Sunday, 8 June 2014

In my Kitchen

Well it's the last evening of the Spring banks holidays for me and my youngest we've had two whole weeks off together , Mr P. went back to work a week ago and my eldest went back to school a week ago too .

So, today all I wanted to do was spend some time in the kitchen and do some preparing for the busy week ahead . The kitchen really is my go too place to chill and boy I've had fun today ! I MADE BUTTER , I'm soooooo excited . This is something I've wanted to do for ages and today I made my first ever batch ( well actually that's a small lie I do vaguely remember making it at primary school when I was about 8 years old , 33 yrs ago !  ) .

I used a 600ml carton of double cream and popped in  my mixer set it to medium power and about 2 minutes later I had butter and buttermilk , wahayyy  one very excited me. I separated the butter and buttermilk ( saving the later for making some soda bread ) , In a fine mesh sieve I quickly rinsed the butter , then I started the process of patting it with two wooden spatulas to remove any remaining butter milk  , it was at this point I added a small amount of sea salt flakes. Once no more liquid was coming from the pat I popped it in the old butter dish my husband grew up with . Wow , I am impressed at how easy this process was and best of all the by product I can use in baking .
Buttermilk is ideal for Irish Soda Bread , this is a spiced fruit version I've started making for breakfast and I love the fact I can use my favourite second hand cast Iron pan to bake it in .

It is really simple to make ( preheat oven to 200degreesC/180Cfan/gas6 ) :Put your oats in a mixing bowl and add the diced butter . With your fingers rub the butter into the oats until they are totally coated .Stir in the Flours (note I use only Plain flour as that's all I've and in and it works fine ) ,caster sugar, bicard , mixed spices, 1tsp salt , the raisins , sultanas , dates and mixed peel .
:Pour over the buttermilk and quickly stir in with a round ended knife , note the mixture is a little wet . Tip onto a floured surface and gently bring together to a ball. Put on a floured baking sheet and cover the dough with the demerara sugar slightly pressing it into the top . Using a floured knife cut a big cross in the centre and bake for about 30 to 35 mins until crusty on the outside , note mine seem to take about 40 mins and I use a skewer to check its cooked all the way through , just like checking a cake .
Serve warm or cold with a bit of butter , nom nom .
 So in preparation for the week ahead and making everyone's packed lunches I made a batch of scones and a Madeira cake too . For my packed lunches down at my Studio this week I thought I would go with a nod to Greek cuisine , I made some Tazziki and some marinated Feta cheese .

At the moment there are quite a few buzz words like self sufficiency , sustainably , simple living and living frugally that keep coming up in conversation between me and Mr P when we're discussing our lives at present and what we want for the future of our family . We dream of living on our own little parcel of land and becoming quite self sufficient ,but  just because we've not got there yet , doesn't mean we can't start approaching our lives with as many of these ideals as fit with living in a Terraced house in town . 
So to the kitchen on my quest to be more self sufficient !!
Yesterday I was on a take it easy sort of day  ( exhausted as well as either a pulled muscle or trapped nerve in the left of my neck from all the lifting, after packing/cleaning my mums flat for her move then unpacking it all the next day in her new place . But we left her with a fully functioning , comfy , dressed flat that she could just start living in without loads to do . That was well worth any tiredness and aching body parts . ) , so yes a very take it easy sort of day and in the morning I had a thought . Why am I buying dried herbs that I grow in my garden ? I do use them fresh but in Autumn /winter their not at their best so I resort to my dried herbs and have you seen the price of herbs recently !! So I decided I should be preparing my herbs for drying while they are abundant and at there best , so scissors in hand ( and still in my p.j's ) I went off into my little back yard and started snipping .

So I have little bunches of Rosemary , Sage and Thyme wafting their heady sent in my kitchen whilst they dry  , the sage is wrinkling up nicely and its only been hanging for 1 day   . This should help save a bit of money in the future.

Tomorrow I'm back to working in my little studio space and my next lot of makes have been making slow progress through the holidays so I need to knuckle  down to it .

        But here is a date for your diaries the last in our present programme of Rag Rug Day workshops  .
As it says on the poster , recycling never looked so good !
So thanks for popping by and I hope you all have a lovely week , if your interested in booking on the workshop please just pop over to my face book page for Handmade Over Yonder and message me and I will get in touch .
Ta Ta for now 
Tracy xx

Friday, 30 May 2014

Hello x

Well hello lovely folks , I unbelievably have an evening free so I thought I would pop by and say hello . 

Where to start it's been sooooo long ( 5 weeks by my reckoning )  but it feels nice to be here . 

