Saturday, 20 August 2016

Cottage Bedroom Progress and Courgette Cake

We've been working hard to improve the cottage bedroom as we have guests coming to stay next week.

One of the bedroom walls is rendered and we decided to paint it. I had already removed the wallpaper, so now I cleaned it thoroughly and Chris filled in any holes and gaps.


I also cleaned the old flue which Chris is going to board up for now.


I then got stuck into the painting.....


....and, over the last two evenings, have completed the two coats required.


During the day, I have been cleaning and painting a further section of the living room ceiling.


Two coats done....one more to do!


Spencer likes to make his bed on the dust sheet!


Chris has been making the frame for the bedroom end wall.......



....and also cutting insulation batts to fit.


Exploring ways to attach it to the sloping ceiling.


He found a way!


We managed to get out for some fresh air and to give Spencer a run.

These young ladies came to greet us at the fence.



Having previously studied the map, Chris took us across a field of stubble to a high point with wonderful views of Les Montagnes Noires.



We've had lots of rain over the last couple of days.....


.....interspersed with blue skies.


I made a bit of time for baking and my quest for good courgette recipes....I made a courgette cake!


I wasn't sure about how this would taste and, whilst baking it, Chris was giving me some doubtful sideways glances!

However it was delicious.....and I really mean delicious.....I will definitely be making it again!


If you'd like the recipe, you may find it here on Organikal. It's a Nigella Lawson recipe.

So lovely to have your company!

Maggie xx

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Don't get caught in the Grease Trap!


My first hollyhock flower......what a pretty pink!


The week started with a slight plumbing crisis. We had a bath that wouldn't empty. 

Chris tried to unblock it using various methods including plunger, lengths of wire and bicarbonate of soda/vinegar solutions.  We have to be careful what we use because of the septic tank. 

The side of the bath had been tiled so to access the bath waste pipes Chris had to remove some of the tiles. The plumbing he found wasn't what he expected with the bath and sink waste joined together and lots of right angled bends!! 

A couple of days on, having resorted to taking a shower in Harvey J, we drove to Castorama to get a 5 metre pipe snake. Thank goodness this did the trick. Now we have squeaky clean waste pipes in the bathroom and Chris has developed his plumbing knowledge!

Another lovely task this week......attending to the grease trap!

For those of you who are not familiar with grease traps, it is a chamber outside the house that captures grease and other debris from the household waste water (but not sewage). 

This is to prevent the grease from entering the septic tank. You are meant to empty it every so often and we realised that we hadn't done it yet....ever! Having never had a septic tank before, it's all a constant learning process!

I think you can see from Chris's face that this was not a job he enjoyed! 


Of course, I stood by giving moral support and uttering words of encouragement such as 'yuk', 'ew', 'oh no' and 'well done' in addition to 'it will be great when we know all that muck has gone' and 'how often will we have to do this?'


I had the more pleasant task of cleaning the Duplo that we had bought at a car boot sale in the Spring. Our grandson Charlie will be visiting next week so I wanted it all scrubbed and clean for when he arrives. It was a nice sunny day so I put it outside to dry off in the sunshine.


The basil I planted is actually looking like basil now!


For tea, I made a Summer Vegetable Tian which uses courgettes. Kind people always give us lots of courgettes and sometimes I struggle to find things to cook with them so I'm trying some new recipes. This was easy to prepare with simple ingredients that you would usually have in. It turned out to be delicious especially served with some tasty bacon!

If you would like to give it a try, you may find the recipe (and better photos!) on Beth's blog, BudgetBytes, by clicking  here.


Thanks for popping by!

Maggie xx

Blackberry Clafoutis Recipe

I've been trying a few new recipes and I thought I'd share them with you!

This time I'm sharing a recipe for the traditional French dessert Clafoutis. My lovely follower Kiwi requested this recipe. Thank you Kiwi.

I've made Clafoutis before but the recipe I'm sharing today is easy and quick to make. It's based on the delicious Blueberry Clafoutis recipe by Anecdotes and Apple Cores which may be found by clicking here. 

I made this when my sister-in-law and her family came to stay a couple of weeks ago. As we have a plentiful supply of blackberries here, we picked them in the afternoon and then were eating the Clafoutis in the evening. Delicious! There were seven of us altogether and we ate what I would call a modest portion each.

Blackberry Clafoutis - serves 6-8



Ingredients

  • 300g Blackberries or enough to cover the bottom of the dish
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 180ml Milk
  • ¼ tsp Salt
  • 30g Butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Essence
  • ¼ tsp Almond Essence (optional)
  • 100g Granulated Sugar
  • 100g Plain Flour
Method


  • Pre-heat the over to 170 degrees C (Fan Oven).
  • Butter a 9" dish that is at least 1.5" deep.
  • Wash berries thoroughly and place in the buttered dish.
  • Whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, butter, vanilla, almond and sugar.
  • Whisk in flour until most of lumps have gone.
  • Pour this batter over the fruit.
  • Bake for 45 minutes until cake tester comes out clean.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature with a scoop of cream, ice cream or creme fraiche.
Très delicieux!

Thanks for popping by!

Maggie xx




Monday, 15 August 2016

Beautiful Summer

Wow it's been hot these last few days! Beautiful blue skies and temperatures over 30 degrees!


On Thursday, we drove to Castorama in Quimper. We had a pretty hefty list of things to buy including wood, a Velux blind, a stepladder, wallpaper, electric plugs, screws and strimmer line. It was successful trip made easier by being in our motorhome, Harvey J. The reason being that we could do half of our shopping, stop and have lunch in Harvey J, regain energy levels, then do the rest of our shopping. It made what could have been a long and arduous shopping trip into something much more pleasant.



On Friday we were invited to lunch just down the road at Gail and Rod's. We were also joined by their friends, Simon and Helen, who are considering buying a property in Brittany and wanted to hear about our French home buying experiences. It was wonderful sat in the garden having a delicious lunch on such a beautiful day. Afterwards we invited Simon and Helen to pop around to our place and we showed them around. They aren't looking for a renovation project and I think they were slightly shocked at how much work we have to do here!


On Saturday, Henri visited us with his grandson who wanted to meet the goats. Henri brought us some lovely green beans, courgettes, cucumber and a couple of editions of the Central Brittany Journal.



After lunch, we had a visit from another friend and neighbour, Serge. We had a nice chat and catch up in French and he told us the Breton word for 'Cheers'....although we can't remember the word. We'll ask him next time.


On the renovation front, I've been removing the old roses wallpaper in the cottage bedroom. I enjoy this job! It's satisfying!




Chris has been working in the bedroom too, repairing the floor by replacing a sheet of rotten chipboard.



Today it was so hot, we just couldn't work indoors. We found a shady and breezy spot around the back of the barn and started removing some brambles which were covering an old wood pile and some rubbish.


One of my hollyhocks is about to bloom! Looks like a beautiful deep pink.



We took a walk and found they had harvested the oats. Where's my porridge?!



The bees keep on buzzing on the monarda.


We've seen that handsome Mr Toad again!


Beautiful flowers from Jan and family.


Chris found a very large beetle.


The farmers are harvesting the wheat nearby.


It's just a beautiful summer.


 It's been lovely to have your company!

Maggie xx