Friday, 18 August 2017


I got an email from my neice yesterday to tell me her mum had had a bad fall and was in A & E with a broken patella, cuts and bruises. She eventually came home with a full leg plaster cast.

Informed my other sister and received a reply from her that she had tripped on pavement and hurt herself but luckily not requiring a plaster cast.

I had better take care!

Have a safe weekend everyone.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Jerkin colour scheme so far

You may remember, one the 9th August, I showed you the first new stitch I had learnt, the bobble stitch, hoping to use these to make a jerkin (wasistcoat).

I have decided on the colour scheme now and how I want to create the internal bobble stitch pattern to vary the squares:
For me, being relatively new to crochet, I get confused very easily if I do one square at a time as I find the bit that turns a circle into a square, a little taxing for now. Therefore, I shall doing loads of circles, bobble stitch, as that is now in my head and vary the colours on that, always finishing with white on the outside. The white ones appear to be just slightly larger but I think that will even itself out once the border is on them.

When I have loads of the circles, I shall convert them into squares. They do look rather nice as circles but using just them would be far too complicated for me at this stage. I am thinking of edging them with black and using black to also join them altogether, which should show off these colours well. Mind you, I am a tad worried that on the odd occasion I may need to wash the finished garment, whether the black, over time, might make the white bits grubby!

I may chose a nice grey green, similar to the colour of the leaves of a lavender, time will tell. . Once I have visited the wool shop again and taken some of the squares in with me, I shall make the decision.

I am using DK Special Stylecraft to make this, in lavender and magenta.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

In the conservatory

DB has been busy painting inner hall doors that were purchased ages ago but not actually painted. However, over time, they have gone really mucky looking so time for a paint:
This is the 4th and final door (undercoat). It had 2 coats of white satin, hung back up when thoroughly dry. The 3rd door came back in here for its final coat of white satin.

He decided to remove them as he now finds this a more comfortable way to paint. Hopefully this colour will not go off white like some of the gloss has in the past, because lets face, who enjoys repeatedly painting doors?

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Kitchen windowsills

This time of year is when my kitchen windowsills start to have some of our harvest sitting on them. Sometimes it is tomatoes or chilli peppers, at the moment though, it is the windfall apples. Some are good some, despite a codling moth trap, have been attached by said creature and need eating asap.

I have (on its second rise), a loaf of rye bread which we will be amazed if it turns out okay. I just switched off whilst making it, picked up rye flour rather than the intended malt flour and also forgot the oil:

Update: the bread was fine!

Also here is my book stand being used to dry some gloves (used for preparing the chillies for the freezer) and the tea towel. To the right of the book stand is said windfall apples:

The next windowsill houses our fruit basket (currently empty), to the left of which are 3 good apples. The kitchen hand towel is also drying in the sun, along with a chopping board. I like to air these in the sun if possible, after washing, as I think the intense heat kills any bugs that might still be lurking on it:
Once the red pears begin to be harvested, these windowsills will fill very quickly.

Do you use yours like this?

Monday, 14 August 2017

This has been ...

The best fruit year in a long while. Despite the lack of sun, the rain has helped swell most fruit in the garden. We have just finished picking all the plums and are currently enjoying blackberries - forgot to photograph those.

Here are some of the russet apples:

In the background are some red pears but a better picture is here:
And some comice pears on the heavy pruned and festooned 5' tall (non-dwarf variety) tree:
We have also eaten blueberries and frozen blackcurrants for later use. The rhubarb finally got going and we managed 2 harvests off it only as this is its second year. Our gooseberries died but a new bush arrived which had about 20 on it so we enjoyed those as well.

We have our first greengages just about ready (about 12) and I shall use them to make jam.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Raised vegetable beds

Have done reasonable well in this topsy turvy weather:

Bed 1:
Had broad beans in it followed by lettuce and now has dwarf french beans, one tomato and some parsley in it. It also has the new mini compost bin inserted into it which so far, seems to be working okay.

Bed 2:
Has leeks in it which also had radish interplanted when they were young and a few beetroot, which have since been harvested.

