Friday, 31 July 2015

Will Power, hm, more like Austin Powers

I am not afraid to say that I gave up and made a small batch of Strawberry Jam, just 4 jars and a taster. I just thought "what the heck, life is too short" and made it.
I was talking to  my next door but 2 neighbour and he wanted to know what I was doing, and when I told him, he made a cheeky comment about scones and cream. As soon as the jam was ready to pot I poured some into a little dish, whipped up some cream and made this tray up. I had the scone mix made and ready to slide into the oven after the jars came out.
He was, for once, speechless. Then off he trotted to indulge, closely followed by Rufus his Puggle ( Pug x Beagle).

I have also fallen by the wayside with my plans for today. Well I reasoned that you may as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb. The planned work indoors went out the window and I went in the garden.
The Honey Berries are now in the ground, I have moved another plant into the middle bed and topped up with some more soil. There is another pot out there and some wild strawberry runners, I have put a cluster in one corner.
In the back I have weeded all down the side where the raised beds will be going and measured out for them. The patio area is going to be extended and that has been marked out also. 
While Mr Muscle is willing I will take advantage keep him occupied. After all The Devil makes work for idle hands and unused muscle soon turns to flab.

Dinner needed to be substantial so the rest of the Impossible Quiche and a rice salad with a drizzle good glug of balsamic vinegar did the trick.

Tomorrow I am off to see James, Cerys and the children so will be shattered when I get home. I am looking forward to it, I am thinking of looking round the Castle, it just depends on what Junior and Kaitlin want to do.

Now then, I expect you think that I must have grown a little will power, 'fraid not.

Pudding, lovely.

The jam was still just warm and it is soooo good.

Now Ben needs a walk and after all that so do I.

     TTFN                                                                   Pam

Thursday, 30 July 2015

What a Difference a (sunny) Day Makes

The sun shone bright and clear today. I hit the ground running and got Ben walked bright and early and got into the kitchen.
I baked a cake for friends and once cool sliced it up, wrapped individually and delivered straight to their freezer

Banana and a little mixed fruit.
If I do not slice and freeze it only lasts for a day and a half. Washing done and on the line by 9 giving me time to whizz round and do a few jobs.
 I picked Maggie up and took her shopping as usual and then settled down to some work, with lots and lots of help.

I decided on a pair of arches, because it is open they are buried 2' into the soil, one is there the second is started

It is looking promising.

There they are done. I am very pleased with how it is looking, the center still needs some more topsoil added, tomorrows job. At the front of each arch will be a Honeyberry, I found  a pair in Wyevale for half price, and as I have a card I got a further 10% off so the pair cost me £9.
I am not sure what to grow on the backs, I did wonder about a hardy Kiwi, but will do a little research.

I have this in the yard, what do you see?

Yup, trick question, it is not just a pile of planks. What you are looking at are three raised beds. 6' by 3' by 12" tall for the grand sum of £45, I have a large tub of dark oak stain for them that cost £2.99 and there are more than enough screws and off cuts of wood to join at the corners and make legs to hammer into the ground.

Have you seen the price of raised beds, I think that I have a bargain.

Finally, in the interest of spreading tidiness through the house I have turfed these out of various hidey holes and will be taking them to Cardigan on Saturday. James and Cerys never seem to have enough mugs, this donation should help.

Now I am off to find some dinner, I have a hungry man in the garden who deserves a meal and I am quite peckish myself.

      TTFN                                                         Pam

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

A Bargainicious Day

I like Wednesdays, some people call them "the hump" as once you are over them the week is over halfway through. I use them to gauge how my week is progressing. This one tells me that I have done well, there are only 2 and a bit things left on my list and I intend to get through them by Saturday evening.

This Wednesday is a Red Letter Day though. First the sun was shining, always an auspicious start to any day. Second the Postie brought me a parcel, small so obviously something lovely, oh boy but it was soooo lovely.
Sooze, Her Indoors, Him Outdoors, had very kindly sent me a gift.

A glorious crochet wash cloth, some heavenly soap and a very pretty card. I will be using these, even though I could quite easily put the crochet in a frame and hang it in my sewing room. Thank you very much Sooze.

