Sunday 31 January 2021

Tarting up a slice of cake

We are on our final day into our daily slice of the cake I made the other day. We were in the mood for a bit more than that. A can of pineapple slices in juice was opened. Each slice of cake was topped with just one chopped ring each, some juice and a good slurp of evaporated milk:

It really hit the mark. I don't know what it is, but we both find sponge and evaporated milk yummy!

Saturday 30 January 2021

Yet more examples of Brexit madness...

Being a gardener and doing everything I can to reduce my use of peat, I was quite shocked at the suggestion of using it to circumvent Brexit bureaucracy! 

This article appeared yesterday here.

This latest mess comes on top of firms being advised to move to the EU to circumvent other problems here

On top of these are the imports and exports customs mess. Fish, food, general post and parcels, lorry drivers getting stuck, empty trucks entering and leaving - absolute madness. All the current problems are taking place in the two month leeway, heaven helps us after that.

Now we have arguements over whether to block us getting vaccines from Belgium - such pettiness!

Whether you signed up to stay or leave, thses problems affect everyone living here. They need sorting out, pronto!

Friday 29 January 2021

Dog walking names

As with most dog walkers I believe, we know the names of dogs rather than their owners. The exception being the people who we actually know.

We bump into Birmingham Bieba, a dog who is called Bieba (after the fashion clothing rather than Justin) and whose owner is a Brummie.

Then there is Mrs Fluffy (used to be Turkey Head) - thats the kind of hat she wears. D., with the ears who always wears a hat with earflaps. Mr. yellow chairs - a chap who has yellow seats in his garden.  Mr. Blacksmith who lives in an old blacksmiths cottage. The pom poms, who are big balls of fluff who bark a lot, ferrets on a string and Mrs. hurry up who has a very small dog practically dragged around as it can't always keep up.

We bump into others whose dog names we know but not their owners, owners we know but not their dogs names or owners we know and their dog names. All go here!


Thursday 28 January 2021

Chosen ...

I have received a letter from the NHS, asking me to take part in the nationwide Covid-19 testing operated by ISOS and Imperial College London. After double checking online via the NHS site, I registered to take part. 

Once the test kit is received, I need to book one of their a couriers to pick it up, do the test the day they are coming and hand it over. About a week later, results come back. It only tests if I currently have it rather than if I have had it:(

I am expecting it to be negative but you never know!

Wednesday 27 January 2021

Not brilliant but it will do

I decided to make a small cake for us using just two eggs. It makes it very thin but still great to eat.

This one was two large eggs, their weight in S. R. Flour and margarine, 80g of sugar, a teaspoon of vanilla extract, a teaspoon ground ginger, 1 grated eating apple and a ball of stem ginger grated. Once all mixed in, I added one tablespoon of the syrup from the stem ginger jar. It was baked at 180C for 20 minutes, turned out and left to go cold.

Once cold it was sandwiched together with home made hedgerow jam:

We shall have a slice each afternoon for 4 days, yum.

Tuesday 26 January 2021

Stiff and a full wok of curry

Yesterday, before DB started to drill the drainage holes in the cattle troughs, he went up to the attic to get a cold weather coat. It came down so stiff, it could stand by itself:

Meanwhile, I was busy in the kitchen, making a full wok of curry using odds and ends. It had an onion, a pepper, a huge carrot, 3 small potatoes, 2 tins of tomatoes, 1/2 a jar of concentrated curry paste, a courgette, a handful of raisins, a tin of butter beans, a whole packet of Quorn mince, a good squeeze of tomato puree and a squeeze of garlic:
We had some for tea and the rest was decanted into 4 foil boxes and frozen.

Monday 25 January 2021

Splashing out eventually - updated

 Having been quite frugal for decades, I find it incredibly difficult to actually spend money. Neither of us are ones for new clothes or shoes or holidays etc. We simple use what we have until it falls apart then replace it. The exception has usually been the car, which we save up for and replace when needed.

