Monday, 27 December 2010

Christmas Past

So gang, Christmas has passed and we are hurtling towards the New Year.  I hope ever one had a good and eventful Christmas day and Santa was good to them all.  She left her letter to Santa (yes, she wrote it herself LOL) and her stocking was stuffed the next morning!  Santa was raining down the gifts for Farm Baby's first Christmas and she was somewhat stunned by the whole event, but I think she enjoyed herself overall.  

The Christmas dinner was great and I was really chuffed as all the only vegetables I had to add to the mix was a sweet potato and a parsnip.  All the other vegetables were from our own garden and in the case of Brussels garden fresh.  It is quite a nice feeling to wander down to the vegetable patch, snow crunching under foot and in this dead looking landscape find something sweet and edible!  And there are still Brussels to go, about three plants worth.  I also noticed peaking out from beneath the snow, the strawberry plants still going strong and I cannot wait for next season.  One reason being that Santa brought me a full jam making set so I am raring to go on the strawberries, I hope there are plenty!

So what does the New Year bring for the farm.  Well, hopefully we will finally see the addition of some livestock this year in the form of chickens for definite.  I have been pondering a goat for so long now that it may be in the offing and, while we are dreaming, a Shetland pony would be up there on the list too!

In the garden there will be many changes with the addition of a new raised tyre bed, a new potato patch, so that the old patch can be given over to another crop and there will be a new cold frame (kinda) area if I can convince Farm Dad to use his newly learned wall building skills.  This will hopefully help out the strawberries and make lettuces more likely to survive.

In addition to the garden I hope to add my greenhouse.  Not sure if we'd get it up in time for growing this year, all these plans take time but it is in the list of things to be done!

Next thing to do is choose and order all the seeds for this year... can't wait to get started in the garden again!

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Let me introduce..... the bathroom

Right, well this is the bathroom completed... well, completed kind of...

They guys hurried as much as they could, so we could have a bathroom for Christmas, but they still wanted to do it right so the floor and side of the bath still need grout and the end of the units are getting a better finish, they decided (and where right) that the finish that came with the units were crap so are coming up with a better finish.  There is a bit of plaster work to be done on the walls (that blue bit) and the whole thing needs a scrub!  There is one floor tile still needing put down and where the pipes meet the floor on the radiator and towel rail are to be tidied up.  The bath needs a second sealing (after the grouting) but has been done enough so we can use it all over Christmas!!  Woo Hoo! 

Again the photo looks dark but it isn't as dark as it appears and it will be even lighter.  What we  ourselves have left to do is paint the walls, stain the woodwork and put in a better light fitting, it is just a bare bulb at the moment, and put up a blind!  It's good to finally have something that resembles a bathroom now though!!

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Bathroom - The Tiling Begins!

Note - Cannot believe I forgot to post this!  I must have hit Save instead of Publish - DOH!!

This is how the bathroom looked at the end of Monday.  The tilers have done all of the pale tiles on the walls and they have done the dark ones around the bath and shower up to half height.  These will be continued up to the top of the wall.

It is great, it is really starting to look like a bathroom now, rather than a room with a sad looking bath in it!!

Monday, 20 December 2010

Bathroom - Beginning of the Second Week

Work begins today in earnest as we only have until Wednesday to get this bathroom done before the bathroom fitters go on holiday for Christmas.  As you can see they got on pretty well on Friday and the bath is now in position, plumbed in and with working electrics...  Just the rest of the room to finish now!

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Let's Talk Gifts

Now, if you are anything like me there are always people out there that you want to give presents too but you aren't sure what to give.  Or the other type of person, the ones where you aren't sure whether your relationship has 'present giving' status.  So my advice is food gifts, they are quick to make and easy to give.  Also means that after they are gone they are gone, the receiver is not left with something they can't use.  I have used various edible gifts before.  For the friends you know like fresh food but have no time how about Cranberry and Macadamia Cookie Mix in a Jar.  Weigh out all the ingredients for your receiver, all they have to do is add the wet ingredients, mix and bake!  Easy!

Or how about a beautiful jar of Luxury Chocolate Fudge Sauce, you can even make some for yourself!  It will go amazingly with the Christmas Pudding alternative that I will be adding to the Cooking For Fun blog soon, so look out for that.

Or how about some bottles of homemade Mulled Apple Juice, I love this stuff and when I served it up last year it went down brilliant, even with the traditional Mulled Wine drinkers!

The new recipes I would like to add today are Rocky Road and Cherry Shortbread, these are what my neighbours are receiving this year with their Xmas Cakes!  A bag of these in each goodie bag will go down well.  And it is easy to just make a few extra for yourself too!!

