The rooms they are a-changin’
Posted by Penny on 11/11/2012
Now, don’t look at me so accusingly! I know! It’s been many months since I last posted and some of you have wondered if I’ve given up my wee blog. And have been sweet enough to say that you hope not. No, I haven’t (well, that’s pretty obvious now, I suppose…), but I HAVE been up-to-my-eyes over the last few months* and haven’t even been reading blogs, far less writing and taking photographs for one. However, let’s put the past behind us and move on now…
I was going to call this post, ‘Don’t go changing’, because, in fact, we haven’t actually changed bedrooms yet (It’s OK! There’s other nice stuff in store!), but John, on bended knee and with tears in his eyes, begged me not to use a Lionel Ritchie song, so what could I do??? (OK, a wee bit of dramatic licence there, but those tears were damn close, I swear!)
Alternatively, I could have called it ‘Fangs ain’t what they used to be…
because there HAVE been some changes in the SVH household. As I said, we haven’t changed bedrooms with Jenny yet. It’s a LONG process! On the other hand, I hope you’ll like the changes we HAVE made to the house. Where will I start…?
OK… Firstly I’ve made a few wee changes in the sitting room. In the summer, I moved my desk away from the draught coming under and round the front door. (Wise move? But not really necessary in the summer? Ha! Don’t get me started on our ‘summer’ weather!!!) And I’ve brought down one of the bedroom bookcases to sit beside the ‘To Be Read’ one. I’ve also stuck braid on the fronts of the shelves in an attempt to make them look more hippy and less like the cheapies that they are. So instead of looking like this
this bit of the sitting room now looks like this.
And I got a new, wee bookcase for the top of my desk, which holds my books for my Open University courses*
A much bigger change, however, has taken place in the back of the cottage! I’m squeaky with excitement about it! Our kitchen was a poky wee room, always dark and with never enough room. Yes, I did my best with it. I took off doors and replaced them with gingham curtains. We removed wall cupboards and put up open shelves. We replaced the horrible sink with an old stone sink and hung a patchwork curtain,
but the fact remained that it was just too wee! When the dishwashing was not… er… quite up to date (blush), there was no room for the cooking and baking I enjoy.
Then one day this summer I said to John, ‘Here’s an idea! How about we get the wall knocked through between the kitchen and the dining room and make it all into a bigger kitchen?’ And we did!!!
Our (former) dining room is a conservatory and was used mostly for tutoring and eating. The furniture was moved around on a pretty regular basis, as the whim took me. Here’s what it looked like at one point. A nice wee room, I hope you’ll agree?
However, my pupil numbers have dwindled, as they’ve mostly reached the age of having sat their final exams and left school, so I don’t need the shelves of tutoring books and materials anymore. And at my advanced age I’m really not wanting to get any more pupils, to be honest. The few I still have, the enormous amount of typing I do for John for his Open University tutoring, my own studying and essay writing*, as well as looking after the home, are enough to keep me busy. I AM well past retirement age after all! So the time was right…
The wall was knocked through…
…and here is the new bit of our kitchen!
It’s not finished yet! The cooker hood has still to be installed and there’s still some painting to be done, as you can see, but we’re getting there.
As well as cooking, baking and eating, and crafting, I tutor my few remaining pupils in here and also work on my essays*, often with a certain chap as my ‘study buddy’!
The old bit, which you can see past the kettle, remains as a cross between a utility room and food storage area.
We love all the light and the extra space!
*OK. You’re wondering about those asterisks, aren’t you? Well, if you cast your mind back, through the mists of time, to when I last made a blog post, you may remember that I said I’d started another course with the Open University. Well, that one’s finished (just waiting for the result of my end of module assessment, which I’ll know mid-December) and I’ve started another on Children’s Literature. Here are some of the books I’m studying…
I’m thoroughly enjoying it and managed to get 90% for my first essay (small bit of boasting there. Sorry! But with the state of my brain these days, I was rather pleased!), but I don’t expect to keep that up! The only fly in the ointment is hearing some people saying how much they hate Treasure Island and are bored by Little Women! I know! Makes me almost sob out loud!
Anyway, back to the theme of changes in the house…
Another change is to Johnny’s room because we’ve added to our family! Now our companion animals include two guinea pigs!
Daisy found them while she was out for a walk with Johnny and Bobby. They were huddled together in the undergrowth, terrified out of their wee minds. To cut a very long story fairly short (unusually for me…), once Johnny and I managed to catch the wee chaps they came to live with us and when the original owner finally got in touch she was happy for us to keep them! She said they’d escaped from her garden (they were a LONG way away from her place, so we don’t know how they got there!), but she had heard they had a good home now… This seems unimaginable to us, as our animals are very much part of our family, but it takes all sorts…
They seem to think they have a good home now, anyway! We’d never even thought of having guinea pigs before, but with lots of help and advice from some good friends and regular supplies of hay from Sylvia, who gets it for her rescue goat and sheep (the latter now numbering three!), we’re able to keep them in a fair degree of luxury.
