Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Inspiring stuff


- and a good time of year to reinforce the thoughts of how I want to live and become even more self-reliant. Have a read. :)

Monday, 26 December 2011

Blowing away the cobwebs

Had a couple of hours at Kimmeridge this afternoon;  the weather was ok, bit of drizzle on the way down, but nothing major. It was a bit mroe blustery down by the sea, but I'm sure that did me good! Knitting was taken, as was a picnic lunch of cheese and chutney rolls (squashed) and a flask of tea which always tastes like no other tea I've ever tasted lol. All part of it, though, and an hour on my own down there did me the world of good, clearing my mind whilst knitting and listening to my beloved sea...............

Ofcourse, you can pick up some wonderful fossils down there if you look even not very hard:

Sunday, 25 December 2011

The Luttrell Psalter film

I loved this one too...............  :) Hope you do


Life at Church Farm


Thought this was lovely , hope you enjoy it :)

Saturday, 24 December 2011


Yes - shoeboxes!  lol  I love shoeboxes, they're well made and a good size; you can make them into lots of other things, use them for  storage, for posting things,  playing with, keeping seeds in - all manner of things. When I was wee I had lots of shoebox beds over the years for my dolls - woudl spend ages making blankets and tucking them in and out of them. EJ got a smart new pair of boots yesterday - and I got the box, accompnaied by a quizzical look and a 'You're weird' lol. Mens' boots come in such strong and well-sized boxes, it'll come in very handy for storing something in. Meanwhile, I shall store the box itself.

Ah well, keeps me happy :)

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Winter solstice

Almost upon us now - 5.30am tomorrow morning. I will put the year past behind me and move on with renewed hope and optimism, things will improve beyond measure for me, I know, and this time next year I'll be settled and happy courtesy of the love of a good man, special friends and a positive  frame of mind to hold it all together.
Love and light to all of you who take time to read here, know that it's appreciated. May the new year be all that you want it to be

Picture of card from  megalithic.co.uk

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Be careful what you wish for!

 - I might knit it for you ! lol  Ex wanted a Solstice hat, so I made one for him, he's thrilled with it and has hardly had it off his head since I finished it on Friday night lol

Friday, 16 December 2011

Frugal Friday - the store room and beyond

One good way of eking out the food budget is to have a well-stocked store room - good meals can be rustled up from it easily, if you keep a good supply of basics in. My list runs something like this- various pastas, tinned tomatoes, baked beans, tinned fruits, fish. Basics are bread flour and other flours, lots of different beans and pulses, rice, porridge oats, tinned and dried milks, good stock powder, tea and coffee, cocoa.  Really good meals can be made with these,  and I keep a few extras in to liven things up - cooking wine, truffle oil,  real vanilla essence, that sort of thing. They might seem expensive per se, but they can all be stretched a long way, so are in fact good value for money, and can make a big difference to your cooking/baking.

I have re-stocked my store room now, after being away, and it really does give peace of mind, not just for wtshtf scenarios, but if harder weather hits in the winter, it will save going out. Likewise, good stocks of candles, matches and oils for the lamps, basic medicines and toiletries.
Another slant on the store room way of thinking is craft supplies - hence the stashes of wool, fabric, tools, materials etc - I'll never be stuck for something to do.
The weather has turned really quite cold now, getting into winter proper; there was some snow in surrounding villages I believe, but none here when I got up. Plenty of coal in the bunker and logs in the shed though, hot water bottles and thicker curtains. Should wear socks though - tiles and wood floors here, no carpets lol
I have big plans for an even more frugal 2012, wanting to spend as little money as possible, so that will be a challenge. No new clothes - I have lots to alter, re-make etc; no knitting wool until I use at least some of my stash; ditto fabric; try and buy as little new as possible; would like to keep notes/records as I think that would be quite interesting - what is spent each week on which items etc. Frugality will have to be the order of the day, well even more so next year, with eprsonal circumstances hopefully changing dramatically. I want to grow more too, and have amassed a good stock of seeds to see me through, and want to dig up some of the 'lawn' (read daisies and dandelion patches lol) for growing.
Watch this space................

