Friday, 30 September 2011

Autumn Tints

Autumn leaves and the crab apples in my garden.

Sorry have been rather lax with posts of recent (yet again!) but this past week has been busy with more minor building maintenance works on the house, lots of gardening both here and at our seaside holiday home, and a trip to London to the Decorative Antiques and Textiles Fair at Battersea Park - will mention this in a little more detail on my next post.

Fuelled with fresh inspiration from the fair, I unearthed my paints and paintbrushes and set to on a little furniture makeover  - be back soon with a few photos but meanwhile here's a little peep!

Thank you for all your lovely comments about my furry friends in my last post!

Hope everyone is enjoying this wonderful Indian summer weather we're experiencing in the UK - and have a wonderful weekend wherever you are!

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Thursday, 22 September 2011

Its a dogs life

What the furry babies have been doing

and what I've been doing

finishing off some things

and starting the next lot

Edited to add:

Have just noticed that this is my 100th Post!!! Good Grief, I never expected to write that many!!!

So I can only say a huge THANKYOU to you all for having the patience to read them!!

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Tuesday, 20 September 2011

In an idle moment...................

I did manage a little sewing over the summer holidays, but not much

I have been enjoying making things from hessian and jute

Some jute napkin rings with simple cross stitched designs in red

sort of scandinavian in style

and lined with red gingham

and some little pin cushions

hessian stamped with some stitchy words

and attached to a piece of vintage washed and worn soft white cotton with red machine stitching

backed with blue or black striped ticking

and filled with soft filling and a handful of lavender.

Soon to be available in my Folksy and Etsy shops

Watch this space!

Monday, 19 September 2011

Jam Tomorrow

Hello everyone and thank you all for your lovely comments last week - it is so nice to read them!

And a big welcome to my new followers! I shall look forward to visiting you at your blogs - I do love a new blog!

I still haven't managed to do much blog visiting yet, as last week ended up being pretty busy again and we had internet problems for two days too, so I hope to make it up this week and get around to visiting you all.

But one of the things I did manage to achieve last week is to make Strawberry Jam!

As we are on the cusp of autumn, I had assumed that once more I had failed miserably in the summer jam making until a friend phoned and said lets go fruit picking, they still have plenty of strawberries for picking at a nearby fruit farm.

So off we went one warm morning last week, and managed to pick a trayful each of luscious sweet strawberries.

By the end of the next day they had been transformed into these!

As usual I still have to do the "pretty" stuff, making some more attractive labels and adding a cotton cover, but thats for this week as its looking a bit less busy.

Having not made strawberry jam for years (I usually make plum or blackberry for some reason ) I was a little nervous as I know with strawberry jam it can be difficult sometimes to achieve a set.  My friend Julie recommended this recipe of Nigella's, which I tried with great success and shall therfore share it with you as it is the easiest, most enjoyable to make, and above all most successful one I have used in a long while!

This is from "How to be a Domestic Goddess" baking and the art of comfort food by Nigella Lawson - the instructions have been embellished a little by yours truly to (hopefully!) help!

Do try this recipe if you havent already as it so good!


675g strawberries (buy 750g to allow for wasteage - I actually used 700g fruit)
750g preserving sugar (I just used granulated)
2 tblsps lemon juice (thats about the juice of 1 lemon)
1 tsp balsamic vinegar (I omited this as my family would turn their noses up!)
approx 4 x 200ml jars
Large pan (I used my large Le Creuset - was perfect for this)
Jam funnel, ladle and jam topper pack (wax discs etc)

Stick a saucer in the deep freeze.
Wipe and hull strawberries. Cut in half for more traditional textured jam or leave whole if preferred.
Put all ingredients into wide saucepan and stir with wooden spoon to ensure all fruit coated.
Put the pan on a low heat and, stirring every now and again, bring to the boil.
Let boil for 5 to 8 mins (should be a good rolling boil rising up the pan and frothing), depending on size of pan, and start testing for setting point from 4 mins, taking the pan off the heat whilst you do so.(To test- place a tsp of jam on the cold saucer, and push finger through when cooled - if it wrinkles its ready, if not re-boil for another few minutes and repeat until set)
When set reached, leave the pan to cool for 20 mins. ( Before cooling I skim off most of the froth and stir in a small knob of butter to disperse the rest )
Whilst cooling, sterilise the jam jars by 1/4 filling with water and microwaving on high for 10 mins.
Decant jam into jars ( I use a funnel and ladle ) and seal in the usual way (see note 1)

Believe me this is so yummy you will never ever want to buy shop bought jam again!!

note 1 ( UK tend to put wax discs on and cellphane tops with elastic bands as per instructions on packet - US do it differently I think with kilner jars?)

I made two batches, and the second batch I added another 200g each of jam and sugar - the beauty of this recipe is you can just scale it up depending on how much you want to make - just make sure to allow plenty of room in your pan for the jam to rise up as it boils.

I still used the same amount of lemon juice but obviously if you were increasing the fruit/sugar significantly you would need to add more lemon juice accordingly.

I suspect the next preserving I shall be doing will be associated with tomatoes - the golden variety I grew have ripened well, and are a beautiful yellow and so sweet , but the large Oxheart tomatoes grown for cooking are plentiful but still mainly green - I have been picking them to ripen on the windowsill.

I have been picking loads of runner beans over the last few weeks so will have to start freezing them - have given many away and they have been keeping well in the fridge but they just keep coming faster than we can eat them!

Does anyone have any tips for freezing them??? I have heard that they freeze well without blanching - has anyone any experience of this? If so I would be very grateful to hear.

I got lucky at Homebase last week with cut price chrysanthemums reduced to £2 for a large pot, and wooden tubs half price at under £5 each.

Logan checking them out!

Have a great day everyone - it has been a beautiful sunny morning here in Kent, and Logan and I had an extra long walk this morning through the woods and round the orchards - I will try to rememeber to take the camera the next sunny morning as the red apples look so beautiful hanging off the laden trees with the bright blue sky in the background.