Sunday, 28 March 2010

Let There Be Light

Don't you just love the lighter nights? This is my bedroom window view at approx 7pm this evening.....

The children played out all day in the sunshine.

I have had a particularly good charity shop week with this bevy of beauties...

.....not one, not two, not three but TWELVE whole balls of Rowan cotton tape for the princely sum of 
99 pence! And doesn't the colour match up nicely with the pink hued blocks of my quilt?

And there's more....

...this serving spoon was languishing at the back of the bric a brac shelf and was all forlorn and tarnished. It is, I think, hallmarked solid silver and whilst a little battered has polished up rather well. It is perfect for little dainty cakes.... all I need is Lady Bracknell for tea. (£2.95 by the way.)

And the best for last......

...a vintage 1930's ish fireplace surround with original mirror (it's not cracked, that is my garage roof reflection.) Perfect for our 1937 built home. It needs a bit of a polish but is largely in good nick. The legs are my Dad's who kindly helped me collect it in a cattle trailer!
The great thing about this is it didn't cost me a penny. I got it from Freecycle. Check it out if you like getting stuff for free and helping the planet at the same time.

Finally a free recipe from Lancashire Living magazine. I made it today and it is very tasty, Hot Cross Buns and Butter Pudding.

Serves 4-6
4 hot cross buns
50gm/2 oz butter
125gm/4 oz chopped apricots (I used raisins)
50gm/2oz soft brown sugar
3 eggs beaten
275ml/10 fl oz milk
200gm/7 oz greek yoghurt

Preheat oven 180 degrees C / gas mark 4
Slice buns into thick vertical slices and butter.
Grease ovenproof dish and overlap bun slices on bottom.
Scatter fruit.
Whisk eggs, milk, sugar and yoghurt together. 
Pour over bread and fruit.
Place dish in a large roasting tin and half fill with boiling water.
Bake for 30-40 mins till custard just set.

I would probably use less fruit next time as there is already some in the buns. It was good and a nice dish for Easter I think. It is a lighter alternative to my fave B&B Pud from the River Cottage cookbook which is sublime but not one for the cholesterol police!

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Just What Every Fashionable Home Needs

An abstract cardboard creation, made by a 3 year old.

Of course it's for killing monsters and aliens but you knew that already didn't you?
(This boy loves to take off his shirt as soon as he gets in the door by the way.)

     And this is the recently cast on Versatility from Knitty Fall 2008. It's knitted in sirdar click on 6.5mm needles. It is growing quickly and I am very pleased with it. It will need to be blocked to get the full effect I think.  I am looking forward to seeing it finished, my 2nd knit this year , God I'm quick!                                                            

Sunday, 21 March 2010

First Day of Spring

Today the 1st undergardener and I started our seed sowing in earnest. Toms and salads and caulis and peas and peppers and onions and marigolds and rudbeckia and rhubarb planted and clematis planted and  raspberry canes planted and dahlias coming out of our ears. Mr. Lidl has a lot to answer for.

Interspersed with plenty of  tea. (The shadows are the washing on the line, bliss.)
Dearly beloved turned the compost bless him. And we noticed the catkins on the hazelnut for the first time..

 My brother and his wife and lovely family came for tea, so it has been a good day. I hope yours was happy too.

Spring into Action

The first day of spring or thereabouts and I'm hoping to be galvanised into action.
This is my first finished knitted item of the year I think??  Shameful that it's mid-March already and I've only managed one thing so far.I have too many on the go I am afraid. It is for a new baby of a work colleague. I am pleased with it and it's nice and soft but the lovely cable on the arms is a bit hidden by the flecky nature of the yarn. It is being modelled by the very dapper Wilf.

This is my dearly beloved dressed as Mark Spitz, 7 times gold medal winner, for sport relief on Friday. He is a teacher in a high school and he wore the swimming cap all day. He didn't wear speedo's on the bottom half, just in case you were wondering!

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Mothering Sunday

In medieval times this was the day folks visited the "mother" church of their diocese. It wasn't till mid 17th century that it became a day for honouring human mothers. Lady Day on 25th March celebrates the mother of God and so they all become intertwined. Those in service were given the day off half way through Lent to go and visit their mums. It was also a brief respite from the fasting and abstinence of the season with an excuse for a good feed. Traditionally, bunches of wild flowers like violets or primroses were taken home along with simnel cake.

I didn't bake a simnel cake today but I did go to church. My own mum who died 2 years ago didn't like us to make a fuss and was always delighted with the school made cards. Here is my breakfast tray with 3 lovely homemade cards and daffs in a jamjar.

And here is a bit of bling made by my 3 year old at nursery school. Everybody elses were full of big bright beads, his teacher said mine was minimalist and colour co-ordinated too! My boy does love the colour orange.

