Friday 31 January 2014

Becoming interested...

A college relatively local to where we live, has an open day once a year. It serves two purposes - one, to showcase their student's work and two, to show what the college can offer and in turn interest prospective students.

A few years ago, I went to one of their open days, primarily to find out about their courses in textile work. That particular tutor wasn't present so I was spoken to by tutor's from the Access to Art & Design higher education courses. They thought I would be better suited to what they had to offer as the textile courses were predominantly 'populated' by youngsters, extremely noisy etc and felt I might be put off. Having walked past such course rooms later one, they were right as I do like to work in relative quiet.

Anyhow, I decided to apply for the Access course, and was duly interviewed (with hardly any work to show them). I can only assume my extreme interest won the day and I was offered a place. Going to college (and then onto University) is quite overwhelming when you have not been in education for a very long time. The Access courses are a way of not only getting you back into education but also to show you the level of interest and hard work required to complete it and any subsequent courses you move on to.

The element of this course that interested me the most, at the time, was textiles. We only had a short 6 week course to complete the module and other than the initial (drawing) element, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Now that I am becoming interested in quilting and patchwork appliqué, I thought I would show you some of my exam display elements before they are re-used and/or further felted.

We were on holiday the week before setting up for assessment so all my work came with us and every night, I assembled different elements, worked on my journals and completed anything still requiring the finishing touch.You should be able to read what is written on the labels if you click on the photographs.

The first (Shibori) and the second (Devore) are very quick pieces (one lesson only) in dyeing fabric:

There was another piece but it didn't survive for long so has gone into that great bin in the sky!

Thursday 30 January 2014

A cold and windy re-walk

Welcome to my new follower Mrs G.

Yesterday saw us out and about with E, re-doing a walk. She had not previously been with us and we also wanted to see if repair works to an old building had been finished. You can find details of the previous post on Walks II and going down to the date of 20th September 2012.

The polythene covering had been removed and you could now see the building and new work carried out:
There was the sound of shovelling coming from within and judging by the pile of dirt in the archway, internal work was still being carried out. We didn't bother going in as there are signs up asking you to make an appointment to view it or else 'pay £5 per person' for the privalege of going beyond the barriers. Not a particularly friendly approach we all felt!

By the time we had returned to the car, got out of our walking clothes (in a very cold wind), we were frozen so hurried off to the newly revamped Carpenter's Arms on the A47 at East Winch. Apart from having to wait for what seemed a very long time to receive our food, we all enjoyed lunches for those with a 'lighter appetite', which were the same price as a sandwich.

Monday 27 January 2014

Welcome and baking...

Welcome to my new followers via Bloglovin - Lynda Harvey and Jenny Smark.

Over the weekend I was busy on Saturday baking carrot muffins:
Two lots of four muffins were frozen to help resist temptations. Two loaves of bread using rye, wholemeal and white flours were made, one of which was frozen:
Sunday dawned and it was time to use up my last half beef chuck joint. It weighed around 1 1/4 pound once minced. It was browned with some onions, carrots and pumpkin. Half was put to one side and this first batch had peppers, mushrooms and fresh tomatoes added and was turned into two Shepherd's Pies. This was one of them before the potato was added:
A bit rough and ready to look at but the potato had gone cold by the time the base had cooled, making it difficult to do a nice topping:
We had one for tea last night followed by stewed apple and home made yoghurt for supper. The other half of the meat had more things added and was turned into two batches of chilli con carne:
We shall have one of those for tonight's tea, the other half of both dishes have gone into the freezer. So then to recap, 1 1/4lb of mince, lots of old vegetables, 4 meals for 2 people - not too shabby methinks!

Saturday 25 January 2014

Not a lot happening at the moment here

Just finished another dishcloth:
I now need to knit another 2 - 3 to make enough for this year which will release another 3 that are smaller and need to be used for washing floors etc.

Yesterday I sat on the settee for a couple of hours and began to cut some of the assorted textiles I have previously shown. I could have used the dining room table and a rotary cutter but the front room was warmer so sat in their using a pair of ultra sharp dressmaking scissors.

Made some yoghurt yesterday as well and today will be bread making day .

Thursday 23 January 2014


I really need to pay attention to what I am doing first thing in the morning!

