Serendipitous marmalade

blood orangeA small mistake in the grocers yesterday has turned out to be a delightful one, I picked up a net of “citrus fruits” from the “small oranges for juicing” section of the shelf as we have been indulging in the joys of freshly squeezed oranges here to offset the cold and wintry weather. When I cut the first one this morning I realised that the small print on the label (unreadable sans reading glasses which I do not wear when shopping) also said Blood Oranges. I have a slightly squeamish view of blood oranges since seeing a school friend cutting one open and simultaneously cutting her thumb but that was forty odd years ago and eight oranges are too good to waste. I don’t fancy blood orange juice for breakfast but … blood orange marmalade might work. A quick internet hunt and I had a recipe which included, would you believe, eight oranges! I began the marmalade making process as far as the “simmer for two hours on a low heat ” and shoved the pan into the oven while I began dismantling my bike to send to a knitting pal in Fife who will make better use of it than I can. Front wheel removed, check; handlebars turned, check; pedals removed …not a chance, I’ll have to wait for the boy to return and appeal to his expertise and superior strength.

Back to the marmalade while chatting to my sister on the phone, they are still snowed in but the thaw is coming and our conversation was punctuated by ” drip, drip” as the snow was melting in the sunshine.

Finally the marmalade was done, set and ready to put into jars. It looks rich and jewel-like with the sun shining on the jars …time for a slice of toast I think!january 2013 009

My version of the recipe is as follows

8 blood oranges, 2 .5 litres of water                                                 1.5kg sugar
1 lemon

Remove the top layer of the peel of the oranges using a potato peeler, slice into fine strips. Remove the white pith from each orange then squeeze the oranges saving all the pips. Put the pips and white pith in to a Pyrex jug and pour over 0.5 l boiling water, leave to soak. Put the juice, any membranes and peel into a preserving pan with the juice of a lemon. Add the lemon pips to the Pyrex jug. Pour 2l of water into the preserving pan and bring to the boil on the top of the stove. Put pan into the baking oven for about 2 hours. When the 2 hours are up, boil the lemon and orange pips and pith and water in a small pan for 10 minutes and strain all the liquid into the preserving pan, the liquid should be cloudy and thick as it contains the pectin.
Warm the sugar and tip into the preserving pan and bring back to the boil on top of the stove. Boil at a rolling boil for about 20 minutes to achieve a set then leave to cool for 15 minutes and put the marmalade into jars.



You know your friends understand you when …

…they bring empty jam jars all the way from Australia for you, thank you Liz, you are bear_1588339cwonderful!

bear_1588339cThey will probably be used next week when I introduce the youngest children in school to the joys of marmalade making. We are going to enter the Dalemain Mansion Marmalade Awards, Paddington Bear marmalade category ( made by a group of children under 13 helped by an adult.)

I wonder how many of the little ones will have read the original Paddington Bear book, I must look out my copy to read while we wait for the marmalade to boil and later to cool.








Hi, ho silver lining

While chatting to one of my cousins last week I made the huge mistake of dismissing the weight loss she was admiring as a result of my ever decreasing kidney function, “There has to be a silver lining  to kidney failure somewhere,” I foolishly laughed.

To redress the balance, the a spoonful ofend of the week, weekend and beginning of this week has been one of unmitigated black clouds. First I did something to my right shoulder resulting in pain whenever I moved my arm, breathed in or out, yawned, hiccuped or lay down on my back or right side (can’t lie on my left side in case I damage the fistula) so I have been sleeping sitting up – not ideal on chilly January nights. Added to this I’ve felt sick virtually allthe time and frequently am sick in the night.

