Saturday, 30 August 2014

New Car Tax Rules

Welcome to some new followers via Bloglovin - Louise, Ramona Strnad, Clare Klesel, Isla Netten and Jane Lynch. Also Tillytrotter via here.

For those of you who live in the UK and don't know about the upcoming changes to the displaying of our car tax discs, here is a link, so you can read about it for yourselves, see here
These changes take place on 1st October 2014.

Quite a few people are also giving up their TV licences to save money. If you are one of them or are thinking about doing so check out this link first, to make sure you won't be breaking UK law. Another word they could have used to make things a little clearer to some is watching/recording LIVE TV means you need a tv licence!

They say they won't be sending you a reminder letter but remember, they will probably still check out your address with their detector vans (if they still use them), so don't be tempted to do this to save money and then watch/record live programmes. A £1000 fine would be devastating to your finances.

Also, I have just realised that my War Diary Year IV is not up to date, so that has also been added. Hope you enjoy the read! 

Thursday, 28 August 2014

A Liverpool Wedding

We spent the day in Liverpool last Saturday, attending the wedding of my lovely nephew L. and his lovely bride Y. We enjoyed the wedding breakfast, good northern food. Tomato soup to begin, roast turkey as a main and profiteroles to finish.

We needed to get back to DS and FDiL's not too late to sort out the dogs before bedtime so didn't get to spend much time at the evening do. There was one of those photo booths where you get dressed up and have an instant photo done, we didn't do that as it wasn't ready, a candy cart full of sweets, what looked like a nice buffet (didn't have any as we left before it was fully out!) and a disco.

They met on the internet, taking their time getting to know each other before L. popped the question. It is his first marriage and he looked in heaven:
His bride is a widow. The young man on her left (right as you see him here) is her son, and the bridesmaid in red, her daughter, don't they all look smart:
At the reception, her son (17) made a short but sweet speech and mentioned how glad he was that L. was now part of their family as he had brought such happiness to their house!

Final shot at the reception, unfortunately Y, is looking elsewhere:)

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Damson Brandy and Courgette Fritters

I've started some Damson Brandy off as suggested by Pam. Normally I would prick the skins and make this type of drink with whole fruit. However, experience has taught me with these particular fruit, that several of them are not very good inside, I decided to cut them open and take out the stone. Just as well, as four were brown on the inside!

It may well result in an unclear result, which means we will have to drink it quickly:), but we shall see. Also, doing it this way, means I know the fruits will be fine to use in baking afterwards!
Using Frugal Queen's recipe for Courgette Fritters, see here, we thought we would have a go. They were lovely but might change the spices next time and see how it works. Here are ours:
We obviously used a too large a mug so had to add extra milk to get the consistency correct. Each fritter had 2 tablespoons and we managed to make 10. We might try it with sweetcorn, onions or other grated vegetables. We had 3 each with coleslaw but 3 was almost too much. There are 4 leftover for lunch the next day!

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Harvesting, dehydrating and a surprise ...

After several of our red pears fell off the tree (unfortunately there is gravel underneath), we decided to pick them all. The left kitchen window has the good pears and some of our Tigerella tomatoes:
Whilst the right one has the damaged pears and more of our tomatoes:
All those tomatoes have now gone into the dehydrator (2 trays):
One layer had ground black pepper sprinkled on, the other paprika. I'm hoping the flavours will impart themselves into the tomatoes as they dry. I didn't want to risk salt as that would dry more moistness out and make them tough. A 3rd tray had some of our pears and a sliced cooking apple put in as a test.

Coming home from a walk around the village, we found these on our doorstep:
5 Bramley and 1 Howgate Wonder cooking apples (I think), plus two huge punnet's of cultivated blackberries. Our neighbour R, told us he had put something on our doorstep as he saw us walking around. This is the 3rd punnet from him to go into our freezer, yum yum!

Update on the tomatoes, most dried really well but as I was rushing to get them finished (I know, shouldn't have started), I decided to open freeze this batch for safety. The next lot I do will be dried completely and stored in a jar. I'm not sure if the black pepper or paprika added anything so won't bother again. I did try one though on the way to the freezer, and dehydrating them certainly intensifies the flavour!

