Wednesday, 27 June 2007
Of course all the tins of left over white have collected in the garage and if we need to touch up a wall we have no idea which white was used in each room. Hence my recent decision to simplify the whole decorating process and use the same shade of white throughout the house. Hopefully this will save us time and money as well as being more eco-friendly as we should eliminate left over paint. After much research we have chosen Green Paints from The Green Shop near Stroud. They produce a very good catalogue (there are no standards for organic or natural paints so it was good to have so much detail on ingredients) and have a mail order service but its not too far for us so yesterday my husband and I had a day trip by ourselves while the boys were at school.
The choice we made when faced with one of the biggest selections of natural paints in the country in a huge range of colours...........soft white! I'm not giving up on this idea of a calm uncluttered house that easily!
After buying the paint we had time left to spoil ourselves for a couple of hours, so we drove down into Stroud and had coffee in an organic cafe before wandering around the town. I found a small shop selling wool and managed to find some sock wool made in the UK, in Bradford, a good start in my effort to buy UK fibres. We then had a picnic on Minchinhampton Common and stopped for a wander around Cricklade before heading home. The area is very pretty and compared to our part of the world, very hilly. A pleasant, pottering sort of day which our boys would have hated but we really enjoyed.
Saturday, 23 June 2007
Today that happened and I spent a very pleasant couple of hours sewing.
There seem to be loads of bags appearing on craft blogs at the moment which can only be a good thing if it means that less plastic bags are being used. I got the idea for this one from Simmy who made hers with vintage William Morris fabric. Mine is not so glamorous, both the fabrics are left-overs, the green check from my younger son's bedroom curtains and the tulip fabric from our cloakroom curtains. Feeling very pleased with myself for creating a bag at no cost, I showed the family - the teenage verdict, "it looks just like a cushion, you're not going to use it outside the house are you?" - don't you find, children always bring you straight back down to earth!
Sunday, 17 June 2007
Thursday, 14 June 2007
The book is the Good Housekeeping Cookery Book and it was first published in 1925. Here is the recipe copied exactly as written. I like the old fashioned sounding instructions.
Strawberry Jam with LemonProportions.-- To 3lb. strawberries allow the juice of 1 lemon and 2 1/4lb. sugar.
The small or medium-sized red strawberries are the best for preserving. Pick the fruit and carefully reject any that is unsound. Put it into the preserving pan and bring it to the boil stirring all the time. Meanwhile have the sugar weighed out, crushed if necessary, and made very hot in the oven. Add it gradually to the fruit without letting it go off the boil. Pour in the strained lemon juice, and boil together until the jam will stiffen.
I particularly like the phrase " boil together until the jam will stiffen" because without adding pectin strawberry jam can take an age to boil to setting point. Mine has set though it could be described as a "soft set", still yummy though.
I used to seal my jam jars with wax paper circles and the cellophane secured with elastic bands but I have now found that providing the lids are in good condition then the jars can be sealed with the lids alone. If the hot glass jars are filled with the hot jam and the lids which have had boiling water poured on them are screwed on immediately then the cooling jam pulls a vacuum and seals the jar. I've used this method for several years now and have only had a couple of failures so some of the jars have been used for several years and they still seal. You can be sure that the jar has sealed securely if the lid becomes depressed in the middle after cooling. Any jars that don't do this we use straight away.
Sunday, 10 June 2007
We spent most of the weekend outside in the garden and at the allotment. Today I harvested broad beans, mange tout, lettuce, redcurrants and potatoes together with a bunch of pinks. The potatoes are the ones I grew in pots on the patio. I planted them about three months ago and put three tubers to a pot. I got just under 3lbs of potatoes from a pot.
Thursday, 7 June 2007
One afternoon this week though it just seemed too nice to go inside and so I broke the rule and spent some time outside washing some fleece ready to spin. I started to knit a shawl ages ago and then ran out of wool and only need to spin a small amount more but it has remained unfinished for months. Tuesdays sunshine was perfect for washing and drying the fleece.
When I was taught to spin, about five years ago now, we were taught to wash the fleece in small batches just a few locks at a time. My spinning teacher was adamant that whole fleeces should not be washed in the bath! As I only spin wool for my own needs I have so far followed her method and enjoyed the gentle washing process. This fleece was a fawn Shetland and as always I was amazed by the range of colours within the fleece.
This is the shawl looking a bit sad and scruffy, I am hoping that it will look a bit more respectable once it has been finished and blocked.
After my little bit of time off I still didn't feel like going inside so I got out the ironing board and the extension lead and did my ironing in the garden. That way I got to enjoy the summer weather, guilt -free!
Monday, 4 June 2007
Its a big birthday for him this year and as always approaching birthdays make you more aware of the passing of time. I decided that we might be waiting a long time for the right time/place/stage in our lives to do all of these things, so a couple of weeks ago I suggested that for his birthday he might like to have chickens in the back garden.
He has been excitedly visiting lots of "chicken" web-sites and last week we visited the Domestic Fowl Trust to have a look at chicken coops. Back at home he has spent the weekend walking round the garden wondering where we can squeeze in the smallest of chicken coops. We have decided on a suitable spot and last night he clicked the "add to cart" button and ordered his birthday present of a starter kit and two chickens. This is definitely the most excited he has been about a birthday for years and its not even the big day until August!
The rest of the family are humouring him but actually we are quite excited too.