Thursday, December 31, 2009

Chickens on ice!

Morning everyone! I DID make it home! Arrived back on the 22nd of December in the early evening. Panic hadn't quite set in, but I did have visions of spending Christmas in Manchester!

Haven't been around much as Festivities seem to get in the way of blogging.

Spent Christmas eve chilled out wrapping presents. Ridiculously late - not like me at all, but time ran away with me this year.

On Christmas morning, we lit the fire and opened our presents. I did very well! A Nigella colander, 6 1/2 litres Le Parfait jars (yes, I was excited)! A huge bag of M&M's from the M&M factory in Las Vegas (Jase had been the week before), an Abercrombie and Fitch hoodie - I am now 'down with the kids', a Coke thermos mug for my early morning drive to work, enviromesh and fleece for the veggie garden, to scupper those pests, and lots of other bits and bobs.

Jase is loving the OWL electricity monitor I bought him. Think I might regret it though. He keeps turning the lights off!
My Mum, Dad & Gran popped over in the afternoon and we had nibbles, before they headed home. Christmas dinner was served at 5.30 and we were too stuffed to have the pudding I made, so settled for Dime bar cheesecake instead!

On Boxing day we all descended on my Parents and had a really nice day with my Niece and Nephew, who were very patient and waited until after lunch to open their presents. We left around 8.30pm as we were driving to Scotland the next day.

We planned to leave at 7.30am for the long drive to Ayr, but didn't get up until 7.45, so that put us back a bit! The journey was fine apart from a traffic jam somewhere on the M5 - it all blurs into one after a while. Made a few pit stops to refuel on Coffee (tea for me), but arrived safely around 5pm. Had a very relaxing time, with J's Mum force feeding us home made treats, chocolates and cakes! We did plan to stay until the 30th, but a severe weather warning around Wales/the Midlands forced us to leave on the 29th and drive back, praying the snow wouldn't start! Shame we had to leave early, but better than being stuck on the motorway, with not enough food! Heaven forbid!

Realised I haven't posted any Christmas pictures, so here you go!

Rita, the Christmas tree. The name seemed to suit her!

The fireplace complete with wooden reindeer, made by next door as part of our Christmas present!

You have to have a box of treats on the coffee table!

I couldn't bring myself to stick cards to our new doors with sellotape, so hung ribbons from the pegs at the back and stapled cards to them. Looks much nicer IMO. Must get the pinking shears out to make tags for next year!

Jase left for work at 6am this morning and I got up not long after. I am back on the 4th January, so a bit of time to get stuff done. I have promised next door that I would make her a tartan scottie dog cushion. Have the fabric and pattern ready, just need to muster the energy. Haven't sewn for a couple of weeks, but every time I sit down to do it, I think about the state of the chicken area, garden and veggie plot and the thousand and one other jobs that need doing.

January isn't too busy roster-wise. A couple of 3 days trips and my annual check - jumping out of mock up planes, pretending to evacuate and playing nurse with resuss-Annie! 3 days of classroom stuff. Yuck. We are heading up to Glasgow for a weekend to visit friends, so that'll be good.

Still no eggs from the free loaders. They are fine and very content, eating little and often and pleased that their run is no longer 2 inches thick with ice. They refused to come out of their run, even for corn, but mealworms did tempt them eventually. Winifred the brave, was first out. using her claws like a rock climbing pro, to stab the ice and get her grip. Elsbeth came flying around the corner, slipped, and skidded around the run on her fluffy knickers! The others were more sensible and waited until I put the mealworms inside their covered run!

If it stays dry, then I will clean them out tomorrow and Saturday. Thinking it will be about 4-5 wheelbarrows of used bedding from the covered runs, but I have an empty compost bin now.

Next door are away over New Year, so we are on Bantam watch. At least we will get some eggs!

Have put on a bit of weight I think. My New Years resolution is to stop weighing myself. There is no need. If my clothes are tight, I have put on weight, why did I need to know the figure??? It only gets you down! Actually, scrub that. I am not making any New Year's resolutions. I do want to learn more about photography and set up my website shop, but that has nothing to do with NYRs. Just something I want to do and now is a good time.

Will change the bedding today and get some cash out. MUST have fresh sheets and a small amount of cash for New Year's day. Just something I always do. Quirky, but very me.

Will leave you with a nice picture of my Father Christmas! Hope you all have a very happy and healthy New year!

C x x x

Monday, December 21, 2009

He's a lumberjack....

Well, the snow clouds built up nearly as quickly as my excitement after reading the weather forecast last week! Sadly, we only had a sprinkling of the white stuff, but freezing temperatures. Luckily I was off work, so wasn't affected by the runways closing and mass chaos on the roads and airports!

My Paris and back flight was cancelled yesterday, but I noticed before I left for work. Decided to pack my bags and take my stand by stuff in with me. Lucky really as at 9pm I was given a Manchester night stop. As the runway had been closed on and off all day, we didn't leave Heathrow until 1am! Landed safely around 1.35, but that meant we were unable to fly back today, so got an extra day off in Manchester today! Am due to leave tomorrow on the 'red eye' at 7am. Not operating though - flying back as a passenger!

Woke up late this morning and headed for the town centre. Christmas shopping all done, so was able to browse at leisure without the usual frantic 'I must get so and so something.........anything'! The German Christmas market is still here, so wandered around the stalls and picked up a few bits for decorating presents that I still need to wrap. Lots of pressies. I have wrapped Jason's, but the rest will be done tomorrow and Wednesday. Got chatting to a lady on a tree decorations stall and she gave me a discount as I spoke to her in German! Everywhere has proper snow and i nearly went arse over tit a few times.

Was disappointed that there was a distinct lack of Currywurst at the market, so made do with a dish of sliced potatoes and bacon bits, followed by a hog roast roll. Extra crackling. Well, it is Christmas!

Wednesday was supposed to be my last day until I finished for Christmas, but I had a leave day on hold. Pleased to see it has been granted, so once back tomorrow, I am off until the New Year!!

A few Christmas puddings still to wrap up and deliver, plus mince pies to bake for the neighbours. They are heading up to Sheffield before Christmas so need to bake and wrap them pretty soon.

