Friday, 22 February 2013


Good Afternoon to you,

Surprise.....I know I do not normally post on Friday's, but I am popping by to let you know, that the time has arrived for our trip to India. I will not be able to comment for the next few weeks, but I am excited about sharing all the photographs and recipes which I am going to gather.

Do you like the Indian silk pictures

they are both framed in 
beautiful gold frames.
Oops can you see my shadow?

These two handsome fellows,

Will be standing guard,

So it is time to say goodbye and
I look forward to seeing you soon.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013


Good Morning to you,

I have finally caught up with myself and I have made some English Marmalade, which I promised I would make a couple of weeks ago.

Marmalade can be bought quite cheaply these days, but there is nothing like making your own, knowing what ingredients are in the marmalade and knowing there are no harmful additives or preservatives...and I believe home made marmalade has a much nicer flavour.

Making this English Marmalade is quite a bit  different to the Grapefruit marmalade which we made  here

I did say that I would make Nigella's recipe, with Seville oranges, but instead I thought I would show you the traditional way of making marmalade.  It does take quite a while, so make it on a day when you are not in a hurry and you have plenty of time. 

Whilst I was making this marmalade I listened to an interview with Joan Armatrading on the radio, then when the interview finished I  listened to her cd and of course I sang a fashion....well I was on my own. 

I then listened to an audio book of The Lion in Winter, which I love almost as much as the film with Katherine Hepburn and Peter O'Toole. It was all very relaxing, as I was under no pressure to be anywhere, other than the kitchen.

I made 7 jars of marmalade in total, which will last quite a long time, some I will share with Phyllis when she comes to stay later in the year.

So, it is time to gather your equipment. You will need,

1 preserving pan
1 large deep, heavy based saucepan
7 medium sized glass jars
7 waxed discs
7 lids
sugar thermometer 

1 kg/2 1/4 lbs Seville Oranges
1 unwaxed lemon
2.2 litres or 9 cups of water
2kg/9 cups preserving sugar

1 large square of muslin
(I found this muslin with the red ribbon
tied around it, 
so I decided to leave the ribbon on when I
took this photograph).

Wash the oranges and the lemon
Cut into quarters

Remove the flesh, pips and pulp

Leaving just the peel.
This is a fiddly job, but I used a flexible
knife which made the job a lot easier.

Place the flesh, pips and pulp
in a large square of muslin and tie.

Decide on the size of muslin once
you have assembled the flesh, pips and pulp
as this will give you a better idea of
how much muslin you will need.

Cut the peel finely or coarsely,
depending on how you like
your marmalade.
Personally I like it cut finely.
(This took me about an hour to do.)

Place the water,

peel and muslin bag in a large saucepan,
or preserving pan
and bring to the boil.
Lower the heat and simmer for 2 hours
Removing any foam which appears as
this allows for a clear marmalade.

Remove the muslin bag carefully
and place in a large bowl
Remember, the contents will be
piping hot.

I find doing this first, before I place
the bag between two plates much easier.
Any juice caught in the bottom of the
bowl is then tipped back into the saucepan.

Place the muslin bag between
two plates.
Holding the plates over the pan
carefully squeeze to remove
as much liquid as possible.

Stir in the sugar until it has dissolved,
then boil rapidly until setting point
has been reached, 105C/220F

Ladle into warm, sterilized jars and seal
with wax paper discs.

When the marmalade is cold, label and date.

I have to apologise for the quality of the photographs today.  The morning started off with the sun streaming through the window, so I thought because I had good light, I could use a beautiful cloth which Danielle bought for me from Thailand.  I was wrong, as the sun disappeared and along came big black clouds. In future I am going to use a white tablecloth when I bake or cook during the winter, as I have realised I get a much better quality of photograph.  Then I can use my darker coloured cloths, during the summer, when the light is much brighter.

What is the saying "Your never too old to learn".

Enjoy your marmalade, it will take a while to make, but so worthwhile.

This week I shall be joining,

Take care and I will see you later in the week.

Saturday, 16 February 2013


Good Morning to you,

Firstly, I would like to thank Kathryn from The Dedicated House who kindly featured my white beaded cushion this week see here.   I was over the moon.   Kathryn hosts Make it Pretty Monday, please pop over and visit her, I know she will be thrilled to see you. 

What can be inside this rather old, well used, red book. The cover is quite plain, it has a motif which is two cotton spools and a sewing needle. The cover appears to be quilted and you can feel the slight texture as you run your hands across it.

Shall we take a peek inside,

This is a beautiful carpet, worked by Queen Mary, grandmother to our present day Queen, Elizabeth II. The twelve panels were worked separately and the border was added afterwards. The carpet, which is worked entirely in cross stitch, took nine years to complete.

