Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Raised Pork Pie and visitors

Had a go again at making a pork and game pie (very small amount of game) adapting a recipe by Hugh Fearnley-Whittenstall. Looks and smells good. Put the jelly (made with leaf gelatine and a pork stock cube) in this morning, none ran out so that hopefully is another good sign. Last time I made one, it was overcooked and very dry inside. I had to cook this one for longer as I put it in a tin and when tested at the normal time, it had red juices running out. It had some sage and thyme chopped into it, along with 1/2 an onion and a chopped plum plus salt and pepper and nutmeg. Here it is before being cut, it measures 6” across. Will post a photograph after it is cut hopefully!

A little thick around the base but quite good and it tasted lovely.
Been busy tidying up and sorting out as DS. FDil. and S. are coming this afternoon for the New Year. Can't wait. We are going to do Christmas Day again on January 1st so we can 'celebrate' it together.

Have any of you 'inherited' customs from the other half's family when you got together. Hubby and his family used to do 1/- Christmas Eve presents and we decided to carry on the tradition.

Generally it goes like this. Everyone present in the household on Christmas Eve (or New Year's Eve for us this year), has to buy two presents, maximum £1 each, for every other person present. So I buy two for hubby, DS. and FDiL. etc. One person is responsible for writing out all the labels (usually me) so you can't guess who has bought what. We often wrap these gifts in left over main present paper. If anyone is a sellotape fiend, they usually have to try and adapt how they wrap them so again, they can't be easily identified.

They all go into a sealed box and we take turns handing one out at a time. The presents MUST be useful and not be anything to eat or drink as let's face it, anyone can do that! I love hunting out treasures for everyone, something that each one likes, taking my time. 

We find the joy of unwrapping these presents is as great if not greater than the main gifts. A final thing we like to do is make personal crackers. They usually don't have a snap in them but if we have the time, will make the hats and again, buy a gift to the value of £2 maximum.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Hunstanton Christmas Day 'Swim'

Went over to Hunstanton today to view the Christmas Day swim (quick paddle was more the order of the day). Volunteers and their supporters marched down to the sea and are led into the water by the organizers. 

After a little frolicking time, they walk back – extremely cold needless to say – as it was sunny but with a very cold wind.

I think though that our favourites were these two Where's Wally characters:

There were several hundred people watching and cheering and probably around 80 or so swimmers. This was the first time we had witnessed this - more power to their elbows I say.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Hello from my Wii family

Well, the 'big' day is nearly here and I would like to wish all my family, friends and blog followers: A Very Merry Christmas

This is all five of our Wii characters in no particular order - guess you know which one though is Sage...

Just started making the trifle, the pork is thawing, have cut hubby's hair, started the soup for lunch and finished the last chocolate from my advent calender.

Even though it is just the two of us this year and I have tried hard not to go mad, there still seems to be lots to do – which lets face it – is ridiculous.

Anyway, enjoy whatever it is you do, don't panic, it is just a meal after all. No doubt, most might well feel like this at the end of a hectic week!

Friday, 23 December 2011

Taking it easy

It's been one of those 'slow but sure' days today. Went out first thing to return and get more library books (just in case Santa forgets).

Once home and refreshed by a nice cup of tea + biscuit, I started to make the bread whilst hubby ironed two bags of clothes (he is our main ironer). Once the bread was proving, I de-stoned some plums to semi-dry them out in the oven for a couple of hours. This increases their sweetness and overall taste. They didn't dry out as much as I had thought they would, so gave them another hour.

Then the bread went in. Whilst that was cooking, I wrapped the gammon ready to roast, slice and freeze into portions for when needed. The gammon and 2 medium pork joints, plus sausage meat, has to last until next pay day (24th January) so we shop carefully for our Christmas meat and don't buy extra 'just because its Christmas'.

Once the bread was cooked, the gammon went in. Once that is finished and is resting, I plan to roast a whole tin of 'going soft vegetables' such as carrots, swede, courgettes, onion, garlic and squash. Both they and some ham will be served for tea and the rest of the vegetables will make soup for tomorrow.

Hubby meanwhile has made the custard base for some home made vanilla ice cream. Once it has cooled, he will add the cream and churn.

