Saturday, 23 September 2017

Brrrrr . . .

It's a bit damp and a bit chilly and ever so dull so thank goodness for this.



Saturday paper, hot cuppa tea and the fire (fan heater tarted up really) on.
This is the life.

Saturday

Good morning from sunny Baslow in the Peak District.  It's chilly but lovely and I'm on holiday.  I've been looking forward to this for so long, I can hardly believe it's here at last.

First of all, the cottage.  It is bijou, tres, tres bijou, but delightful.  It's actually half a cottage really and the other side is empty, I think.  I'll take a photo later on.  Maybe they have plans to do it up once this one takes off or maybe it belongs to someone else, I am not completely sure, although the garden and front path are shared.  There's steep stone steps to a cellar and equally steep wooden stairs to the bathroom and bedroom, both of which are a jolly good size and the bed is enormous and very, very comfortable!  The stairs are just a bit too steep and narrow for comfort and with a turn at the bottom so I will take them carefully and use the hand rail.




The kitchen looks good - fairly well supplied with tools, etc, and I have brought Thermione with me so I will cope fine.  In fact, I shall put a loaf on to knead soon because fresh bread is one of the joys of my life and there's a little freezer in the kitchen as well as a bigger one in the cellar so it will stay fresh.

It's not really a Thermo-sized kitchen so a bit of a squash.  Never mind!

It was an OK journey but a lot longer than I expected (in terms of time) because there were hold ups on the A1(M).  Maybe I should have gone M1 but you never know, do you?  Just as I drove into the national park it started raining and, because I was late, I got there just as school was out, just what I didn't want to do.  Of course, there was no parking anywhere close by so I popped off to guess where.  Yes, the Chatsworth Farm Shop!  It's developed since I was last there (which has to be well over a decade ago now) and is a great experience, despite the crowds.  I can see that I will eat well this week and I can also see that frugality will fly out of the window.  Well, I have saved up so that's OK, I'm not spending what I haven't got.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do today.  I'm feeling rather tired so maybe I will just get into the car and follow my nose, seeing as the second star to the right will have gone to bed.  It's actually virtually impossible to get lost in the Peak District as there are so few roads and anyway, my sat nav will sort that out.

A few more photos, taken in rather dull light.

View from the front door.

Autumnal tints showing - this will be a colourful week.




Friday, 22 September 2017

Friday.

All ready!  Well, all bar actually putting the last clothes in the case, the ones that are over the sofa.  I just need to go over the route once more and that's me done and dusted apart from loading everything into the car.  Phew.

It's a very autumnal day today; cool, misty and with a slightly smoky smell.  Really nice, in fact, and I hope the sun will come out later as driving in the rain won't be nearly so pleasant.  Still - what will be, will be, and the most important thing is that I'm off on holiday, leaving when S gets here to take over.

Better go and check stuff, I suppose.  And the kettle has boiled so you know what that means.  Coffee!



Thursday, 21 September 2017

Thursday

Good morning, everyone.

You know those days when you seem to be bustling around for hours, yes not doing much.  Well, that was yesterday!  However, there is now a stack of things waiting to be packed, the kitchen is comparatively organised and I'm nearly ready so maybe I achieved more than it seemed.

On Monday, Beth brought round a bucked load of final pickings from the allotment.  Courgettes, squashes and apples.  No potatoes as I have my own and no runners because ditto.  The other stuff has been given out to lovely people who have helped Beth and me with the allotment as neither of us have been able to give it much attention in recent weeks for differing and very valid reasons.

I shall take courgettes and a squash with me but the apples really did need dealing with.  Some were bad and needed chucking while some were far too small so ditto.  However, there were a number of sound ones, some more than others.  I sorted out six to take with me - they have a lovely tangy/sweet flavour and I think they are Coxes although Beth can't remember.  Anyway, whatever they are, they're worth having and it's very exciting to get a small crop the year after it was moved.  The other fruit trees didn't yield anything this year.  The plum and pear got caught by a late frost and the redlove had apples but they all dropped, sadly.  Still, in gardening there's always hope so we look forward to next year.

The other apples were peeled, cored, cut into wedges and blanched for the freezer although I was naughty and used some to make an apple and strawberry crumble for lunch.  It was delicious and there's some left over for today.

Amazingly, the Ruby Ann strawberries are still cropping.  Not loads as there are only four plants but enough for a picking now and again.  Also in the garden, the runners are all over and done, as are the montello tomatoes, but the sungolds are still going strong and I shall start on the potatoes today.  Not bad for a summer's effort.  The garden is starting to look bedraggled now so I need to set aside a couple of mornings to give it the annual autumn haircut!

In the late afternoon I went over to Beth's for dinner and to say goodbye to Alex.  He's off to university on Friday.  When I think back, his life journey has been astounding and inspirational.  Diagnosed with autism as a toddler, non verbal until around five after losing all his developing language in a typical 'crash' at around 14 months, attending a local 'special school', the only pupil ever at that school to take KS2 SATs and getting level 4s and 5s, despite not having done the mainstream curriculum, transferred to mainstream secondary to enter Y9, getting all his GCSEs including English, Getting all his A levels with high grades and now . . . off he goes into the next phase of his life and education!

The autism hasn't gone away, of course, it is pervasive and lifelong and creates 'issues', but wow, he has done so, so well.  And so has Beth.  I'm so proud of them both.

It's sad, very sad, to have to say goodbye and not have him around but changes happen and life moves on.  I just wish there weren't quite so many changes happening right now.

I need to get a move on.  By the end of today, I want to have everything packed and by the front door, ready for loading tomorrow.  I want to have a neat and tidy house for my lovely house sitter and for the cleaners so that I can watch An Extra Slice this evening with a clear conscience, always a nice thing to have

But first - of course - coffee . . . as always!


Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Wednesday

Good morning!  It's chilly (socks and dressing gown chilly) and dark and lovely and peaceful.  It's almost officially autumn now, summer is past, but I want good weather for next week!

I dashed into town to the bank after seeing a payment that I thought I didn't authorise - but it turned out that I did.  How embarrassing is that?  Never mind, I did the few bits and bobs I had been intending to do this morning, including withdrawing my holiday spending money that I moved over from savings, so that's OK.

I went into Foyles and found a lovely little AA book of the Peak District so it will be my constant companion next week.  I also got some deep fitted sheets for my parents, John Lewis being one of the few shops that sell them at a reasonable price.

Things are nearly ready now.  I have to prep the guest room and get a few things in, finish my piles of stuff I am taking and keep the house tidy.  That's about it really, apart from planning the tuition for the first week in October.

Should be a nice day!


Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Tuesday

Morning, everyone.  I overslept just a bit this morning, waking at six, which was rather nice.  The heating had clicked on so it felt cosy but means it must be quite chilly out there.  It's obviously been raining, the wind is blowing and I am glad to be snug and warm inside with no need to go out whatsoever.

I have nice warm toes too.  I do have slippers but am not terribly fond of wearing them really and they are getting old.  The pair I bought to replace them didn't fit comfortably at all and I haven't really worn them.
So I invested in some sock-slippers (or do I mean slipper-socks).  In other words, socks that have a non slip sole and a nice fluffy turn over at the top and could pass for slippers.  They're snug and cosy, soft and fluffy inside and easy to walk in and I love them.

My printer certainly took a battering yesterday.  I completely sorted out my route to the Peaks yesterday including enlarged printouts of any tricky bits and I even 'drove' the roads up there using Google road view.  How did neurotic route finders like me ever cope before Google was born, eh?

It did help though.  I am sure there's some deep, psychological reason but I have a real fear of getting lost in the car.  I tell myself I'm not lost, I just don't know where I am for a while and I know the sat nav will give me clear instructions once it stops trying to get me onto the M1 but it doesn't help the fear much.  What has helped is seeing that some tricky looking junctions are traffic light controlled and that there are very clear road markings too.  I will laugh at myself once I am there, I know I will.

This looked horrible on the map but perfectly manageable now I've seen it!  Just a shame the roads don't REALLY have their names marked on the surface in large, white lettering!

