Monthly Archives: February 2011

abra-candle-dabra

Having been inspired by Ali Thomson to complete a long-overdue task, i finally got round to making these little recycled candles. I’ve been collecting up wax odds and ends over the past year, and with a vast and ever-expanding collection of cups and saucers, it was time for action. The wax is initially melted down in a bain-marie. Meanwhile, cut wicks from ordinary white string, tie one end to a long stick, coat them in wax and straighten before they harden.

I found that once the wax was molten, it became quite grey in colour with all the burnt wicks etc. I threw in some red wax, but am told a coloured wax crayon can also do the trick. With care, pour the wax into desired receptacle, balancing the prepared wicks and ensuring they remain straight.

I have since learned that you need to top up the candle centre once dry, as they tend to sink with the weight of the wick. Otherwise, some pretty, recycled table decorations!

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The pheasant plucker

I recently was bestowed with these two pleasant pheasants via our secretary at work. This is one of the clear advantages of a career in the countryside – the fruit of the land. A pair is traditionally known as a brace, one male and one female. They need to be hung for 1-2 weeks to allow the meat to tenderise; i am told they are quite inedible prior to this.

My plan was to bravely pluck, eviscerate and prepare the birds myself, despite having no experience to bring to the task, other than a youtube video (what more does one need in this day and age?) However i quickly realised the error of my ways when faced with the aromas, time-scale and general gory-ness of the process, so i opted for the simpler route of skinning the breast and legs, and doing a casserole. Here i am preparing for action…

The task proved to be only mildly nauseating, but my symptoms were suitably eased by the smug feeling that comes with being this intimate with your food, from source to plate, minus food miles and corporate mark-up prices. I was shocked to hear that the fella that shoots these birds receives a mere 75p per bird from the butcher.

I elected to spare you the photographic details of the intervening process, but here are the fruits of my labour. the quantities were a little underwhelming, but more than enough for a nice pheasant stew last sunday. The recipe came from Darina Allen’s wonderful book Forgotten Skills of Cooking. The gist was – fry up chopped onions and carrots til soft. Seal the pheasant in a hot frying pan, then de-glaze the pan with some white wine and chicken stock and add all to a casserole dish. Add in some nice herbs (bay, thyme etc), and cook slowly, covered, in the oven at around 160 – maybe 2 hours. I was relieved to find it wasn’t too tough in the eating, and some happy table mates made all the effort worthwhile!

And to finish, here’s a merry little folk song, apparently ‘not to be sung by the faint-hearted…’

 

I’m not a pheasant plucker, I’m a pheasant plucker’s son
I’m only plucking pheasants ’till the pheasant plucker comes.

Me husband is a keeper, he’s a very busy man
I try to understand him and I help him all I can,
But sometimes in an evening I feel a trifle dim
All alone, I’m plucking pheasants, when I’d rather pluck with him.

I’m not a pheasant plucker, I’m a pheasant plucker’s mate
I’m only plucking pheasants ‘cos the pheasant plucker’s late !

I’m not good at plucking pheasants, at pheasant plucking I get stuck
Though some pheasants find it pleasant I’d rather pluck a duck.
Oh plucking geese is gorgeous, I can pluck a goose with ease
But pheasant plucking’s torture because they haven’t any grease.

I’m not a pheasant plucker, he has gone out on the tiles
He only plucked one pheasant and I’m sitting here with piles !

You have to pluck them fresh, if it’s fresh they’re not unpleasant,
I knew a man in Dunstable who could pluck a frozen pheasant.
They say the village constable had pheasant plucking sessions
With the vicar on a Sunday ‘tween the first and second lessons.

I’m not a pheasant plucker, I’m a pheasant plucker’s mum
I’m only plucking pheasants ’till the pheasant plucker’s come.

My good friend Godfrey is most adept, he’s really got the knack
He likes to have a pheasant plucked before he hits the sack.
I like to give a helping hand, I gather up the feathers,
It’s really all our pheasant plucking keeps us pair together.

I’m not a pheasant plucker, I’m a pheasant plucker’s friend
I’m only plucking pheasants as a means unto an end !

My husband’s in the forest always banging with his gun
If he could hear me half the time I’m sure that he would run,
For there’s fluff in all my crannies, there’s feathers up my nose
And I’m itching in the kitchen from my head down to my toes.

I’m not a pheasant plucker, I’m a pheasant plucker’s wife
And when we pluck together it’s a pheasant plucking life !