The raised beds in the garden are still doing well but are finally beginning to grow fungi along the bottom planks. The one on the patio was made with thinner planks and last summer, one fell out completely and the others weren't far behind:

The only thing that prevented the soil falling through was the fact they were lined with both polythene and weed fabric.

On the only sunny and remotely warmish day we had last week, the plants were dug out and placed into another empty raised bed. It took forever to remove the soil and add that to a different raised bed for safe keeping.

We bought two zinc cattle troughs. At the moment I have no plans to paint them. They are garish in the shiny newness but will age down well. Each one measures 90cm x 40cm x 46cm and has one small side drainage hole:

DB still needs to drill extra holes in the bottom which will be coated with protective zinc paint. Then a deep layer of gravel, a weed membrane to keep the gravel from moving upwards and finally, soil from the raised beds put back in.

One will go on the left hand side of the patio and house herbs. It will have first dibs at the soil from the old bed as it is by now, poor soil. The other one will go on the right hand side of the patio and house the flowering plants we took out the old wooden one. It will be filled with any remaining soil and topped up with new stuff.

Can't do anymore at the moment as it is just too cold and the protective drainage hole paint can't be applied until the tubs are a bit warmer. We think we may do all this work inside the conservatory where it will be around 14 - 20 C on a nice day.

DB has managed to do the holes!

Sunday 24 January 2021

Slight failure and also a success

 I saw a custard type pudding on the internet the other day and thought I would have a try. After cooking the 'custard', it was left to go cold:

I used the recommended sized dish for this. It was then tipped out and should have been able to be cut into 12 slices x 1" deep - err - no...

Although it came out the dish fine, it was barely 1/2" deep and I could only get 6 slices out of it. I say out but in reality it fell apart as I tried. These slices should then have been brushed with a vanilla egg mix and baked. Couldn't do that.

Anyway, we ate it and it was fine but we were just disappointed.

To the success!

Remember the small dish of soup I saved from the other day. We cooked the last half punnet of mushrooms, added the soup and some chilli flakes. This was put on top of pasta shells and topped with cheese:

That was our main evening meal along with most of the fall apart pudding. Nom nom.

Friday 22 January 2021

Ruby and more soup!

Ruby on her walk today, was 'smoking' an even larger cigar:

More soup made this morning. Today I used 4 medium to large carrots, 1 onion, 1 red pepper, 2 medium potatoes, 1/2 a courgette, 1/4 cup pearl barley, 1/2 cup split red lentils. A can of tomatoes was added and enough hot water to just cover the vegetables.

Once cooked, I added two stock cubes, 1 teaspoon dried tarragon, lots of black pepper, 1/2 a shallow tub of garlic cream cheese and two sliced bockwurst. It was thickened with cornflour:

We would normally eat 4 ladles of it each for lunch. This time, I decanted 7 ladles into each of the bigger pots. The other two ladles plus the remainder went into the little pot. We shall have both larger pots over the next two days.

The smaller pot will be frozen to have meat added to it and serve with noodles or rice for a cheap meal.

Thursday 21 January 2021


 DB falls into the second category of recipients to receive the vaccination. He was phoned up of Monday by our surgery and invited today. Our surgery is giving them but at another practice. He has had the Pfizer version and we wait to see if any common side effects occur.

He was quite surprised to be invited so early but we have both decided to have it, so off he went. He said it was very well organised but very cold. Although indoors all the windows were open but he had been warned to wear a winter coat.

Wednesday 20 January 2021

Make two eat one

Having planned on making lasagne for a meal to share at Christmas, obviously, that didn't happen. I had bought fresh lasagne sheets and they went into the freezer. Today I minced 400g beef, two small carrots, 4 medium mushrooms and a whole onion.

Once fried off, a can of tomatoes was added with 1/3 can water and was cooked for 25 minutes. Basil, thyme, a beef stock cubes, garlic puree, tomato puree, black pepper and a good dash of Worcestershire sauce went in. The sauce was finally thickened with 3 tablespoons of oat flour.

