Archives

Two Wonderful Days

As I said previously, I am having a break from my blog during March, but as promised I will share one of my favourite blog posts each Friday instead.

The blog post below was written in August 2012 and the two days are very nice memories that I had completely forgotten about until now:

…………………………

.

On Sunday I invited my family round for ‘Afternoon Tea’.

Originally my ‘Afternoon Tea’ was intended for just the ‘ladies’ of the family.  However, all the men folk wanted to come too, so it became a whole family occasion.

This has now become a regular thing over the last few years, as everyone seemed to enjoy it.  This time there were 18 people including my 1 year old great nephew, so I was grateful that the weather stayed fine, so we could all sit and eat outside.

I took out my best ‘china’ tea set for the occasion (which I bought second hand from ebay).

.

This time I decided to have an ‘allotment’ theme to my afternoon tea:

.

I started by serving Patty Pan Soup and homemade bread.

My wonderful sister made sandwiches for everyone this year to help me, so we served these next.

Afterwards I served the cakes.

To keep with my allotment theme, I served the following:

A Chocolate Beetroot Cake, with chocolate butter icing and a chocolate topping,

A Pumpkin and Orange Cake,

A Rhubarb and Ginger Cake,

 

Blackberry Flapjacks,

 

Apple & Yellow Plum Muffins,

 

And Chocolate Courgette Cakes

.

This was all served with lots of Tea and Coffee and a homemade Raspberry Cordial.

It did take quite a while to bake all the cakes, but everyone seemed to have a lovely time.

 The recipes for the Patty Pan Soup, Chocolate Beetroot Cake and the Chocolate Courgette cakes, are in the ‘recipe section’ at the top of the page.

I really enjoyed the day with my family.

.

………………………………………………………..

The very next day:

.

Yesterday, the four of us went for a lovely family day out to Skegness in Lincolnshire.

Skegness is a well known place for a day trip when you live in Leicester, as we do.  It’s one of the nearest beaches to us.

It took two hours to drive there.

Skegness has a reputation of being a bit ‘tacky’ with the amusements and ‘cheap’ shops, but for a day on the beach you can’t beat it.

We took a big picnic, chairs, buckets and spades, etc. and had a wonderful cheap day, making sandcastles, playing cricket, collecting shells, etc and chatting about life.

The weather was good and the sea was calm and I had fun with my husband and daughters.

Two wonderful days with family, what more could anyone want in life?

.

Thank you for reading my blog today.

Manure & Odd Job Week

We have had a mix of wet and dry weather this week here in the East Midlands, but Wednesday was absolutely glorious and it felt like Spring was here already…the sun made everything look more beautiful, especially the waves of snop drops and crocus in our local park:

IMG_3239 IMG_3243

One thing I wasn’t expecting to see this early was my first dandelion of the year….this is a reminder that soon it will the time to weed my kitchen garden on a weekly basis:

IMG_3235

The dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is actually a wonderful plant, though we do tend to see it as a nuisance weed.  In actual fact it is an excellent food plant for many beneficial insects and it provides an important food source to bees…and bees need our help in every way possible at the moment due to their decline in numbers over recent years.

I wrote a lot of interesting facts about dandelions here if you have a spare five minutes to read them….it does make you see this ‘nuisance’ weed in a completely different light.

.

This week in my kitchen garden:

.

This week I have been spreading manure over the beds that I will be growing my brassicas and potatoes in this year.  This is usually a job I start to do when the beds become empty in November, but I am a little bit late this year:

SAM_2669

I decided to buy bags of composted organic manure as I have nowhere to store fresh manure while it composts down.  Ironically, the six bags I bought from the garden centre cost me £24 which is just £1 less than I used to pay the organic farmer who would deliver manure to my four allotments….his manure used to last me two to three seasons when I used it on all four plots:

SAM_5981SAM_5982

“Animal manure is a wonderful soil conditioner which also adds a small amount of nutrients to the soil.  Some animal manures add more nitrogen than others and if you apply it fresh, the nitrogen will ‘burn’ and kill plants.  Compost fresh manure for at least six months before using it”

SAM_2672

I lightly forked my new bags of organic manure into my beds and it looked and felt like compost.  This is a long way from the manure I used to use from the farmer, as this was heavy and stuck in clumps, where as my ‘bagged’ manure could be raked easily over the soil….but it was expensive.

