Sewing, stitching, baking, cooking, gardening, shopping and general homemaking.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010


There's not much going on around here lately.  I've been doing a bit of sewing, a bit of card making, sending Christmas cards, Christmas decorating and that's about it, apart from the usual housework type things.  So, there aren't really any craft/baking/gardening pictures to show.

Yesterday I did get a nice bunch of flowers from my son and daughter-in-law, beautiful colours.

And Graham bought this lovely half cheesecake from the Cheesecake Shop
Well it was my birthday!!!

Must be the time of year that's putting me off a bit.  And the weather, it's been so dull and the daylight hours seem very short, not good enough light for any embroidery.  

I know my craft room could do with a good reorganisation again - it's in a right mess, things out everywhere.  Even after my big cull earlier this year I still have too much stuff for the size of the room.  After Christmas I'll spend some time tidying it up again, until then I'll just ignore it!!!

Monday, 6 December 2010

New Shoes

First, an apology, I didn't notice that blogger now does a spam filter, of course some genuine comments ended up in the wrong place, I've now sorted it out - sorry if your comment hadn't appeared, I do enjoy reading them.

For quite a few years now I've had trouble finding comfortable shoes.  I can no longer wear anything with heels and the width has to be quite roomy.  It was years before I eventually sought medical advice about my feet and, as usual with me, the NHS doctor I go to was no help at all.  I don't think I make enough fuss with doctors, they just don't take me seriously, but that is beside the point here.  Anyway, I eventually went to a private hospital and saw an excellent podiatrist who diagnosed me with Morton's neuromaThis is an extremely painful condition and it prevented me from doing much walking so I rapidly became very unfit.  I used to walk a lot and would think nothing of walking instead of getting a bus anywhere.  The podiatrist gave me two cortisone injections in my right foot.  This did help and I can now be on my feet for quite a length of time before I feel any discomfort.  But - I do have to be careful about my footwear.

A couple of weeks ago I visited a mill shop at Moffat and bought some lovely, comfy shoes

They are Hotter shoes and are wonderful.  I used to wear very fashionable shoes and that could have added to the problem with my feet, apparently the bones in my feet are naturally too close together (I do have a trouble with my spine too).  Nowadays I don't care how fashionable my shoes are as long as they are comfortable.  This can be quite a nuisance when it comes to wearing skirts and dresses but I think my new shoes will look fine.

One of my aunts, who was quite superstitious, said that putting shoes on a table would cause a death.  I'm not superstitious so I'm not bothered by this but I did look it up (on the internet of course).  One theory as to how this superstition came about is from when photography was first used.  Apparently the deceased would be photographed and so would have their shoes on while lying on a table - thus the superstition came about.  Ridiculous!!!

Thursday, 2 December 2010


I don't really feel like doing anything much at the moment.  Does the cold and the snow have an effect on motivation - I don't know.

Even going outside the back door is an effort.

This is a main road into Nottingham and it's rarely this quiet.

Looking out over the back gardens wondering how the birds are coping, we have put bird seed out but the dunnocks, who feed on the ground, must be struggling.

I have been doing some sewing, still making dolls clothes but very slowly.  I seem to spend a lot of time just watching the snow!!!  And having a snooze in the afternoon!

Maybe this spell of snowy weather won't last and in a couple of days it will all disappear, we've been spoiled by the recent mild winters.  One thing I have enjoyed is our wood burning stove, it's lovely to have a real fire in the evenings.  And I must admit, we've been leaving the heating on 24 hours a day.  Some of my friends haven't been having their heating on during the day, I don't know how they can stand it and I'm sure just having the gas fire going all day is as expensive as having the central heating on.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Scotland November 2010

View album

Last week we were in Scotland, staying at the Tinto House Hotel, Symington, Lanarkshire.  When we arrived there was snow on the ground, the hills looked very wintery.  The hotel was comfortable and the public rooms very traditional looking with wood panelling and a huge, wide staircase.  Each day we had a trip out to different Castles and Palaces.  Even though the weather was very cold we enjoyed our sight seeing very much.  We didn't take pictures of everything we saw, as many of the sights were seen from the coach.  Our guide in Edinburgh, who was dressed in traditional Scottish regalia, showed us parts of the city not shown in my slide show.  For instance, we saw where Robert Louis Stevenson lived and the guide also explained a lot about the architecture of the houses.

