Thursday, December 30, 2010

Only a couple of days left...

Afternoon everyone!

Things are starting to return to normal again this week. After a vile 10 hour drive back from Scotland, we are now settled again at Farm Cottage. Still a few things to tidy away and then we'll be back to normal. We had a very relaxing time at Jase's Mums and I have convinced her of the evil that is roast potatoes cooked in goose fat. It is a slippery slope.

Jase's laptop decided to give up the ghost this week, so he is on the look out for a new one. He has decided to abandon Microsoft and go for a Mac (Yay)!!! He won't regret it. The only trouble is, we were planning on redoing the utility room in the New Year, looks like that will have to wait for a bit due to finances. The 3 metre work top will have to stay in the lounge for a bit longer I guess.......

Now I have more time, I can show you what I have been working on for weeks as it was given to my Mum for her Birthday a couple of weeks ago.

I started with the idea of making Mum a lap quilt, but got carried away with the nice fabric and it ended up large enough for a double bed! Really wish I hadn't done the quilting as tram lines either side of the seams, as this used up 500m of thread and caused my back to go into spasm a few weeks ago. Couldn't post the reason why in case Mum read it! Hee hee.

The back is lovely fabric from Quilter's Dream which Mum loves!


I have one more Layer cake left so might make a quilt for the lounge. That can be my project for next year as it takes so long to make. Something cosy for the sofa on a cold winter's night.

The hens are fine, well looked after and spoilt (judging my the amount of corn gone from the tin) by next door. Elsbeth is still moulting, but her dark grey feathers are looking good. I need to do a thorough clean in the run at some point. It isn't too bad, but with a week of snow, they didn't venture out much. The thing that amazes me most is the amount of poo they produce. HUGE quantities in a matter of days. I have 3 compost bins (that are all due for a turn) full to the brim with chicken ****.

Father Christmas was very kind and sent me lots of lovely things. I am a complete bookaholic, so that is always a safe bet with me.

Jase decided to get me an external hard drive to back up all of my pictures - something I never do. Will have to sit down and work out how to use it soon. Am slightly concerned at the noises my laptop is making. The fan seems to be on quite a lot. Maybe it has something to do with my new addiction (no, it isn't an addiction, just new I keep telling myself). Facebook. So many people are surprised that I haven't been on sooner, but I have been trying to avoid it if I'm honest.

Jase got in from work a couple of hours ago and is having a nap. Time to wake him up with a coffee, so better dash. Still stunned that 2010 is nearly over.

Stay warm and cosy.

C x x x

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Road trip

What a week it has been!!

It has been so cold this week. Loads of snow flurries and the coldest temperatures that I have seen since moving here. It dropped to -13.1C the other night!! I have double wrapped the outside taps with bubble wrap as extra protection when we are away and look like a market stall holder in my fingerless gloves.

Preps are now complete for our trip to Scotland tomorrow. We have decided to take my Mini for the trip as it will have better grip on the road than J's BMW. Jase bought new windscreen wipers today and I have checked the tyre pressure, oil etc ready for an early start tomorrow. I nearly asked him to pick up emergency flares in case we got snowed in enroute, but thought that was going too far.

All presents wrapped and delivered to Mum and Dad's for the rest of my Family. Hens cleaned out, nextdoor briefed on care! (Candle under the drinker and lots of corn to keep the hens happy).

Having received numerous emails asking me to join Facebook, I finally gave in and joined last night. I have lots of friends already and have a couple of games of scrabble going. It will be nice to catch up with people!

The last lot of snow fell two days ago and since we have had a mini thaw during the day, but again freezing temperatures at night.

Before I go, just wanted to say a quick Happy Christmas to you all. Thank you for all the lovely comments all year. *Smiles*

J's Mum now has wifi, so I will try and log on over Christmas. Depending on whether I can move or not after the copious amounts of chocolate I plan to consume.

C x x x

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Snow day!

Woke up early for work this morning to be greeted by a blanket of white.

There was no way that Mortimer the Mini could drive in this. The temperature dropped to -7.1 last night and the country lane was frozen solid. The snow is falling so thick and fast that I think it will continue all day!

I was due to work at 6.45 this morning, but had to call in and say I couldn't make it.

Some snowy pics -

I love the way that snow collects in the willow hurdles!

Not sure what to do today really. We were planning on visiting Mum as it's her birthday today. HAPPY BIRTHDAY MUM!! The weather isn't looking too good though, as 2 inches of snow has fallen in about an hour.
Jase is due to land back from Copenhagen at 9ish and will then have to get home somehow! Not sure how the main roads are this morning as I didn't get that far. The lane is thick snow on a thick layer of ice. Gritters down the lane?? Don't make me laugh!

Think I will build the fire for later, then get dressed and do some Christmas wrapping. Might even out on my wellies and walk to Co op for some provisions. We aren't desperate for anything, as I made sure we had plenty last week when snow was forecast. If we do make it to Mum's, I wanted to bake some hobnobs for my Niece and she always requests them! Have run out of porridge oats though, shock horror!!

I have been to let the hens out, but they were less than impressed. Another tea light placed under the drinker and some mixed corn to warm up their little tummies! Don't think they will be out today.

The saddo weather websites that I am addicted to, are forecasting heavy snow for this area all day. Judging by the snow so far, we won't be going anywhere for a day or two.

