Monday 31 March 2014

Monday again, where did last week go?

Here we are again, Monday, they seem to come round twice as fast now that I have retired. Possibly because there are not enough hours in the day for me to do all the things that I want to. Goodness knows how I found the time to go to work.

We took Fran back to Beckenham yesterday, Michael drove as it plays my joints up to do more than 100 miles in one go. I crocheted part of the journey, just trying a few things out and will share later.

We arrived at around 11:30 and had a cuppa closely followed by a ham and salad sandwich and a cookie. We cleared the kitchen up and set off to the park.

As you can see it is colourful.

Michael, Fran and Ben getting ahead while I take my photos. That border smells as good as it looks.

Although I am, not a fan of grey squirrels I can see their appeal, they are very tame in the park and some of them can be hand fed.

This one was much more wary and would not let me get close.
I did take loads of photos and will share them during the week.

Reasons to be grateful.

1. A lovely afternoon wandering around in the sun.

2. Ben met lots of playmates including a very active little Bichon girl.

3. A sneaky ice cream for Fran and I.

4. We spoke to several of the strollers and all were very friendly. Mind you they were dog walking like us.

5. The park was full of family groups enjoying the fresh air and relaxing together.

I was quite surprised at just how many folk were out and about, the parks at home are usually empty except for the dog walkers.

The journey back was iffy to start with, there had been an accident either in or near to the Blackwall tunnel and it took us 30 minutes to cover 2 1/2 miles, g r o a n.
Once through we were off and there were no further hold ups, it was lovely having the extra hour of daylight.
Once home Ben was fed and watered and lots of tea was made and drunk by me.

I have been busy clearing the rubbish out of my blackcurrant and gooseberry corner. I have cut down lots of greenery and put it through the shredder and then back as mulch around the bushes.

I have had a cuppa and a sandwich, Ben needs another walk and then I am off out into the garden again.

      TTFN                                               Pam

Saturday 29 March 2014

Making Hay while the sun shines

Fran arrived safe and sound last night and Ben was beside himself with joy. He pounced as soon as she got her bottom on the sofa and was wrapped round her like a blanket.
He followed her upstairs and tried to sneak in to bed with her.

I woke very early and rather than rattle about downstairs and wake Fran too early, it was just 5:00, I got my crochet hook out and rattled a few of these off.

Now that I look at them spread out I see that yellow is very much in the forefront. I think that it will be a lovely bright blanket for my new home.
I will do these in the evenings in front of the TV, it helps me to sit still and watch a film in one sitting. If my hands are empty I can only manage 30 minutes before I start to jiffle.

Fran has gone to have her hair cut and Ben is despondent, just look at him.

From his expression I feel that he blames me for her leaving.

We are having all her favourites to eat so last night it was meatballs and tagliatelle, breakfast was toasted fruit bread. Lunch will be apple crumble and custard and dinner tonight is Roast Beef. We are having pudding for lunch to make sure that we have room to eat it.

Reasons to be grateful.

1. Fran home for a little while.

2. Seeing Ben delirious with joy.

3. Listening to Graham Norton on the radio this morning.

4. The wonderful Galton Blackinstone was on Saturday Kitchen so I sat for a while and watched him.

5. The day is sunny and warm enough that I walked Ben without a jacket.

Galton is a very talented chef and is rarely seen on TV, I have his books and use them often. It was a pleasure to watch him in action. As Sunday lunch is more than my weeks budget I will not be partaking at his hotel.

Fran is back so I am off to make custard.

                   TTFN                                      Pam

Friday 28 March 2014

Yes I DID Help, and here is the proof.

Work is progressing well, Michael has been papering at the dining end of the kitchen whilst I finished stripping the paper at the other end. He sneakily took this as a record of the fact that I did help.

I did make the tea and coffee, most of the time, and I have been cleaning round the windows, the closing edges that you only see when you open the windows. My pet hate is seeing them dirty and cobwebby so they get done very regularly. I am also "mr shifter" and have moved several things from A to B back to A and then to C.

I took Ben out for an hour this afternoon and took a few pics.

This field is just on the edge of the village, the center section was hand picked a few days ago for the flower market, the remainder will not be gathered they were really grown for the bulbs. This is their 3rd year so they will be harvested in the autumn. 
There is a small area on the far left that is tulips, out of sight, these are still just leaves.

