Saturday, 29 December 2012

Family traditions

I'll never forget something my husband said last year... I was complaining that despite my family tradition being a lunchtime Christmas dinner with nibbles in the evening, I was forced to produce a huge meat fest of a breakfast on Christmas day and then have a late dinner which basically means cooking ALL day as that was HIS family tradition. When I finally shushed, my husband looked at me and said calmly "what's your last name?" ....
I was left speechless! Then I didn't know whether to scream and sock him one, or to laugh!

It's funny how traditions start, and just how long they can carry on.  My family on my darling dads side all used to get together the last Sunday before Christmas for a big brunch.  All the kids would be there, and their partners as we got older, and the table would be covered with disposable paper cloth so that the felt pens and crayons would come out along with the silly games after the first round of food was done and we would all doodle and scribble for hours! I think we all looked forward to this - even as sullen teenagers!  Things changed the year my dad died though, and although we promised him we'd go ahead (it was our familys turn to host and cook the brunch) and I promised that I'd cook, it was a really strange day. No one said it, but it just wasn't right without dad. It was him that was the centre of it all without a shadow of a doubt.  The next couple of years my lovely uncles and their families took their turns but I'm pretty sure it was our turn this year. My mum never mentioned it, and no one else did, and it didn't happen. I talked about it with my husband and we kept the day free just in case but I didn't dare mention it to my mum. I think it would have been too hard.  So I guess that's a tradition that lived and passed with my dad.  It will always be really special, and we have fantastic giggle filled memories, but it's done.

Me and my dad at mine and Mr LFCC's wedding in 2008
I think I've inadvertantly started a few traditions of my own with my lovely husband and the teenager as my family are big on Christmas in a way that their family just aren't.  Stockings MUST have a sugar mouse, chocolate coins, and a Terry's Chocolate Orange (it's not Terry's, it's mine) and a stupid toy of some sort that you can either shoot, make an annoying noise with, or race, and there should be bubbles!  When I talked about stockings this year and gave the usual options for Christmas (1) just cash, nothing to open 2) stocking with small pressies plus some cash or 3) stocking with small pressies and one more substantial pressie our teenager was horrified at the idea of not having a stocking. We were in a lucky position to be able to give her some pennies to buy things for her impending move out of her little boat, Loki, into a shared house along with her boyfriend but when we said that we could do this, her little face feel for a moment, she went quiet, and then almost whispered "but I will still have my stocking, won't I?"...!

For us it's always been about the sentiments and thought behind things than spending a lot of money - my mum used to spend months creating our Christmas presents and she made the most amazing things. My Barbie doll had a huge and luxurious four poster bed she made, I sat upon the most stunning burgundy velvet tub chair she made, and I dressed up in a full sized clown suit from the clown she made that was the same height I was. She never disappointed, and I am glad to say that I can honestly tell you that even as a kid when we can be rather more shallow than we'd rather probably admit to, I was so happy to have those things rather than store bought alternatives.  I can only hope that the  people who found Christmas presents for their loved ones here in my little floating boutique on the riverbank were met with the same love when the paper was torn away!  I would love to know how they went down if anyone feels like sharing?

So now my thoughts turn to the New Year, and I wonder what it will bring. I'm genuinely curious. I never imagined this time last year, how busy LFCC would be by now, and how many times my crafty words would have been published, or the kind words I've received from generous floaty people all over the world.  I'm sat here, with the knowledge that my family are happy (for the most part) and that I do all I can for those around me, so I think I can head towards the New Year with a smile! That is, if Kevin the cat stops scratching me in his attempts to ge fussed! lol!

Monday, 10 December 2012

A floating palace of om-nommy-ness!

With as many food allergies as me you get used to cooking from scratch quite quickly, although this was something I was used to it meant a little adjusting from those who cook for me on occassion.  As onion is now my biggest enemy it's more important than ever as pretty much every sauce or every filling has a base of onion or at the least includes onion powder.

So I came up with a few pie recipes that my family love that go down pretty well with "the regular folks" too!

