Friday, 17 October 2008

Little lace cloth

This lace cloth is the result of being stuck in the kitchen for a couple of hours the other day. MrL was up a ladder working on the door frame, so I started this with some ends of cotton I got from the Guild sales table (again), and a pair of 4mm needles that were on the dresser - the only knitting ingredients available to me for the duration............ I finished it this afternoon, whilst waiting for a curry to cook :)Not teh easiest of patterns, but quite effective in different colours. I've done it several times before in thicker cotton for dishcloths, but not a pattern to knit whilst someone is yacking in yer ear ............. :0 :)

Simple pleasures in the home

It's a beautiful sunny, warm autumn day here in Dorset - the garden is full of birds singing and doing their own bird thing, lots of flying insects, also my own bees are out and about. Chickens and ducks sleeping in the sunshine, goats chewing the cud, cows next door lolling around........I'm inside for the moment (hope to get out a bit later), having swapped yesterday for today regarding going out/shopping/errands, etc. These are some of the things encountered this morning at home.......
I did the ironing this morning. I quite like ironing - transforming an untidy heap into nicely pressed and folded clothes, waiting to be taken and put tidily (I hope :)) away. My favourite type of ironing is household linen - pillowcases, tray cloths, vintage bits and pieces acquired, newly laundered, coming out bright and clean, cared for and loved again.
This wooden rack, liberated from the tip for a few pence some months ago has now been cleaned up, and is awaiting finishing, ready to go up in teh porch when I get it decorated, hopefully soon. Not sure whether to wax it or paint it, but probably coming down on the side of matt white at the moment........However it's finished, it's a lovely wooden piece, with the bonus of being emminently useful out there!
The little stool was the star find this week - for about one pound or so at the tip; not old, but folding metal verdigris legs (need slight repair, but usable in the meantime), with a beautiful needlepoint top to it. Is that not just lovely?
Finally, this is how I started today - we make our toast on the Fire of the Rayburn, and have for the past couple of years since the electric toaster went. MrL made a wire rack with handle, and the bread toasts over the coals - real, old fashioned tasting toast. We had it with fried eggs this morning. Can't get much better than that..... :)


Aka National Novel Writing Month. The aim with this worldwide project is to complete a 50,000 word novel (175 pages) from 1st November to 30th November. It's not a competition, more a challenge, although you geta certificate or something similar in recognition of your efforts if you successfully complete the challenge. I'm going to have a go, have an idea forming, so will sharpen my pencil ready for the 1st. If I remember to start it then......:)

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

More knitting............

.........can't seem to stop!! These are a couple more of the lace scarves I've done. The grey one is for Bean, in Rowan Country Tweed, given to me in a swap on the forum. The coloured one is for me, thick and luxurious, done in odds and ends gleaned from Vera's Sales Table at the Guild meeting a couple of months back. Cost about 18p!! I've quite a bit left, so feel some gloves coming on.........:) I knitted two hats yesterday, but they need the finishing details added, so will write about them tomorrow, and post a picture, quite an interesting knit.
This afternoon, to escape the door frame sanding I went upstairs and tackled the Terrible Neck on MrL's jumper. I bought some beautiful wool for this, ages ago now, and decided to do saddle shoulders. Now, I've been knitting a long time, and have done my share of every sort of shoulder there is, I should think, but this pattern in one of my books was wrong, wrong, wrong. Disheartened, I put it away after several attempts, before realising the complete wrongness of said pattern. It has been lurking in my knitting bag for months, which is not like me at all, so I sense something deeper at work here......... :) so - out it came, one last try, without the pattern, but no luck. So, later, I will be frogging the whole jumper and casting on another one for him. Better get on with it, though, I have 1,000 grams of Aran wool arriving by the weekend for his next one..............


