Wednesday 27 May 2015

Frugal Fridge Bottom Food, and some super saving sewing.

I have been out walking again today, I will share it tomorrow. It has been a long and tiring although most enjoyable day, Ben has barely moved off his cushion since we returned.
I was up and about in good time, as we were leaving at 10:00, by 8:00 the green house was sorted, plants out for the day, others repositioned and all my pots and tubs watered.There was a load of washing on the whirlygig and both Ben and I had breakfasted. I knew that it would be late before we returned so decided to get dinner prepared. I am shopping tomorrow and there were a few bits and bobs to use up.
First I had about 10 mushrooms, then a half a tub of Ardennes Pate, the heel of a loaf of bread and some bits of peppers and half a red onion .
I took the stalks out of the mushrooms and put them in a pyrex dish, not the stalks they went in to the freezer, then scooped a teaspoon of pate into each mushroom cup. 
Into my little grinder I put the torn up bread, a few sprigs of parsley, oregano, thyme, lemon thyme, mint and a few sage leaves and blitzed it to crumbs. I sprayed the mushrooms with a little fry light and then sprinkled the herby crumbs over and gave it all another spray. Covered with foil and in the fridge. 
Half an hour before I was ready to eat I turned the mini oven on to 180 and put the covered dish in the middle. 
I then shredded a piece of pointed cabbage, some yellow and orange pepper pieces, a 3" chunk of deseeded cucumber, the half red onion and grated a carrot, this all went into a dish, I added 2 tblsp of garlic sauce and mixed it up well.
By this time the mushrooms had been in for 20 minutes so I removed the foil and gave them another 10.

This is the result, a light but very tasty meal which was surprisingly filling.

I am off to the Dinosaur Park on Friday, it is Juniors birthday. He has reached the Fort Building stage so I drew up a rough pattern and made him a Tee Pee. I used a duvet cover cut so that the buttons from the bottom have become the door.

I have the pillowcases and will put pillows in them so there is something to sit on. The poles are long sturdy canes, tied together at the top, the whole thing just needs pulling out of the lawn and then folds down, a hair scrunchy keeps the poles together at the base.

I considered making it bigger but figured that Kaitlyn would probably want one of her own in August and there is only so much room in their garden. I have ordered a slide for the garden as they both love them and it all has to fit in.

I have seen these for sale at around the £50 mark, this cost me a £6 cover, 3 canes from a pack of 10 for £3.50 and a little thread and electricity. The pillows are from my stash but were £5 the pair.
So a Tee Pee for less than £13 is a good deal in my eyes.

I am off to bed now, I have a book to read and my legs ache.

        TTFN                                                          Pam

Tuesday 26 May 2015

Monday Meander.

It was a glorious day for me yesterday, not only was it my birthday but a Bank Holiday and the sun shone. I picked up a load of very cheap plants, all they needed was a good long cool drink and a rest in the shade for a while, who doesn't on a hot day.

After dinner Ben and I had a slow slope round the park, we looked at lots of things and Ben had a major snuffle round as well.

The sun was still warm and there were a few peeps out enjoying the last hours of their day off.

The warm, still air was heavy with the perfume of the Hawthorn flowers, some call it "stinking May" but I love it.

The odd blossom of Campion stood tall drawing my eyes to a tiny glimpse of the river. It is there, I promise.

The brilliant yellow of the Dandelion has given way to the soft billowing white fluffy clock heads, just waiting for a gust of wind to carry them away to begin the life cycle over again.

Then the path slides closer to the river and you get a good view of a slow flow of water, slipping by silently on its journey.

A few steps more and it is chattering and bubbling round rocks strewn in it's path, between the river's chattering song and the birds singing their hearts out it is peaceful but very far from quiet.

There is a plethora of seats scattered along the paths, some in sunny spots and some in the shade of the old trees.

There are drifts of Bluebells throughout, some dotted around like this and some a carpet of blue.

Little paths snake around enticing you off into the unknown, Ben loves to explore these, and often goes out of sight for a few minutes only to rush back to me, tail wagging, ears flopping bursting to tell me all about his discoveries.

