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Friday, 23 June 2017

The BIG Issue

I have followed Sooze, Her indoors, Him outdoors, since the beginning, and joined in the drooling over Betty.
Yesterday she blogged about that big issue.....WEIGHT.

So many of us struggle with weight issues, for many years I was super thin bony and I wore cover up clothes. You know the drill, high necks, long sleeves, long skirts or loose trousers.

Then I got married and had a baby WOO HOO lots of bulges and rolls that was obviously not "baby fat"as it was still there a year later.

I suffered and hid behind the trite "big is beautiful" and " not fat but luxury model" sayings, meanwhile avoiding mirrors and shop windows like the plague. 
Then slowly I began to believe the lies and became happy in my well stretched skin.
Until, that is, the day I was walking through a shop and saw myself in one of those mirrored columns, instantly my mind said "look at the state of her" then as I stepped aside to let "her" pass the penny dropped. 
I grabbed a dress off the rail and scuttled off to the changing rooms.

Not to try the dress on but to strip down to undies and look at myself in those unforgiving all round mirrors under the stark lighting.

When I got home I had a long talk with the then Hubby (who was, of course, the type that could eat as much of anything as he liked without putting on an ounce). Together we agreed to take action and went through the food cupboards. 

We prepared a meal plan (many years before it became the done thing) that would keep him from wasting away while stopping me from turning into the Michelin tyre woman.

It was hard, very hard. At that time I had a massive garden and walked a pair of GSD's twice a day and in good weather cycled everywhere. I should have been thin, or at least much slimmer than I was.
I could not exercise more, there were not enough hours in the day, instead I controlled what and how much that I ate.

S l o w l y, very slowly the weight came off and I went down to what felt comfortable and didn't look too bad. I was very far from the too skinny teenage years and was a bit scared of going too far.

I went out and searched the charity shops that were starting to feature in the high streets. I found a dress that was just a bit too tight and every Sunday morning I put that dress on and looked at myself in the long mirror ( I bought it specially for that reason).

If it was okay I ate normally that week, without adding any more of the treats that I still enjoyed.
If it was most definitely not okay I was extra careful, cutting down on the treats, for the week.
There were the odd weeks when the dress could not be zipped up and then I was back to being very careful, with no treats at all, for a week or two.

The years have flown by since then, I have been far too thin again and far too fat. Now, after several normal years, I am slowly putting the weight on, I say slowly as for several years my weight has fluctuated over half a stone. 
Lately though the top weight has been the norm and a bit more on top, measures must be taken.
Since I have had the heart issue my walking has been severely curtailed, Ben's increasing age has also slowed the speed down, double whammy. 
Then I am so into crafting that I sit for long periods, I do keep the sewing machine, overlocker and iron well apart but that is just a few steps.

Just to stir up the mud my long standing interest in all things food related has escalated. I am finding so much fun in experimenting with new ingredients and new menus. For instance vegan food has gone from every now and then to at least 3 days a week. It may be a healthy option but it is calorie rich.
The SO also likes pudding so I am making them more often and just to put the metaphorical icing on the cake (see what I mean about interest in food) jam season has arrived. 

I am not about to starve myself or embark on a regime of meal substitutes.
No Way Jose, not for this plump bird.

I am going to start making better choices, I made a rhubarb crumble on Wednesday. I replaced half the flour with oats cut the sugar by 1/3rd and used vitalite instead of butter. 
The SO had natural yogurt with his, mine was au naturel.
 I did add the juice of a sweet orange to the rhubarb and added 2 tsp instead of tbsp of sugar. and I served it in the smallest dishes that I have. That way we got 4 portions instead of the greedy 2 that has been the norm.

Dinner that day was  a very healthy salad. I cooked Quinoa and drained it well, then added edamame beans, peppers, celery, red onion, cucumber, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, a few pecan nuts just roughly chopped up and some shredded spinach leaves, this was served on a bed of lettuce and was divine. The SO had some tinned herring fillets with his and I had a slice of crustless quiche. both were in the fridge and needed using up.

