Saturday, November 22, 2014

Weekend Cat Blog

The COG and I went to a nursery to buy some bulbs to plant in pots for the winter.  We were cruising the aisles just smelling the damp earth for a while when we passed this and did a double take.



Did you spot it?  Here's a close-up.   I love cats. I love that they find places to curl  up and sleep in busy shops.  I love that they are so boneless and agile that they can make a circle when they sleep.


Friday, November 21, 2014

Veggie From Another Planet?



This amazing vegetable is a Romanesco cauliflower which we got from our CSA.  I had never seen one before.  The chartreuse color and the strange fractal quality of the flowerets is just beautiful.  Wikipedia says  that the branched meristems make up a logarithmic spiral. Also that the number of spirals on each head is a Fibonacci number.  It is one of the mathematical wonders of the vegetable world.

We are having it for dinner, boiled whole, with cheese sauce and ham and boiled potatoes.   I tried and tried to find a recipe that left it whole but most of them break it up like an ordinary cauliflower.  That's tragic, in my opinion.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Brighton Again

We just spent nearly a month in Brighton and I didn't blog at all. I have so much to blog about.

The reason I didn't blog is this. My kitchen.  This is a Before shot.  Where do I start?  There are many good things about the kitchen - it functions quite well although it would function better if I were 6 feet tall.  Mostly, it's a good kitchen, functionally.

Still, it has problems.  The biggest problem is entirely subjective - Although it's very bright, the window faces north, so it's cold blue light.  And the white and grey just make it colder.  I also hate the space between the washer and the sink, where we keep the trash can.  There was a dishwasher there when we moved in and we got rid of it.  Then, there is the dark tile behind the sink.  There's no close-up of it, but it seemed to me to suck the light from the room - it was black and very roughly textured with large ugly black sanded grout lines.

Perhaps you recall that we had a new ceiling put in when we had the lighting changed last spring. At that time they removed the soffit over the cupboards, which still needs replacing.  We had to repaint everything pure white after the ceiling job and that has made the Ikea off-white cabinets just look dirty.

We went to Ikea soon after we arrived. I had hoped to find some cabinet that would fit in between the washer and sink and also a few other things.  My hopes were dashed. I came home disappointed.




So that is where we stood when we arrived.  I can't remember how I got there exactly, but I came across some tiles that I loved.  



And amazingly, and they were very inexpensive- less than £40 for all of them. So I decided to replace the  tiles myself.  Which might have been insane, considering that I have no tools at all in Brighton.  To do this,  I had first to remove the old tiles. That proved to be pretty easy. However,  I, then, had to remove all the adhesive from a wall which was pretty much of a mess behind the adhesive.  But, I persevered and cleaned it up and smoothed it out and installed the tile.

I've just written that in -what - 3 sentences, but it took DAYS.  And many trips to various Home Depot type places. And the discovery that the window is not level, making the tiles look as if they are not level. 

Plus, there was just one tile that needed to be cut at the end. It was too thick to cut without heavy duty tile cutters. My Plan B was to bring it home with me and cut it on the saw at Home Depot. But I had a Plan A.

By coincidence, just a few houses up from us, a neighbor was having the tile on their front steps replaced.  And there were two young guys working on it and they had the tile cutter right there on the pavement.  But by the time I figured out that I needed to cut the tile, they were gone. They hadn't finished, but it poured rain for several days, so they didn't return. 

So I turned to Plan A2 and that ended up working.  I went to a nearby tile shop and asked them to cut just one for me.  It took a bit of persuading (apparently I still have some Wiles, despite being geriatric) but I was, finally, able to complete the tile job. 

I also decided to paint the lower cupboards.  Here is an intermediate shot with the tiles removed, but still a mess underneath and a couple of paint samples.


Nice yellow, nice blue which matched the tiles.  I liked both of them.  Daughter of just painted a unit in her kitchen that same blue grey.  But, I hesitated.  Since I couldn't get a a cupboard for the space, I knew I was going to have to put a curtain there and with the tiles it was just getting a little too much French Country for me.  So I ended up choosing a beautiful  dark grey Farrow and Ball color called Downpipe.  I was going on instinct alone and I thought I was a bit crazy because The kitchen is already so cold. But then I read on Apartment Therapy that black is a warm color.  Downpipe isn't quite black, but I think it's warm.  And I'm really happy with it.   

Painting cupboards is another thing that's easily said, but not so easily done. I bought a sander.  I sanded. I searched high and low and finally found a High Adhesive Primer. The Ikea units were painted, but very smooth. I wanted that paint to stick.  So I primed and sanded and painted and sanded. Three coats, it took, not counting the primer. But I finished. 

This isn't an After picture, because there is still work to do when we go back.  The upper units need to be painted a bright white and we need to get a carpenter in to replace the soffit. Before I left I installed a thing to hold the curtain under the counter.   Since I've gotten home to the US, I've made a skirt to cover the rubbish. It's a dark grey very similar to the cupboards.  I've also made a window blind.  We will probably never close it, but it's a touch of color for the window. 

So this is where we stand. 


Another view:



In an ideal world I would replace the counter top with butcher block (on the right) and marble (left and center). Also I'd have someone else tile the wall behind the cooker.  I don't like that stainless stuff.  

And then there's the floor. Old pine boards. I loved them when we bought the place. They are pretty, but they aren't great to live with.  I'm looking at washable runners but I'm not sure.  

Anyway, there is a lot of other stuff we did (Stonehenge! The Magna Carta!) but that's enough for today. 







Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A Wild Surprise of a Different Nature

Son of COG came home from work the other day and said, 'I've brought you a surprise. 'That's good,' I said -  'as long as I don't have to feed it or clean up after it.'   He laughed  said, rather doubtfully,  'maybe the second.'

It turned out to be 2 large bags of wild grapes- 12 pounds of them, after they'd been cleaned.  I haven't made jelly lately, only jam, so I found a recipe for wild grape jelly on the internet. It was a bit of work, but it made 11 pints of wonderful jelly.   Wild grapes have plenty of pectin, but you have to use so much sugar to get it to gel that my recipe advised using a low sugar pectin to bring out the wonderful flavor.  This is not Welches Grape Jelly, it has a complex almost wine-y flavor that would even go well with meat.  And it's pretty good with freshly made bread and a cup or tea, too.  


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

And Speaking of Wild Kingdom....

We had this guy on our screen last week.  He was a male because he had wings and Miss T assured us that only males have wings.


Evening in the Wild Kingdom

We had these visitors in our garden last evening:



The fawn was young, still spotted, and so sweet. He would graze for a while, then he would run around his mother in circles, leaping very high every few steps. Then back to eating.

I looked it up and fawns loose their spots by October of the year in which they were born - at 3 or 4 months.

We also heard males fighting the other night - it's rutting season.  There's a very distinctive slash of antlers and a sharp cry that they make.



Monday, September 29, 2014

Alien Life Form or Edible Foodstuff? - You Decide

My lovely neighbor brought me this from Maine. it's sitting on a 3 inch diameter jar lid. I keep wanting to wrap it in a receiving blanket - that's how big it is.