I'm not sure if I'd go to Scotland in November in the future, it was just too cold!

On checking the slide show I notice that some pictures are out of sequence, I don't know why.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

New Hobby or Second Childhood?

What woman in her right mind buys herself a doll?  Well, it seems I'm not alone giving in to the temptation to buy a doll to make clothes for.  The doll I chose was a Gotz Precious Day Girl from hereThe American Girl doll, apart from being very expensive, has a rather toothy look that I didn't like, the Gotz doll has a more neutral look to her.  The clothes my doll came in were very well made but too modern.  I want make the more old fashioned style.
The shoes she came in don't go with the look I want, that is something else I'll make.  So, after making this first dress I decided she needed a nightdress...
These patterns are definitely not for the beginner, there is as much work in them as there is in a real person pattern.  But I think they are lovely.  Here's where I got these patterns from.
I'm glad to have this new hobby, after all there are only so many cushion covers that I need, I have enough table cloths, aprons, bags etc and I was running out of things to make.  Making doll clothes should keep me busy for quite a while I think.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Dolls Clothes

I've been having fun recently making dolls clothes.  A friend of mine has three granddaughters and they are all getting a doll each for Christmas.  The doll they are getting is similar to the American Girl doll so it's quite a big size.  When my friend said she was going to try and make clothes for them I couldn't help but volunteer to make some too.  I have made a few cloth dolls and I remembered buying a pattern about ten years ago for dolls dresses.  I don't really know why I bought this pattern, I think I just liked how it looked!  Well, when I checked the pattern it is for American Girl.  What a coincidence!!!

The first thing I made was this petticoat.
I found a pattern for it online.

Then I made the vest to match...

Also online was this dress pattern that I made next...

And then this one...

Now that I've had a bit of practise I'll have a go with the pattern I bought.

Sunday, 31 October 2010


I'm married to an accident prone person.  Over the years he's broken his arm; had numerous sprained ankles; broken his nose; dented his forehead (that was a scary one); broken a toe playing basket ball; trapped his fingers in a folding chair; electrocuted himself several times; cut himself more times than I can remember with knives; fallen through a window; cut two fingers badly with a hedge trimmer; had a hot bulb from a over-bed light fall onto his chest and burn him; dropped a spanner on his big toe nail and had it go sceptic; been hit in the forehead with a baseball bat someone threw; scalded himself taking a radiator off the wall; cut his head on an overhead pipe; bruised his kidneys when he fell off his motor bike; ruined his uniform when he fell off another motor bike; fell in the bath and broke another toe; had his hand swell up because he didn't know when to stop using his secateurs; had several car accidents.  If some household object can be broken he'll break it, one time he broke a complete dinner service and three sets of wine glasses all in one go.  There are numerous other incidents but I think my brain stops me thinking about all of them for self preservation!!!

On to the present day - Friday he was up a ladder, and of course he has to fall off it and now he has a broken wrist.  Shortly after we were married I happened to mention in front of my MIL that he was accident prone and she said "Oh, he's still accident prone is he".  So I don't really know all the incidents he had in his childhood apart from the one where he broke his two front teeth off.  I've done some reading up on accident proneness but there is no general agreement as to whether some people really are accident prone.  Personally I think accident prone people are just not careful and have never learned from their accidents.  As the wife of such a person I am constantly on edge wondering what is going to happen next. I try to watch him as much as possible to make sure he is safe but unfortunately I can't follow him around all the time.  Can you imagine my level of anxiety living with such a person.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Tea's Ready!!!

That's a lot of sandwiches!!!  Well there are two men to feed.

I think the Bakewell Tart looks a bit overdone, still, never mind.