Yes, it is a late 1940's early 1950's Needlecraft Book. This book contains everything you need to know about sewing, dressmaking, dress accessories, embroidery, knitting, crochet, toy making, lace making, mending, patchwork and soft furnishings. As you can see, this is a very comprehensive needlecraft book. It is a book I use on a regular basis, because although fashions change, needlework does not.

The description of these collars reads "The straight collar on the left looks most attractive on a V-neck dress. It is made in crisp white organdie with blue embroidery and trimming. On the right is the square tailored collar, which has a narrow frilled edging and a Broderie Anglaise insertion."

These collars remind me of ones which we wore during the 1980's. Do you remember the styles which Princess Diana wore....the square collar is so very similar.

This photograph shows an original Victorian belt, made of velvet, and is boned and laced. It was made in 1880 and the actual waist measurement is 18 inches. There are twelve shaped panels with fine light boning sewn in to the seams. Silk cord is laced through the eyelet holes.

Can you imagine a waist measurement of 18 inches, I think as women, our shapes are changing. I did think that the design was like a corset and so must have pulled the waist in, but this is a belt, so I don't believe that would be possible.

"Designed for cold winter mornings, this smart house-coat, with a double breasted fastening, shawl collar and full skirt, should be made in woollen fabric in a gay colour. "

As beautiful as this house-coat is, I would never get any housework done, it would be to cumbersome. These house-coats were presumably worn by ladies of leisure.

Again, go back a few years to 1971. I owned a black Maxi-coat, in exactly the same design as this house-coat. George said, it was as if I glided when I walked because he could not see my feet......but it was very fashionable and it kept me warm in the winter.

"This attractive slip, is suitable for day or evening wear. It has a gathered frill edge with lace round the hem, and the figure flattering yoke is finished with narrow lace."

I only know two people who still wear slips and that is Phyllis and Sadie who are both 82 years of age.

"This very attractive nightdress has a deep band of smocking round the waist and a narrower band trims the top of the bodice. It has wide shoulder-straps and the hem is finished with a gathered frill. The top edge is frilled to match."

One of the first things I learnt to sew when I was a school girl was a nightdress, perhaps not as elegant as this, but just as simple to make.

....and here is the pattern, just two, long, pieces of material, which are smocked and sewn.

"Warm without being bulky, this bed jacket is worked in a crazy-pattern crochet. The straight "cut" and Magyar-style sleeves give ease of fit, the only fastenings being the ribbon ties at the neck, waist and sleeves."

I remember, when I was a little girl, Ivy used to knit her own bed jackets.  She would wear them to bed, to keep her warm and cosy through the long winter nights.

"This is a pattern for a dinner frock. The bodice is a straight piece draped at the hip into a centre panel.  The two-piece bodice has cap sleeves and is gathered at the shoulder seam to give soft folds at the front."

Again this dress, which has padded shoulders, puts me in mind of the dresses we wore in 1980's. I had a similar dress in pale blue, it was a little shorter, the hem reached just below my knee, but otherwise, it could be the same dress.

"The motif on the centre panel of the rectangular cushion is Jacobean in style. The other cushion has applique patchwork, the motifs are made up of diamonds of plain and patterned fabrics.

I realise the first cushion is Jacobean in style, but it really does put me in mind of  cushions which can be bought at Ikea. I think it is the beautiful embroidery.

If you are lucky enough to have a sewing room, take a look around it and look at everything you have.  Then take a look at this photograph,

Like me, you probably have shelves, filled with material, patterns, cotton, ribbon, books, wool, beads, embroidery threads....the list is endless. Now look at the picture above, to see what our mother's and grandmother's used.

"Here you see part of a room which has been made into a cosy sewing corner. Note the useful cabinet on the left to hold cottons, scissors, patterns and so on. It is essential that the sewing machine stands in a good light, and that the chair is very comfortable."

Our mother's and grandmother's achieved such beautiful work with so very little equipment and materials.  It made me think about what I have and how lucky I am to have so much, in a room, I can call my sewing room.  I am grateful for what I have and I am full of admiration for the women who went before us, who achieved so much with so little.

I enjoy looking back to a life my mother and grandmother lived.  Yes I appreciate it was austere, and often a hard life, but I do believe in these times, where money has to stretch further for families, we can learn a thing or two from them.

Take care and I will see you later in the week.

This week I shall be joining Claudia at Mockingbird Hill Cottage.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013


Good Morning to you,

How do you fancy, a cup of coffee and a slice of cake? 

You do.....fabulous, as that is what I am in the mood for....the weather is cold and miserable and this is just the ticket, so I have cut three for you, one for me and a spare slice in case a friend pops by for a visit.  I have someone in mind who I know loves Lemon Drizzle Cake!


