Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Summer at the weekend.

Hello, hoping you had a good weekend. Mine was a strange one really. After lots of spring cleaning and making cakes ready for Saturday, I then froze some including the 2 cakes that people kindly donated. This weekend I'm planning on making millionaires shortbread and defrosting the others. The lemon curd cake is an All-in-One cake recipe, see here is really easy. The topping is simple too, made with sifted (crucial for speed) icing sugar and 3 or 4 tablespoons of lemon curd combined well.

I love this dahlia, it brings back fond memories of cutting fresh flowers for customers in my parents florist and nursery shop, many years ago. They sold plants, shrubs, tomatoes and cucumber from the greenhouse and bags of soil etc.

My brother brought this cat garden ornament for me. He could probably do with a wash now, he's so old.

Another of my brothers presents. He was holding a green stick, a fishing rod type thing. We used to have a fish pond when living in Hampshire and after a long day at work in the summer months I'd sit by the pond sipping Pimms. Those were the days.

Delicate Gladioli petals, reminding me of candy floss at the seaside.

M is pleased his tomato plants are doing well this year. These ones were small plug plants from Aldi.

Sunday, time to relax in the garden. Armed with some crochet and a cuppa I set about doing a few more rows. It was such a lovely afternoon that I will confess to falling asleep in the garden. The cushions on the garden chairs are filled with tiny pieces of sponge which move about leaving areas without filling, most uncomfortable.

QT, enjoying some peace and quiet in the garden. The robin often shouts at him, making a dreadful racket. The robin is obviously protecting his own but mostly QT isn't interested in the birds. He has caught a few in the past, so he's not totally innocent, bless him.

I meant to post this blog yesterday, it's not been a happy home this weekend in our household. This was all completely out of our control and unfortunately can not be resolved. On a positive note teen 1 despite the drama has passed his theory test today. We are of course delighted as this is a requirement before moving onto the practical driving test. I'm particularly pleased as it was a struggle to find exactly where we should be within the complex and we went on quite a detour to go shopping afterwards.

The teens and I visited the cafe in Tesco and had a mocha, hot chocolate and a summer mango crush. Then we were off home to feed QT and cook some dinner which was belly rashers and some roasted roots. I roasted carrots, red potatoes, onion, parsnips, garlic and courgette with lemon and lime quarters seasoned with black pepper and paprika all tossed in oil.

I'm off to catch up on some more crochet, I made it to Craft Circle this week and took my blanket in to do another row or 2. Today I managed some more crochet on my scarf whilst waiting outside the test centre.

Hope you are having a good week, thank you for visiting.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

In the garden

I'm joining with 'Five on Friday' sharing a few pretty flowers from the garden. In no particular order,  some shouty bright flowers or berries. Then an update on what I've been up to this week. 

A delicate beautiful Carnation.


Allium - spring onion going to seed. We (M) grew some spring onion bulbs in a raised box border last year. We literally ate the green tops and planted the white bulbs with the roots intact. At the time I was only eating the green part of the spring onion. Whilst following the Fodmap diet, you exclude the food that's classed as 'high fodmap' which includes onion. It did seem strange discarding the white part and cooking only the green part. You do eventually add these foods back into your diet to judge your tolerance level. If you know anyone with IBS this book may help. I've since found I can't tolerate soya, including soy sauce, though that's not a fodmap issue. 

If you know the names any of the plants in this border, please let me know in the comments. I'd be very interested to know as gardening is not my speciality. This border stretches the length of the garden and is positioned under the washing line.

Buddleia plant, also in the same border. There are different shades of these here and here. Both here and at a previous property, we've grown 2 different colours. According to the on-line article in The Telegraph (link above) we should all have at least one Buddleia in our gardens. I quite like the bright pink and the deep purple variety.