I bumped into a lady from work yesterday, who ordered 4 Christmas puddings and 6 jars of jams for friends. She said she needed a word with me. I was slightly anxious, but as it turned out, she had already eaten one of the puddings as she said it smelt so nice. There was me thinking she had found mouse droppings in one!! As if. *wink* My mice are toilet trained!

We are spending Christmas day at home and then off to Mum and Dad's for Boxing day. Everyone will be there, so need to get there early to help Mum with the annual veg prep! On the 27th we are driving to Ayr to see Jason's Mum and Sister, then back down on the 30th as Jase is back to work on the 31st! Will all be a bit of a rush, but we should have plenty of turkey and stuffing sandwiches for the drive up! My favourite bit of Christmas - the left overs. Not that I am food obsessed!!!!

Metcheck is forecasting snow in our area for tomorrow. Hope I make it home in time. The fridge is full to bursting and we have logs stacked up by the front door! Jase is out chopping logs and kindling as I type. We borrowed next door's mega axe to chop some huge logs down into a more burnable size. Our axe could be used in a panto version of Pocahontas, as it is ridiculously small and only good for display purposes!

He isn't answering his mobile, so I hope he still has all his limbs. Probably out locking up the girls. We are looking after next door's bantams for a few days, so at least we are getting eggs. Ours are still not laying, even Elsbeth, the only egg provider, has decided to moult now.

The flights into Manchester are seriously delayed now, so I hope they don't cancel them tonight. Means I won't be getting home tomorrow and my hips can't cope with more hog roast rolls!

Have a lovely run up to Christmas and 'speak soon'!

C x x

EDIT! Spoke too soon. The last flight up from Heathrow has been cancelled so I guess I won't be getting home tomorrow morning *sad little face*

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas market

Sometimes I forget how lucky I am. Take today for instance. Up at the crack of dawn, but walking around the Christmas market in Basel by 11.30 this morning! Luckily, the two crew with me are big kids too, and got really excited wandering around, taking in the smells and sights of the festive season. It is so nice wandering the streets, peeping through shop windows and seeing what they have 'in store'.

I didn't realise how expensive it was in Switzerland. The prices are at least double the rest of Europe, so we all agreed to hold on until tomorrow, when we are off to Frankfurt to do it all over again!! The market is only a 5 minute bus ride away and huge, so we will meet up and sample the 'proper' Currywurst, sausage with curry sauce and chips!

I have been going to German Christmas markets since I was very little. The one in Bremen usually, but not for several years now. Little wooden huts, crammed with wooden toys, candles and the like. Wonderful. The smell of Gluhwein and sausages gets you feeling the Christmas spirit. I defy any Scrooge to visit a German market and not come out feeling Festive.

I have had a couple of days off, but with the dark afternoons and miserable weather, it has flown by. I managed to sew a couple of felt Christmas trees with chunky trunks and took pictures, but forgot to load them on my laptop, so will do so later this week. Edit - here you go -

Jase is off to Las Vegas today. His friend is working the flight and thought he would like 4 days away for a pre-Christmas break. I miss him already. I am away for 3 days, so the hens are fending for themselves, with next door popping in to check on them. No eggs for a few days as they are still moulting, but it has turned colder and they aren't looking too happy. I'm sure they are fine, apart from the state of their run. They don't mind, as they happily scratch around in the mud, but I must clean them out soon. Just finding the time, dry weather and hoping my back can cope.

I went into Town on Friday and finished off the last of our Christmas shopping. It was vile. Absolutely heaving with people. So glad it is all done. Working until Wednesday, then 3 days off. 3 days of Christmas preps and getting the house in order.

I watched Kirsty's Homemade Christmas on Channel 4 the other night and loved it. Over 3 nights, she tried to bring the spirit of Christmas back, i.e. homemade stuff on the cheap - ish. Some of her ideas were a little, erm......expensive, but on the whole her enthusiasm was infectious and got me in the mood.

I bought 2 large jars (as if I need an excuse with my jar fetish), filled them with sweets, glow in the dark figures and finished them off with fabric for my Niece and Nephew as stocking fillers. Again, pics taken but not on my laptop yet! Some of the ideas I have written down for next year as I won't have time before Christmas now.

edit - pic added -

Bought the tree on my way home and she is sitting in an old watering can in the garden until I am ready to bring her in and 'embelish'. That is a mammoth task, but one of my favourite Christmas jobs. Unlike writing cards!! They are sat on the desk, taunting me. I know I have to write them but it is the most mind numbing job in the world!!!

Next door were away for a couple of days, so I offered to look after their Bantams. They do make me laugh. The way they waddle like little, fluffy wind-up hens and squeak like guinea pigs. They are still laying really well and the eggs were very welcome.

I have enough brown parcel paper to wrap Terminal 5, so should be ok when the marathon wrapping session begins later this week. It will be a fest of cinnamon sticks, baubles, dried orange slices and ribbon. My precious ribbon, that I am loathed to use and would rather save, but it is the season of goodwill after all! It usually takes me a few hours to wrap all my pressies, but with Carols on my ipod speakers, I enjoy it. The Christmas lights are up on the kitchen shelf and Jase didn't seem to mind the extra set that appeared around the window!!

Right then, the cards are winking at me and desperate to get written. Will update the pictures when I get home......!

Have a good week everyone!

C x x

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Do you want to know?

Happy December everyone!! Not long now until the jolly fat man arrives with his bulging sack! Cannot believe that Christmas it nearly here. Strange, as it is the same date every year, but comes around so quickly.

Would you like an update on my Craft stall?? *wink*

Saturday, 7.50am. Sat in my Mini at the craft centre, listening to Michael Buble on the radio. Maggie, the organiser of the fair - handed the role at the last minute, arrives jangling keys to let me in. I am the first and have 30 minutes or so of peace before the Pros appear. I have learnt that the Craft circuit is a very close knit affair. You are either liked or not. I was liked, luckily. I was referred to as a 'Newbie' on more than one occasion!

By 10am my stall was set up and I had a chance to look around and see what else was on offer. The Ladies opposite me, were a formidable force. Organised to an extreme, with each one slotting into the pecking order, governed by the 'top hen'. Garden centre green appeared to be the uniform for the Andover Farmers market stall. I have a feeling that any other colour would have been frowned upon. Cakes, mince pies, hyacinths everywhere and knitted goods were on offer. I affectionately called them 'The Coven'.

