Monday, 31 May 2010

Stylish Treasure Finds and Gardening Delight!

What a lovely Bank Holiday Monday! - did you have sunshine?
It was glorious here, we spent the morning selling our bits and bobs on the local Car Boot Sale, chatting to everyone - lots of chatting!
It was a most enjoyable morning.
And the Treasure to be found!
Just look at my lovely pinky coloured, shabby old mirror - I just love it. I have spent a goodly amount of time walking around the house with it, to see where it will look 'at home'. Its nicely 'chippy' and the glass lightly foxed - just so very me! very like me some would say - a bit 'chippy' and very often shabby!
The bargin of the day had to be the Chanel No 19 Eau De Toilette - an new unopened box for £4! I think I just fell lucky, a nice little old lady had just put it on her stall. She had a number of different scents -unused, boxed - presents she had never used.
Well! - Manna from Heaven!
I wear Chanel daily - I know sounds posh - but I do. Its my one weakness! And Hubby P is so kind, he keeps me in the sweet smelling stuff.
So a great day treasure huntin, and we made a few pennies selling our chattles!
A good weekend altogether really - Hubby P won £10 on the Lottery - we celebrated by spending some of it on a Magnum icecream lolly each - we know how to live in the Allsorts household!
And then this afternoon he came home with this - great excitement!

I know - to you its just an old tin bath!

But to me it is an ideal deep bed planter for down the middle of my greenhouse. Hubby P picked it up from a friend - who knows me well and sent it for me to 'plant up'.
It even has holes already punched in the bottom - it must have been used as a planter previously.

It fits a treat in the greenhouse - Hubby P is going to build a frame for it so that it is raised up a bit - less chance of me falling over it! I'm afraid I do have a habit of tripping up in the garden.
I am enjoying my greenhouse, and the garden in general. Just love to see the the miracle of new green life pushing up through the soil.

Just look at these cute little Nasturtiums.

In no time at all the the little seedlings have grown and are flowering their little socks off!

The old pram is full to bursting with fresh green herbs - handy for cups of refreshing Lemon Balm tea, and zingy mint for those welsh lamb chops!
xxx That's all for now xxx Take care xxx

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Just a Bit 'o Jam!

Hello there, hope you are all well.
Just a simple little post tonight - just a bit 'o jam making today.
An age old skill - something women (well mostly women I would think) have done down the ages, as I stood there stirring the hot, sweet, sticky stuff I thought of all the women who have stood in 'my shoes' as it were. All through the War - such an important task - preserving all the fruit they could find, and beyond - earlier and earlier. No doubt someone somewhere can tell us the earliest recorded jam making session!
I learned my jam making at my Grandmothers knee - where did you learn yours?
I know traditionally, maybe jam is made in the autumn to make good use of all the fruit available in the hedgerows, orchards and gardens, but looking in my freezer last night I decided modern day drastic action was needed.
I was doing a shop Online - so checking the cupboards, fridge, freezer and whatnot - and decided I really need to clear whats in the freezer before buying more. So I hauled out all the bags of fruit that had been carefully stashed in there last Autumn.

What a mixture I found - blackberries, damsons, sloes, apples, rhubarb and black currants!

All frozen solid of course, and not looking too appealing - but just fine for some 'mixed fruit jam/jelly!

I put them all in the jam pan to defrost overnight.
This morning I I put a cup full of water with them and gave them a good slow stew - to release all that lovely juice. I don't like bits in my jam so I make 'jelly' - I hang all the stewed fruit in a bit of muslin cloth the extract the juice.

Isn't it just a wonderful colour!

Look how it stains the muslin - so pretty.

Anyway - back to the jam! I measure the strained juice and add 1lb sugar for every pint of juice - dead easy. Put juice and sugar back into the clean jam pan -

give it a jolly good stir (over the heat) and make sure the sugar mixes in well.

Bring to the boil, and give a good rolling boil for a few minutes ( 10 minutes) and test for setting.
I put a little on a cold plate leave to cool for a couple of minutes, and if when you push the 'jam' with your finger the top 'wrinkles' - and the jam looks thick - like jam - surprisingly! your jam is ready to put into jars. If its still runny boil a bit longer and test again.

I sterilise my jars by giving a good wash and putting in a warm oven - just pull them out when ready to full with lovely fruity jam!

I saved a bit of the fruit pulp for the chickens - they do so enjoy a bit of fruit!

Even the bunnies were having a taste!
Lets hope its pepped up the old egg laying - they are a bit lacking in that department at the moment, mind you they are all 'Old Dears' nowadays. Maybe I need a couple of youngsters to liven them up.
Anyway a few jars of yummy jam, more room in the freezer, and happy chickens - a Good Day!!
xxx Take care for now xxx

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Geoffrey Update and Treasure Transformations!

