Sunday, 7 November 2010

Remember remember!!! Vote Adele!

Gosh, it's November already! We've had Halloween and Bonfire Night in quick succession as usual. We were descended upon by 6 teenagers for Halloween with FH's kids having a party. Lots of pizza and particularly gruesome games involving rice pudding and tinned spaghetti later and they went off trick or treating. Well!!! I have never seen quite as much booty as they came back with! They even had almost £20 in cash. I was beginning to wish I'd gone with them! Whole big bars of chocolate and 6 packs of various goodies rather than just one. Have they up-ed the ante on what is and isn't acceptable to give or were our teenagers genuinely scary and the poor people of Malmesbury were so terrified they gave up their chocolate stash for the month?!!?!? I'll never know! But next year..... you know where you'll find me on All Hallows Eve!

Well we also have the local Town Council elections coming up on the 25th of this month. I have put myself up for it!! "Town Council?????" I hear you cry, "Not in a million years!" Think again! I have decided that there needs to be a bit more representation of some of the demographics of Malmesbury that have, up until now, been pretty poorly represented. There are Council members who claim to represent the people of Malmesbury and who believe they fight for what the people want. I would say that for a Council of only 16, it is very hard for these few people to represent all 6000 of the population. The majority of the current Town Council are men over 50. Now, don't get me wrong, I very much respect them but isn't it about time we had someone under 40 on the Council? Shouldn't there be some representation of the younger members of Malmesbury?

I moved to Malmesbury almost 4 years ago now and I love living here. I work in IT and am home based so am fortunate enough to be able to work to my own timetable. I commute to customer sites quite regularly so use the local train and road networks and find a real relief when I get back to the relative calm of home, away from the rat race of the major cities. I want Malmesbury to be improved and I don't believe that always means remaining the same. However, I am in awe of the History of this town and think it is under valued locally. I want us to be proud of our town and I think I can really make a difference in making Malmesbury a town to be proud of.

So, if you live in Malmesbury.... remember, remember, 25th November!!
Make sure you tick the box and VOTE for ADELE!

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Apples and Pears, Chutneys and Pickles!!!

I have mostly been making chutney this weekend! A friend took the dog out walking yesterday which gave me all day to get pickling! However, I do believe I wasn't the only one. Mustard seeds were out at every shop I went to!! In the end I had to buy pickling spice.

So I have decided that the plum jam and piccallili I have made for the favours won't be enough for all the people we have coming. One of my friends has five apple trees in their garden so has an amazing amount of apples at the moment - far too many to eat. So the sensible thing - apple chutney! I had 3 huge bags of apples - this picture just shows a few that we've kept for eating.

So far I've made 3 big pans; a tomato and apple chutney that was my late aunt's recipe (picture left) - boy it's good, and two lots of lovely sticky sweet apple chutney that my friends gave me (picture below). I have to admit though, after the first batch of hand chopping, I got the magimix out and blitzed so the second batch may not be quite so chunky!

 So now I have to wait a month or more to let the chutneys mature before I can decide whether they are good enough to use or not. I hope they are, or FH and I will be eating alot of chutney ourselves! Just as well he'll eat anything I give him!

I've also decanted the plum jam into little jars as I am building up the collection of jars now. I should be anyway as I have so many people collecting small jars for me. Thanks to all those who are, keep eating all those jars of food! I think I must have 40 little jars now so 60 to go!

 I have another friend who has just dropped a bag of pears on the doorstep so what to do with those?!? They are a little hard to eat so I think I'll leave a few to ripen, poach some for desserts and I might have a go at a pear and walnut chutney. The recipe has an equal amount of apples to pears so it would do two birds with one stone!

 I think I have become a little chutney obsessed this weekend. I was very disappointed the other week. I entered Sherstons pickle competition - Picklemania (it runs along side the Mangold Hurling) and didn't win a thing! I even got a jar of one of the winning entries, a beetroot and orange relish and it wasn't half as good as my plum jam or my piccalilli!!! Maybe it won on originality! Not that I'm bitter or anything!! It would have been nice to have said that one of the favours was award winning though!

Well, I have some bottling left to do before it all goes cold so.....'til next time!

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Time is Flying

My last post was the 30th September! Wow! I'm not very on the ball sometimes am I?!?! Time just seems to disappear!

