Friday, 9 December 2011

Piccalilli, Packing and Presents

Well, as the title says I have been busy making, washing and ironing and wrapping.  We are getting ready to go back to the UK so I have to finish off everything here.  The first thing we did was make some piccalilli and it is amazing how the colour changes during the process.  Oh my goodness though, how it made my eyes smart while stirring the sauce.   I assume it was the mustard and turmeric that did that.  Fun though and now the shelves in my larder are beginning to groan under the weight of chutneys and jams etc.

Just with the vinegar

A little further on

Stingy eyes sauce nearly ready

Voila - 8 jars of piccalilli
I have to say I was surprised with the colour, because when you buy it in the shops it is very yellow and this is quite a lot darker.  I suppose it's no colouring, preservatives etc.  The only problem is, you have to leave it for 3 months before you try - well that's what they say.

I have now finished wrapping all the Christmas presents that I have here though I have a lot in the UK waiting to be wrapped, but at least I'm ahead of the game for once.  Also, my head is buzzing with ideas of what to make for next year.  I certainly need to start sooner so come February, I will start choosing what needs to be done.  You heard it here ....... will it happen?  Who knows.  Good intentions though.

Slowly becoming friends
As you can see our little kitten Sooty has settled in really well.  He is adorable and the two of them have a lot of fun together but also, the fur flies sometimes because he is such a tinker and keeps jumping on Sophie and play fighting.  He has also got the hang of using the cat flap so we have no worries when we are back in the UK, they both now have a bolt hole and their own little french farmhouse.

Now I need to get my head around what I need to pack for over the Christmas holidays.  We are staying for most of January as it is Vicki's 40th birthday so we need to take quite a bit of warm clothing with us.  I hate and detest the packing part of going back to the UK, I seem to be doing it all the time.

Take care everyone, much love to my family who are reading this and see you soon.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Handmade Christmas??

It has been such a long time since I have posted and now I have to try and remember what I have been doing.  Well ............. the main and most important thing is me FLYING to the UK to stay with Vicki and the children for a couple of weeks.  Not so important ???  It is to me because I am absolutely petrified of getting on a plane, but Vicki made a throw-away comment about how she would like me to be there with her while Bill was away and I thought, could I?  I was very lucky in that a friend of mind was returning to the UK so I flew back with her but I came back on my own!!  I am very proud of myself and would I do it again??  Watch this space.

Needless to say I had a wonderful time while I was there and one Saturday when Vicki was working at a Christmas Fair I had the girls to myself so decided that was the day to make the Christmas puddings.  We had great fun and did a lot of stirring and flicking of ingredients all over the place and the kitchen was smelling wonderful.  Of course the best part of making Christmas puddings is stirring and making a wish at the same time.  We did this a few times and then we called Grampie, who was still in France, and William stirred while Grampie made a wish, the girls each had Clare and Kenny, they stirred while they made a wish.  It was left then overnight to soak up all the ale and brandy and then daddy came home and stirred and wished as well, so you never know, next year could be a good year!!  I did some cross-stitch while I was there, I also wrote all my Christmas cards and did most of my present shopping as well, so all in all, a very good visit.

Home now and back to the making of presents.  I am trying to make as many as possible this year and to be honest I am enjoying it.  I made a good start while we were staying with Clare and Kenny in September and since then I have made some more.  Obviously I can't show you all of the things I have made otherwise it won't be a surprise for the recipients!!

2 cheeky little sock monkeys.  One by me, one by Clare

2 little rag dollies, both by me
It's funny isn't, I did one of these dollies while I was staying with Clare and Kenny, it is Clare's pattern and she has the templates but how to make it up was in her head.  While with her, I managed it, but doing one on my own back here was a nightmare, I just had a mental block.  But ........ many phone calls to a very patient daughter later, I finally finished the one on the left today.  Whew!!  I didn't think one of the recipients was going to get one.  Needless to say, I have now written down my version of the instructions and hopefully I will be able to make another one some time, should the need arise.  Don't hold your breath Clare.

