Thursday, 30 January 2014

Cold outside, warm inside

Hello All
Firstly a warm Derbyshire welcome to new followers Heidi and Deborah and Gill and ? (please tell me who you are) on Bloglovin
The welcome is warm ,but Derbyshire is freezing and it has just started snowing!
Thought I wouldn't be able to get to the blog, but it hasn't been a problem and I'm taking a break from the kitchen for an hour, while bread rises and pastry cools.
This morning a I made a couple of pounds of pastry as I am having a pie making session later. Once the oven in on I like to use every ounce (therm?) of heat and fill it up. I am making cheese, onion and potato pie, Chicken (cockerel) pie and a of couple of leek, potato and brie pasties. I havealso put a portion of pastry aside for a meat and potato pie at the weekend (haven't bought the beef yet). In the slow cooker is a small joint of lamb with onions, a tin of tomatoes, some preserved lemon slices with seasonings. I am hoping this will be a sort of taginy thingy.
Here is a picture of the fire in "Percy's (the parrot) room. it is next to the kitchen and where I hang out much of the time as it is kept warm for Percy , and by default me! The OLD gas fire is still tested and safe and chugs away all the time in the winter. It is the perfect place for the wine while it is plopping away. I do the first bread rise here and dry shoes, hats etc. Could do with a good dust !
I mentioned the sewing projects that were building up. Here is a picture of three of them -
 To the right is the start of a quilt. The backing is an old but strong sheet I bought from a CS for 50p and the rest is offcuts from the stash.
 To the rear are the slippers I have started. I am knitting both at the same time because I am using bits and pieces and I would like them to be similar at least!. I have used 2 strands of wool for the feet to add a bit of strength and extra warmth.
Left front is the materials with which I hope to assemble n Egyptian costume for Youngest Granddaughter. The gold braidy stuff I was given last year by someone giving up sewing (!), the bead contraption was on a teashirt bought from the CS for £1 last year. I had an idea I might use the beads, but this is a much better use. Th goldy material is left over from when I made several outfits for a concert that my goddaughter was in, about 15years ago. I knew it would come in someday  - what a hoarder I am !

In my last post I mentioned blog I had been following, and the facebook chit-chat group I had joined. I have tried to upload the link her, but as you know I am rubbish at that sort of thing and managed to lose half of this post while pratting about with it. So I have re-typed that which I lost and shall just type the details, rather than give you a link.
The blog I follow is, her name is Heidi and she has a core of bloggers who guest, support with the site etc. If you go onto her site there is a facebook link there too.

 I am a glass half full type of person and I don't have SAD or any other such stuff, but even I am getting really p****d-off with the weather. To cheer me up I have been looking at photos taken last summer.. I shall share this one with you and probably more as the days go on if it doesn't improve. 
This is of the path leading down to the big chicken house and the orchard. Either side is a vegetable patch     ( and you know we don't do tidy!)

Keep warm and well dear blogging friends and thank you so much for reading my ramblings

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Update chat

Hello Fellow Frugellers!

Don't you wish this weather would pick up! The down side for us is the Mud and then more mud! It is also impossible to get onto the gardens without ruining the soil, so we must be patient. At least here in the midlands we are not flooded like those down south,, who have been underwater since Christmas. Apart from the poor home owners the farmers must be in despair, as they will surely loose crops that are already planted and be unable to sow anything for many weeks.

The family tea for D's birthday went well. We had a leg of lamb (who is this then grandma?) with lots of vegetables and yorkshire puddings (ooh yes and mint sauce of course) I made a lemon cake and a marmalade cake and YD bought some treacle sponges. As you can imagine there are plenty of leftovers ! Goody.. less to do next week.

 YGD bought D a haggis which had been given to her by a customer. D was delighted and I served it up last night with mashed potatoes, cabbage,  carrot and swede mashed together and a good rich gravy.

The hens are really fed up with the rain and mud, but the longer days are irresistible so the the egg totals are  going up. Hurrah, they may start paying their way again soon. Keeping the eggs clean is a challenge as their feet are so muddy, so I have been putting extra hay in the boxes.

After telling myself that I would not start too many projects, I find that I have at least four on the go - two quilts, some knitted slippers and some kitchen towels that I am making from some old bath towels. Oh yes ! on Sunday YGD (age 8) tells me that she needs to be an Egyptian next week at school. So we rustled through the stash and she should look okay when I have finished the outfit.  I'll post a picture when I finish it. That is now top of the list to do along with several items from the mending pile.

