Saturday 30 September 2023

Good Hair Day

My hairdryer has been playing up. It is a rather old Revlon. Not as old as my little travel hairdryer which lives in the back bedroom drawer, for the use of guests [bought with my Boots Loyalty points in 2008] I think the Revlon is about 10 years old - whilst in Dorset, the temperature switch broke off, and it has been permanently on hot. But since the summer, it kept overheating, cutting out after 2 minutes, and had to rest and cool down for two hair drying was a pain. 2It's OK" I said "I shall manage with my little one, although it is less powerful and slower." Bob suggested I treat myself to a new hairdryer. So we did the research. I am trying really hard to "Buy it well, and buy it once". You can get dryers for under £15, online and on the High Street. But will they last?
I have once borrowed a new Dyson supersonic - with it's new technology. Yes it was very fast, and does not use extreme heat. But it costs £330!! Bob was very impressed with the technology, not so much by the price [or by James Dyson]
I checked out Sali Hughes' review of dryers. She suggests that a cheaper alternative might be the Parlux 3200, the choice of many professional salons. That is around £100.
I then went to the John Lewis website  where their own brand basic model is £25 and has a three year guarantee, a long cable and many positive reviews. [Too many dryers have such a short cable, that you have to sit on the floor to use them!] I started doing the maths...
The Parlux dryer says it should last for "3000 hours of drying"so let us assume that the Dyson will do at least that well.My hair is short, and takes 10-15 minutes to dry. Approx 15000 sessions. Using the Dyson will then cost about 20p a time, and the Parlux about 7p. If the John Lewis only lasts half as long, that is 2p a time. [I'm not factoring in electricity, just replacement cost]
Hang on a minute. I wash my hair twice, sometimes three times a week - not every day. Say 150 times a year. If their figures are right, a dryer should last me 100 years!
A salon is using a dryer constantly - perhaps 50 times a week, so a dryer will last them maybe a year or two. Even a professional working woman, with long hair, who washes it every day, and maybe twice if they go to the gym/exercise whatever, will get 10 years plus from their dryer. I can see why they might choose a premium brand. But at my age, I do not need all that. So I finally decided the John Lewis one would be quite good enough, thank you. I'm not very good at spending money on myself.
This was the point at which Bob came in, brandishing the Revlon. He had found a piece of blue plastic and created a replacement switch. The dryer now does 'medium hot' and 'cool', which is absolutely fine by me. The money not spent has been transferred into the Replacement Car Fund. 

Even Bob can't keep my aged little Toyota going much longer!

Friday 29 September 2023

Going Up Aloft!

The Great Stash Sort is just about finished. I have put some craft materials aside to take to the Big C Emporium in Wymondham, and delivered a huge box of paper, card, and old greetings cards to a very grateful local PreSchool. Bob has re-laid the loft boarding [put down by previous owners, but in a rather haphazard fashion] 
He reassembled the old bedroom furniture. My fabrics are all in labelled categorised boxes, my haberdashery and other craft stuff in drawers. Resources for youth work at Church and Holiday Club are all in one of the old cupboards.

I have a copy of the contents lists downstairs in the study, so if I suddenly need a scrap of leather, I know it will be in Box 7 and I can nip up the ladder to fetch it. At most I will have to move 3 boxes from a stack.

No more frustrated playing of Tower of Hanoi ! On top of the 6 drawer chest is BOX 18. This is labelled "Sort" and anything that arrives needing a home can [temporarily] go in there till it is properly sorted.

This ladder was a gift from a friend who had it lying around, and gave it to us soon after we got Cornerstones. Bob has now fitted a safety gran-handle on the side. Oh! I just realised my typo - but I think it is appropriate, so will leave it there. We're getting older, and it is wise to make things as safe as possible sooner rather than later.

Years ago, doing another loft sort in Leicester, I found a red paper heart on the floor. I think Steph made it in Sunday School. I hung it from a beam. 

