Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I have a dream....

Today was the day of the school fete, and yesterday I was busy beavering away making cakes for the school, and picking flowers to make up some bouquets for our WI stand. By bedtime last night, the cakes had been made and iced.

The flowers had been picked and were resting in our garage ready to be arranged in the morning.
I don't know if 've mentioned this before, lol, but I LOVE GROWING THINGS, flowers and vegetables, things that I can pick and bring into the house for us to eat or to make it look lovely and pretty, is what I really LOVE to do.

I have a small vegetable patch and cutting patch, and over the last four years or so I have been learning myself how to grow vegetables and cut flowers, how to extend my growing season, which varieties to grow, how to condition them and so on. I like to give bunches to friends and family but have never done anything else with it (I haven't had the time for one thing!), its just something that I love to do.

If I'm being honest though, I do have dream of developing it further, but I have been waiting until the children start school, which is now only in a few weeks away. I had been a bit nervous about taking my flowers to the fete as it would be the first time that people would be "buying them", but having just joined our local WI and being asked if I could bring something to the fete it seemed like the perfect thing to bring, and the money raised would go to the school.

Here are some of the flowers. What do you think? The first of this seasons dahlias went into this one.

Some of my favourites Ammi Majus, scabious, black cornflowers, beautiful black poppies, mint and white dianthus.

Other bunches of flowers included my favourite sweet peas, (so fragrant!), salvias, calendula, dianthus and alchemilla mollis.

Finally the flowers were ready to go. Two boxes of them! I have to say I was very proud of them, and I LOVED every minute of doing it, from the growing, to the picking to the arranging them in their lovely coloured cellophane! Really LOVED it!

And here they are on our WI stall.
And yes, they all sold! Very quickly! I was so very pleased, and I received such nice comments from people about them it really made my day, it truly did. I was very, very proud!
My daughter hooking a duck.
So there you go, a really brilliant day and who knows? Maybe I could do something with my flowers, I SOOoooo loved doing it, and it would be so exciting if I could make it work somehow. It has certainly given me food for thought and something to dream about tonight ....

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Got to Earn a Copper or Two...

What a lovely morning we had today! Warm and sunny and whilst hubbie left early for work this morning to earn pennies for us, we eased ourself into our Saturday morning with milkshakes, toast and talked about "earning pennies" to spend on our Saturday morning shopping trip.

I have been a bit cross lately of the "I wants" in our house. "Mummy I want a Humungasor" is the latest request that I hear from morning til night at the moment. (It's a Ben 10 toy in case you didn't know!). Both our two are very lucky and probably have been a bit spoilt of late, and it is getting a bit difficult to walk from one side of their bedroom to the other sometimes. Little bits of everything, polly pocket, playmobil, bits of I don't know what that we have seem to have accumulated from car boot sales, things everywhere... )

(this was after the big tidy up!)

So, for a while, no more things are going to come into the house, unless they have earnt them themselves. We are going to encourage them to earn pennies by doing jobs around the house and save up for something that would like. They are only 4 and a half, so as we have only just started the "working for money" concept, I figure that I am going to have to show the work/reward principle fairly promptly so the message works. I decide that we will earn the money and then go straight out and spend it this morning on whatever they choose.

My daughter is the first to cotton on. She likes this idea. I say I will give her 10p if she makes her bed. She does and asks to make ours too. Another 10p. She asks for something else to do. She can tidy her room. Soon she has earnt 50p and is eager to go and spend it. It takes a lot more explaining and cajoling to persuade my son to tidy his room, make his bed (of sorts, but its a bit tricky being a cabin bed), and then get dressed and put his shoes on himself, soon he also has 50p.

Right! We're ready.

First to the market. I buy some red ribbon to make my Sarah Smith Bunting (I will show you this soon!). Then we look around the charity shops, known to my two as "the shops where the Grandmas work". After long deliberations, toys were carefully selected.
Both proudly told "the grandmas" what they had done to earn the money and handed over their hard earnt pennies. A lovely lunch and a coffee and then home to a nice surprise for me. Want to see?

It looks like a parcel for me!

What could it be!

A treat for me! I figure I've earnt a little something too!

So everyone had a good day. It will remain to be seen how long the spirit of entrepreneurship remains...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Summer days...

Whiling away a beautiful summer afternoon...


Picking some flowers from the garden...

& painting our toes..

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Feasting from the garden

Tuesdays are one of our busy days. We have school, playgroup, ballet and "jobs to do". I suddenly realized this afternoon that we have nothing planned for tea...
We are very lucky that we have the space to have our own little vegetable plot so I go outside and see what we have. Here is our plot.

It has taken us a few years to set it up like this, when we moved here it was just a patch of grass. D dug and built the lovely raised beds. He is in charge of hard landscaping and watering, and I am in charge of production and maintenance (sowing, tending, weeding, issuing orders and directions that sort of thing). Usually it works pretty well, although this year I have not been on top of sowing things at all, life has been so busy with either one or both of the children at home most of the time that it has been a bit hit and miss but we have some things growing.

We have broad beans. There we go. For tea we will have broad beans in lemon pasta.
(Can you see the Sweet Peas ready to spring into action growing up the archway, I can't wait I love their fragrance...)
One more thing, do you notice anything about the broad beans?

No? Let me point it out! This is the first time ever I have not had blackfly! We don't use any chemicals at all, so everything is organic, and the only thing I can think this year is that 1) I actually pinched them out in time, or

2) the companion planting (recommended by Sarah Raven) of growing Summer Savory with them really worked! I will be doing both next year anyway.