Now this is a wallflower, it is a perennial and has bloomed each of the 9 years that I have lived in the village. 

A patch of Honesty growing wild at the edge of a field, there are seedlings growing all around and in a few years it will fill the whole area.

I have walked past this barn end wall hundreds of times and never seen this shrub before. There was a scraggy hedge and a broken wall that have been removed. It is so pretty, there are 2 side by side and a paler one further down, I could not get closer as we had heavy rain yesterday evening and the land has been ploughed.

As usual for me the last photo was the first one that I took today. I woke early and put the breadmaker on with a fruit loaf recipe, as soon as it was cool enough I had a slice. Michael had the crust with buttery stuff but I had mine as it was, yummy yummy yummy. I bought this breadmaker after Froogs recommended it and have not regretted one moment of the time I have had it. I do not use it all the time I like to make a big batch in the Kenwood and fill the oven. For one off loaves it is excellent and this is like an enormous Hot Cross Bun. I have to make another without the fruit for Fran, I will do it last thing tomorrow for her to take back to London.

Reasons to be grateful.

1. The glory of nature all around us Free.

2. My point and shoot camera that was a gift several years ago.

3. Ben having the patience to wait for me while I decide what to photograph.

4. My kitchen will soon be finished and back together.

5.The pile of paint tins will be gone from the bathroom, the most convenient place to put them.

It may seem strange to keep paint in the bathroom, they were tucked in a corner right out of the way so are one of the few items that have not been shunted round for the last week or so.
 The spare bedroom/craft room is finished but the shelves need to be tidied once all the "relocated" items have been returned to their proper homes. B****r, I have just remembered that I forgot to get a new lightshade when I was out yesterday, tomorrow it will have to be.

I have a list of odd jobs to be done to finish each room off, I spent 20 minutes looking for a green glass dish to put in the bathroom before I remembered giving it away months ago.

I want to nip into the garden and pick some daffodils for my vases, I like a splash of colour here and there and the yellow is so happy.

Ben needs to be fed soon and I have to check that the box of meatballs, that I removed from the freezer last night, are thawing.
We are having  roast beef tomorrow, it is the enormous joint that I bought for Christmas and we didn't use.
 Once cold I will slice some of the left over meat up and freeze for Fran, the rest will become cottage pie, go into large Yorkshire puddings and so on until we have eaten it. I guess that Ben will help out, if I ask him nicely.

I ordered a couple of crochet books from up the Big River yesterday and a top up of Ben's vitamin pills and the supplement that he takes for his flaky skin. I am looking forward to getting the parcels, well 2 of them any way.

I have started to crochet a colourful Granny Square Blanket, I can not get my sewing out and knitting little clothes for Bramble is too fiddly when watching TV or a DVD. This will be for my new home, I know that it may be some time before I move, but it will also be a while before the blanket is finished. 

On the subject of finishing, I ought to get a wiggle on and finish my tasks.

TTFN                                                            Pam

Thursday 27 March 2014

You have to break a lot of eggs to make an omelette

Thank you all for your kind comments yesterday, I will answer them all shortly. I started this in a hurry, nothing new there, and forgot to visit comments first.

Look what's occurring.

Remember this, well have a look at it now.

The rest of the kitchen is in much the same state. My lovely dresser has gone to it's new home. It was far too big and heavy to move and I will have a new one once settled. My cooker has decided to die on me, why it couldn't have hung on for another couple of months I don't know. I have found one on e bay just a few miles away, I don't want to buy a new one before I move.( My heart is set on a Rayburn or Aga type solid fuel range.) I would rather put a decent second hand one in to leave behind.

The kitchen walls will be papered with a plain white embossed paper that is paintable but I will leave it white. Who ever buys will probably rip the kitchen out and replace it, I would. I just want to have it all clean and tidy, ready to move in to when I leave. We went right through before we moved in 9 years ago, someone else may have to move in and then do the work. I didn't replace the kitchen as it was not very old.

Michael is certainly putting his all into this and the cottage is looking much better for it.

I read Attica24 this morning, all about caravans. It has filled me with ideas for my holiday home, I have found a really nice site between Carmarthen  and Cardigan, nicely situated for me to house hunt, once I am a bit nearer to moving I will contact them and  discuss things.

