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What To Do In The Kitchen Garden In July

When I first started to grow vegetables I really needed the information to be in one place, so I could look it up easily. However, I found I had to search for lots of little bits of information, scattered between internet sites and books. It used to take me a long time to find the information I needed.

I thought it would be useful to have this information altogether in one place. So for the benefit of UK gardeners, I write a list of things to be done each month and any useful information I can think of.

It is worth remembering that different parts of the UK have different weather conditions e.g. the last frost is expected earlier in the south than the north.

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July

Traditionally July is often the warmest month of the year and days are long, but it can also be the wettest month of summer, with thunder storms probable in all areas.  As we know, weather patterns are changing and as gardeners we now need to adapt to ‘unexpected’ weather conditions.

There are lots of things to harvest at this time of the year and our hard work preparing the soil, sowing seeds, etc. will have started to pay off.

Please remember that this is a general guide.

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Vegetables and salads to harvest:

Broad beans, spinach beet and chard, peas, globe artichokes, kohl rabi, broccoli, calabrese, onions, shallots, garlic, beetroot, early potatoes, turnips, carrots and florence fennel.  Oriental mustards, spinach, peas, mangetout, beetroot, runner beans, french beans, courgettes, marrows and patty pans. Aubergines, chillies, peppers.  Lettuces, radishes, mixed salad leaves and spring onions, tomatoes, chicory, celery, cucumbers, rocket, watercress and spring onions.

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Fruit to harvest:

Rhubarb (finish picking at the beginning of July), gooseberries, strawberries, blueberries, cherries, red and white currants, early plums, apricots, raspberries, peaches, nectarines and undercover melons.  You may even be able to harvest early blackberries, logan berries and tayberries.

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Vegetables and salads to sow:

Sprouting broccoli and calabrese, beetroot, french beans, turnips, carrots, kale, kohl rabi, peas (at the beginning of the month), perpetual spinach, fennel and swiss chard, spring cabbages, oriental leaves, winter radish.

Lettuces and salad leaves (though they are harder to germinate in hot weather), rocket, spring onions, chicory, endive, radishes, watercress.

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Things to plant:

Brussel sprouts, autumn cauliflowers, winter cabbages, sprouting broccoli, kale, peas, french beans, fennel, endive and leeks.

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Jobs to do in July:

Keep weeding and mulch with compost or even grass cuttings if the ground is damp. Mulching will suppress the weeds and help to keep the soil moist.

Water if it is dry. It is better to give a ‘good’ watering once a week, rather than water a small amount daily, as this will help the plant roots to grow deeper to find water.

When your peas or beans have stopped producing, cut down the foliage leaving the roots in the ground, as these have lots of nitrogen in their modules, which will be good for your next crops.

Feed tomatoes after the first little tomato starts to form. Use a high potash feed, a comfrey feed is perfect for this. See how to make a comfrey feed here.

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Remove new raspberry suckers or shoots that are unwanted. If your canes become too thick and dense it stops the sunlight and air from getting to the inside canes, which can cause disease or under-developed fruit.

Continue pruning the side shoots on grape vines and thin out fruit so the remaining fruit will grow larger.  Remove some of the foliage if necessary to expose the grapes to the sun to help with ripening.

Keep tying in blackberry canes.

Keep pinching off the sideshoots on your tomatoes.

Prune summer raspberries as soon as they have finished fruiting, by cutting down all the canes that have had fruit on, to the ground.  Tie in all this year’s new growth, as these canes will have the fruit on next year.

Thin apples and pears if they are still overcroweded, so the remaining fruit will grow larger.

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Propagate strawberries by pegging down the runners, so they root into the ground.  Alternatively, you can peg them down into pots of compost.

Prune cherry and plum trees.

‘Pinch out’ the top of runner beans when they reach the top of their supports.  This will encourage bushier plants and stops them from becoming top heavy.

Weed regularly so your plants won’t need to compete with the weeds for water and nutrients.

Take up onions, garlic and shallots and lay them in the sun.  Alternatively, lift them and dry them in a greenhouse.  Ensure they are fully dry before storing them.

