Thursday, 22 June 2017

We're Jammin, jammin till the jam is through.

Thank you Bob Marley xxx,

This mornings batch is Strawberry and Rhubarb, another quick setting mix which will maintain as much of the fresh flavour as possible.

There will be a new batch as often as I have fruit to make it. all my friends and family love their jars of  "Pam Jam". 

No doubt a few will find their way to Beckenham but they will be of the seedless variety as Francesca doesn't like bits in her jam.

I am eyeing up the Elderflowers and wondering whether to make another batch of cordial. I discovered yesterday that my neighbours love the stuff. The giveaway was when they started to dribble when I mentioned that I had made a couple of batches. A jar went to each of them, it's good to share.

I am thinking that a batch of scones might be cooked next Tuesday morning, scones with jam and clotted cream would go down a treat at knit and natter. (What do you think Chrissie and Debs)
We can wash them down with Elderflower cordial.

I did a little sewing and then settled down with some sock knitting to watch Hinterland on Netflix.
 A very self indulgent day, but I'm worth it.

We did have rain forecast for this morning but not a drop so far, I had to soak the back garden last night and if the rain doesn't arrive soon will have to do the front.

I fell into bed at around 10:30 and had a long sleep, 5:45 when I woke up, marvellous.

No plans for today, once the kitchen has been put to rights I will settle down to some sewing, a little knitting, possibly some reading.
I have a new book, complete Dressmaking. Apart from Tilly and the Buttons, Love at first stitch, which I bought for the patterns, this is the first "how to" book that I have bought for dressmaking.
 I read a review and ordered it straight away, it arrived yesterday and I flicked through it after dinner.
My granny taught me how to sew (she was fed up with my demands for dolls clothes) and apart from the odd primary school lesson I am self taught.
There are lots of fabrics that I steer clear of as I have no idea how to handle them. There are tutorial videos galore out there, I learnt to put in an invisible zip that way, but they can not help you to feel the way certain fabrics handle.
Neither  can this book but there is a wealth of advice, and lots of helpful tips.
I can not say that I long to sew jersey dresses but there are some gorgeous prints out there in all sorts of stretch fabric. I did a search for some fabric for Francesca, and rapidly lost the will to live, as every single print that I wanted to buy was in stretch fabric of some sort.
There is no excuse for my reluctance, I have an overlocker. I have a modern machine that has a few stretch stitches and I have the correct needles.

I am a scaredy cat. Plain and simple. I am also a bit of a control freak, and the thought of ruining a length of fabric fills me with dread.
Of course I do not have any scraps to play with as I have never sewn with it. Catch 22.

Ooh, A Lightbulb Moment, I ought to look on Ebay, people sell all sorts of fabric bundles there.

That's my next port of call. Some times it is good to have a mind that hops and skips all over the place.

I better skip over there now, before I sidetrack myself to another dimension.

                       TTFN                                              Pam

PS.  Of course I was going to tell you all about the book, tomorrow peeps. xx

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Beating the Heat

I had a reasonably early night last night and thanks to the fan I slept well. I hit the ground running around 5:30 this morning and after a quick cuppa I was out the door.
 Ben was still in bed snoring, I was on the hunt for wild strawberries, they grow in abundance here, I picked a fair amount and then stripped all the ripe ones from the plants in my garden. I had a few when I moved in and have encouraged them to grow. Free ground cover and tasty treats all in one.

Together with the strawberries from the garden and some early raspberries I had just under 3 lbs of fruit. Perfect for a small batch, in with 12oz of sugar per 1 lb of fruit ( I still make jam and chutneys in Imperial) and the juice of a large lemon, microwaved for 20 seconds to release more juice, and on to a very low heat to dissolve all the sugar. Then up to a boil, with the jam thermometer stuck in and in around 12 minutes I had setting point.