Rocky Road

300g dark chocolate
3 tbsp golden syrup
300g butter or margarine
300g digestive biscuits
200g white marshmallows
100g sultanas

Click to

Cherry Shortbread
115g butter
55g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
175g plain flour
75g glace cherries, quartered.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Bathroom - Day Four and Five

I didn't post yesterday as the change in the room was not that drastic as you can see from the photos. In fact the change from day four to the beginning of today is pretty minimal as well.  The photo below shows what the bathroom was like at the beginning of yesterday.  As you can see the completed the plasterwork on the walls and ceiling.  It looks a bit funny because the plaster was still wet when I took the photo.

Now you can play spot the difference!  This is what the bathroom looked like at the beginning of toady!  As you can see, the plaster is now dry so I believe they are looking to start tiling, although I think they are starting on the floor.  Did you spot what they did yesterday?  Probably not but under the window the outflow for the toilet has been sorted.  I am glad this has been done as it was a big job and one of the things that could have held us back.

They currently are having a problem working out what the original plumber did.  Apparently it doesn't make sense as there just seems to be a pipe that goes to no where and they cannot work out what it is for or where it goes at one end.  I think this should serve as a lesson to everyone, be careful who you use for every job when you are refurbishing.  The plumber who did this work is great for fixing pipes etc but we are beginning to find out that he is not the best at actual bathroom or fixture fitting.  So there is my top tip from this, just because someone says they can do something, doesn't mean they can or that they can do it properly.

Ah well, it'll all work out in the end.  Hopefully tomorrow I will be able to show you a photo of the tiling, although if this plumbing issue isn't sorted then who knows... I think I hear some working up there so perhaps they've figured it out....

Monday, 13 December 2010

Day Three of the Bathroom

So this is the beginning of day three of the bathroom refit! I wish this could be a story of our attempts at plumbing and fitting a bathroom but it isn't! Hopefully there will be more stories of DIY as we delve into the redevelopment of the extension. For now we need the bathroom done well and quickly!

So the beginning of day three looks like the picture below (check out the seamless stitching of two photos, I am getting better at it!). Still not much different from the last ones LOL but there is a change. Hopefully after today it may be more obvious, or perhaps not in the photos, but today is the turn of the plasterers and the electrician. So we should have a nice fresh room by the end of the day ready for the tiling and cupboards and things tomorrow.

Our head dude has said that by Tuesday we should be starting to see what it'll look like finished, can't wait. It's always a bit hair-raising doing anything, even painting walls, "Have I picked the right colour?", "Will it look like I imagined?", "What if I hate it?".

We have not gone for overly traditional although we have tried to keep it related with our choice of cupboard doors and taps etc. But it is a modern bath, toilet etc. All those waiting for the reemergence of the free standing footed bath (you know who you are) I am afraid you won't be seeing it here, but watch this space as it may appear later on (I am still fighting the power!) and as we are intending to have another bathroom in the extension I will push again to have this one!

I had originally wanted to re-use the wonderful old bath from the bathroom downstairs (see photo) but there was much resistance from Farm Guy and Farm Dad that it was "too heavy" and "too made of metal" (? Something about losing heat to fast from your bath water). So eventually I agreed that perhaps we should go for another bath, a new one, a modern one. 

Rest assured, however, that I didn't back down on the footed bath without a fight and you will see a nice whirlpool bath going in - a gi-normous one - I gave them a choice "one or the other" I said, "free or ridiculously indulgent".  I expected this to result in the realisation that we could get a free bath but no, and it may have worked in my favour anyway, by them choosing to put a modern one in this bathroom I may end up with both!  Ha HA!! Feminine wiles....

So things are getting exciting here bathroom wise and with about 5 plasterers on the one job it should be getting done pretty darn fast!  

More updates tomorrow.....

Friday, 10 December 2010

Bathroom - Day Two

So, the guys worked away yesterday putting in wall insulation and putting up the remainder of the plaster board that we had. They also installed the pipes for the sink, radiator, bath, shower and towel rail. With the bad weather they had had problems with getting deliveries of materials through but they did as much as they could.

This is what we were left with at the end of yesterday, doesn't look much different but honestly, there is a change!!  So they arrived bright and early again this morning and have set off again.  An extra body arrived today and so did another van, it looks like the out flow for the toilet is on the cards for today.

My 'home made' panoramic photo didn't work quite as well this time!  You can just make out our neighbours house through the window!!  Give 'em a wave.. Hello!! We SEEEEE you!!

PS Check out the new banner, that is our view down the field - home made panoramic strikes again!!

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Bathroom - Day One

As you know we have two rooms at the top of our stairs that we have been working on.  One became our Nursery and the other is to become the family bathroom.  This is one project that we aren't undertaking ourselves.  We have, after various quotes and visits, settled on a local firm who are coming through to put in our bathroom over the next 10 days (approx).

We got the room ready, walls finished, floors etc but the rest is up to our "design team"!.  We are having a sink, toilet and bath with shower fitted as welll as various cabinets and tiling.

So today they managed to get here through the complete chaos on the motorways and made a start.

