Friday 28 February 2014

Wales turned on the sun to welcome me.

We are here, Ben slept most of the way and completely missed the rain. He woke up briefly to have a sniff round and water a weed or three when I stopped at Newtown to fill up with petrol. I also filled Ben up with food and water, I may have had a delicious hot sausage roll.
We made excellent time till we hit resurfacing works on the A487, 40 minutes of sitting still, creeping along, a quick surge and back to sitting still, we may be going home via Camarthen.

This what we found, 

It may be right on the pavement but there is parking at the side, I am off to Cardigan soon so did not bother to park up, the road is very quiet.

The owner was waiting for us to arrive, she left a welcome pack with bread, butter, strawberry jam, tea, coffee, sugar and a fresh Bara Brith from her mornings baking, I had 2 slices with 2 cups of tea, I could not have made better. The red bag is my survival kit, a bottle of water, a bottle of squash and a bar of whole nut chocolate. Ben has one with water, dish, Bonio and Shapes.

As you can see the kitchen is well laid out and in the cupboards and drawers is everything that I will need. In fact before I leave I will be booking for 2 weeks in September.

Just a quick look at the sitting room and the rest will wait till another day.

The cushions look as though they have been refashioned from cardigans, very trendy. My bag and crochet are in place, ready for the evening.

Ben has staked his place out, I still have to bring his bed in from the car, I remembered to bring the battery charger for my camera, and the sudocrem for Ben, he scratched his ear when charging around the field.

Reasons to be grateful.

1. Back in Wales, need I say more.

2. 2 full days with the family.

3. Sunshine, February, Wales. 3 words you would not expect to find together.

4. A quick visit to the CS in Llandysul in the morning.

5. Taking James to choose his Birthday Present.

Today or rather Feb 29th is the 10 year anniversary of the day my life started to fall apart. I found my only child dead in bed, within 3 months both my parents had died and in the October my husband was diagnosed with the cancer that would consume him. And the Queen thought that she had a bad one.
I am so pleased to be here at this time although it was not planned. I have always loved the word Serendipity and here I am living it. I do not ask for sympathy, as far as it is possible I have tucked that year into a memory box to keep it safe. It took time but I can take it out and look at it without the searing pain now.
Wales has become a bolt hole and almost a second home to me, I still hope to move here and once Fran has done the New York Bar I will start planning. I need to have the summer in Tydd to rescue the garden from the last 18 months weather and I want to see Fran fully qualified.
I hope that you all have as good a weekend as I intend to.

              TTFN                                           Pam

Thursday 27 February 2014

I'm going on an unsummer holiday. woohoo.

I was too excited to blog last night, I decided that as it is Fran's brother James birthday soon I would make the time to go to Wales for a flying visit. I spent ages on the 'puter yesterday looking for somewhere to stay. It took a long time because I wanted to book with Welcome Cottages as they donate 10% of their profits to the Dogs Trust. This will be the 4th cottage that I have booked with them. I am going to a village just outside Llandysul, a small town with an amazing CS that always has a good stock of fabric. This is also near Newcastle Emlyn a small market town. I will be around 20 minutes drive away from Cardigan, I took a three bedroom let so that James and Cerys can stay overnight with the children on Saturday. They will come over for the day and I will have the pleasure of cooking for them, including a cake of course.
If I like this one I will book it for a week or maybe two in September. 
My lovely neighbour, Nev, will keep an eye on the cottage and take the delivery of wool that I have ordered from Minerva Crafts. Snow is forecast for next week, well let it come. The cupboards and freezers are full, I have stacks of sewing and will have a mountain of wool to work my way through.


This is a shot of Llandysul.

Newcastle Emlyn Market Hall

Newcastle Emlyn Market Hall.

There just happens to be a shop called Crosspatch very close, it has an amazing selection of patchwork fabric and notions and a very good selection for the cross stitch enthusiast. I may be able to squeeze in a visit. Well it would be silly to travel so far and ignore it. Then again there is also a lovely shop in Lampeter, 4 floors of little rooms full of fabric by the bolt or as many pre cuts as you could want to choose from. I nearly forgot the brilliant wool shop in Cardigan, Maybe I should have booked a week not a weekend.

