Sunday, 30 November 2014

Behaving like a child

The rest of the week - well, it's been a bit of a funny week really.

DH had to go again to his parents. leaving home at 6.30am on Wednesday.  BiL has been building a new mobile home for them,  and DH needed to go and help. He's popping home today for a couple of nights, nominally to see me but mainly because he has other things pencilled in for Monday night and Tuesday night.

On Friday night I wanted to watch TV, but there wasn't really anything on.  I had a look at Amazon Prime Instant Video. We have access to it through the TV, but hardly every bother.  I wouldn't have bought a separate subscription, but it was added to my  Amazon Prime membership.    I started to watch Alpha House. It was gentle, and mildly amusing - not laugh out loud funny, but an OK way to while away half an hour.    I watched the second episode. And the third.  And I carried on.

By midnight, I was far too tired to carry on, but I only had 3 episodes left of season 1.   I watched them. All of them.

On Saturday morning, I had trouble getting out of bed.   I was soooo tired all morning.   I perked up a bit after some lunch, but then I had my cranky pants on.   Just like a child!

My brother stopped by, so he could try out the machine he had just bought from me (more on that in a later post),  and that helped stop me being so grumpy.

I decided to have an early night.

Instead, I watched the whole of season 2 of Alpha House.  Fortunately I started earlier, so I was done by 11.30pm.

It's not really the sort of thing I would go for normally, so I'm not sure why I liked it.  I think it was probably because it was gentle, a little satirical...and unexpected.

Probably a good job there isn't a season 3 yet, otherwise I'd have spent my Sunday watching that!

Birthday Oscars

DH's birthday bash went really well.     Everyone, everyone, enjoyed the archery;  even those I had thought really really  wouldn't.   Some got a bit competitive.   Several talked seriously about wanting to take it up, although I suspect few will.   The children were well behaved,  the sports hall gave the youngsters room to charge round and burn off energy.

Sincere thanks to Angela and Russell of R&A Activities (aka ArcheryFun4u), who were SUPERB.  I would definitely recommend this as a group activity.    Our group ranged from 6 to 78ish, plus 2x3 year olds who were allowed a go, so they didn't feel left out,  under very careful supervision.

All the taxis arrived on time and got us smoothly to and from various places. Big thank you to Fountain Cars who were great, right from my first enquiry.

Dinner at The George in Wraysbury was EXCELLENT.   The room was a lovely shape, square-ish rather tha long and thin. We'd pre-ordered the food,  and it all worked like a dream. Tania and her team were fantastic, both in the weeks leading up to it (as I popped along to measure this,  try out that,  emails about this and that),  and the service was happy and efficient.  The servers were also really great with the kids.  Sadly I didn't take any pictures during the evening!

 The artwork (graffiti sprayed words saying "60th" and "Happy" and "Birthday" were fab.  The "Happy" and "Birthday" are enormous, each word s about 8 feet long.  It's currently in my hallway while I work out what to do with it next.  It was done by Arron  He also does amazine chalk artwork

The table-covers and bunting looked great,  even the carpiest one didn't look bad.  The nameplates with the chosen menu items worked really well.     I can't thank Louise enough for her time and help getting it all set up.

Very happy with it all.  So glad it went well.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Today's the Day

I got up this morning and I ached.

I don't know if it's stress, or because I'd realised yesterday that I'd done everything I could and that if I hadn't done something (like a cake) it didn't matter.

Or because of the faffing about with the table runner.

Whatever the cause, I was in trouble.

I tried exercises, I ued my massager,  I used my back frame.

And then I drove off to collect my friend Louise (and, as it turned out, her daughter Sasa) to go and get the room ready.

By an incredible stroke of good fortune, the people who had the room booked before us cancelled their booking,  so I was able to go along with Lou to set up,  Thank goodness I did.   There was so much to do!

Despite taking a step ladder, neither of us could reach to hang up the bunting.  We dragged in a taller member of staff to do it, and he was fantastically patient with us.

The venue had done a perfect job of laying out the tables and the cloths and the runner, exactly to my specification.