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Feed peppers after the first little pepper starts to form. Use a high potash feed, the comfrey feed is perfect for this (see above).

If it is dry, water cauliflowers, lettuces, rocket, spinach as these have a tendency to bolt in dry weather.

Earth up trench celery to stop the light getting to the stems.

Take cutting of herbs now.

Bend the leaves of cauliflowers over the curds to stop the sun from turning them yellow.

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July pests and diseases:

(Please don’t be alarmed by all the pests and diseases that you read below, you may never see some of them, but it’s good to be aware).

Slugs and snails are active at night, especially in damp weather.

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Remove any yellow leaves from brassicas to stop pests from hiding in them or diseases from spreading.  Check brassicas for caterpillars and pick them off or squash them.

Watch out for blackfly, they especially love globe artichokes, runner beans, french beans and beetroot.  Wipe the blackfly between your fingers and thumb to squash them.

Watch out for ‘blight’, it will affect your potatoes and tomatoes.  Blight is a fungal disease, spread by wind and rain and it can wipe out your whole crop in just a few days.  There is information regarding blight here.

Look out for leek moth caterpillars which feed on the leaves leaving holes in the foliage.  Pick them off asap.

Protect your brassicas, peas, strawberries and even lettuces from pigeons, by keeping them netted.

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Check for asparagus beetles and pick them off.

Check apple for canker, scab and powdery mildew.

Check pears for pear leaf blister mite, rust, canker and scab.

Check gooseberries and currants for saw flies, greenflies and currant blister aphids.

Check grapes for scale insects.

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Thank you for reading my blog today, I hope this post is useful to you.

I will be back as usual next Friday at 4pm.

Have a good week!

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Two ‘Trials’ & An Easy Vanilla Ice cream Recipe

This week at my allotment I decided to trial two different things:

1) Nemaslug Slug Killer:

The first is ‘Nemaslug Slug Killer’, which apparently controls slugs naturally and is harmless to children, pets and wildlife (inc. birds and hedgehogs), even if they eat the infected slugs.

They seemed pretty easy to use from the instructions that I read before I ordered them, so I thought I would give them a go as they are a natural organic way to fight slugs.

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Apparently this pack can treat upto 40 square meters and it gives six weeks of protection.

I particularly wanted to use the slug killer around my potato patch as I seem to suffer regularly each year from slug holes in them.  After researching the best way to use the nematodes, I found it was best to use them six to seven weeks before I plan to harvest my potatoes, which was this week.

As the product only has a shelf life of four weeks, I ordered them a couple of weeks ago and when I received them they had to be stored in the fridge.

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The instructions said that you needed to apply the nemotodes on a dull day or in the evening….so I waited for a dull day.  It also said the ground must be moist before you apply them, so I had to use my hosepipe to wet 40 square meters!

I split the packet into four and poured each quarter into a watering can (with a course spray as advised) filled with clean water.  I then set about watering the area where my potatoes are growing…..I found I almost had to run along to make sure the watering can didn’t empty before I had covered the desired area!

I then read that you need to keep the area moist for the next two weeks, which means using more water from a hosepipe.

My first impressions are that it’s all a lot of messing around and an awful lot of watering (unless you apply them in a wet period which is no good for me at the moment).  However, I will follow the instructions and see if my potatoes have fewer slug holes this year…..The cheapest price I could find was £9.44 (incl postage), so I will let you know at the end of my trial if it is worth spending this money.

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2) The second trial is ‘Tagetes minuta’

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I go to a wonderful garden forum that used to be held at the ‘Eco House’ in Leicester (which sadly closed down last year), but we managed to keep the forum going.  We decided to trial these plants together as according to Sarah Raven:

“Tagetes minuta is an extraordinary plant that isn’t a looker, but its roots kill perennial weeds such a ground elder and couch grass.

Height: 180cm”

I sowed my seeds on the 30th April and they were ready to plant out this week:

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I planted them right at the back of my plot which is covered in all sorts of perennial weeds such as couch grass, dandelions, brambles, buttercups, nettles and even some Ivy:

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To be honest you have to look really hard to see where the plants are in the photo below.

