Tuesday 30 September 2014

Riding the Ripples.

There are a few ripples in my life but it could be worse, they could be waves. There are some good ripples as well, you will see them a bit further down.

I have not been far from home for a few days but will be out and about tomorrow. I have made a few more pillow case dog beds and have 3 more ready to sew, these will go to Many Tears in the morning.

These are the perfect size for the smaller dogs and being poly-cotton with polyester wadding they wash easily and dry quickly.

The pillowcases were either old ones that I have relegated to the scrap sewing stash or in the case of the pink patterned one picked up for 25p in a charity shop. With the wadding supplied at cost these are as cheap as chips and take minutes to make.

I was sorry to miss Yarndale but am making firm plans to go next year. I have been looking at pictures on some blogs and they are great. I am enjoying hooking away in the evenings, they are pulling in so fast now.

I have made a start on Lucy,s seaside ripple blanket from Attic24. Just for once I am following the pattern completely, a new discipline for me.  

The pattern is simple and repetitive, and I can watch the TV without missing a thing. There is a new version coming out with Cottage Garden colours, that is in my line of sight but I will maybe change some of the colours. It will have to wait until I have looked at the blanket in detail and mull it over.

The most wonderful smells are creeping around the house, I have Frugal Queen,s Sticky Fiery Pork in my mini oven, I have some runner beans and sweetcorn ready to cook and some noodles ready to heat. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Another recipe that I am following exactly, it won,t last.

I spent an hour with Maggie this afternoon, she is a talented artist and has started to work with semi precious gems. We both have a love of colour and some of the materials that she uses have sparked my imagination. I will be playing with lots of new ideas this winter and looking for sources of various materials.

Reasons to be grateful.

1.  The weather continues to be lovely for the most part.

2.  I have been given  many plants for my garden.

3.  I seem to have a never ending supply of runner beans, good job that I love them.

4.  My new friends and acquaintances are very supporting.

5.  Ben is in good health although ageing quite obviously now. 

We are curtailing our walks as his hind legs shake if he over does it. I am going to have to put in some swimming time or start walking alone to make up for it. There is a walking group in the village but they take it very seriously and I prefer my exercise to be enjoyable.

My landlord dropped in today, there are a couple of little jobs to be done, he was very complementary on the garden and looks forward to seeing how it develops. He was most impressed with my little apple trees, I imagine that he thought that all apples grew on standard trees 40 ft tall.

Enough now, I have pork to turn and veg to cook, dinner is not too far away.

      TTFN                                                    Pam

Sunday 28 September 2014

Still here, just busy.

Hi de Hi, I am busy running round in ever decreasing circles, A bit like the Ouzulum Bird.

I promise not to disappear though, painful, very painful. 

I have lots of things going on with my extended family but hopefully it will all settle down soon and I can get back to blogging, I am still reading a few every chance that I get.

Michael,s sister is unwell and it meant a run up to Derbyshire over the weekend, as chance would have it Jeannie had a birthday on Saturday so her card and gift were delivered in person. I hope to get up for a week with her soon.

Ben has been back to the vet, he is mixing with lots of different dogs and I noticed that he was scratching. A quick check over and I found a flea, bath, spot on and a visit to the vets right smartish. She is sure that the itching is directly linked to the flea, I had sprayed the house from top to bottom so bought another can of spray, ££££££ phew. I also got some new monthly treatment, a chewable tablet. The manufacturers are so convinced that dogs will love them, and that they will work, that they are giving a money back guarantee. 

I took a stack of things that I had made to Many Tears, they are having an open day with stalls, including a craft stall. I stocked up with tinned and dried dog food and loads of bottles of thin bleach.

I am also making some simple, washable dog beds using pillowcases and a double layer of 4oz wadding. Hilary from Isabeau Inspirations at Cross Hands kindly let me have 5 metres at cost. I have raided my stash of orphan pillowcases for all the darker colours and one or two pink ones for the little girls. It is a quick and easy make and using the polyester wadding means that they wash easy and dry fast. I just put a double layer in each case, sew round the edge and a zig zag from side to side and job done. The hardest part is wrestling with the wadding, it is very springy.

