Friday, 19 December 2014

Two big cocks!..........PHEASANTS I mean, honestly, what did you think I meant?!

Taking my lead from John at Going Gently, that's a title sure to push up the page views!

There were 3 free things that happened here today

Look away now if you are vegetarian or squeamish or don't agree with shooting.

 We were still sitting down after lunch when there was a knock on the door and our old friend from the village had brought us 2 brace of pheasants. His grandson had been beating for a shoot and had brought them over, but Roy had already been given some from a local shoot so he has passed them onto us. They needed getting into the freezer quick. A few minutes of yuckiness and that's made us 4 free meals.

 After several grey gloomy days and heavy rain last night, today we had lovely sunshine and two loads of washing were soon flapping on the line drying for free.Although I very rarely use the tumble dryer anyway, preferring to wait for a decent day and finish them off over the Rayburn

C hitched the tipping trailer to the tractor and brought it round to clear up all the stuff he has cut down over the last few days. We are looking nice and tidy for Christmas visitors.

Later C cut my hair - another free thing - and now I'm also tidy for Christmas!

Not much on TV again tonight so we'll get into Christmas mood by listening to Friday night is Music Night on Radio 2, which tonight is all sorts of Christmas music, poetry and prose. Last night we were treated to a special Take That performance on Jo Wiley's Radio 2 programme . Pity there is only 3 of them now but they still sounded good.

Thank you to everyone for comments yesterday.

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Thursday, 18 December 2014

What we've been doing

C has been working outside, testing himself with what he can do without getting out of breath. So far he has trimmed the top off the front hawthorn hedge on both sides of the gateway and cut down some of the small  Ash and brambles that were creeping under the Horse Chestnut tree, taking light and moisture from the things in the fruit cage. The Ash were only cut back about 5 years ago.

He is finding that working upright is no problem, but bending up and down soon makes him feel not quite right so that he needs to stop.
 We now have heaps of prunings all along the front fence and in the orchard waiting to be cleared up.

On Tuesday and Wednesday he also worked at our neighbours for a couple of hours sorting out her strawberry bed which had got in a mess. He brought home a few runners and has put them in some spare growbags in the poly-tunnel, they hadn't really rooted so may not survive - we shall see.

Last year, after Looking at all the Christmas trees we have on the smallholding we bought a cheap artificial one from B & Q ( did you know some fake trees are over £200)  This year, because we have a crowd here, we put our tree up in the conservatory. But the living room was looking so un-Christmassy I had a brainwave and we carefully picked it up and stood it on a small table wedged in the corner behind the TV - we wouldn't have been able to do that with a real one! It looks a bit odd but at least it's cheered up the living room.
We don't do 'hanging things' anymore because the room was re-plastered when the extension was built and the few bits we have pinned in resulted in bits of plaster all over the floor and cracks in the ceiling. We don't want to have to decorate the room before we move.

One of my favourite clearing up jobs it to sort through STUFF, get rid of the useless and make everything take up less room than before. I spent most of yesterday clearing out everything from a small pine bureau in the craft room, tidying up and clearing out things from a tall chest of drawers and fitting the useful things from the bureau into the top drawers. Now the small bureau ( bought off ebay many years ago) which seemed such a good idea but actually never got used properly as the drop down front bit wasn't high enough to sit at, can go out in the shed ready  to go to the auction house or car boot sale.

Today I put the marzipan and icing on the Christmas cakes and wrote lists.
Here is something to bring joy to list makers everywhere - A List Of Lists!

  •  shopping list for the 23rd
  • the jobs that need doing between now and 23rd
  • jobs for Christmas eve
  •  things I want to do between Christmas and New Year
  • ideas for things to make for next Christmas
  • things to look out for in the sales ( that's a very short list only wrapping paper and presents)
  • things to look for at car-boot sales next year
Now I only need to write a job list for Christmas morning and I'll be sorted, with dinner for 12  on the table by around 1.15 to give us time to take Cs Dad down to Aldeburgh for some sea air in the afternoon. ( Hopefully leaving the kids behind to wash up!)