Today is gathering things together day.  All the bits and bobs I am taking will find their way to one place in the living room, all the clothes I am taking will be washed and ironed (if necessary),stacked up and I will wear rags until Friday.  I will top up with petrol.  I might even be very good and clean out the car, you never know.

All part of the fun!

I made a really nice crumble on Sunday.  Mind you, it is hard to make a crumble that isn't nice, isn't it?  This was strawberry and apple.  The strawberries were leftovers from the day before and the apple was an old eater that was looking wrinkled and unappetising.  The topping was a plain and simple basic one: butter, flour and sugar.  So tasty!

I'd better stop now.  I need to do some Facebook adminning and then start the day's work.  That should keep me warm, even if the heating didn't!
Have a great day.



Monday, 18 September 2017

Monday

Good morning, everyone.  I hope you all slept well.

I'm on the last lap before my holiday now.  My house sitter is all arranged and I am creating lists.
Food to take
Equipment to take
Things to buy
Things to pack

The last two are self evident, I hope.  I don't take a lot when there are laundering facilities but I do like to take things like my lovely big, white towel, etc, so I make a list.  When I get there, there's a little village shop a few steps along the road but I will take my first night's meal with me, I think.  After all, it is holiday!

When it comes to the first two, it's a bit more complicated.  Don't laugh - I always take Thermione with me on self catering holidays.  I am so used to having her around and now I have the Cook-Key, I can load it up with my favourite recipes (it's a bit like a Kindle for cooking, I suppose).  I also like to take two sharp knives because I cannot bear using blunt knives.  I will give them a good sharpening before I pack.  Then there's things like one loaf tin as I can't expect a holiday cottage to have one, tea towels (my experience is that there are never enough tea towels), poly bags, cling film, etc.  I see no point buying new packs when I have plenty in drawer or cupboard.

I apply the same principle to foody things.  There's no way I am going to buy new packs of things like salt, pepper, sugar, herbs, etc, when I already have plenty at home.  I doubt I will eat out much of an evening as I much prefer snuggling down at home with telly, a good book, some knitting and a glass of the chilled dry white stuff and anyway, eating out on your own isn't a lot of fun.  I've paid out for a very comfortable little cottage and I intend to get the most from it.

Yesterday I went online to plan my route.  The AA route finder is very handy here.  You can input the roads you want to use as well as the destination and it gives detailed directions that you can print out.  I'm joining the A1 at Baldock (using the cross country way, via Bishop's Stortford) and then across to Mansfield, Chesterfield and Baslow from Newark.  It looks simple enough and the signposting seems clear enough.  What with that and the Sat Nav, I should only get lost a few times!
I could join the M1 and go that way but I know the A1 and it's a good road nowadays so I will risk it!

Not long now!


Sunday, 17 September 2017

Sunday

After a wakeful time in the middle of the night, I woke just after seven this morning which is ridiculously late for me.  So now I am in a bit of a rush and this will be short.

Really, I just wanted to wish my friend, Diane, a safe drive to Italy and a wonderful holiday there with her family and friends.  I'm looking forward to seeing the photos.

Better go.  Back tomorrow.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Saturday

Good morning, everyone.  It has just turned five of the morning and I know from experience that I most likely not get back to sleep again so I'm sitting up in bed, laptop on knee, for an hour or so of social media-ing.  It's chilly because I have the windows on tilt but not bad enough to make the effort to get up and close them.

Just think - in seven days I will be sitting in bed in the holiday cottage, laptop on knee, coffee to hand, enjoying the unfamiliarity of what looks like a very attractive and comfortable little cottage. Planning is well and truly on the way.  I have bought one of those plastic folders with inserts and I shall be devoting each insert to a different thing I want to do.  The Chatsworth exhibition - no problem.  Pre-booked evidence will be there but no map as the cottage is right on the doorstep of the estate.  Haddon Hall - the map is already there with a print out of info about the place.

On holidays, my Kindle is a very useful piece of equipment indeed.  One of the items on my Things To Do list is to load her up with reading material.  Lots of books for very little weight.  I won't have the normal distractions so expect that I will have plenty of time to read, perhaps with glass of wine to hand and music in the background.

Oh, it will be fun!

I got round to half sorting out the problem with my laptop.  It was all my own fault.  I spilt a glass of water over the keyboard part and then, stupidly, pressed some of the keys rather than just leave it to dry, so now, of course, those keys don't work.  I don't think there's anything one can do about that so, in the meanwhile, I have a separate keyboard that is resting on the connected one and it is working fine.  My main PC needs another keyboard anyway so, while I was buying it, I decided to get two of them as it was very reasonably priced and without too many bells and whistles (not needed) and here we are!  At some point I will investigate having the connected keyboard replaced but at the moment I need it too much and too often to hand it over to a shop for weeks.

I've been looking for lamb recipes.  Leg of lamb is so, so expensive that I haven't bought it for years but I have a good excuse (guests) so indulged.  I want to do it slow roasted because I love it that way and it is as I thought.  Rub it over with some herbs/spices, slam it in, covered, and leave it apart from basting for hours and hours.  I can manage that.  With roasties, runner beans and courgettes, it should make a very acceptable meal.  I might even stretch to a fruit crumble for dessert, that would be nice.

Well, it is first-coffee time so I will stir myself, potter downstairs and get the kettle on.  What a self indulgent life I live at times.  It's great!







Friday, 15 September 2017

Friday

Good morning, everyone.  It's Friday, last day of the working week for most and with the weekend before us.  At the moment it's crisp, clear and cold outside but it will probably warm up soon enough.  Yesterday was a real mixed bag - first fine, then lashing with rain, especially (of course) at the end of school when all the parents were waiting in the playground.

Thankfully, the car got through its MOT without any hassles or issues so that's it for the year.  Road tax comes at a different time, for which I am duly thankful, although it's not a huge amount of money nowadays.

I set to and made the tea loaf and another batch of shortbread, the first batch having mysteriously shrunk somewhat.  Strange that!

That's about it really.  A much 'smaller' day but still very pleasant as today will be too, I'm sure.  And now I'd better start living it!



Thursday, 14 September 2017

Thursday

Good morning, everyone.  Yesterday was a lovely day: a bit blustery and a few showers but nothing to write home about.  It's been a clear night too and, therefore, chilly.  I've turned the heating up, utter softy that I am.

Yesterday was a filled day.  I got into town before the underground car park became too full.  Not as early as I had planned but it was OK.  After a trip round M&S food hall (always enjoyable), I went to the bank and deposited that cheque.  Oh, that did feel good!

Then I promptly ploughed some of it back into the retail economy.  That was fun too.

In Lakeland - can't go into town without popping into Lakeland, can I? - I invested in a square baking tin which is just the right size for my shortbread.  My old one has gone all manky and a bit rusty and I chucked it out, so it was one in and one out.  Better for the clutter situation that way.

Then on to the White Company.   You won't remember but almost a year ago, just after the shop had opened, I treated myself to a couple of posh room sprays from there as a treat.  They may have been expensive but they've lasted almost the whole year and are just starting to run out so I got some more.  A couple of citrussy ones and one called 'winter' which is a cooler sort of fragrance.  It's quite an experience shopping in there apart from the general luxury of the place as they do up your shopping in a lovely little gift bag with cord handles and a bow to tie the tops together and the sprays were swapped in matching tissue paper.  Worth it just for that!
And they are very good sprays that are dealing with the remaining residual paint-pong very effectively too.

Then it was on to John Lewis for a general trawl around and there I found something I have been looking for for a considerable time (I'm talking years here).  For ages I have wanted (a first-world thing here) a small, rectangular oven dish that has higher, vertical sides for things like lasagne or cannelloni.  There are loads around, I know, but they are all too big, even the ones that are labelled as 'small'.  I just wanted literally a single portion one.

And, in John Lewis, not only did I find a ceramic one that was white to match my other things, I also found a lovely, coppery coloured dish that I have coveted ever since I saw it in photos in Miguel Barclay's 'One Pound Meals' book.  So, guess what.  I bought both!  Thank you, Mr Tax Man.

I finished off my indulgent spend with a single bed duvet that will go inside my patchwork cover, when I finish it.  A good quality one that will last and last and which will spoil my visitors.  I now have to look at the duvets I have and decide which one I want to lose to the Salvation Army recycling bin.