This happy pair are two of Ben,s playmates, Archie a cross breed rescue dog and Dolly a Cavachon rescue bitch. They are lovely little dogs and when we meet them walking it usually means an extra 20 minutes while they tear around.

I am off now, normal service will be resumed soon, I hope, I have a parcel to wrap to go to Australia in the morning and I have to play "hunt the cellotape"

       TTFN                                                               Pam

Wednesday 24 September 2014

Many Tears Tonight.

Please go and read Life after money, Ilona has copied and pasted an article about breeding dogs rescued from a puppy farm. I live around 30 minutes from the rescue centre and will be ringing them in the morning to see if and how I can help. It may be that I spend a chunk of many days sitting in a pen playing with dogs, it may be that I fill the car with food, shampoo, toys or what ever is a need and drive it over to them. 
What ever I can do I will, and I will be giving Ben an extra hug or 3 tonight.

        TTFN                                                           Pam

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Nearly Done Digging.

Welcome to some new followers, Susie from fold in the flour and radqueen1, lovely to have you with us. Susie hails from Cardiff and on her latest post was a recipe for a cake with cranberries. I love the tart, sharp taste and was thinking of trying to grow some. Then I read a post about the Barberry, fruit of the Berberis Thunbergi. It convinced me to search one out and I hope to be planting one soon.

I know that this will grow here as there are a few in the village, and they do not require a specific soil and as an extra bonus the fruit is at easy picking height.

Work is moving ahead at the top end of the garden, the natural barrier, that we needed to build, is almost complete. It does not look very pretty but there will be more soil added and then I will plant it with Ivy, Vinca Major and some honeysuckle. Between them they will consolidate the soil, provide total ground cover and climb up the trees providing a living screen. The soil is coming from this area behind the greenhouse, there is also plenty of rubbish and broken bricks coming out. Yesterday at around 3.00 pm

I took this one earlier this afternoon, the brick pillar is the start of the incline to be planted. There will be a wire fence all the way across here.

If I can find some I will fill this with cabbage plants, if not a bag of onion sets will go in.

Three of these were dug out and some well rotted manure forked into the bottom.

Today they look like this.

Well heeled in with a mixture of soil and manure halfway up the hole and sieved soil to the base of the turf, I will top up with a mulch of bark chippings. As these are small trees, and there is very little wind out here, I have not staked them. At the top far right the plum and damson trees will be on St. Julien stock and will be staked.

The trees are set across the garden rather than in a straight line, it is not meant to look like an orchard.

Further back I will have a rectangular bed cut out and will set this out in square feet, this will give me 27 little plots to fill with whatever takes my fancy from my selection of seeds. On the far right the wide bed will hold the last 2 trees and possibly a gooseberry, some autumn raspberries and a planted table of strawberries. No bending or kneeling to pick them.
At the moment it looks like this,

Piles of rehomed soil and a nice load of manure, I have tipped some into the greenhouse as well to feed next years greedy tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers.

This walkway on the right hand side of the greenhouse gives access to the little shed, the Keter storage units and the bed behind the greenhouse,once finished it will have a layer of bark.

This is at the front right hand side of the greenhouse and marks where the land falls away. It will be built up and a step or 3 put in before getting a layer of bark. I will have room for a couple of chairs and a small table here, a place to sit and read when it gets hot. There is also a potting/pricking out area planned to fit in the corner.

Reasons to be grateful.

1.  A big wasted area fast becoming an important part of the garden.

2.  The ground clearing cost nothing but elbow grease and sweat.

3.  I am being taken out tomorrow to visit a nursery full of fruit trees.

4.  I was given a big bag of runner beans, delicious.

5.  The rain came as dusk fell so I will not have to worry about watering tomorrow.

The day was very sunny mostly, but every time the sun went behind a cloud it became noticeably cooler. I hope that it is warm tomorrow it will make walking round the nursery much better.

I have planted my little shrubs into pots and left them on the greenhouse steps for now, a  bit of a Ben barrier. I have to get out and buy the water butts now.