I have been following a "Farmgirl" blog for the last few months. This blog joins other like-minded blogs and is very "smallholdery" (new word!) I noticed that they had put a link to their facebook chit chat page, so I joined yesterday and Wow! what a friendly lot they are ! I will put the details in the next post, when I work out how to do it.
Meanwhile I must get this post out as I am  away from the lap top for a while and don't know when I will be back!
Keep well and warm out there in Blogland


Saturday, 25 January 2014

And the Heavens opened.

A Warm welcome to new follower Alexandra and also to Janice on Blog Lovin. Nice to see you here.

So what have you done to the weather?!
Today our little Civic Society  hosted the regional Get Together. We met at our remaining ( don't get me started!) pub. Had a meeting, then lunch and then a walk around our places of historic interest. Half way round the sky went black, there was an almighty clap of thunder and for the next few minutes the thunder and lightening was spectacularly close while several tons of  hail battered us to the ground. We beat a hasty retreat back to the pub where, fortunately, the member who was leading the tour was able to present his "Virtual Tour" onto a screen.
SimpleSuffolkSmallholder says in her post today that it is St Paul's Day and that tells us that whatever the weather is today fortells what the farming year will be. Similar to St Swithins only for the whole year not just a few weeks. Crikey ! I'm glad I don't believe in such nonsense or I would be throwing myself off the nearest bridge.
 The campaign to get D. to part with his stove and reinstate it in the kitchen, has gathered some momentum with support from my daughters. D. says he feels "got at" really?! tee hee. If you feel in the least bit sorry for him, Don't, as he can well hold his own.
We have found a few possibles for the lounge stove though, so that is hopeful. One that we like has a plate especially to cook on... Oh yes! that's the one for me!

 Looking at the paper there is absolutely nothing on the television tonight, so I will watch a programme we recorded a week or two ago. It is the history of Still Life painting, starting with Caravaggio, and looks to be rather good apart from the silly title, "Apples, Pears and Paint" which would be enough to put anyone off.

Tomorrow the girls and their offspring will be here for tea. it is D's birthday on Monday, so I will have to rustle a cake together or our youngest granddaughter will be upset on her grandad's behalf ( He wouldn't mind) Between ourselves he is 69 this time. Poor old thing!

 Had a rather unusual tea tonight. I did jacket potatoes with... brie, egg, onions a la greque with bacon and beetroot. Yes I know it is a weird combination, but all part of us using everything up and very tasty it was too.
It is still raining a bit here. Hope those of you in the UK that are flooded will get relief soon and those of you in the USA who are freezing can keep warm. So far we in the UK Midlands have been pretty lucky with our weather.
All for now
Keep Warm
PS I wrote that just after tea. It is now 18.15hrs and the thunder and lightening are back with torrential rain! As I said at the beginning of this post... What have you done to the weather?!

Thursday, 23 January 2014

The Army Field Kitchen

Quite a few people seem interested in our Stove Hunt.
Lizzie wondered what D's Army Field Kitchen looked like. I have taken a photo of this and of the hole in our kitchen, where, I think D's stove would fit perfectly!
Here is the old army stove. I think you will agree that while it is not pretty it IS beautiful!
Nothing a spot of blacking won't put right. Any of you remember that job?!

Now to the kitchen fireplace...

The fire that you see in the kitchen is a gas fire that we put in years ago when we did Bed and Breakfast.  Guest always chose to eat in the kitchen and I needed a quick way to get the room  warm in the mornings. You can see from the space around it that at one time a range would have been fitted here. When we bought the house an old gas fire was here, mounted on a hideous stone fireplace. After a few years we took this out and another couple of structures and the lovely hole is what we found.
I really would like an "off-grid" alternative to our conventional cooker, which I don't ever intent to get rid of. Having a two oven, seven ring range is useful with the life we lead!
I will post a picture of the fire in the living room that we hope to replace with a multi-fuel burner too and then you will have the full picture of my stove aspirations!
(Just looking at that last pic - all the minimalist de-clutter bloggers probably have to lie down in a darkened room after they read my posts)

The sun was shining when I was feeding the hens their midday snack, so I took this photo of them with their backs in the sun..Oh happy hens! Within minutes it started to rain and they, and I, ran for cover "It's spitting !! we cried Peter Kay.

