In a jam – again.

I really don’t cook. I’m terrible at it, with a total disinterest in food and all the things like it. But I do, it turns out, quite like making jam. I’ve made it before and enjoyed it so when Persil sent me a jam making kit, I thought I would try again.

Ok. I can do this #jam #cooking #persilchallenge

It did however take me rather a long time to  get round to it; time disappeared and we never did make it to the pick your own, so the COMPLETELY ENORMOUS blackberries got bought on our Tesco trip :lol:

I went for blackberry and apple this time because of the naturally occurring pectin in apples that saves buying special sugar or faffing with lemon juice and tricky setting points. I used FabFood4All’s recipe, a Tots100 blogger I hadn’t come across before – she was very friendly on Twitter.

Blackberries and apples courtesy of our #tescofuelsave shopping spree #jam #cooking @tescofood #persilchallenge

My top tips for am making:-

  • clean down everything first, make sure you have lots of space.
  • dishwasher EVERYTHING – pots, ladle, spoon, slotted spoon, lids, easy pourer, saucepan for minimum germs that could get into the jam.
  • Have a boiled kettle ready to reboil and use for sterilising the ladle if you drop it.
  • Stick a saucer in the freezer for the crinkle test.
  • Wear shoes.
  • Use a much bigger pot than you think you’ll need. It really comes up and you don’t want to be hanging around boiling it slowly to stop it boiling over on to your toes. (See point above).

Yum. #jam #cooking

Love the colours. This was before the sugar, it goes all shiny once that’s in.

Most gorgeous colour. #jam

And it worked! (That was exactly the number of jars I had ready; impressed? I was!

Ta Da!!! #jam

Respect due for the setting perfection I think.

That is a good jam :) hurrah!

The purpose, aside from making yummy jam, was to try out a new Persil Dual Action Laundry Capsule, that funny thing that looks like a dingy at the front. The Persil Dual Action capsules are just coming to the end of the box here as we’ve been using them through the summer. Aside from the funky shape (I keep imagine them rafting merrily inside the drum), they do seem to be rather good. I wash on 30 degrees as a rule and often use quick or low water quantity and haven’t had any issues with cleanliness. We always do use Persil anyway, everything else causes hives on various people here. I love things that aren’t powder and go straight in the drum, they save a lot of mess. I’d quite like it if Max started getting these. Admittedly at £10 for 28 washes, it is a bit more expensive than powder (I’ve done some calculations and I think £29 for 100 washes in powder is 29p a wash, £10 for 28 is 36p a wash) but for convenience or perhaps for going away and using laundrettes or for heavier stains that benefit from the stain remover granules included in the centre., it could be worthwhile.

The money shot.

I used my muslin to wipe up and strain lots of the jam and then washed it on my normal 30 degree, half filled cycle – the result was perfect, all blackberry stains gone.

Disclosure: Persil sent us the jam kit and the tablets – views and hard labour are our own. Additional weight gain due to jam consumption sadly also our own.

Going up North.

As previously mentioned, Fran recently got selected to play Touch Rugby for the Northern Stars, the north of England Under 18 squad. This has meant some training days and given where we live is really not-very-northern-at-all, the cost implication of this is pretty high. Having just had a week where the car cost us £600 and plus the associated costs attached to the fabulous wedding of the year, we’ve been feeling the pinch a fair bit. We try so hard to keep the girls going to all the things that are turning them into rounded and interesting individuals but the costs of the activities alone are only part of it – as they get more able the associated costs of travel, leotards and kit, competition entries and the like really have mounted up. As for ballet exams….

This week required a trip to Manchester, which feels like a million years away from where we live. I’ve never been there. Still, it seemed like too good an opportunity to miss so since Fran and Max had to go anyway, we thought we would try to finish the holiday off by all going together.

Getting up at 5.30am was a bit of a wince moment but all forms of route planner suggested 3 hours plus and they needed to be on the pitch by 10am, so we set off at 6.30 – and by 9am, we were waltzing into towns we had never been to before!

Hyde!!! #lifeonmars #fangirlmoment

Hyde. Max and I were huge Life on Mars fans back in the day – we went all starry eyed at this!

After dropping them off I went back to meet/visit a friend I have known online forever but never actually met, Jeanette from LazySeamstress, who has been by my side since losing Freddie having been through losing her own baby girl Florence. We chattered like we had known each other forever.

I finally got to meet @lazyseamstress We got to chat like we had really known each other for years, instead of just virtually.