I now have 4 jars of summer for the pantry and a "bonus" dish to try out.
I made a small batch of scones to try out the jam, well I just had to, I think it is the law.
Oh My Word. it is good. I had to stop myself from spooning it from dish to mouth. (I did scrape round the maslin pan with a spatula. and I am not ashamed to share that) I was being frugal NOT greedy.

Who am I kidding, it was pure unadulterated greed. And ever so good. For a few moments I was 4 years old again.

Now I just have the washing up to do and put the kitchen to rights before I settle down to some sewing fun.

I did put the sofa throws in the wash and they are out on the line, probably completely dry.

                           TTFN                                            Pam

PS. I saved enough raspberries to add to some rhubarb and apple for a crumble for tonight. Naughty but very nice.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Shady Sewing

I spent yesterday afternoon mainly in the shady sewing room, happily stitching, pressing, pinning, cutting and generally playing with fabric.
The morning was taken up with getting Francesca packed and on to the train in Neath. There was a hiccup as the points were playing up along the line, this meant a delay for her train. 
Then of course there was the incident at Paddington which closed the station down, a 2 1/2 hr journey took almost twice that. So instead of arriving home by 4:00 ish she was at Victoria station at 5:30 and finally arrived home around an hour later hot and sticky. All thoughts of unpacking were abandoned for a long cool shower.

I was happy to stay in the sewing room, another pair of Pilates trousers were made (and posted off this morning). I have 2 dresses and another set of thin cotton pj,s for Francesca all cut out and ready to sew. That should keep me happy for the rest of the week.

This is the fabric that I made her second pair of Pilates trousers in, it has been languishing for far too long and deserved to be used.

This cream cotton with a tiny black spot will be another PJ set, not for sleeping in so much as lolling round the house when it is too hot for proper clothes. She took one set made in it back with her and one of my cut out dresses is in this as well. I bought masses of it some time ago when it was at a ridiculously low price.

This lilac print will be a Lilou dress, from Tilly and the Buttons. I am sure that I have said this before, but am too lazy to check.

I have zip and thread ready, just need to wind a bobbin and I will be on a roll.

It is knit and Natter today, and I will need to have a bit of lunch soon, I like to leave fairly early and don't want to drive directly after eating.

On the subject of food, it will be salad all the way during this heat, Nicoise tonight. I can just about stand to boil a few eggs and some green beans but any other cooking is a No Go Zone.

I have enough bread in the freezer for this week and will be able to make the next batch late in the day, if it goes into the oven at 9:00 pm that will be fine.

That, of course, assumes that this heat will last. This is the UK and Wales in particular, so it is not a good assumption to make.

It has just turned mid day so I am off to feed my face.

BTW the lovely Mandy has another You Tube podcast up and a new sock pattern out. 

                      TTFN                                  Pam

Monday, 19 June 2017

Wonderful, wonderful day.

I know that is a line from a song from Seven brides for Seven Brothers, I can hear it as I write this, one of my favourite musicals. But it sums up yesterday to a tee.

We woke to a sun blazing out of an azure sky, but with just enough breeze to make it perfect for a leisurely walk with Ben.

Then at around 9:30, after a very skimpy breakfast, (we were going to a food festival) we set off on the 30 or so minute drive.

It proved to be a good idea as we were parked and in the festival site as they were opening up.

A stroll round to "suss" the place out and than we began the serious business of sampling the wares.

I tasted chutneys and relishes, jams, jellies and 7 different types of marmalade. There was a stall with some amazing Welsh cheeses, two of which came home with me along with a jar of Jamaican marmalade and another of "Weapons grade Chilli". That was for the SO. I also picked up 3 bottles of flavoured vinegar, Raspberry, Elderflower and Chilli, they will liven up my salads and make a change from my fig balsamic.
There was a large stand all about honey and the SO had a great time trying the large variety of local ones.
I am not a honey lover, Maple Syrup for me. Unfortunately it is not made in Wales. (come on Dawn, I remember that you planted some maples)
We decided that a cuppa was in order before we found some lunch and duly retired to the tea room.
Then wound our way out to the vendors stalls.

