Saturday, 27 February 2010

Vintage linen, charity shop china and cake. Oh..and more marmalade.

Today I had a trot round my very small but very local market. Imagine my delight upon finding not one but two hand embroidered linen tablecloths for the tea table.

They were just crying out for tea and of course cake. Here is the other..


with the obligatory victoria sandwich cake and a view of my cancer research shop 6 setting tea service complete with side plates and bread and butter plate in mint condition.(Phew, take a breath girl)
The two cloths cost a total of £4.50, yes £4.50. I thought I was seeing things. And the tea set a mere fiver.What a lucky girl I am!

Oh... and I had several very complimentary comments about my marmalade (in fact one person gobbled the jar in less than a fortnight.) So much so, how could I resist these seville oranges available today at only 70p per kilo?

I now have merely to brace myself for the skinning and finely slicing of 2 kilos of the blessed things!

Birthday Boy

, My biggest boy turned 7 this week


Here he is blowing out his candles on his treasure chest cake.

In September my youngest will go to school and it will be the first time for 17 years that I haven't had a little one at home. I'm not quite sure whether to laugh or cry!

Dreaming ......

....of summer and relaxing in a luxurious garden. I have been seduced by Sarah Raven's catalogue and particularly the dahlia collection.

I have a small amount put by to spend on the new to us garden but how to choose with so much to choose from??????

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Luscious Lemon cake and Lovely knitting

Today we made this delicious lemon cake from one of Sam Stern's books.

It is lovely and moist and very moorish! (Sp?) It won't last long here.

We woke up to more snow here today. This is the view when I open my curtains....

So what else is there to do but spend some of the day knitting.

My youngest daughter is a novice but enthusiatic knitter and yesterday I cast on this scarf for her and she has diligently got on with it.

It's funny how some get the crafting bug and others don't. I have shown all three of my girls the basics of knitting but she alone has really taken to it. My own mum was a basic sewer, self taught I think. She also always baked. I am the eldest of seven and Mum was just too busy to sit down and actually teach her skills. However, me and my four sisters all bake so we must have osmotically learned so to speak.

I learned to knit from both of my Grandma's one taught me knit stitch and the other purl (incidentally she was a chronic schizophrenic who spent 33 years in a mental institution before living with us, and she never forgot how to knit. My mum said she remembered her being a beautiful knitter before she was incarcerated.)

Any how, the knit stitch grandma (Dad's mum) gave me a ball of unravelled wool approx the size of a football. I knitted my first garment, a purple scarf and it was huuuuge. It was full of holes, I must have been about 9 or 10 at the time. I loved that scarf. Once when walking home from school in the fog I wrapped it around 3 of my sibling's necks as well as my own in a line like a chain gang so I wouldn't lose anybody. So you can imagine how long it was. I wish I still had that scarf!
 So this scarf of daughters reminded me of mine all those years ago.

I hope you had a crafty day whatever you did too.

Thursday, 18 February 2010


I was given a jar of gorgeous homemade marmalade in a little preserve hamper at Christmas. I have been inspired to make my own for the first time. I have made jam (usually blackberry) a few times but never marmalade. I bought 2 kilos of seville oranges from the apparently famous Bury market and spent what felt like hours slicing the pith and peel before soaking it overnight.


The recipe is from the River Cottage handbook on preserves. The boiling was a bit messy as I had doubled the recipe and it kept boiling over and I had to keep scooping some out and putting it in a regular pan.

The recipe called for demerara rather than caster sugar which I think made it very dark and rich and full bodied. I am very pleased with the result, it is delicious with lots of fruit. I perhaps simmered it down for too long before adding the sugar making it a bit heavy on the fruit. Also I need a wider necked jam funnel as it kept getting clogged with the peel. All in all it was quite a sticky business but well worth the effort. I made approx 11lbs but have given most away! I will definitely make it again. Oh and it is a fabulous colour.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Morning Mist

It's a lovely crispy frosty misty morning here with the promise of sun to come. Shame I have to go to work later.

