Tuesday 30 October 2018

Missing, believed knitting.

Oh yes, I have been knitting. I have also been involved with the shuffling round of furniture, not to mention the laying of a concrete pad for the compost bins.

I have rescued a wicker chest of drawers from under Fran's bed..... No of course her bed was not balanced upon it, the chest has a metal work frame and folds flat. 
That has been scrubbed, a ton of dust had accumulated within the wicker, and the frame polished. It now sits in the sewing room and houses all my fabric scraps, sorted into warm and cool colours, and fat quarters and the like. Anything under 2 metres is now in there, the larger pieces are folded and on shelves.

I cannot quite believe that it has been a week since I was last here, but then I have been a day or 2 adrift for all that time. I awoke this morning quite convinced that it was Wednesday and that I needed to get my shopping list sorted. 
Luckily the SO is on the ball, he is so used to me that he often tells me what day it is before he has the first sip of his cuppa.

I have my new wired mouse, I did wonder whether to have a go at restoring the  pointer but decided to leave well alone. I can use the mouse fine, just not as quickly. 

Nothing much has happened here, Rufus has had an Xray. Over the past 18 months he has had periods of going lame in his left hind leg. It seems that he has a weakness in the hip joint which will only get worse if he over exerts himself, it is lead walk only for him now. Such a shame as he is a very sociable chap and loves a good chase round with other dogs. For the time being I am taking him along the lanes that are pretty much deserted, he has Herbie to "talk" to and thenhe comes for a little visit with Ben. That has to be little as Herbie sees it as an opportunity to indulge in some rough and tumble. It would only take an awkward movement to set him off into another painful session.

I took Herbie up onto the "tip" yesterday around 4:30, we or rather He struck lucky. One of our friends was up there with her Whippet, Jack Russell, Greyhound and Jug (a black one ). They are firm pals and spent a happy 20 minutes or so letting off steam. A collie, another pal, joined in the last half of the fun and we left as dusk started to deepen into darkness.

Herbie slept well last night! He snoozed on the sofa and was snoring when I threw the  towel in and went to bed. The SO was watching a film and Herbie stayed down with him. Ben came up with me, he was probably expecting me to knit for a while, but once the light went out he was back down to join the others.

I have ironing looking at me accusingly and a load of laundry to peg out. I love these frosty mornings that dissolve into warm sunny days.

On that note I am off to get that laundry pegged out, there is a batch of veg soup in the slow cooker that will be lunch at some point. Dinner is as yet undecided but as I have a plethora of eggs and mushrooms it may well be an omelette.

                        TTFN                                     Pam.

Tuesday 23 October 2018

All Change.

He is at it again, There is no rest for the SO, his choice.
 On Saturday he decided that Fran's bedroom needed sprucing up. Off came the wallpaper and new lining paper was hung. Then it was off to buy paint and today the room is done.
Of course the room had to be rearranged, if Fran goes to bed too tired she risks falling onto a chest of drawers rather than her bed.

It does look so much brighter, I now want to make new curtains, I plan on reusing the lining and tape, I will dig into the stash for something bright. Her dark blue floral have been up since we moved in, they were given to me and needed very little alterations to fit. Sanderson fabric that is still good so I will be using it for another project at some point.

I have been updating my Ravelry page, I had to give a best guess for some of the dates. I did trawl through the last 6 weeks of posts on here to find lots, but there are some much older ones that can go whistle. I must be better about getting my projects on there as soon as I cast them on.

It doesn't help that I do not keep all my photos, once they are safely on the blog I tend to delete them. 

The latest pair of socks are coming along well,

I am now turning the heel on the first sock. We are having a lazy dinner tonight, fish pie with carrots and broccoli. So lots of knitting time.

I was restless after lunch and there was a brimming fruit bowl looking at me. 2 pink grapefruit, 2 mandarins and 2 lemons, a couple of bags of sugar, with a little left over, and there are now 6 full jars of Marmalade gracing my shelf. Well there were 6 but A and W, my lovely neighbours have one each. There is also a taster jar, that will probably be eaten tomorrow morning, on toast for the SO and in porridge for me.
The fruit was all reduced in Tesco and the whole lot came in under £1.50, that makes me extremely happy. The skins are less tough than Seville oranges so they were soft enough to add the sugar after just over an hour of simmering. Around 15 minutes to setting point and another 15 standing to let the peel settle, I want peel all the way through the jar, not just in the top half.

I have just twigged that my sparkly pink yarn has not arrived, it only has to come from Cardiff, I will be chasing that up soon, very soon.

I am still using the borrowed mouse, I have one on the way at some point today. It is strange using one again but I will stick with it, perhaps a new 'puter will come my way in the January sales. Those ones that start Christmas Eve or Boxing Day, we will see.

Ben has had a new lease of life and energy, he has a walk with Herbie first thing. Then at 10.30 when I take Rufus and Herbie out for a long walk he has started to tell me, in no uncertain terms, that he is coming as well.
Of course he cannot manage the whole walk so I have amended the route, the first bit is now a circuit and he is happy to be dropped off at home after 20 minutes or so. Then the rest of us set off for part 2.

Who's the daddy then?

Onward and upward, I am off to put everything away in the kitchen, all are clean they just need to go back to their rightful places.

                        TTFN                                     Pam

Monday 22 October 2018

A New Find.

Just by chance I happened upon a new to me podcast from the UK, The Knitter Next Door. I have only watched the first one so far but have had the SO set up a small TV (found hiding, all forlorn and forgotten, in a cupboard) with the Amazon Firestick from Fran's room (only a borrow, it will go back when she is here) in my sewing room. I now plan on a binge watch while I am pin basting, and generally pottering around. The SO will be free to watch all his favourite rubbish  programs about building rat rods (?) extreme buildings (!) and Zombie/horror movies (!?) without me sighing, huffing and puffing. I don't do it that much as I switch my ears off and look at what I am doing, or read.

