A night on the tiles…

well a day really. I went to look at tiles for the kitchen today, what a wealth of choice there is. After a while I was definitely getting tile fatigue and decided to go for a little drive to clear my head and enjoy the sunshine. Driving north thinking I would have a look at Fired Earth in Lancaster, I passed Rockform, a tile, stone flooring and paint shop, and on impulse called in. The shopkeeper was most helpful and suggested I take a sample block painted in the colour of the kitchen through to the tile room and see what looked good beside it. The first selection of tiles really appealed to me, and when I looked at the labels on the reverse I could see why… Vintage Tulle, Vintage Organza and Vintage Silk were the names, perfect for someone who loves vintage fabrics. I was able to bring the tiles home and having looked at them in situ have decided on Vintage Silk which has a greyish white base colour with pale blue mixed into it and a crackle glaze. They are plain but not too plain and are rectangular, brick shaped tiles. They are traditionally made by a company called Marlborough who also make beautiful hand painted tiles, the Coast bathroom tiles they produce are so attractive I am almost tempted to retile the bathroom!

As promised I have been sorting out the contents of the old kitchen and deciding what to keep and what to remove. The local charity shop has benefited from this already as I have been strict with myself and having decided something can go I have taken it to them before I have time to change my mind. So far I’ve taken two boxes of china and a shopping bag full of odds and ends.

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Kitchen news

The beautiful Olive Branch kitchen is installed, you will have to wait for proper photos as there are some details to finish … a bit of wallpapering, the flooring and wall tiles to install, ten more door handles to fix on and the stuff to be replaced in its new places. I am strangely reticent to fill the cupboards, but am gradually putting a few things back as we use them. The oak worktops need to have FIVE coats of Danish oil and need to dry for 12-24 hours between each one so at the moment we only have a very small area on top of the old fridge which is usuable as a worktop. I love all the little details, the “wee shelves” under the wall cupboards which are just big enough for jars of jam or my collection of little Buchan Stoneware pots, the different height worktops for different areas (not shown in the photos here) and the little space for the towels, trays and milk bottle holders. Dan the designer at The Olive Branch is very talented and he and his team are excellent workmen. They worked all day from 9-6 singing along to the radio and chatting amongst themselves. They altered the cupboards and worktops to accomodate the wonky walls and even re-routed the wiring and sockets to enable the fridge and dishwasher to be fitted more efficiently. They tidied up as they went along and vaccuumed all the woodshavings and sawdust up from the garage before they left. Tilly and Skye went to daycare for the day but Nino pottered in and out as they worked and they always had a little chat with him or stroked him as he wandered about- he’s been very confused by all the changes so their kindness to him was much appreciated.

I couldn’t wait to turn the Everhot back on and within a couple of hours the kitchen began to feel warm and cosy again.

Almost ready

he kitchen is bare… the cupboards have gone, the worktops have gone, the Everhot is due to be turned off after we’ve had our evening cup of tea and the dogs are very confused. Dan the kitchen builder is due to arrive at 9.30am so I will have time to take Tilly and Skye to daycare first. Amazingly when we removed the cupboards there was plaster on the walls behind them and no trailing wires or live gas pipes to contend with as there were when we removed the last lot of built in cupboards. There was  half a packet of elderly Refreshers sweets, a few spiders and quite a bit of dust. The hardest part so far has been emptying all the stuff out of the cupboards and coming to terms with the fact that I hoard a lot of junk. Why did I have each years’ TV licence from the time we moved here, neatly stacked in a cupboard? What use are plastic cycle bottles which long ago lost their lids? The new kitchen is a good time to weed out the rubbish and concentrate on following the advice of William Morris “Keep only those things in your home that you know to be useful or consider to be beautiful.”

The garage is still an ongoing saga, the fitters are returning on Friday to make yet another attempt to get it right but I’m not holding my breath.

And the plumber is delayed so won’t be starting on Tuesday but I am quite thankful for that as it will give us time to put the kitchen stuff back in place and have a rest before the next upheaval.

I am a shareholder

Yesterday the postman brought me a very exciting envelope containing my Christiania shares certificate. Mine is of course unique in that it bears the teethmarks of helpful Miss Tilly who likes to deliver my post into my hand rather than allowing me to remove it from the letter box myself.

Countdown and a cake recipe.

The countdown has begun, 10, 9, 8…yes only eight days until the new kitchen is installed! Yesterday was the first of October, so what did I do…go to a coffee morning of course.

It was in aid of the MacMillan Fund and was at Evie’s house. There was a table full of delicious cakes and biscuits, tea and coffee to drink, shortbread, jam and yarn to buy and time to sit and chat and knit all in a good cause. When my mother was dying the nurses from MacMillan were wonderful, they came to sit with her a couple of nights a week so that I could get some sleep as I was looking after my two-year old son at the same time. They helped me to explain to him what was happening to his lovely Granny and supported my sister and I to cope with our grief while we looked after Mum at home. I have nothing but praise for them.

In the afternoon I painted the sink unit cupboard doors and cleaned the rest of the sink unit woodwork ready to paint it today. This morning I managed to get it all painted with the help/hindrance of two very nosey German Shepherds intrigued by the sight of me sitting on the floor painting the side of the cupboard where the bin (source of much goodness in a dog’s mind) usually lives. The mini-heatwave of the last few days has gone to be replaced with more usual October dreichness but it is at least warm enough to have the doors and windows open while the paint dries.

Today I have a bag of pears to make into jam and cake thanks to my friend and fellow jam maker Paula,  I’m going to make Pear and Lemon Jam using the recipe from the Cottage Smallholder with the addition of some stem ginger to add a warming kick and a Pære og Valnøddekage  (pear and walnut cake) from a recipe given to me by a Danish friend

250g plain flour

2tsp baking powder

180g caster sugar

2 large eggs

100ml milk

125g butter

3 large pears, peeled, cored and chopped and a handfull of chopped walnuts

Optional…the seeds from a vanilla pod.

Melt the butter gently and leave to cool a little. Sieve the flour and baking powder together, stir in the caster sugar and add the chopped pears and walnuts (and vanilla seeds if used). Mix thoroughly to coat the pieces of pear to prevent them browning. Beat the eggs, to make a lighter cake whisk the egg whites to soft peak stage first then beat the yolks and milk together  and stir into the egg whites, add to flour mixture stiring all the time, pour in melted butter and beat enthusiastically. Pour into a 9 inch springform tin and bake for 40-50 mins at 180*C. The instructions then say “sit for a little while before turning upside down on a wire rack” …I know they mean the cake to do the sitting and turning upside down but it still amuses me! Leave to cool. Sprinkle top with more caster sugar or icing sugar before serving.