I took it down when we left Kirby, and hung it in the Ferndown loft. And now it is in the Cornerstones loft, to encourage me on days when I feel overwhelmed.

The high chair is easily accessible, when family visit, and I have two more tasks fto finish - sorting toys and sorting wool.
I am so glad to have got things organised- and it should make crafting easier, now I can find my resources quickly! Grateful to Bob for all his help in the process.

Thursday 28 September 2023

Rhubarb! Rhubarb!

Tuesday night I cycled to the Village Hall [my third bike ride in one day!] for Gardening Club. I had even prepared a question for the Q&A slot at the end of the evening. I handed it in as I arrived.
I have a healthy rhubarb crown which has, for some years, provided us with plenty of fruit for pies, crumbles etc. It is in a good spot, adjacent to an unhealthy fence. On November 6th, the fence is being replaced. I am concerned that in the process, the rhubarb will be trampled to death. Should I dig it up , and if so when? How do I keep it safe and healthy if I do? And when can I put it back in its original location?
Our visiting speaker's topic was "A Year in the Life of a Market Garden" - she and her husband have just retired after 40+ years. She said "I'll begin my year in October, as that is just about where we are. Here's a picture of the tractor ploughing our field" ...and then "here is Andy, lifting our rhubarb. Rhubarb should be lifted every 5 years or so, and divided. Dig it out around October/November, and leave it, roots and all, on the earth, through the winter frosts. Then divide it and replant the smaller 'eyes'"  The rest of the talk was really interesting.
But I felt a little stupid - this lady had fully answered my query for me, without even knowing about it. Should I go to the secretary in the coffee break and tell her to ignore my question? I decided not to make a fuss. At the break I got out my little flask of tea [I refuse to pay for a cup of cheap instant coffee in a single use cup!] and spoke to two or three village friends who were concerned about my elderly and infirm neighbours.
We had a report on the summer show. 7 out of 10 of the silver cups won by committee members...again [we do have independent judges from outside the village] Then the committee expert said we had just one question "Angela Almond, where are you?" I waved and said"Here at the back!" She read my question out loud, and said 
I would leave it where it is, tell the workman not to disturb it, and instruct them to work round it. If you think they will step on it, cover it with an upturned metal hanging basket to make a cage. But if you uproot it now you won't get any more crumbles from it for years.
I was utterly gobsmacked. She had said the exact opposite of the speaker. I checked out the RHS advice online yesterday - and they agreed with the lift and separate instruction**. I asked my mate Ken about it at the church coffee morning, "Oh, dig it up next month, and leave it outside to overwinter, then divide it in the spring" 
Can I ask for a refund on my Club Subscription? 
The rest of Wednesday was spent finishing off my September Cross Stitch. After our meal we walked down to the post box together. It was a lovely evening, and Bob suggested we took the longer route home - past Woodgate, The apple box had even more fruit in it, so I took five more Bramleys. 
We were 5 minutes from home when suddenly the heavens opened and the rain came down very heavily. I was in a lightweight dress and tights- and I got soaked through! I had to towel my hair dry, and strip off all my clothes - and got into my pyjamas by 7pm. A damp end to a delightful day. I will decide about the rhubarb another day...

** Having just typed Lift And Separate, I suddenly remembered that dire Playtex Bra ad from 1982 - with the US actress Eve Arden [she played Principal McGee in Grease,but had a very long Hollywood career for half a century before that]

Wednesday 27 September 2023

Hip, Hip, Hooray!