The meals were made in one medium tray and two small freezer dishes. Meat sauce, pasta, cream sauce, parmesan, repeat. They are sitting on the kitchen windowsill, next to a slightly opened window to go cold:

We shall have the blue dish tonight with a side salad and freeze the other two for later use. 

Welcome to some new followers. Sorry I can no longer tell who you are but welcome anyway.


Tuesday 19 January 2021

Go us!

 Despite it being very cold outside yesterday, DB decided to get the high pressure hose out. The garage wall that faces into the garden was quite green. Now it looks far cleaner. I used a hook on a broom handle to hold the blackberry branches out the way. The length of it also kept me dry!

Ruby kept out the way as well.

Before he started, I took the opportunity to use a garden fork, and lift the soil up in a vain attempt to help drainage. With the expected deluge, it might not help much.

Ruby and I have now come in but I can hear him merrily cleaning. Once he starts, he goes mad!

Monday 18 January 2021

Just 4

New packets of vegetable seeds ordered for this growing year:

Still to use are:

Climbing French Beans - Neckar Queen and Cobra

Carrots - Chantenay

Tomato - Ailsa Craig

Radish - French Breakfast 3 and Saxa 2 - one sowing only after that Flea Beetle kills them

Leek - Malabar

Lettuce - Little Gem and Lobjoits Green Cos

and flowers:

Nasturtium Paso Doble - edible

French Marigold - Honeycomb - non edible

We don't have room for anything else. 

Herbs we have and still to get are:

Rosemary - Have

Bay - Have

Sage - to get

Thymes - to get

Mint x 2 - Have

I won't be doing any sowing for quite a while yet but am really looking forward to getting going again.

Sunday 17 January 2021

Only one thing for it

When chilled to the bone, home made soup!

This one used an onion, three carrots, three smallish potatoes, a tin of tomatoes, a cup of split red lentils, tomato puree, garlic puree, a heaped teaspoon of smoked paprika and two stock cubes. 

Once cooked two thin bockwurst were sliced into it along with two handfuls of spinach and a bit of oat flour to thicken it:

We had it with sea salt and black pepper crackers (the bread was still cooking). For a quick pudding we had milk jelly (a jelly half made up with boiling water and half a small can of evaporated milk, topped up with cold water. Nom nom!!

Saturday 16 January 2021

A bit of snow...

 We awoke this morning to a smidge of snow, about 1", first amount for this year. Probably the only amount, who knows, with our warmer wetter winters now.

This was from our lounge window early on:

One of Ruby out on her walk, she hasn't seen snow for a long while:

We thought she was white but to be honest, she needs a bit of a clean!

Friday 15 January 2021

Changing over...

 Having worked out the savings, we decided we could now do the garage. Over the years, it has had its side and front door changed to upvc. Now was the turn of all the weather boarding, guttering, downpipes, windows, bird guard strips etc.

Out of all the work we have had done in the last couple of years, this was the most expensive for a 'one off' job, costing more than 5 window replacements. Hey ho!

The work was started yesterday, in heavy rain. By about 1pm they had to give up. Both of them were both soaked to the skin, very cold and could no longer feel their hands.

They returned this morning to finish off. One part of the job quoted for, was unable to be done. They thought they could do the space between the right hand side of our garage and the neighbours, but it was less than one foot and the fitters refused after explaining. Originally neighbour had said they could go on his roof but he has recently changed it and feared it wouldn't hold their weight even with boards to spread the weight out. We understood.

However, they did say it could be done a different (and probably more expensive way), in summer, when they could attempt it from the inside of the garage. We shall see.

Here are the pictures of it newly finished. This is the side into the garden. The window is also new but we have to rejig the left hand pole of the fruit cage to get it back together properly:

Round the back. We saved some money by having our old bathroom window put in. The downpipes have been put into our own configuration to allow the gutters to drain into our array of water butts. The far back downpipe is still the old one:
It was not a 'necessary now' job but close to it as the weather boarding was rotting away and the gutters kept falling off!