DB was making the porridge, I had brewed the pot of tea and was busy filling up the washing machine. I put the distilled vinegar in the conditioning dispenser, grabbed the home made laundry gloop and poured it in.

Poured up the tea and then looked around to see where the milk was but could only find my laundry gloop, sitting by the tea pot.

A few minutes later, after checking under the sink and seeing the milk bottle sitting there, I realised I had put my washing on with the milk!!!

The machine was stopped and set to spin. The dispenser was filled this time with gloop and the whole thing set to go.

This was the first time I had put the washing on at the same time as making the morning tea. Shan't make that mistake again. Mind you, as DB said, could have been worse, we could have been drinking tea with laundry gloop in it:)

Wednesday 22 January 2014

A bit of this and that - and my 600th post!

First of all, congratulations to our son who has been promoted to senior technical designer. Well done darling, you work so hard and it is thoroughly deserved.

Hooray for me as well. Yesterday I was finally allowed to be detached from my cardiac event monitor after 3 weeks. I think I probably pushed the button 25 times or so - could have been a lot more but as the odd sensations repeat themselves, wasn't sure whether to keep pushing or not! Guess I just have to wait now for my next appointment. Can't tell you how nice it was to be able to relax in the bath not attached. Also my badly cut finger is now 3/4 healed and I can bathe without it stinging.

After a few months break, DB has decided he would like to start baking again. This time he chose a frangipane and prune tart. The base pastry is very sweet and mixed with egg to bind. Sieved home made gooseberry and elderflower jam sat on top of the base. The frangipane filling was next, followed by the prunes. This is what it looked like (and tasted lovely):
We shared one quarter and froze the other three. It is the only way to ensure we don't scoff it all. Personally I would be fine with normal pastry plus it would be less calorific. Using the left over bits, some jam tarts and cheese squares were made. Unfortunately, I forgot that the pastry would need less time and less heat than normal. Not all our baking goes to plan (as you can see!) and this was one of those moments:
Sweet cheese pastry is not to be recommended but like I say - still got eaten though. Although the tarts appear burnt beyond redemption, they are just this side of edible so we have eaten them. Nothing gets wasted in this house if at all possible. Some custard was used to finish them off. That will be it for sweet things for the week.

I was also baking some bread and as we had some soup to eat for lunch, two flat breads were baked in the oven:
I have just realised this is my 600th post - where does the time go!

Monday 20 January 2014

A disturbed night... UPDATED!!

I had the other night. The fridge freezer started beeping as the super freeze button decided to keep switching itself on and off. Now if our DS is reading this, he will be smiling, as it last happened several years ago when he was at home, and also kept him awake!

DB of course could sleep through a hurricane so he slept soundly on after thinking he had fixed it around 12:30am. All was quiet, and for a second time, I was just about to drift off to sleep when it went off again - this time 02:35!

No point in waking him again so I moved into the front room. After being uncomfortable for half an hour or so (our new suite is not as good as the last one for sleeping on!), I went back to bed and put ear plugs in. I could still hear it but it was bearable.

We had to go on-line to find how to repair it as we had lost the previous instructions. A quick photograph to ensure everything would be put back correctly, DB started to clean the motherboard of its 'algae growth' and 'cat's whiskers' that slowly form on it over time. Hopefully now, it will shut up again for another few years. It is 13 years old so is doing well.

Nope! It has just started doing it again and as the day has worn on, gotten worse. Its even driving us nuts during the day!! After much debate, we have been out to buy another one. Once the motherboard starts doing it own thing, you are lost. Can't buy another one as they don't make them any more.

We have removed the wine rack as we don't need it and also changed the doors over so they open the other way. Three and a half hours after delivery, it was finally ready to switch on. The doors took nearly an hour to change over! So far, it seems very quiet.

One of the 'joys' of living a more simple life is whatever, if any, money we have left over at the end of the month, goes into a savings account and there was enough in there to get another one. Bought yesterday, getting delivered today. Boy, did it take us an age to get it through the house into the conservatory ready for taking away.

Can you remember the guest slippers I was knitting for when I pop round to some-one? Well they are now finished. They look small but actually stretch and fit very comfortably:

Welcome to my new followers, Flower Petal and Janet via Bloglovin and Mrs G. via here.