In October I'm attending a wreath making workshop. We've been encouraged to start foraging and gathering materials. On my walk down to the village centre, I regularly pass the most beautiful garden. And on the corner is a huge shrub covered in red hips.
Yesterday as I cycled past on my way home from the Macmillan Coffee Morning, I decided to call at the house. I cycled down the long drive and parked my bike. A woman (about my age, perhaps a little younger) answered the door. "This Is a bit cheeky, but please could I have some of those hips for a wreath?" She said it was her parents' garden, but she was sure they would not mind. 
I said I'd be back later with secateurs. I returned in the afternoon and snipped off three sprigs, then went to the house to say thank you. The woman had gone home, but her parents, the home owners, were utterly delightful. "It's the lady with the pretty bicycle basket!" said her Mum as she answered the door. I chatted for a while with them both, and they said I could go anytime and collect any further foliage I might need. 
I explained about the Wreath Workshop. We talked about crafts - she and I share a love of knitting, and sewing and patchwork - and his career was working as a Master Saddler [wow! ] I gave them a jar of chutney and thanked them again.
And I pedalled happily home. I'm really glad I called - not just for the foliage, but because I've made two new acquaintances and learned about another plant. It is called a Rosa Geranium. I found a picture of it in flower. Isn't it stunning? 

Tuesday 26 September 2023

My Ragged Tomatoes

The sun was shining and I couldn't face going up into the loft to finish the sorting- I wanted to be outside. I emptied out the two remaining potato buckets, dealt with all the finished tomato plants, and tidied the raised bed. I dug up two miserable little beetroot, and a final handful of radishes. The kale and rocket had all been eaten [Bob didn't mind, he doesn't like kale] but I continue to crop spinach, chard and lettuce - the insects don't like them. And I cut the last of the rhubarb 

The mini greenhouse is now empty apart from two pepper plants which belong to my SIL. They show no signs of bearing fruit, but they are green and leafy. I swept out the shelf, and washed all the glass so it was sparkling in the sunshine. I have harvested all my tomatoes and they are sorted and "ragged" so they can ripen on the kitchen windowsill.
"Ragged" was a term I encountered in a staff training session back in Leicestershire, years ago. It definitely makes sense in this context! 
Sutton have just sent me a 2024 seed catalogue. I must start planning. 
Thank you ElizabethD for you encouragement regarding my mint plant. I thought it was dead, all dry brown woody stalks - but I trimmed them away carefully and there are lots of little fresh green leaves coming through. The plant has been thoroughly tidied up and repotted. 
Questions for those of you who grow spuds... This year I grew earlies - Swift and Red Duke of York. It was pleasant to have new potatoes in the early summer. But they never grew that big - even the ones I left in their pots till now. And I didn't like the RDOY skins. So I'm in need of advice, please
  1. Do you think they were small because I put 3 in each pot, and they were crowded? 
  2. I'm going to try one early and one or two main crop varieties next year - which would you recommend? 
Also any suggestions for reliable varieties of mini cucumbers? 
Finally - after months of looking like chives, my leeks are now small spring onions the thickness of my little finger. What am I doing wrong? They are well spaced out in the row. 
I don't expect a huge leek like Max Boyce carried [aged 79 he's still doing concerts] but it would be nice to have  leeks that are a decent size! 
The garden is looking much neater... Back to loft sorting! 

Monday 25 September 2023

Apples In A Hat

The sticky shine of fruit,
kitchen easy with talk,
kettle at simmer
a cidery daylight
glints at the window.
An old soft crumpled straw
brim up:
she's brought me 
apples in a hat.

I found this poem on a card when I was sorting out The Stash. It was written around 2011 by Meg Peacocke, a poet from Devon. Now 93, she is the sister of the late composer Sir  Richard Rodney Bennett. The next day, I looked after two children for a friend while she went for a run. She brought me back two large cooking apples "from a freebies box down Woodgate, I passed it on my run". 
I put them in my hat and took a picture. Later in the day, Bob and I were going to the council tip- we diverted down the lane to Woodgate and I gathered half a dozen more apples. In the afternoon I peeled them, blanched and froze most, but made a pie for our weekend desserts.

