Friday, 30 May 2014

Bits & bats

I posted my stationery swap parcel off yesterday & fingers crossed Jana should revive it today. It is been yonks since I tool part in a swap & I have enjoyed taking part in this one. Even if it was a little stressful at times over deciding what to buy.
Where has all this rain come from! The garden is looking more than a little drenched. It has certainly been a shock to the system for my newly planted vegetables. Even the flowers are looking drenched now & not the gently splashed look they get after a shower.
The beans on the other hand are loving the wet weather & are shooting up their supports

One of the courgettes started flowering on Monday when the sun was shining, I do believe it chucked the flower off in despair with the constant rain since!

The lovely Mike has bought me some more wool, I spent all of my pocket money in a short space of time as there were so many wool bargains about! He thought I was lovingly stroking the screen last night when viewing the Drops wool sale at Wool Warehouse  which incidentally is ending tomorrow. He rather nicely stumped up for 14 balls of wool while muttering something about using my stash as insulation!

A always enjoy your day xx

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Half a cowl & a cucumber

A few days not bloging finds me with a severe case of playing catch up. I have managed to reply to all the comments on my last post & am trying to work my way through all of your blogs.

I had a few issues when I started my knitted fair isle cowl, the yarn I am using is cotton so wouldn't quite stretch when using circular needles. Rather than pulling my hair out in frustration I started to knit it on normal needles. I have made a few mistakes in reading the pattern but it doesn't look too bad & it is my first fair isle project after all. I keep on holding it up to Mike saying' Look Michael look & look at the back too'He quite graciously looks & smiles. He has also been trained well to say 'very good darling'.
And here is the back which I am particularly pleased about!

The weather yesterday was glorious here. After our usual Sunday visiting we spent a couple of hours in the garden & made a start on getting the greenhouse ready. Mike managed to drag the peach tree out as I really have no room for it with all the greenhouse crops ready to plant up. He also made a contraption for the cucumber to grow up & across the roof space.
The cucumber plant was desperate to be planted the poor thing, it has cucumbers on it already & was still in it's tiny plant pot. We are only growing the one cucumber plant this year, they are so prolific & we end up giving lots  away. The rest of the greenhouse will be used for chillies, peppers, tomatoes & the tomatillos.

Its half term here this week so should prove fairly relaxing. I'm working from home until Friday to take care of the boy. Though at twelve he is nearly as tall as me! Mike is off from Friday so I will be back in the office then.

So with luck this week should see the greenhouse planted up for the summer a finished cowl & a happy twelve year old.

Must go the dishwasher needs emptying & the boy is enquiring over what's for breakfast & the possibility of a coffee.  I will try hard to play catch up throughout the day!

As always enjoy your day xx

Ps Does anyone receive an email when I reply to a comment left on my blog. There appears to be a UPS tracking code at the top of the email which undoubtedly is a scam or an attempt to place a bug on your computer should you open it. Or does anyone no how to remove it. Any help would be most appreciated.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Hiding from the cabbage white

In the forgotten about part of the garden, the part where I rarely venture is a wheelbarrow. It isn't used often so it has been put to good use.

 Underneath the fleecy cover is my winter/spring brassica collection.

The greenhouse was far too warm for these plants as they not due to be planted until July(ish) so I had to move them out sharpish!

I have spotted many a cabbage white butterfly looking for the perfect place to lay eggs & after last years disastrous attempt with caterpillar infested broccoli, I was most determined it wouldn't happen this year!

So hiding out of the way I have cauliflower, purple sprouting & white sprouting broccoli, brussel sprouts, red cabbage, mini green cabbage, kale & collard greens. I think that's all although I do need to sow some spring cabbage seeds.

Have you spotted the clothes pegs holding the fleece in place?

As always enjoy your day & a huge, huge thanks to my new & old followers, you do my little heart much good. xx

Friday, 23 May 2014

Cooking memories

As a child I was a voracious reader, I still would like to be but I really don't have the time. I read anything I could lay my hands on & apart from Enid Blyton, cookery books were my next favourite thing.

My mother was an awful cook, the meals she cooked were edible(ish) though I do recall meal times being fraught affairs & for many years left me with a fear of food. To this day I cannot eat mince of any kind & quite frankly struggle with mashed potato. Being force fed as a child is no fun & I always vowed it was an experience never to be repeated on my own children. I am pleased to say this fear left me once I had my own children as a) I have no wish to blow my own trumpet but I am a pretty good cook & b) once you have your own children you have no time to pander to such whims!

