Saturday, 29 September 2018

Box for Floral Mini-Album–Box Construction Part 1

Today I completed the assembly of the two boxes without the lids.

I began by creating a series of construction strips, cut to the different lengths of the joins, scored and folded, and cut with mitred ends.

26 Making the Construction Strips

I added double-sided tape to these in readiness for sticking onto the box pieces. I use the credit card to tear the double-sided tape to the correct length after applying it to the card. This makes cutting the tape efficient and double-quick – with my right hand inside the roll of tape, I hold the end onto the cardstock with my left hand, unroll the tape, lay it down in the correct position, grab the credit card with my left hand and hold it firmly, flat on the table with its edge where I want the tape cut, and tear the tape sharply against the credit card. Job done. No putting the tape down, picking up the scissors, putting them down… This is a combination of techniques I observed others using on Youtube. Thanks ladies!

The strips attached to the box pieces.

27 Adding the Construction Strips to the Box Pieces

The two boxes assembled.

28 Two Boxes Constructed

Today the first of my parcels arrived – the little metal corners. Once I’ve got the other parts, I can start embellishing the outside of the boxes.

I realised that I need to make a flap for the front of the lid, so that I can attach the clasp to this. I will have to embellish the inside of this flap to match the inside of the box, and I hope I can make it the same! At least I’ve made a note of exactly what I did. It’s another step that I could do without having to do, but without finishing it to match, it won’t have the finish that I want.

For the hinges at back and front of the lid, I am going to use Tyvek painted black. This is extremely strong and will not wear or tear in use.

The boxes feel fairly firm and substantial, and I think they will be up to holding the albums securely. They will feel even stronger once the decorative papers are adhered to the outsides. I am now quite pleased with the effect I’ve got on the inside of the pieces, and it was worth leaving them under heavy books overnight because they came out lovely and flat.

Friday, 28 September 2018

Box for Floral Mini-Album–Completing the Inside Pieces

Today I finished embellishing the insides of the pieces to make up the box.

I had a bit of a struggle because at each stage I was far from satisfied, and kept adding more layers until it looked more or less OK. Here are the steps.

First of all, I tore the music fragments from the paper napkins into smaller pieces, and stuck them down onto the box pieces with soft matt gel medium.

15 Preparing to Stick Music Fragments Down

16 Music Fragments Stuck Down

17 Music Fragments Stuck Down Close-Up

They looked far too obvious and there was nothing to link them together. I added more Worn Lipstick and Seedless Preserves Distress Oxides and spritzed it lightly with water, and dried it with my heat gun. Before and after:

18 More DOs on Music Fragments Before and After

19 All Pieces with Extra DOs on Music Fragments

It still needed something to link the fragments together so I stamped some music onto the pieces without an acrylic block in order to get a nice random effect.

20 Music Stamping

I still wasn’t pleased with it. The stamping was too hard looking and it just looked messy. I added some Vintage Photo Distress Ink with an Inkylicious Ink Duster which improved things somewhat, especially after I’d spritzed it with water again. On the following photos, it looks as if the music stamping has disappeared, but it is still there, but a lot more subtle, merging into the backgrouond.

21 Vintage Photo DI on Music Stamping

I finally decided to add some white acrylic paint spatters and this definitely helped produce the effect I was after.

22 Paint Spatters on Pieces

23 Paint Spatters on Pieces Close-Up

Coming back later after they were dry, I decided to make them a bit more subtle by adding some Black Soot Distress Oxide with an ink blender. I spritzed it lightly with water and then dried it with my heat gun. Again, before and after:

24 Extra DO on Paint Spatters

The finished pieces.

25 Box Inside Pieces Complete

The final step was to touch up the edges and the borders on the outside of the pieces with black acrylic, and when they were dry, I gave all the pieces the heavy books treatment overnight to ensure that the pieces would be absolutely flat, and ready to be assembled into the two boxes.

I was hoping that my metal embellishments would arrive today from Ebay. I may have to wait until next week. At least I can begin assembling the box in the meantime, but I cannot finish the outside until they arrive because I need to cut the covering papers to shape, to fit around them and give a nice professional finish.

