Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Winter's Day Project (Runway)

If I could, I'd like to spend all day, every day, making things for my home, from clothes and meals through to furniture and wallpaper etc - everything.

For the past three years or so I've been on the lookout for a coat pattern to make, and today I finally found one! Actually I found it online last night, and bought it today during my weekly John Lewis trip.

I like the first and middle coats best and will probably make the first coat but extend it to the length of the second coat. But I think it's the kind of project for a winter's day, when Hagos is on tour, and I can shut the door, light the fire, put Pride and Prejudice on the TV and take over the whole of the living room and kitchen and spend two whole days making it.

Now I just have to source some lovely material to make it in. I really like well-made tweeds with shots of brilliant colour.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Bramble Jam!

Here it is!!! My Bramble Jam. It's only taken me ten years of intending to make it to actually get round to making it.

I eventually found a really simple recipe online. Basically equal weights of brambles to sugar, with a bit of water thrown in. It only took about 20 minutes from start to finish.
I just tasted some on a piece of toast and it was definitely the best jam I've ever tasted.

I'm tempted to skirt the country lanes over the next few days to get some more brambles to make more jam. But realistically I don't actually need any more jam, I just like making it and having it.

I am very impressed by how well it set. I used sugar pectin and that obviously helped. Very happy with my jam :)

Hagos says we should call it Bramble and Maggot Jam, but only three maggots appeared when I thoroughly washed the blackberries, then put lights on them to try to drive the maggots out :)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Blackberry (Jam)

These are the blackberries I picked today to make my (in)famous Bramble Jam.

Every year since I've lived in Norfolk I've promised to make Bramble Jam, inspired by the amount of blackberries that line the back lane near my house. And today, ten years after moving here, I finally picked enough blackberries to make what I expect will be a modest amount of jam. I'm anticipating two jars.

I picked a small bowl of blackberries from the bush at the bottom of my shared driveway. We share a driveway with our next door neighbours, and last week I saw my neighbour picking some blackberries. So this week my neighbours are on holiday and the blackberries are all mine. Unfortunately there weren't enough, but luck was on my side when I was driving back from my mechanic's today. The country lane was FULL of blackberries. I parked up and snaffled as many as would fit into my hastily-constructed paper tray.

So tomorrow I will buy sugar pectin (or jam-making sugar) and make up a small batch. I don't eat much jam anyway so a couple of jars will be plenty. Perhaps I'll give the second jar to a lucky friend or relative.

My first port of call for a recipe was Mrs Beeton's, but she only had a recipe for blackberry and apple jam. After a bit of research online I realised it's because blackberries are low in natural pectin, so adding the apples helps the jam set. Hence the need to buy sugar pectin.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

My Bounty

This is what I picked today from my vegetable tubs. I will definitely have to have a meal that includes tomatoes today or tomorrow.
And this is my tub of beetroot and carrots. It probably wasn't a good idea to plant them like this, but I didn't really expect them to grow! I'm hoping to get a good crop now.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Calvin and Keigan

I've been up and down to Scotland a couple of times in the last month, my Sat Nav giving me the confidence to drive for seven hours by myself! (A stop halfway at Wetherby for a delicious Costa mocha and lunch from M&S helps.)

On the second visit I met my newest great nephew, Calvin (photo below) and gave him these items I'd knitted specially for him. I particularly love the stripy socks above.
The completed pullover above with matching socks below!
I'm not sure if the matching socks were a good idea or not. So long as they fit and keep his legs and feet warm come winter, I guess that's the important thing. The wool for this is Debbie Bliss Cashmerino. It knits up fairly thickly.
This is Calvin at two weeks old. Very sweet. I particularly liked his little hairy ears. The hair will apparently drop off before very long, but I thought the hairy ears were charming.And Keigan with all his cars. He's obsessed by any kind of motor vehicle: toy cars and buses, real cars and buses, photos of cars and buses.

Well, it's 4 o'clock in the morning. Time to go back to bed.

Friday, August 07, 2009

My First Ever Tomato

Isn't this the most beautiful tomato you've ever seen? It's my first one and I was very excited about plucking and eating it.

I mean, I know vegetables grow but it seems so much more amazing to watch it happening myself. As my friend Janie said, "It almost makes you believe in God." Yup.
And I was also excited to see my first ever chilli. Given a dire attempt to grow chillis indoors last year, this is quite an achievement. Can't wait to cook with it.

My beetroot and carrots are also blossoming. More wonderful veg to follow.

Saturday, August 01, 2009


Last night I went to see the film, Coco Avant Chanel at Cinema City in Norwich. I really enjoyed it, though I was hoping the film would include more about her design process. Anyway, I wish I'd taken my camera because afterwards we went to the Belgian Monk and had Dutch Coffee, which is coffee, with a tiny glass of advocat and cream, and a biscuit. It was delicious. And for some reason it didn't keep me awake all night. Must've been because I'd got up at half six in the morning to go to work. It was really nice to see Mo and Bev, and to have a half glass of wine.
The first half of today was a bit of a non-day for me. Apart from half an hour of panic looking for the car insurance so I could renew the car tax, I didn't have any energy to do anything. I didn't even have the energy to do nothing, so I mostly mooched around in limbo. I suddenly pounced into action at half three, washed my hair, gathered my books together, and cycled to the Station, intending to sit in the cafe and read and write. But closing time at the Station on a Saturday is 4pm, so I was only able to buy a bottle of ginger beer before cycling home again.

This evening I made a few meringues. I wanted something sweet but not chocolatey. I do love the meringue recipe from Jane Brocket's book, Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer. It makes perfect meringues, just the right gooeyness on the inside.

Hagos is home tomorrow for four whole days!!! I'm very excited.