Thursday, 30 December 2010

Happy New Year

Christmas came and went in a flash, must be a sign of me getting old! Now to look forward to 2011, hopefully taking my new allotment plot in Iwade, loosing a few pounds from eating too many chocs, starting our new room at the back of the kitchen and a week away. I've already started one of these by walking every day with Ian + Moss, it's nice to be out in the fresh air or fog as its been very foggy here today. My in-laws are over for dinner on New Years Day so we can exchange presents from Christmas and I'm planning to cook a huge beef stew and dumplings! Enjoy the rest of 2011 and a Happy New Year for 2001. Amanda x

Friday, 24 December 2010

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year ...

Just to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I've had a busy evening wrapping the last few presents, sewing and eating my mince pies. I made around 40 last night and just one is left for Santa (I did take some to work and to my sisters after work to have with a cuppa! I had planned to make another batch tonight but no time, I've promised to make some more or some jam ones next week. Have a lovely Christmas weekend and catch up with you soon. Amanda x

Saturday, 18 December 2010

more snow ....

 This morning it snowed and snowed some more, I didn't think we were getting that much snow today. It's even stuck to the side of the house!

Ian got up from his night shift around 12pm to a winter wonderland and said lets take the dog out. So out we went into a blizzard literally! I gave him his present a week early (a Barbour trapper hat) to test it out and he loves it. I have a feeling he may get good use out of it this year and next!

This afternoon I'm now nice and warm inside and baking some bread pudding for the weekend. The house smells very Christmassy and I just need to make the pastry for the mince pies. If I make them any earlier my two eat them all! Enjoy your weekend and wrap up warm. Amanda x

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Finishing touches

It's feeling more like Christmas now that I have most of the presents and have written out my cards. I've still got to sew up a couple of pairs of knitted gloves and make one piece of bunting but still found some time to make personal gift tags using up some felt, buttons + ribbon. They are really simple but make the gift bags look special. Last year I made felted love hearts and knitted ones but I wanted to do something new this year.

My sister went to John Lewis this week and commented how expensive their little hand made items are so came home and made her own. Her button heart is lovely and similar ones cost around £10! I've found its getting more difficult to go into the high street to buy craft products but charity shops do a good line in buttons! Enjoy your Sunday whatever you get up to. Amanda x

Monday, 6 December 2010

I enjoyed a quiet weekend. The farmers market was cancelled due to the heavy snow, I managed to do some sewing, knitting and housework! I really enjoyed being at home pottering around.

Do you remember my knitted fingerless mits? I wasn't very happy with my first two pairs, they seemed a little on the large side. Rather than be defeated I decided to felt on pair, what a difference a quick wash in the machine makes! I liked them so much the other pair are felting as I type.

I still have a mountain of things to do; wrapping, cards to write and presents to find. Hopefully by the end of this week I'll have it all done so that I can sit back and relax a bit more.

My Christmas mini bunting came out really well and I have some in the dining room and some around the lounge window. I decorated the tree and put some lights up in the front window (I normally put the star ones on the tree) It was good to be able to make do with what I already had in the loft rather than spend money on new things.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

snow and more snow

I finished my new circular scarf and just in time for the snow. I wore it today to walk Moss, it's very warm and I plan to knit another one very soon, its like a big warm hug! It looks better with my winter coat! Keep warm and hope you don't get much more snow, Kent has more for this evening :-(

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Gardeners World diary offer

In case you didn't already know about this diary offer check out this link to Sarah Raven web site and use this discount code to get the diary for only £2.50! GW1DEC. My sister told me about this today and said its a really great diary for gardeners and normally retails for over £25! Go and grab a bargain, I did! Amanda x

Friday, 19 November 2010

Knitting for Norma

I found a new blog web site last week whilst browsing around someone elses and I wanted to tell you about a new scarf pattern published today. The web site is Hand Knitted Things and the garments are beautiful and the pictures colourful. Seeing this pattern made me buy some wool today, not that I need much of an excuse! So hopefully I can knit this next week after I have finished my knitting for Norma gloves. I've named them Norma as they are a present for her for Christmas. Pretty, simple fingerless mits in Patons Jet red/pink and I changed the pattern to incorporate my favourite stitch, Moss stitch, at the tips. Right hand is made and sewn up and looks + fits beautifully. I changed my needles to a size 5 and this kept the gloves slightly smaller and neat stictches.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Banana, chocolate & honey loaf

Lurpak were giving away a loaf tin with their butter last week. I put mine to the test this afternoon with one of the recipes in the free booklet.