Of course we had to move things around a bit.

It took an hour and a half to set up.

Sasa, aged 5, set up the childrens activity table for us, and did a brilliant job. She also helped by checking that things were centred and giving us her input on positioning of bunting.

Even the crappiest table cover looked OK, I was very relieved.

We stopped for a much needed drink, and then I came home to change.

Hope it all stays up!

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Ironing out

Last night then, I looked online for irons.

I remembered seeing a cordless iron recently, and that seemed like a good idea. 

The cordless ones were less than half the cost of the steam generator irons. It's not as if we are suddenly going to start ironing clothes,  and a cordless iron would be much easier to use for the stuff I was making.

I was too late to order one and get it delivered next day,  but I could see they were available locally  in Lakeland.

I went out first thing, to try and get one.

As I drove to town, I  had a flashback of me seeing a cordless iron.  I couldn't remember where that would have been.   I don't remember looking at irons since...well, since that day at the Ideal Home Show.   What on earth made me even think of a cordless iron?

And then I realised.   I must have seen in when I was in Lakeland last week. But the only area of Lakeland I went to was...... oh my goodness!  There must have been one upstairs, in the "bargains" area!

And do you know what?   It was still there!  Half price!  How lucky was that?

I've used it already, and it was perfect for this.  Not sure it would be that comfortable to do a whole pile of ironing with,  but perfect for using with sewing stuff.

So, a good ending overall.

Iron Fist


Where to start? 

DH has a special birthday this year, and we are having a big family activity and dinner to celebrate.   DH knows about the dinner and the activity,  and he knows that I have been making bunting to decorate the room (it's hard to hide the fact that you are sewing metres and metres of bunting, especially when it's being done in the kitchen), but he doesn't know about the other decorations I am undertaking.

Making the other decorations has invoved an inordinate amount of ironing.     We own a humungous steam generator iron,  top of the range, bought for an extortionate sum of money from the Ideal Home exhibition about 10 years ago.      It's first airing was with the bunting making,  during which time I manage to singe and ruin the ironing board cover on the equally unused ironing board.

Anyway.   I'm making 4 tablecloths and a table runner,  each covered in photos. I had printed the photos on to tee-shirt transfer paper, and then ironed them on to the tablecloth.   The first one is easy.  It gets harder as more are added.  Each table cloth has taken 2.5 to 3 hours of ironing time,  not counting the cutting of the cloth, selecting and printing the photos etc. 

The transfer paper requires extrmely high heat, and a lot of pressing.   I had to abandon the ironing board and use the breakfast bar.  To protect the breakfast bar I mada Princess-and-the-Pea type affair with a towel,  a large piece of wood, a towel, a flattened cardboard box, a wooden chopping board (which I also ruined in the process), a towel, and a new tabletop ironing cover thing.

I've spent bloody hours of my life doing this.

And it's all on disposable "Duni" luxury banqueting roll.   If I had realised when I started just how much effort it was all going to take, I would have invested in (or made) proper washable tablecloths.

I've also used a whole tube of hot iron cleaner - not all at once - as I've had to clean the plate a lot

Yesterday, I was adding an embroidery patch to the table runner that I had made for the main table.  The runner is 3m x 1.5m (although the photos only cover about 1m of the 1.5 metre width).   I was adding a final flourish,  a piece of fabric I had embroidered.  I could see that trying to sew this on, even with some stabliliser, was asking for trouble so I decided to use some spray fusible stuff. You spray, place the item,  cover it with cotton, and then iron it with a really hot iron.    I used the ironing board for this.   

The damn stuff didn't fuse, but it did leave a mark on my embroidery, it sort of soaked through.

I decided I'd have to sew it.  I moved the sewing machine to the breakfast bar, threaded it up with some suitably colured thread,  and tried to work out how to do it.  In the end I had to roll the table runner up,  and put a stool either side to try and support the length.   It was a pain in the bottom, and I ended up with a very wrinkled middle where it sagged; and the end where I was sewing looked a but worse for wear.

I decided I'd have to try and iron bits of it,  although I know from experience that I have to avoid ironing the photos, even if I cover them with silicon paper first. 

