Thursday, 17 August 2017

3 year olds

Phew! Grandma forgot how busy, noisy and screamy(frustration) 3 year olds could be!
Still the hobby horse riding was a distraction for a bit.

Another 3 year old expected at the weekend.

Back to blogging when fully recovered (may take a month or too.................LOL)

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Up cyling a cheap commercial picture

I used to think this was a dead sophisticated picture which fitted in well to the "big" executive house we used to have.

It has been in our current dull bathroom - beige tiles and beige walls.  I recently invested in a brighter shower curtains which matched the stack of  blue/emerald towels we have. I thought some brighter paint may help and intended just to vamp the background of the pebbles.

Firstly the commercial "made in Taiwan" product was simply hot glued throughout. It was quite difficult to take apart and I was a bit worried the frame would collapse if I went too far. had to cut through the glue with a sharp modelling scalpel and in the end made a finger hole to be able to lift the layers of cardboard off.  disappointed in the "product" as other commercial pictures I have taken apart have at least had substantial wood frames.

Secondly, the layers of textured paper inside the picture the pebbles were stuck too were just poor quality faded tissue paper. So the plan to introduce bright colours by simply painting around the centre bit went out the window for now. Although I may revise with some scraps of wallpaper I have stored, somewhere.

I was playing about with some abstract shapes formed with acrylic paint and a palette knife on card when  two shapes of figures began to emerge.  I worked on this for a while and for now, it will uplift the bathroom a bit.

Ta - dah!
Have you tried updating pictures?

Giant onions

My husband has been growing some exhibition giant veg.  Its a pity that our village does not have a fete or anything to show them off.
I am wondering how many meals each one will cover??

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Kitchen improvements

The slow revamp of our kitchen continues. I have always felt hemmed in by the wall cabinets which were too low over my only "working" space so I was glad to finally have them removed.
As expected with a 1930s house there were lots of holes to be filled but it did not take long to poly-fill
and repaint with some emulsion from the bottom of a tin.  Not bothered too much with shade as we intend to re colour the walls eventually.

My husband made some nice shelf brackets and got some decent wood. He fixed on an IKEA rail I have had in storage for ages and Ta Dah!
To all you who say what happened to the two cupboards worth of stuff? And is it the not an old fashioned idea?  The contents of the too small and too awkward common kitchen wall units with the lattice windows was  just "stuff" and 50% was out of date herbs and spices. So a bit of throwing out was needed. I now have all those things I use to cook every meal from scratch twice a day right there in front of me. The old ideas in life are the best.  Marvellous.
(Also the cupboards, doors removed, are standing on their ends in the shed and are proving to be useful storage cubby holes).

Next step is to remove the disgusting and not working cooker hood, which is also a fire hazard as it is apparently too low and not the recommended distance from the hob. (Are we not all a bit more aware of fire hazards and spread since the dreadful London event?)  Plus have some small shelves to the far end of the counter to house spice jars and oils.

Nearly there with this kitchen I kid myself. I am dismissing the much needed taking out and replacing of the sink and units from my mind for at least 4 months. Far too much trauma.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Excessive veg

What are you doing with your gluts of veg?
Carrot cake - I have got a WWW veg oil based recipe sorted now but I may try to make two third quantities as the whole thing is a bit too much when it is just for us two. Also I substitute half the walnuts with sultanas as nuts are not top of our favourite tastes. I often leave the cream cheese topping off (unless its a treat day) as the sugar levels are a bit much if you have a lump for coffee and afternoon tea in one day!  Note - home grown carrots are NOT like  commercial ones - less wet, not the same bright colour and if you leave them a day or two after picking they go too soft to grate!
Beetroot and chocolate cake - we are not that fond of chocolate cake so this one has not proved too popular but it did use up a couple of large beetroot (before the hare called the other night to devastate a large one left in the ground).

Curried Carrot
Minestrone/Vegetable -  a cabbage base plus just throw in what you have (except beetroot)
May get desperate next week - courgette with Stilton stirred in.

Tried a courgette one - not so successful
Red cabbage and red onion - oh yes, that is nice with just about anything!

