Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Additions to the Growing Garden

I went to B & Q on Sunday morning to get a couple of bales of compost as I have a lot of potting up to do and whilst there succumbed to some pre grown plants.

I have added a four cherry tomatoes
3 sungold tomatoes
2 beefsteak tomatoes
4 Plum Tomatoes Roma
2 cucumbers
12 Globe Artichoke plants ( I thought I had bought 6)
3 sweet pepper plants
12 main Strawberries
12 other strawberries
1 lemon balm
1 Garden mint
2 sage

I tried desperately at the weekend to get things potted up even going out and buying extra pots however I got rained off.  This evening I  have been out in the garden till past dusk doing  a little bit of torchlight gardening.  Do you think it will catch on.   I have used all the pots and I still have loads of fruit plants to get potted up and lots of flowers and strawberries.  I have also used nearly all the compost.  It looks as though am going to have to go and get another two bags of compost to get the rest of the stuff potted up and then am going to have to get some more.

The same with pots I need a whole load more. 

The reason I am using pots is that the garden is still way off ready.  I am doing it a bit at a time but equally I still want stuff growing.  A lot of the fruit bushes and things like that I have started off from bare stems and they are really turning into nice little solid bushes which will be ready for transplanting on come September.  I will not get fruit from them this year but next year will be a different kettle of fish and if the plants are allowed to become sturdy and develop naturally it will do them good in the longer term.

I have also been sorting through my seed.  This week I will start sowing the following:

Yellow courgettes.  If you have never had these they are well worth growing.  They are sweeter than the green ones and I can quite happily eat these raw.  I like green courgette as well.  I normally roast this with pork around the joint so that you get all the flavour of the pork in the courgette.  I also like Ratatouille.

Green Courgettes.  As per the yellow courgettes. They can also be used in soups and summer vegetable mixes for the freezer.

Marrows.  We like stuffed marrow and the recipe I have is spicy like a curry.  My Nan always used to use sausagemeat.

Pumpkins. I always roast pumpkin and we have it with the Sunday lunch.  I also make pumpkin marmalade which is a favourite of mine.

Squash  Can be used the same way as pumpkin.

Dwarf French beans. Always a favourite I do freezes these and they are good in salads.

Runner Beans I have an old variety called Scarlet Emperor.  They are a favourite veg of mine.

Purple Runner beans.  The colour is stunning but once cooked they go green

Pattypan squash Always useful OH likes these.

The Scarlet Emperor have been soaked and drained and I will pot these on tomorrow evening when I get in which will probably involve a little more torchlight gardening.

Right had better get ready for work tomorrow.

Catch you soon



Happy Birthday Dad

Miss you



Monday, 29 May 2017

A quick catch up

It has been a busy weekend and it started with the delivery of my new washing machine on Friday.

Saturday was a housework day.

Sunday started with a trip to B & Q for more compost and I ended up buying a load more plants including, beefsteak tomatoes, sungold tomatoes, cherry tomatoes and plum tomatoes on top of the nine plants I already have. of Moneymaker. Also  more strawberries and also some Globe Artichokes, more herbs etc.  Still more to do. 

Next year I hope to get myself sorted and my greenhouse back up and running (which it is not at present) so that I can set my own seeds.  That is my greatest pleasure sowing seeds and nurturing them from scratch.  However Rome was not built in a day.  I am determined to get as many tomatoes as I can for preserving and eating and I am also hoping for some green tomatoes so that I can make green tomato chutney come back end.  Home Grown tomatoes have much more flavour.   

The Globe Artichokes I have never tried although If I do not like them I am sure that one of my friends would like them.  I also have two cucumber plants - might get some more yet as I make

I had no intention of getting more plants yesterday but I succumbed and I think I will be going back for a few more plants yet.  Having bought more plants I now need more plant pots.

In the afternoon  I went to Orton Hall Hotel at Orton in Peterborough and met with friends to celebrate another friends birthday.  There were 10 of us in total and we met at 2:00pm and did not leave until 6:00pm.  A good time was had by all it was really good company and the tea was lovely.  I really enjoyed myself.

And the food was absolutely delicious.

Today Bank Holiday Monday I went in search of plant pots.  In Peterborough we have two B & M Stores, one in the high street and the other over on a retail park.  I had not been to the retail park one in sometime so I asked to go there.  OH was not harry chuffed.  In the event though we did not get into the B & M Store.  There was no parking and OH decided due to the amount of traffic lack of car parking spaces and ignorant so and sos just parking up where they thought fit and not being checked by the car parking attendances it was an absolute cock up from start to finish.  From going in and not being able to park and get in the shop we then spent 45 minutes trying to get out.  OH was going ballistic by this time especially with the dangerous driving of some inconsiderate queue jumpers.