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Thought for a late night/early morning

Contentment is the greatest treasure. ~Lao Tzu

Monday, 12 December 2011


I feel a bit like this !  lol

Not been too good here for a few days, hene the lack of posts; cough and cold are proving difficult to clear, and things have mounted up 'to be done'. Have made great headroads into soting stuff out though, almost at the last of it now, all sorted and boxed up and stored/ready fro storing, but easily accessible for my craft bits and bobs. Next job is to thoroughly clean the sitting room and get the woodburner lit - it's verycold here by Dorset standards, might even need socks!! It's bright enough out there,  but cold. We've only had a couple of frosts so far, need some more to do the job properly in the garde; not that much rain either, Funny old winter so far.
Tomorrow, I will feel like this:

Monday, 5 December 2011

Even though I'm not doing Christmas this year...........

- I couldn't resist a little seasonal decoration of the knitted kind!

The plan is  to make a set of knitted bauble covers to show traditional British knitting - Snaquhar (this one here), Gansey, Shetland Lace, Ringwood, Fair Isle and Aran. Watch this space :)

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Seasonal Sunday thought..............

Cut back the spending, but blow the budget on gifts of the heart

Friday, 2 December 2011

Frugal Friday

Another Friday rolls around :) Went shopping at the tip again, came home with this little haul:

Here we have a brand new and unused Spong mincer ( I know, but I'll add it to the collection lol) a vintage chip cutter - I had one a while back, but it broke and I hardly ever used it; however, I have an experiment coming up with homemade oven chips, so thought this would ensure uniform chips for that lol). The contraption at the front is a pasta machine. I have one, but it only does straigh sheets, would have to buy attachments for it; this one does three types as it is, so it came home with me, very little used and good quality. Just checked it on the net, seems to be over £60 for that. Total for all 3?  £2.00, thankyou very much :)

Frugal Friday's supper was home made chicken curry, loosely based on HFW's murgh makhani. Chicken was £9.00, fed three adults, with enough for another meal for three, plus the stock from the carcas, served with brown rice. Washed down with half price Montana wine, followed by homebrew.

Big satisfied smile :)

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Old Irish prayer

Dear Lord,

Give me a few friends

who will love me for what I am,

and keep ever burning

before my vagrant steps

the kindly light of hope…

And though I come not within sight

of the castle of my dreams,

teach me to be thankful for life,

and for time’s olden memories

that are good and sweet.

And may the evening’s twilight

find me gentle still.

-Old Irish prayer

(Irish kitchen at Strokesdown Park http://www.strokestownpark.ie/ )

Monday, 28 November 2011

Friday, 25 November 2011

Barter - alive and well in The Vale

My good friend Jill came over yesterday and we had a wonderful barter with our cup of tea! I had a new waxed kagoul  (like a Barber type thing ) which was an unwanted present. She had been giving a huge pile of  linen, so barter was the order of the day. The linen is the finest quality I've seen, really top of the order stuff; it feels beuatiful in the hand, has a good weight to it and came in the most gorgeous retro ice cream colours; mongrams, embroidery and the neatest sheet patching I have ever seen. The sheets and pillowcases had obviously been very well used, but it's testament to their quality that there is still so much life left in them. I'm not sure what I will do with them, but would like some as pillow cases, with fine hand made edgings I think. In the meantime, it's neatly folded for careful storage - which leads me on to the first pic in the mosaic up there ^  I was thrilled to get some of it in a  Galaries Lafayette bag, celebrating 100 years of this iconic Paris shop.  A visit to the shop was one of the highlights of my college trip to Paris away back in 1980. I love the connectedness of stuff, people and happenings :)

Bargain of the month

I've long been interested in preserving food, as you all know by now. It's been on my to do list for a few years to build both a hot and a cold smoker outdoors. I even managed to acquire a couple of oil drums for the projects. Things took a different turn to the expected though, as you also know, so  I gave away the oil drums. Still at the back of my mind to make them, but not until enxt eyar now.
However, am now able to strike one project off the list. I actually picked up an almost brand new in packaging  hot smoker at the tip this afternoon!  It looks as if it's only been used once, is complete with instructions, all the bits and screws etc.
Can't wait to put it all together and have a go! lol This is it here:

Made by American company Char-broil 

It cost me £5 - what a bargain!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Every day..................