This is what the bathroom looked like at the end of the day yesterday - where we left it... (impressed by my 'home made' panoramic photo!!?)

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

S'no Thank You!

On Monday we had to take Farm Baby to a hospital appointment (nothing serious) so we set out in the morning on our 20 minute journey. The snow was light and the sun was shining. After 5 minutes we hit slow moving traffic and the snow was so heavy we could barely see. The traffic turned to a crawl and the motorway lanes disappeared. We decided to abandon the motorway and head through the town, bad move. It was like Dr Zhivago. We gave up as we watched yet another person slide back down the hill ahead. We headed home....

6 Hours later we got there!

I didn't go out today...

Monday, 6 December 2010

What's On Your Work Surface?

I suddenly realised that my work surface in the kitchen was getting a large number of jars on it.  With preserving and plenty home baking my need for ingredients that are quick to hand!  So I thought I would do a 'What's on your surface?' post, but I guess it could be a 'what's in your cupboard' or a 'what's on your shelf' post.  I am hoping that others will join the posting and I will add links to their posts to this one!  Just leave a message in the comments letting me know you've joined in!  This should be a great way to showcase what we've been up to this year and might give everyone ideas on how to store and display their hard won produce!!

So on my work surface I have:
  • Homemade mincemeat for my pies.  These are waiting two weeks to let the flavours mature before major pie making commences!
  • Dried and salted pumpkin seeds.  Nothing wasted from Halloween.
  • Currants.  Waiting for the making of the Christmas Cakes.
  • Garlic.  The cloves I am using.  The rest I plaited and hung on the wall.
  • Dried Mushrooms.  I didn't get many mushrooms this year so to make the most of them I have dried them and popped them in a jar.  The flavour is more intense this way so I don't have to use as many - stretching my produce.
  • Sultanas.  Another set of fruits waiting for the big Christmas cake bake! I love these jars, I got them from my grandmother.
  • Rice.  We use a lot of this so it's good to have it on hand!  I'd grow it if I could!
  • Vanilla Sugar.  I made this a while ago but I love it.  It is great in just tea and coffee but it also is good for making sweet pastry!
  • Dried Lavender.  I bought and grew Lavender specifically for baking and jam making.  This was this years produce.  Enough for several batches of lavender scones!
  • Dried Red Chillies.  I have to admit these aren't mine but they are home grown.  My chillies didn't work out too great but I was lucky enough to get some from a friend who had a great season for chillies.
  • Porridge Oats.  Well, you can't live on a farm and not have porridge!
  • Spaghetti.  Another Farm staple, so always at hand!
So that's 'What's on My Work Surface'

What's on yours?....

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

When It's Cold Outside

Find someone to keep your nose warm!

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Sad News on the Farm

Sad news from the farm this week.  Our farm cat Sable had to be put to sleep last Tuesday.  I found her collapsed in our kitchen and a trip to the vet told us that, although she was essentially healthy in every other respect, a blood clot had formed and had become lodged in her spine causing her to be unable to move her legs.  She was 16 years old and so we are happy she had a good long life but she'll be missed and we are sad that it had to be so healthy apart from that.  It was a frustrating decision to make.

R.I.P Sable (always ready to make us laugh!)

Monday, 22 November 2010

News Too Good Not To Share!!!

This post may make me look crazy, or like someone who has too much time, but after some fussing in the kitchen I have found a great recipe for Fondant Icing! Yes, Fondant Icing!  I was making a practice of my christmas cake - don't ask about the Xmas Cake, TIP: when it says 160oC do it at 160oC not 190oC!  Rather crispy outside to my cake!  That is why I need icing, icing covers all sins!!!

I have been wanting to make my own fondant icing for AGES now, for various reasons:
  • It is always better to make your own, a little bit more of an 'I made this feeling'
  • In the case of icing being able to make exactly how much you need rather than being left with stuff you can't use or have to throw away.
  • And in the case of icing being able to make different colours of fondant icing for alsorts of cakes - this last one was my biggest reason for wanting to make my own.
I had found several recipes before but they all used gelatin and as soon as I see gelatin in a recipe I just turn away.  I always just end up with a blob (or blobs) of gelatin in my 'whatever-I'm-making'.  But then I found this recipe that uses just marshmallows and Icing Sugar (Confectioner's Sugar)!  I couldn't believe it would be so simple, I saw the recipe - Melt Marshmallows - this could get messy, I thought imagining everything stuck to everything else after I had finished.  I was wrong!  If you ever need icing you HAVE to try this it was SO easy and simple.
Fondant Icing
6 oz white marshmallows
12 oz Icing Sugar
(basically you need to use twice as much sugar as marshmallows)
2tbsp water

Put the water and marshmallows into a large bowl and microwave for 1 minute.  Stir mallows with a spatula.  If they are still a bit lumpy give them another 30 - 40 seconds.
SLowly start adding your sugar until the mixture appears to take no more and has lost some of its stickiness.
Turn out your icing onto a board dusted with icing sugar and begin kneading, if you have any sugar remaing then knead that in as you go, until the icing is smooth.  
Use straight away or seal in airtight container and keep in the fridge!