When we did get out OH took me to the one in town and I ended up being able to get the pots I was after - I still need more but what I have will stand me in good stead to get quite a bit of what plants I do have.  I am popping everything into pots to bring it on and keep them alive as the garden is still a work in progress.  I have lots of fruit plants but they will go down into the bottom of the garden which was my fruit garden and which will be reclaimed come September in readiness for next year.  At least this way the plants are being able to settle and develop.  The blackcurrant bushes I bought earlier on have really sprouted as have the Loganberries.

When we got back we had brunch bacon, eggs and sausage as both OH and I had not had anything before going out and with him being diabetic he needs to have regular meals to keep his blood sugar level even.  However it went down very well.

I had anticipated doing a load of potting up when we came back but the rain which has been on and off most of the afternoon stopped play but at least the plants have got a good watering naturally rather than me armed with my watering can.

I wasn't particularly hungry after brunch but come tea time OH was starving.  So I set too and made home made kebabs.  Ideally you should soak the bamboo sticks before making the kebabs but as it was a spur of the moment decision I skipped this part. I then threaded on cherry tomatoes whole, sliced courgette, garlic cloves, onion wedges, red pepper pieces, chicken pieces.  I then dribbled a little oil over all of the threaded sticks and a little butter with a dash of sweet chilli sauce and then popped under the grill until cooked making sure to turn the tray so that the kebabs get evenly cooked and that the sticks get turned so that both sides get cooked.  It makes an economical meal and is very filling.  I only used three small checken breasts.  A good way of making a little go along way; but a very healthy meal in any event and very tasty.

Below threaded ready to go.

Cooked to perfection

Served and ready to eat.

These went down very nicely.

You can serve these with pitta breads and coleslaw or salad or with a plate of rice.  OH is trying to keep away from bread and from rice but we found these were very tasty and filling on their own.

Right am back to work tomorrow so must go and get ready.

Hope you have all had a lovely good bank holiday despite the rain; but we really need that in any event.

Catch you soon.



Saturday, 27 May 2017

Another busy day

My new washer arrived and I have had to wait until today to get it into the kitchen.  We have had operation chess to try and get it in position.  We had two washers to be rid of, the first had been residing in the bathroom and now latterly my most recent one.  We could not get it out of the kitchen until the cooker was taken out.  That went into the dining room and then we could take the one out of the kitchen.  Then when that one was done the one out of the bathroom could be taken out.  So as I say like a game of chess.  Needless to say putting everything back was a lot easier.  The washer is fantastic and I am really pleased with it; it looks really smart and is ever so quiet you hardly know its working.

It started off really hot here this morning at 6:00am it was quite hot and it got hotter and hotter.  We then had a short shower which cooled things down a bit. There was a warning for storms in this area but fingers crossed we have not had one yet.

Whilst in the process of sorting the kitchen out ready to put everything back in I broke a glass which shattered everywhere.  I then had the misfortune to end up with a piece of glass in my crocs which went straight into my foot.  There was blood everywhere.  Fortunately I managed to get it cleaned up with some Dettol but it extremely sore.  Wont be long before I go to bed so should be able to rest it.  Its my operation foot.

I have been to the shops and managed to get a lot of Apricots reduced ready to turn into Apricot Jam for the pantry shelf.

I also have some pears to bottle. There are also some more Raspberries, peaches, grapes, bananas so may have a fruit salad for pudding tomorrow which will make a nice change.  I will make some fruit coulis for the pantry shelf with the Raspberries as well and process the bottles in my baby steriliser.  No Strawberries today mores the pity.

I also bought courgettes, aubergines, red peppers spring onions, jersey royal potatoes some lemons as I want to have a go at preserved lemons.

I have also sorted out the fridges and got all the new stuff in.

I was going to do the Lemoncello tonight but that will have to wait until tomorrow now I am a little weary - the heat gets you more than anything.

I still have to get more compost tomorrow to pot up all the plants I do have and to get some veggies and salads underway.  The Tomato plants I potted up are doing really well.

Tomorrow afternoon I am going out for proper tea at a local hotel. One of my friends it was her birthday during the week and she fancied doing something different so I am looking forward to it. 

Right catch you later.



Now what is she up to Preserving Part 1 2017

Well preserving of course.  I love seasonal cooking but I am also realistic enough to make the most of what actually comes my way whether I grow it, get it from a supermarket or go to a Farm Shop or grow your own farm.  Some of us don't have access to say grow your own farms and only have access to the supermarket so you have to make the most of what you have access to and the opportunities that come your way.

If you look at the top of my blog there are some pages I have added one for my preserving i.e. the Put Down 2017 where I add in what I have actually made and managed to squirrel away during the course of the year.

