Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Allotment purchases

Allotment: Getting ready!

So far I have bought Charlotte seed potatoes (one of our favourites together with Nicolas) , Garlic-  a French variety, some blue climbing french beans from Franchi the Italian seed distributors ( lots of seed for your money) , some white salad bunching onion seed again from Franchi and some parsnip seed on tape as these work the best for me and generally I have a good germination rate with the tape. Perhaps its to do with the paper tape holding moisture long enough for the seed to germinate!

With regards to the potato varieties- we have tried all sorts including Anya, Pink fir ( too knobbly and nobody wanted to wash and peel these). Some blue variety ( I can't remember the name at the minute) Rocket as a first early (not enough produced to warrant the space on the allotment) and numerous others but always come back to Charlottes and Nicolas( we like these as can use as a salad variety and later if left as a main crop). We also have grown Sarpo Mira for the last few years and truly have found them to be blight resistant.  However I have grown far too many potatoes the last few years- something to do with buying a variety because the one I wanted wasn't available and then finding the one I wanted at a later date-  but not this year . I will be controlled -no impromptu varieties this year! So the hunt goes on for Nicola's!

The climbing blue french bean I choose because I planted a "climbing" variety last year and they turned out to be dwarf!. Also I think the purple will be easier to see when picking as invariably we miss some leave them to grow too big when picking. The salad onion is I hope like the massive ones found in France- which we always make a beeline for when shopping.
 That's all for now- I have though about my plot plan but haven't got it down on paper and hope to do that this week. So back to the drawing board.... if only could find a pencil............

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Allotment - first trip of the season!

After listening to Terry ( down at the allotment ) on Radio2  on Friday I realised that I am way behind schedule as far as the growing season is concerned and so I vowed to get started!!!
I managed to sneak away yesterday and spend some lovely me time down at the allotment. It was a glorious sunny day and I REALLY enjoyed my trip there!

Before I started
On arrival I viewed my plot - there were canes with all the remnants of last years growth entwined, dried stems of the nasturtiums all over what was the potato area, large clumps of grass and weeds. Even an old cloche frame.  I was quite disheartened-Where do I begin?

Lots to do

 I decided it had to be prepare the potato section for this year ( seeing as I bought my first  batch of seed potatoes for this year on Friday) and so I got going- clearing the patch to enable the digging to begin. I had forgotten how lovely the earth smells as it is dug, clean , earthy and crumbly with the occasional whiff of onion as I found the remnants of last years crop. Absolutely fantastic- with lots of promise for the coming year.

Over half way

Time for refreshments - but forgot the coffee :(
I worked very hard digging for two and a half hours until I could hardly walk properly and a proper refuel was required. How I enjoyed my time so relaxing , almost like a form of medicine, a therapy and I view my stiffness today as a medal of honour .

 Spread some muck and compost and its ready!

 I can't wait to get down there again. Shush don't tell any one I hope to go again today if things permit so kept your fingers crossed for me!

A bonus crop of parsnips and leeks- so soup and roast parsnips today1

Thursday, February 23, 2012

I've been playing- kilt pins

I had sometime yesterday evening to have a play. We eat early these days and it does give us an evening - time that we didn't have before. I'm not sure how that works but the evening seemed to disappear when we ate at a later time.
I recently bought a number of kilt pins and thought about making some brooches or bag pins. I have been collecting bits and bobs that might be useful for a little while and I sat down last night and had a play.

I wanted an England / British theme and these are my first brooches. I crocheted the hearts on valentines day- as I just felt that I had to! the lace is vintage and the other bits all just seemed to go together- including the rose! What do you think?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

End of half term happenings

How lovely it was to visit the cousins. They are always the most hospitable of hosts. The Aunties were lovely as ever and Uncle Hobbit was the skateboarding instructor of the weekend! Not that I was skate boarding- skiing is fine with me as long as the hill is not too steep and I don't go to fast. We visited the pretty village of Olney again but the lovely charity shops weren't open. It was a lovely  bright day- great for a walk and for taking the odd snap or two.

Other Aunty brought her lovely pretty dog- I have told her to enter the Joules competition to win a photo shoot with him - came to visit- He is soo lovely but a bit of pickle as far as the cats are concerned - he just couldn't resist the urge to chase them up the tree in the garden! He has been known to try to round up our chickens who were definitely not impressed.

Less than fluffy cat was tempted down in the end with her favourite titbits and  the  dreaded ladder wasnt needed - much to Other Aunty's relief!

 Then on Sunday our Elder son phoned to let us know he was off to A and E.  He had hurt his ankle running- getting caught in a rabbit hole and yes he has fractured his fibula -the smaller of the two leg bones!  So today a trip to fracture clinic to get the full cast put on! At least an op isn't required!