Better get dressed and start getting organised. Am tempted to shovel the snow off the driveway, but might leave that until later. Staying in with the fire lit has much more appeal!

C x x x

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Life is like a box of chocolates.....

Evening All!

Been a busy few days, what with Christmas preps and sorting things out.

Waited in all day for a delivery, which didn't arrive! No point getting annoyed, as I did manage to get the decs up! We won't be here for Christmas, but I still wanted a little tree. Melvin is sat next to my armchair, fully adorned with Christmasness!

Went into the loft and dragged down several suitcases and boxes looking for my favourites decorations. All out now and the boxes put back. The fireplace is now done and a few extra lights up. Much to Jase and the electricity monitor's dismay!
You can't see the lights on the mantle, but they are there!

I cleaned out the hens today, only one eglu as they are all having sleepovers together for the winter. Elsbeth's feathers are growing back nicely, although quite dark. They are eating lots and desperate for corn by the late afternoon. I caught Cornelia on top of the run today, peeking over the fence to see where I was. Next door will be looking after them when we go away.
In return, we will be hen sitting later this week when they go away for a few days.

All presents are here/on their way, so no major panics as yet. Can always pop to the shops next week for emergency bits if I need to. The mammoth task of wrapping is set for tomorrow before work and next week before we drive up to Scotland - weather permitting. It is forecast for loads of snow and cold temperatures until the New Year now. Not really sure what to do, but we have decided that if the snow is bad, we will stay here for Christmas.

Seeing as I stayed in, I decided to make some chocolate truffles - having read the recipe on the Omlet forum. Made 3 batches, 2 with brandy and one with orange juice and zest. I rolled some in cocoa powder, dipped some in melted chocolate and some in dessicated coconut. I wore my CSI gloves, as Nigella puts it, but still managed to get chocolate and cocoa everywhere!
Think I have made too many, as I now have plates of truffles all over the kitchen!
Not quite sure why I said I have too many. Must be coming down with something! Saying that, my ears do feel weird and have done for a couple of days. Can't shake that fuzzy feeling.

Anyway, a plate of truffles ready to bag up for Christmas!

Had a visitor today, who picked up the Christmas hamper she ordered. Have a few more jams to wrap up and a couple of puddings still to deliver at work. I have 2 large ones left, as I am not Carol Vorderman and seem to have mental blocks when it comes to puddings. I am sure they won't go to waste. *wink*

Jase is due back any minute, so need to light the fire and think about dinner. Not as cold today, but forecast to get colder tomorrow and Thursday.

Stay wrapped up and warm!

C x x

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Just a little extra

I'm back home now!

Hens cleaned out, tea light under their drinker, spring greens hanging up and pellets topped up. They are happy hens.
They seem to be getting on quite well at the moment. They all sleep together in the same eglu which makes locking them up at night easier. Agnes is still a bit timid when it comes to bedtime, and is always the last in.
Will be leaving for work at 4am tomorrow, so will light a candle and pop it under the water. Have asked next door to keep an eye on them.

Came home to a cold house, even though Jase left the thermostat on 15C. Couldn't wait until it was dark and am sat here, fire lit with a hot chocolate. Not your 'Options, 40 calories' hot chocolate either. Oh no, this is Cadburys, artery clogging delicious, thick chocolate. I felt the shivering was burning calories, so it doesn't count.

Wrapped a few presents for a secret santa and will post them next week. Collected more logs to fill the basket in the lounge and am now wondering what to have for dinner. The fridge is like Old Mother Hubbard's so not sure yet. There will be something in the freezer.

Only one chocolate door to open on my calendar, so the mice must have eaten the others!

Time to make up the Hens' porridge before they head off to bed. Hen pecked? Me??

C x x x

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Seeing stars

Ok, so here I am in Copenhagen. Sat at the desk with a pile of Christmas cards to write and complete lack of enthusiasm. I have lost my list of people I would like to send cards to, which doesn't make things any easier.

I did another fair last weekend and managed to hurt my back again. Stacking jars of jam with fabric things in my plastic trays seemed to work better, rather than lifting a couple of really heavy crates. It was a school fair and people were being extremely careful with money, which I can understand. Luckily my mincemeat will be good for a year or two, so no problems there. Unsure if I can use 18 jars up before the 25th?

Due to the success of my mini mince pies at the first fair, I made another few batches for last week. After cutting out 90 bases and stars, I couldn't cope with any more. My eyes started to go funny! Sold several bags though:0)

The snow finally hit the village on the 1st of December, which seemed appropriate! Only a couple of inches, but enough to transform the area.

Our little lane -

Logs were delivered on Saturday, a day early, so as I was at the fair, Jase stacked most of them. He went to work and only left a few for me to do. Perfect size logs, so no extra chopping to do. I seem to spend my life chopping up kindling though. We go through a fair amount to start a fire. Tricky, as there is nowhere sheltered in the garden to do it, so it tends to get done done the side of the house where the North wind whistles.

Report from home that the candle under the hens' drinking is working! Trouble is, the tea lights only last 4 hours, so need replacing at least once a day. Fine, if we are at home, but tricky if we are away. Ebay has come to the rescue as I have ordered 30 8 hour tea lights!! Perfect for next door to light and forget about, if we are both at work overnight. I have ordered another galvanized drinker, which should be here tomorrow. Will lend it to next door as they are struggling too.

