A day of two halves

Shortcrust pastry recipe, step 6


I actually woke up long before the alarm would ring as I normally do but had not done for the preceding few days. I was ready for work. I had but the one job a couple of miles away which turned out far easier than I thought it might. Nice to have easy jobs at any time but especially on Mondays! I was paid a little extra for the work which was also nice. I had to pay a visit to the electrical supplier in order to collect the LED light unit that hadn’t arrived on Friday as expected. I was hoping it would now be there for me to collect as it was only a little after ten o’clock. Deliveries usually arrive any time between nine-thirty and eleven-thirty but I needn’t have been concerned as it had arrived early. I made another purchase for my van stock whilst I was there. I would be installing the light unit on Tuesday morning as arranged and as I had no other work I returned home. I made E and myself a cup of coffee but had to take hers to the top of the house where she was working in her new workshop. I returned downstairs but chose to sit out on the patio to drink my coffee. When I had finished I walked around the garden for a while but stopped by the apple trees. There were a lot of apples on the two trees but many of them were too small to bother with. Even so I decided to pick some of the largest ones and put them in a basket. I didn’t count them but I estimated I had picked thirty to forty. A similar amount still hang on the branches but I doubt we’ll be picking them. They are eating apples, that is they are sweet enough to eat straight from the tree but we usually put them in pies.

Smulpaj med äpple.

Before lunch then I began peeling apples and cutting them, placing them into a pot filled with water until I was ready to use them. My next job was to make some short crust pastry which I then put into a plastic bag before putting it into the fridge until after lunch. After lunch I made a couple of pies and popped them in the oven. I hadn’t made enough pastry for use with all the apples as E had purchased some ready-made pastry many months ago and had stored it in the freezer. I wanted to use that pastry for the other pies I would be making but I wouldn’t be able to it until it had thawed, which would be the next day. The cooked pies can be frozen of course so that we do not have to eat apples pies every day!

Shirley Anne


A day to remember

Image representing Apple as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

Over the last week or so I had it in mind to mow the lawn as soon as I
had the chance. We have had rain lately and at this time of year the
weather turns damp overnight which leaves plenty of dew on the grass,
not ideal for mowing. However, on Saturday the weather was fine enough
but I didn’t really get the opportunity and hoped for a similarly nice
day on Sunday. The forecast looked very promising and indeed Sunday
turned out to be a really warm and pleasant day, great for mowing the
lawn in fact. I arose quite early but didn’t wish to start mowing before
10 o’clock thinking it might upset the neighbours so I didn’t start
until 10.30. E joined with me and whilst I was mowing the lawn she set
about tidying up in the greenhouses and sweeping the leaves that
cluttered the paths. She later swept up the grass cuttings that had
escaped the mower’s collection box. I don’t use the box when the weather
is warmer as the cuttings are drier and more easily removed with the
rotary sweeper. It meant that I had to empty the box regularly but even
so I finished the job with reasonable speed. Once the mower had been
stored away and the grass cuttings removed I decided to dig out the
potatoes that had grown in the raised bed between the greenhouses in
which we had planted strawberries. We didn’t plant the potatoes so they
must have grown from a few we had inadvertently left in the soil the
previous year. The harvest was about five pounds or two kilograms,
enough for a couple of meals, alright considering we hadn’t planted
them! I also took the opportunity to remove the half-dozen apples from the trees that I wasn’t able to reach the day before. On returning indoors we together swept and vacuumed the floor in one of the cellar rooms which we call the workshop as it has a bench and vice in there. There was dust on the floor from cutting some of the tiles with the ‘Abra’ file (which looks like a saw but is in fact a wire-shaped file in a saw frame), the majority were cut upstairs in the wet room using the tile cutter. We had lunch and then we peeled all the apples and cut them ready for cooking. We made two very large Apple Strudels, two large pies and what can only be described as an oversized apple-filled pasty! Two women working in a kitchen is usually a recipe for disaster, friction, argument and whatever else that might, dare I say it, upsets the apple cart! But no, we work very well together in the kitchen these days and we share in whatever tasks there are. I must say that we have been getting on well together in many ways over the last couple of months after a long spell of being not on speaking terms. I think E realizes now that she can be very nasty when she wants to be but it gets her nowhere. Life is far better and enjoyable when she is amiable, both for herself and for me too.

