Our blog is dedicated to seasonal living: cooking with local produce (sometimes our own), sewing for the home and searching out vintage bargains.

We believe that most of the pleasure is in the journey - in the making and creating, even if in a simple way.

Monday, 28 February 2011

Day out in Shrewsbury

Shrewsbury is such an interesting town to visit, full of half-timbered buildings and hidden alleyways to explore.  I'm not sure if you can make it out, but this little street on the right of the photo is Grope Lane.  For all too obvious reasons this always brings a smile to Les's face, even more so when I have to anticipate and discourage likely silly behaviour!

The view down Grope Lane...all very civilised.  Lovely little shops to explore...I can recommend Wysteria Lane for gorgeous gifts.

And Bear Steps, leading up to the sweetest little half-timbered building, used as a cafe, with ceilings so low even I can hardly stand up straight.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Simple Small Beginnings

It's probably a little early but I sowed some salad leaf seeds today. I reckon if I keep them away from any frost, we should soon be eating our own small scale produce - and you can't get much smaller scale than this! I would urge anyone to have a go. All you need is a little compost (suitable for vegetables), a tray and a packet of seed. See, I said it was simple.

Friday, 25 February 2011

That'll be just one and six please...

...now let me find some change.  Ting...watch the fingers!  It's a bit like the notoriously dangerous till in Open All Hours.  
I've just realised that I've never grown out of playing shops.

My sister had one of these Casdon cash registers when she was little so when I saw this in an antiques emporium I just had to buy it for her as an early birthday present (birthday's not until December so it's very early).   Funny how the original toy might have influenced the future as she owns a shop!

Now, can I get you anything else?

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Soup and sunshine

Carrot and coriander soup

I finally peeled some carrots to make soup.  I'm just giving an estimated guess of measurements here as I didn't bother to weigh anything at the time...that's slapdash for you!

1 large onion, finely chopped
2 oz butter
1 and a half lbs carrots, peeled and sliced
2 pints chicken stock
handful fresh coriander, chopped or 2 tsp dried

Melt the butter in a large pan.  Add the chopped onion and soften gently for a five minutes.  Add the carrots and cook for a further five minutes.  Add chicken stock and coriander and cook for about half an hour until softened.
Liquidise in food processor in batches.  Return to the pan, season and heat through to serve. 

Meanwhile in the garden the winter jasmine is flowering away cheerfully.  A summer jasmine grows on this same trellis, but isn't quite so pretty right now...that's because I took the secateurs to it for a major prune, something I'd been putting off for several years...and broke my secateurs in the process. 
It'd got to the stage where it had wrapped aroung the guttering and threatened to take over the garage roof.  Hope the poor plant recovers because it looks in a very sorry state...just a few bare sticks! 

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Vintage Knits

A friend found these old knitting patterns in a charity shop for me. I am really enjoying looking through them. I had a thought - don't know if anyone agrees. Wool shops these days are absolutely packed with fabulous wool, this area has really taken off; however, in my opinion patterns have not kept up. So, if someone a lot cleverer than me was to put old patterns together with new wools...vintage with a twist?

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Beautiful and useful

I wish I could say that I'd sewn this little quilt, but it wasn't my effort that produced something so gorgeous.  Instead, I found it in a charity shop and just couldn't resist it.

Someone has put so much work into it...a star design, all hand stitched, quilted and bound around the edge with the pretty floral fabric.  At the very least I can appreciate the skill and artistry (not to mention the time) that's been spent in creating something special.  Don't you agree?

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Turning to gold


Well, I've at last bought some Seville oranges and made marmalade...should keep us going for a while. 

 But carrot and coriander soup's not done yet...tomorrow maybe!

And still on the gold theme, I couldn't resist a gorgeous ranunculus (more orangey-red than gold) and a pretty primula to brighten up the back door.  The harsh winter has played havoc with the pots I planted up in autumn, so they look terribly drab right now.

Shopping Delight

I went to the market hall in our local town yesterday - always guaranteed to bring a lift to the spirits. I looked around. I could see homemade cakes, really nice knitting wool and these...how could I resist. 