Reasons to be grateful.

1. Holidays with children.

2. Days away with family(well as near as makes no different)

3. Time in wales.

4. Play time with children.

5. Tom Tom to guide me.

Do you see a theme there?
sorry but I did mention excitement.
I have to go and pack a few things and sort out a box of goodies.

TTFN                                                Pam

BTW the scarf is done , I will post a photo on my return.

Tuesday 25 February 2014

Tuesday, Oh My.

Well what a day of contrasts, I walked Ben in brilliant sunshine, came home and put a load of towels to line dry and went off to Spalding. The nearer I got the darker it became and then woosh, I drove into a monsoon, a cold one. The rain hammered down and all traffic just stopped, I could barely see the wipers moving it was so heavy. 5 minutes and we started moving, albeit slowly, I was nearer to Spalding than home so gritted my teeth and carried on.
 The market was awash and stall were packing up, I went to the fruit stall as they were desperately trying to salvage as much as possible.

This little lot cost me a whole £1, the satsumas skin is a bit tatty but the fruit is juicy and sweet.

Before I went I got dinner on the go.

The ingredients, the drumsticks and wings of a chicken and 1 bacon chop from Mr S. A dish of vegetables, 2 carrots, 2 sticks of celery, 1 leek and half of a red and a green pepper. 2 tsp Chinese 5 Spice and a packet of Hoisin and Garlic sauce. All in the slow cooker, add enough chicken stock to barely cover, salt and pepper, lid on and low for around 6 hours.

Break up the bacon chop, skin and break the meat off 1 wing and 1 drumstick, add to the veg. Cook 3 nests of noodles and hey presto 3 meals.

The high point of my day was this, it came via the Postie.

My win from Sarah at A Little Family of 3, I look forward to trying it.

I just love raspberries and threw this crumble together so fast that I forgot to sweeten the fruit, I just sprinkled some on the top, it was delicious.

I spent over an hour on the phone texting Fran this afternoon, fine tuning the arrangements for her New York Bar. The course work is done here and has to be paid for soon, the exam is in 2 parts in New York and can not be paid for until April, the exam parts will be in different areas and she will not find out where until May!! That could mean 2 hotels which we can not book till then. Getting these details from her was akin to getting blood out of a stone. It had to be text as she was working in a "silent" area of the office. I tell you that I do not know how someone so clever can be so dense. In the end I had to "shout" at her to read each question and answer them, with no extra unnecessary details, NOW. I think we are on track and I will be transferring the course fees tomorrow.

Reasons to be grateful.

I am going to roll it out in a sentence, a loooong sentence.
I am grateful that I have all of you to vent this at, to release the pressure, I am grateful that you did not see my face, red and blotchy with the effort it took to keep calm, I am so grateful that the monsoon cleared and the sun blazed down so that I could go and stomp round the field to calm down, I am grateful that Fran is in London and not here tonight as I could not face a rehash. More than any of that I am so so grateful that I have her in my life to drive me round the bend.
All you Mums will know exactly what I mean.

I really love her , but there are times..........
I can write no more.

TTFN                                                      PAM

Monday 24 February 2014

Monday Morning Maneuvers.

I love my kitchen on Monday, well I love it all the time but on a Monday I love it best. This is the day when the kitchen has a mega clean, shelves are emptied, cleaned and restocked with all the contents getting a "once over". Everything that can be moved is and is cleaned behind, beside and underneath. The windows, doors and every hard surface is cleared and cleaned with my vinegar spray. This is the day when I thank whomever that my kitchen is small!
I moved here from a house with kitchen that was 18 ft square, not counting the recesses. That was a mammoth task and I was working full time, I spent all day Saturday cleaning and all day Sunday batch cooking.
I do tidy up after the last wash up of the day, work tops get cleaned and any spills get wiped up, but I like to "bottom" the kitchen weekly. Granny again! at least I no longer have to black lead the range.
I take the opportunity to stock take the dry goods and keep my shopping list up to date, I do still have a blonde moment and write self raising flour instead of plain but mostly it works.
I do the same to the bathroom in the afternoon and put the shower curtain in the wash with the bathmat, my system seems to have had a hiccup as I noticed last week that I had 5 bottles of shampoo. won't be buying any more for a while. I do have 12 deodorant sticks, but they were on a very good offer before Christmas so I emptied the shelf.
I have been out in the sunshine with Ben and Greg, they tore round the field like mad things, Ben is now snoring gently beside me.
I just had to take these while I was there.