I've shared my cheesy chicken and bacon pie but I make a Sunday Pie too which I think you might like;

Pastry: a suet pastry is fabulous for winter. For this I use 100g of original suet (vegetarians can use the veggie one but there are too many veggies I can't eat so it's a big dangerous for me) and 200g of plain flour with a sprinkling of salt.  Just sift the flour over the suet, salt lightly, and stir in enough water to bind it all just by a couple of tablespoons at a time at the most so you don't over do it.  Bring into a ball shape, cover and pop in the fridge (or if like me your fridge is full, I put it on the roof of the boat now it's chilly outside!) for about half an hour. That gives you long enough to make the fillings.

Stuffing:  I use roughly a large table spoon of fresh finely chopped sage, 1 free range farm egg (they have so much more egg-osity) and two and a half slices of good bread blitzed down into breadcrumbs.  Season lightly with salt and pepper and just mix it all up together. Leave to one side for now.

Chicken: I often make this using left over roast chicken but if you're cooking from raw today then chop into fairly big chunks, season, seal, and cook through in a frying pan with a little oil for around ten minutes on a medium heat.

Making: Leave the chicken on a really low heat at the end and then get your pastry out.  Grease a 6" tin with sides at least 1" deep and then roll out three quarters of your pastry.  Wind it around your rolling pin to transfer to your tin and push into the corners leaving the excess pastry hanging over the edge.

Brickwork chicken: Start building up layers of the chicken and the stuffing, using the stuffing as grout like you're building a patio in layers in there! Squidge it in to all the gaps!  Keep building til you run out of either space or filling. Then roll out the remainder of your pastry. 
Lightly milk the edges of the base with a pastry brush and drop the lid on. Trim with scissors leaving no more than an inch over the edge of the tin then just roll it in towards the centre so you've folded and sealed all the goodness in.  Lightly brush the top with more milk.

Cook: Put your pie in the centre of an oven preheated to gas 7 (fairly hot) and cook for 40 minutes til your pastry is golden and crispy.

Fend everyone off and get in there with your fork!!  If there's any left over, this is fantastic eaten cold too...

I'll be sharing my super special mince pie cheat recipe soon so keep an eye out!

Saturday, 1 December 2012

An early start, and a long haul...

We had an awful scare in the wee hours of the morning today; having had a kitten disappear last New Years we were so anxious when we heard a cat really squealing at about 5.30am.  Something was definately wrong! We had one of the kitties, Kevin, laying on the end of the bed but N'Eville, the little one, wasn't there. I instantly panicked and had visions of him having been hurt and not be able to come in to us, or having fallen in the marina and not been able to get out! 

I threw my dressing gown on and ran out into the frozen marina, calling his name as loud as I dared.  I could hear the plaintive meowing but couldn't work out where it was coming from as the water does funny things to how the sound travels.
I got so cold I had to come back in, just in time to do a swap with Mr LFCC who'd thrown on clothes and boots and was heading out the door with our German Shepherd, Joseph, who is N'Evilles bestest mate.
Literally as he walked out onto the back deck N'Eville came running in, bright and breezy, but had obviously been up to something as his eyes were all freaky and wide and his tail was all fluffed up.  I was so relieved that he'd come back in and he was ok that I gave him treats to reward him for coming when called, but I was so cross too that he'd worried us so much!

Cats... far more worrying that teenagers!

So after a really tough start to the day, we went back to bed for a while but sleep didn't come easily.  My brain had started ticking about the Christmas market I needed to prepare for (it's on tomorrow!) and all I needed to get done, and in addition we were moving marinas.  Quite a big day all in all!

But I got some gorgeous new projects created, a special custom jewellery commission made, and boxed, tagged and priced all my other creations ready for tomorrow. I made a huge slab of chocolate biscuit cake to share with all the visitors to my stand at the market too!  I might have accidently sampled a bit... just to be sure it was safe.. you know...!

This is some made for a fund raiser a little while ago! Tomorrow's are chunky blocks in muffin cases, nice and easy to eat!
Well, wish me luck - and I'll let you know how tomorrows market goes! Can't wait for my first real taste of Christmas for 2012 though!

Friday, 30 November 2012

Buck up, LFCC!

It really is time I bucked my ideas up and instead of writing half a blog and leaving it as I don't have the relevant images, just get on with it!

So today, hopefully (no, don't say hopefully, DEFINATELY) is the first of many blog posts that I think you'll enjoy.  Feel free to get in touch if you know about something you'd like me to share, or if you're interested in something you see here, ok?