So now I am back inside and really must attack the ironing mountain.
Thanks for reading

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Looking for a stove

Hello All
We have been thinking about keeping warm and keeping the bills down this week. Getting the two to go hand in hand is a challenge and we think the time has come to invest in the future.
We have more than one source of heat and cooking. Half the house is centrally heated by gas. Three of the rooms have independent gas fires. The large lounge has an open fire with a back boiler for hot water. We cook on a range cooker with gas jets and electric oven and of course we use a microwave and two slow cookers. Three bedrooms have no heating and here we use oil-filled radiators if needed. We only have heat on in the rooms being used and not necessarily then as we use knee blankets and hot water bottles in bed. Outside in the workshop we have an old army field kitchen, where D. and the guys keep warm, make hot drinks and I fill with baking if it is lit for any length of time. (Shed bread!)
 I asked D. if he could make a trivet for the open fire so that we could make hot drinks or cook a casserole while the fire was lit (while heating a tank of water)
D tells me that he has been thinking that we need to be more efficient and safer and that the open fire is only 32 percent efficient, whereas a multi fuel stove is 70 percent efficient. It can also be left, rather than watched all the time and uses considerably less fuel. He installed a back boiler and double tank when he installed the fire over 30 years ago, which was extremely forward thinking at the time - the tank was specially made to his specifications. So we are now looking for a multi-fuel stove with back boiler. I should be able to use the top for keeping food warm too. Our eldest daughter who is a fire officer is delighted that we will have a fire that will be better regulated and safer to use. The unit will cost between £500 and £1,500 - ouch! Watch this space.
I have also started a campaign to have his field kitchen put in my kitchen, which has a hole of exactly the right size, but he is loathe to lose it from his workshop. I'm not at confident that I will get my way on this one!
 Before anybody suggests that the way to save money would to be downsize - we aren't ready to do this yet. We will know when the time is right for that, probably when we can't manage the smallholding.

 I was intending to start my tomatoes off this week. I have plenty of seed for my outdoor and "speciality" tomatoes, but needed "Shirley" seed for my main greenhouse. So I popped into town and couldn't get any ! I am at the hospital tomorrow, which is close to a garden centre, so I will pop in there to see if they have any. If not D. wants to go the B&Q tomorrow (wrinkly day) maybe they will have some.

We have quite a lot of Civic Society and Canal restoration stuff going on this week, so are quite busy outside of the holding, so we will be on catch-up next week I guess. At least I'm never bored!!

All for now. Bit of a boring (for you)  post - sorry!

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Strictly Blogging

Hello Everyone!
 Just a quickie this morning.
But not so quick that I haven't time to welcome new followers Annie, Mrs G, Carol in Cairns and Sweffling. Also AKM Evans on Blog Lovin.  Lovely to see you here.

 Just got in from feeding the animals and about to take a shower, because I am going out for the day.
At 10.30 ED is picking me up to take me, her daughter and mother in law to the NEC in Birmingham for the "Strictly Come Dancing" tour thingy. Now I'm not a great fan of the razamataz and truly believe that Bruce should retire (TV show) but I am fond of ballroom dancing. Not that I do any nowadays, you understand. As a child my best friend, J. and I would go once a week to the Millicent Simmons School of Dancing in Derby ( we were about 10 at the time) and in my mid teens D. and I went every Saturday night to Victor Sylvestor's studio over the Gaumont in Derby. Ooooh heady days and best shoes! Then I started Art college and everything like that seemed facile. ( I think D. was secretly pleased,as he was nowhere near as good a dancer as I!)
When I get back it will be a swift run around the laundry and probably clear up after D. and Adam and then we are off to friends for the evening.
I hope that I will manage a more coherent post tomorrow.
Thanks for the comments yesterday they are much appreciated.
Back Soon and in the words of Brucie
Keeeeep Blogging!!!

Friday, 17 January 2014

Lamb and help with the Quilt

Greetings Frugellers
Welcome Scarlet to my follower bar and to Linda and Victoria of the Glorious Angelsey Allsorts, on Blog Lovin.

We picked up the lamb yesterday. I asked my friend C. if she would help me with them and she looked a little nervous, not sure she could do it. However, once they were home she was able to see them as joints of meat, not named woolly creatures! We had struggled to finish the lambs as they should have gone before the grass stopped going and for some reason neither of them would eat hay. They had been small lambs in the first place so it was with some trepidation that I collected them. "Bet they are a bit poor" I said to the butcher "Look alright to me " he said.. and indeed they were, both weighing in at 32 kgs without the pluck.
Here is C in her new career as butcher's assistant !

