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.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Raspberry & Almond Dessert

This was very easy and served with cream, was pretty nice

6oz self-raising flour
6oz ground almonds
Few drops of almond essence (optional)
3 eggs
8oz butter
8oz caster sugar
Icing sugar

I greased a cake tin and mixed all the above ingredients (apart from the last 2!). Baked in a moderate oven for about 40 minutes. I allowed to cool slightly, turned onto a plate. I put the raspberries (I'm sure you could use whatever fruit took your fancy) on top. Lastly, I dredged some icing sugar over the cake.

Sunday, 28 December 2014


Margaret has put some good instructions for making curtains in the book: A Homespun Year...well, if I can follow them, anyone can.

I also thought you might like a look the Christmas cactus which has been in this house for about 50 years. Now, this plant is pretty well neglected most of the time - poor thing, so it's doing very well by brightening our lives each December with these deep pink coloured flowers

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Christmas arrivals

There are some nice things about living on a farm at Christmas - despite the ice, snow and lots of work. A bull calf, born on Christmas Day followed by one on Boxing Day definitely adds something to the festivities!

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Very cosy

Old jumpers are incredibly useful for up-cycling.  Someone (not me) put hours of work into this Shetland knit so I think it deserves a new life.  Blanket stitch round the edge, a few felt flowers and ta da...tea cosy!

Wednesday, 19 November 2014


A cheap and cheerful way to bring some scent and colour into the house (make great presents too) is to plant some hyacinth/narcissi bulbs in a bowl (mine came from the charity shop and only cost a pound or so). Keep in a dark place until they have grown and are ready to flower. Just don't forget all about them!

Monday, 10 November 2014

The Lakes

A positive result of all the rain is enjoying the sight of waterfalls in full spate...I had a walk up the side of this one while we were stopping in The Lake District.

And Derwent Water was as beautiful as ever.

I could never tire of these views.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Apple cake

8 oz self-raising flour
6oz butter
6oz brown sugar
Half teaspoon each of ground cinnamon & nutmeg
2 large eggs
I large cooking apple, chopped roughly
Grease and line (just line the bottom) an 8'' tin
Mix all the ingredients and fold in the apple.
Bake for 40-45 minutes in a moderate oven
5 minutes before the end remove from the oven, sprinkle with some brown sugar and return to oven.
Allow to cool in the tin

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Very jammy...

...and not just in the pan, unfortunately. 

I do love making jam and filling jars with all that sweet fruit, ready for jam on toast (especially if it's toast done by the fire), or to fill sponge cakes.  But such a messy job...or is that just me?  This is plum jam, one of my favourites, and not too many stones to skim!

Friday, 17 October 2014

Bargain find

This is not exactly a collection (only a few pieces)...but I felt really chuffed to find the oval plate for the bargain price of two pounds.  The design is 'Blossom', and was made by a local pottery, Thomas Forrester and Sons. It's such a distinctive and cheerful pattern.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014


In churches and chapels throughout the country harvest is being celebrated around now. This is particularly resonant for me as I live on a farm - and we have had an exceptionally good harvest this year. This is one of the decorated windows in our church.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Autumn fruits

At last I've found the piece of fruity woolwork I did ages ago...it was well hidden in a pile of fabric. 

Now I'll be able to recover an old footstool, a project that has been on hold until I could unite the two.  If I don't make some haste with this, no doubt one or the other will go missing again!

And on the subject of fruit, we have a few apples this time...not as big a crop as last year.  But enough to make some apple and  blackberry pies and crumbles...something we all enjoy.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Tomato harvest

I've taken advantage of all the ripe tomatoes in our friends' greenhouse (with their permission, of course!) They're  away on holiday and I'm watering their plants in a 40ft polytunnel.

So we now have several jars of tomato and red onion chutney...the chillis came in useful for this.  Should be delicious with some crackers and strong cheese.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Another gorgeous scent

The scent of lavender is filling my sewing room (aka our spare bedroom)...and it's so relaxing.  Good job there's no bed in there now, otherwise I'd be having a siesta!

I just use scraps of embroidery from old worn, stained or frayed traycloths ..I always think it's such a shame not to enjoy them when someone has spent so much time with needle and silks.  They make really pretty lavender bags to pop into underwear drawers or wardrobes.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Scents of summer

You know what it's like when you've been away...one of the first things you notice is the state of the garden.  This year it it's clearly been hot because there are big brown patches on the lawn.  At least it doesn't need mowing.

The other main change is in the veg plot.  There are loads of peas and French beans to pick...sonny obviously ignored my pleas to come around and help himself to some. 

And the sweet peas were not really flowering before we went, but now there's a profusion; they're one of those flowers that do need picking all the time. 
Their scent is unmistakeable...so sweet!

Sunday, 27 July 2014

A touch of creativity

I am not...not...not a flower arranger but every year we have a flower festival in our local village church and I have learned that actually everyone is a bit creative.

This year I raced from Summer School and stood in dismay in front of the space I was supposed to fill. I was "doing" Ireland armed with flowers (I didn't even know the names of some), a bodhran, race programmes, binoculars and a few other bits and pieces. About an hour in, the church quiet, cool and filled with the scents of flowers, I realised that I was enjoying myself - in a really calm mood. It worked a spell!

Monday, 23 June 2014

Hot Air

Noreen and I enjoyed the Hot Air literary festival this weekend and found Emma Bridgewater's talk inspirational.  The place was buzzing...just what Stoke needs!
If you get chance to visit the factory in Hanley there's a shop full of goodies, a cafe, and loads of events going on this summer.
There's just one word for it!