Read, every day, something no one else is reading. Think, every day, something ...no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to continually be part of unanimity. ~Christopher Morley

Photo by Tone Batt

Monday, 21 November 2011

Twice the pleasure

Several years ago, my friend m put up a recipe at Creative Living for a homemade wine from cheap tinned fruit cocktail - you know the stuff- hard bits of pear, peaches and two tiny weeny cherries per tin lol It's often available quite cheaply in the supermarket, so makes an economical wine. I've made it quite a few times, and it's been good, but I've just tried the first of this year's batch and it really is the best yet- sharp and fruity, nice and cold. 'Someone' knocked a chunk out of my favourite bleu wine glass recently, so I have gone over to  using one of my beautiful hand painted Celtic ones - conveniently hold a MrsL sized anount of wine - the glasses were painted by - yes, my friend m. So tonight, it's her wine in her glass - all for me. Cheers m!

Saturday, 19 November 2011

'Condensed milk'

The final piece of the jigsaw that is avoiding Nestle products has fallen well and truly into place, so I can cock a snook at them. I have long avoided the company on ethical grounds ( Baby Milk Action and others), but the sticking point recently was condensed milk - I use it for puddings and fudge making, etc. Up until a few years ago, you got a choice of  Carnation or Fussell's - then these were both swallowed up by the evil Nestle. I confess I did keep buying the milk - some for using, other for storage for emergencies and prepping.
I scoured the internet and came up with the theory that you can indeed make your own 'condensed milk' - I use the  inverted commas as it's strictly a substitute for the real stuff- something that those who post about it don't seem to bother with, but I do. Another gripe with me is that of the recipes I've seen on the net, several have no acknowledgement of  where they came from - not an easy thing to make up a recipe for this due to getting the proportions just right. A quick copy and paste shows me that at  least one blogger has reposted a method that is not hers, with no acknowledgement, and that makes me cross.
This is the recipe I used:


I ma delighted to report that it is highly successful - great consistency (was my worry), tastes just like the real thing, quick and easy to make, and not too hard on the housekeeping money.  I haven't used it in making anything yet, it's in the fridge. I think I'll have an investigate into how to store it - might try freezing a little as an experiment, would be wonderful to be able to make a double batch for future use. I wills ave the next tin I open, wash it out and store, so I can get a quick and easy measure for my home made 'milk'. Give it a go, it's one of the more worthwhile things to make at home.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Frugal Friday

Frugal shopping trip to my favourite outlet this afternoon!

Turned up these:

Three  newish  handlines for crabbing/catching small fish, looked unused, complete with hooks and weights. I just need to untangle them a bit and get them stored away with my prepping bits. Cost - £1, included a lovely little antique pot and a pair of wellies..................... :)
(just seen crack in yellow one, but still good )

Wednesday, 16 November 2011


Musing on a  Curlywurly - like you do - I had a look to see when they were 'invented' - much longer ago than I thought too.
Found this, which is interesting lol (http://www.localhistories.org/sweets.html)

20th Century Sweets

In 1903 the ice cream cone was invented. Choc-ices went on sale in the USA in 1921. Meanwhile bubble gum was invented in 1906 (although it wasn't actually sold until 1928) and the first lollipops were sold about 1908. In 1922 ice cream was sold in the street for the first time from tricylces with a box on front. Sales of ice cream boomed in the 1930s.

Also in the early 20th century manufacturers began to use peppermint to flavour sweets. They also added sherbet to sweets.