The first blossom in the field is so joyful, a bit like a girl trying on her wedding dress. see how blue the sky is, it was so warm it could have been May.

Greg is looking a bit sheepish, he had just brought me a stick and wanted me to play. I do not throw sticks, I have read too many horror stories of dogs having their throats pierced when they jump to catch them. My toy of choice is a Frisbee, but the soft kind not the cheap brittle ones, they snap and shatter too easily. I threw last years away as they were the worst for wear so need to get out and buy new ones.
Ben would not sit or stand still for a photo, he was in "perpetual motion" mode.

Reasons to be grateful.

1. We seem to be heading for an early spring (fingers crossed)

2. I was given a bunch of flowers yesterday from the people who sell them in the village. The stems had been broken but they were plenty long enough for my vase.

3. 2 loads of washing done, line dried and ready to be ironed.

4. Nothing to put on the shopping list so far.

5. My scarf is growing quite quickly and painlessly.

The flowers were much appreciated, they could just as easily have binned them.
I am enjoying my crochet and hope to get some more wool during the week.
I have to look for what in the US are called Comic book Cards, quilters use them to store their fabric in mini bolts and I would be very happy to do that. It makes it easy to see and find what fabric you have and keeps it from getting crumpled up.
Dinner tonight is soup and bread, both homemade, lunch will be a bowl of cereal, that is all that I fancy plus I do not like working with a full tummy.
On that note I better haul my btm off the sofa and get that bathroom done.

             TTFN                                               Pam


Sunday 23 February 2014

Walking in Royal Footsteps

I told you about my excursion to Sandringham, what I didn't do was show you all the photos.

Gates leading to the scenic drive, footpaths snake off this through the woodland, a perfect place for dogs and their families.

A next door village sign, new a short while ago.

This sign says it all.

This building houses the Royal waiting room and is open a few times a year.

The line was a continuation of the London to Kings Lynn line and really made Sandringham not just bearable but perfect for its first Royal occupant. His friends were then able to visit at the drop of a hat, and boy did they flock here.
The estate was purchased by Queen Victoria for her naughty son Bertie, Prince of Wales. He would later become Edward V11, our Queen's grandfather.
I suppose that he was in effect banished when his extra marital affairs became too embarrassing. He did however continue entertaining once moved in. It is a well documented fact that Camilla, wife of the current Prince of Wales is the descendant of one of the royal favourites.

Of course the railway went on to Hunstanton making the planned seaside resort an actuality. The nearest large resort to it was Cromer, the land between was not really suited to development. The farming and shooting gentry valued the wet lands and salt marshes and there was no chance that it would ever become touristy. Wells next the Sea remained as it was more or less and Sheringham was always a smaller, quieter neighbour to Cromer.

These were under water until 3 days ago, and are holding their faces up to the sun.

My crochet scarf, I am halfway round the second round of the pattern, the pale pink is a touch too pale but the only other pink that I had was too deep. This is not a problem as I am such a new learner, I do like this pattern and will be looking for some wool to make it again, I quite fancy using a variegated in yellows or even purple. I will not make my mind up till I get to the wool shop.

Reasons to be grateful.

1. My meal plan is done for the next 4 weeks and there is not much to buy.

2. 2 episodes of Crocodile Hunter have been enjoyed.

3. The TV series taken from a David Baldacci book is in the Sky box ready to record, it is one of his series that I have not read yet.

4. The village shop has had a good 3 days trading, not bad after being closed for a few months.

5. I found some leather Mary Jane's in the Hotter sale, with free delivery, happy feet has nothing on me.

I am a size 8-9 depending on the make, standard fit and a fairly high instep, not easy to find shoes that fit and do not look like the boxes that others shoes come in.