Anyway, I have made a very small start on the alcoholic front after weeks and weeks of not having the time to actually set too and do something.  What started it.  I bought some lovely raspberries from the Coop in fact I like them that much that I have been taking a punnet into work with me to nibble on during the day as well as having them for breakfast with croissants and soft cheese (philly). Delish (also lovely with fresh apricots).  The flavour has been that good with them that I determined that I wanted that full flavour to perk me up in the middle of winter. 

So I have started off with 2 litres of Raspberry Vodka.  I use a very simple method of macerating (soaking) the raspberries in a large Kilner jar in a litre of vodka and a little sugar shaking the jar daily until it has dissolved (or you can use a sugar syrup).  I don't want it over sweet so I start of with only a little bit of sugar and if it is too tart I add a little more.   The liqueur is a lovely stunning vibrant pink. My preserving tends to be pretty organic with the alcoholic side of things adding a little of this and a little of that as my taste-buds and my instincts dictate.  This is the method I tend to use for most of my alcoholic beverages often going for flavour rather than quantity.

So that's the Raspberry vodka on the go.  Happy days ahead.  Hic - only jossing. 

I also have 2 litres of Passion fruit Vodka on the go as well.  I bought about 20 Passion fruit a couple of weeks ago and they were nicely ripe all wrinkled and prune looking and so they have had their flesh scooped out into a bowl including the seeds and they are also macerating in the vodka.   This has gone a lovely vibrant sunshine yellow in its soaking jar. I love Passion fruit but they are expensive so I always make the most of any bargains I find.  I even freeze the pulp down into ice cube portions and use in puddings as well.  It is particularly useful in this way and it is lovely in home made ice lollies.

Later on today I intend to start the  two litres of Lemoncello as well.  This will probably happen this evening when it is a little cooler.   I also have plans for a rhubarb, mixed berry, orange and strawberry versions as well.  I have chosen to use vodka but you can use gin or eau de vie if you have access to it.  I have also bought some peaches and once they are ripe I intend to turn them into a peach wine (yet again macerating the fruit in wine).

So on the alcoholic front at least there are plans afoot.

But that is not all folks - never is with me.

I have also raspberry vinegar and Passion fruit vinegar on the go as well.  Do not think that fruit vinegars are just that.  The original purpose was to use as a drink and I remember when I first started preserving not experimenting with some cordials and drinks simply because they had the vinegar in them.  You can also use the vinegar with some spring water to make a refreshing drink.  The vinegar as is the sugar are the preservatives.

Here is a link to a previous post I did on this sometime ago.

I am a little pushed for time at the moment but I will add the rough quantities for the above later on today so that if you want to experiment and play a bit you will have the basic ingredients list to hand.

I must get a wriggle on.

Catch you later.



Friday, 26 May 2017

Ice Ice Baby and Ice Lollies

Don't know about you but in this weather I tend to have a stock of ice lollies to hand.  I have over the years accumulated quite a few moulds and lolly sticks I have some expensive sets but I have also picked up a few different ones from the pound shop.  I am easily pleased but I am always looking for different ways in which to present something.  My most recent find was a reduction in Lakeland and these are proper sky rocket moulds.  But in reality you don't need to use bought moulds you can make use of small pots into which to freeze your mixture and once part frozen stick in your handle

We were lucky as children as mum always used to make homemade ice lollies for us.  One of the first Tupperware parties she went to she came back with a set of lolly moulds and they were used religiously all through our childhood.  Don't know what happened to them but when we came to sort mums stuff they were not there.

I also have a stock of ice cubes and put them in the dogs water and the cats to help keep the fur babies temperature down in this really too hot weather.

Never made them before then perhaps you might like to look over these two links from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall; especially if you have never made them before.

and Jamie Oliver

and from Tesco

On another tack can anyone remember the cider style lollies that were all the rage at one time.   I cannot remember the name of them I don't know if they were apple juice or proper cider but they were jolly nice.  Have you seen the Gin and Tonic lollies as well.  Have not tried them but might be worth a shot.  Excuse the pun.   I have been and bought a couple of bottles of lager which are cooling in the fridge as we speak.  Thought a nice lager and lime might go down very nicely later on and might cool us down a little bit.

Catch you later.

Busy Days

Its been a busy day as usual message received at 7:00am to say they were on the way.  By 9:30am  the washer had been delivered.  It is still in its packaging and OH is going to plumb it in this evening.

The hospital went well  this was for the Rheumatology clinic I do not have to see them for another year.  I am gradually getting stiffer but am trying to look after myself the best that I can.  When I am having bad sessions (usually when it is extremely wet I get like the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz but equally days like today hot and humid all my joints are sore and it is painful walking.    When things get really bad and I have a flare up I down tools rest up and go to bed early although laying down presents its own problems.  Its the only way I can manage being able to carry on my life as normally as possible.  I am normal whatever normal is I just have these issues and things that get in the way!  When we arrive in this mortal coil we are not provided with an instruction book  and have to find our own way round things.  Life is for living.