I just hope that I don't end up staring at the screen, motionless. 

I started this post yesterday only to suddenly lose the cursor, lots of looking up stuff via phone and tablet. Lots of puttering and tutting and not a few choice staccato words.

This morning I have borrowed a plug in mouse and all is now working. I am not going to try anything else but will be off to pick up a new one later.

I was not well pleased with the Strictly results last night, but who am I to judge, I haven't graced the dance floor for many years.

Anybody remember the Court School Ballroom Dancing in Leamington Spa?

I will leave you all till the morrow while I go in search of a mouse.

                     TTFN                                             Pam 

Sunday 21 October 2018

To label, or not to label?

That is indeed the question.
 Until a week or so ago I was firmly on the Not on your Nellie side. For the most part I still am.
There are a few exceptions, the main one being Marmite! Love it in lots of beany meals, on toast, under cheese on anything, on a spoon. You name it and 5 will give you 20 that I love it.

I also like Vegemite, it has it's place in my kitchen.

Parmesan cheese is another, in my book there is no substitute, I do use Grana Pandano but in its own right, not as a sub.

My conversion, completely out of character is fairy Liquid. !!

Then came the day when my bottle in use ran out. there was no spare in store!!? 
How did that happen? A serious shopping glitch.
Rats, there was washing up to finish and no way was I driving out just for 1 item.

It was a lovely day so,  grabbing bag, purse and after dragging a brush through my hair, I set off to the village shop.
I had my sights set on the cheapest of the cheap, it was only for 3 days till shopping day came round.

Lo and behold nestle cheek by jowl were the stinky green slimy stuff and the glistening yellow that is fairy liquid, On Offer no less.
It worked out very little more per 100 ml than the cheapo, something like 0.07p. 

I had a bottle through the till and was off home in no time.

It dawned upon me last night as the washing up was done that there is more than half the bottle left. A Maz Ing Dahling.

BTW What did you think of the substitute judge?

I am now a Fairy Liquid user, a convert no less.

BUT, that will not drive me to rush out and follow the label bandwagon.

I will be sniffing out the offers and shopping wisely, between the shops in Pontardawe I can get just about everything and the rest is only a click away. I save on prices, time and petrol which in turn saves on wear and tear.

No sewing today, it will be layering and pinning. 

I will see you on the other side.

                          TTFN                                       Pam

Saturday 20 October 2018

Strictly No Dancing

There has been lots of sew, sew, quick, quick sew. Followed by sew, sew, quick, quick press happening though.

I finally put my big girl knickers on, pulled up my socks (not too hard as I do not want to stretch the cuffs) and pulled out the WIP that has been lurking/skulking around the sewing room for f a r too loooooong.

All 20 blocks are done and trimmed to size and sewn together, the backing fabric just needs a quick press and I will layer it in the morning (fingers crossed, all being well). I am very pleased with how it has turned out, it is almost a copy of the last one that I made for myself but bigger. This is to fit a King sized bed with a good bit hanging over the edges.

No pics as it is a commission, there is no deadline as it is a summer colour combination, lots of light brights and some bold pastels. I chose all the fabrics myself, mostly from stash. I have once made a commission quilted item in fabric and colours that I did not like. 

Never again, not at any price.
The pain is not worth the reward.

Ben has enjoyed 2 walks in the sunshine, Herbie and Rufus had a longer walk this morning as it was so pleasant. I always anjoy my walks but they are so much better in fair weather.

The SO has had a busy day, he is working on an ongoing project close to home and today he had 3 huge bags of pea shingle to barrow from the front yard to the rear of the property. Thank goodness that it was so nice, that sort of work in the rain is just not pleasant at all. Don't bother to ask me how I know! Cold water trickling down your back is just not nice, even worse after you have been working a while and are quite hot. Talk about a sudden shock.

Dinner tonight will be jacket potatoes, cooked in the air fryer and topped with the sausage casserole leftovers, some broccoli and peas will be on the side.
There is chocolate cake in the fridge and lots of yogurt, or I can make custard. I have some speckled bananas so banana bread will be in the oven at some point.

I can think of nothing else to say so will bid you farewell, I hope that you are all enjoying the weekend. It took me a few hours before I realised that it was Saturday!!

                             TTFN                                       Pam

Friday 19 October 2018

Empty the fridge dinner

Not really a "free dinner" but it certainly feels like it.

Thursday is shopping day so I like to go through the veg drawer and use as much as possible up for that nights dinner. It has to be a one pot wonder and preferably in the slow cooker, just to make it a quick meal once the shopping has been tucked away and hands washed.

Nothing wrong with these, wash the carrots and celery and chop, brush the mushrooms halve the bigger ones, halve the tomatoes, peel and chop the swede, ditto the onion. A couple of tsp of the spices and a tsp of the liquid smoke, I also added 3 tsp of powdered garlic as I had run out of fresh.

A tin of butter beans that has been shuffled round the larder for several months. I soak and cook from dried generally  this tin was a back up from the beginning of last winter. A good shake of dried Basil, it has a warmth that is missing from the fresh leaves.

These were an afterthought, a bargain find that has been in the freezer for too long, time to use it up. I just browned these off in a dry pan, I like to see a bit of colour in the finished dish.

It all went into the slow cooker, the sausages were nestled in the top layer, and then I poured on some chicken stock. Not to the top as there will be a fair bit of moisture released from the veg during cooking. I will check after 3 hours, it has gone on low and will sit there quite happily till we are ready for it. I turn it up to high for the last hour or so and stir some thickening granules through it.