I went out this morning to help a friend and neighbour find a Gazebo, that did not happen but I found some ab fab bargains.
The shop that we went to is closing for a complete refurb and all the stock is on sale, 30 - 40 % off.
I saw so many things to tempt my hand into my purse but resisted until I saw these

A telescopic lopper and saw, 40% off and a reliable make. I have quite a bit of tall shrubby growth to remove so snapped this up.

I had a look at the plants, most of them were gone over or battered about, then I spotted these little hostas. Both just had to be mine, I am looking for plants for a shady area. Even better when I got to the tills, which were snowed under, neither would scan. The operator called for help but nobody came. The area supervisor came over and tried to scan, looked at the queue and just gave them to me. Woop Woop.
The one on the left is a pale pink and the other will be lilac. I have pots for them and will be potting them on when they start to die back. The pink is actually 2 small plants and both my ones in the garden are large and will need to be divided so I will have 7.

I fancied something light but nutritious so finding a fat courgette decided on fritter/Bahjis. Grated cougette, 3 heaped Tbsp Gram flour, 1 egg and a splash of milk, salt, pepper and ground cumin, mixed together till a stiff batter and drop in spoonfuls in a hot pan. 3 minutes, or thereabouts, each side and a dollop of mint and yogurt stirred together on the side.
Just the ticket, I may round it off with a fresh peach later. They were on half price offer in Lidl last weekend, and were less than 10p each.
Now to my list, the last job in the sewing room is done.

A simple job, My thread holder is now screwed to the wall and my two scrap bins are under it, under them is my bin of large yardage cuts, 3 mtrs and upwards. The sewing room is done......for now.
The quilt that was on the frame is done and off, I will be binding it tomorrow, and the next one will go on later.
I have 2 more quilts to get done this week and as they are small it will not take too long. 
Then I can start the next list, first job is the slobbers that I have to make. The overlocker is ready, blade lowered to make sewing round the pockets easy and the fabric is pressed and hung out ready to go.

Yesterdays post was a bit disjointed, I had a mostly sleepless night and was rather woolly headed. I love my new iron, I never ever thought that sentence would come from my brain.

Now it is time to feed Ben and settle him down for the evening, maybe a cuppa and and look through the net for shade loving plants.

              TTFN                                                  Pam

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

A Ramble Round My Day

A better start to the day, a little grey cloud but mostly sunshine.
I settled for banana pancakes, this time I added 3 dessert spoons of gram flour and a little baking powder, they were very light and fluffy, 1 banana and 1 egg gave me 4, too much really.

I did not add any syrup and they were lovely, the gram flour gave a light nutty taste almost turning them to banoffee cakes.

After breakfast I managed to get a load of washing done and dried, and soon it will be ironed. 

A couple of years ago I bought myself an Olisso iron from the US, I had seen them used by several quilters, including Jenny Doan from Missouri Star Co.

See the little feet, as soon as you take your hand off they drop down, no need to use the iron rest, they are never big enough, and no scorch marks.

 I knew that I would need a transformer but other things took my mind away from it. Then I buckled down and bought one and then left them both in their boxes, I can be a dim wit at times.
Now they are out and in use and it has made ironing a pleasure. I nearly said Joy but there are limits!

The transformer is not pretty but it is not huge and sits on the floor quite happily, the iron lead is very long so I can tuck the box out of the way.

I have been out in the garden, tied up the sweet peas and pegged down some more strawberry runners. I have 4 varieties and have not bothered to keep them separate, they will be going into troughs soon and then onto stands. I want to keep them away from the slugs, I will net them as well to make sure that the birds do not get at them.
Ben is now letting me know that he would really like to go for a walk.
I bit of a ramble today, and now I am off for another with Ben.
                      TTFN                                         Pam

Monday, 27 July 2015

Monday Almost Finish

The sewing room is not quite finished, I have extended the work and there is one job left to be done tomorrow. This end of the room is however complete.

These white book shelves were in the sitting room and had become overstuffed dumping grounds. All my sewing bits and bobs, buttons, ribbons, zips and so on are now just behind the sewing cabinet. All the feet and tools for each machine are in their own boxes right to hand. My craft books and mags, patterns and the little things that I may need are all an arms length away. On the far left is a pretty hand painted cupboard that I got from Maggie, all her own work. 
The shelves that were here are now in the glory hole and have made that a much better place.

The pretty painted cupboard hides a secret, it opens out to reveal a modern piece of office furniture. On the top are 2 baskets, one has my Christmas scraps and the other has larger pieces and some yardage.