If anyone else has broad beans in their garden and is looking for ideas for what to do with them, here is the recipe for Broad Bean Lemon Pasta. Its quick easy and delicious. You can also have it with asparagus.
The amounts here are for two persons, double it for a family.

Broad Bean Lemon Pasta

Enough vegetables for two persons (one or more of broad beans, peas, baby courgettes, asparagus)
salt and black pepper
30g unsalted butter
100ml double cream
grated zest & juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Pasta, enough for two persons (orrechiette or spaghetti works well but it can be pretty much whatever you like)
Finely chopped parsley to serve
Optional grated parmesan to serve

1. Prepare the vegetables. Cut the asparagus into short lengths, slice the courgettes. Steam or boil until tender. Rinse in dold water and drain. For broad beans slip them out of their skins.
2. Cook pasta until al dente.
3. While you are cooking the pasta, warn the butter and the cream in a pan over a gentle heat for a couple of minutes. Add the cooked vegetables and lemon juice and zest. Take off the heat and leave for 5 minutes for the flavours to blend.
4. When the pasta is cooked drain all but a tablespoon of the cooking liquid, add the olive oil and combine with the vegetables and lemon sauce.
5. Stir, season and serve with chopped parsley scatterered on top. You can add grated parmesan too if you like.

Voila, quick, easy and delicious.

Now, that's tea sorted. This was just a quick pitstop, off to ballet!

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Time for Tea

I can be a bit of a fussy fusspot. Ok, I admit it, I can be a bit of an

When we first met it took my poor husband many attempts to get the tea "right".

The tea has to be hot. The water has to be just boiled. Not too milky. That will not do. But not too strong either. Oh and the milk has to go in second, it just must. Then there is the order of the teas in the day. I don't know about you but I have certain tea & coffee rules in my day. Coffee in the morning, but never past midday. Tea can be drunk at anytime, but it has to be the right tea for depending on the time. And there I some times when I really need a cup of tea..

This is my tea collection.

The AM teas: English Breakfast Tea and Assam Tea, perfect for breakfast or midmorning.
The Afternoon Teas: Lady Grey (this has just replaced my Earl Grey Tea and is my current favourite!) English Afternoon Tea and Darjeeling.
The Evening Teas: All decaffinated, all a bit tasteless to me, but at least they don't keep me awake all night:-)
The Fruit & Herbal teas: Camomile - for when I need a bit of calm, the Mint collection -usually drunk after a big greedy roast dinner or on a hot day, and the lastly the Mixed Fruity ones, drunk in copious amounts in cold weather.

These are my teapots. If I'm on my own I have my teapot for one, the middle one is for my herbal teas, and of course my lovely EB teapot if I'm brewing up for my family or have company.

Now its time for my mid afternoon tea. Perfect!

Thats better!

Is anyone else as fussy as me about their tea?! Something less bossy and more creative tomorrow I promise!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Boot Sale Memories..

I was so pleased to find this Knitting Nancy at my local car boot sale last weekend, do you remember having one of these when you were a child?

It came with a little hook/needle, some yarn, but no instructions. After about an hour of trying to remember how to french knit, we gave up and had a look online. Hurray for bloggers! Thank you SpoolKnitter! We printed out the instructions and we were off.

I also bought this lovely flower press, I used to have one these too. We're going to gather some flowers from the garden this weekend to make something special for Grandmas birthday later in the year! If it works!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sowing seeds for 2010!

Today it was time to spend an hour or so gardening..

I sowed my biennials. Honesty, Sweet Rocket, Foxgloves, Sweet Williams, and some dispaticus teasel (which the birds seem to love & it looks great with frost on it).

Seeing them in all their lovely glory at this time of year always reminds me to make sure I sow them now, so that I have them next year.

A little tour around a bit of my garden..

I call this the spring bed, it looks lovely at a time of year when there's not too much going on yet in other areas of the garden.

I love the white foxgloves, (this does self seed, but I sowed more of these this morning, just in case- would hate to be without them) and the purple one is sweet rocket, I love both of these for their tolerance of shade, especially the rocket which really brightens everything up under the tree. I bought some different varieties of foxgloves at Gardeners World Live last week, so can't wait to see how they turn out.

This is where I grow flowers to cut and bring into the house. Sweet williams are one of my favourites and I sowed more of these again for next year. I love the colour combinations and am growing the same colours again, Magenta Dianthus Oschberg, Dark almost black Dianthus Nigricans, and the lovely white one Dianthus Alba.

June and July are the ideal time to sow your biennials now for next year, sow them now, plonk them into their final flowering positions around August/September and they will look after themselves happily all winter and provide you with beautiful flowers for your garden and kitchen table from May onwards, really easy!

I buy most of my seeds from Sarah Raven, I love her taste, and she selects beautiful colours and hard to find varieties, but Chilterns seeds also stock a fantastic selection too.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Here I am!

I have finally got it together to join in blogging, and thought it only proper that my first entry should be the granny squares I have been busy with after being inspired by Lucy over at Attic 24, and Lucy at The Antidote! Here they all are, laid out by my assistant on our kitchen table, looking very cheery! As you can see we have gone for colour, colour, colour!

Here is my crochet basket, with all my lovely yarns. I keep my finished squares one of my Cath Kidston washbags that came free with Easy Living a while ago, and the ones that need finishing and darning in in the other one, needless to say there are more than there should be in that one :-) I will get around to it..

Can you see my first sewing project a needle case that I made one evening?

It's my first applique project and I'm very proud of it. I'm planning to make a tea cosy soon... In the corner is one of the lovely badges that I was lucky enough to win from Snapdragon Jane, isn't it pretty! Thank you Jane!