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Wednesday, 17 December 2014

No pieces missing

Just a quick post today, I seem to be spending too much time fiddling in blogland recently.

 All 1000 pieces present and correct, the puzzle has kept me out of mischief for several hours.
It will go back into it's box and off to the next car boot sale we do where I shall hopefully get my £1 back for it.
Now I shall get back to reading and preparing for feeding our 10 visitors on the 25th.

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Tuesday, 16 December 2014

A Winter Week Without a Salary, Odds and Ends and Home Farmer Magazine Review

I've just realised I have new followers on Bloglovin'. The numbers went down 2 and then up 3 so welcome to Tannia, Helen Roasty and Loraine, thank you for reading my ramblings.

I went to Saxmundham this morning for milk and a few bits and the final voucher for a Christmas pressies. Came home and wrapped up the present and then realised I had 2 more things still to sort and wrap which took me to the very end of my Christmas wrapping paper. I shall need to look out for some in the January sales, I don't think I have bought any for several years. I quite fancy getting some brown paper and printing with potato prints or something similar but in reality I know I'll never get round to it and it would probably end up being more expensive anyway.
We had a very nice hand made card in the post the other day and I said to C that I really ought to make more cards other than the few I make for my Penny Pinching Pen Friends. He said the same thing - that it's probably more expensive to make them than to find some cheap in the sales or at car boot sales. ( The thing he doesn't know is that I probably have enough of a stash of card making bits and bobs to make several years of cards!).
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I'm in trouble again for correcting a mis-quote on another blog. The problem was because it was misquoted it changed the whole reason for the quote and it gives me the heeby jeebys to see something in print that I know is wrong. I think when I'm even older and crustier I shall be one of those grumpy old women who write to newspapers and Points Of View to correct mistakes - Oh what fun!
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Once again a copy of Home Farmer Magazine has arrived for me to review. As always it's filled with interesting articles. The food bit in this January edition features Norfolk recipes, marmalade, porridge and sausage making.
John Harrison writes about rhubarb and Sara Evans-Charrington has recipes for home made cleaners.

I was very tempted by an offer of a free book just for the price of postage until I remembered that I had them both! Sometimes I forget just what we have got - too many books perhaps? No, that's impossible!
Another good offer is for 5 packets of seed for greenhouse growing worth £10 for £2.95 and a bigger collection of £32.75 worth of various seeds for £15. ( I still haven't done our seed order yet so I need to check out this offer)

There is an interesting bit about Comfrey and comfrey "tea" for fertiliser. We just bung a mesh bag of it in a water butt however John Butterworth has built a special pipe contraption which could be better and avoid some of the smelliness.

My favourite features as usual were smallholder Dot Tyne's diary from her welsh smallholding and the pages of short news items of interest to smallholders and gardeners.

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And Finally - a couple of times in the summer when our income from self employment is good I've done posts about what we earn, how we earn it and how we save some for winter.

This is why we need to save  - here's  a weeks income from December

Thursday 4th Dec - Eggs £8
Friday 5th Dec - Eggs £7
Saturday 6th Dec - Eggs £8
Sunday 7th Dec - Eggs  £13. Cs pay for working at our neighbours £12.50
Monday 8th Dec - Eggs £9. Hay £5
Tuesday 9th Dec - Eggs £6
Wednesday 10th Dec - Eggs £15. Hay £5
That makes a weeks income of  £88.50. So it's a good job we paid off the mortgage all those years ago, don't have any debts and have put money away during the summer months.

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Thank you to everyone for comments yesterday and a special thank you message to my penfriend D from the States - kitchen pressie arrived safe and sound - I shall be good and save it to Christmas.

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Monday, 15 December 2014

The up-market side of Suffolk

It was a beautiful blue sky morning, just right for a walk. But I had bread rising before we decided so we went out straight after lunch instead. Typically the sky clouded over just as we got to Southwold.