I wasn't taught to cook by my mother though I used to bake at the weekend with my father, I taught myself from books & one particular cookbook from childhood kept on popping into my mind. After a quick search I found a copy on line for a few pence.
I loved reading this book as a child & pretty much learnt to cook from it & it certainly brought back some memories!

I remember making this soup although the first time I made it, it tasted more of flour than harvest vegetable soup, over time I realised I had to cook the flour & butter together over a low heat for a few minutes to remove the flour taste. But, that's how you learn & I have always been a firm believer of learning from your mistakes.

I also remember making these scones with my dad many times-
But there was one recipe which I always wanted to make but was never allowed -
Now the bonus of being a grown up means you can do pretty much what you want, I have my own garden & in particular my own raspberry patch (x2) of red & yellow raspberries, I am indeed going to make the above raspberry cream thingamajig once the crop is ready.

As always enjoy your day xx

Monday, 19 May 2014

A day in the garden

Well the weather was fantastic yesterday wasn't it? I was up early to give the garden a good watering in preparation so I could get on with a mass planting. My veggie garden is now planted up in full!
It doesn't look much does it! It was so hot yesterday & I had spent several hours in the garden so really I took a few lethargic snaps.

Sweetcorn, courgettes (green & yellow), patty pan squash, blue hubbard pumpkins, chard, spinach, beetroot (yellow & red), gherkins, broccoli raab & I think spring onions, oh & some tomatoes I had too many for the greenhouse so they will have to take a chance outside.

The beans were planted out a week or so back, I earthed up the potatoes & planted the flower seedlings from the greenhouse.

The greenhouse is now breathing a sigh of relief!

Can you see how the two balls of wool I had outside with me match the Aquilegia in the pot! Completely unintentional, this was how I relaxed yesterday afternoon. Mike was fishing & I had tea & crochet in the garden.
As always enjoy your day xx

Saturday, 17 May 2014

What is eating my Cherries?

I have been very blessed this year with my two cherry trees full of juicy cherries. Well not quite juicy yet you understand but the promise of fruit is there. Thankfully one of the trees is small enough to net & the other well while it is taller I could possibly chuck something over that too. Blackbirds like cherries also!

I thought I had taken a photo of the damage but if I did I cant find it now! I shall try my very best to describe the issue.

On one branch only or so it seems the cherries have been eaten. A green shell remains. Now the cherries are small, hard & green at present. It can't be blackbirds as they have the knack of whipping them off the tree the very second they ripen to perfection. I have pondered over the possibility of mice, we are surrounded by fields of course. I have also skated over ever so brieflyin my mind of rats but there is no sign of rat activity in the garden & as I say it is only on one branch. The rest of them seem fine so far. Also the trees are in large tubs.

For the record my two cherry trees are 'Stella' - sweet & 'Morello' - sour. This issue is only on the Morello tree.

At the moment my very favourite cake is Cherry Madeira cake & am perusing the idea of perhaps trying to glacé my own cherries. Naturally I am getting too far away with myself after all  I'm sure the blackbirds will get them before I do.

As always enjoy your day

Ps, my local yarn store Stash Fine Yarns has 20% of Debbie Bliss & 25% off Manos Del Uruguay & Hobbycraft in store are reducing lots of yarns. Naturally I have taken advantage of said offers, thought some of you crafty types might do to. Hobbycraft are reducing a huge amount of Rowan yarns, the expensive stuff too & it is still part of their 3 for 2 on all yarn! Super bargains to be had.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Ten random things

I've seen this before on some blogs in the past & have noticed it again lately. In particular here & here .
My sample fair isle square - 

& more importantly - the back!
So here are my ten random things -

1) My current favourite sandwich is cheese & pickle with red onion & lettuce. I noticed a jar of pickle          ( Branstons small cut ) in the fridge yesterday morning. I spent the morning craving a cheese & pickle sandwich for lunch. I must say it was a very early lunch & extremely nice. I'm having the same today!

2) I am a terrible procrastinator, I think about doing things for far longer than is necessary instead of just getting on with it! Housework is a good example.

3) My nickname in work is the Judge or Justice, I don't procrastinate in work.

4) I like the idea of meal planning but I never get round to it, I cook from scratch & never use ready meals. If I made more of an effort to meal plan there would be less rushing around wondering what to have for dinner!A bottle of sun dried tomato pesto has been a life saver on more than one occasion

5) I prefer wearing dresses, although I have jeans on at present!

6) Monday - Friday Mike & I have the same breakfast on the go, affectionately nicknamed sludge. It is porridge, banana & dried prunes cooked in water (5 mins in the microwave). It is left to go cold & then blended together with a splash of soya milk. Poured in one of those sports type drinking beakers it does the trick!

