Saturday, 29 December 2018

Caking and Baking

Another bargain I picked up, in November I think, was an Ankarsrum Assistent.  I bought it to make bread, especially sourdough.  We've usd it several times, but not enough yet for it for m to use it without thinking.  If it stays,  it may replace Boris (my Bosch stand mixer).  I haven't tried it as a mixer yet,  it's on my ever increasing list of things that need to be done.

December also meant Christmas cakes and cards.

I made the poinsettia. It's free standing lace embroidery,  3 parts.  Emma, my embroidery machine, behaved impeccably. I was very grateful as  I hadn't planned on making the cake topper and it was a bit last minute.   I'd bought a resin Father Christmas from John Lewis,  but when I unwrapped it to use it, I found it was covered in glitter. No good on a cake.

I didn't take a pic of the Creole cake. I wish I had.  Small Person has an allergy to walnuts and pecans,  which meant I had to rethink how I did the glazed nut topping.  I was quite pleased with the results. 

I also didn't take a pic of my wreath until just now. One of my boars has disappeared!  It's a bit of a shame as I have had them since the first year I made my own wreath and they've been on every one. In fact, the wreath looks quite bare in a whole section, so I wonder if other things have been removed as well.?  Oh well.

One fail this year: I made Nigella's Puddini. I made some a few years ago and thought they were delicious.   I wasn't so keen this year, which is a shame as I made extra puddings to have the basic ingredient. I also have quite a lot of Pedro Jimenez sherry, the second main ingredient,  which is painfully sweet.  It's a bit too sweet for me.

I'm sure there were lots of other things, but I just can't think of them.


I've been creating a birthday card for Small Person. 

I like to put lots of photos inside, of the things she's done with us during the year.   I thought it would be a good memory jogger for her in years to come.   It was an enjoyable romp for me too, although I was a little sad that there were lots of things that didn't have photos.

One of my favourite photos is a still from one of the (many) videos I took when I was helping her learn to cartwheel. 

She's wearing one of the collection of Cora Cullotes that I made for her, and they are great for this sort of thing.


I've been busy making stuff.

I managed to create a mock wrap top, for me.   It took a lot of tweaking to get a really good fit. Now I've made a pattern, it should be relatively easy to make up. I really like it, and I plan to make more from a variety of fabrics.

I also made a fab jumper to wear to my MIL's funeral, finishing it the morning we left.  It was made with black fabric that had silver stars on, and as soon as I saw the fabric I knew that it would be perfect: her name is Stella.  It's lovely. Not my best make, but it's wearable.. and every time I wear it, I will think of her.   

I picked up a bargain of a child sized mannequin,  and we've set it it up to Small Person's measurements.  It's been really helpful, as I can test things as I sew.

I made a sweatshirt for small person, which was a much easier sew than I expected. I'm going to try it with a hood next time.
I also made her some leggings, but the fabric was less stretchy than usual and so they didn't fit.   I also made leggings for me, and kept making them until I got a pattern that fits reasonably well.  I need to make some more to wear to Pilates, they are on my list of things to do.

I've now moved on to making small person a raglan sleeved top.  It was again easier than I expected, and I can see why it's a favourite design from a lot of indy pattern makers. I love it! I hope she does.  I can't finish it until I see her because I need to get the arm length sorted.

And then I'm planning on making her a dress for her birthday, but I need to psyche myself up for that one.

Friday, 7 December 2018

Goodbye my dear

It was the funeral of my beloved Mother in Law (BMIL) yesterday.

As one might expect, my heart and my eyes cried a lot, and I tried to do it quietly.  BMIL was a private person, and would have been embarrassed by unrestrained blubbing.    After the service, we stood by the coffin in silence, each saying our own personal goodbye.

 I stood there, with my hand gently on the coffin (telepathically explaining to my BMIL that I was only touching it gently because I know she didn't like to be hugged).  I had already thought about what I wanted to say to her,  and I said my speech to her (again, by telepathy).  The internally spoken words, and the feelings they represented, intensified my need to sob.  I wanted to finish my conversation, and I wanted to leave before I couldn't keep the sobs under control.

Ironically, my attempts at suppressing the sobs took up all the oxygen in my lungs, and I needed to breathe.  The suppressing of the blubs backfired, almost literally. 

Inadvertenly, and most embarrassingly,  an attempted gasp for breath resulted in a howl.

I was mortified.

Naturally, people assumed I was wailing in grief. 

I was very upset and I was indeed very emotional, but I wasn't howling.    Having people try to comfort me, at my apparent enormous emotional distress, was awful.     I felt like I'd made a scene, people would look at me and think I was a drama queen.    I felt a fraud.    

I tried to explain, to those attempting to comfort me, that I wasn't howling in grief, it had been an involuntary sound when I was gasping for breath... but as I was trying to explain,  I realised that the explanation was almost worse than the howling.