I later found out they were once the local W.I, but 'things turned nasty and it wasn't a pleasant time'. Juicy gossip that I didn't get the chance to hear.

I think I did really well on day one. The stall wasn't in the best location, being next to the door, as people would stop and look and then get moved along by others arriving. I still enjoyed it and managed to sell most of my jam and mincemeat.

Would you like to see a couple of pictures? I went for the cluttered, cottage feel to my stall (mainly because I had so much stuff)!!

I had a couple of surprise visitors! Caroline, who leaves comments on my blog, arrived. She bought a few things and then announced who she was!! Then Charlotte and - I want to say Vanessa, but think that is wrong? - introduced themselves. They had travelled from W.Sussex especially to see the stall! I was incredibly touched that you all took the time to pop in and say hello. Really, really kind of you all!

On Sunday, the weather was dreadful but I still sold a fair bit. My friend Yvonne came down to help and manned the stall very well. She is booked for next year!! Yes, I will be doing it again next year. It was worth the time and effort! I have been advised to do the Michaelmas fayre in September too.

I even made a couple of contacts! Sue, 'bespoke jewellery' and June 'the Fudge Lady' invited me to a craft fair in Lyndhurst on Tuesday this week! They called it the 'Turkey and Tinsel' lot. I referred to them as the Blue Rinse Brigade. At least I managed to write a few Christmas cards, whilst they rifled through my wares! I picked up a copy of 'It's a Wonderful Life' which I have been after for ages. A must see film I have been told. And a few stocking fillers from other stall holders. Even got a 'traders discount'.

(Top tip, don't eat sausage rolls that were supposed to be put in the freezer for Christmas, whilst typing your blog. Flaky pastry is a nightmare to get out of the keyboard)!

I spent today putting everything away and reclaiming the house. The lounge is no longer a resting place for fabric, no sign of raffia and my sewing machine has been put away (until tomorrow, when I am making something for the Omlet secret Crafty swap)! The office now resembles some sort of normality and you can actually see the carpet. Made a long list of jobs to do over the next few days.

  1. Sort out chicken area - like a swamp with the incessant rain we are having. Holding a chicken course on Saturday and might have to issue inflatable arm bands.
  2. Tidy lounge/kitchen - done
  3. Write Christmas cards - my most loathed job in the world.
  4. Make a scottie dog cushion for next door.
  5. Make a ************** for the Omlet Craft swap
  6. Take Jase's old clothes to charity bin
  7. Write blog - work in progress........
  8. Make scottie dog brooch for Charlotte - brown button on collar!
  9. Sew initials on several stockings. Hope my embroidery is up to it??
Plus all the other boring things, like food shopping, changing the bed sheets, making fudge, mince pies (never tire of fudge and/or mince pies)!

Now that I have updated my blog, I think I will chill out for the evening. I have a couple of Christmas magazines, John Seymours Complete Guide to Self-sufficiency and a fire. Bliss. Fairy lights are up in the kitchen, and after 10 minutes blew a fuse! All sorted now and feeling festive again.

Thank you once again for all the lovely comments. I means a lot to me.

C x x

Friday, November 27, 2009

Christian's (a) fruit cake

When I was 15, the school arranged a trip to Calshot activity centre on the south coast, for a week. Not a seriously overweight teenager's idea of fun, especially the thought of abseiling from the top of an aircraft hanger. I was terrified, but did it. Twice. Will not be doing it again.

I am just as scared now. The Fayre is tomorrow and I popped in today to see the hall and tables. Came home and decided to set up the dining table for a practice run. I HAVE SO MUCH STUFF!! Everything was laid out and I was rearranging and tweaking, adding the odd gold coin here and a cinnamon stick there, until I realised that the 4 trays of jams, jellies and mincemeat were still upstairs, along with a huge sacks of cushions, stockings and draw string bags! *shock*

Lavender bags, wheat pillows, oatie biscuits and a cheeky elf skittle in the background

I have no idea how I am going to fit it all on the table. Will only put a few of each thing out. The rest can stay hidden under the table cloth!

Scottie dog brooches, fruit cakes, pot plants with garden markers and fabric vases at the back. If it stood still long enough, it got tied up in ribbon and adorned with a bauble!

I spent yesterday making small Christmas cakes and decided not to ice them. Nigella's recipe, you can't go wrong. Good old Miss Lawson. I can't be the only one who's stomach turns at the thought of marzipan. I wrapped them in greaseproof paper and decorated each one with brown paper and ribbon etc

Made 80 odd oatie biscuits today and ate a few as they weren't perfect, I am all baked out. Jase is in Milan, but will be home late tonight. Too tired to do anything. Arm is killing me from the swine flu jab a couple of days ago.

Have lots of snacks in the fridge for tomorrow. It is going to be a long day, so have stocked up on diet coke, apple juice and sausage rolls. The staples of life.....! Will fill a few bagels and get the thermos out later. I like to be prepared (and would never go hungry)!!

The girls are fine, sloshing around in the mud that was once a dry corner of the garden. They will get a thorough clean out next week. Eglus and runs out, dig over the whole area and put everything back. My back is really looking forward to it! Elsbeth is still the only one laying. One day off, one day on - like this for 3 weeks now. At least we are getting some eggs a week. Next door have lots of bantam eggs if I need them!

Resisting the urge to light the fire. It is all stacked ready to light tomorrow night, but it is perishing outside. Might just have to strike a match to try and thaw out my hands and feet.

I have received so many good luck wishes for the stall tomorrow and just wanted to say thank you to everyone. *Smiles*

I have worked really hard to get things ready and am happy with everything I have made, so hopefully will do well. I am a Christmas fayre virgin, so will just try and enjoy the weekend - have seen a few bits for sale on other stalls, so no doubt will come home with a few nice bits........

Sod it, am off to light the fire now. Hope I sleep tonight!

C x x

p.s Camera is charged so will take piccies tomorrow.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

I'll be home for Christmas

Woke up at 9am today, which is quite late for me. Really foggy head and blocked ears. Not pleasant. Didn't get that much done today, so just slobbed around. A slobby day is good every now and then. It gives you a chance to recharge.

Dosed up on Lemsip and feeling a bit better now. Fire is lit and bag packed, ready for the crack of sparrows tomorrow.

My little Christmas pudding arrived in the post today *smiles* As soon as I get a chance to make it, I will post pictures.