Friday, 22 August 2014

It's no good!

For years and years, I have used the same (seasonably adjusted) shopping list. Then each day, I would decide what to cook depending on what was available in the fridge, freezer and 'pantry'. We have managed to get our quite low shopping list, more reduced each month, now we shall see if menu planning really does make a difference.

We have decided for now, to use the menu plan to create a new and different shopping list each month, then see how it goes. I have created 4 lots of fortnightly menu's and after pay day this month, we shall use this first sheet for most of the month of September:
If we find it fine to use and shop by, then we shall use this second sheet for October:
Most of the recipes I now know by heart but some of them can be found on my recipes tab above.

You will notice that these are only evening meals. We normally have soup most days in Autumn and Winter, sometimes crackers, sometimes sandwiches. Breakfast is always simple and the same, 5 days of porridge, one of cereals, one of toast and marmalade. We usually only have a pudding at the weekend and if hungry late evening, say around 8.00pm, will usually have yoghurt and fruit/jam!

Welcome to Francesca via Bloglovin.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Designing and making a simple clutch bag

First of all, welcome to Lisa Saxton via Bloglovin. Gosh that was a cold night, I am so glad I took heed of the weather forecast and protected the tomatoes. I shall keep them wrapped for now, should also help with the ripening.

Having looked at loads of tutorials on-line (most of which needed paying for), I decided to try designing a simple envelope version using an old piece of non-iron on vilene (pelmet/heavy duty liner, similar to what gets ironed on when making collars).

I am not a hand bag person and didn't want to buy a bag just for a single use, hence making one. I didn't have any material in the correct colours so went to buy the minimum I could from a local material shop, plus cotton, plus new iron on vilene. It came to £8.80 but I only used around 1/3rd of it plus another £2.00 to get some different backing material. I think in total, the actual bag cost around £5 so not too bad.

It was a bit of a learning curve but I think I got there in the end, you'll be able to judge it for yourselves in the final photographs!

Firstly the template. Using a large sheet of wallpaper/card, draw an oblong 33cm long x 23 cm wide.
Measure up from the bottom 11cm and fold it over to make a crease. Measure down from the top, 10 cm, fold and crease, then open it out as best you can. Using a dinner plate, place the top curve of it at the top of your template and draw an almost semi-circle shape, the left and right edges of which, need to come down to the top crease. Cut away the excess from the outside of this shape. When you are happy, draw around this template on the non-glued side of the vilene. You now have your main vilene template and a secondary wallpaper/cardboard version. Phew!

Pin it carefully to your material. Here it is attached to the top net part. Cut 2 pieces out, 1cm away from the template. This particular piece of vilene was my secondary template:
Now you need to iron on the vilene to one sheet of the base fabric. Cut out an approximate piece of base fabric, leaving enough excess. Turn it glue side down, cover with a piece of silicone or greaseproof paper and carefully iron. I ironed it at the mid setting but you might be able to use cotton depending on your fabric. The paper protects your iron from any possible smears of glue and it protects your fabric especially if using delicate fabrics. Once attached, cut around the shape 1cm away, then pin your secondary template to another piece of the same fabric and cut out your second shape:
You should have 2 base pieces and 2 top pieces. Now you need to sew around the two base pieces (pale pink in this case). Pin them together, right sides in, sew as close to the vilene as you can without actually sewing into it. Remove pins and turn inside out. This bit is very difficult but doable. Once turned, iron it again (protecting with the paper), to iron out creases you will have made all over it!

Repeat with the net part if using, this time pinning your secondary template onto it (as in the top picture). Sew around the template, this time not quite up to it as the net needs to fit snugly over the base material. Remove template and turn inside out and iron using protective paper:
Feed the base shape (on the left) into the net shape (just like a pillowcase):
You are now halfway through, yeah!

Keeping it the correct way as in the above picture, sew all around the shape, 1cm in to hold all the layers together:
You might need to click on the picture above if you can't see my stitching.