 Hope that Parkin isn't too dry.  The Cinnamon & Lemon tarts look ok though

These cups don't get used very often

Monday, 25 October 2010

Afternoon Tea

I've planned an afternoon tea for Wednesday

Selection of Sandwiches

Prawn in Sweet Chili Mayonnaise
Egg Mayonnaise with Cress
Ham and Cream Cheese with Pickle

Home Made Cakes and Pastries

Cinnamon and Lemon Tarts with berries and cream
Yorkshire Parkin
Bakewell Tart

To drink there will be Yorkshire Tea or a glass of wine

So, that's the menu sorted out.  I'll make the Parkin today as it needs to mature a bit.  Then I'll make the Bakewell Tart and the Cinnamon and Lemon Tarts on Wednesday morning so that the pastry is still nice and crisp when we eat it.  The sandwiches are straight forward enough, I'll do those in the afternoon.

I love planning these teas and searching out sandwich filling recipes.  This time the fillings are quite straightforward but if you have a favourite let me know.

When we stopped off in Newbury recently we had tea and cake at a small tea room near Victoria Park.  At first I was a bit dubious about this place as it is in the corner of a car park and there were a few tables and chairs outside that really are in the car park!  However, the tea was delicious, a proper cup of tea, and the cakes were lovely home made ones.  Also, they used proper china, and they had decorated inside and out with vintage teacups, teapots etc.  Altogether a tea room worth a visit. 

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Piccalilli and Cake

I've tried shop bought Piccalilli and didn't like it but after talking to someone recently I had to have a go at making it.  It was so easy to make and tastes incredible, nothing like the shop bought stuff.  There was a little bit left over after I'd bottled it so I had bread, cheese and piccalilli for my lunch, the taste was definitely piccalilli but totally different to the shop bought, not milder exactly, but more flavourful.  All I put into mine was pickling onions, cauliflower and courgette.  The pickling onions were a bit big so next time I think I'll buy a jar of silverskin onions to add to it.  I didn't want to make a huge amount so only did about 270g of veg, this made one jar.  I had wanted to make two jars so that I could give my son one but, as I'd never made it before, I misjudged the veg quantity.
Here's my recipe for one jar.

270g of prepared veg, diced (veg of your choice plus cauliflower)

Layer the veg in a bowl with salt overnight, then rinse and drain.

A bit more than 1g turmeric
2g dry mustard
Good pinch of ground ginger
175ml white vinegar
25g sugar
Approx 6g plain flour

Mix the plain flour with a drop of the vinegar and set aside.  Put the spices and sugar in a saucepan and add the vinegar a little at a time, stirring well.  Add the prepared veg to the pan and heat slowly until boiling, stirring occasionally, make sure the sugar dissolves.  Simmer until the veg are cooked but still crisp but not hard (up to 5 minutes).  Add the blended flour, stirring all the time, until boiling.  Keep stirring and boil for 2 or 3 minutes.  Pour the piccalilli into your prepared jars and immediately put the lid on.

Nutella Cake
Here's a close up of the Nutella cake, you can see the Nutella has sunk to the bottom, which it shouldn't.  This is the second go at this cake and both times the Nutella sank to the bottom.  I don't know why!  This is the recipe I use
It is also in the recipe book I have and the picture shows that the Nutella is evenly distributed throughout the cake.  Where am I going wrong?  But who cares, it's a delicious cake anyway!!!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Bournemouth Trip