I miss her.

I've missed her for a long time.  Alzheimers is such a cruel disease.

Monday, 19 November 2018

At the third stroke...

My lovely mother in law died on Thursday.

And it continued...

DH got back from visiing his poorly mum on Wednesda, and went to do the Allotment chooks.  One of the Dorkings was unable to stand.

He checked her leg to see if it was a foot or leg problem, and decided it was her upper leg.  He was unable to examine her more thoroughly, so he phoned me and we decided it was best for her to come home.

She looked terrible. Her tail was down.  I gave her some butridrops and she drank thirstily,.  I gave her water by syringe.  We then examined her. It turned out that her leg ring had slipped up her thigh, got wedged, and cut in to her leg.  It was a bit of a mess.

We got the leg ring off, and sprayed liberally with special disinfectant.  She looked brighter immediately, but still couldn't stand.  We set up a dog crate for her to stay in.

She improved quickly, and I kept her sprayed and well fed.   On Friday, I let her out into the garden, thinking she might want to eat some grass. She sat under the Rosemary. I brought her in before I let the big girls out.     On Saturday, I let her out again. I let the big girls out too, and kept an eye out in case there was trouble.  There was a little, but it was OK.

We took her back to the allotment on Sunday.  

She was greeted with a peck on the head from one of the Harem. 

We'll see how she goes from here.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018


It's been a draining couple of weeks, I don't have the emotional reserve to blog about the detail at the mo.

Yesterday I went to do the Allotment chooks.  The 3 little girls are growing, and will soon be old enough for us to open the connecting door permanently.  In the meantime, we're  letting them mingle for the time we are down there.

As usual, the older girls and Bertie were clustered around the gate when I  arrived. They can hear me coming, and get into position to run out of the allotment on to the grass verge as soo as the gate is unlocked.

I said good morning to each of them as they poured through the opening,   and I realised that I only had 5 harem girls not 6.  I went into the allotment,  opened up for the Littlees,  and checked that the missing girl wasn't shut in with them.  She wasn't in the outside coop. 

I opened the shed coop, and there she was, dead on the floor, with her head between one of the nest boxes and the battery box.  I went and got a couple of sacks to wrap her in.

Stop reading now if you are squeamish.

I said goodbye to her and stroked her. She was still in rigor mortis,  and I find it a little difficult to pick them up when they are like this.   I picked her up carefully,  and looked at her comb to see if it was purple (which would indicate heart attack).   There was no comb, just a bloody mess where the comb used to be.  I braced myself, and made myself check her face.   That confirmed it.

I wrapped her up carefully, and took her to the car.  Then I went back to the shed.

Thankfully there was only blood where her head had been lying.   The lack of spatter ruled out the remote possibility that she had been pecked to death by the other chooks,   and it also ruled out that she had been grabbed by a rat/weasel/similar predator and killed.    It was most likely that she died, and then her comb etc had been eaten post mortem.

The Harem Girls (actually nominally called Catherine, AnneBoleyn, Jane, AnneCleves, and Katherine, but we don't use their indvidual names) are sisters to Poppy and Gloria and Henry (our previous cockerel).  All are Welsh Blacks, from CastleFarm eggs, and are six and a half years old. 


Dressing down

I managed to finish Small Person's dress!

I bought several variations of tutu/underskirt for it, but I couldn't get the effect I wanted.  Only one of the underskirts gave the right shape,  and that was far too long.   I'll make th enext dress a longer length to use it.

The top needs a press (and is a little too big, but I left it that way as she is having growth spurts at the moment)

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Dried up

We've (by which of course I mean 'DH has') made loads of tomato passata, so we're good for at least a year.     There are still some tomatoes left,  and we decided to have a go at drying them.

I started with the big plum tomatoes.   Dip in boiling water for a few seconss, until the skin splits,   then plunge in cold water. Slip the skin off (or faff around trying to get it off),  then cut the tomato into 1/4 inch slices.  Dry the slices.

I realised that I should pribably have cored the tomatoes before slicing but, by the time I realised,  it was too late.

I had four trays of tomatoes, which took a loooooong time to dry thoroughly.  I now have a pot of crspy tomato bits, and a small tub of i'm-fed-up-waiting mostly dry bits. 
I'm going to grind then and make some super concentrated tomato powder which I can add to tomato based dishes (ooh, and pasta.  and bread).

The dehydrator is on again, with loads of sliced chillies.

I might do the catnip while we're in drying mode.  I should have done it a week or so ago while the atmosphere was drier.  It's surprising how much the ambient atmosphere affects the drying times.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018


Wash, our 14 year old male ginger cat,  is diabetic.  He has insulin twice a day,  and visits the vet  for six monthly checkups.     

