Thursday, 26 November 2015

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

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Wishing all my US blogging friends a very Happy Thanksgiving Day! x

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

My dear MIL and her pension

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Today was my dear mother-in-law's birthday.  She would have been 101 if she was still alive, but alas, I feel she died much too soon at 77 years, a huge loss to us all, she was a lovely woman.

The reason I'm remarking on it is that we have been doing some pension paperwork today, and apart from realising the date, I was reminded of her story of her querying why she hadn't received her pension paperwork before her 60th birthday, and being told she was not entitled to a pension until the 25th December.

Of course, she was most indignant and as she rightly said:

  '... my birthday is 25th November, it's always been 25th November: don't you think I'd remember if my birthday was Christmas Day?...'

She was summoned to the local social security office, and armed with a copy of her birth certificate, confirmed the correct birth date.

She did get her pension, but always loved telling the tale.

Happy Birthday Hilda. X

Sunday, 22 November 2015

The Paris trip is cancelled


The lycée has cancelled my daughter's trip to Paris, and  (cowardly) I am relieved.  She isn't of course, but she has youth and innocence on her side.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Paris



My goodness, what can I say about the devastating news from Paris this weekend?

Sorrow, disgust, anxiety: I think everyone feels this way.

A week ago, my son was happily mooching about Paris, waiting six hours for his connecting bus to Limoges.  Next week, my daughter is representing her lycée in a large get-together of young people in - you've guessed it - Paris.

Now, what is a mother supposed to do?  Grab my kids, hug them to my body to protect them, stop them living their lives freely?  I want to do that of course, but when I discussed this with my daughter this morning, she was quite withering and said that life must go on and no way would she not go to Paris, other wise the terrorists would have won again.  She's right, but it doesn't stop me being extremely anxious.

I wrote the following on my Facebook page last night, having received ever-so-slightly sarcastic messages from a couple of people regarding the use of the French colours on my page:


Facebook-paris-2.jpeg

  " The reason I've changed my photo to the French background is not to make any political statement, just to show my solidarity to the land I have chosen as my home. It doesn't make me feel any less towards any other country, nation, religion, just lets me think that I can show my fellow citizens of France that I feel for us all, the people of France, and my sorrow for the young people killed in Paris - it could have been one of my loved ones. I don't care what sort of passport was found with the dead terrorists, I don't care which boundaries any government decide to open or close. I cannot change or take sides in, if I'm honest, what fighting is happening where as it seems to me the human condition seems to need conflict and has been so for ever and will continue until the human race finally expires. God - which ever one you believe in - help us all. X  "

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Summer is finally over.

That's it.  Summer is finally over.  The grue - or cranes - are flying south for the winter.








Sorry about the watery blobs on the lens, but it was just beginning to rain - the cranes were so low due to the clouds.  We see them every year, twice a year - we seem to be on their flight path to the sun, and in fact, there is apparently an app you can get which charts their progress up and down France.

But that's too much for me, I always feel a little down when I see them: it's a long time before they come back.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Pink sky in the morning...




I noticed the pinkiness in the sitting room, which is on the west side of the house but the light was being reflected by our neighbour's house and our barn.  So, I grabbed the camera and dashed to the side door and caught the sky over the church in the distance, to the south.  I then ran round to the east side and snapped the sun rising behind our cherry tree and the chicken house.  Two minutes later, it had all disappeared...


Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Visiting stick insect

I forgot to post this earlier this year, but I found the photos today so here we are:

My daughter was strimming a neighbour's garden, to get it ready to put the house on the market, and this is what she found:




It's a little green stick insect




He was about 6 inches or 15 cms long




Poor thing had already lost a leg, but Kath spotted it before she started up the machine




Amazing camouflage: he looked like a  little piece of grass




I carefully took him into the undergrowth next door, and let him free.  Kath was a little nervous in case there were others, but no more to be found.

And, incidentally, the house was sold.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Pumpkins are in

I managed to get the pumpkins in today in between showers - I chickened out in not leaving them outside until the first frost was threatened.  A very warm south-westerly wind, but I lit the Bosky to make green tomato chutney, plus a hot chili version.  I also peeled a load of windfall apples, cooked off for the freezer, plus another load


of apple mixed with blackcurrants, blackberries and a few cherries.


The THIRD lot of figs are ready to go - we normally get two harvests but this year has been quite remarkable for figs.  I usually make fig confiture, and give to my French neighbours who eat it with foie gras.  The figs are green, but very sweet.  I love them but OH wouldn't eat a fig if he was starving...


I also made another apple and red peach flan I made last week for some friends - the peaches are a gorgeous red colour inside and quite sweet, so I didn't have to add any sugar at all even though the apples are very tart - OH having type 2 diabetes of course.

So that's my Monday done.  Have a good week y'all!  

Thursday, 1 October 2015

My beautiful Bleat RIP


My lovely sheep Bleat has died today.  Daft to weep over a sheep I know but she was the first lamb born in our field - and I pulled her out after her mother got into difficulties.  She earned the name 'Bleat' because - apart from having lambs - it was what she did best - bleat!  Here she is with her last lamb.

She was a good mother and grandmother to her lambs, and although she only ever gave us one lamb at a time, it was always a big strong healthy lamb, and she fed and cared for each and kept the other two or three sheep, and their lambs, in line.  She was a stickler for routine, and knew when it was food and watering time.