If you want coloured icing add your food colouring after melting the marshmallows.  To colour pre-made icing just make a disc with the icing, add a couple of drops of colouring and fold icing over.  Begin kneading and keep going until the colour is uniform!

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Red Onion Relish

I got some requests from my last post to 'make with the recipe' for Red Onion Relish!  So this is what I shall tantalise you with today.  It is dead simple but was a real hit at the BBQ!!


2 large red onions, halved and finely sliced
2tbsp sunflower oil
2 level tbsp brown sugar
100ml red wine or red grape juice
1tsp fresh thyme leaves
3tbsp balsamic vinegar



Saturday, 13 November 2010

November the 5th.. oh okay.. the 6th

We decided that this year we would have a big fireworks party. We invited various neighbours and family around and ended up with 11 people, which is a fine number as it is really the first party we have ever hosted with people other than family. Anymore than that and I think that we would have felt a bit overwhelmed, particularly with farm baby to look after as well.

I love having groups of people around as it meant that I can cook some of the recipes I love but are for many, many people. I don't tend to make cheesecake for instance as it means that the pair of us would be eating cheesecake for a week! So a party is the greatest time for those big recipes!!

We went for a barbeque and bonfire. We set up one of the old barns (in fact the cow shed!) with chairs and a table and lamp borrowed from my Farm Dad's caravan which we currently have in our driveway. When Farm Dad got there he decided we needed a carpet down, so that came out of the load waiting to be taken to the recycle centre! Once the other tables, BBQ and a fire pit brought by our neighbours the barn was very cozy! A bit smokey as the first choice of positioning for the fire pit was slightly wrong and filled the barn with smoke but it is petty airy so it soon cleared.

Farm Baby loved the fireworks, well she did what I assume baby's do when they are happy and contented, she slept. Yep, she slept through the entire thing! With so many people ready to look after her it wouldn't have been to much of an effort!

For this party I made White Chocolate and Raspberry Cheesecake, Halloween Pumpkin Cake and a Bacon and Mushroom Quiche. This was what was on my list but when I spotted a recipe for Red Onion Relish I just had to make it too, perfect for the hot dogs and burgers. I will add the recipes for the final two on my recipe blog in due course.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Dressing Baby

As you know I decided a wee while ago that I wanted to learn to make my own clothes.  And I had a few successes, however when it comes to practicing if you get it wrong making a big item then it is quite a waste of cloth and money! 

Yesterday I was looking for clothes for Farm Baby and two things struck me;  firstly that there is never (like buying clothes for me) exactly what I want and secondly that she will grow out of things so fast at this age that it just isn't worth buying really lovely things (at least not a lot of them).  Then another epiphany hit me, here I had a tiny tot who needed clothes and I needed to practice!  I could make clothes for her with my leftover materials, I could get exactly the clothes I wnated for just the cost of my time and if it went wrong there wouldn't be a huge loss of money and cloth!!  Excellent.  

So I set about looking for patterns.  I found a very basic one here which would give me the general idea, but it still wasn't 'special' enough for me so I edited it myself, added a Peter Pan Collar and Capped Sleeves as well as matching both of them to the skirt and this is what I ended up with...

Apologies for the photo: my usual camera has a flat battery and I have NO idea where the charger is, so I am using our cheap and cheerful camera we bought for taking underwater photos when we were on holiday!

I am really pleased with how it turned out and it has given me a lot of confidence for trying to make other things for her!

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Oh My Lord! It Finally Happened!

As regular readers will know I have been trying to master the Choc Chip Cookie.  The proper American style, crunchy on the outside, soft in the middle!  Ever taunted by Millie's Cookies and spurred on by the marvellous creations of a friend of ours!  She makes the greatest cupcakes ever, see photo for the ones we got to celebrate Farm Baby, but she is also queen of the cookie.  Grr!  PS see here AMAZING cupcakes here Aunt Tiffy's Bakery - was that a sneaky plug for a friends site and blog? You bet!!

But I refused to be beaten and after multiple - "well that tastes like a cookie but looks like a cake" (and visa versa) attempts - I finally succeeded!  The excitement in our house that day was of the jumping around type.  I have never been so happy to bake anything in my life!  There is nothing for it but to share the recipe and have everyone dancing around their kitchens too.  Share the joy....

Triple Choc Cookies
1/2 lb butter - room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla essence
2 large eggs - room temperature
2/3 cup cocoa powder
2 cups plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/2lb of chocolate chunks - use whatever chocolate type you wish, I used a mix of white, plain and milk.