At the last checkup, we commented on his gums.  Th eVet did a close inspection, and told us that Washy was suffering from tooth reabsorption.  Apparently it's very common (as many as 1 in 3 cats apparently).     It was likely that he had problems below the gum line,  and we needed to book him in to have it looked at.

Yesterday was The Day.

Wash has a fear of going to the Vet. I know that most cats don't like the  experience, but Wash is very distressed by it.   He's had a few traumas in his life which have resulted in him having extended hospitalisation, and he's always afraid he's going to be left.     His diabetes was stress induced, from his last stay (when he was hit by a car, had his paw crushed,  and then was having liver failure).

We starved him from 10pm the night before.  He didn't notice until 7.30 when he was demanding breakfast,  and was looking for the bowl of dry food which is otherwise always available.  We felt dreadful handing him over,  but of course we knew it was for the best.     The Vet knows about Wash's issues,  and planned to do him as the first of the dental ops that day.

The Vet rang late morning to let us now that the Xrays were better and worse than he had anticipated.  One of the suspect teeth was fine,  but there were two others which needed dealing with.  Of course we gave the go ahead.

I phoned at 2.30pm to hear that he was awake, and had eaten, and was being Wash.

We collected him at 5.30, and were shown the xrays.  We were happy to hear that his teeth were in good condition, very little scaling and tartar.  There wasn't anything we'd done or not done that had caise the issues with the dodgey teeth.   

We brought him home.  He ate the bland fish and chicken as if he hadn't eaten for a week.    

This morning we had to give him his antibiotics,  and we decided to see if he would just eat them.  He did.  He's such a lovely boy.

He's not quite himself and I guess he won't be for a few days.  The cat flaps are blocked up, he has a litter tray (which he used without any fuss), and the dry food will stay locked away until his gums have healed.  

He'll feel much more comfortable without the teeth.

Monday, 1 October 2018

Happy Dance!

I've been having some trouble with leggings.  I haven't been able to work out what is wrong with them, or even where the problem is. I've checked the pattern template, and I just can't see it.

I decided that I needed to make a pair out of squared fabric.  This would make the problem immediately visible.  I bought some inexpensive, Rupert-Bear-esqe fabric from Coalville Fabrics,  and looked at it for a few days.

And then I did it.

The leggings pattern I'm using is a self drafted one from my SureFit Deigns trousers blue print.   There are two pieces per leg (rather than 1 piece that you get when you buy a leggings pattern from, say,  Patterns for Pirates or Halla or LoveNotions (I have kids leggings patterns from those).    I had tried the P4P adult leggings,  but the shape just didn't suit me

Normally, I cut each pair of pieces in one go,  with the fabric folded.   This saves time,  and it means that when I put the two legs together and sew the crotch seam,  the two fronts ar identical and the two backs ae identical.      Where pattern matching is needed, this approach doesn't work. 

So, I had to cut each of the four pieces separately.   I'm using stretch fabric, of course,  so this also added a little extra complication.    It took a lot of time and patience,  and involved quite a lot of rude words,  but eventually I cut my pieces.     I also identified what was causing my problem,  even before I'd done any sewing,  so that was a bonus.

I basted one leg together,  and I was amazed to see that I'd got the pattern matched on both seams!   I did the second leg and discovered a missing bit of fabric.  I couldn't face trying to cut another whole piece, so I decided to patch it.  It worked.   Then I decided to overlock the seams, before I actually joined the two legs together. 

And then I pinned the two legs together,  and kept my fingers crossed. Well, kept them crossed in my head. Obviously.

The pinning looked good,  so I went ahead and sewed.   And I was amazed.

I did a happy dance.  I showed DH, having briefed him on exactly what was amazing about what he was about to see, and letting him know exactly what sort of reaction I was looking for.

I tried to take pictures, but that proved a bit of a challenge.  Here are a couple of them.  Please note that I hadn't put the waistband on,  nor had I adjusted the length of the legs.

But look!  All the seams match. The two legs are even, front and back.


Will I wear them outside?  Nope.  I won't even wear them in the house.   I'm just going to keep them as a reminder of an achievement.    

Saturday, 29 September 2018

Squawk, Flap, Thud, Crash, TInkle

I was upstairs, pressing some fabric.

I heard the panicked squawk and flap of Faye, which told me that she was downstairs in the kitchen, DH or one of the cats had come in, and she was flapping about panicking.  I put the iron down.

Then I heard a thud, a crash, and the sound of glass being smashed. I hurried downstairs.

I saw Fay run out of the kitchen in to the garden;  DH ws stood in the middle of the kitchen, looking at a smashed glass.  A glass vase was on its side on the windowsill.  A glass piece he'd made was in the sink.