So today I wanted to talk about my new love of Pinterest and how amazing it is that one photo can stimulate the hearts and minds of a worldwide audience, and it spreads like a positive virus! I think happiness is infectious and this is a great way of getting to the people you don't see in the "real" world.

I've started a board just for my passion for Vintage Shabby Tattered and Distressed Christmas gorgeousness - you can see it here:

It's full of a mixture of things from decorations and trees, to textile goodies!

I so want to take a Christmas tree out in the car like this, lights and all!
Look out for more "how to" projects here, gift wrap ideas for the holiday season, photos of my upcoming Christmas Market (Sunday 2nd December, Wicken, Cambridgeshire - midday to 5.30pm) and a whole heap of vintage love!
PS Don't forget, Friday = Cake Day here at LFCC!

Thursday, 2 August 2012


Don't you just hate it when people gush? Well, it pains me to admit it, but I'm having a gushy kind of day!  I woke up this morning in a home that my husband and I built together that we both adore, our utterly adorable German Shepherd (Joseph - aka Poopy) came up to say hello and give us kisses, our daughter arrived onboard from her own boat to make her lunch, and then off we pootled to the day jobs.

I'm a very lucky gal as I honestly adore my day job. It may surprise many of you who know me only as the scatty nutter behind LFCC to learn that I've been an Office Manager for around fifteen years now and I thrive on a hectic environment where I'm responsible for many many things. As well as processing complicated quotations, managing purchasing and shipping of specialist laboratory equipment all over the world, corporate marketing literature design, website maintenance and design, newsletter design and build I also do accounts and invoicing! The joys of working in a small company means you have that luxury! 

As you can see from the eclectic mix of mediums I work with in my photo albums or shops, I don't enjoy being pinned down to one area and on analysis by one of those very hi-tech personality guru thingies it turns out it's because (apparantly!) I use all aspects of my brain equally which is rather rare. They split the way you deal with others and the way you work into four main colours: RED - typical MD types who bark an order and don't care what you do to achieve it they just want it done, BLUE - great attention to detail, like the facts and figures straight and get very frustrated if you don't get pinpoint accuracy, GREEN - the nurturer who wants to help everyone achieve their goals and equally to be happy, and YELLOW - who is a very people orientated enthusiastic bubbly type who will come across as very scatty in all likelihood.
You can have a main part of one of those aspects but with a strong leaning towards one of colours on either side, or perhaps your out of work persona is contrasting and your work colour is because you're compensating for how you "really" are. I was very bemused to find that I have a work persona almost exactly split amongst these with a slight bias towards the red and the blue which you wouldn't necessarily expect from a creative type.
I was told that it is probably this split which means I can bounce from balancing a complex set of figures to quickly design a new page for our company website - something that others would find exceptionally hard to do! I ping around from task to task, wherever I'm needed and it's fantastic!

So anyways... I went off to my fantastic job where I work with the loveliest people, and came home again afterwards to this awesome place. I look around me now where I'm relaxing on the sofa with my laptop and see Poopy asleep on the floor in front of me, the photos beside the sofa of my darling daddy who will always stay in sight and in mind even though he's been ripped away from us (small cell lung cancer, total arse...) the stunning lamps we bought for a snip in Amsterdam, the twenty five year old Lost Boys poster in a frame on the side, and the family photos on the wall next to random album covers from the Beatles and Rage Against the Machine and I think, who could fail to be happy here?  But this happiness is utterly inspiring. I'm surrounded by love and affection, and lots of laughter (to be fair, quite a lot of it at me because I say the daftest things like "look at that pheasant (male btw) - do you think it's pregant? What a tummy!!"... sigh....) and it gives you the most amazing amount of confidence to try things, and once you've tried them, share them.

I still remember very clearly the first things I put on the LFCC page and I was petrified. I still get very anxious about sharing photos on there as there will of course be people who don't like what I've made. BUT they're very kind and they keep quiet unlike the folks who DO like what I've made and say the kindest things. I am so very lucky to have many regular customers who entrust their most special occassions to my skills and my ideas with the very briefest of briefs and a "do whatever you think" kind of guideline! Scary, but such a huge honour and so much fun!

