Three Things Thursday: 3 August 2017

It may be raining outside, but there are still things to make me happy.

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wind and rain outdoors… a jungle inside

My weekly exercise in gratitude – three things that are making me smile – feel free to steal this idea with wild abandon and fill your blog [or Twitter account or Facebook page or diary or life in general] with happiness.

First, fourteen months of Three Things Thursday. I thought I was coming up to my one year anniversary of this weekly post, but I’ve just checked and I wrote my first regular post (there were occasional ones before) on 2 June 2016. I haven’t missed a week, so that’s 63 posts, which equals 189 things that have made me smile… talk about ‘counting your blessings’!

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one ordered, one found whilst browsing

Second, our library. In our small town there is a little library. Although it can’t house huge numbers of books, it’s easy enough to order a book from elsewhere in the county, and it will arrive within a few days. I used to be a big book-buyer, but joining the library means that I can reduce consumption and check out books that I may eventually want to buy.

 

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pretty dress… with pockets

Third, pockets. Last year I had a dress made for me and I specifically requested that it have pockets, because it’s one of the features I look for in my clothes. Women’s clothes often do not have pockets and the history and politics (yes, politics) of this is fascinating…. what could we be hiding in there? If you want to read a bit more, you could start here. Anyway, my clothes are generally pocketed, and those that aren’t, I have plans for.

 

So, those are three things making me smile this week. What is making you happy?

-oOo-

Emily of Nerd in the Brain originally created Three Things Thursday, but it’s now being hosted by Natalie of There She Goes.

Despite the weather…

It’s been a very mixed summer so far – alternating sunshine and rain with some strong winds thrown in. We are getting reasonable crops from the garden, including this first harvest of heritage French beans:

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we ate them last night: they were tender and delicious

But, in these uncertain conditions, the limery is coming into its own. Not only does it provide us with a bright, dry place to sit even when the weather is less than summery, it’s also giving us beautiful flowers and crops that need the warmth.

And on days when there is a glimmer of sunshine, we get rainbows from Pauline’s light catcher… every home should have one (really, I mean it… head over to her blog and commission one).

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my light catcher is full of charms of personal significance (you can read about it here)

Of course, sometimes there are also rainbows in the sky:

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this is one from last week

 

Over to you

I think its all too easy to be a little bit lazy… or possibly it’s just a symptom of being worn down:

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a completely non-cynical hat, but I do have a reusable coffee cup and a bear

We look at the world around us – the environment, health, politics, agriculture – and when something seems amiss, we say ‘someone should do something about that’. It would be lovely if corporations and governments had the motivation to solve all the world’s problems, but they don’t. With my cynical hat on, it seems to me that the majority of corporations are mainly interested in profit and the majority of governments are interested in power. I know that there are exceptions, but it does appear that when we place power in the hands of institutions, decisions tend to be made without humanity.

Individuals can have the same motivations, but often our choices are very personal and very complex. They certainly depend on a whole range of emotions and drivers… one of which is caring for the world and the people around us, so let’s try to focus on that one.

Once we accept that the ‘someone’ who can do something (even if only a little something) is ‘me’, it’s very easy to take the next step. And that next step need only be something tiny – smiling at someone on the bus, taking your own cup for take-away coffee, refusing a straw or a plastic bag. The next step might even be not doing something – not buying that pair of shoes that you don’t actually need, not upgrading to the latest piece of computer hardware, not lashing out when you see something on social media that annoys you.

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Let’s make rainbows!

And that way, one tiny step at a time, we change the world and make our lives happier. This week I ordered a book from the library rather than buying it. This week Mr Snail offered to try to mend a keyboard for a friend so she doesn’t need to buy a new one. This week we will be eating almost exclusively locally produced food. This week (hopefully) I will be finishing off my final blanket to go to Syrian refugees.

So, it turns out that we can all make the world a bit better place. Do you have plans to do something kind (for a person or the environment) this week?

17 for 2017 – July Update

Progress was a very slow with my 17 for 2017 goals in July… in fact I’m not sure where the time went. However, I did manage a few:

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a woolly Welsh square

Seventeen… Love Rocks or other little random yarny/sewn gifts. None this month, but I can share this picture from last month (I couldn’t then because it was a surprise) – it’s a square for a blanket the recipient is making entirely out of British wool (of course this is Cambrian Mountains wool). Total 7.

 

Sixteen… batches of homemade biscuits. This goal is complete.

Fifteen… cheeses.  I  didn’t make any this month, although exciting plans are afoot in relation to this one… watch this space. The total is currently ten.

Fourteen… pairs of knickers. None this  month, so the total is still six.

Thirteen… mends. Target reached in May.

Twelve… letters to friends. Target reached in June.