After all that spending in town, I needed to do something a bit more productive so I made some shortbread and mixed up the first part of my tealoaf recipe which was soaking the dried fruit in cold tea and sugar.  I shall finish making the loaf this morning.

Then it was coffee-and-chat time with a friend.  When I got home, I was delighted to see that the new passport had arrived.  Very impressive, that; it's just a week since the paperwork was sent off.

And I even remembered to clear the car as it's got its MOT today!  Fingers crossed for that.

Today I have to stay in and plan to have a good tidy up, do some baking and deal with the remaining apples that Jackie gave me.  Very different from yesterday but very pleasant all the same.

And I suppose I'd better update my bank records too and get some of that cheque into savings.  After my coffee, of course.






Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Wednesday

Good morning, everyone.  We've had shedloads of rain here overnight but now it is dry, surprisingly mild and pretty windy.  No garden damage as far as I can tell but daylight will show more clearly.  I hope all my readers are OK too.

Well, I had some nice surprises - well, not surprises because they were expected but nice thing - yesterday.

The Ordnance Survey maps of Derbyshire/Peak District arrived.  Now I can have fun planning routes to places.  Fun?  Of course, especially when, as I am, one is more than a bit nervous about going to new places.  It's reassuring to have the map as well as the Sat Nav.  I shall plan visits, work out routes, make sure all the info is downloaded and printed or whatever.  It'll save time when I'm there and, as I said, it's fun for me.

I ordered a larger oven proof lid and that arrived as well.  It is always useful to have a lid for a frying pan but rarely are they sold with lids.  Now I need to go through my old frying pans and decide which ones I really do not need any more - er, I mean which ones the lid doesn't fit..

A nice, fat cheque from Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs arrived and I will be popping into town this morning to visit the bank and warm the manager's heart before chilling it again with a visit to Lakeland.  How thoughtful of them to get it to me not long before a holiday.  I shall appreciate that at the Chatsworth Farm Shop where I am hoping to get many of my meals for the week.  Brilliant timing!

And last but not least, the Cook-Key for Thermione arrived.  I can now access any of the Thermomix recipes on the Cookidoo site. download them onto the key and it will take me from beginning to end of the recipe on Thermione's screen.  As I will be taking her with me on holiday, this has arrived in perfect time too.  I have time to learn how to use it properly before I go.
My lovely Thermo Consultant, Leonie, is planning a drop in session at hers, to go through the new features over coffee and cake, and try some out.  I will definitely be going to that, if I possibly can.

I had my meeting at school.  It was extremely helpful and informative and I was very grateful.

On top of all that, I caught up with my washing, drying (it was a lovely, blowy, drying day, whatever happened later on) and even finished all the ironing, using my new iron.  The old one was getting a bit - well - manky and it only took half the time it usually takes which says it all really, doesn't it?

So yesterday was rather a good day.  A bit materialistic, I suppose, but nice, all the same.

Today I am off into town first thing and this afternoon I'm having coffee and chat with a friend which will be really nice.  In between those two things I really MUST get some planning done.

Have a splendid day, whatever you plan to do, and stay safe!


Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Tuesday

Wide awake and no chance of going back to sleep for a while so I thought I may as well write today's entry.

These wakeful nights are a right pain but at least I should be able to have a snooze during the day.  I used to worry a lot when I was still working because falling asleep in class is a sackable offence.  There are just too many thoughts buzzing around in my head and they refuse to calm down and be compartmentalised.

I made a nice dessert yesterday from a couple of squishy nectarines that didn't taste wonderful.  I de-stoned them and cut each one into twelve wedges.  I fried the wedges in butter until they were taking on a bit of colour, then removed them from the pan and pulled off the skin.  The fruit went into a bowl and the skins went back into the pan with some white wine and some sugar because I read that it makes the syrup pink (which it does).  I just boiled up the syrup for a few minutes and then poured it over the fruit and let it cool.  We had it with cream and it was delicious.  One to remember.

Today I have a meeting in the afternoon but very little else apart from the usual household stuff so I think I will make a batch of shortbread for the weekend.

And now my head is starting to nod so I shall see if I can get back to sleep again.  Fingers crossed.  When you wake, have a pleasant day.  😊

Monday, 11 September 2017

Monday

Good morning, everyone.  I'm awake nice and early and it seems to be pretty chilly outside.  Nothing like frosty-chilly, just not-warm.  We must have had some wind overnight as the curtains were blowing about but I was too cosy and warm in bed to bother to get up and close the windows. (they were on tilt and turn, not wide open).  I'm waiting for things to cheer up again.  The weather has eleven days to get its act together and start producing sun and warmth again!

I'm glad there was no washing to do yesterday because it was dull and gloomy in the morning and started raining later.  By 6:15 I had closed the curtains to shut it all out.  These evenings are really drawing in now and we're not too far from putting the clocks back again, are we?

Today I want to do something with some nectarines that are going over and need using.  I was wondering about poaching them in wine, honey and spice.  Does anyone have any better ideas, please - not crumble though!?

My soul is crying out for coffee so I will meander downstairs now and pop the kettle on.  Have a great day.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Saturday

Good morning, everyone.  It's chilly outside this morning with clear skies and the promise of a reasonable drying day which is definitely a Good Thing!

It's a good start to the day - sitting up in bed, laptop on, coffee beside me, kindle loaded and ready and those foodie magazines stacked up and ready.  My excuse is that I am practising for my holiday.  😄

I've been searching for a bbq sauce recipe but I don't want it for a barbie, just to eat with ham.  There's loads of them out there in the Googleverse but I don't want to have to go out and buy anything; that rather defeats the frugality I am trying to encourage.

Thank goodness for a well stocked kitchen.  It look as as if providing I use tomato based stuff with some vinegar, some spices, and various tasty bits and bobs like soy sauce, etc, I can't really go wrong.  Add and taste is the method!

After a bit of indulgent shopping this week, I am now well stocked with the new foodie magazines.  I'm a sucker for them.  Rarely do I actually make anything - the list of ingredients is often too long and too 'exotic' - but it is such fun reading about them and maybe adapting.

I feel they have got a bit 'luvvie' in the foodie sense, using costly and weird and wonderful ingredients, which is a shame.  Good Food Magazine, for example, used to be really down to earth, not too costly and sensible.  For instance, it used to feature the recipes from Ready Steady Cook which were usually pretty achievable, especially if you weren't pushed for time like they were on the programme.  I miss that programme, do you?

If some one were to bring out a Frugal Food monthly, I'd be front of the queue to buy, even though their idea of 'frugal' would undoubtedly be rather more lavish than mine.  Maybe, one day . . . and until then I will have to be satisfied with the pound a meal recipes from Miguel Barclay and the increasingly infrequent but usually super ideas from Jack Monroe.

I've just looked at the time and I guess I ought to get up and do something useful like getting the washing out!  It's been a lovely start to my day though.

What's your favourite way to start the day?


Friday, 8 September 2017

Friday

A quick one this morning as time is short!

I'm getting things sorted that have been on my list for months and months.
First of all the bus pass arrived.  Now I can travel free on buses all over the place.  I might have a think about where I could bus in London.
And I got the passport renewal application sent off.  I used the Check and Send facility at the Post office which might cost but means it won't be sent back to me because something is wrong.
Two things off my mind.

Overnight yesterday it must have rained because in the morning my car was covered with white dust raindrop marks, as were all the others I could see.  A neighbour was good and energetic and washed his car.  I used the car washing company at Sainsbury's and came home in a shining car!  It doesn't happen very often so I enjoyed the experience.

Apart from that, I did very little really.  I seem to be very tired for much of the time and had two good naps yesterday before sleeping like a log all night.

I must get going.  Have a great day, everyone.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Thursday

Good morning, everyone.  It's just starting to get light at 6:00 with the shadows of the garden starting to take on a little, muted colour and definition.  A lovely time of the day.

I've found two lovely food things, quite different from each other.

