Skip to main content


Showing posts from 2011

only a couple of days to go

I can't believe I haven't made a blog entry for over 4 weeks, I've been a touch busy as I'm sure all of you have been too!

I had tons of lavender bag orders to complete, as I finished one the next one arrived. Not that I'm complaining but I must have listed them too cheap in the first place. So no more for a while now to give the machine a rest!

Back into knitting this week to get rid of some stress levels building up in time for Christmas. Another cardi but I only had to buy the pattern as the wool was in my stash in the loft! I like this yarn as its easy to knit with and keeps its shape. There are some colours on sale at Kemps Woolshop if you fancy grabbing a bargain (I have, just don't tell hubby!)

The kitchen is coming on and almost complete, Ian has worked every hour to get the new floor in, painting, woodwork; the list is endless. Some replacement doors arrived yesterday and its all coming together. And I moved into my new craft area at the back of the ki…

Roy the rescued Kestrel

Late last week Ian found a Kestrel in the local field whilst walking Moss. It didn't appear injured so he brought it home and looked after it for a few days whilst we rang around to find out what to do next. In the meantime Ian contacted Eagle Hieghts to get some advice. Then this morning we were put in contact with Ingrid at Swale Wildlife Rescue this morning, without people like Ingrid these birds would not survive. Ian named him Roy after his friend at work. Roy is now with Ingrid for the winter in rehab! I'll let you know the progress as in the Spring we can go and see him go back into the wild. Happy ending.

knit a Christmas tree

If you are anything like me I have bags of wool in my loft and many are oddments left over from other projects. So here is a reminder of the pattern I've posted before, makes a nice gift or just for yourself. If you use wool then these can be felted in the machine and then add buttons etc when dry.

Have a great weekend crafting or gardening. Amanda x

quick scarf, more wool!

Found some new wool today, I blame all the emails I get advertising the stuff ;-) Anyway thought I would share it with you as it looks lovely and so easy to do. You can buy the wool from Hulu Crafts,Blacksheepwools or eBay. Happy knitting

Blog Giveway

I'll pick a winner next week or find some novel way to choose a winner! So far six people have entered, come on there must be more of you who would like to have a go.

Beef & Ale casserole in the slow cooker (thanks Jack for your help, he does love cooking) long walk with Ian and the dogs and now to finish some sewing orders. Oh and the sun has been out, a lovely autumn day. We managed to find out kitchen floor tiles this morning, funny how we went back to get something else and they had been reduced, brilliant. Started my mums cardi last week and so far it looks fab, I do love the Sirdar Crofter Chunky wool, makes it look like you've spent ages knitting the colours in! Sure she'll love it. I have unpicked mine as I worked out how to crochet the seems, should only take and hour then I have to block it. Do you block your knitted projects? Why do I need to do it? Any tips? Enjoy the rest of your Sunday. Amanda x

another day, another jam

What do you do with a glut of tomatoes (over 3kg!) a few apples, 1/2 lemon and a 1kg bag of granulated sugar? Odd combination you may be thinking but it does make a great tomato + apple jam suitable for toasted crumpets, perfect for the autumn or a tea time treat.

If you fancy giving it a try here is the recipe. Its easy and only takes about an hour to make.

500g (1lb 2oz) tomatoes (skinned, deseeded and diced)
500g (1lb 2oz) apples (peeled, cored and diced)
1kg (2lb 4oz) granulated sugar
juice of half a lemon

Put the tomatoes and apples in a large pan with the lemon juice and gently cook on a low heat until the fruit turns into a pulp mixure Add the sugar and bring gently to the boil stirring often, and boil rapidly for 5 mins stirring lots to prevent burning Reduce the heat, and simmer very gently for a further 15-20 minutes stirring to prevent burning until setting point is reached. If using a sugar thermometer, the jam is ready when the temperature reaches 105°C/210°f. If …

Blog Giveaway and RHS Wisley ......