Last night we had a repeat of the salad with some chicken and then the last of the crumble.
Tonight will be a new salad and I hope to cook some new potatoes from the garden to have with it. There will be no butter swirling round the plate.
I know about calorie counting and food balancing, cutting back on fats and sugar. I studied all this as part of my HND at college.
 Like many of us I have read reams of diet advice. I have all the information to get to the size that I would like to be and stay there.

Just why I, and all others, cannot do that is the million dollar question.

I call myself greedy, both here and in real life, but in truth I am reasonably careful in the amounts that I eat.

Breakfast is usually one slice of wholemeal toast with spread and marmalade, (today I had homemade peanut butter) lunch will be a sandwich or a bowl of salad. Yesterday I had a small apple, a slice of cheese, matchbox sizeish, the crust of a wholemeal loaf and a dollop of hummus and that was a big lunch.

The evening is my danger zone, dinner done, washing up done and kitchen cleared, I sit down and if my hands and mind are not occupied my mind is off.
I "fancy" cheese and biscuits, chocolate, cake, peanuts, crisps etc etc etc. no matter that I do not have all of these things, I still think that I want them.
Now you may understand why I knit so much, it isn't just because I like to.
I made the rhubarb and strawberry jam yesterday, it just filled 3 jars and I was quite put out that there was not a little "taster dish". I couldn't believe myself when I said this out loud.
I like to think that I was merely joking, but it could stem from my subconscious mind.

I will still be making jam, as I said my family and friends like a jar or three of Pam Jam, I will just make sure that I do not keep very many in the pantry.

Oh my word, I have banged on about this rather a lot.

What I wanted to say is that we are all different. 
We have different lifestyles and different metabolic rates

What works for one will cause another to fail miserably.

Also and most importantly weight should be about health and not about image. If your hips and knees are complaining or you can not run upstairs without turning lobster red and huffing and puffing (not from asthma or similar conditions) and if you can not see your toes, never mind touch them, it is most likely that you are carrying too much weight.

I am going to be blunt here, You Are Probably Fat. 
Not Big Boned.
 Not Carrying Lots Of Water.
 Nothing to do with "glands" 
It is probably because you eat too much and the wrong things.

 I am not being cruel, I had this same conversation with Francesca at the weekend. Too many business lunches and too much London socialising have piled the weight on. Her clothes are straining at the seams and I had to make her some more trousers and pj's, right smartish, as she was running out of things to wear.
I had to be very honest and speak to myself as well, it is only a matter of 7 lbs but the older you get the harder it is to lose the extra weight.
See that "only 7lbs" it is not ONLY anything.
It is half a stone. 
It is 7 bags of sugar. 
It is more than 2 bags of flour. 
It is just about 4 large loaves of bread.

Those stick thin models and actors, pop stars and wags are not thin naturally. At least not very many of them are.

They live on dangerously low nutrition levels, many have admitted to eating tissue to stem hunger pangs, it is all about image.

The Media giant promotes ultra thinness as being the only way. When a size 8 is considered obese there is a serious flaw somewhere.
I am a generous 14, back in my teenage days that was called a size 18, I was wearing an 8 and longed to add at least 1 size. Clothing manufacturers have colluded over the intervening years, in changing the standard sizing to help in the brainwashing and self delusion. 

If I have offended you then I am sorry, but ask yourself why you have reacted in that way and give yourself an honest answer.

                        TTFN                                           Pam

PS. If you found this as boring as paint drying I am sorry, call back tomorrow for something else. xx

PPS I did the walk and had an orange and a cuppa, when what I wanted was a cheese sandwich and a packet of crisps.
Not good, just trying hard. I know that some days I will fail, as long as the fail days do not equal or outnumber the win days I will be happy.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

We're Jammin, jammin till the jam is through.

Thank you Bob Marley xxx,

This mornings batch is Strawberry and Rhubarb, another quick setting mix which will maintain as much of the fresh flavour as possible.

There will be a new batch as often as I have fruit to make it. all my friends and family love their jars of  "Pam Jam". 