I was in Bournemouth from Monday to Friday last week. We both had a lovely time, no driving, no cooking and no deciding where we should visit. The coach was comfortable and the driver was very capable, he sense of humour was not very politically correct though! It reminded me of how certain men used to be, very suggestive on occasion but by the end of the trip I think he realised it wasn't very appreciated.
The hotel looked very nice and the food was excellent, freshly cooked every day and not 'boil-in-the-bag' type meals. My bed was incredibly lumpy and I had to sleep on the duvet because of this. All in all I think the hotel was very good apart from that bed!
On the way down we had to divert from the intended route because of an accident so we stopped off in Newbury for our comfort break. We were there with plenty of time to do a bit of sight seeing. I was glad of this because we lived near Newbury years ago so did a bit of nostalgic wandering around. We visited the park that we used to take Colin to when he was 2 years old (he's forty now). The next trip we did was to Salisbury. This is a lovely town and worth visiting.  Wednesday was a free day and we were lucky enough to have sunny weather so we had a walk around Bournemouth.  Thursday was a trip to Burley in the New Forest.  Burley was very disappointing but the drive through the forest was lovely.  Then it was on to Lyndhurst, the church here is where Alice of Alice in Wonderland fame is buried.  Friday morning we visited Winchester and as well as the cathedral we saw the house that Jane Austin lived in before she died.  Also, I was born in Winchester!
I did try to make a slide show of my pictures but unfortunately Microsoft have removed the programme from Windows 7 that I used to use and I had to download a different programme from them.  I have made the above album but the captions didn't come up with the pictures.  I'll have to practise a bit more with the programme and see if I can do it.

I just went to check out the above photo album and if you click on the slideshow tab it does show the captions on the photos.  Also noticed I missed the end off Winchester a couple of time and they come up as Winchest - damn!

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Sewing Kit

Even though I expect to be quite busy during out trip to Bournemouth, with lots of trips out and walks on the beach, I still have to take a bit of something for those odd moments when there might be nothing to do.  So, I've made up a kit to take with me....
It all fits nicely into the box I decorated a couple of months ago.  Some people take cross-stitch, some take crochet or knitting.  Up until I came across this paper piecing patchwork I didn't have anything that I found really suitable as a take-along project.  And of course I couldn't take my sewing machine with me could I!!!  These hexagons take minimal concentration to assemble and you really can't get them wrong, so there will be no unpicking of mistakes.  As I sat cutting out the card shapes this morning I had an interesting thought, a kit of ready cut out shapes would make a lovely give-away.  I haven't done a give-away for quite some time now, due to circumstances this year, so look out for a give-away in the next few weeks.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Stitching Corner

I spend quite a bit of time sitting here in my kitchen.
You can just about make out all the hexagons I've been producing, there are more than a hundred now, It'll be some time before there are enough to make into a quilt!  The cushion you can see on the chair is one I bought to use on our patio set, not that we've used that very much this last couple of years.  The chair itself has quite a hard seat and I was getting a bit uncomfortable on the posterior, I could just see me explaining to the doctor why I had pressure sores there!  So I thought this cushion would give me a bit of relief.

As well as stitching the hexagons to the card shapes I've been busy getting together the clothes I will need for our upcoming trip to Bournemouth.  After years of self-catering it feels a bit strange to be going to a hotel and I thought I'd better search out some of my decent clothes.  I've got a red jumper and cardigan (£12 for the two at the Sainsbury's 25% off sale) and a red check skirt to go with it.  I haven't worn the skirt for years, I think I've only ever worn it a couple of times, if that.  To travel I've decided on trousers, tee shirt and blouse, got to wear a tee shirt under the blouse, I might get cold, you never know with our weather these days.  Then for trips out during the stay, another pair of trousers, tee shirt, blouse and cardigan.  The trip is only for five days so I think that will be enough apart from underwear and night shirt of course.  That's one advantage of being older, I don't feel so obliged to be so obsessed with looking fashionable.  I'm also taking flat shoes to wear with the skirt, I would never have worn a skirt without wearing heels when I was younger, now I just can't wear them, I go for comfort.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010


The internet has always fascinated me.  I even did an Open University course on the history of it.  It's through the internet that I've 'met' a lot of very interesting and inspirational people.  Often these people come and go for different reasons but isn't that the same in 'real' life anyway.  You all know how I join in with swaps and one particular hand-stitching group I'm in has them regularly.  Here are pictures of two swap packages I've received recently.
This one is an ongoing Secret Sister Swap.  Each month for five months we send a package to our Secret Sister.  They are not supposed to know who we are but being an international group it's a bit difficult to hide our identity!  Above is what my Secret Sister sent for the August package.  She sent more than she should have I think, not that I'm complaining.  The book you see is fabulous, I'm constantly referring to it for ideas.