I won't bore you with the endless salads from the garden - lettuce, toms, cucumbers, radish, beetroot.  Or the dinners with at least 3 veg choices plus freshly dug potatoes.
The other day it all got too much - we had tinned spaghetti on toast for lunch.

What else are we doing with the excess?  We have built a little stand from pallets and bits of ply and sell veg at the gate.  Last year we made £90 over the summer excess ( we just had a small box perched on some bricks then) - so far this year we have £30 in the jar. The pound coins will be in useful for car parking at the beach in August when the various family bring the grand children.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Hobby or stick horses

I was taking out the broad beans last week and pulled out the three old wooden broom handles I had used as supports when I remembered a bit on the news the other day of people doing hobby horse show jumping. We don't like plastic toys but do like to have something to entertain the grandchildren over the summer holidays visits.

Quick look on Pin-interest for ideas and a pattern and out to the sewing cabin to raid the stash and bits of ribbons,felt and cord, etc.

Round the garden on the flat or over the jumps guys?

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Nightshade plants

"What are nightshade plants?" My husband is reading a book about arthritis and keeps reading out bits with strange requests to change his diet.
"Nightshade? Belladonna? which you would definitely not eat. Or do you mean the fact tomatoes and potatoes are in the same DNA whatsit species family, once a long time ago, before they were refined?"

By this time he has read on "Tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants and peppers are not good for arthritis!"

"Really? Not sure about egg plants as never been a fan. But there is lots of vitamins in tomatoes and peppers. Anyway I am sure in moderation they are all fine."  These wretched american feel-good books, I must make sure the next one is UK based, but at least he is thinking about doing something about his health.

Gosh,I hope I sounded reassuring - there are stacks of ripening toms and peppers in our poly tunnel!  Now is not the time to be a fussy eater.
Thanks for the birthday wishes and nice comments  Have not been on line much as I am suffering from horse fly bites. I forgot to change out of shorts BEFORE cutting under a hedge.  Silly me.  Every time this happens (and it has been like this since early teens) I end up with great big swellings and on antibiotics.  Luckily the local health centre fitted me in immediately when I described the red line and swelling creeping up my leg! Will only take 24 hours to knock it on the head.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Funny veg

The season has started to produce its weird veg!  The carrots are twinning around and around - hopeless for peeling!

Friday, 14 July 2017


I am really enjoying this book I requested from the library service.  For some reason our local library does not stock any "exploring Britain" type books.

It combines some of my favourite things - walking, observing places and people, social content  and MAPS.  I love a map.  I wanted to follow his progress on our A-Z along with him but struggled to read the detail.  As it is my birthday week I begged the husband to buy me this!
A great big magnifier  with a light!!  Fantastic and only cost £10!
Not only can I follow him across London I can follow the Tour de France in our atlas as well!  My other birthday present was cheap too (£2.58) but did not last as long but was very nice.

Yum..... hot chocolate with all the trimmings....

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Sun Hats

A request from my grandson for a bigger sun hat sent me back to my sewing cabin to make a bigger hat for him.  Two sizes made just in case; using material from my stash and a free pattern from the internet.
This is a very simple bucket hat pattern and takes an hour or so to make and uses about half a metre of cotton fabric. If you have small children do try this one (its on Ollie/Oliver and Co, a blog, I think).   The pattern goes up to 9 year olds - I have expanded it by half an inch all the way round and made myself a sun hat too!  I used a more upholstery style fabric and did not line the crown or sides this time.
My last attempt at a sun hat for me was not a great success but this one seems a little better as it sits lower on my head.  I am not a hat person normally but we were out boating the other day on the River Ouse and I had to borrow my husband's spare one.  So hot and burning!

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Mangle? Granny what's a mangle?

One of my son's is renovating a house and found a 1950's Practical Woodworker magazine in the loft.  We all enjoyed reading it and laughing at the some things looked odd and some things we were still doing - like insulating the loft!
This page sparked a lot of discussion.

The bottom right advert is for a stand alone spin dryer.  My mother had one!  Daughter in law (Indian descent/city dweller) and grand daughter could not quite grasp why you would have a spin dryer separate to a washing machine. Why would you want something that squashed all the washing so that it was plastered to the sides of the spinner and came out all creased they asked? Was it not all soft and bouncy?