I had a brilliant day on Thursday, my first visit to the wonderful RHS Wisley the flagship garden to the RHS. I enjoyed the day so much I am planning to return in October for A Taste of Autumn event with my sister. The gardens are just beautiful and so much work goes into their upkeep.

The flower show was set out around the garden in small white tents which made a very relaxing shopping experience, the growers having time to talk to you and offer advice. I bought some allium bulbs ready for planting in Oct/Nov although I was told you can even wait until early next year to plant them. The small show gardens were very well presented and my favourite is shown in the photo above.

I enjoyed the tour given by curator Colin Crosbie and Jim Gardiner, I thought it was well planned and having the extra knowledge from Colin made it even more memorable. Funny how you watch him on Gardeners World then actually get to talk to him.

We were shown around the orchard by Jim Arbury + Gerry and sam…

Just relaxing ...

I'm making the most of my week off with jam making, cooking, pottering in the garden (weather permitting) and just generally chilling out. It was an awful day here yesterday, wind, rain and more rain so I mainly kept in doors apart from walking the dog and getting a bit wet. I picked over 3lbs of home grown tomatoes and made ten jars of chutney. New recipe out of a new M&S bargain book and although the recipe said simmer for 45 mins (over 1 hr later) it was finished! Tastes lovely and the colour is great. This morning I've made mango preserve (chutney?) which will go well with a curry. Tomorrow I have my Wisley Flower Show trip so its a proper day off for me. If you'd like one of the recipes let me know and I'll post it in my next blog update. Amanda x

Wisley countdown, 2 days to go ....

Received confirmation and press pass today, sooo exited! Shame the weather is going to be a bit wet but I'll enjoy it all the same. Jane Asher is going to open the show and would be good to arrive in time to see her. Planned the route and need to take the dreaded M25, just hope any problems are on the other side of the carriageway! Need to program hubbies satnav tomorrow but the last RHS garden visit I ended up telling it where to go because these clever little gadgets do get confused don't they?!

Tomorrow's weather forecast is pretty bleak with heavy rain, I've picked the wrong week weather wise. Have a few housework chores tomorrow :-( so if its raining it won't be too much of a waste of a day. I also plan to make a batch of mango conserve because I bought a small box of mangos and they must be used tomorrow. Interesting recipe and will make a nice gift if it turns out ok. Enjoy the rest of your week. Amanda x

Wisley flower show here I come!

The lovely people at RHS have given me a press pass for the Wisley Flower Show next week, a press breakfast no less. I promise to tell you all about it when I get back and maybe just maybe have a blog giveaway, well it must be time for another one.

Enjoy the autumn sunshine today, or summer! I have next week booked off so I just it lasts so that I can enjoy it too.

Amanda x
I've had a busy few weeks knitting, sewing, crocheting, baking but not much gardening! But I have been making jams + chutneys from my garden veg patch. My spicy courgette chutney has a nice warm kick from my home grown chillies, but only a couple have turned red - maybe it's because we haven't had much sun recently. Tomatoes are ripening and they taste lovely although the plants have toppled over as they are heavy with fruit, next year I must stake them a bit better! Courgettes are still pumping out and the yellow variety is a must for next year as it grows so well. Cucumbers are coming to an end but the little grow house did the trick to get them started and so I'm pleased we have been eating two a week for the past few weeks.

As I have an extra day off for the bank holiday I've been baking in the morning, cheese + chive scones, banana and white chocolate muffins and scotch eggs then making jams or chutneys in the evening. I harvested over 1kg of rhubarb from one …

a quick update

Just popped in for a quick update on the veg garden. Lots of toms are ripening up, tons of courgettes both yellow and green (Black Beauty), cucumbers and chillies growing well in my experimental grow house. The French beans didn't do very well so I've sown a late batch for September pickings and the Swiss Chard Bright Lights wilted a bit but a feed of Miracle Grow should put that right! I'm going to grow tomatoe Madina again next year, I think that's what is was called! Its the funny potatoe leafed variety and I have to say even though its toppled over with the weight of the toms its the best one for less leaves. What's been your best variety this year?