Finally, the Christmas cake has come in from the outside freezer and will be fed again before it is needed. Just for a change, I was going to marzipan and ice it but forgot, so it will be just the cake on its own which to be frank, we both prefer.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Decanting my Christmas Vodka drinks

Had a good time last night at our 'school' Christmas meal. I was the driver so drank water which suits me fine. The evening got more and more merry as it progressed but as the place closed at 9.00pm (it was a tea room/cafe) we moved on to a pub for another hour or two!

Everyone agreed that the starter and dessert was very nice but the main course a little dry. There was a mountain of vegetables (came in a lasagne sized dish and the 7 of us couldn't even get half way through it. They could do with some of Frugal Queen's portion control – would save them a fortune.

Decided to decant my Sloe Berry Chocolate Vodka. The sloes temporarily looked like maltesers but certainly didn't taste like them.

Ended up with a pint of very strong stuff – just a couple of tablespoons licking out the jug started to have an effect! I will definitely make it again but will add the full amount of sugar next time as it is quite tart but lovely. 

Also decanted one bottle of Sloe Vodka. 

It was quite sweet but was pale and didn't have too much of a sloe taste so will leave the other bottle to infuse for another month or so then mix them together.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011


Just a little something to make you smile. The 'doctored' photograph below, was taken two years ago and is our sad meerkat expression as FDiL. wasn't with us and S. the dog, wasn't even a distant twinkle in her mothers eye! 

Tonight we are out at our 'school' Christmas meal, even though we closed in July. The Head and Secretary we see each week for a walk, the other teacher and classroom assistant join us on the holidays for our walks (and sometimes the ex-head when she is around). So, as we all get on so well, a small family unit really, we decided to carry on with annual meals as well as meeting up once a term for a meal and chin wag at someone's house. Very nice too!

Drove by the school on our way out yesterday and as the contract with county shortly expires, they were busy emptying the building of its contents to apparently 'send to Africa'. Yeah right! Furniture, boxes etc were all stood outside in the rain - what an absolute waste of resources.

Due on our walk tomorrow but the weather looks horrendous so will have to wait and see. DB has been out in the garden hoovering up the leaves – looks a lot tidier now. He needed a hot bean bag, tea and bun when he came in to warm up! Now that his blood pressure is under control, he feels the cold more than he used.

I must admit, I wasn't looking forward to this Christmas as it will be our first on our own but am now adjusted to the idea. It will be quite nice to just do as we please, eat when we want etc. Still though, very much looking forward to being a mama for the run up to the New Year when DS. and FDiL. and S. come for a few days.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Feeling better

Had my monthly massage today. It made my shoulders and neck feel a lot better. She said they and my hands and feet were particularly tight. The lady who does my massage has now started to use frugal laundry liquid and distilled vinegar for all her washing. As you can imagine, she has many towels to wash each day and although she tumble dries them to keep them soft for her clients, she reckons she will be saving an absolute fortune on washing liquid and conditioner.

Been a cold and wet day today although not windy. Hopefully tomorrow will be dry so I can get some washing on the line.

Due to have a haircut tomorrow so that will keep me looking better for the next 6 weeks. My hairdresser is mobile which saves me a lot of money.

We enjoyed our shepherd's pie last night and had the remains for a late lunch. For tea we had spicy beetroot soup with wholemeal, whole grain mustard bread. Nice!

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Goodbye Herman

Well, the time has come to say goodbye to Herman. He has been with us for quite a while, getting smaller and smaller as I added less and less to him. We decided to say goodbye in style, putting some nice things with him and made gingerbread muffins. As the mixture was quite sloppy, I added a little more flour and managed to get a total of 16. The 4 not present on this photograph are currently baking in the oven.

I have also slowly been making our tea in the form of a large shepherd's pie (enough for 2 nights) which can cook after the Hermans have finished.

Just read our electricity meter and we have used quite a lot less than the week before – and we also used less than the week before that. Even in this recent cold snap, we have only had the heating/hot water on, for 1 hour morning and early evening. The wood-burner has kept us warm (7 logs each time). When we feel a little chilly, we both have microwavable hot bean bags which we heat and cuddle up with. Those combined with hot soup, hot drinks and hot meals see us through the day. With the weather set to turn mild for the next few days, we might even stop the evening heating and just heat the water when we want a bath.

