dear diary :: more of the same

This might seem one of those long posts that is better to read with a cup of tea in your hand and I’ll forgive anyone who politely tries to stifle a yawn! I had meant to try and keep up with posting but you know me by now… always busy and last week was no different.

We are now well into the swing of the new normal here. We stay at home for most of the time only venturing out into the world for a little exercise or shopping. We are keeping in touch with my daughters and the grandchildren courtesy of Zoom and my mum on the good old fashioned landline.

I have a number of projects on the go – all presently half finished – but that does not seem to matter too much, as of course, we have no urgent trips up north to make and what a difference this has made to our time. Suddenly we find we have a lot more time to ourselves; though I am managing to fill every minute and more.

I feel I have never been so busy – April has its own pressures in our household, it holds the greater number of close family birthdays at the same time as the garden suddenly springs into life; so we have to wake up and spring into action with it and, not surprisingly, with the warmer weather upon us spring cleaning becomes more urgent and much more enticing – there is nothing I like better than having a good ‘fettle’ as my gran would say. There is always something very satisfying about the ritual of cleaning and clearing out at this time of year, geting everything back in order – but more about this another day in another post.

Gardening is the one thing that is keeping me quite sane through this unprecedented crisis – I love the way that nature carries on around me doing what it always does at this time of year as if nothing is amiss – it is so heartening. Tending to the garden teaches me that we need patience, it teaches me that from tiny seeds beautiful things will grow and that with great care, watering and warmth success is almost guaranteed.

So I have seed potatoes sprouting on the window sill, tomato seeds tucked up warmly in a mini propagator and courgette seeds pushing their way through the soil within a matter of days. All delightful, all encouraging.

Those little Magnum lolly sticks are so useful as plant labels, I must have eaten far too many but what a pity I couldn’t find a waterproof pen as the ink ran as soon as I watered the trays. No matter though I can still make out the variety. I am growing two different tomatoes this year – the only two available from the seed selection at Sainsbury’s; Gardener’s Delight and a tub / patio version called Minibel.

I will be sowing the salad seeds straight into the planters and some annuals ready for my summer display on the patio – hopefully today or tomorrow.

There is plenty of general work to do too, pots to refresh, lawns to scarify and borders to weed and I must plant the new clematis I bought last year.

I continue to spend a lot of time in the kitchen being adventurous so that nothing goes to waste or even gets close to going off. Little pies are always a good way to combine all those oddments I find left over in the fridge. I filled these individual pastry cases with a mixture of cooked brown lentils, shredded leek and chopped mushrooms then topped them with some mashed potato, grated cheese and slices of tomato and put the last of the carrots and parsnips in a tin to roast. The result was a meal we would certainly have again.

We still have our old, shabby kitchen of course (though we did get the plans for the new one finalised and signed for just as John Lewis decided to close, so our new kitchen is now on hold until things recover and it can be delivered and fitted). I have been rather worried that the jinx I spoke about in an earlier post that has persisted over the years and put a stop to us having our new kitchen at every attempt since 2008, now appears to have surfaced again but this time has extended beyond ourselves and our family and this time sudden misfortune has affected the whole world in preventing the instalation!! I do hope not.

On the good side the kitchen is now far easier to use since we finished the pantry and all but the most used foods have been moved out of the kitchen cupboards freeing up vital space; and what a godsend the pantry has been – it is now well stocked, not overly so, but always enough to see us through for about 3-4 weeks should we face further restrictions, shortages or we have to self isolate for any length of time (though I pray this will never become necessary) and so far we have not shown any symptoms of having the virus though every shopping trip is a major risk as it is our only contact in the outside world. We minimise the risk of course going as late at night as we can when it is quieter and only going about every 10 days or for as long as the milk lasts. Each time we go I am convinced I get a sore throat afterwards and certainly a tension headache from all the dodging around in the aisles. Shopping has never been so stressful.

This week we have already gathered in our food to cover the whole Easter period – finding milk and dairy items with long dates – it should see us through nicely. I did not want to end up going shopping later this week amongst a sudden Easter shopping frenzy that is like Christmas.