Although I have always been the proverbial bull in the china shop (well I am a Taurus!) and always on the go  I am having to learn new techniques.  I do in any event have a very high pain threshold so if I say something it is usually pretty dire.  But overall they are pleased with me blood pressure and everything very good.  After all the messing around late last year and in the past few months I am pleased that something is going in the right direction. They sent me to see the vampires and the Nurse who looked after me today managed to get the vein first time without any messing around.  The more senior nurses are best at this from personal experience the younger ones tend to mess around too much.

There is a clothes shop in the hospital complex and every so often when I see something I like I treat myself to a couple of tops.  I bought a lime green tee shirt, a floral teashirt and a long sleeved teeshirt style top today which I am well pleased with.  These fit me nicely rather than some of the baggier tops that I have so am well chuffed with these.

Before going to the hospital I had a bit of an accident and dropped my phone in a full sink.  It then stopped working. OH managed to get it working again by the time that I got home  phew!  I walked home as did not have phone and could not find the taxi number at the hospital.  I took my time but it was not too bad.  My foot is now giving me a little bit of jip.

I have had a couple of hours where I have not done very much as it is far too hot.  I have to continue with the kitchen and then OH can get the washing machine in situ we then have to get the old machines x 2 into the front garden ready for collection.  However because space is tight where the said machines are we are going to have to get the cooker taken out to get the washer out and the new one in.  I have a very tiny galley kitchen  There is also an old freezer  as well to go.

Right had better get back to the kitchen no doubt OH will want something to eat soon as well as wanting me to get on with the kitchen.

Catch you later.



Now whats she up to

There are now four bottles of Vodka, two of Rum and two of Brandy.

Now what is she up to..........

Sorry but you will have to wait until later.



Thursday, 25 May 2017

Adding to my Dinner Service

I have an old discontinued dinner service which in effect is my best dinner service that comes out at Christmas and special occasions.  It is the BHS Country Vine Collection.  i.e white plates with garlands of Ivy woven all over the plate. When BHS were around and quite a few years ago I invested in a 12 place setting but with the assistance of my cats and a Jack Russell some of the pieces have got broken and perhaps the odd session of butterfingers from yours truly the set was starting to diminish.  At the time I bought the service we were both in work and I had intended to add other items to the set.  However OH was then out of work for about 4 1/2 years all told and money became very tight and I was not in a position to add to and then they discontinued the set.  However I am very patient and very good at waiting.  I work on the basis that if I have the money then every so often I have a few nice things and then when things are tough then nothing I kinda stockpile all the way round.  The bonus on this is that I have plenty in store to keep me occupied even when times are tough.

I have therefore been surfing ebay to see what I can locate and  replace the broken pieces and other bits to what I already have and I am slowly amassing the extra pieces I need.

Why go to all the bother.  I am a big believer in family and being together where possible for Christmas and other occasions through the year.  This is what I have been brought up to and the family have always worked on the basis of the more the merrier.  I remember Christmas at my Nans where family came for dinner others came for high tea and there was always a place for anyone who was going to be on their own.  It just was not allowed.  My Nan had a very generous soul.  I would like to repeat that with what is left of my birth family and also my blended family so that is why I am amassing the extra items whilst I can.  My home has always meant a lot to me.  I don't really drink I do not smoke but my real weakness is that I do love good quality things and whatever little bit of cash I have had spare has always gone into making a nice home.

My step son is getting married later in the year.  It has been a big year for him turning 40 and then taking a wife which is all set to happen in September.  He was only 10 1/2 when he moved in.  We love his partner she is a lovely young lady and at some point it would be nice to have a big proper family Christmas again although this house does not really lend itself for entertaining but we do what we can.

I bought proper soup bowls to go with the set as extras and some of these have been broken as well.  I had thought I had done well when I found some on Ebay six of them and was very excited when they were delivered.  However they are bigger and not as pronounced as the ones I already have still a proper rimmed soup bowl so I will have to keep my eyes peeled to see if I can get some more of both.

I also have quite a few pieces of the Johnsons Beryl ware and it goes particularly well with this dinner service and complements it quite well.  Needless to say I started collecting that years ago too and most of it came from car boots at very cheap prices.

One thing I did not buy when buying the 12 piece service was the extras like the tureens and gravy boat fruit dishes etc. So I am also trying to add these as well.  I managed to win two tureens during the week which I am well chuffed about.

I like collecting things and bringing things together.  There is always something going on behind the scenes and each little bit or acquisition adds to what I already have.  I am indeed blessed that I can do this but then these lovely things in turn also give me a lot of pleasure.  Hopefully they will stand the test of time and I won't have any more accidents.