The weather here is glorious, very sunny and quite warm, but the mornings and evenings are cold.  Just perfect for autumn.  Both the cats are running about outside and the little one especially is finding his way about.

Is it a dove? Is it a Snowy Owl? No - it's a kitten, pretending to hide on a misty morning!!
 Does he really think they are going to come to the feeders with him sitting there in all his glory?  Bless him, perhaps that's what he wished for when I was mixing the puddings!!

I'm off now to make some biscuits, we are off to church in the morning for the first Sunday in Advent and we are all taking a bring and share lunch.

Take care everyone, will talk again soon.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Meet Little Kitten

I thought I would post and introduce you to our new addition.  Once again, this kitten was found in a friend's garden and although she was desperate to keep him/her/it, she has lost 4 already on the busy road she lives on before they reached a year old and she wasn't prepared to go through the pain again.

It was brilliant because we have just had very good friends staying here for a week and they are cat lovers so we were able to go and pick up "little kitten" while they were with us.  As you can imagine, time is just wasted while watching the antics of the kitten and meeting our Sophie.  Here are some photos for you which Brian very kindly took for us.

Little kitten about 8 or 9 weeks old

Very naughty - found some bread on the table.  Not allowed up there!!

Mmmmm...  licking lips, very nice

Peek-a-boo - who are you

Shall we play?  Please don't hurt me
Haven't settled on a name yet, our friend had called her Lily, as in Lilliput, but we think she is a he.  Could we still call her Lily if she is a boy?  Such a cute name though.  Others we have been given is Sooty!!, Snowy, Sacha and Putty as in Lilliputty....Clever though I'm SURE our vet here in France wouldn't get that at all.

We have had the most amazing week with our friends and nearly every tree and shrub in the garden has been pruned, chopped, tidied and made beautiful.  Herb bed has been weeded by Di and they have loved it.  You can't go wrong with friends like that can you?  Just being yourselves and not having to try to be anyone else.  I will certainly miss them and can't wait for them to visit again.

A bit of shopping at the local weekly market
Well, once again, that's it for now.  Love to everyone reading this, especially my family.  Will post again soon.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Chilling out

I thought I would just post a few photos so you can see what a lovely time we are having here with Clare and Kenny.  The weather hasn't been great so far but it hasn't stopped us from doing anything and I have got a couple of projects completed, which is amazing for me!! 

It's strange isn't it how different your children can be and the different times you have when staying with them. Richard and I are very lucky in that way because we get to stay with them when we are back in the UK and have good quality time with them.  With Vicki and family, apart from the lovely catching up time we have, we have of course got the children and they keep us on our toes and we absolutely love being with them; the cuddles in the morning and the stories at night time are not to be missed.  We also go to church with them, as a family, and that's quite special as well.  We feel very privilaged also to feel part of their group of friends, and they have lots of them and that always helps keep you feeling young.  I even get to go on "girlie" evenings or lunches which is great fun.  Then with Clare and Kenny, we have lots of walks, doing craft and mooching around "crafty" shops which I absolutely love, poor Kenny always sorts out our computer problems without EVER complaining and just being able to sit on the rocks or beach and watch nature at work.  Brilliant.

Clare and Kenny's raspberries being made into jam

Catching up with breath-taking scenery

The power of mother nature

Well deserved treat after our walk

Clare trying out my sewing machine
A very old but wonderful Bernina

2 projects completed so far
Well, that's about it for now, should any of my family be reading this, especially the "Smith" family, I hope all is going well.  Jess, I'm sure you are enjoying yourself at your new college, can't wait to hear all about it.  Briony, good luck at Uni, I hope you settle in soon, knowing you, it won't take long.  Clare and Kenny are looking forward to seeing you at their house.  Charlie, I guess this is going to be a tough year for you at school so good luck.  Hi to everyone else.