That is it for tonight, I have also cut a stack of 5" charm squares from the stash today and got 2 loads of washing done and dried. Not ironed though, I got distracted while looking for the best price of bark on line. I ended up watching about 10 U Tube gardening videos. Naughty but nice.

        TTFN                                                                  Pam

Sunday 21 September 2014

Some Like it Hot

I was talking about my haul of cheap seeds with neighbours and listing what I had bought. I was asked what chilli seeds I had and if I liked Scotch Bonnet, I said that I had never tried them, although I like heat I want flavour as well.

I was presented with 4 of them from the greenhouse to try.

I will be saving seeds from one of them and treating them all with respect and caution.

My new Sourdough was split and fed this morning and started to bubble immediately, it is loving the warm days.

The greenhouse is completely finished now and gleaming in the sunlight. The heat builds up in here fast.

I would have preferred safety glass but had polycarbonate in case Ben runs into it, he does chase the odd squirrel.

Today was World Peace day and Gratitude Day, well I am grateful that my day has been peaceful.
Ben and I have found another footpath, we had to climb up a very steep incline but someone has put steps in to make it easier.  I still managed to build up a fair head of steam. After following for quite a way we came to a double fence, one either side of a stream with a stile on each side. I decided that hauling Ben over these would have to wait for another day but we will do it as I want to know where it goes to.

I spent a couple of hours forking over a wide bed in the garden, it will reap the benefit of some well rotted manure tomorrow (I am reaping the benefit now and am glowing) and will be ready for my greedy squash plants next year.

I have changed my mind about the planting site for the fruit trees and will be marking out circles and getting the holes dug tomorrow, these will also get some manure.

My reasons to be grateful do not need numbering today, there are too many. I am grateful for the wonderful are that I live in, to all the many friendly people who I share it with. To those who work to keep it lovely and those whose gardens give splashes of colour and fragrance for all to enjoy. I am also grateful to all of you who read my ramblings.

My heartfelt thanks go to Michael, who battled with incomprehensible instructions to build my greenhouse after he had levelled the ground and then moved  stacks of heavy slabs of slate to build my steps.

Maggie is in line for gratitude as well for giving me a heap of seedlings from her well stocked garden.

I am off now to make tea, I am full to the gills with roast pork and all the rest that makes a good dinner. I hope you have all had as good a weekend as I have.

                     TTFN                                                Pam

Saturday 20 September 2014

A Spend and Save Day.

Oh Dear I did manage to spend a lot today, I went to 2 places and spent £45.49, but that was all that I spent.

I followed Dawn from Doing it for our selves in Wales and went to Wyevale this morning. Look what I found.

Red Windsor Apple

Katy Apple

James Grieve Apple

All three were reduced from a penny short of £40 down to £10, a saving of  £90 as near as dammit.

BTW , The Bamboo is there to keep Ben off my newly planted garlic, so far I have put about 50 cloves in. I will not grow all that I use, a, the garden is not big enough and b, I do not have the room to dry and store it. I use lots of garlic, I love it.

Then I decided to go and have a dig amongst the reduced seeds.

These are almost all the seeds that I will need for next year, I will not be setting all of them so they will hopefully do 2 years growing.
I will also be swapping plants and produce with my neighbours.

I do like a home made Chinese fairly regularly and these mung beans will give me a good supply of bean sprouts.

I also like an egg and cress sandwich and that little packet will make at least a hundred. The cucumber is Marketmore, my Dad  used to grow them. I have not had them for several years, I normally grow a Ridge Cucumber , these will be inside and outside to see how they do.

The total value of the seeds was £47.83, I paid the grand sum of £9.50 so a saving of £38.83, nice.

On the way back I stopped at Aldi in Cross Hands, just to have a look.

They may be small but with a little TLC and some well rotted manure they will grow fast.

Four evergreen shrubs, £1.79 each, total spend here £7.16, I still have to find a Berberis and 2 Flowering Quince for the front garden, both of these have pretty flowers followed by edible and tasty fruits. I have spring flowering bulbs for the front and will grow some bedding plants as fillers while the shrubs grow.