Evening all - hope you all had a nice day, are you ready for the Heatwave?
We will all be moaning about the heat next!
Just a little Geoffrey Update - Hubby P managed to get some good pic's of them this evening.

just smellin' the flowers!

Havin a nibble of something tasty!

Just chillin on the fence!
The Geoffrey family seem to be doing just fine, its hard to say how many there are of them - funnily enough there is a great resemblance amongst them, indeed! - they all look the same! I think Dad is still a touch bigger - and friendlier.
Anyway you will be glad to know, all is well in the Geoffrey household, and its costing me a small fortune in peanuts and Nairns Organic Oatcakes - simply a must for their supper!
This weeks carboot Treasure - a dinky little set of drawers, a bit battered and shabby - but delightfully so.
Now I've been wanting to replace the large chest of drawers in our bedroom, its a bit too big and to be honest it just holds a lot of - well - junk really. The sort of stuff I buy on a whim - would I ever really wear pink popsocks! And I know for a fact that there are a pair of swimming trunks circa 1980 in Hubby P's drawer - I've seen him wear them once - when we took the children on holiday to a Holiday Camp. Its the only time I've seen him in the water - not a natural environment for Hubby P - and it must be said Swimming trunks are not a look he 'Carry's well', so they can go.
So I was pleased to find this little chest - it just needed a little work - a little magic - a bit of a Vicky transformation.
It was sunshining to day so I set to with the paint.

Gave it a good sand down.
And a good few coats of paint - to match the four poster bed we bought a few months ago - I want light coloured furniture because the room is naturally dark with having the small cottage window set in deep walls.
I gave the draw fronts a little added interest with a decoupage of vintage-y papers.

Everything dried really well, and quickly with the nice sunshine!

I greased the runners of the draws with beeswax to help them slide in and out easily - there is nothing worse than draws which stick.

Quite happy with the result - just got to empty and declutter the original chest - throw the trunks - and who knows what other 'originals' he has hidden away amongst his 'smalls'!
Then I can install the new set and maybe there will be room 'to swing a cat' in the bedroom!

Busy in the garden - I sent for some winter veg seedlings/plugs (this was before the miracle of the greenhouse) - just got them off ebay - wonderful ebay, purveyor of just about everything!
I sent for some interesting red coloured Brussels sprouts and red/purple coloured kale - not that I have mentioned the word 'kale' to Hubby P, it may have to be disguised in some exotic dish - I have a feeling he may think of it as on a par with eating nettles.

Now because I insist on growing only pretty things, I don't have veg beds as such - I grow bits and bobs amongst my flowers - so the winter veg (to be spoken of as such - not the K word) is in the garden bed outside the kitchen window. Hopefully I can keep an eye on it - try and prevent the little plants being eaten by slugs, snails and hungry caterpillars!

And it should give some pretty winter colour.

This rhubarb is amongst the plants too - It really is ready to be made into something deliciously pudding-y!
xxx That's all for now xxx Take care xxx

Monday, 17 May 2010

Pink To Make The Boys Wink!

Hello there! Hope everyone is hunky dory!
Sorry its been a while since the last posting - did you think I had fallen off the edge of the earth?
Well the world has been turning pretty fast for me - where do the days go to? I just seem to have been so busy, but busy in a good way!
Anyway lots of pretty photos on this blog, bits and bobs of the Allsorts doings ---
First and foremost - find of the week, I swear I think I had palpitations when I saw this lovely PINK fabric...... its BRIGHT PINK in 'real life' as it were - photos dimmed it a bit.

This piece is just half of the original piece (I used half for the curtain below) its new unused real retro toweling fabric - I just love the bright jauntiness of it. And all for the princely sum of £2!
I just had to think of something to use it for - so I settled for a razzle dazzle curtain in the bathroom (hides the washing machine).

It looks bright and cheerful - just need a few pink-y things to help it 'settle' and blend into the rest of the decor - I need to go a hunting for some pink bits and bobs, and maybe some pink towels.
Maybe make some facecloths from the same fabric.
Well the greenhouse is coming on well - another lucky find on Tuesdays carboot - it necessitated a quick gettin hold of as the seller was emptying his van. I think it was/is the sort of racking florists use to display their wares. Lovely shabby chic stuff - very me anyway!
Hubby P was pleased - although what a farce trying to fasten it on top of the van - I did make a point of saying to Hubby P how he was getting very good at this loading the van buisness and strapping things on the roof (we do have roof bars) - need everyone to have job satisfaction and happy in their work! lol!