I inherited a lovely unusual set from my Grandmother.  I think I have told this story before but I inherited smaller meat platters and a very large Turkey sized one plus tureens with lids and soup ladles that were also highly decorated.  They are a green colour also.  My Grandfather saved his paper round money and bought his mum a complete dinner service and I mean absolutely everything in 12 of everything. When my Great Grandmother died it came back to Pop and my Nan then used it nearly every day of their 60 year marriage.  One day I hope I will be able to blend it all together.  Then of course their is also my collection of Green Glass which will go very well with everything.

Catch you soon.



I do get myself in a pickle

We ran out on the Internet again last night just decided not to work.  This evening thus far everything seems to be okey cokey.

I ran out of plant pots the other evening and so after work this evening I nipped into B & M which is always dangerous.  I did not have the shopping trolley so I improvised and bought some large sturdy bin liners and turned them into carriers for bringing stuff home.    Not a pretty picture staggering up the high street.  Its my handbag that causes most of the trouble.  I have 10 plant pots I still need more they were 99p in B & M.  I also bought some more plants, another couple of clematis, two hydrangeas pink ones and two camellias. 
each at £1.99 each.  They had some fuschias different ones that I just had to leave behind but I may go back for them later.    Shush don't tell any
one but I need some lighting in the garden and I have seen some little lantern solar lights that might just fit the bill. I have to go back at the weekend for some other bits and bobs.  Just need to get the compost but I will get OH on that tomorrow certainly before he disappears fishing.

Its been a scorcher here today and is still too hot although its lovely to see the sun.  I have to scrub the kitchen out tonight have a rest from the gardening apart from some watering up but as the new washer is due to be delivered tomorrow I really do have my work cut out think its going to be a late one.  At least I am not working tomorrow.

It very much is barbecue weather - we don't have one at the moment but if it carries on like this I may well be looking into one as when its scorching you certainly do not want to be cooking inside.

Right had better tootle off I have a hot date with a kitchen.

Catch you later.



Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Peace and quiet

I am sat in the garden it is pitch black but I am enjoying the peace and solitude.

I haven't stopped since I got in.  I have potted up 9 tomato plants two black mulberries and I have sorted out some new compost for my fig trees.  I have also given my other olants and hanging baskets a good drenching.  I still have loads more to go but have run out of comoost again.  I finished up about 10.30pm and am now sat enjoying a bottle of cider in the cool of the evening.  I have company Demetri is with me making tbe most of the one to one attention.  It has been lovely being outside in the fresh air after beung cooped up in an office all day.  The feel of the soil and the nurturing of the plants is very cathartic and balm to the soul after a busy day.  I wont be long before I go in but I do enjoy star gazing and just enjoying thr stillness of the night. I love to see the stars.  I love the lighter nights at this time of the year.  Ideally I would be down in Cornwall for the light there is phenomenal both of an early morning and at dusk.  Tonight I have been serenaded by the local blackbirds who were in full throttle which is a privilege.  Sometimes you have to stop and listen to natures own song and simply breathe.

I am just going to finish my cider spend a few more minutes just chilling although I will not be long before I go in.  Cheers everyone will catch you later.

Pattypan xx

Pantry Ramblings

A Pantry  traditionally a space or a cupboard that serves as a pantry storage is a very useful thing to have. Mine is stocked to the gunnels but then that has been my way for many years. Probably as a result of my grandmother who did keep a well stocked pantry.  However my pantry although being stocked to the gunnels
is still not big enough but then at least I have a pantry.  I have enough in there to keep me in food together with the freezers for a year.  We are constantly using and I am also restocking as we go along.  I prefer fresh stuff where I can which is why I am aiming at some point to have a veg patch in the garden again no matter how small as anything you can do to help yourselves will pay dividends in the long run especially when it comes to salads and the like.  I have tomato plants and herbs and hopefully after this weekend I will be able to get stuck in with a few more. seeds being sown.  So the fresh veg garden is also a different kind of pantry

I have been at the brunt end of only having my wage come into the house.  for about 4 years all told in one stretch but in the 29 years we have been together he has been out of work for 8 1/2 years all told.  The last time which was the worst  OH did not get any help with the rent even though it was in his sole name.  I ended up having to pay it so we became pretty self sufficient and managed on my meagre wage at the time.  Because of the way I stock the pantry we were not without food.  It was just maybe that what we were having was not always what we fancied but it was a meal all told and I think that is the important bit.  We have become used to fancy things on our menus and when they are not available we become a bit bored not really knowing what to do.  However for me that was a very experimental time and some of it worked and occasionally some of it did not but that's a good thing as you are working out your parameters.  We go more for flavourful simple food rather than it being exotically presented.