I have put a few plants and a whole heap of bulbs on the left side of the greenhouse steps.

I forgot to tell you that I am finally picking tomatoes from my 2 plants, enough for my needs as I do not have the freezer space to make gallons of sauce. Quite a good thing after my exploit during the week.

The apple trees are on semi dwarfing rootstock and have been pruned to grow into an open cup shape, this is how the professional fruit growers like them, the sun can get at all the fruit and you only need a set of steps to harvest it. Both the Red Windsor and James Grieve are suitable to cook with, I have never grown Katy before so it will be a voyage of discovery.

I still have to find a Plum and a Damson, there are several places that I have found them and it will be an on line purchase. None were reduced at Wyevale and they  were over £40 each.

I looked at the Pears that were reduced but they were not as good quality and I am not too worried about them, now if I could find a Robin Pear it would be a different story.

Reasons to be grateful.

1.  My amazing bargains today.

2.  The still glorious weather.

3.  The faint smell of wood smoke wafting from the odd chimney.

4.  A Sweet Chestnut tree that I discovered yesterday.

5.  Watching Ben playing for an hour this afternoon with his doggy pals.

There were 3 small dogs and a Springer and they were in motion for a solid hour, Ben is now snoring beside me.

A very good day, I may have spent a fair amount but my savings on the actual value was £128.33. Goodness knows what the end savings will be, it would be an idea to weigh and value everything that I harvest but I do not see it happening.

I have found a source of well rotted Horse Manure, I have 10 bags coming on Monday. If it is good I will be getting several more.

My bread is out of the oven and I think that I may have to try a piece, in the interest of quality control.

     TTFN                                                     Pam.

Thursday 18 September 2014

Stacks of sewing and some savvy shopping.

Another gloriously sunny day here in Wales, I managed to get some more HST,s sewn, cut and pressed. I think that I have enough now I am only making a small quilt.

All the squares are in sets of 4 and ready for me to lay out and start chain piecing. It takes an age to get them pressed and paired but it makes the next stage go so fast that it is worth it.

I had to do a shop today so I slipped off to Ponty and went to Lidl and Home Bargains.

From Lidl £7.96p comes from the food budget.

From Home Bargains £3.36p, giving me a spend of £11.32p, I still have milk to buy which will be another £1. Those Egg Noodles are bought for the store cupboard, 59p a pack, they are over £1.60 in Tesco and almost £2 in the village shop. I have some from a previous shop otherwise i would have bought 4 packs. The cheesy biscuits were also a bargain and have also gone into the stores. 

The greenhouse is almost there, I am waiting for 2 bits to be delivered, hopefully today, then it is an hours work at most.

The polystyrene box has young beetroot plants in it, that I hope will give me some late roots.

There is just some filling in to be done on the right side of my slate steps and I can plant up on the left. I have some ground cover plants, some cyclamen and primroses along with a load of bulbs to put there. We have rain forecast for overnight, if that happens I will get planting tomorrow.
The area behind the greenhouse will be cleared and I hope to have some first early potatoes in there next year, followed by brassicas of some kind.

 I am falling far behind in my self imposed challenge to make 100 items by the end of September, it will not happen. My aim is to use as much fabric from stash as possible and by making the Building Block quilt I will be clearing quite a lot, once that is done I have 3 tops to layer and quilt. This will also use a deal of fabric, I will be starting on Seasonal stuff in October, I do have quite  a bit of That Sort of fabric as well, some of which has been mentally earmarked for some padded trees. I also have the blocks ready made for Fran's Quilt.

Reasons to be grateful.

1.  A real gentleman stepped up to the mark in Ponty and stopped a bully from browbeating the checkout girl.

2.  The sun is shining gloriously.

3.  I have had lots of no spend days and today was a Low spend.

4.  My new sourdough starter is so vigorous that I will have to split it again today, I will make a sponge tonight and bread tomorrow.