As I forked it into the soil I found quite a bit of different bindweed roots.  I know from experience that you need to keep on top of this weed if you don’t want to use chemicals to kill it.  I keep pulling it out as soon as I see it, as it spreads very quickly if I don’t.  Eventually the plant will weaken and give up, but this can take a long, long time.

SAM_2673

Eventually I want to stop using manure and just use compost (mainly made by me), but for now I wanted to put some ‘umph’ in the soil (as my wonderful old allotment friend Eric used to say to me), to improve my soil and add a few nutrients (though I will still be using a slow release fertiliser like blood, fish and bone before I sow / plant my crops).

.

This week in the home:

.

This week I have continued to clean my kitchen cupboards.  I am very sad to say amongst my recipe books I found two of the same books, they were just printed at different times but have exactly the same recipes inside.  This just shows me I don’t read my books enough after buying them, so I am going to try and make a conscious effort to look through and use all of my recipe books from now on!

IMG_3215

I have also caught up with a few little jobs that I have been putting off, like cleaning my fridge:

IMG_3247

…..And fixing the hook in the kitchen that for two years has twisted round and around when you hook the curtain tie back on to it!  It took me less than five minutes to fix it with ‘hard as nails’ adhesive:

IMG_3233 IMG_3234

I also fixed the curtain holdbacks in the bedroom I recently decorated for my daughter:

IMG_3229 IMG_3228

So this bedroom is completely finished now and I am really, really pleased with how it looks and so far my daughter has kept it tidy:

IMG_3230

 This week I also made Mr Thrift some valentine chocolates.  I managed to get a silicone mould in the sales last year for £2.  I just melted a bar of Mr Thrift’s favourite chocolate in the microwave and then poured the melted chocolate into the silicone mould (I didn’t bother tempering the chocolate either).  I let the chocolate set (out of the fridge) and then pushed the chocolates out of the mould.

IMG_3214

I also had enough left over chocolate to make my daughters a few chocolate lollies using a silicone lolly mould I had tucked away.

IMG_3220 IMG_3217

If you look carefully at the hearts above, you can see that each heart has a couple of ‘valentine’ words on.

I wrapped them up in cellophane and gave them to Mr Thrift on valentines day.  He really liked them thank goodness.

IMG_3222 IMG_3223

It just goes to show you don’t have to spend a lot of money on a gift…..it really is the thought that counts!

.

Finally last weekend we celebrated my daughters 18th birthday at a Toby Carvery.  I wanted to mention this as the manager was absolutely brilliant.

My daughter said she didn’t want a party and asked us to go for a quiet meal with her….but then two weeks ago she decided she wanted to ask this person and that person, until the number of people she had asked totalled forty!

So we spoke to the manager at the restaurant and he arranged for everyone to be seated in just one area and allowed us to come a couple of hours earlier to decorate it with banners and balloons:

IMG_3186 balloon 12728842_10153986409853856_406938050261309274_n

The manager even gave us a table to place the cake and presents on, which he could have quite easily given to someone else.

Everyone had a lovely time, the food was great and the staff fell over themselves to help.

cake 1

My daughter certainly had a wonderful birthday!

.

Well that’s it for this week.  I will be back next Friday as usual.

Have a great week!

Winds In The Park & A Special Birthday

What a windy few days we had this week with storm ‘Imogen’.  Here in the Midlands we weren’t hit as hard as the southern half of the country, however I did see a couple of trees that had lost large branches in our local park which was sad to see.

IMG_1483 IMG_1482

The weather really has been strange this winter with more storms than usual and it has been very mild.  I think a lot of plants are quite confused about the time of year, though I’m sure they will adjust.

