Tuesday, 27 September 2011

guerilla gardening

The small people and myself have spent the afternoon flower-bombing our street on a small scale - guerrilla gardening.  We've adopted the rowan tree outside our house and prettified it with lavender, heathers, violas and some spring bulbs - fritillarias, white tulips and narcissi - all chosen by Emeline and Joseph.  The squids had fabulous fun - digging is one of their favourite activities in any case.  Can't wait for the spring time to see them in bloom and I think Emmy and Joseph will get a lovely surprise -  Emmy looks so proud of her work! - she was such a smasher helping me.  We had a particularly tricky giant thistle to dig out.  Emmy had "something in her head" to help me.  I guess she meant a thought.  She often has "a good idea" - and they are nearly always corkers.  Highly developed problem solving skills for a 3 year old.

Spending the afternoon outside on the street was a really nice experience, chatting to lots of people and bumping into people who live locally, which I suppose is the whole point.  Lately I've really valued being part of the community, from the apple pressing day at Highbury Park (wet, but both fun and useful) to making a cake for the playgroup fundraiser this week.

**update 16/10/11** 

slightly less in love with my community now I've realised that my nice hand-trowel was pinched while I was wrangling the kids in and out of the house and dragging bags of compost outside.  Toerags.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Our september holiday

We are back from our very wet and windy holiday to Brean Sands, we thought we were very clever going the first week back to school, but actually the weather was dreadful and everything was shut.  We still had a lovely time though!  We are getting quite accomplished at seeking out indoor entertainment for two small people who are full of beans and passed a pleasurable hour or two at the monkey gym at the holiday park

A gale force wind along the beach at Burnham

Drawing pictures in the sand on our deserted beach

I think the gull may have seen Joseph coming.....

Finding a picnic spot atop a cliff at Weston Woods with an amazing view over the sands and bay.  Needless to say we all risked life and limb getting there.

Sheltering from the rain inside the fortress at Weston Super Mare's playground.  Quite simply the best council playground I have ever seen in my life.

In the ice-cream parlour at the end of the pier at Weston-Super-Mare.

On our last evening of holiday, after we had scoffed down our baked potatoes for tea, we finally ventured down to the beach at Brean.   We were rewarded for our efforts with a low tide that went out for miles and an incredible sunset over the sea.  I've never seen so many tiny intact shells on a beach, Emmy had a lot of fun finding all the pink butterfly ones where the two parts of the shell are still joined together.  I've got a craft project or two in mind for all our treasures that we have brought home.

And last, but not least, we had a day out today at Vanfest in Malvern.  I wish I could show  you lots of amazing VW show-vans, but I forgot to take any pictures.  

Anyway, we lost Joseph for a few minutes and found him driving this van.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Jar of the Day

Onion Marmalade

Apple and Blackberry pies plus a big one stashed in the freezer ;)

We had a major interruption today in the form of a car that needed a new battery, so many thanks to my lovely friend who came with his car to jump start ours.  We had a little adventure to Bourneville to drop the car at the garage and came home on the bus.

While I've got your attention , can I have a little rant about Barclays bank?  They've recently refurbished the kings heath branch, and very nice it is indeed, all open plan and slick with a giant picture of Wayne Rooneys bald bonce on the wall (!???) But they've made it impossible for me to both queue and keep my children safe because the swishy electric doors are permanently open onto the high street, and strangely enough, Joseph is not too keen on the queuing malarkey and just wants to leg it out of the door.  

As for the queue, well I counted 3 assistants who were very eager and pleased to show us exactly where to queue.  I couldn't help but wonder why they weren't behind the counter serving customers so that there wasn't such a queue? 