Many new kinds of sweets were introduced in the 20th century. Dairy Milk was introduced in 1905. Toblerone followed it in 1908. Later came Flake (1920), Fruit and Nut (1921), Milky Way (1923 in the USA 1935 in Britain), Crunchie (1929), Snickers and Freddo (1930), Mars Bar (1932), Whole Nut (1933), Aero and Kit Kat (1935), Maltesers and Blue Riband (1936) and Smarties, Rolo and Milky Bar (1937). Later came Polo mints (1948), Bounty (1951), Munchies (1957), Picnic and Galaxy (1958), Caramac (1959), Topic (1962) Toffee Crisp (1963), Twix (1967), Curly wurly (1971), Yorkie, Double Decker and Lion Bar (1976) and Wispa (1983). Amazin Raisin bars went on sale in 1971 but they stopped making them in 1978.

Meanwhile jelly babies were invented in 1918 and the ice-lolly was invented in 1923. Black Jacks have been sold since the 1920s. Lovehearts were first made in 1933. Starburst was invented in 1960 and Spangles were sold from 1948 to 1984. Chewits were introduced in 1965. Skittles were first made in 1974.

Walnut Whip was first sold in 1910. Furthermore boxes of chocolates were introduced. Milk Tray dates from 1915. Terry's Chocolate Orange and All Gold were introduced in 1932. Black Magic was introduced in 1933. Dairy Box and Quality Street came in 1936. Cadbury's Roses date from 1938. After Eight dates from 1962.

The first ready salted crisps were sold in 1960. Flavoured crisps followed in 1962.

In Britain sweets and chocolate were rationed from 1942 to 1953. 5 February 1953 was a day of rejoicing for children!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Kettle's on...............

Managed to ignore the Rayburn sufficiently yesterday for it to go out; mixed blessing, as although it was cold, it did need a good clean on the outside, and a proper clearing out int he firebox. That's all done now, and I've finlly gt my proper kettle back on there; belonged to my great great grandmother, given to her by a woman called Alice Cooper. Now,  the whole set up in the photo may not be shiny and pristine - the stove is 40 years if it's a day, and you can guess how old the kettle is - but I've never tasted a better cup of tea than what comes of this combination, and for me, that's what counts. It's all clean, but full of love and soul and history.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Free apple rings

Donated apples, dried over a cooling Rayburn plate on a found metal rack - free lunch? lol Will do loads for the store room I think, very successful.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Meddling with medlars

The rest of the fruit is now harvested and safe in the kitchen. I've made medlar cheese before, but want to do something different. At first thought, you might imagine there's not a lot you can do with such an eccentric little fruit, but read on , dear readers.............
A quick jaunt around the ever dependable Google throws up the following:

Medlar cheese
Medlar jam
Medlar jelly
Medlar fudge
Pickled medlars
Medlar pudding
Tart of medlars (1660 recipe)
Medlar liqueur

So, spoilt for choice; lucky to have a good enough crop to try several of these I think, so will report back.

Friday, 11 November 2011


Another good crop from my wee tree, picked the first of them this morning; some have already bletted; not decided what I'll do with them yet, apart from look at them - I think they're beautiful even if they do look like a dog's a*** (the literal translation of the French name for them)

Don't panic.................

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Full moon tonight

Full Moon and Little Frieda

A cool small evening shrunk to a dog bark and the clank of a bucket -

And you listening.

A spider's web, tense for the dew's touch.

A pail lifted, still and brimming - mirror

To tempt a first star to a tremor.

Cows are going home in the lane there, looping the hedges with their warm

wreaths of breath -

A dark river of blood, many boulders,

Balancing unspilled milk.

'Moon!' you cry suddenly, 'Moon! Moon!'

The moon has stepped back like an artist gazing amazed at a work

That points at him amazed.

Ted Hughes

Image By *L*u*z*A*

Not just for Christmas............

.......... decorations, that is, not just dogs!
I bought these two at Castle Gardens last week from their Christmas display - beautiful glass hearts with silver coloured trim. I'm going to  attach them to silver ear wires (I have packs of these in stock all the time), and make myself a very beautiful pair of new earrings. See- just a sideways look at things can open up all sorts of possibilities :)

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Scott's View

Surely got to be one of the greatest views on this beautiful planet of ours

Sir Walter Scott regularly passed this way with his horse and carriage, and stopped at this point to look out over the view in the Borders. It's said when the horses drove past on their way to the graveyard with his body after his death they stopped here unbidden, to give him one last look at the view he loved so much. I've been there myself, and if you ever get the chance, make it the one view in Scotland you get to see.