No doubt a few will find their way to Beckenham but they will be of the seedless variety as Francesca doesn't like bits in her jam.

I am eyeing up the Elderflowers and wondering whether to make another batch of cordial. I discovered yesterday that my neighbours love the stuff. The giveaway was when they started to dribble when I mentioned that I had made a couple of batches. A jar went to each of them, it's good to share.

I am thinking that a batch of scones might be cooked next Tuesday morning, scones with jam and clotted cream would go down a treat at knit and natter. (What do you think Chrissie and Debs)
We can wash them down with Elderflower cordial.


I did a little sewing and then settled down with some sock knitting to watch Hinterland on Netflix.
 A very self indulgent day, but I'm worth it.

We did have rain forecast for this morning but not a drop so far, I had to soak the back garden last night and if the rain doesn't arrive soon will have to do the front.

I fell into bed at around 10:30 and had a long sleep, 5:45 when I woke up, marvellous.

No plans for today, once the kitchen has been put to rights I will settle down to some sewing, a little knitting, possibly some reading.
I have a new book, complete Dressmaking. Apart from Tilly and the Buttons, Love at first stitch, which I bought for the patterns, this is the first "how to" book that I have bought for dressmaking.
 I read a review and ordered it straight away, it arrived yesterday and I flicked through it after dinner.
My granny taught me how to sew (she was fed up with my demands for dolls clothes) and apart from the odd primary school lesson I am self taught.
There are lots of fabrics that I steer clear of as I have no idea how to handle them. There are tutorial videos galore out there, I learnt to put in an invisible zip that way, but they can not help you to feel the way certain fabrics handle.
Neither  can this book but there is a wealth of advice, and lots of helpful tips.
I can not say that I long to sew jersey dresses but there are some gorgeous prints out there in all sorts of stretch fabric. I did a search for some fabric for Francesca, and rapidly lost the will to live, as every single print that I wanted to buy was in stretch fabric of some sort.
There is no excuse for my reluctance, I have an overlocker. I have a modern machine that has a few stretch stitches and I have the correct needles.

I am a scaredy cat. Plain and simple. I am also a bit of a control freak, and the thought of ruining a length of fabric fills me with dread.
Of course I do not have any scraps to play with as I have never sewn with it. Catch 22.

Ooh, A Lightbulb Moment, I ought to look on Ebay, people sell all sorts of fabric bundles there.

That's my next port of call. Some times it is good to have a mind that hops and skips all over the place.

I better skip over there now, before I sidetrack myself to another dimension.

                       TTFN                                              Pam

PS.  Of course I was going to tell you all about the book, tomorrow peeps. xx




Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Beating the Heat

I had a reasonably early night last night and thanks to the fan I slept well. I hit the ground running around 5:30 this morning and after a quick cuppa I was out the door.
 Ben was still in bed snoring, I was on the hunt for wild strawberries, they grow in abundance here, I picked a fair amount and then stripped all the ripe ones from the plants in my garden. I had a few when I moved in and have encouraged them to grow. Free ground cover and tasty treats all in one.

Together with the strawberries from the garden and some early raspberries I had just under 3 lbs of fruit. Perfect for a small batch, in with 12oz of sugar per 1 lb of fruit ( I still make jam and chutneys in Imperial) and the juice of a large lemon, microwaved for 20 seconds to release more juice, and on to a very low heat to dissolve all the sugar. Then up to a boil, with the jam thermometer stuck in and in around 12 minutes I had setting point.

I now have 4 jars of summer for the pantry and a "bonus" dish to try out.
I made a small batch of scones to try out the jam, well I just had to, I think it is the law.
Oh My Word. it is good. I had to stop myself from spooning it from dish to mouth. (I did scrape round the maslin pan with a spatula. and I am not ashamed to share that) I was being frugal NOT greedy.

Who am I kidding, it was pure unadulterated greed. And ever so good. For a few moments I was 4 years old again.

Now I just have the washing up to do and put the kitchen to rights before I settle down to some sewing fun.

I did put the sofa throws in the wash and they are out on the line, probably completely dry.