No need for anything else except a bowl and a spoon, and possibly a gentle burp.

I lurvvve these dinners, cheap, cheerful and very, very tasty. Just the job to refuel the body and soothe the soul after a shopping trip.

It was just as good as anticipated and there is some in the fridge for another day.

The weather stayed fine, dry, sunny and rather warm.

Shopping was done in record time, I did not look for bargains as there is more than enough food stored away to get through. The tooth chews for Ben and Herbie were on offer in Tesco at the same price as Home Bargains so I picked 4 packs up. Not a saving but it all adds to the points and I had a double points card. 

Telly was a bit rubbish last night, we have a Firestick so have access to many programs but just could not be bothered. So many of them seem to be groups of clones, and not particularly successful. 

Some knitting, some chatting, a little more research on Air Fryers and we decided that we will do nothing while the combi oven keeps going. Once that turns its toes up we will probably buy the largest one that Phillips make. My small one is a Phillips and has done sterling work, used alongside a larger model and the slow cooker all bases will be covered.
The most significant word in that is probably, by that time there may well be a different model out or something altogether different may catch my eye.

There is always the fact that our eating habits are changing quite significantly. We eat far less bread than a year ago, even less potatoes and far more pulses, grains and pasta.
This is partly due to experimenting with more vegetarian and vegan recipes. We are using more spices and herbs than ever, and we have always used a fair amount.

Since I moved away from my huge garden I grow far more herbs than vegetables and try to use them every day. I love the smell and taste of coriander, mint and fresh basil. They are in the garden and in pots in the house.  The basil is grown from cuttings as is mint, rooted in water and then potted into a mixture of compost and perlite. Coriander is grown from seed, in the same mixture in small pots, I empty the pot, shake off the compost and then wash the roots till clean, every bit is used. I have 9 pots in various stages of growth, all on the sewing room windowsill, the scent is glorious.

In all areas I am trying not to plan ahead in too much detail, I am a bit of a control freak, it becomes too restrictive and what seems like a good idea now for 6 weeks time may be nigh on impossible when you get there.
That leads to stress and tension, both of which I would rather not have.

One of the most demanding jobs that I have done included ordering fertile eggs to be hatched to provide table chickens, in various finished weights, at fixed points x number of weeks away. It was planning to the 'nth degree and I am still partially in that mindset. I know exactly what I will be cooking over the Christmas period. As you know the sprouts are in the freezer. The parsnips will be joining them later today, parboiled and tossed in a little oil and seasoning. Ditto the potatoes, I open freeze them and then they get bagged and put into a plastic box. When needed they go straight into a preheated tin and into the oven, Boom, job done.

A little bit of a waffle going on there. I hope that you get my drift. What I would like to achieve is to curtail that sort of forward planning to the odd times, Christmas, Birthdays and so on, not have it as a permanent thing. I have moved a bit in that direction, but not nearly enough, woops, I seem to have another WIP (no needles in this one).

Now the clock tells me that it is past time for the dogs to be out and about. The lazy pair are still snoring.

                        TTFN                                      Pam

Thursday 18 October 2018

Which group are you in?

Some people think that the world is divided into 2 groups, those who have and those who have not.
Some would say, fat and thin. Others clever and average. and so on.

I think that there are 2 groups, those who see that something needs doing and get on with it, and those who couldn't see it if they fell over it. The second lot would possibly do it if asked, perhaps another sub group.

I also think that part of the blame lies with my generation. The mothers who were among the first to have job without feeling guilty or the shame of needing 2 incomes. Perhaps shame is too strong a word but I remember the gossip when my Grandmother went to work. It was even worse when she stayed at work after the need had passed.

Working mums would do all the household tasks, or at least the majority of them, as it was faster than persuading and then showing the teenagers how to do it.
I remember my Mum spending a time showing my youngest sister how to do something, only to shove her out of the way in mild desperation to do it herself.

She said that it was a waste of time in which another job could have been ticked off the list.

The SO can see exactly what needs doing, sometimes before me, and just does it. That was how he was raised, Francesca is the same. All of us were the same, with the exception of the youngest who managed to incur the wrath of the rest of us.
Mind you she bucked her ideas up when we delegated all the dirty but simple jobs to her. There was a lot of brass in the house and she copped the cleaning of it, every week.

All that came from an overheard conversation as I walked the dogs this morning, while they were having a prolonged snuffle through some long grass a woman,s voice was almost shouting "How many times are you going to step over that? Why don't you just pick the B****y thing up and out it away? Do I have to do every B****y thing ?"

I was grinning for the rest of the walk.

On  different note the Christmas socks are finished and the 6th pair, this time in fingering weight, are cast on.

I would love this colourway in fingering weight sock yarn, it is so joyous.


This yarn is a joy to knit with, I have managed to lose the label and have no memory of where it came from or how long that I have had it. Shameful but there it is. I will try to go through the blog and find it as I must have logged it somewhere.

The curry was delicious and I made flat breads to have with it, brushed with garlic and coriander butter, Yummy. I used 1 cup of plain flour, 2 tsp baking powder and a cup of coconut Greek style yogurt from Tesco. They were soft and very moreish, I will be making them again.

I did not follow my recipe as I lost track of time and had lots to do in the afternoon. I like to make my curry in the morning, chill it down and then reheat ready for dinner, I think that it gives the flavours time to meld and mellow.
 I took a tip from many of the SW Youtubers and used a Mayflower Chinese style curry mix and stuck it in the slow cooker on high for 4 hours. I picked it up in B&M a few weeks ago and it was not too bad at all. The SO loved it as he is a fan of Chinese curry, I did fill it with lots of lovely veg and used my fresh coriander in the sauce and sprinkled on the top. We both love coriander

I will be making another curry later on and will post the recipe then.