Here is the recipe. I left out dates and put in some dark chocolate chunks!

200g self-raising flour
160g Lurpak slightly salted butter (room temperature)
80g caster sugar
2tbsp clear honey (I used local honey) + 1tbsp for drizzling
2 eggs
2 medium ripe bananas
80g chopped dates
40g chopped walnuts

Heat the oven to 160C/140C fan (Gas 3)
Butter + line a loaf tin (I hate this bit)
Mash the bananas then add all the ingredients to the bowl except the extra honey, nuts + dates.
Once its all mixed add the nuts + dates and pour into the tin
cook for 1 hr (or 1hr 15) test with a skewer to make sure its ready then when its warm make several holes with a skewer and pour over the remaining honey. Easy, even I could do it!
Allow to cool completely, then turn out and peel off the greeseproof paper, cut into thick slices and serve with a cup of tea.

Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk

Some months ago I crochet a scarf in Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk yarn that I bought in John Lewis half price. It normally retails at £5.95 per ball; I used just under 5 balls for this scarf. The scarf has been sitting in my spare room because I wasn't happy with it. I added an extra DC edge but it didn't look finished. Then whilst I was working on my new scarf I suddenly thought about tassles, funny how you think of these things! So here it is finished, well I just need to cut the tassles to size. It's so soft and warm, just who to give it to is my next dilema!

Friday, 12 November 2010

tree ornaments

My sister bought me a Cath Kidston sewing book for my birthday in May which has some great templates. When browsing the John Lewis web site for ideas earlier this week I saw these winter birds and thought I can make that with the template I have! So this Sunday I plan to make some time for crafting. I don't know about you but I have various knitting + crochet projects on the go at the moment, my favourite is a crochet scarf for me and I'm using Debbie Bliss Cashmerino + Rialto. I found the idea in a crochet magazine, its an easy one and gets me used to changing colours and then adding tassles at the ends. I took delivery of six new balls this morning that I was lucky to find on Celtic Cove the colour is better than in the picture. Enjoy your weekend. Amanda x

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Vintage Christmas crackers

We are off to my sisters for Christmas lunch and I wanted to do something original to take along. So I came up with the idea of vintage Christmas crackers. I bought two boxes of fill your own crackers from John Lewis at Blue Water last night and I have been looking round the charity shops this morning. I managed to find some Christmas china thimbles for the craft ladies in my family, tie pin, bracelet and a brooch. So half of the little present are already bought, I like it when I get organised! Enjoy the rest of your weekend. Amanda x

Friday, 29 October 2010

need a scarf in a hurry?

If you knit and need a new scarf or want to knit one for a present why not try this link Sirdar one hour scarf I bought some in green and they offer free delivery!

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Chestnuts in the woods

We had a very long walk in Cobham Woods this morning and its the best place to find chestnuts. We don't have an open fire but you can roast chestnuts using this simple method in the oven. The weather was just perfect, sunny and not too cold and we collected 2lbs! We walked around for about 3 three hours stopping once for a coffee out of my flask and Moss enjoying his water! I can't think of a more perfect thing to do on a Sunday morning. Now I'm off to have an afternoon nap!