Thursday, 27 September 2018

Box for Floral Mini-Album–Continuing to Work on the Insides

Having painted one side of the box pieces with black acrylic, today I painted the edges and a border around the other side of each piece, ready for matting later.

13 Edges of Box Pieces Painted

After this I began embellishing the black surface which will be the inside of the box. I wanted to try Angela’s (Felix the Crafty Cat) technique to produce an interesting texture: she scrumpled up some waxed paper and then unfolded it, and ironed it onto some card, which made a gorgeous pattern in wax on the paper, which was revealed when she applied some Distress Oxides with a blending tool, the wax pattern acting as a resist.

Unfortunately it didn’t work for me. I have a roll of freezer paper that I thought was waxed, but however long I ironed it, very little came off onto the card. Afterwards I read the label on the box and it said “plastic coated” so obviously this was why it didn’t work. I tried with some scraps of what I thought was waxed paper that I’ve saved for other purposes, mostly the backing sheets of self-adhesive labels and things like that, but had no more success with these than with the freezer paper, so I gave it up as a bad job. I shall contact Angela and ask where she got her waxed paper!

I proceeded to apply Worn Lipstick and Seedless Preserves Distress Oxides to the black painted surface of the mount board, using Inkylicious Ink Dusters and then spritzing the pieces with water and drying them with my heat gun. I am quite pleased with the result.

14 Distress Oxides on Box Pieces

I shall tear up the strips taken from the music table napkins and apply those with gel medium, and add more inks and possibly some gilding flakes and spatters, building up the layers until I am happy with the result.

Not a bad evening’s work for today, and I hope to do a bit more tomorrow.

Wednesday, 26 September 2018


Again, I’ve been very busy this week, so much so that I’ve only just managed to reply to most of your last week’s comments, for which I apologise! However, I did manage to get two or three hours in my studio last night, at long last, working on the boxes for the two copies of the Floral Mini-Album I made earlier in the year.

WOYWW 486 26-9-18

I have been keen to get back to my box project as soon as possible, and have been mugging up again on Youtube re its construction. I hate it when projects go off the boil but Youtube has fired me up again. This week I’ve ordered some hardware for boxes – feet, corners, clasps etc. but can’t get on until they arrive as I need to install them before being able to work on the mats and embellishments.

What I did last night was to start working on the inside of the two boxes – I’ve decided to make one for each of the albums. We are seeing our friend next month and I would like to have finished her box so we can take it with us, so that her copy of the album no longer needs to reside in a biscuit tin!

You can see what I’ve been up to in my previous post.


I did manage to make some crochet leaves for my scarf while I was crashed out resting on Saturday. I just needed a day with my feet up and some TV and let everything else go hang for a few hours.

07 First Selection of Leaves 26-9-18

They look a bit messy because they need pressing, and they’ve also got tails on them which I am going to use to attach them to the scarf. I’ve got quite a few more to make and will probably use one or more different patterns for them.

Here is a mock-up with two different sized leaves with one of the flowers I made.

08 Mock-Up of Flower with Leaves

I have found a brilliant Youtube tutorial for the most realistic crochet peacock feathers I’ve yet seen, so I’ve written it out, and selected the colours I want from an online supplier and waiting for them to arrive – 4-ply cotton yarn. When I’ve finished the scarf, I am going to start another one with a gorgeous ball of yarn I bought for £1 in a charity shop a few months ago, and I thought I’d embellish it with peacock feathers. Watch this space.


Another Erev Shabbat meal last Friday, for which I made the challah. I always volunteer to do this if we are able to attend – my little contribution!

02 Challah

This time, because I had to go out on the day I made it, there wasn’t quite sufficient time for the second prove, so they came out a bit smaller than usual and the texture was a little dense, but still delicious and everyone enjoyed it. Again, I divided the dough into three portions as this recipe makes two enormous ones, and there usually aren’t enough of us to consume it all! I have frozen the third one, and I’m going to take it to my friend’s Macmillan tea party on Saturday, raising funds for cancer.

My sourdough loaf this week:

43 Sourdough 23-9-18

I showed someone this photo at church on Sunday and he said that when I really perfect my sourdough technique (always striving for an ever more open crumb), there will just be a crust containing one enormous hole! Haha! Sourdough perfecting itself out of existence. Just how holey does it have to be to be perfect? This week, not quite as much oven spring as I’d like, but still perfectly acceptable, and a gorgeous flavour.