We've been up to loads of things since I last scrawled - Mangold Hurling, Ploughing Competitions, Picklemania, Supper Club to name but a few. I can't talk about them all right now so I'll just update you on my progress with the Wedding Plans and come back to all the stories as we go!

I have managed to etch a third of the jars I need, not because it's so terribly time consuming (although it is quite time consuming!), but more because it's very tedious and cutting out the stencils makes my hand ache!
I now have all the jars I need for the table centres and I'm up to 30 on the little ones for the favours - 70 to go! I have the dress ordered and the bridesmaids dresses nearly sorted. All the girly bits and pieces and accessories and the like still to think about, but loads of time for that! I am planning to make some apple chutney this weekend as I'm not sure I have enough plum jam for the ladies so that should do then I think. It's quite hard to work out how many different sized jars the big 3l Kilner jars will fill! Hmm... I think I may need lots more than I already have. I also plan to get my cream bunting finally finished this weekend. We haven't anything planned so I should get lots done. Having said that, I said that the weekend before last and got absolutely nothing done as we had Supper Club 2 nights on the trot! We were not very capable of doing anything during the day and then had people coming over the next night!

Perhaps a more sober weekend this weekend and I'll finally get some swimming in! I've been working up in town all this week so up at 5.30am and not getting back 'til 6.30pm does not give you much motivation to go to the pool. FH has been getting up early as well and getting on the rowing machine so I have to keep up the swimming!

Right, I'll sign off now and hopefully this will temporarily stop the nagging that I haven't updated my blog! You know who you are!!!!

Next time, I'll have to tell you about the Mangold Hurling! The best fun to be had all year! Loved it!.
Til next time....

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Last day of September

Into October tomorrow and autumn has really hit us now. Dark mornings to walk the dog and dark evening walks too. Having said that, I love autumn! Comforting stews and pies, game on the menu and log fires. I have found corn in their husks in the shops for the last couple of weeks and last night saw game packs for stew. Lovely! Venison sausages and game pie! I think I might have to make an apple and blackberry pie at the weekend.

I had a lovely walk with the dog early this morning with the mist still hanging in the air. A lone Buzzard was hopping along the cricket pitch, I assume looking for insects as I doubt it could see very much in the way of small prey. Anyway, it was beautiful and so close! I was so busy watching it as I walked round the outskirts in the field that surrounds the cricket club, that I didn't notice the herd of cows that were in the mist not far from me. That is until one mooed at me! Oh dear! At that time in the morning it certainly woke me up!!! I actually shrieked a bit! Then broke into a somewhat hysterical giggle....then the dog came back to see what the heck was going on, at which point the cow spooked and the Buzzard lifted! End of idyllic country moment! It was lovely all the same though.

I nearly have all the jars I need for the table centres - I just need to etch them, but I still have a long way to go with small jars for the favours. I've been asking everyone I come accross to save small jars for me and I have a horrible thought that I may start being known as the jar lady. Eeeek. 20 down.....about 90 to go!

I am having a glut of parsley at the moment (very random subject change, I know) so I need to find a recipe that will use up a load. I wonder if a parsley pesto works?! It's curly parsley so a bit more robust than flat but it could work. Hmm... on that thought, I'd best get back to work. I'll report back on the parsley dilemma!

Sunday, 26 September 2010

What is the world coming to?!?!

I can't belive it's almost been a week since I scrawled something about puddings! Funnily enough, there seems to have been quite a theme around food this week too!
We went for dinner at a friend's last night and had a lovely evening. It's so nice to meet interesting people. There was no conversation about work and no one-up-manship. Just a great flowing conversation about all sorts of things; travel, life, theatre, cooking, food, towns and country living, Facebook!! It's evenings like last night that restore ones outlook on people and life in general. I left our friend's house feeling bouyed with life and happy about my lot.