They had not done this water butt configuration before and were quite amazed:)

Wednesday 13 January 2021

Lovely sunrise at 08:15

DB took this lovely picture this week, out on his early morning walk with Ruby:

So pretty:)

I don't know why, but when I run out of homemade washing machine liquid, I always have to make myself make some. It was done yesterday and took less than 5 minutes. Really woman, pull yourself together!

So simple to make. Into an empty 4 pint plastic milk bottle container, add:

1/4 cup washing soda crystals followed by about a cup of near boiling water - swirl to blend.

Add 1/4 cup washing up liquid (I use Ecover) or washing machine liquid detergent (I would use baby stuff) - swirl to blend

Gently top up with cold water to avoid creating too many bubbles. I make two containers up at a time.

BEFORE USE: Shake gently then use about 1 cup per wash. 

Costs a small amount of money and cleans most clothes except perhaps heavily soiled items. If I know of a stain, I use a stain remover bar before washing.

You can if you wish add a few drops of essential oils if using a scentless liquid. Tea tree and lavender work well.

Tuesday 12 January 2021

Change of hours...

 After timing our grocery shopping to arrive at the pet food store in time for opening, they were still closed. Instead of their usual 9.00am they have changed it to 10.00am, when, I don’t know. We weren’t the only ones caught out, several others joined us in another nearby pet food store who do still open at 9.00am.

We managed to find what we needed bar one item, which we substituted. We then went to another nearby store and they did have the thing we were after. Although not essential shopping, we also bought wrapping paper and a bag of compost. We got caught out last year when no compost could be found. Seeds were ordered online and will be delivered shortly.

Back home, shopping away, hands washed, tea and biscuits, all in under 1 1/2 hours. We don’t need to go out again until next week.

Monday 11 January 2021


The weather forecast is for 8C today. It is currently 4C and very, very cold. Colder than the last few days. Don't know why as there isn't a great deal of wind to factor in wind chill. Mind, the sun has finally popped out so that might improve things.

DB, mad thing that he is, has been power washing the outside of the conservatory as it has some large algae patches on it. It looks far better but he has now come in, looking very cold.

Yesterday, I cooked the lamb hock to provide stock and meat for soup. We have lamb, vegetable and barley soup for two days now.

Tea tonight will be a bit ad hoc. Avocado on toast topped with poached eggs. We will then finish off the blackberry, raspberry and mango sponge baked yesterday. A random mix of fruit as we are finished off odds and ends from the freezer.

DS is 'back at work' today, after the two week Christmas break and a weeks holiday. He doesn't have far to go. A few steps from their hallway into the converted garage which has been turned into a nice big office/work space for them both.

Had a nice chat with them all yesterday. DGD was quite vocal, crawling around, coming back to look at us. She spends quite a bit of time on her knees now as well. Their stair gates are up, as is the fire guard and kitchen gate. She is busy exploring everywhere!

Sunday 10 January 2021

A card for my son

First of all, welcome to new followers.

When looking for dies for people, I try to find ones if possible that match their interests. DS and his wife both like to do rock climbing, weather and Covid restrictions notwithstanding. Might be a while before they take it up again now they are parents. 

This one was made before Christmas for him:

I used the outside die from a snow globe, on a separate piece of white card. It was coloured in and stamped with the tops of trees and some birds. This was attached to another piece of card. A separate die of a rock climber was cut out and attached. It was finished off with a sentiment stamp, plus another one inside.

Saturday 9 January 2021

Preparing to shop

What do you do to prepare for your weekly, fortnightly or monthly shop? I have a freezer list and spare pantry list. A screen shot of our freezer list for example is this:

I have a similar list for 'yet to use' pantry items (plus my under the bed Brexit containers).