Reasons to be grateful.

1. I am much better today, back to normal.

2. My cottage is looking bright and cheerful, room by room.

3. I had a real bargain today in wallpaper.

4. The sun is glorious again, there was a cloudburst in Wisbech earlier, not here.

5. Dinner is a one pot wonder in the slow cooker and smells delicious.

There will be lots of slow cookery while the kitchen is being finished, meatballs tomorrow ( Fran's request) and a pot roast on Saturday. Sunday lunch will be in London, Fran is taking the rest of her things back so I will have a day out.

I plan on going to a car boot sale the following weekend, there is a craft and antiques fair as well so hope to have a good day selling all my turn outs and cast offs.

The title, well I am not making omelettes but there is a lot of mess being made and something better will come of it.

It is time for Ben's walk now.

                   TTFN                                                 Pam

Wednesday 26 March 2014

I am indisposed, I am also indebed.

A short one for a change, got up this morning felt fine. Let Ben out and made my usual mint tea, still fine. Did a few chores and moving stuff to get the dresser cleared. 8:30 kettle on, cup of tea and ooh dear, feel a bit "iffy" 5 minutes later dash to bathroom, stay there 20 minutes. Crawl out, disrobe and back to bed. Clear liquids only, mainly water.

I intend to remain within a few feet of the bathroom for the remainder of 24 hours since onset. It is nothing that I have eaten, it could be stress, it could be a bug, it could be that 24 hr flu thing that went through the village last week.  I am always the last to see/hear/get anything. 

Today is not a good day. The one bright bit is that I have found a couple of new blogs to read and have been able to read them from the start.

I am off now to sip some water and hopefully retain it.

    TTFN                                            Pam

Tuesday 25 March 2014

The Things That Time Forgot

After spending yesterday in the garden I really had to start turning out the last of my junk repositories treasure cupboards, I found both treasure and junk, well in my eyes anyway.
The Junk first.

This is a perfect example, I can honestly say that I have no recollection of when this was acquired, or from where or when. In fact I don't remember seeing it before. It Has To Go.

Then the treasure.

Silver plated Kings Pattern cutlery, this came from The China Cabinet in Diss more years ago than I can remember. It was an "Oh My God I'm in The Dog House" gift and although pretty I only used it about 6 times. I always had a houseful of my sons mates and this was definitely not for their clumsy hands.

Although I am planting stuff in the garden and sowing seeds I am still planning on moving to Wales ASAP, but by nature I am a "belt and braces" person so if the move doesn't happen fast I will have salad and veg in the garden. Equally it might help a quick sale to have the garden set.
 I want to cut my possessions by half, that sounds a lot but then I have a lot. I have culled quite a bit but need to shift more of the things that are no longer used or needed.
When I move I want it to be pain free, so I will be hiring a van and doing it myself. Provided that I get an early sale I plan to buy a holiday home and live in that for a few weeks so I can house hunt at leisure. I will have to put anything that I take into storage so I want to take very little.

Reasons to be grateful.

1. Another sunny day.

2. Stairs and landing almost finished painting.

3. A ding dinner tonight, Chicken, veg and beans in a spicy tomato sauce with Pasta. made and frozen a few weeks ago.

4. Francesca is home for the weekend.

5. I have an evening of knitting planned, more clothes for Bramble.

I spent a fruitless 30 minutes trawling the net for bright yellow Aran weight wool this morning. I have a pattern to crochet Minion hats and of course they need to be bright yellow. If anyone has any idea where I can find this please let me know.

I know that I have said this before but having spent a day sorting through cupboards, and remembering that my freezers are still full after 2 weeks eating out of them. I am A Doomsday Prepper at heart.
Having said that, Fran is looking forward to "shopping at home" for her freezer and pantry at the weekend. I will be shopping free mainly until the move, lots of time saved not to mention the money.

Just because, which word sounds like leather hitting willow, clunk or thwack, cricket of course.

         TTFN                                               Pam

Monday 24 March 2014

Hanging on from last year.

I will be cooking later so thought, something with apples will hit the spot and fill the oven. 

I brought these in from my shed, I put them in store  last autumn, they are still in fairly good condition and I still have 3 more trays tucked away. Then there are quite a lot sliced and frozen and about 20 jars in the cupboard. I may have gone overboard but they are free.