I made a huge pot of very thick vegetable soup this week (now in the freezer). For this I’d bought a butternut squash and a celeriac, both of which I cut in half and used for the soup, and chopped the second half of each to roast with some other veggies, in order to make a couple of quiches for the freezer. Unfortunately I forgot them and they got burnt. Grrrrrrrr. Mega annoyed with myself! I managed to salvage a very small quantity and these have been used chopped up in various other things (salad, sourdough pancakes). I shall have to try again another time.

I made more sourdough crackers on Sunday evening. I’d nearly run out of coconut oil so had to use olive oil as well – either will do but I love the delicate flavour of the coconut.

I made sourdough pancakes again on Sunday evening, too – again with kimchi which gives them a nice spicy kick. Some of my rescued roasted veggies went in too.

Finally, something that arrived with my grocery shopping this week: a relaxed carrot.

Relaxed Carrot 19-9-18


Am I tempted to go out and play with my sister? Noooo… not really… too nice and warm indoors!

07 Not Tempted to Go Out and Play with Lily 25-9-18

As usual, Lily is rolling and showing everything… That kitty is soooo soft…

They’ve both been spending more time indoors since the weather has got colder, and Ruby’s latest favourite place is on my legs when I get my feet up on the recliner. She’s so nice and warm! I often have Lily as well, and then Ruby lies more on my feet which get really squashed, as she’s so heavy these days!

Health update

At last I’ve got my CT scan appointment – Thurs. 18th Oct. in the evening. I am more and more convinced that it will confirm my suspicions that my hernia has returned. I really have no doubt about it now. I am still awaiting the arrival of the first pair of support pants after the support garments lady visited me recently. I know my stoma supply company has got the prescription so it shouldn’t be too long now. If they fit OK, I can go ahead and order another two pairs but if not, the lady will have to come back for another fitting. Hopefully I’ll be set up soon because my current pairs offer very little support now, being well over a year old (I should have new ones every year) and also because I’ve lost weight since they were made.

Next week I’ve got a blood test appointment with the practice nurse (after going back on my rivaroxaban anticoagulant – they need to check my kidney function periodically, apparently) and on the same day I’m getting my eyes tested. I’m also having my stairlift serviced so it’s all go!

Other things

Another Torbay Friends of Israel meeting this Sunday, at which I am hoping to sing again, and my Bible study group is going well. Lots of preparation work to be done and I’ll have to fit in quite a few hours on that this coming week. I’ve also got a huge backlog of emails that need dealing with.

I really want some more studio time this week!!!

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Box for Floral Mini-Album–Beginning to Work on the Insides

After not being able to spend time in my studio recently, this evening I managed a couple of hours, and made some progress with the construction of the two boxes. We are seeing our friend early next month and I would like to get her box finished by then, even if I don’t manage to finish mine, so that she can keep her copy of the album in it, rather than in the biscuit tin in which it currently resides!

This evening I cut the pieces for the second box, from mount board as before. I had already disassembled the mock-up box because it is going to be much easier to embellish the inside when it’s in bits, and I wasn’t happy with the way I’d assembled it, just using masking tape.

I have painted the insides of each piece with black acrylic paint, using a foam brush. I laid them out on newspaper on my studio floor to dry.

08 Box Pieces Painted

While they were drying, I started work on some decorations for the inside of the boxes.

A while back, my friend gave me some lovely table napkins that she’d picked up in a restaurant she’d visited, and thought I might be able to use them.

09 Musical Table Napkins

They are rather thick, and not made in layers like most table napkins, so I couldn’t separate them. I decided to tear out the borders.

10 Pieces Torn from Musical Table Napkins

I also tore out the little pianos.

I inked the strips with Worn Lipstick and Dusty Concord Distress stains, spritzing the ink on my craft sheet and dabbing with a big soft brush, and then spritzing the strips to blend the colours a bit better, and then drying them with my heat gun.