There are a few splashes of gold, some from gorse and some from the glorious Broom.

In places there are steps, worn by generations of walkers, leading right to the waters edge, here there are rocks and ferns and of course the wild garlic. Still in full flower here.


Finally this clump of Campion caught my eye, it is a wonderful Barbie pink, by far the brightest that I can recall seeing.

I nearly forgot to include Ben, he stopped near this little patch of clover then turned to look at something intently for a moment, then whatever it was moved and we were off at the double.

A very good end to a very good day and to cap it off on our return home I checked my gardening apron pocket and there were my spinach seeds. They will be going into the soil soon.

                   TTFN                                                     Pam

Monday 25 May 2015

A very worky weekend

hasn't the weather been great for gardening, well it has where I am.
I have been looking at ways to grow a large selection of edibles but in small quantities. I looked at various "raised bed" planters that clicked or slotted together, as well as being ugly, cumbersome and in startling colours they were very pricey. 
I put my thinking hat on and went through the shed, BINGO, Black planters 30 cms from Wilko and only £1:50 each.

5 fit very nicely round each of my little trees, and these are set with free seeds from my gardening magazine, Red Chard,White Mooli, Turnips and some  Oriental Salad Leaves and Red Mooli that I had in the seed tin. I have 3 more trees and each will get this treatment. 

I have cleared another section of my little stone wall and planted it up with a couple of Pinks, these have been in pots for far too long and I will be taking cuttings. There is a small white flowering plant that will spread out and I popped a few trailing Lobelia along the edge. You can just see 2 legs of an obelisk, there were 2 climbers at the base but one died off, there are now 3 Climbing French Bean plants there, I will look out for a replacement climber later on. 

I have left some grass at the very front edge as the roots are growing far down through the wall, I aim to cut it back a bit further each time. Hopefully that will kill it off without causing any damage to the wall, if all else fails I will fork out for some weedkiller gel.

I went to a garden center at Cross Hands this morning, just to look for some seeds and found 2 racks of reduced plants, deep joy and a little happy dance.

4 Autumn raspberries for £2 each, nothing to look at now but next year they should do well, they are well settled into a bed enriched with Alpaca poo and topped off with spent compost for a weed free ( fingers crossed) mulch.

This is further along my stone wall, some herbs and Alpines along this bit. In the gaps I have sprinkled wild Rocket and Radish seed.
Along the back you can see my 2 pots of curly Parsley and some pots with 2 or 3 Autumn Calabrese seeds in each. The Parsley will be going into bigger pots and as it grows will be cut for Pesto made with sharp Cheddar and Walnuts, it makes a change from Basil, Parmesan and Pinenuts.

I found 7 little Strawberry plants for 30p each, these 6 are varieties that I do not know, I will have to wait and see if they are worth taking runners off.

This plant is Cambridge Favourite, a variety that I have grown and loved for over 30 years, I will be snipping the flowers off and keeping my fingers crossed for runners. 

I also found a Jasmine and a Pink for my friend over the road, she loves scented flowers and will enjoy these. Her hubby has strict instructions as to how and where to put them.

I will have a few Strawberries soon from my first pots, not enough but I will enjoy them. These are also new varieties for me, I still have to get some Mara Des Bois and as far as I know it will be an internet search, I have not seen them for sale in the flesh anywhere.

As I have done so much, there is a lot that is too mundane to take photo's of, I decided to tickle my fingers round a pot of Duke of York potatoes and found these little beauties. They will be part of my dinner tonight and I am really looking forward to them.

One of my troughs of baby spinach has collected some tiny aphids, so are for the burning bin, and I have no more seed, at least none that I can find, bum, I hope to find some when I shop later in the week.

I think that is all for now, I seem to have been tapping away for yonks, tea is definitely required, and lots of it.

I hope that you have all enjoyed your weekend as much as I have mine. I still have some weeding to do, well who hasn't, and once done there will be more along. I have called it a day now as my back is beginning to complain and so was Ben, he needed some time for a fuss. He is now curled up on his cushion, as close to me as he can get and is snoring gently. After dinner we will go for a walk round the park, he loves it there.