I started using Jackie's apples yesterday to make a lemon and apple curd from a recipe found on good old Google.  It's a River Cottage recipe and they are usually pretty reliable.  As Thermione is great with curds (temperature control and no need to stir as she does it all for you), I adapted the recipe to work in a Thermomix and it worked a treat, producing a spread that is so delicious, I have posted what I did on my Teacher's Recipes blog.
http://fooddiaryofteacher.blogspot.co.uk/2017/09/apple-curd.html
(the link to the original, conventional recipe is there too)

It made five jars which have to be used up within four weeks.  That's the only disadvantage about curds; their life is very limited.  So that's one for Beth, one for my parents, one for me to take on holiday, one for now and one for Jackie which I will need to get to her somehow!

I'm going to half prepare a batch as far as possible along the recipe and freeze in recipe portions so I can make more another time.  This recipe is definitely a keeper!

The other lovely food thing was this.  Ages ago, with a magazine, I got a Spice Tailor punjabi tomato curry kit which I tucked away and more or less forgot about.  Yesterday I found it as I was looking for something else and made it up with chicken and some veg.  It's interesting - a pack of dry spices that you fry, a base sauce that you add to the spices, meat and/or veg and then a main sauce that you add before letting the whole thing simmer.  And it was simply gorgeous.  Bear in mind that I am not in any way a curry expert but this had flavour in abundance.  It made enough for two and now I am torn between freezing the rest or having it for lunch or dinner today.  Decisions, decisions!

Tesco and Sainsbury both sell it so guess what I will be stocking up on!  Not frugal unless it is a substitute for a take away and then it becomes great value!

I mentioned a while ago that I am expecting a tax rebate.  It's just as well too because yesterday I heard that the Cook-Key is now on sale in this country.  This is an addition to the Thermomix that enables you to put your own recipes into an online 'pro forma' which is then downloaded into the key so you can follow the instructions on the Thermo display.  It does more than that, but that's basically the purpose.  Anyway, guess who bought one.  :-)

I now have to learn how to use it but there are detailed instructions on the site and I tend to be OK with that sort of technology.

It was a spendy day yesterday as I also bought some Ordnance Survey maps for my holiday.  My Dad has some he would lend to me but they are very old now and extremely out of date.

Thermione earned her space yesterday as I also used her to cook a small ham.  That'll see me through lunches for a few days.

By the evening I was quite tired again and have slept like a log overnight.

Today I have a house to tidy, a passport renewal thingy to send off, some apples to deal with and an allotment to check over.  Fortunately I have no other commitments today so it'll all get done with plenty of time for play.

Have a lovely day, everyone.


Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Wednesday

Good morning!  It's not raining this morning, nor is there any indication that we're had much overnight either.  Excellent!

I hope I can get some washing done today and dried on the line.  It is so much nicer when it's been line dried - fresher and easier to iron and, farming pongs excepted, I like bringing outdoor freshness in.

I'd also like to spend a bit of time on a general tidy up in the garden.  It's beginning to look a bit shaggy in spaces and there's some picking to do as well - a few runner beans, a few strawberries (those Ruby Anne's really are all summer fruiting as the bumph on the label claimed) and lots of tomatoes.  The fresh air will do me good as I've been a bit cooped in lately, one way and another.

Yesterday, I was so tired I slept quite a lot of the afternoon away.  I also slept well all night so must have needed it.  Here's hoping today is less wasted!

Better go.  I have a small ham in Thermione and I need to check it.  Then I will pop out and pick the runners and the tomatoes and then they need processing one way and another.  I also need to do something with the apples Jackie brought over on Sunday.  Some for blanching and freezing in slices for pies and crumbles, some for cranberry and apple sauce (I have cranberries left over from last Christmas) and then I will see how much I have left.

First of all though - another coffee and check that ham.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Tuesday

Good morning, everyone!

The weather has certainly turned with the start of the new school year, hasn't it?  Yesterday was damp, humid and generally a bad drying day which was a shame as I had sheets to wash, dry and iron.  It got done but it took longer than usual.  They've been airing overnight and I should be able to put them away this morning.

Today I have a drive out, some packing and some planning to do.  In a fortnight plus a few days I am off on holiday so the build up has started.  It's all part of the fun, isn't it?  The house sitter is organised, watering the garden is organised, the route has been worked out, the car will have been MOTed by then and I am now having the fun of looking up Things To Do!  The only thing I can't 'organise' is the weather so fingers crossed for one of those Indian Summers that the UK does so well - cool mornings and evenings and warm, gentle days.

Mind you, it's not the end of the world if it rains!  It's not that kind of holiday and, after all, what's a car for?

Well, better go and sort out that washing and I do need a coffee (or two) to get me going.  Have a great day and see you tomorrow.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Monday

Up very early again and it is dark outside.  It's warm inside though, definitely not a dressing-gown-and-slippers start to the day.  Warm and cosy.

I got loads done yesterday.  Two loaves of my usual granary bread for a friend, shortbread biscuits (delicious), prepped loads of tomatoes (into boiling water so the skins just slip off) and runner beans - both for the freezer, had two people for coffee (separately and no biscuits left now), took a tour of the allotment with Beth and discussed what we need to do next and finished the ironing.  And had a few snoozes as well.  Plus other bits and bobs.

I don't know what they were spreading on the fields but yesterday afternoon I was forced to close the windows as there was a most unpleasant pong.  Not the usual 'healthy country air' sort of pong, something a lot nastier that made 'airing' the house a very definite no-no.
It's gone now, thank goodness.

I know it's very early but I have an early start so I will make this short and sweet.  Good luck for the new school year to all my friend, young and not-so-young and, everyone, have a splendid day!

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Sunday

Good morning.   It's Sunday - day of rest.  There's something to be said for having one day a week when you rest and relax and opt out of daily routines.  It can be Friday or Sunday if for faith or traditional reasons or another day, but one day a week is a sound principle if it is possible.  Nowadays I have a lot more choice about 'resting' and it does help.

Today is a day of two halves.  This morning is going to be quite busy with clearing, ironing, allotmenteering and so on while this afternoon is more likely to be restful starting with coffee with a friend who is bringing apples from her tree and going away with marmalade and then Beth's coming round for a cuppa later on.  Actually, I will need to make biscuits, I think, so add that to the morning's chores!

I made the next loaf in the new book . . .

. . . this book, yesterday.  It was a spelt loaf and there were a few mini-disasters along the way, all my fault.  To start with the recipe asked for wholemeal spelt flour and I only had the lighter type.  No problem, I decided to reduce the amount of water a bit to compensate but, when I added the water, I forgot so ended up with a very lively but much softer dough.  I tried to follow the recipe that said it was to be shaped into four smaller balls placed together like a caterpillar.  I did that but wasn't sure and I was right, the dough was too soft and began to spread out, not up.

In the meanwhile, I was in the throes of making some marmalade jam and accidentally knocked the control for another ring on the hob - and the bread tray was on that ring.  Eeek.  When I realised, I scraped off most of the dough, threw away the bits that had actually cooked, reshaped in a loaf tin (which is what I should have done in the first place), re-proved and baked and it ended up as a very nice loaf indeed.  More than I deserved after that chapter of carelessnesses!

Making marmalade isn't nearly as heroic as it sounds.  I cheat and use Ma Made or the equivalent so it was a short time heating and mixing, a short time boiling, checking for set and pouring into jars!  Dead easy and very delicious.  I think I have now used up the tins my parents handed on to me, so need to get some more.

Time to get started, I think.  I'll start by making some shortbread (for today's visitors) and then tidy the kitchen properly.  Everything else should then fall into place.  I'm half way through the first coffee of the day and will have a second one while shortbread making.  This is the good life, isn't it?




Edited to add - look what I've just picked from the garden.  That's a lot of tomatoes!




Saturday, 2 September 2017

Saturday and some Friday Happies

Good morning, everyone.  Yesterday, first day back to school, was a lovely day.  Bright and sunny and with some warmth, especially in the afternoon.

It cheered me up no end.

On Fridays - not every Friday but maybe once a fortnight - I post my Friday Happies on Facebook.  It's just a list of things that have made me happy.  There's enough doom and gloom in the world right now and Facebook can be a hotbed of woe so, really, the happies are my tiny attempt to counter balance that by focusing on the good things in my life.