Jase left for work at 1ish, so I decided to get baking. Found a recipe in an old Country Living magazine and gave it a whirl. Mini Fruit cakes.

They are lovely - I might even make some to sell at the fayre. Talking of which, I am nearly finished with my scottie dog brooches. They seem to take ages to sew, but I'm quite happy sitting stitching, whilst watching Merlin on BBC1. Only 2 more to make and then I'm all stitched out. Well, maybe I could manage a little bit more. Hee hee.

I got an email yesterday asking for details of my scottie dog brooches and someone has ordered one for a Christmas present. It is all wrapped up and will be posted early next week if you are reading *wink*.

The chicken area is a swamp with all this rain we've been having. I need to get out there, move both eglus and runs, dig over the whole area, and add more wood chippings. Once the fayre is over, I will sort it out ready for winter. Not particularly looking forward to it, as it is a mucky, dirty job, but needs must. Plus, I have a chicken course on the 5th December and I can't let people sink in mud. Even though I am baking mince pies for a Christmas hen party special! We might even have snow by then!! *hops around excitedly*

Completely forgot to mention that my December roster was published the other night. I am off at Christmas!!!! I get back from Istanbul on the 23rd and am then off until the beginning of January. I am trying to swap the Istanbul flight as I'm not too keen on long range flying! It is only 3 and a bit hour flight, but that is a couple of hours too long for me. Paris would be ideal.

Right, time to make my packed lunch for work. Am slightly worried by my 'cool bag lunchbag' fetish that is developing rapidly. There is no helping me.

Enjoy the rest of your weekends.

C x x

Friday, November 20, 2009

'..Pleasure to meet you Mary Poppins'

Morning all! 5am and feeling grotty! I am often up at this time, but usually for work. Have a fair bit to do today, but I'm still in sleep deprived shock.

Blowing a gale outside and the rain is hammering the windows.

Jase just left for work and I woke up with a really sore throat. Apparently it was like sleeping with a freight train all night!!

Our next door neighbour popped over a few days ago with a dozen of her bantam eggs. She has too many! The chance here would be a fine thing! Elsbeth is still the only one laying. I was mortified at the state of the house. Her's is always spotless where as our's is more 'lived in'. The fabric piled up in every corner doesn't help make the place look tidy.

She had a look at the things I have been making and bought 2 scottie dog brooches and some candles. 10 minutes later she came back with her son who bought a Christmas stocking, gingham heart, wheat pillow and some hand warmers for Christmas presents! I was advised to up my prices too. *anxious*

The cup of tea is slowly soothing my throat now. I have the chimney sweep coming over at 9am, so had better clean out the fire before then. I will resist the urge to put on a fake Cockney accent and sing 'Chim-chimenny'.

Not much post to greet us when we got in last night. I ordered a few presents from M&S Penny Bazaar for 1p delivery, but they haven't arrived yet. Maybe today. Will give me a chance to get things hidden before His Lordship gets home.

I was very naughty and possibly in a Lemsip infused state, but ordered this from the lovely Cupcakes for Clara site. It is a Christmas Pudding decoration. It will be nice do to some sewing for me for a change.

Going in to Town later as we have run out of Muesli and Cheerios. No, the world won't end due to lack of cereal, but Jase is partial to them. Might go to Penny's and get a few sewing bits. Waterstones have sent me a 25% off voucher, They are bad. Must resist temptation.

Wind is picking up again and it is a tad chilly here. Off to make another cuppa and then think about getting on my hands and knees to sweep out the fire. Still have a few hours before Dick Van Dyke, sorry Don, arrives......

I have put some runner beans seeds in small brown envelopes, popped them in a pot with garden markers and a pencil and wrapped the whole lot in cellophane for 'Gardener's gifts'. WIll post pictures as soon as the sun comes up. Well not immediately, but you get what I mean. *edit* Pics added -

And the Scottie dog brooch! *smiles*

More tea needed.......!

C x x

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Zesting before bedtime.

Back from work! 2 days off now and desperate for some time off. I apologise in advance for the typos and spelling mistakes, but am dropping off here!

Jase and I were both on the same 3 day trip which is rare. A day in Duesseldorf and then Glasgow for the night. We met up with some friends for a drink and then headed off to Wagamamas for dinner. Lovely evening and great to catch up.

Jase is up at the crack of dawn, so went to bed at 9pm. I won't be far behind him.

Have just weighed out sultanas, currents, raisins, chopped prunes and dates, mixed in some orange zest, juice and brandy and left to soak. Need to make some more Christmas puddings, so thought I would get a head start for my time off next week. The fruit will happily sit in brandy and cointreau for a week.

My throat feels like it is wrapped in barbed wire. Not sure what is going on there?

Will get up early tomorrow as have a few bits and bobs to finish off, so will sign off now.

C x x

Friday, November 13, 2009

Back to school....

Again, sorry to post and run, but limited internet time here in Nice.

Quick picture of the pencils cases I have made so far!

Will be home again tomorrow evening and will try to pull my finger out and update you all. Loads going on and the clock is ticking, but am getting quietly excited about the Fayre.

Nighty night,

C x x

Thursday, November 12, 2009

So sorry!! I have been really busy for the past week or so and haven't had a chance to update my blog.

I am in Nice tomorrow and will post some pictures and update you all re the goings on at Farm Cottage!

2 weeks until the Christmas Fayre. Really worried now.

Night night!

C x x

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Christmas Forest

I can always tell when Christmas is around the corner, as Boots launch their Christmas catalogue! I always have to pick up a copy and flick through, looking at the array of awful socks, Simpson's soap and other dreadful gifts for men.

Talking of Christmas, who me? *wink* I made these Christmas trees a few weeks ago and forgot to post pictures. Maybe I did post pictures?!?! Who knows, well here they are anyway -

I finished off the gingham hearts yesterday and tried to be arty by hanging them in the pear tree. A partridge is so old hat. With the sun setting, I didn't quite get the look I was hoping for, but you get the idea.

After planting far too many pumpkin seeds - always better to plant to many than too few, I only ended up with 3 pumpkins and a green mutant 'bottom' pumpkin.