I am now going back to my knitting while Clare is working, perhaps I will be able to finish something else while I'm here!!

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Cornwall and Craft - Family and Fun

Well, here we are in Cornwall staying with Clare and Kenny and the rain hasn't really stopped since we arrived.  Do I care??  No because Clare and I are having such fun crafting.  The first project is a little rag dolly which Clare has made before but I have to take my hat off to her because all she got were a few bits of paper cut outs as you will see from the photo, but with no instructions whatsoever, so here I go .............

I suppose it's a start !!!!!

Off we go

2 arms and 2 legs for each of us

Always full of fun

Looking a bit deflated, dolly not me!!!!!

Enough for one day, more tomorrow
I am having the most amazing time and if I can pass on any tips to Clare that I have picked up at various workshops then that makes it even better.  It is so good working together, more so because I don't see her very often, but the best bit is seeing just how talented she is and to be honest, Clare is teaching me more than I am teaching her!!

This morning we made a batch of raspberry jam and I made a taggy for my best friend's grandchild who is due in about 3 weeks.  I wonder why it is you get the motivation to do more stuff when you have someone to do it with.  I know I do "stuff" when I am with my mum and she certainly does more when my sister and I are about.

While I am crafting Richard is on about his 5th book!!  How often do we take the time to "just read" and of course, to snooze every now and then.

Also I have just finished the 4 books of the Twilight series and Clare has the first 3 films so of course I now know what the characters look like.  Perhaps not quite as I imagined but oh my goodness, I can't wait for the next film to come out.  Who would have thought I would have enjoyed the books so much because, let's face it, they are targetted to the teenage females but I really enjoyed them.  The escapism I suppose.

Time to go now and start thinking about colours, buttons, ribbons, threads and what to do next.  So many projects, so little time.  Oh by the way, I have knitting projects on the go at the same time.  I find it easier to knit in the evening, not so hard on the eyes.  Oh!! the joy of getting older........  Here's to tomorrow, bring it on....

Friday, 2 September 2011

Bizarre creatures - quilters

I have a very good friend over here who loves to go to charity shops and the equivalent of car boots and buys up old cotton dresses, blouses and shirts, bedding also.  She then takes it home, washes it, irons it and cuts it up.  She then spends quite a few evenings cutting up brown paper into squares and the result is this .........

A huge pile of brown paper squares

A huge pile of cotton squares
So when we have lots of paper and lots of beautiful cotton squares, what do we do with them?  We wrap the fabric around the paper and tack it on.

Part of the process
This is actually a wonderful part of the process because you come across so many different kinds of fabrics which have been dresses, shirts etc.  They are quite faded with the washing and pressing they have had in their lifetime and you can't help but wonder who was lucky enough to walk around in the amazing patterns.  Quite a few I recognize and realise that perhaps my mother-in-law had a blouse in the same fabric, or my mum has a dress in the same fabric.  It really is quite nostalgic and very satisfying.  What is even better is the fact that my friend has done the searching, the washing, the cutting and then realised she didn't want to do any more so I now have the task of trying to make a couple of quilts for my twin grandchildren.

The first 9-square of many

Squares tacked ready to sew together in piles of 50
A really nice part of the challenge is putting the colours together and blending them into quilts.  Of course the girls are very different and Millie is going to want pinks and lilacs and Jaime will go for the lellow (I know that should be yellow, but she makes it sound so much nicer) and greens.  I know I am going to have a lot of help with this when I go and stay with Clare and Kenny in a couple of weeks.  All this is hand stitched so I think I may be doing these in my sleep!!!  So much to do and I really wish I lived close to a friend of mine, Sharlene who would be able to quilt the end product for me with her special machine. So you see, quilters really are very strange, we buy fabric just to cut it up and stitch it together again.  Surely there has to be an easier way?