I've been busy and sadly I haven't had any spare time to update my Blog.

The weather has been a little bit mixed to say the least, so for the last five weeks I've been knitting like mad when I can find a spare 1/2 hour or so to knit something for myself. Almost there now and just need to finish one sleeve, sew it all together and block it; well that the bit takes time and effort to make it all worth while. I'm not sure if I've put the button hole too high so I may have to un-pick one side and do it again before I sew it up. I've used Sirdar Crofter chunky (an eBay bargain). In the meantime I hate not having a project on the go so I started off a jumper too, there's no stopping me once I get started! I had a request from my sister for a tank-top for Christmas but thought I'd make myself one from the same pattern but with cap sleeves, well you have to make sure it looks right don't you?!

In between knitting I've managed to do a tiny bit of gardeni…

one strawberry with cream anyone?

On Tuesday I drove home in the sunshine, a rare thing in Kent because we have had nothing but grey skies and rain. So I got in and set about pottering in the garden for an hour or so to wind down. My strawberries have been doing really well but this picture shows one huge strawberry (picture taken by my son Jack). I gave them a feed two weeks ago and since then they have been producing all sizes but this one is a whoppa! One question, what do I do with all the runners I now have? Do I snip them off and pot them up?

Saturday evening

Didn't it rain today?! I thought we had enough during the week then it rained some more today, came down in bucket loads. I'm not complaining because it means I don't have to water the garden. We have eaten lots of strawberries this week, some snow peas, a small bunch of carrots and a few peas. Not much else ready yet apart from Swiss Chard and a few green beans, I still need to plant out some other seedings, I doubt if I'll get it done this weekend.

I took an order for a wedding for 25 lavender bags this week. So I've spent most of this evening making them ready to fill them tomorrow. Here is a picture of them in two stacks, all Cath Kidston, all very pretty. I hope the lady who receives them is happy with them, a nice touch for wedding favours.

I'm off to carry on with my knitting, another project! This one is lovely and I'm going to try to finish this one before I start another one. Famous last words. Enjoy the rest of your weekend. Amanda

rain drops ...

We have had rain here most of the afternoon and now evening. A complete change from Friday when I visited RHS Hyde Hall and managed to get sunburnt walking around all day, but my own fault for not taking up my sister's offer of sun screen! It is a lot better today but one side is still warm, hopefully another application of Sudocreme will help tonight. I'll do another entry next week to update you on my fantastic day and all the lovely people I met, so much to tell you all and so many pictures.

I love the garden when its raining and the colours against the grey paving circle, shame the camera doesn't catch it perfectly. And rain saves me having to water it all evening with watering cans. On Saturday I dug out my rosemary, it was so big and getting woody it just had to go. But all is not lost because I took loads of cuttings to pot up next week when I have more time and bought a low growing one in the plant shop at Hyde Hall called Fota Blue.
Today was the monthly Iwade vil…

new neighbours are moving in

I was talking to Ian in the kitchen this afternoon when we both saw a female black bird sitting on the fence. Nothing strange about that but she had some nesting material in her beak, we both looked at each other and smiled, waited for her to go then took a look into our small tree in the garden. She is building a nest! I'm so chuffed and its so near to the house.

This afternoon whilst digging over the veg patch, lugging tons of compost around the male black bird came so close to me to pick up some worms. They have always visited our garden, eaten my strawberries and sat on the fence singing, so its probably no surprise they chose our garden to raise their family. Even so its the first bird family for us and in such a small garden.

I finally got round to taking out the brocolli, the last meal we had with it was only a few days ago and I felt rotten digging it up! Oh well the compost bin has had the benefit. Talking of compost my compost bin must be super speedy. I don't do any…

the ones that didn't get away!

Ian went fishing yesterday in Sussex and came home with these two fine specimens! So tonight we will be eating baked trout stufed with shallots, lemon + a dash or two of white wine + herbs served with new potatoes and some fresh beans + brocolli from the veg patch. Enjoy your weekend. Amanda x

and today it's my birthday!