Saturday 18 January 2014

Welcome and looky here...

First of all, welcome aboard the old Norfolk Express to Northern Mum Down South and from Bloglovin, Cathy Hartley and Akm Evans.

A few more weeks into the year, and it will be February, when DS and FDiL, plan to come down to select their new puppy, who will be our future Grand-dog number 3!

Then in March, they will come down to collect him.

They already have two female Springer Spaniels S. and M., he will be L., then eventually, another male will complete the pack!

Thursday 16 January 2014

I'm not quite sure ...

Why I've been saving all our old clothing/material over the years. Some was/is towards making rag rugs (got to make one for DS and FDil!), other stuff for when I get around to attempting quilting - something I have been wanting to do for years.

Anyway, this is the year.

I think I shall start with something small, maybe a knitting needle case. If that comes off, hopefully I shall be inspired to try something else.

A quilt for the bed eventually would be my goal. At the moment I am not thinking of using batting?, just a patchwork front, then a sheet (or blanket) attached to the back for extra weight and warmth.

We do have a spare bedroom (DS's bedroom when he lived at home - though somehow it seems wrong to use it, but we are going to now) which only gets used every now and then when they visit. I just need to find a decent, fold away table, at the correct height to put my sewing machine on. We already have a largish (A3) green cutting mat, rotary cutter and decent scissors. Also got quite a few cottons, buttons etc.

DB very kindly lugged all the containers of trousers, shirts, pants, tee shirts, bedding etc from the attic. He looked exhausted but proud with his efforts, and we had to laugh at what appeared to be a mountain of cloth!

Haven't really thinned it out much but they are now divided into types of material for when we get around to using it. I don't have much cotton material in the colours that I would like so shall have to search some out or maybe dye some of the cream material we have lots of - oh, just remembered I have 2 tablecloths I no longer use in blue so that will help. I still would like to get/create some light purple and sage though. I could also look for some old shirts or something similar from a charity shop.

Top left is a small container full of pants (knickers). I know what size I need and usually buy them in packs of 5. However, as you can't return them once used/tried on, they end up in there. Isn't it amazing how the same size varies so much in different shops! They will work well as decoration or cut up for use as small bits in a rag rug.

I have promised him that if this time next year, it is all still up there and hardly used, it will go to charity shops or textile bins:)

Welcome to my new follower via Bloglovin - Lyn Gill

Tuesday 14 January 2014

Take a little bit of leftover soup ...

Welcome to my new follower via Bloglovin - Karan Sheahan.

Of leftover soup - in our case roughly 1.5 ladles of tomato and lentil. Not much for eating you might think, but with the addition of a few more things, it can become a meal for 2 adults. It might well not be the size of meal you are used to eating, but we have gradually brought down our portion sizes in the last few months, so this is fine for us.

We also had 1/2 a packet of streaky bacon left in the fridge. It would be all too easy to throw it all in but most of it is ear-marked for bacon, leek and potato soup tomorrow. I allowed 4 rashers in total, chopped them and added 1/2 a diced onion to a frying pan and fried them in a very small amount of oil.
Once they were going brown, a handful of frozen peppers and 1/6th of a teaspoon of smoked paprika were added. Then the soup, followed by a tablespoon of soy sauce and a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce. 6oz of pasta had been boiling whilst this was being cooked and once the pasta was ready and drained, it was added to the soup, stirred and divided between our 2 plates. Salt, pepper and a little grated cheese were put on the top and there you have it, tea for 2.
One litre of fresh yoghurt was also made during the day. For supper we were going to have some of that plus diced fresh fruit but instead, had Weetabix!

Sunday 12 January 2014

Changes at Wells next the Sea

Thank you one and all  for your lovely 'get wells' for my finger. Welcome to my new follower via Bloglovin - Jenny Walshaw and on here DeAndrea.

For our walk this week, we decided to check the damage at Wells next the Sea, after the storm tidal surge back in December 2013. The biggest sand dune as you approach the beach from the life boat station, has been chopped in half and also lost a substantial amount of bulk:
The grass that grows in the dunes was everywhere including in many of these:
Several beach huts were washed away leaving just their supports:
This one lost its hut but not its stairs or balcony:
This group has been turned around and damaged:
Metres of sand has been removed, moved or simply swept away. The situation down towards Holkham was similar in its loss of dunes and habitat.  If you come here on holiday this year (and have been previously), these new views (and many more not photographed), await you.

