Friday, 28 January 2011


Introducing Hettie, the latest addition to our flock. She is a volwerk which is a fairly rare breed I think.

I actually went with my sister to buy some new hens for her, but when she asked if I wanted Hettie how could I resist, she is beautiful. I nearly came away with a silkie as well, they have fantastic punky hairdos, perhaps next time.

She is still quite young but I think she is going to be quite feisty, she is totally unfazed by the move to her new home.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Experiments with Cheese

Having mastered the art of making soft cheese, I decided it was time to try some different cheeses. So I tried some mozzarella, which was so much fun and you get two cheeses for the price of one because you can make riccotta from the whey. So we can have pizza one night and spinach and riccotta ravioli the next (the riccotta freezes quite well so you can just put it away to use later). Making mozzarella involves heating the curds (I use the microwave), and kneading and stretching them until you get that lovely stretchy shiny ball of cheese which you then put into cold water until you want to use it. There are loads of recipes on the web for mozzarella I used this one I can't remember where I got the recipe for the ricotta but again there are loads of them on the web.

With mozzarella under my belt I decided to try some hard cheese. My lovely kids bought me a cheese press for mothers day last year and I have made a few attempts at making a cheddar type cheese since. The first couple were very nice but had more of a drier crumbly texture than cheddar. They were polished off quickly so I suppose that they were a success but they were not what I had intended to make.

In november I bought myself a cheese making book by Paul Peacock, I have found this to be really helpful, it is written with the home cheesemaker in mind, whereas most of the recipes in the other books that I have seen use gallons and gallons of milk and turn out huge cheeses, most of the recipes in this book use 4.5 litres.

So in the run up to christmas I was trying to make one cheese a week and experimenting with recipes from the book and using different starters such as creme fraiche. We have only just started sampling these cheeses as they have been maturing, I have set up my old fridge as a cheese cave in the garage for storing them. So far we have had a few promising results. I m making notes and hopefully will come up with a good every day cheese soon.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Facebook shop

I have just opened a shop on facebook to sell some of my handmade goods, there are only cards on there at the moment but I will hopefully be adding more items soon and some cards that can be personalised.

I have added a link on the side of this page, please excuse my spelling I was so busy trying to work out how to set up the shop that I didn't notice the mistakes until after I had posted it and now I can't work out how to change it (I will have to ask my kids!).

Postage is free so have a look and see if there is anything you like, if you don't want to buy and you are on facebook you could 'like' the page, it would be much appreciated.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Getting crafty

With my whole garden having turned into a swamp, I'm seriously thinking of getting wellies for the chickens! I am staying indoors as much as possible. Having been a really good girl last year (mostly), santa brought me lots of lovely craft related gifts and I have been having loads of fun in the last few days playing with them.

I'm a big fan of the Tim Holtz products and was lucky enough to get some of his dies for my sizzix machine, as well as distress inks and stencils from my lovely hubby and kids and my sister gave me an embossing heat gun.

I spent yesterday in my nice dry craft room cutting and embossing bird cages and learning how to make paper flowers.

I also made this little paper mache shelf for my ink pads, it's a bit shabby, but it's just made out of an old cardboard box and some newspaper (which aged up a bit with some distress ink) and I like it. To round off my lovely day Tom cooked us a delicious chinese dinner so I didn't even have to cook, perfect!

Friday, 7 January 2011

Happy New Year

The new year is always a time for making plans for me. I have been reflecting on the past year and making plans for this one. There isn't much going on in the garden, to be honest it looks a bit of a disaster area after loads of snow and now rain. It has a tendency to get very wet, a new bed that I had started to dig before the snow hit looks more like a pond at the moment! I am just shuffling out there to look after the chickens and coming straight back in.

I haven't been to the allotment since before christmas. I think we have decided not to continue with it when our year runs out in may. John now has access to free parking at another station and has been reluctant to leave his car parked at the allotment car park since it was broken into, even though this does add a little to his train fare. As the allotment is privately owned it is more expensive than council run ones, this was worth paying while we were using it for parking but is too much just for an allotment.

So I have started to dig up some of the lawn area and move some flower beds to make room in the garden for more veg, there are some drainage issues to contend with, I may have to create raised beds in some areas and dig in lots of sharp sand to try to combat that. We went over board on the potatoes last year, for the amount of work they involve and space they take up it is not worth growning more than a few earlies. Especially as I can buy a sack of local potatoes for the farm shop for about £7-8.

I have been a bit down on myself recently, as I felt that I hadn't been as successful in my endevors as I had hoped to be, but I have come to realise that I am on a learning curve and I'm not going to get it all right first time, I just need to learn from my mistakes and move on.