The pile of sewing in the middle are quilt tops waiting to go on the frame, to their right is a fabric bowl full of pincushions. On the right is a collection of small hardware for my sewing. Bells, D rings, Bag clasps. press studs, magnetic bag closures etc. On the left are small screwdrivers, tweezers, a magnet, pens and fabric markers, quilting pins all the odds and sods that I may need.
There are still things to go in here, I will probably shuffle things around until I feel comfortable with the arrangement. 

I even have room for all my cookery and gardening books on the shelves, and my tins of seeds can live here as well.

I made bread today and as the oven was on whipped up another Impossible Quiche. I did not bother with a recipe, just what veg I had to hand, eggs, cheese (half price and less) and some milk with 1/3rd of a tub of soft cheese, to give it some body I whisked in 3 tbp Gram Flour, it was delicious.

Half and half.

Ab Fab.

The washing up is done, kitchen put to rights and I am about to slob in front of the telly for a change.

                          TTFN                                        Pam

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Sunday Workout

The rain duly swept in overnight, I am sooo glad that I made the most of yesterday.
Mind you I am pretty pleased with today also, I have done some juggling in the sewing room but it is not ready to share yet. That just means that there are so many piles on the floor that I can not get a decent pic of what I have done. Tomorrow there will be a car load going to the CS and Tuesday another to the library.

I may have got a bit carried away, the sitting room has been completely turned around and is done......I have to sit in comfort.

The view from the door way BB. ( before Ben) Once he gets going the cushions will be arranged to his liking.

Ben,s nest. His choice, it was in front of the radiator but he decided to move it, I just noticed that he also took his cushion off the sofa as I walked over to take the pic. Men!

As I still have not made my mind up as to the curtain/blind/colour/pattern situation I have got the fairy lights back up here as well as the book case.

For the second time this week the Glory Hole has been emptied. This time the shelf units have been changed and my store of chutneys and preserves has gone in. Also a stack of things that are only used at odd times, this has freed up space in the kitchen. NOT to be filled again but to give me more room. I am not shouting at you, just myself.

Tools on the right, those mugs have got to go, there are just too many.

Kitchen stuff on the left. At the back is the table saw and all the drills, saws, routers etc etc that I may just use one day. The bright light is the reflection from my Winter Dog Walking trousers, not only waterproof but Hi Viz, essential in the dark mornings and evenings.

The books, DVD,s and CD,s are waiting to be sorted through. Some will go on the book case in the sitting room, some will go on shelves upstairs and some will be packed away.

By this time tomorrow the sewing room will be finished, I can not cope with it any longer than that I need to get quilting.
I had a visit from Hilary of  Isabeau Inspirations yesterday, she brought me some 4 1/2" squares and a pack of scraps. She really is a wonderful friend, it is handy living just a few houses apart she just calls in on the way home.

Just noticed the time, better get in the kitchen and find some dinner.

The title, oh yes, I can assure you that I have had a good workout today.

                 TTFN                                                      Pam

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Hip Hip Hooray, Sunshine Today

At last, a full day in the garden, most of the work in the front garden is complete, just the original middle bed to be cleared and more soil added to raise the level. Then it will be a waiting game for my bare root roses and ground cover perennials in October, not forgetting the bulbs that I will be putting in. I will also put some primulas and winter pansies in. 

 The edging has been capped, the turf has gone and soil has been added to most of the central bed. It is beginning to look like the picture in my head. 

These roses were here when I moved in, they are scented and although old have responded to pruning and feeding.

There are still some flowers on my Quince, and some weeds there too, tut tut.

The Hostas are looking good, I do intend to find a few more. I have never had them before and am so pleased that I kept them in the back garden where there are very few slugs, and none of the large black Keeled ones.

These are just 2 of the Oca's that Dawn from Doing it for ourselves in Wales gave me. There are 2 that have remained quite small but the rest have filled their pots, I am hoping for a reasonable harvest. I will be growing theses again next year.

The apples are looking very good, I have taken more than half the fruit off after the June drop as I did not want to put too much strain on the trees, this is their first year out of pots.

Next week I hope to get the timber for 3 raised beds for the back garden, they will be for veg, the fruit will go directly into the ground. I have put in 2 Rhubarb today and have Gooseberry, Blackcurrant, Jostaberry and Honeyberry in pots ready for planting later in the year. I also have some small Rhubarb plants that I grew from seed, I am as pleased with those as I am with the rest of the garden put together. I have never seen the seed before and just tried it as an experiment, I have 8  and gave 6 away, I will have to remember to take a photo.