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I did give them some slug pellets to start them off as I know slugs love to eat tagetes and I wanted to give them a chance to work their magic.

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I will let you know the results of both trials.

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This week at the allotment I cleared the poached egg plants away as they had finished flowering and had shed most of it’s seed.  They gave a wonderful display last month and they brought lots of beneficial insects like ladybirds and bees to my plot:

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I then replaced them with some marigolds that I grew from seed in March and hopefully they will look great in a few weeks:

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I also gave my flower patch a good weed and removed the forget-me-nots that also gave such a good display this year.  I cut back my hardy geraniums to encourage a second flush of flowers too:

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  I then planted some dhalias, petunias and antirrhinums that I had also grown from seed.  Hopefully these will give a good display all summer:

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Elsewhere on the allotment I have sown some more radish and I have been watering my celeriac at least twice a week to encourage bigger roots.

I have also been hoeing to keep the weeds down.

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Harvesting:

This week I have been harvesting lots of wonderful salad leaves, radish, spring onions, coriander and also watercress (which incidentally is grown in a large pot of compost that is watered only once a week):

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And also lots of broad beans that I have been blanching and then freezing on trays before putting them into a freezer bag, to stop the beans from sticking together in large lumps:

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And strawberries…what a wonderful crop this year.  In total I have harvested four baskets full so far:

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So we have eaten loads, I also made some more jam and I froze the rest.

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At home my hanging baskets are looking beautiful so far and I have started to feed them with a high potash liquid feed….the same one I use for my tomatoes at home

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And I have my first flowers on my ‘poundshop’ dhalia’s.  These were a bargain as there were three tubers in a pack for £1.00 and I didn’t really think they would be up to much….but all three have grown.

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I love receiving comments on my blog and this week ‘Angela’ asked me for the recipe that I use to make vanilla ice cream.  I don’t bother messing around with vanilla pods, I just use ‘madagascan vanilla extract’ which seems to be a bit thicker than ordinary vanilla extract and can be bought from your local supermarket, however normal vanilla extract should also work.

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A Very Easy Vanilla Ice cream Recipe:

(With or without an ice cream maker)

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165 grams caster sugar

240ml double cream

500ml  milk (I use semi skimmed)

2 teaspoons Madagascan vanilla extract if possible (or normal vanillia extract)

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Put all the above ingredients into a bowl and mix until combined with a hand blender or a spoon:

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Add the mixture to your icecream maker to do the hard work

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(If you haven’t got an ice cream maker, just put the blended ingredients into a container and freeze.  Remove from the freezer every 1-2 hours and mash vigourously with a fork to break up the ice crystals)

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As there are no chemicals in the ice cream, the ice cream will be quite hard when you take it out of the freezer to use, so it is better to take it out for 10-15 minutes before you eat it.

Then enjoy it!

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Altogether it has been a good week in the ‘Thrift’ household and to top it off, my good allotment neighbour gave me some ‘Sweet william’ flowers to take home and they look beautiful.

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Thank you for reading my blog today.

I will be back next Friday at my usual time.  I hope you have a good week.

A Yule Log Recipe And Homemade Hampers/Decorations

This week has been another busy week, but I have really enjoyed it.

Mr Thrift was having a ‘get together lunch’ at work and everyone needed to take something for a buffet.  A couple of people had asked him to take in another pumpkin and orange cake, so on Tuesday I made one:

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I was very pleased to say it all went very quickly.

The recipe is here if anyone is interested.

They also judged the Christmas jumper competition (the proceeds were going to the Rainbows charity) and the jumper I made my husband last week won, which made me chuckle.

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Apparently they all enjoyed the Christmas chocolates that I had sewn on the back.

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I also started to make up my hampers for my family too.  I had bought little bits and bobs for them over the year, tailoring the gifts to each family.  I also added some homemade jams and chutneys (though not as many as last year due to the builders being here).

I used tissue paper circles (cut out using a saucer) and raffier ribbon to tie the tissue paper over the jars.  I think it always looks nice this way.

