Friday, 24 September 2021

Pick, Cook, Repeat


My three word gardening post his month very much surrounds the picking and preserving end of the growing season. There are baskets of fruit and vegetables grown on the small holding and foraged from the fields. They all arrive right now. With a very convivial September climate here in the UK this year it has been a bumper harvest.

We mostly try to eat produce straight away but when you pick nine courgettes and 3.5kg of beans in one picking there needs to be an element of preservation.

Today I decided to enter wholeheartedly into full kitchen chaos. I strained four bottles of raspberry and blackberry vodka which had been brewing for a month; I made plum jam; courgette and pesto soup; one gallon of damson wine and a batch of 'Glutney'.

Glutney is a recipe from River Cottage garden which is interchangeable depending on what you have loads of. This one has apples, courgettes and yellow tomatoes. Obviously it is never quite the same twice so this one is lighter than the last one which I made with red tomatoes but it all tastes good with cheese or sausages.

I am succeeding in getting the last of my tomatoes to ripen using hanging bananas on the training wires in the greenhouse. I was sceptical but it works.

Preparing and blanching beans has been a family event after our evening meal, we have quite a production line going and the freezer is getting full. I tried to just freeze the raw beans but they were not as good as when I went to the trouble of plunging them in boiling water for 3 mins then into ice water for 3 mins.

We have been seasonally vegetarian eating as much as we can. My mum's favourute was beetroot tarte with feta cheese.

Stuffed courgettes were not a hit - too soggy and reminiscent of watery stuffed marrow I had as a child but we ploughed on through that one. Much more popular was a Sunday dinner heavy on the veg and light on the ham.

There are flowers in vases cheering us along in our harvesting endeavours.

In the flower borders I have had to cull some of the cosmos. I grew them from seed and pricked them all out laboriously hoping they would fill my borders until the shrubs filled out but in fact, they have crowded out the shrubs growth so I had to pull some out. It was hard when they were putting on such a show but needs must.

No hills in sight early in the morning on this day but the sun has been shining through in the afternoon.

The piece of vintage farm machinery is in there somewhere!

The dahlias are going strong but I am having to dead head them every other day. Finally, I planted out my Asters which I grew from seed into pots so I am hoping for a little show before the frosts.

This weekend we are all off to the Malvern Show which is usually in spring but has been moved to Autumn. Lots of inspirational gardens to see and I am sure there will be some plant buying too.

I will leave you with a super special early morning view today. I usually post an evening sunset but this morning's version was beautifully serene.

Happy gardening! Love Jo xxx

Tuesday, 14 September 2021

Foraging - for our first season blackberries. We are collecting them in a pot in the freezer to make blackberry gin. We keep adding to the pot even if we only get a few.

Cooking - up a pan of 'glutney' it is an interchangeable chutney recipe but this batch used a lot of courgettes and tomatoes from the greenhouse.

Working - on a video tutorial for Minerva using a Noodlehead Explorer tote bag pattern. One nice multi-functional bag.

 Sewing - a comfy Billie sweatshirt dress and a Carnaby Dress by Nina Lee ready for Autumn.

Enjoying - the last bit of the summer holidays in the studio with the girls before they went back to school. Happy times.

Visiting - the Shropshire hills for an evening 'chipnic'. It is like a picnic except we get fish and chips and then drive up the Stretton hills and eat them at the top.

Picking - winberries/billberries: what do you call them? On this chipnic we were on a special mission to find them.

Baking - winberry and peach pie. The peaches sort of soak up some of the berry juice and stop the pastry going soggy. An extra special seasonal dessert served with creme fraiche.

Growing - huge tomatoes. They are so strange looking but they taste delicious. It is a beefsteak variety called Ananas meaning there are not any watery pips, just sweet flesh.

Collecting - more veg from the plot. Things are slowing down a bit but still plenty to go in the greenhouse along with the autumn raspberries which are coming now and a late variety of strawberries if I can keep the birds off them.

Trying - to remember how to flower arrange and thoroughly enjoying myself. All picked from our garden.

