Monday 31 August 2020

Busy Weekend

It is bank holiday weekend in England but a holiday not celebrated here in Scotland.  So there are normal services here on the Island although we feel it is a celebration, as we leave the hazy days of Summer behind and move into Autumn.  The last holiday before Christmas and the last chance to enjoy the great outdoors and get as many outside tasks done as possible.  Although the temperatures have dropped the sun can still be seen so we are still enjoying the nice weather.  The car went into the garage on Friday for a service so we took the time to do some shopping in Stornoway, a freezer was on top of the list.  A haircut another priority as it had not been cut since February.  What a difference that has made.  Finally, a supermarket shop topping off the store cupboard and replenishing the fresh food in the fridge.  There was a marked increase in the amount I spent as some goods continue to rise.

Work continues in the utility room as the wall are painted and the floor replaced.  I have made a new pelmet for the window and redone a chair which is handy for removing boots in those cooler months.

Gerard is having a bit of a flare up of RA so is sore at the moment and unable to do much so this room could take awhile.   Good job we are in no hurry.

Whilst the sewing machine was out I made a couple of stockings in readiness for Christmas.  I enjoyed the process, choosing the fabric and the embellishments.  Slowly but surely I am getting through the list.

I spent a few hours on Saturday in the kitchen chopping mint to make a mint sauce.  Dried mint was broken down and put into storage jars and more mint was hung to dry.  I also added some chilli oil to the store cupboard and had fun making some orchard fruit jam consisting of plums, pears and apples.

I went onto to make an apple strudel and some breakfast pastries ready for a leisurely breakfast Sunday and a sweet treat for afternoon tea.

All in all a very busy and productive weekend but one that was filled with activities that have been enjoyed.  I have spent a little time experimenting with some new art materials that I have bought but it is early days yet so I am not ready to share.  I love the idea of mixed media, maybe embroidery and acrylic paint or some sewing machine stitches and watercolour.  It is a work in progress...

Are you managing to fill your days?

See you soon.

Wednesday 26 August 2020

Storm Francis

 Thankfully Storm Francis passed us by as expected, we did get a flurry of wind but nothing too much out of the ordinary.  We are also thankful there was no rain so I would call it a good drying day.  I managed to get all my washing dry in a very short amount of time.  At times it was blowing almost horizontal on the line but it gave us something to focus on and laugh about, much needed in these strange times.

We took a short drive down to the Port of Ness to have a walk but there seemed to be a few people about so decided to drive back on ourselves and take a look at our favourite beach.  It was certainly blowing but not cold and was quite exhilarating watching as the waves make there journey to touch land and then recoil to start surging forward all over again.  There was some crashing and thrashing as the water hit the shoreline but certainly not the destruction anticipated or as expected of a storm.  Take a look for yourselves, the pictures talk for themselves.

We have been very lucky when I see the devastation around the UK of the damage and my heart goes out to all those affected by these extreme weather conditions that we are having.  Strangely, now here comes the rain so we are hunkering down in our little cottage and are going to enjoy doing a jigsaw together this afternoon or maybe a film.

...just because it made me smile.  Take care and stay safe.

See you soon.

Monday 24 August 2020

Garden Room Tour

 As always I do thank you for your comments and support on previous posts.  I am grateful to all those who left little snippets of advice on freezing eggs, I intend to give it a go.  The weather here is still idyllic with a slight breeze ensuring the midges are kept at bay.  We managed to get the grass cut and then spent a short while in the garden room having a sort out.  As requested let me take you on a little tour.  The sprouts, kale and cauli are thriving and are ready to be transplanted.

We are eating the salad leaves and onions daily and really enjoying them.  The onions are quite strong but add a real boost and flavour to our meals.

The tomatoes have been a mixed bag the ones we grew in hanging baskets have been a blessing, a very tasty tomato I suspect because they are so much closer to the light and the heat.  The others grown in grow bags are late developers and are only just starting to fruit.  The peppers too have also been a disappointment.

On a more positive note we have done so well with the potatoes and are harvesting them on a regular basis.  The harvest today consisted of potatoes, courgettes, mint, chives, rhubarb and of course eggs.

We intend to keep the indoor garden going throughout the Winter to see if we can indeed grow anything.  Not sure that we will have enough sunlight for any substantial growth but we shall see.

As you can see, some success and a lot of lessons learnt so that we can improve.  Everything put to good use.  The mint was finely chopped and made into mint sauce.  The chives chopped into an ice cube tray, a little water added and frozen to be used in soups/stews.