Bird church time again
Away from quilting now and as you can see, it's that time of year again when all the swallows are gathering before emigrating.  They fly in in their thousands and it really is an amazing sight. We are so lucky that they seem to do this within the area of our garden.  Every telephone line is absolutely full when it's time for them to leave.    When William was here, he saw all the birds on the wires and he called it "bird church" because he thought they were all sitting in their pews singing to God.  How cute is that?  It will always be bird church for us.

Friday, 26 August 2011

What a summer!!!!

It has been ages since I last posted and I have to say my feet haven't really touched the ground.  We drove mum and dad home after their fabulous stay with us, and then drove back with Vicki, Bill and family following us for an 18 day stay.  It was so good to have them with us but now............. how sad....
The swing only moves in the breeze, the tree looks empty and there is no-one to call to say they have gone up too high and can't get down, occassionaly we find and tread on little plastic animals and shout because they hurt, but most of all it is so quiet. We think we are getting used to the idea of being without our children and then I find this......

I love you too my beautiful children
These beautiful little notes, we found beside our bed one night when 2 of the children were being rather naughty and wouldn't go to sleep.  We kept hearing these little feet running about upstairs and poor mummy was getting rather annoyed.  Anyway, when we went to bed, we all had these little notes beside each side of our beds.  How can you be cross when you find these??

A couple more photos for you.....

Action man feeling rather tired
Our breakfast time now seems rather boring

The girls chilled a lot in the hammock
Thousands of pictures in my head that will stay with me always, and the children even got me swimming, and that is saying something.  I really don't do water.  All in all, a brilliant summer and I could say it has now left a huge hole, but no, we are now getting ready to go back to the UK and we will be spending a couple of weeks with Clare and Kenny in Penzance.  Oh!!!  I am SO looking forward to that.  Clare has got lots of "crafty" things planned for us to do (that's Clare and me) and I can't wait.  Richard will be keeping Kenny very busy with various computer questions etc.  I know I won't want to leave.  Clare and Kenny prepared.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

A time to cherish

I haven't been able to blog for a long time because for some reason my password just wasn't being accepted and something was wrong.  It has taken us this long to sort it out, but we would never be able to do it without Clare and Kenny.  Kenny would make the most amazing teacher because he never says anything when we keep asking the same questions over and over again, he just talks us through it again without showing any signs of giving up on us.  Thanks Kenny you are wonderful.  We are so lucky to have both of them at the end of the phone, our very own help-line.

As you may remember we went back to the UK to celebrate mum and dad's 70th wedding anniversary and here is a photo of Richard and I with our family.  Obviously mum and dad in the middle, Clare and Kenny on the left and Vicki and Bill on the right with our beautiful grandchildren on mum and dad's laps with William in the middle.

4 generations in one photo - very special
The second photo is of my dad on the first day we arrived in France.  The shorts came on and he was getting to know Sophie.  We are very lucky because Sophie doesn't hold it against us because we have been away.  I know one cat we had didn't come near us for a few days after we came back from holiday, but Sophie takes it all in her stride and she just loves it when we get back here.

A happy dad and a happy cat
This last photo speaks for itself.  This sunflower must have been planted as a seed from a bird or something because we never planted it, but oh my goodness, it is just beautiful.  I wonder if I take the seeds and plant them next year, will they be multi-headed like this one or will it revert to a single flower.  Anyone know the answer to that one?  They are such happy flowers aren't they?

All these flowers on just one stem - lots of happiness in this one
I will stop this post now, I just wanted to make sure it worked again.  I will be taking more photos to share with you.  Much love to all our family and friends.

Aims, I hope you are doing OK.  Will write again soon.  Take care and God bless.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Last time for a while

As the title says I will be going off for a while, going back to the UK to visit family and most importantly, celebrate my parents' 70th wedding anniversary.   Should be a good party!!  I thought I would show you some of the produce that we will be missing.  Such a shame, especially my favourites, the raspberries.  Our friends gave us these canes and they are golden raspberries which I hadn't tried before, but oh my goodness, they are amazing.  Lots more as well but I won't bore you with any more photos.