                           TTFN                                            Pam

PS. I saved enough raspberries to add to some rhubarb and apple for a crumble for tonight. Naughty but very nice.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Shady Sewing

I spent yesterday afternoon mainly in the shady sewing room, happily stitching, pressing, pinning, cutting and generally playing with fabric.
The morning was taken up with getting Francesca packed and on to the train in Neath. There was a hiccup as the points were playing up along the line, this meant a delay for her train. 
Then of course there was the incident at Paddington which closed the station down, a 2 1/2 hr journey took almost twice that. So instead of arriving home by 4:00 ish she was at Victoria station at 5:30 and finally arrived home around an hour later hot and sticky. All thoughts of unpacking were abandoned for a long cool shower.

I was happy to stay in the sewing room, another pair of Pilates trousers were made (and posted off this morning). I have 2 dresses and another set of thin cotton pj,s for Francesca all cut out and ready to sew. That should keep me happy for the rest of the week.


This is the fabric that I made her second pair of Pilates trousers in, it has been languishing for far too long and deserved to be used.


This cream cotton with a tiny black spot will be another PJ set, not for sleeping in so much as lolling round the house when it is too hot for proper clothes. She took one set made in it back with her and one of my cut out dresses is in this as well. I bought masses of it some time ago when it was at a ridiculously low price.


This lilac print will be a Lilou dress, from Tilly and the Buttons. I am sure that I have said this before, but am too lazy to check.

I have zip and thread ready, just need to wind a bobbin and I will be on a roll.

It is knit and Natter today, and I will need to have a bit of lunch soon, I like to leave fairly early and don't want to drive directly after eating.

On the subject of food, it will be salad all the way during this heat, Nicoise tonight. I can just about stand to boil a few eggs and some green beans but any other cooking is a No Go Zone.

I have enough bread in the freezer for this week and will be able to make the next batch late in the day, if it goes into the oven at 9:00 pm that will be fine.

That, of course, assumes that this heat will last. This is the UK and Wales in particular, so it is not a good assumption to make.

It has just turned mid day so I am off to feed my face.

BTW the lovely Mandy has another You Tube podcast up and a new sock pattern out. 

                      TTFN                                  Pam

Monday, 19 June 2017

Wonderful, wonderful day.

I know that is a line from a song from Seven brides for Seven Brothers, I can hear it as I write this, one of my favourite musicals. But it sums up yesterday to a tee.

We woke to a sun blazing out of an azure sky, but with just enough breeze to make it perfect for a leisurely walk with Ben.

Then at around 9:30, after a very skimpy breakfast, (we were going to a food festival) we set off on the 30 or so minute drive.

It proved to be a good idea as we were parked and in the festival site as they were opening up.

A stroll round to "suss" the place out and than we began the serious business of sampling the wares.

I tasted chutneys and relishes, jams, jellies and 7 different types of marmalade. There was a stall with some amazing Welsh cheeses, two of which came home with me along with a jar of Jamaican marmalade and another of "Weapons grade Chilli". That was for the SO. I also picked up 3 bottles of flavoured vinegar, Raspberry, Elderflower and Chilli, they will liven up my salads and make a change from my fig balsamic.
There was a large stand all about honey and the SO had a great time trying the large variety of local ones.
I am not a honey lover, Maple Syrup for me. Unfortunately it is not made in Wales. (come on Dawn, I remember that you planted some maples)
We decided that a cuppa was in order before we found some lunch and duly retired to the tea room.
Then wound our way out to the vendors stalls.

There was not one selling vegetarian or vegan food. It was most disappointing. I settled for a skewer of chicken (most of which the SO ate) with a mountain of salad (all of which I ate)

Then there was a demonstration of a simple dinner party, we got front row seats and started to watch. The meal was canapes followed by Beef Wellington and then a pudding. I have no idea what it was as I had to leave, the heat was unbearable.
There was also the fact that the chef wiped his nose on the back of both hands and then went on to handle the food without washing them. YEUK!!

This is why I do not eat out very much.

I had a little stroll round and took a few pics, none inside as it was so crowded.