Bed 3:
Has 2 rows of carrots which I must start using, some more beetroot, and a second and third sowing of lettuce. This is the next bed to get a mini compost bin so I must get on and harvest it soon.

Bed 4:
Hungarian Hot Wax Chilli peppers which have gone purple in places. This is not rot or mould but apparently a reaction to extreme temperatures.

Has had radish, lettuce, beetroot and chilli peppers in it. Second sowing of beetroot is almost ready and the chilli plants need harvesting again. Already had one lot which are chopped and in the freezer.

All in all, not too bad. We can't be anywhere near self sufficient but really enjoy just wandering out there to pick vegetables and fruit, so fulfilling!

Have a lovely weekend everyone!

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Such fun - not!

First of all, welcome to californiaclippin via Bloglovin.

I had thought last week that our washing machine was messing about a little. It would start to fill, then stop, start to turn then stop etc.

Today, I decided that the collar on one of my jackets was a little grubby. It normally gets washed on a wool cycle so in it went, along with a few towels and I set the machine to the wool cycle.

It started to fill, taking in the washing machine liquid then stopped. 10 minutes later it would try and fill again then stop. Some times it would turn its drum then stop.

Luckily the spin and drain were working so we emptied it of water and washing.

Having found a very useful video online about water inlet filters and problems, DB (who was in the middle of painting a door when all this happened), stopped at an appropriate time and came to investigate.

Everything was disconnected and the machine pulled out. Took a while to find how to get its top off. Filter looked fine but he pulled it out and checked anyway. Everything looked fine. He checked the electrics and solenoids - all fine. Undid the little water pipes that come from the water inlet into the drawer compartment - all fine.

Put it back together, he struggled to get it back under the worktop (and yes, we had tested it beforehand to make sure and it appeared to work).

Set it up on wool again and off it went before promptly stopping and messing about again.
It was spun and drained and emptied - again. The towels went in on my normal cycle to be rinsed and spun, that worked.

Put the jacket back in, tried again on wool cycle - nope. nada, nothing, zip!

So I rinsed and gently spun it and all that went okay. So, we decided it could be the wool cycle and as we rarely use it, it will have to stay 'broken'.

Until I need to use it again on its normal cycle, we shall wait and see.

Update: worked okay on my usual cycle but is now making a horrible noise when draining!

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

I have learnt ...

One new Square pattern - bobble circle and one new crochet stitch - the double treble, from my favourite teacher Sarah Jayne over at Bella Coco. The bobble circle tutorial can be found here and how to turn it into a square (using the double treble stitch) can be found here.

Although she is turning a different centrepiece into a square, the same principle applies. Here is my first and second attempt (one piece):
I used a 4mm crochet hook for the white centre (first attempt went well) but the outside magenta was too stretchy using the 4mm, so I unravelled it and dropped down to a 3.5mm hook (second attempt) and I think it looks and feels much better. I also unravelled it before this as I had started to put the magenta border onto the wrong side of the bobble circle.

Having only attempted solid granny squares (plus joining and adding a border to them), for the last two years, I am as pleased as punch to have learnt something new.

So then, what will I be making - something similar to one of these.

It will have to be this style as I am nowhere near proficient enough to tackle anything other than squares for the foreseeable future! I have a few similar colours to make this garment but it might not be ready until next winter (2018), we shall see.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Recently .....

For my birthdays and Christmas, I have been receiving silicone bakeware as presents.

I had already bought a 6 part muffin one and used it for gluten free yorkshire puddings, with excellent results. They rose well and popped out like a dream. I have just received another one, which will be handy for when I want to make 12 small cakes or 12 yorkshire puddings.

I already had a square version and have just received another, very handy. It means I can use the cheaper version I bought, for roasting meats and save the new one for baking. As well as baking cakes in it, I shall trial flapjacks and quiche to see how it fares.

The latest thing I had bought me was a longish loaf pan. I have read up on whether it is suitable for bread but most reviews seem to say no. However, I think for baking in general, it should also work fine.

