Wednesday, June 24, 2009

MP's Expenses - Making a Mockery . . . .

Did you read Saturday's Daily Telegraph to check your MP's expenses? I did, though Telegraph is not my usual paper. You may be in for a surprise. Under the heading "Making a mockery - The rest of the Mockers" our 2 local MP's were among the highest claimants in the country.

Geraldine Smith, for example, was 37th out of 645 MP's in claiming a total of £166,097 expenses in 2007/8 and claimed the maximum £400 most months for food, whilst Ben Wallace was top claimant out of all MP's for Additional Costs Allowance but no claim for his food.

These figures do not include generous salaries of £64,766 per annum.
For a 12 month period in 2007/8 Geraldine Smith was in receipt of a hefty £230,863 whilst Ben Wallace received £239,789. Not bad, eh?
Click on the pictures to enlarge them.
Check your own MP's expenses on side bar ( Happy viewing!!

This is the culprit wot started it all . . .

Offers for 1990 Angel Food Cake Mix? Genuine antique!

Cordial clearing nicely . . . see bottom picture . . .

Delicious Gooseberry and Elderflower Fool.

Better get picking - Elderflowers will have vanished by end of next week!

Recipe from Riverford Farm Cookbook by Watson & Baxter.

Put the following into a saucepan:
300g gooseberries
1 good tablespoon Elderflower cordial
knob of butter
2 tablespoons caster sugar

Cook over a low heat until gooseberries soften. Cool.
Mash gooseberries - add more sugar if necessary.

Fold 250ml whipped cream into the mixture.
Serve chilled.

English Garden Cocktail using Elderflower cordial.

Serves 6:

300 ml gin (or vodka)
900 ml apple juice
50 ml elderflower cordial
2 limes

Pour all ingredients into a large jug - stir well.
Squeeze limes into the cocktail. Keep chilled.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Can you beat a 20 year old cake mix?

During my clutter clear out - starting with kitchen - discovered - tucked away at the back of a deep cupboard - a 20 year old American Betty Crocker Angel Food Cake mix. It mentions a cake competition on the back of the pack - entry date September 1990. Think I might enter. Am contacting General Mills in Minneapolis to see if they will accept a late entry. Will make the cake and keep you posted! Wonder if Antiques Roadshow would be interested?

Pantry has been whitewashed and new shelves erected for my home-made jams, jellies and marmalades. The bottles of Elderflower Cordial look really good - less like hospital specimens - and have settled down - looking clearer as each day passes. Will post a picture later this week - test a bottle in 2/3 weeks time.
Found an interesting new recipe amongst my ancient cookery books for use of Elderflower cordial - Summer Cocktail for those with alcoholic tendencies. Will post it tomorrow.

Cut out the appliqués for the Winter SG quilt this evening and hope to apply them by weekend. I'm glad to say the editor of Popular Patchwork has extended the deadline and given us to the end of July to send pictures of our SG quilts to the magazine.

Will be interesting from my point of view to see the changes made to the original design by various quilters. Exciting.

HA = Hoarders Anonymous! R U a member?

Up to now have made every excuse under the sun not to start de-cluttering the house, but I start today!

Please tell me the name of a quilter who is not a hoarder - without half a dozen UFO's - a fabric stash - snippets of this and that - books galore - needles of all descriptions , including old sewing machine needles (kept - just in case - for paper piecing) -plus 300+ spools of thread that will never be used in a lifetime and finished quilts that will never see the light of day 'cos they don't go with the curtains!

I am not she. R U?

Henley Womens Regatta . . . .

Pics of Polly - all 6ft 1" of her.
Polly and Jen won their first 3 'elite coxless pair' heats this afternoon, but were finally beaten to first place by the prestigious Leander team, who won by half a length. Sir Steve Redgrave and Sir Matthew Pinsent are members and have raced for the Leander Club in the past, so the girls did very well. Next stop the September European Championships in Poland!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

It's that time of year again! Yummy Elderflower Cordial. Ready to drink in 2 weeks!