                   TTFN                                                      Pam

I am hoping to get to the Festival of Quilts at the NEC in August. I am not sure if I could manage the drive and then be able to walk round, but there are some companies doing coach trips with an overnight stay. Fingers crossed.

Thursday 21 May 2015

Lovely day in the garden

After my day out yesterday I thought that I better get a grip today and work through my job list.

Change bed.   done
laundry.   done.
Ironing.    done.
Press fabric scraps.   done.
blitz bedroom.   done.
Get Fran's room tidied.  Part done.
Plant Quince.   done.
Plant gift flowers.   done.
Set more French Beans.  Done in triplicate, green, purple and yellow. Note I spread some Alpaca Poo around these, both for growth and to see if the slugs stay away.
Set more salad stuff.   done.
Blitz kitchen.    No, it will have to wait till it rains, or I can not stand to look at it.
Start to harden off Courgettes.   done, must remember to put them back under cover later.
Order Citrus trees.   No, it will happen in the morning.
Vacuum through.  No too busy out doors. There is another day tomorrow not even touched yet.

I know that there are more jobs that did not even make the list, all will get done in the fullness of time.

One thing had has happened is dinner, I was going to make a Frittata  but could not faff around so it all went into an oven proof dish and is in the mini oven.
 I just finely chopped celery, garlic, onion and peppers, diced a little bit of Feta, scooped a spoonful of green olives out of the jar along with some sun dried tomatoes and 2 sliced mushrooms, mixed it up. 3 duck eggs and 2 hens eggs from my friends Dave and Nessa and a smidgen of ground black pepper with a sprinkle of salt.

I have some beetroot to slice and will splash a bit of balsamic dressing about. It sounds a lot but I am cooking for 2 and any left will be good cold on some salad leaves tomorrow.

I hope to do a bit of hand stitching later but will have to slather on some hand cream first as my skin is a bit dry and raspy after being scrubbed 3 times,. I do try to wear gloves but invariably whip them off to handle seeds and then forget about them.

The heavy rain and high winds meant that I had to stake 1 of my little apple trees, it had a pronounced list to starboard. All upright now and looking more secure.

Here is the fabric that I found yesterday, The print on the left came  from Dawn, along with one of the fat quarters.

These scraps have now been pressed and sorted, I have an idea for a project that will use most of them.

Before I had finished this post my timer pinged and I stopped for dinner. The baked Frittata looks huge.

This is my dinner, I threw a few cherry toms on and some torn basil leaves. There is a little home made dressing drizzled on the beetroot, just a few spices, oil, balsamic, soy and wholegrain mustard..My companion had twice as much and left the table satiated. Greedy guts.

Now the washing up awaits and a quick trip to put my plants back under cover for the night.

                         TTFN                                             Pam.

Wednesday 20 May 2015

Sunshine up a mountain

I went off to see Dawn, Doing it for ourselves in Wales. this morning and had barely walked in the door when Bovey Belle arrived. It is good to put a face to a name and see if the image in your mind is close to reality. I was not far out, I imagined her a little taller, goodness knows why, but I was spot on with the amount of energy that positively crackles about her. There was a batch of Peach and Blueberry Muffins in her hand ,mmmmmmm, I can assure you that one went down very well with a cuppa. Joy of joys she also had a box of plants in the car for us to share. I am going to have to find the right spot for a rampant spreading rose and an Aquilegia.

We had a walk round and looked at the newly sheared Alpaccas, they have such long slender necks, it is a good job that their heads are so neat, and boy are they pretty.

Dawn and Hubby have done an amazing amount of work in such a short time. The poly tunnel is well on the way to being full and the raised veg beds are looking very fecund, even the new Asparagus looks well established. Must be all that Alpacca poo,  I am so pleased that I brought some home with me. Dawn tells me that it seems to act as a slug repellent as well, I will be keeping a good look out.

On a previous visit Dawn gave me some Oca's to plant, all have grown well and I thought you might like to see what pretty plants they make.