Anyway, I went to see the Hairy Bikers Mum's Know Best tour yesterday and had such a fun day! In the end I had to go alone and was thinking I'd look a complete Billy No Mates (which I was), but it was actually fine and I got chatting to loads of really nice people. I was quite surprised at how many men were there as well - and not just those that had been dragged along by their spouses. Well done chaps! I did, however, manage to make an idiot of myself with said Bikers and I'm sure they must have labelled me from then as some kind of nutter! The tour is filmed in a big top and smaller tops (tents to us normal people) and uses the Giffords Circus caravans and kitchen. For those of you who have never heard of Giffords Circus, look here...... I took my FH for his birthday and we loved it!! You can have dinner in a tent afterwards with the performers as well which was amazing! Anyway, we loved it so much we have been raving about it ever since. So, I turned up at the Mums Know tour and recognised the set up as being Giffords! Naturally I had to ask the Bikers if they'd seen it and tell them how amazing it is and that everyone should go. Well, I accosted them as they were rehearsing and enthused about the circus. I was pretty much dragged off by a very polite BBC employee who was telling me they were rehearsing and was feigning interest in my ranting! I may have come across slightly psychotic! (I blame my mother for that!!) Ah well, no matter!

So I have finally done some bunting! I have to admit that it looks pretty good. It's quite tedious to make, what with cutting the triangles, ironing the tape, pinning and sewing but I was quite proud of myself despite it being simple sewing as it looked so nice. Well, my FH has bought himself an old hand turned Singer to fix the sails on his boat so he got sewing too!!! Can you believe it!?! What is the World coming to? Him - sewing!? I ask you!?? Well, he even fixed his leather jacket so he's very proud of himself as well. And well done him! How sad though, both of us sitting sewing of an evening!

So now I need to get the cream bunting done and the odd shapes one and that'll be finished! I've also got a bag I want to make and some cushions to make for my neices that I haven't got around to doing yet. So lots of evenings sewing to look forward to! So rock 'n' roll, I know! Maybe I can get FH to do some too. 
I'm collecting little jars for the jam and piccalilli I made for the favours and have decided that our table centres will just be tea lights in jam jars! Not very exciting you're thinking but I got some etching cream and am going to etch the jars. I tried it on one and it looks OK! You can't really tell from the picture but it says Love. I'm thinking it's appropriate for a wedding! A little bile inducing I know! Anyway, I showed it to the FH and it brought a tear to his eye. Bless! Well, I'm getting there. I need to think about invitations at some point and get them made and I really need to start thinking about a dress. All in good time!
Right, well, off to put the roast on - it is Sunday after all so a roast dinner with yorkies and all the trimmings it must be! I love lazy Sundays! Mmmmm......

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Puddings, puddings, puddings!

So I haven't really got very far with any of my projects....although I have actually finished the pin board. Ribbins are glued, buttons are covered and attached and I have to say, I'm quite pleased. Yay!

We've had a busy week and a pretty hectic weekend. Saturday morning was spent cooking for my Uncle's 70th party. I said I would bring some puddings so ended up doing a pavlova (a massive one that is!!!!), 8 egg whites and it was so massive I couldn't find a plate/dish big enough. The problem was eventually solved by me shoe-horning it onto a huge platter that I made last year at a pottery class I briefly attended. Phew for the pottery class! It was all worth it though as one lady told me it was the best one she'd ever tasted and that was before she knew I'd made it. Result! Anyway, I also made some peanut-butter cups (think Reece's) that FH and his son managed to devour half of before we even got there. A success I think! The banoffee pie that I did, didn't have long enough in the fridge so the base crumbled a bit. Well, that got left behind so we've just munched through half of that after our Sunday roast. I love Sundays!

We went to the Battle of Britain Show today at the Cotswold Airport. Met a lovely woman with her kids and her husband who had been a Marmite Soldier in a Marmite advert in a previous life. How cool? I love Marmite! It was a great show! A Lancaster Bomber, with a Spitfire and a Hurricane! Amazing.

Now for another busy week. The FH is away for a couple of days and I'm working away at the beginning of the week. I'll have to get onto the case of bunting next week though....and investigating how to do the wreath. Oh, and my etching cream came yesterday so I'll get etching!

I'll let you know how it all goes presently! Til then......

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Work gets in the way!

I haven't got anywhere today! Work just seems to get in the way of things you really want to do! But I have been watching the Great British Bake Off this evening and it's been the pastry challenge this week. Now I just feel like I should go and make lots of pastry things.

It started with pies - and who doesn't like a good pie? - and then went on to Cornish pasties. I have never made a Cornish pasty. So, that's next on my list of things to do!! Not too peppery, lots of meat, and did you know that the pastry on Cornish pasties isn't your normal shortcrust?

Well, they moved on to sweet pastry tarts and canapes and boy did the sweet pastries look good! The canapes got me thinking that we should have a little soiree soon! Partly because we haven't done it for so long but partly because I want to have a reason to bake! I can't make lots of pastry at home or we'll all end up as big as houses!