Twin tub washing machines (my second washing experience when we had first child in 1976) was vaguely familiar to daughter in law but then I mentioned my first washing machine with a mangle on the top (second hand freebie in 1971). Bit like one of these.
Image result for washing mangle wringer
Mangle?  I tried to explain the working of two rotating drums squashing the washing as you turned the handle and how my mother's and grandmother's were so big they were kept just outside the back door.
Image result for washing mangle wringer

Perhaps I should not have mentioned the wonderful description Charles Dickens gives in "Our Mutual Friend" of mangling.

"See sweetie" explained R. "You always say Mummy was brought up in the Dark Ages. Grandma was brought up in ancient times!"

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Onion crop

We have grown red and white onions from sets and they have now been harvested and put out to dry.
Only 3 had soft/white rot and not too many went to seed. So a good crop.  We would normally leave to ripen in the soil but the bed was so weedy we needed to get on top of it.  Trouble is finding space in sheds for open storage - one already has 30 garlic cloves drying out. Took those out to get rid of rust that was developing on the foliage.  These crops make a great difference to our shopping bills as we get through a bulb of garlic and a good pound of onions a week. (Saves about £1.50 a week).

Meanwhile my husband is growing GIANT onions from seed in the poly tunnel. 

At least nothing was eating them!  Chasing birds off everything at moment, especially the blackbirds who are desperate for anything juicy (it is so dry here there are no worms)  they have even started to nibble the ripe tomatoes in the poly tunnel.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Soft fruit

I have finally come up for air from underneath the avalanche of soft fruit which has all come at once and as promised I will contemplate what we have done with it all.

Strawberries growing in the poly tunnel  have fruited well as they were keep warm in cold and watered in the heat.  Picked 4 lbs every day for about 2 weeks.  They have finished now (thank goodness) and I have cleared the plants back to a nice green crown to re grow and I am keeping the runners under control) Outside the strawberry plants in the open ground have not done so well, in fact I think the blackbirds have taken nearly all the ripe fruit there has been.

Raspberries started small but followed strawberries quickly and have cropped well - collecting 4lbs every other day!  The autumn fruiting ones have not made much growth and may well not fruit till well into August.

Blackcurrants looked dreadful with yellow leaves and aphid damage and have ripened in batches of a pound or so every two days.   I did not think the gooseberries were doing well but eventually a good crop was picked especially the red desert variety which are much sweeter than the green ones.

We netted the tayberries this year having lost them all to the birds last year and this has worked well. The plant now 2 years old cropped well.

Rhubarb had an early flush then stopped all together as it was too dry. It is only just making some growth.

Blueberries are ripening slowly and only a handful have been picked. Blackberry (thornless, grown on wires for easy picking) crop is full of berries and a tinge of pink is appearing.

So what did we do with the crops?

Gave away about 10 lbs of fruit.

14 jars of jam.  The tayberry jam is particularly nice  (2 jars), the raspberry set well (6 jars)  I still have problems with strawberry (6 jars)and just can't get a good set.  I hesitate to make more as we don't use more than one jar a month.  A couple may go as gifts.

2 demi johns of wine.  One strawberry (4 lbs of fruit) and one raspberry (3lbs  of fruit with 8 oz of leftover dried sultanas in the must for a sweet wine).  I love blackberry wine so I am intending to get one more jar going this year.  They are happily sitting in the space under the stairs.

Frozen fruit:
10 lbs strawberries
10 lbs raspberries
6 lbs blackcurrants
2 lbs green gooseberries
12 lbs red gooseberries
Just one box of stewed rhubarb.

Fresh fruit for lunches and tea.  Lunch tends to be freshly picked fruit with yougart.  Evening meals we have gooseberry, black current and Tay berry crumble and the same with a sponge topping.   I tried a tart with tayberry - the bottom is a rich pastry case and the tayberries were sweetened with icing sugar and simmered with a packet of powered gelatin.
I am envious of blogger "That British Woman" who recently listed 51 blackcurrant recipes. I may need several such lists.