The leaves remind me of shamrock, but I am looking forward to tasting the tubers.

These white bells have popped up here and there, and very pretty they are.

The Lupins were a gift and they are doing well, you can see the flower bud in this one.

These were a also a gift last year, from my next door but one neighbour, his garden is very well kept and his plants well looked after. In contrast this is my view every time that I go to my garden.

I have some posts and trellis panels to get up to screen it.

My pots of Duke of York and Sharpes Express are growing well.

I have several Aquilgias growing around the place, this one has pink on the tight buds but they open out white, I aim to collect seed and hope that it comes true.

I managed to find 2 pink fabrics at Dawn's and picked up a few more from Cross Hands, Hilary had a big bag of scraps for me as well. I will share them once they are pressed, I have not taken them out of my bag yet. 
My first priorities were walking Ben and tea, lots of it.

             TTFN                                                            Pam

Oh yes, the blog title, well the sun did shine and I was up a mountain.

Tuesday 19 May 2015

Too much black, not enough pink.

I said yesterday that I wanted to make some more "flowers" for my EPP quilt, well I managed to make 2 and cut enough green middles for 8 more. I also have enough of the singles that are my spacers, I have been through the stash and my pinks are very low. I do have pinks but they are the wrong scale or just too bright for this project, there are 9 pink hexies made up, just enough for 1 1/2 flowers.
This is a bit of a Mexican stand off for me, I want to sew through the stash before buying new fabrics, I also want this project finished in the next few weeks.
Tomorrow I am off visiting and will be passing through Cross Hands on my way home, I will drop in to Isabeau Inspirations and pick up some fat quarters (fingers crossed). This evening I will be laying the project out and measuring to see just how many more flowers I need as I do not want to buy more fabric than I need.

My pile of hexies and the 2 flowers, as you can see the pinks are far too sparse.

Now onto a subject close to my heart, food, last nights dinner in fact.
A healthy veggy stir fry, I like lots of sauce and it has to be home made, I looked at this and thought "What, No Beansprouts!!!?"

They were sizzled in a separate pan as I like them very crunchy, then tipped on top and mixed in as I ate. It was very tasty and filling, and it needs to be.

This is why, far too much black there, but it is shrinking, I am being very careful in my eating and walking more. Not only was I feeling sluggish hauling 2 stones extra about it does not help the joint pain.
I have been known to declare that the best contraceptives were jogging bottoms and shell suits, mmmm point proved. I do have 2 pairs of these bottoms, both for gardening, and a bright Fuschia track suit in velour from Lidl that I wear when out and about walking. I bought it for the colour, they had it in Turquoise as well but the style was different and the trousers had those knitted cuffs so I did not buy.

Not a pretty sight, but I do not kid myself that I am anything but overweight, mind you this pair are a funny shape. From waist to knee these are  loose and baggy and from knee to ankle they are close fitting. Before you do the dying fly I know that it isn't my shape as the others fit as they should do.

Tonights dinner is a jacket potato with Tuna and sweetcorn and a  salad mostly from the garden. 
I have to get myself in shape, my nephew in Australia has proposed to his lovely girlfriend and she said yes, lord love her, so there is a wedding in the future. They are on holiday in Singapore now but when they get back to Perth they will be arranging a date. 

Now I must get Ben out before the heavens open again and sort out this potato.
                     TTFN                                            Pam

Monday 18 May 2015

Open mouth, Insert Foot, Feel foolish.

I had a day out yesterday, and walked my feet sore, I am possibly an inch shorter as well.
I started off in Carmarthen as there were a few bits that I wanted from Wilkos, I spotted a packet of Black Kale seed and snapped it up.  I also popped into Wyevale and treated myself and my garden to this.

The Flowering Quince has very pretty flowers and they hold for a good time, the fruits make superb jelly. I have had this shrub in various gardens over many years, and I am overjoyed to have one here. This will grow to 10' x 10', if I allow it. I will not be letting it get that tall but will be allowing it to sprawl out as wide as it wishes. It is going in front of a window so I do not want the light blocked, I had intended to plant it this morning but it was rather wet.
Then I went to Kidwelly, I have been to the castle before and this time I just wandered round the town. It is tiny but pretty, I spotted this wallflower, well named considering where it chose to grow.