My Dad came for tea and brought a hot cooked rib of beef with him so all I had to do was the veg. And I had a great day planting strawberries, a new climbing rose "compassion" and having a general old mooch about in the garden. It was good. Hope you all had a nice Mothering Sunday too.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Ginger biscuits, Gifted Tableware and Happy Bunnies.

These are our fave ginger biccies in the world made by my middle 12 yr old girl.And the jaunty plate is one of a dinner service (complete with tureens...swoon...) gifted to my by Lynn a lovely colleague who was chucking em out can you believe it?

The recipe is one we have written in our all purpose scribble em down if they sound/look good book.

12 oz self raising flour
8 oz caster sugar
2tsp ground ginger
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
6 oz margarine (we use stork)
4oz golden syrup
1 egg

Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl.
Melt marg and syrup over medium heat in a saucepan
Make well in dry ingredients, pour in melted stuff.
Add beaten egg.
Bring it all together to a soft dough.
(If it's a bit sticky add a little more flour.)
Roll into smallish approx walnutish sized balls (or bigger if you like a huge biscuit)
Flatten slightly. They need plenty of room to spread out.
Place on baking paper on tray, we put 6 to a standard tray as these babies do grow.
190 degrees C.
10-15 mins depending on your oven. Watch em, they soon burn.
If you leave only 10 mins they should be a bit chewy in the middle, the longer you leave them the more biscuit like they are.
Makes 18-24 biscuits depending on size.

This grainy pic is of the 3 happy bunnies popping the bubble wrap the plates came in!

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Baking for Boyfriends

My eldest daughter brought her boyfriend home for tea today, (1st boyfriend, 1st visit) so I thought I ought to try and impress him! Got this recipe for strawberry swirls from Lilly Higgins' lovely blog. They are very easy to make but I think I overcooked mine a little and they were slightly crisp on the outside so we had them with custard.

They were very tasty, and the boyfriend was very nice too. What a relief! I expect I will have a huge baking repertoire by the time my 5th is bringing his girls home,( he is 3 at the moment.)

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Good Morning Campers

It's 6.55 am and I've just returned from my paper round. The birds are serenading us madly, it's nippy but the syrupy morning sunshine makes the sky look very promising from my front door. And it's my day off too, what joy. Hi-de-Hi!

Monday, 8 March 2010

New knitting

Have just cast on for Versatility from knitty issue fall 2008. I m knitting it in sirdar Click in marine blue. I am very excited about it. It's for my 16 yr old eldest daughter who is a bit edgy with her fashion choices. Pic to follow.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

A Grand Day Out

Yesterday I had a lovely day out at RHS Harlow Carr garden. It was organised by a new local group trying to inspire the public to "grow your own." I discovered them quite by chance whilst reading a free local paper in the butchers queue earlier in the week. I logged on to their website to find out more and lo and behold.... they were running this FREE trip yesterday. How lucky is that?

It was exceedingly cold and a bit grey, and unfortunately my camera battery ran out before I would have liked. But it is a beautiful garden, over 58 acres with woodland as well as formal planting and a lovely water area.

Here are a few pics. Look at this great big teapot leaf mould container, right outside Betty's outdoor tea shop.

These snowdrops were delightful on the edge of the woodland.

This is what I am aspiring to with my own fruit trees!

And this with my greenhouse!

Cacti for sale in the plant shop were so colourful, they reminded me of  a sweetshop.

My veg bed will soon be looking looking like this (in my dreams.) The bed surrounds were made from recycled plastic milk bottles apparently.

The cornus (dogwood I think) was so vibrant it looked almost artificial.

Some of the trees were stunning.

They also do lots of willow weaving and sculpture. This is a whale tail. The beech hedge in the background was magnificent.

The whole structure and  form of the garden is just so pleasing.

It was very inspiring to see such richness of colour and shape in a garden in the winter, when my own looks so bleak.

The alpine house was outstanding but my camera had died by then. And it's worth a visit just to buy from the plant shop. All the specimens were so well presented and vigorous.  I can't wait to visit later in the year when everything will be in bloom. Heartily recommended.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

A sight for sore eyes

What is it about blue skies and clean washing on the line that makes your heart skip?

And it was almost dry when I brought it in at 5pm.

Further joy was to be had when I happened upon the summer/autumn bulb collection in Lidl's today.....

Here are a few of my choices, (not good photos I'm afraid)




I was like a child in a sweet shop, positively drooling. and so very cheap at £2.29 per pack of three tubers. I only hope they turn out as lovely as the photos on the packaging.  I'm sorry my pics are so naff but I'm of the basic camera, take it out of box, point and shoot brigade. I would love to take photos like some of the wonderful examples on other blogs but I have so much I want to do and never enough time so photography skills are not at the top of my agenda at the mo I'm afraid. Hope that doesn't put folks off.