In the field this afternoon I took this snap.

Ornamental crab apples from last year with the new leaves unfolding.  Tenacious things apples. 

There are 3 of these trees soaring into the sky, fully clothed with snowy white blossom.

I have been in the garden most of the day, the big glasshouse is all ready to be filled with cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers both hot and sweet.

I have been in the wild garden thinning it out and removing a lot of dead plant material, I like it wild but under control.

I have a large pile of stuff to burn so the incinerator will see some action later. The ash will benefit the soil once it has cooled.

Reasons to be grateful.

1. A good days work done and dusted.

2. Laundry whirling round in the sunshine.

3. Ben watching intently, making sure that I don't slack.

4. The black cat that sat on the wall watching was very friendly, I hope it's a lucky one.

5. The spare bedroom/craft room is decorated now and ready for me to fill it up again.

I have worked quite hard today, it was hot work cutting away and then moving all the debris over to the burning ground. Much of it had to be cut down to a suitable size and I was in  full sunshine, lovely but sweaty.

The garden was not as bad as I feared, there was quite a bit of tall growth that needed thinning out, and the fruit bushes needed some crossing and dead wood sorting. Once that was dealt with there was very little at surface level. I assume that it was all drowned last year.

I have to bake tonight, there isn't a single morsel of cake in the house or freezer and I have Fran here for the weekend. I will make a selection of cup cakes and freeze them wrapped singly, 1 minute in the ding oven and warm cake.

Jacket potato tonight, I will scoop the flesh out, mix in some sizzled bacon and onion with a handful of grated or cubed cheese, pile it back in the shells and bake off for 15 minutes. They will be great with a pile of salad. Some sort of apple pudding with AF custard should finish it off nicely.

TTFN                                                        Pam.

I see that I am creeping/galloping towards 300 posts, I feel a giveaway coming on.

Sunday 23 March 2014

Not a March Hare at all, She's a Bunny Girl.

The day started bright and sunny and absolutely freezing, there was a thick layer of frost on every surface at 5.30 this morning.
I made a brew and took it back up with my knitting from last night that needed sewing up.

Meet Bramble Bunny, go on wave back.

She's sulking now because you didn't wave, and she's flashing her little tail.

I will make this outfit next but I will use the yellow wool for the jacket (still a Norwich supporter at heart).
 I will make the bag as the pattern and a pair of shoes to match.
I do have a third outfit pattern and there will be another in the next magazine issue. I hope that these will help Kaitlin to learn to dress and undress and give her some fun, she does love her dollies.

I walked Ben and Greg round the field this morning and took a few photos but the wind was so brisk that they are not wonderful.

This tree is in a very sheltered spot and you can see how the tassles are being blown about.
It may be better tomorrow, although tonight is supposed to be a harder frost than last night, bang go my peaches.

I will have to make the most of the rhubarb, that is rampaging along.

Reasons to be grateful.

1. A new blog to read, Be Happy, from someone just starting on the frugal pathway.

2. I managed to find Paid in Chickens on Bloglovin, another happy read.

3. Bramble turned out ok, my first knitting project for absolutely ages.

4. Roast Duck for Dinner, love it love it love it.

5. Lots of yarn ready for an afternoons crafting.

I have just remembered that although I finished my shawl I have not taken a photo, I will remedy that tomorrow, I may even model it. 
I will have to see if I can shrink the pattern and make one for Bramble.
The sun is shining as bright as it can so I am off for a potter round the garden, no work mind this is my day off.
Enjoy your day where ever you are and what ever you are doing.

       TTFN                          Pam

Saturday 22 March 2014

Buyer Beware or Open your Eyes before your Purse.

Have any of you seen Angela Rippon & co on BBC 2 morning TV,  I caught the tail end of Monday's program and promptly put the rest onto record. I have to say that I thought that only the very gullible would fall foul of most of what they were portraying, allow me a moment to eat my words.

I was in a shop this morning and spotted one of the yogurt varieties that I buy when I am feeling flush or/and foolish.  There was a big glossy sign in day glow colours promoting packs of 8 pots 2 for £6 a saving of 90p. Not bad if you buy a lot of yogurt, a shopper next to me pointed it out and proceeded to put 4 packs into her trolley. I scanned the shelves and spotted the same brand in packs of 4 for £1, my maths may not be brilliant but the big packs on special offer work out at £1.50 for 4 pots, I pointed this out to the other shopper who was outraged and removed said large packs from her trolley. 
Rip Off, Misleading or poor signage, there was nothing to point out the low price on the 4 packs?