Am in Duesseldorf now and Rome tomorrow night, then have my days off. The marathon sewing fest will then commence. My last push before the stall on the 28th November. Have brought several white buttons and silver wire with me and will make a few button hearts this evening. They seem really popular. Wish I could bring my sewing box along, but think that is going too far. Wouldn't have enough room for my shopping then............!

Can't believe it is 16.10 (well 17.10 here in Germany) and dark already. Gloomy and miserable outside, so will sit and craft until bed time. Was up at 5am this morning and starting to feel it now. Will be woken at 4.05am tomorrow by the, no doubt, chirpy receptionist. How I hate their upbeat voices at that hour. Hee hee.


C x x

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Oh, the shame.

Would you have a dog and bark yourself? No, but I hung my head in shame as I walked into the farm shop today. I was forced to buy eggs!! It isn't the girls' fault. They are seriously dropping feathers now and look like ex battery hens - well Cornelia does. Just glad that it isn't too cold at the moment and they are snug in their eglus! Elsbeth is the only one laying and her eggs are tiny. She lays every 2nd/3rd day, which I am grateful for, but I need more eggs for baking.

Been at work for what seems like weeks. I have two days off now, well one, as I am back on Thursday. Spent today making fabric stockings -

and tiny gingham hearts which I am still in the process of sewing. Quite chuffed with the results so far.

Spotted a new friend in the garden the other night. Have been on at Jase for ages about rescuing one, but no need now as Humphrey had taken up residence.

I think the flash startled him somewhat. Oops.

I popped into Pets at home and bought some hedgehog food. Either he is eating it or we are feeding the mouse/rat population. I 'built' - use the term lightly - a hedgehog area behind the oil tank when we first moved in. Just some dry leaves, sticks, twigs and logs and forgot all about it. Maybe Humphrey is the reason for the lack of slugs and snails in the garden?

Jase should be home soon, so thought I would update quickly. The craftings at Farm Cottage are going well. Fingers not quite bleeding, but rather impressive callouses have appeared on my hands. I am worried about the amount of things I still have to make. Too few and I won't have enough for 2 days. Too many and we will need a bigger house. Dilemma.

I was extremely weak the other day. I saw a book I fancied and couldn't wait. I know that I am doing this 'buy nothing new for a year' and could claim that it was a crafty book and counted as 'business', but that wouldn't be right. I wanted it. Simple as that!! I have done really well this year. I do think more about what I am buying and have saved some cash. (The Bank Manager is laughing at my last comment)!!

Crafting Christmas Gifts need I say more?

Visited the sewing shop, again. I really should have my own dedicated parking space outside. I did pick up some cotton tape to make some bunting though! My next project. When I get 2 minutes to scratch my backside. Needed more cotton for the stocking felt and a few other bits and bobs.

Last week I bumped into a girl at work that I flew with months ago. She asked if I was selling my Christmas puddings again this year as she was interested. I gave her my new business card *proud moment alert*. Someone else on the crew bus asked for one too and has ordered 4 Christmas puddings and 6 jars of jam for friends and family.

I have 3 medium puddings cooking at the moment. Well, they have been since 12 o'clock, the steamer is working overtime today. Will wrap them tomorrow and then they are ready for delivery to Italy! An Italian crew member I flew with in May has ordered them for his Family.

Talking of work, I guess you will have heard the news about us being balloted for strike action? Not a nice time, but I don't really want to go into it here. Walls have ears and all that *looks around anxiously* Hee hee.

Better sort my puds out and stoke the fire. Was tempted to hide the egg box to see if Jase would notice the difference, but the lion stamp would have given it away!

Speak soon,

C x x x

Friday, October 16, 2009

Panic stations!

Sorry, sorry, sorry. I forgot to update my blog this week!

BIG NEWS, I popped into the Craft centre on Tuesday after another quick trip to Ikea. I only went in to pick up the items I left for them to look over. Anyway, I was offered a stall at the Christmas Fayre!!! I paid for the stall in 2 seconds flat and have agreed to do both days - 28th/29th November. I am now petrified! Jase told me to get sewing, so I have been.

Got back from a 3 day trip this morning, bright and early. Let the girls out as they had been confined to their runs for a day. Feathers everywhere! Thought a fox had got them to be honest, but they have all decided to moult this week. Cornelia has no tail feathers and looks hysterical! 1 egg from 5 hens in 2 days!! Never mind, they need a break.

Right, back to work on stand by tomorrow. Will be loitering around Terminal 5 with a mobile phone hanging around my nexk, praying they don't call me.

Night night all!

C x x x

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Brown paper packages, tied up with string...

I must be in a writing mood - 2 entries in 2 days. Must be a record for me.

My third favourite thing, after an overflowing fridge, and a packed log store, (not forgetting rain drops on roses and whiskers on kittens) is receiving parcels through the post! Look what arrived today!

Wet walnuts in a stunning box. I have a box addiction as well as jam jars, pens, pencils, paper and fabric, so can add this to my collection. Jase will be pleased! A massive thank you to Louise (aka Cloots) from the Omlet forum.

My headache continued today and I think it is the stress of the Christmas fayre is getting to me. I spoke to them today and they informed me the Committee would be meeting at 4pm and would inform me on TUESDAY! My heart sank, but what choice do I have? He did say that they were impressed with the items I gave them and that they were different to everything else they had seen. That is a good thing. Apparently. He will take a look at the 'quality' and inform me via email. Will try and forget about it until next week.

I was feeling festive today, so decided to bake some Christmas cakes. Like you do in October. I found 2 jars of dried fruit, that had been soaking in Brandy since Nov '08. You could say it has steeped for long enough. I made 6 cakes! No Christmas carols today. My head could barely cope with the oven fan. a huge one still in the oven. 1 made in a sweetcorn tin and 4 in half size baked bean cans! The, erm, mice have eaten half a small one. Quality control purposes you understand *wink*
Why is it you realise you have run out of something, 2 minutes before you need it? The cake mix was ready, just lacking one minor ingredient. Flour. I dashed down the road and bought a couple of bags, only to discover a large jar of it hidden in the utility room. Arrgggghhhhh! Managed to grab a few handfuls of blackberries on the trip home though. They have nearly finished for the year, but I now have quite a few tucked away in the freezer.

I had a bag of cooking apples left for me after my last blog entry, about lack of fruit. Thanks Amber! I decided to bottle them along with some pears from our tree.