(photo  from  http://www.flickr.com/photos/11618202@N03/2080765207/, with thanks )


I have made this for the first time, this year; my quince tree gave enough fruit for jelly, quince brandy and this, so I am very pleased with my crop,  which has been processed to last through the winter for me.
Membrillo is a Spanish quince paste, traditionally served with Manchego cheese, or you can coat it in sugar and eat as sweets, which is what I have done. The recipe is very easy, and you can used up dmaged fruits by cutting out any bad bits and using the good ones.
Peel core and cut up your quinces, place in a pan with ther ind of one lemon, slices and cover with water; simmer until fruit is soft; drain, and puree the fruit, including the lemon peel. Add lemon juice (I use about 2 tbsp for 2lbs fruit) and stir well.

Weight the puree, then tip back into the rinsed pan, add the same weight of sugar. Put on a  lowish heat to dissolve, then elave to simmer gently until very thick, and a dark pinky orange colour. Very lightly butter a baking tin, pour in the puree and spread level. Leave to dry 24 hours; I left mine overnight, then placed it in a very low oven for a couple of hours - you want a stiffish jelly-like consistency. You can slice and store at this point, or cut into pieces and coat with sugar as I did. Mine is now on the foil over a cooling rack, and I will leave it on top of the rayburn to dry out a wee bit more, before storing it in an airtight tin. I believe it will store for quite a while, but not sure how long it will last in this house lol

Monday, 7 November 2011


I love painting and decorating, but have ben sidelind over the years, being told I am not good enough or/and not neat enough. Now, however, I'm going for it if the house is to become mine. I've started in the wee bedroom, where I am now, and which will house Bean when she comes home too. I've chosen duck egg blue for the walls and made a start this afternoon, one wall done, but looks like the whole room will need two coats to cover up the darker blue that EJ chose when he was in there. Pleased with the colour so far, though, it's very pretty and exactly right. I have the fabric for the curtains, and new bedding too, will make/find/buy a new lampshade, and rugs too. It will become my interim haven until things run their course here, my own space for now.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Enchant your heart..................

I don't buy a lot of new things, but sometimes I just *have* to have something! I stand there and try and think will I get home and regret not buying it - for it's never still there when you go back for it, is it? We were at the  wonderful Sherborne Castle Gardens garden centre on Friday (I'd been there the day before with my firend Jill, raiding the 50p herb plants reductions), where they have the most glorious, spectacular Christmas display you can imagine. I can't begin to describe it, try and get there if you possibly can. It's won many awards over the years, and deservedly so.
Just found this, take a look to get the flavour of the occasion, from 2008 - have to say this year's display though is the best so far in all the years I've been going...........

There is a good selection of nostalgic gifts this year, and this is what I just couldn't resist:

I 've changed a lot over the last two or three years; I've gone through my practical and 'must be useful' phase; I'm lucky now to have amassed a wonderful store of good quality equipment and belongings that will last me forever, and I've come back round to the pretty, beautiful and just plain lovely, often pink too, I never used to be a pink person, but pink is the colour now :)

To quote the wonderful and inspiring William Morris:

''Have  nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful''

I would add 'or enchants your heart' to that..............................................

Friday, 4 November 2011

Frugal Friday - 4th November

One of the most useful tools in my kitchen is my rubber spatula. I've had it a long, long time, it must be 18 years old now, bought in Marks & Spencer in Bournemouth - Bean was in a pushchair then! lol Why do I love it? It gets every last piece of whatever out of the jar/bowl whatever, so is a great tool for true frugality in the waste not want not mode of living. Mine is rubber with a metal handle; I'd like wood, but I suspect it wouldn't have lasted these 18 years if it were, with the  constant washing up. I also ahve one of the very tiny ones - great for jam jars and the like.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Days that don't go according to plan............