Finally – do you have a 'to buy' shopping system, if so, where do you keep it? We like to use a blackboard but our kitchen doesn't have room to put one up. My creative hubby painted the inside door of one of our kitchen cabinets with blackboard paint and hey presto – one blackboard!

It gets a re-paint every year or two to keep it working properly.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

A quiet Saturday

No post yesterday as we went to see DS., FDiL. and S. to hand over some presents for FDiL's family and pick up some breasts of game!

Despite it being wet, very misty and with either rain or sleet, we made it okay and only about 10 minutes longer than normal. Met FDiL. in town (changed her hair style and hair colour, very nice too), then walked around the Christmas Market stalls (had a Bratwurst), and generally passed time until DS. finished work at 12:30.

Got back to their house to be greeted by S. in a very, very, low submissive crawl (about 20 seconds). Then she remembered who we were and 'whooped' with joy, pinging all over the place. Can dogs whoop?

She finally settled and we had a lovely cup of tea and biscuits. As it was beginning to grow a little dark, we wrapped up warm and took her for a long walk in the woods. We could barely see by the time we had finished.

FDiL. was due to go to her weekly martial arts class, so DS. went off to a takeaway to get us all a snack before we had to come back. We weren't very hungry so had a Chinese vegetable roll, the biggest I have ever seen, it resembled a Cornish pasty in size! Anyway, it was lovely.

Gave DS's hair and beard a trim with my clippers. It was a total shock to see him with a moustache and a short but full beard. He and a friend from work grew it for the Movember challenge and have decided to keep theirs. It looks very nice but he will have to keep his beard short as it looks like it will be very, very, curly otherwise.

I'm busy making some more bread today, a wholemeal and wholegrain mustard and a wholemeal, apricot, raisin and cinnamon.

Then later, when it is dark, we are going to walk around the village delivering our cards and looking at all the decorations.

Thursday, 15 December 2011


Didn't post yesterday as I was just too tired after completing my last basket making class. As it had to be postponed for a week, there were only 3 of us. Apparently it should have been 5 but as the Arts Centre had had a power surge, all their security and fire alarms were inoperative. We could hear the phones ringing (presumably them) but no-one was allowed in to answer them.

Fortunately for us, the place we were in is basically a storage shed with no alarm so they let us continue. The staff spent a lot of the time in there with us as it was the only place that also had heat and light.

Anyway, a very good time was had but I think it was the hardest start to a basket. We made a small Sciathog (an Irish potato straining basket). This is one of the easiest baskets to make but one of the hardest to start, really requires an octopus as a helper!

Anyway, here is mine – not too bad methinks for a first attempt. It was flatter as I am such a tight weaver (you should see my knitting) but I am very pleased with it.

By 2.00pm, I could barely move my very sore fingers so the tutor Nadine, showed me how to make 2 ply cordage:

as well as a sennet (not sure of this spelling) which is a 4 ply plait in the round:

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Windy weather

A very windy but sunny day today with a maximum temperature of 6 Celsius. Managed to get some washing dry enough to finish off indoors tonight.

Went out for a brisk walk around my immediate area and took great delight in the wind whistling through the telephone and electricity wires. Eucalyptus trees were dancing backwards and forwards, hedges bulged as the wind tried to fight a path through them and the tops of the other trees rustled loudly.

Although we now have our central heating on low for 1 hour morning and late afternoon, the wood burner is still our main source of warmth, often too warm. We have never been able to have our room door closed otherwise it would be like a sauna – this despite the smallest burner we could have. On average, we seem to be burning between 5 and 7 logs in the 7 hours that it is lit – which seems to be okay to us. Our logs are seasoned hardwood, around 10” long and various thicknesses.

Had a great games evening last night around B's house. We played ring on a string, nursery rhymes (similar to pictionary), old maid, spots and arrows (a form of snakes and ladders but more involved), ker plunk and consequences. The latter had us howling with laughter even before we had to read the end stories out aloud. Everyone there was an ex-member of staff from our now closed infant school plus my husband and I, ex governors/helpers/gardeners.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Herewith our tree

It is 6' tall, and although artificial, looks quite authentic as it has branches made up of three different styles of 'spruce' which include knobbly brown bits that resemble embryo cones!