He'd come in from the garden, Faye had seen him and panicked (as she does). She decided to fly up to try and get out through the kitchen window. Unfortunately for everyone, the window wasn't open, so she hit it, bounced off it, knocked the vase and the glass wave off the windowsill,  panicked and flapped, and her wing hit a glass on the worktop  which then smashed to smithereens on the floor.

She was fine.

It took some time to clear up.

Sunday, 23 September 2018


For a week after the party, we dined on leftovers. These were the leftovers that couldn't be frozen, and resulted in some interesting combinations. No cheating, no takeaways.  Mini kievs and chips, for example.

It seemes like a good challenge to continue for another week,  so we made sure that all our meals came out of the freezer or cupboard.  I won't pretend it's hard,  we're fortunate to be well stocked.

The third week started, and we continued the challenge.  This week was easy, because it started with a roast chicken - one of ours, of course -  on the Sunday.  And monday.  And risotto on Tuesday.  And asian-inspired chicken pittas stuffed with leftover risotto on Wednesday.  We could easily have had chicken for another two days, but we also gave the cats roast chicken as a treat each day for a few days.

I had to buy butter, as I'd run out of butter and spread. I can't make my own as I don't want to risk going to Costco until the challenge is finished.

We cook from scratch mostly.  I found a jar of vindaloo curry sauce in the larder, so we had that with pork yesterday.   There are a several packets of fajita spice mix,  so I'd better start on them otherwise we'll end up with a week of chilli pork.

Its not really an exercise in economising, at best it's just a case of deferring payment.  As soon as it's over, I'll order a load of beef,  for example.    However, it will make us eat those things that have been lurking at the bottom of the chest freezer,  and not just eat the same things all the time. 

It's not difficult, we've got lots of different things in the freezer to choose from (at the moment anyway).  I'm trying to vary what we take out. so we don't end up with having a week of sausages for example.

We've been mainly having rice or pasta (apart from the roas dinner week when I was using up the huge bag of Marfona potatoes I'd bought to bake for the party.  A bit of a tastebud saver they've been!

We're going to try and continue for another week.



 And here are the Chicks pics that Small PErson kindly forwarded

Blue Boy

Violet, Red, or Pink (can't tell)

NUmber Six

Penguin (this is a month ago)
8 of the 9 sharing a dustbath (this is a month ago)


Following the phone debarcle.  SmallPerson kindly sent me back some of the photos I'd sent her, and sent me some of her own.

The square pics are hers. no idea why she chose these particular hens to snap

Big Bird (She was huge, and the only yellow chick in her hatch, h2014)

Bertie and one of the harem girls

Camilla, not great conformation but lovely nature h2014

Ping, Pong, Norah, Harem, Harem, Barbara, harem, Bertie, Camilla, Big Bird. Phyllis inside shed. 2 girls missing, broody.

Ping, Pong (h2017) and Norah (h2011)

Barbara (Norah's daughter, in case you couldn't guess) (h2016)

Bertie and some of his girls

Saturday, 15 September 2018

Still broody

Sasha,  my Appenzeller Spitzhauben, is still broody.   

I was more than a little surprised that she went broody at all,  her breed isn't prone to it and she's never shown broody tendencies before.

She's stuck to it.  She comes out once a day, like a seam train thundering out of a tunnel.  She screeches, boks, runs around, gets on one of the perches, has a broody poo, stuffs her face, runs around, and then goes back in.

She lovingly moves the eggs - there were some in there when she went broody, and I foolishly left them there after she'd sat on them for a couple of days - with her chin.  Mostly, she ignores whats going on outside.

When I give the others sunflower seeds or corn, I throw some near her nest box. She ignores it, until they start landing inside. Then she sometimes pops out, eats them, and then goes back in. All in a flash.

It's lovely having her broody. All these weeks we've had no morning racket or rumpus.  

She's changed shape.   She was tpical of her breed: skinny, upright, small.   Since she's been broody, she's 'tipped over' like a typical hen.  She looks fatter,  more content, less wild eyed.

She's also let me cuddle her, which is odd.

It will be interesting to see whether she reverts to breed when the broodiness is over.

Friday, 14 September 2018

Tubular bells

I've been trying to clear up for...well... a long time now. 

I usually mange to get reasonably clear, clean and tidy every so often,  and then it slips.

I suspect that I don't really care... or I don't care enough.

It's been 2 weeks since the party,  and I haven't quite cleared up from that yet.  It's mostly cleared.  The party stuff has all been washed and boxed and packed in the loft.   Space had to be made for it, so that's why it took longer.      The SummerHouse is tidy, but there are still bags of crisps in there,  and bottles of pop etc.  Out of sight, out of mind.

So of course it was entirely sensible that I decided to organise my stash of A0 patterns.