We also got to introduce our two rainbow babies, Ernest and Bene, to each other.

This photo has a double rainbow in it  @lazyseamstress
I have no idea why I didn’t get Maddy to take this photo with me in it :lol:

It was just SO lovely to meet Jeanette and Ernest; I really don’t know how I would have got through those first months without her and the support she brought with her – and I got to see her chickens and THE SHED! (Envy).

After that it was time to make the most of our moment somewhere else (honestly, we really should go here and the Peaks more often, it’s not as far as it seems) and went to Bramall Hall. We picnicked first, using the food bought as part of our Tesco Fuel Save challenge.

Picnic time on our @tescofood #tescofuelsave day out.

The hall is amazing, a Tudor mansion modified and re-modified through the ages.

The weather may be a bit lacking but the view is stunning #tescofuelsave
It has just received a lottery grant, so is about to close and be given an overhaul. We went in, since it was only £4.75 for all of us and scooted around quickly.

Put them in the stocks!!!
Stocks!

Exploring the still room.
Still room.

We didn’t have long but it was lovely and I’d certainly go back for a longer look. I did keep having small ‘you wouldn’t see that at Kentwell!’ moments though. ;)

That's like a pretend duck with a non standard paint job.
The grounds were perfect for a quick sploshy walk and a peep at some pretty ducks. Jeanette gave us corn to feed them, which Bene and Josie loved doing.

After that it was time to collect a very tired Fran, which I managed with a faultless drive through the Cheadle areas. Hurrah – didn’t even get lost.

***
Our day out was courtesy of Tesco who invited us to try out their new Fuel Save scheme. I recommend you watch the video; it isn’t a complicated scheme but you can time your fuel spend carefully to get the maximum benefit, so worth just putting a little thought into. Very simply, your shops total up and contribute towards a growing total of savings which you can then choose to use towards your fuel purchase during the month. Tesco isn’t our normal supermarket (stock large couscous why don’t you!) but once we got home from holiday we did some incidental shopping and 2 weekly shops there to see what we could accumulate on our newly organised Clubcard. With relatively little effort, we took 10p off every litre of fuel, which we redeemed easily with a Clubcard and an option to decide if we wanted to claim the reward at a Pay at Pump station. When you have a people carrier that costs around £100 to fill up at times, getting some money off makes a huge difference and we more than doubled the  best shop total based saving we have ever got anywhere else. Filling up the car cost £88 (1.23 a litre) and took the sting out of a long journey quite a bit, turning it into a day we enjoyed instead of a day with the niggling distress that it was money we couldn’t really afford. Would it incline me to alter my food shopping supermarket? Yes, I’m afraid it would – the opportunity to get up to 20p a litre off the fuel I put in the car is just too good to miss.

So thank you Tesco, it was much appreciated. (And the Sausage Rolls were excellent too!)

Disclosure: Tesco compensated us for this post. Opinions are our own. (Stock the Large Couscous!!!! Don’t make me walk away again ;) )

Just a wedding.

Today I spent the day at a wedding. I was Best Woman, which was an honour, and saw one of my dearest friends marry a beautiful and lovely woman. I had a gorgeous dress and my children and husband all looked gorgeous too. It was perfect. It was, apparently, the first bride and bride marriage in Oxfordshire. That’s quite exciting, in lots of ways. It’s always fun to be at the edge of the wave of something, one of the first. IMG_6603.JPG What struck me most though today, as I helped put brides into dresses, hold drinks, waft flower girls along the aisle and most of all watch two beautiful people who are in love get married, was how very ordinary it felt. Ordinary in a good way. Normal. Normal in a good way. It was two people getting married. Two happy people, in love, getting married. It struck me forcefully that as a society we’ve been as wrapped up in bride/groom normality as right and everything being ‘change’ or ‘progress’ or less positive words in the same way as we talk about a Kindle being an okay way to read but a ‘real book is a real book’. It’s nonsense. The essence of a book is words and story, not paper. The essence of a marriage is just two humans wanting to be together forever, for the sheer joy of a perfect partnership. I didn’t go to a gay or lesbian wedding today. I didn’t go to something new or remarkable or progressive. I went to a wedding. Just a wedding. Two people, in love, caring for each other, full of fun and kindness and passion for a future.

And it was unspeakably, perfectly, heartstoppingly beautiful.

IMG_6679.JPG

Happy future, Claire and Angie. Happy everything.