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I have a big roll of cellophane that I bought last year on the internet for a bargain price and I’m sure it will last me years.  I use this to wrap the hampers, tying it with Christmas ribbons:

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Last year my sister gave me her basket back as she didn’t have room for it in the house, so this year I thought it would be a good idea to add a little note in each basket that said:

“I would really like you to find a use for this basket, however if you can’t please return it to me and I’ll refill it with goodies for you next Christmas”

I thought that this way the baskets won’t end up in the rubbish bin or charity shop if they don’t want them and it will save me money next year, as I won’t have to buy them again (which certainly helps me) and it’s better for the environment to recycle them too.

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Remember the oranges that I left on my radiator to dry for a week or two?…I’m pleased to say that the oranges dried really well on the radiator, without the need to put them in the oven.  I put a little hole in each one when they were nearly dry so I could thread some wire or ribbon through it.

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I sprayed some twigs with a cheap gold spray that I bought last year from Wilkinsons and then decorated them with holly, cones and the dried oranges and finished it with the battery lights from my husbands ‘Christmas Jumper’ and some ribbons.

I was very pleased with how it turned out (though for some reason it doesn’t look so good in the photo’s below):

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I put it in our old dinning room which we will decorate after Christmas now the old fireplace has been fitted.  It makes the room look really Christmassy.

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I also made some individual cakes for Mr Thift’s work colleagues as a gift for Christmas.  I used my muffin recipe here and piped icing on the top using this recipe.

I managed to get some single cake cases to put them in and I was very pleased with the overall result:

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Another job I did was to make some White Chocolate, Apricot and Brandy Truffles for my dad as a surprise (he really loves them).  The recipe is here.  I can’t wait to give them to him at the weekend.

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A Christmas Chocolate Yule Log

We love a Yule Log for Christmas in our family and it’s now a family tradition to argue over the end piece.  I used to buy them until my daughter became dairy intolerant.  It was then I realised how easy and cheap they are to make if you just know how.

I have searched the internet and found a couple of shop bought Yule Logs to compare the prices to mine.  The first I found was a kit to ‘make your own’ Yule Log and it costs £1.50 to buy.  To make it you need to add:  1 medium egg, 80ml cold water, 80g softened unsalted butter, 100ml double cream and some greaseproof paper.  After reading the instructions, I felt you may as well make it from scratch but I suppose that is just my opinion.

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I also found a Finest Chocolate log for £3.00:

log 2I have worked out how much the ingredients cost me for my Chocolate Yule Log and it totalled £1.45 for the ingredients plus the grease proof paper that I used.  I used ‘Pure’ margarine to make the butter icing dairy free for my daughter, but normally I would use butter or soft margarine to do this.  I think for £1.45 it is definately worth making.  This is how I make it:

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A Christmas Chocolate Yule Log Recipe:

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Greaseproof paper

Olive oil or marg for greasing

3 eggs

75g caster sugar

75g self-raising flour

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

Icing sugar for dusting

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For the icing you will need:

300g icing sugar

150g butter or margarine

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

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Preheat your oven Gas 4 / 180C /350F.

Lightly grease a baking tray 9inch x 12 inch

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Line it with greaseproof paper, snipping the corners so the papers lies properly without creasing and then grease the paper

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Put the caster sugar and eggs into a bowl and whisk for a few minutes

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Keep whisking until the mixture turns from a yellow colour to a soft  creamy white colour and if you make a figure of eight on the top of your mixture, it will stay visable for a second or two (you can just see this on the right hand picture below)

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Sieve the flour and cocoa into the bowl

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and fold them into the egg and sugar mixture until it’s all combined

(to ‘fold in’ just keep turning the mixture over without mixing it so the air stays in)

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Pour it into your greased baking sheet and spread the mixture to the edges

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Bake for 8 minutes only

(if you over bake the sponge will crack when you try to roll it).

While it is baking, spread out a piece of greasproof paper and dust with icing sugar

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Take the sponge out of the oven and immeadiately turn it out onto the greaseproof paper and peel off the old greaseproof paper

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Sprinkle some more icing sugar over the sponge and quickly lay some more greaseproof paper over the top of the sponge.

