Saturday, 31 October 2009


We keep hallowe'en here, in a small way.

This morning, ds and I made two jack o'lanterns. The small green one on the right in the photo above was off ds's own pumpkin plant, the large orange one I bought in the supermarket. Note for nervous readers: I used the sharp knife. Ds was limited to a spoon to scrape out the seeds.

During the week, we also made these hallowe'en lanterns, using jam jars, black sugar paper, orange and green tissue paper, and tealights. They look pretty good all ranged together.

Ds is off out with his dad to collect a sweetie haul, while I stay home to answer the door to other revellers. If you keep this festival, enjoy your hallowe'en celebrations!

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

TLBG: Water Conservation

I'm a week late with this post, but never mind.

Last week's topic on that little bit greener blog was water conservation.

A few years ago, our family invested in a dishwasher. At the time, I felt some environmental guilt about this, even though it was an A-rated appliance, because I had the impression that dishwashers used a lot of energy and water. Still, a lot of our personal energy was being wasted, standing over the sink. And certainly I never realised how much time was involved in washing up, until my evenings were liberated by not having to do it.

Since then, I've discovered that actually a dishwasher is a good thing, environmentally speaking, compared to washing up by hand. Apparently a day's washing up by hand typically uses 20 gallons of water, whereas a modern dishwasher uses less than 8 gallons. Look here if you want to read more

I'm not sure our dishwasher is quite as wonderful as all that, even though we routinely use the economy setting, because it is several years old now, and new ones are probably more energy efficient.

I also suppose it depends on how many people live in your household, and how much washing-up is actually generated. We are a family of four at home, and run the full machine once a day (except when I've had a baking session, when I might need to run a second load.)

Friday, 23 October 2009


From this:

(c. seven weeks)

to this:

(seven years!)

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

A glut of Autumn apples

I collected these windfalls in our garden yesterday. The tree is still loaded with apples, so there'll be more to come. Our apple consumption has shot up: baked apples on Friday, apple crumble for Sunday lunch. I've now started palming apples off on friends and neighbours, as we can't possibly eat them all. We'll have to keep a few in reserve, though, as ds has expressed an interest in apple-bobbing at Hallowe'en.

In the search for ideas of what else to do with the apples, I came across this yummy-looking recipe, in ds's Shrek Cookbook (which is unfortunately now out of print):

I shall also be turning to A Little House Cookbook, which contains collected recipes and food history related to the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. PP 122 - 133 cover apple turnovers, apple pie, birds' nest pudding, fried apples and onions, and apple-core vinegar.

I've learned a lot about frontier foods, and American cookery in general, from this book. I was surprised to discover that the "biscuits" referred to in the Little House books are actually what English people would call a dinner roll! Over here, a biscuit is a hard object, such as Americans might call a cookie, or maybe a cracker?

However, it's not always easy to transpose the recipes for an English kitchen. The amounts are in American measures, which is not insurmountable, but it is impossible to buy salt pork, or some of the other supplies, over here, and I also have no idea how to translate "homogenized milk", "lima" or "navy" beans into UK English. If any American readers know the answer to this, please leave a comment and enlighten me!

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Ahoy there!

Ds's class topic for this term is pirates. Next week they are off on a day-trip for pirate-themed adventures, for which suitable pirate attire may be worn.

I looked in my copy of Jean Greenhowe's Party Costumes for Kids. This gave me some ideas for putting together a pirate costume. Most of the basics - striped top, bandana handkerchiefs, striped socks, belt with buckle - were already to be found in our house, but I had to do something about the trousers.

Rather than sacrificing a pair of ds's existing trousers, I bought some skull-and-crossbones printed fabric in John Lewis. Using the method from Sew Hip issue 7, which I previously used for my mermaid pyjama pants, I drafted a pattern to produce some simple long shorts, with an elasticated waist. It took less than an hour to stitch and fit these.

ETA: Here is ds wearing his pirate outfit, all ready for the trip.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Box delivery

Just to reassure you all, dear readers, when I posted the last entry, I was already on the mend. For about a week between the previous two posts, though, I was too ill even to contemplate using the PC. Gasp!

Since I've been better, we've been clearing up in the garden. The tomato and bean plants have been removed, and 40 Spring bulbs planted.

We're in a lull in terms of home-grown veggies, as the potatoes, beans, tomatoes and salad crops are all gone. Our brussels sprouts and leeks plants are still in the growing stage, so as an interim measure, I've tried an organic delivery from Riverford organics. Inside this box were potatoes, carrots, a romanesco cauliflower, a bag of swiss chard, onions, leeks, corn-on-the-cob and a pointed cabbage.

This box is allegedly for 2-3 people for a week. However, I doubt very much that we'll have eaten it all in a week, as although we are a family of four at home, one is only small and another is very picky. Also, I forgot about the delivery and bought a bag of potatoes at the supermarket, so we now have a surfeit of potatoes in the house. I hope they will last better now the weather is cooling down.

I love the Autumn season. Don't even mind raking a few leaves in this "season of mists and mellow fruitfulness" (as cited in "To Autumn"; thank you, Mr John Keats). My "moss'd cottage-trees" are indeed bent with apples, but the gourd-swelling didn't amount to much, at least as far as ds's pumpkins were concerned. Both of them ended up really rather measly, so I'll have to purchase one for Hallowe'en.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Sick Note

Oh no!