3 jars and two have sealed well. The largest one didn't. Typical. Will add them to the blackberries and freeze the lot for crumbles.

I made a couple more draw string bags today -

I really like the way they turned out and would rather keep them, than sell at the fayre. (Maybe I will be keeping them?!? No, have faith Christian)!!!

I know that you have all seen my beeswax candles, but here is a picture with my new business card!

I have attached them to everything! Hee hee. Maybe I should have ordered more than 200?

After seeing a lunch bag on a 'crafty' site, I thought about trying to make my own. Theirs was made with white fabric, (would get dirty quickly - ahhhh, I sound like my Mum) and had a knife and fork embroidered on the front. Knowing my limitations, I went for a patterned fabric, thus solving the problem! Still more practice needed with the needle.

Remember the spinach I planted a few weeks ago - rations for the girls over winter? Look at it now! I think it has doubled in size since the torrential rain we had yesterday.

No eggs today. What makes it worse is the sound of next door's bantams announcing another egg has been laid! They aren't supposed to lay well, but are doing a very good job. Agnes' comb is still very pale and has shrunk quite considerably. Don't think she or Cornelia will lay again until the Spring. Never mind, they aren't machines. Although £1.94 for 4 free range eggs in Waitrose is shocking! Might have to adjust our prices.

Time for bed now....have a long day ahead of me tomorrow. Jase should be home by 10am ish and then we have visitors for the weekend - should arrive by 10pm as driving 'doon' from Scotland.

Thanks for reading!

C x x

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Decision time

I woke up with a banging headache this morning, which I still have. I don't think the constant rain is helping much. Being a human barometer (yes, seriously, muggy, heavy, need-a-storm kind of day and my head hurts) is sometimes a nightmare! My mum is the same. Strange but true.

The girls have been very quiet today. I took them some pellet porridge earlier and they weren't too keen to leave the run. So I fed them inside! One egg today, one yesterday, looks like Waitrose might be getting business from me after all. White feathers everywhere from Winnie, but she doesn't look like she has a feather out of place. Very strange. Cornelia has snapped out of her broody spell, but hasn't laid in a week. Agnes is looking slightly more feathered than last week. Elsbeth and Pru are the only two laying. When they feel like it.

Locked them up in their run at 6pm this evening. They looked like they were ready for bed. Cornelia was eyeing up the nest box, but a plant pot quickly stopped that idea.

Went into Town as was desperate for Le Parfait jars. Can you be desperate for jars? I can. Picked up 4 and will bottle the last of my apples and pears. Also got some bits from the sewing shop and toiletries from Boots, then headed back to the safety of the car. Strange people around today. The rain must drag them out.

I made another 6 wheat pillows yesterday and a couple of draw string bags. I plucked up the courage to go to the craft centre and left them a few things I had made. They were discussing the 'entries' for this year's Christmas fayre today and said the Committee would contact me tomorrow. It is a local Christmas Fayre, but they would have you believe it is the hosting of the next Olympic Games. No idea what I will do if they say no. They want local handmade goods. Everything I do is hand made and I live less than 3 miles away, so I hope I am 'acceptable'.

They also sell the Village Voices dvd that I would rather forget ever happened. It raises money for the Air Ambulance fund in Hampshire. I do think that it is not 'what you know, but who' with this kind of thing. Maybe it is like the Olympic Committee? When I popped in to see them, the shop keeper screeched "Good morning Chicken Man" at me. Much to the surprise of a Lady buying washing up liquid, so maybe I am in there!!

No pictures today as the rain has kept me in and the light isn't right. Ooooh, I sound like I know what I am doing with photography!! Wrong - 'Point and click' is my motto!

Fire is stacked and ready to go. Jase is away until Friday, when his Sister and Hubby are down for the weekend. We are going to Londinium on Saturday for a spot of shopping and to see Les Mis. Yay!! Have wanted to see it for years. Not too sure about the underground or staying overnight, but am assured it is a nice hotel. If we arrive outside the YMCA I will not be amused.

I started some embroidery yesterday, for the first time. It is said to be relaxing and de-stressing. It is neither. I am only trying to stitch a small acorn and two leaves, you would think it was the Bayeaux tapestry, judging by the colourful language erupting from my armchair. I seem to lack the hand/eye coordination needed to get a needle a millionth of a millimetre to the right of a stitch. Will persevere though.

Work is simply vile at the moment. Talks between the company and union have broken down (were they ever 'up)? and the company will be enforcing new terms and conditions in December. They have offered everyone a change in contract i.e 50%, 33% working etc and I am really keen on a 50% contract (am currently 75%). However, I don't think the mortgage company would be too happy with that, so, being sensible about things, I will stay as I am.
It is going to get worse, with talk of strikes etc but I am not one to bury my head in the sand. Just hope an agreement can be reached soon.

Time to get my dinner on, light the fire and throw the embroidery, *cough* I mean, finish my embroidery. No idea what I will do with the finished fabric, but will think of something. Hoping for a thunderstorm this evening to clear my head.

Night night all. Will update you of the outcome tomorrow.....Dum dum duuuuummmmmm. *looks anxious*

C x x

Monday, September 28, 2009

Danish Pastry?

Greetings from wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen! Arrived here at lunchtime and was in my favourite fabric shop by 2pm *wink* Wasn't too naughty and only bought 3 metres of lovely material that will be turned into more vase covers, a few draw string bags and what ever else takes my fancy. Maybe a cushion cover or two.
One flight home tomorrow, another 3 day trip after that, and then my part time week off!! Doesn't time fly?

We visited a friend's small holding last week and picked a couple of tub trugs of crab apples. Think I was a little bit too keen on the number we picked. 2 sink fulls, so graciously gave some to next door.

I now have lots of jars of pink crab apple and clove jelly. Lovely stuff and very popular. Had an order for 2 jars before I had even picked them. Was also given a bag of dried hops to use in sleep pillows! Thanks Lesley! *smiles*

Once again I decided that it was Christmas in September and after soaking my dried fruit in brandy and cointreau for 7 days, putting Mr Crosby on the ipod, I made this year's Christmas puddings. Well, the first batch anyway.

I started cooking them at 12 and finished steaming at 9pm. Found Jason's electric steamer in the back of the cupboard and used that, rather than the 'pan on the hob' method. Seemed to cook more quickly, but needed filling up every 30 minutes.
5 down, another 10 (?) to go! Not sure what the postman thought of 'Chestnuts roasting on an open fire' blaring out of the stable door.