I'd made a test pair of Cora Culottes for my Great Niece, Ava (GNA).    We decided she needed them a little bigger, and she asked for them to be longer, so I made a second test pair.    I also decided to tracee a new size of leggings for Small Person:  she has grown since the last new sizing in January.   I suspect these new ones will be too big,  but we'll see.

I thought I might make GNA a circle skirt.  I got out my A0 Halla Twirly Girl pattern,  but then remembered I had another maker's pattern somewhere.

So, I emptied out one of the 2 enormous tubes which contan A0 patterns I've had printed but haven't yet used.     I peeled through the sheets and sheets of A0 paper,  but couldn't find it,  so I opened the second tube.     I decided I should write on the outside of the tube which patterns were in it.

I wrote down the first load,  rolled them up, and attempted to get them back in the tube.

On impulse,  I decided that I should bite the bullet, fold each pattern and put its own A4 labelled envelope.  This would mean that I could access them easily.  This seemed like a great idea.   I'd be more likely to use the pattern if I didn't have to deal with all the unrolling and curling first!

It took me one day and two evenings to complete.

I'm not kidding.

I labelled the back of each sheet, and the envelope.  I folded and enveloped each pattern.  I sorted,  I
updated my pattern catalogue.   My neat labelling needed some help, so I scrawled on each envelope to indicate whether it was a child/girls/ladies/mens pattern,  and what type of garment it was.

 I then looked for a storage solution,  found it,  and ended up scrawling over each envelope again, as the storage solution required the envelopes to be landscape.   Some patterns burst out of their envelopes (Bella Sunshine Amelia, I'm looking at you!) because they had so many pages of options.

I've got 35ish envelopes.  I had a bit of an "oh dear" moment, when I translated this in to cold hard cash. Not the printing particularly.  the purchase cost.

Some of the patterns have been used many many times (Halla Leggin's, Love Notions Leggings, Made for Mermaids Cora Culottes, Halla Twirly Girl skirt). Most of them have not actually been used. 


Of course.  the ones I haven't used are all the ones that were in the tubes.  They aren't in tubes now,  though, are they?  So I think I should get on and make some.  Or one or two.

Or one.

But I am going to use them.  Or should I say, I am going to use them.

In fact, I'm going to use one this weekend.

Saturday, 8 September 2018


I dropped my smartphone and smashed the screen.

It flickered, and crazed, and the display went wonky.

A not-too-far-but-far-enough away Samsung shop had a screen in stock, and would fit it for me if I got there by 3.30pm. It was a 45 minute drive, I should just make it. 

I jumped in the car, and set off.

En route, I wondered if I should have uninstalled some of my apps (or wiped the device).

When I got to the shop, the lovely lady took my phone and said they were going to wipe it before they started.  They hadn't mentioned that on the phone, and I hadn't realised they would do that.   They could back it up to the cloud first, but that was taking too much time, so I told them to go ahead and wipe it.

Later, at home,  I found my backup from two days previously.  And then I found that my WhatsApp hadn't backed up for the last month.  Flipflop.

Still, I had my backup of my contacts and my SMS.  I synched, only to find I had the settings the wrong way round and, pouf,  all my contacts and my years of SMS were gone.

This wasn't going well.

In the end I located an older backup of the contacts and the text messages, and used that.     Small Person kindly sent me the photos I'd sent her of the last few days, to fill that gap.   Messenger and Facebook were fine.

I hadn't deactivated my banking app, so I had to phone them to get access on my newly wiped phone.  I never phone them.  I couldn't remember my security details.  They were fab. Really helpful, despite being mega busy because of the British Airways breach.

Of course I then had to set about changing my IDs and passwords, just in case.  All my email passwords, all my devices.   All the other accounts that run my life.    And then the various website passwords. That was tedious in the extreme.  

That will teach me.

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Party Pooped

The long planned and awaited family party happened on Sunday.  It was lovely!

The weather was wonderful.   We had two gazebos butted up together on the 'lawn' and chairs and tables all over the place.  The buffet was laid out in the summer house, air con on,  with everything on special thermo platters or stood in tubs of ice.  The IceMan, our ice maker,  had been working all day every day for about 3 days to produce the ice.    We think he's almost paid for himself now,  when we look at what we would have had to spend to buy the ice in.

We started at about noon,   and carried on until about 11.30pm.   My niece and her family reluctantly had to leave early evening because she had to work,  and my eldest brother had to leave because he had a prior arrangement.  

We didn't think about photos until some people had already left.

A few people were unable to make it,  so we had an overabundance of food.  We froze that which was safe to freeze (the backups that were stored in the fridge),  and provided party platters for people to take home with them.

My other lovely brother had provided one of the gazebos, most of the chairs,  one of the coolers,  loads of soft drink, some wine,  and lots of moral and practical support.  He, DH and I had a review the day after, so we know what worked, what worked less well,  and what we could do to make it even better next time.

