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!