I made another 8 large and 1 small jars of mincemeat for the Fayre and lots of apple and damson jelly.

The jam pan has been put away for another year now as I have run out of fruit (sobs quietly). I might make more mincemeat if I can get hold of some cooking apples. I now have 80+ jars safely hidden away in the office. Plus a few under the ensuite sink. Some in the out building. And under the utility room sink. A jam problem? Me? No more jam. Promise.

The pear tree is looking autumnal. The leaves have turned yellow and the fruit is nearly ready for bottling. Of the 20+ pears that started to grow, I only have a few left. The raspberries on the other hand are doing very well. Will possibly try raspberry jam next week. Oh, forget what I said earlier. I am weak.

We spent Saturday pottering around the house, finishing off painting the bathroom. We have his Sister and New Hubby staying with us from Bonnie Scotland in a couple of weeks, so need to get the bedroom re painted in time. At least it will give us the kick up the backside that we need to get it done. Just the repainting of the hall, stairs and landing and then all is done! 'Just' I say! Lucky that Jase is over 6', as my Hobbit sized proportions aren't conducive to painting a ceiling. Shame. *wink*

I ordered some new business cards which arrived this week. Christian's Cottage is now official. Will sort out a web site when I get a few weeks free. Not very computer savvy. The blog is fine, pictures are easy to upload/download or what ever you do with them, but a web site will challenge my grey cells. I am attaching the cards to my products, with a sticker on the back explaining what they are. I know that candles are self explanatory, but some of my things are a little, well, quirky. Most are tied on with raffia for that 'Cottage chic, homemade' look. I am a sucker for raffia.

My eyes are burning and I feel a bit bunged up today, am hoping it is nothing. Have taken a Lemsip and keeping my fingers crossed! I feel the need to fill the ridiculously large bath and soak for half an hour. Will then crawl into the massive bed, complete with feather topper and hopefully wake up bright eyed in the 'morrow. Pick up is 5.20. AM!! At least I should be home by 11. Really looking forward to picking up a paint brush as I walk in the door.

Have a good week everyone and thanks for reading.

C x x

Friday, September 18, 2009

The dust has settled....

...everywhere! My Brother has finished the en suite shower room, replastered a bedroom, down the stairs, part of the kitchen and the main bathroom and the powder is all over the place. The hoover has done a pretty good job so far, but there isn't a surface anywhere without a fine layer of white dust!

We started painting the en suite today. 'Buff' by Farrow and Ball. Not because I have a Buff Sussex (although that is one reason, hee hee), but it fits very well with the new shower tiles and is quite dark so will look good against the white suite.

Finally, here are some pictures of our new doors. I know 'doors are doors', but I have wanted reclaimed pine latch doors for years!

and the latches.....

I can't stop staring at them. Am I strange? Don't answer that.

Went to Homebase to get a few bits for decorating and picked up some violas for the window box at the front. Had a couple spare, so potted them up and will keep them in the kitchen.

Recycle. The possibilities are endless!

Received a private message from someone on the forum. She suggested making small wheat bags for hand warmers. Ideal for the school run or dog walkers on cold winter mornings!

Had a sewing day and made several more wheat bags and a few more vase covers.

I love them so much that I am tempted to keep them and not take them with me to the Fayre. Talking of which, I called this week to pop in and let them see my wares. It was 'not convenient' and I have been asked to visit the first week of October. I am worried that the fayre will be fully booked and I won't get a stall now. Can't think about it. I have worked really hard to do this and will be disappointed if it doesn't happen.

We went to see Michael MacIntyre last night in Basingstoke. He was really good. Very 'real life' comedy and quite 'blue', I sound like an pensioner with that comment! Great though. Highly recommend seeing him.

No eggs yesterday, but 3 today. Agnes and Winifred are still not laying, but their feathers are starting to grow back. Am now mixing poultry spice in with their pellet porridge every day to give them a boost. I just hope they feather up fully before it gets really cold.

The garden STILL hasn't been tackled. I might as well wait until the first frosts to kill off the weeds now. My autumn raspberries are fruiting up nicely. Picked a few yesterday. Not quite enough for jam, not even enough for a garnish, but a start.

Better get an early night as the kitchen is looking like Homebase paint department as we have so much painting to do. Pots of paint, brushes, rollers and dust sheets are not helping my ocd, as the house is a tip. Not that I am obsessively clean and tidy you understand. The office is my dumping ground and is truly shocking state of affairs at the mo. You can't see the bed for cushion covers, bags of Christmas pressies (yes, I started months ago) and general bits and pieces. Another job that needs doing.

Enough of me rambling on. Time for bed. Speak soon and hope you all have a great weekend.

C x x x

Update! I have just been looking at my counter and I am only a few hits away from 10,000 'hits'. I looked at the referrers to my page and saw that I am nominated for a little blog award through Dorset cereals!! How nice is that? I love their Honey and nut granola if they want to send me a prize! *wink* Little Blog Awards

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A hedgerow update

Every time I get a minute to myself, something crops up. I have decided to sit and have a veg out evening tonight. Fire is about to be lit, Jase is away and the hens are tucked up for the night. It is perishingly cold this evening. My shorts and t shirt aren't keeping me warm!

Have had a busy week. Am back to work on Tuesday and my 9 days off have flown by. Got lots done though.

Our internal doors are finally finished. Reclaimed pine, waxed (one coat only) and look stunning! I have forgotten to take pictures, but will soon.

I spent a few hours making more skittles for the fayre and have one set finished now, and who would guess they started life as a broom handle!

Only 5 more sets to paint, and adorn with festive felt hats! Ho ho ho...

Jase and I went to Ikea the other day. First stop the restaurant! Meatballs, chips and gravy. An absolute must! Once our hunger was satisfied, we headed for the marketplace and picked up candles, you can never have too many, jars, ditto, and fabric. I have made my feelings about fabric known before! The trouble with Ikea is queuing for the tills. Only 2 open and 6 '15 items or less' tills. Who goes to Ikea and buys less than 15 items? I ask you?? Luckily we took Mortimer the Mini, so we couldn't buy too much!