It is dry and fine this morning but with just a little touch of chill in the air, a real Autumn morning.

I think that I told you that we were watching Designated Survivor on Netflix and enjoying it. Hmmm, we watched episode 6 last night and were not overly impressed. I wonder now if it is going to become painfully drawn out to get as many episodes as possible. We will watch number 7 and then decide to keep or not. 

Ben and Herbie had a longer than normal walk, I was happy to follow Ben's lead and he was making the most of it.

Now it is time for toast and perhaps another cuppa. 
Who am I kidding?
It is a given that there will be tea, toast is just too dry without it.

                            TTFN                              Pam.

Wednesday 17 October 2018

Going AWOL

Not really, just having an indulgent day. 
Yesterday the sewing room had an unplanned shuffle, furniture was moved (lots of dust bunnies went up the vacuum hose), a few long lost items were recovered and there was A Mega Sort Out.
My circular needles are now out of their little plastic envelopes and are hanging on the side of my yarn storage. There will be no more curly cables, hip, hip hooray.

There is more floor space even though the sofa is still there. I do intend (at this moment) to replace it with a drop down cutting surface, just in case my needs change this will wait until next year.
I feel much more like spending some sewing time in there now, the sense of clutter was quite enervating. 

Dinner last night was delicious and so easy, just left over veggy soup blitzed and reheated, poured over some penne pasta and then topped with sliced mushrooms, of the yellow sticker variety, cooked in buttery fry light and garlic powder. Go me, too tired to peel and slice garlic. A good grind of pepper and salt and dinner was ready in 15 minutes.

Tonight we are having butternut squash and cauliflower curry with some roasted chickpeas ( an air fryer experiment). I have done some more research and plan on trying lots of things out. How about roast chicken and potatoes in 30 - 40 minutes, that is my plan for later in the week. 
I have decided that if these experiments are fairly successful I should be able to jettison my combi oven. It takes up loads of space, I never use the grill or microwave and it is getting very old now. It has started to groan in use and a few days ago cut out for a while after being used for only 30 minutes at the top temperature.

It may even be the case that I buy a second air fryer, they take up much less space and can live in a cupboard.

I plan on having a longer, slower walk with the dogs, weather permitting, and then giving the big Janome a good clean and oil. A new needle and a bobbin winding session will set me up for a sewing hour or three.
I am knitting the cuff on those Christmas socks and will finish them tonight in front of the telly.

I will post my curry recipe tomorrow, it is good for any veg and also white meat or fish. If I make a beef or lamb curry I use heavier spices as they can handle it without losing the taste of the meat.

On that thought I am off to have a shower and get ready to start my day.

                           TTFN                                     Pam.

Tuesday 16 October 2018

Knitting and Dancing.

I have finished Francesca,s Wild Orchid socks, that is 4 pairs towards her Christmas bundle. Once my hands had adjusted to the commercial yarn they were a breeze. I watched so much Strictly that my eyes ached from all the glitter, never mind the Oompa Loompa tans. It was good to have this  subtle yarn to glance at every now and then.

I did cast another pair straight on, this time a pair of house socks in a sparkly  Christmas yarn. This King Cole dk Glitz in the colourway Christmas has been in the stash for about 2 years. It was always going to be house socks and the SO has a pair tucked away as well. It is 97% premium acrylic and 3% polyester so not sock yarn at all but it will be fine for wearing around the house in slippers.

It is very glittery so perfect for Strictly Socks, I took this about 15 minutes after casting on and by bed time had started the gusset increases, they will be off the needles very soon.
I have yet to decide upon the yarn for the next 2 pairs, the bundle will have 7 pairs.

The Roasted Cauliflower Cheesecake was okay, the SO loved it but I will be tweaking the recipe quite considerably if I make it again. I did a small stir fry of peppers and sugar snap peas and that was really tasty.

Tonight,s dinner will be pasta in a veggy sauce with garlic mushrooms, I am looking forward to that.

In a little recap on my gadget post I have been experimenting with the air fryer. I had a look at a Facebook site dedicated to sharing air fryer ideas and recipes and tried jacket potatoes. In the interest of fair play I  cooked 1 white and 1 sweet potato, both came out very well. The white one was smaller as they take longer to cook, it was perfect with crispy skin and a fluffy middle. The sweet one was also meltingly tender but the skins do not go crisp, I did rub a little fry light on them and then add a sprinkle of salt.

Unless the big oven is on for something this is how I will be cooking Jacket Potatoes from now on. I put them on the highest setting for 30 minutes, I did prick the skins and made sure that the sweet potato was only pricked on the uppermost side as they do weep and make an infernal mess.

It decided to start to rain just as I was returning from the first dog walk, if it builds up I will not be going out at 10.30. The forecast is that it will clear later so Rufus and Herbie can have an afternoon walk.
We all know how accurate the prediction were over the past few days.

Today I must make my hot date with the iron, there is a considerable stack to get though. I also have some fabric strips to get pressed, there are some blocks that only need another strip or 2. That will be a gift quilt at some point, I saved all the smaller strips as I trimmed to size so there will be some almost matching cushions.

That is as far as I can think without another cuppa, sooooooo I will be back on the morrow, all being well.

                             TTFN                                       Pam.

Monday 15 October 2018

Living high on the cheap

Sue from A Smaller Life blog has set herself a challenge to live on £1 a day for the next few weeks. She has done the "live below the line " challenge several times in the past.
Sooze from Her Indoors, Him Outdoors blog is planning on a similar challenge for her and her husband.
I want us to "eat down" the freezers over the next few weeks. I have said this a few times over the past weeks/months and have made space and then promptly filled it again. Mainly on yellow sticker bargains, I do this as my preferred time to shop is when the rest of the country is eating, around 6-7 o'clock, happily that is when my local Tesco is doing the final round of mark downs.