Saturday 22 February 2014

Dinner for Four for £2 and a new crochet project.

I have been busy and idle today, I was up and about at stupid o'clock, in the new Tesco at Wisbech and home again before 9 this morning. It is a Tesco Extra, not huge but plenty big enough. I didn't need much but went for a nosey and a tank full of petrol, I used my latest vouchers so it was extra cheap.

I had very little to do in the cottage today so a brew, a walk with Ben and then a whizz round with vacuum, polish and cloth and it was 10.30. 

I decided that as my crochet hooks had just arrived I would give them a whirl. Out came the book that I have been hoarding for months.

I had always intended to make this as soon as I felt able, but the colour is too bland, mine will be green, pink and cream. I will show and tell soon.

I also caught up with emails and blog reading, ooh I must share. I won the give away on Little Family of 3, some yummylicious mushroom couscous from AF. Sarah bought it and the family didn't like it much. I look forward to trying it, as I love couscous and mushrooms it should be a winner.

I have guests for dinner tonight, I am determined to stick to my use it up and keep it cheap campaign, hmmm 2 boys to feed..... I know PIZZA.
I also wanted to make some rolls to have with my soup lunches. Out came another book.

I bought this book for 50p at a car boot sale, someone had paid £5 for it, cover price was £25 duh.

I have made this recipe many times and love it as a loaf so I thought rolls and a Pizza base in one go. Boom. I used half and half wholemeal and white bread flour.

Pizza base part cooked for 5 minutes.

Five rolls, Monday to Friday lunches.

The pizza base was spread with a dilution of tomato paste, water and a squeeze of hot and spicy tomato sauce.
Then I tipped on some sliced smoked sausage, diced roast pork and diced roast chicken all from the freezer. This was drizzled with a sachet of Thai Sweet Chilli sauce. Then a layer of vegetables was added, red and green peppers, red onion and mushrooms.

A special from AF, I think they were 5p each.

I had some Stilton from a well reduced wheel bought after Christmas and portioned and frozen down. A little went a long way.

Looks pretty good to me.

This was mine, the smallest piece, OMW it was so good. I had half a bag of mixed salad, plenty for 4. I have roughly worked this out to cost of £2.00, dinner for 50p nice.

I had planned on a pudding but we were all full, well the boys did manage to squeeze 2 muffins down , 2 each that is. I keep some in the freezer, 1 minute in the ding oven.

Reasons to be grateful.

1. Good food, good friends, very good.

2. A new learned skill coming in to play.

3. Bright sunshine all day.

4. A book by my newest found author is about to be televised.

5. I have a stack of "Crocodile Hunter" recorded to crochet by.

I watched these Steve Irwin programs when they were first shown and it is good to see them again. he was very enthusiastic, some times a bit OTT, but was so genuine that it did not matter.
I have not abandoned my sewing, I have several things on the go but the crochet is new and I am so pleased to be getting on with it.
I have some more Sandringham pictures to share and hope to do that tomorrow.
I had a very busy day yesterday and it was almost 10:00 pm before I realised that I had not written a post, that means that there will be a couple of long ones like today's.
Time to go and make tea I think.

TTFN                                                               Pam

Thursday 20 February 2014

Approved Food Order Has Landed

My AF order arrived safe and sound at 12:45, the driver was very pleasant and offered to carry the box through to my kitchen, very rare!. It was not necessary, I can handle up to 25Kg and this was well under that.

This is not the whole order, I have 20 packs of the Colman's Season & Shake Sticky Ribs. Some will go to Fran and the rest will be used for lots of things. I cook Chicken, sausages, fish and vegetables in this. It leaves no mess in the oven, the tray just needs a wipe over and it is delicious. If I want it a bit stickier I add some brown sugar, honey or Maple Syrup, If Smokey is more to the point I add some smoked paprika. I sometimes add Powdered Garlic, grated Ginger and/or fresh Chilli. The only limit is the contents of my kitchen.