This package is for the Christmas swap.  We had to send each other things that we could use to make Christmas items.  As usual there were lots of extras included.
It's fun to receive these packages, I wonder if the postmen everywhere wonder why certain people are now receiving regular packages from all over the world. 

Friday, 1 October 2010


I enjoy doing patchwork and have made several cushion covers, a couple of small throws, two single bed quilts and probably other things that I can't think of just now.  Anyway, I've made all these things on my sewing machine because I thought that the paper-pieced quilts that are all hand stitched would be beyond me.  That is until I decided to have a go at some paper-pieced hexagons.  I can't believe how much I'm enjoying doing this, it's the perfect project to take with me when I'm away from home.  Minimum concentration is needed so I can still join in with what is going on around me.  I made this little pincushion to start me off
I knew that in one of the many boxes in my craft room there were some strips of fabric I'd cut out for a log cabin quilt.  I'd got a bit over enthusiastic when I cut these strips and had loads left over.  These have come in perfectly for me to try a bigger hexagon project.  I cut them up, printed some more hexagon shapes, a bit bigger this time, and now have a lovely project on the go.  I don't know what size of quilt I'll end up with but I'm enjoying the process.

First steps in the process, cut out hexagon shapes in card, cut out fabric (I used my rotary cutter and cut the shape as you can see in the picture), tack fabric to the card, trim the fabric to neaten.  I found it easier to cut the fabric this way, I would have found cutting the fabric into hexagon shapes to start with a bit too aggravating.  Someone did ask me if the card would make a mess of the quilt when it is washed!!!  But of course you remove the tacking and take out the card shapes when the pieces are all sewn together.

This shows what the shapes will look like when put together.  Apparently this pattern is called Grandmother's Flower Garden.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

All Change

There have been times, for quite a few years now, when I've felt that life is a bit monotonous.  The only things that change are upsetting things.  That doesn't mean that I don't enjoy my life in general, it's just that sometimes I wish for something different to happen, something to look forward to, something nice happening instead of just upsetting things happening.  With this in mind we have decided to give our caravan to my nephew and his wife.  They have two small children and only live and hour and a half away from Heacham, so it will be ideal for them.  It is a bit of a wrench doing this but it is time for us to do something different.

Having the caravan meant that we could have holidays with our dogs.
The beach at Heacham
At the back of the beach there is an area call Heacham Harbour, it is now a nature reserve.

A few pictures taken couple of miles from Heacham at Hunstanton, these are the gardens.

The cliffs

The beach below the cliffs, interesting rock formation 

Pigeons in their natural habitat

So, what are we going to do with ourselves?  For a start we can join in with Graham's family's celebrations.  Usually I can't go because I have to stay at home and dog sit.

Last weekend we went up to Manchester for Graham's cousin's 70th birthday party.
In two weeks we are going on a short break to Bournemouth.  Graham has never been there.  Next year we intend to get several of these short breaks to different places around the UK, something we've never been able to do before.  Today we went out early and visited a Yorkshire Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve for a bit of bird watching.  We were there several hours and saw 31 different species of bird that we could identify.
There are lots of things to look forward to now, just hope life doesn't throw one of those horrible things at us for a while!

Monday, 13 September 2010

More Sewing

This apron will be a Christmas present for a friend who loves rag dolls.  There is no pocket on this one so it was even quicker to make than the other ones.  The printed dolls on the fabric wouldn't allow for a pocket because of where they were placed so, rather than fiddle about and get on my own nerves, I decided this one was fine without.

While I was in a sewing mood I decided to make these decorations
They have an overlapping envelope style back so that scented stuff (word won't come to mind) can be put into them, maybe cinnamon or something.  I've made quite a few of these hangie decorations, they are fun to make and add to my hand-made Christmas look that I like.  I expect I'll be making more because the fabric I have has lots of these pictures to the yard.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Some Sewing, Some Stitching

I must be feeling a bit better because I'm getting more things done.  Grief is a horrible feeling, while it's happening I think to myself "It's something to be got through".  At the time I think the feeling will never go away but it does gradually sort of become 'background noise', then I'll have an hour or so of feeling ok.  I hope for a year of nothing horrible happening, the last few years have been one thing after another and it's dragged me down.