Southwold is 20 minutes north of us and one of the most expensive places to own property, even the beach huts fetch £100,000. The sea was flat calm and it was chilly but there were crowds of people about especially through the town which is full of small up market touristy shops although Costa, Tesco Express and W H Smiths have managed to sneak in during the last few years. Southwold is the home of Adnams Brewery and today there was a smell of their beer brewing all over the town.

We don't have many Lighthouses in Suffolk, this is one of them

The pier
We came home via a shop called "Wild about birds" to buy a new seed feeder as ours is cracked and letting too much seed out. I've never seen so many different types of seed for birdfeeding as they have in that shop.

That was our Monday jaunt.

Home in time for a cuppa and washing up the lunch things and sorting eggs.

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Sunday, 14 December 2014

Card making

Christmas cards have all been sent and presents wrapped so time to clear my desk in the craft room.

For a complete change I made birthday cards

Using the things I bought with my Craft Creations voucher, I've made 7 variations on a theme ready for next year. That's the ladies birthdays sorted now I need to do some for the men of the family and then some Christmas cards for Next Year.
Nothing like Being Prepared.

Thank you for all the comments on the Leek recipes yesterday, I hope they were useful for someone .

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Saturday, 13 December 2014

Have you had a leek lately?

That's the vegetable with a double E.- obviously!

If I had a small garden with only space for a few winter veg I would definitely grow leeks. They are one of the most useful things we grow.
 The price varies in the supermarket depending on the weather but they are not as cheap as some of the other winter staples like carrots and parsnips so I would choose space for leeks every time.

We sow in pots and outside. Then they are transplanted into holes dibbled with something like a pointed broom handle. Water them in rather than filling the hole with soil. You can earth them up to make them whiter but in our heavy soil we don't do this in case they rot. Instead we have shorter white bits but the green bit is edible too so it doesn't matter.

We never eat them just plain boiled when they can turn into a limp mess.

Here are some of our favourite ways of using leeks

As the base for a vegetable curry - chop leeks,onion, an apple. Melt butter in a pan and stir the veg in cook 'til soft. Stir in tablespoon flour and dessert-spoon( or more) of curry powder. Cook for a few minutes then mix in half pint hot stock. Then you can add some softer veg, or cooked potato or dried fruit, a spoonful of chutney, some pepper. Add extra stock or hot water as it cooks.

Leek and Potato soup. The are hundreds of recipes for this everywhere, so I won't put one here.

Leek Fritters - slice a couple of leeks length ways and then into thin slices. Soften in a little butter in the microwave. Leave to cool, mix in 3oz plain flour, 1 beaten egg and enough milk to make a thick batter. Then add plenty of black pepper. . Heat some oil in a frying pan and put in large spoonful of mixture and flatten, cook 'til golden and turn over to cook the other side, Drain on kitchen paper -towels. Lovely with bacon or ham.

Leeks Braised with Thyme. - Soften some butter in the microwave, with a tablespoon of chopped thyme and stir in leeks that have been trimmed and cut into thick slices. Tip into a roasting tin so they are in one layer. Pour over ½ pint hot vegetable stock. Dampen a large piece of greaseproof paper and scrunch it up then lay over the top of the leeks. Cook in a fairly hot oven for 30mins. Remove the paper and pop back in oven for 10 minutes until the edges of the leeks are browned a bit.

Leek and Ham Bake - Cut some leeks into thick slices and cook in water until they have just softened a bit. Drain really well and tip into an oven proof dish. Mix in some pieces of ham. Pour over a thick white sauce. Sprinkle plenty of grated cheese and dried breadcrumbs over the top and bake in the oven for about 20 to 30 minutes.

Leek, potato, mushroom and Stilton bake - Much the same as above but cut potatoes into thick slices and boil with leeks sliced to same size until starting to soften. Add the sliced mushrooms for a couple of minutes. Drain really well. Tip into oven proof dish and cover with a thick white sauce that has had a couple of ounces of Stilton crumbled in.  Scatter dried breadcrumbs over the top and bake for 20 to 30 minutes.

And finally the the Pasties I made last month.

Useful veg.

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