Sunday 24 September 2023

Knots And Crosses

The great craft decluttering process rolls on. I found a little box containing a number of tiny crosses- a wooden one from Jerusalem, a bullet case 'trench art' cross [my Grandad's from WW1] a tiny crochet cross, a Bahamian Sand Cross...I'm keeping them,  And I found a postcard with a photo of a knot on it, and a prayer.
I checked out the knot -it's a Carrick Bend [possibly named for carrack - large merchant ships operating C14-C17 round the English coast] But it has an older name ...
The Saxon or Wake Knot, was on the coat of arms of Hereward the Wake. [from Lincolnshire] For five years he headed up the resistance to William the conqueror and the Norman invasion.  
I suspect he gets forgotten in history lessons now - but from this contemporary description, he sounds like a good bloke
Comely in aspect, very beautiful from his yellow hair, and with large grey eyes, the right eye slightly different in colour to the left. He was stern of feature, with great sturdiness of his limbs, but very active for his moderate stature, and in all his limbs was found a complete vigour..and much grace and strength of body. From .. [his youth].. the character of his valour showed him a perfect man, and he was excellently endowed in all things with the grace of courage and valour of mind...
So that's Hereward the Wake [or Watchful] hero and knot-tyer.
What about the prayer? I thought it was a good thought to share with you on a Sunday
The KNOT Prayer
Dear God, Please untie the knots that are in my mind, my heart and my life.
Remove the have-nots, the can-nots and the do-nots 
that I have in my mind.
Erase the will-nots, may-nots, and might-nots 
that find a home in my heart
Release me from the could-nots, would-nots and should-nots 
that obstruct my life
And most of all, dear God
I ask that you remove from my mind, my heart and my life
all of the am-nots 
that I have allowed to hold me back, 
especially the thought that I am not good enough.

Saturday 23 September 2023

Willow And Wood, And Worth Watching

I just came across a lovely programme hosted by the gifted Dominic Chinnea from the Repair Shop. Make It At Market takes ordinary 'hobby' crafter, and with the help of a mentor, aims to turn their hobby into a money making business. It's only 45 minutes long, so there's no time-wasting waffle.
First up, Cathy Kelly - a perky Cheshire woman who took up willow weaving during lockdown. She has an amazing talent for creating fairies, hares, unicorns... 
Her day job is being a cleaner. Her mentor [who makes baskets for Fortnum and Mason] made excellent suggestions. "Cut the horn off that unicorn and make it a horse" he advised "people in the horsey set have deep pockets and will buy a horse for their garden" 
Check out her website
There was so much that was positive about it all - encouragement and enthusiasm. I've woven just one basket, and was amazed by her talent and skill [learned from YouTube] 

Next up Morgan Charles, whose job was fitting kitchens until a life changing illness made him re-evaluate things. He wants to be more creative with his woodwork. He now has a website too.

I found this a delightful little programme, the participants genuinely humble about their crafts, and clearly thrilled to be mentored. Dom is a genial host. The filming is done at Stoneywell, an Arts&Crafts house in Leicestershire which belongs to the National Trust.
BBC 1, 7.30pm Friday evenings. I hope you enjoy it too! 

Friday 22 September 2023

Whiff Whaff**

A strange week. Things I'd expected to do never got done,. and other things were accomplished which I hadn't even considered last week. I am really pleased with the tidying and loft sorting, as well as the wardrobe sort.
We have eaten a lot of home grown basil, chard, spinach, lettuce, potatoes and tomatoes [these still ripening well on windowsill] But my mint has completely died. The walking onions look green and healthy, but no sign of any little onions yet.
The Hospice has moved to its lovely new purpose built location, and Bob has changed his day from Thursday to Friday. I doubt I shall be going into Norwich with him, as the timings of the buses are not so favourable. 
Craftwise I am stitching away at my September collaborative piece- and also doing some knitting which is for Christmas gifts. Rachael, our vicar, is asking her flock to knit angels [like we did at Ferndown 5 years ago] I have donated three balls of white wool to the project.
And life goes on outside our little village.
Liz Truss is planning a comeback. Words fail me.
I have never found Russell Brand funny, and have always found his attitude towards women quite sickening.
Roger Whittaker has died - his uncomplicated easy listening style was popular with so many people 50 years ago. Durham Town was his really big hit, but Last Farewell was a favourite with many.RIP Roger