It had started to cloud over so off we went to Llanelli, I parked near Tesco and walked Ben over to Morrisons, I was after Gram flour and they have it considerably cheaper than most places, and a label that I like. I picked up some Blueberries, reduced from £2 to 49p, they had been on a  2 for £3 offer and I was thrilled to see that as a multi purchase they were free, 98p for every 2 packs was taken off the total, very nice, I also found a pack of Apricots reduced from £1 to 50p, they looked lovely and when I tried one this morning they are full of juice and very sweet.
We got home about 3.30 and Ben threw himself on his cushion and slept for a while. I made tea and put my feet up for a rest.

I did some more work on the EPP quilt top while watching TV and realised that I have to unpick it as I had put a flower in the wrong place, rats. I also need more hexies as I am going to make it bigger that I intended.

This morning Ben and I got soaked on our walk but by late morning it had stopped and the sun came out. I rang Dawn, Doing it for ourselves in Wales, she has offered me some Alpacca Poo for the garden but her hubby told me that she was out. I set myself the tedious task of cutting more hexi templates out for my EPP and then rang again, this is where the title comes in.
When Dawn answered the phone, did I greet her with sense, no of course I didn't, my wonderful greeting was "Hello Dawn, it's Pam, I rang earlier but you were out"  DUH. I made a reasonable recovery though and arranged a visit mid week. I know that I turn into a gibbering idiot when I get an answer phone, but not when I talk to a real live person. 
To make myself feel better I took Ben round his favourite park walk and just look at the little river that runs through it.

Running fast and full here, but a bit further down this happens,

almost as dramatic as Cernarth Falls. I shudder to think what they are like today if they had a similar amount of rain.

Now it is time for a brew before I get the washing in and think about the ironing, not to do it you understand, just think about it.

                   TTFN                                                Pam

Friday 15 May 2015

Do you see what I see.

Today dawned bright and dry and progressed to sunny at times. This meant that "no rain stopped play", instead of sewing time it was Gardeners time.

The side of my little front patch, you can just see the (roughly) central bed.

The front view, my food waste bin is awaiting collection, there is one little bag with some cat food that my visitor cat turned her pretty little nose up at and some onion skins. I never put onion in my compost, my Grandfather never did and I follow many of his ways.

You probably see a scratty bit of lawn and some roughly turned over soil, you are right in part. The lawn is more of a close cropped meadow than  a lawn and the soil has been turned over.

But... there has been a whole heap of compost forked in to loosen the compacted soil. There are 9 planting stations, these will have a good dose of manure forked in and will be getting a squash plant in each. There will be 3 each of Jack O'Lantern, Fiesta and Butternut, I hope that between them they will keep me in some very tasty carbohydrates for a decent part of next winter.

I love squashes, the Jack O'Lanterns will have the tops sliced off, seeds scooped out and be stuffed and baked. The Fiestas will be sliced and deseeded then tossed in a little oil and spices and roasted, and the Butternuts will be used in a myriad of dishes 

After that was done I scrabbled around and weeded the path along the side of the house.
By then it was getting close to 10;30 and a brew was in order, while drinking I went through emails and squeezed a little blog reading in. Then it was time to go outback.

As Ben was shut in while the front was being sorted he was happy to supervise in the back garden. The  Patio area is now weed free and looking good, I have to find some stakes to drive into one area and then hang some trellis up. This is to hide the tip that is my next doors back garden, it looks like Steptoe's back yard after a hurricane. There is still some tidying up along the new veg bed and I would like to get a raised bed in very soon right at the back.

The car is in for an MOT tomorrow and if I get it back in time I will be off to B & Q for a few items, including the stakes. I also would like a Flowering Quince to go under the front window. That may require a trip to the nearest garden center, which is at Ponterdulais.

Once I had finished that section it was time to walk Ben, we had a quick waltz along the defunct railway line and then home for some lunch as I was rumbling, quite seriously.