My neighbour has finally started work on the jungle, he has cut a load of undergrowth down and had a bonfire. I am so pleased, he is going to remove the Holly stump and has offered to help me clear the straggly Hawthorn at the top of my garden.

It is supposed to rain again tomorrow, if so I will be finishing the sewing room tidy up, and the ironing.
Now it is time for a brew.

                             TTFN                                         Pam

Friday, 24 July 2015

Blowing in The Wind

I did a rain dance yesterday specially for Sue in Suffolk, the problem is that the wind was obviously blowing the wrong way and we got the rain. So no gardening for me, more sewing room tidy up.
I pulled small prints from the stash and started cutting 5" charms, some will become HST,s and some will form 4 patch blocks. I have a design in mind but there will be no sewing until the tidy up is done and at least 3 quilt tops have been on the frame and finished.
I have a shoe box that is not far off being filled with charms in a rainbow of colours, once full I will then cut white charms, I need 80 for the pattern that I have in mind. I will need double that number in coloured charms, and although I have more than enough cut I will fill that box.  Having 5" charms ready cut is for me a bit like having pastry mix ready in the fridge, it is a short cut. They form the basis of many blocks HST's, Flying Geese, Bears Paw etc and make 4 patch assembly a piece of cake.

Tomorrow it will be gardening or I will tackle the quilt that is on the frame, it is small so I should get it quilted in a day and the next loaded up. I have to complete three fast as I have 4 pairs of slobbers to make and the fabric is just sitting there waiting for me.
I will be making bread as well but no cakes this time.
It is now so dark that I have turned the lights on, I could not see to type.
Ben is ready for another walk, hopefully we will manage it without getting too wet.

                TTFN                                                          Pam

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Tidy, Tidy, Tidy, TIRED

Ooh what a day, I have been at it for hours. But the results are great, even though I am only part way to the finish.

I have tipped out all my scrappy boxes, there were several and a couple of bags full.
Now I have these two of small scraps and part made scrappy blocks.

This is what is left after sifting through 4 of these boxes that were full to the brim. Some has gone to be recycled and most has been put in the proper places.

They are destined to be made into a 10" by 74" strip which will bring a quilt top up to the size that I want it. When that is done I am going to try very very hard to get rid of the leftovers.
I know that it seems wasteful but I have hauled them around for what seems like forever. Using and topping up, rinse and repeat until they have become an irritation.

This has different sized squares and some strips in it, they are ready to become a small scrappy something, time will tell.

Also I have this to deal with,

My new fabric storage bags, all in use. I have not made a brown one because A, there is no room for it and B, I do not use much brown.

In the bottom of this unit is a cupboard full of my iron in interfacings, probably enough to last me a few years, there was a sale on at least 18 months ago and I went to town.

This shoe storage thingy sits on top and hold my larger pieces of fabric, boxed by colour and collection, the solids are all together.
The top row holds ready made binding and backing fabrics.

These are the only 2 shelves that I can photo without doing a limbo under the quilting frame, the boxes  hold anything smaller than a fat quarter and bigger than a 5" square, and are segregated by colour. Most of the 5"  charm squares are in another box waiting to be allocated a new home, or to become part of the Cathedral Window experiment.

I 'fess up to the fact that I do have 10 large bins full, and 2 boxes of fabric awaiting my attention. Most of this is made up of 3 or more yard lengths, part bolts of backing fabric, vintage linen and childrens fabrics. There are also several duvet covers, all bought very cheap in the sales. I need to go through them and find out just what I have in them.

I did manage to do a little sewing, just 4 Cathedral Window blocks, these are made with 5" charms but using a wider seam, once they are finished I will share. I think that they will become a cushion.

Once again it has been a mixed bag of weather, although the sun has been out for the past 2 hours and is still shining bright. No sewing tomorrow, fingers crossed, I hope to be in the garden all day.

Dinner tonight will be a veg curry with courgette fritters, I am going to use Gram flour so I ought to say courgette bhaji.

The new edging has been capped and I hope to get the rest of the turf moved tomorrow, I have some plants to go in and some on order. I did look in Lidl when I shopped but there was nothing for me. I also went over the road and looked at Home Bargains, they get their new plants in on Thursday afternoon but nothing there either. Perhaps a trip to the car boot on Sunday will be in order.