I dropped the iron. Or rather, I didn't put it properly on the base, and it fell off.

Luckily, I didn't burn me, or the cats, and I manged to pick it up before it singed the floor. 

I looked at it, and thought I might be able to put it back together.... but I remembered from somewhere that irons are like crash helmets and riding hats:  if you drop one, you shouldn't use it. 

More haste, less speed.

Time is running out.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Piggin' forgetful

It's only been six months since our last half pig,  and we just couldn't remember what to do. Hopeless!

Fortunately I had printed out my previous notes, so we could try and work it out.  It was a little more complicated because
  1. this porker is huge, ideal for bacon and roasting joints.
  2. We don't want bacon or large roasting joints this time
  3. We wanted to separate out the shoulder meat to use in making luncheon meat, pork pie, and Nuremberg sausages.
Here's what we did. From what I can remember, while I remember.

DH started on the back leg, cutting out a piece for ham.

While he did that, I took the fat off the loin, and I took out the tenderloin.  Then I started taking the fat off the belly. 

I took the rest of the back leg from DH and started breaking it down into lean dice, lean mince,  meat for sausages, and fat for rendering into lard.  I used to hate lard, home made lard is amazing.

DH worked on the belly, taking out the ribs, and cutting  some pork belly joints for roasting.  I then took the rest of the belly for processing.

DH worked on the shoulder,  cutting a hand of pork for roasting, and then the rest of the shoulder.  I used separate bowls to produce lean shoulder dice, and lean shoulder for mincing.

DH worked on the loin, cutting half a dozen enormous loin chops. (I can't stand pork chops personally. Can't stand the smell of them cooking, or the texture of them when cooked.) . I then took the rest of the loin and cut it into the usual lean dice, lean mince, sausage meat.

When all four primary cuts were finished, we started prepping for the freezer. The three belly joints and the and were scored, then bagged, sealed and put in the freezer.   The shoulder was weighed into portions - 1kg for luncheon meat, 1kg for Nuremberg,  whatever was required for pork pie.   Any leftovers were added into the other bowls.

The lean dice was bagged in 250g portions,  I had about 10 of those.

I made 4 large jars of lard.

DH tunnel boned the leg, ready to make a ham.     All the bones and the trotters went to make trotter stock (for the luncheon meat and the pork pie).

All the allocated stuff went into the fridge overnight, for prepping today.

Today we minced the mince, and put it in the freezer.  The meat for sausages was minced, and the seasoning and rusk added, it's in the fridge chilling before we stuff sausages. . The shoulder for the luncheon meat was minced.  The meat for the Nuremberger was minced, and the seasoning added; it's in the fridge chilling.

Freezer space is at a premium, so I need to do some vacuum sealing.....

Monday, 3 November 2014

Cheesed off

On Saturday, before real life interrupted,  DH and I attended a cheese making course, run by Louise Barton of Cutting the Curd.

DH already makes soft cheese, but the results are variable - usually good, rarely repeatable.  I saw this course advertised and decided to sign up for it.  DH was,understandably, less keen. However, the cheeses being made were ones he hadn't made before so he decided to go.

Halloumi,  Mozzarella and Marscapone, (and butter making).   We'll definitely be making them again. Well, we'll definitely be making the Mozzarella and Marscapone again.  The Halloumi,  known as "squeaky cheese", was better than shop bought but was still too squeaky for my liking.

Louise travels the country teaching people how to make cheese.  She might have a class near you?
Here's Louise's website


So these are the photos from between Thursday and Saturday

Two layers of cabin, wuth insulation in between

 Roof partially on


The summerhouse was going well. The weather was dry and perfect, and DH was getting on fantastically.

Then we had a family disaster. Not here, luckily for us, but at my in-laws.   DH had to drop everything and rush to Wales to help.

He came back on Friday.  Saturday he was pyrotechnicking at a local fireworks display,   and yesterday was spent  trying to do things which could be done in the rain.

Hopefully normal service will be resumed soon.

i do have some interim pics, and I'll post those shortly.