There was not one selling vegetarian or vegan food. It was most disappointing. I settled for a skewer of chicken (most of which the SO ate) with a mountain of salad (all of which I ate)

Then there was a demonstration of a simple dinner party, we got front row seats and started to watch. The meal was canapes followed by Beef Wellington and then a pudding. I have no idea what it was as I had to leave, the heat was unbearable.
There was also the fact that the chef wiped his nose on the back of both hands and then went on to handle the food without washing them. YEUK!!

This is why I do not eat out very much.

I had a little stroll round and took a few pics, none inside as it was so crowded.

Just a few shots of the house and the gardens and views over the grounds.

This is the dress that I wore, it was lovely and cool and just a bit "garden partyish".
I also wore a simple white hat when outside and lots of sun screen. I did see many people sporting a fiery red glow and shuddered for the pain that they would feel later.

We left around 2:00 and had a warm but uneventful drive home. A cuppa and a fuss with Ben later we prepared a roast dinner for Fran and a salad for ourselves. I know, it was hot, I didn't want to cook, but the only time Fran has a full on roast is when she is here.

While the SO did the washing up I took Ben out for a walk, we were joined by Rufus and his owner for part of the way. Rufus had a paddle in the little stream just over the road but Ben declined to join him. 
Then it was a slow wander back to settle down for the evening.

I did a little knitting, my cardigan sleeves are growing slowly, and I have another dress cut out, Lilou from my Tilly and the Buttons book. I have used some of the stash fabric and this will be a wearable toile (fingers crossed).

Fran liked the Hanging storage thingy that I made and has asked for 2 for her wardrobes. I have some iron in interfacing coming and will get the fabric cut out ready to make a start on them.

Oh yes, I had a play with the laptop and "who'd a thunk it" my camera takes videos, so more playing is booked for later in the week.
I gave the garden a good watering last night and it looks so much better for it, the font garden takes the most time as it is all watering can and rain water. Most of the plants out there do not particularly like tap water.  
Today will be  trip into Neath to get Fran to the station and then home and a normal Monday jobs list. dinner tonight will be a salad based around Quinoa and will include pumpkin and sunflower seeds for crunch and chickpeas because I love them.

Now the time has come for another (only my second) cuppa and then it will be time for Ben,s walk.

                 TTFN                                        Pam

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Confused of Cwmgors

I had a little look on google yesterday, I typed in various versions of  "beginners guide to making a video podcast"

Now the words beginner and guide were in every version. so I was  surprised to get page after page of techno babble. All of which assumed that I had a degree in computer science.

If one of you asked me to recommend a baking book for a beginner I would not point you toward one of Eric Lanlard,s books and suggest that you start with a Croquembouche or a 3 tiered fully iced and decorated Genoise sponge.
Of course I wouldn't, I would suggest Mary Berry and a simple all in one tray bake.

In my view a beginner almost needs a "This is a spoon and this is a mixing bowl" book.

I do not understand why the information that I was looking for is not there.

I will have a play on the laptop and with my phone and see what can be done, if anything. I have an idea that my camera will take videos with sound so that needs looking at as well. 

Of course it could just be that I am not over interested in making a podcast, there are many things that figure on my list of things to do and pod casting is not one of them.

Maybe I will get help from Fran, she is quite a whizz on the 'puter.

We were going to the food festival today but have put it off till Sunday. The drivers side window mechanism decided to fail yesterday and the window is stuck half open. The car is at the garage and I should get it back by mid day.

I will use the time to make the slope for Fran and finish my dress. Then we will have a look in the stash for a dress length for Fran.

The Pilates trousers are done and I will probably make another pair as some weeks she goes twice.

I am making progress on the cardigan sleeves, but it is a long haul knitting them both at once. I have to otherwise the first one would be the last one. I do not like knitting long sleeves, but equally I do not like to wear elbow or bracelet length.