Eleven… new items in my Etsy shop. None this month. The total is still eight.

Ten... plants given to good homes. Target reached in May.

Nine… games of Scrabble. Still none yet.

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Eggs, rosemary potatoes and lettuce

Eight… meals using only our own produce. We managed the first two this month, thanks to potatoes, lettuce, courgettes, tomatoes and eggs. Actually, not a day goes by when we don’t eat something that I have cultivated (even if sometimes it’s cheese!) and so the slow progress on this is a bit misleading in terms of how much food we are growing and consuming.

 

Seven… visits to see “social media” friends. Sadly, the trip with a friend that was planned for this month had to be cancelled because she is very unwell. I do have plans for a variety of get-togethers with other friends in coming months, but for now the total is still six.

Six… Pairs of socks knitted, using at least three different patterns. I’ve made some progress on the pair I started last month, but it’s still not finished, so the total remains at one.

Five… book chapters written. None yet.

Four… blankets for charity; knitted or crocheted. Target reached in February.

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out of the loft

Three… sessions in the loft, sorting out some of the accumulated ‘stuff’ up there. One, as a result of having the new cupboard. Lots of boxes of preserved food are now out of the loft and in the kitchen, where they are accessible. The total is, therefore, one.

 

Two… patterns published and on sale. No new pattern this month, so just the one published in January.

 One… gardening apron. Completed in April.
 I have been so busy with other things this month, that the list has been rather neglected, but that’s my small amount of progress.
 If you have a 17 for 2017 blog post or an update on your progress, do leave a link in the comments.

Cupboard love

Just a very quick post to share my delight at this:

IMGP3761It isn’t finished yet – there will be bookshelves at the far end and an edging where it meets the wall, but this afternoon I will be able to start filling it with preserved food and preserving equipment.

It has been great to support a local craftsman who is just getting his business started. He sourced the wood from a sawmill nearby, so that was another local business supported. This is how we build strong and sustainable communities… not to mention strong and sustainable cupboards!

Three Things Thursday: 27 July 2017

My weekly exercise in gratitude – three things that are making me smile – feel free to steal this idea with wild abandon and fill your blog [or Twitter account or Facebook page or diary or life in general] with happiness.

First, the house is full of wood. Tim has arrived to start installing the cupboards; there is the sound of sawing and drilling in the kitchen and soon there will be loads of space for all my preserved food.

It’s a good job we have a long hallway.

Second, successful cheese. Yesterday we sampled a cheese made in January and I am very pleased with the result. This is a Tomme-style cheese and quite straightforward to make (for a hard cheese). It is not pressed and has developed a good texture and flavour – I will be making lots more of this.

Say ‘cheese’

Third, cooking from the garden. I shared pictures of our crops the other day and some of them have already been consumed. I am always happy to cook things that I have grown myself.

Here’s some I grew earlier

So, those are three things making me smile this week. What is making you happy?

-oOo-

Emily of Nerd in the Brain originally created Three Things Thursday, but it’s now being hosted by Natalie of There She Goes.

Food, glorious food

… all homegrown…

All photogaphed today (25 July) in (or recently harvested from) our garden and limery. Never let anyone tell you that you need lots of land to grow your own food. Our garden is about 6m ×20m, including the limery, and it’s still not fully utilized!

 

Yellow

A long-planned project is coming to fruition this week.

It all started last November. Mr Snail and I were in the kitchen when the was a sudden creak. Before either of us had time to react, there was more groaning and then the shelves fell, spectacularly, off the wall. Admittedly they had a lot of cookery books on them and a large mixing bowl and a brass jam kettle, but even so it was a surprise. The mixing bowl did not survive, and the clothes airer that was beneath them was rather distorted (it’s metal – if it had been wood, it would have been smashed), but everything else survived pretty much unscathed. Except the shelves, and the wall. We were left with holes in the  wall and damage to the plasterboard (dry-wall) . The lower brackets were still attached to the wall, but the upper shelf (the culprit, as it turned out) had departed from the wall in its entirety with the brackets still attached and taken quite a bit of the plasterboard with it.

So, what to do? List the cookery books on e-bay? Put up new shelves? Buy some floor-standing shelves? Or dither for ages in a state of major indecision? So we went for the last one. I filled the holes in the wall; we bought some paint… and then we stalled… for a couple of months. The wall remained unpainted. The brackets that were still attached remained in the wall, we considered various pieces of furniture… and then we did nothing. Until a friend happened to phone one day and mention that his 30-year-old son had moved back in with them and was looking for work.