The pain in my shoulder was sufficient to drive me to Neurofen Plus to enable me to drive at all and on Saturday sent me off to the local Primary Care Centre – an adventure in itself as you are supposed to call first (which I didn’t know) and on arrival I was met with a grim receptionist informing me that they were not a walk in centre and I should have telephoned. Feeling slightly less than cheery I asked if she would give me the phone number and I would go out of the building and phone them if it would help but instead she sent me off to A & E where I was sent back to Primary Care with a note on official notepaper saying I needed to see a GP as I hadn’t had an accident and while obviously in pain it wasn’t classed as an emergency and why had they sent me there in the first place? I was then told I’d have to wait about an hour (nearer 3 in the end) I took my seat among the sick and lame of the city (would you really think it appropriate to bring a child who had been vomiting copiously into a washing up bowl since breakfast time, on the bus to a hospital and then complain loudly when the doctor suggested he’d be better off tucked up in his bed at home and given something other than a can of Irn Bru to drink and Penguin biscuits to eat while you waited!) and was finally seen by a very pleasant young doctor who said I’d probably pulled a muscle and was well on the way to prescribing lots of painkillers when he asked if I took any other medicines. I handed him my phone on which is a list of my daily pills and potions and also latest test results, information about transplant status etc so he rapidly changed the prescription to Deep Freeze gel and sent me on my way. Over the weekend I regularly anointed myself with the menthol scented gel and although it did numb the pain a little I wasn’t improving. Today I went to my own GP and saw a “nurse practitioner ” who first told me I probably had gallstones, then said it was a muscle strain and gave me arm exercises to do and some painkillers. I mentioned the increasing sickness and was prescribed a new drug (new to me I mean) called Metoclopramide to control the symptoms which she thought were being caused partly by a build up of toxins due to the failing kidneys and partly due to the phosphate binders I take. I collected the medicines from the chemist, went home and began reading the information pack before taking either drug (a habit I got into due to the number of doctors who prescribe drugs I cannot take due to my renal failure) and was amused to see that one of the common side effects of the Metoclopramide (an anti-emetic drug) is that it can make the patient feel sick! Now that did make me laugh! It can also make the patient feel confused, dizzy and affect driving so I am going to delay taking my first tablet until just before I go to bed and see how it goes.

So, how’s the sewing going?

polar bear cubQuite well, I have lined the jacket though I have some concerns about a woven lining in a stretchy fabric jacket it looks okay and does make it easy to slip on and off even over woolly jumpers. I need to sew in the sleeves but got delayed by sewing the sleeve lining on the wrong sides, I know that no-one would see it but I would know and it would annoy me so I redid the seams right side out. This morning I cut out the skirt panels and also cut out two underskirts from the lining fabric rather than lining the skirt itself. One is for under my black cord skirt. In between the cutting out I waited on hold to speak to the cardiac consultant’s secretary only to find out that having missed the one appointment I have been “removed” from his list of patients and must ask my GP for a new referral, and by the way the next appointment isn’t until April at the earliest.  I have asked the GP to re-refer me but think the whole debacle is unnecessary and will no doubt cost the NHS more than if the wretched consultant just sent another appointment, after all he already has all my notes, results etc. Fortunately I am not in any pain and can wait patiently and politely but I am less than impressed. I had great plans to do some more sewing this evening but got involved watching a documentary about polar bears after I’d done my planning for tomorrow and forgot all about sewing and cardiac consultants while I watched delightful furry baby bears rolling around in the snow.


Caped crusaders

After the debacle of the coat earlier in the week I have been looking for suitable heavy coat fabrics and found myself yet again tempted by selection of wools. There are a couple of beautiful double face wools eminently suitable for a coat or indeed for a cape and I do have a cape pattern – Burda 3324caped crusader view B

and this wonderful woolecru and black wool

Sewing with wool is quite addictive!


Slow down, you move too fast, you’ve got to make the sewing last…

The last few sewing projects I’ve worked on have been quick makes or things I needed in a hurry and because of this I’ve sewn fast and furious. The suit I’m making doesn’t have a specific finish date and having rushed to cut out the coat before assessing the fabric properly and then had to change my plans I was determined to make time to slow down and enjoy the sewing process. I have of course had some distractions to contend with, Skye loves to join in whatever I’m doing and took a great interest in the measure tape which she is “looking after” here, jan 2013 034and the roll of interfacing which she customised with some muddy pawprints and the odd chewed edge. She and Tilly have however been happy to settle down with a couple of rawhide chews and their raggies while I am at the machine. The suit jacket is going together well, working with wool is relaxing as the seams sew well and press flat easily. The lining fabric is less co-operative as it is slippery and needs to be pressed with a cool iron but the burgundy colour and paisleypaisley pattern will contrast well with the charcoal grey wool.

Sewing with a plan 2013

My first planned sewing for the year was to be a charcoal grey boiled wool coat which I cut out this afternoon and then decided that the fabric is too soft and stretchy to work as a winter coat. A bit of thought and a rummage through the pattern box and I have recut the coat as a jacket and will make a matching skirt in similar style to the Walter Krines suit I bought a few years ago. The suit was an impulse purchase and an expensive one but one which I have not regretted for a second, it is made from a lighter grey knitted boucle fabric and is warm enough to wear in winter with a woollen sweater and thick tights but can also be worn in the spring and autumn with a short sleeved or sleeveless top. The boiled wool version will be suitable for colder weather. That might sound like an odd thing to be thinking of as we hopefully head for longer warmer days but my sewing plans this year are to make items that will be long lasting additions to my wardrobe rather than items for immediate and temporary use.