To our surprise we even found a packet of disposable gloves on the shelves this week so they have definitely come home with us (though I don’t really need 50, but you never know, and I can donate some to anyone else in need). I had only one pair left previously that I had to keep washing out between supermarket trips and they were originally bought in a packet of 10 and only used when I cleaned the silver! With the whole plastic problem I would not normally have been replacing these either when they ran out but I suppose needs must.

We are still managing to buy most of our usual foods or substituting similar products. Eggs have been difficult to find and flour an absolute no no – so I have to ration it out carefully. The last eggs I bought were these beautiful Burford Browns with a good looking suntan.

And what do you do to use up any eggs – buy a roll of puff pastry and bake of course.

These little tarts were delicious with salad and used up the last of the eggs, leeks (shredded finely), cougettes and a packet of Welsh goats cheese.

Our almost daily walk is one of the highlights of the day. As the weather improves the number of people walking increases but we manage to stay safe and the only difficult day was last Sunday when we felt we had to jump into a gap and keep on the move. It is amazing how you begin to notice the little things on the same route.

The last of the catkins…

…the appearance of tiny Celandines on the grass verges

and our Yorkshire dry stone walls covered with a thick winter coat of moss.

Many of our mills now house people rather than machinery but the chimneys have been preserved as a monument to the past and our local history.

On returning home we have had moments just sitting in the pleasant sunshine with our biscuit rations and probably putting back on the calories we have just walked off.

In the midst of all the cleaning, gardening, cooking and walking I have spent quite a bit of time making cards again – partly to save money and partly because cards are not deemed as an essential item so are difficult to buy. This one is a card that my sister sent to me and I recycled by cutting it down to mount onto a blank card and adding the butterflies.

My nephew was harder to make for as I doubt any little boy would want a flowery card. I decided to keep it simple and print down this number eight onto some card and hand stamped the ‘Happy Birthday’ in colourful inks.

When it came to the Easter cards I had no ideas but then came across a half started spring flower collage I attempted last year using shapes cut from the thicker front pages of magazines and some junk mail. I finished the picture but knew that making individual cards in this way was going to be far too time consuming so decided to take prints off the original and reduce the design to fit some tiny blank cards that I have in my craft box.

Easter will soon be upon us and with my cards now hand delivered or put in the post I have been turning my attentions to a few decorations – not many as it will be a strange Easter this year – just the two of us…I suspect we will spend most of it in the garden, weather permitting. I might bake a cake though, I am not keen on Simnel cake -but a chocolate cake…well that is a big possibility.

And if you reached the end of this post you deserve a medal.

Before I go a warm welcome to all my new followers and to Diana, apologies when I deleted your comment as you asked it deleted the whole string of related comments. x

37 thoughts on “dear diary :: more of the same

    1. I wish they were in my garden! I am looking forward to some time in the future when we are all well and free to roam again and then we can meet for that coffee – how about Ikea or somewhere similar – you can give me some knitting tips! xx

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  1. I enjoyed every word and photo. It is interesting to learn about the different ways we are all going through our days in this strange time we are living in. Walking, gardening, cleaning, organizing and cooking/baking seem to be things many of us are doing. I know for me getting outside and in the garden has been the best thing. It seems to be the best way to really get away from the gloom and doom. Your cards are beautiful and sure to bring smiles to the recipients.

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  2. Lovely to read about what you have been up to. I hear you on the still being really busy, I have come to realise that it is because so much of what we do still needs to be done!

    Shopping has become a strange experience hasn’t it. I have learnt to keep the afternoon afterwards for restful activities as I am completely exhausted.

    I am glad to hear that you are managing to stay safe.

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    1. I am glad to hear someone else is exhausted after the shopping – I was beginning to think it was my age showing! I am not sure I will ever feel the same in shops again after all this – I never linger in the aisles and browse any more, in fact I find myself standing two metres away from DH all the time even though I have no need to… it just becomes a habit!

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  3. This is a lovely post. Your title, More of the same, reflects many of our blogs. A lot of cooking, gardening, crafting of all kinds and our walks. But what is wonderful, is that they are all different and can generate ideas for other people to try in these strange times.

    I love your Easter cards. A great idea to print off the original, otherwise it would’ve taken you until next Easter to cut all the petals and leaves out!