I peruse all these lists and work out what to use towards a menu plan. From the menu plan I create a shopping list of any items that do not appear on my lists. These are generally fresh fruit and vegetables, dairy and a few extra items.

I did have two legs of lamb in the freezer but one was thawed. It had its hock removed and used for soup. The rest was roasted for 4 dinners to eat over 2 different days. Leftover cooked lamb was minced and will be turned into yet more meals to be put back into the freezer. I have already shopped my lists to make sure I have what is needed for these addition freezer meals.

Generally, anything not on my shopping list does not get put in the trolley. Exceptions can be shopping for gifts to put away or buying something from the rapidly disappearing shelves of Christmas items, again to put away for later use.

We got onto this very good habit during our war diary ration years, see diary on tab above. We have never strayed from it and believe these lists, plans and shopping requirements have saved us a fortune over the years.

How do you shop?

Friday 8 January 2021


We have invested in a really good pair of electric dog clippers for Ruby. She will be done twice a year to help keep her more comfortable. Our woods around here have a lot of Burdock and their seeds heads hang around for months on end. Her fur just gets full of them and they are incredibly difficult to remove from longer hair areas.

DDiL gave her a trim in July, the last time we got to see them. She looked very nice and looked a lot better for it. Burrs were far easier to remove for a start and she was a lot easier to clean and dry.

I had intended to only trim her feet today but as she wasn't protesting very much, just got on with it. She had the clippers near and on her, both switched off then on to show her there was nothing to worry about. Lots of praise and a couple of healthy treats and off we went.

My back and shoulder blades were killing me by the end, despite her being done at waist height:

Such a smart girl! We did find a few small areas where she wasn't quite the same length but overall quite neat. Whilst rubbing her tummy area we found some knots. She gets them in this area all the time, although I don't know why. Being close to her skin, I shall hand trim them off today.

Thursday 7 January 2021

Finished the jigsaw on day 4!

Once we get the majority of a jigsaw finished, every piece is put onto the table and sorted into groups, in their individual shapes. This makes it so much easier to identify what shaped piece you need.

Anyhow, we finished our latest jigsaw on day 4:

We are taking a break now as my neck is aching quite badly!

Wednesday 6 January 2021

A January Birthday card

This was for my sister. It was a card with a separate piece of embossed card on top. This had a 'topper' placed on it:

Inside, I created this fold with other bits of preprinted card and attached yet more of the same card on top of it:
It's quite effective I think:

I don't think I had room for a sentiment stamp. I shall try and remember to make different types each year. We shall see!

Tuesday 5 January 2021

This too will pass - but oh so slowly...

A quick picture of the jigsaw at the end of day 3:

I think anyone who dreams that this year (certainly the first 6 months), will be better than the last, probably needs to revise their thinking. It is a very sad and solemn fact that the maths just don't support it. I did hope that this would be the case, but have now revised my thinking in an attempt to cope with it all.

In May, we have a holiday carried over from last year, I hope we can take it but don't see how unless Covid goes away or we are all protected. 

Government maths has decided that 30m vulnerable people need to be vaccinated, at 2 million per week. That will take 15 weeks. If it were just one dose, that would be that and they would be able to roll out vaccinations into the next group of people. DB falls into the first of the four target groups, but not me.

However, before 12 weeks, hopefully sooner, the first lot who were vaccinated will need to have completed their second doses. You can't just start that process at 12 weeks as it would mean, they wouldn't get their second vaccination for up to another 15 weeks. By then, their first dose will be useless.

This is the planned rollout of vaccinations (page 8 of 25 pages) from the government website, see here

1. Residents in a care home for older adults and their carers   

2. All those 80 years of age and over Frontline health and social care workers 

3. All those 75 years of age and over 

4. All those 70 years of age and over, clinically extremely vulnerable individuals* 

5. All those 65 years of age and over   

6. All individuals aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality 

7. All those 60 years of age and over  

8. All those 55 years of age and over 

9. All those 50 years of age and over* Clinically extremely vulnerable individuals are described here. This advice on vaccination does not include pregnant women and those under the age of 16years (see above)

I can't tell from reading the paper, whether these 9 categories above are all of the so called 30m vulnerable in total or not.