5.  The smell in my kitchen is earthy, rich and sweet with just a hint of yeast.

I am really full of anticipation about this sourdough, It is only the third starter that I have made and is, so far, the most promising. I will feed it tonight with some organic rye flour which I hope will make it richer and deeper still.

It does take almost 2 days to make a good loaf but it also keeps well so there should be no problem.

I am off now to potter in the garden, more sewing later and a quick flick through my library books, Wednesday is library day, to decide what order I will read them in.

       TTFN                                                            Pam

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Just call me clumsy or butterfingers

I am nursing a raw, sore and very scratchy throat, when I speak it sounds like a cross between Marlene Dietrich and Marlon Brando. I am slurping on strepsils, guzzling ice cold water and dreaming of eating my way out of a container lorry of Ben and Jerry's best.

I have had a lazy day, I have sewn some of the blocks together, some of the seam joints are rather thick, I had to put a thicker needle in the machine. All in all I think that I like it.

I had to feed my new batch of sourdough so rather than throw half away I made some rolls. They do not have the flavour yet but are pretty good none the less.

I made a big batch of base tomato sauce this afternoon, some of it had meatballs added and was poured into a dish of pasta, the rest I cooled down in a sink of iced water while I ate dinner.

I went back into the kitchen and took the pan out of the sink, turned to put it on the side ready to decant into freezer containers and dropped it straight onto the floor.
It was like a volcano, the sauce erupted into the air and splattered over half the kitchen, and me.

luckily I was wearing an apron so my clothes were mostly ok, I do have to wash it out of my hair though. I cleaned the floor first, so that I did not walk back and forth through it, the cooker front and hob, the work tops, my trolley, the fridge freezer, you get the picture. I did leave one little bit to share with you.

The absolute worst part is that I had put a stack of clean tea towels and hand towels in earlier and yes they were covered as well. They have been rinsed, soaked in Home Bargains finest oxy clean stuff and are now in the washing machine.

On the bright side my kitchen has had another blitz and is squeaky clean. Plus there was a large pot full of sauce left in the pan, so not all is lost.

The greenhouse is completed all but some glazing as some bits were missing, they have been ordered and will come via courier.
While digging out the ground in and around the base Michael unearthed several Bricks marked Cwmgors, they will all be incorporated somewhere.  I had been told that there used to be a brickworks here and it is nice to have these.

Reasons to be grateful.

1.  A sparkling clean kitchen.

2.  Some more goodies in the freezer.

3.  My sewing is looking very effective, it will be a gift.

4.  The sun has shone all day again.

5.  I have been given a load of young plants and cuttings for my garden.

I am so lucky with the people who live around me, they are kindness itself. If I am not careful I will have more plants than Kew Gardens.

Ben is sleepy tonight, our last walk was quite long and he was in a hurry to get back, I was nearly trotting on the way home. he will be going out again soon though otherwise he will be waking me up at goodness knows what time in the night.

Now I think there is time for a quick cuppa before that last walk  then it will be bed and a book.

     TTFN                                                                   Pam

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Plants and Triangles

I have been busy for the past 2 days, I blitzed the house and did 3 loads of washing on Monday and today the ironing has been done and lots of cutting, stitching and pressing has happened.
 In amongst this Ben and I have had some long walks, as my hip ache less I have been slowly increasing distance and pace and it seems to be working. 
 I have found a source of free range eggs at the very top of the village, and have been told about a Farmers Market in Llandeilo.

Any way, on to plants. I picked these up at Lidl,

Ground cover to go on the left hand side of the steps up to my greenhouse.

These pretties came from Aldi and will go in with the others.

They were all on the dry side so I gave them a good drink.

I cooked a roast on Sunday and while the oven was hot cooked a few sausage rolls and a small batch of plain scones. I cut the scones with a knife instead of cutters as I hate to reroll and will not waste any. They taste just as good no matter what shape they are.

I skinned 3 sausages and rolled out the meat to fit the amount of pastry that I had made.

Back to the title. triangles of the half square variety, well not quite. i made these by sewing 2 charm squares together round the edges and cutting corner to corner across both diagonals, this gave me 4 HST.