Lets start with a mum update , as you will realise from my previous posts my life took a drastic change of direction when she had her accident . But I am pleased to say her health , her mobility and independence improves rapidly, she is now back home and had her Halo (a metal frame attached to the skull to help neck fractures heal ) removed a week ago . I went with her for the procedure as I didn't want her to go through it on her own . She is now and for the foreseeable future living in a neck brace , she unfortunately got the news that her neck fracture hasn't healed as the vertebrae  has fractured in 2 places and could take up 8 months to heal or maybe never !!  Her response to this news was 
"oh well , even if I have to live in a neck brace for the rest of my life at least I'm still here ! " 
my mum is truly an inspiration to me . Her out look on life is amazing , she battles on through with a cup half full never half empty and believe me she's had a life that she has had to battle on through , she is one tough little Yorkshire woman . She moves to a new level access flat next week ( she has organised this all herself ) and  I'm going help her out next week with some parts of the move . She is very excited about not having to deal with any more stairs , she is still understandably very nervous of stairs . She has to have another operation  in the future but for now she is healing  and her life has improved drastically and she is glad to be home and we are unbelievably happy to have her on the mend and at home . 

This improvement in my mum has also had a knock on effect in the last few weeks as I'm now getting back to a normal pace of life and I now have room in my head to think . I am able to devote more time to the creative aspects of my life and my little business Handmade Over Yonder is starting to pick up pace . I was able to put some of my handmade creations in my Etsy shop last week , which felt sooooo good . 

Whilst I am making some of my crochet pin cushions I am attempting to write the pattern so I can offer it in kit form at a future date . 

 I've also created a little work space at home for those times when I can't get into The Studio . I have now started my next batch of Linen Hares . I love this starting point where I put the collection together . This has really made me feel like life is getting back to normal .

 I've also had time to play and experiment !! Oooooo the start of a crochet fabric rug , I love giving old fabric a new life . 

I have also been pootling away at two ongoing crochet projects , firstly my shawl .......

.......................and my youngest son Giant granny blanket.

I feel life is ticking over nicely at the moment and I am definitely getting my mojo back .

 I would like to thank every one who pops by here and on my Facebook page for Handmade Over Yonder  and leaves me comments of support and encouragement  , it has really kept me going the last few months when life has felt unbelievably hard . 
Thank you to all my wonderful customers who support my little business ' Handmade Over Yonder ' and show a great deal of patience in waiting for things to be made and offered for sale . 
I really do appreciate you all and thanks for popping by .
Have a lovely weekend and 
Ta ta for now
 Tracy xx

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Happy Easter

Yep , it's been a while but I'm popping by to wish everyone a Happy Easter . I hope every one is relaxing and doing whatever they like to  do at this time of year . I know we are !

The weeks are whizzing by and to be quite honest I've been very low of late and struggling to cope with every thing that has been going on . As well as my mums accident ( she is still in care and progressing nicely but we are looking at the end of May for her Halo frame removing which means she will be back at home then ) my husband has changed his job as well as the hours he works , unfortunately  he is now working a lot of late shifts . So my routine as I knew it has totally changed . But we all have things that are sent to challenge us and I just need to adapt and stop feeling sorry for myself . Yet I think the thing that has really unsettled me is my lack of creating/making time , creating is what makes me tick , it's who I am and I am never more happy and at peace than when I have a needle in my hand stitching or making something or trying out a new idea . I have managed to get a couple of makes under my belt which I think has just about kept me from going loopy . On my last post I shared with you Mr & Mrs Mill Mouse , well before they were dispatched to their new home I had a play with their packaging which I got quite excited about . I seem to have a thing for brown paper and boxes at the moment .

I loved doing this , stitching a box lid and card bunting with my sewing machine ........

..........and putting little extras with the finished item and giving things an extra special tweak.

I've also been experimenting with using bright colours too.

I keep grabbing moments to sew even if it's only for 20 minutes .

But to help keep my sanity I have spent a lot of time in the kitchen  , it is my retreat too place when life feels a bit hard or I'm stressed . I think this is why I have always had a weight problem ever since I was a child as I've always been an emotional eater , except now I share my makes rather than eating it all myself and  feed other people  ,  my family are the main recipients of my  makes but also very appreciative neighbours often have a potion of something indulgent going their way too.

Homemade Apple pie , mmmmmmmm.

Home grown Rhubarb which I turned into ..........

Rhubarb and Ginger cheesecake .

An all time favourite Rhubarb and Apple crumble with custard .

I do cherish and get comfort from the fact that I am able to provide , homegrown , homemade and handmade things for my family and friends as well as myself and I am extremely thankful for this as it is such an important and integral part of my life and at the moment the thing that keeps me grounded .

I've had a lot of pleasure over the last couple of days preparing for Easter and I gave myself a little treat for Easter in the way of a small bunch of  Ranunculus . I decided to make a Spring time flower arrangement with theses as well as adding some in season flowers from my tiny little garden  . I just adore the wild looking floral arrangement and it cheers me up every time I look at it. It's so nice to enjoy flowers from plants you have nurtured with your own hands .

Back in the kitchen my youngest helped me to make decorations for our Easter cake , which this year is Carrot cake . We had great fun making fondant carrots .......

........and I had great fun making the cake , as well as having a slice today , nom nom nom !

It's been so nice to to share with you guys , I do miss not getting chance to call by as often as I used to . 
Once again I would like to wish you all a Happy Easter .
Thanks for popping by and ta ta for now .