So, to end this gushy post, I want to say that on this day, mine and Mr LFCC's wedding anniversary, of all our gorgeous days, today has been particularly wonderful for the amazingly beautiful words you guys have shared and because I get to read them while I'm sat next to the love of my life. Don't tell Mr LFCC though as he'll start taking the mickey again! We're taking the campervan out for dinner by a different bit of river now though, so last one out, switch the light off and take the door off the latch will you?

Much love

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside....

We went away with Mr LFCC's old bike club, our friends, Tiger MCC to a haven holiday park.  This might seem like an odd place for a bunch of bikers to hang out for a weekend but everyone started going when the kids were small and it meant that the whole family could go along.  With all the typical hi-di-hi sing alongs, lots of karaoke, and real family entertainment our friends convinced us it was real giggle. So, on Friday we packed up the campervan and headed to Yarmouth to join in the fun and games.

On the way there I was convinced we'd made a drastic error of judgement as the rain was coming down so heavily we couldn't see where we were going, and the wind was making it hard to keep our girl on the road. Mr LFCC has an awning for the camper that he loves but I was thinking it would be better just to sleep in the camper herself rather than mess around in the elements trying to put the awning up but as we pulled into the grounds of the park the wind somehow dropped, the rain stopped and the sun made a concerted effort to come out and shine.

So with our awning set up, the airbed adorned with sleeping bags, slankets and my two hot water bottles at the ready we headed up to the park bar and were dazzled by the um... entertainment.... lol!
Luckly for him, Mr LFCC was able to drink so many beers were consumed in an effort to numb the pain and drown out some of the ickle stompy peoples squeals of excitement but I'm not allowed alcohol (scary immunosuppressents...) so I had to brave it with nothing but soda water to numb the pain.

It was really good fun catching up with our friends though, and watching the other holiday go-ers was actually really entertaining too. They watched us all pretty closely too though to be fair!  The kids really did love the entertainment and got a lot of fun out of all the sing a longs and associated actions. I'm hoping they tired themselves out so mums and dads accross the site got a little bit of a lay in on Saturday morning!  Our friends from the bike club retired to the tent next to ours (Brian and Maggie's marquee! lol!) for the after party but I slept through that, and through the wasp making its presence felt in there around 4am too... I sleep gooooood! :o)

So Saturday day time there were a lot of hung over Tigers so we had a bit of a lay in, I cooked bacon and egg sandwiches for breakfast, and we headed into Yarmouth for a look around.  I absolutely adore going to the seaside but Mr LFCC can't understand why and would much rather visit inland waterways (although he loves sailing!). But, being the wonderful gracious husband he is, he humoured me and we trekked accross the stony beach to find the sea. I stood, mesmerised, for some time just watching the waves crash but eventually I was dragged away and we took a walk along the pier and down the street of tat (tat shopping, we were informed, is a very important part of this annual weekends events!).  We found some awesome Big Bang Theory tshirts and hoodies and just had to buy a "Bazinga" tshirt for the teenager!

Then we pootled on back to the campsite to veg out, have a nap, read Kindles, and wait for the second evenings entertainment. Everyone dressed up in red white and blue, and there were bubbles, noisy toys, balloons to throw about and all kinds of daft stuff happening/  I think the staff tolerated it pretty well, as did the other people in the bar, and everyones kids had fun with the balloons!  It was hilarious watching peoples reactions to all these leather clad bikers trundling around with party blowers, and the kids loved the Chris and Lucy who had full sized Tiger suits on! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrreat!

Whilst we really enjoyed catching up with our friends, I think next time we'll just do the seaside bit... Mr LFCC was kept awake by the sheer noise of the rain last night (I didn't notice it... too busy snoring...!) so he's in need of another nap, and I will be roasting a huge joint of beef, duck fat roast potatoes and HUGE yorkshire puddings to bring us back to normal!  So, I shall YAWN widely, and leave you to have a peek at the photos I took around the old pier!

Sunday, 10 June 2012

This Kitty was a big 'un!

When we went to a boat jumble in Ipswich a couple of weeks back we'd no idea that we'd be unleashing a monster!! After the jumble we took a walk around the Quay and noticed an old Thames Barge with a sign up advertising boat trips. I was duly instructed by a very keen Mr LFCC to ring them first thing on the Monday morning and book a trip. Who was I to argue?