I was talking to the SO and he feels that we should focus and not only do the eat down, but have a bash at No/Low spend November. We have done this a few times in the past and it has helped to use up the older dried goods and make room for new, fresher supplies.

As we do like a bargain, and I needed some soft cheese for tomorrows dinner we pootled off to Tesco for 2:00.

Lots of fresh stuff here, and some really good savings.

I do normally make our bread, I can not make it for these prices, plus it will make portion control so easy. I have 2 packs of the rolls and 2 of the loaves, all safe in the freezer.

I spent £8.36, the cost at full price would have been, £26.85 giving me a saving of £18.49.
This is not a true saving as some of these items would not usually figure in my shopping.
A. Because they are too pricey, I would buy "own label".
B. Because I do not normally use them.

There were 2 items that I paid full price for, bananas 35p and Oatcakes 99p, these were the cheapest per 100 grams on the shelf. I bought these solely to use for the base for the cauli cheesecake. I would normally make them myself but it would involve running the big oven for one item, something that just does not happen.

Sugar snaps for 25% of full price, very nice. 1 pack went into tonight's masala and the other will be eaten tomorrow. I would never buy these, I grow them and eat them as often as possible in season.
The sprouts, another 75% saving are prepped, blanched and in the freezer. Boom, one Christmas Eve job taken care of.
Le Roule, 43p from £1.70, Oh Wow. One of these will be in the Cheesecake and the remaining 4 are in the freezer, they will be an instant jacket potato filling or a pasta sauce.
The Ricotta, again a 75% saving will also be in the cheesecake. I would not pay the price for these big name brands, I buy the own label closest item for a far lower price.
That's because I am a bit of a tightwad, it is never a case of "can I afford it?" but always "will I afford it?". Most often the answer is a resounding NO I WILL NOT.

I did pick up a pack of fresh chestnuts reduced from £3 to 99p, I have some vacuum packed ones in the pantry but these will be roasted and enjoyed through the pain of burnt fingers. 
                           Because they are worth it.

Now I need, with the help of the SO, to draw up a list of meals, making the most of all these goodies and the contents of the freezers. Which, I hasten to add, I emptied and listed the contents (tidying as I refilled) before we went shopping.

We will see how well we do, and if we can resist the temptation to buy bargains for the sake of it. I would love to start December with very little in the freezers. Starting to use a good dollop of common sense in what I put into them, rather than buying willy nilly, with no thought of planning rather than instant saving.

It is Tea O'clock so I will catch up with you all tomorrow.

                               TTFN                                    Pam

Sunday 14 October 2018

About Turn!

Well I Never, Fancy That.
I saw 3 separate weather forecasts, not intentionally, this morning. 
All gave exactly the same predictions, Lots of rain today, Even more tomorrow followed by a bit less on Tuesday.

So right now the sun is streaming down, it is warm enough that doors and windows are flung wide open, Ben has been sunbathing just inside the kitchen door.

I watched some of Sunday Brunch, just to see a Baked Roasted Cauliflower Cheesecake.
Guess what we are having tomorrow.

Today I am making a Pork Masala, I saw one of my favourite chefs, Parveen Ashraf making it with chicken on James Martin,s show yesterday. I have Pork so that is what I am using.

Apart from that we are counting our blessings, many of the surrounding areas are flooded. Carmarthen is suffering and motorists are advised not to go there.
Parts of Neath are under water, and at least one village has been readied for evacuation.
As we are on the side of the valley the water has run straight past us. There are parts of the road where new rivers are running across the tarmac, but none deep enough to be dangerous.

My heart goes out to those who are bearing the brunt of this storm, there is very little that you can do in the face of nature.

Whilst this weather remains I will be taking the dogs out for an extra walk, Rufus and Herbie did get their normal 10:30 walk. I work on the premise that if we walk then it will not rain, if we do not then it will pour down. A bit of reverse psychology, in the same way that a child (and teenager) will do the exact opposite to what you tell them.

I am off now, to make hay and all that.

                           TTFN                                 Pam

Saturday 13 October 2018

Oh What a Day!

We had it Large yesterday, rain and wind that couldn't make it's mind up as to what direction so went round in circles.

I did get the dogs out without being drowned, but only just.

I did all the necessary chores and then sat down for some knitting after lunch. I put Gemma Stafford on you tube making cinnamon rolls, an hour later I woke up to Preppy Kitchen and spiced apple cake.

I had a cuppa, of course, and then had to bake. Cinnamon apple cake x 2, 1 for us and 1 for W. The same with apple crumble. The kitchen smells were intoxicating as the slow cooker was on as well.

I hauled a pack of braising steak out of the freezer first thing, then when I was ready to prep the meal I discovered that it was in fact Pork. I just did not read the label, it must have been put into the wrong bag.  Hmmmm, change of plan. This is what I did.

Clockwise from the top left corner, 2 sticks of celery, 3 small carrots, half a small onion, 3 mushrooms, 5 bacon medallions the dark red blob is tomato puree. I buy it in biggish cans and freeze in dollops. I gave it all a grind of pepper and salt at this point.

While the veg and bacon were browning I decided to add a sweet potato. Everything was diced quite fine.

This is what it looked like after about 10 minutes.

Clockwise from top left, 1 cup chicken stock, 1 cup milk, 1/2 cup cider and the pork, 5% fat mince. 

The pork went in for a few minutes till it started to colour.

Then all the liquids and the tomato puree went in and had a good stir round, a little Sage and Thyme joined the party. Once it came up to a simmer it all went in the slow cooker on low.