Friday, 22 October 2010

More Amigurumi - Octopus

As you know I have been crocheting some bees to make a mobile for farm baby's nursery and as a result I have discovered the toy making style of Amigurumi.  The first thing I saw in this style on the internet when I went investigating was an octopus and I thought it was extremely cute.  I have since then been searching for  pattern that gave me an octopus that I really was happy with - I couldn't find one.  So I had a go at making my own pattern, and this little guy is what I came up with!  Don't ask me what I am going to do with the octopus now I have it and neither should you ask what I will do with all the little octopi that now fill our house. 

The colour isn't perfect - obviously but I think I am happy with the pattern now.  This is my first attempt at writing a pattern so I hope it makes sense.  Here it is....

Amigurumi Octopus

Work in continuous rounds of st unless otherwise indicated.  Mark the first stitch of each round as you go.

ch = chain stitch
st = single crochet stitch
hdc = half double crochet
dc = double crochet

Start with 2 ch
Rnd 1 = 6 st into 2nd chain from hook
Rnd 2 = 2 st into each st around - 12 st
Rnd 3 = [st in next st, 2 st in next st] 6 times - 18 st
Rnd 4 = [st in next 2 st, 2 st in next st] 6 times - 24 st
Rnd 5 = [st in next 3 st, 2 st in next st] 6 times - 30 st
Rnd 6 - 12 = st in each st around
Rnd 13 = [st in next 3 st, dec 1] 6 times - 24 st
Rnd 14 = [st in next st, dec 1] 6 times - 16 st
Rnd 15 = dec 8 times - 8 st

Stuff head.  Do not cut yarn.

With yarn still attached 
Row 1 = 20 ch
Row 2 = hdc into 2nd st from hook, dc into next 16 st, hdc into next st, st into last st.
Repeat the above on each of the remaining 7 st around base of the head.
Fasten off.
Using the tail of the thread weave into base and pull tight to seal.  Fasten again.

If you have a go please leave a message and let me know how it goes or any changes you made yourselves!  Or indeed if anything doesn't make sense and I shall try and clarify!!

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Rebranding of the Recipe Site

Just to let you know that the recipe blog that goes with this site has had a face lift and is now completed.  The address is still the same and if you subscribe by any means that is all still the same.  I decided that it needed to have an identity of its own and be that bit more 'foodie' and I think that I have pulled it off.  Check it out from the badge in this post or at any other time from the same badge in the side bar of this blog!!

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Nursery Decorating Part Two...

So the next step of the Nursery decorating was to add some farm animals to the walls. Now, I was uneasy about drawing directly onto the wall without any help, I didn't want to get it wrong and ruin the great paintwork underneath.

So I decided to draw the animals on paper first and use them as a kind of template when I start painting on the wall.  So far I have five animals drawn, I am not sure how many more there will be as I am painting them to fit around the furniture.

I have drawn the animals about 24 inches square, I think this is going to be a reasonable size on the walls without becoming 'scary giant animals'!

I will let you know how the painting goes and whether the template idea works at all!

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Bumbling Around wth Amigurumi

Meet the bumbles! I have only made four so far but I think I am going to need about 7 - 10.

I have discovered Amigurumi which is a method of crocheting small toys, I believe the name comes from the words for cute and yarn but I am not 100% sure on that fact! I am crocheting them to make a nice mobile for Farm Baby's Nursery. The plan at the moment is to have a bee hive drawn on the wall and a nice bee mobile above. I know, I know, Bumble Bees don't live in hives but I think I can get away with it!

I am liking all the patterns for Amigurumi animals that there are out there so you may see more of these on the blog in upcoming times. I'll try and supply patterns where I can!

If you are into crochet and want to have a go then here is the pattern, it is really simple! If you aren't into crochet give it a go anyway, it's honestly very simple!

Bumble Bee Amigurumi

NOTE: Work in continuous rounds of sc without joining
unless otherwise indicated. Place a marker in first stitch of
round and move up each round.

ch = chain
sc = single crochet
dc = double crochet
hdc = half double crochet

To increase (inc) crochet twice into next sc.
To decrease (dec) pick up the next two sc and sc through both.

Begin at top of head with A, ch 2.
Rnd 1: 6 sc in 2nd ch from hook.
Rnd 2: 2 Sc in each sc around – 12 sc.
Rnd 3: [Sc in next sc, 2 sc in next sc] 6 times – 18 sc.
Rnd 4: [Sc in next 2 sc, 2 sc in next sc] 6 times – 24 sc.
Rnd 5: [Sc in next 3 sc, 2 sc in next sc] 6times – 30 sc.
Rnds 6-12: Sc in each sc around.
Rnd 13: [Dec] 15 times – 15 sc.
Neck-Rnd 14: [Sc in next 3 sc, dec] 3 times – 12 sc.
Body-Rnd 15: [Inc] 12 times – 24 sc.
Rnds 16 and 17: Sc in each sc around. Cut A. Stuff Head.
Rnds 18-21: With B, sc in each sc around. Cut B.
Rnds 22-24: With A, sc in each sc around.
Rnd 25: Dec] 12 times – 12 sc.
Rnd 26: [Dec] 6 times – 6 sc. Fasten off.