Shirley Anne

I swore I never would

Samsung –Google Unveils the Highest Resolution...
Samsung –Google Unveils the Highest Resolution Tablet Nexus 10 

I forgot the promise I had made to myself many months ago but nothing I decide is always set in stone. It all depends on circumstance. When I had my mobile phone exchanged and my contract renewed last October I was given a smart phone but insisted I didn’t want one or need one. As it happened that has been proved right, I almost never use it except to accept calls and only read some of my emails because I was too lazy to go into the lounge to read them on my laptop! I never read emails away from home under normal circumstances. I will check text messages but I’ve always done that in any case as they are usually associated with my work. I never encourage folk to text me preferring to speak directly with them. When E and I were in the US and Canada a couple of years ago E took her laptop along so she could do her competitions in the evening for something to do when were weren’t out for the night. I used her machine to check my own emails and found it handy. I didn’t like the idea of taking a laptop on holiday and I still don’t if only because of their weight! Then along came the tablets, computers designed to be totally portable! Even so I was not tempted to purchase one though I knew how useful they would be. Now E does a lot of competitions and these are the sorts of things she has won in the past, a holiday for four in Bermuda, a chance to drive a Chieftain Tank, a hot-air balloon ride for two, a king-sized bed, a 40″ HD 3D flat screen television, two Wii units, an X-Box and a PS3, a couple of cameras, and the latest one, an iPad. There are many more things she has won too but the list is way too long, it is quite unbelievable. Now this was the first time I had really seen an iPad or any tablet close-up and I was intrigued with its capabilities. Essentially as I have already mentioned, it is a fully portable computer but very compact and lightweight. It is for this fact alone that I find them useful. Whilst at home I wouldn’t entertain using such a device because I love my wide-screen laptop which in any case is a far better machine than a tablet, even the best ones available but it isn’t the kind of thing you want to be carrying about with you for any length of time, it is far too heavy! That brings me to the point of this post. Now although it is conceivable that E could win another tablet that might not happen for years so I have invested in one for myself instead. I couldn’t wait that long…LOL. However I haven’t purchased an iPad because I don’t like Apple machines, they are too expensive, so I have gone for the Nexus 10 32 Gb tablet instead which, though  subsidised by Google thereby costing far less than they would otherwise, still put me back £463 with postage. The reason Google have subsidised their manufacture (by Samsung) is so that users will be tied to using their applications. Well that’s fair enough and will suit me. Most of the available apps. and probably the ones I would use if I needed any are free anyway. So there you have it, I can take my computer with me if I need to. As I am currently running Chrome on my PC synchronizing everything will be a doddle as I do have a Google account. I may be in receipt of my new tablet by the time this has been posted but there’s no rush.

Shirley Anne

Don’t you just love computers?

Image representing Google Chrome as depicted i...
Image via CrunchBase

Well after a few problems with my computer on Wednesday something else cropped up whilst I was browsing my own blog. Those who use WordPress will know about the notification bar at the top of the screen and it was there that I discovered another potential problem. This time it was to do with the browser I have been using which is Internet Explorer 9, the 64-bit version. WordPress was telling me that I had to upgrade my browser else the site may not work in the near future. I didn’t respond immediately but came back to the problem again on Saturday. I downloaded IE 9 again even though there seemed nothing wrong with my version. The message disappeared but re-appeared again later. WordPress say that the preferred browsers for their platform are Firefox and Google Chrome. As I had Google Chrome on my computer anyhow I started arranging things on the computer to try it out. There were some niggling problems such for instance not all of my ‘favourites’ had been imported to the new browser and I had to transfer them manually. Also Zemanta, which I use to furnish my blog with pictures had to be downloaded to the Google browser. Admittedly that last process took a mere three seconds or so but still it was something that needed doing! I am not used to Google Chrome and I had difficulty finding out how to include or exclude toolbars and other operations but after a while I got the hang of it. One problem still exists with using Google Chrome is that when I am on my blog’s dashboard I can no longer see the notification bar that was instrumental in my switching browsers! Now that to me seems a little silly, especially as WordPress insist it is one of the two best browsers to use with their platform. If I switch back to Internet Explorer I can see the notification bar. Maybe the problem lies within my computer settings but I haven’t a clue where that may be. It’s as though the visual screen needs dropping down a touch but I don’t know if that is the problem nor how to fix it, yet anyway. I can get round the problem by switching to a another tab and using that to display the site whilst I am signed in (the notification bar is only there whilst you are logged in) but that is rather tiresome.Oh the joys of working with computers!
I have three browsers on my computer, the third one being Safari, which I downloaded some time ago as it might have been of benefit when using Apple applications and programs as suggested by Apple themselves. It seems different companies have preferences when it comes to browsers. I have used Safari, not extensively, and I found it reasonably good but I have no idea of its true capabilities. I will stick with Google Chrome because it is excellent and fast too! I will keep Internet Explorer in the taskbar at the bottom of the screen for emergency use or for speedy switching of items from one to the other.