They’re nervous wee animals at the best of times, but we’re winning their trust…
Bob is fascinated by them and follows me upstairs when he thinks I’m going to visit them. He’s been nose-to-nose with them through their run, but I’m wary… He IS a terrier. And his favourite toy is a squeaky ball… You know what I mean… So the piggies live in Johnny’s room, which has a sturdy catch on the door…
And so onto Book Corner…
Well, I think most, if not all, books feature change of one kind or another, but I’ll talk about ones that feature changes in the home, just to narrow it down and make it more appropriate for this blog post…
So let’s kick off with The New House, by Lettice Cooper (aunt-in-law of Jilly Cooper). This is one of the books I was reading when I wrote my last blog post.
It tells of the day when Rhoda and her domineering mother move into a smaller house. Their large family home has been sold, to be pulled down by a developer. Rhoda longs for freedom, for the chance to work in paid employment and to have her own life, away from a mother who has always expected to have her own way. Her sister has escaped from the family home and is about to be married, and her brother has a wife and child. So it’s Rhoda’s duty to stay at home…
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, which is published by Persephone, as you can see from the photo. I so hoped Rhoda would be able to break away. Her mother’s acid tongue has already ruined her chance of romance with the man she’d loved and she dreads ending up like her spinster aunt…
But I’ll let you find out for yourself what happens…
Norah Lofts wrote many historical novels, several of which are set in Suffolk and feature the changes to a house through the centuries: Bless this House; A Wayside Tavern; Pargeters are three of them.
Her ‘House’ trilogy, a great favourite of John’s and mine, comprises The Town House, The House at Old Vine and The House at Sunset. The first book, The Town House, appears to have gone temporarily missing, but here are the other two, well-worn and well-read.
They chart the story of a house that was built in mediaeval times, the people who lived in it and the changes that were made to the house itself until the twentieth century. Well worth a read! And a re-read! And more re-reads after that! But don’t expect happy endings to all the tales… No, really. Don’t. In fact, there aren’t that many happy endings. But it’s fascinating just the same, as are the other ‘house through the centuries’ books she wrote.
And recipe corner? Well, we vegans are used to changing recipes! ‘Veganising’, we call it. I know! With all these recipe books,
why would I need to veganise anything? Well, some of the meals I make were changed before vegan recipe books were so thick on the ground, like this one for chocolate muffins. (Forgive me if I’ve blogged about these before, but I don’t think I have…) I got the original recipe from an American friend in the 1990s and it contained eggs and cows’ milk then. I veganised it and have used my version VERY often. And now that I have my lovely new range cooker,
with TWO fan-assisted ovens, I can bake more than one batch at a time! Twelve muffins don’t last long in a muffin-loving family of four!!!
OK, here’s the recipe:
Chocolate Muffins – makes 12
1 1/2 teaspoons egg replacer
26g cocoa powder
224 g self-raising flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
200 ml. soya milk
Set oven to: Gas Mark 5; 375F;190C; 160 fan assisted.
Add egg replacer to milk and whisk together. Put aside.
Weigh out all the dry ingredients into a large bowl.
Add the margarine and the milk/egg replacer mixture.
Mix everything together and then spoon into muffin cases (I sit my cases in a muffin tray. I also use an ice-cream scoop for filling them.)
Bake for 30 minutes.
And so we come to the icing. Now, I’ll be honest with you: I can’t really give you any measurements for the icing, as I always judge it… So, sieve a goodly amount of icing sugar into a bowl. Add a fair amount of cocoa powder. Throw in a dollop of marg (but carefully, or the icing sugar and cocoa powder will puff up into your eyes. Trust me. I know what I’m talking about here…). Mix everything together and, once the cupcakes are cool, swirl lots of icing on top or use an icing bag. Very nice! My mouth is watering as I type…
I have a request from the family for some of these very soon. So, my dilemma is this: do I wait and take a photograph, or will I get this posted now and you can just imagine them? You know what chocolate muffins look like, don’t you? Yes, I thought so. So we’ll just get this show (alias blog post) on the road!
Now, it is HIGHLY unlikely that I’ll blog again before Christmas, so, although it’s a wee bit early, may I wish you all, dear readers, a happy mid-winter festival of the kind you celebrate and a 2013 filled with joy, love and dreams-coming-true. (Not the nightmare variety, obviously. The good ones…)
Lots of love from me to you. I’ll try to be a better blogger next year…
Title: The Times They are A’Changin’ by Bob Dylan
Alternative title: Fings Ain’t Wot They Used to Be by Lionel Bart
Reading: Slightly Foxed ( a quarterly magazine about books – not the best-seller type, but interesting, quirky books); Understanding Flash Photography (hoping for a new flash gun for Christmas…); Sunrise by Rosie Thomas (I haven’t read any of her books before, but I picked this one up in a charity shop and am enjoying it); all my OU books…
This entry was posted on 11/11/2012 at 9:15 pm and is filed under baking, books, cats, cupcakes, family, food, guineapigs, House and home, recipes, Studying. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.