    Must admit, we’ve been sitting out in our deck chairs late afternoon each day. It’s too lovely not to take advantage of it, particularly as were unable to go anywhere else! Happy Easter to you xx

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    1. I think I abandoned the collage idea last year because it was time consuming, but glad I did as it came in so useful for this year!
      I need to get DH to unwrap our garden furniture, I need to clean down the patio first – we are making do with some white plastic chairs my mum gave us and we hung on to for when we have garden parties. Sadly there will be no garden party this Easter.
      Happy Easter to you to – enjoy the garden. x

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  4. It’s interesting to hear how you are using your time. Very well by the sounds of it. I really love your handmade cards. Beautiful, I’m sure they will be much appreciated. I’m afraid I am sending e-cards at the moment to minimise any risk. I’ve been having similar experiences at the supermarket, seems to be universal. Have a lovely Easter and stay well.

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    1. We keep our general mail in quarantine for a few days before handling as I know there will be nothing urgent in it. Any cards I take out of the envelope and put the envelope through the shredder and then leave the card out to quarantine and then wash hands – just in case. What a performance this all is – you couldn’t make it up could you.
      Wishing you a Happy Easter. x

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  5. Very lovely! Your cards are beautiful and I would certainly buy them if I saw them in a shop. I must try to be creative (I am SO not a crafty person) and make a paper Easter egg for the big toy bear we have in our window. S/he (could well be a girl bear!) gets lots of waves from children out walking with their parents. But we have no coloured pens or paints, so your flower leaves have given me the idea of using Christmas wrapping paper. Perhaps if I use it in strips it won’t look like a Christmas Easter egg!
    If you were nearer you could have benefited from my son’s order of eggs. He is getting fruit, veg and other items delivered from a local wholesaler (and they are struggling because of restaurant closure, so need the alternative income from doing individual deliveries). The smallest quantity he could order was a tray of 30, but when the order arrived they’d put in 60 – yes, SIXTY eggs – and didn’t charge him for the extra. Are there wholesalers around you doing home deliveries? We are getting milk, eggs, bread, fruit and veg delivered, and meat from a local butcher tho we normally eat very little meat, and if we wanted to splash out we could get fresh langoustines and scallops from a local boat which normally supplies restaurants and exports to France (but they are more pricey!). It really cuts down the time we need to spend in a shop. Having said “we”, I mean my husband. I have left the supermarket shop to him – he loves shopping and I hate it, so it’s a win both ways. Hope you have a lovely Easter weekend with plenty of time sitting in a sunny garden.

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    1. I have not sen or heard of any deliveries to our area, in fact there has only been one delivery from a Sainsbury’s wagon since this thing began and normally many of our neighbours do the online supermarket shops but cannot get slots.
      We are still managing to eat organic produce – which is a plus for us. I think we will now have to shop alone as most supermarkets only want one person for one trolley – I can understand that to minimise risk but it will seem strange now as DH has accompanied me on our shopping trips since I stopped working.
      Have a lovely Easter. x

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      1. (Sorry for the lost comments)

        I hope we will be allowed to be two at our trolley. Shopping for 10 days fills our trolley – and much quicker with both of us collecting, unpacking then repacking.

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        1. We willl have to go singularly from now on. I think it will have to be me as I have to plan menus according to what veg are available. DH usually takes himself off to get the bread whilst I do the veg but I think that won’t be allowed from now as most supermarkets only want one person per household / trolley.

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  6. Morning, love your Easter cards. Did you use a home printer to copy and make your cards smaller? I also re cycle my husbands birthday card. It was originally a traction engine on a show ground with people standing round. The year after I added some ferns and embellishments to it and this has continued for about 5 years now. It’s a case of happy birthday darling, can you spot the difference on the card from last year?

    You are keeping yourselves busy as we are. I don’t bake now but I do make cards and find that just keeping up with making meals and feeding the two men in the house three times a day plus washing and disinfecting all the door handles etc is keeping me occupied. We have our adult son working from home so I feel like a cafe proprietor ferrying tea and coffee upstairs for him while he is talking to colleagues over the internet etc. It’s a changed world in a lot of ways. Our son likes different and often more spicy foods than we do so when he cooks a meal for us once a week we get to try things that I would never cook. Mostly we like them and wonder why we haven’t tried such things before. Last night we had Enchilladas! Delish! We needed a glass of wine in one hand and a large glass of water in the other. The meal was hot and spicy.