I loved her because she loved me.  She adored having her face and ears rubbed, and watched me carefully as I gardened in case there was the odd titbit coming her way.

We worked out she was 11 years old.   She had enjoyed a retirement for the last two years - her only duty was to keep the grass down, but she had been getting a little thin recently and I had been supplementing her feed with pellets.

I knew her time would be coming soon, maybe not this autumn but soon.   True to her neat and careful personality, she just quietly lay down in the long grass and didn't wake up.

Dear old Bleat.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Skinning tomatoes - part 3


Of course, if you want to bottle/can tomatoes, then the grating method will be as useful as a chocolate teapot.

Have a look at this video from a fabulous blog,' Northwest Edible Life'.

I just cannot believe how quickly she skins tomatoes whole - the most efficient thing I've every seen! Makes this chore look so easy - I absolutely hate skinning toms.


She also has a book out, from yesterday.  I haven't read it of course, but it looks good.  I don't get any payment by the way, just love a good book about home preserving and home keeping - go through the link to Ohiofarmgirl below though, as she gets a penny or two from Amazon for referrals.

Anyway, the book title is


The Hands-On Home: A Seasonal Guide to Cooking, Preserving & Natural Homekeeping


and I saw all about it here:


Take a peek at both of these very interesting blogs.

PS:  I think that's quite enough about tomatoes from me for one year!

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Skinning toms - part 2



Aha!  Skinning toms gone viral on the net apparently - the American chef is called Justin Chapple, and here is a link to the video:

http://www.littlethings.com/tomato-sauce-cheese-grater/?utm_source=LTdiy&utm_medium=Facebook&utm_campaign=foodhacks

(try this link, if not, cut and paste above)

Credit where it's due!

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Skinning Tomatoes - the easy way.

One of my pet hates is to skin tomatoes.  It drives me bonkers - I hate boiling up the water, dropping them in, fishing them out, waiting for the hot toms to cool so I can peel them - I'm far too impatient for all of that.

I prefer this method: grating.

Firstly, I absolutely cannot take any credit for this tip as I saw it on the net, by an American chef called Justin Someone (can't remember his name at the mo, sorry) so I thought I would try it.

It's especially useful for using over-ripe or damaged fruit as you can easily cut out the bits you don't want, like these:



Take a ripe tomato, cut out any bits you don't want and cut the rest into two pieces






 Then, merely grate the cut side of the tomato against a box grater




Just gently rub: the skin prevents you grating your fingers



you'll be left with the skin which you can feed to the chickens or put in the compost


and lovely, fresh tomato pulp which you can put with pasta as a sauce, add a few herbs and olive oil, or as I did, with chopped up squash, skinned marrow, onions, garlic, herbs and oil and popped in the wood oven for a sort-of-ratatouille, and eventually cooled for the freezer.


Easy-peasey!  Took about 30 seconds...





Thursday, 17 September 2015

Some recent stock

I haven't shown any of my stock for a while - I am still selling on Ebay - and here are just a few little items that I've sold or are still in stock



lovely Boudoir cushion, from France, nice and soft and all handmade linen embroidery
now sold



This is such a stunning piece: a gorgeous, and quite rare,  little chest of drawers, behind two vignettes of Art Nouveau beauties.  You can see the original colour of the drawer fronts - bright fuschia pink floral fabric.  Just perfect for a collector of French fabric boxes.
now sold




This was an old sewing basket, now rather shabby, but once must have been quite splendid, with green silk interior and pockets, and a rich pink and blue embroidery on the outside.
now sold



A rather striking Pierre Cardin scarf, all in silk
now sold




And finally, a couple of trims: one a baby blue satin ribbon and original card, and the other a burgundy red passementerie trim for cushions, upholstery etc.
all sold

There!  Just to show you that I am still working at my little textile business - you can take a peek at my shop here if you like, or just send me a comment if you want any further details.

Frugal dog food and Charlie

Our little poodle Charlie, is getting on a bit.  He's getting on a lot actually.  In the 8 or 9 years we've had him since finding him abandoned, with over-grown fur full of fleas, and an aversion to men with stick shaped things in their hands, he has calmed right down and become such a sweetie and much loved member of the family.  Well, I love him, even though the cats seem to cast their spooky spell over the rest of the family...I digress.






Charlie has always been a bit scratchy, a bit inflamed on the ears and feet, and I realised early on that it was probably the dog food I was giving him.  The vet agreed with me, but no matter what, Charlie would not eat the very-expensive-but-good-for-him dry food although he would quite happily scrump the cats' dry biscuit food.

So, after much consultation with vet/internet, I devised my own food for him: 40% chicken, 20% veg such as carrots/beans/peas and 40% rice and couscous, with a couple of spoons of powered eggshell for extra calcium, and he also gets a bit of sardine or mackerel when we have some for lunch.  Sometimes I chuck on a couple of little biscuity things too, just for a bit of a change.



About once a month, I boil up chicken legs in the pressure cooker until the bones soften, pick off all the meat, add the veg, rice etc, and measure it out into foil containers - 180 grams a go - and then into the freezer.  It costs me about a frugal 25 to 30 centimes a day, which can't be bad.  I love doing it for Charlie because I love him, and he doesn't scratch his skin anymore.

Win-win!

Well, it would be win-win, but he has suddenly got bored with his food and has started scrumping the cats' dry stuff again.  Sigh...

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