Delicious lettuce

Redcurrant.  We need more bushes of these, can't do much with the fruit of just one

Golden raspberries.  One of the best tastes in the world

At least we will be back ready to harvest these beauties

I love the action of the grasses.  I want to get some more varieties
In between the garden and nursing a very sore knee I have been getting on with knitting the blankie that I mentioned in my previous blog.  It's fun to do and grows quite quickly really, considering I am such a slow knitter.  Here is a picture of how it is coming along.

Blankie - such fun to knit
Such a good way of using up excess sock wool, but don't worry, I haven't knitted that many socks, my family aren't walking around with 10 pairs of socks on!!   Most of this wool was given to me by my friend Gillie.

I will sign off now and not sure when I will be back as I can't get on line while at my parent's house.  Enjoy this good weather, even though we need some rain I know.  Love to all my family and friends and we will be seeing some of you very soon.

Aims, should you read this, I hope you are feeling better and that your hand is letting you get back to your craft.  Talk to you soon. xx

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Another good week with friends

As the title says, we have just had another very good week with lovely friends who have never visited us here before and the weather was amazing.  I only hope they enjoyed themselves and feel they would like to come again one day.  They were very generous and we had some fabulous meals out and some very yummy food bought for us.  I really should have taken a photo of one of the meals which I wasn't eager to try.  Globe Artichoke!!!  Actually I still think it is an awful lot of work for the amount of vegetable you get at the end of it, but the truth is, I liked it.  Whether or not I would cook it for Richard and I, who knows. 

Robin and Gillie after a wonderful lunch

A rare photo of me and Richard
When I was in the UK Gillie and I used to craft together, in fact it was Gillie who started me with my quilting.  We spent very many happy hours stitching, sometimes without having any conversation at all and it didn't seem to matter that we sat in absolute silence, concentrating and just enjoying the moments.  You can do that with good friends can't you?  While she was here she was showing me how to knit a blankie which seems to be all the rage at the moment and a lot of fun.  Gillie is into knitting beautiful shawls so I thought I would make her a couple of stitch markers.  First attempt and she loved them, I may have to make myself some. 

The pink angel has clear glass wings, shame you can't see them here
The weather here is still very, very hot and would you believe we have lost most of our lawn, we just have a sort of brown short hay.  So bizarre for so early in the year.  We are starting to get ourselves ready for going back to the UK as we are celebrating my mum and dad's 70th wedding anniversary on the 28th June, then hopefully if they are both well enough, we will be bringing them back here for a few weeks.

That's it for now, much love to my family and friends, especially my children.  Vicki, have a lovely half term with our beautiful grandchildren.  I wish we could have them here.

Friday, 13 May 2011

More photos than words

I can't believe the time has gone by so quickly.  No excuses for not posting except that we have had our wonderful friends Sue and Jim staying with us for a week, and we have had the most amazing time mainly relaxing, catching up and Sue and I have been crafting as well.  The weather was perfect and we had every single meal, including breakfasts, outside, so what more can I say.  Our next guests arrive on Wednesday so I will be madly cleaning again in a couple of days!!!

Now for some photos.  The first one is of a beautiful little lamb that our nephew and neice have and because they had her at 3 days old, she goes everywhere with them and she is certain she is a dog and follows Nat wherever she goes.  I had the pleasure of bottle feeding her, what a poppet.
Margurite (or Maggie) Just adorable
Sue spotted this little chap in the garden one evening.  Sorry about the quality of the photo as it was pitch dark.  Not sure what is going on with his back though ???

I just love hedgehogs

Picked this morning and loads more just waiting

A couple of needle cases

Inside of needle cases

Some lavender bags, left on a pillow for my guests
I will leave it at that today and hopefully will come back later on in the week.  Take care one and all, much love to my family and friends.