Finish stuffing.
Weave yarn tail through remaining 6 sc, draw up firmly to
gather; fasten securely.

WING (Make 2): With C, ch 7.
Row 1: Sc in 2nd ch from hook and in next ch, hdc in next
2 ch, dc in next ch, 6 dc in last ch; working on opposite
side of ch, dc in next ch, hdc in next 2 ch, sc in last 2 ch;
Row 2: Ch 1, sc in next 2 sts, hdc in next 2 sts, dc in next
st, 2 dc in each of next 6 sts, hdc in next 2 sts, sc in last 2
sts; turn.
Row 3: Ch 1, slip st in each st around. Fasten off.
Sew in place on back of bee.

LEG (Make 6): With B, ch 7; 3 sc in 2nd ch from hook, slip
st in last 5 ch. Fasten off.
Sew in place.

FEELERS (Make 2): With B, ch 10; slip st in 2nd ch from
hook and in each ch across. Fasten off.

Sew on eyes and mouth, you can use thread, plastic eyes or left over wool like I have to make the features, there is no right or wrong way!

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Potato Patch Update

I was weighing all of the potatoes that were coming out of the potato plot but once we decided that it was time to dig them all up - it's getting quite wet here and we were worried they would spoil if left in the ground any longer - it appeared that it would take an age to weight them all with my tiny kitchen scales! As a result I decided to just lay them all out and take a photo instead! These potatoes constitute the last of the potato crop and will join the other (approx) 4kg that we already have!

There are various types shown here. The majority of the potatoes you see are the Maris Piper (towards the front of the photo). Right at the back, with almost black skins, are the Blue Danube. Mixed in amongst them are the rest of the Kestrel and Charlottes.

PS. Yes, we drink a lot of Diet Irn Bru, lets hear it for Costco!!!!

Thursday, 7 October 2010

How Goes the Nursery

As I have revealed already the room at the top of the stairs is more than just a bedroom, its a Nursery. I have been planning the nursery theme for a while and am going with a Farm theme! It was a fight between Jungle and Farm and farm won, as there are so many Jungle themes already out there! The first thing we needed to do was make the wall that splits the existing room. Farm Dad and Farm Guy made huge progress with that, so much so that we managed to get a plasterer in while I was in the hospital!

The plasterer made a fantastic job! The finish on the walls can only be described as feeling like glass, it was amazing to paint on and meant we have an amazingly smooth finish on the paint! The first step was to paint some blue for the sky.

After painting the sky I added some hills with green and painted that green all the way down to the skirting board - or at least to where the skirting board is going to be! For those worried I am not actually doing any of the painting, I have some great helpers actually doing the work while I recover from the hospital. All I have actually done paint wise was the top of the hills! The green on the picture looks quite dull, it is in fact called 'Spearmint' and is quite bright and cartoony!

Next step put on the skirting and door and get it all wood stained. Then on with the next step of the painting....

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Accident At The Farm

This is actually about an incident that happened nearly four weeks ago but I hadn't wanted to say much about it at the time as it was quite difficult and I didn't want to have to report bad news at the end if I had given an ongoing commentary!

On Sunday night (Sunday the 5th September) one of our cats, Rocco, appeared on the doorstep at about half eleven at night looking very sorry for himself. He had obviously been there a while and was shaking with the cold. He could barely walk and only just made it in through the door. His tail was limp and dragging behind him and he was struggling to breath. There was blood around his mouth. We scooped him up and put him on the living room chair, it was too late for a vet appointment so we called our local 24 hour vet helpline. We were advised to keep him warm and quiet and his symptoms were most likely shock based and they would see him at an appointment in the morning (Monday) at 9am. I have to admit I wasn't convinced that it was shock based, he was unable to lie down and seemed totally 'out of it'. We left him overnight and the following morning found him in exactly the same sitting position as we had left him, nothing had changed. We headed to the vet.

They listened to his chest and said he had a heart murmur and appeared to have fluid in his lungs and stomach. He was given an injection to help clear this fluid and we were told to return him the following evening for a check up. Over the next few hours he did seem to pick up but he was still uncomfortable when he tried to lie down and wouldn't eat or drink anything. We returned him that evening and his lungs were now apparently clear but the vet was still not happy with what she could feel in his abdomen, she asked to keep him in and give him and x-ray; she would call us to say what she found. And call she did. We were shopping for a few groceries when she called, it wasn't good news. She believed that he had severed the duct from his liver and his chest was filling up with fluid. Without an operation he wouldn't make it but the procedure itself was extremely risky and he only had a 50 - 60% chance of making it through that. The operation wasn't cheap either. Money was no matter to us, we wanted to give him every chance to pull through and after a great deal of heartache we agreed to let them proceed. His operation was on the Wednesday morning and that was a day of great apprehension.