7)  I have a very unhealthy wool, fabric & plant buying addiction. I am at present wondering how many deliveries I can get away with next week - it is pay day on Friday!

8) I adore vintage jewellery & most days I wear a triple strand of pearls & a sparkly brooch!

9) I am in desperate need of a hair cut, it has gone way past a trim! I must make an appointment for Monday morning. For the record I am a brunette & normally sport a bob style cut.

10) I am stupidly excited that I have managed to knit a Fair Isle square. I was most disappointed when I realised I didn't have the  correct sized circular needles for my scarf thing so & have ordered some.

Right that's me - what about you

Saturday, 10 May 2014

New plants (mostly)

It is so grotty here today, the sky is grey & the threat of rain isn't far off! However I refuse to get down beat about it, I looked out of my office window the other day to see two small toddlers jumping up & down in the puddles with glee. Also it is saving me from watering the pots.

Anyway I am struggling on with my attempt at fair isle knitting & while I understand the concept, putting that into practise is another matter. The front looks ok but I'm getting in an awful mess with the back. It is my first attempt I will persevere on. Last night you would have seen me curled up on the sofa with a crochet blanket on my knee, it was a little chilly! A cup of tea to hand & surrounded with several knitting books & the laptop viewing a you tube channel on fair isle knitting! It did come to me last night as I was getting wrapped up in yarn that many years ago pre children, garden & crafts I would have been taking a decadent bath with a glass of wine or two. Then going out for a lovely meal then a few glasses of wine at the pub. I didn't drink Gin & Tonic back then, I do like growing up.

Stop wittering Joanne & back to the plants, forgive me for the lack of new photos I was up early this morning as the sky was briefly blue & eagerly set about emptying the greenhouse (partially, there are a lot of plants in there). As soon as I opened the French doors the sky turned grey, it didn't stop me however in a mass planting battle, however the camera battery needs charging so you are stuck with this photo again.
At the very front you will see my Samphire plant, to the left Sea Kale both ordered from Victoriana nursery & were delivered on Thursday. The frothy thing on the right is a Feverfew plant which a colleague bought thinking it was parsley. He told me he was going to chuck it out & I said I would have it, I did offer to buy him a parsley plant as he is my second in command but he refused & said he would bring the plant in for me. He has named it Gordon Weed!

I have taken the liberty of adding links for each of my new plants which you can then read at your leisure, I feel I am a bad gardener at times, I don't want to know the Latin name for everything I grow, just the basic does & don't are fine for me.

 I like trying new things & the shocking price which I have seen Samphire sold for made me eager to try it. I did have a little nibble, in the style of a cow grazing grass, I do like to think I grazed a little more delicately than that, although Mikes expression made me think I had ripped a big chunk off. I assure you that I didn't. It does have a mild salty taste, in fact it was very pleasant & refreshing. It is only a tiny plant but I believe it does get bigger & it self seeds. However I do want lots so I am going to invest in a packet of seeds.

On to the Sea Kale, well what can I say, anything you can steam & smother in hollandaise sauce is a winner in my book. Also I think it is quicker to crop than Asparagus, fingers crossed I will be eating both from my garden next year. It also means I need to buy a forcer or two, they have some nice reasonably priced terracotta ones at the local garden centre. No need to feel sorry for Mike, I don't need them yet, my birthday is in September I am more than happy to have them as an extra birthday present from him. I will have to net them though, they are from the brassicca family & as cabbage white butterfly's seem to use my garden as their main egg laying station they will be netted as soon as I plant them out.

Finally the Feverfew erm well basically it was free, but it is good for the wildlife & I can make things out of it & it was featured in the lovely The Cut Flower Patch book I bought last week. This book is as lovely as I thought it would be, I love it.

Well this post is a lot longer than I had planned, my apologies. I have to go supermarket shopping now & then I have to find some twine to tie in the sweet peas. As always enjoy your day xx

Friday, 9 May 2014

Trying something new

I want to make this -  Mollie Makes Issue 40

but first I need to learn how to knit Fair Isle from this - Nicki Trench Book
look it's named Rhubarb & Custard! using this - Stylecraft 
also looking at the magazine article I need to buy a few more shades, oh how hard that will be!

Anyway tomorrow I will be back blogging about these new arrivals -

Enjoy your day xx

Thursday, 8 May 2014

A path too.........

I am making great strides this year in having a neat & tidy garden. Oh what the camera doesn't tell you!

We ordered a ton bag of pinky coloured gravel to top up the path around the veg beds, we will be ordering more as we will be extending the patio too. This also means I need a new patio table & it will need to be a heavy thing as it can be quite blustery in the back garden.