The rough base now needs to be enclosed. I found it best to fold the excess material over, iron it then tuck it inside so it doesn't get in the way. I used net for enclosing my base, but you could use ribbon. Cut a piece about 2 cm longer than the base and about 2.5cm wide. Place it good side in and stitch 1cm from the edge:
Turn it over and hand sew the other side into the stitches you have just made. Make sure you turn it over tight enough so any material is hidden inside and the base of the vilene ends up snug at the bottom rather than excess material sitting there moving around! You will have to fathom out how to fold in the ends as you are doing so, plus roll a little hem under before sewing into place.

Now using your secondary template as a guide, find the 11cm mark and fold up the bottom pressing into place with your hand. Then iron it (protected with paper) until it sits there by itself, then you know you have ironed it well! Now do the same with the top. Find your 10cm mark, fold, protect and iron. 

Now it is beginning to look the part. I forgot to take pictures of the next bit but you need to work out how you are going to get it to keep closed once complete. I had bought handbag magnet enclosures but found them too cumbersome. I rummaged through my button box and found a nice clear button that would attach underneath therefore not showing the cotton. Then I found a matching colour elastic hair band. I put a pair of knickers in the bag to work out where the fasteners needed to go and attached them both by hand. The elastic band had a metal bit on it that I removed and stitched to stop it fraying.

Once the button and band (or what ever you are using is in place), lift up the top flap, fold the bottom flap up and stitch the front sides to the back, using the same line of stitches already there from before as in picture 5.

There you have it (or not depending on how clear this tutorial is). One hand made clutch bag that absolutely no-one else will have. This one has been made for my nephew's wedding and is a trial for the one I hope to make for my son's wedding.  

Here is the end product, now with a spare pair of tights inside that will be in there, just in case:

Hopefully it all makes sense in case you want to have a go!

Monday, 18 August 2014

Harvesting and a long searched for find!

Welcome to Julie Cooper, Countryside Tales and Lisa S. via here. Hope you enjoy the read! We visited Ramsey 1940's weekend on Sunday, you can read about it on my other blog, This Norfolk Life!

At long last our tomatoes are beginning to ripen although to be honest, they are being picked just under-ripe and getting ripened on a sunny windowsill! The almost last bowl of Cucamelons, (they seem to be shutting down now), plus 4 of our red pears which I think are Williams. They never ripen on the tree and once they start to fall, it is usually best to pick them and ripen them indoors.
Less than 50' from our home, grows a wild Damson tree. It is absolutely laden this year! We popped out with a pair of ladders and bag and picked 3.5 lbs in about 15 minutes. Don't think we shall pick many more as they are not our favourite fruit. They have been stoned and stored in the freezer for later use.
I have been looking for a 1940's dressing gown pattern for ages and at the weekend, I found one. Wasn't cheap but cheaper than most I have seen on line:
It was printed in 1943 and (being American) is the equivalent of a size 12. As it wraps around, shouldn't be a problem, although I might add a few inches to the bottom if needed. There were 4 there altogether but one was a size 10 and the other, sizes 18 and 20. I'm really looking forward to making it.

Saturday, 16 August 2014


The new soups bowls from DS and FDiL!

First, I pulled up 3 more lovely purple carrots, grown from seeds they gave us last year:
The teaspoon is to give you an idea of their size. Here is one of them diced so you see what they look like inside:
The only drawback to them is they stain everything purple as you will see later on!

Anyway, using these ingredients - 1 cupful of split red lentils were used:
I prepared them ready for my thermal cooker, which I am still trying to get to grips with regarding cooking time. The secret seems to be the 10 minutes boiling before it goes in the bag but hey ho, practise makes perfect (hopefully):
3 hours later, the saucepan came out the thermal cooker (al dente at this stage) and after a slight thickening and taste adjustment, was served up into our two new bowls:
As you can see, the soup normally a red orange colour, came out purple as though beetroot was in it!
We sprinkled a spoonful of grated Parmesan on top:
We had run out of bread and crackers but the 3 ladles of soup filled us up nicely.

The doorbell rang later and our neighbour R. handed over a punnet of his cultivated blackberries. We open froze them until we decide whether to make something sweet or savoury with them:
We are very lucky to have such nice, friendly (for the most part) and helpful neighbours but then, we have lived here nearly 28 years and we have all taken the time to get to know each other.