I have just called housekeeping for a kettle. My feet are like blocks of ice and need my hot water bottle! The Scandi's do love their solid wood flooring, which I like, but when you think you have frost bite on your toes, you need at least a bit of shag pile under your tootsies!

Wake up is at 4.45 tomorrow morning, but just one flight home. Might get some cards written in the afternoon. I check in early again on Friday for another night away. Looking forward to getting home, as I have 3 windows to open on my advent calendar; unless the mice have eaten the chocolates!

Stay safe and warm.

C x x

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

A fair update

Blimey it is cold. The temperature has been below freezing for 3 days now and it is currently a balmy -0.9C! The house has never been this freezing. A hat and scarf are needed everytime I go outside. I called my Gran in Kent and she said she had never seen snow like it.

The hens have taken to all sleeping in one eglu at night. I usually shuffle them around with 2 in each eglu, but at the moment I don't blame them. The orange eglu is redundant most nights. I have also started locking them in at night as it is dropping to -5.

Their water keeps freezing (hardly surprising) and I have taken a top tip from Kate and bought a galvanised drinker from Scats. It is sat on 2 bricks with a tea light in a jar underneath. It stops the water freezing - so far so good. Day 2 and it hasn't frozen yet! Next door's bantams have been moved into the greenhouse for a bit of protection.

The country (well a lot of it), is covered in snow. More snow than has been seen in 60+ years according to the news. We haven't seen a sniff! Ok, we had an icing sugar dusting the other day, but it was more like a hard frost than snow. I feel cheated. Although, I would rather it arrived after Saturday, as I have a Christmas fair to attend in the afternoon. Talking of fairs! I have been given a nudge to post about the Weyhill Fair I did at the weekend. (ok Hazel? *wink*)!!

Saturday started very early and cold. A biting wind was whistling around Hampshire and I was hoping it didn't snow! The fair opened and it was quite a slow start, but things did pick up and I had a really good day. A friend was on bacon roll and tea duty, so that was great! I was freezing, but remembered to take my little hot water bottle with me, so managed to fill that from the urn in the kitchen.

Here are the pictures! The tables were covered in cinnamon sticks, gold coins and candy canes to add a festive touch....

The gardener's shortbread cut from a watering can cutter! I love these! 2 sets of elf skittles sold too!

I have sold around 20 of these little Christmas cakes so far!

A couple of days before the fair, I decided to make some cranberry and orange jelly. When it was ready, I stirred in a few sprinkles of edible glitter and the result was fantastic. Deep ruby red jars with a hint of sparkle! The campest thing I have ever seen! Hee hee. I made 10 jars and saved one for Jase's Mum when we go up to Scotland for Christmas. I sold all 9 jars at the fair quite quickly, so made another batch today as I had cranberries left. I dashed to get my hair cut today and the Hairdresser asked if I could save her a jar! Will definitely make it again next year!

The glitter didn't come out well in the picture. So here is the pan with cranberries and orange rind instead. Not as festive :0(

All ready for Saturday and hoping the snow stays away. Due back to work next Tuesday, so it can snow then! ;0) Heathrow didn't cope too well this week and I heard that they closed Gatwick all day today. Jase went to Athens today and said there were lots of cancellations.

Ordered another load of logs which should be delivered on Sunday. We are going through them quickly as it is so bitter outside. Thermals will be needed when we stack that lot. Who cares about fashion? I look like Mr Potato head in a knitted beanie, where as J looks like a burglar/convict. *sniggers* The sky looks heavy with snow, but not a flake yet. It is forecast for tomorrow, but who knows when/if it will reach us.

Some stunning pictures posted on the Omlet forum - cannot believe that we have missed it all! It is getting dark now (only 3.40pm) and I have 20 minutes to go until my 3 Christmas puddings finish steaming. They have been on since 9.30 this morning!!! I unexpectedly sold 4 large puds at the fair, so have to make another 3 for orders that came in weeks ago. One large bowl of dried fruit, soaking up brandy on the kitchen table for another day or two and then I am all done with Christmas puds. I have lost count how many I have made this year!

Christmas cards to write (mind numbing, my worst job at Christmas) but think I will take them with me to work next week.

Thanks for all the well wishing for the fair *smiles*

Wrap up warm and fingers crossed this little corner of Hampshire gets some snow soon. I have a 25kg bag of salt and 2 snow shovels that are desperate to get to work!

C x x x

Monday, November 22, 2010

The White stuff?

Hello and a very good evening from Glasgow! I can smell deep fried pizza wafting into my hotel room.

Spent a shocking night in Dusseldorf yesterday, clock watching. Finally fell asleep at 2am ish, only to be woken by all the telephones ringing at 3.45 to announce I had an hour until pick up from the hotel. Grumpy so and so today.
Arrived in Glasgow around 12.30 and headed to the shops. Managed to get a few Christmas presents, some lovely boxes in John Lewis, thanks (or not) to one of the girls on the crew. What is it with JL's and lovely things?? I am so weak.

We had lunch at Wagamamas and I ordered some udon noodle thing with a peanut and lime topping, tofu and prawns. Delicious. Back to the shops for a few bits from Paperchase (another favourite shop for lovely wrapping paper and 'stuff'). Pick up tomorrow is a more reasonable 5.45am, which to most is horrific, but after 3 flights tomorrow I am off for a while. Good job too, as the Christmas pudding orders are flying in!!

I made coconut ice for the fair the other day. All bagged and ready to go! Traditional pick and white.