Dinner was amazing, if I do say it myself, I never follow a recipe for meatloaf, just rough proportion of 2 beef to 1 pork, some breadcrumbs and an egg, herbs, paprika and a mix of peppers, onion and garlic sweated off in a little oil. I mix it by hand and press into a loaf tin then slather the top with spicy tomato ketchup and cook for 1 - 1 1/4 hrs.

Tonight we are having ribs in a spicy sauce, potato wedges and coleslaw and salad, Fran's request, I have some salad leaves in the garden and will forage for some wild garlic to go with them. It is almost at the end now but I know where there is a late patch.

My front garden is a froth of foliage and blooms, although the Snow on the Mountains needs trimming back to allow a second flush. The ladies mantle will open out even more to fill the gap and there are some ground cover perennials that will lift their flower heads given the space.
There are some flowering shrubs covered with small flowers and the Honeyberries are in full fruit, but they are not particularly sweet as yet.

There is a scrappy bit that faces the house, it is in the shade of said shrubs and honeyberries. I am not sure what to put there, nothing too tall as there are plants against the front wall that need the full sun. I may have to have a wander round a garden centre one day next week and look for inspiration.

My new Blackthorn hedge is looking good, it is starting to fill out and in a couple of years will be quite respectable.

The plum trees have put on a lot of growth and should all fruit next year and the apples are looking promising, fingers crossed that the June drop doesn't decimate them. 
The strawberries are the star of the show though, I am picking a dish full every day and they are beautiful to eat warm from the sun.

There looks to be a bumper blackberry harvest, tons of fruit are forming and new flowers are opening daily. I just have to check out the crab apple trees in a nearby park and stock up on sugar.

Right now a cuppa is in my very close future so I am off to the kitchen.

Enjoy your weekend.

                  TTFN                                             Pam

Friday, 16 June 2017

Sew, Create and Recycle

That is the name of a new blog that I stumbled upon yesterday, I was enjoying a cuppa after making the Elderflower syrup and then cleaning the kitchen!
you can find it at

I spotted a comment and clicked on the name to have a nosy. There are recipes,vegan, for me to try, some sewing and dressmaking and lots of random things to read. Sounds a bit like this blog.

I have skimmed back a few months and followed, I don't want to miss something good.
 I will be trying out some of the recipes over the next few weeks. I look forward to sharing it all with you.

The weather has been kind again,although the clouds gathered once or twice. I managed to spend some time in the garden, some general tidying up and a little weeding. I hope the next door house sells soon, the garden is rapidly reverting to wilderness and most of my weeds are from seeds blown over. Then there are the brambles that seem to think they ought to be in my garden, I cut some back and lob them over the fence almost every day.

I cut my latest dress and the lining out, this is a pure experiment and I have no idea if it will work or if I am making posh dusters.

I did go and pick another lot of Elderflowers, the first batch is so good that I know it will disappear fast. I used far more flowerheads in the second batch and the juice and zest from one large orange and two huge lemons. 
The first batch is lovely but I hope that this one will turn out to be much more intense. I plan on using it in winter fruity puddings and sauces, it should give a little blast of summer days to the kitchen.
It is made and bottled and is now cooling down.

I have been quite tired this week so today will be fairly low key, just a meatloaf to make for dinner, and a little knitting on my cardigan sleeves. We are off to the food festival tomorrow and I do not want to be wiped out after an hour.
The sleeves are growing steadily, I did a little more this morning while watching the new Sew Sweet Violet podcast.
She has inspired me to dig out some strips of fabric and make some more bags, I could do with a couple of large ones for sweater projects. That will be for another week, once the experimental dress is finished.
One thing that I do want to do this weekend is make a slope for Fran. I know her dress size and skirt length but bodice fitting has to wait until she is here. I would love to be able to post a dress off to her every now and then, she gets through a lot of clothes in her work and, even in the sales, dresses (good ones) do not come cheap.