Because of my medical conditions and now OHs most of what I cook is cooked from scratch - not all but the majority is as it is easier for our bodies to process good food without our systems being slowed up by things that are added to a lot of bought food in the way of additives which in the greater scheme of things are really unnecessary.  Yes it is a bit time consuming especially when you are tired but it is better for you in the longer run

Yesterday evening I cooked chicken kievs for tea but I also roasted a chicken as well.  I made use of the oven.  Sometimes it is cheaper to make your own pack ups for the week and a chicken is excuse the pun a "cheaper option" costing far less in the long run for pack ups during the week.  OH as a result has quite happily gone to work armed  with a chicken salad and there is still plenty left for later on whether that be used in wraps and taken to work for pack ups, the remnants of the chicken used up by way of Coronation chicken  or chicken satay for a spread for sarnies or frozen and popped into the freezer to use up in a chicken curry or as an addition to soup.  You can pot it also for a sarnie spread and the carcass can be used for making home made stock.  Don't have the time to make the stock now freeze the carcass until you have a couple or so and then have a mammoth stock making exercise.  I don't just use the stock in soup I freeze in ice cube trays and then add a cube or two to gravy as well. Home made stock gives so much more flavour. My mum always said that food on its own was always tasty and good but that the best bit of any meal was always the gravy.

Don't ever waste chicken or the carcass there is so much you can do with it.  We always get at least two to three meals out of a chicken and then the cats and Missy also get some as well.  So a chicken really can go a long way and save your purse some money.

 If you grow your own as well don't waste the outer wrappings of your veggies and salad turn them into veggie stock.  Home made stock of any description always has so much more flavour but in reality people will go and buy veggie stock off the shelf which is probably not as good for you as it should be and yet are wasting a valuable resource by disposing of veggie leaves and peels instead of turning them into home made veggie stock.  Years ago the thrifty housewife always had a stock pot on the go whether that be for meat or veggies stock.  Nothing was wasted.

Food is going up and we have a responsibility to feed our familes as best we can.

Bread is a prime example of waste.  I dry mine in the residual heat of the oven but I also make bread pudding in slices which is spiced and makes a good addition to the tea table and the pack up box.  I also make bread and butter pudding with marmalade and some Cointreau to jazz it up sometimes with mandarin oranges.  A chocolate version is lovely too.  You can make your own breadcrumbs, brown bread ice cream.   I also make my own stuffings from scratch and dry my own herbage to use in stuffings.  Stuffings are a good filler upper as are Yorkshire puddings.  When you have children in the house you have to keep the bottomless pit of their stomachs fed but within your budget.  However it is not only that you are paying out good money for these things so why waste them when there is a meal or an addition to a meal to be had out of them a freebie if you like.

Tarte Tatin in its  various forms is also another good one to have on the pudding list.  Fluffy pancakes with ice cream or cream and stewed fruit or a can of fruit also make a quick slightly indulgent filling pudding.  There is always something that can be done and finding recipes that work for you and your family is all part of the journey as each household has very different tastes to the other and the trick is finding out what works for you even if it means reincorporating traditional kitchen skills back into a modern kitchen.  Sometimes the old ways are the best.

Catch you soon.


Bits n bobs to play with Part 1

As I have mentioned before I have been gathering together kits, finished needlework panels, needlepoint, fabric embroidered pieces whatever I think will work, in a particular piece.  I have a lot of fabrics of different kinds in any event and it will be good to use up some of the same and create an individual look at the same time for things for my home.  This post is quite photo heavy but shows some of the things I have been drawing together.  Now what I have to do is work some of the kits and then incorporate them into what I have planned for them.

To start with the kits.

Rowandean kits.  I first came across these many moons ago with my friend Margaret who is the lady responsible for getting me doing needlework again.  At the time they were beautiful and she slowly worked up a whole group of them.  I never envisaged being able to have a go at something like this as her needlework was and is very beautiful.  Rowandean have their own site and I have purchased a few kits from them (some still to arrive).

Here is the link to their site.  I had managed to pick up one or two on ebay but I am always cautious about paying over the odds so if I am going to pay full whack then I might as well order it direct from Rowandean themselves.

The above kit is a new kit available on Etsy and Ebay and is designed by Maggie Gee of the Maggie Gee Needlework Studio.  She does a whole range of lovely kits  based on the traditional embroidery via transfer method and the quality of the kits is excellent.  She also does pillow slips sold with the transfer already on them. This is one of the kits I have bought as a beginner kit for me to get my embroidery skills up to snuff.  Its many moons since I seriously embroidered although I have done a lot of cross stitch.  Embroidery was one of my first true loves when it comes to craftwork.  I was fascinated by the stitches.  Anyway I am rambling as usual and going off point which is also not unusual.