Welcome to Tricia Morrison via Bloglovin. Glad to have you on board the old Norfolk Express!

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Hard Graft...

The rewards will come later!

Yesterday, DB and I took delivery of our winter logs, 2 cubic metres of them:
We borrowed the wheelbarrow off our neighbours. As a thank you, they get rewarded with some logs for their own fire. He often gives us kindling when we run low as does another neighbour, who can always lay his hands on a pallet or two!

It took us longer this year to shift them, around 3 and a bit hours. Another year older doesn't help but luckily, although sunny, there was a nice cooling wind. Part of the problem with this load was the width of some of the logs, probably just under half of them. Length wise they are fine but too fat. As I load them into the wheelbarrow, any I deem too fat get chucked into another pile. Shifting them all this way took about and hour and a half.

I wheel them up the drive, round the hedge, down another path and dump them as near to DB as possible for his to fill our 2 1/2 log stores. We still have about 3 - 4 wheelbarrow loads left from last year. All stores are now full of logs, kindling and cones. The paper is kept in the conservatory.

After a break for lunch, we began to shift the oversized logs into the garage. I used the wheelbarrow, DB utilised one of the wheelie bins. Last year we decided to invest in a heavy duty, mid range log splitter, as DB was finding it increasingly difficult to split the logs by hand, probably a hundred or slightly more each year!

He fed the logs in, the machine split them, I picked up from the pile and wheeled them around to the log stores for him to fill up once the splitting was finished. It cleaves through the logs like a hot knife through butter. It can be dangerous as I bore witness when one log split apart with a tremendous crack and shot about 6' across the garage, good job I had chosen to stand behind it.

Finally we were finished, a hot bath did nothing to alleviate the ache and pains and a sorry night was had by me. DB doesn't seem bad, indeed he is currently on his hands and knees, re-painting the bedroom skirting boards ready for the carpet on Monday!

My neighbours have gotten used to my odd ways but they saw a new one the other day when I asked them, if they minded me rummaging through their bottle and jar recycling box for things I like the look of!

Once over the shock, I was told to help myself, so yesterday I did and came home with these two lovely jars:
DB didn't say a word, he just removed the label, washed and dried them! Ah, ain't love just grand:)

Wednesday, 13 August 2014


First of all, welcome to Andrea via Bloglovin.

I have two dressing gowns which have seen better days and are a little dull. I had previously dyed one of them purple and it is beginning to fade. I shall do that another day. This time, I concentrated on a light blue summer dressing gown:
It often gets worn in the lounge during winter, when the wood burner gets going, it is just too hot in there to wear a winter one. I had hoped to find a jade sort of colour but as I need it to be blue or blue/green, settled for Bermuda blue:
Can you see the two metal bird hangers on the door, they were a little present from DB (other than the meal he treated us to).

Saturday, 9 August 2014


Welcome to a new follower, Tilly.

Having thought the wild red cherry plums were finished, we came across some more whilst driving home. Here they are with yet another bowl of cucamelons:
Also this lovely birthday/late Mother's Day gift arrived today from DS & FDiL:
I had no idea what I was getting but knew something would arrive now their financial situation is sorted. Thanks guys, we shall really look forward to eating home made soups out of those:)

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Something new...

Welcome to Angie Hawkins via Bloglovin (but as your profile page won't load, I don't know if you have a blog).

Like others this year, I am having a go at growing Cucamelons. I have heard various good, bad and indifferent reports about them, their taste, texture etc.  Out of the four sown, only one made it and for that, I am glad. It is prolific to say the least and as with cucumbers, we are getting too many to cope with.

This is what they look like and using a smallish dessert-spoon for a guide, gives you some idea of their size:
Until I picked this bowlful (cereal bowl sized on average), the plant was only producing a few at a time. Now however, it has got into its stride and is producing a bowlful every other day. The prolific nature of cucumbers was why we stopped growing them, the same I suspect, will happen with these.

They are thick skinned, crunchy when fresh off the vine, taste of cucumber with a good dash of lime. Some describe the taste as bitter, but we find them slightly sour. Each to their own I guess.