Made a batch of Elderflower cordial - as is my wont at this time of year when the flowers are at their best.
Recipe can be found on an earlier posting . . . .see June 2008 (Famous Olde Country Recipe).

Yes, I agree - finished product is a trifle cloudier this year and does resemble something you take to a clinic . . . . . . however, will label bottles to avoid confusion.

I assure you it makes the most delicious drink. Mix the cordial with ice, chilled sparkling water and a slice of lemon in a tall glass. Can't beat it. Unless, of course, you make a cocktail adding lots of gin or/+ vodka and a slice of lemon!!! Yum yum!!

Hmm . . . .Think I'll treat myself . . . . I deserve it . . . .

Friday, June 19, 2009

Scottish Rowing Championships ~ Strathclyde - June '09

My grand-daughter Polly (in pink) rows for Edinburgh University and she and her rowing partner Jen (ex Cambridge Blue) - now at Edinburgh Univ - won Gold Medals for the Coxless Pairs Race making them the Scottish Champions. They have been rowing together for some time now and are well matched. Polly is 6ft 1" and Jen is 6ft 3" - both have longest legs in the world.
Here they are - in their T shirts - about to set off to the starting post getting last minute instructions from their trainer George Warnock who told them to get cracking as a storm was brewing. They were the last to race. George coaches some of the big names in rowing. One tough cookie!!
Was about to photograph them at the end (in black racing gear) receiving their gold medals when my camera battery ran out - typical!

The championships were well attended - large crowds - lots of boats. The weather was brilliant for most of the day until black clouds arrived from nowhere at 4 o clock and it started to rain. Folks dashed into the tea tents and under cover which is why the lake looks deserted.
A storm broke on the way home. Scary.

The girls are racing at Henley Womens Regatta on Sunday 21st and been invited to participate in the European Universities Championships at Kruszvica in Poland on 2 - 5th September this year. Isn't life exciting for them! Hope they do well.


Returned from Edinburgh on Monday evening, after a much needed break from Florence Nightingale duties whilst Stephen's daughter stayed with him.

Driving home from shopping ( M & S in the Gyle) to where my daughter lives, stopping at a nearby house when she said "Guess who lives here?" Hmm . . . . not a clue? A clue. He's a great pal of Gordon Brown - has just given back some of his pension - think RBS!!
There's an exclusive little clique who live and socialise in this area - including Ian Rankin - JK Rowling - and Alexander McCall Smith of Mme Ramotse fame.

Spent 4 lovely days in Edinburgh. Attended a concert for children with learning difficulties with my grandson one evening. It was fabulous and every child in Pilrigg school took part. The concert was held in one of Edinburgh's main theatres and was extremely professional - apart from last bit when fireworks on stage set off the fire alarm and, to the children's delight, we were greeted by fire engines in full flow as we left the building!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Miracle Drug . . .

Have not posted details about him for a while, but Stephen has been through a bad patch lately. The chemo has not proved effective. Since when he has suffered high temperatures and rigors followed by drenching sweats. 
Doctor prescribed steroid tablets in an attempt to stop the debilitating symptoms and the results seem miraculous.
He's now able to potter in the garden and even do simple 'jobs' in the home.
However, there is sometimes an unfortunate side effect to this drug  - in the form of increased irritability which, I'm sorry to say, has affected Stephen.
This is not proving easy to deal with and I am trying to be understanding and patient as possible.

A Carers meeting is being held at the Hospice on Wednesday. I'm planning to attend, in the hope they can help me to cope with Stephen's irritability.
I have rejoined my pilates group - having left in January to concentrate on Stephen - my doctor told me that, in order to remain strong for Stephen, I must take care of myself. Hence the pilates classes, a new diet and drinking lots of water.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

It's definitely June - with moon- bees a buzzin' - roses bloomin' - and baby blackbirds . .

It's definitely June with bees abuzzin and roses bloomin' - not to mention the moon. Note bags of pollen on bee's legs!
Not much spoonin' I'm afraid - tho' might post a pic of the real thing - if I can find a silver one.  Young female blackbird crept into the picture.

Monday, June 1, 2009