Posted on February 28, 2013 in Food and Drink, The Home Front by Jay19 Comments »


Just look! I’m actually tickled to death to be able to show you this!

The crock is a Le Creuset butter butler. It’s a fun little thing; you put butter into the top half and about an inch of water into the bottom, then you invert the butter-filled top into the base. The air above (or rather, below) the butter in the top part keeps the water out, and the whole thing keeps cool without refrigeration due to the evaporation/condensation cycle. Brilliant.

But that’s not what tickles me and fills me with simple delight.

Want to know what it is? The butter inside the crock was made by OH! All by himself, with his own fair hand!


Yesterday, he went on a cheesemaking course at Woefuldane Farm, where he learned to make soft cheese, semi-hard cheese*, and – by way of a bonus – butter! He put cream into a churn, turned the handle, and made butter!

Isn’t that neat? Now, I suspect, he’ll want to buy one of those churny things and make ALL his own butter. And why not?

What made you happy this week?
* The cheeses are not quite ready to eat yet

Posted on February 24, 2013 in Oddities, The Home Front by Jay12 Comments »


Okay, let’s see what you make of this Macro Monday puzzle, then!

This could be seen in many households still, though the use of them is becoming rarer every year, it seems. So many things have been brought out to do the job in a new way.

When I was young, everyone used them. Now … not so much.

Perhaps a slightly unusual size, the shape of mine would nevertheless be recognised by someone from as long ago as the 1800s. My great-great-great grandfather Bob in his pub in Norfolk, my dressmaking great-great aunt Jessie, my uncles Peter and Herbert in their garages would all have used them, just as my parents did. Even my Scottish ancestors way up there in Dumfriesshire, farming their acres or tailoring their .. whatever it was tailors in Scotland tailored in those days … would have used them.

However, while I have many artefacts belonging to my distant relatives, I have not one of these in the collection. Nobody kept them, you see.

Tell me why!

Pop your answer in the comments, and I’ll be back tomorrow (Tuesday) with the answer in the form of a picture link, as usual. Look for it about 10pm, UK time.

Aaaaand we have 100% win rate this week! Very well done indeed, all you lovely competitors! You can all give yourselves a big pat on the back.  Lori of What Remains Now was the first to comment, so she gets the winner’s slot and a link back.

Go here to see the full picture, in case you’re one of the people who visit and don’t leave a comment, and are one of the few people who don’t already know what this is!

It’s nice to let you all win sometimes, but brace yourselves. Next week is a new month and I will do my darndest to find a real humdinger to start you all off. Thanks for playing – see you all next week?

Posted on February 22, 2013 in Hounds, The Home Front by Jay12 Comments »


I nearly didn’t do anything for this week’s Illustration Friday. The prompt word, ‘Wool’, really didn’t conjure anything up for me, other than sheep and knitting. But I gave myself a few days to think about it and eventually, this picture popped into my head.

It’s from a photo I took several years ago. Sid hadn’t been with us very long and he’d just discovered the sheepskin rug and made it his own. He managed to fit himself onto it by tucking his head round to the side and curving himself into a C-shape.

I wanted to bring out the streamlined shape of a greyhound, but also the incredible muscles that Sid has in his neck and shoulders. And, of course, the texture of the sheep’s wool in the rug.

In the spirit of the challenge, I’ve tried yet another new medium. This time, I’ve drawn something using graphite on Bristol paper. I don’t know if it was the best choice of paper, but this is very much a learning process for me and trying new things – including media/paper combinations – is part of the whole thing. Anyway. I drew the outline in pencil, then sketched in the shapes and shadows using three different graphite sticks. Some I lifted off the paper with a putty rubber, a precision propelling rubber, or a plain old soft white eraser. I then went over the lambskin with a 4B pencil to give it some extra texture.

Lastly, I scanned the drawing and gave it a light Photoshop filter to bring out the detail a little better.

That’s what you see up at the top. The original is here:


I used to think that doing anything like that was cheating. Mind you, I used to think drawing out a graph to help with scale, or using a ruler or a reference photograph was cheating. Now I know that anything goes as long as it’s me doing it.

I’d be interested to know which you prefer, and why. And as always, be honest! I’m doing Illustration Friday to learn!

Posted on February 21, 2013 in Life, the Universe and Everything, Wildlife by Jay13 Comments »


This may be the last official ‘How to be HAPPY!’ post, since I only seem to have one blog adding a link after several weeks. Pity, but there you go.

Anyway, what made me happy this week was a simple dog walk to Ferry Meadows, a large country park/leisure facility in our city. It made me happy for two reasons: firstly it was impromptu, and secondly, the swans were in such fine feather!


We’d walked taken the dogs out in the morning, but just after lunch OH said to me that he fancied a walk. It was a lovely, sunny-but-chilly day, so I and the dogs thought it was a splendid idea. Actually, OH had meant he fancied a walk without the dogs, but that worked out OK too, because after we’d fed the swans and geese – and seagulls – he took himself off for a walk around the larger of the lakes and Sid, Jeffie and I pottered along taking pictures and sniffing smells.


The swans were really showing off, getting ready for breeding season I suppose. They were curling their wings above their backs in an extremely elegant show of personal beauty, and there were several of us taking photos and smiling.


And of course, it was rather nice that neither of the dogs showed any real interest in chasing the birds. Very sensible of them, say I!


‘How to be HAPPY!’ is a new meme. It’s about finding the little things in life which bring a smile or a glow of warmth to our hearts and souls during our daily lives. Why? Because it’s the way all these little things add up which truly determines if we are happy people, not the big stuff like a lottery win.

To enter, write a post about one thing which has made you happy in some small way recently – it could be birdsong, a favourite smell, a particularly good loaf of bread, a blue sky, anything! Then scroll to the bottom, click the Mr Linky graphic and add your blog post details to the Linky which will appear in a new window, and you’re in.

If you’d like, copy the badge (up at the top of this post) and paste it into your own.

Oh, and it would be nice if you popped round to visit and comment on a few of the others, too!