I had a little Lentil Dahl, a small dollop of the tomato sauce from my burgers, a cup of cooked pasta from the Mac 'n cheese and 2 chicken drumsticks in a barbecue sauce. I stripped the meat off the bones threw it in a saute pan with the little dish of broccoli and spring greens that were lurking on the second shelf of the fridge.
10 minutes later there was a feast for 2, it would have served 3 but Mr Muscle was helping and he was even hungrier than me. In all fairness he did do all the lifting and walking to dispose of the stuff that was turfed out.
After lunch was done and dusted I took Ben for a walk round the park in Garnant, he loves it there and can have a good snuffle round.

Here it is  just as it landed in the pan, my word it was good. Nothing to compare with a fridge bottom meal.

Tonight I have made a cross between Moussaka and lasagne. A sauce of minced steak, half price from Lidl, chopped onion, carrot, celery. peppers, a tin of tomatoes and a tetra pack of passata, with a handful of fresh herbs, simmered a while then layered with a very thinly sliced aubergine. The topping is a tub of quark with an egg beaten in to it. It is in the mini oven and smells divine. There is enough meat sauce left for at least 4 meals, I will divide it and make 2 portions of chilli with some kidney beans and chipotle sauce, and then the rest will go into  2 cottage pies.

Francesca is coming for a week and as I am eating mostly vegetarian meals now I need to get some dinners prepared for her.

It is almost dinner time and I have to gather my salad leaves and give them a quick wash.

Have a good weekend, where ever you may be.

            TTFN                                                 Pam

Thursday 14 May 2015

A Slaw of a Different Colour

I was reading through my blog list early this morning, I fell into bed at 9:30 last night after my day in the garden, and found a tasty recipe. Chickpea and sweetcorn burgers, it was on Happening upon Happiness from the Tesco recipe site. I made it for dinner and there was plenty for 4 hungry peeps.

To serve with it I made a large pot of coleslaw and a very naughty batch of griddled Mac'n cheese.

For this multi coloured slaw I used, 1/2 a pointy cabbage, 1/4 of a red and a yellow pepper, a small red onion, a chunk of cucumber deseeded and sliced and a grated carrot. The dressing was sunflower oil, sherry  and balsamic vinegar, Dijon and English mustard, a dash of tabasco, a squeeze of lemon and a good pinch of salt and pepper, into a clean screw top jar and shaken well.

The recipe also includes a tomato sauce and it is delicious, the burgers are really tasty and went down well with a small slice of the Mac'n Cheese. I picked the idea up from an American food program, it is indulgent but you only need a small piece and I never put them in a roll.

The machine is set up and I have pulled the fabric to make Sian an apron for cooking sessions. Sian is Mamgu to Junior, Kaitlyn and Faith and makes wonderful cakes. The children love to help bake.
I have not cut or sewed an inch, the weather has been awfull, monsoon type rain with lots of wind. I settled down with my EPP and have stitched away most of the day.
I did manage to walk Ben before the rain started but it hammered down when I took Maggie shopping.

This an old project that got packed away when I was getting ready to move and was forgotten.  It will be a present this year so I am beavering away at it in the evenings.

The "flower" on the right is the one that I am attaching now, the one on the far left will be next.
Regardless of how much I need to get this done the machine will rule tomorrow. 

I am hoping for drier weather on Saturday, I aim to have a quick trip to Neath, I need a new hairdryer, mine is making alarming noises. The CS,s there are very good, I want to pop into Poundland for bits for the children and I need a few things from Wilko.
Friday and Sunday  will be  sewing or gardening days depending upon the weather.

I was hoping to find a quilting group somewhere close, there is one in Neath but it meets once a month for 2 hours, by the time you have unpacked and settled down comfortably it is time to pack up ready to leave. I will have to look in the Swansea area, or perhaps talk to Hilary about starting one in her shop, maybe a block of the month club. Anyone in a quilt group, how often do you meet and for how long, it would be good to have a yardstick.
 That can wait till next week, I am off to make a brew and then settle down to stitching.

                   TTFN                                                Pam