Anyway, here are a couple more sewing/stitching projects I finished this last week.  First is a table runner.  I've stockpiled a ton of cotton fabric while I could afford it, then I've panicked, thinking that I'll never use it all but table runners and aprons are perfect for using up some of my stash.  This table runner is another very quick and easy project
Even with my fab new camera I don't think my photography skills have improved!

For years I've wanted to try free-motion machine embroidery and I intend to give it a serious try this week.  Last week I had a timid go at it and came up with these
A needlecase and pincushion, the flower stems on the left are my first small efforts, the stems are done on my machine then I've added french-knots to the stems.  A good simple starter, no use trying to be too ambitious and putting myself off.

I've also got more aprons planned, one is cut out and waiting to be sewn together.  These aprons seem to have taken over from my obsession with making those handy bags.  I'm also wondering about making pillow cases.  The problem I'm having with starting one of these is the idea of having pillow cases that don't match the rest of my bedding, would it look odd do you think?  Would they make nice gifts or would the recipients not use them if they don't match their bed linen?  I'd love to know what you think about this.  I wonder if square pillow cases would be better, that way ordinary cushion pads could be used and the pillows would be more for decoration on the bed.  That might be a better idea don't you think?

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Chutney And Cake

The cherry tomatoes that I grew in a window box did extremely well, much better than the ones in the greenhouse.  Yesterday I harvested all the cherry tomatoes and there where loads.  Some were red and some were still green but I had noticed that they were being eaten and it turned out to be caterpillars.  It looked as if the caterpillars were taking a small meal out of each tomato then moving on to another one so it was time to pick them all before they were all ruined.  Once again I decided to make chutney.  This chutney is beetroot and tomato, I also added a big courgette/small marrow, four cooking apples and two onions as well as mixed spice, salt, ground ginger, brown sugar and wine vinegar.  I vaguely followed the chutney recipe out of my book, the weight of the total veg added up to the weight in the recipe so the spices, sugar and vinegar was the same as in the recipe.
Because I was using cherry tomatoes I couldn't prepare them as I usually do, that is remove all the skins, so, after I'd cut out the wood stem bit I simmered them until soft then liquidized them.  This is a very fruity tasting chutney probably due to the addition of the beetroot.

I mentioned in my last posting that I'd been to the Lowdham Show.  In the tent where the competition entries were on show there was a baking section.  Some of the recipes were included in the show guide booklet.  One cake looked so delicious I had to make it
Pineapple Cake

225g tin crushed pineapple
175g marg
250g soft brown sugar
225g mixed fruit
175g glace cherries, halved
350g SR flour
3 eggs

Melt marg and sugar in a large saucepan, add fruit, cherries and pineapple.  Mix thoroughly then ALLOW TO COOL.  Beat eggs and add to mixture with the flour.  Bake in a deep cake tin approx 21cm at 150C/gas 2 for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Computer And Other Stuff

I finally got my new computer tower connected up on Friday.  It took the whole day and I was worn out just watching the engineer fiddling with it.  He was having trouble removing the free trial Office programme and installing my bought version.  Then I couldn't have Outlook Express anymore and he couldn't get Outlook to work.  In the end he had to go home and after I fiddled around myself for a while I downloaded Windows Live Mail so I'm quite happy with that for now.  But - the next day when I switched on I was still having the same problem, the screen was just not showing anything at all, occasionally it sort of flashed, but nothing.  It did come on after a bit of switching on and off and restarting the tower.  That's when I started to think that the problem has been my monitor all along - damn!  Graham is buying me a new monitor today because this morning it took ages for the screen to work.  If I've spent all that money on a new tower and it was the monitor all along I will feel very annoyed!