Just a few shots of the house and the gardens and views over the grounds.



This is the dress that I wore, it was lovely and cool and just a bit "garden partyish".
I also wore a simple white hat when outside and lots of sun screen. I did see many people sporting a fiery red glow and shuddered for the pain that they would feel later.

We left around 2:00 and had a warm but uneventful drive home. A cuppa and a fuss with Ben later we prepared a roast dinner for Fran and a salad for ourselves. I know, it was hot, I didn't want to cook, but the only time Fran has a full on roast is when she is here.

While the SO did the washing up I took Ben out for a walk, we were joined by Rufus and his owner for part of the way. Rufus had a paddle in the little stream just over the road but Ben declined to join him. 
Then it was a slow wander back to settle down for the evening.

I did a little knitting, my cardigan sleeves are growing slowly, and I have another dress cut out, Lilou from my Tilly and the Buttons book. I have used some of the stash fabric and this will be a wearable toile (fingers crossed).

Fran liked the Hanging storage thingy that I made and has asked for 2 for her wardrobes. I have some iron in interfacing coming and will get the fabric cut out ready to make a start on them.

Oh yes, I had a play with the laptop and "who'd a thunk it" my camera takes videos, so more playing is booked for later in the week.
I gave the garden a good watering last night and it looks so much better for it, the font garden takes the most time as it is all watering can and rain water. Most of the plants out there do not particularly like tap water.  
Today will be  trip into Neath to get Fran to the station and then home and a normal Monday jobs list. dinner tonight will be a salad based around Quinoa and will include pumpkin and sunflower seeds for crunch and chickpeas because I love them.

Now the time has come for another (only my second) cuppa and then it will be time for Ben,s walk.

                 TTFN                                        Pam






Saturday, 17 June 2017

Confused of Cwmgors

I had a little look on google yesterday, I typed in various versions of  "beginners guide to making a video podcast"

Now the words beginner and guide were in every version. so I was  surprised to get page after page of techno babble. All of which assumed that I had a degree in computer science.

If one of you asked me to recommend a baking book for a beginner I would not point you toward one of Eric Lanlard,s books and suggest that you start with a Croquembouche or a 3 tiered fully iced and decorated Genoise sponge.
Of course I wouldn't, I would suggest Mary Berry and a simple all in one tray bake.

In my view a beginner almost needs a "This is a spoon and this is a mixing bowl" book.

I do not understand why the information that I was looking for is not there.

I will have a play on the laptop and with my phone and see what can be done, if anything. I have an idea that my camera will take videos with sound so that needs looking at as well. 

Of course it could just be that I am not over interested in making a podcast, there are many things that figure on my list of things to do and pod casting is not one of them.

Maybe I will get help from Fran, she is quite a whizz on the 'puter.

We were going to the food festival today but have put it off till Sunday. The drivers side window mechanism decided to fail yesterday and the window is stuck half open. The car is at the garage and I should get it back by mid day.

I will use the time to make the slope for Fran and finish my dress. Then we will have a look in the stash for a dress length for Fran.

The Pilates trousers are done and I will probably make another pair as some weeks she goes twice.

I am making progress on the cardigan sleeves, but it is a long haul knitting them both at once. I have to otherwise the first one would be the last one. I do not like knitting long sleeves, but equally I do not like to wear elbow or bracelet length.

Dinner was amazing, if I do say it myself, I never follow a recipe for meatloaf, just rough proportion of 2 beef to 1 pork, some breadcrumbs and an egg, herbs, paprika and a mix of peppers, onion and garlic sweated off in a little oil. I mix it by hand and press into a loaf tin then slather the top with spicy tomato ketchup and cook for 1 - 1 1/4 hrs.

Tonight we are having ribs in a spicy sauce, potato wedges and coleslaw and salad, Fran's request, I have some salad leaves in the garden and will forage for some wild garlic to go with them. It is almost at the end now but I know where there is a late patch.