Admittedly, this doesn’t sound like the answer to many solutions, but Richard’s son is, in fact, a very skilled cabinet-maker. And so, after a bit of discussion, we commissioned Tim to make us a fitted storage unit for the kitchen – somewhere to store all the preserving equipment as well as all the preserved food I make each summer. In addition, there will be shelves standing on part of the work-surface, so they won’t be able to fall off the wall and I can keep all my books – hurrah!

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we have a plan!

After much discussion, we agreed on a design and then came the issue of sourcing the timber. Tim visited a local saw mill to make sure the wood was good quality and stored properly before ordering it. Of course, when it arrived, some wasn’t up to spec. so more had to be ordered. Then he hurt his back and that delayed things a bit. During all this time, Tim was moving out of his parent’s home and setting up his new workshop, but we didn’t mind that it was taking a bit of time, we weren’t in a rush.

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a sunny wall – with a few of Pauline’s light-catcher rainbows

And then, on Saturday I got a phone call to say that he was nearly ready to install the cupboards and would this week be convenient? The answer, of course, was “yes”, but that meant spending Sunday making the space ready. There was a dresser to be moved and a wall to be painted. Of course, once all the preparation had been done, the wall was painted fairly quickly… which is where the yellow comes in. We bought environmentally friendly paint, which goes on like a dream and does not smell (there are no VOCs in it). It’s the same brand that we used to paint the limery and that has stood up well to a very challenging environment, so this should be good for the kitchen.

And now, we await the arrival of Tim later in the week… apparently he’s just oiling the work top one last time. I can’t wait!

Relishing a fruity bargain

Every summer I make a trip or two to buy some exotic fruit and hunt for edible bargains. Early on Friday mornings, throughout the year, a fruit and veg supplier sets up his stall in Newcastle Emlyn and, amongst the standard green grocer’s fare, there are many bargains to be had. You can’t guarantee what he will be selling off cheaply and the best bargains need to be cooked or eaten quickly, but it’s always worth a visit. In the past I’ve bought very cheap nectarines, tomatoes, mushrooms, mangoes… and I’ve brought them home for bottling.

So yesterday, rather than my early morning swim, I had an early morning shopping trip. The best bargain I found was organic pineapples – two for £1. The tops were looking somewhat worse for wear, but the fruits themselves seemed generally sound, and I bought four. I also managed to get some peaches, although they didn’t have any big boxes and I will be returning in the hope of finding some more later in the summer.

Earlier in the year we were served pineapple and chilli relish at a restaurant and I had managed to recreate this at home with tinned pineapple (which, until then, I hadn’t bought for years). The fresh ones, along with the current abundance of home-grown chillies meant that it was the perfect time to make a larger batch of this relish. I simply chopped the pineapple, added a little sugar (to help with the preservation) and water, and cooked it up with chillies. First I added a Hungarian black, then a Romanian yellow and finally two lemon drops before I reached the desired heat. The addition of three chopped red chillies that have no heat (a disappointment from 2015 and stored in the freezer) added a little colour and also a visual signal of the contents (lest we should accidentally mistake it for something to eat for dessert). Into hot 0.25l Kilner jars and twenty minutes in a hot water bath, and the relish was ready for storage. Very easy.

This morning I bottled some of the peaches. The flesh is pale, but the syrup is a beautiful pink colour:

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bottled peaches

And finally I’ve making a few jars of peach, lime and red currant jam. We are not big jam-eaters, but it is nice in a Victoria sponge. We’ve got loads of red currants this year and still haven’t used up all last year’s crop, plus I found some lime halves in the freezer with their zests removed (having been used in a lime drizzle cake a while ago),  so I thought I’d do something creative. Peach jam does not set without the addition of pectin, so I am hoping that the currants and lime will be sufficient.

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peach, red currant and lime jam

I love food preservation – opening one of these jars in winter will be like bringing summer into the house.

Three Things Thursday: 20 July 2017

My weekly exercise in gratitude – three things that are making me smile – feel free to steal this idea with wild abandon and fill your blog [or Twitter account or Facebook page or diary or life in general] with happiness.

First, crashed out dog. We went to visit Mama Snail on Monday to celebrate her birthday. A great time was had by all including the dogs. Sam gets rather over-excited by going visiting and made me smile by spending the whole of Tuesday like this:

Second, courgettes. The plants have grown hugely and we are about to harvest our first of the year… all grown on waste (paper, cardboard, old compost, grass clippings, kitchen scraps).

Third, black Hungarian chillies. My friend Ann gave me this plant and it’s now laden with chillies. I can’t wait to try them, especially having read this link sent by another friend, Gary.

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they turn red when ripe, but are delicious when black too

So, those are three things making me smile this week. What is making you happy?

-oOo-

Emily of Nerd in the Brain originally created Three Things Thursday, but it’s now being hosted by Natalie of There She Goes.

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