Friday 10 January 2014

Your brain knows...

So why didn't I listen to it? I was peeling vegetables the other night and my hand slipped - phew close call - peeling that butter-nut squash!

Did I take the hint? No I didn't. I finished peeling it and started on the swede. Yep you guessed it, this time when the peeler slipped with just one more swipe to finish, I carried on. It slipped again and took a slice of my right index finger with it - clean off - couldn't even find it:(

It has been many years since I sliced a finger. The last time it was able to be stitched but this time there wasn't anything to stitch back together. Haven't done too much damage thank goodness but it hurts like hell!

The slice cut off was about the size of half of my thumbnail, but boy, did it bleed. The picture below is the cut during its second dressing as it had bled through a double dressing in 10 minutes or so! It has also slightly changed the shape of my finger tip!

Anyway, it was thoroughly cleaned again, another low adhesive double dressing applied, followed by a finger bandage - very difficult to do by yourself so DB had to hold it still whilst I twirled it into place!

It is now having a rest - ah -bless it:) I shall leave it alone for 24 hours and re-dress (unless of course it thinks otherwise) Mind you, what with a bandaged finger plus a connected heart monitor, it makes life interesting going about everyday things :)

24 hours later, it took nearly half an hour soaking in saline to get the stuck (low adhesive) pad off without causing further bleeding. The pain was another matter - had to really grit my teeth. 48 hours later it looked like this:
The extra little flaps of skin may well need to be trimmed off so it can heal better but I'll wait to do that for a little longer. Despite being a trained typist, it has taken forever to type this!

I have also updated and added Year 4 of our war diary - hope you enjoy reading it. Welcome to my new follower via Bloglovin - Julie Wagner - what a fantastic Christmas tree Julie!

Wednesday 8 January 2014

Making do ...

Pastry was made using 12oz of combined flours, 6oz of combined lard and margarine and some water to form a basic shortcrust pastry. The first lot was used to line the base of a 9 inch quiche tin, which was filled with left-over ham, soured cream and cheese to add flavour:
The left-over paprika and vegetable sausage meal was put into a dish ready to be turned into a pie with some more of the pastry:
As I didn't want the pastry to go soggy whilst it sat in the fridge for a day or so, cling film covered the meat mixture, then pastry was applied, then more cling film:
Once ready to eat, both layers of cling film were removed, pastry laid back on and crimped into place, then it was baked alongside some oven roasted potato and vegetables for another night:

The left-over pastry was turned into 8 mince pies utilizing some more of the final jar of our home-made Christmas mincemeat:
All in all, a good use of pastry and leftovers.

Monday 6 January 2014

Looking forward to this New Year...

Welcome to my new follower Peg Botham via Bloglovin.

Hooray! The sun has come out and I think I might actually be able to get some clothes dried on the line. Can't beat the smell of clothes dried on fresh air.

Yesterday was weigh day and I think I have put on around 1 to 1.5 lbs so not too bad. I made the effort this year to not overeat as my system just cannot take it now. I made less sausage rolls, mince pies, didn't ask for and therefore didn't receive any chocolates (great as I am going off those as well!).

For tea yesterday, I turned 4 sausages into 16 little balls, cooked them with an onion, a handful of frozen peppers, mushrooms, peas and sweetcorn, added a tin of red kidney beans, some stock, tin of tomatoes and some smoked paprika. There was a little left over soured cream so that went in at the end. We had half of it with rice and shall eat the other half tomorrow night.

When DS was here, he showed me a clip on You tube, that helps you heat a room for a very small amount of money, using an old bread tin, 2 different sized clay pots (if you have them), and 4 night lights (which apparently last 4 hours. This sort of sideways thinking would be great when in a power cut or just to save money.

I do think though that you would need to have it high enough away from children and pets and stand the whole thing on some protection if you do it on top of your table. Also take heed, it is on your own head if you try this, leave it unattended and burn your house down. He does say to make sure your smoke alarm is working!!

Anyway, the clip to it is here and should you give it a whirl, please let us all know. It does look as though you can use whatever size pots you have. There are also numerous others tips you might find useful - enjoy your read!