And I was momentarily baffled by the headline "The Queen Plays Table Tennis". I suspect I am not the only one who hears "the Queen" and immediately thinks of Elizabeth. 
Table tennis is the most practised sport in the world and has been an Olympic Event since 1988. Its original name in 1891 was gossima, and in 1900 Jean Jaques [sports equipment manufacturer] patented the term ping-pong whilst rival Slazenger patented the name whiff-whaff.It was 1903 before the rules were standardised and the Table Tennis Association organised it all properly. It seems very odd that the world press gets so excited about two grannies in their seventies having a knockabout! 
**Apparently in Lancashire, whiff whaff means words of very little importance.

The weather gets more autumnal with misty mornings, and wet afternoons. 
Keep warm, keep well, my friends- and have a lovely weekend!

Thursday 21 September 2023

Boxing Day

Last weekend a friend gave me a bag and asked if I could replace the broken zip. "It's just a cheap old thing, but it is a useful size. No rush" he said. I said I thought I had a suitable zip in the loft. Well I went up on Monday and after twenty minutes of Tetris with the boxes, I gave up.  In our loft space we have around 50 plastic storage boxes. Around half of them contain fabric, the rest have 'other craft stuff', teaching materials [from school and church children's work] Christmas decorations, and costumes...
Bob helped me lift down the fabric boxes. There were a lot! I spent all Wednesday sorting them out.
In the end I'd got all the fabric categorised neatly.
How did I come to possess so much felt? And a whole box of 'ethnic' fabrics - African wax prints, Indonesian batiks, and sari silks.
Christmas prints and random 'fat quarters'
I have been listing and making labels.
I found my wedding dress [which was shortened in 1989 for Steph to wear at her baptism] That's gone into the dressing up box now,
And I found this one. I made it when Liz was three, and a few years later Steph wore it. I spent hours  doing the smocking.I was so proud of my efforts. 
I cannot see Jess wearing a dress like this. I'm really not sure what to do with it,
And this was the project bag we made in school [1967?]. A long strip of evenweave fabric, we had to do about twenty different stitches - then fold it up to make a bag, and sew a strap. I think I shall wash and iron this, and fix the strap more firmly, and use it for my current knitting project. 
And I am definitely going to take some of my haberdashery supplies over to the Big C - I think their Craft Emporium is the right place for them, and it is a really good cause.
I'm sure the stuff is multiplying up there in the dark- after all, I got rid of my body weight in fabrics before we left Dorset!

Wednesday 20 September 2023

Tuesday's Treasures

Bob was going to Wymondham to do some mentoring, so I asked him to drop me at the Waitrose there. I did a tiny bit of shopping, grabbed my free coffee, then got the bus back intot he town centre. I walked round to the church carpark, left my shopping in the boot, and took out the large CS bag to deposit at the Children's Society Shop. 
Then back to the church, picking up a book from a 'help yourself' shelf en route. He'd just finished so we drove together to the
Big C Craft Emporium. I love this place, everything is so carefully sorted into correct sections. I spent £1.25 on this lot [plus the free book]
The 50p calendar is 4 years old - but has 11 lovely little knitting patterns for bird ornaments. It was still in its cellophane wrap - so that was a £10 gift which sadly never even got opened!
Most of the models are between 4" and 7" tall/long, but the avocet is 11" and the raven has a whopping 13" wingspan. They are not toys, having pipe-cleaners/ wire supports in the legs, tails and bills. The instructions are clear
Yes I do have a couple of pairs of 4mm needles already, but  I'm just into a project which will entail having more than one set on the go at a time. 50p for this set seemed fair.
The Zoe Sugg book I have yet to look at - I suspect it will be read, and then go straight back to another charity shop!
And the Usborne Touchy Feely Nativity is to share with Jess and Jacob at Christmas. 
"Oh that's lovely" said the woman at the checkout [all children's books are 25p] I suggested they should have called it "That's not my Baby Jesus" to follow the pattern of the others.
But I guess it would have been more complex to tell the story. This one has fluffy sheep, sparkly angel wings, soft donkey ears, textured Magi Robes and more...
It would be a little strange to sit with my precious grandchildren and say That's not my Baby Jesus  and show them pages like
  • his room is freshly painted [not an old stable]
  • his bedding is softest cotton [not scratchy straw]
  • his lights are dimmable LEDs [not an amazing star in the sky]
  • his sleep music is a CD of ocean waves [not an angel chorus]
  • his visitors are besotted grandparents [not grubby shepherds]
  • his gifts are from Fisher Price and Etsy [not gold, frankincense and myrrh]
  • his parents are looking forward to quality maternity/paternity leave[not dashing to Egypt as refugees]
  • That's my Baby Jesus - born in squalor , Immanuel, God with Us.
No, I guess a touchy feely Nativity is a probably safer option for the under 3's!! 
Apologies for mentioning the C word whilst we are still in September - but it is less than 100days...