Yesterday, someone suggested that I should have a happies blog which I liked the idea of (terrible sentence structure, sorry) and, seeing as I already have a blog, I decided to post them here rather than start yet another blog.  In fact, I don't know why I didn't think of it myself!

So here's what I posted . . .

Time for some Happies!
Still having to look for them but they are there, definitely there, lots of them!
In no particular order . . .

1. Loving my new bread book - not new-new but but new to me. I shall be working through most of the recipes and have done the first two this week. Delicious!

2. The NHS takes a lot of knocks but, when the chips are really down, it is a treasure. I'm happy about that.

3. Still getting runner beans and tomatoes at home, plus a few strawberries.

4. I'm starting to think that it is almost time to explore the contents of one of the potato growing bags.

5. The lovely Sharon Kelly has worked her usual magic and I feel less like a walking haystack now. She's a star.

6. Jackie will like this one. At long last, finally, I have got round to sending off for my bus pass! It's only taken two years, after all! Can you hear Jackie cheering? I can!

7. I'm nicking this from Beth's happies last week - Thank goodness for a family that supports each other and pulls together through good and bad times. Such a blessing.

8. Some good news about a family visit.

9. Some beautiful weather over the Bank Holiday weekend (for once) followed by plenty of rain for the garden/allotment. And some very autumnal mornings and evenings. I love them!

10. Such lovely, kind neighbours (you know whom you are and thank you)

and one for luck

11. All the best to those back to school, whether they are teachers, other school staff or pupils. Have a great day and I hope the holiday has been just what you wanted it to be. My happy? Well, what do you think!!! 



What are your happies for this week?

Friday, 1 September 2017

Friday (and a new month)

Pinch and punch
For the first of the month.

There, that's the traditional bit over and done with.  Happy September to us all!

I love September.  It is often warm and sunny but with cooler mornings, evenings and nights so snuggling under the quilt is a cosy option.  The leaves are changing colour, the garden is closing down a bit, the grass stops growing quite so much and there's that indefinable, slightly smoky aroma mornings and evenings.  I just love it!

I also love (don't hit me) that C****t**s isn't too far away and I can start the planning and preparation.  It's all such fun.

The new school year starts today.  Sensibly, many schools take today as a training day.  How stupid to start the new school year on a Friday.
I'm thinking of my colleagues - sorry, I mean ex-colleagues - and can picture them as they go through the day.  I hope it goes well and that it's a helpful day for you all.

The weather forecast looks good for today.  Cool start, nice, warm sunshine, showers overnight.  Sounds perfect to me!

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Thursday

Good morning, everyone.  It's quite a lot more pleasant this morning, albeit cold!  The heating has clicked on and I'm not turning it off again.  It will soon be time to dig out the warmer dressing gown and the old slippers for the times I wake early before the place has warmed up.

I feel civilised now.  Sharon has worked her usual magic on my hair and the haystack look has vanished again for a few weeks.  I feel a lot more relaxed after having my hair done and, after a very short sleep on Tuesday night, I slept like a log last night, although the dream I remember was most peculiar - all about a huge space rock on collision course with earth.  Weird.

Before the hair appointment, I popped down to the old lotty in the rain to pick, coming back with a few baby corns, a few portions of green beans, some runner beans, some cucumbers and a few tomatoes from my friend's polytunnel.
I didn't deal with it all yesterday so that's on this morning's list of Things To Do.  Look out, freezer, here it comes!

I also got two loads of washing done, although one was a very small load.  Some went on the drying rack and the 'unmentionables' went in the tumble dryer as I didn't want them on show when Sharon came.  Silly?  Yes, maybe, but there you go!

I've been in communication with Tefal about those lids.  They are OK in the oven up to about 160C for under one hour (fat lot of use that is when hob to oven often involves long, slow cooking), they are glad I like the pans but no, there are no plans to make lids that are really oven proof and no, they don't intend to make the lids on the range of pans that are oven proof available separately.  So there you go!

That being so, it's just as well that yesterday the two multi-pan lids I ordered arrived.  They are from ProCook and look just the ticket, fitting all three pans.  I also notice that they do a larger lid which might fit my frying pans; I will have to do some measuring!

Today I have a little list.  One item involves trekking down to Morrisons with Beth because we both need passport type photos and Morrisons has a Machine!  Neither of us likes having our photo taken but this is necessity - well, it is if I want a renewed passport and a bus pass, which I do.

The next loaf in the book is now proving so fingers are crossed.  Yesterday's effort was fine but I did miss the flavour and texture that a bit of sugar and some oil imparts.  Today's is made with milk, butter and golden syrup so should be a lot richer in flavour.  It's a 'sandwich' loaf and fingers are crossed.  It looks good so far and the 'window' test worked so the dough is good.

I've just remembered it is bin day so I need to get my skates on and get that sorted.  Then I have to prep the vegetables for freezing and there's some ironing that needs doing, so I will say 'au revoir' until tomorrow.  Have a great day.



Wednesday, 30 August 2017

An extra bit

I forgot . . .

I've mentioned that I'm making a patchwork duvet cover.  Well, I have finished the patchwork bit and here it is.  I'm pleased.


Wednesday

I'm glad we had a pleasant, sunny, warm bank holiday weekend because yesterday afternoon it started chucking it down, then it stopped, then it started again and it is still wet this morning.  Solves the problem of 'do I water the allotment?', doesn't it, although I ought to go and pick at some point.

Remember I mentioned this bread book I found very much reduced.  Well, I've started working through, leaving the first recipe, which is soda bread, for when my friend (who can't have yeast) comes to stay, and going on to the second, a very basic cob   More or less the recipe I use but without the sugar and oil so just water, yeast, salt and water.  I'm always amazed that such very simple ingredients can produce something so tasty and mouthwatering.

It's just finishing off in the oven as I'm typing so by the end of this entry it should be out and I can take a photo.  The only problem is that it seems to be coming out a bit flat and that, I am sure, is down to my shaping.  You create the tension in the loaf by shaping and as I usually use a tin, I'm not great at it.  Much do better and I will work on it!

Apart from that, I have washing to do so the drying rack will be in service (and the tumble dryer for those things that don't mind the heat) and this afternoon the lovely Sharon is coming to do my hair, thank goodness.  I will look so much more civilised once that's done.  It cheers me up no end and makes me feel human again.

I'm very tired as the complications of life continue (as they do) and I am glad today is an easy day with lots of time to take things a bit easier.  A nice, fresh, crusty load should help that along considerably!
And here it is, hot and fresh out of the oven.  Not bad for before 8:00 am, eh?  But I will definitely work on my shaping technique and the slashes need to be deeper and much more even.

The next one in the book is 'soft-crust sandwich bread' and contains milk and golden syrup.  I'll give that a go tomorrow morning, I think, and Beth can take it for Alex and her to enjoy over the weekend.  After that it is a 'simple spelt loaf' and I have spelt flour so that's good.

Where would we be without bread, eh?  What's your favourite kind?

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Tuesday

As the tabloids used to say 'What a Scorcher'.  Wasn't it lovely yesterday?  Four loads washed, line dried, ironed AND put away.

It was a bit too hot to sit out in the sun in the afternoon but, later on, it was gorgeous.  Today is supposed to be the same but I gather it might change tomorrow.  A bit of rain would be good for the allotment/garden so no complaints either way.

There's a decidedly autumnal 'feel' to things now, despite the current heat.  In the early morning I can smell that slightly smoky mistiness that whispers of things a-changing.  Driving around a few days ago, I could see that leaves are changing colour: the fresh green has gone and yellowish tints are beginning to glow.

I love every season in its own way and Autumn, with its riot of colours and aromas is right up there.  I love the increasingly dark mornings and evenings, the sense of being enfolded within my four walls, keeping the dark away and then being enfolded in it.  I love waking in the dark and watching the effects of sunrise in the shapes and shadows seen from my small living room window while the big windows still have drawn curtains.

And, more prosaically, I now have a leaf vacuum, so keeping the garden leaf-clear will be considerably easier.

What's your favourite season and why?