Saturday 4 January 2014

More Christmas Presents and getting back into our normal routine!

First of all, welcome to my new followers Mumasu and Pip Bennett (via Bloglovin).

DS and FDiL (plus their 2 dogs, soon to be 3!) went back yesterday, after spending a few days with us over the New Year. Here are the presents (well some of them) that they bought me:

There was also a nice box containing a few pots, compost discs and brightly coloured vegetables, plus 2 months free trial on Amazon (Love films) and I think something else but if so, it has gone to its new home somewhere in the house so is missing in action on the photograph.

As you can see, lots of new WWII books for me to read. I am particularly glad of the Eating for Victory book as it is a compilation of the Ministry of Food information sheets that they sent out. They often retail for several pounds each on EBay!

We took everyone off to Old Hunstanton to show them the storm surge damage. We were all amazed to see a WWII bunker - it must have been under the sand for years and the dogs couldn't resist looking it over!
Back from the beach, everyone was pooped and the dogs had a good sleep.

We have now tidied up, taken the decorations down and about to eat cheese and ham on toast for lunch - yum! Thanks Nigel Slater, your Christmas ham recipe was fabulous.

Friday 3 January 2014

Not a lot happening...

My blog posting dates seem to have gone a bit off kilter so my last post has been published again, sorry about the confusion.We don't do New Year resolutions as such but think about what we would like to do or achieve regularly.

I have now had my Echo Cardiogram and 24 hour Electro Cardiogram and was awaiting for another appointment. Instead I got a letter to say I needed to wear a 3 week Cardio Event Recording gadget, which I began wearing on New Year's Eve. Not a lot happening with it at present.

I chose to be attached to it for this period as sometimes I get very little warning of an 'event' and being attached, means when I push its button, it records what it has monitored for 45 seconds beforehand, plus 15 seconds live time recording. It has been pushed just twice so far, once in error when I nearly dropped it, caught it and accidentally pushed the record button, and once for 'flip flops', which usually indicate arrhythmia happening. I tried to download the data 5 times the other day, all unsuccessful and had to phone up for advice. They said to bring it in when I needed to if it keeps happening and they will download it for me.

DS and FDiL are still here (until tomorrow) then they will go and we can get our decorations down and have a sort out. We are having a lovely time playing lots of games (both old fashioned and electronic) and today they are off to look at the doggy parents of their 3rd puppy which is expected to be born around the 18th January. They are hoping to be lucky enough to be offered a boy dog (their other two are female and you never know whether the right amount of sexes will be born). It will be a fox red Labrador.

We have had a great time getting down and dirty walking with the dogs, running on the beach etc. Boy have we all been wet, muddy and cold on occasions.

Other than that, we are both well. DB has gone back on his diuretic for now until he can see his own doctor on the 6th.

A present for the grand-dogs

First of all, welcome to my new followers, Tracy and Margaret courtesy of Bloglovin. Also a Happy New Year to you all!

I felt like making them something for the New Year (our 'Christmas" time with them this year), and settled on home made dog biscuits.

I have quite a few of these recipes and decided to try the version from Pam of River Cottage fame, whose recipe can be found here

I only used half the recipe and it made quite a few. If doing them again, I wouldn't fuss about using fancy cutters, just cut them into small squares.

The mixture needs to be brought together by hand as I found it quite dry.
Roll it out the the depth of a £1 or other large coin. MAKE SURE YOU DO THIS BETWEEN TWO SHEETS OF PAPER!
Cut out the shapes and place on a double layer of paper, silicon sheet etc. Re-roll out to use up but it does get drier and dryer so I oiled my hands towards the end to make it stick together!
Then bake at 170C for 50 minutes (I put 2 trays in at once). Transfer onto a wire rack to cool.
Pam does state that these also make nice cheese crackers for humans if you incorporate some salt (don't know how much). We rolled out the last bit of left over dough into one large biscuit, sprinkled it with sea salt and baked it. Verdict, not bad at all and yes, they would make nice savour crackers to have with cheese etc, so we might try that in future.

Once the biscuits had cooled they were put into a screw top jar and wrapped in paper. One programme I watched said they will last 2 months. I don't think though, that they will still be around in 2 months time:)