He was happy because it means he doesn't have to build me greenhouse staging from wood - a job less. Still got to finish the sides of the greenhouse - we are hoping some suitable wood will show up - been to the tip this weekend but there was nothing suitable. Something will show up - it always does!

As you can see I have lots planted up.

This other wire staging stuff we picked up on Sunday - it was actually an old 1970's camping/cooking rack, its ideal for holding my buckets of tomatoes.
Does the job! All cheap and cheerful!

Other finds - a wonderful old Aladdin paraffin greenhouse heater for when the nights turn chilly - try and extend the growing season, and a wonderful old metal cupboard to keep my gardening tools and whatnot in. Hubby P will take the legs off the cupboard and then it and the heater should fit underneath a shelf cum 'staging' - more room for plants!

How about this for jolly wheels!!!

Just a £1 - gives me a bit more Independence going round the carboot - I am not supposed to carry things (even a bit of veg in a carrier bag gives me problems) so Hubby P usually hangs around to carry my Treasures. But this wonderful 'Wheelie War Wagon' means I cart my own finds - frees us up a bit. Although It does take a bit of getting use to, I have nearly 'taken out' a couple of young fellas trying to push past me - caught by the ankles with the ol' War Wagon!
Death by War Wagon - or at least a crippling injury!

Cutie Photo....

Baby bunnies are all well grown now and as cute as cute - almost ready for me to find new homes. I've made a 'Baby Bunnies For Sale' sign to put out by the gate - usually we get local people enquiring.

And a few pretty garden pic's..... just because.....

I just love Aliums, and they are the most wonderful rich purple colour.

We seem to have a lot of Stocks this year - maybe I scattered a lot of seed - I can't remember, but they smell heavenly!

And delightful Welsh Poppies - I have trouble growing these, but this little patch comes every year - can't get it to grow anywhere else in the garden though!
xxx Take care for now xxx Bedtime for me xxx

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Pretty Lilacs and Greenhouse Progress!

Ahhhhhh the lovely Lilac - lazy summer days must be on the way!
What is it about lilac - so very lovely, yet some say it is unlucky to bring it into the house. Why is that? Whats behind the folk law - anyone know?
Can you see my old wood basket - its almost hidden now amongst the lush growth. These pretty aliums are the bulbs I planted in the basket - cheapo ones from the 'Pound shop'. lots of purple-y flowers about at the moment.

How was your weekend - I believe lots of people/bloggers had rain. We didn't although it has been a bit chilly, lots of blue sky and sunshine today.
We stood the carboot sale today (had a stall - to sell ) we do so enjoy the social aspect, having a chat to people, sat in the sunshine, just watchin the world go by! We made a bit extra cash so that was ok - more money for greenhouse wood - wood is sooooo expensive, and the price of good woodstain is shocking!

I have to save pennies wherever I can so today when we took some rubbish to the tip/recycling centre I had my usual sneaky look in the skips - again I was appalled at the waste - perfectly good things thrown away. Anyway i had a quick dip in and retrieved these seed tray/plantpot thingies.

Just fine after a good wash.
I was a bit short of seed raising things - when my last greenhouse had to go/fell to pieces I freecycled a lot of my pots and trays - but now!
Soon I will be back in business - seed raising and potting on with Gusto!!

I transplanted a couple of cucumbers I had bought into these rather nice buckets - I have no big pots (must find some at the carboot, there's usually lots there) and to be honest the buckets rather please me - I like the look of them, and the clunky - utility of them. Despite the fact that I fell over them and bruised all my leg!

As you can see they are stood inside the half finished greenhouse along with the tomatoes etc that are waiting for their new home! - Not that there is any 'Pressure' to finish the greenhouse!!

To be fair we did do quite a bit on the greenhouse this weekend - its time we lack - so much to do so little time!

I have stained the inside woodwork - what a job! all those windows!
And Hubby P and I - acting assistant, put some of the roofing sheets on, which nearly ended in a visit to Accident & Emergency! Hubby P - rather than get the step ladders deciding he would be 'just fine' standing on an old rickety table and promptly fell through it!
He said 'did you see me swing Tarzan like from the beams to land gracefully- uninjured' - well No!
My view was that you landed like a ton of bricks wrapping the saw around your leg! How he managed to avoid another injury i don't know - anyway now we have the stepladder to hand!

So its all coming to nicely.

Like I said we had a stall at the carboot and took it in turns to have a wander around and a good root in the boxes. Surprisingly little to take my fancy - lots of stalls selling children's clothes and toys - not my thing.