Tonight I will make up half a packet of the Quinoa bake, drag some homemade Lentil Dahl from the freezer and have them with a dollop of Mango Chutney (from my last AF order) with a Chapatti or two. I still have coriander growing in a pot so some of that will go in as well. My dinner will cost around 25p and there will likely be enough left over for a meal tomorrow. Btw the lentils also came from AF ages ago.

I will wrap the Chapattis in pairs and freeze, they are very good heated in a dry frying pan, topped with cooked mushrooms and a sprinkle of grated/crumbled blue cheese and rolled up, 2 with salad is a good meal.

Here is the delivery note, £20. 57 including delivery of £5.25, it would have cost me more than that in petrol and parking to go to Lynn or Cambridge and then I would not have got these bargains.
I intend to have a go at making Mango Chutney with one of the tins of pulp. if it is not successful I will not have wasted much  I will eat it anyway, unless it is disgusting.

I am going to try roasting Chick peas and mushrooms in a Sticky Rib mix, I usually do them with curry powder and cumin seeds, a change is as good as a rest. What about Butternut squash and Sweet Potato, that could well happen at the weekend, with a couple of chicken wings and some peppers and celery thrown in it would be dinner in a bag.

Reasons to be grateful.

1. My purse is feeling healthy.

2. My cupboards are full of good things to eat.

3. The sun is shining in a clear blue sky.

4. I have a delicious dinner for pennies.

5. And Christmas Pudding for afters.

I was very abstemious and only ordered 4 Christmas Puddings from AF, I did hover over zero but thought that 40 may have been ever so slightly OTT.......
I will cook a pudding and have a slice then the remainder will go into a pie crust with a slather of plum jelly, to keep it moist, and be shared with my neighbours. If I don't I will eat the lot, Miss Piggy has nothing on me.
On that greedy note I am off to the kitchen to start dinner and gloat over my goodies.
                 TTFN                                          Pam

Wednesday 19 February 2014

A Rant and A Gift.

An early start to my day, not by choice I can assure you. My Approved Food order is coming today, I had an Email yesterday giving me a delivery slot from 07:30 to 17:30, I usually get an hour window, so was a bit miffed!!. I have logged on to track the order and it is still sitting in the distribution center at Peterborough, 25 minutes away!. The "customer care!" help line is a recorded message saying that the advisers can give no further information, fat lot of good they are. I do have plans for the day and they do not include sitting in the cottage for hours waiting. I think that AF have changed their delivery company, it may be a mistake on their part. I would rather pay a little extra delivery charge to have a more precise time.
Rant over, it is safe to come out from behind the sofa.
I will still use AF, I will just have to box clever about my order day and try to aim for a Monday delivery. That is a day when I am usually stuck at home busy at home doing the little jobs that are annoyingly time consuming but vital.

Now I have got that off my chest I want to welcome a new follower, PugMomQuilts. I had a trip out yesterday, hence no blog post, and saw a pair of adorable black pugs, Mum and daughter. They were as cute as buttons, Mum was a bit stand offish but daughter was full of herself and demanded a cuddle from me and a fuss from Ben. Who, I might add, was totally entranced by the attention.

We stopped in a bit of Sandringham Woodland and Ben was a very happy little dog, chasing round. He met 2 very big very muddy Golden(HA mudden more like) Retrievers and had a mad chase me chase you session.
 I spotted this tree and just loved the shape.

Once it is in leaf all those horizontal lines will be lost.

I received a gift, it was given with an apology in case I was offended. Just look.

There is no date or number to be seen but it is well used.

I will be making the Granny loaf soon.

As you can see there are marks and smears from a busy cooks fingers, I remember once putting a wooden spoon down onto a page of my first cookbook and leaving a dollop of Parkin mix behind, the stain is still there.

I am thrilled with my gift, much better than a shiny "coffee table tome" full of glossy pictures of meals that take a weeks worth of money to make.

On another note, I have shared with you my blog hopping trips, I have found some great blogs to follow and to make an occasional visit that way. 
One of the best was Sew and Sow Farm, written by Jan. Well she has just reached a milestone, a year of blogging and to celebrate is having Five Days of giveaways, today's is for some wonderful Aurifil thread. Do go and have a look, I look forward to her posts and often pop in and visit some of her followers too.