Maggie also has a blog which also looks pretty interesting.

This is the kit I mentioned before that was a twin for a panel that I had already bought worked Please see post under Vintage Embroidery there is a photo there; yet again it is going to be one that I work once my embroidery skills are up to snuff which hopefully will not be too long.

The kit below is a candlewick kit.  I also have a couple of others in the stash bought to make bed cushions for my bed.  I think this violet one is delightful.  A find from Ebay which I am very chuffed with  and which I did not pay over the odds for.  It would have cost far more in the shop.

Now for some of the worked pieces:

A small butterfly panel which I intend to form the centrepiece of a cushion front using strip patchwork to frame.  I think it will go well with my blue butterfly cross stitch cushion panel which is still a work in progress.

I love the pieces below Roses and honeysuckle;

Pansies, I love pansies.

Roses, I love Roses. I have another one of these (below which is partially completed) as is the way with me I have the bag with the wool and the instructions in but cannot find the part worked canvas already on the go.  It will be put up somewhere safely the predicament is just in locating it.

Below a new to me trammed needlepoint panel to be worked into a cushion.  I have already a couple of similar ones to this one with Roses or flowers in the middle and then backed up in cream.

This is my dearest kit to date.  It is worked in crewelwork and the flowers stand slightly proud of the base.  It cost me £40.  I think this is spectacular and also by a new to me supplier who I think is extremely talented. The kits are very detailed and very high quality materials so you are really getting your monies worth.

Another pre-worked embroidery panel which I think is charming.  It was sold on the premise that it was from the 1930s off of Ebay.  Whoever worked this was extremely talented.

I intend to use the Rose and Peony fabric from Sanderson to back the pieces designated for cushions.  I am also going to use some of the vintage tablecloths and tray cloths and chair backs to make some cushions with.  I already have the curtains in the stash.  I just love this fabric though.  It is very me.

I just love the colours.

This is one of the first vintage tablecloths I purchased.  The design is very art nouveau but I just love it.  I am going to work this yet again when a little more accomplished.

This is a crewel work picture I picked up sometime ago from my local charity shop.  This piece does need to be reframed but that is no great shakes.  it does need a little bit of a clean but yet again I think the steam cleaner will help greatly here.

I also have several detailed cross stitch pictures.  Yet again someone has spent hours and hours working these pieces.  I am pleased from  my point of view but feel so sorry that they have lost so much in that there are hours and hours of work in these pieces. 

Now to the vintage linens - these are just some of them.

A test square for a crochet blanket.

Long stitch pictures completed and those nearing completion.

More pretty linens.

One of my completed Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady bedroom cushions.

The fox glove one has yet to be worked.

A small needlepoint panel on its way to completion.  Yet again designated for a cushion for the best room/lounge/front room.

To be continued............

Catch you later


Monday, 22 May 2017

Chicken chicken and more chicken

We are having chicken for tea if you had not realised from the heading to this post.  Garlic chicken breasts to be precise and I also have a chicken cooking away at the same time.  Ostensibly for pack ups I have some salad and some wraps and chilli sauce and also some prawns for making wraps over the next few days.  When it gets warmer although hungry we don't always want masses to eat although we need something and whilst I have the cooker on it makes sense to cook something else and make the most of the oven being on.  Although strictly speaking as it is warm I should not really be having the cooker on. 

I am hoping to get barbecuing outside in the next couple of weeks or so and then have plenty of salads as well.  I need to lose some weight and that is one way to do it sensibly watching what you eat.  Not that I have a big appetite these days.  It will just be nice to get outside a bit especially after the long winter months and me being confined to barracks during the period of my operation.   I love my work but we are confined in the office when its lovely weather outside.  We have air conditioning and so we don't always appreciate what the temperature is outside until we open the front doors and it hits us in the face on the way out to lunch. Trouble is on these lighter evenings I really do lose track of the time. 

This kind of weather I love baked potatoes with coleslaw and also baked sweet potatoes and sweet potato chips as well, Ratouille made with the seasons new veg, new potatoes plenty of butter even mint butter.  I just love my food.

So off to potter.

Catch you later.

Sparky next door is trying to knock the fence down with his hose pipe - its okay he is 70 plus has a heart condition but gets a bit prolific with a power washer as well as the hose pipes.  He is the reason I do not have bees.  He doesn't do insects and I think bees coming home in a swarm might just finish him off.  He would let the Landlord know as well.  One day though one day.