....and the more unusual lavender and white -

Looking sightly grey in the photo, but it is a lovely colour really.

My confectioners spirit was in full flow, so made peppermint creams to add to the pudding basin that will display the sweets for the fair. After spending a few pounds on Waitrose 'natural' food colourings, it seemed appropriate. (How is ground up beetles to get red food colouring, deemed natural)??

All in all, the preparations are going well. I have ordered 5 pounds of fresh cranberries from the grocer at the market and hope to make some kind of orange and cranberry sauce to sell too. Might need the addition of cointreau to get the customers purchasing my wares. I think it should go down well, being as it is a Christmas day staple.

We haven't had any eggs all week, so think that is it until next year now. The hens deserve a break and can recharge their batteries over winter. Bought another 6 eggs from a deli, stunning dark brown shells, from happy hens the owner keeps himself. £1.80 for 6. I think that's pretty good!

Back is slightly niggling again today, not helped by lack of sleep and irritability all day. Just had a hot bath and my constant companion, the hot water bottle, is by my side *smiles*.

I managed to get my head out of the window here in the hotel. Damn these non smoking hotels! I will have my wicked weed. There is a security chain only allowing the window to open slightly, but with the flexibilty of a contortionist, I did it. It's like being at school, having a sneaky fag behind the bike sheds! Noticed another couple of brave souls defying the rules too; lights off, curtained pulled close behind them, trying to hide the glow of the burning ciggie! With the hotel being on a main road, the sight of me in bed time attire -tshirt and Coca cola lounge pants- isn't the nicest for passers by.

Early to bed for me as have a long day tomorrow.

Hope everyone in blogland is well? I hear we have snow forecast for later in the week? After my fair please. I have been harping on about it for long enough, and whilst the idea of 2 foot of snow appeals, I would like to do it. Although, should we be snowed in, we have plenty of jam and mincemeat!!

C x x x

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The roster's are out!

Evening All!

Well, my back has survived the week. Day one at work was touch and go, but a spot of shopping in a craft shop, soon helped. ;0) I have discovered that I don't need to heated seats in my car. A hot water bottle wedged between me and the seat works wonders for the long drive to work. Beware though, when the stopper isn't in properly. Trust me.

Been busy today baking yet more mini Christmas cakes. I have sold so many at work that I was running out for the fair. 9 more made today, so will wrap those tomorrow. Ran out of dark brown sugar, so the Christmas puddings I was planning on making today will have to wait until tomorrow.

The egg drought has hit us. We had to buy a dozen yesterday. Yes, it is sad, but I need them with all the baking I'm doing. We obviously buy free range, but look at the colour of the yolks!
Elsbeth's is on the left.

My hens don't spend very much time on grass, as their chicken corner is now wood chippings, but I do give them fresh greens a few times a week. The colour isn't that clear in the photo, but the shop bought eggs are so pale. They are all well, feathers still dropping every so often, but they seem fine. The rain has turned their corner into a mini swamp, but their runs are still relatively dry.

Having watched Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall thingymabob on the tv making bread, I decided to bake bagels for the first time. Making a dough and then popping mini bagels in simmering water is really strange, but it worked well. Dipped in sesame and poppy seeds as a final flourish!

Jase very kindly bought me an advent calendar. Cadburys chocolate naturally. You have to have a chocolate one. Looking forward to December the first now!

The best news is that the December roster came out this evening and I am off for Christmas!! I can't believe it. Off from the 19th Dec - 02nd Jan. Woohooo. It means I can go to Scotland with Jase and spend Christmas up there. Not really looking forward to the drive, but Jase's car has heated seats which are the best invention for bad backs.

Just realised the time! It's nearly midnight so I'm off to bed!

Have a good weekend everyone.

C x x x

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Oops, I did it again....

I spent most of yesterday at the dining table sewing. The office is great for sewing, now that the desk is clear, but I had lots of things to do, so decided to take over the lounge/dining room. I started at 9am and by 6pm had nearly finished. I pushed the sewing machine away from me and felt a ping. Not a good ping. My back went into spasm and I couldn't move.

People complain about their backs and I had never really given it much thought, until 4 years ago after a very hard landing at work. I say landing, a controlled crash and whack into tarmac is more appropriate. I had around 8 weeks off at the time and my back has never been the same since.

I just take things easy, lift correctly and take pain killers when it is really bad - which luckily is rare. However, yesterday I was in absolute agony that it made me cry. I took some tablets (pain killers and anti inflammatory) and walked around with a hot water bottle tucked into my pj's. I couldn't sit, stand or do anything really. At a complete loss as what to do. Even deep breathing hurt and it was all too much. I just wanted it to end.

Called NHS direct only to be advised it would be a 4 hour wait for a nurse. Disgraceful. I hung up.
Going for a pee was interesting. Won't go into details, but never before has flushing the toilet caused me pain.

I stayed up until 1am as I was scared to go to bed. It also meant I could take more pain killers.

Thank goodness I woke up and things were looser today. My back is still tight, but no more shooting pain and I can move quite freely and pee when I want to! No more putting it off for fear of flushing!!

Mum and Dad came over today and bought me milk, as I had run out. The raspberry jam doughnut helped comfort me too. Dad filled up the coal bucket and emptied the bin for me. I daren't drive, just in case I have to brake suddenly and risk it kicking off again.