So really, the first few months of the year will be taken up with these vaccinations. Then the rest have to follow. Figures on who will take up this offer vary but seem to be between 48% and 56%. 

Some won't be vaccinated as they don't agree with them, some are worried that it contains a microchip and some still think the whole thing is a hoax!

If only half the population take up vaccination, how are we ever going to get back to leading normal lives?

Nope, nada, no way! I am planning on 2021, certainly the first half of it, being just as bad as 2020. I am not sad or mad about it, it is what it is. I have decided to accept it and get on with things as best as I can and be upbeat as much as possible.

I hope that restrictions lower so we can see our granddaughter. We have accepted that she will be walking before we see her but hey ho!

Monday 4 January 2021

Welcome to jigsaw central

Saturday 2nd January 2021, saw us starting our third jigsaw. This one was from DS and family, for my birthday last year. It is of Steep Hill in Lincoln. A place we have vistied a few times and struggled to walk up! This was at the end of the first day:

By the end of day on Sunday, we had this much done:

In such dull weather, the overhead light reflects off the jigsaw too much. We are resorting to a lamp or two, at the distance. We think, on and off throughout the day, between us, we do between 2 and 3 hours.

Sunday 3 January 2021

My card to DGD for her 1st Birthday and a gift for DB

I wasn't quite sure what kind of card to make for DGD but settled on a number one theme:

The yellow streak is to cover her name! She won't know what it is of course but I hope her parents like it anyway! It's based around Beatrix Potter bunny characters and the birthday greeting at the top was made using a die to stamp it out from Ruby coloured rainbow mirror card.

DB had requested a 'grime guard' to fit his Q-Snap needlepoint frame. I finished it on Friday: 

It is mainly to stop the Aida from discolouring where he holds it. YouTube is a mine of information as well as discovering Q-Snaps, he found the tutorial for this and has learnt how to start and end his sewing in a neater fashion.

It is a picture of Ruby sitting in front of a terracotta tub of French Marigolds. Her colouring is a bit light but we can tell its her.

Saturday 2 January 2021

DGD and Waste not Want not!

We received a video from DS the other day of DGD crawling! We had received one the previous day where she was pushing one leg out to the side, commando crawling style, then pushing and hauling herself forward. Today was a slow and wobbly but full on crawl. Way to go little girl. She looked as pleased as punch!

I like to buy 100% thick fluffy tea towels as they work better for other projects after their initial use.

Tea towels in our house, which we change every day, last between one and two years. After this, they can be cut into half to make floor or cleaning cloths (oversewing the cut edges).

Each half could be folded into half and stitched to create vegetable and fruit storage bags for the fridge. Cut into quarters, they make good quality dish washing cloths. Dishclothes are changed every day but I crochet about 10 of them every or every other year.

Bathroom towels are bought every, or every other year depending on how threadbare they get. We never pay much for them which is probably why they don't last for too long. The current (now old) towels go off for drying (us or the dog) after muddy walks. The ones previously used go off to an animal rescue centre.

The old hand towels are cut in half, oversewn and become new kitchen towels for drying our hands on.

Friday 1 January 2021

Weirdly quiet!

 Ruby was in bed last night by 22:30 hrs but we stayed up just in case loud fireworks upset her. Didn’t need too. Not a single firework nor a ring of church bells. No one shouting outside nor car doors slamming and merry voices. Very odd but very welcome.

We watched a socially distanced Jools Holland and his Hootenanny until the New Year came in, then off to bed we went. Again odd.

Very quiet morning so far. Ruby is full of beans today but passing Mr. Whippy weird coloured poo. Hopefully that will be back to normal soon.

Hope you all had a good evening and Happy New Year to everyone.