It will be a one pot wonder for dinner tonight, very SW friendly, although that was accidental. Not a bad thing as there is crumble and cake in the kitchen.( Not to mention the Christmas puddings SHHHH! don't shout, the SO has a thing about Christmas pudding.)

This is the end result and it was delicious. There is enough left for another meal and it is safely tucked away in the freezer. I will be making it again but next time will leave out the milk, it did nothing to enhance the taste, a dollop of Greek yogurt added when serving will give a creamier finish.

I did get the fisrt Wild Orchid sock finished and have started the second. I am feeling the call of the blanket yarn from the sewing room. I will try very hard not to touch it till the second sock is at least as far as the heel turn. Give me strength to resist temptation.

It is still wet this morning but not as windy, at least so far. The forecast is not good though, lots of knitting time so all is not lost. 

I want to get to the post office this morning, I have a little parcel of the squishy variety to send off to someone that I have followed for many years. You know who you are and I hope that you have fun playing.

Apart from that there is nothing that I need to go out for, shopping has been done for the week and I can concentrate on all the little jobs around the house.

I am still humming and hahhing about the sofa in the sewing room, The only "person" who sits on it is Ben, I 'fess up to using it as a dumping ground. If I do get rid of it there would be so much more floor space and the SO could build me a drop down table for cutting. It has to be drop down or it would just take over as another dumping ground.

The lovely Jess from Buy Less Live Slow left a comment on my Kitchen gadget post. It has compelled me to stack my pots and pans on the work tops and take a long, hard look at them. I am certain that a few could go, there is not enough room for them in one cupboard. Again I have to 'fess up and say that I am not really sure how many I have. My kitchen is the one area that I find hard to simplify, it comes from being a professional cook for so many years.

When you cook in a restaurant kitchen you have dozens of pans of various sizes. I have gone through 30 and more in a single lunch service. Now I do not need that, even when I batch cook for the freezer.
That is a whole other can of worms, Why Oh Why do I still feel the need to have stacks of ready made meals squirrelled away?

I am stuck in the comfortable rut from my working years, it was so easy to double or even quadruple a recipe and freeze the meals. That way I could pull something from the freezer before going to work. Once back home dinner was all but ready and washing up was minimal.
That mindset leads to another can of worms, I have my tall fridge freezer, a small under counter fridge and a small chest freezer! If I could break the "cook and freeze it" habit I could lose the chest freezer. Maybe. 
My fridge freezer is getting on in years and at some point will need replacing. If I find one with a larger freezer to fridge ratio then that would be sufficient. However that is in the future, I will not go down that route until I have to. I do need the second fridge, I cook from scratch and keep many ingredients in the fridge. The under counter one has fruit and veg and various jars of ginger, garlic, lime leaves, lemon grass and other herbs in vinegars and oils. I use the flavoured liquids and the solids in many recipes.

I think that I have rambled on for long enough this morning.
I hope that you all manage to enjoy your weekend and I will see you all on the morrow, all being well.

                      TTFN                                         Pam

Friday 12 October 2018

My favourite 5 kitchen gadgets?

5, only 5? I have more than 5 favourite knives!
I spotted a few vlogs/podcasts in this theme and being of a nosey  inquisitive nature felt compelled to have a look. Most of them were obvious time savers and I do have some of them in my kitchen.

There were some that I wouldn't ever consider buying, why a rice cooker? what is wrong with a saucepan? I do not have room for a single function bit of kit, everything that I have has to work to keep its place.
My maslin pan is not just for preserves and chutneys, it hold a large ham or, with a rack, a decent size whole fish. I can also cook a huge amount of soup/stew for freezing. 
I have a very heavy rolling pin, without those annoying round "handle things" on the ends, it bashes out steaks, pork and chicken for schnitzel and escallops. Breaks up biscuits for cheesecake bases and oven dried bread for crumbs. 


I do have an item that is single use.
Another lie, I have 2
Oh Lord, now that I think about it there are several.
1, My egg pan, omelettes and scrambled eggs only. I poach and fry in a multi use frypan.

2, This is a group of utensils, pots, pans and dishes that only get used for vegan recipes. 

3, Chopping boards, colour coded plus a round wood board for cooked meat and a square wood one for fruit. (who wants apple that has been chopped on the board after onion or garlic)

4, The kettle. Water only.

5, The toaster, bread and bagels.

Back to my favourites, I will have to group some things together.

1. My knives, and the steel to keep them razor sharp.
2. The chopping boards, used every day.
3. Stainless steel pots and pans, many but all used regularly.
4. My wok, a recent purchase but again used very frequently.
5. The contents of my "things" pot. wooden and silicon spoons, spatulas, lifters and turners. You know what I mean. I have to cheat and add my rolling pin to the group.

Yes I have, and use, slow cooker, air fryer, combi oven etc. 
All of these I could live without, although my combi oven is used more than the big one. I would miss my breadmaker but could make it all by hand, it would just mean freezing more and freezer space is precious.

I have not put the kettle on my list, if anyone tried to take it away they would end up in the compost bin!
As you may have gathered I am partial to a brew, on a regular basis.

What about you, any exotic bits of kit out there? 
Back in the day a Tagine and a Couscoussier had pride of place in my kitchen. Both were hauled back from a North African holiday, when it was safe to go there. I used them to death and after they had expired I never got round to replacing them. Now there is no room so I use what I have.

My "cheat" list is done, but I have been looking at Instant Pots. I saw one in use on a recent visit and am trying to decide whether it would be worth the space. would it replace my slow cooker? what about the air fryer? If I fork out for any bit of kit my 1 in and 2 out rule has to be viable.
Who out there has one? is it worth it? does it really replace up to 5 small kitchen gadgets? 
I don't have 5 to jettison, just the slow cooker and air fryer and I am thinking of getting rid of the latter as I do not use it a great deal.
Let me know what you have and use. I did see the Pressure King Pro being used, a cheaper option but does it do enough?