Apart from wandering round the garden snapping photos, in a less hectic moment, last night we all went swimming in town, I can't remember the last time I've been swimming. I felt really out of condition and was aware I was swimming close to the bottom of the pool. I did manage to both float and then swim on my back for a half length. Both of these things I've never done before, so an achievement for me. After swimming, we returned home to some salmon fishcakes that I'd made beforehand.

At the moment I'm sitting relaxing in my lounge after lots of cleaning and baking. I've been having a bit of a spring clean, starting in the kitchen, dining room and lounge. The cakes were made for the church open home today. Unfortunately only one couple turned up and they bought a cake with them. Another lady in the village dropped a cake off too. I've put some in the freezer and M has taken some into work tonight. I'm looking forward to getting my crochet out later after all that.

Thank you for reading, have a good week. Please leave a comment and if you've enjoyed the blog, please follow. Cx.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Books and hooks

Hello everyone. As our family holiday has come to an end and we think about going back to work, like most people I've thought of the good habits which I want to continue. Like setting goals at the beginning of the year, for me, holidays are similar, a chance to pause and remind myself of my goals and resolutions.

I'm reminded that I wanted to 'be more' present - specifically less facebook time, to get my craft to-do list done and not just read about 'nice things to do'. To 'do more' as a family - we've made a new start at that this holiday. To eat healthily, it's so easy to reach for a snack when often your body just needs a drink - water anyone?

Still wanting to hold onto summer a bit longer I'm sharing some random holiday cheerfulness with you. The roses were from Morrison's supermarket. I'd acquired a voucher for a free bunch of flowers to the value of £2. There wasn't a lot to choose from, so I had £2 off a bunch. I chose an elegant white bunch of roses which in their simplicity look beautiful. Looking online at their meaning was interesting, as it captured the 'new beginnings' perfectly. If you'd like to know the meaning behind rose colours, see here and then here specifically for white roses.

Incidently I think the blemishes on the roses are a reminder to love your inperfections, something which we seem to be hearing a lot lately in the media.

My library book read, though we didn't go camping this summer, I've been dipping into this book and Kate's blog here which is very interesting. Kate writes from Australia which is in winter, it seems strange at the moment looking at autumnal photographs. She talks about leaving 'electricals' (my phrase) behind and connecting with the family, not just  for holidays.

Yesterday I made the decision to remove facebook from both my phone and tablet. It remains on my laptop and main PC and hopefully will remain that way. The reason I did this was because I wanted to be more present. The amount of time I've wasted on facebook is horrendous. I could've done so many other things.

For now I'm reading my way through the Cedar Cove series by Debbie Macomber, familiar but enjoyable still. This is the third one in the series which further develops the main characters lives whilst introducing new people to enhance the story. I've mentioned before, I like choosing a set of books to read through, during the summer. I'm hoping to get started on the next book for the book club after the weekend, it's called 'A Street Cat Called Bob' by James Bowen. I saw the film which was very good, teen 2 has read it and has started the second one in the series.

On my crochet hook at the moment is the Moorland blanket by attic 24, see here for details if you're interested. It's nearing the end now, up with the blue skies.

Usually if I'm off out somewhere I take this scarf to crochet as it's less bulky. Still in holiday mode on Monday it was the Craft Circle summer meal out which was very nice. Most of us had fish and chips, I had salad and coleslaw with mine, followed by a mocha instead of a pudding, as I had to drive to Lincoln hospital (routine twice a yr) and didn't want to be feeling full.

QT, my fluffy mane-d lion, love him.

Thank you for reading, hope you have a good week. Do leave a comment and if you enjoy it, please follow.

Cathy x

Friday, 4 August 2017

Tarts for 'Five on Friday'.

Happy Friday everyone, I'm joining with Five on Friday today with tarts, shopping, pub lunch and theatre night. 

Using up some pastry from making the chicken pie, teen 2 and I put together some jam tarts. The 'mixed fruit jam' is homemade by Debbie in the village - very nice it is too. The recipe is based on this one.