Monday, 28 August 2017

Monday

 . .  and, I gather, a Bank Holiday.  I always used to feel mildly diddled with these bank holidays that came inside the normal holidays.  Not that much though because, after all, normal holiday, you know - nice!

For once the weather is glorious.  It's sunny, warm, a lovely English summer morning.  Also a perfect drying day.

I don't do much on bank holidays, certainly nothing special.  It's not worth the hassle and braving the crowds and the traffic.  I can go out any time nowadays so it seems mean of me to make bank holidays any more crowded than they already are when some only have the long weekend and then it is beck to work.

What do you do on bank holidays?

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Sunday

The other day I went hunting for a walking stick.  Not for me, for someone else.  In my hunt, I went into one of those 'sell almost anything' shops, one I'd never been in before and found a 'reduced books' shelf.  Well, what's a girl to do?  Of  course I dived in and emerged with a book entitled 'Bake it better: bread'.

I've got loads of bread books but this one is based on bread and tips from Bake Off and was extremely good value.  That's my excuse.

A few busy days later, I have started reading it and, my goodness, it is a treasure chest of recipes.  Each one I have looked at so far I want to make and I can see it's going to be a 'make a new one each week' situation.  I can't do more as I don't get through enough bread to justify more.

But definitely a find in a thousand!


Unfortunately, while looking for the image above, I have discovered that there's a whole set of books based on Bake Off  themes.  Oh, deary, deary me.😊



Saturday, 26 August 2017

Saturday

Wasn't yesterday a beautiful day - warm and sunny but not uncomfortably hot most of the time.  A few more weeks of this would be great, please.  I got washing dried (three loads), I got grass mowed (allotment and home and it all looks so much better now) and it was just great.

The allotment harvest was amazing for very little work.  Loads of green beans (which are nearly over now), some baby corn (also nearly over), runner beans (still some to go) and courgettes (which seem to go on for ever and a day).  I also pulled three carrots from the meagre crop (a cat dug most of them up).
And this morning there are runner beans at home to pick and deal with.  Tell you what, we're not going to be short of runners over the winter months this year.

I was a bad girl yesterday though.  I only went an ordered a take away Chinese.  So much for frugality.  However, I so enjoyed it and I shall also enjoy the leftovers later on today and I don't care!  A treat now and again is a Very Good Thing.

This morning I read an email from a friend.  She's off on holiday and her allotment plot is producing tomatoes at a great rate.  Would I like to pick them while they're away (and some green ones for green tomato chutney, if I want).  Well, would I?  What do you think?  😀

I have another long list of things to do this morning, none of which will take all that much time, and the first is 'wash hair' so I'd better go and do it!

Friday, 25 August 2017

Friday

Good morning folks.  It's nearly five but too dark to see the weather from where I'm sitting and I'm too lazy to get up and check!  The days are now noticeably shorter and the nights longer again, Autumn is well on her way in.

Yesterday ended up as a weary day after a rush around in the morning.  I didn't get very much done apart from keeping falling asleep really, but never mind, hopefully today will go better.

Fingers crossed!

Later addition:
Re the new saucepans, I googled for 'oven proof saucepan lid' and have bought a couple of multi-size ovenproof lids that should do the trick nicely - oven proof up to 230C
Image result for ProCook Universal Lid

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Thursday

Good morning, everyone.  I have no idea about the weather because it's the middle of the night and I can't sleep but it feels OK - mild but not baking and not too humid either.

Yesterday turned out OK too.  I did two loads of washing in the afternoon and both loads dried on the line which was great.  No ironing though as I was too tired (so why am I awake now?)

I like the new pans and the removable handle is neat.  The lids can't go in the oven which I think is silly and wasted opportunity and I have contacted Tefal to say so.  There are lids in the range that will go in the oven but you can't get them separately (yet).  Oh, well, as I said yesterday, foil will have to do.
They stack beautifully without handles to get in the way and the lids sit on top of each other so the take up surprisingly little room.  I will be sorting out and chucking my old, battered pans this morning to make way.

I've been looking at reclining chairs with a view to replacing mine.  The other day I moved it and underneath was a screw.  That's happened a few times lately and I expect that one of these days it will just stop reclining completely.  It's already becoming more awkward.  I know what I want and I went to the showroom to look at the fabrics where I was one that looked remarkably like the new covers on the suite.  I brought a swatch home but it wasn't the same.  To get something that's similar but different wouldn't work so I will take one of the arm covers and choose a fabric that tones.

There's choices, even within one chair.  I was interested in the riser recliners but decided against the riser function because
it's electric and has to be plugged in
it's extremely slow
it's much more expensive
and I don't need a riser chair
 . . . so it will be a recliner that works via handle or catch.

The one I have is very old.  It was given to me about ten years ago, after the extension was built, by my parents.  They had it at least fifteen years and it was reconditioned when they bought it.  It's earned its space, that's for sure, but the time has come to replace it, before it collapses under me.

I'm not really becoming a spendthrift.  This is all bought with the retirement lump sum and is quality of living stuff that will likely see me out.  Nice.


Added later:
Went back to bed and slept until 7:30 which is virtually unheard of!  And the sun is shining.   😊

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Wednesday

Belated Good Morning to you all.

I've been a bit of a spendthrift recently.  My saucepans are quite old and getting battered so I was looking around for some new ones when I saw this range.
http://www.tefal.co.uk/ingenio

Essentially, they are non-stick saucepans with removable handles so they can go into the oven from the hob.  They slot nicely inside each other (and I have some pan separators to avoid scratches.  They also do frying pans with the same removable handles and you can get extra handles . . .  The lids also lie flat and the only think I am not sure of is whether the lids go in the oven.  If not, it will have to be foil.

Anyway, I treated myself to three saucepans with lids and a handle plus another handle and I will give them a go and see.  Fingers crossed.


Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Tuesday

There's little more annoying than starting off a big load of sheets in the washing machine and then it starts raining.   Grrrrrrrr!

(AKA first world problems)
😄

Monday, 21 August 2017

Monday

Morning, all.  Apologies for the silence but life is still a bit complicated.  I'll be back soon.  In the meanwhile, enjoy the silence!!!  😉

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Saturday

Good morning, everyone.  It's sunny outside but the puddles tell me that it's been raining.  Yesterday was the same;  in fact, we have two or three very sharp, stormy showers and I was thankful not to get caught out in them.

Yesterday was busy doing this, that and the other stuff.  Homey things that need to be done.

A bit of useless information - I have discovered that when you freeze green beans they don't stick together.  You really wanted to know that, didn't you?  😃

Have a good day and stay dry!


Friday, 18 August 2017

Friday

It doesn't seem two years ago that I was rejoicing over grandson Alex's outstandingly good GCSEs but it was.
This is what I wrote.

"The biggest from yesterday is, of course, Al's GCSE results.  He did great.  He got all grades A* to C, no grades below that and he is set fair for 6th form and A levels.
The amazing thing is that this time three years ago he had done none of the national curriculum for most of the subjects he studied.  In fact, he went down a year when he started mainstream so that he could do a year's study before having to decide on his GCSEs. 
(This was because he was previously attending a special school with a Statement of SEN for autism)

The biggest worry was English.  It's a crucial one to get (alongside maths) and as he has a communication disorder (he was virtually non-verbal when he started school) it was never going to be easy.  He was predicted an E which then went up to a D.  A D would have been amazing.  They put him in for both English exams, the general one and Literature (which surprised us a bit but there you go . . .).and he not only got B for English, he also went and got C for literature.  Fantastic!"



Yesterday, two years later, it was A level results.  Same nerves, same worries only bigger because this time it wasn't entry to sixth form that was at stake, it was entry to university.
I should have known better than to waste a good worry on it.  Alex soared!  A* for mathematics, A for further mathematics and B for Chemistry.  UCAS had confirmed his place at university by email before he picked up the results so we knew he'd done pretty well.
So in just over a month's time, Alex will be off to study mathematics at the University of East Anglia.  The next big life-adventure will begin and things will change for us all.

Hasn't he done well?