Has anyone used these products, what did you use them for and how did it go?

Monday, 7 August 2017

Any ideas - its Datura Stramonium or Jimson Weed!

A strange plant has materialised in my front garden. I certainly haven't planted it. It is about 12 inches tall, has cyclindrical shaped flower buds and odd shaped leaves:
and 3" long white flowers:
Also, on the top picture, can you see that soft spiky bud inbetween two flower buds (seed head possibly?

Thanks Joyce for identifying it, I shall dispose of it soon to be on the safe side, grand dog reasons!

Friday, 4 August 2017

Plum harvest - updated!

This is a very good year for us for plums. Our little Victoria tree is outdoing herself and we have already had two trays of plums:

Some have been de-stoned and put into the dehydrator:

My plan was to semi dehydrate them, then open freeze them so they go into the freezer as individuals. I am hoping that this will stop them being too mushy when I use them in winter. The flavour has intensified after this semi drying session and they are now in the freezer.

We picked more yesterday:

and reckon we will get this much again off this tree. The Czar plums (in the bowl), are not so full of fruit as it keeps getting attacked by aphids. They don't de-stone very well, so we are eating them as they ripen.

I need to process these new trays today so shall be busy. Have a great weekend everyone.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Hot chicken Part III and IV

I purposefully did too many vegetables with the pie so I could plate up two more meals. Chicken and cauliflower cheese for me and Chicken and vegetable cheese for DB. I forgot to take the pictures before freezing but here is a misted one pulled from the freezer:
It is uncooked hence its pale state. The cheese sauce was left to go cold before being mixed in with the vegetables.

There was enough chicken left for chicken and vegetable chilli for two/three, which went into the freezer:
and just enough left over for us to have some for tea.

All in all, quite a few meals and snacks. Yes, the chicken wasn't the main ingredient but it never is. We usually only eat meat once or at the most, twice a week.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Hot chicken Part II

Some of the meat was lightly chopped and added to drained mushroom pieces from a tin of condensed mushroom soup. This tip came from DDil (and DS), both of whom don't mind the taste of mushrooms but dislike the texture. I opened the tin and sieved out the pieces. It was only afterwards that I realised the job would have been easier if I had slightly diluted the contents first - doh!

Anyway, the few bits of mushrooms, chicken and another tablespoon of the undiluted soup were mixed together to form the filling for a side plate pie. We had this with vegetables and the rest of mushroom soup as a gravy:
MiL always said that if you are having pastry you don't need potatoes. I think she was right as lets face it, there are enough calories in the pastry without adding more with the potatoes!

Unfortunately I plated up too much so I just had the veg and pie filling and a little pastry. DB ate all his!

Monday, 31 July 2017

As an occasional treat ...

We like to buy a hot rotisserie chicken from the supermarkets. Due to the price now being around the £6 mark, I like to get as many meals from it as possible. Yes I know it would be cheaper to buy and roast myself, but I simply cannot replicate the fantastic taste and moisture that the hot version has.

We bought one for this week and as soon as were home and the rest of the shopping was put away, I set to (after a cup of tea), to pick the cascass clean and the carcass added to my pressure cooker along with some bay leaves and other herbs and hot water:
The meat was put to one side:
It was cooked for 10 minutes, left to depressurise normally before having carrots, celery, onion and potatoes added to it. It was cooked for another 10 minutes under pressure, again allowed to depressurise naturally, thickened, 2 stock cubes added plus some herbs and the last bit of garlic cream cheese:
We had 4 ladles each over 2 days for lunches, so all in all, a good start.

Friday, 28 July 2017

More than just a challenge

Challenges are a great way for saving for something quickly for something specific. It could be a family holiday, a looming bill, starting an emergency fund etc. Your challenge could be to lose weight or something similar. Whatever it is, a challenge can help but could you do it week in week out - for a very long time?

