Wednesday, 28 January 2009

A steep learning curve and a bit of relaxation

Oh my goodness, an award, which is so exciting and very much appreciated. It was bestowed on me by the amazing Angel who so very patiently first helped me into blogland. Thank you so much. I feel I haven't really justified this wonderful form of communication as I struggle with the technicalities of links and uploads and even making my page look pretty has eluded me thus far! It has taken me two days of sneaking on to the laptop amidst "What on earth are you doing" comments, just to find out how to "get" this award! I will persevere though and eventually it will become second nature..... I hope. Please bear with me when I get it wrong.
Now I need to add this text which goes with the award and explains what it is for

"The authors say that blogs who receive this award are exceedingly charming. This blog invests in proximity in space, time and relationships. These kind bloggers aim to find and be new friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandisement. Our hope is that when ribbons of these awards are cut, even more friendships will be propagated. Please give your kind attention to these writers."

I believe I should pass it on to 8 people, but I think that most of those "I know " have already been most worthy recipients. In the interests of improving my skills though, I shall just see if I can practice using the information kindly given by Gem and Raspberry Grace . Oooh yes, I've done some linkys, hoooray!!! I should like to say a huge thank you to all those who have helped and encouraged me with my faltering attempts and please accept the award again with my love.

Whoooooooa, another award has just come my way too

This has just flown over from Mary at Home sweet Home. Thankyou so much, that is so sweet of you. I'm feeling a little bit overwhelmed now and may just have to sit down with a cup of tea while I recover from my joy at achieving all this technical stuff. Not only that but the postman has just delivered this

and this

and lastly this

So, what's a girl to do. A comfy seat and check 'em out I suppose. They are all trial copies, so a bit of almost free house porn!

Oooh already spotted some pretty mugs. You might be able to just make them out in the top righthand corner. They're from Tesco at £2 each.For the moment I'll continue with my cuppa in this one, though sadly the cake plate is bare, since the diet began!

Anyone got some virtual cake please?

Monday, 19 January 2009

My new secret weapon!

Since finishing the major part of our selfbuild,and achieving getting the front lawn sorted last year(which was a huge undertaking), we seem to have lapsed into doing not very much of late. They do say, don't they, that you should never move in to an unfinished house because you will not complete all those little jobs........well I think they're right! Can't seem to get motivated at all. The Christmas excesses seem to have taken their toll too, so a remedy is needed.........

Can you guess?
We used to enjoy going for bike rides and also did weight training to keep us fit but Mr Secondwind, due to a dislocated shoulder acquired when he had a serious fall during our building work, cannot now ride a bike safely or lift weights any more.

So, since I don't want to go riding alone and weight training, though very effective at toning the body, is a bit OTT at my age we had a lookie on ebay and came up with this............

It is low impact so should be kind to our ageing bodies but still give us an overall tone up.......well that's the hope anyway. No one else bid for it and it was local to us, so an absolute bargain to boot.We've positioned it in a place that we pass by frequently so there's no ignoring it either!

Along with some sensible eating maybe, just maybe, we can achieve a fitter New Year! And maybe that in turn will lead us to feel more like doing things again. There are a number of friends on the SC forum who are keen to lose weight, so if any of you read this I'll keep you posted on how it's going and any encouragement/nagging will be most gratefully received.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Why do things conspire against me? oh......and a lovely day

My very good intentions at the beginning of December to post more regularly were scuppered almost immediately by my internet provider who promptly cut me off from webland. Now it is true that living in the sticks does mean that our internet connection is somewhat hit and miss but it has taken a month to get any sort of solution. Fingers crossed that it remains!
I have thoroughly missed reading all your lovely blogs about the run up to Christmas and the ensuing festivities, not to mention the New Year goings-on. I shall try to catch up with my blogland reading and apologies to all for my absence.
Anyway a New Year and with that comes another year to be added to my old body. Yes I celebrated a birthday yesterday and had a really lovely day.After a leisurely cup of green tea in bed(one of my New year Resolutions, the tea that is, not the "in bed" bit)I opened my cards and presents.

