Tuesday, 23 March 2010

All in an hour!

I've had one of the most productive lunch hours in a long time today. Not only did I have a delicious lunch with two of my work friends at Baba Ganoush (sorry no link to provide you with) who cook up the most fabulous soups, potato dishes, salads, sandwiches and cakes in the whole town! I had goats cheese, cauliflower and potato soup with croutons and a chunk of deli rye bread followed by a chocolate and walnut brownie.

Then I rolled on with my errands which included finding some 100% cotton crochet wool for fellow Knit Natterer Sharon to turn into a gorgeous baby blanket (she is a real wizz with the crochet needles) for little bean. How kind of her. I managed to track down a lovely range of colours in the Wendy Supreme collection and decided on the combination below of Sunflower (more yellow in real life) and Soft Jade (more grey in real life). I'm sure you'll agree they look great together.

Then I stopped off for a look in Oxfam and picked up these great vintage travel patches. Aren't they just the best find ever, especially the Switzerland one. I may have not mentioned this before but I have an obsession with all things which tick the following boxes in one fell swoop Swiss, vintage and souvenir. Yum!

I also got this vintage glitzy hand stitched flower applique, it's very old and will look great adorning a bag or plain top this summer. 99p, now that's a bargain.

I wonder what fantastic frocks it's belonged to? How many dances it saw? How many suitors eyes it's caught over the years? What a treasure!

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Wombles of Oakbank

Well today was yet nother totally neat Sunday as Mr B and I helped out with other local residents tackling the litter which had accumulated in our hedgerows and road sides over the winter months. Sadly no Wombles attended, though it is a long journey from Wimbledon to Oakbank on a Sunday.

Our local parish councillor organises the pick twice yearly (Autumn and Spring), though this was the first we'd taken part in. Only the other day I'd commented to Mr B on the number of crisp packets and food cartons drivers had thoughtlessly cast from their car windows en route home so it was perfect timing for lending a hand.

Here's Mr B donning some high vis for the pick as it was a misty morning and some cars take the bends far too fast. I bet people driving past thought we were on community service sporting these beauties!

Other Oakbank residents looked on in intrigue with their young. The litter pick really benefits the animals too as litter which blows into the fields could end up eaten by them.

It was very tiring work, lots of bending and crouching over a substantial stretch of road. I had to come home early as it was a bit too much for my bump to manage but I did a good hour and a half and Mr B was even longer. He reported that 15 bags of rubbish were collected as well as some old signage and car parts. What a good total for two hours work. Makes you think about how much litter is actually out there doesn't it?

It felt really good to be doing something that made an instant impact on our environment. As we drive past tomorrow instead of tutting at the mess others have made we can admire the litter free hedges and know that we played a part in shaping our surroundings for the better.

Monday, 15 March 2010

In a spin!

I must tell you about the fantastic present Mr B got me for Mothers (to be) Day. It was a handy bit of kitchen equipment I'd been after for ages, since I was a child in fact. A salad spinner.

Such a simple thing can bring so much pleasure. I first encountered this marvelous machine when I was 9 and was playing at Mrs Bonds house (a neighbour of my Grannys) with her grandaughter. Mrs Bond was preparing a 'summer tea' for us girls to eat on trays in the garden, which consisted of salad, new potatos and chicken. Oh how she span that salad! I was amazed, even at such an early age I knew it was the machine for me.

These days, more than ever, it's so important to wash fresh foods before we eat them to get rid of those nasty pesticides, even more important during pregnacy. But sometimes certain things just aren't nice eaten wet, salad and herbs especially. Who wants a soggy sandwich or a wet plate? So there lies the temptation not to wash. That's why I am such a  big fan of this machine, not least it's 1960's 'housewifes dream' appeal.

So here it is the Oxo little salad and herb spinner in all it's labour saving glory. Wash your greens pop em in, on with the lid and then away you go with just two presses on the pump top. No electricity, no batteries just good old kinetic design.

All this water came off just one bunch of basil, imagine that in your salad!

...and hey presto lovely spray free basil dry and ready to chop without sticking to the knife.

Once washed the greens can be stored in the dried out spinner in the fridge for extra crispness. Thank you Mr B for a lovely day and a lovely present x

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Totally neat.

Spring is in the air at Oakbank. Whilst out walking with Mr B and Myrtle we spotted the following neat and tidy things...
Growing beds raiked and ready for planting.
Possibly the neatest stack of wood ever!

Bee Keeping clobber washed and drying on the line. I was very tempted to try it on.

A smart new gate to the Bee Keeping area, made from locally sourced wood, I like the way it's a bit wiggly.

A fantastic repair to a wall in the field opposite, unfortunately I don't have a picture of when it was down but it was a real mess as the tree had made it belly over the years and then it all gave way a few months back. You'd never guess to look at it now. What skill!


Right we'd better get cracking on our own list of spring tidying and cleaning then!

Friday, 12 March 2010

Her mum taught her to sew.

A week or so ago my friend Karen gave me this very interesting little origami parcel as a late Christmas present....

...inside was a lovely little lady....

...and inside her was a little lady baby! I pointed to it as a scale reference.


Karen is one of the neatest sewers I know and it's great that her little creations are now on sale in her etsy shop.

Monday, 8 March 2010

What a mess!

Now that the sickly stage of pregnancy has passed I'm really into my food again, which is great. There's nothing worse than being off even your favourite ever foods. I decided to celebrate this change by making two of my all time favourites this weekend.

Sunday night I made my mums delicious pie. It's just known as 'the pie' and it's really quite a fitting title. You make it by layering up thin slices of potato (King Edwards make it best) with thin slices of red onion, wilted spinach and sprinkles of a goats cheese/cheddar cheese mix. Placing layer upon layer (in a deep lidded dish) with small knobs of butter in between, and a teensy bit of salt and pepper, it creates a massive stack of thin slices which all cook in the butter and moisture from the taties in the oven for 90 mins. Heaven.

It's so good and was eaten so fast that I don't have any pictures to show you except this one of my tummy, rather full after eating the left overs today, Mr B didn't even get a look in!

For pudding I made Eton Mess, which along with Mr B's trifle and a really well thought out fruit salad, is one of the best puds on earth.

I make this in a similar way to how Nigella Lawson does, though at this time of year the strawberries aren't worth bothering with so they were out the picture replaced with raspberries. Dead simple pud made by whipping up a pot of double cream with some caster sugar, adding the seeds from two pomegranates (I just love the rich colour from these strange, complex fruits. Considered throughout history to be a symbol of fertility)

...a punnet of raspberries and then, just before serving, a load of crunched up meringue, as much as you can mix in. As you can see by the photo, no matter how nicely presented, it is as described, a mess, a very very yummy one!


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