I hope that you are not upset at the thought of us growing our own meat. Be assured that the meat we eat had a good life with plenty of care and their end was the best we could organise - at a small butchers in a room that looks exactly like our barn and within a very short time of their arrival after only a 10 minute journey.

 While I am really busy outside at the moment I just had to have a fix with my sewing today. I set up the large spare bedroom to accommodate the quilt I am making for EGD.  I cleared the floor, laid out the patchwork and then measured the padding. I had to add an extra strip of padding to make it the correct size. I folded the fabrics and placed them on the bed prior to sewing the padding and ran downstairs to answer the phone.
When I returned guess who had arrived to "help" ?
Adam will be here this weekend. He hasn't been too well lately so we will need to find something for him to do that is not too taxing. He might like to help me do a little sowing in pots and he always enjoys cooking. If all else fails we could always play dominoes.
For those of you new to my rambling blog. Adam, Bob and Colin ( not their real names) are three guys who come to us for either day or respite care. This is organised by Social Services through the "Shared Lives" scheme.  Adam has been coming here for respite for over 20 years now and Bob and Colin for nearly five. They are all part of our life and members of our extended family. As we live on a smallholding there is always much to do with many "proper" jobs that help us and support a real feeling of worth in the guys.
 Just about to settle down to Michael Portillo's Great Train Journeys (Bradshaw) I really didn't like him as a politician, but he's an extremely good commentator.
 Good night dear Frugal Friends and thank you for reading

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Some time away from the holding

Hello All
An especial Hello to Janice over on my followers bar, nice to see you here. Drop us a comment to tell us about yourself. There is also a new follower on Blog lovin , but I have struggled to work out who it is.. sorry are most welcome.
We have been socialising a little more than usual away from the smallholding over the last two days. Yesterday we attended the funeral of one of the men from the village. This guy would sit outside his house all day in the good weather, passing the time of day with all who passed. he was the village newscaster, exchanging information with everyone. D. reckons we will know little of the coming and goings of villagers now that he has gone. After the service we were invited back to the village hall for what would have been called a "Good Ham Tea" in my younger days. Many of the villagers were there and it was good to catch up with them.
Today we returned the trailer we had borrowed from a friend in Derby. We were within half a mile of some dear friends who we do not see often enough. So after a gossip about the state of farming, we called on M and D. Deteriorating health has meant that they can no longer drive and as they live on a rather isolated smallholding the opportunities to see them must be made by us. It was lovely to see them again and we are determined that we will ensure we call again soon. I'm afraid we do rather cut ourselves off from people as we always have so much to do and rarely look for something to do or somewhere to go, which makes us rather anti-social, unless folk visit us, we need to make more of an effort.
 After visiting M and D we called at ED 's house to drop off some post that she had had delivered to our house. While we saw our granddaughter and son in  law we missed  ED  who was later returning home and we needed to get back to lock up the hens. I need to contact her tomorrow to firm up plans for Sunday when she is taking YGD, her other grandma and myself  to watch "Strictly Come Dancing - the Show" at the NEC in Birmingham This is another Christmas present. haven't I been spoilt?!
 Needed to go shopping today. I only spent 50p last week - on a plain yoghurt. At Lidl I bought  milk, butter, brown sliced and white sliced loaf, a tin of tomatoes, a tin of sweet corn, cat food and two bottles of cheap lemonade for D. This shop totalled £5.80.-  Ooooh  last of the big spenders!
 We are still eating out of the freezer. Last night we had the last of the Christmas roast pork and stuffing with mashed potatoes, carrots and brussels. Tonight we had the last of Sunday's curry, as I had no naans I used oatcakes that were in the freezer, and very nice they were too. Tomorrow we will have fish - pollack from last years fishing trips - with fried potatoes and peas. For lunch tomorrow, when we have friends and the shared lives guys, I have made a chicken and vegetable soup and will rustle up some bread rolls in the morning.
In the afternoon I shall fetch the two lambs back from the butchers. After D. has helped me to cut the carcasses in two I can manage on my own and my friend will weigh and wrap and label the joints as I do them.
I am  typing this blog while in "my" room. This room is always warm as I share it with Percy, the parrot. The warmth of this room makes it perfect for the newly made wine. As I sit here I am almost deafened by the plop, plop, plop from the air locks  of 9 gallons of wine. There is also a fairly strong smell of alcohol in the room and I won't be at all surprised if Percy starts to sing "Nellie Dean" with  slurred voice sometime soon!
 On Sunday we extracted 30lb of honey from the few frames we got from the bees last year. We are really pleased with this as we had so many swarms. We will sell half of this crop and keep the rest for ourselves and family.