So today I cut out fabric toppers for spiced Christmas nuts and numerous jars of onion jam. Anything I can do standing up is fine. Sitting is still a problem, well, getting up again is! It is starting to tighten again now, so going to have a hot water bottle surgically attached to my back.

Elsbeth has started laying quite well - we've had 3 eggs so far this week. I filled up their food and grit today and noticed a grey tail feather. Looks like she has decided to moult now.

Pleased with the fair preparations. Lots done, but still more to do. Got a letter today confirming my table and position in the hall. Will give myself a break for a day or two and I don't want to push it. My first 'order' is ready to go and the second one is nearly finished.

Better make myself something to eat. Jacket potato and prawns I think. Then light the fire and chill out until J comes home.

C x x x

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

A little update.

My back has been niggling me for a few days and today it came to a head. Really sore so I gave in and took tablets. A hot shower helped, but it started to seize up again shortly afterwards.

I spent today doing crafty things. I finished off my crayon rolls -

And the inside -

All the Christmas cakes are now wrapped and tucked away in the utility room until the fair.

Thinking of the fair, I wanted to do more gifts for gardeners as they proved popular last year. Having been into town yesterday and picked a watering can cookie cutter, I made some shortbread and decided to put them in a plant pot!

I made a little watering can tag to tie on the bag. I really like it. Have a few more pots, so will make 5 and see if they sell at the fair.

I also took a picture of the garden basket I bought at the antique's fair. Not the best picture, but you get the idea.

I think it'll look great filled with little gingham hearts or bags of sweets.

Jase made a double batch of onion jam today. He used the food processor to prevent any tears, but the fumes coming off 1.4kgs of onions had me sobbing! 9 more jars made though!!

More logs needed on the fire, so better see to it.

C x x x

Monday, November 01, 2010

It's dark out there.

Evening All!

I can't believe it is November already! That time of year when I plod around the house changing clocks, excited that Christmas isn't far away, but hating the short days.

I have been receiving complaints about not updating my blog, apologies! Lauren & Lottie! *wink*

Been busy today. Had a dental appointment at 11ish so left the house early and popped to the new Hobbycraft in Basingstoke as it was on the way. My dentist asked if I had given up smoking as my teeth were much cleaner than last time i went. I was honest and told her that I had a very good toothbrush. She asked if I flossed? Again, brutally honest, I floss like a lunatic a week before I am due an appointment!!
Let's just say that I had an expensive day. £70 at the dentist and *cough* rather a lot at Hobbycraft! It is safe to say that I was quite excited as I walked in the door. The Christmas fairies had stuffed the shop full and I wasn't sure where to begin. I got lots of bits to adorn Christmas pressies, just need a solid week to do it all. If you need baubles, just let me know.

Met Mum and Dad for lunch and headed off to an antique centre where I picked up a wire basket for holding, erm, stuff. Will look good on the stall. It was too nice to resist.

Got home around 3.30pm, via the garage. A light came on my dashboard and thought it best not to ignore it. After a reset and test drive, all is well and it didn't cost me a penny. Mind you, I have spent a fair amount on Mortimer the Mini there, but it was nice not to have to get my wallet out. Will take them some mince pies before Christmas as a thank you.

Right, fInished the last batch of mincemeat today. Another 11 jars and hopefully, that'll be it for this year. More mini Christmas cakes baked too.

All double wrapped ready to go in.

Little brown, boozy, gorgeous fruit cakes.

I'll wrap them up tomorrow and tuck them away in the cool utility room until needed.

The girls are fine, bald and patchy, but fine. We had an egg from Elsbeth this week. A tiny one, but an egg! I had to hang my head in shame in Waitrose. I bought eggs. 2 boxes as I need them for baking. Buying 3 boxes of eggs in 4 years isn't too embarrassing when you keep your own hens, is it? They aren't as nice. Pale yolks and watery whites. Our own eggs are better. Roll on spring when they start laying again.

Jase is due back tomorrow, early evening and then has 3 days off. I am really hoping to get the garden at least started. Was tempted to get a gardener in, but that would be cheating. Our garden isn't huge, but enough to keep my busy at the best of times. Horrendous when I let it slip.

Friends stayed at the weekend, hence me spending hours sorting out the office and making it habitable. It is now spotless and a pleasure to sit at the desk (which is solid wood, I had forgotten due to the amount of crap covering it) and get sewing done. I am trying to keep it that way. We will see.

I am exhausted. Been busy and need to go to bed. Been feeling much more tired than normal. I'm hoping it is just the weather and clocks going back and not the glandular feeling thing rearing it's ugly head. Anyway, off to bed now.

Night night!

C x x x

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Baltic Thursday

It is perishing this morning! Woke up at 6am, Jase had left for work and I decided to get up and use the day wisely. Last day off before a 6 day block and a long list of jobs to do. It was -4 in the garden and felt only slightly warmer in the house. Heating is now on, despite being dressed for an Arctic expedition.

Popped outside and defrosted the girls' water. They seem less than impressed by the frost. Poor Agnes and Cornelia are bald as coots and must be cold.

They are not neglected hens! just typical that hens moult when it gets colder!

Made 9 jars of mincemeat yesterday and 8 jars of crabapple and clove jelly. The jelly is still liquid today, so will have to reboil it again later! Bugger. It is a beautiful clear amber colour and looks fab in the jar. Ho hum, that'll teach me to rush it.

