Wednesday 31 October 2018


Having thawed what I thought was a bag of brambles, they turned out to to blueberries! Well they are supposed to be high in pectin I thought. Wrong, as it turned out (probably been in the freezer too long).

Luckily, I had a small bag of damsons with their stones in so cooked these, squeezed out the stones and added the rest to the blueberries. The zest of a whole lemon, its juice, plus more were added alongside the sugar:
I ended up with 3 jars of blueberry, damson and lemon jam. The other jar was made from a few plums.

One jar of the blueberry jam was taken by my nursing buddy S.H., who called yesterday for a quick visit. It is always good to catch up.

Tuesday 30 October 2018

Look at that....

In order to keep my brain active, I like to have a game or two on my computer. For months now, I have been quite attached to Farm Heroes Saga and was 3/4 of the way through its levels (apparently 1750). However, following the latest update, it started messing about.

Prizes earned could not be collected, bonus items won one day, disappeared overnight - it was frustrating to say the least. In a fit of pique, I deleted it, then downloaded it again.

It was a bit of a nause having to go through the tutorials again but I was rewarded by this huge total on one game (still one move to make):
I ended up just shy of 3,000,000 points - now that has got to be a record. My previous high was 680,000 or so. Of course, you don’t get any reward for the high score, but it is nice to know I did it!

Monday 29 October 2018

Marmalade for presents...

Finally, a tiny bit of Christmas mojo has arrived. I made marmalade yesterday for some presents. There were 3 jars of orange and ginger, 3 of orange and brandy, one of orange and a small bowl of leftovers for us to enjoy:
We went to buy some more raw food for Ruby and called in at two garden centres where we managed to find presents for our walking buddies and one for someone else. Onwards and upwards.

Ruby likes to sit on her dads knee given half the chance. She can't quite fit:

Sunday 28 October 2018

Just for a change...

We forgot to buy Christmas cards in the sales last year, ah well.

At least I am now beginning to get my head in gear. Presents for our walking buddies have been wrapped, plus a few family ones. There is no way I will be able to produce enough hand made ones in time this year, maybe I can decorate something instead.

Jams and marmalade will be made, both as gifts and for us for the coming seasons. We have loads of fruit in the freezers and need to make room for Christmas baking. Having thought we would be on our own this year, I couldn’t get into festive mode. However, barring any changes, we should now have visitors, which will be great.

Friday 26 October 2018

Tree root dog chew

This, for us and Ruby was a waste of money. I had been after one of these things for her to gnaw on and finally got hold of one. They are not cheap.

However, within half an hour, she had managed to nibble off three small marble sized chunks and eaten them. Also, her front paws, where she held onto it, got stained dark brown. It may well have gone onto to stain our carpets and furniture had she been allowed on it.

All in all, not brilliant and it is now in the bin.

Wednesday 24 October 2018

Vegetable beds almost ready for winter

I bought some dwarf wallflowers, daisies and polyanthus to help maintain the vegetable plots over winter. The tubs in the middle of each bed are their individual compost bins.

Herewith bed 1 - full of flowers as nothings else is in there:
Bed 2 has a rhubarb crown transplanted into each corner, 3 parsley and 3 daisies:
Bed 3 is the strawberry plot with only 2 plants for now:
Bed 4 - full of flowering plants:
The fruit cage still has some fruit bushes to be put into it but the French marigolds are blooming well:

Tuesday 23 October 2018

Schwartz creamy chicken and leek bake - advert!

In the past, I normally wouldn't use packet mixes as they had too much rubbish in them. However, they are getting better nowadays.

Whilst visiting DS and DDiL we were given a meal using one of the above mixes and it was delicious. This week, I had a go. It didn't taste the same. Probably because after frying the bacon we removed it and it should have stayed in whilst everything else was cooking. Also, DS said they used more cheese. Ah well, lesson learnt!

Herewith said packet mix:
After first stage of cooking on top of the stove:
After 20 minutes in the oven, topped with a little cheese:
We got two of these dishes, one divided for last nights tea, the other into the freezer for another meal:
We used chicken thighs as they were on offer. Each serving, including peas, cost 95p.

I might have a good at replicating it using fresh lemon zest, marjoram, parsley and a little cream.

Monday 22 October 2018

Through the round window...

Upon opening the lounge (aka front room) curtains after a cool night, we noticed the outside of the new windows were misty - normal now due to them being filled with argon gas. There was a nice circle of clear glass:
How pretty is that!

Now that the council garden bin has been emptied, we can at last start clearing the front garden, getting it ready for winter.

Friday 19 October 2018

Anniversaries for today

Today is the 7th anniversary of when I first started blogging. Blimey, where has the time gone and how am I still managing to find things to write about?

Today Ruby is 8 months old!

Yesterday I went for a health check. Apparently we are supposed to have them every 5 years. I had my flu jab with a local pharmacy last week and they agreed to do it as I couldn't remember when I had my last one.