This is what many families have to do nowadays as prices continually rise, your favourite products might remain the same price but have become smaller and don't last as long because of this reduction in size. There may have been a time when you could afford to have your central heating on high in winter and sit around in tee shirts and shorts (I know people who still do this). You might have been able to eat out all the time or quite often, go to the cinema, meet friends in the pub, go on several holidays a year. Spend what you liked, when you liked.

You may have credit cards coming out your ears, are drowning in debt but hey, its okay, you are both working and can manage. Are you about to take on a mortgage? Before you do, ask the bank how much your monthly repayments will be should the interest rate double, or even treble, could you still afford it? You may have some savings already and in particular an emergency fund,  then wham! One or both of you lose your job, what then? How would you cope, how long will your funds last if you can't find a job soon?

You may already be unemployed or about to be, getting made redundant, retired, working but not earning enough, on zero hours contracts, or a whole myriad of different situations that have put you in a flap, stuffed between a rock and a hard place and have no idea what to do.

Unfortunately, although I can't help you with some of those problems, others can, both here on blogland, the internet in general or agencies, both government and otherwise but be careful who you approach, there are a lot of sharks in debt filled waters!

What I would say is do not despair, there is light (and often help) at the end of these long tunnels, you just have to find your miner's lamp, dig and get to the other end, by whatever means you can. It may be soul destroying at times, but you have to fight and keep on fighting.

This post came about because whilst we try to live a simple life, save hard for what we need, we find food prices (as well as utility prices) are rising fast. DB's annual pension rise doesn't even cover the monthly rise in council tax let alone other bills, so we still have to be very careful. Despite or because of this 'frugal' life, we are still managing to save each month. Whatever is left on pay day, gets put away, doesn't matter if it is pennies or pounds.

Our menu has also become a little staid and we are in need to some changes. Looking around for some new sites for recipes, these two in particular struck a chord:

here and here

Have a nice weekend folks.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

On the food front...

Less is more it would seem. Having dieted from January to the end of March due to putting on weight as a side effect from my heart pills (and with the doctor's permission), I came off those pills for a time and kick started our diet with a fortnight of 800 calories a day.

It was jolly hard work I can tell you. After that, we ate about 1200 - 1400 calories a day. Having never calorie counted, that was hard to do as well.

It has, so far, paid off. DB kindly came on it with me as it would have been difficult otherwise. We both lost weight and on the whole, it has stayed off. What we gain one week, disappears the next etc.

I was perusing my tabs above and clicked on the menu one and was amazed to see how much I put on our plates - mind you, they were the smaller sized dinner plates but even so. Neither of us can eat this much per meal now, so guess something has changed inside - stomach size maybe, who knows.

For me a breakfast of a smoothie (250 cals) is the norm, DB still has porridge 5 days a week. Lunch is either soup or a few crackers and cream cheese or a sandwich plus fruit. We might have a small piece of cake or a biscuit in the afternoon if I have baked, but that is usually only once or twice a week maximum (eating not baking). A decent but not overlarge tea and maybe jam and yoghurt for supper. We eat at 5pm in the evening so usually need a small top up around 8pm.

We rarely eat sweets now so that has also changed. DB eats more than me as he needs to not lose anymore weight. He lost 2" off his waist and nearly 1 stone in weight, which has kept off. He feels better for it even if some people comment he is a bit thin. BMI wise, he is still at the upper end so we both feel his current weight is okay for him.

Mind you, as the food prices are continuing to rise, maybe eating less is also better for the purse strings!

Welcome to Debbie Ambler via Bloglovin.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

How on earth ...

Is this red admiral butterfly still flying:

So tatty, maybe it had been stuck in a shed or garage for a while and beaten its wings to pieces trying to get out?

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

New door

We had a new steel front garage door fitted. They did a grand job and were on their way within an hour and a quarter, after eagerly consuming a hot drink and explaining how it worked to DB who was out there, checking they were okay in the pouring rain!

Later, he showed me how to open it, from both the outside and inside - and we got locked in. One of the locks didn't quite slide out properly and he had to walk all around the house to unlock it from the front, which was a bit of a problem. He eventually managed to sort it out.