I'm away behind in things in general at home at the moment, and was looking forward to a whole day here to get stuck in again and move things along.Wasn't to be, but I don't mind! lol  My friend Jill let  me know yesterday that she had to take a big pile of cardboard to the tip today, more boxes from her recent move, so she would  swing by and pick me up on the way - I love a tip to the trip!  She'd been for a load of apples from Freecycle on the way, so car was packed to the roof with wet cardboard and Bramleys............
Got to the tip, opened dorr carefully, but the inevitable happened - apples rolling all around the recycling centre while we tried to extricate the cardboard, funny look sall round, but we're used to that...........
Got soem bargains too - another field sink from wartime (destined for a re-enactor type person whould they wan tit, I have a small one already, this one much bigger); very pretty vase, two grill racks for making my toast over the fire as the electric toaster is getting the heave ho now I'm back, a binder full of The Garden magazines (RHS, excellent reading), 2 small load tins, a rather nice big square Pyrex oven dish and another Swiss roll tin -  £2 the lot, and the field sink provided something toundle it all up in to bring home :). Next stop was Castle Gardens to investigate their latest Christmas display - stunning as usual, really enjoyed it, although don;t do the Christmas thing as such - lots of pretty twinkly things, sparkling baubles and gorgeous fabrics. There were a coupl eof things I spotted that I will go back for. Outside, we managed to find what I call 'compost corner' - where the sad looking plants are, and found all the herbseduced to 50p per pot - bargain! I got 9 and Jill got more than me lol  I added in a small tray of such pretty violas as you've enver seen for £3.50, for the pots to go ont he stand outside the kitchen window so I can see their little faces when I'm washing up. All that wonderfulness for £10 total. Then back here for tea and a bit of the rather good cake I made yesterday.

We like a bargain :)

 - and do you know what? All the stuff I hadn't done today was still there when I got home, waiting for me.

(that's a Google image, btw, not my kitchen lol - honest!) 

Walnut wool

Beautiful  shade of light fawn from walnut husks, very pretty - well pleased with this. Walnut husks are a substantive dye, so no mordant required, just the husks and some water. I have a few skeins undyed of this - a lovely organic wool with 25% alpaca added , beuatifully soft. I want to dye each skein a different natural dye and knit something uber stripey I think! Dyeing for me, especially with natural and home concocted dyes is quite addictive.....................

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Chocolate and cinnmon cake with blackcurrant and mascarpone

Lovely winter cake - give it a go :)

6 oz soft butter
6 oz granulated sugar
3 eggs beaten
6 oz self-raising flour
2 tbsp good quality cocoa
1 tbsp ground cinnamon

Cream butter and sugar, beat in eggs slowly; add flour, cinnamon and cocoa and mix thoroughly. Turn into prepared sandwich tins and bake in hottish oven until well risen and firm but springy to the touch. Cool on wire rack.


approx  200g of mascarpone cheese
icing sugar
4tbsp blackcurrant jam

Beat cheese with the icing  sugar added to taste - should be thick and not too sweet. Spread one half of cake with this, and hte other half with the jam. Sandwich together and dust with icing sugar if liked.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Monday, 31 October 2011

Hallowe'en lantern

First time in many, many years I've carved a traditional Scottish tumchie* lantern!  Enjoyed doing this, and had the innards for lunch with lots of butter and black pepper. The shell will go to the hens tomorrow, and the top slice to the goats for supper, so nothing wasted :)

Hallowe'en when I was growing up in a wee village in Scotland was great fun - all homemade and a couple of days before was plenty of time to get organised. Lots of 'What are you going as?' talk in the playground; we called it guising, and anything would go, didn't have to have a specific costume, just had to make sure you were unrecognisable - I remember blacking faces with the burnt end of a cork, and the smell of the turnip cooking inside the lantern. We had a wee carrier bag, and would sing, tell a joke or recite a poem or tale in return for monkey nuts, wee oranges, tablet, treacle toffee, apples. Good times :)

* tumchie = turnip, what the English call a swede