Anyway, all seems well. My BMI is 22, blood pressure 115/69,  heartbeat regular (say what, I have an irregular heartbeat problem so maybe that is also changing) and my total cholesterol is 5.54 (good stuff almost double what it should be so that is very good).

She wasn't concerned about it being just over 5 as my eating and exercise lifestyle means my cholesterol level can be up to 10. There is no way I want it up there. At my last check is was 7.5 so a good reduction.

So all the tests she did,  mean my CVD (cardiovascular disease) risk is 4.7%. Hopefully that holds true down the line.

None of the above means I won't have a heart attack or stroke but hopefully, I am doing the right things to try and reduce my risk.

Have a good weekend everyone!

Thursday 18 October 2018

New front window...

Within a few months of moving in, we started to change our drafty single glazed wooden framed windows. We could only afford two to begin with (how times change). The lounge had two 'tilt and turn' windows put in. It was not working properly and was letting in drafts:
It now looks like this:
We also had the rotting wooden windowsill changed to a UPVC version, much better. After the old one was removed, it gave us all a glimpse of the cavity wall insulation:

All in all, a good job.

Tuesday 16 October 2018

Scent work....

We try every day, or every other day, to scent work Ruby. It is so good to see (and hear her) sniffing the air to find what we have hidden.

We use an old, solid plastic vitamin bottle with one small hole drilled into its lid. When not in use, the hole is covered over with tape.

Inside said container are small bits of dried fish (which for Ruby, rocks her boat). She stays with one of us in a room, whilst the other hides the container, tape removed. A small piece of the fish is temporarily held in our hand to scent it before being put in the container, for the initial hide.

We use a different room each hide, on the floor, behind things, inside things, under things. She then sniffs our fishy hand, is told to go find and off she goes. When she finds it, she sits in front of it, tail wagging furiously. She is praised then rewarded with a piece of the fish.

We do this between 3 and 5 times until the container is empty and the session ends. The bottle is refilled, tape put back into place and put away until the next session.

Our trainer taught us to do this for when the weather is really horrible, it is a good way to work and mentally tire her.

Monday 15 October 2018

Woken up.....

By horrendously heavy rain a few times during the night. It was almost as noisy as hail. Still, we are lucky, others here, have had far worse and I feel for them. A hurricane, down graded to a tropical storm hit Portugal and Spain, almost unheard of - crazy weather!

DS has returned from his trip to the USA with a horrible cold and very sore throat. He spent 20 hours in bed but didn’t feel much better. He is not normally one to moan and doesn’t get ‘man flu’ like some. If he says he is feeling rotten, he means it. Such bugs going around at the moment. Get well soon son!

Busy making our weekly loaf and some beef and tomato soup for lunch. We bought a decent joint from the butchers only because it was half price. We served up two lunches each, put one foil tray of beef and gravy, for two, in the freezer and the scraps are in the soup.

Saturday 13 October 2018

Under 65’s flu jab...

The supply of boosted flu jab, designed especially for the public aged 65 and over, seems to be grinding to a halt. Many surgeries are having difficulty obtaining enough for their flu jab days. Those who chose to bypass surgeries and go to chemists or supermarkets are not doing much better.

The ‘normal’ version though, appears to be supplied more freely so off I went for mine this morning. Unlike the triple version I had last year, this is a quad version, for £11.50.

The 4 strains in this years jab are Michigan, Singapore, Colorado and Phuket.

Friday 12 October 2018

Any one else got these....

Since having our front room window changed, we have been inundated with fruit flies. I don't think that is the cause as they are currently in every room of the house. We have never had them so bad. I shall make a trap later on as my new windows are covered with their swatted remains!

I shall have to try and find where they are coming from, and eliminate the source, as they can breed in the thousands very quickly:(

I have been awake since 3am. DS was flying back from the USA so that might not have helped.

Stepping out onto the patio this morning I encountered a beautiful red sky:
Just a few seconds later, it looked like this:

Thursday 11 October 2018

Sewing by hand

It is ages ago that I last sewed anything of a decent size, by hand. Is it a lost art one wonders?

Lace measuring 6m long with a 45cm drop, for the long side of the conservatory windows:
I am currently turning up the hem just a tad so I can insert some lead to hold it down, to try and keep out the flies. They have been up for a few days and it doesn't. I shall stretch the lace out flat against the windows and used velcro to hold it tight below them, hopefully, that will work.
I do have a sewing machine, two actually, one heavy and one light duty, but no sewing table. Sometimes, a semi quick job like this one, I do by hand.

There is an even bigger piece of lace for one of the bedroom patio doors but it will be sewn by machine as I have to cut and turn up twice, a hem on that one. It will replace the one torn by her majesty whilst still a very inquisitive pup.

Here it the old cut down one in situ:
Other than decorative sewing, and buttons, do you still do any hand sewing?
Have a good weekend everyone.

Tuesday 9 October 2018

Confused trees...