It is very much a memory tree, having baubles ranging from our first Christmas together to another for DS's first Christmas. There are baubles that have been inherited from my in-laws which range in era from the 1940's to the 1970's. We have just a few from our little school that recently closed, as well as hand-made ones by DS. and friends. 

There are 3 fairies that we rotate each year. The current one on the top is our first year, another is from when we went through a blue period (in the dining room along with) the third one which is an inherited one from the 50's or 60's.

The next photograph was taken by me lying underneath our ceiling light, trying to get a photograph of yet more inherited paper decorations ranging from the 50's to 60's. These are now very fragile and we have to rotate them (we have around 12) to try and make them last longer.

Other decorations are up but as I said yesterday, don't want to reveal them so it is a surprise for when DS., FDiL. and S. come for the New Year. S. will see three different trees this year, her first Christmas (she was only 3 weeks old for the last one). Her mama says she is most perplexed by the room changing.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Herman Muffins

Having given away as many Herman mixes as I could, he has had his calorie intake reduced to just 50g S. R. Flour, 50g sugar and 50ml of milk per feed so we can keep him a manageable size. His lifespan has also been extended. Today was his holiday and he was sent off to a hot resort aged 16 rather than 10 and in good company with some chocolate and cranberries.

I decided to make mini Herman muffins but had no idea how long to cook them as it is not a typical muffin mix. The oven was at 190 celsius and they were baked for 25 – 30 minutes until a skewer inserted into one, came out clean.

They have got a lovely crunchy crisp top yet are soft and bouncy inside. I managed to make 12 from my mixture although 2 are not on this picture as we ate them! 4 have been frozen for the New Year so DS. and FDiL. can taste test them. I now need to work out how long to keep this next batch for in case they also want a Herman.

Anyway, to one portion of Herman I added:

150g S. R. flour, 150g sugar, 100ml vegetable oil, 1/2tsp salt, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1½ tsp baking powder, 2 beaten eggs, 85g melted good quality dark chocolate, 100g semi-dried cranberries. He seemed a little dry so I added just enough milk to loosen. A 2” ice cream scoop was used to put the mixture into the muffin cases. You could use a smaller scoop to make more but as you can see, they filled the cases okay.

The Christmas tree is being decorated today. Will post a photograph tomorrow but that will be all as we don't to spoil the look for when DS. and FDiL. come for the New Year. We have decided to have a second Christmas so we can share it together.
Instead here is a picture of one corner of our kitchen. Years ago, every room in the house used to be decorated but the kitchen and bathroom don't tend to have anything in them now as all surfaces seem to be taken up with something. We do however, permanently have chilli pepper lights under our cupboards. They always make the kitchen homely and when I can't sleep at night, don't blind me when I want to make a hot chocolate!

Saturday, 10 December 2011

The Big Bread Experiment

Welcome to the Squirrel Family and also welcome to all my followers to date whom I have not said hello to. 

I watched the above 3 part programme on BBC2 this week and found it fascinating. It is quite true that you are never to old to learn.

My bread works about 95% of the time, the other 5% are problems with either rising or too wet/too dry due to me trying to rush the process. So today, taking a leaf out of the artisan bakers book I made it differently.

Normally, I would add flour, yeast and salt together, add the liquid plus oil or melted butter and knead until a gentle push on the mixture with my finger bounces back. Two things are incorrect in this process apparently (although not according to every cook book on bread has shown).

One, don't add the salt at this stage as the yeast doesn't like it. So I missed it out and only when kneading was almost complete did I scatter my salt onto my work top and worked it in. This went surprisingly well.

Secondly, I had not been kneading to the 'transparent window' stage. Say what!!!

Yes, apparently, you need to knead your dough to the point whereby if you lift the outside edge of it and gently tease apart, it should become semi-transparent, like a window, without breaking.

Now, I normally knead my bread to a rough count of 100 – around 5 minutes. After that, the finger push usually bounces out. Today however, I did it for the required 10 minutes before dividing it in two to use for two different recipes and carried on kneading. I gave up at the breaking window stage as my arms would no longer function.

After a quick rest, I added 1 tablespoon of wholegrain mustard to one loaf and kneaded it again until smooth. The other one was similarly worked on but had 2 tablespoons of mincemeat included rather than the mustard. They both became as slippery as eels after these additions but eventually became smooth.