Still in the garden  - Brussels, Swede, Kale, Perpetual Spinach, Beetroot and Jerusalem Artichokes.
Today for the third day running we had 8 eggs. Hurrah! they are starting to get back into lay.
Yesterday, after a tutorial from Dreamer, I deleted a closed blog that had been taken over by someone (don't know who).. Today I am disturbed to find that the blog has appeared in my side bar again, even though it is no longer in my blog list... what is going on here I wonder?
All for now dear blogging friends

Monday, 13 January 2014

Honey spinning and the last present pictures

Hello Frugellers

Welcome Ken to my side bar and also to Jenny on Blog lovin.
As Christmas fades into memory I am posting my last Christmas pics. These are of EGD's offerings ... and very nice they were too.
The first picture is of some of the hampers, she made twelve in all! (boxes made by her boyfriend) she filled for the grown-up households. Each was filled for individual likes ( plenty of market research went into this to ensure nobody received anything they didn't like) In each box is a mixture of jams, curds and pickles, peppermint creams, shortbread and truffles made by EGD and then a little individual gift from GS, her brother, as well. These boxes were delightful and received well by everyone.

The next picture shows the presents she made for younger folk. Either a mug of mixed sweets or a "cookie mix in a jar". brilliant idea!
While that is definitely the last post (toot toot) about Christmas, I will undoubtedly be mentioning the super gifts I received as I use them (did I tell you I got a cutting wheel for my quilting?)
We have a had a productive weekend. The wine is now in demijohns and the honey is finally spun. We were going to do this last weekend, but life intervened. YGD enjoyed using our ancient spinner. If it had been electric it would have been no fun at all ! We are very pleased that we have any honey at all and if the swarms survive the winter and we can sell a couple of hives we will be over the moon.
Here is Little Miss Dynamite at her labours.
The sheep went today and with the state of the paddock and the rising river I can't say that I am sorry as it wasn't very comfy for them. We will fetch them on Wednesday or Thursday whole from the butchers and I will joint them to suit our lifestyle.
Need to get back to the housework now as the Civic Society Committee are meeting here tonight and I have to clear a space for them among the jars and bottles!
Did any of you follow "Hard up Hester" ? she stopped blogging suddenly some months ago. I noticed yesterday that she was back in my side bar so clicked straight on to her blog. What I read was quite bizarre. A tutorial on worm farming and some "comments" on the side in an unidentifiable language. What's occurring do you think? I'd never got HHH down as a worm farm sort of girl somehow!
Back soon

Friday, 10 January 2014

Planning for a Frugal Weekend

Planning for a frugal weekend

Adam will be with us this weekend and the family will be here for tea on Sunday. I still intend to live out of the freezer and not go to the shops for anything other than milk. So what's the plan?!
Breakfast - Porridge
Lunch-  Leek and Potato Soup with homemade bread
Tea/Dinner - Chicken (well turkey actually) and vegetable pie with mashed potatoes and brussels.  I don't normally do pudding when Adam is here, as his mum wants him to lose some weight. However I have a couple of large Christmas oranges left, so I shall peel those and put them out.
Breakfast - Porridge
Lunch - poached eggs on toast  - I shall use the last of the homemade for this as it is likely to be getting a little dry by now.
Dinner - (probably nine of us for this meal)  "An Indian" -
Cockerel, potato and squash curry
Rabbit Tandoori
Aloo Saag - Pink Fir Apple potatoes and perpetual spinach
mint yoghurt (need to buy a plain yoghurt for this)
Tomato, cucumber, onion and mint salad - The very last Christmas tomato! and I bought the cucumber just after Christmas for 15p with a yellow sticker
Plain Dahl
Pudding - Apple Crumble and custard or ice cream,
The only ingredients I need to buy for this meal is the yoghurt for the dip. I will also have to buy some more milk to keep us "tea bellies" going.
We have grown or reared nearly all the ingredients I am pleased to say.
This weekend I need to climb into the cellar for some demi-johns as the wine is ready to be strained off and sugar added. Cleaning demi-johns is not my favourite job !