All that thinking has left me in need of a brew, using my well loved kettle.
(I have a spare, just in case)

                 TTFN                                               Pam

Thursday 11 October 2018

pic'nmix or a single bag

Right now whatever bag I have is overflowing with all your lovely comments and well wishes. People have popped up from all over, many of you for the first time. My lovely band of "regulars" sent their supportive messages and each and every one has been a joy to read.

I do, or used to, have a very high pain threshold but this has knocked me for six. It may just be that anything to do with teeth is always painful. (My Granny used to say that teeth are a pain to get, a pain to get rid of and a pain in between.) Just like ear ache it seems so slow to react to pain killers.

Enough, back to the title.

In most areas I am definitely a pick and mix it up sort of peep.

I very rarely follow a recipe exactly, maybe for the first time.
I feel the urge to adapt every knitting pattern that I have.
I cannibalise my sewing patterns and often make a "frankendress" then add bits of self drafted patterns to it.

I was going to say that I do follow a bread recipe, but that would be a lie. I have a tried, tweaked and trusted formulae for white, half and half and wholemeal loaves, there is also a spelt recipe. But, even they get the mix up treatment. I will add some herbs, seeds, fine diced onion, quartered olives or grated cheese, even diced cooked bacon and any mixture of them.

Bacon, red onion and olive bread is quite awesome, warm from the oven with soup it becomes a feast.

I did draw up lists of sewing and knitting projects that I wanted to make this year. Ha ha, some I rattled off in no time but then got sidetracked and it became a case of, List?what list?

Francesca has a growing collection of knitted goodies, the socks have whatever stitch pattern has caught my eye, the same with hats and cowls. She has a few sweaters, none of which follow a pattern except for the overall shape. 

I have just ordered the yarn for a crocheted blanket for her. I bought the "Attic24"  Hydrangea Pack, complete with pattern, from Wool Warehouse.
I rather fancy making a giant Granny Square so I will be following Sandra's Granny Goes Large pattern. You can find this free on her blog Cherry Heart.

That is not the finish of it though, I want to add some cream into the mix so every now and then there will be  round of cream and then I will add cream into the border. I will also be leaving out the chain stitch between the treble granny clusters, this will give a more solid fabric. 
I will be loosely following the colour order from Lucy's Hydrangea blanket, you can find that on her Attic24 Blog.

At least that is my intention, once I get the yarn pack laid out I may feel the need to add in a different colour or two. Watch this space.

The facial swelling is beginning to subside and speech is easier, but I do have an endearing/annoying lisp. I sound a bit like Violet Elizabeth from Just William.

Soup and very soft foods are the order of the day, I did manage to slurp some runny macaroni cheese down and a pasta/soup/veg mush thing slipped down a treat.

I may be daring tonight and have fish pie, as long as there is plenty of bechamel sauce and the potato topping is soft I should be okay.

Porridge is a no no, it sticks to the stitches. yeukk it takes a lot of swill and spit to dislodge. I just luurve the salt mouthwash, well who wouldn't. It takes a glass of plain boiled water swooshing to get my mouth back to okay. I should probably leave the salt in place, which I did the first time, my subsequent cuppa tasted like brine, stale brine at that.

Yogurt is fine, I just had a thought, Rice Pudding, Yes. I will sling some in the slow cooker in a minute.

On a better note, I found a new knitting podcast from the UK, Knitting Vicariously. There are only 2 episodes out and in the first one she does a comprehensive meet and greet. She says from the outset that she is a "bit sweary" and did swear a few times. Compared to what I often hear when I am shopping it is nothing. I quite enjoyed her style in episode 1 and will possibly be watching the next later today.
She is very chatty, in my home village they would say "that mawther kin tork the hind leg orf a Donkey and thin tork it back on.

It is quite good that she does not sell anything so there is no shop update to tempt the money out of your purse.

I have more than enough projects to keep me busy for the next few weeks, so the further away from temptation I am the better.

Now to some knitty news, I am within 2 rounds of the armhole castoff on Francesca's new sweater. That is now having a day off so I can work on the new Strictly Socks. I am keeping my fingers crossed, just not while I am knitting, that I can get them finished before the urge to start the crochet blanket kicks in.

Oops, just look at the time, it is walk time and gone. Ben and Herbie have only just hauled themselves out of bed and of course want to walk Right Now!
My life really does revolve around that pair. And so it should.

                       TTFN                                        Pam

Tuesday 9 October 2018

That blasted Elephant.

That will be the one that has been dancing on my face, at least that is how it feels.

My visit to the hospital turned into a drama. Only part of the work was done, they removed the most damaged tooth. It was such a long job that I had 3 separate local anaesthetic shots. When the final bits were removed there was a lot of stitching to do.
On the final stitch, which took 3 tries, each with a fresh needle, the surgeon managed to stab himself. Of course his fingers were in my mouth at the time.

It took around 30 minutes to locate the necessary forms to fill in and then, of course, they needed blood samples from me. It is part of the procedure that I had to be tested for all the nasties, although I did have to consent.

It meant that I did not arrive home till 3:00, by which time I was feeling pretty sore.
I am having to use pain meds, thankfully I keep a stock in in case the Sciatica plays up, and consequently I am very sluggish. 
No dog walking for a few days, doctors orders, and baby food. More slop in a pot for me.

Now I have to do the rinse and spit routine with boiled salted water, very nice! 4 times a day for the next few days.

I hope to be on better form tomorrow.

                    TTFN                                            Pam

Monday 8 October 2018

Guess who is in the dog house.