The weather was pretty grim yesterday morning but had perked up by lunchtime so I managed to get my load of washing out on the line, dried and then ironed.  The ironing baskets are now empty.
I also dealt with  those green beans (five good sized packs in the freezer), the allotment runner beans (for Beth), a large yellow courgette (slice, open freeze and bag), my own tomatoes (passata) and tomatoes from Mum and Dad's which I peeled and bagged and they will be frozen whole later on.

So, what with one thing and another, it was a very busy day!

Today I am up very early after a restless night.  I'll go down to the allotment early and get that mowing done.  I just need to check exactly how early I can make it happen by checking on the allotment web site.  Then it is home for various other chores including making sure everywhere is tidy for the cleaners.  It's all go today!


Edited:  well, I WAS going to mow the grass but it's started chucking it down with rain.  

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Extra comments

I've just read that you don't need to blanch green beans before freezing.  Three cheers!

And I have just tried an apple from the allotment tree.  Not totally ripe, OK, it's a bit early, but really delicious.

And finally - it was so dark because it was raining so the allotment grass will just have to stay long for today!

Thursday

Good morning, everyone.  It's just started getting light, emphasising to me that Summer is drawing to a close and Autumn is getting ever nearer.  We're almost two months away from the longest day, after all.  I do love sitting here, watching it get lighter and lighter as blackness turns to shadows and silhouettes which gradually take on colour and the minutes creep by.

Yesterday was an incredibly busy day.  After a few days of not picking, there were thousands (OK, slight exaggeration there) of runner beans and tomatoes to pick as well as some sweet peas to fragrance the house.  I dealt with the runners by prepping and freezing most of them, keeping out one portion which I enjoyed for dinner.  I plan to deal with the tomatoes today.

Then I went to the allotment and oh, my goodness!  I came back with a huge bag of green beans, some cucumber, courgettes, a few apples, more runners and - at last - six baby corn cobs.  Yes, the corn is finally ready to harvest and how delicious they were!

After a week of neglect, the grass is knee high so I will be taking an early trip this morning with mower in tow!  The weeds, surprisingly enough, are not too bad, which is good.

I managed to get two loads of washing done and nearly all the contents of the ironing basket sorted too.  There's now just a couple of sheets to do!

Today is also jam packed with stuff.  House work (very necessary), dealing with all that garden and allotment produce (must look up how to freeze green beans - do they need blanching?) finishing off the ironing and going into town to Lakeland for various things for me and for a friend.

But first - coffee and then my hair needs washing!

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Wednesday

Good morning, everyone.  I know the weather is expected to bread but at the moment it is lovely and sunny.  Very cheering.

I can't go into details because it's not my story to tell, but life has suddenly got a bit (lot) more complicated so if I seem a bit 'out of it', that's why!

I shall be going home this morning which I'm looking forward to, being a right home-body at heart and am hoping that there will be plenty of runners and tomatoes to pick and enjoy.  I'm not looking forward to opening the fridge door as I left in a hurry so am quite expecting to be attacked by a mouldy monster when I do.  Luckily, I have plenty of disinfectant to hand!  😃

I went online yesterday and found, on Amazon, a source of cotton sheeting that I can use to line and back the duvet cover I am making.  I bought loads as I'm pretty sure I will be making a bed spread to match.  I have plenty of plain, white pillowcases so am resisting that temptation.  I have taken a few photos but left my camera at home!

Have a great day.



Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Tuesday

I'll be back properly tomorrow or Thursday at the latest - just saying so readers don't worry.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Sunday

. . . and it is living up to its name.  The sun is shining bravely (and it's chilly), the windows are open (yes, chilly) and everything is fresh!  Yesterday was lovely, hopefully today will be the same.

I made great progress with the patchwork for the quilt yesterday.  The squares are all made (it's a 3 x 5 so I made 15) and I've stitched them together vertically.  I just need to do the horizontal joining now.  It's fitted remarkably well with only a few glitches.  Mind you, I didn't do much else (apart from planning) so this afternoon is loaded with all the other stuff .

I took this part way through yesterday.  It looks reasonably random which is what I wanted and it gives you the general idea.  It will be a duvet cover so no quilting.

So - today is . . .
bit more sewing
early allotment (I can now I have a key) for mowing and picking
bread making
an hour of tuition (a one off, because of me being ill)
more sewing
ironing

So a busy day but I'm going to enjoy the early morning first.  A shame it's not quite warm enough to enjoy my coffee outside but never mind, I gather warmer weather is coming and then we will complain that it's too hot.
😉


Saturday, 12 August 2017

Saturday

Good morning and welcome to the weekend.  The sun is trying to shine out there but it's still chilly so it's a dressing gown and slippers sort of morning again.
Yesterday was gorgeous - a sunny and breezy day, a two loads of washing on the line day.  I've caught up with the washing, something that has been sadly neglected for a week, and now I just have to catch up with the ironing as well.  Easier said than done.

I got going on my disappearing nine blocks and have made six that are 15" x 15" (more or less).  They take longer than one would expect what with the fitting and the ironing of seams but I'm in the swing of things now and should do the rest today.  I have loads of squares cut, far too many, so will probably end up making pillow cases to match as well!  Once I have sewn the blocks together I'll take a photos so you can see.  It's supposed to look random, I hope it does anyway, but there is a method to it.

Half way through the day, I took time out to go to Hobbycraft.  I got the thread I need to finish off the T shirts, some needles, a couple of marking pencils (I wanted tailor's chalk but there wasn't any - do they still do it, I wonder), some thinner pins for more delicate fabric and a couple of seam unpickers as we seem to have lost the one we had and it's a fairly essential bit of kit!  I then had a stroll around but nothing really called to me!

I carried on sewing through the evening but stopped after a while because of the lack of natural light.  I watched Only Connect and actually managed to get some of the connection, very rare for me!  I do like that programme: it is a mental challenge, unlike a lot of the more fancy ones with big prizes and screaming audiences to try to hide the fact that the actual questions are rubbish.

A couple of days ago my lovely neighbours had two of their trees trimmed right back - not the one between our two gardens but the ones the other side.  It's made a huge difference both to the amount of light in my house and garden but also to how much country view I have.  They will thicken up again and grow back over time and they do look a bit sad at present, but they should be fine next year and the extra light is appreciated.

Well, today is one of two I have 'blocked off' in my diary.  They are days for me to do my stuff in the middle of a busy time.  Of course, when I did that, I didn't realise that this last week was going to be a awash with cancellations but never mind.  I won't be doing anything special, just the usual things, but without anything else to worry about.

So, today is sewing, allotment (heaven only knows what condition I will find it in), my garden, ironing . . . oh, you get the idea, I am sure.  I wonder if I will get the patchwork blocks finished.  I must start looking for sheeting for the lining and the backing which will probably cost a fortune but never mind! Oh, and I have bread to make too.

I'd better get going then!


Friday, 11 August 2017

Friday

Friday already!  This week has flashed by (or maybe I mean crashed by), what with being away and then being unwell.  Where have the days gone?  We're a third of the way through August already!

Good morning, all.  It's a slightly misty, rather chilly start to the day and I have spoilt myself by letting her heating click on.  I don't do that very often but I think I'm still feeling a bit cold from not eating much (if you know what I mean).  However, all's well now so I have planned a full day's meals, albeit smallish ones.

It was nice to spend the day with Beth here and also nice to have Alex here pm.  He took himself off to Norwich earlier on in the week for a 'fact finding' holiday, booked into a central hotel and explored buses to the university, things to see and do, etc.  For an autistic person it was remarkable - he's coming on in leaps and bounds in his independence and confidence.  He had a brilliant time one way and another.

When Beth got home there was something waiting for her.  This.
Woo hoo.
Well done, Beth!

Today is a day to myself.  I've finished cutting out the squares for the disappearing nine square duvet cover I want to make and I think I have enough to make a bedspread too.  They're not quilts, just machine patchwork, and there's no pattern as such apart from the nine block, it's just how it comes.  We shall see how it all works out!

Before I lose myself in sewing, I have a house to tidy before the cleaners arrive.  There's not a lot of mess but best to sort it before it gets too bad.

So I'd better get going!


Thursday, 10 August 2017

Thursday

Good morning!  It's quite dull outside but, thank goodness, the rain stopped overnight and things are drying up.  It's a while since we had a day's rain like that - great for the allotment and garden but maybe not so great for the fields of corn waiting to be harvested.  It was cold too, cold enough to turn on the heating come the evening, southern softie that I am!