They have worked very well both in taste and appearance. They are as light as mine normally are (in the 95% good bracket), but the texture was definitely more light and airy.

The left hand one is the mincemeat and the wholegrain mustard is on the right. We had slices of this with our left over soup from yesterday and you could taste the mustard - very nice. Might try 2 tablespoons next time to try and find out how much is too much!

Friday, 9 December 2011

A sunny day...

The sky is blue, the sun is out, the wind is blowing and the temperature 4 celsius. Chilly, chilly, chilly.

Nipped into town to top up food. Although we have a monthly shop delivered, halfway through the month we need to top up on fresh fruit and vegetables etc. As I was a bit too late to order my Christmas Day meat and ham from our local butchers, we had to buy some elsewhere – looks okay though.

Came home to start lunch – an 'anything goes' kinda soup. You can leave out the beetroot if you wish, I had one leftover so put it in – gave the soup a darker colour. I think it would have been darker still had it been liquidized.

Spicy tomato, lentil and beetroot soup.

Fry 1 diced onion + 1 large diced carrot in a little oil, until the onion is translucent. Add 1 crushed clove of garlic or 1” of tubed garlic and cooked for about a minute. Add 6oz split red lentils, 2 tins chopped tomatoes, 1 1/2 pints of water, 3 stock cubes of your choice, 1 diced, cooked beetroot about 3” across (not pickled beetroot) and 1/2 – 1 teaspoon chilli flakes. As I had two large tomatoes going mushy, I also added these.

Bring to a boil, turn down and simmer for about 25 – 30 minutes, stirring frequently or the lentils will stick. Taste, add more seasoning if necessary plus 1 heaped tablespoon tomato puree.

I usually liquidize soups with an electric stick whisk in which case, more liquid will need to be added. On this occasion though, it was thick enough so served it as it was. We had black pepper poppadams with it.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Lynford Stag

Basket making was cancelled yesterday due to a bereavement so we will finish next Wednesday – so nothing to show you on that front.

As I write this at 4:40pm, it is very cold and extremely windy. I'm sure it is even worse in Scotland but the wind here is now strong enough to stop you in your tracks whilst walking.

Arrived home to a very cold house so the heating has been put on for half an hour whilst we get the wood burner going. We have also lit a couple of candles as weather like this normally brings power cuts - we shall have to wait and see.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Soap and shopping

I've just been checking out the stored bottles of my last batch of frugal laundry liquid. It is definitely a different consistency to the first batch and I am convinced more than ever that the moisturiser in the soap is the reason.

There is some water down at the bottom, as you can see from my photograph, so it has to be shaken before use (no bad thing). Other than that, it has stayed in a liquid form rather than a thick gel (again, no bad thing). It washes just as well though and 200ml or 1 American cupful seems to be the right amount along with 1 tablespoon of distilled white vinegar as a conditioner.

Beautiful blue sky today, not a wisp of cloud and lots of sun. The back bedrooms are warming nicely. The wind is definitely stronger than yesterday so will have to wrap up very well when I go for a walk later on.

Thanks to Karen over at My Frugal Life for mentioning on her blog about ordering food – we had forgotten so popped over quickly to book a slot and put in a small order until we can get around to sorting it out properly.

For us, it will be just a normal shop – we don't over indulge at Christmas. We buy or make alcoholic drinks as and when needed and bake our own cakes, puddings etc. Although we order from our butchers a joint of meat and a small ham, we don't have any other meat for the rest of that week or fortnight.

We have bought a stollen and some special Christmas biscuits (we adore German Christmas food). Other than that, it is shopping as per normal.

Do you manage to keep your food shopping under control?

Tuesday, 6 December 2011


Its a cold but sunny day today. Blue skies and fluffy little clouds scudding across at high speed. The temperature is around 4 celsius (and not expected to rise much more) but feels a lot colder in the very brisk wind which is set to increase in speed as the week progresses.

I've been wondering 'officially' just how many logs we burn each day. The burner is not lit until about 3pm, we put the last log on around 8.30pm and it burns itself out overnight. Although we used 7 yesterday, some of it was heart wood which is hard to keep going and we had to have the air flow increased as it kept wanting to go out.

Those of you who know me, know I just love data. So I've decided to keep an eye on what we use so when the next load is delivered, we can assess how many months it will last. We have just finished the last of a batch we bought two years ago which has been in use from late October until yesterday. That delivery lasted well but we would normally have the heating on during the day before lighting the burner early evening.