Using the bottom piece of paper, roll up the sponge with the top piece of paper inside the sponge:

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Leave it to cool still rolled up.

When it is cool, you can freeze it at this stage and defrost and ice it later

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To Ice It:

Mix the icing sugar, marg and cocoa in a bowl until it is fully combined (this can be hard work at first)

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Fill a jug with piping hot water and add a few knifes, as this helps the butter icing spread if you keep swapping the knifes.

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Unroll your sponge and spread a thin layer of icing over it

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Roll the sponge up again using the greaseproof paper to help

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Spread the butter icing all over the rolled up sponge.  Leave it as it is or make log patterns with a fork or use a knife to make ‘spiky’ patterns by lifting the knife up quickly from the icing

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Decorate with whatever you have

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Sprinkle with icing sugar for ‘snow’

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Enjoy!

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Thank you for reading my blog today.

I will be back on Monday at my usual time.

A Christmas Table Wreath & Homemade Hampers

Yesterday I made a Christmas Table Wreath.

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I openly admit that I’m not very good at flower arranging.  In fact, I was the only Brownie that just ‘scraped’ a flower arranging badge due to ‘Brown Owl’ stepping in and rearranging it all for me.  My arrangement was so bad.

Still, I thought it would be fun to have a go and I think it turned out really well.  This is how I made it:

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My Table Wreath

I bought an oasis ring from Wilkinson last month for £3.50

I used a bit of old ribbon

Pine cones from my local park

Shrubs from the garden

(I used Viburnum tinus, conifer and bay)

Large paper clips (you can use florist’s wire)

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I started by soaking the oasis ring upside down in water for about 5 minutes, until the bubbles stopped coming out of it.  I have read that you should not press the oasis ring down, as this will cause air bubbles to enter the foam, creating dry spots.

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I cut the foliage in lengths of approximately 10cm and striped the leaves so there was about 4cm of stem to push into the oasis.

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I layered the shrubs into the oasis by pushing the stems in at a slight angle, starting at the bottom.

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I kept building the foliage up, so eventually the oasis couldn’t be seen.

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I used big paper clips that I stretched out, to secure the ribbons and the pine cones to the oasis.

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I have read that it is best to mist the wreath with water each day so it doesn’t dry out.

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I am very proud of my table wreath.

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Now I had my table wreath I decided to decorate my table, so you can see how it will look on Christmas day, with my table wreath and homemade crackers.

My tablecloth, napkins, napkin rings and plate chargers only come out at Christmas, so they still look like new each year.

My plates are our everyday ones.  I bought white, so they can easily be replaced if one breaks, without having to buy a whole new set.

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Even though I do say so myself, I think our table looks lovely and I can’t wait to have our Christmas dinner with lots of my home grown vegetables and my lovely ‘Aldi’ turkey crown, which cost me just £9.

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Today, I also finished wrapping the hampers that I have made for my family.

I tied a piece of tissue paper on all the jars of pickles, chutneys, jams etc and tied them with some raffia to make them look nice.

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In the hampers I put the homemade preserves, homemade mini christmas cakes and bottles of wine with the bottle covers I made last week.

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I added the handmade luxury dishcloths,

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I then also added one or two ‘surprises’ in each hamper too.

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I wrapped the hampers in cellophane (I bought a big roll, cheap from ebay, that will last me a few years).

I think they look great and I would love to receive one.

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A homemade gift is from the heart and not just the bank account.

Thank you for reading my blog today.

How To Ice A Christmas Cake And How To ‘Elf’ Yourself

Last week I made my Christmas Cake and I also made some ‘Mini’ Christmas Cakes too.

Today I iced the mini Christmas cakes ready to give away as presents in my hampers.  I will be honest with you, I use ready made icing and marzipan that I bought from Tesco when they had their ‘3 for the price of 2’ offer recently.