Reasons to be grateful

1. Glorious sunny days.

2. Meeting new dogs on my walks.( and the owners)

3. A load of goodies on their way from AF.

4. An unusually mild February, at least it is here.

5. The ability to say "Yes Please" to the offer of a trip out in our lovely countryside.

I am so glad that I made the decision to retire last year, I would have missed out on so much if I had stayed part time.
I certainly would not have had the time to learn to crochet.
And as I have the offer of a trip out shortly, just a quick visit to Else,s ( I will have to tell you about that place) I am off now,

TTFN                                               Pam

Monday 17 February 2014

The Green Green Haze of Spring

Hello, good evening and welcome to two new followers, iah2563 and awholeplotoflove, lovely to have you along.
 I have had a day of mixed busyness and idleness. 
Do you remember when I showed you my LQS and spotted the Russian Doll remnant when I put the photos on the post? Well I rang and asked them to save it for me and very kindly they did so.  After rearranging the sitting room, including moving an antique Singer in it's own cabinet up to my spare bedroom/soon to be craft room, putting lots of things into their rightful places I took Ben and Greg out. We usually go for a run round "their" field but it was quite foggy so we road walked instead. 
Then I finally went to Wisbech to visit Button Up & Stitch to collect my fabric.

I love the slightly muted colours, I did ask if one of them would pick me 4 fabrics to work with this, possibly including a solid.
The lovely Jennifer obliged, she did pick 6 so that I had a choice and this is what I decided upon.

I asked for a half meter cut as there is just about that of the Russian Doll, when I saw the solid I decided to have 1 1/2 meters I love it. Now that I have them home and snuggled up together I am thinking of going back tomorrow and finding another solid, possibly green.
I took the opportunity to have a quick rummage in the remnant bin and came out with this.

I do not use much brown, it is far from my comfort zone, but there are times when it is needed. This is a very muted shade, soft and cosy. I quite like the almost ditsy pattern, I expect it to worm it's way in to several items.

The shop has not moved yet, there are always hold ups but it should (fingers crossed) happen this Sunday, the shop will be closed on Monday and I will be falling through the door on Tuesday.

Reasons to be grateful.

1. Lovely people in a lovely shop.

2. Pretty fabrics waiting for me to create with.

3. Sunshine and gentle weather.

4. The haze of green on trees and bushes as leaves slowly start to unfurl.

5. My sad little Primrose, rescued from the garden center cheap box, is thriving and sad no more.

I took the dogs on a new walk this morning and on the south facing side of the lane there is a soft green haze, very pretty and maybe a hint that Spring is closer than we think. It will soon be time to put meal worms out on the bird feeders, it takes energy to lay eggs and sit on them. 
I have a dreadful confession to make. I hung new (to me) curtains on my front door a few weeks ago. They were £3.00 in the CS and still in their Next packaging. I hung them and pinned up the hems and left them to settle and drop before cutting and sewing. Well they hang there still pinned as I can not decide whether to make them 2" longer or not.
They are washable so I will only allow 3" for possible shrinkage. I have no excuses for my procrastination but I am sick of trying not to see the pins. Tomorrow they come down to be cut and hemmed, no excuses, no prevarication and no dinner till they are done.

On the subject of dinner, I made a fridge bottom pasta bake tonight. It was delicious and was totally left overs and odds and sods. I call it a 50p dish and there is enough for tomorrow.  
I can not use cooking as a reason not to finish my curtains.

I popped into the CS, having revamped the sitting room I decided to dress the mantle. I thought of a row of glass containers for flowers, fresh, silk or maybe felt, even crochet!

I found 6 glasses, a book and a pretty pillowcase for £1 the lot. I had looked in a CS in Wisbech and the glasses were 50p each and pillow cases £1 upwards. My local CS is always busy, they have an amazing turnover and get stacks of donations. They have a book sale on this week, 8 for £1 paperbacks I will be rootling through them at some point.

Time for tea now, I feel that I have waffled on long enough.
              TTFN                                     Pam