Holidays wouldn't be complete without buying supplies for 'back to school / college'. I'm not going to gloat as there's still the shoes and few trousers for college to get, but whew! It's good to be better organised than previous years. So with the supplies out the way, we popped into Tesco and picked up another Hairy Dieters cookbook - Fast Food here. I need to look into their breakfast granola cereal. So many cereals contain nuts, pumpkin seeds - (packaged seeds often say may contain soya), stoned fruits, barley or state may contain soya. All are not good for me.

A healthier beverage than too much fruit juice. I'm not keen on squash and preferring to drink water from a glass, I was pleased to see these bottles in Wilkos for taking out and about. I used to take a few slices of lemon to work many years ago. I'd keep adding water to it throughout the morning. A bit too posh really but this one I like. You can cut up whatever fruit you like and off you go. 

Not really sure how the diets going really, keep forgetting to weigh myself. M and I need to lose 5 lb each and generally reduce high refined sugars. Sorry the photo is dark, we were walking back from a lunchtime pub meal with the teens. It was overcast that day, then we rushed round making some Millionaires Shortbread for film night. I know that doesn't 'fit' in the same sentence of diet chat but... 
The dark brown cow / bull? - sorry I'm such a townie, has one horn up but the other pointing down. 

Thursday evening, teen one and I set off for the local theatre to watch his girlfriend in 'Dirty Rotten Scoundrel'. We took a detour into town due to the air ambulance dealing with a road traffic accident. The play had a good plot and a twist at the end. We enjoyed an ice-cream in the interval and offered congratulations at the end. A you tube clip offering a flavour of the show here and a film trailer here

Thank you for visiting, do leave a comment and if you've enjoyed my blog, do please follow.
Have a good weekend
Cathy x

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Summer holidays

A few of the new pots M had planted up in the spring. 

Looking at these bright flowers in the garden, I'm reminded how fleeting a British summer can be. This year's summer vacation has turned into a stay-cation for our family. For the first part of our holiday, which was the church camp, M was in a lot of pain. Dosed up on paracetamol and awaiting a scan to rule out a hernia, teen 1 followed M's instructions and successfully hitched the caravan to the tow-bar. Then followed an incident with our gate and the reverse procedure back onto the drive. M really couldn't manage, so teen 1 and I escorted him back inside to rest.

After resting M thinks he may have pulled a muscle from twisting and cutting up logs in the garden. These were from the 2 large Sycamore trees we had cut down. We also cancelled our second camping holiday - booked in The New Forest. The plan was to take the teen's bikes so they could be more independent. We planned to visit our old church in Hampshire and my Mother-in-law. Sitting for a prolonged length of time on a car journey was out of the question for M, so we stayed at home.

Determined to enjoy some degree of a stay-cation, we relaxed and pottered about at home. These Sweet Peas were grown from seed from my parents garden. I was hoping we'd have a more abundant display, as they're perennials we're hoping to see more of them next year.

My quiet corner for some peace in the garden when it's too windy to sit outside. The tomato plants are dominating all the space at the moment. M has some dahlias, lupins, nasturtiums and carnations growing in there too. They'll all be transferred into the borders at some point. I noticed he's cluttered up my chair as well, the camera never lies.

Talking of cameras, this one is new to me, a birthday gift from M. I had a list (when don't I) of what it must do and slowly I'm getting used to it. I wanted one that although was point and shoot, had a program mode. M previous Canon camera I used was bulky and a pain to upload photographs as it wasn't compatible with the laptop. On this one Canon powershot SX620 HS, you can program - white balance, vivid colour, close up, auto exposure or program and flash on / off. There are many more features but these were the main needs.

Behind the greenhouse, the teens have loaded the crates M built with logs, ready for the winter.

Teen 2 has been busy helping M clear this border of removing stacked logs and weeds. The plan is to clear all the borders of weeds and plant up with anything worth keeping in the cleared spaces. A sort of garden shuffle. Until we know exactly the cause of the pain M experienced, he's taking things slower. He's looking into sourcing parts for repairing the caravan, though any repairs will need to wait a bit.