No pictures of me, couldn't find a good enough one to publish! I made lots of cup cakes last night to bring to the office, well big fairy cakes, yes I have to work on my birthday. Ian is taking me out for dinner on Thursday night so I can celebrate my birthday a bit longer. I did get a sloppy kiss from the dog this morning, no one else was around! Anyway here are some photos of my desk with my cards and presents. Amanda x

Happy Birthday Moss

Happy 2nd Birthday to Moss
When you rescue a dog you never know what you are going to get. At first it was difficult because he had to adjust to his new home. One year and a month on he is the best decision we ever made! His training is coming on and now he comes back when he's told to, well most of the time. He is a little character, very clever, very loving and very much ours and part of our family. So happy birthday Moss xxx
Are you new to crochet and want to make a present, this could be the answer. I found this searching for yarn today and had to share it with you, the colours are really lovely but sadly this shade is discontinued. You can find similar colours in the sale from one of my favourite yarn stockists Cucumberpatch wool shop I bought the 'Frosty' colour today for my scarf and you can find this free pattern here Eskimmi knits self designing scarf pattern. I made a similar one for a friend about a year or so ago and used a similar yarn but turned at the end of every row, this pattern suggests you break the yarn at the end of each row to obtain the stripes and the piece you. I'll let you know how I get on. I know it's summer but if you want to make them for presents it gives you time to get ahead :-)

I woke up far too early this morning, 5:30am! Unlike me but the sun was shining and I wanted to make the most of my weekend. Here are some pictures taken of a few of my hostas growing in my gravel garden, well my main garden. They grow really well here and I don't have a problem with slugs, I don't think I get any which is good. I have a small bed next to the pond which is shady and the other hostas love it there. Having a small garden means I have to cram everything in, veg patch, plants and washing line all in a small planned space. Seems to work really well and no grass to cut, which is a bonus. When we moved to this house almost eight years ago we had a nice garden but decided we wanted a pond so the garden was demolished literally and the pond planned around it. Last year a new fence was put in to keep the dog off the garden as he loves to eat everything! I have a couple of gaps and need to look at what else I can fit in, I recently planted two Hollyhocks to give some h…

The RHS Great Garden Swap

I've been invited by the RHS to join the Great Garden Swap at Hyde Hall on Friday 3rd June, how wonderful. I'm taking my sister Danielle along as it can be a belated birthday treat, my birthday is next week. So if you are within driving distance (it's about an hour or so from Sittingbourne) maybe we will bump into each other. Ooh and they are providing a picnic lunch, it just gets better. Have a look at the link for further details Hyde-Hall The RHS Great Garden Swap
I was meant to be sorting out my wool stash yesterday, but came across some Debbie Bliss Cashmerino DK yarn from last years bargains in a biscuit colour. So instead of clearing out found myself searching for a suitable pattern and remembered this one! v kneck jumper free pattern

Got home and started in and its such a lovely wool to work with and an easy pattern if I can follow! Thought I'd share it with you because you can adapt it to your wool stash. The wool the pattern lists Debbie Bliss Cathay, has been discontinued but I think most Debbie Bliss wools will knit to this pattern. Not that I'm an expert, so I checked the band and its very similar so will just have to see what it turns out like. Must be the cooler weather than is making me want to pick up my knitting needles.

Blog award

The lovely Jo at The Goodlife gave me an award on the 9 May and I've been meaning to post this and to say a huge thank you because after three years I am now up to 35 followers! So thank you to all of you for reading my ramblings, trying out my recipes and for offering your gardening advice along the way. I really enjoy reading all your blogs too and finding out about your gardens, pets and holidays.

So the rules are that the award must be passed on to blogs with less than 100 followers. So I would like to nominate the three following new blogs that I have started reading. I hope you will click through and have a read to.

If anyone would like to swap some climbing French bean seeds please let me know. New packet with use by date June 2011 surplus to requirements but will be ok for next year too!