Behold! New doors! I am very pleased with them - one on the bathroom (as in pictures) and one on the kitchen. The old ones were contemporary to the house - 1947 - or possibly slightly later, but were of thin wood, painted white, and an awful job to clean. These came from a DIY store, MrL made slight adjustments, put on good quality hinges and Suffolk latches, and they have been liberally caoted with (very smelly :) ) wax. The little hook is for a handtowel - it says "Baths 25 cents, soap and towel extra" - couldn't resist it, it's rather quirky. They look so right now they're on, look as if they've always been there, very fitting for teh cottage, so we're pleased with them. He's still working on waxing the kitchen door frame as we speak.........

Blog Action Day 08 - poverty

"Affluence creates poverty"

Marshall McLuhan

Three short words that say it all, for me. Affluence creates poverty, not just in the conventional sense of the word. Affluence creates poverty of the spirit, poverty of the soul and poverty of compassion.

Wealth of spirit, soul and compassion is what is needed in our world, today more than ever. This wealth would , in turn, go a long, long way to relieving poverty in the conventional sense of the word.

Being frugal in the kitchen

I've always been careful in the kitchen, but lately have been becoming even more frugal and careful with food. I try to use up every scrap of food, and with chickens and ducks, goats and the dog, the real scrappy scraps are never wasted either.
Last night's supper was Thrifty Pie; this is a standard supper in our house, based on leftovers. Take your main ingredient/s and mince them. I use a hand mincer (shown in the picture), but you could use a food processor, or chop finely by hand. This can be meat, fish, vegetables (cooked), or a combination of all or any. Next is the sauce, to moisten it and add flavour; for meat, I use a gravy; last night's was the whizzed up remains of a pork and mushroom casserole from the night before. Tinned tomatoes are a good standby, dash of Worcester sauce or similar. Make sure there is plenty of seasoning - herbs, fresh or dried, salt and pepper, etc, dollop of mustard, that sort of thing just to perk it up a bit. For fish, I use a white or cheese sauce - often using up grated ends of cheese; same sort of sauce for vegetables. Put the base and sauce into a casserole or pie dish, mixing well. Top with pastry or mashed/sliced potatoes. Add a sprinkling of grated cheese to the potato if you have enough that needs used up, then into a hot oven for 30 - 40 minutes until golden brown. I serve mine with a green vegetable or two - spinach, sprouts, chard, cabbage.
It invariably tastes good, but the inherent problem with it is that you could never replicate it, as you never have the same leftovers exactly more than once!

Mincing is a great frugal dodge - it makes meat go much much further, and enables it to be mixed in more easily with other ingredients - use minced meat for pies like the above, rissoles, patties, pasties, etc. Also an essential for sausage making! I have to admit to a selection of old mincers - a bit liek sewing machines, hard to resist, and a *nice* thing to use. Mine are all secondhand, gleaned from the tip mainly, often hardly used. I have a marmalade shredder which is similar to a mincer.
My ones clamp to the table or worktop, giving a good, solid piece of equipment that gives as much joy in the using and making as in the end result for eating.
One other thing I find indispensable is a good spatula. Mine was bought about 15 years ago from Marks and Spencer in Bournemouth - quite what I was doing in M&S I"m not sure, not one of my regular haunts at all :) I can't remember the exact price, but I remember thinking it was quite a bit of money back then, but it has proved its worth over and over again. MrL is right when he says you can't afford to buy cheap tools - buy the best you can afford at the time, it's never money wasted. I use my spatula most days for eking out every drop from bowls and saucepans - quite often, there's another mouthful of cake left in the bowl that only a spatula can liberate...........:)
Other ideas for kitchen frugality: have a soup box in the freezer (I can't be credited with this idea, I read it somewhere, but can't remember where, so forgive me if it's your idea:) ) - pop all the leftover vegetables etc in there if you can't use them immediately, then very so often, make a pot of soup by adding some stock and herbs, etc; acquire a good set of cookery books, including all the basic methods and standard adaptable recipes - you will never regret it; borrow books on cooking from the library (try before you buy, or just copy out recipes); use your stove wisely - if you have it turned up, use all the heat - bake potatoes, bread, simmer soup or stew on the top, etc; seek out quality kitchen utensils, etc - buying secondhand is always good for quality, reliability and price, although there are some nice modern bits out there too; consider whether you really need an electric gadget - there is usually a hand operated alternative, but I realise that not everyone is as keen as me on this one ;); check the fridge regularly to make sure no food is wasted or forgotten about, although we all have science experiment- type things in there occasionally, I know..........; use sour or off milk in scones, soda bread, etc; buy small amounts of spices at a time so they don't go stale before you use them all up.