Tuesday 19 September 2023

Winter Draws On*

It's that time of year again - autumn is setting in, and despite some really warm sunny September days, I knew it was time for my half-yearly wardrobe sort. Bob was watching the Grand Prix, so I hauled the "winter clothes" bag from the loft, and then emptied the wardrobe contents onto our bed. Over the summer, a number of items have gone to the CS, but I found a top that I have not worn at all so that went into the box. I spread out all the winter clothes onto the huge spare bed. 
I was wondering last week about what approach to take. It is seven years since I first attempted Project 333, where you select 30 items and they are your clothes for the next 3 months. There are rules [underwear/nightwear/workwear/sportswear not included in the 30] Here are some of the results of that experiment [I was no good at selfies then either!] 
Looking at the garments chosen, a high proportion of them are still in my wardrobe, they still fit, and are still worn regularly. The fabric of the pink denim jacket wore out completely and I threw it out - but picked up a similar replacement at a yard sale in the summer. The blue chambray shirt from the 1990s, with its multiple mends and patches has also gone, I've replaced the jeans. The red loafers split, and the boots are worn out with dodgy zips.
I could actually put together an almost identical wardrobe for this winter.
I think that I did manage a reasonable "capsule"  back then - but the red/white/blue/black white palette felt quite limiting and dull.
Just after I posted in 2016. the wonderful Sue shared that she'd been doing the challenge since 2012. A much more disciplined women than I, I am sure she is still doing it! Of course, with Project 333 you sort your wardrobe four times a year. I really can't be doing with that!
Two years ago I blogged about the 100-day-dress challenge.  and said I didn't personally know anyone who was doing it. Three weeks later, this appeared on my blogroll. K did keep it up for the 100days - but I am not sure if she is still wearing her smart blue dress every day [please comment K!] 

So after much dithering on Sunday afternoon, I ended up putting 30 hangers on the rail and hanging up my winter wardrobe on them.
I did cheat a little - two 5-bar trouser hangers hold "smart trousers" and "jeans", and there are 4 skirts on one hanger and my tee shirts and knitwear are in drawers.
Everything is creased, because it came out of the vacuum bags. I will press things as needed. There are 5 extra empty hangers at the top, in case. The colourful turquoise fringe on the right is the hanger which holds all my scarves. Almost all of these garments came here from Dorset 3 years ago - and I have realised how much I enjoy wearing different dresses and coloured tights in the dreary autumn months. So I don't need to buy a new wardrobe, I shall just continue to enjoy my old one!
And I hope the clothes which still have life in them but are no longer 'me' will benefit others via the CS. 
Did you do the 100 day dress challenge, what happened on Day 101?
Have you ever done Project 333, did it work for you?
Has your lifestyle changed since the pandemic and has that affected your clothing choices?
How often do you have a wardrobe sort, or do you wear the same clothes all year round, just adding or subtracting layers?
*Older readers will remember that years ago, when the weather started to get chilly, grannies would declare "Winter drawers on!" and change to thicker knickers....