Which is just as well as we'll be doing it again for my parents Diamond Wedding anniversary next year.

Friday, 31 August 2018

Icing on the cake

Well, the icing for the cake IS done.    I cna't post a pic, as it contains pictures of my Aunt and Uncles.  It looks fine.     The printer is much faster than the old one, and it works wirelessly,  which is fab.  It's so fab that I'm thinking about not stashing it away in a cupboard.... but I don't know where I'd put it.

I'm up to my fingertips in a spreadsheet for the rest of the arrangements.

It's going OK.  I've spent hours washing up.  We got all the party stuff down from the loft, so I've been washing the plates, 'glasses' and semi disposable cutlery.  And the platters.    I also bought some chiller platters from Cater Speed, who offered inexpensive next day delivery, and the base price of the items was the best I'd seen.    I can see that these chiller platters would be good to use anyway,  so I'm wondering where I can store them so I have easy access.

All the new glassware has been washed, by the dishwasher.   I've borrowed fold up tables.  DB brought round some fold up chairs,  a massive coolbox,  and some other bits.   Our electric cool box is plugged in so it gets really cold. The ice maker has been churning out ice for 2 days now.  I've also frozen some large tubs of water,  so that normal plates can stand on them and keep cool.

I've had one food delivery,  and I'm going shopping tomorrow to buy the salad type perishables.  I've placed a panic order for Sunday morning, which contains frozen snacks.... this means we can heat them up quickly if we're running out of food,    or keep them if we don't.

The lady at a local cafe is making sandwich platters, for a very reasonable price.   Sandwiches aren't difficult to make, but they are time consuming.   And this way, we can collect them on Sunday morning so we won't have to worry too much about fridge space.

DB also lent me his breadmaker, so I can make two loads of dough at a time.  I know I could make the dough by hand more quickly but this way the dough can be doing its thing quietly while I'm getting on doing something else.  It also means I can make the dough later in the evening, rather than having to start early in the day.  My wish list of breads is quite long. 

It feels really odd buying in the food rather than making most things ourselves.    If it was just for a few people,  I'd be doing most of it,  but there are just too many.

I expect it'll be OK.

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Time flies

The bank holiday was meant to be a calm, quiet, relaxing interlude for me, leading into a potentially busy week.  It didn't work out that way.

DH was away,  and Other Chap (OC) was away,  so I've been going to do the allotment chooks each day.  It's been good to see them. I wish I'd thought about it more carefully,  I could have wormed them as I'm seeing them every day anyway.

The Littlees have at last developed a taste for green veg, so I've been buying loads to make sure they have plenty. 

Small Person and her family popped by on Friday so that I could finish her leggings (see previous post).   They were off on holiday.

My Friday evening was meant to be me watching my new box-set,  Once Upon a Time, Season 7. I planned to start watching in the early evening, and then to keep watching until my eyes could take no more.

I started watching the first episode.
And then I had a phone call from Small Person's dad, my cousin.   Their cat had come in and had obviously been hit by a car.Their vet was just closing, so they were sent to the emergency Vet,  a few miles down the road from me.    The cat needed to be anaesthetised for the xray,  it had eaten when it dragged itself home,  and so the xray couldn't be done until Saturday morning.   They were due to go on holiday that day.

No problem. Happy to help.  Cat could come here, assuming he was OK to leave the Vet.

My Saturday was spent phoning the emergency vets, to see if the necessary xray had taken place, and fitting in everything else around that.   The Vet explained that they had had some emergencies come in, and they would do it at 1. Then 3. Then 7.   Each time I was told that someone would phone me when it was done.

I later realised that these were, literally, emergency vets.   They take over a practice overnights and over bank holidays,  and they provide an emergency service for lots of surgeries in the area.   This meant that every animal that came in to them was an emergency of some sort.

DH popped home on Saturday,  and immediately set to work getting our summerhouse ready for looking after the cat.  He's not castrated (the cat, I mean),  so we had to protect the walls and the floor, just in case.     We excavated the loft to find a cat basket that had not been recently used by our cats,  and we also found some VetBed which was new and unused.   And a litter tray.  And cat litter.

On Sunday morning, I phoned again and they confirmed that they had now done the Xray. Cat had a broken pelvis,  an operation was unnecessary (there was nothing that could be operated on), and he just needed to heal.  I could collect him that afternoon.  Phone again at lunchtime.

While I waited I started pressing the grapes that Small Person's parents had given me.  A previous, test, pressing had shown that 1kg of grapes would yield about 950g after de-stalking,  and this would deliver about 860ml of juice using the slow juicer.    I did the whole bag,  a lot of grapes,  and stood the jugs of juice in the fridge to settle overnight.