11 Inking the Pieces from Table Napkins

12 Inked Pieces from Table Napkins

I am intending to tear them into shorter, random lengths and stick them down onto the black painted mount board pieces after I’ve decorated these with Distress Oxides – I’m not quite sure how I’m going to do that yet but it may be a combination of applying the Distress Oxides with a blending pad and spritzing, and some stamping. I want the whole effect to be fairly subtle.

I have ordered some metal hardware from Ebay, for embellishing the outside of the boxes – corners, clasps, handles and feet, which I hope will give the boxes a nice professional finish.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018


I’m sorry I didn’t make it to our weekly round-the-desks nosey fest last week – I fully intended to, but in the end was too busy with other things.

Great news this week – I’ve spent some time in the studio!

First of all, a general view, showing how much tidier it is, after I spent quite a long time tidying up, putting things away, and putting some things aside that I no longer want.

WOYWW 485 Studio a Lot Tidier

The white unit in the foreground is one of my pull-out units. This one belongs under the main desk, but it’s never in there because that’s where I generally sit. You can see another one under the fan. They are on casters and can pull out, giving me a place to sit and an extra work surface. When the builder was making my studio, I asked him to make me several of these, to go in the different zones where I can sit to work. I can only sit in one place at a time and it seemed a shame to waste the space, and they can be pulled out when required. If I want a large flat surface, I can pull them all out and put them together.

There’s still quite a lot of tidying and sorting to do, but at least I can move around in there now.

Here’s my desk, taken last night.

WOYWW 485 2 Backgrounds

I’ve done two more backgrounds for the box for the album about Mum, 12 x 12’s from the ghastly paper stack I’ve had hanging around for years. These two identical ones were done with a combination of Distress Inks, Distress Oxides and Infusions. I don’t think I’ve got quite as much coverage as I did when altering smaller pieces for the album itself so I may add a bit more to these. I think I’ve probably done enough pieces to cover the outside of two boxes now. I am keen to get this project finished because I am full of ideas for things I want to be doing, and having gone off the boil with this one for a while, it’s a bit of a duty rather than a pleasure to get it done, but I am trying to be good and get it out of the way before I tackle anything else (such as getting down to some of my other UFOs!).

I’ve done a bit more on the scarf embellishments. I think I’ve crocheted enough flowers now, and have started on the leaves. No photos yet as I’ve only done one so far! Not much time this week to pursue this.


Dried Apples

Last week, I sliced up a lot of our apples and tried drying them in the oven at 50 deg. C over a long period. I wasn’t sure how successful this would be. To start with, a huge amount of moisture came out of them and I could see it running down inside the oven door! I opened the door and mopped up quite a bit, and left it open a crack for about half an hour till it was cleared, then shut it again and kept it going. I turned the oven off overnight and gave it another boost the next day.

I had sprinkled ground cinnamon over them, and the kitchen smelt absolutely marvellous.

01 Drying Apples 1 12-9-18

Here are the apples as I was turning them over.

02 Drying Apples 2 - Turning Over 12-9-18

Here they are in a box. Some of them got a bit over-done but it doesn’t seem to have affected them apart from looking very dark.

03 Delicious Dried Apples 18-9-18

We’ve already made inroads into them. They don’t look particularly appetising – more like dried up old mushrooms! – but they are absolutely delicious – chewy, very sweet and flavoursome, and extremely more-ish!


Two more successful batches on successive weekends. Here is the last one, baked on Saturday night and cut on Sunday morning.

40 Sourdough with Whole Wheat 16-9-18

Look at that lovely open crumb! This is what we are after with traditional sourdough. Nice glossy holes.

41 Sourdough with Whole Wheat Cut 16-9-18

It is so delicious. This loaf was made with half-and-half whole wheat and white flour. I’ve more or less given up on the rye flour now, apart from feeding Esmeralda (my starter) with it – she seems to like it! It tends to make the dough extremely wet and sticky, and difficult to handle. My dough-handling technique has improved a lot and I’m getting a good structure and a decent amount of oven spring now, and producing pretty consistent results week by week – no more flying saucers lately!

When you feed the starter you have to take some out or it becomes spent and stale and stops working, as the yeasts have eaten what they need. Some people throw this excess starter away but this seems an awful waste of excellent nutritious food to me. I discovered some recipes online, including a truly fabulous one for sourdough crackers, which I am now making on a regular basis. Here is last week’s batch.