One was a gorgeous ruby coloured Laura Ashley lambswool scarf which considering the snow was most appropriate and made me feel quite cheery too. I usually pick quite drab colours for myself so was surprised how perky it made me feel as I was whisked into the car for a mystery drive by hubby. Our first port of call was the Hemswell Antiques Centre which consists of several large buildings full of individual sellers' pieces of every description.I love looking around such establishments and though most things are way out of my price range, I enjoy looking at them and touching them, imagining what their history has been and how they have ended up here.There was so much to feast the eyes on that two hours later we had only viewed two of the many buildings and we realised how cold we had become! After a warming bowl of home-made soup and a small purchase which I shall save for another post our journey continued and I found myself in Horncastle. This is another renowned place for what my husband calls junk shops. Horncastle would say they were a centre for antiques I think but there is actually a huge mix. One shop in particular, is just heaving with so much stuff it is just impossible to get to see properly what is there. Pile upon pile of miscellaneous items, mostly dust encrusted sit waiting to be chosen. There is a huge variety of china and crockery which spills out into the shop's backyard where it sits on old trestle tables and wet cardboard boxes completely open to the elements!How was it that I forgot my camera.... what sort of blogger does that.....? After much browsing I made my choice.......

I have been wanting to collect a set of miscellaneous china cups and saucers to serve posh puddings in, sorbets, chocolate mousse, that sort of thing. The shape of these is perfect and I love the colours. There were five and for the princely sum of £2. How happy can a girl be?! I look forward to returning another day to find some more different designs so that I can mix and match them.Hope you like them too.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Steady on

No, you're not seeing double, two posts in 24hours!! I probably should have posted this yesterday, it being the first day of advent, but anyway I was very excited to have finally MADE an advent calendar. I have wanted to make one for many many years and finally I have. A few weeks ago I asked my friends on the SC forum for inspiration as they are such a talented bunch and always willing to share their ideas. Inspire me they did with lots of lovely possibilities and having gone public with my long time intention I thought I'd better get on and actually DO IT!!

Technically it isn't really finished(ran out of time!! as I think it needs some more embellishing, but I'm thinking I can add to it a little bit each year. I sent it to my youngest daughter, who even at 23, still longs for a calendar every year. She received it yesterday in the post and was thrilled at my efforts. I have put a series of notes for her in the pockets and I guess there are lots of possibibilities for future years.
Thanks shabby chiccers for giving me the oomph to do it at last!!

Put me on the naughty step and a lovely surprise

Failure to post on a regular basis is clearly a misdemeanour that deserves at the very least a spell on the naughty step! Well I have been on the step but tried to make myself useful at the same time.I've been varnishing the stair edges ( I'm sure they have a technical name but no idea what it is)

There is unfortunately much painting still to be done in this household and it's not a job I relish as I'm sure no-one actually notices what door frames and skirting look like, and who on earth gets down on their hands and knees to examine the stair thingys?! Now a spell with my sewing machine or baking a few cakes and biscuits, that's more in my line. I know I have to do it though, so must try to stay focussed and plod on with the boring task. Today though I was stopped by the ringing doorbell.Happily abandoning my paintbrush, I rushed down the stairs to find that the postman had brought me a parcel! I love parcels as they always contain something nice. Letters, well, they are usually bills or forms that need filling in, but parcels, well that's an entirely different matter.
It was a very well wrapped parcel with an outer covering, then corrugated cardboard and then bubblewrap. Excitement caused me to dismantle these coverings with gay abandon whereupon these were revealed

How sweet are they! I love them and I can honestly say I've never had 'proper'cake tins ever before. Mine consists of a motley collection of plastic boxes,and recycled margarine containers, not something you'd ever want on display. I could almost feel my kitchen smile at the thought of these smart additions. They were a very generous give-away from Claire at and I was the lucky winner.

Inside one of the tins Claire had added a small gift beautifully wrapped in tissue and tied with a velvet ribbon. I unwrapped this with a little more decorum and found this

A beautiful hand made brooch which I am thrilled with. I had seen one she had made in a swap she recently did for the SC forum and commented on how lovely it was. Now I too have one and I am delighted. Mr Secondwind was most intrigued with it's construction and finally announced that it was indeed a creative piece. So thank you Claire so much for my lovely goodies.
Now I must decide which recipes will be the first to have a stay in Mr Large and Mrs Small dot tins....... gingerbread men perhaps, Claire? Any other suggestions most welcome and I'll let Mr Secondwind choose.......

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Progress on two fronts

Progress is slowly but surely being made. Not, I hasten to add the frequency of me posting, that's for sure, but just look at this......

Hooray at last the grass is in it's infancy.

It was sown just over two weeks ago. First we had to check the amount of seed leaving the spreader and for that the kitchen floor was the very place. Several attempts had to be made adjusting the little knobs, measuring the area covered, sweeping up the seed and then weighing it. If anyone had chosen to drop by at this point I suspect we would have been carted off immediately!
Then outside to the real thing and off went Mr Second Wind whilst I was ready to replenish the hopper at frequent intervals.