Butter and line a 1kg loaf tin
Heat the oven temperature to 180c


125g unsalted butter
150g caster sugar
3 lemons, juice and finely grated rind
(I  only had two lemons, so I added some 
bottled lemon juice which was in my
store cupboard)
175g plain flour
2 tsp of baking powder
4 tablespoons milk


2 medium sized eggs


2 oz granulated sugar
Remaining lemon juice

Cream together the butter and sugar,
until the mixture
turns pale in colour.

add the
lemon zest and 1 1/2 tablespoons of lemon juice,
mix together until the lemon juice and zest is 
evenly incorporated.

Beat the eggs
 and add to the cake mixture a little at a 

Beat in the sifted flour and baking powder

then add the milk

Beat thoroughly until the flour is incorporated.
At this point, I must admit it is unusual to
beat the flour into the cake mixture, as
ordinarily I would fold the flour into the mix,
but this method does work.

Pour into a buttered, lined 1kg loaf tin

Bake for 45 minutes

When the cake has been in the oven for 40 minutes, pour the sugar and remaining lemon juice in a pan. Place over a low heat and cook until the sugar dissolves.  Simmer for a further 2 minutes.

Remove the cake from the oven and check to make sure it is fully cooked, it should be a light, golden colour.

Keeping the cake in the tin,  gently spoon the syrup over the cake, until all the syrup has been used.  You will find that it will take a few minutes for the syrup to be absorbed.   

After five minutes, using a palette knife, run it around the edges of the cake, to make sure it will come away from the tin. BUT, leave the cake in the tin to absorb all the liquid.

When the cake has cooled, carefully remove it from the tin. You will have a wonderfully moist lemon cake to enjoy.

There are numerous recipes for Lemon Drizzle Cake, I know some have lemon yoghurt added to the mix.  This recipe was given to me by a good friend many years ago, so I do not know it's origin.  It was one of those recipes which was handwritten on a piece of paper and tucked away in my file.  It is used over and over again as it is a quick, no nonsense, type of cake, which can be made very quickly.

If you live in an area of the world which grows it's own lemons, then I would suggest using two lemons. As when I baked this cake and used three lemons picked from our lemon tree, the flavour was much too tart. Nowadays we buy our lemons from the market so I find using three lemons is fine.

Enjoy this cake, it really is a quick "I fancy a piece of cake" recipe.

I will see you later in the week, so until then take care.

Sunday, 10 February 2013


Good Afternoon to you,

Thank you so much, for all your get well soon messages. I am pleased to report that I am on the mend....the worst is over....hooray!

Last week, I had promised to make some orange marmalade, but because I have been unwell, I was not able to get to the kitchen. Yes, I was ill, but that normally would not have stopped me, but George practically stood on sentry duty, outside the bedroom door, to make sure I did not escape into the kitchen.

I am not very good when I am ill, as rather than stay in bed and recover, I try to get on with things, but of course, it takes much longer to get better. All I kept thinking about was the marmalade I had promised to make,

but, in it's place, I have something that I think will interest you.

The Newcastle Daily Journal

Thursday 14th January 1926

We could have gone to  The Palace Theatre
where we could have seen the pantomime
Puss in Boots or
The Empire 
which had phenomenal success with
another pantomime,
The Forty Thieves.
Even today, pantomimes are very popular 
during the festive period.
Sadie, my mother in law, took her great
grandson to see his first pantomime, Aladdin,
in December of last year and he absolutely
loved it.  
There were lots of  children calling out 
"he's over there",
"oh no he isn't", oh yes he is!"
Great Fun.

We can see what is showing
 at the cinema
or as it was known in those days
The Picture House.
Do you fancy a story about intrigue,
gripping mystery and a
beautiful girl's devotion?
Yes? well the film for us is,
The Scarlet Honeymoon.

We could go to the 
The Picture House
wearing our dance frock
which we bought for half price at
The Copenhagen.

After dancing the night away, think about returning
home and switching on your lights. Just
like me, you will do it automatically, as it is part of our day to day life, but just
take a look at this advert.
Can you imagine a life without electricity.
This advert is about having electricity installed. 

I was so surprised to read about this
divorce, as Ivy (not my grandmother)
seemed to be leading two lives....but
was caught out.
How distressing it must have been 
for Mr Ivan Owen Belgrave Shirley to see
his wife leave on the afternoon of their
wedding day and not to see her again
until he caught sight of her in London
accompanied by another man.

.....and true to my heritage,
I could not leave you without a mention
about the weather.....even if it was in France.
It seems in January 1929 France was
experiencing some very cold weather.
Even the French Riviera had snow!

I hope you enjoyed reading a small part of this newspaper, I will show you more later.

Have a lovely day and I will see you later in the week.

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