42 Sourdough Crackers 18-9-18

They are quite quick and easy to make, and so crisp and delicious. These are made with rye flour because that’s what I feed Esmeralda with. They are a lot more satisfying than regular crackers, and are great with the kefir cheese that I make. There is no sugar in them, just flour, salt and water and a dash of baking soda, and coconut oil (a healthy saturated fat). I have found the secret for making successful sourdough crackers is to roll the dough out very thinly so they get really crisp. Yummy!

This week I also made a fresh batch of curries for the freezer, having run out a while back – Madras curry, chicken korma, and curried vegetables, all frozen in small portions so we can have our own “takeaway” selection when we want!

This week I must make more soup, and some roasted vegetable quiches if I have the time and energy.


Lily and Ruby aren’t quite so keen on going out in the garden these days, since the weather went off. Ruby always gets very dirty feet! Hope you can see them in this photo! That front paw is supposed to be white…

03 Ruby's Dirty Feet 6-9-18

They have really settled down now they are grown up, and now that it’s cooler, they love to spend time with us in the evenings, sitting with us. We have both been looking forward so much to this – up until fairly recently they were still such babies and our sitting room isn’t really kitten-proof. Now, they have the run of the place and can (mostly) be trusted!

When I am busy preparing meals etc., they settle down with my hubby, and like Beatrice and Phoebe before them, tend to sit one on each knee.

05 Two Kitties on Daddy's Legs 16-9-18

However, when I finally sit down, they prefer to come to me, because on the recliner with a nice soft blanket (not just for warmth for me but to protect myself a bit from their claws), they can get a lot more comfortable and can cuddle up together, and are less likely to fall off.

06 Two Kitties on My Legs 16-9-18

This picture was taken later that same evening. I hate having to tip them off when I need to get up! Ruby is usually nearer my feet, and if she lies on them, she is soooo heavy and my feet get very uncomfortable! (Note the wet patch just behind Lily’s left ear – well washed by Ruby!)

A couple of evenings ago my hubby was trying to get them in for supper and they were both making a terrific noise outside, rushing around and obviously very interested in something behind the pots in the patio. We went out to look, and there was a toad there! They will need to be a lot quieter and more restrained if they are ever going to make successful hunters – the racket they were making would have scared any prey off well in advance of the onslaught! Happily the toad lived to croak another day and the kitties eventually came in for a more civilised meal.

Health Update

I have now seen the support garments lady and she’s measured me up for new pants – I’ve gone down a size since the last prescription over 18 months ago because I’ve lost weight. My current ones have lost a lot of their stretch and supportiveness so they probably aren’t doing much good. You are supposed to have new ones every year but I didn’t arrange it at the beginning of the year because I knew I was due for surgery and you can’t wear them for several weeks afterwards, and also I didn’t know if I would change shape during that time, so a new prescription is long overdue. I am now awaiting the arrival of the first pair and if they are OK, they will make up two more for me to make the total of three that I am allowed in one year. They are extremely expensive (bespoke, specially designed for people with stomas) at around £80 a pair, but the cost of three pairs is nothing compared with the cost of a hernia repair operation. Thanks to our wonderful NHS, I get them on prescription, free of charge.

I am pretty convinced now that my hernia has returned. I still haven’t had my CT scan appointment and the support garments lady said she would ask the stoma nurse to chase this up for me. Everything takes soooo long…

Apart from that, I’ve been OK, although extremely tired during the week after the conference. Going back on my rivaroxaban (anti-coagulant) soon sorted out the thrombophlebitis in my leg and I’ve had no more pain, which is a relief.

Other Activities

Last week I resumed my little Bible study group again after a long break. I stopped it after my hubby broke his leg and Mum died, and then I was so ill earlier in the year, and after I had recovered, I had a lot of catching up to do, so we decided to leave it till the autumn to start again. It’s so nice to be getting together again and we have a new member, too, which is very encouraging. I need to spend quite a bit of time during the week preparing for these meetings, and designing the visual aids which I show by connecting the computer to the TV by cable.

