Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Another Day, Another Shop

The Quilting pen I have been using is a bit limp.  I've been working on the placemats and by the time I have drawn the fourth line of a border the first line is fading.  I've been sewing by guess (and by hand, bear is still not back at school).  Tesco sell a water soluble pen.  It's on the order tomorrow, along with another football and some baking potatoes.  It is not salad weather.

The placemats are coming on okay.  As I am looking at a homespun look and not trying for perfection I am happy.  I'll post pictures when I finish.  Being confident that I am sewing along a line will help.

I bought a 'bedspread' from ebay and I was done.  I was sold a pup.  It is supposed to be 'art silk' but is far more damaged than described.  In fact it is quite fragile.  I shall cut it up for something, but I'm not sure what.  Nothing that needs robust wear.  Okay, it was inexpensive, and it was an impulse bought-because-I-am-sad purchase but it is even less use than most of the other stuff I get.  Darn.  I thought it would be a little more like this...


... but I got more of this...


... and I don't know if you can see the stains, but I got this as well...


Still, it washed okay, and I'm sure I'll find a use for it.

I have a lot I want to do during the first half term in the year.  I wonder how much I'll get done.  Not as much as I want, no doubt, and definitely less than I need.

Small Boys and Football

Another eye injury today (thankfully bear's friend's eye quickly recovered from a small piece of dust).   It didn't slow the brave lad down. Football was only postponed when they lost the ball - again.  I have lost count of how much money I've spent on inexpensive footballs over the summer.  It seems to have been around two balls a week, which is looking at around £15, but I could have underestimated wildly.

This time next week I will have five minutes to myself.  Then I can start on the house.  Again.

Monday, 31 August 2015

Not Trying This

I'm still dipping into the Compleat Housewife.  One recipe I am not trying is Steeple Cream.  You start by taking five ounces of hartshorn (yes, antler) and two ounces of ivory (dogs' teeth are ivory, so I wonder if it came from them rather than an elephant).  'put into a stone bottle, fill it up with fair-water to the neck, then put in a small quantity of gum-arabic and gum-dragant; then tie up the bottle very close and set it in a pot of water with hay in the bottom, let it boil for six hours; then take it out and let it stand an hour before you open it lest it fly in your face; then strain it and it will be a strong jelly.'  The result is sweetened then flavoured with pounded almonds, cream and amber.  I suppose we could get a similar result by using a strong mix of unflavoured gelatine and mixing it with ground almonds, thick cream and sugar.  I'm not sure about the amber.

Years ago I tried a recipe from Mrs Beeton that involved gelatine.  The first step was to make some strong coffee.  I don't drink coffee but my mother used to take two heaped spoons of Nescafe instant in a very small cup of hot water so my idea of how strong coffee should be may have been a bit skewed.  It was the sort of coffee that would etch a teaspoon.  It was strong.  Any stronger and it may have eaten through the bowl.  I used brown sugar as a sweetener and once it was cold I added rum, so it kept its alcohol content.  I set it with gelatine, following the directions on the packet and served with cream.  It was very pleasant.

Back to the Steeple Cream.  I like the detail of putting hay in the bottom of a pot.  It would protect the bottle being cooked in there, so it wouldn't bounce against the sides of a pan.  It would be a lot quieter than the usual trick of putting an upturned saucer in the bottom if you were boiling a pudding in a basin.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Sitting on my Hands

I've just been dipping in to a reprint of 'The Compleat Housewife' by Eliza Smith, this version originally published in 1758, that is, 257 years ago.  I found it quite fun and I shall leave it in the bathroom for further study.  I am intrigued by some of the recipes, though they do give instructions like, 'add nutmeg until it is enough' or 'boil it until it is enough' or 'add twenty eggs but fourteen whites'.  There is one instruction I recognise, 'boil it until it is all to pieces' which sounds typical of my standard of cooking.

It also has some old remedies.  If you are interested in alternative medicine try Tales of a Kitchen Herbwife  I don't usually use alternative medicines, and have no knowledge, but I do know enough to be wary.  I am far too wary to use remedies in eighteenth century books that involved drinks with powdered lead in them.  The food recipes look interesting.  If I try any I'll share and let you know.

What I really, really, really need not to do is try and make a rug.  I mean, a different rug from the one I have already started.  I saw an idea today and I really, really wanted to try it because I have been looking everywhere for a rug for the living room and not found anything and this would be ideal - but I have too much outstanding!

I'm off to distract myself with a film, a placemat and a long glass of diet cola.

Missing Sweeties

I dragged bear to church this morning.  He quite likes it when he is there but objects in the short term to being removed from friends/football/computer.  

There was a Christening.  The church was incredibly full.  There were loads and loads of of kids running around.  Father always had a pocket of sweeties for the little ones, he would have been happy to have to go and get more for them.  He would have loved the kids running riot during the service, it was so welcoming.  I found it tough because it reminded me so much of father and his ways, but it was another hurdle passed.  It is just over a month, we are all doing okay.

Not only was bear well behaved in church, he was pretty well behaved yesterday when we visited my brother.  To be quite accurate, bear visited my brother's dog.  Woody got the longest tummy rub ever.  It was another moment when we felt the gap, as father would have been shamefully indulgent to the dogs.  DH stepped into the gap and Woody managed to scrounge far too much of the barbecue chicken.

Bear is currently baffling me with football cards.  Fortunately they are on the computer and I haven't had to pay out for them.  I think today will be a quiet day.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Football Happens

I hung out a tablecloth to dry yesterday.  It was lovely and bright and I hoped it would bleach the last few ghosts of stains.  It immediately tipped down with rain.

I left the tablecloth out.  This morning it was lovely and bright - apart from the huge splashes of mud from the football.  Bear had a major meltdown when I mentioned them, and has come inside to have an active sulk.

Ten more days to go...

Friday, 28 August 2015

Seeing Sun!

Alex - our school holiday this summer is from 21 July to 8 September.  It feels like several years.  It has been quite eventful, but bear is doing okay.  I'm not sure how I'm doing.

It's a nice change to see the sun.  I thought, as we are in a sheltered position, I may get some peppers.  I've had plenty of flowers but no fruit.  The same is true for the tomatoes.  Does anyone else remember the October when the temperature reached 30 C?  Unless we get something like that, we are going to get nothing from the peppers and tomatoes.  Mind you, I suspect I should have fed them more and staked them but what with one thing and another it didn't happen.  I am definitely not bothering next year.


There is also a minor issue of how the heck I am supposed to get to the outside of the study window.


It's high up, and poised over the vast and billowing mass of lavender.  I do have to get there though, as small boys, muddy footballs and windows are not a good combination and while nothing is broken, there is a significant muddy patch on the study window.

Despite the breezy weather the lavender is still full of bees and I even spotted one small cabbage white butterfly hanging on for dear life as the lavender was blown about.  I am considering creeping out in the dead of night to cut some of the old heads off to encourage the new grow for the bees.  I think they would appreciate it.