Received an email yesterday asking me if I was interested in attending a local school Christmas fair? It is the week after the Weyhill fair, so will do it! Need to crack on with a few more crayon rolls and stockings I think. Just wish I could stop time and plod on at my own pace.

Crunchy frost in the garden and the sun is just coming up over the long field. Stunning. Might grab my camera and thermals and pop out to take a few pictures later. Once my list is finished.

So glad we had a log delivery. Winter has started properly here now. Loads of oil for the heating, logs and a full cupboard. Happy and content.

Have a good day!

C x x x

EDIT -been out dressed in my pj's!!

Frosty leaves on next door's wild roses -

The sun coming up over the field.

Stunning leaves on my blueberry bush.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Bare Lady

One more day at the mad house and I am off for 3!!

Tomorrow is a Tripoli and back, one of the longest days we do. Vile, but will be over before I know it.

I got up this morning at 4am - cutting it a bit fine to be at the airport by 6.20. Luckily there wasn't any traffic (why would there be at 5am on a Sunday, normal people are in bed) and I made it in record time. I will not be posting the record here *looks around anxiously* The one shocker was the thick layer on ice on the windscreen! Glad I still had deicer in the car. Yes, I know the best thing to do is use a scraper, but when you have to fly down the A303, it's freezing cold and you just want to leave, the pump action bottle is the best thing. At least I don't use the aerosol type. Doing my bit for the Planet.

I spent a very happy day in frankfurt on Thursday. All day in the town centre in a craft shop. Bought loads of bits and pieces for Christmas and for the Christmas stall. I was like a ferret up and down every aisle, picking up odds and sods and popping them in my (two) baskets! Spent far too much, but who knows when I will be back again? Got some lovely patterned Christmas card to make my cellophane jam hampers and some small baskets to plant up cyclamen plants for the fair. Will post pictures where i get a chance.

Agnes is looking odd. I thought at first that Jase had swapped her for another Buff Suusex. She has bald patches on her back, neck, chest and backside, no tail feathers and when she bends over, it makes me blush! The poor hen. A serious moult, so have started to add tuna to their afternoon mash.
Cornelia was out of sorts yesterday and i was a little worried about her. She seemed disinterested and vacant (more so than usual). I got back from work today to discover why. Beautiful black and ginger laced feathers everywhere. She is moulting too now, hardly surprising as she is the same age as Aggie. Slightly concerned that they aren't eating much. They need their pellets to help regrow their winter coats, feathers, you know what I mean.

I relented and put up the chicken netting in the posh garden last week. I say 'posh' garden, but Carol Klein would be shaking her head in disbelief. It has had no attention in months and is in desperate need of digging, weeding, cutting back and tidying. The girls loved rootling around, digging up ants' nests. We have a small door cut into the willow hurdle to let the hens into the garden. For some reason, Cornelia ducks down and crawls through, a la commando, even though there is plenty of head room!

I have discovered a bar of Green and Blacks dark chocolate, with 'inherent warmth from crystallised ginger'. No idea how that one managed to escape my beady eye. Time to release it from the paper prison and feel the heat. It is freezing here again tonight. No point lighting the fire as I am off to bed soon. Up again at 5am. It's currently 4 degrees and dropping. Another frost forecast. Winter is coming!

I will sort out the veggie garden this week. The hens can help and be on slug patrol. The parsnips, chard and spinach are under enviromesh, so they can't attack those. The strawberry, raspberry, runner bean and tomato plants can all come out now. I planted out more spinach seeds, but think it is too cold for them now. Always forget to get an extra row of spinach in for the hens over winter!

Need to get my hair cut on Tuesday. It is growing sideways and starting to resemble a hedge. A wispy, uneven hedge, but a hedge nonetheless. It was fine yesterday. Weird.

Jase announced that we have friends staying next weekend but the office is currently being used as a stock room. That would imply order, but far from it. I put the futon and bedding away, to give myself more room for plastic boxes of Christmas stuff for the fair. I now have to find somewhere for it all and make the bed up again. Still it is a good excuse to declutter - something I have been meaning to do since we moved here 4 1/2 years ago.

It is 7.30 now and my eyes are starting to droop, sad that at 36 I am thinking of going to bed. Been up at 4am most days this week and do need to sleep. Wishing I could hibernate for a few weeks and wake up refreshed, just in time for Christmas!!

One more piece of Green and Blacks (for the health benefits) and then bed! Apologies for the rambling nature of this post. Will go back and edit to make more sense, when I can keep my eyes open.

C x x x

Edit - I have no will power. Save me from the chocolate.

Too late.

Meant to mention the reappearance of my hip bones after a long absence. Won't bother now. The chocolate has ruined the moment.

Friday, October 08, 2010

The Scout motto?

You know when you start surfing the tinterweb and before you know it you are looking at sites that are fascinating. I started reading survival forums and websites today. It was amazing what some people are preparing for. The term 'preparedness' was banded about and I am still not sure if it is a proper word or grammatically correct, it just sounds wrong. According to my online Dictionary - a state of readiness, esp. for war : the country maintained a high level of military preparedness. So there you go, it is a word. Still odd.

The long term weather forecast is for another very cold winter. How they can tell is beyond me, but I do love a panic theory!

Anyway, I am not planning to dig an underground storm shelter, board up the windows or start wearing camouflage tops and combats, but I started thinking about snow. That is the kind of eventuality I am planning for. When the snow hit in February this year, we had no vegetables in the house. I know that veg isn't high on a list of priorities and normally I wouldn't be that bothered, but when you haven't got any, you crave them. A bit like chocolate.