Urban Veg Patch
Me and Tilly Too
Project Forty

Kentish bluebells

We got up early and went off in seach of bluebells in Cobham Woods. Due to the warm weather in April they arrived early and we almost missed them, well we did miss most of them! Anyway managed to get one photo on my way back to the car alongside the Darnley Mausoleum on the Darnley Trail which we don't normally take. It was a lovely morning and we hardly saw anyone, which was great because we always bump into people with un-social dogs. Moss was tired out after a five mile walk taking in lots of steep bits which I'm not keen on, luckily I took my walking cane today as it did come in very handy. I feel a bit of an idiot taking in then relieved that I did!

After a bit of rest, some knitting and lots of tea drinking I managed to get an hour in the garden. One thing is bothering me, do you take out purple sprouting brocolli once it has finished producing or do you keep in the ground for next year? I'm sure I read somewhere that you keep it in. Really need the space but have lo…

Rhubarb sponge

I had more rhubarb again this morning so what to do with it? I'm fed up making rhubarb + stem ginger jam and fancied baking. I found this recipe whilst searching the internet, like you do! This is mine finished, although I used the wrong size tin it turned out lovely and moist and didn't stick. I cooked it for 30 mins in a fan oven. The sugar over the rhubarb makes it cook and is nice and sweet!

IngredientsPrep: 15 min
Cook: 45 min

Serves 4
100g soft butter
100g caster sugar
2 large eggs
100g self-raising flour, sifted
500g ripe rhubarb stalks
100g extra caster sugar

METHOD: Heat oven to 180C/Gas 4. Beat the butter and caster sugar in a bowl until light and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well.

Gently fold in the sifted flour until you have a batter of dropping consistency.

Cut the rhubarb stalks into 2cm lengths, discarding any leaves. Arrange loosely in a buttered one-litre pie or baking dish and scatter with the 100g extra caster sugar. Spoon the batte…

what a neat idea

I came across this neat little idea today, what do you think? I was only saying the other day I needed more space and this could be the answer. You find further details at Lladder Allotments

garden update

Here are some photos of what I will be eating this summer! I have two plastic greenhouses full up with courgettes + tomato plants, window sill with chilli plants and my dining room acts as a greenhouse too! No idea where I am going to put it all in my small garden! I have grown climbing courgettes again this year and Jack made me a wigwam in a big pot to put one in. Since we got Moss II I can't grow anything on the large patio because he likes to eat everything green.

I have bought some grow bags for the tomato and chilli plants. Not sure what to grow in the raised bed next to the brocolli as its got so big. Thought about sweetcorn but have left it too late to grow from seed. I think I'll grow carrots inbetween the onions as they are ones grown from seed that my friend Debbie gave me as they will be slow to grow. I think I need another raised bed or a bigger garden!

tote shopping bag

Yesterday I read an article in my local paper about guerilla bag making, sounds strange but groups around the country make tote bags out of reclaimed/vintage fabric and then hand them out to shoppers to encourage them to stop using plastic bags. Sounds like a great idea to me and I've wanted to make one for ages. So last night I spent most of the evening making my first tote bag out of some Laura Ashley fabric I had in my stash. After reading the instructions about 50 times as I went along I was surprised that it turned out so well! Including making the little box sections to secure the handles in place. This morning I've cut out my next bag ready to sew tonight but I've made the handles a bit longer and will line it so I'll get more use out of mine as a day bag for books, knitting etc. You don't have to join but maybe make one for a friend, that's my plan. Enjoy your weekend. Amanda x
Most of my seedlings are outside in my two plastic greenhouses. Normally my dining room will be full to the brim but thankfully the weather has been so warm I've managed to use the garden instead. I read on another blog tonight that tomato plants grown in these greenhouses can actually turn out better and hardier. If you start them off too early and inside they become leggy so maybe I've made the right decision. As normal I've grown far too many for my personal use so will give them to work friends and neighbours.

My courgette seedlings + basil have all emerged today, also grown outside. Those little plastic greenhouses are actually very good and cheap. I don't really have room for a proper one so I'm sticking to these for now and they can be used to grow on chilli plants + cucumbers when everything else has been planted out.

