Monday, 29 June 2009

Pizza in the Garden

This is our pizza oven! Actually it officially belongs to hubby as the family gave it to him for his birthday a few years ago. As you can imagine we did not use it a great deal last year, however we appear to be living off pizzas, each weekend, at the moment. It is always a great opportunity to invite friends in and this weekend was no different. As salad leaves are growing in abundance in the garden at the moment, pizza and salad is the dish of the day on most Saturdays and Sundays.

I also took this picture of our church yesterday morning. It looked so lovely and picturesque in the sunshine. Many of our good friends also attend and so it is like meeting family each Sunday. We even have a website:
Also I have said that I will send a special message to my young friend Ryan who has broken his leg, rather badly. To have the whole of your leg in a plaster cast is bad enough, but in this weather! He is being very brave and hopefully he will soon be able to start getting around in a wheelchair. So, get well soon Ryan and keep watching the blog!

Monday, 15 June 2009

It's never too late to learn

Last week, a very dear friend of mine, Sheila came for a day's visit. We go back quite a long time, having met through teaching. She is probably the most talented teacher that I know. Having recently retired she is now on quest to learn new skills that she never had time for whilst stuck in the classroom. First lesson was how to make Elderflower Cordial. (Last year I made gallons of the stuff for our daughter's wedding). Sheila got hooked on it! Off we both went to the Common and here is the result.
Recipe. (A Sophie Grigson special)
Makes about 1-2 litres
20 large heads of elderflower
1.8kg granulated sugar
75g citric acid (from chemists)
2 lemons
Preparation: Put elderflowers in large bowl. Place sugar in a pan a generous litre of water. Slowly bring to boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Pour over elderflowers and stir in citric acid. Add grated zest of lemons, then slice lemons and add to the bowl. Cover and leave for 24 hours. Strain through double muslin, pour into sterilised bottles and store in a cool dark place.
I sometimes serve it with fizzy water. Very refreshing!
The veg are now really beginning to grow. The carrots in this deep plant pot have really enjoyed themselves. Our soil is very heavy clay and so crops like carrots and parsnips need to be in much lighter soil to get any decent results. The pot next to the carrots has marigolds and peas growing in it.

Hubby has also made a number of these raised beds for the patio. They are made from decking, bought from the DIY place when greatly reduced. We always line them so that any chemicals from the tanalised timber does not infaltrate into the soil. In this bed we are growing French beans, tomatoes, marigolds and the odd chilli plant. Tikka (the chicken) will try to have a scratch among the plants if not stopped.

Hubby has also been very busy indoors. I sent him to the recylcing tip recently to get rid of some bottles and cans. He came back very excited and proceeded to tell me that he had met someone who was throwing away this pine chest of drawers. He asked if he may have it and duly brought it home. After a rub down with a piece of sandpaper, I was able to use some paint, found lurking in the workshop and managed to produce a reasonable looking piece of furniture. A great deal of sewing equipment is now residing in those drawers.
He also made the cotton reel stand as I was so fed with trying to find the correct coloured thread for corresponding sewing. A very colourful addition to my workroom!

Saturday, 30 May 2009

A Few Days Away

During half term, hubby and I went for a few days away to the delightful little Norfolk town of Holt. If you ever want to be inspired by crafts and a simple way of life, Holt has it all. As an extra special treat we stayed at Byfords ( We were made to feel really at home at this beautiful B&B. The food was great and the bedroom was out of this world. We even had our own sunken bath!

During our time in Norfolk we discovered that it was 'Open Studio' throughout the county. We would be driving along a country lane and suddenly come across a sign directing us to a studio which was open for visits. ( All free!) The studio above was a glassmakers (in an old railway carriage). Chris (the artist) was a charming man and it was not long before we were tempted to buy something. ( More in the next blog)
Each night at Byfords, as you wend your way up to bed, you find on the landing a jar of homebaked choccy-chip shortbread cookies. We were always so full after our lovely meal to eat them that evening, so we saved ours for the morning to go with the first cuppa of the day.

Although we only went away for 4 days, we both can honestly say that we feel as if we have had a whole weeks holiday. The only problem is that we are now suffering from sensory overload. But what a lovely problem to have!

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Slipper Making

Just before Christmas I booked myself on a felt slipper making course with Gillian Harris at What fun! I met some great people and rediscovered an old skill that I had more or less forgotten. However, under Gillian's great tuition, I was able to make a pair of funky slippers. Above you can see one of the layers.
I had to bring the slippers home to finish. Here is the final product. Hubby has decided that he would like a pair of purple ones. (He does have a pair of purple Doc Martens!) Also H (my daughter) clapped eyes on them when she was visiting last weekend. I nearly lost them. The only problem is that now the weather is warming up, my feet tend to get rather warm in them.
I loved the whole experience and have booked to go on two further courses with Gill. Hatmaking and bagmaking. Also, as I now know how to make the flowers, I have some ideas of my own. Watch this space!

Monday, 11 May 2009

Painting the old chair

I am sorry to all in Blogland that I appear to have disappeared recently. Life! Mine is definitely not simple. I may have to change the name of my blog name. However, at one manic point last weekend, hubby thrust sandpaper, paintbrush and pot of paint into my hands and told me to have a break outside and do something instead of work. A very different thing for me to do. This old chair has been with for us for about 20 years and I have always been meaning to do something with it. In fact in recent weeks we have moved it into our dining room so that I kept tripping over it to remind me to do something.

I finally finished it and I am really pleased with the results. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed creating something for myself instead of making things ( curtains) for everybody else. That is what simple living is all about. I have a feeling that this is the beginning of a new adventure. Hooray!

Friday, 10 April 2009

Oat Cookies

This simple living is not turning out to be as simple as I had thought. After a manic week sewing and fitting curtains and one day where I completely crashed and could not even tell you my name, I have finally got round to updating my blog. My good friend Sal thought that I should show the recipe for my Oat Cookies. (Actually it is my Mum's recipe). It's very easy and they always go down well as a gift. Maybe instead of an Easter egg.
100g margarine
75g castor sugar
50g oats
100g Self Raising flour
3 teaspoons of boiling water
1 teaspoon of golden syrup
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla essence
What to do!
*Cream the margarine and sugar together.
*Add the other dry ingredients and mix well..
*Add the liquid ingredients.
*Use a heaped teaspoon of the mixture and roll into a ball. Place on a greased baking tray. Press lightly with the back of the spoon. Make sure that you leave plenty of space between each cookie.
*Cook for 15 - 20 minutes in a 140 degree oven.
Remove from oven and place immediately on a wire rack to cool.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Sausage Making

This week also found me learning a new skill. Sausage Making!. My good friend Stuart from Southborough Butchers is hoping to go to Nepal later on this year to help build a house with the charity Habitat for Humanity. He needs to raise a great deal of money so he decided to offer sausage making lessons. I was first in the queue. What a giggle. There is definitely an art to it. I now have a great deal of respect for all of those people who appeared on the Generation Game and made complete fools of themselves. It's a lot harder than it looks.

I managed to get the knack of getting the sausage meat into the skin but trying to twist the things so that they looked anything resembling sausages was a bit of a disaster. However this did not appear to affect the taste and sausages are now a staple part of our diet.