pans cost upwards of £15 however this one I nabbed as it cost only £4.99

Years ago Lakeland used to sell and Orange and a Lemon spray for cleaning and polishing the furniture.  They also did an almond one which was lovely.  Then stopped doing this.  As a lot of my furniture is solid pine when they stopped doing it I ended up using a spray one from Wilkinsons which has proper beeswax in it and which is excellent.  But every so often the furniture really needs a good going over and I have this lemon one and also an orange one.  Both bottles I have found at TK Maxx and so it is a case of nabbing theme whilst you can when you see them.

These are the Quattro Stagionni jars that I get from TK Maxx.  They have a solid lid.  However you can use the Kilner replacement seals and lids on these jars.  I have done so successfully for the past few years.  However these jars in this packaging are a good way of buying preserving/bottling jars.  Works out cheaper here for me.  (sorry just realised the photo is upside down).  I bought two boxes of these for under £10 so I have eight of these jars.

My Rudolph Nutcracker.

My New Tablecloth for the Christmas table.

A Heart shaped twig and silver birch decorated wreath from TK Maxx £7.99.

A natural wreath which I can add bits of greenery to or use as a centrepiece. Yet again £7.99 TK Maxx

The little tiny log tealight candle holders in three graduated sizes that I got new off Ebay.  They were smaller than I anticipated but I am pleased with them.  They should look lovely and Christmassy with some tea lights in them.

Some Angel Cookie Cutters  - again from TK Maxx.

The top picture below shows a pan which I purchased from Lakeland for cooking pies in and making sure you get a crisp bottom.  It was the first one I came across and so I purchased it. It cost me over £10.  The second picture shows the one I bought from Wilkinsons a good couple of pounds cheaper.  However to all intents and purposes they would appear to be the same pan.  Although I will test them one against the other and see if there is any difference.

Some yellow plastic cookie cutters.

A bunch of cookie cutters, including stars, Christmas tree, Santa's head and Reindeer head which I got from the Farm.

For use with the pie tins a pie funnel

Spiral and Star dough cutters to give a different look to Christmas buns and breads.  Sticky buns.

My Pie Dolly for making the pork pies.

Some fondant icing rolling pins in different patterns. These came from Tiger.

The Cake Pan that I bought from Aldi last weekend.

So I am lucky to have a few more things to help with the presentation and decoration of food items and things for decorating the house.  Its all in the fine detail.

Catch you 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)