New washing machine and use of White Vinegar

Its proved a tad expensive this weekend as sadly I am having to say goodbye to my old washing machine and have had to purchase another which should be in situ by next weekend.  I have gone for one of the new add wash Samsung machines with a 9kg capacity, bubble wash technology and 1600 spin speed.  I have purchased it from AO like my two fridges, and freezers.  I have been more than happy with their service to date.  My opinion only and mentioned here of my own free will with no sweetener being received.  If something is good then I believe in sharing that information and so far I have been very satisfied.  Lets hope this holds good with the delivery at the weekend.

 I am like a bear with a sore head if anything is wrong with the washing machine as I rely heavily on it as I know many housewives do, but with working full time and the hours I do I get more than a little crotchety when it comes to the washer and not being able to get on and things accomplished in the limited time frames available to me.  We both get through clean clothes for work every day plus what we downshift into of an evening and then there is the household bits and bobs, bedding, towels, cat beds, dog beds and blankets.  Yes I still use blankets on top of a duvet or just underneath.  One of the things that has been getting worse with the old one apart from the horrendous noise it is now making is that when the contents of the machine come out especially dark colours have been sporting white blobs of this and that which I think is mainly soap powder deposits.  It seems to have been getting worse and I do run a cleaning cycle on a regular basis as well.  This has resulted in me using white vinegar to rinse dark clothes in.  White vinegar is good at brightening the white wash up but it is also strips away any soap residue.  It is often used as a conditioner in its own right.

I was reading on Pinterest the other day as well that it is very good for bringing back terracotta pots back to life as it helps remove the build up of limescale on the pots.

Diluted it is also meant to be very good for spraying down a fence line for all those weeds that suddenly sprout up there which is what originally attracted me to the article.  Also supposed to be good for acid loving plants like blueberries and hydrangeas and a myriad other things.

Do you use white vinegar and if so what do you use it for.

Catch you later.



Heirloom tablecloth to bedspread

One of the items I inherited from my mum is a tea table cloth that my great maiden aunty Ivy embroidered. I remember it was used regularly for Sunday night tea.  My great aunt was a beautiful needlewoman.  She did not have much by way of money and she therefore kept herself occupied through the year by making everyone a Christmas presents.  The ladies often received pinnies the men hand knitted socks.  She knitted regularly with two and three ply wool and I still have a bed cape which is in 2ply with lots of stitch work in it.  It was a lovely pink colour but with age it has faded.  However I cannot bear to part with it.  I no longer wear it as it is too fragile but there is a lot of fine lacy work gone into it on such a fine ply.  Must have taken her ages to knit.  I was very fond of Aunty Ivy.  She was my maiden great aunt who stayed at home to look after my great granddad.  I always remember when we used to visit that she used to have a chair with her dolls and teddies in.  I have one of the dolls a pot negro baby doll who needs re-stringing and a little tlc and she had lots of fancy lovely lacy mats around her home.  Fine crochet was one of her loves.  I was 10 when she passed.  She was such a big part of our early lives and I only remember her with a neck brace and a walking stick.  She developed very bad arthritis in her middle 40s. She didnt have it easy but she gave so much and was a great favourite with all of us.

Anyway back to the tea table cloth.  It was beautifully embroidered and is well over 50 years old.  The fabric has gone very thin and there are a few holes so its teatable days are very much over. I am thinking of fussy cutting the corners and the centre and backing them with cotton to give support and strength and then incorporating it into a patchwork/recyled embroidered bedspread. I have been collecting damaged cloths teatable and tray cloths where the embroidery is still in lovely condition even if the cloth itself is damaged.  The design of the tablecloth is Crinoline Ladies.  I am going to trace the design off so that I can at a future date duplicate the design  for my own tea table cloth in due course.   I have a vintage plain Irish Linen cloth that has never been used and some vintage threads already so I just need to take the time to trace off the pattern with some greaseproof paper. Hopefully then it will just be a difference in generations hers preserved in my bed cover and mine to use on the tea table.  It sort of has a nice serendipity about it don't you think.

This is just the start  - I have other cloths and table cloths to incorporate within the bed spread together with lovely pieces of cotton fabric, lace, embellishment in the form of embroidery.  They are all safely stacked together in a box as a complete project.  I was originally taken with the idea when I first saw it in a Cath Kidston book.  I have seen other ladies have a go and make similar things and I think that they are all treasures in their own way.  And of course I am also doing similar things with other projects.  I am brimming with possibilities and ideas at the moment.

One thing I do need to get done though is get Great Aunty Ivy's sewing box restored.  It needs re-staining and polishing.  I would quite like to have a go at doing it myself but am not really sure where to start.  Does anyone have any ideas.  It is a plain dark stained table box on long legs and it looks as though part of the veneer/wood is lifting or missing.  Some of the trim in the pale green silk lining also needs putting back in its place.  I want her sewing box/table close to hand in the front room so that I can use it and get on with some of the projects I have in mind.  I think she would be happy with that.

Right upwards and onwards.

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)