Drip, drip,drip, drippety drip drip.

That is the sound of rainwater dripping out of my back yard water butt into a plastic bucket.

Why is that? you may ask.

Why doesn't she turn the tap right off? you may think.

Well this is why!

There is a little fawn and black Jug in the house who, at some point, yesterday morning decided that plastic taps were as good as a bacon butty.

This butt is, of course, full to the brim. We now have to get it emptied and try to get another tap put in. If that does not work it will mean a new butt. 

They Are Not Cheap.

I still love him.

Honest, truly, cross my heart and all that.

On a different note wasn't Strictly full of surprises on Saturday. Seann Walsh looked like a different person and Kevin can have all the bananas he likes from this fan. Again no surprise in the dance off couples and it was, to me, no surprise as to which couple left. 

I did have a little conversation with Francesca, in regard to Christmas gifts.
She has plumped for heaps of woolly goodness, and nothing else this year, he he he. Little does she know that I have been squirrelling yarny items away for many weeks now.
There are hats, cowls, socks and a sweater all done and wrapped up. There are a few more pairs of socks to finish off and another sweater cast on. It is in chunky yarn so will not take long.
 I did finish off a hat yesterday morning, all it needed was the pom pom and I made and attached it while drinking my first cuppa.

I did crop this photo but now can not find it. I am so not techy. I will try again later after my hospital visit.
The rib is 2 x 2 and the knit stitches are twisted every other row for 5 repeats and then every fourth row for 3 repeats. it gives a nice texture and makes knitting rib a bit more interesting.

Now it is time to get the dogs fed, they have had their first walk and the SO will give Herbie a longer walk a bit later.
I do expect that the instant I walk back in the house both he and Ben will NEED to go out Right Now.
 I am certain that most dogs do this, almost as if they are making you realise that they should come first, last and in the middle.
Or is it that we just automatically live our lives around what we think they need?

Any how, I will see you tomorrow, hopefully.

                      TTFN                                    Pam

Sunday 7 October 2018

The sock knitting journey.

I have neglected to say Hello, Good Morning and Welcome to many new followers, I am happy to have you on board. 

Over the past weeks, even months, a few have asked me about sock knitting. 

I advise anyone who fancies having a bash to visit Winwick Mum, her blog has a wealth of information and help. There are free patterns and tutorials and she has published a book on the subject.

Sandra at the Cherry Heart Blog and Podcast has a simple pattern with stacks of help for sale on ravelry.

Ellie of the Craft House Magic Podcast has video tutorials for toe up and top down socks.

Cristi-Lael from the Relatively Crafty podcast has a very good tutorial for the Turkish cast on. 
That is the method that I use, in fact it was watching Cristi that got me knitting toe up socks.

There are many other good blogs and tutorials out there, you just need to "go fishing" and find the method and person that suits you.

This should carry a health warning, there is a (massive) group of knitters who after knitting their first pair become addicted.

(Hello, my name is Pam and I am a sock knitting addict.)

The main things that I did not learn from all of this info is the difference that you find within one weight group of yarn, and the effect that pattern has on fit.

I know that you should swatch, and if I knit socks with a new pattern then I cast on the smallest size, knit 4 rows of rib and then one pattern, I can then measure, and even try it for size on leg and foot. It doesn't take long and  frogs out before the yarn takes on the stitch shape, I hate knitting with wiggly yarn so would never buy a sock blank.

At least this is what I do after I  knitted half of a sock in a new yarn and a textured pattern only to find when trying it on the recipients foot that it was too small. All that frogging made me much more aware of yarn weight and the effect that pattern has.

My current pair are in King Cole Zig zag and it is a very plump yarn, I am using the normal amount of stitches but will need less rounds of kitting to get the length.
I have a small note book with records of socks that I have knitted. All the stitch and row counts are listed along with a yarn sample and the label.
I looked back through this and found that I had knitted a pair of socks in this yarn. They were the some of the first socks that I made and were for Francesca. I will follow that "recipe" for this pair.
I also have a recipe for her feet in several other yarns and patterns. For instance, when I use the Hermione's everyday socks pattern for Francesca it needs 4 more stitches than a lace pattern. This is because a lace pattern gives much more ease, a bit like a stretch jersey dress over a cotton one.

All these things are part of the wonderful, never ending journey through sock knitting, or any knitting come to that.

If you have a go and find yourself struggling then consider trying a different method. Some people swear by magic loop, (my method)
either one or two at a time. Some love the short circulars, I tried that and my hands cramped up.
Then there are dpns, double pointed needles, sets of 4 or 5, beloved by some and hated by the rest.
I have never tried them, I saw my Granny knit socks on them every day of her life, just about, and was horrified at the sight. All those flashing sharp points, not to mention the noise. She could drown out the Billy Cotton Band Show!

I did buy a set with the intention of trying them, I was inspired by Dan of the Bakery Bears, but so far am still a chicken. Part of the problem is that I do like to knit 2 at a time, it saves on all that row counting and perhaps having a pair with one 2 rows longer than the other. 
One reason why I went to 2 at a time, you only need to keep a check on where  in the pattern you are. 

This is my newest cast on, another pair of Strictly socks, I am knitting these singly as I can count the pattern repeats rather than rows. I get so involved in the dances that my yarn management for 2 at a time goes out the window and I end up with a rats nest.

I should add that if knitting in the round scares you silly, you can knit perfectly acceptable socks flat. There are books around, Knit your socks on straight by Alice Curtis for example. A quick search and you will find dozens of books, patterns and tutorials. I knitted a few pairs like this and then plucked up the courage to buy a circular needle. I have never looked back.

I believe that I have prattled on for far too long. If there is anything that I have left out just ask me in the comments.

                    TTFN                                              Pam