Before I go I must give a really warm Derbyshire welcome to Sylvia Elizabeth, Nannie Mackinny and Diane Davis. Lovely to see you here.
Can anybody tell me what "having people in circles! means?
Until next time

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Slighter Better Weather today

A nicer day today. A little rain, but nothing much. I was able to get into the garden for a while
I dug up the last of the leeks, which were really pathetic and I only got enough, when trimmed, for one batch of soup. So into the slow cooker they went with a large onion - still quite a few in store from last year - Ailsa Craig - grown from seed, a few small scrotty spuds and a couple of cloves of garlic.  Then eeek! I have run out of vegetable cubes. SO rightly or wrongly ( do I care ?) I covered the veg with a couple of litres of water  and will add the cubes tomorrow after I have been to the shop. Obviously not a no-shop day, but I also need butter and oil. I am determined I will not buy anything else but may pop into the library.
Made a batch of bread today with a new flour from a local mill and I'm afraid it has not come out as well as usual. it's edible enough, but not brilliant. So back to Lidl strong flour for me, at a third of the price!.
 The hens are gradually coming into lay - 7 eggs today. Hurrah! When YG came for lunch she had poached eggs. She does love her eggs and especially ours.
 When the sun was out today for a little while I noticed that a few bees were out and about from five of the six hives. I suspect they were on clearing flights and it was good to see them.
 I have had quite a few phone calls for the Civic Society today and I guess I should get back in harness with some letters and a couple of reports for the members. I can't say as I feel ever so inspired so I will have to force myself. Some won't wait, a couple of society members died over the Christmas period and must be acknowledged and  remembered properly. I will go to town early tomorrow and then set about some paperwork before the shared lives guys arrive at lunchtime.
Cold lamb and bubble and squeak for tea tonight with the last two portions of last Sunday's choc pud with custard for afters.
SimpleSuffolkSmallholder is considering getting goats again and I set about thinking of our dear goat Annie, who died just before Christmas 2012. Here she is bless her. As you can see she had cataracts which meant that she couldn't go into the paddock unsupervised towards the end. When she did, she walked over the bank and fell into the river and YD had to jump in to save her! They both nearly froze to death and Annie spent the rest of the week under a heat lamp. Poor YD had to  make do with a shower and a hot coffee!

 I am always pleased and surprised to see that I have gained a follower. It is not something I court and am grateful for the interest, but today I lost one and find myself hoping that I haven't upset somebody! So if I have it was not intended.
Enough for now
Back soon

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Popcorn Disaster

Firstly, welcome to Bridget and Jamex, new followers and Lancashire Food, Linda and Sally on Blog Lovin. I am really pleased to see you here and look forward to hearing from you.

Just before Christmas I thought it would be fun to make popcorn with YGD and string it up on the tree. BUT ... my hand-cranked  popcorn maker has broken ! The spindley thingy that stirs the popcorn and the coggy thingy that turns it have come apart irrevocably ( and believe me if they could be mended D. would have done it!)  It was bought for me by a colleague from one of those television shopping channels over 10 years ago and I love it. It is not dependent on electricity, so you can use whatever heat source you have and it makes some pretty mean popcorn. Looking on the interweb, the company Theaker is from Indiana and doesn't seem to deal with the UK.
Here is a picture  -
So, bloggy friends. Does anyone know who does a similar machine? There are plenty of electric popcorn makers out there, but I really don't want an electric one.
Also in the picture above is the last Crown Prince winter squash, some of which as gone into a cockerel curry with some passata,  potatoes and onions  - A  totally home grown meal, apart form the spices !
The last pathetic parsnips are there too, but nothing to boast about there.

One of the presents I received this Christmas ( and I reckon I will be talking about what I received until June, I had so many things bought me!) that was Brilliant was from EGD.. some large marker pins. She knew that I wanted some and that I had coveted some I had seen on some crafty blog ( wish I could remember where) I always use a pin cushion and felt that these needed there very own. I cut a circle of fabric and covered a lump of foam with it. I then shoved this into the old heavy cut glass inkwell base that I often use when working with small items, such as beads. I am so pleased with the result as it is very sturdy and serves to hold stuff down as well if needed. Aren't they beautiful little things?