On Saturday we travelled up to Manchester for a christening that took place on Sunday.  We stayed at a Novotel this time.  It wasn't as good as the Holiday Inn we stayed at recently.  Some areas in the room could have done with a good clean, the teaspoons and shelf for the complimentary drinks was grubby and the tap in the bathroom wasn't clean either, It was one of those latest style of taps that has the handle that sort of swivels and it was a bit mucky in the swivel area when it was turned to the on position.  When these small details are missed it makes me wonder about the cleanliness overall, maybe I'm a bit fussy though.  The breakfast next morning was ok but the plates were cold, the fried eggs hard and the tea cool.  I know I'm being a bit picky and really it was ok for just an overnight stay.

On Saturday afternoon we had a walk along the canal path at Bridgewater canal
The weather was really mild and we had a lovely couple of hours.

The christening on Sunday was lovely, a very nice service and a fab buffet lunch afterwards.

Grace, our great-niece, was very well behaved and slept most of the way through the day.

Last week, while I was without my computer, I was busy making aprons

The link above is to the tutorial, this is a very easy apron to make and I made four altogether and have cut out more - very useful for gifts and, like the one above, for swaps.

Here's a picture of the cooking apples I got off our small tree

This is the most apples we ever had off this tree.  Showing these apples reminded me that the previous weekend we went to Lowdham Show, I only took one picture, the show tent with all the produce was so crowded it was difficult getting any good shots in.  Every time I was just about to take the following picture a woman stuck her hand into the frame - I'm sure she was doing it on purpose!  In the end I had to ask her to move

I took this picture because I thought it was a very clever arrangement.  It contained, potatoes, red onions, jars of preserves and other veg, I loved it.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Deciding What Is Clutter

While my computer is out of action I decided to tidy up all the wires at the back of my desk.  It took two hours because it all needed a good clean too.  Doing this has spurred me on to do a bit more decluttering.  But what is clutter and what is stuff I know I'll be using - sometime!  Last year I gave quite a lot of craft items to a friend's daughter, things that I knew she would use.  I don't want to give things to people who I know won't use them because then it's just shifting the clutter to someone else's house.  This oftens happens to me, someone will think that I can use some item that they can't bring themselves to throw away, often I end up throwing it away for them!  I have a storage box (or two) full of rubber stamps.  Most have been used well but rubber stamping is something I don't do anymore.  Ok, they can go, but where?  I'm thinking of selling them at a car boot sale but where do I keep them until I have enough stuff collected to make it worth while.  It needs to be out of my craft room.  I have an almost full set of Lace (pronounced Lassie) cutting templates, they cost me getting on for £100 - how much would I get for them?  But if I'm not going to use them why keep them?  Then there is all the backing paper I've accumulated.  Some I'm just sick of the sight of, but who would want it?  Should I try to sell it too?  It goes on and on.  I might just end up throwing it all in the bin.  That's what I do when I feel totally overwhelmed by clutter.  My craft room is embarrassingly cluttered.  I don't think this type of hoarding applies to me because the rest of my house is quite organised.  I think the first step is to take out of my craft room all the things that I know I don't want to do anymore - like those rubber stamps for a start.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Computer Problems

My computer had been playing up again so my friendly engineer collected it last Thursday.  He thought it could either be the hard drive or the motherboard.  It turned out to be the motherboard and I had the choice of a new motherboard or a new tower.  As I'd had the computer for quite a while I agreed that it was time for a new one.  I'm hoping that by Thursday of this week I'll be up and running again.  In the meantime I'm using Graham's laptop.  At least I can check my messages, update my blog and do a bit of surfing.  It's not the same as using my PC though.

Today I'm going to the Range to look for Christmas card making supplies.  It's almost September and time to start thinking about Christmas.  I've come across a good apron idea that will be useful as a gift, so far I've made four, I'll show a picture as soon as I'm back on my own computer.

