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

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!

Monday, 9 August 2010

Yorkshire Pictures - Saltaire

One of the reasons for our recent trip to Yorkshire, in fact probably the main reason, is because both Graham and myself are fascinated with the industrial revolution and the effects it had on ordinary people at the time.  Though there were great advances I'm glad I didn't live then.  Before Titus Salt built his factory with it's workers' village the workers would have lived and worked in Bradford.  Bradford was disgustingly polluted by all the industry and when the powers that be wouldn't do anything about it Titus decided to move.  The average life-span in Bradford was 20 years.  At Saltaire their life-span improved to 70 years.
This is the factory he built and manufactured the cloth Alpaca, which he developed and that made him very rich.
These are some of the skilled workers houses.  There were different styles of houses depending on your status as a worker.  You can tell these are for the skilled workers because of the four panels in the front doors and the arched, sunburst style windows.  The unskilled workers had three panel doors and squared off windows.  The overseers and, what I suppose would be called managers these days, had much bigger, more elaborate houses.
He also built schools; a hospital; a workers dining hall, where workers could get a cheap, nutritious meal; an 'institute', I'm not sure what we'd call this these days, it housed the library, held adult education classes, was used for meetings and social gatherings; a church; but no pubs!!!  The lion in the above picture is one of four.  Originally they were going to be used in Trafalgar Square but were deemed too small so Titus bought them cheap and installed them in his village!  He could seem generous but his generosity to his workers also ensured he got the best out of them, they were healthier due to good food, fresh air and good housing.
Today the factory at Saltaire is a sort of art gallery and has shops and a restaurant.  The whole village is a world heritage site.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Yorkshire Weekend

Well, that's the first of our planned trips done. We were picked up by a feeder coach at 7.50 am Friday and met the main coach at Chesterfield. From there we went to Holmfirth and spend over four hours there! Much to long in my opinion but it is a nice town with lots of interesting buildings, alley ways and cobbles. We were told by the driver to wait at a particular place to be picked up but there only seemed to be me and Graham waiting so we started to get a bit worried. The driver eventually found us, he had parked in a different place because a traffic warden had told him he couldn't park where he'd told us to wait.

From Holmfirth we travelled to the hotel on the outskirts of Brighouse. The food was good, the beds comfortable and the staff very pleasant.

Saturday we set off for Keighley. No sooner had the bus started when I got a nose bleed. It didn't stop for an hour so I was feeling pretty grim by the time we got to Keighley. Keighley is interesting architecturally and we had a nice walk round but took a wrong turn and got lost! We were meeting the rest of the party at the railway station so had to hurry and find our way back. We got on the steam train at the lovely, restored railway station. The staff were all dressed in 'proper' British Rail uniforms, not the sloppy looking stuff they wear these days. Skills had reserved a carriage for us, we had hoped it would be a really old fashioned one but it was a 1960s one. We enjoyed the short train ride and were picked up by the coach a Haworth and driven up to the old part of the town. It's a good job we were, it was very steep and our party mainly consisted of old fogies (like us!). I wanted to have a look in the Bronte Vicarage Museum but by the time we'd had a cup of tea and lunch there wasn't time.

From Haworth we were driven to Skipton for a ride on a canal barge where we were served tea and biscuits. It was a pleasant relaxing ride. Then it was back to the hotel.

By this time I was feeling a bit rough.

Next morning I was feeling very rough and asked at the reception if they had any asprin but they aren't allowed to give out things like that. Luckily a young fellow overheard me and was kind enough to give me some of his co-codamol, which helped me get through the rest of the day.

At 10.15 am we set off for Saltaire. I've been wanting to go here for a long time. We had a guided tour around part of it and then had about another hour or so to do as we pleased. It really is worth a visit.

After Saltaire we set off for home, arriving back in Arnold at about 5.15 pm. A friend picked us up and very kindly had arranged for us to have dinner at their house that evening. I was so glad of this because by then I felt really ill. I was in bed for 9 pm.

I spent most of the next three days in bed with a horrendous cold and extremely painful sinuses. Today I'm feeling a bit better.

So, we enjoyed the weekend very much but would have enjoyed it more if I hadn't caught the damned cold!!! We took some photos but I haven't downloaded them yet, I'll let you see them as soon as I do.