 

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Re-purposed Storage 1

I’ve been loving this post from Re-nest, on all things up-cycled, repurposed and reused. It’s packed full of ideas for transforming just about anything into a useful, stylish piece for your home. Some of my absolute favs include this ladder-come-shelving unit (bottom right), or even a pot rack, and some new ideas for an old door. So i got thinking about my own re-purposed items and ideas around the home. A common theme you will note here is of one of storage, storage, storage….

1. Toast rack for books

2. Vintage picnic baskets for garden storage

3. Old box for magazine rack (with ikea insert)

4. Sputnik magazine rack to keep trays tidy

5. lid-less pretty tea pot for pens etc

6. Mug rack for scissors

7. Driftwood earring display

8 Handmade vintage lace pocket storage for bracelets et al

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Frockin’ big day out..

Oh I’m all in a ‘flapper’! It’s a shopper’s delight this sunday in Belfast.  As well as the aforementioned Fashion Souk, ‘Frock around the Clock‘ pioneered by the fabulous Becky Moore is on this week at The Holiday Inn, Ormeau Road.

You can check out sneak peaks of her stallholders on facebook.

Personally, I’m on the hunt for a 20’s/ 30’s style flapper/shift dress.. love that era! The hats, the cropped hair, the red oxblood lips! If you’re not sure what to look for, you’ll get lots of ideas from all eras from the vintage clad ladies there..

Becky explains:

We bring together Irish vintage dealers and creative-designers to sell a fabulous array of vintage clothing and fashion accessories, jewellery, furniture, homewares, textiles and lace, dolls and bears, collectables, hand made items created from recycled vintage textiles, and much more.
Nowhere else in Northern Ireland can you find such a vast collection of quality vintage items dating from the early 1900s through to the 1980s, alongside perfectly restyled and recycled designs, all under one roof.

Why not make it a big day out, and hit the Fashion Souk AND the Frock around the Clock.. you are guaranteed to be draped with original goodies, and all whilst supporting local traders and making ethcial choices with your fashion feet..

I hope to bring you photos from my day out at both events… see you there! xx

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A novice at the auction

Last wednesday was my first foray into the world of auctions. DJ Manning in Bo’ness was to be my initiation. So with my closely perused and annotated catalogue, snack supplies and a bundle of anticipation, i set off in search of a bargain. I arrived an hour before the sale for the viewing. After a heady 1/2hr of vintage and antique everything, i began to realise that it was going to be a long day….my specific items of interest were spread across the 1000 lots, and thus the 11-4pm sale time. Not having any idea of an approximate price tag in order to leave a bid and depart, that meant sticking it out until the bitter end. I consoled myself by thinking that this would equip me more readily for ‘next time’, in which i would feel more confident bypassing the actual auction.

Surrounded by old men with wads of cash sticking out of grubby back pockets, i settled myself into a corner and attempted to look inconspicuous. Clearly i was not doing a very good job, as i found myself having unsuspectingly bid £30 upon an utterly horrible armchair whilst swiping my hair. Evidently, swiping one’s hair is indicative of a bid. By divine intervention, someone with no taste continued to bid further. My heart racing, i prepared to bid on something i actually wanted – an oak arts and crafts set of shelves. But they eluded me. Then, so did a cheval mirror, 2 towel rails, a fireside chair, 2 footstools, both oak kists and 2 beautiful lamps. Despair was looming. Nor was it dissipated by winning a rather random oversized beaded foot stool for £20 – i admit it, it was an impulse purchase, a consolation. Then again, everything at an auction is an impulse purchase, given that you have about 1 second to decide on your readiness to spend. This certainly goes against all my furniture/home-wares buying principles. (Which are, if you are interested, look carefully for unworkable flaws, consider the actual value, envisage its purpose and home, deliberate on it for a while, maybe even phone a friend. Above all, be selective.)

As the day wore on, i soon realised that having your sights set on a particular item is not the way to go. Despite coming away with a reasonably satisfying haul (see below), as i drove home i started to think about the things i let slip, having focused too much on the key items none of which i won anyway. However, i must say i am thoroughly delighted with my British Rail Notices framed poster. Catches the eye in the porch.

So, what are my auction conclusions? Firstly, its not for the fainthearted! Its a long day, and you spend most of it on tenderhooks. Each lot tends to be quite large, so you often end up with a few choice items mixed in with other rubbish (eg wicker baskets with a 1970’s cooler), which will invariably go straight to the charity shop. On the positive, i saw stunning pieces of furniture going for nothing – antique mahogany or oak drawers and wardrobes selling for around £35. Those buying furniture were definitely onto a winner.

In summary, a time-consuming way to pick up a potential one-off piece for a fraction of its value. If your lucky…

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