I went to the library and returned my books and while there picked up a copy of this.

This is full of articles and adverts for Lincolnshire, mainly food related. The photo on the front is for a recipe featuring onions and there is an article about a large scale onion producer. Part way through reading I found something mildly disturbing. They grow many varieties of shallots, garlic and stock onions, they also grow a speciality pickling onion with a flat bottom. These picklers are harvested, dried and shipped to POLAND to be hand peeled before coming back to be pickled. This is allegedly due to labour costs. A few thoughts spring to mind,

1. Are the Polish workers being exploited.
2. Considering how many Polish workers are in Britain, I am surprised that there are enough left to do the work.
3. Would the British shopper be happy to buy them if they knew the details.
4. Given that transport costs are often quoted as a reason for price hikes how can this be cost effective.
5. I am so glad that I pickle my own onions.

Rip Off, Misleading? I have no idea if the labels state that the contents were shipped hundreds of miles to be prepared but would hazard a guess not. Are we entitled to have that information, I think Yes. Food miles is a topic that seems to be constantly in the media, we are actively encouraged to Buy British and full details should be on packaging allowing the consumer to decide whether or not to support such practices.

Off the soap box now.
I have sown more seeds this morning, 2 Basils, some more Coriander, Chives and Parsley. I took an executive decision to work inside as although the sun is shining the wind is straight from the Arctic from the feel of it.
I have just used the last of my outside Coriander so hope this mornings sowing will replace it, my indoor pot is carrying on well but will have to be replaced for the autumn.I have dragged my French Tarragon out from under it's winter hiding place and hope that it starts to shoot soon, I love chicken with tarragon. I need to replace my Sage, it is very woody and will soon be a large shrub, I will move the big pot into a corner as the bees love the flowers.

Reasons to be grateful

1. My garden, a joy to be in if not to behold at the moment.

2. The pots of future food that are steadily being filled.

3. My crochet shawl, almost finished.

4. Michael's hard work with scraper and paintbrush.

5. Ben, the best head Gardener and Foreman in the world.

 I told you about the back copy of Knitting and Crochet magazine that I was searching for, well I won the copy on E bay and it is now sitting in front of me waiting to be skimmed through. As soon as my shawl is done I will be making the Bunny and clothes for Kaitlin and then a minion hat for Junior. I didn't get any books from the library this morning, I realised that I would not have time to take them out of the bag, never mind read them.

The wind is brisk and cold so I will be snuggled under my shawl while I finish it off, 3 more rows to go, then I may have to find a throw for my lap while I start knitting.

Bacon and eggs with Bubble and Squeak tonight, I purposely cooked too much veg yesterday with that in mind.
As part of my eat it up campaign I have taken a Duck Crown out of the freezer for tomorrow and will pick some sage leaves to make a stuffing mix with a red onion and wholemeal breadcrumbs.
I have scarcely made an impression on the freezers so far and it has been 2 weeks since I started.

I think that I have waffled on enough.

                TTFN                                 Pam

Friday 21 March 2014

Digging for the future, and some sowing on the side.

Another glorious day, I have spent most of it outside. Four rows of potatoes planted, Rocket and Nadine, and 8 pots of each variety in the big glasshouse for extra earlies. I do like new potatoes but will not pay through the nose for 5 day old ones. My Granddad used to say that new potatoes should go from garden fork to table fork in 30 minutes.
I have sown some purple sprouting Broccoli to enjoy next year, leeks will go in tomorrow. A tray of cut and come again lettuce will be sewn every 2 weeks, the first one is done, and I sprinkled some radish seeds in between the  rows of potatoes. I am buying my tomato plants this year as I have left it rather late to grow my own, I will be sowing a lot of sweetcorn though and French Beans. I grow the things that I like that are expensive to buy. When I had over an acre I grew nearly every veg that we ate, but in those days I was supplying most of the family.

I still haven't made my cakes, too busy outside. I may bake tomorrow as the weather report is a bit iffy.

Reasons to be grateful.