It makes me happy to add a little to our store cupboard and know that we will enjoy the taste of Summer in those dreary Winter days.  I came across an old recipe book today and browsed through it.  I found a recipe for apple and mint jelly which I will be making soon and another for rhubarb, orange and ginger jam, yum sounds delicious.

Well I will close for now and get down to some crafting which I will share on another post.  Take care and look after yourselves in these very strange times.

See you soon.

Saturday 22 August 2020

Winter Preparation

We have settled straight back into the rhythm of the Island and are enjoying our self imposed isolation.  We have already made  great headway into the tasks around the cottage and garden and things are looking good and taking shape.  The garden room needed a little work but we are already starting to enjoy its bounty and are harvesting something on a daily basis.  Salad leaves, tomatoes, spring onions and courgettes are plentiful so we are including these into our meals.  One of our lunches this week shows some salad leaves tomato and onion on a toasted seeded bun with homemade steak burger with a teaspoon of wholegrain mustard, very tasty.

One of our evening meals also consists of our garden bounty.  Courgettes, spring onions and tomatoes with a little basil and new potatoes cooked with mint.  Along with smoked haddock and a poached egg from our own chickens.

Both tasty and nourishing meals which give a lovely sense of achievement.  We have avoided the deserts this week and have already dropped a couple of pounds.  The rhubarb whilst we were away has gone berserk and although contained has spread a lot.  I must admit I am not disappointed and have been picking  and freezing it for a treat later on in the year.  A wonderful taste of Summer in those dreary days of Winter.  I may even make jam next week for a tasty treat with toast or my favourite scones.

We were blessed with scones from our neighbour on our return with a little note, such a lovely thought and greatly appreciated.

We were also given some beautiful freesias which have such a wonderful scent which has permeated around our little cottage.  Along with phone calls and emails we certainly feel blessed.

They are stunning and take pride of place on the dining table where we can admire them as we go about our daily tasks.  The days are getting shorter as we go through August, each day bringing us closer to another season.  Subtle changes are starting to appear but thankfully we are still getting some great weather giving us the opportunity to enjoy the beauty that surrounds us.  We intend to get out and about as much as we can before the weather breaks and we are forced indoors.  Our Winter preparations are almost complete, we have fuel in all its guises ready for the stove, logs, coal and peat.   The oil tank has been filled.  The store cupboard is full, we have been rewarded well with our garden bounty and next week will start to make some preserves.  We have a plentiful supply of provisions for various projects we want to achieve this Winter.  The Winter weight bedding is all ready to be changed over once the temperatures drop enough.  Candles are on hand.  As the hazy days of Summer become a distant memory we will move seamlessly into another phase and try to work out the best way to manage this terrible pandemic.  Hibernation is fast becoming a possibility!!!!!!! 

I intend to preserve some eggs, I thought about freezing them but it is not something that I have done before so would value your opinion.  I want to have some eggs on hand for baking just in case they stop laying.  I have pickled eggs before using an Amish recipe that were wonderful as part of a Winter salad but not frozen them.  Do you prepare for the change in seasons?

As always I thank you for your comments that are so uplifting.  A warm welcome to a new follower I do hope you find something of interest as I go through my little adventures of life.  Take care in these very strange times that we find ourselves in.

See you soon.

Thursday 20 August 2020

Home Sweet Home

I am back both to my little cottage and to the blog.  I have been away for awhile, as soon as shielding finished we decided to take the ferry over to the mainland and drive down to see the family.  It was just the tonic we needed, seeing everyone was a joy.  There were many tears of happiness as we saw each little family and were reassured  that they were safe and well.  My parents too are as well as can be expected in these difficult times.  We were sensible and took turns to drive and enjoyed the stunning views, the fauna and flora spectacular.  The stunning Cairngorms  area ablaze with colour.  An eclectic mix of greens of every shade and vibrant purple of the heather against the stark grey of the mountain rocks made for some amazing views.

I must admit after shielding for so long I was a little apprehensive about going out.  My anxiety was not about Covid19 but about the procedures in shops, distancing and such.  A fear of the unknown as we had not been out and about.  We decided to take a trip to town prior to our trip but I must admit that it didn't really help.  We were both a little uncertain as we boarded the ferry but soon relaxed as the day went on and we overcame each obstacle, a stop at the services and a picnic area.  We were a little worried about getting things wrong but were reassured by signs everywhere which were a comfort and boosted our confidence about been out and about.