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Christmas crafts

Just popped in to say have a great weekend. I'm currently concentrating on Christmas crafts for presents and the plan is to have a crafting afternoon. I've almost finished three pairs of fingerless gloves and I need to get on with some bunting for a friends present in Holland. There just isn't enough time is there? I was thinking of giving a pair of gloves and some nice handcream as a small gift to some friends at work, what do you think? Would you be happy to receive a hand made item? You put a lot of effort into making something and I'd hate to think the receiver thinks its a dull gift. Anyway enjoy your weekend, Sunday looks like the more promising day weather wise, so we are off for a long walk in the woods. Amanda x

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Pickled Chilli recipe

I popped into Homebase on Friday and found three chilli plants heavy with fruit for 20p each, well you just can't let a bargain like that go. So I plan to make some pickled chillies and found a Jamie Oliver recipe. I planted up two of the plants into pots and have put them in the dining room where its south facing. Hopefully I can continue to get chillies, who knows. The other one has been striped of its chillies and planted outside for now.

600g/1lb 5oz medium green chillies
15 black peppercorns
5 bay leaves (fresh from my garden)
3 tablespoons coriander seeds
5 teaspoons salt
6 heaped tablespoons caster sugar
1 litre/1¾ pints white wine vinegar or rice vinegar

For this recipe you must use perfect green chillies without any blemishes (you can use red chillies, but they will be slightly hotter).

Carefully score from the stalk end to the tip on one side only and remove the seeds (use the handle of a teaspoon for this). Pour boiling water over the chillies, let them sit for 5 minutes, then drain. This will get rid of most of the seeds left behind.

Next put the black peppercorns, bay leaves, coriander, chillies and salt into a large jar, or other airtight container. Put the sugar and the vinegar into a pan and heat until the sugar is fully dissolved. When this is quite hot, but not boiling, pour it into the jar with the chillies. Allow to cool down and then put the lid on.

Put in the fridge and leave for a minimum of two weeks before using. They will keep in the fridge for at least four months.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Newbold Tunnel
The lighting is lovely and we went through here twice.

Well we are back from a fantastic holiday, would recommend it to anyone. The slow pace suits me and I didn't even get any knitting done but I did almost finish a book, rare thing for me. And I came back to good news, a local pig farmer has contacted me and they are on for the Nov farmers market, how cool is that! I'll give more details once I have confirmed everything including their web site link. So onwards and upwards and now to tackle the washing pile. Have a great day whatever you are up to.

Our hire boat Tarrys 74, named after a bridge

A rare sight, a steam engine.
We had to stop to se this after we saw lots of photographers on the canal path! I had one chance to grab my camera and this is the shot, amazing!

Monday, 4 October 2010

farmers market update

I'm feeling very positve this evening, might have something to do with going on holiday this Friday!

Yesterday we held our October farmers market, my fourth since the village hall committee took over running it with a local resident and caterer, Dave Manning. It's been hard work taking over a market that originally started over 18 months ago by another local resident, but it's been a very rewarding experience. Each month I concentrate on contacting existing stall holders, sourcing new ones and marketing and taking the money (which all goes back into the village hall). Because I already write for three newspapers freelance, I can advertise to local people but we also do leaflet drops and advertise in our own village newsletter and local shops and businesses. Yesterday we had people attend from a little further afield, so it's good to know our advertising is working.

I am having to turn away craft stalls because we really need to keep a better balance and offer more food based stalls. We run our own fruit + veg stall with the help of a small group of local volunteers including myself! It's a great way to meet local people and to ask them what they want in the market. We are also very lucky that we have two local farms in Iwade so we can offer very fresh produce, including free range eggs, with the knowledge of where they were grown. You can't get more local than that!

In September we introduced Mighty Meaty, a local group of residents who sell a range of fresh meat and poultry, they even offer a home delivery service. It's working really well and they sell out in the first hour or so! They now sell their sausages in our local farm shop.

For November one of our stall holders will be taking orders for Christmas cakes. Her savouries sell out fast every month and because she makes wedding cakes professionally it's a great opportunity to offer a seasonal service. Her neice runs Cornupocia cakes and she makes the best cup cakes I've tasted, her Champagne + strawberry are delicious. She will also be opening her own tea room later this year in Halfway.

