Monday, August 25, 2008

A nest for a puddin'

Here I am in Prague. Mush for brains last night, so packed a jumper and jeans. Not ideal in the heat of Prague!

No one is going out or meeting up, so thought I would stay in and chill out. Write my blog and catch up.

Dug up my main crop potatoes the day before yesterday. The leaves were looking decidedly tatty and possibly had blight. I didn't want to risk infecting the tomatoes, so up they came. Not a bad haul from a one metre bed. I chose Kind Edwards, as they get to a reasonable size for baked tatties. These ones didn't. Another month or so and they would have been perfect. Still, enough for at least 3 months. They were dried out on the patio table over night and are now bagged up in a triple layer paper sack and safely stored away in the outbuilding.

Now that we have a decent door that doesn't fall off it hinges, the outbuilding is water tight and safe. We plan to get some sort of shelving units and use the building for storage. Shelves heaving with jam and kilner jars. I can just see Jason's face!!

We had a wasps nest in the ensuite loft so I called out the local man to come over and blast them with powder. He noticed the Christmas puddings on the side and asked why I had so many. When I told him i made them to order, he said to put him down for one that feeds 8-10!!

We did a deal, he zapped the wasps and I will send him a pudding. Perfect. I can just imagine offering a pudding to someone in my old house in Town. Just wouldn't happen. I love where we live. So quiet and friendly. A real sense of belonging here.

My 22 jars of apple and damson jam have sold! A couple went to my hen course attendees and the rest to a friend of a friend who sells them to farm shops. He hopes his stall at the farmers market will be up and running soon. I also gave him a sample of my chilli oil, to see if that will sell too!

Less than 2 weeks until Jase and I go away for 9 days. Private villa, pool and sun. High walls and a bell on the gate in case you are walking around with only a pair of sunglasses on! Fat chance. I tend to wear a poncho.
Really need a break and I think it will do us the world of good. Not been an easy year so far, but life would be dull otherwise, wouldn't it? I would settle for dull at the moment to be honest. Too much crap going on in the world.

Anyway, have a couple of orders for Christmas puds and jams. The office is a dumping ground for spare jars, boxes, nice paper bags, cellophane and biscuit tins. I really must get it tidy.

Have finished my 'still life with chickens' book and it was quite good. Decided to try with Terry Pratchett again. Liked the last one from the Guards series, so have another one to try. Plus one about witches. Well, I had to get some points on my new Waterstones card, didn't I? I can't resist a book shop. Something homely about them. Has to be Waterstones or Ottakars though. They need more soft brown leather sofas in the shops though. Let me while away the hours.

The secret bramble patch that I sprinkled fertiliser on last year isn't ready yet. The berries are still green. I did find a wild apple tree close by though. Don't think it is a crab apple, as they are tiny aren't they? A little out of the way from the road, so it should be safe. Managed to park up and take a wander. Found millions of blackberries, but again, not ready yet. I hope they are still there when we get back. I would hate to miss out on a tub full o' berries. They make the most amazing jam and jellies. Will freeze some too for crumbles.

Enough of my ramblings, must dash.

Until next time.

C x x

Monday, August 18, 2008

'Frosty the snowman.........'

Christmas is alive and kicking! Well, at Farm Cottage anyway. To the dulcet tones of Dean Martin, with me on backing vocals, I gently creamed the butter and sugar together. Not a kitchen power tool in sight. The trusty wooden spoon and my new Mason Cash mixing bowl. With the bowl under my arm, a la Mrs Beeton, the kitchen was alive with festivites this afternoon. I was making Puddings!!

I do try and make them early. Some would say obsessive so, I think organised. I have already had a couple of orders for this years Christmas puddings, so thought I would get ahead of the game before the orders come flooding in!! It is now 24 minutes past midnight and they are still steaming away slowly.

I couldn't not have Christmas carols whilst stirring the pudding mixture. It wouldn't be right. I think it is law anyway. Some say I am barking mad. I prefer quirky *wink*

Funny when I see my roster and have 12 days off. Where have they gone?? I am back to work on Wednesday for a 3 day block.

Spent the other evening making jam. Not at lunchtime, the middle of the night. Screwed the last lid down at 12.30!!

Apple and damson jam

I made some smaller 'samples' for my Gran's hamper this year -

I went slightly overboard with the damson and apple and ended up with 22 jars. *oops* The plan is to sell them at a Farmers' market in a few weeks.

I made a small batch of plum and ginger jam today. It does taste good, even of I say so myself. 5 jars of that and 5 of apple and elderflower jelly. Beautiful colours and they look pretty good with their gingham tops.

Jase and I went to town, clothes shopping for our holiday. I did pretty well, with several tshirts, the obligatory polo shirt and a couple of jumpers. We then headed off to Camberley and whilst Jase had an opticians appointment, I popped into Waterstones and did a spot of book shopping. They now offer a loyalty card. 3 points for every £ spent. You probably have to spend a few hundreds pounds just to get the latest Jackie Collins, but it is something for nothing I guess.

I picked up a copy of Still life with chickens, which looks like a good read.

Ooooh, I have photgraphic evidence of the ROMD! (rabbit of mass destruction)!!

Not the best picture, but proof!! As long as he stays on the grass he is spared.

I need some advice. How much do I charge for a Christmas pudding that serves 4 (very generously)?? Each one is lovingly prepared, to the tune of 'The Christmas song', served in a ceramic bowl and wrapped in more sellophane and ribbon than you can shake a stick at. Garnished with home made dried orange slices and a cinnamon stick. I am thinking £15, but do want to sell at least one! Answers on a postcard please.

The oven is beeping and I hope to god they are ready. I need sleep!

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Give them a calculator!

I can't believe it is August already! I need to get Christmas preparations ready soon. I have the 24th-27th December as leave this year and the 28th dec-02nd Jan as my part time week!!! Taking into account my part time week 30th November-6th December and 7 days off that month, it is looking pretty good work wise!! only 10 days at work :0)

I think I will start doing the Christmas puddings this month. Give them time to mature before the big day. Not sure what we are doing this year as Jase didn't get leave yet (there is still hope) and with Mum's chemotherapy starting at the end of August, we don't know what to do for the best. Would love everyone to come here, light a fire and have a very chilled out time, but don't think that is going to happen somehow.

I haven't mentioned my Mum on here as yet. I know she reads this, as she is the one who nags me to update it all the time. Needless to say, she is doing very well, always smiling and looking on the positive side of things. Treatment is plodding on, well steaming along actually and the outlook is fantastic. She is very strong. Stronger than me. You know where I am if you need me. Love you Mum. X x x

Winifred, Elsbeth and Prudence are all moulting gradually, but still laying. We had 2 eggs today, Laverne doesn't come into the equation as she has more or less retired now. Having said that she did lay 2 eggs the other day. One whopper and a soft egg. The other girls laid too, so 5 eggs from 4 chickens!! Not bad! They obviously can't do maths.

Mum and Dad came down today, so I baked some gingerbread men. And stars. And chickens of course!! They do taste good. Christmas hamper fillers I think.

We went to the garden centre and I bought a couple of giant chrysanthemums (can't believe I spelt that correctly)! and a large tub of Gladioli 'Jester' - no idea what colour they are, will google later. The man at the till didn't know how much they were, so said "Give me a pound"! Mum grabbed a pot too! *wink*

Time to head off to the sofa and finish my book - The Book Thief. Brilliant, so far! read 3/4 of it in a few days.

Jase should be home from Madrid soon, just checked and he is an hour late! Typical on your last day isn't it?

Bye for now!

C x x x