Showing posts from February, 2010

Absolute Scandal!

While on my recent travels in Scotland, I met a young lady who was knitting, on the bus. She used circular needles even though she was knitting a straight jumper. She said that if she used straight needles she was likely to poke the eyes out of neighbouring passengers, and as she travelled regularly between Glasgow and Manchester, the circular needles were ideal for the journey. I thought this was a very useful tip and I asked her about what she was knitting. She produced the March 2010 issue of Simply Knitting and showed me the cable jumper that she was half way through. I was very impressed. In fact I liked the pattern so much when I arrived at my destination I popped into the nearest WH Smith to see if I could buy a copy of the magazine. It's a very long time since I attempted anything as big as a jumper. And my previous efforts have been rather unsatisfactory, so it really has got to be a special pattern to tempt me to try again. The more I looked at the pattern the

Original art for FREE!

My father is still in the early stages of coping with his recent bereavement. And I am very proud of the way he has approached his current situation with a very positive attitude. He is still working in the office of a local stonemasons and he still has a lively social network of friends, regular visits to the golf club, British Legion, church etc... he will be 87 in the summer and in good health, so far. I am most anxious that he not go downhill now that he is on his own... and I am several hundred miles away from him and unable to visit very easily.... so I am kinda doing bereavement counselling-friendship-daughter stuff over the phone... the moment one of his main difficultys is in coming home to an empty house. He is mostly fine when he is out and about doing stuff and once he is home and watching tv or getting on with chores he is ok... it's just the moment he opens the door to a house that is obviously missing someone... that gets him. To try and help with this

The Young Housewife's Counsellor and Friend

This is the remains of last night's dinner. Yes I know it is a roast chicken and last night was a Tuesday. I don't wait for a Sunday to have a roast, in fact I prefer not to spend so much time in the kitchen on a Sunday... so midweek is always when we have the most elaborate meals. Tonight I will have a risotto with the remaining chicken (sometimes I use the left overs in a curry) and make soup with the bones which will do a couple of days at least... In order to make the chicken go even further I like to make a stuffing for it. Of course sausage meat is traditional but I found an interesting recipe for a very inexpensive stuffing which I have been using for several years now, so I thought I would share it with you. The following recipes come from The Young Housewife's Counsellor and Friend by Mrs Mary Mason and is dated 1876. Mrs Mason was American so some of the recipes in the book are a little different from what we are used to here in the UK but interesting n


This is blatant advertising. I thought I would warn you before you read the post. As a number of my readers already know, I teach soap and toiletry making. I am, actually, quite passionate about the subject - especially soap. So much so, I have crammed loads of tutorials into my website Natural Skincare Made Easy , making it totally free for people to learn how to take control of their own skincare needs. I suspect that the real reason for my making it free is because I loathe with a vengeance the modern cosmetic and toiletry industry that by one simple sentence "because you're worth it" has made almost every woman on the planet feel totally 'worthless'. Well... that's a rant for another day! I thought that once I put clear instructions of how to make soap on the website, I would no longer have any takers for my soap courses. This has been far from the case. The soap courses go from strength to strength. It would seem that most people prefer to wat


OK... I am back. I arrived home on Tuesday evening absolutely exhausted. It has taken me a day to sort myself out and get the house back the way I like it. Apologies to the male members of the Billy household but that level of dust is just not acceptable! Funerals are not supposed to be happy occasions, however, there is often a feeling of pleasure in a service or ceremony 'well done' or 'fitting' for the occasion. We call it a 'good send off'. My step-mother's funeral was not one of those occasions. The trouble is, as I think is common in a lot of familys, there are family factions and emotions run deep and of course at such an event as a funeral, the emotions are stretched as taut as an over-tightened guitar string and one wrong move is apt to produce an enormous discordant 'twang'. Well TWANG it did!! One of the long-standing tensions in our family centres around my step-sister. A difficult personality (putting it in the kindest way p

Am I on a Roller Coaster?

Just as I was taking a few days rest and recuperation, with the return visit to Scotland planned for mid week coming..., My step-mother passed away peacefully at 5:30am this morning. I had two days soap teaching at Naked Soap (yesterday and today), and was in the heart of the Cotswolds in a lovely old stone cottage with no mobile phone signal when my husband managed to get the news through to me. Since there was really nothing I could do very quickly, I finished the day's training and then jumped in the car for the one hour drive home... arriving just a few minutes ago. My journey up to Scotland is now booked for tomorrow and means a 5am start... so I am off to have a bath and pack my case... which has only just been unpacked from my Spain visit. This time I am travelling via Glasgow and enlisting the help of my wonderful cousins Winnie and Elspeth who are then going to come with me up north. I am so proud of them for dropping everything and insisting that I don't go on m

Elizabethan Pommanders

On the walk from the carpark to the hospital in Granada the road was lined with Orange trees heavy with fruit. Some fruits had already fallen onto the ground. Most were ignored by all the passers by. I suppose everyone had orange trees in their gardens or on balconies and the fruit is so common no one cared about harvesting the fruit from trees in the public parks and gardens. Except for me that is. Actually I picked one orange from the ground beneath the tree and another from the tree itself. These I packed carefully in my suitcase and brought home. Now, what to do with them? I could simply have eaten them... but I felt the need to mark the occasion and so I decided to make Elizabethan Pommanders - if made correctly they can last for hundreds of years and I thought it would be a nice thing to give as a present to my daughter and grand daughter (when she arrives!). I haven't made a pommander like this since I was a child... but its not something you forget. First of all

Home Sweet Home and OUCH!

I guess I know how Sarah felt when we were driving home from the hospital. It's such a relief to be back in familiar surroundings with all my things around me. We left Spain yesterday morning - Sarah and Giles dropped us off at Almeria airport before going to get Sarah's staples removed. With her permission I am including this photograph... but if you are squeamish ... just scroll down quickly . All staples are now gone and while the hair grows back I am sure a wide Alice band or scarf will suffice. The baby has come through all of this totally oblivious to everything. Even the anaesthetic they gave Sarah did not impinge on the baby... how very clever modern medicine is. The immediate future for Sarah will be a medical assessment of exactly what her disabilities are and a programme of therapy will be decided upon according to this assessment... at least that is what I think Sarah was trying to tell us. Although most of my readers out there are strangers to me, and my fami