    Take care
    Beverley

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    1. I used to visit an old college friend and loooked forward to her meals as she was a much more adventurous cook than I and she gave me lots of ideas and new tastes.
      I love the card idea of yours – I am wondering if my sister will notice it is the card she sent to me – as I am her only sister you would think she will guess!
      You sound very busy with the catering management – maybe you should try for promotion to supervisor!
      Have a lovely Easter. x

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  7. Yes I did get to the end and decided you put me to shame. It is now mid day and I can count on two fingers the joba I have done today!

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    1. Don’t worry I have not done much today other than speak to mum who had a tumble yesterday and have a shower. I have a cake and buns to bake but DH beat me to the kitchen and he is making soup – then it is more time in the garden sowing the salad seeds after a walk to the village to post a couple of cards.
      I am always too tired to do much in the evening and don’t see well in artificial light so have to fit everything in now during the day.
      Stay safe and well x

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  8. Always enjoy hearing from you. Sounds like you are making good use of your time. Can’t say I am quite as productive. I did manage to make two dozen face masks for family and family friends who are essential workers. Thank goodness for my fabric/elastic stash–though some are wearing cartoon characters since the fabric was originally intended to make toddler shorts. 🙂 But folks seem to be getting a kick out of them–so all good. Must admit, the production line of cutting out and machining them all has put me off sewing for a bit, but perhaps I will get back to it. Love your cards. I need to make one today for one for my grandson E as he turns 1 tomorrow. Likely won’t deliver it, but will photograph it and send it by email. Needs must. Hope you have a good Easter–even though it will not, for most of us, be in the company of many we love. x

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    1. Hi Mary, it seems this is going to be the strangest Easter for all of us. We always had a two week holiday at the cottage at Easter before the flood and in more recent times since the arrival of grandchildren have spent it with them. This year it will be alone. I thought I might make some masks for a local GP and staff but have no pattern and my fabric stash is mainly pure silk (I used to make wedding dreses) not sure this is very good for masks!!
      Lovely to hear you are OK and well. Have a good Easter. x

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  9. Enjoyed your post as always, Viv. Like your Easter card idea, hope you don’t mind if I pinch it! I haven’t started any seedlings yet except for some nasturtiums but that is on my “to do” list.

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    1. Just got my nasturtiums done and a few annuals as I doubt I will be able to buy any plants this year for the pots. I enjoyed doing the collage but more than the one would have been a task too far – but copying it on the printer did the trick!

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  10. Lovely varied post Vivien. You have been so busy! I feel like I’ve never been busier too cramming lots into the day and enjoying life to the full! I hope you eventually get your kitchen. I’ve been waiting for a new house extension for years!!! Happy Easter. x

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  11. As always, those cards are beautiful, Vivien. Such a lovely design, I would love to have just half of your creativity.
    I’ve read online of many people struggling to buy eggs, although I’ve not known of a shortage here. Flour however…… X

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  12. Lovely to catch up with how you are doing, it is a very difficult time for everyone.

    Regarding eggs: for years we have purchased our eggs directly from a nearby farm and the owners have become friends. A full tray lasts us nearly a fortnight and I combine that purchase with a trip to the supermarket.

    Last time I was there they were setting up the eggs in a spare sheep trailer with an honesty box for money. We had a ‘socially distanced’ conversation across the yard, one of the elements of which was that in one move they had lost 60% – 70% of their income. Most of their eggs are usually sold to local hotels and B&Bs. So if you have somewhere like that near you, they really need your support right now and you could leave eggs in the supermarket for someone else?

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    1. So pleased that you are able to help the local farm. The only place I know that had hens in fields very near to me now has houses built there but I will bear this in mind and see if I can track anything down.
      Stay safe and well.

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  13. So when they trace ground zero to the virus, the history books will say, “Viv wanted a new kitchen. The Gods have shown her in the past it is not to be. She didn’t listen so they sent a louder message.”

    As usual, your cards are so beautiful. Do you use scissors or a blade cutter?

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