We offer free car parking in the village hall and Dave and his son make fresh bacon rolls + tea/coffee so that visitors can sit down and relax. We have been complimented on the friendly atmosphere and how well run it is. Dave also makes the best game pie (Granny Manning's Pies) and these sell out quickly, his pastry is just perfect!

So if you are in the area please pop along and say hello. Amanda x

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Autumn is here

Is it me or is there a chill in the air? I'm thinking ahead and how to keep warm with the cooler evenings ahead and I've almost finished my short poncho that I started months ago. It's coming along nicely now and I should have it finished tonight. My first project almost complete, I can't quite believe I've managed it! I've even planned to knit another one as I like the pattern so much! If you would like the pattern just let me know and I'll send a copy. So lamb shanks are in the oven, the tv is on and I'm going to knit all evening until it's finished. Enjoy the rest of your weekend. Amanda

Thursday, 16 September 2010

three weeks and counting!

Only three weeks until our holiday, I really need it! Ian is recovering well from his disc operation and I think we could all do with a proper holiday away from everything. We certainly will be away from it all on a canal boat taking in the lovely views and I'll be catching up on my knitting - fingerless gloves for Christmas presents! The plug plants are doing well and we had some rain so that saved me watering them.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Autumn planting

This afternoon I plan to plant some purple sprouting broccolli red spear (I forgot to grow some from seed so bought some plug plants this morning) swiss chard bright lights and some spinach plugs that Debbie gave me. That should keep me going for an hour or so, beats housework! Well it's too nice to be inside today, 20deg outside. Only 4 weeks until we go on holiday and we planned the canal route this morning, so exited! Happy Birthday to my brother-in-law Bob who turns 40 today, welcome to the 40 club! Have a great day. Amanda x

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Easy Blueberry jam/conserve

I had a busy morning helping out with the farmers market then walking the dog. So tonight I wanted to make some jam. I had two small punnets of blueberries and I wanted to make this for our holiday in Oct. This is one of my favourite recipes, it makes a lovely conserve texture and has the most wonderful colour. I experimented tonight and added some home grown rhubarb and added 50g more sugar. It turned out perfect, which is more than my plum jam did recently! Here is the recipe ....

Makes: 400ml (1 small and one medium jar)

375g blueberries
200g caster sugar

1.Put the blueberries in a pan with 50ml water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes, until the berries burst, soften and release their juice.

2.Add the sugar, stir until dissolved, then boil for 10 minutes. Transfer to a container that has an airtight lid, leave to cool, then cover and chill. That's it, vey simple and makes a wonderful gift.

Blueberry Jam

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

walking on sunshine!

It's the 1st of September, where has this year gone? At least the weather has been fine and sunny today. My week off is almost over so tomorrow I plan to join the heath walkers in Iwade and take in the local countryside. I haven't been before as I am normally at work so I'm looking forward to a long walk in the September sunshine. I've spoken to one of the leaders and the walk should include Chetney Marshes and the Saxon Shoreway, about an hour or so. I'll take the camera, I've remembered to put it on charge tonight. Amanda x

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Hello and sorry for not writing sooner. Been a bit busy as hubby has just had a disc operation in London and only came home on Sunday. I was driving up each day and everything else came second place. Things are settling down a bit now that he's home and he's doing well but still in some pain, which is to be expected.

Tonight Jack, our son, helped me make some summer veg soup made out of some veg from the garden patch. My most successful veg has been the courgette summer ball which I have just read is a summer pumpkin. We cut a small one for the soup with some baby green courgettes. It was lovely with fresh focaccia bread from Sainsburys! My camera battery is flat so I'll add some photos of this amazing veg tomorrow. Do try to grow it next year as it's well worth it.

I'm off this week and plan to finish my cropped poncho ready for our boating holiday in October, I'm just finishing the back then need to do the roll neck. I will then have finished my first hand-made jumper (and only 3 more to finish off!) I managed to crochet a scarf for my mums birthday in Debbie Bliss merino wool whilst sitting with Ian in hospital, he had his own room so it was quite relaxing! The picot edging really finished it off, even my mother-in-law said it was wonderful. Take care. Love Amanda x

Sunday, 15 August 2010

today is plum jam day!