We finally got the call saying that he had made it through the operation and was okay. Phew! They wanted to keep him in till Friday to watch him as it was touch and go as to whether the operation worked and the fluid may return. By Thursday however they decided he could come home as he was doing so well. He had to be in a cage for two weeks however to stop him injuring himself. When we went to pick him up we were told the full extent of his injuries. They believed that he had either been hit by a car or had fallen from one of the outbuildings (this was our preferred theory) and in basic terms everything that should have been in his abdomen was now in his chest! His liver and spleen had punctured his diaphragm and gone through, he had also ruptured various other organs. Luckily his heart and lungs had remained undamaged so he was able to pull through. The vet had said that she wasn't sure why he had even made it back to us on Sunday let alone through the operation.

Fast forward to today: his last visit to the vets resulted in the all clear. Lungs and heart are strong again and he is healing up fine. He has now been given the all clear for going outside, which has cheered him up no end although he can't do much and quickly gets tired and comes back in. His tail is still quite limp, but they believe that it will heal and is most likely fractured but he can lift it slightly now which is a vast improvement from it dragging along behind him!

So he has made it through but he has definitely used up one of his 9 lives!

Thursday, 23 September 2010

A Reason for the Interlude...

There has been an interlude in the Realising the Dream blog updates and I have a perfect excuse...

Our little family of two became a family of three. Our new little girl was born on the 14th of September and is our first baby. We were in the hospital for about four days and since coming home we have all been learning a new routine.

As you can imagine our new little one is taking up a large chunk of our time so there may be some delays in the posts for a while. However, rest assured that the blog will continue and the house and garden have lots of news which I will share with you shortly!

Farm Mum has been looking after the garden and dutifully weighing and preparing all the vegetables while I have been away and Farm Guy, between visits to the hospital and looking after his new charge has been organising the plasterer for the upstairs bedroom - which I can now reveal will be a nursery! I have some grand ideas for it so I will be keeping everyone up-to-date with how that goes!

Sunday, 5 September 2010

The Bells, The Bells.....

Okay, I haven't said much about the house itself at the moment but I intend to rectify that this week. First things first, the door bell. The house did not have a doorbell, this meant we relied on being able to hear someone knocking at the door, which, when in certain rooms or upstairs was pretty tricky.

But hear lay the first problem, what kind of bell. I wanted something traditional looking, Farm Guy wanted something cheap and simple! My traditional bell was somewhat expensive and so even I had to admit that it probably wasn't the most economical but I couldn't shake the thought of not wanting a tinny rendition of 'Oh When The Saints' every time we got visitors!

But my luck was in, heading to the local DIY shop for something else I spotted that the bell I was after was now less than 1/2 price!! No stopping my negotiating this time and Farm Guy relented... Awwww...

And so the bell was duly bought, brought home, unpacked and... deemed to not be working! Nuts, after all my fuss about wanting this bell the thing didn't work. Back to the shop it went and a replacement was secured.

Home it came and it worked! Hurray! Farm Guy put it up on the wall in the hall above the living room door. (It looks squint but it honestly isn't!!!)

We tried out our new bell. The mechanism was so violent that, with the fittings supplied, there was no way to stop the thing flinging itself against the wall. The sound of the wooden box hitting the wall was almost louder than the bell itself. And to top all of that off, the buzzer from the back door didn't cause the bell to ring at all! 100 metre radius my Aunt Nelly!

The only way that Farm Guy could stop the box from flapping about was to put a couple of 'stops' on either side. These now need to be painted or stained!

But at least we had a door bell. Only problem is... it rang every time you walked into the dining room. Or sat on the sofa!

Oh... My... Lord!!!!!!!

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Making Ice-Cream!

I suddenly got a hankerin' for some home-made ice cream a couple of days ago... that's what happens when you watch a load of cooking programmes on tv!!

So I set about digging out my ice-cream machine. Now this is by no means a top of the range machine, in fact I think this machine isn't even in 'the range'! But it does the job (for those interested it is one of these Ice Cream Maker) and it was eventually dug out! In fact, after raking around in the barns assuming that I had yet to unpack it; worring that I had thrown, given or sold it away thinking I'd never need it again; I found it in the kitchen already unpacked in the back of a cupboard - it must be an omen, I've only ever used it once before but somehow I knew....

Anyway, a trip to the supermarket later and I had the ingredients I needed. I didn't have the instructions for the machine.... but who needs those!? I had remembered that the middle bit needed to be frozen over night before you could use it. Yes, I have tried to make ice-cream in it without any cold before... hangs head.

I decided to go for a more Italian recipe (I think) it is definately a more creamy recipe and doesn't involve eggs and that's what I call Italian, so I will continue to do so.