I collected Cat, and installed him in his temporary accommodation, and tried to do some stuff relating to the upcoming party.

On Monday, I got up early to do the chickens so I could sort out a few other things.

I bottled and pasteurised the grape juice.....

, and I attempted to make grape jelly.   It didn't set, and I haven't had any Certo (pectin), or any enthusiasm,  to reboil it.

I went to Ikea, to get some cheap glasses for the upcoming party.   I will never again go to Ikea on a Bank Holiday.     Their stock system leaves a lot to be desired.  Usually items show as "in stock", "low stock" or "out of stock".  Some of the things I wanted were "in stock",  but when I got there they were no where to be found.  The two assistants I asked for assistance were no assistance at all.  I ended up having to go round again, scrutinising the displays and taking stuff off the displays to try and get what I needed.

I don't think I've ever spent so long in an Ikea.

I had planned to pop in to Costco on the way back, but Costco had closed by the time I finished.

This morning,  I had to get up early and get back to the emergency vet to collect the cat basket.  They'd denied having it,  which is why we had to excavate ours,  but it turns out they did.  Cat was due at his own Vet today, and I wanted to use his basket instead of our bag (better structure for a cat with a broken pelvis).

I also had to go and buy some more cat litter and a second litter tray,  and run some more errands including seeing to the allotmenteers.

The Cat's Vet apppointment took some time, and I was relieved to get home.  I need to go to Costco, but I just can't face it now.

I still haven't unwrapped the new edible ink printer, either.  That was delivered last Thursday.  I may have to forgo the icing on the cake.

Friday, 24 August 2018


I haven't managed to get a photo of all the recent makes for Small Person.  Here are two she tried on today.

This first one is Cora Culottes by Made for Mermaids. She loves this particular style, and I've now made her....5?. pairs.  She loves the way they drape and look like a skirt.

And here she is in a pair of LoveNotions "Leggins"

Thursday, 16 August 2018

Unattended Fabric

This is what happens when I leave fabric unattended...

Monday, 13 August 2018


I was cleaning the tops of some of the wall units.  Ever since I was a child at home, I've lined the tops of cupboards with wallpaper to protect them from the stickiness that is inherent in kitchens.  These days we don't use a deep fat fryer, so it's not quite so icky sticky,  but it's icky sticky enough.

To keep the paper flat I use old, out of favour, coasters.    I line the (few) open shelves as well - those that stuff is displayed on rather than in constant use,  and I put an old placemat on the shelf as well.  It looks marginally better than lining paper,  they are easily cleaned, and they are easily disposed of when they become uncleanable.

I smled to myself when I unearthed this...
.. I guess it must be getting on for 33/34 years old now.  I loved that picture back then.  It was very popular, and  I think I probably had that as a picture on a wall in my first house.   The mat is in susprisingly good condition.

While I was up there, I found two mats belonging to this set, also in surprisingly good condition:

That snail one was from a set of 4, I had to buy 2 sets to have enough.  I don't know what happened to the others.  These were also from my first house,  and I think it was when I started to have my own identity.       These didn't get replaced because they were grotty,  I think we moved house and I bought some new ones.

I suspect that I was a bit more careful of my placemats back then,  or I didn't use them much (we ate out a lot), or maybe I just changed them frequently.    It took me many years to paint the new kitchen in this house,   I just had an expanding number of tester pot swipes on the walls.  

I've lost count of the sets of placemats I've had and ruined.
My current table mats have been in use for... I don't know.  I've been semi retired for 12 years, and the mats were well established then.     I looked at them with a fond sadness today,  as I realised that they are all peeling, or stained, or damaged. 

They are by Rob Scotton, and they've been really really well used.    I don't think you can see the damage too well in the pic. 

I'm going to retire them, and get some cheapy ones to replace them. 

Housewifery happens

My middle stepson and his lovely family are coming to stay overnight shortly... and two weeks after that, a horde of my family (some of whom have never been to my house before) are coming for the day. 

There are a lot of family members, so it's entirely likely that furniture will get moved.

Cue: housewifery.

It's been forever since I last did it, so I might as well do it and then forget about it for another age.

I started at the end of last week, in the sitting room.  Sofas have been moved and vacuumed behind,  skirting boards dusted.  The fan cleaned. Top of pictures wiped.    There will, no doubt, be an accumulation of debris and detritis over the next couple of weeks,  but not enough to embarrass me unduly.

Then the downstairs bathroom and lobby. I've reviewed all the magazines and chucked a load.  Then the upstairs bathroom.  It's fully tiled, and I washed the tiles this morning. . I do realise that there isn't really any 'furniture; to get moved in either bathroom,  but the bathroom needs to be sparkling.  Do it now, then swish and swipe just before visitors happen.