Just one more thing - keep the kettle on, and enjoy your time in the kitchen - it's rarely wasted :)

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Postcard from Provence

This is the latest quilt, just a small one, but I enjoyed making it in its cheerful colours. It is inspired by the book Provence Quilts & Cuisine, by Marie-Christine Flocard and Cosabeth Parriaud, a lovely mix of quilting and recipes. I couldn't afford enough fabric to make one as big as their Memories of Provence, so I made a postcard sized quilt instead, at about 11" square. A case of cutting your quilt according to your cloth, I suppose :) I bought the printed Provencal cotton from e-bay, the colours are gorgeous, and very evocative of Provence. The little picture blocks are printed on to transfer paper, then ironed on to white cotton, the images coming from Google. The blocks were pieced by machine ( early 1950s Jones hand machine, for machine buffs.......:) ), then minimal hand quilting on the blocks, to preserve the patterning on the fabric. The batting is some strips from the scrap store, herringboned together to get the right width. I just need to attach a hanging sleeve and label it, then it's ready to go up on the wall. I use the landing wall, which is quite high, to hang my quilts on, this will be the first one to go up in a while, though - must quilt more!!!!

Monday, 13 October 2008

Taking a Sabbath

I've been working towards having Sundays "off" from work - housework, gardening, paperwork, decorating etc. I've almost achieved it, yesterday I almost got there! Apart from one load of washing hung out and one into the machine, I more or less had a very relaxing day. Started with a bit of computer time, followed by feeding adn watering livestock ( always has to be done!); full cooked breakfast; washing up from that; baked some chocolate chip shortbread; made a murgh makhani curry for supper; had coffee and biscuits outside; watched three videos in a row - one on the Welsh countryside with harp music, followed by an hour of the Scottish Fiddle Orchestra, then an hour about the Aran Islands - sat in the rocking chair working on a pumpkin dishcloth pattern; put together a small quilt top for a wallhanging with a Provencal theme; made the supper, washed up and tidied away. That was it - nothing strenuous, and I feel refreshed and ready to go again this morning! One day a week like this will help to recharge my batteries, and I managed to enjoy it without the slightest shred of guilt!! :)

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Chocolate chip shortbread

These little biscuits are quick and easy to do, lovely with the morning coffee! I buy the Supercook organic and Fairtrade chocolate chips.

8oz plain flour
6oz butter
4 oz sugar
handful of chocolate chips of your choice

Sift flour into bowl, and cut up butter into it; start rubbing in the butter, then add the sugar and rub in until amalgamated, then add the chips. Use your hands to work into a softish dough, roll into two sausage shapes and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes. Cut into slices, place onto baking tin, and bake in a hottish oven for 15 minutes or so until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Makes 2 dozen.

October Giveaway

As promised, here's the October giveaway :) On offer this month is a retro blue and white hand-knitted tea cosy - will fit any standard size teapot; (new, hot off the needles.........!)the tea is Clipper organic/Fairtrade tea, and to drink it from a lovely little Worcester porcelain cup and saucer from the Astley range - very, very pretty, with flowers and a moth in the design.
If you would like to be in with a chance of winning this, just leave a emssage here in this post, or any other post (mention the giveaway), or e-mail me on Happy to post anywhere in the world as a thankyou for reading here, it's much appreciated.