A mixed selection pressed and ready to sew.

Some trimmed and laid out, I quite like this mix if light and dark, the solid squares are 2 charm packs of Kona Snow that I won a couple of years ago.

This was going to be  a Chevron block but I placed some facing the wrong way and now it will be building blocks.

Happy, happy, happy.

I have to scoot off and take Ben out now, I am getting The Look.

          TTFN                                                              Pam

Sunday 14 September 2014

The Beast is Tamed

The Beast is of course the lap top, my photos are now loaded and I can share them with you. Be aware this is the stuff of which dreams are formed.

I am going to have this framed, there is a little shop in Ammanford that do framing, and hang it on the wall in front of my sewing station where it will inspire me.
I have taken a couple of close ups.

How beautiful is that, one day, maybe, I will be sharing my work with you.
In my present were lots of other goodies to help me get started.

Pretty thread in glorious colours, I am going to have so much fun with these.

Some beads, charms, fabric ( I see a very special book mark for me in that) and 2 needles in a holder. Everything that I need in fact to make a start.

With a very happy card inside to encourage me on.

It felt like having an extra birthday, I am so pleased for this and will be sure to "pay it forward" at the first opportunity.
I have found, in the short time that I have been blogging, that Random Acts of Kindness happen frequently in blogland. The American blogs, that I started off reading before writing my own, would often mention RAK's. I took them with a pinch of salt but have come to understand that this is worldwide. I have had parcels from the States, Australia, Germany and Singapore alongside some from the UK. I have also sent some out myself, as my Granny said, "What goes round comes round." and I read The Water Babies and Mrs Do as you would be done by was a favourite character.

Digressing to the world of blogs, I recently stumbled across Frugally Challenged and would like to follow but there is no way that I can see to do so. I do follow her other blog, Trundling Through Life so will have to remember to click over to check regularly.

I went into Ammanford this morning, silicone stuff was needed for the glazing bit of the greenhouse. I popped into Lidl to get another bag of bread flour and some lard, £1.07 to add to my total. I did pick up 4 ground cover plants for the side of the greenhouse for £5,00 but that comes from the garden budget. That also applies to the roll of green covered wire netting that I picked up for £3, that will form a tunnel to protect my garlic from marauding cats and playful birds. There will be loads left for other projects and as the cheapest ready made tunnel cloche that I have seen was £3.99 and too small makes it a Bargain.

I can see myself turning into a Garden Bore, I will try to restrain my self and not publish photos of every new leaf that unfurls.

Reasons to be grateful.

1.  My lovely gift, I will use every last thread.

2.  My new found friends who have welcomed me to the village.

3.  The sun that continues to shine on us.

4.  My poor neglected roses that have bloomed continuously.

5.  The wonderful Welsh people who are friendly and helpful where ever I go.

I am so glad that I finally plucked up the courage to move across the country, I could not be happier. I know that I go on about the sun a great deal and I know that summer will end and there will be cold winds and rain. I also know that I will enjoy those times as much as I can, my days will not be spent moaning about the weather but rejoicing in my crafting. being thankful for cooler evenings with my crochet spread over my legs without melting from the heat of it. 
The smell of luscious casserole meals wafting from the slow cooker and the scent of freshly baked bread or herby dumplings perfuming the air.  There will be fruity jams and jellies to spread on thick slices of toast, oozing with salted welsh butter, from a local farm. Jars of spicy relishes to add a bit of oomph to savoury foods and steamed puddings swimming with the afore mentioned jam.

The of course as soon as Spring arrives I will have to garden and walk like a mad thing to get the weight off.
That is not quite a mere jest.

I have a small piece of RTC welsh beef to roast for dinner and as I have a fancy for sausage rolls will be sliding a tray of them into the oven while it is hot.
I have also started a new batch of Sourdough, I will have to divide it tomorrow so will let you know how it turns out. I do not waste the bit that I take out, I make something if only pancakes or flatbreads.

I am off outside now, I need to tidy round a bit and put my new plants into a water bath, they all need a good drink. 

    TTFN                                                  Pam