Monday 18 September 2023


I just strolled up to the postbox with my little cardboard packet for the Eastern Bowel Cancer Screening Service [after a brief moment of consideration- is this an oriental variation of this awful illness, no, it must be that I live in Norfolk now...]
Grateful for this free test. I know it saves the NHS £millions through early diagnosis and treatment, but it also offers regular reassurance [update; please read SencoSue's comment below. A lovely story]
The winter flu jab is booked, but I am still awaiting the call for the next round of covid vaccinations. Fortunately neither of us have suffered since that first awful bout in March 2020 [just pre lockdown] - and I have friends who do not think the jab is worth it. I'm taking the line that even if it doesn't prevent, it may help ameliorate symptoms. 
I am still too young for the shingles vaccine. I had chicken pox at 31 and I was pretty ill with it, so presumably the virus may still be in my system somewhere. My face/gum fully recovered now, so healthwise feeling in a good place. I'm grateful for the opportunity to get out in the sunshine and harvest my fresh veggies. The chard is cropping well now. 
Tomatoes continue to ripen, but last week I discovered something useful - green tomatoes can successfully go into curries. This is good news, because I had declared no chutney making this autumn!
For no particular reason - other than I think they are lovely, a picture of some Chinese Lanterns. 
I was given them on Saturday. My friend had been doing a Wreath Making Demo. I was helping her clear up and this little bundle were lying limp and forlorn on the work table "Oh you can have them if you like" she said. They soon revived in a jar of cool water in the kitchen.
I have always thought they were wonderfully exotic flowers [a member of the physalis family] I will try and save some seeds. The RHS says grow them in containers otherwise they will overrun your garden with underground rhizomes!
But aren't they so autumnal? L. was taking all her wreaths up to her Parish Church for the Harvest Display. Lovely!

Sunday 17 September 2023

Bob's Yellow Roses

Aren't these beautiful? In the Victorian "Language of Flowers" They stand for friendship, affection and joy
One morning this week, the phone rang. My very distressed friend was on the line, and asked for Bob. I said he was out, but would be back shortly, could I take a message?
She had a problem - a practical issue, and she could not think who to call for help but she reckoned Bob might be the person.
She explained and I said I was sure he could help. We talked about the details - and then he returned. In his amazing calm way, he reassured her, said a prayer for her over the phone, then went outside to assemble the tools needed for the task. We went to her home together to get it done. 
It was a relatively small thing, but there were other big things causing the distress, and this was one problem too many.
I was so humbled by his gracious friendship, the words he said, and the way he dropped everything to sort it all out. Not rushed or slapdash, but properly, with care and thoughtfulness. No mention of his abandoned afternoon plans [trivial in comparison] and on the way home he suggested we got fish and chips to save having to cook!
The next day I had to call in at the village shop, and I saw the roses on the counter. I bought them and took them home. "These are for you, because you are such a good friend and you brought a little joy to someone in great distress, and I was so proud of you yesterday" I said. 
Bob suggested we put them in our [lovely, new, fresh, tidy] bedroom, where we could both enjoy them. A good idea - they have brightened our mornings, a beautiful sight to wake up to.
Why don't men get given flowers more often? 


Saturday 16 September 2023

Simple Foods To Superfoods

So what does James do that is so different? He tells you how to choose and store your produce in ways which help improve it. Some of this stuff you may know already. other things maybe are not 'common knowledge' 