I think I may be needed for taxi rides etc for the next few weeks! It seems we aways have a full house here at Mrs H's abode- not that I'm really complaining but I just would like an occasional day to myself! Elder daughter is going back to Uni tomorrow- so maybe Thursday?

 But in the meantime Younger daughter made me this lovely cake -  we have definite liking for brightly coloured icing in this house . This one is a beautiful turquoise colour -so I  had better boil the kettle and get cutting! Thank you YD for my lovely cake . :)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Gosh how quickly the week has flown!

The week has really flown by. I think it always does when it's half term. I do love having les enfants around but I always forget how messy they are! It has been a good week with trips to the seaside and London -with also a visit to cousins this weekend. I'm not sure how much revision/ coursework has been done as they all seem to be able to multitask - on the computer, watching tv or listening to music at the same time. I must be getting old as I can really only concentrate on doing one or the other.
 I think elder son finds all the school holidays strange as its his first year of working but I think he enjoys his new responsibilities and enjoys going out to work every day.
With regards to this week I even managed two days working in Mudeford - down by the sea- I always feel like I've been on my holidays after a visit there. It must be the sea air and the lovely people I work with. My elder daughter made tea for the family on one of the days- it was so lovely coming in the front door to be greeted by the lovely smell of supper. She also baked some valentine cupcakes -aren't they lovely .

I have also been busy on the clearing out front and have a number of bags waiting at the front door to go to the charity shop. I hope they don't wait there too long- getting there is another story, as I have been known to drive round with them in the boot of the car for a couple of weeks. So today's job is to take them down there. Hoping you all have a lovely weekend a wrap up warm as I believe Sunday is getting cooler again.

I think this rose cupcake is calling me  ..... coffee and cake time I believe!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

London for the day!

Having recovered from the shock of  the cost of a day return ticket to London, my younger daughter and I set off for the day.

We headed for Convent Garden and I looked forward to visiting all the little shops there. I was disappointed in that they were all parts of the normal chains eg body shop lush l'occitane etc it would have been lovely to find some boutiquey places with lots of lovely treasures. I had forgotten how cold it is there. I think it must be in a cold spot or even a wind tunnel- it was so cold!

We did find the Moomin shop however. Lots of lovely books, bags etc based on the Finnish character.

We also found another shop with some pretty things like these owls:

We headed off for lunch in Starbucks where they tried to tell me that they didn't have any trays for me to carry our lunch and drinks on. Funnily they did find one eventually- the lovely lady on the drinks section was very helpful even if the smiley man on the orders section couldn't be bothered and was too busy  to look. Sorry me just having a grump about the service! We did have a lovely lunch  tho and we did get to warm up before moving off again.
 We found our way to Regent street and had a mooch there and found several lovely shops before having to think about returning to get the 3.30 train (as we got the supersaver day return ticket as I was still in shock about the cost of the ticket).
We are on the hunt for a ball dress for younger daughter  and saw several that we may have to return soon to check out properly.
This was followed by the lovely hour sitting taking in the view, people watching, reading an odd page and the occasional fight against heavy eyes on the way home.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

En famille once more,

My elder daughter came back from uni for the week as its study week. She's come back for home cooking, to have her washing done and to catch up on sleep!

 On Friday I had time time to myself and got a couple of projects out. One is a little bag made from felted wool. I had trouble with the vintage fabric lining and also the magnetic clasps and so this project as been put on hold for the moment.

Today we had a day out en famille. Time for us all to catch up with each other. It was lovely being the six of us again -we even managed a spot of shopping( a miracle considering the diverse needs and likes of the group).

We then had a lovely walk down at the sea front  - a chance to blow away the cobwebs.

 Followed by a cream tea on the way home. All in all a great day!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Did you want salad with that!!

I can't believe its Thursday already. I'm not sure I like this cold weather- its making me feel quite lethargic. Not sure that the chickens like it either. Their water was seriously frozen again this morning. Isla Mai seems to have developed a cough- I will have to keep an eye on that. She seems perky enough and went mad for the salad stuff this morning.

We're trying wood shavings in their Eglu and nesting box as we have been using shredded newspaper on its own . I think we stopped using wood shavings once before because they chucked around and made a right mess everywhere. I can't remember if one of the people we obtained our chickens from said that wood shavings was a really bad idea, I'm not sure. Probably a combination of the two may well work- we shall have to see. I need to research it again.
Back indoors making another 12 jars of marmalade and I think that will be it for now- not sure if I have enough of the right jars for any more!