I planted out my peas + snow peas today. I took Moss for a long walk and collected all my pea sticks which were far taller than I used in pr…
I'm enjoying my week off pottering around the garden, walking Moss and doing some sewing. Here is a picture of my first finished patchwork cushion, very Cath Kidston! It was taken in my dining room and having a south facing garden the sunlight was streaming in this evening. After un-picking the zip twice I decided to make ties instead, less tricky! I have a hexi patchwork side on the go for another cushion but doubt if that will be finished this week.

I repotted the tomato seedlings yesterday and have far too many so I've told my neighbour Tara she can have some for her new veg patch at the front of her house. I'll now have another gardening buddy to chat to!

Just need to sew my red,white + blue bunting together this evening ready for Friday and make some cakes for the big event. We will catch it on TV but lots of roads in our area are having street parties.

Oh and here is what will be eating for dinner tonight with fresh tuna steaks and new potatoes. At least one thing ca…

Happy Easter

We are enjoying the mini heatwave here in Kent and it gives me the chance to potter around the garden. It means lots of watering to make sure the seedlings don't wilt in this heat. Lots more to do, transplant the tomato plants to new pots this evening and sew some French Beans.

This morning I made fresh Scotch Eggs after my sister told me last night how easy they are to make. A little fiddly but after the fourth one I think I got the hang of it. My bread crumbs could have been a bit finer but it was the first attempt so I'll remember that for the next batch!

Enjoy the rest of your Bank Holiday weekend. Amanda x
I'm not sure why but I fancied baking tonight! After dinner I made a few batches of cheese scones. First I made small ones, Jack my official taster said they tasted great so I made Ian some larger (normal size) ones. Not sure if they will last till the morning!

Just a few photos taken in my garden this afternoon. I managed to spend a couple of hours digging out the compost bin, sowing peas + mangetout and sowing some raddish seeds. Lots more to do tomorrow!

I'm mean't to be doing housework!

 I have a plant in my garden that I keep trying to get rid of yet it keeps coming back! My sister gave it to me when I needed to fill some gaps and it self sows everywhere. I saw it on Sarah Raven's web site and realised you could use it as a cut flower, so I'll be keeping this one. If you would like free seeds then just let me know because it normally drops loads! It looks nice in an old Denby coffee jug I picked up at an indoor sale last year. Right back to housework. Have a great weekend. Amanda x

a quick end of week update

Not sure if I told you about a great little window sill propogater I bought in Wilkinsons the other week. It's large enough to fit 5 little compartments (comes with these) and it works better than my heated one. And the best thing is that it only costs £3! I did some tomato seeds in it last Sunday, checked tonight and one has germinated so the others must be almost ready to pop up. I've kept it in my dining room as its south facing, most of my seeds are started off in there. Saying that the ones I did almost 2 weeks ago outside in my 2 tier plastic cold frame are doing very well in this warm weather and the sweet peas have germinated. Monty Don said a couple of weeks ago that Spring sown ones are all he does. I feel another sow seed Saturday is on the cards for tomorrow.

button necklace

I've wanted to make one of these necklaces for ages. I found a kit at Bunyip Beads and Buttons earlier this week and it arrived today. It comes with more than enough buttons, string and full instructions. Its fiddly but great fun and took under and hour to make. I added a couple of buttons out of my jar! I really like it and I think I'll make another one but longer.

Happy Mothers Day .............

Well no rest for me, up early to organise the village market. The rain held off and lots of people came out to buy some cut flowers, cup cakes, local fudge and home made goodies that were on sale. The hall car park was full of lovely stalls and the inside was too. It was so nice to see so many people come out on mothers day.

I spent most of Saturday doing housework and washing and missed all the sunshine! I was given my mothers day present a day early in the evening. A big box of Thorntons chocs (my favourite) Toast DVD and some lovely flowers including Stocks that smell wonderful. Oh and a lovely card that said from all of us (dogs included).

So Happy Mothers day to my mum Hilary and Ian's mum Annette and of course me!