Yesterday was a day of gradually feeling better as the day progressed, of tentatively eating and hoping it would stay put.  It did (not that I ate much) and I've had a superb night's sleep too

I've looked back and don't seem to have mentioned that I've paid off the rest of my holiday so it's definitely happening now.  A week staying in a little cottage in a village in the northern edge of the Chatsworth Estate with loads of interesting and lovely places nearby.  I do love that part of the world.
Now I am busy making a list of Things To Do.

Back to yesterday, as I was feeling weak and woolly, I brought down a load of T shirts that are too long and started the process of turning them up.  It's not a job that takes much thought of skill, just a bit of measuring, plenty of tacking, a machine with a stretch stitch and the right coloured cotton.  I was lucky in that I only need to get cotton for two colours - the rest all matched nicely with what I have and most of them are now upstairs again, waiting to be worn.  A job well done, I think, even if it did take me several hours.

Today Beth is over as we have some bags to make for someone.  I've cancelled tuition for the week - the 48 hour rule, you know, plus having seen children brought back to school as soon as their symptoms have gone, only to see them sent home again a few hours later, having spread their bugs far and wide, poor kids!

It still feels cold, or maybe that's just me, so I'm looking forward to a hot bath before getting dressed for the day.  But first, coffee!






Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Wednesday

Well, that was a wasted day!  Feeling unwell isn't funny, especially the V&D type but things seem to have settled now and by the time I get round to eating a little something again, I should be fine.

The rain is tipping down, reflecting my mood quite well, but it feels warmer than yesterday, thank goodness.  I don;t expect to snuggle under my fleece in the summer!

I had a very pleasant weekend with my Mum and Dad.  We didn't do an awful lot, just a trip to the health food shop, but it was nice and companionable.  The journey home was good too.  No hold ups apart from at the usual places. Little Hadham and Bishops Stortford.  I did a bit of shopping when I got home which is good because I don't think I could cope today!

When I got back, the garden had obviously made the best of my absence and I picked loads of tomatoes and runner beans plus a few carrots (not to self - plant more carrots next year!).  I intended to deal with the runners yesterday but didn't, so that's on today's list together with catching up with the washing.  A shame about the rain but the tumble dryer will have to earn its keep for once.


Regular readers might possibly remember that a while ago I posted a photo of a mysterious plant that was coming up where I had planted a passion flower that never came to anything followed by two that a friend very kindly gave me which also never came to anything.  I concluded that it was just the wrong place or I was the wrong person and decided to let the hostas spread a bit.
It (the plant) didn't look like a passion plant - the leaves weren't right, for instance, and it was growing so slowly but I left it in situ because, you know, a plant . . .
So I was delighted to see, on Monday, that it has sent out another leaf and that leaf is very definitely a passion flower leaf.  See . . .
 . . . so it will be interesting to see what happens now!

And the hostas can stay too.  They've been lovely this year partly because I got the slug pellets down in time.

I shudder to think of what the allotment will look like but I'm not looking today and can't tomorrow so Friday will be weeding and harvesting, I guess, and maybe planting out some more leeks.

It's stopped raining so I've opened the windows and it is colder than I thought.  They will be closed again soon; I just wanted to get some fresh air in.

Because of the bug, I have cancelled most of my tuition this week - there are some things one should keep to oneself.  So I have an unexpected free day today and I may very well get out the sewing machine and work on a couple of projects I have on the go.  And sleep, probably, from time to time.   See you tomorrow.


Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Tuesday

If it's not one thing, it's another, isn't it?  I've woken up this morning with a rather fierce tummy upset so this will be short!  Hopefully I will post a proper entry later on.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Monday

Good morning, everyone.  Apologies for the silence.  I've been away for a few days, visiting family but things are back to normal now and I will be home shortly.
Back tomorrow!

Friday, 4 August 2017

Friday

Good morning, everyone.  It looks as if it might be a pleasant enough day today - the clouds are high and there's a fresh breeze.  Not particularly warm yet, but you never know.  Yesterday was pleasant at time but the fairly stiff breeze made it uncomfortable to sit out which was a shame.  Fingers crossed for better weather to come.

Yesterday I made some dough and then wandered off to Aldi while the dough rose.  When I got back it was about time to knock it back and I added some chopped walnuts and mixed seeds before baking and it was absolutely delicious.  I posted about the recipe here.

The kitchen is in a reasonable state now (minor miracle) and ready for the cleaners.  The rest of the house is getting there; most of the mess is superficial and easily sorted.

After an early morning tuition, I have time to potter around, sorting things out, without breaking into too much of a sweat which is a situation I hope I will always appreciate after so many years of weekend rushing around.

In the garden, the runners are running, the tomatoes are blushing, I'm picking sweet peas and anemones - and on the allotment I suspect the courgettes are romping away too.  In a very small way, definitely the good life.

Before tuition, I want to start off another load so when I get back, it will be ready to knock back, etc.  It's going to be another nut and seed effort, for some friends.  I can see that I shall be making it fairly often.

Well, time is marching on and there's plenty to do so I'll wish you a happy and productive day and say goodbye for now.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Thursday

It was lovely and sunny when I woke this morning and still bright when I arrived at Aldi to do some non-food shopping but, oh, dear, it's rapidly dulling off now and the wind is getting up.  Maybe we're due more rain after the shedload we had yesterday afternoon and evening.  I have the windows open, the paint pong is reducing and I'm keeping an eye on what's going on outside.  I had to rush the washing in yesterday and was glad I'd noticed.

Also I set to and dealt with the rhubarb.  It took ages but now I have ten pots of very delicious rhubarb jam and an equal amount just washed, chopped and frozen for another time.  Well worth the effort

Today I'm sorting out the kitchen yet again, then I have a load of ironing to do and a house to tidy for the cleaners tomorrow.

So I'd better get back to work again, hadn't I?


Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Wednesday

Good morning, everyone.  It's cloudy but yesterday turned out very pleasant so fingers crossed for today as well.

I have a surprise visitor - grandson, Alex, came to dinner and is now still fast asleep upstairs.  So I had to buzz around quickly to increase the quantities of my dinner and to make up a bed.  Nice surprise though.

Before then I'd done quite a lot of my list with the rest carried over to today.

A short entry because there's plenty to do!  Back tomorrow.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Tuesday

. . . and a pinch and a punch for the first of the month to all my readers.  :-)

After a comparatively chilly overnight (under the covers all night), it started sunny but is dulling over now.  However, the forecast isn't all that bad so fingers crossed as I have a whole stack of washing and drying to do.

In fact, it's a busy day all round.
Looking at my list I have to . . .
do the old finances, work out how much can go into savings and reconcile (is that the right word) the statement with my records
make bread
weed the front patch
do a bit of lesson planning
the aforementioned washing and drying
sort out the kitchen (it hasn't really recovered from Sunday yet)
deal with stacks of rhubarb
< sigh >

Yesterday, after a couple of tuitions (should've been three but there was illness), my lovely friend Julia came round for a chat and stayed for lunch.  Nothing special, just toast and jam, but it was home made bread and home made jam so tasty!
Then I met Beth at the allotment and, between ouches, we sorted out the rhubarb and dug up some more potatoes.  My hips were still achey from last week (just a bit - I can be a drama queen at times) and poor old Beth had a stiff neck, presumably from sleeping awkwardly.
The rhubarb will now be left to do its own thing until next year.
Just for once, there weren't many courgettes which was a relief.  There were, however, enough green beans for us both plus plenty of potatoes.

We needed a bin bag for the rhubarb so you can imagine how much there is.  Some will be too tough but there will be enough to make some jam plus some in the freezer for next winter.  Nice.

Then we finally got round to going to the allotment office and now I am official.  I have my own allotment key at long, long last!  Now I can go very early morning and let myself in.  Three cheers.

I'm planning to make a potato bake today with allotment veg and passata made last year.  It should taste really very good indeed.  So satisfying.

Well, I'd better get going if I am to stand any chance of making inroads into the list.  Wish me luck!