Whilst walking my dog this week I saw my first daisy….I don’t think I have ever seen one flower this early:

IMG_3179

Also I saw rhododendrons beginning to flower which is also a bit early, but beautiful to see on a cold damp day:

IMG_1486 IMG_1485

Another thing I found on one of my walks this week was a Christmas rose (Helleborus).  This is about the right time for it to flower, but I would have missed it if I hadn’t walked through a quiet wooded area in the park for a change:

IMG_3176

.

This week in my garden at home:

.

This week I have noticed that my rhubarb is growing well now (and I still haven’t got around to mulching it all with manure – I better hurry up).

SAM_2661 SAM_2663

I transplanted this rhubarb from my allotment last January so this will now be its second year, so I will be able to harvest a small amount this year and I am already looking forward to it!

“If you transplant rhubarb it is best not to harvest any the first year and only a small amount in the second year to avoid weakening the crown”

.

I have also noticed that my spring cabbages are beginning to grow a bit and it will soon be time to give them a feed.  I need to lift the net and remove the yellowing leaves first though:

SAM_2654 SAM_2653

The garlic that I planted in the autumn in the ground is doing very well.  I planted some ‘back up’ garlic in my cold greenhouse which is also doing well, so will have to find a place in the garden for it soon:

SAM_2657 SAM_2666

You can see in the right hand photo above that my broadbeans seeds and leek seeds are now growing well too.

In the garden my chives are poking through now and so too is my comfrey:

SAM_2660 SAM_2664

These things show me that Spring is on its way.

SAM_2665 SAM_2655

.

Inside the house the flower seeds that I sowed last week have now all popped their heads up too, which is surprisingly quick (lobelia, dhalias, marigolds, and antirrhiums):

SAM_2651 SAM_2652

To speed their germination I decided to give them a bit of ‘bottom’ heat in their propagator by placing it on top of my radiator, with a chair placed against it to stop it falling off….and it worked a treat!

SAM_2643

.

This week in my garden outside I moved my rosemary and mint forward and sunk them into the holes where my blueberries sat last week before I moved them.  I am keeping the mint in pots to stop the roots from spreading and the rosemary is a young plant.  By sinking the pots in the ground it keeps the roots a bit cooler which means I don’t need to water them so often in the summer.

IMG_3172

I gave the rosemary a bit of a hair cut too:

IMG_3169 IMG_3185

I also decided it was time to give my bay tree a hair cut too, so it doesn’t grow too big.  It certainly looks neater now:

SAM_2628 SAM_2630

Out in my small front garden I also gave my three spirea plants a good prune.  I find this stops the plants growing too large.  I planted three spirea plants approximately thirteen years ago and all I ever do is prune them in February and they look good every year…they were well worth the £2 each that I paid for them!

IMG_3163 IMG_3184

.

This week in the home:

.

This week Mr Thrift had a few days off work and we decided it was high time we sorted our cupboards out as they had become a bit messy.

We found things in them that we didn’t know we still had:

SAM_2635

We found some little plastic things that cover the screws in our plug sockets, that we didn’t know we had and we also found a couple of birthday candles that I must have bought and forgotten about – unfortunately my youngest daughter turned sixteen last November so I will have to pass them on to someone else to use:

SAM_2637 SAM_2638

It took a while to sort everything out but it’s nice to have tidy draws and cupboards once again:

SAM_2639 SAM_2642

.

This week there are two birthdays in our family.  The first was my step mothers.  My dad and step mum came round on Saturday (my step mums birthday) to watch Leicester City play on the television….this was a spur of the moment thing so I wasn’t prepared.

While they watched the first half of the match I made my step mum a birthday cake.  I did it as quickly as I could using my favourite ‘throw it all in’ recipe and I whipped up some chocolate butter icing to spread over it and I grated some white chocolate on the top.  I just managed to light the candles as the whistle blew for half time:

SAM_2634

I don’t think I have ever made a cake so fast, but it proves that it can be done quickly (though a little bit of the butter icing did melt on the top as the cake didn’t have time to cool down as much as it should have, but nobody noticed).