It has been suggested that I should have a podcast. It would be good to try but I have no idea how to go about it and am not sure that my hop and skip nature would make for good watching. I tend to go off on a tangent at the drop of a hat and that confuses me at times.

I just glanced at the clock and it is only 7:12, I wonder what time I got up. I didn't even glance at the clock and I have made the syrup and watched a podcast and done a few rows of knitting.

I still have to wash up but there isn't much there, just the pans and stuff from syrup making and my tea mug.

 I will go and have a pootle round the garden and see if any of the pots need watering, we did have rain overnight on Wednesday but it has been hot with a drying breeze since then. 
Then a little more knitting after Ben has had his walk should ease me nicely into the day which, by the way, looks like being glorious.

I will have a dish of fruit with some yogurt for breakfast I think, I am bound to pick some more strawberries on my wander.

                      TTFN                                             Pam

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Flash Bang Wallop

Wot a picture, wot a photograph. With apologies to the so very talented Tommy Steele.

I think that I may just have caught up with photo,s, lets see.

Fran's Dittany socks, love them and will be casting on a pair for myself.

The pattern that the lovely Sheila sent me, I rather fancy the cap sleeved version but will probably have just 1 button below the waist and then a stitched placket to the hem. Time will tell.

I finished Fran's socks early evening yesterday and couldn't sit with empty hands. It was far too warm to work on the Flax, so I cast on the sleeves for a cropped cardigan and I am using the Dittany pattern. I had to be creative with the stitch count but will put that right with the increase rows. Just 2 pattern repeats and it is looking good, to me anyway.

I am using this wool from Debs wool shop, it was one of her super dooper bargains.It is hand wash and dry flat but that is how I treat all my hand knits.

Finally this is the fabric that I bought for Fran's Pilates trousers, I sent her a photo and she likes the pattern and colour. The fabric has been washed and pressed and will be cut out later today.

Phew, I think that I am caught up now. 

I paid the price of my wonderful nights sleep last night, I managed about 2 hours between bouts of tossing and turning. I threw the towel in just after 4 and got up.
 Ben didn't so much as flicker an eyelid as I walked past him, in the end he had to be winkled out at around 8:30.

Dinner last night was a pasta dish, the sauce was full of various veg, lots of garlic and some plump olives. With it we had a chopped salad, also with olives, the ones that come stuffed with garlic, yummy yum yum.
Fresh fruit for pudding, a mixture of peaches, strawberries and  watermelon. Delish, and just the thing to dampen down the garlic.

Tonight it will probably be a crustless quiche, I want to empty the salad drawer and have some milk to use up. The premise behind crustless is that I may just make a fruit crumble with custard, well I need to use the milk up don't I.

Fran arrives tomorrow and we will be having meatloaf for dinner with sweet potato mash and cauliflower cheese, at her request. That tells me that she is having a hard week and needs "nursery food".

I need to sit down with a cuppa and workout a list of makes for the next 6 weeks. I would like to see 2Kg of yarn out of stash by the end of July and another one of the boxes of fabric emptied. I have emptied 2 but have several lengths of fabric that are washed, pressed and ready to be used. It is a big wish but 3 fully lined dresses will use up a sizeable chunk of that.

I want to make another hanging thingy tidy, wide enough to take  A4 punch pockets. Simply because my pattern folders are full enough and there are several things in my Ravelry library that need printing and Mandy has a new sock pattern in the making.

 That's it for now, I need more tea and then I have to finish off my Elderflower syrup. WOOPS I forgot to tell you. Yesterday when we were in the garden I realised that my Elder tree was dripping with lacy flowers and the scent was intoxicating. In fact it was the scent that made me realise it was ready, a good bunch were picked but I have left lots of flowers to develop into berries for jelly.

The heads have been steeping overnight and will be strained and so on this morning. Francesca loves Elderflower Presse and buys it whenever it is on promotion. I have 3 bottles with her name on to be filled, some sparkling water and she can have homemade presse whenever she likes.
I really am off now.

                          TTFN                                        Pam