Having set up the tent for teen 2 in our place at the campsite, we visited him daily to provide his lunch and hang out and chat with the other campers. He ate with the other families there and though he'd originally planned on being alone (boring) in case people spoke to him, 2 of his friends joined him. They sang their hearts out karaoke style to music on his phone. I wished I'd given him a small campus burner as he loves his tea and was eating with people that never drink tea or coffee! Another family made him a cuppa one morning much to his delight, though they may not have enjoyed the singing the previous day.

Everyone had a fantastic time and there's talk of doing another one next year, they all joined in with the wide games and man hunt. Teen 1 and I enjoyed practicing on the site's golf driving range. Lots of chat and relaxed afternoons before we came home to comfy chairs and beds.

As weird and sad as it sounds that we didn't go away on holidays this year, we did all pull together as a family. Teen 1 especially showed a level of understanding, strength and determination that was admirable, particularly in sorting out the caravan twice and covering it in tarpaulin - not an easy task. We've played a few games of Rummikub as a family, particularly teen 2 has enjoyed 'leaving his room' for a very addictive game. This particular set was purchased from ebay after failing to find one in a charity shops.  

QT was determined to be included, he's had a very bad week with flea trouble. I treated him a week ago with Frontline from the vets. It's useless, 35 fleas later either burned in the grate, spliced in half or drowned after combing, things are improving. We've collected more room spray from the vets today and more treatment due in 3 weeks time. Sorry if you've started itching! Thankfully he's a good natured boy who likes being brushed and combed. He knows the next step is Dreamies cat biscuits.
NB the drowning method seemed to be the most effective. A small bowl of soapy water a flea comb, or in our case an old metal nit comb, a tissue and then flush it all away. I think the poor lad is feeling a bit bemused as he's never been so well groomed.

 You've gotta be kidding me! 

No. If I don't look, you can't see me. 

Craftwise, I've been quietly continuing with my crocheted blanket, I can see the end of this particular project and it's making me think of - what's next. The scarf, lighter and smaller has been taken out and about to be worked on too.

The rest of the holiday will be spent trying to fit things in such as shopping for school and college clothes, shoes and coats. Swimming and other activities continue as normal.

Thank you for reading, I hope you have a lovely summer whatever you do.
Do leave a comment and follow if you've enjoyed reading.

Friday, 28 July 2017

Five on Friday - Wooden gifts for hooks and needles.

I've not blogged for a while and found myself missing being in touch with you all in blog land. It was my birthday on Monday, Yay! 38 again (she lied). I've lost count of the years that I've celebrated my 38th birthday. It's a good sounding age and I'm sticking with it until I forget how old I really am.

I'm joining with Five on Friday again with some wooden craft items that were gifts once a while ago.

First up is a wool tree given to me by my husband for my birthday this week. It's been put to good use already.

Next is a needle case and pin cushion from my in-laws. I think they were both bought from Bosham craft centre some years ago. My Mother-in-law used to sell her hand made pottery lamps and planters - fired at home, in the craft shop upstairs. If ever you're visiting West Sussex do have a look in the little shops there. They are frequently changing vendors as different ones leave and new ideas take their place. Bosham harbour itself is a lovely place to visit, a bit muddy in places if you try wading out. Langstone harour nearby in Hampshire which is also well worth a visit if you like strolling along picturesque harbours.

Bobbin lace, wow this takes me right back. My first Christmas present from hubby, 29 years ago. I bought him a sea-grass wooden stool kit that year, which we still have in the lounge. When we lived in Kent, we'd visited a craft place and saw a lady sitting with her bobbin lace pillow working away. After chatting with her about my bobbin lace, I think she had designs on me taking over from her in demonstrating how bobbin lace was done. It was a voluntary thing with most visitors over the weekends and holidays.