This week, we had the old and slightly rotten (and much mended) side door changed for a UPVC version:
So much better. Both had been saved up for and we shall pay our debts this coming week when the bill arrives.

On a slightly different note, who would have thought we would still be eating soup n the last week of July? Some days recently have been just 14C!

Monday, 24 July 2017

Holkham Hall Fair

Despite a not very good weather forecast, we had good weather whilst we attended this fair. It is quite expensive and we usually pay early to get a good discount (£3.50 in this case).

I kept forgetting to take pictures as there is so much to look at. Loads of scurrying and gun dog events to watch, some very funny with some dogs and owners not having a clue, often getting distracting by what was on in the next bit of field.

Puppies galore were bounding around, there were horse, ponies, ferrets, birds of prey etc. Lots of plant and craft stalls and outdoor clothing shops.

DB bought me an early birthday present, something I have wanted for a long time - a wax jacket:
This one is brown but the one we got was dark green. It was also £5 cheaper than buying online so that was good.

Herewith just a few horse/pony pictures when I finally remembered to take some:

Fancy camping in this:
Although we were only there for a few hours, we really enjoyed ourselves.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

End of War Diary

The final installment of our War Diary for Year VII has been published. Although we carried on for much longer, (and much of its ideals are still practised today) dealing with rations and trying to live a simple life, I only wanted to print those bits that corresponded with the actual years of WWII.

I hope you enjoyed reading it and have found it useful.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Raised bed worm tower

I have been reading about worm towers for quite some time and as I have 3 decent sized raised beds and 3 old flower pots to utilize, decided to rope in DB to help me build one!

Herewith just one of many videos on the subject to view here

There are many variations on these and some say to use only compost worms, others that garden worms will infiltrate into it and work as well. I am trying the latter for now but if I find some compost worms in my larger bin, might add a few of those as well.

First of all, one large plastic defunct tub, with 1" holes drilled into the sides and bottom, and smaller holes near the rim for ventilation:
Some old door flyscreen net around the ventilation holes to try and keep out the fruit flies:
A hole was dug in raised bed 1, the base filled with our own compost and the pot put on top.  A little more compost was added and some shredded paper which was watered well.
A few kitchen waste scraps were put on top and a little more water added:
I currently don't have a garden saucer large enough to cover the top of this so have used a garden tray as a temporary lid:
When I have a bit more time, I shall hunt through our compost bin for a few more worms to add to it.

Have a grand if wet weekend everyone!

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

A few vegetables

Welcome to suepoo via Bloglovin. Two or three thunderstorms here last night and a good amount of rain thank goodness, not too drastic but the road almost flooded over the kerbs.

In bed 1, broad beans have been harvested and some dwarf french beans and lettuce sown in some pots. A sad tomato is also here and some new parsley:
Bed 2 has seed sown leeks and a few leftover beetroot:
Bed 3 has some carrots, lettuce going to seed and the odd beetroot or two:

Bed 4 on the patio has beetroot and Hungarian hotwax chilli peppers in it:
We have had a few beetroot and chillies from here already.

Between beds 2 and 3 is a small herb garden. A baby rosemary in a pot in the middle, thyme, sorrel and oregano in two old green trugs:
Finally on the back mini patio is a raised apline planter:
Although mainly flowers, it also has 3 thymes in it!

Could be doing better but too many things were happening in the family when I needed to be here so the vegetables have suffered a little.

Ah well, onwards and upwards!

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Productive back garden

Thought it about time I showed you some of the back fruit garden. It is suffering a little from lack of rain but is managing to cope reasonable well. First up a ten year old 'dwarf' conference pear:

 Apple Laxtons Superb:
Apple Egremont Russet:
Red Pear:
 Victoria Plum:
 Czar Plum:
We also have a Spartan, James Grieve and Fiesta apple tree but they don't have much fruit this year despite loads of blossom.

New 2 years ago was a greengage which has a few fruit on it. In the fruit cage is a blackberry beginning to fruit, 2 small blueberries which have less fruit than normal on them, a new red gooseberry, a small rhubarb and a blackcurrant.