I picked over 2kg of plums yesterday from the orchard at the end of my road. It was sad really because it's probably the last year I can do this. Wards builders are moving in soon to dig most of it up to make way for 98 houses. I'm not too pleased but we tried to fight it and got no where. So today I am making plum jam and hope to make about 10 jars. Here is the recipe from before Iwade plum jam recipe

Friday, 13 August 2010

it's raining it's pouring ...

Well it's raining cats & dogs in Kent today, mind you the garden needs it and it saves me having to stand out there all evening with the watering can! Almost finished scarf number one and I have ordered plenty more for my stash. Well you can never have enough wool can you? I think my hubby would disagree with that :) Plan to sit down and relax this evening and finish Jeans scarf after first week back to work. Still feeling the odd twinge in my chest but hopefully it's on its way now. Take care and have a great weekend. Amanda x

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

It feels more like Autumn today than summer. I've just got over a nasty chest infection and felt quite chilly today. So I got home and started to plan my autumn birthday presents for my friend and my mum. I recently bought some lovely luxury merino wool in the sale and it's so lovely to crochet with. I started one scarf tonight, sadly the camera doesn't pick up the texture and colour very well, it's sage and is so soft with a sheen to it. Normally I start a long foundation chain for the actual length but discussing this today with Debbie at work she suggested I try doing it the other way and so I gave it a try. After getting my brain into gear it actually worked and is much neater than doing it the other way! I just made it up as I went along. It won't grow so quickly but I can take it to work and do a few rows in my lunch break. Maybe just maybe this year I will work out how to do a granny square! I've tried several times and failed. I need to find a crochet class to teach me. Enjoy the rest of your week and the rain for the garden. Amanda x

Thursday, 5 August 2010

surprise sunflower

This year I planted some sunflowers in a blue pot, dwarf ones called Irish Eyes. They grew ok but not so well due to the heat and the confined space. Last year I must have put some sunflower seeds into my compost bin in the autumn and this lovely beauty grew near my climbing beans, which are not doing very well again his year. Funny how you plan things and the unexpected is actually better.

I heard from my sister that Wilkinsons have their seed sale on now, must get some when I'm next in town. You can never have enough seeds!

Sunday, 18 July 2010

fields of gold

Here is a picture of our mad English Springer Spaniel (Moss) jumping through the fields of wheat near our house. He loves his evening walk and tonight I managed to capture (well almost) what we see most evenings.

I decided to pick up my knitting needles and remembered a pattern I had for fingerless gloves. It's a bit odd knitting gloves when it's so warm, but I really got into it and have one finished and started the other one today. I'll post a picture when they are finished. I've given up for now with knitting bigger projects as they just get put to one side!

Sunday, 11 July 2010

I've been so busy recently helping to organise the farmers market, walking the dogs every evening and working that I've not had much spare time to send you an update or do any sewing!

So this weekend I am relaxing and enjoying the warm weather and pottering around the house and garden and eating outside now that I've cleaned the BBQ! The flowers have gone mad with all the watering and hot weather, I decided to cut a few to have in the kitchen. The colours are my favourite, lilac and white. The small alliums are not really suitable for cut flowers as the give off an onion smell, but they look so pretty with the lavender and scabosia (which have lovely feathery petals). They attract so many bees during the day and moths in the evening. So I'm doing my bit for helping bring back more bees to the UK! I planted another lavender last month and that has just flowered.