How those Grandchildren of ours have grown.  Both Hector and Honey start school next month, they haven't had the usual introductions and haven't been to Nursery since March so I wouldn't be surprised if it isn't an easy transition.  It is the same for all children starting school so they are not alone.  They were very excited to show me their school uniforms so hopefully the excitement will last.  We are certainly living in strange times.

We spent most of our time away sitting in the garden enjoying the amazing weather.  We certainly got lucky with some amazing temperatures.  Dare I say too hot some days.  Thank goodness for the paddling pools each family had.  What fun we had with the children splashing around in the cooling water.  We were certainly spoilt with food too.  I have yet to weigh myself but feel sure that more weight has been added.  Some serious exercise and a sensible diet is certainly on the agenda.

I know that this trip will be considered unnecessary by some but for us and our mental health it felt like a trip of a lifetime.  With local lockdowns and talk of a 2nd wave we felt that this was the perfect time.  We are back and reassured that our family is safe and well.  We have stocked up on supplies that we need for some of our planned projects over the Winter months and are happy to be back home in our little cottage.  We have some wonderful treasured memories that will keep us glowing for quite some time.  We intend to isolate for 10 days just in case out of respect for our friends and neighbours.  In truth this is no hardship as we have plenty to do catching up with garden jobs which also includes the chickens.

As you can imagine, there is a lot to do here not least a stack of washing and ironing.  I do thank you for your emails and your concern about my absence but as you can see I am well and indeed jubilant about a very memorable trip away.  I will catch up with you all as soon as I can but in the meantime take care.

See you soon.

Saturday 1 August 2020

The End of Shielding

Today is the day that Scotland comes to an end of shielding.  As we look back and reflect on the past few months we have a lot to be thankful for.  There will be a lot of adjustments to be made as we leave our little cottage and get used to the 'new normal'.  We are a little apprehensive but are eager to make the most of things.  After all my efforts making masks, I have found it so difficult to wear one, the elastic seems to be the issue.

I will persevere of course but in the meantime I thought it prudent to try something else.  To this end I have made an infinity scarf using cotton fabric.

It is made up of 6 scraps of fabric:

1. 10 1/2" x 21"
2. 10 1/2" x 18"
3. 10 1/2" x 16"
4. 10 1/2" x 15"
5. 10 1/2" x 19"
6. 10 1/2" x 21"

1 - 3 form the outer scarf 4 - 6 the inner using 1/2 seam allowance.  Once the 2 pieces have been sewn right side together sew along the 2 long edges.  Piece 1 should face 3 piece 4 should face 6.  Leave a 4" opening and turn right side out and then hand stitch the gap.

It is snug and I am hopeful that this will suffice instead of the mask.

Time will tell. 

We have been thrilled with the produce we have grown in the indoor garden, we are harvesting salad leaves, rocket, courgettes and spring onions on a daily basis.  We need to think ahead a little more for next year and adopt the  successional  sowing method so we can stagger the harvest.  We have a lot to learn but are happy with our little experiments thus far.  The rhubarb is prolific and we seem to harvest a pan full every few days.  The herbs are hung all over the utility/kitchen drying out, I am thrilled with the quality of them.  The potatoes have also done well we have several varieties and we are pleased with them all.  The cauli and kale are doing well and we have started some sprouts off.  The tomatoes are enormous but as yet have not ripened but we are hopeful.  All in all we have been happy and are already planning for next season and indeed year.

 One of the problems we have had with shielding and online shopping is the over ordering of some produce particularly vegetables.  To this end rather than waste food I have been using oddments up to make a soup for the freezer.  This is a parsnip and sweet potato one, blended and all ready for a lazy day.

We have also been blessed with an abundance of eggs from our lovely ladies.  So we have been able to share them with neighbours and pickle some for the store cupboard.  The treat for this week was meringue, delicious with strawberries and cream topped with a little grated chocolate and nuts, decedent and mouth watering.

 A real treat that will be off the menu for a while as we start to detox and stop over indulging.  We have put on a few pounds over lockdown so we need to behave ourselves and get back to a more sensible diet and exercise programme.  We have already started to enjoy our walks once again.  What is not to enjoy when we are so blessed and surrounded by such beauty.

Well, that's all for now I have some cleaning and a few errands to run.  Take care and stay safe.

See you soon.