Sunday, 25 September 2011

and the winner is .....

Thank you for all your comments and for taking part in my Wisley give-away. My husband Ian drew the winning name this evening .... and it is Anne from foreveryoung-annsblog. Congratulations Anne, please send me an email with your postal address and I'll send off your bag of goodies. Amanda x

Sunday, 18 September 2011

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

Saturday, 17 September 2011

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.

Ingredients
  • 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


    1. 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
    2. Add the sugar and bring gently to the boil stirring often, and boil rapidly for 5 mins stirring lots to prevent burning
    3. 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 you don't have a thermometer, chill a saucer in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Spoon a little of the jam onto the cold saucer.
    4. Push the flat edge of a knife against the edge of the jam blob and if the surface wrinkles it is beginning to set. If it doesn't wrinkle, put the plate back in the fridge and cook the jam for another minute, then test again
    5. Allow to cool for 15 minutes then pour into sterilised jars. filling them almost to the top
    6. Cover the jars at once, using waxed discs and lids if you have them, set aside to cool
      If you don't have lids, when the jam is cold, cover the jars with cellophane, and secure with a rubber band
    7. Store in a cool dry place for up to 6 months

    taken from cookit.e2bn.org/recipes

    Sunday, 11 September 2011

    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 sampled some of the 700 varieties of apples (only eight in case you were wondering including ceval, Katja, Bardsley, Joyce + Lord Lambourne) I popped back for a longer look later in the day and of course to sample another apple! I bought a huge bag in the shop before I left for my family to enjoy when I got home, I've even used some in a tomato chutney this weekend.

    Matthew Wilson walked around with our group but I was too shy to ask for a photo etc, well its embarassing asking isn't it? So all in all a brilliant day and well worth a visit, don't know why I left it so long to go there!

    To mark the event I have a very small Blog Giveaway, nothing grand just some useful RHS goodies I chose (including a bag for life, wellington keyring + pencils) plus two lovely mini Nutscene Tiddler garden twines, gardening greetings card and lavender bag with my Eight-by-Six logo. All you have to do is leave a comment and I'll take a name out of a hat in a weeks time.

    Wednesday, 7 September 2011

    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

    Monday, 5 September 2011

    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

    Thursday, 1 September 2011

    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