Icing the mini Christmas cakes is exactly the same as icing my large Christmas Cake, so I thought I would share this with you:

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How to Ice a Christmas cake

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Firstly put a dusting of icing sugar on your work surface.

Take the marzipan out of the wrapper and knead it for a few minutes until it is nice and soft.

Roll out your marzipan until it is larger than your cake, using a rolling pin.

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Put your cake on a cake board or plate. 

To ensure you have an even surface on the top of your cake, turn your cake upside down.

Spread a thin layer of jam over the top and sides of your cake.

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Lift the marzipan up with your rolling pin and put it over the cake.

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Using the side of your hand, push the marzipan down gently around the side of the cake, ensuring there are no ‘folds’.

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When it is all even and smooth, use a knife to remove the excess marzipan.

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Cover the marzipan with a thin layer of jam.

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Roll out the icing in exactly the same way as the marzipan and cover the cake.

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Remove the excess icing.

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I cut out stars with the excess icing and stuck them on with a little bit of icing sugar mixed with water.

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I used ‘silver balls’ to push into the icing on each point of the stars.

Finish by wrapping a ribbon around the cake.

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Cover with cellophane to complete the look.

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Occaisionally, even if you turn your cake upside down, it still isn’t straight.  When this happens I cut a liitle bit off the cake to make it straight before I ice it.

If I have any icing and marzipan left, I use this with the above bits of cake and make ‘Christmas Cake Sausage Rolls’:

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‘Christmas Cake Sausage Rolls’

First I roll a rectangle with both the marzipan and icing and then I put the cake in the middle, with a little bit of jam on one side to hold it together.

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Then I roll it up, starting from the edge without the jam.

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Slice the roll into pieces with a knife and serve on a plate.

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Elf’ Yourself

To finish of with, I though I would put a link to an ‘E-Card’ that you can have fun with.

Basically, you can upload a photograph and put your face and/or your families face on an ‘Elf’ and it will dance around.  It does look funny.  You can then email it to your friends and family.

We have had lots of fun with this ‘E-card’ and I hope you will too

You can find it here.

Enjoy!

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I hope you enjoyed reading my blog today.

Wine Bottle Covers, Handmade Dishcloths And How To Track Santa On Christmas Eve

Before I start, I would like to say a big  “Welcome” to anyone who is visiting, due to the link on Rhonda’s ‘Down To Earth’ blog.  It is lovely to see you and thank you Rhonda for including me in your ‘Weekend Reading’. 

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I make Christmas hampers for my family and put lots of homemade goodies in them, e.g. Jams, pickles, chutneys, etc. and everyone seems to like them.

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In each hamper I also put a bottle of wine, but I feel they don’t really look very special on their own, so I make a cheap and simple cover to put around it.  I think this gives the wine an extra special touch (and makes it look more expensive than it actually was).

I bought the material from ‘Dunelm’ a couple of months ago.  It cost me £1.50 and I managed to easily get three covers out of it.

Below is how I made it:

I cut a rectangle of the fabric aproximately 10cm longer than the bottle and wide enough to wrap around the width of the bottle, with enough of an overlap to stitch the material together.

I folded the fabric in half and then pinned the bottom and side.

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I then stitched the bottom and side together leaving the top open (you may find it easier to tack the material first).

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I turned the bottle cover inside out and slid the bottle inside.

I tied the top together with a pretty bow to complete it.

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I think my bottles of wine look much better now.

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I thought I’d show you another thing I have been busy making for my homemade hampers ….Dishcloths.

I know some of you will be thinking ‘she has really lost the plot now’, but handmade dishcloths really are lovely to use and last far longer than the cheap ones that you buy.

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I love knitting as I find it very therapeutic to do, so I decided that this year it would be nice to include then in my hampers.

There are loads of free dishcloth patterns on the internet, but I picked a pattern that used just ‘knit’ and ‘purl’ stiches, so it really was easy to do.  I bought the ‘Dishcloth’ cotton yarn cheaply from the internet too, so each dishcloth is cheap to make.

I have decided to put two neatly folded dishcloths in each hamper, tied with a pretty ribbon and a little note on them to say that they are ‘Handmade Luxury Dishcloths’.  I hope my family like them, I know I would.