FH is off on a business trip tomorrow and won't be back until late so hopefully I'll get lots done and finally my bunting will get finished! Hmm..... she says!?!? I've also got a 4 hour commute for work tomorrow and I'm up at 6am so I might not actually get anything done tomorrow.

Well, til then.....

Monday, 13 September 2010

Making progress!

So after my first blog post yesterday, I thought I had better actually make some progress on my projects and also take a few snaps to show you.

This is the pin board so far (which will also be our table plan). FH thinks the glue gun is in the office so I haven't quite finished sticking it together and there are some covered buttons to go on as well. Obviously the ribbons need straightening up before glueing too! It looks OK though so I think it'll become my notice board in the kitchen after the wedding.

All surprisingly girlie for me really, but in keeping with the vintage theme.

I also got some swatches of Cath Kidson material for my bunting and some cream remnants, so spent last night drawing round the template and cutting it all out with pinking shears........

....on with the sewing tonight hopefully! Uh...tomorrow night actually - we have something on tonight. Anyway, soon! I'll post some pics when it's all finished.

I've got 2 lots of bunting to do - this traditional style but also another one just done with invisible thread which uses difference shapes so is really great for using up odds and ends. Well, I say'll be the first time I make it so it could look really rubbish and be a complete waste of using up odds and ends! We'll see.....crossed fingers!

I have some really lovely material that again, was in the remnants tub which I think I may have to make into a wrap/shawl (should just be able to put a rolled hem on the edges so quite straight forward I am hoping!).

I'll only use about half of the material though so any ideas for what to do with the rest would be gratefully received! It's a voile type material with a lovely embroidered pattern. Very simple but very lovely.

Hopefully the pics will give an idea of what I'm trying to acheive. What I think I am trying to acheive anyway, there's nothing to say that I'll actually get that far. I'm really not very good at sewing and the like....or seeing things through to completion! So wish me luck!! 'Til the next time........

Sunday, 12 September 2010

My First Blog

Well after reading loads of other blogs for creative ideas and hints with things I've wanted to make, I thought it was about time to create my own blog! I won't guarantee that it'll be all that interesting and probably won't be funny in the slightest but I'll update it now and again and hope it'll be well received!

I'm getting married next April so I'm trying to create and make as much as I possibly can to keep the costs down. I also like pottering around the kitchen making whatever springs to mind and try to use things I can find locally - sloes in autumn, blackberries from the hedgerow, greengages donated from a neighbour.

I'm currently in the process of making a pin board to use as our table plan for the wedding and have recently made plum jam and picallili to use for our favours. The plums are wild that my future husband (fh) found when he was walking the dog. He wasn't sure what they were so I went and had a taste... low and behold, wild plums! Of course, he couldn't believe that I'd just eaten one but what's a girl to do!?! Anyway, we walked the dog bearing ladders and secateurs and brought home a loot of wild plums. I've now made them into jam and I have to say, it's possibly the best jam I've ever made. Whoever said that you didn't need to worry stoning them as the stones would rise in the cooking and could be skimmed, lied! I spent ages filtering out all the stones. Can you imagine giving jam to people as your favours and then discovering that you'd choked an elderly relative or broken a child's tooth. Not good!
The picallili was inspired by some friends who loved the picallili I made a couple of years ago and they raved about it. So, armed with the courgette glut from the garden and a marrow donated from an allotment swamped neighbour, I got cooking. Haven't tested the picallili yet as you have to leave it a few weeks before you can but I'm hoping it turns out as well as the last one. I've got a horrible feeling that it won't as it wouldn't thicken properly. We'll see!

Anyway, I've got a few more things on the list to create.... I'd really like to make a willow heart wreath (any tips greatly appreciated!) and also etch some jam jars for our table centres - do you know how hard it is to buy etching cream?? I can't find it anywhere! I'll update you as I go. I also have a lovely Cath Kidson bag to make but I haven't got around to that as yet. I ought to get the sewing machine out and get sewing. Oh, and my bunting!!! A lovely lady sent me some swatches of vintage style material and I got some remnants to add to them. Again - I just have to get the sewing machine out and get sewing!

Well, that's an update on where I am at the moment. Here's hoping I can get loads done before Christmas hits and I have mince meat to make and christmas cake to bake.