The Recipe is as follows:

1 1/2 pints of whole milk
1 cup skimmed milk powder
1 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
6oz caster sugar

Put everything into a saucepan and slowly bring to the boil, stirring all the time.

As soon as the mixture begins to boil remove from the heat and pour into a bowl to cool.

Once the mixture is completely cool pour into your ice-cream maker for the specified length of time. With my machine I have to finish the freezing process in the freezer. This entailed me pouring my mixture into a freezeable container and placing in the fridge. Every hour I went in and stirred up the mixture woth a whisk, just to break up the ice crystals. I did this about 3 times before letting it freeze completely.

If you don't have a machine then you will need to do all the freezing in the freezer, just make sure you give it a stir every hour or so as it freezes, just to keep it smooth!

This ice-cream was great and I am very pleased, I think I will use it as a base for other flavours (as well as on its own!).

With my last recipe post I made Red Velvet Cup Cakes and someone asked me if I could send in a photo of how red the sponge itself was. Well there was one left and I managed to snap a photo before it was snaffled.....

The red makes the cake seem a very rich chocolate brown colour in the photo, it is more red in real life, but this photo isn't bad and should give a good idea of the colouring!

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Blighted by Potato Blight

We discovered that two of our potato types - Kestrel and Charlotte had what looked suspiciously like blight beginning to form, with one plant already succumbed. This caused us issue as we hadn't intended to dig up all these potatoes in one go - storage and/or eating issues! But never fear Farm Guy's Dad is here. He is a potato king and said we should can just pull up the plants, collect the potatoes that come up with the stalks and leave the rest in the ground, just dig them as we need them! Hurrah!

So out to the garden I went and began pulling. The Charlotte potatoes were very obliging and left all but four of their potatoes nicely hidden below the surface. However, the Kestrel were having none of it and choose to bring up several potatoes each time. I could have buried them again but they were in a bad way so inside they came. The plants will be burned to stop the disease spreading and the potato patch will be rotated (as was the plan anyway) to try and get rid of it.

It seems that Kestrel is not the potato type for us up here. Not only was it the first to suffer with the blight, probably passing it on to the Charlotte who were next door. But it is also suffering from Potato Scab and the munchings of at least two different beasties! It is however a very pretty potato! I shall probably go out later and dig up the rest, no point leaving them down there for a bugs supper!! We will just have to eat a lot of Kestrel potatoes in the near future as with their spoiled skins they won't store well.

The ones that came up today amounted to just over 3 kg(6.6lbs) - I'll let you know what that reaches once the others have been exhumed!

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Vegetable Produced Update

Apologies for not being around as much as I usually am!

I thought I would give a run down of what we have produced so far in the vegetable and fruit stakes. This is by no means the full story, there are still plenty potatoes, beans and carrots (among others) still 'plumping' in the garden so I will update as the need arises.

This is what we have so far....

In KilosIn Pounds
Red Duke Potatoes4.49 kg9.9 lbs
Charlotte Potatoes1.67 kg3.69 lbs
Peas0.29 kg0.64 lbs
Strawberries78 g2.75 ounces
Raspberries40 g1.41 ounces
Garlic0.7 kg1.54 lbs
Runner Beans1.48 kg3.27 lbs
Mushrooms0.31 kg0.68 lbs
Carrots1.46 kg3.2 lbs

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Red Velvet Cupcakes

I have been wanting to try out red velvet cupcakes (or Red Velvet anything!) for a while now and so, finding myself at a loose end, and with two hardworking tasters in the house working on the upstairs rooms, more on that later, I decided to give it a go....

  • 60g butter at room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 10g cocoa
  • 10ml red food colouring
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 120ml buttermilk
  • 150g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp white wine vinegar
Vanilla Butter Icing
  • 85g butter
  • 375g Icing sugar
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. Cream the butter, egg and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  3. Combine the cocoa powder, red food colouring and vanilla extract and once mixed add to the creamed butter mixture. Mix well.
  4. Mix the flour and baking powder together.
  5. Add half the buttermilk and half the flour mix.
  6. Combine well before adding the remainder of the buttermilk and flour and mixing further.
  7. Add the bicarbonate of soda and salt and white wine vinegar (in that order), mix thoroughly for at least 5 mins.
  8. Spoon the mixture into the cases of your choice. I used cupcake cases and my mixture made 15 cakes.
  9. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 mins or until the cupcakes spring back slightly when touched.
  10. Allow the cupcakes to cool slightly before turning out onto a wire cooling rack.
The Frosting
  1. Cream together the butter and the icing sugar.
  2. Add the vanilla extract.
  3. Slowly add the milk 1 teaspoon at a time until you reach the consistency you wish. I ended up using 2 teaspoons.
  4. Spread or pipe the frosting onto the cakes and get ready to munch!

Easy Red Velvet Cupcakes
See my recipe on Foodista!