The country came to a stand still. People were panic buying, (what is it with wanting 14 loaves of bread)?? and generally things started to go wrong. We are quite remote here, only a few miles from a small town, but with country lanes on both sides, we are snookered when it comes to deep snow. We have lots of logs (delivered this week and all neatly stacked), candles stashed everywhere and a camping gas stove in case of power cuts (we don't have gas here).

I am not that concerned about food, we usually have a fair amount in the house. The tin cupboard will ensure we are ok. Although not quite sure how chickpeas, dried porcini mushrooms and Ambrosia custard will work out, but we'll manage.

In February, there were reports of drivers stuck on the M3 overnight. That is a 30 minute drive from us!! *shock*. It got me thinking, what if we got stuck in the car? I insisted that Jase keep a blanket in his car and he now has a pair of decent boots in there too.
I have hidden a small plastic box in my car, containing 2 emergency space blankets, 2 bottles of water, cigarettes and lighter (don't judge me), a first aid kit, HUGE bar of dairy milk (obviously), torch, blanket, scarf, gloves and a hat. I'm ready!

I spent today tidying the lounge and trying to find a home for metres of fabric. I managed, but don't open any cupboards for fear of avalanche!

Mum and Dad are popping over tomorrow, so will bake some biscuits in the morning. Didn't feel like it today as was too busy dusting the wooden blinds in the spare room. What a horrible job that is. Which is why they were so dusty; I never do it.

Time for bed now, after a pretty lazy day I am exhausted!

Night night,

C x x x

It hurts

Hello there!

After I woke up to a glorious day yesterday, put on my old jeans and tshirt, I headed out to the chicken area with spade in hand. I put up the netting in the back garden and opened the little door for the hens to escape. They seemed happy digging in the lawn, although Jase wasn't!

After a few hours of moving eglus and runs, scraping up old droppings mixed with aubiose, I was nearly done. 6 bags of the finest chicken muck you could want! I put most of it in 2 raised beds ready for next years pumpkins and courgettes, the rest is bagged up ready for freecycle.

When the runs had been sprinkled with powdered disinfectant and refilled with fresh bedding, I dug over the soil part and knackered my back! A couple of bags of woodland chippings and the hens were back in.

Spotless eglus and runs (not for long)!

Agnes decided to watch the action from the top of the dust bath house -

The third lot of washing is in the machine as I was running out of pants. Cannot understand that commando thing! House is relatively tidy, Just the last few bits of fabric to find a home for and the fire place to clean. I want to bake some biscuits tomorrow, so we have a plentiful supply in the house for our guests, and need to bake some scones for my chicken course on Sunday.

My back is really sore, but a few hours of pain are worth the end result. The hens are happy scratching around, exploring the new perches I put up. A couple in each run and a few in the privet bush in their corner of the garden. I have a corn on the corn to hang up for them later.

Eggs have really dropped this week and we have only had 3 so far. Appalling from 4 hens. Pru hasn't laid for 2 weeks as she is moulting and Agnes is looking a bit moth eaten today. Her orange feathers show up really well against the wood chippings, so I guess that she is moulting too.

Autumn is definitely here. The trees are turning shades of amber and gold, and evenings are getting colder. My pumpkin is finally starting to change from green to orange, slowly!

The veggie garden is looking tired, but still getting lots of raspberries every day. I have a large bag of them in the freezer to add to desserts later in the year. I might even make more jam with them? Think I will have to leave the big garden clean up until later this month. My back cannot cope with it today.

I cooked another few Christmas puddings the other day. I think everyone is starting to think about Christmas, as I have had a few orders in already.

This one is wrapped and ready to go!

Pretty isn't it? Makes a lovely present in my opinion. *grins*

Now, need to crack on and get the lounge tidy. Will not be doing any lifting or hoovering today. Might do a bit of sewing if I can sit down for long enough.

Bye for now.

C x x

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Should I build an ark?


Sorry I haven't blogged since the fair. Woke up on Monday and felt like death warmed up. Cheese grater throat, headache and runny nose. Not the best look, but had to go back to work on Tuesday and only just finished my working block. I now have 10 days off, the joys of part time! Still blocked up and achy, but getting better.

Ok, so the fair went well and was quite busy, but I have realised that people are being careful with money at the moment. I did make a fair bit, but have lots of things left, so am definitely attending the Christmas fair at the end of November *smiles* One lady was very interested in everything I had and we started chatting, she said she couldn't think about Christmas until at least November and was hoping that I would be back for that fair. I do see her point. I had a few Christmas things out, but jams and things are seen as hamper fillers apparently, so didn't sell too well this time.

I am planning to make up a few mini hampers, with jams and candles wrapped up nicely. That way people don't have to worry about putting a hamper together, I will do it for them!

Ok, the stall. Two tables this year, which gave me much more space. I decided to have a 'Christmas corner' at one end.

My wood working skills came into practise and I cobbled together a stand to display the shopping bags. With enough bags on it, you couldn't see the bodge job I made putting it together.

The crayon rolls proved to be popular and I will make some more for the Christmas fair.

The Scottie dog brooches that I made last time were mounted onto small parcel tags and proved very popular, everyone was picking them up and looking. Not many sales, but they take so long to make, I am not prepared to sell them for nothing. I put some business cards into an old plant pot and lots were taken!

