Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Crewel progress

Autumn Glory
Well I have been busy of late and no sewing has been done apart from the Crewel work and this is the latest flower to be finished.  I have most of it done in the right hand corner too so mainly 3 very large flowers to work on and then finito.....

I seem to have done nothing but attend meetings towards the end of last week which left me feeling a bit flat.  But the cold spell gave me the chance to get out on the hills this weekend and take my ice axe for a hike (once a year) and so that was good for me. We had very good conditions on the top with fresh snow so the axe was not needed. I did get my crampons out though and they are wonderful on crisp snow which was what we found on the windward side of the hill.

Well I must dash, I have a fair bit to do.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Thank you Walmart

This is the back of my Christmas tablecloth and I just wanted you to see how good the cheap fabric backing is. I bought it in Walmart, Palm Springs in the spring and its just perfect for the job. I would not make a quilt top with this quality of fabric but for backing stuff at about £3 a yard it can't be beaten. Next time I'm over visiting DD I will need more room in my bag for stashing some more.

My Seville Orange Marmalade

As you can see by the other photo it is Seville orange season and I bought 10.  My recipe is simple. I pare off the rind and place it in one pan with about 2 pints of water and simmer for 2 hours slowly, (topping up the water if need be to just cover the rind).  In the end I have about half a pint of liquid and the softened rind.  I place the rest of the oranges in another pot and cut them into quarters and then once more into eights and add another 2 pints of water to them. These simmer for the same time as the rind and I carefully watch towards the end of the cooking time for any sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Then I take the pulped fruit and pass it through a fine nylon sieve just a few tablespoons at a time and push it around with a wooden spoon so that the liquid all comes out. I scrape the mushy stuff off the bottom of the sieve and that also goes into the marmalade as its quite ok. The sieve contents should be quite dryish and well 'rung out' when I discard them. I repeat this operation until all the pulp has gone through and the result is usually a lovely thick consistency. I then add the rind and its juice to this sieved pulp and pop it back onto heat up. Then I added in this case about 2 and a half kilos of preserving sugar.  This only needing boiling for about 5 minutes and then I tested for set and it was ready. (I test on a saucer, just a small spoonful, leave it 5 minutes and then push it with my finger, if it forms creases, its ready.) I use old jam jars with the pop up lids and always make sure they seal i.e. they don't pop back up when pressed. Of course the marmalade goes in hot and the jars are sterilised prior to use with scalding water which is tipped out just before I fill them. In this case the marmalade is a lovely tawny colour and has set perfectly.

My Seville Orange Marmalade.

Friday, 6 January 2012

New year so far

The new year is going well apart from the really windy days we have suffered.  My neighbours chimney cowl blew down at 7.40 am last week when I was in the kitchen, lucky I was not outside as it came down right outside the kitchen door and hit my DH's workshop door with a large thud. Damaged it slightly too and it just missed their new conservatory.  Anyway, the workshop is really near the house so its handy for his projects and this was one of the most interesting I had seen in years of receiving wonderful parcels from him and the way he did it up was stunning.

The present was a lovely spice rack he had made for me and he even painted the chicken too.  Needless to say it now sits proudly on the kitchen wall near the hob. He bought me some new pretty storage jars too so I must look out for some more as they really are cute.

I took the tree down on Thursday and as I was doing so most of the needles fell off despite my efforts to stop it happening like lopping off an inch from the bottom and conditioning it in water and leaving it outside for a week.  Anyway, Bella was sitting by it and I noticed as the dry needles were falling near her she started sneezing and wheezing a bit, this was not good as the last time she went into kennels she had a reaction against the sawdust they use on the floor and had to be given an injection by the vet who runs the kennels. So it was with Bella's health and well being in mind that I decided I would have an artificial tree in future and I had a quick look on Hayes Garden Centre site and found a tree which in the sale was knocked down by £70, it was originally £209.99. Well nothing like keeping to my new resolution of having no unfinished business or jobs I thought, so I bought it and it came today. So no mess and hoovering up the needles anymore and a much happier dog too. Shame about the smell of pine which I love and remember from when I was very small but Bella is more important.
Bella on Christmas day with her new sheep and bunny