I'm now doing the kitchen, which was a bit accidental.  I only meant to clear it up a bit, it's become a dumping ground over the last couple of weeks as various projects are finished and new ones started.  Somehow I  found myself cleaning under the coffee machine, which led to a behind the coffee machne clean, which led on.....   I've even hoovered up some cobwebs from the ceiling,  and I feel bad about that.  I like spiders, and I try to maintain a spider friendly house: clean cobwebs are not usually removed. 

I've resisted emptying the kitchen cupboards, but I'm ruling nothing out at the moment.  I suspect it may depend on how long it takes me to finish the kitchen.

I'm trying to pace myself.  In my younger days, I'd have done a mega long day of non stop vigorous cleaning.   Now,  I just don't care enough.  I do care,  I just don't think it's as important as I once did.

But I'm still cleaning.

My daughter in law will ask me if I've cleaned.  Last time she came, we made a pact that we wouldn't do it just because the other is visiting.     I would still have tidied. And I would still have cleaned the bathroom,  and cleaned their bedroom.   But I wouldn't have done this level of cleaning if it wasn't for the other visitors.


That's my break time over.  I've only done one quarter of the kitchen, and I'd like to get at least half of it finished today.


Friday, 10 August 2018


What else have we been up to?

I'm not sure I can remember everything.  Apart from chicken activities,  :
- we made some chocolate and Hazelnut spread in Thermy.
         - And then the following week, we made 3 more variations.  

- we made a courgette cake for Small Person's Mum's birthday.
- I made a test pair of Cora Culottes for Small Person,
    - followed by four more pairs
- I made a new pair of leggings for myself, but I haven't put a waistband on them yet
- I made a birthday card for Small Person's Mum

- I got SmallPerson to make a card for her Mum

- We played Cat-opoly.  A lot.
- We've watched the Back to the Future trilogy, which Small Person loved

I can't remember what else.

Next stage

We managed to last until Monday before taking the babies down to the allotment.   We waited until then because Small Person was going to be here, and we knew she'd want to be involved.  She messaged me each day over the weekend,  asking if we were moving the chicks that day and, if so, could she come too. please.

The move went well,  and they seemed to really like the new space to explore.  It has better shade than the garden at home, so was great for the good weather.  We went back down again at dusk, and were really pleased to see that they'd all managed to put themselves to bed.

They seem happy enough.   We've had to work at getting the Girls to remember to fly up;  the Boys haven't forgotten.

We know that Orange, Black, BlueBoy, Penguin and Brownie are Boys (Brownie is a miniature version of his Dad).   We know that Violet is a girl.  We think that Pink and Red are Girls.  

We don't know about Number Six.

The garden at home is very empty, and very quiet.

Friday, 3 August 2018

Stone the crows

Well, crowing happened.

Blackring and Brownie have been learning to crow for some time.  We knew both were boys, so no surprises.   lue Boy also started recently/       Sadly, Penguin has also started to crow.  When DH told me, I thought he might possibly be mistaken.  I saw and heard it myself shortly afterwards, and many times since.

Meanwhile, on top of the Gazebo has become a place of interest for the boys.

Small Person took the news about Penguin quite badly,  but she recovered herself by the next day.  We've already been telling her that Number Six is looking a bit boyish.... we haven't mentioned that we both, separately, thought we'd seen himher crowing.

Only once.  Each.

Friday, 27 July 2018

Goodby Dillys darling

Dillys died today.

Dillys, and her twin sister Phyllis,  were hatched in 2014 from one of the Welsh Black harem girls and our gorgeous boy Henry.    Unlike all the other black offspring,  they had flat ('normal') combs instead of pea combs.  She was, like her sister,  large, bolshy, inquisitive and friendly.  Always pecking for attention, always tripping us up for treats.

She had been off colour, on and off,  for a little while. We'd seen her a few times (not when it was this hot) with a blue tinge to her comb,  and each time we've thought she was probably going to go, so it's not exactly unexpected.   She looked a bit off colour again on Wednesday, and DH gave her some Nutridrops... but this time,  it was the last.   I don't think it was particularly the heat, although I guess that might have been the last straw.

I can't find many pictures of  her (them).   I found this one, which has both of them in.  I can't tell them apart in the picture... I often couldn't tell them apart unless they were both in front of me at the same time.  In case you can't see the combs, one of them is on the left eating from a fruit bush;  the other is in the foreground looking at the slab.

I guess flat combed chicks are more likely, now that our cockerel is a Vorwerk.They'd have to go some to be as cheeky as Phyllis and Dyllis.

I haven't told Small Person yet.    I'll wait until we are chatting tonight.    I would bet that, after she's interrogated me on the details of what happened and had a bit of a reminisce about Dillys,   she'll ask me whether it means we can keep more girls from this year's hatch.