Sunday was definitely busier and I made quite a few sales. The rest of the stall holders were lovely inside the Hall and many bought things from me too. I sold so many oat biscuits and fruit cakes after Yvonne and Jase thought to put out samples. Saw some 'old' friends who returned to visit me too! *wink*

My stall was next to Mad Maggie and her plastic bag weaving equipment! I also had my tarot cards read, and she was very good without being too vague about things. It would seem I need to be more confident in what I do and maybe consider teaching! Now there's a though........

Ricky and Janet from Quilter's dream popped in and made the huge mistake of telling me they would soon be stocking East of India ribbon! Noooo, I do not need more ribbon.

Anyway, it is pouring with rain today and has been for a couple of days. The roads are flooded and it doesn't seem to want to stop. The chicken area is a swamp, which is irritating as the plan was to clean out the whole area this week. They aren't huge fans of the rain and are spending most of their time hiding in the run. Pru hasn't laid for a couple of weeks, but is losing feathers, ready for her winter coat! Jase is back to work on Tuesday for 5 days, and I have lots to get on with. A few more orders to complete, namely a tea cosy, and a couple of ipod covers. Plus a few small Christmas puddings to steam.

I forgot to post pictures of my borlotti beans which did well this year. All dry and ready to add to winter stews! I love their unusual colours.

Now that October is here, I have started thinking about Christmas. Not that it takes much to get me festive. I have a few idea about what to get people, but am struggling with one or two. The same as every year!
I picked up my Christmas book again and looked through the pages. The wrapping ideas are so nice and get me in the mood. I think a few home made presents will go down well again this year. At least I enjoy making them.

Jase's Sister and Brother in law are coming down from Scotland next weekend, so need to get the house ready and do some serious blitzing of the dust bunnies! The lounge is nearly free from fair related fabric and sewing machine bits, but the odd loose thread is still to be found on the carpet/sofa/cushions/kitchen!

Thanks for all the lovely comments and well wishing for the fair!

C x x

Saturday, September 25, 2010

It's show time!

Hardly slept a wink last night. The Michaelmas Fair is today at 10am.

We set up the stall last night, to take the stress out of today.

Absolutely freezing this morning, just 2 degrees. Better get a wiggle on as sandwiches to make and need to pack the last minute biscuits and cakes. Wish me luck!

C x x x

Friday, September 10, 2010

Anyone for squash?

I usually handle stress quite well. I am a rare breed that CAN multi task. This is due to the fact that I have several things on the go at any one time. More due to a chaotic brain than good planning! However, my brain is aching at the mo, with things to do/plan for the fair. I have so much stuff, but worrying that it won't be enough. I plan to make biscuits the day before, plus mini fruit cakes next week, but it is just fitting everything in.

Today, I woke up at stupid o'clock and got ready. In town by 9am and picked up potatoes and other bits for dinner.
Headed to Quilter's Dream for felt. They didn't have any, so I ended up being incredibly naughty and bought more fabric. I have the self control of a starving dog in a butcher's. These are 'charm packs' apparently. They are beautiful, complimentary colours. Will cut each one into four to start another quilt off.

Got home and made several beef olives for the freezer and then noticed a few over ripe bananas. I am trying really hard to not throw any food away, so decided to bake an apricot, sultana and banana (funnily enough) loaf! It turned out pretty well. Although it doesn't look like that now. A couple of slices were consumed, just to make sure it was cooked.

I heard a racket coming from the hens and dashed out to see what was up. Elsbeth had laid an egg outside again, which Pru was tucking into, orange yolk dripping from her beak! Elsbeth is nearly 4 and still laying most days, her shells are getting thinner and break on impact with the ground. Pru is a nightmare when it comes to fresh eggs! Touching wood here, but she doesn't eat any that are laid in the nest boxes. I placed a rubber egg outside and watched as Elsbeth guarded the egg, pecking any hen that came near her. Shame she doesn't protect her own!

The sweetcorn is ready for picking. I had one the other day and it was so, erm, sweet! I only have a few cobs, but worth the effort.

The pear tree is groaning under the weight of all the fruit. I have supported a few branches with string to stop them snapping off.

I have several pumpkin/squash plants dotted around the garden, but no longer any idea which is which. I think one is a patty pan, as that rings a bell! Answers on a postcard please......

The swiss chard, spinach and parsnip bed was being ravaged by sparrows. I have now covered it over and hope that, with some fleece, it will survive the winter. The chard and spinach is great for the hens, as you can pull a few stems off, hang them up and watch the raptors tear pieces off. The vitamins do them good over winter too.

I have planted some leaf beet 'orange fantasia' in the green house, but it is taking it;s time. Will plant it out when it is a bit bigger. I might have to cave in and get some winter veg seedlings from the garden centre, as mine don't seem to be doing too well. No one needs to know!

Once all the cooking, baking and hen cleaning was done, I sat down with a cuppa and a slice (or two) of cake to chill out. The postwoman knocked on the door with a few parcels. Country living magazine for me, a couple of Christmas presents (yes, I have started shopping already) and a book that I have been waiting for from Green Metropolis. I have been after it for ages!

I have finished the scottie dog brooches! 14 made and ready for the fair. They take so long, but look cute, so will hopefully sell.

Jase has just called to say he has landed, so should be home in a hour. Better sort out dinner and the hens' treats before they start bokking!!

Have a good weekend!

C x x x