And then we waited, and waited and inspected and examined every day. Nothing seemed to be happening and we were beginning to wonder if we had got a duff lot of seed and might have to start all over again....... but on Sunday last there they were, tiny shafts of greenness, a haze over the soil. What a sight!Oh joy! The birds have had a bit, but we allowed for that though we hadn't foreseen the visitation by a rabbit who has decided to dig a few holes!

Whilst waiting nervously for the seed to germinate we got busy with something else that's been on the "To do" list for far too long

Under that cover is our woodburning stove which has sat patiently waiting for over two years
It turned out to be a trickier job than we had anticipated because the chimney pipe is a smaller diameter than the flue and using glass fibre rope to pack it out was never going to work as the gap was too big. So we acquired an adaptor piece which then had to be fitted about 50cm up the flue and sealed with mastic. This involved OH sitting astride the stove and attempting to get very sticky gooey mastic at the correct height up the flue and sufficient to seal the adaptor in place. It's so easy to laugh about such antics after the event but it was a tense time while this was done! When one's arm is up the fluepipe it is near impossible to then see what one is doing. Next the chimney end had to be covered in mastic and raised vertically up the flue without touching the sides till it met the aforementioned mastic. At the same time the stove pipe had to also be attached to the chimney pipe with fire cement and all before anything decided to set. Are you all following this still. Well I don't blame you.

View up the chimney!
After leaving it all to set and cure for a couple of days we tentatively had a little fire, only a little one mind as you have to sort of "run it in".

I'm so looking forward to a few cold evenings now, but of course the weather has been quite balmy for the last week. It makes a wonderful focal point in the room and the smell of applewood burning is just lovely.

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

A little bit of frugality!

Well, it's the 30th September and the last day of the September grocery challenge that I've been doing. I set a somewhat hopeful target figure at the beginning of the month and am delighted to have come pretty close, only a couple of pounds over in fact. It's the first time I have taken part and found it such a useful exercise in both self-control at the supermarket and ingenuity with my larder contents.
I normally have a baking session most weeks to fill the cake tins with morsels of happy sustenance for DH when he takes a break from his labours with the spade, but since last week poor Mr Second Wind had tried the cake tin several times only to be sadly disappointed each time and me apologetically offering a digestive biscuit in recompense mumbling 'I just haven't had time what with the all-consuming garden project'.He deserves home-made cake, particularly since he has worked soooooo hard in the garden. So this afternoon I felt a great urge to bake, but what was left in the larder to bake with? Not a great deal it appeared, so I pulled out some very old recipe books that I used to use in my younger days when funds always seemed extremely limited.

I spent a long time just reacquainting myself with the cake -mix -splattered pages, odd scraps of hastily written recipes along with torn out pages from magazines like Family Circle and Woman's Weekly which I used to love and would never part with.
It was a challenge deciding what I could bake, but I started with two sorts of rock buns from this book.

It was written to accompany a TV series of the same name back in the early 70's presented by Dorothy Sleightholme. I remember watching it avidly then, as my cooking skills were in their infancy at that time. I would turn to it if MIL was due to visit!
Rock buns are one of hubby's favourites. She suggests making various additions which suited very well as I could scour the shelves and see what additions might be possible. The first batch had mixed fruit and mixed spice and for a second batch I used wholemeal flour, chopped up dried apricots, sultanas and cinnamon.

I then toyed with the idea of Vinegar Loaf which was, if my memory serves me well , a perfectly acceptable cake though I can hear you saying .......Eeeew. If anyone fancies making it I'll gladly give you the recipe. I'll revisit that one another day.Then a tiny scrap of yellow stained and faded paper fell out from the book entitled Cornish Heavy Cake. Oh , how often had I made this for the childrens' school lunch boxes. They loved it. It uses lard as the fat component and doesn't use eggs ( I only have one left!) and I have a packet of Trex in the fridge which needs using by November. So, ideal, decision made.
Then I spotted a half used pack of porridge oats lurking so my final choice was a tray of flapjack with a handful of sunflower seeds thrown in for good measure. I seem to have bought a bumper sized pack of these, no doubt a special offer at the time. I'm a sucker for a bargain! On with the cooking and fill the oven. In no time I had a selection of farmhouse cakes ready

As if by magic, as the kitchen filled with that wonderful aroma of baking cakes, Mr Second Wind appeared from the rainy garden expecting yet another digestive with his cup of tea..........Oh what a happy man was he!