Here are the girls enjoying their breakfast.

Here is my 9 yr old girl also enjoying her breakfast at the foot of my bed.

Yesterday we enjoyed pancakes at my Dad's. We met up with four of my siblings and our fourteen children. It was noisy! I forgot my camera but here is a pic of some of the same clan enjoying a day on the riverbank in Clitheroe last summer.

Our pancakes were sublime. They were from Jane Brockets Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer cookbook. If you are not keen on pancakes I recommend you try this recipe as it is really good and will convert you.
Being the beginning of lent I had decided to forgo alcohol and bread for the season. However, this morning the sight of my newly made marmalade begging for a slice of wholemeal toast has made me relent. Mr. W. Power has deserted me on day 1. I will  have to try to be more resolute regarding the grog!

Did you know that Shrove Tuesday was the day, regardless of the date, that lacemakers blew out their candles for working with until the 3rd of September, Nutting day. This was to reduce cost. During the winter lacemakers would work together to share candlelight with the older more experienced sitting nearest the light and the youngest with better eyesight and lesser skills at the back.

Lacemakers' Rhyme
Be Shrovetide High or Low
Out the candle we will blow

Hope you enjoyed your Pancake Day, however you spent it.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Baby knitting

This is a the back of a cardigan for the expected soon baby of a colleague at work.
It is knitted in Stylecraft Baby Life which has a pleasing 25% wool that gives it a nice handle. It also has a lovely tweedy fleck in it and it only cost £1.55 per 50gram ball which is also very pleasing. I love knitting but find the cost of many of the better quality yarns prohibitive.
The pattern is sirdar 1907.

Monday, 15 February 2010


Here are two of my latest charity shop finds.

A rather handsome M&S teapot for £2.95. I like it because it holds a lot!

And a skein of what I think is sock wool. The label is German and French I think!*!!
Anyway, it is nice and soft, school boy grey and best of all, cost only 50p.

Off to work now. It's nice not to do the school run and even better not having to prepare 5 packed lunches. But somehow I always seem to be late when they are all at home and I supposedly have more time in the morning. How does that happen????

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Happy Valentines Day!

Dear Husband forgot! But luckily lovely 9 yr old daughter made me a gorgeous quirky papier mache heart and a scroll with Robbie Burn's "Love is like a red red rose."

It has been a mild day here and we spent some time outside in the garden with our little flock.....


.....Edwina, Bunty, Ruby, Dorothy, Olive and Maud.

We are preparing a bed against a sheltered south facing wall to try and grow some fruit trees. We have today dug in plenty of old bedding muck from Dad's farm. The girls enjoyed having a good scrat amongst it.

This is the lovely stone wall which was covered in ivy when we arrived here in May last year. We are looking forward to hopefully apples and pears.

And here are the willing helpers...

The under gardeners enjoying a cup of tea and home made ginger biscuit afterwards,

and of course the Head Gardener.

I am not that grey, honestly!!

And 5 lovely fresh eggs too..

Poor Dear Hubby has spent the entire day frantically writing 2500 words for his latest assignment, he's doing an M.Ed. So children, hens, garden, tea and homemade biccies have made for a nice Valentine's day for me.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Sourdough Disaster

Mrs B. In the kitchen. With the sourdough loaf!
It was like a lump of lead. Not to be discouraged, I duly had another attempt. This time the texture was OK but bloomin heck...was it sour...Yuck!!
So I have abandoned that plan and will go back to plain and simple yeast risen bread, a lot less fiddling and much much sweeter.

Sorry for the hiatus, I have been a bit glum lately and thought that blogging was going to take up too much of the precious little time I have to spare. However, I have been prompted to give it another go by my lovely sister in law Janet and good friend Anna. So thanks for the vote of confidence girls, I will try and post at least once a week.