Ooh I almost forgot- I spotted a blackcap in the garden today. We often see him and his missus in spring but I don't remember seeing him this early before. per haps Spring IS on its way.
 Thats all for now- Hope you are keeping warm, see you soon!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

New linen cupboard

I'm still sorting the spare room out. What a lot of stuff we have accumulated over the years. You may have noticed from the previous pictures of the wardrobe that the linen was over flowing in the top section. This was only meant to be a stop gap several years ago when we had to have new tank fitted in the old airing cupboard.
Unfortunately as I am vertically challenged  I have never really been able to reach the top part of the cupboard properly to keep it tidy on regular basis, as it always necessitates getting  a stool or step ladder. I have to say taking the photo made me  feel ashamed and realise how hideous the mess was and  that got me thinking.
What I really wanted was an armoire for the linen. However the price was going to be a tad expensive, also we needed something not too big and preferably shelved. So yesterday on my travels I spotted the perfect solution- a lovely (thirties I think) walnut veneered  cupboard which met all my requirements. Perfect.

 Linen is now put away neatly and I am able to reach it and keep it tidy! I'm not sure my other half is quite so enamoured as he prefers all things modern but I like it . I could however  be persuaded in the future  to use it for my sewing goodies should the need for something more modern become more pressing -there is method in my madness!

Monday, February 6, 2012

New sewing area!

Well the damp and chilly weather put me off going for a walk yesterday and as  I said yesterday it was a sort out morning. I have long been bemoaning the fact that i don't have an official are for my sewing/ crafting. With the office returning to  function as  another family room I had hoped for a little corner but yesterday conceded that there really wasn't any room there. So I put my thinking hat on and thought about our spare room. This room is not a big double room and really there isn't a lot of extra room there. BUT there is a built-in wardrobe that is currently full of everything, old photos and albums, ski kit, linen clothing and children's work from years gone by that I can't be parted from.This is it yesterday morning:

 So I had a great clear out and this is my new area,  dedicated sewing area:

It is still work in progress but its great to have my own space. I keep going to have a look at it! Now guess what I'm doing today?.Yep I have to clear the mound of clothes off the spare bed and find homes/ or  put out all the unwanted items. I can still do that and think of how I can improve my new area at the same time :)

Sunday, February 5, 2012


We were so excited last night. Checking regularly for the snow. The BBC were right we had a tiny flurry at 4 and it was snowing more heavily at 9pm. Lovely great big flakes but sadly wet ones that didn't want to settle properly. I wish I had taken a photo before I went to bed -  a white coating everywhere but it wasn't to last! This is my bedroom view this morning - dismal and melting fast.
The family we spotted yesterday, coming out of the hardware shop with sledges under their arm , will be disappointed not to be able to use their new purchases just yet. I hope they get to use them soon . I spoke to my sister today who lives in Kent and  they have loafs of the white fluffy stuff but Lent is often badly hit
This morning  we are sorting out at home  ( spring is in the air) and this afternoon I'm spending the afternoon crocheting  and watching girlie films with my daughter with hot chocolate and blankets. Bliss..........

Sent from my iPhone


Saturday, February 4, 2012

My favourite book : Linen and Lace

One of my current obsessions is with vintage fabrics- old lace, embroidered tray mats, crocheted doillies, basically any pretty linens with age , with craftsmanship and have had a previous unspoken life. On browsing the craft books this week I spotted this book and this has now become my favourite book. It's written by a french lady Chantal Sabatier and has been translated into English. Its a beautiful book. You can browse the book on Amazon here:

 I carry it every where with me so that when I'm waiting to pick up offspring I can immerse myself in the beautiful projects. My mind is a whirl with ideas for all my lovely linens - so watch this space!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Daffodils to remind us that Spring is nearly here

I bought these daffodils this week and have truly enjoyed their bright yellow sunshine. Not much to report here in Mrs H's abode as   have been busy making another two batches of marmalade and catching up with housework. Have a lovely weekend! whether you get snow or not!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Marmalade Part 2

On with the next stage:
5. Prepare the jam jars by washing in hot soapy water and rinse then place in a warm oven 140 degrees centigrade for ten to fifteen minutes and keep warm unil needed. Sterilise the lids in a pan of boiling water . Also sterilise the ladle bowl in the hot water too and the jam funnel in the oven, taking care when removing it- as can burn (I found out the hard way!)

6.Then bring the pan of orange peel, sugar and orange liquid slowly up to a simmer making sure the sugar has dissolved before simmering. Add the thermometer if using and simmer away gently for sometime - it takes longer longer than you think.
Yesterday it was about 2 hours or so (the recipe books always say its a shorter time but I haven't found that in my experience . I did use a thermometer to help and when it reached about 104 degrees C I did check the setting point. This I did by putting a little on a pre-chilled saucer and when the marmalade wrinkled when pushed by my finger it was done.

7. Place the jam funnel over the neck of each of the jars in turn and fill using the ladle. Be careful not to get any on the jar neckar any residue can lead to mould developing during storage. Sometimes I use a jug to help fill the jars.

8.Seal the jars with the lids whilst still warm, to form a vacuum when they cool and then label and store in a cool place. Et voila your  batch of marmalade is done!