James Wong suggests pickling them and keeping the pickle in the fridge. We have just done one small jarful to test, but as it takes 7 days and is only 2 days old, will have to wait to report on them:
I think they will be fine in piccalilli so shall endeavour to use them up in that when the time comes to make it. Now however, we shall keep munching them until either they stop producing, or we get fed up and tear it down (it is already 2m high)

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Good food, a chinwag and a laugh!

The bedroom has been finished, now we have to wait 2 and 3 weeks respectively for carpet and bed. I won't post pictures until it is finished though.

Tonight is our school chums evening. B. has been dead just over a year now and we want to start it up again properly. Instead of a Chinese takeaway and film, we are doing self catering and Peter Kay, though not with GARLIC BREAD!

E. Is bringing her special dessert of chocolate trifle. I have made a bacon, pepper and cheese quiche with cheese pastry. We shall have it for main plus a salad. T. Is bringing the DVD and nibbles for while we watch (and properly choke whilst laughing and nibbling).

Sunday, 3 August 2014


Welcome to Kim via Bloglovin.

DB has been busy, painting the ceiling, coving, skirting and other woodwork, in the last bedroom to be decorated. The paint is either old stuff being used up as a first coat, or new bought in the sales where possible, as is the wallpaper. The paintwork was previously orange so it took quite a bit of time to cover up!

When this bedroom is done, all the rooms will have been decorated, especially wallpapered. This means in future, should they need doing, it will just be a 'relatively' quick paint job. Again, this is preparing for our old age. Yes, we might not still be here but think we will for quite a bit of time yet.

This room was a study, then a baby and young child's room, then our room, then a study and now a bedroom again. Doing it though, has quite taken it out of both of us. We ache dreadfully and one thing this (hopefully last) batch of hanging wallpaper has taught DB, who does that side of it (I cut and paste), is this: it is getting too difficult and therefore becoming unsafe, trying to stay upright on a pair of step-ladders, struggling with unwieldy sheets of wallpaper.

We all might think we are not yet getting old, but certain things serve to remind us and if we have any sense at all, we will heed the warnings. We won't bounce as well as we used to, cuts and bruises take far longer to heal and go away and lets face it, if we trip, we stand a good chance of breaking something!

Once we have have finished, which should be the end of the week, we hope to have the lounge, hall and dining room carpets cleaned. We think it will be cheaper though, to hire it and do it ourselves.

Here are a few pictures of the room, the smallest bedroom with the coving, ceiling, skirting painted, it was all orange. The radiator is yet to be done. Standing in the doorway towards the window:
Window back to the doorway:
Other side of window to the far wall:

I'll post the final pictures once it is painted, carpeted and beds etc back in.

We both hate using wallpaper tables, they are usually not high or wide enough and bend in the middle. I have used the kitchen worktop before, but when it was replaced, it no longer has a piece long enough!

In the end, we purchased a very cheap shower curtain and clamped it to the extending dining room table - ah that's better, high and wide - picture before clamping:

Friday, 1 August 2014

Birthday and garden

Had my birthday recently and received some nice little gifts. I always struggle to let DB know what I want as I don't really want or need anything. Anyway, he treated me to a nice meal out at a newly re-vamped bistro pub. Locals had informed us that it was too expensive and you only got miniature portions. I had a main portion of strips of chicken with a chilli dipping sauce (£9):

As you can see, the chicken filled half the plate. It also came with potato salad, salad and the chilli sauce. DB had to help me finish it!

He had a main of local cheese quiche for £8.50):
It came with salad, potato salad and coleslaw. Almost filled him up and he was full after 2 or 3 strips of my chicken. I don't know about you, but we didn't find them too small. You can have a half sized portion as a starter so if we go again, we shall do that and try the puddings!

Other than that, we didn't do much else for the day Caught up on the washing, the rain finally came to thoroughly refresh the garden but only filled up 2 of the 4 butts. We continue to harvest bits and bobs as they become ready. I am continuing to spray the tomatoes with soluble Aspirin in an attempt to keep blight at bay. So far so good but who knows. It apparently has a 50% chance of working.