The veg garden is coming along now but needs so much water in this hot weather, we really could do with some rain soon. The peas have gone and the next sowing of snow peas are doing well and the asparagus pea which is new this year for me. Enjoy the rest of your weekend. Amanda x

Saturday, 12 June 2010

World Cup Fever

I thought I'd do my bit to help the England team today :) I'm not a football fan but it brings out your patriotic side! I managed to finish my smaller bunting last night (seen in the right hand corner) and bought a biscuit barrel in John Lewis to keep with the theme. I picked up some vintage fabric yesterday to make some bunting for my niece, Laura Ashley and quite a find. Anyway today I plan to have a quiet day of housework, washing, gardening, walking the dogs and sewing, oh ok maybe not housework! Whatever you are doing today I hope you enjoy it and that the sun shines and you manage to get into the garden and watch the game tonight.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

my little bundle of happiness

I found the time to finish my first bunting tonight. I made up the extra flags, positioned them in place - I changed the spacing to 6cms from 9cms, ironing as I went along. I bet I did this the long way round but I'll get the hang of this! Anyway by the time I'd finished it was almost midnight so the picture is just of my little bundle of flags all neat in their stack. It feels really great to finish something so quickly. My knitting projects are all over the place begging to be completed. Now I just need some sunshine so I can try them out in the garden - up high so the dog doesn't get them! He's in naughty mode and loves to pick up just about anything to take into the garden to chew.

Monday, 7 June 2010

my first bunting

Well I finally got around to buying my first sewing machine last weekend in John Lewis. Sadly I haven't had much spare time to do very much. I made a small padded birdie for a friends birthday and a heart to hang up. But then I decided last night to make my first bunting. I'm a bit late getting into this but now I've started I think there is no stopping me! It's addictive!

So here is a picture of my in-the-process bunting. I popped into a local charity shop today near to where I work and I was lucky to find a whole card filled with ric rac braid, bargain for £2 for so many metres. I also found a lovely piece of material to keep me going oh and some more buttons.

Monday, 31 May 2010

I bought an old watering can last year, real bargain but the rose doesn't stay on. So this year I bought a new one from my birthday gardening vouchers.  The old one has now been planted up with some spicy salad leaves my sister gave me last week growing in a pot. I didn't get Ian to drill any holes in the bottom because it's still useable, sort of.

Enjoy your day and hope the weather improves. Amanda x

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Look who I met at Chelsea Flower

Look who I met at Chelsea Flower Show yesteday, Medwyn Williams! What a nice Welsh man :) I just stopped by and asked if I could have my picture taken with him for my gardening blog. He took my hand and said I can do one better than that, come and hold my gold medal. How cool is that!

We had an amazing day but this was my highlight! The weather was brilliant, we sat and listened to the band eating our small picnic and saw the lock garden by Leeds Council. We picked up free seeds and shopping bags and I even saw Alan Titchmarsh up high on the BBC recording stand.

Encouraging people to grow plants to attract bees

Daily Telegraph award winning garden

Leeds City Council Lock Garden

interesting sculptures

I'm off to the garden centre today to spend my birthday gardening vouchers. Have a great bank holiday weekend. Amanda x

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Double Birthday

My new dog Moss celebrated his first birthday on Monday followed by my 40 something birthday on Tuesday! We didn't do much because we are off to Chelsea Flower Show on Friday 28 May, so we can make up for it then! We haven't been for two years so I am really looking forward to it. Moss had a long walk on Monday and I received lots of cards and lovely presents from friends and family on Tuesday (well from the weekend before really!). My sister bought me a Cath Kidson Sew book and some pinking scissors, which will come in handy for my crafts and I've always wanted the scissors since I was a kid when I used to use my nans pair. The book has lots of easy to follow projects and really pretty pictures.

I'm buying a small sewing machine from my birthday money in John Lewis this weekend. I've wanted one for ages and so thought I'd just go and get one as there are so many things I could make. They are really sweet and I can use it this weekend as the weather is supposed to be dull. I've just started to knit a Rowan bag from a kit I bought on eBay last week, so I could line it with some material I have in the cupboard!

I'll post some pictures of Chelsea over the weekend & I'll probably add a giveaway. Love Amanda x

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Ashenbank Wood walk and discovering bluebells

On Saturday we took both dogs for a long walk in the woods, that we know as Cobham Woods. Ian used to walk in the woods as a child and we took Jack there quite a few times when he small with our other dog, Vicky. It was the perfect day for walking, not too warm and not raining (for once).  We started off at Camer Park just up the road and had a small picnic before driving over to park at the start of the trail. I had no idea that we would walk in Ashenbank and it was one of the top spots in Kent to see bluebells until I checked the Woodland Trust web site late last night. We walked for about 2 1/2 hours and I have never seen so many bluebells in one place, the smell was amazing. Here are just a few of the photos we took on our woodland walk.