Choose apples -we all know one a day keeps the Dr away - but Braeburns come top of any other usual variety, in terms of polyphenols and antioxidants. 1½ times the polyphs of Fuji. 
Serve skin on - 50% of the fibre is in the peel
- again, avoid peeling if you can. Dietwise, the waxy new potatoes like Charlotte  have a lower GI than floury baking potatoes like Maris Piper
Store potatoes - this is quite crazy - but if you slice your potatoes into 5mm rounds and store them in the fridge, they will double their antioxidants in just 2 days. But you have to have your meal plan sorted  nd be organised!
Lots of the benefits appear to come from 'damaging' the produce. If you 'wound' your greens [ie slice or tear your lettuce leaves] the protective antioxidants at the edge of the tear will increase, to shield the tissues from further damage. Just a couple of days in the fridge and your lettuce will be a superfood!
Serve those greens dressed with a dressing of monounsaturated fats [eg olive oil] and your body will absorb up to 5 times more of the nutrients.  Add a squirt of lemon juice, and the iron in spinach and watercress is significantly improved. 
Store I've been cutting salad leaves as I need them - but it seems that salad leaves do not lose polyphenol and vitamin content if bagged and refrigerated [apart from a little Vitamin C] and can be kept for up to 10 days.Given the fondness of the caterpillars for my leaves still in the raised bed, this is definitely worth considering!
Onions are good raw [for the allinase blood thinning agent] or cooked[which releases the quercetin which is cholesterol lowering] To get the best of both worlds, begin your recipe prep by chopping the 
onion and that 'wounding' will up the allinase and more will survive the cooking process. 
Shallots have up to 6x more polyphenols than regular onions {and I have a lovely crop of them this year]
Yes, I am already keeping tomatoes on the windowsill to ripen and develop more lycopene - but did you know that mushrooms [gill side up] on the worktop will develop 100 times more Vitamin D in just 2 hours?
Lycopene, the important phytonutrient in tomatoes is deep in the cells of the fruit - but cooking releases it into soluble form. Spaghetti sauce, tomato soup, and good old Ketchup are great ways to get this stuff into your system
Surprisingly it is the cheaper robusta coffee beans which contain more antioxidants than the classy, expensive arabica. And cheap 'comminuted' orange juice, has 3x the antioxidants and 7x the flavonoids of traditionally squeezed juice [because the former blitzes up the whole orange and then strains the pulp. But goodness from zest and skin leach into the juice]
Chill out! I love this one - if you cook and chill a starch based dish [mac and cheese, cottage pie, spag bol etc] this will initiate a reaction converting some of the carbs into 'resistant starch', which lowers the GI value of the dish. And when you reheat, that can lower it even further [one trial at University of Surrey says up to 50%, but James stresses that was a small trial] I love to batch cook - and we have always felt that 'second day casserole' tastes better. Now we know why.
This is such a long post, sorry! and I couldn't share all his ideas here - or the 80+ recipes for sauces, salads and sundaes, desserts, drinks and donuts. [I forgot to mention that he sweetens things with baking blend Stevia, the plant based alternative to regular sugar] For a newbie gardener like me it is a fabulous book- I have grown these veg, and now I can better prepare them for more nutritious meals. 
Lots of information, lots of ideas, not just for fruit and veg but also grains, beans and pulses - and finally "tea, coffee, chocolate and booze"!
I am in no way decrying CVTs warning about UPFs [the man maybe a Zealot but much of what he says is true, and somewhat disturbing] - but I have found this book a delightful counterbalance with inspiring ways to ensure that even my 'common or garden' veg crop can be extra nutritious.He's honest about his lapses [he admits to loving eating canned peaches in syrup straight from the tin - even though he knows they have lost half their polyphenols and are loaded with extra sugar] 
And the book is so attractive and colourful. Yes, I know that our bodies will excrete superfluous vitamins - I cannot eat 7 oranges on Sunday and consider that my week's worth of Vit C sorted. But I also know that the school dinner cabbage boiled for hours was neither tasty nor particularly nutritious. 
I'm not going overboard with his ideas. Our village has a problem with flies - so food on countertops needs monitoring carefully. But I will chop the onions first, and cut my salad leaves more, and be more mindful of my choices with fruit and veg. It may not make much of a difference, but every little helps [and I do want to try the donut recipe] 
James Wong's "How to Eat Better" definitely gets *****
Borrow it from the library and see what you think!