This year, until the full impact of winter is felt, we are trying to not continually use our central heating. We are trialling using the burner only - except sometimes first thing in the morning if we have had a frost overnight. It depends how warm the room is where the wood burner lives. The temperature in there falls gradually overnight but most mornings it is, on average, around 16 to 18 celsius. With both of us being at home now, we spend most of our time in the front room, keeping the door shut or else cooking in the kitchen.

The cost of oil has risen dramatically over the last 2 or 3 years, electric is rising also – 6p per unit total rise this year. Even though we are cutting down our electricity consumption (central heating pump etc), our bills are still rising. 

The heating will of course be on when guests stay over the New Year, can't have cold guests.

Are you still managing not to have your heating on all the time yet?

Monday, 5 December 2011

Storing Wood for the wood burner

We've just been asked how and where we store our logs. We built these ourselves after much debating on what would work best. I suspect you could also make them cheaper/free by using old pallets and curtains/sheets! We just happened to have some of this stuff around from other projects so I can't even work out what they cost. However, I think if you adapt and use what you already have, you should be okay.

We try to buy our wood in late summer when it is cheaper and up until now have always bought dry, seasoned wood and paid a premium for it. Really though, with hindsight, we should just buy seasoned wood or if we could store it somewhere else, just wood as you also pay for it being seasoned. If you are buying seasoned wood in summer, it should dry out in time for winter use. If buying just wood, it might be 18 months or so before it will be dry enough, you just have to experiment (this time also includes wood you are chopping down yourself). I would suggest just buy or chop and store as soon as possible for a better burn.

Both sides and front of our log stores are 'open'. That means just enough wood to keep it from fall out at the sides, then hessian (or other open weave material) to keep it reasonably dry but allow the wind to pass through. It is the wind that dries it and our storage is down what we call 'windy alley'. The front is just hessian which can be lifted to access the logs. All our stores butt against fence panels.The roof should overhang sides and back, the more the merrier I think. Again, we just had to use what we had but our stores are protected by the sides of the house.


This large store (about 6' x 6' x 2 1/2 ') currently contains scrap wood to cut and burn or for kindling although we hope to fill it next year with logs.

The wood we bought for this year completely fills the half size store and one half of the other larger one.

We have a Charnwood 4 burner, the smallest you can buy and starting at mid/late afternoon through to bedtime, burns around 8 - 10 logs. In the morning the room is still warm enough (if we keep the door closed) to go without heating at all until we light the burner again mid afternoon which I am just about to do as soon as hubby cuts some kindling (he's busy sorting out our front door light at the moment).
We have avoided having the central heating on constantly as per normal. Maybe 1 hour in the morning, only if very cold, to stop the rooms getting damp.

As this is the first year we have tried this, don't yet know how long the wood will last.

Silly presents

This time of year, the big softie that I am, I even like to give my computer a present. It's the same one each year but it never complains about it. Here are 2 pictures of my USB Christmas Tree. 

It cycles through 7 colours before starting again. Even when your computer is asleep, it still glows and lights up my work space in a miniature light show. Can't imagine it uses too much electricity so I'm happy.

Hubby was running out of USB slots so he bought himself one of these Robots. When he is on his eyes light up - a bit too brightly - so he gave him eye patches to tone them down (removed for this shot).

You can find these and other things if you search for USB gifts or something similar.

Sunday, 4 December 2011


I'm having a busy baking day today. The bread has been made and is busy rising in the airing cupboard. I've just fried some onions, bacon and sage to add to the sausage meat for sausage rolls. Whilst it is cooling I have fried onions and bacon and mince to add to a pan with carrots and swede, tomato puree a beef stock cube and some water. Once this is cooked and cooled, I plan to make some rissoles.

It is a long whilst since I last made these. The above concoction is drained through a sieve. 

The liquid is thickened to make some lovely gravy and one or two spoonfuls added to the mince to make it slightly wet. Then I have to make some suet crust pastry and roll it out. 

The mince is then placed on it and the whole thing rolled up like a swiss roll and sealed. After slicing, the slices are laid together, flat, on the base of a baking dish. They resemble Chelsea buns at this stage.