I was outside yesterday bringing in the washing and looked up into the top arch of my apple tree - blossom waiting to open:
Just to the left of it, was pollinated blossom:
Topsy turvy weather indeed!

Monday 8 October 2018

Baked Curd Tart - from back of Whitworth currant packet from August 1991

I last baked this with my sister H, many years ago.

Set oven to 190C or Gas Mark 5 (see, no fan temperature so, must be old!)

Make pastry using 4oz margarine, 7oz plain flour, a pinch of salt and a enough tablespoons of cold water to bring together. Roll it out and use to line a shallow 7" flan/pie dish. Put into the fridge to chill.

In a bowl, mix 8oz SIEVED cottage cheese, or 8oz cream cheese, with 1 beaten egg, 5fl oz milk and 1 1/2 oz sugar. Add the zest of one lemon, 4oz currants and 2oz melted butter.

Pour into the chilled pastry case and bake in the oven. Recipe says 30 minutes but mine took nearly 45 minutes.... It needs to be just about set in the middle when you wobble it and just light brown.

Remove from oven and leave to go cold in the flan/pie.

Here it is, cooled:
One slice ready to eat:
Whilst the oven was on I also baked our weekly loaf of bread, rye, white and caraway seed:

Saturday 6 October 2018


Although the Macmillan coffee morning was last week, we had ours this week after training. Ruby did reasonably well in the beginning but got better as time went on. The problem with being outside in the trainers yard is distractions, loads of them. Leaves, twigs, insects, shadows of flies, stones etc.

Once the weather turns cold, we will be in the barn. It currently doesn’t have heating but it is being fitted towards the end of the month.

After training we had a choice of two cakes plus doughnuts, a hot drink, plus chats. Hopefully they made some decent money for Macmillan.

The weather this week has been mild and dry. After this autumnal weekend, next week should be mild again. Currently busy baking.

Have a grand weekend everyone.

Thursday 4 October 2018

Burdock burrs....

Blasted things! Until we became dog owners, we hadn't really had to deal with these irritating things. Goosegrass seeds are annoying, grass seeds positively horrendous if they bury themselves in.  Ruby kept scratting last night and after inspection, we found two pine needles wrapped in her coat plus a couple of other seed things.

This morning, whilst grooming her and dealing with ear wax, we found a matted lump at the base of her ear. How we missed it last night, I don't know. This is how much coat we had to remove to detach it:
Then today, we had to remove a further three small matts, right at the base of her ears. She has her ears brushed every day but now we know where they form, will pay special attention to those areas, poor girl. I'm sure she now feels far more comfortable. How she slept with it on her is a mystery!

Wednesday 3 October 2018

Using up leftovers chicken

I roasted a chicken for Sunday lunch and served up 4 portions of roast dinner, two for us on Sunday and two for us the following day.

The carcass was picked clean then used to make chicken, butterbean and vegetable soup for lunch. It lasted us for two days.

Leftover chicken was processed with half a packet of nice smoked ham, a teaspoon of wholegrain mustard, half a can of condensed chicken soup (we didn't have enough gravy for serving plus adding to this), lots of salt, pepper and dried thyme:

A packet of puff pastry was rolled out and cut into four before the above was divided onto it and a little more dry thyme sprinkled over it:
Water was added to the edges and the pasties formed:
We had one each for tea last night with the little leftover gravy and vegetables:

The other two are wrapped ready for the freezer. The cooking instructions have been included:
That chicken gave each of us 4 evening meals and 2 lunches so not too bad for a £3.50 bird.

Tuesday 2 October 2018

Processing the tomatillo's

Welcome to Hannah Coe via Bloglovin.

I used my standing punch out cherry stone tool to get the worst of the tiny core from the fruit:

Then I changed the blade over to my plum de-stoner which quarters them, after a bit of a struggle as they are larger than plums:

I processed one bag at a time. A grill pan had the tomatillo pieces put onto it along with 2 cloves of garlic and 1/2 a chilli. I could have used up to 3 chilli peppers for this but ours are very hot this year. They were roasted at 200C for 35 minutes then allowed to go cold:

Once cold, 4 teaspoons of sugar and 4 teaspoons of lemon juice were added, before being liquidised:
A 1/4 pint of the mixture was put into each of 4 bags before being frozen for later use.

You can find a recipe for chicken tomatillo on my tab above.

Monday 1 October 2018

Tomatillo season

Welcome to Anonymous via Bloglovin.

All the tomitillo's have been picked:
Most are not bursting out of their husks as they should be, some are very small but we think that was lack of rain. Their husks are pulled off in soapy water in the sink as they are very sticky inside. Then once rinsed, they are left to drain on the draining board:
This lot measured 7lbs:
They were stored open in the bottom of the fridge until I can process them which I'll show another day. DB then found about another 1lb or so in a bucket in the garage so they will be added to this lot.

I only grow them every other year as once processed and frozen, they give us enough sauce for quite a few meals. They are easy to grow and give a good crop.

The pressure cooker is on cooking the chicken carcass to make soup!