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Track Santa

Finally today I thought I’d tell you about a wonderful FREE website that young children will love on Christmas Eve.  It has been around for quite a few years now and my daughters used to love it.

The American website has a few games that children can play, leading up to christmas, but the fun really begins on Christmas Eve.

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On Christmas Eve, you can track exactly where Santa is in the world delivering his presents.  It is so magical watching him going from place to place on his sleigh and children get so excited watching him.

So if you have small children, you can find the website here.

I hope you have as much fun as we have had over the years, watching Santa flying from place to place on his sleigh.

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Thank you for reading my blog today.

Homemade Gifts And Easy Homemade Truffles

I love homemade gifts as they are all unique and they take time and energy to make them.  It shows the person who receives the gift, how important they are to you.

I think a homemade gift, is a gift that is given from the heart and not just from your bank account.

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Yesterday, I made homemade truffles for my friend’s birthday.  I bought a lovely little gift box and lined it with tissue paper and tied a nice ribbon around it.  I was very pleased with how it looked and I would have loved to receive it.

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Tomorrow I am on Radio Leicester, on the Tony Wadsworth show at 10am.  I love going into the studio with Tony, as he is so welcoming and always makes me laugh.

One of the things I wanted to talk about is homemade Christmas presents.  So I also bought another gift box and filled this with truffles for the Radio Leicester crew to share.

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In the box, I placed a little label which describes each truffle:

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There are two different truffles in the box:

White Chocolate, Apricot And Brandy Truffles and Dark Chocolate Rum Truffles.

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I am really pleased with these and I think they demonstrate that homemade presents can look really good too.

Below is the recipes for each truffle.

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White Chocolate, Apricot And Brandy Truffles

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¾ cup madeira sponge cake crumbs

¼ cup icing sugar

¼ cup ground almonds

½ cup finely chopped dried apricots

2 tablespoons double cream

50g white cooking chocolate

1 tablespoon brandy (optional)

½ cup desiccated coconut for coating

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Mix together the cake crumbs, ground almonds, icing sugar and apricots in a bowl.

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Quarter fill a pan with water and heat until boiling.  Turn the heat down so the water just simmers and put a heat proof bowl over the pan.  Melt the white chocolate in the heatproof bowl and then stir in the cream.

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Add the chocolate and cream mix to the cake crumb mix, together with the brandy. Mix it  until combined.

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Roll the mixture into balls and then roll the balls gently over the desiccated coconut, to coat them. Place on a paper-lined tray or mini cake cases and chill for 4 hours or overnight.

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These truffles will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 10 days.

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Dark Chocolate Rum Truffles

¾ cup madeira sponge cake crumbs

¼ cup icing sugar

¼ cup ground almonds

1 tablespoon rum (or 2-3 drops rum essence)

1 teaspoon lemon juice

50g dark cooking chocolate

2 tablespoon of pouring cream

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The Icing:

1/3 cup sifted icing sugar

2 tablespoons butter

30g cooking chocolate

2 teaspoons rum (or 1-2 drops rum essence)

¾ cup chocolate sprinkles

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Mix the cake crumbs, ground almonds, rum and lemon juice in a bowl.

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Melt the chocolate in the heat proof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.

Pour the melted chocolate into the cake mixture and add the cream.  Mix until the ingredients are all combined and then roll the mixture into small balls.

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Put the balls onto a piece of greaseproof paper and allow them to harden in the fridge for approximately 4 hours or overnight.

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Next make the Icing:

Melt the chocolate and butter in a heat proof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.

Stir in sifted icing sugar and rum and stir until it is all combined and smooth.  It should be the  consistency of runny cream.  If it’s too thick add a little bit of warm water from your kettle.

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Insert a cocktail stick into the truffle and coat it in the chocolate

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Straight after, dip it into a bowl with the chocolate sprinkles in.

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Put the truffles on greaseproof paper and put them in the fridge for another two hours to chill.

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These truffles will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 10 days.

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Thank you for reading my blog today.