My front garden is a froth of foliage and blooms, although the Snow on the Mountains needs trimming back to allow a second flush. The ladies mantle will open out even more to fill the gap and there are some ground cover perennials that will lift their flower heads given the space.
There are some flowering shrubs covered with small flowers and the Honeyberries are in full fruit, but they are not particularly sweet as yet.

There is a scrappy bit that faces the house, it is in the shade of said shrubs and honeyberries. I am not sure what to put there, nothing too tall as there are plants against the front wall that need the full sun. I may have to have a wander round a garden centre one day next week and look for inspiration.

My new Blackthorn hedge is looking good, it is starting to fill out and in a couple of years will be quite respectable.

The plum trees have put on a lot of growth and should all fruit next year and the apples are looking promising, fingers crossed that the June drop doesn't decimate them. 
The strawberries are the star of the show though, I am picking a dish full every day and they are beautiful to eat warm from the sun.

There looks to be a bumper blackberry harvest, tons of fruit are forming and new flowers are opening daily. I just have to check out the crab apple trees in a nearby park and stock up on sugar.

Right now a cuppa is in my very close future so I am off to the kitchen.

Enjoy your weekend.

                  TTFN                                             Pam





Friday, 16 June 2017

Sew, Create and Recycle

That is the name of a new blog that I stumbled upon yesterday, I was enjoying a cuppa after making the Elderflower syrup and then cleaning the kitchen!
you can find it at sewinggreenlady.blogspot.co.uk

I spotted a comment and clicked on the name to have a nosy. There are recipes,vegan, for me to try, some sewing and dressmaking and lots of random things to read. Sounds a bit like this blog.

I have skimmed back a few months and followed, I don't want to miss something good.
 I will be trying out some of the recipes over the next few weeks. I look forward to sharing it all with you.

The weather has been kind again,although the clouds gathered once or twice. I managed to spend some time in the garden, some general tidying up and a little weeding. I hope the next door house sells soon, the garden is rapidly reverting to wilderness and most of my weeds are from seeds blown over. Then there are the brambles that seem to think they ought to be in my garden, I cut some back and lob them over the fence almost every day.

I cut my latest dress and the lining out, this is a pure experiment and I have no idea if it will work or if I am making posh dusters.

I did go and pick another lot of Elderflowers, the first batch is so good that I know it will disappear fast. I used far more flowerheads in the second batch and the juice and zest from one large orange and two huge lemons. 
The first batch is lovely but I hope that this one will turn out to be much more intense. I plan on using it in winter fruity puddings and sauces, it should give a little blast of summer days to the kitchen.
It is made and bottled and is now cooling down.

I have been quite tired this week so today will be fairly low key, just a meatloaf to make for dinner, and a little knitting on my cardigan sleeves. We are off to the food festival tomorrow and I do not want to be wiped out after an hour.
The sleeves are growing steadily, I did a little more this morning while watching the new Sew Sweet Violet podcast.
She has inspired me to dig out some strips of fabric and make some more bags, I could do with a couple of large ones for sweater projects. That will be for another week, once the experimental dress is finished.
One thing that I do want to do this weekend is make a slope for Fran. I know her dress size and skirt length but bodice fitting has to wait until she is here. I would love to be able to post a dress off to her every now and then, she gets through a lot of clothes in her work and, even in the sales, dresses (good ones) do not come cheap.

It has been suggested that I should have a podcast. It would be good to try but I have no idea how to go about it and am not sure that my hop and skip nature would make for good watching. I tend to go off on a tangent at the drop of a hat and that confuses me at times.

I just glanced at the clock and it is only 7:12, I wonder what time I got up. I didn't even glance at the clock and I have made the syrup and watched a podcast and done a few rows of knitting.

I still have to wash up but there isn't much there, just the pans and stuff from syrup making and my tea mug.

 I will go and have a pootle round the garden and see if any of the pots need watering, we did have rain overnight on Wednesday but it has been hot with a drying breeze since then. 
Then a little more knitting after Ben has had his walk should ease me nicely into the day which, by the way, looks like being glorious.

I will have a dish of fruit with some yogurt for breakfast I think, I am bound to pick some more strawberries on my wander.

                      TTFN                                             Pam