26 January 2015

Is it Spring Yet??

Wow, this is my 201st post on  my blog, I can't believe I had so much to write about :-)

There probably won't be many pictures on this post as I still have a really sore knee from a recurring ligament injury about 18 months ago and I haven't had much of a chance to get out and about. I'm sitting on the sofa watching mindless tv, my house is a mess, there are stacks of dishes in the sink that need loading into the dishwasher, the carpet is hairy because Indie is moulting all over the place and I'm grumpy because I have so much to do but I need to rest my stupid knee. I'm not very good at just sitting. I like to be doing something and there is plenty I should be doing. Still, never mind, I'm hoping that if I rest it a lot and take my pain killers, by next week it should be sorted enough to start doing stuff again. 

The weather has been crazy and all over the place this last week. One minute it's been 8 degrees and sunny like spring, the next it's minus 3 and I'm having to defrost the car before going out. The birds in my garden seem to be very happy that I'm feeding them, what with the unpredictable weather. They line up on the fence in the morning waiting for their breakfast, which made it very easy when I did my RSPB bird counting thingy this weekend. It was great fun and I will probably do it again next year. I did a lot of picture taking during the one hour slot so I could make sure that I was writing down the right birds. The trouble is, although I have a decent-ish zoom on my camera, without a tripod, which I don't have, it makes it hard to keep the camera still enough to get a decent picture. So, being ever-resourceful, I made my own stand so I could rest the camera on it to steady it enough to get a decent picture. 

If you promise not to laugh, I will show you what I used.

It's a table with a bag of cous cous on top of an upturned take-out tub on top of an upturned biscuit tin!!
Unconventional I know but it seemed to work. 
Ingenious ...... don't you think? 

I also got busy with my sewing machine last week and made some cute little bags for the market stall. I found the pattern on the internet, it was free and it is a really easy little bag to make. I did make it a bit bigger than the pattern though because I felt it was a bit small so I added an extra piece of about two inches into the pattern. 

I really like them and I hope they will prove to be a good seller on my stall. It's a difficult time of year at the market, there aren't many people around and the ones that do come to the market come for the veg and the eggs and the cakes. Unfortunately, the things on my stall don't sell very well at this time of year. I guess because people don't have much spare money after Christmas and with January being a long month and all that. 

On a much cheerier note, a friend posted this picture on my Facebook page and I thought it was very cute, although, to be honest, I don't need a starter kit, I'm already a fully paid-up member of the crazy cat lady club :-)

17 January 2015

Scones and The First Signs of Life In the Garden

The weather is cold and gloomy today and as I'm still resting my knee and not really supposed to drive much, I was at a bit of a loss when I had a sudden craving for something sweet. With this in mind, I trawled through my recipes until I found something I fancied making and came across my favourite Mary Berry scone recipe. The perfect teatime treat, quick easy and even better, I had all the ingredients already in my cupboard although, I will have to forego the clotted cream because I don't have any and I don't want to drive to the shops. 

A bit of therapeutic rubbing in of butter, a tad of stirring in of sugar, throw in some eggs and milk and hey presto ......... scones.

I couldn't find a round cutter so I made them in to saucer sized scones and then scored along the top in a cross so I could break each one into four. 

Here is the recipe if you would like to have a go. It's from here 


450g (1 lb) self-raising flour
2 rounded teaspoons baking powder
75g (3 oz) butter, at room temperature
50g (2 oz) caster sugar
2 eggs
about 225 ml (8 fl oz) milk.


The secret of good scones is not to handle them too much before baking, and to make the mixture on the wet, sticky side. Either eat scones on the day of making or freeze once they have completely cooled. If time allows, thaw them at room temperature for a couple of hours and then refresh in a moderate oven for about 10 minutes. If you like large scones, this amount of mixture will make 8-10 9cm (3 ½ inch) scones.


Preparation time: about 15 minutes
Cooking time: 10-15 minutes

Makes about 20 scones

Lightly grease two baking trays. Pre-heat the oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas 7.

Measure the flour and baking powder into a processor. Add the butter and process until a crumble, then add the sugar. Or make by hand by rubbing the butter into the flour using your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar.