I would love to know if my thinking is completely out of kilter with the rest of the world, because I was getting a bit stressed at that point, and gently (ahem, actually it was more like tersely and probably quite rudely) pointed it out to the "co-ordinator".  She didn't take too kindly to that suggestion and another co-ordinator came to help me queue.  Even more bizzarely she didn't seem to think that 6 people in a line constituted a queue............. Is it just me, or am I simply becoming a grumpy older person beyond help??  Answers on a postcard (or in the comments :)

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

waiting for plums

For weeks now, all around me has been an abundant plum harvest, people have been groaning under the weight of all the plums they have been gathering in, plums in abundance in the veg box and everywhere in the shops.  I even ate plum crumble and custard in the canteen at work last week.  So why oh why were my plums staying resolutely green?  Would they ever ripen?  Reading the River Cottage guide to Preserves, Pam the Jam confidently states that under-ripe fruit is the best for jam making, so I harvested my plum tree with a sad heart, thinking of the tart, tasteless jam these sad excuses for plums would produce.  Half of the plums have had to go onto the compost heap because they had split anyway.  A dark day.

On to the chopping and preparing of the plums.  Were they like bullets?........no ! they were soft, luscious, dripping......and the taste?.....sweet, lush, sunshine.    The scales fell from my eyes, I didn't have green plums, I've got a beautiful bucket of fragrant juicy greengages!!!

Here you can see them all chopped and ready to go in the maslin pan.  As you can see I chucked in a couple of imposter "proper"plums to make the quantity up to 1.5kg.   Later on I wished I hadn't put them in because the skins didn't soften as quickly as the greengages.

Amazingly, greengages (and plums, damsons, etc) have got kernels inside that smell strongly of almonds.  Who knew??  Its a little tricky cracking stones covered in slippery greengage flesh.....  They were eventually covered in boiling water and later slipped from their little tough jackets, unleashing their pungent almondiness.   Mmmmmmm......

1.5kg greengages simmering with 400ml water, waiting for 1.25kg sugar to be added.

7 jars of jam!

Next year I'll pick the fruit a good 2-3 weeks before the stage they were at yesterday because I lost half the crop to splitting  by waiting for them to ripen.  

I found the tree label in my album of notable plants (I used to keep all the labels, but have lapsed in the last 2 years)  I thought we had bought a plum.  The garden centre (Webbs) certainly sold us a plum.  But no, our tree is definitely a Cambridge Gage.  

Thursday, 25 August 2011

My first ever carrots

I didn't think they had worked because the chard stole all their light, but I have been proved wrong. Ok, fair enough, they are tiny......but they're mine.

A (nearly) finished object

This must be some sort of record for one of my projects as it's only taken about 10 days.

A tanktop for Joseph, extensively adapted from a Drops pattern from ravelry. Project page here . I knitted it in the round instead of in 2 separate front and back pieces.  I also had to change the number of stitches considerably due to the yarn I used - Katia cotton DK, in orange with a green ball added in for a strip around the chest.  I changed the main body stitch from reverse stockinette to normal stockinette as I didn't want to be constantly purling on the circular needles.  I also added a rib edging (but forgot to use a smaller needle size)  I wouldn't use such a boldly variegated yarn for cables again as the colour changes look quite odd.  A bit like peas and carrots vom..no?  I may yet applique a felt dinosaur or something so that the boy will actually wear it.  Likelihood at present is fairly minimal.  It also needs buttons at the shoulders and of course all the ends sewing in.

I've got to take a photo of the boy wearing it to show it fits (fingers crossed) as one of the housekeepers at work did not believe it would fit a 2 year old.  I told her he was quite thin........

Rain on the flowers

I really should learn how to turn off all the dodgy auto-added selfpublicity gubbins from the phone and the apps.  Anyway, exciting news as I have now learnt how to add photos from the phone in a few mere nanoseconds.  yippee! - this could make the whole thing do-able

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

hello helloooo

this is my first ever post in blog-world (so exciting)

I've called the blog {what is it?} because it's going to be about crafting, growing, and children and that seems to be the best-used question in this household.

Look forward to lots of half-finished projects, best intentions, technical difficulties and lengthy hiatuses (hiati?) between posts.  hmmmm, maybe I should have got that roget's thesaurus app after all......