I digress, I think the gravel is called Staffordshire pink & it really is rather lovely. The paths were originally topped with slate chippings but they only sell large chunky pieces now & I wasn't keen. A bonus with the new gravel is it matches the brick edgings rather well.
The lovely Mike made a start the other day & then hit a snag! He couldn't find the weed proof membrane he bought a while back, both rolls of it, gone! No matter he thought I shall buy some more. There was another snag, the three places he tried on Bank Holiday Monday had sold out. They also wouldn't have any in until Wednesday, so off Mike went yesterday & picked some up.

So hopefully by the weekend the bottom paths should look like the top ones, not that I'm holding out much hope. He also has to fit a new rotary line too!

Enjoy your day xx

ps -
My sisters puppy 'Mitzy' in my garden yesterday morning! The little horror had found a small pot with a Kale seedling in & promptly ran off with it. I need to keep my eyes peeled with this one.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Tree Following May

My little greengage tree,well not quite so little as it is quite tall but, well, ever so thin!
There was a small flush of flowers a few weeks back & I was so confidant I would get a couple of greengage fruit but alas it was not meant to be this year.

A couple of fruits did form but unfortunately the stalks turned yellow & fell off. I have looked & looked but cannot find any fruits left at all.

I wonder if I need another pollinator, I have an 'Opal' plum tree in the garden which is laden with baby fruits. There are 'wild damsons' in the hedgerows & in the front garden amongst my newly planted edible hedge there is supposed to be a 'Cherry Plum' or two.  Should I invest in another Greengage tree? If I do it would have to be one of the 'Cordon' style ones due to space restrictions.

It is still a new tree though & really I should be making sure it builds up it's roots not producing fruit for me at first.

It will be having its first prune a little later on this year. As it is kept in a large tub I don't want it growing too tall, perhaps that will help with a flush of fruit next year.

Enjoy your day xx

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

New arrivals

I am currently babysitting the latest addition to my sisters family.
Mizi, I think that's how she spells it anyway. She wasn't meant to be picking her up for another two weeks & like a good newbie dog owner had booked holidays to help settle her in. Then she was asked to pick her up two weeks early. Muggins here has the option of working from home should she wish, I am now on baby sitting duties & the little horror above is peeking out from under my large sofa.

Actually, she is a lovely little thing but make no mistake it is harder looking after a puppy than a new born baby.

I am currently struggling in the garden, I picked up my new contact lenses Saturday afternoon. It is a new experience for me & was sent round the town for 45 minutes to see how I adapted to them. Even though the prescription needs to be changed in my right eye it didn't stop me from seeing & purchasing these
Charity shop bargains, ha poor Mike! Please excuse my dining room wall, Mike was of the opinion last year that we should knock through the wall between the dining room & sitting room. He then changed his mind after he knocked the plaster off in preparation. I also picked up these from  a new fabric shop Amanda's Fabrics. Unfortunately no website but it was super cheap I'm going back next week.
The spotty fabric in the background is for my skirt when the pattern arrives & it only cost £5 a metre!

Back to struggling in the garden, the gooseberries & red/white currents have been infested by gooseberry sawfly & I can't quite see properly to squish them with the contact lenses in. The lenses I have are trial ones but I'm going to phone later to see if my increased prescription ones have arrived. They are fine for watching TV and walking about but not for working or garden jobs.

Before I go I have another new arrival which happened to jump onto my debit card whilst in Hobbycraft yesterday, I was supposed to be in the sports shop!
I even managed to sneak them in past Mike! Enjoy your day xx

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Garden Share Collective - May 2014

Ah April, probably the busiest month for a gardener living in the UK. On the whole the weather has been kind & the seedlings in the greenhouse are flourishing.
Some have been planted out already, onion sets in the background & broad beans at the front.

Lettuce in tubs which hopefully will be ready for picking in a week or two!
The asparagus has really come on this year, no pickings though yet!, next year I can take a couple then the year after well lets just say I am hoping for a couple of meals a week - fingers crossed. There may be plans if space allows to extend the asparagus patch.

As well as sowing a selection of veg & flowers seeds the garden has been brought under control ready for the growing season ahead.
The red raspberry patch has been thoroughly weeded & straggling canes pulled out. The path was then covered with new bark chippings. I need to cover the yellow raspberry patch with bark too, a job perhaps for this nice long bank holiday weekend.
One of my very favourite jobs of the gardening year is getting the canes ready for the peas & beans.

Fingers crossed this time next month all of the seedlings in the photos below will be out in the veg patch & flourishing -

Joining in again with the Garden Share Collective