Tuesday, 15 February 2011


It's taken several years to establish clumps of snowdrops in the garden...worth the wait though.  Most have been donated by generous gardening friends and relatives...the no-cost way of making a garden and one I'm very keen on!
These double snowdrops have a bit more impact than the single ones.  I've not a clue what the variety is - just enjoy their fragile beauty anyway.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Soda bread is very easy to make. I use sour milk (full-fat). Alternatively, you can use buttermilk, or a mixture of milk and natural yoghurt.
12oz/350g good wholemeal flour
6oz/175g plain white flour
1 good teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
250ml milk
Pinch of salt
Teaspoon of sugar.
Put all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix. Make a well in the centre. Pour in enough milk to make a soft dough, by mixing with your hands. Roll out a circular shape. Score a cross with a knife (this makes it easier to cut into quarters when baked). Bake in a fairly hot oven for 30-35 minutes.

A local delicacy

We have few culinary claims to fame around here.  Last year the Hairy Bikers visited the area and asked  people to name a local speciality, and this was what everyone nominated - the Staffordshire oatcake!

The ones we had for lunch came from a local oatcake shop.  They'll do all kinds of filling... we make our own with cheddar cheese and tomato.  They're not just savoury though...I can recommend them just buttered, and spread with honey.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011


Don't know if you've seen a current copy of BBC Homes and Antiques magazine, but there's an interesting article on Ladybird books.  As they've always been a particular favourite, it started me wondering just what titles we have. Quite a few as it turns out.

The 'What to look for' series is a special favourite because of the Tunnicliffe illustrations.

Then a few on more on nature and the countryside...I'm sure I had these when I was small

And then all the stories that are so familiar.  Some of these were bedtime favourites...I must have read The Little Red Hen and Chicken Licken every night for at least a year.  Funny how they lose their appeal!

Most of our copies aren't in exactly pristine condition, as you can see...plenty of tears and wax crayon in evidence...but then apart from a few rarities (needless to say we don't own any of those) it's still possible to buy copies for just a couple of quid.  Very good value.

Sunday, 6 February 2011


As I write this there is a TV programme on about a brave guy who is trying to kick - even if in a small way- against the power of the big supermarkets, by opening a people's supermarket - good on him. Any of you who check this (or our previous) blog will know that we try to shop from local shops and local markets whenever possible...I mean its about a hundred times nicer an experience anyway. isn't it?

Definite signs of spring

Snowdrops are such pretty little things.  The petals were still closed when I picked them, but after about half an hour of being in the house, they'd opened up...and the kitchen window seems as good a place as any to enjoy them
It's been a good day for messing about in the garden, doing a bit of clearing up.  I felt like Mary Lennox in The Secret Garden (only much older!), uncovering clumps of snowdrops from under mounds of leaf litter -  and having time to notice other plants attempting to flower.  
Yesterday we had a problem with the drains (not just yesterday actually, come to think of it, as it's been going on a while, but not something to dwell on, as you can imagine!)) so I needed to replant part of the border that had been disturbed.  At least it will soon recover.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Felt and flowers

I''ve decided I really like using felt... it's probably all the rich shades that attract me - that, and how easy it is to hand sew.  Noreen knitted me a beautiful red scarf and boy, have I needed it this winter!  Now I'm obsessed with making brooches...this one to match my scarf.

Choosing colours of embroidery threads is almost as good as choosing felt....simple pleasures - is that sad, or what?  And a wonderful place for all things sewing is Abakhan Fabrics.  Our local shop is full of everything for needlecrafts.  I think I'll just pop in for something and hours later I'm still there. There's an online shop at http://www.abakhan.co.uk/ if it's too far to visit in person.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

The Lakes

There's something rather magical about the Lake District.  It's one of those places that I never tire of...it just seems good for the soul somehow.  All those mountain peaks and fells reflected in clear water...no wonder the area has always attracted poets and writers.  I'm getting a bit carried away myself!

I guess you can tell we enjoyed our little break...we had a pit stop here by Derwent Water.  Shame the top came off our flask, so we ended up with a rucksack full of coffee.  Ah well...great view!