Beat the eggs together until blended and make up to a generous 300ml (1/2 pint) with the milk, then put about 2 tablespoons of the egg/milk aside in a cup for glazing the scones later. Gradually add the egg/milk mixture to the dry ingredients until you have a soft dough. It is far better that the scone mixture is on the wet side, sticking to your fingers, as the scones will rise better.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and flatten it out with your hand, or use a rolling pin, to a thickness of 1-2 cm (1/2 – ¾ inch). Use a 5 cm (2 inch) fluted cutter to stamp out the dough by pushing the cutter straight down into the dough (as opposed to twisting the cutter) then lift it straight out. This ensures that the scones will rise evenly and keep their shape. Gently push the remaining dough together, knead very lightly then re-roll and cut more scones out as before. 

Arrange the scones on the prepared baking trays and brush the tops with the reserved beaten egg/milk mixture to glaze. Bake for about 10-15 minutes or until the scones are well risen and golden. Cool on a wire rack, covered with a clean tea towel to keep them moist. Serve as fresh as possible, cut in half and spread generously with strawberry jam and clotted cream.

There was also another little surprise. Lurking in my planters yesterday, amongst the frozen hail stones were some teeny tiny little shoot of green poking their way out into the frosty air. Not entirely sure what they are, daffodils I think, but I can't be certain at the moment because I found a whole bag full of mixed bulbs lurking in the cupboard and I just bunged them into my pots. They looked a bit past their best and I didn't know if they would actually grow but I guess they were very hardy little bulbs. I can't wait to see what they turn into :-)

16 January 2015

Trouble With My Tits!

At the moment, I'm sat at home resting a very swollen knee, which involves a lot of sitting on the sofa with my leg propped on a cushion and not much else. As a result, I have been very bored. So bored, in fact, that I have moved a chair over to the window and I have been snapping away at the birds on my gate posts with my zoom lens. Ahhhhhh I hear you say, a post about birds, not about boobs :-) Anyway, each morning, I put food out for them and I sit watching them as they hop excitedly around, rootling through the bird food to find the bits they like. Yesterday, on a whim, I rather rashly signed up to do the RSPB bird counting thingy at the end of January and as I was reading through the downloaded instruction booklet, it suddenly dawned on me that, other than the basics, like blackbirds, sparrows, robins and blue tits etc, I know virtually nothing about birds ..... a slight hiccup in my bird counting if I don't actually know what it is I'm counting so I decided to have a bit of a practice run. I uploaded the photos that I had taken over a couple of mornings and set about identifying them with the help of the RSPB bird identification page. I think (hopefully!!) I managed to identify a bullfinch, both male and female, a blue tit, a great tit, a robin, a chaffinch, a jay although he flew away before I managed to get a picture of him and a wren, although again, I didn't manage to get a picture of it. There were also a couple of other little birds that I couldn't quite seem to get the identification of. At first I though it was a great tit but it doesn't have the white blob on the top of it's head and so, after much internet searching and much close inspection of my pictures from as many angles as possible, it seems that the little birds are either willow tits or marsh tits. The only slight hiccup is that the only reliable way to tell which is which is either by seeing a small, pale grey spot on the beak of the marsh tit or by listening to them sing! Luckily, the mother of a friend of mine, who is a bit of a bird enthusiast, has informed me that she thinks it is a marsh tit. Sooooo, many thanks Jo's mum :-) you saved me from looking like even more of a lunatic than I usually do because I had come to the conclusion that the only way to listen to the bloomin' things sing, without disturbing them, was to listen through the letterbox. It would have been just my luck that a passing neighbour would have spotted me and thought I had finally flipped! I'm just very grateful that I didn't have to resort to sticking my ear through the letterbox.

Anyway, here are a couple of pictures of the little blighters and some of the other birds I spotted. 

Please feel free to weigh in if you have any other theories about the species :-)

 Bullfinch ....hopefully?

 Marsh Tit .... probably 

 Great Tit ..... maybe, Female Bullfinch ...... possibly 
another cute little birdy on the left of the photo that I can't remember .... Chaffinch but possibly not?? ...... you can see my dilemma :-)

(A massive thank you to Christine who has left a very helpful comment saying that the bird on the right is a male chaffinch and the one on the left is a female one .... many thanks Christine)

 Blue tit .... definitely .... phew

Robin .... positively ..... thank goodness :-)

On a much more exciting note, there has been a wonderful development since I last posted anything .......

I'm going to be a granny :-)

Baby ....... Absolutely, Positively, Definitely a Baby :-)

My eldest daughter and her husband are expecting their first baby, my first grandchild and my mum's first great grandchild ..... Haha mum, does it make you feel old? It does me slightly but then again, next month I will be reaching a BIG birthday age .... one with a zero on the end so I might need therapy!
I am so happy for them. The baby is due at the end of May and it's very exciting. 
Congratulations to you both XxX