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 :)

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Wow two blog awards

About a week ago I was given two (yes two) blog awards from Jo at The Goodlife. The awards are  Beautiful Blogger Award and the One Lovely Blog Award. I've never recieved an award before so I want to say a very big thank you and I love reading your blog too.

The rules of the awards are to link to the blog which gave you the award and to list seven random things about yourself and pass the awards on to other blogs which you feel deserve them. Here are my random 7 things (it was difficult to think what to write at first then it just poured out!)

1. I've just started to bake muffins and after three failed attempts I think I have it right! So I would like to recommend the book Muffins Fast and Fantastic by Susan Reimer. I borrowed this book from a friend and even I can follow it!

2. I'm not a morning person so I normally write my blogs late at night when I also do my newspaper articles for two local papers.

3. My middle name is Susan and I recently asked my parents why they chose it, they said they had no idea. And I am the only sibling that got a middle name with no meaning! How strange is that? We gave our son two middle names after both his grandparents (Derek & Michael) and being the first grandchild on both sides it had a huge lot of thought.

4. I passed my driving test on the second attempt. My first attempt was a disaster as I reversed around a corner and hit the pavement. It then took me two years to pluck up courage to get into the drivers seat again. In 1989 I met my husband and he said my driving was terrible so took me out for advanced driving lessons! Maybe he just wanted to spend more time with me! Anyway it worked as I could never understand what to do at a round-a-bout!

5. I read recently that womens clothing labels are a total lie and that really we are wearing the next size up. So that is the reason I can never get anything to fit me and it has nothing to do with eating chocolate :)

6. I moved to Kent from London when I was 13 ( many years ago) My dad is a London cabby and I arrived at school the first morning in a black cab. Word got around that I travelled to school every day from London!

7. When I was 5 years old I had to have my tonsils out because I snored so much I kept my parents awake. I woke from the op and a nice nurse asked me what I would like to drink and I said milk. She told me that milk did not mix very well after you had an op but I insisted. Well you guessed it I was quite sick. I have no idea why I wanted a glass of milk, but maybe that's what my body wanted me to have.

The blogs I would like to pass the awards to are:-

I hope you enjoyed reading my random memories, made me chuckle writing them. Thank you so much for popping by and leaving your lovely comments. I really look forward to reading them and your blogs. In my busy day of gardening, parenting, dog walking, shopping, cooking and cleaning it's nice to sit down with a cuppa and read what's going on it other people lives and have a few moments to myself.

Enjoy your bank holiday
Amanda x