Monday, 24 October 2011

Jammin', no stitching and studying!

Oh dear. It's been an absolute age since I last blogged. Following Heather's comment earlier on my last post over a year ago, I thought it was time to pop in & say hi.

I've not stitched in ages for many reasons - a) I've had very limited free time and b) I've developed problems with my neck and shoulder as well as having RSI in my wrist and elbow. I've had two very painful flare ups of my neck/shoulder problem this year and had some physio which didn't help much. The doctor said it's just something I will have to put up with and I need to try and minimise the activities that are the cause, which unfortunately seems to be using the computer (not so good for work!) or stitching. I have picked up my stitching a few times, though can't work on it for the amount of hours that I used to and so over the last year have sold off about half of my stash as I know I'm never going to be able to stitch it all. When I get my stitching mojo back, I want to concentrate in short bursts on the pieces I really love rather than pieces I only like.

Heather, yes, I've been busy making lots of jams, jellies and chutneys again this autumn. My favourites so far are Spiced apple & cider jelly, quince jelly and caramelised red onion chutney. We also have several different fruit gins/vodkas on the go - blueberry, strawberry, raspberry, cherry and black/redcurrant. These need to be bottled up soon as they've been steeping for a few months so will be just in time for Christmas gifts. Earlier in the year I made marmalades and lemon curd too. We gave most of our home made goodies away last Christmas - this was most of what we made:

We made lots of different things last year - pickled onions, mulled pears, sloe gin, elderberry vinegar, jams, jellies, chutneys... but I guess the piece de resistence was 'Notella' - we attempted a version of Nutella made from foraged hazelnuts which we dubbed Notella! It saw off my 30 year old food processor in the process and was a lot of hard work for one jar of produce. This year we've concentrated on chutneys as I have grown my own veg in the garden and jellies. Last weekend we picked the last crop of quinces and cooking apples. The quinces need to be used quickly, though the apples will store for a few months.

We grew veg in the garden for the first time this year. I made the mistake of sowing 15 courgette plants and of course, all of them grew! I don't even like courgettes and didn't enjoy the resulting glut so gave lots away. We also had tomatoes, peppers, chillies, onions, squash, sweetcorn, beetroot, French beans and lettuces along with the fruit from the trees in the garden too. Lots of things to learn for next year and we need to work on feeding our crops as sadly some of the produce was very small indeed!

Other than my burgeoning farmer's market, my other big news is that I started studying part time on day release at uni 5 weeks ago, which is being supported by my employers. I have enrolled on the Personnel & Development MSc, which is a three year course. I've worked within HR for most of my working life, though without the industry's recognised qualification and now the time is right for me to fit this in with my life. It may only be 5 weeks in, but I'm enjoying it so far, despite having homework and two assignments to complete over the next few months. I'm dreading the exams at the end of May/beginning of June mind you...!

Hope everyone is ok out there. I promise not to leave it so long next time ;o)


Freddysmama (Kirstin) said...

How exciting to see a post :)

Love those jars all lined up - it's such a good feeling to see isn't it?!

LOL at your excessive courgettes!

Sharon said...

Sam, it's nice to see you posting! Congrats on going back to school. Your canning looks awesome, I wish I could find the time or the patience for it.