I received a fabulous parcel last week.  I'm in a Secret Sister Swap that runs from August until December and my Secret Sister went a bit over the top with what she sent me.  She sent enough to cover the whole five months!  Included was a crazy quilting ideas book, I've spent loads of time since it's arrival looking at it and trying out some of the stitches it shows.

Another picture I wanted to show here was of the cooking apples I got off our tree this year.  Along with the damson tree, the apple tree used to be in a tub too.  Then a couple of years ago I got my husband and son to move them to a permanent place in my veg plot.  Both have done really well this year but the cherry tree I had in a tub along side them died off about a year after transplanting, that was a bit of a puzzle.  They are the type of tree that is sort of miniature and grows sort of straight up, I can't remember what they were called, something like ballerina.  The fox carries on trying to wreck my veg beds.  The leeks were growing beautifully, nice and tall and straight.  That is until the fox decided to trample them!  He seems to like using the onion patch as a bed and now the leek patch.   Hmmm, wonder if it's the smell?  I've taken the cabbages out, they weren't doing any good at all.  For some reason they grew too tall and the heads just didn't develop.  I don't have any luck with brassicas, think I'll give up on them.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Baking, Stitching and Other Stuff

We had a few day in Norfolk last week.  The weather was quite good considering the really crap August we've had.  I did get a trip out to Taverham, I wanted some Milliners needles and some Christmas card making supplies but couldn't find either but did end up buying stuff from the kitchen shop.  Several years ago I bought a Silverline cake tin, then I bought extra dividers for it (it's one of those tins that you can slot in the sides to make different size cakes).  But, the extra dividers were for the new, bigger sized tin, so I had to buy that too.  Plus I bought some preserving jars.  I'd used up all the recycled jars I had and the ones a friend had given me because of my chutney making.  As well as the rhubarb chutney I've made tomato & marrow and plum & damson.  The damsons were from my own tree, it's the first year this tree has actually produced fruit.  Usually it gets infested with some sort of pest and doesn't do very well.  I don't like spraying pests but this year I just had to, of course I used a spray that wouldn't harm birds but I still felt guilty for doing it.  We did get a few damsons though

We made these Apple & Apricot Treacle Tart Bars today, that dark bit around the edge is lovely and chewy due to the syrup that was in the topping, delicious!  It's got a shortcake base, apple, apricot and sugar stewed together (then pureed) in the middle and is topped with orange zest and juice, syrup and oats.  It was quite a time consuming recipe to do but tastes lovely.

While we were away I stitched this little embroidery, it's to cover the lid of a storage jar for my craft room.  I wanted to do this one because I wanted to stitch some bees, just got to put it on the lid now.

Friday, 13 August 2010


It's a long time since I made chutney.  I do tend to go a bit over the top with quantities and Graham gets put off by having so much of one thing.  This year, when I've made jam, I've just made a small quantity so decided that I'd try the same with some chutney.  If you've got a big family and a glut of produce big quantities are fine.  When it's just the two of you it's a bit pointless as things eventually get thrown away.  Today I made four jars of Spiced Rhubarb & Red Wine Chutney.  One jar for our son, one jar for a friend and two jars for us.
Because my rhubarb had done well this year I had about 1 Kilo that I could use in this chutney.  As well as the rhubarb there are three onions; 500 g light brown sugar; 7 g salt; 7 g ground ginger; 25 g ground mixed spice, 7 g mild chili powder and approx half a pint of wine vinegar and quarter of a pint of red wine.  I may have put a bit too much chili powder in it but Graham and Colin like chili so it should be to their taste.  This was all simmered for about two hours until it was thick.  Now it's got to mature for several weeks, in fact my Women's Institute recipe book says it should mature for two to three months.
I used to have really good desk top publishing software but it stopped working on any operating system after 1999 and I had to buy another one but it's not as comprehensive so I had to make up some labels for the jars myself.  I wanted labels that I could tie on because stick-on labels are a nuisance to get off when I want to re-use the jars.  I did search the internet for some printables but I didn't like any of them.  Then of course I had to tart the jars up further with a nice bit of gingham fabric to cover the lids.
All in all, a satisfying day!