So this morning we got up disgustingly early and I made us a packed lunch, and off we drove to play boats.  We got there a little early and were poised to leap (not very gracefully, to be fair) onboard as soon as the gangplank was popped into position.  Our boat for the morning was an 1895 Thames Barge called "Kitty" and she was absolutely gorgeous. Her crew were so lovely and welcoming, and our gracious hostess, Annie, is as mad for crafting (possibly even more so!) than yours truly, while our skipper, Kevin, was as laid back and calm as Mr LFCC!

There weren't nearly as many people onboard for our trip as there would usually be so we were told that once we were out of the quayside we could have the sails up which we were really excited about!
We pootled on into the mahoosive lock (scary deep) and were sung to by the lock keeper... obviously... why wouldn't he sing to us??! Outstanding!

Then we moved into open water.  It was really shocking how many of the yachts and sailing boats decided to try and out run Kitty and cut directly accross in front of her with no kind of concern for life nor limb.  Everyone who wanted to was allowed a try at steering her though, and despite this no other boats were crushed. Is it wrong to admit we were ever so slightly disappointed? lol!  You could tell the narrowboaters amongst us as everyone steered in the opposite direction to where we wanted to go but it transpires that these girls wheels should be turned in the direction you actually want to head. 

We turned around after an hour and the sails powered our gentle gaunt back towards the lock again.  I think everyone else was as reluctant to get off as we were and there was rather a lot of talk of going back out for the afternoon cruise too!

Still, we disembarked and headed back to the car for the drive back to our own girl but shortly after leaving the town centre I spotted a little sign with that all important VW logo on and we had to investigate! Turns out there'd been a VW festival there all weekend which didn't finish until teatime today so we mosied on in for a look around. There were some stunning vans there that folks have obviously spent a fortune on but the ones I loved were the ones that looked absolutely buggered (but had serious engines hiding beneath the battered exterior in many cases).

A perfect day out for Mr LFCC and me, then home to fuss the Poopy as it's his 4th birthday today!

From this...

To this...

Hope you've had as lovely a weekend as we have! Did you do something cool that you'll remember??

(Bookings for "Kitty" can be made here!)

Monday, 4 June 2012

Going round and round on the carousel

We went to the Crick boat show today and really enjoyed walking around. There are always so many dogs there which is something we love but we don't take our Poops as it's a two hour drive each way for us to get from our patch of riverbank in Cambridgeshire to this village in Northampton.

We found some good bits and pieces and it was worth the drive, but the best bit was the old fashioned carousel we saw just inside the gates! I have visions of using the photos I snapped on my phone on some great textile designs and perhaps a few prints for the wall of the boat...

I love capturing stuff like this - the colours are so vivid that they work well transformed to sepia or black and white too, giving a whole load of options for including them in all kinds of creations.

We pootled off after taking these photos and my eagle eyes spotted a tiny sign for a tea shop and as Mr LFCC was getting peckish in we went. It turned out to be a tiny farm shop and petting zoo as well as tea shop so after a bite to eat we went to fuss the critters.  This was my first experience up close and personal with lambs and goats and I loved every second, falling particularly in love with one of the lambs who I shall remember as "Albert". He looked like an Albert. Definately. ! :o)
Mr LFCC was despatched to get baby bottles of milk from the farm shop and I had a gorgeous time with them all fighting over the bottles. Such a lovely happy feeling, fussing them all!

Then we made a slight detour from our drive home and stopped at a vintage style shopping court yard where we browsed some gorgeous stuff, caving only to an old cut glass perfume bottle which is looking so cute in our almost finished new bathroom onboard! The final detour was a visit to my mum for a hug on the way home!

All in all, it's been a pretty perfect day. I'm now roasting potatoes in duck fat, and a large joint of topside beef from the farm shop we found today. The sun is starting to sink over the riverbank and all is well with the world. What more could a floaty girl ask for?  What makes your perfect day? Have you been doing lots of Jubilee partying or staying home and making the most of time with your family??

Monday, 28 May 2012

If you love your vintage distressed...

Despite the heat I figured I'd play nice and share the blog I've discovered which is choc full of my favourite vintage distressed style creations!

Have a peek!


Friday, 18 May 2012

You can't beat messing around with boats!

Just wanted to share a few snaps of our recent cruise down the Great Ouse, and from our own little patch of riverbank...