After the recent conference, our local Torbay Friends of Israel group has now started having regular evening meetings at the same conference centre (which is only about 5 mins away from us by car) and we had our first meeting on Sunday. I was too tired to sing for them but will no doubt do so at future meetings. We have another Erev Shabbat (Sabbath Eve) meal coming up this Friday (the leader does one each month) and on Thursday I shall be making the challah for that (the two plaited loaves made from enriched, sweet dough – delicious!).  It’s very nice to be able to do something to contribute to the meal. Our leader is a full-time wheelchair user and he does the whole thing himself, cooking a lovely chicken casserole (other people provide the puddings) and lays up a beautiful table each time. Usually about a dozen of us attend and it’s a very special evening. I sometimes sing during those evenings too.

Yesterday afternoon I was back at the conference centre, spending the afternoon with a friend who is down from Bournemouth for a conference – we always try to get together when she’s down and has a free afternoon. We had such a great time! I only see her about twice a year so we make the most of it.

So all in all, it’s been a very busy fortnight chez-Shosh.

Friday, 7 September 2018

More Fermented Foods, and New Cheese Maker


Today I was busy as usual on a Friday with my kombucha, brewing a new batch.

10 Making Kombucha 7-9-18

On the left is my large gallon jar ready for the next batch. Beside it, in the smaller bowl, is the scoby resting in some kombucha. (Scoby = “Symbiotic Colony [or Culture] Of Bacteria and Yeasts.”) I was pleased today to discover that the scoby has grown sufficiently to be separated. On its underside was the original small disc of scoby that I bought on Ebay, and I was able to pull it away from its larger “baby” and I can now pass this on to my friend, who wants to start making kombucha. For now, it’s gone back in the jar with its mother, until my friend is able to come over.

In the larger bowl, I have just strained last week’s batch of kombucha, and behind that bowl you can see the bottles lined up, ready for me to decant the kombucha. This time I have decided not to do the second fermentation because much as I like it, I think I prefer the raw kombucha. Both are extremely good for you. I drink it as it is, and it’s also one of the ingredients in the 6-ingredient rehydration drink that I make every day (having an ileostomy I have to guard against the very real danger of dehydration). This delicious drink is made with fresh lemon juice, maple syrup, Himalayan pink rock salt, coconut water and kombucha, topped up to a litre with filtered water. I make it every evening and put the bottle in the fridge overnight so it’s ready for the morning.

Behind the smaller bowl is a jar of honey that someone gave my hubby today, from their own bees. I am looking forward to sampling that! I adore honey, and all the more so if it’s locally produced. You can also see the red ring binder which is my personal recipe book. The six bottles are now filled and in the fridge, and the large jar is back in the airing cupboard, complete with both scobys, fermenting for another week.

The kombucha is going very well, and apart from a bit of time spent on it once a week, it is very little bother to make, and it is happy to be left alone to do its stuff for the rest of the week.

Kefir Cheese

Today I was very pleased that both my parcels arrived from Amazon, sooner than I expected. In the first was another four Mason jars, this time with wide mouths (I bought narrow mouths last time by mistake, but it doesn’t matter because I can still use them). The second parcel contained my new kefir cheese maker. I had spotted this online several weeks ago and thought it looked really good but I wasn’t sure I could justify what I considered to be rather a high price tag for something which is fairly basic and doesn’t involve electricity. In the end, however, I decided it probably was worth getting, because making the cheese with a muslin cloth in a sieve over a bowl isn’t very satisfactory. Because the handle of the sieve sticks out, there isn’t room for it in the fridge, and it takes hours to drain, which means it is out at room temperature for too long.

Here is the new cheese maker.

11 Kefirko Cheese Maker 7-9-18

It comes complete with a small instruction manual, and a little recipe book. These are obviously translated from another language because at times the English is a little eccentric, but perfectly comprehensible!

It consists of a glass jar with a green plastic collar which screws on. Into this goes a very fine plastic mesh container, and a clear plastic lid to cover it. Just behind the plastic lid in the picture is a small rubber lid and a spring. These are for if you want to make firmer cheese.

To use it, you pour the kefir into the top, screw the lid on and put it in the fridge for about 24 hours, during which time the whey drips through into the glass jar, eventually leaving thick kefir “cheese” in the mesh container. You tip this out and can either eat the cheese as-is, or add flavourings.