1. A good days work done.

2. The garden is alive with golden and white frilly daffodils dancing in the breeze.

3. The scented varieties are now flowering and wafting their perfume around.

4. The buds are just at bursting point on the Howgate Wonder Apple tree.

5. My Peach tree is showing lots of blossom.

I am not going to hand pollinate as the tree was buzzing with insects earlier, I envisage several spells of fruit thinning though. It is heartbreaking but as with the apples and pears if I do not thin I will have buckets of marble sized fruits.
I have just realised that I had no photos so popped out and snapped a few, the light is not wonderful so I will take some more another day.

The Peach Tree.

One of the pear trees, Beth, just opening her leaves

One side of the "Daffodil Walk", there was a grape vine growing over the arches but the storms took it down along with all but 2 arches and they are coming out soon.

Some of my White Daffs, I see that there is a nettle  trying to take over, I will deal with that tomorrow, there is an Aquilegia just the other side, that will stay.

That is all for now, the kitchen is calling, fish pie tonight with carrots, cauliflower and cabbage.

      TTFN                                                                Pam

Thursday 20 March 2014

Size Does Matter, and so does Speed.

Everything is looking brighter today. The specialist came out yesterday and inspected the carpets, they can not be restored so I will have them replaced. My no claims bonus will reduce but not by much as I have been with the company for 9 years.
The bathroom cabinet may get replaced but I am not rushing to do so, I admit that it had become a bit of a dumping ground.

I baked bread today and was surprised at the difference in the loaf sizes.

Then I went out to get my eggs from the next village,

This is what I found, 6 large and 6 huge, all for £2.00

On the way back I popped into the greengrocers to get some limes, they were 4 for £1.

She gave me these for £1 as they were a bit small.

Size does matter, the wholemeal loaf is bigger than usual, 6 of my eggs are almost twice the size of the others and small limes gave me 3 extra.
As for speed, my laptop and blogger is  v  e  r  y   s  l  o  o  o  o  w 
so I am off for a cup of tea.
Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

TTFN                                                  Pam

Tuesday 18 March 2014

Calamity Jane Eat Your Heart Out!

It is 13.25 and my day is spiraling out of control, I started the day as usual. 2 cups of tea and half an hour checking e mails and doing a catch up on my blog list So far, so good. I found and downloaded some crochet patterns, even better, fast forward and the postie brought me a crochet pattern for Minion Hats, excellent. 
"What is she wittering on about?" I hear you think. 
Well I had the bathroom cabinet in the kitchen to give it a good clean, crash tinkle tinkle, "I hear the sound of breaking glass" one mirror panel is dead and gone forever. Accidents happen, shrug it off, clean up the glass, put cabinet with recycle bags ready for tomorrow. 
Fast forward again.......
The stairs and landing were all masked up for painting, I have tongue and groove paneling going up the stairs, one side was painted so I picked up the tin and carried it to the top and BINGO,
it slipped through my fingers and spilled over the landing and bedroom floors. Both carpets got a dose, this is a proper oil based paint and ate its way into the pile before I could react. I had assured Michael that I was quite capable of painting the paneling. Looks like I was wrong!

I just spent a few minutes on the phone to the insurance folk and an expert is going to ring me and will come out to see if the carpets can be salvaged.
I will not hold my breath, I have an excess of £100 but the stair carpet was more than twice that.
I have to tell you that I stood in the paint with my M & S sheepskin slippers on, I dare not claim for them as I did it after I had tried to clean the paint up.

Reasons to be grateful.

1. I have insurance.

2. I have the wool to finish my shawl, my lovely neighbour picked it up for me this morning.

3. Easy dinner tonight, burgers from the freezer.

4. The wood that I did paint looks good.

5. I have new handles for my kitchen cupboards, for free.

I mentioned to a friend that I wanted to replace the handles on my cabinets as they were worn, she rang her hubs who had a box that came with their kitchen. They used the handles from the old one as they loved them so I have the new ones. Lovely. That will be a coconut cake at the weekend.

I found 3 David Baldicci books in the CS so am happy over that.
I have the bunny pattern, I could not get it to download so I wrote it out longhand. I will make one tonight and then make some clothes and post them off to Kaitlin, Junior will have a Minion Hat.

No pictures today, spilled paint is not a good subject.

TTFN                                                    Pam