That's all from me for today, I am tired after all the lifting and sorting, plus I need to get in the kitchen and start slicing and dicing.

                    TTFN                                                  Pam

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

More rain, more bags, more cake.

Yesterday was a true mixed bag, sunshine, rain and intermittent strong gusts of wind. I threw in the towel regarding the garden and decided to sew and bake.
I made another 3 storage bags, yellow, red and green, all have been loaded with the appropriate colour fabrics.

The yellow and green are not as pale as they look, they were both made from pillow cases, there is enough fabric to make a bag and have scraps in each case.

I have 3 more cut out ready to start, floral, dark and grey. I may make an orange one or perhaps use the yellow bag for both colours, time will tell. I will keep my eyes open for a suitable orange fabric, I do not have any in the stash that I want to cut up yet.

I went out for dinner last night to friends, I cooked it and took with me as a treat for them.
First I made some cakes, coffee and walnut.

I use paper tin liners and when I got the new packet out realised that they were for 2lb tins, hey ho, I used one anyway. It was not too unsightly and I portioned that cake up for the freezer. The other went with me, it became pudding with some clotted cream ice cream. Very Yum.

I picked a handful of strawberries and raspberries from the garden to make a fresh fruit cake. The mix looked a little slack so I threw in a good scoop of coconut, put 3/4 of the mix into a lined tin added the fruit and then dolloped the rest of the cake mix on the top. It sank just a little in the middle as it cooled but smells so good. 

For dinner I made a one pot wonder, Chicken, Bacon and veg cobbler. There are carrots, mushrooms, celery, peas, green beans and sweetcorn in there under the cobbles, all in a creamy sauce made with milk and chicken stock. 
I just rubbed some butter into SR flour added a pinch of salt and a grinding of black pepper then added the leaves from a few sprigs of thyme, I bound it to a loose mix with an egg and some milk then just pulled lumps off with my fingers and dropped them on the filling.

It served 4 very generously and we had some spring greens on the side.

Now it looks as if this wet morning is trying to clear out, Ben has had his walk, the vacuum has been whizzed round upstairs and the bathroom has had a birthday.
I am off to inspect the garden and see if I can work outside yet, if not it will be sewing time.

              TTFN                                                             Pam

PS, I will be popping the parcel in the post today Sooze. 

Monday, 20 July 2015

A day to Experiment

Yesterday became a restful day, the weather was mixed so just some pottering in the garden and a long walk in the park for Ben. 
The decision was made to cap the wooden edging in the front garden, the wood was duly stained but I could not find the long panel pins. A side trip to B & Q today while I was in Neath has solved the issue. Strangely I did not promptly find the ones I was convinced that I had when I returned home.

It will have to wait until tomorrow, it has been raining quite heavily here all day.

I watched a bit of Sunday Brunch yesterday, the telly just happened to be on that channel. Simon Rimmer was making a super duper lasagne, a layer of macaroni cheese, then one of meat sauce, another of macaroni cheese, a few dollops of Mozzarella then a topping of breadcrumbs and grated parmesan with some butter rubbed in. Not a calorie in sight.

It looked very good so I made one for tonight.

I wish you could smell this, it is gorgeous, and it tasted even better.
Not a dish to make weekly but every now and then for a treat.

While I was in the mood to play I remembered that I had a tutorial from The Missouri Star Quilt Co to watch. A simple way to make the Cathedral Window block.
I watched and I did look simple, none of the pressing, folding and more pressing and folding.  Just a stack of charm squares, and a little pressing.
Well I made a version of the one that Jenny made but I am not over pleased with it. I used my normal 1/4" seam and it is too small. The points are too far apart and the thick layers at the seams made sewing and pressing difficult. I will be making it again but will use a wider seam and will tack the middle seams to hold the layers together before machining.

I used my happy red and white polka dots and managed to get a crease in that, DUH.
I will be stitching the binding down later, I have no idea what I will do with it. I made it on a whim, just because.
If anyone would like it for a table topper drop me a comment, it would be fine with a bowl of fruit or a vase of flowers or a plant on it.
It measures 25 1/2" by 18".
Now the washing up is calling and Ben would rather like another walk.

                TTFN                                                              Pam