Once baked, they will be served with vegetables and the gravy. I had some mince mixture left over, so it will be saved for another day.

The sausage rolls and bread both came out well. 

The bread this time is a combination of rye, wholemeal and white.

Had a little suet crust left over so also made a jam and coconut tart. Phew!

The rissoles weren't cooked quite long enough so were edible rather than great, but they filled us up and who can ask for more than being full.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Happy Birthday S.

Today is the birthday of our grand-dog S. Happy birthday my darling dog! Hope you like your card and present. These two photographs are courtesy of her mum and dad, DS. and FDiL.

She has gone from this:

to this:

Ain't she beautiful! 

She is the first dog DB. and I have had in our life together and although we only see her every 6 weeks or so, we love her dearly.

She forgets who we are for about 10 seconds then remembers. You can clearly see on her face when this happens. She then gets all excited, lies on her back for a good belly rub then fusses around us both.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Liebster Blog Award

Thank you Scarlet Tales From Beyond the Nook  for nominating me for this – glad you like my blog. It is very hard to know who to pick as I am quite new to blogging and still finding blogs that I like to read. I wish there was a general search button for all the different genres of blogs on google blogspot so we could find them a little more quickly! Anyway, when your turns comes to receive this award, and I'm sure you will, here are a few little 'rules' to guide you:

Copy and paste the award onto your blog. I did this by right clicking the picture and saving it to my desktop. Then it was added to my page by clicking on design at the top of my blog, adding a picture gadget etc. Then you need to thank the giver and publish a link back to them. Tell people about your chosen 5 blogs and place links to them. This can be done by clicking on the Link at the top of your posting page. Finally, your nominated followers, should they choose to do so, after all this is not a chain letter award, can nominate another 5 blogs but only if they wish.
For now though, I have stuck to choosing from the few I am currently reading, who have not already been nominated, who often have less than 100 followers and in some cases less than 40.

My first would have to be Kevin over at: Liminal Words, Music and Image
When I was doing my BA dissertation on a particular kind of sound art, he was very generous with his time and taught me a lot. We have kept in touch, not just because he is a lovely person whom I greatly admire, but also for the sheer enjoyment and pleasure he takes in his life and work. If ever you need to chill out and take a bit of down time, check out his blog and listen to his amazing music - oh and yes, he has also written some books!

Next is Hilde. She is a lady who runs her web site in both Norwegian and English - she can be found at: Fra arstid til arstid
It is fascinating to read what is happening so far north, enjoying her recipes, her slant on traditions and her challenges with gardening and a lack of sunlight.

My friend Jane, who was in the year above me at college and who is herself a wonderful teacher, generous, kind and very patient. She makes some fantastic textiles, from the very small to large free-standing sculptures. Her web site can be found at: Quilters Cottage Norfolk

My next choice is: Crafty Blueberry 
Although she chooses not to blog every day, her postings are usually very informative especially where recipes/making things are concerned.

Finally another man whose blog I enjoy reading is this one by Dan:
Frugal Living UK  He is off blog at the moment as he is moving to his place in the country.


Yesterday, I made our final batch of mince pies. 

This will be our first Christmas on our own as DS. and his lovely partner FDiL. (plus dog S.) won't be with us (it is their turn to go to FDiL.'s parents). 

We are very much looking forward to seeing them for the New Year and hope they won't be fed up of mince pies by then!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Going, going, gone!

The final stage of the street light story unfolded today, in less than 10 minutes. A crane lorry arrived. 

A chain was attached to the concrete lamp post to steady it. The workmen then cut through the base – lots of sparks!

The crane took the strain and began to lift.

It began to swing around and was then lowered onto the back of the lorry.

At last, a clear view of the new lamp post, which it has to be said, is far brighter than the old one – lights the front room up well if you need to come into it during the night for anything.

We still don't yet know if our new lights will be switched off after midnight or not.

The basket that I made yesterday has spent the night under weights and bricks and has flattened down well. It has now lost its slight wobble.

The bread I made the other day with some soya flour in it tastes fine. We both had slight indigestion not long after eating it but as it wasn't as well cooked inside as normal, we feel this is the cause rather than the soya flour. Will toast some today to see if we get the same problem. No walk today, hope to go tomorrow if B. if fit as she is quite wheezy with asthma.