Whilst in Birchington, Isle of Thanet, Kent, I ran a small group called 'Needles and Lace'. It started once a month at the local church, a bit like a knit and natter group, but for any crafts using needles or lace work. I took my bobbin lace cushion in one evening so that everyone could have a go. It's quite relaxing, whilst working in 2 x pairs of bobbins - sticks with beads attached.

Mine has become all a bit disheveled in it's box in the wardrobe. Generally speaking when you make up and align your bobbins, each pair should look identical. All the bobbins line up, the first end pair on the left 1, 2, is the working pair, working with 4 bobbins numbered 1, 2, 3, 4 you cross the bobbins in sequence taking the first working pair along to the end of the line, like this. The basic stitch 'cloth stitch' is the simplest to start with. After the first pair on the left reaches the other side, you insert a pin in the pre-marked card to hold the thread and continue back again. There are many videos on youtube if you're interested in seeing some lace being made.

My late Father-in-law made me this wooden table as a gift one year. It is well made and something that I'll treasure for ever. It sits alongside my arm chair and as it's a table too is often laden with all-sorts, such as a cup of tea, hand cream, box of tissues etc.

Thank you for stopping by to read, please leave a comment and if you enjoyed reading, please follow.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Book reading

Front Cover

Apart from continuing with crochet work, recently I've been spending time reading. It's probably because it's summer and not wanting to be buried under the woolly blanket that I'm crocheting.

First off was the June book club read. I thought it'd be wise to read this one first before turning to my other books. Below are some questions for the book based on a generic set I found on-line. This book is part of a set called 'The Four Seasons Collection' the series is found here.

A Spring Affair  Questions

1. Your experience - what are your thoughts about the title? How would you describe the book eg how did it make you feel? Were you engaged with it immediately or did you take a while to get into it?

2. Describe the main characters, their motivations, inner qualities. Are they justified, do you admire or approve of them?

3. Are the main characters dynamic - changing or maturing by the end of the book? Do they learn about themselves, how the world works and their role in it?

4. Discuss the plot - is it interesting, a fast pace page turner or does the plot unfold slowly. Were you surprised by anything, or was the story predictable?

5. The books structure - Is there a single viewpoint or shifting viewpoints?

6. Did you enjoy this book and would you read anymore of Milly Johnson's books.

                                                  book cover of 

Summer in Orchard Valley

Last week I read 'Summer in Orchard Valley' details here. It's a typical Debbie Macomber romance novel. An easy quick read that I've read before but wanted to re-read as it's a summer title. The book is split into 3 parts with each of the sisters featuring in a separate book. I love Debbie's books so will often fall back on her many many titles. They are not by any stretch described as deep, strenuous or meaty, instead they are comfortable and familiar.

book cover of 

Summer Wedding Bells

Next I read Summer Wedding bells which continues with two of the characters from 'Summer in Orchard Valley' for details see  here. For now I'm working my way through my own bookshelves and TBR pile. Apart from the book club read which is Anne Tyler's A Spool of Blue Thread, I'm continuing with some more Debbie Macomber books for the summer. Then I'm hoping to read some of the books below.

I've been watching the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency film and series. There are some available on You tube and the DVD's are available to buy through Amazon. I've read the first four books and want to read more in the series. For more titles and details in the series see here. It's such a shame that it's sadly no longer produced on TV. If you've seen them on TV you'll have met Precious Ramotswe the detective, Grace Makutsi her secretary sporting her 97% pass mark at the secretarial college and Mr J L B Matekoni the wannabe husband of Precious and local car mechanic / manager.

Thank you for reading, do let me know if you've read any of the books I've spoken about. Or leave a book recommendation that you've read. It's raining at the moment so having prepared tonight's dinner of lasagne, baked chocolate brownies and made pastry ready for the pasties for tomorrows dinner, I'm off to catch up on more reading.