I did find a couple of pieces of nice fabric 50p each -

Lengths of pretty cotton, I will put them away until I am 'inspired' - or rather I will think 'that's pretty - that'll do!'

xxx That's all for now folks - take care xxx

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Geoffrey Winner! Eighteenth Centurey Nettle Soup and the Latest Exciting Project!

Well - Hello there!
Sorry - this is a bit of a long winded post - lots of photo's though!
Hope everyone is well - sorry its been a while since the last post - its all been a bit hectic around here!
What with Hubby P's manky bad leg, Family to stay (Robert and Gary) over the Bank Holiday and all the usual - too much to do so little time!
I managed to put the names in a hat for the Geoffrey badge/badges (I made another one) -
Da da - Tra la - And the Winner is/winners are :-
Kath at Juicy Fig (
Decadent Housewife at (
So Ladies - you Lucky Things You! A Geoffrey badge will be winging its way to you as soon as you send me your address details!
Geoffrey's very own Number One Fan's!

I received a thrilling present this weekend (early Birthday present - or bribe? not too sure of the possible motive?).
Non the less - thrilling, a wonderful - just can't put it down book.

Its very basically about a lady - Fiona J Houston who decides to live for twelve months as if she were living in the Eighteenth Century - fascinating reading. She re-establishes an old cottage with all the furnishings, pots pans and whatnot of the Eighteenth century, grows the relevent crops, makes her own gowns and petticoats - etc.
I find it all so interesting - and the book has lots of receipts for typical dishes, and instructions/ 'how to' make everyday items - string from nettles, ink from oak apples. Wonderful stuff!

This is Fiona dressed in her petticoats doing the laundry!
So - thus inspired - and immediately wanting to run away and live in the Eighteenth Century
- I just had to try the Nettle soup!
Now I must say it isn't really a new thing for me - we have eaten nettles a few times. Usually when I have been on a 'health kick' as Hubby P calls it, I would rather say - eating Healthily - Nettles are full of iron and vitamins - its something to do with their roots reaching down a long way and sourcing all the good nutrients from the soil.

So here we are - first pick your nettles (I picked a good colander full) - you want young nettles - or just the tops. Wash well, you can see I have discarded the tough stems.

Fry a couple of onions in a good knob of butter (I used some shallot-y things I had in the veg basket) Until they soften, add your nettles and 'wilt' - I added a splash of water and put a lid on the pan.

Peel and chop up small, some potatoes - I added a bit of butternut squash too, add this to the nettles with a good 1 1/2 pints of water (I added a veg stock cube too - not that for a minute I think they had stock cubes in the eighteenth century!)
Then bring to the boil and simmer until potatoes are soft - I seasoned well with salt and pepper too.

Now you cant have a good soup with out some nice bread - so I had made some earlier in the day, nice and crusty - ideal for soup.

Once your potatoes are cooked through take either your masher if you are staying true to your eighteenth century soup - and mash like fury, or - as in my case, reach for your trusty blender - and give it a good whizz!

Eat bowlfuls of it with bread and lashings of butter! It is very tasty - I urge you all to try it!
It has yet to be launched on Hubby P - he was a little dubious when he peered in the bowl, although I reminded him we had eaten it before, and he tried a little spoonful from my bowl and declared it ' Splendid!'
And such wonderful health giving properties (don't know about the huge amounts of butter on the bread - but its a start!).

Now the exciting project!!
Hubby P came home with these!

Lots and lots of windows - given to him by a friend who had intended to make a greenhouse, but decided against it. So - Hubby P says 'do you fancy a greenhouse' - 'Ooooo Yes Please' says I!
I had one for years and it was so useful - grew wonderful stuff, but sadly it died a death and we pulled it down before it fell down.
Well luckily we had lots of strapping young men (all home grown) visit for the Bank Holiday, and they - as keen as ever to help out Poor Hubby P with the Manky Leg - decided to set to and build the greenhouse.
As you can see it needed much standing with hands on hips - hard thinking to utilise the windows in the best way.

Much holding of bits of wood, playing - Ops sorry - that should be 'Using' the cordless drill.

As you can see they did remarkably well - I think its all to do with the amount of tea they drank - kept the brain refreshed and 'drilling power' up!

They did all this in an afternoon - as you can see the sun was getting low in the sky - they didn't stop until it was almost dark!
The next day they built another section (the front with the doorway), we - Hubby P and I, have been left to put the roof on, hopefully this week - I have bought the tomato plants - not that there is any pressure to get it finished you understand!!

Charlie cat was sat watching us - its a grand life!
I will keep you posted - hopefully have the tomatoes in soon, how yummy, home grown tomatoes!
xxx Must be bed time! Bye for now! xxx