To make harder cheese, once it is drained so that it is firm enough, you put the rubber lid on top, and then the spring, and then screw down the main lid which compresses the spring and forces the rubber lid down onto the cheese, squeezing out more whey.

The whey is extremely nutritious and can be used in many different recipes.

The cheese maker is very well made and quite substantial – a lot better than I thought it would be, so I don’t mind quite so much about the price! It is now in the fridge with the first batch draining.

The recipe book has recipes for all sorts of cheese, including some not made with kefir. You can even make coffee and tea in it, but I shan’t be doing that – apart from anything else, I don’t want the mesh container to get stained.

Fermented cucumbers

I bought two cucumbers yesterday, and today our neighbour came round with some of her home-grown ones, and I said I would ferment some for her.

04 Fermented Cucumbers, Salt and Glass Discs 7-9-18

In the photo you can see both sorts of Mason jars that I bought – one of the narrow-necked ones on the left, now filled with Himalayan pink rock salt. The wide-necked ones have the cucumbers in them, the one on the left being my neighbour’s home-grown cucumbers which are quite pale yellowy-green in colour, and the one on the right, the ordinary cucumbers that I bought. Both are in brine made with filtered water and the Himalayan rock salt, with dill and sliced garlic. In front of the jars you can see two of my glass discs. The fermented cucumber jars each have one in them. Lacto-fermentation is an anaerobic process and it’s important to keep the vegetables under the surface of the brine or they will go mouldy. These glass discs which fit the wide-necked Mason jars are ideal for this purpose, but you can use a ziplock bag part-filled with brine and with the air squeezed out to keep the vegetables submerged.

My cucumbers are now on the floor of the pantry, and they should be ready to sample in four or five days. I have to remember to burp the jars twice daily or they might explode. A couple of weeks ago I got a roll of black labelling material with a mat surface that you can write on with a chalk pen, for labelling my various ferments. I haven’t used it yet. I am hoping this will cut nicely on my cutting machine so I can cut my own fancy labels from it. This stuff is apparently peelable which will make life easier.

I recycle all the instant coffee jars that I buy for my hubby – these jars have nice glass lids with a rubber seal, that are designed to be recycled for other uses, and these are all on the shelves in my pantry. I designed labels for them on the computer and they look very pretty.

50 Labelled Jars

I think the black, semi-permanent ones will contrast nicely with these. The large Mason jars will have to go on the floor because all the shelves are full now!

Every evening I go into the kitchen and deal with what my hubby calls my “liquids” – said in a dark tone of voice which implies that they are something concocted in Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory!! I suppose it’s all quite a bit of work, making fresh kefir every night, and sorting my rehydration drink for the next day, and burping my various jars so we don’t have major explosions, but I’ve got into a routine with it all now and it doesn’t seem too much hardship. I am loving the results, and I am feeling a lot better health-wise than I’ve felt for ages, apart from the possible return of my parastomal hernia (still waiting for a CT scan appointment to determine that), and  recent thrombophlebitis in my leg, which has now improved greatly, since going back on my rivaroxaban (anticoagulant).

The next thing I am going to experiment with is sauerkraut but I shall leave that for a week or two.

Tonight I began the next batch of sourdough which I shall make tomorrow.

Wednesday, 5 September 2018


It’s been a busy week for me again this week, at the conference all weekend. At least the venue is only 5 mins away by car and my hubby was happy to drop me over, and he joined us for a couple of meals. It all went very well and everyone seemed to like my singing, which I was pleased about. It was lovely to meet up with friends old and new, and I met some very interesting people. We had some fascinating talks, including one by a missionary couple from Brazil – he explained that his parents had met and fallen in love and married without knowing some crucial facts about each other – that he was a Nazi and she was a Jew! As you can imagine, he had a rather confusing time growing up in that household.

Not much more progress made on the current UFO – I made a couple more flowers and that’s about it!

06 Small Flowers 5-9-18


This week’s bread: challah for the conference, and more sourdough.