Tonight we are having  paprika potatoes, turned into a stewy thing with some corned beef. We already had some with a lentil bake and there was lots left so it has reinvented itself tonight with the addition of the corned beef. With some cabbage it will be extremely tasty. The recipe is from Frugalmummy at "My Beautiful Life" blog. Thanks FM x
Enough for now dear fellow bloggers. Off to do the last three blocks of EGD's quilt and then... putting it together!!
Quite a few of you who read this blog come from the US. I'm sending you love and positive, warm thoughts. Keep safe and warm in those dreadful ice and snow storms you are having.
Nice to hear from you Lizzie. I haven't seen you in blogland for some time. keep safe x

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Hens and Honey

The new year is well and truly in and I must get down to some jobs.
I have spent copious amounts of time looking at seed catalogues and what seeds I already possess and still haven't got organised for my January planting. This weekend I will at least start my maincrop onions and early tomatoes. The problem is (i.e another excuse to procrastinate) that with the wet, wet, muddy surface out there, the hens are using the greenhouses as a dry place to sit and have a bit of a chinwag and a crafty dust bath and it seems churlish to deny them. I guess I will close up the small greenhouse and start the seeds off there and leave them to the large one a little longer.
Here is the Girl's Club ( with a few random males mixed in) The other hens are in the small greenhouse in the front garden.
Last Autumn we took a (very) small amount of honey from a couple of hives. As we had so many swarms last year we didn't expect any honey, we were just glad to keep the bees and catch the swarms. Until winter is over I don't know how many have survived, but, fingers crossed, we have done all we can to help them through. The supers, that is frames with some honey in, have been stacked in the outhouse and today I have bought them in to start warming up so that we can spin them tomorrow. Yes, I know we should have done them at the time, but stuff happened and so we put them away until we had time. The job probably won't be as easy as when the honey was fresh as some is bound to have crystallised, but it needs to be done.  So wish us luck. The family will be here for tea tomorrow and will probably like giving a hand with the spinner, which is hand powered - I'm hoping they will anyway!
 Sweet and sour pork made with Christmas leftovers tonight. Roast Lamb for tea tomorrow, this has lasted quite well, with a few "lumps" left. There are two lambs to go to the butcher on the 13th, which should see us through for a few months. Haven't done any food shopping for some days now, though we did go to the fodder rooms yesterday for the hens and sheep.
 Spent a little time working on EGD present ( a quilt) this afternoon which I was making her for Christmas, but was then taken ill and fell behind. However her birthday is this month, so I am hoping to get it finished for then.
All the Christmas stuff is down and put away now. Hurrah!
Until next time. Thanks for reading my ramblings

Thursday, 2 January 2014

A Happy New Merry

Hello and a Happy New Merry to you all
  A warm New Year and Derbyshire welcome  to Tracey, Maggie, Tilly Trotter and Cro (love your blog) and Margaret and Vanessa on Blog Lovin
I said that I would try to show pics of some of the presents I made, I then promptly forgot to take photographs of most. Here are two that I have got pics of
The first is the full size double, padded quilt I made for my God daughter and her partner.

 This one is of a sketch I made for my elder daughter. It is of three treasured summery moments for her daughter. those of you that know anything about drawing will know that it is a very poor piece, but it was more a gesture of love than fine art! (it was drawn on board and ED framed it)
I have started eight gallons of wine from the summer fruits in the freezer and there are still pounds left to process! I am also in the process of making some elderberry cordial for the cold weather. I have put star anise, mace and cinnamon sticks in to flavour and hopefully make it more appetising ! It is now strained and I shall add the sugar and some honey today and let you know how it turns out.

 My New Year's Resolutions, more like intentions really, are to keep a handle on my/our finances, as in knowing what they are, rather than being more careful as I reckon if I was any more frugal I would be mean and that would never do!
 I also intend to make a little more time for me and not feel guilty if I do something just because I enjoy it.
 ( I might even return to sculpture after a fifty year hiatus!)
I intend to be a more regular blogger, trouble with this is that get lost in other blogs and end up not having time to do my own.

 Lastly, I would like you to join me in a virtual celebration of the best successful New Years Resolution I ever made  - and kept - 20 years ago I gave up smoking !!! It was, and still is, like being out of an abusive relationship.
That's all for now, see you soon