The Trail footpath lined with bluebells.

Moss II enjoying the view

a view of the rape seed fields

copice clearing and hundreds of bluebells

Friday, 14 May 2010

The Saxon Shore Way

What better way to finish off the week than a long walk over Chetney Marshes, which is just down the road from where I live and forms part of the Saxon Shore Way. We were out for a good two hours or maybe more and came home starving! I searched the fridge in a desperate bid for inspiration .... and came up with a mushroom omelette, yummy! And I used some home grown parsely, even better. Enjoy your weekend. Amanda x

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Doubles & Trebles

It feels more like winter than summer so I've been practicing my crochet stitches. The picture shows the second one finished in Wendy Fusion, this is for a friend. The first one is Patons Jet in lolly orange (my favourite). Whilst I can't do much in the garden I'm keeping busy with crochet. I managed to find some more Wendy Fusion in the brightest pink/orange and it arrived today, so that's for my next project.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Simple strawberry jam

Makes 1 litre (1 3/4 pints) about 6 small jars

English strawberries are ripe and sweet at the moment. I was lucky enough to find some reduced in the supermarket tonight and they were just perfect for jam and so cheap! I just hulled them and cut some in half and left smaller ones whole. They look more home made when you can see the fruit. But you could mash the fruit slightly as I saw mentioned in some other recipes. I think this one will be good with scones and clotted cream! Bang goes the diet :)

1kg/2lb strawberries, hulled
1kg jam sugar
The zest and juice of 1 lemon

Place the strawberries, sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest into a saucepan. Place over a low heat and simmer very gently until the sugar dissolves. Turn the heat to high and boil vigorously for 10 minutes. Do the wrinkle test; if the jam has set, remove it from the heat and leave in the pan for 10 minutes to ensure even distribution of fruit and juice. Then spoon into sterilised jars, seal and allow to cool before storing in the fridge or cool place.

I've added a picture of the jam just setting in the jars. My official taster (Jack) said it was delish and he does love strawberry jam. My first of many.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

1lb Home Grown Rhubarb

My rhubarb was ready to harvest tonight. I planted one small crown last year and just let it grow. Earlier this year I gave it a top dressing of home-made compost and it's rewarded me with 1lb of fresh rhubarb tonight (with more still to pick). Money well spent in the garden centre last year!

I found this lovely easy recipe and it only took 1/2 from start to finish, perfect.
Makes about three small parfait jars (I used 4 small jars)

450g home grown rhubarb (I used 550g to same of sugar, so long as equal amounts are used it will be fine)
450g caster sugar
The rind of one lemon

Wash the rhubarb and remove any stringy bits. Pat dry and weigh the remainder, as it is important to have equal quantities of sugar to fruit when making jams.

Slice the fruit into one-inch pieces and place in a preserving pot or heavy-based saucepan and cover with the sugar. Place over a gentle heat, stir continuously to prevent burning and, when the sugar has melted completely, stir in the lemon rind and turn up the heat.

Boil the jam for 10 minutes, then remove the pot from the heat. Sterilise your jars by putting them in boiling water for 10 minutes, then spoon the warm rhubarb into each jar. Seal with lids.

Easy and delish!

Sunday, 2 May 2010

A calm house

After a week of not writing very much, now two entries in two days. It's so calm in my house this morning; hubby is at work, son had a sleep over and dogs are asleep in the kitchen. It's raining so will get on with some house chores. The Japanese cherry trees look cheerful against the wet morning, but we need some rain and it saves me having to water the garden today. I made some carrot cake muffins yesterday and they taste delish, just have to stop eating them! Hopefully it will stop raining later so I can go for a walk. I don't mind walking in the rain but wet dog smell is not very pleasant :)