Update………….the problem I had with not being able to see the notification bar has resolved itself! I give up! So hopefully that will be an end to my problems……………………………….maybe…LOL

Shirley Anne

Nothing planned again

Thermostat for controlling the temperature in ...
Image via Wikipedia

Well the weeks work is over and I have no plans for the weekend. I’ll probably visit the pub at some point. I think there will be things to do at home though, like checking the central heating which needs attention, venting off air from the radiators, setting the controls and adjusting thermostats and such. The garden is looking good but there is some tidying up to do, leaves and broken twigs lying about need clearing away. At this time of year most of the work in the garden is simply tidying and bringing in any crops that are still growing. I removed the remainder of the apples from the trees before they began to drop off by themselves rendering them bruised if they fell on a the hard surface below. Both trees are planted between a path and the concrete standing where the greenhouses are. The path was placed there earlier in the year where there was only grass so we have to watch for apples that fall before we can pick them. Come to think of it, I don’t need to plan anything do I?

Shirley Anne

Growing your own

CDC cuke3
Image via Wikipedia

As those who have been reading my many posts over the last twelve months will know, E takes care of what is grown in the greenhouses we have. I take a passing interest. I am not a gardener by any means and really only help out with the more heavy work of mowing the lawn, chopping up branches and clearing out debris. I like gardens but don’t much fancy working in them! E’s pride and joy is to see the fruits of her labour and being able to stock our refrigerator with tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers from what is produced in the greenhouses. I have been eating tomatoes so much I fear they will be coming out of my ears soon and there are still plenty more of the to eat yet. A week or so ago I came across this specimen

Alongside is a more normal specimen, like the rest of them. Now I have seen many odd things in my lifetime but never a tomato that has a nose! It tasted good though – nose and all! The crop has been incredible and it is difficult to keep them fresh for any length of time although the fridge keeps them so for quite some time. Those that cannot be eaten raw because of the time element have to be fried or used in cooked dishes like chilli-con-carne or Bolognese but get eaten they do. This year we had so much cucumber that E had to give some away. One or two specimens grew to about three feet or about a metre in length and as you know cucumbers don’t stay fresh too long once cut into and really can only be eaten in a salad. I think that next year we will have to grow fewer cucumbers for that reason unless we can give them away. In fact as I write this there are still tomatoes and cucmbers growing in the greenhouse! There has been success in growing beetroot and carrots too. A couple of onions have done well but as this was really the first season for E to experiment with growing vegetables she has done remarkably well. The greatest success outdoors has been the potato crops but they are quite easy to grow. I am wondering what sort of crop we will get next time. The apple trees have produced quite a crop too and there are still apples on the branches. E has made several jars of apple sauce for use when having pork and there is some left for making pies. The rhubarb has supplied me with a few rhubarb crumbles and continues to grow as it is picked but the weather will soon put an end to that until next Spring. Altogether we have done quite well growing our own produce and we hope it will be even better next year.

Shirley Anne


The season of Autumn is almost upon us and the harvest is being gathered in. Some of the harvest has already been gathered of course, strawberries, gooseberries and other fruits together with all sorts of vegetables. It is in early Autumn that most of the apple trees begin dropping their fruit and so it is with those in our garden. The last few days have been rather windy and many of our apples fell to the ground. I had the task of picking them up as soon as I could and consequently we had a large basket full with lots more still on the trees. The job I was supposed to be doing this morning was postponed until tomorrow. The client explained that her nephew had died overnight and that she wouldn’t be at home. Naturally that was not a problem but I had to telephone tomorrow’s client and see if I could do her job today instead. She was happy for me to do that and so that is what happened. I was back home for lunch (no dining out today as E does her shopping on Thursdays) with nothing else scheduled. So after lunch I am sitting there looking at that large basket full of apples. ‘I must do something with those’, I thought. Now they are eating apples but they are somewhat sour like baking apples, probably because the trees are young and have only produced fruit for three years. The ground is sandy beneath the topsoil which may be a factor and the trees also need pruning, something we have held back on doing until they were large enough. This year we will do that. I decided to make some apple crumble. I prefer apple pie but wasn’t feeling in the mood to make and roll the pastry! Making crumble is far easier and others in the house like crumble anyhow. So I had just cooked the apple, placed it in large Pyrex containers, topped them with the crumble mixture I had prepared and placed them in the oven for baking, then the phone rang. An old client asked me if I could do a small job for her. She lives on the same route and quite near to where I had been earlier when doing the other job! I had to pass her house to get back home! Typical! I left E to put the apple crumble in the oven for me. When I returned later they were fully cooked and they smelled delicious. Guess what I’ll be having for dessert this evening!