Enjoying - a trip to a local quiet place: Acton Burnell castle.

Watching - the endless wonderful sunsets we have had over the last two weeks. Every night we have been treated to a big firey sun sphere which quickly dips below the Welsh black mountains.

Thanks for dropping by. Jo xx

Wednesday, 8 September 2021

All done #34 Colour Lab Yarn

 Anyone knitting? This is the post where I show you how I have used up a craft material to the very end. I have reached this heady position 34 times since writing these posts - hence All Done #34

 I had a bit of a break over summer while I was gardening a lot but enjoyed making the owl sweater on the odd few rainy days but then I fancied some quick projects for late summer.

There were two balls a grey left from my crochet blanket. I made this newborn cardigan from a vintage pattern and really enjoyed making it for my pregnant friend.

As ever, I just about made it yarnwise watching the yarn wind down on the last sleeve. One of my most satisfying All done moments.

The chain effect was really easy to do but so effective for both boy and girl cardigans I thought.


I would also like to try the one on the top another day in a gender neutral colour because I think it is a lovely design on the front.

Before I made the cardigan I made this little vest top called Like Sleeves. I forget how many of these I have made now but it is an easy no- brainer make which can be lengthened to make a tunic dress or can be made short like this one. All done Colour Lab DK. Thank you for being so kind to me.

Next I spotted this amazingly soft bamboo yarn in a sale bin the other day and bought two. I wanted to make a little girl sweater for my pregnant friend's second girl. I made one for Heidi when she was small but it was a sublime cashmerino yarn, then she wore it for one day and I shrunk it! This yarn has more favourable washing temperatures. I also remember that Heidi's curled up at the front and on the cuffs so on this one I added four rows of rib which worked a treat.

I remember how much I liked knitting it all over again. Repeating my usual self induced stress, I was running short of yarn. I just made it. I knit this on bamboo needles which I seem to get a better tension on than metal ones. It is a bit large for said girl but I will keep it for her birthday next year. Another satisfying make without leftovers.

Autumn Knitting plans.

Anyway enough of this selfless knitting, back to me. I saw this rather lovely tank in The Knitter this month and bought a soft rose cotton yarn to make one for myself. I don't know if I will wear it as the photo or over a white shirt but I am enjoying a few rows a night so as not to make mistakes on the cables which are made up with a 16 row set pattern. I have marked each set of 15 stitches with markers too to make sure the cable repeats are correct. There is a lot of meticulous crossing off with a pen to make sure I don't go wrong because it is virtually impossible to rip this back part way and know what row you are on.

This top should take me to my Christmas knitting frenzy which I do every year. I have a few ideas up my sleeve for presents.

Thanks for dropping in. Jo xx

Tuesday, 31 August 2021

Young Stitchers

Today I would like to show you some needlework from my young stitchers. It was our village produce show over the summer bank holiday weekend and there was a handicraft class. I put in a crocheted blanket and came third but I was pipped to the post by my youngest and her demon stitchery who came second. The first prize went to a beautiful fair isle knitted hat with the most complex pattern.

They both picked up some embroidery this past week that they had started a while back and used the show as a bit of a finishing target.

Aren't they fabulous? They also do this thing that I have in no way modelled where they won't start a new thing until they have finished the last! Little M completed a cactus cross stitch but chose one of her hoops from earlier in the year to enter.

She is back on a new embroidery now...

Big girl has started an epic elephant cross stitch which will be wonderful. Look at her little magnetic needle minder, isn't it fab? Both the cross stitch kits and the magnets were sent as much appreciated gifts from their auntie.

We are getting quite a gallery above the inglenook of their endeavors. All of these were completed by the girls except the big one on the easel which is mine from about 23 years ago. 

In the end I won show champion because I entered loads of our veg, fruit, jam and baking. It was all a bit of beginners luck, that and I entered nearly everything which seemed to be a good strategy!

Our last week before the new school year starts which will be a big one for youngest as she starts secondary school. All very exciting... Jo xx