Sourdough and Challah 30-8-18

37 Sourdough with Whole Wheat and Rye Cut 30-8-18

This time I made the sourdough with half white bread flour and a quarter each whole wheat and whole rye. I do like the flavour of the rye but it seems to make the dough more difficult to handle. It worked pretty well but I don’t think it’s risen quite as much as the previous loaf. It tastes pretty good, though! Unfortunately it cracked a bit on top and I’m not sure why that should have happened.

Yesterday morning, being confronted with a huge amount of apple that my hubby had peeled and chopped, I made a big pot of apple chutney which will probably keep us going for months! The recipe says to leave it for 6 weeks to mature but I’ve had a little taste and it tastes fine. Later on it will probably be more blended. I didn’t have enough of most of the ingredients in the recipe so I adapted it and just bunged in a whole lot of extra stuff!

Apple Chutney 5-9-18

There was also another tall narrow pot but I gave this to my friend who spent yesterday afternoon with me. I didn’t have quite enough to fill the jar at the front.


Perfect symmetry?

08 Perfect Symmetry 30-8-18

Last night we lost Ruby. We thought she might have got out when my friend was leaving but we called in the garden and my hubby went out with a torch, but couldn’t find her. We searched high and low in the house and there was no sign. Lily seemed to be a bit twitched, not knowing where her sister was. I was looking again in the bedroom and my hubby called me, and there she was, without a care in the world, sitting on the stairs! We haven’t a clue where she’d got to.

It reminded me of the time when Dad was in his dementia home, and he’d lost his glasses (he used to lose things for a pastime) and my hubby and the staff looked everywhere, to no avail. Eventually my hubby managed to find his spare pair amongst some of his other stuff we had here at home, and took them in, only to find Dad sitting as happy as Larry, wearing the lost pair! When my hubby asked him about them, he not only couldn’t tell him where he’d found them, but couldn’t even remember losing them in the first place! We had a good laugh about that. Dad took it all in very good part and just went on in his usual confused way!

Health Update

When I saw my surgeon over a fortnight ago he said I was to go back on the rivaroxaban again (anticoagulant). I’d been on it for a while after one of my routine oncology CT scans revealed numerous small pulmonary emboli, but I stopped it after my operation in March, and after I finished the course of post-op fragmin injections (shorter-acting anticoagulant), I wasn’t on anything. I’d asked the GP about it and she said she’d heard from my surgeon that I wasn’t to go back on the rivaroxaban until he’d seen me, but of course that appointment was a lot longer coming than I’d hoped, so the months were going by and I was getting a bit concerned. When I saw him he just said I should start them again – why he couldn’t just have said that to the GP I don’t know, because he didn’t seem to need to discuss it with me. Anyway, after that, again I didn’t hear anything so we checked at the pharmacy to see if a prescription had come up, which it hadn’t, so I phoned the surgery and arranged a telephone appointment with the GP that happened on Monday. She immediately agreed to deal with it and the prescription was ready for collection first thing on Tuesday, which was great. I’ve got to make an appointment with the practice nurse in a fortnight’s time to have my kidney function checked now I’m back on them again.

It was good that I was able to speak to the GP because over the weekend something else came up. I think it was because I was sitting for so long at the conference but not with my feet up. I have a varicose vein on my left leg and on Sunday evening after the end of the conference I noticed I had a small tender lump near my ankle, and on Monday I had two more up my leg, and it has become very painful when I stand on it. I told the GP that I was worried I might have a thrombosis and told her about the varicose vein, and the fact I’d been pretty immobile for a few days. She said that a DVT would produce generalised swelling of the leg and not small local lumps, and that this was thrombophlebitis. Going back on the rivaroxaban should solve the problem pretty quickly, but if I was concerned, I should come to the surgery and get it looked at. She said that because it was superficial, there wasn’t nearly as high a risk as with a DVT and that they usually disappeared on their own, so I was reassured. Sitting with my legs up, I’m not really aware of it but it hurts like crazy as soon as I put my feet down and stand up! Always something, isn’t there…

As the days go on, I am more and more convinced that my hernia has returned. I still haven’t got a CT scan appointment… I’m keeping a close eye on things and hoping I don’t get another obstruction.

I’m hoping that the next few days will be relatively quiet so that I can rest a bit after being so busy lately. One day I might even get into my studio (if I can actually clamber over all the junk in there) and tidy up and maybe even do something creative in there!

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