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