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Orange and ginger cake

This was a very simple cake to make because all you have to do is beat all the ingredients together and put in a loaf tin. Bake for about 40 minutes in a moderate oven (test with a skewer to check that it's cooked). Allow to cool and turn out onto a wire tray. I made a little icing with icing sugar and some left over squeezed orange juice - but of course this is optional
10oz (275g) self-raising flour
I teaspoon baking powder
6oz (175g) soft brown sugar
8oz (225g) butter
3 eggs
Juice of 2 oranges
4 teaspoons ground ginger.


Thursday, 5 June 2014

Growth spurt

We've been enjoying the salad leaves for a few weeks now...they're so reliable to grow and I love being able to pick fresh leaves.  It might even be salad weather this weekend!

But everything's going wild in the garden, including weeds.  The French beans and runner beans are planted out now.

 And the sweet peas and sugar snap are through as well.

Gosh...these photos in our little veg patch aren't very exciting are they?  All so green, but less green than they were before I grubbed up the chickweed.  Didn't show you that, did I?

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Porter cake

16oz, 450g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
half teaspoon each of mixed spice, nutmeg and cinnamon
16oz of mixed fruit (currants, raisins, sultanas & mixed peel, if you like)
About 350ml of Guinness or other stout
8oz, 225g butter
8oz, 225 brown sugar
2 large eggs.

Sieve the flour, baking powder and spices. Rub in the butter.
Mix in the sugar
In a jug or bowl mix the stout and the beaten eggs.
Add the liquid mix to the flour etc.
Mix well.
You need a dropping consistency.

Put into a greased 8" tin and bake at Gas Mark 4, 350/180 for about 2 hours until a skewer comes out cleanly.

Store for a day or two before eating

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

In the spirit of Chelsea

I always enjoy watching the coverage of Chelsea and the gorgeous plants on display there, so I thought I'd record some of the flowers that have just come into bloom.  All the sunny weather has made such a difference...only a couple of weeks ago the garden was mainly just green but all of a sudden there's colour.   These alliums are a favourite of mine.

And this clematis has just opened in the last couple of days.

Has anyone else noticed that the flowers of the Welsh poppies appear larger than normal this year?  Wonder why that is.  They can be a nuisance seeding everywhere but I still like them.

Another favourite is this rock rose.  I think it's probably helianthemum 'Fire Dragon'.

This bright pink rock rose against the path opens in bright sunshine.  Beautiful May!


Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Cushions 2

Another cushion using hand embroidery in one of the squares...this from an old traycloth.

And these two have appliqued bunting.  I've realised at last just how useful bondaweb is, and the design potential it provides.  It's fab stuff! x

Monday, 19 May 2014

Cushions galore

Well, this is one of the cushions I've made...yet to photograph the others to show you.  I like rescuing old embroidery...quite often the original fabric is marked or damaged in some way so it feels fine to cut and sew into something else.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Ginger Biscuits

I love these biscuits. A friend gave me the recipe and I have slightly modified it - mainly adding more ginger.

9oz plain flour
4oz butter
half-teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
4oz butter
6oz golden syrup
4 teaspoons ground ginger
a little of the syrup from a jar of stem ginger
grated piece of ginger

Melt the butter with the golden syrup over a gentle heat. Add the grated ginger and the syrup from the jar (optional).
Sieve the flour, ground ginger and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl.
Add the syrup mixture and mix well.
Form into rounds (about 8) and put on a greased baking tray. 

Bake for about 10-15 minutes in a moderate oven.
Cool on a wire tray.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Butterfly summer?

Wouldn't it be lovely if that's what we have?  Until then I'll keep sewing them.  I've made this cushion as a gift for a friend...hope she likes it. x

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Moth Orchid

I have not had much luck with nurturing moth orchids (Phalenopsis). I suspect the position has been the problem. Ironically, I have given several as presents and been told that these are all thriving.
The common problems tend to be: over-watering; too direct sunlight and using usual plant compost.
Any advice would be welcome!

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Wild in the country

The moment the cows go out for the summer is always a joyous one and if at all possible, I like to be there. They kick their heels up, run about and get their heads down for a good feed of spring grass - nothing quite like it!

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Our little visitor

Milly has arrived for her holiday with us.  She's absolutely adorable and very funny.  On our walks she makes friends with all the other dogs and children...and gets loads of attention, as you can imagine.  But she's always vigilant for squirrels or cats...she can't abide either.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Some spring blooms

But first sowing some seeds...these are (or will be, in a few weeks) salad leaves.  I like to sow two trays of different varieties of cut and come again leaves so there's plenty to keep us going.  Blue plastic trays aren't very pretty I grant you, but they are useful for this job, with a few layers of newspaper to line the bottom and sides.  I'll cover with a fine layer of compost and leave them in the greenhouse to get going...and in the summer they'll sit outside.

Now for the pretty stuff...
A pot of little daffodils still flowering...

Some bright red tulips...

Blue periwinkle...love this colour

And finally...pink camellia, captured just in time, before the petals all turn brown.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014


Last year, because of the snow and frost, this barely flowered. As you can see, it's made up for it this time.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

More spots

Two spotty bags...can you tell I've an obsession with polka dots and spots at the moment? Butterflies are also very popular, and with good reason, although I don't think there'll be many like these flitting about this summer!

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

A dress for Grace

Spots are still as popular as ever it seems. I thought this navy blue would make a sweet dress for little Gracie, and I'm a bit more sure about the fit now having made one for her last week. The pattern was a bargain from a car boot...can't believe the price of new patterns...loads of money!
This is the pattern I used...only 75p so a real bargain, and I'll be able to use it several times.
...some of these were bargains too...old patterns are still really usable. And I love that the top one was three shillings and sixpence.