Jase spent the day playing with his new toy. A pressure washer. After cleaning years of grime from the patio, he attacked the table and chairs. What better way to show off my new fabric vase, displayed on a newly 'blasted' table.

Ikea fabric, measured, hemmed and slipped over a tall glass - also Ikea. A lovely idea and will be many more of those.

The hedgerow down the lane is heaving with fruit. I picked several pounds of blackberries, sloes and rosehips. The blackberry vodka and sloe gin are made and safely stashed away, ready to decant into nice bottles for Christmas. More blackberries have been turned into Bramble jelly and I had enough left to bottle with some cooking apples to hide away for crumble filling later in the year.

I spent today chopping rosehips, boiling them, straining and reboiling with sugar. We now have 3 litres of rosehip syrup. I have not tried it before, but it is lovely. A slosh in a mug and topped up with hot water should give me a vitamin C hit and keep the colds at bay this winter.

Feathers are everywhere as Agnes is still moulting, as is Cornelia, now Winifred has joined them. Agnes and Winnie have stopped laying - well Winnie hasn't laid since the 12th July, but she has been unwell. Cornelia, Pru and Elsbeth are laying well though, so we haven't run out of eggs yet! When I cleaned out their runs the other day, they had a riot on the patio and borders. Cornelia needs no excuse to sunbathe........

Causing chaos amongst the daisies....

Mum and Dad came over for dinner yesterday and Jase made a cheesecake complete with smooshed (is that a word?) up crunchie bars in it. It is calling me from the fridge and I feel it would be rude to ignore it. My magazine dropped through the door yesterday, so will finish up here and read for a while. Country Living and cheesecake. What more could I want?

Monday, August 31, 2009

What a whiff


Had a terrible week. The M3 was closed and I was late for work. Arrived 40 minutes too late and missed my trip. That wiped the rest of my 6 day block and I finally finished with an Istanbul and back yesterday. Hideous, but over now! Just 2 days off but so happy not to be at work.

The courgettes have gone mad and I am now left with a marrow the size of a small canoe.

It will be turned into some sort of chutney when I get a chance.

I bought some beeswax sheets in Brussels a couple of weeks ago and turned them into candles. I really need to get back there and get some more sheets. They burn really well and smell lovely.

I started making wheat pillows this week. 2 are finished and have sewn 4 more bags but ran out of wheat! Will get some more tomorrow.

Mum brought over my old futon cover from years ago. It is good quality ticking type fabric and too good to throw away. I got creative and used a small amount to make some skittles! They are half filled with pop corn (unpopped obviously)! and soft toy filling. The ball took ages as it is 6 small pieces stitched together, but I love them! If I get a chance, I will make a few more sets to sell at the craft fair.

I spent most of today cleaning out the chickens' runs. Not the most pleasant of jobs, but thankfully one that doesn't need doing too often. Let the girls into the garden and they spent the day digging in the borders and eating grass. They are back in the chicken corner now, sunbathing. Jase asked what the awful smell was and then realised it was me! I was so sweaty after digging out all the muck from the runs. Nice. Am now showered and smell nice again.

Made some plum and apple mince meat too, about 8 large jars. My neighbour still has lots of plums, but I have a tub trug full in the fridge in the outbuilding and lots of apples. I followed Kate's advice and put several plums in Le Parfair jars, filled with sugar syrup and simmer the jars. My jam thermometer came in handy and 20 minutes later, 2 perfect jars of bottled plums that should last for months.

Have a great Bank holiday everyone.

C x x

**UPDATE** the local farmer is spreading muck on the fields. Turns out I don't smell too bad after all.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

...Burning at both ends?

Life is surreal sometimes, isn't it? Take yesterday. Sun was shining, not a cloud in the sky, I was wearing shorts - sewing robins in the garden for the Christmas fayre! August. I know. Madness.

Jase went back to work after a few months off. Barcelona last night and Stockholm this evening. He is home tomorrow. Think it will be a shock to his system.

I have been off for nearly 2 weeks and have done a fair bit. Started jammin' again. The kitchen smelt wonderful.
Spiced Bramble jelly (with the additional of a cinnamon stick and a couple of cloves).

Pottered around the veggie garden and did a bit of digging. The potatoes weren't looking too good, so I dug them all up. Proper gardener's hands!

I had 3 potato bags and a small raised bed with Kind Edwards. Don't think we will be self sufficient in tatties this winter - One bag's worth.

They are all safely stored in a paper sack in the outbuilding.

I finally got round to planting up some strawberry runners. Been meaning to do it for ages. Think I have enough? Hee hee

If you are passing and need any..........!

The purple podded peas were doing really well until the mice discovered that the stalks tasted good.

We ran out of spinach for the Girls last year, so have planted an extra load to keep them in fresh greens all Winter. They are growing nicely on the kitchen window sill.

Speaking of the Girls, Winifred is doing really well. *touches wood* Her appetite is back to normal and she is shoulder barging others out of the way when it comes to treats. Her crop is full most nights and empty again in the morning! I think her comb looks redder and more upright too. The only thing is, I think she has started moulting. Along with Cornelia and the odd feather from Agnes, there are a fair few feathers flying around the garden. All but Winnie are laying though, so we usually get 3-4 eggs a day. I have been frantically watching for her droppings. Strange but true. She eventually turned and produced a 'normal' poo for me! Hooray! (Only other chicken keepers think I am perfectly sane with the previous comment)!!

As Jase had to be up at the crack of sparrows yesterday, I got up too. The house was de-cobwebbed (you would never guess judging by the look of it today) and bathrooms cleaned and house vacuumed. Decided to try and make candles. Like you do.

In May, I bought some terracotta pots in Portugal and managed to get hold of some wicks and pelleted candle wax. Ingenious way to keep the wicks central I think! Cotton thread and some tape.

After lots of swearing, dripping candle wax, ruining of measuring jug and a couple of tea towels -

They do have a wick, but it's not clear in the picture.

'Cushion central' as the house is now known, is still in full production. Getting good at them now and it only takes me 15 minutes to make a cover.

Things are coming along nicely. Shame I am back to work on Tuesday. Work gets in the way of my 'stuff'. At least I can relax at work.

Mum and Dad are coming over for dinner this evening, so better get organised. Have baked some Hobnobs (or the non copyright equivalent *wink*) and filled a bag for them and a tin for us!

See you all soon.

C x x x