And it is my eldest daughter’s 18th birthday….where on earth did that time go?

She has grown into a beautiful, intelligent, well manored lady, who we are both so very proud of.

IMG_3186

I spent Wednesday and Thursday making a large cake for a her.  My daughter’s middle name is ‘Rose’ so I decided to have ’18’ roses around it.

I made three sponges and eighteen little mini cakes and decorated it with icing:

SAM_2645 SAM_2648 SAM_2649

My cake isn’t perfect, but I’m sure it has saved us a lot of money and ‘homemade’ cakes always taste nicer than shop bought cakes….and more importantly, my daughter loved it (thank goodness).

SAM_2650

Thank you for reading my blog today, I will be back as usual next Friday.

Have a lovely week!

Christmas Reminiscing

This is my last blog post before Christmas day.

I will be taking a couple of weeks off blogging during the festive period, but I will be back on the 8th January….. I hope you don’t mind.

SAM_2423

In the week before Christmas last year my blog post included my ‘Twelve Tips Of Christmas’ which you can find here.

This year I was wondering what I could write about and I decided to write something a little bit different from my normal blog posts…..

SAM_7963

Yesterday I started to think about my past Christmas’s and I can hand on heart say I have been very lucky as I have had some lovely times…..

……When I was small there was always such excitement in the house when my mother produced the advent calender each year….there were no chocolates in it, just doors to open with pictures underneath (except for number one and two as these had been ripped off previously, as we had the same calender every year).  Number fifteen was a large door with santa underneath saying “only ten days until Christmas’ and my sisters and I would argue over who would open it.

SAM_7966

I also remember taking part in a nativity play at infant school….There were no variations on the Christmas story in those days, it was exactly as the bible wrote and we sang beautiful carols throughout…. don’t get me wrong, I loved to see my daughters in their Christmas productions at Primary school, but it was rare to hear a carol proformed and I would have really liked to have seen them take part in a good ‘old fashioned’ nativity play.

Another memory at Infant school was making Christmas cards and posting them in our ‘schools own post box’ and it was such an honour to be picked to ‘deliver’ the cards to each teacher to give out to their class.

I also took a turn in the classroom to take a Christmas lolly from santa’s sack….such a small thing, but such a happy memory of mine.

SAM_5393

At home we had the same artificial tree every year and it always looked like it had seen better days, but I remember clearly the excitment I felt when decorating it.  It was wonderful to come downstairs on Christmas morning to find a room full of presents with the tree standing proud.  In reality there probably wasn’t many presents, but with four children in the house it always looked like there was.

 SAM_7987

On Christmas day we had a turkey dinner with Christmas pudding to follow and it was always my favourite meal of the year…..and still is!

However when I left home, circumstances meant I didn’t really have anywhere to go on Christmas day and this is when I spent Christmas day with the friends who I met at work.  I remember my old friend Helen would invite a few of us to her house and she would cook an amazing Christmas dinner and we all had so much fun.  Sadly my friend passed away a couple of years ago and I still miss her so much, but since her funeral my old work friends have kept in touch and once again see each other regularly, which I really enjoy.

SAM_5453

And then 20 years ago I met my wonderful husband and very quickly we had two children and began to start our own traditions over the Christmas period, which I write about each year on my blog.

Family and friends are so important to have around and I think Christmas is a good excuse to get together and have fun….after all, the last couple of years have taught me that life is short and we need to appreciate what we have.

So this year I will be quietly raising a glass to the family and friends that won’t be with us this Christmas, and I will be remembering the laughter and love we shared.

I wonder if you will be doing the same?

SAM_7850

Thank you for reading my blog this year.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

 

Woodchip Paths & Christmas Decorations

Before I start today I wanted to remind anyone that is interested, that my usual monthly blog post of

‘What To Do In The Kitchen Garden In December’ can be found here.

Don’t be fooled into thinking there is nothing you can do this month……..

There is loads of information in this post e.g. weather conditions expected, what to sow / plant / harvest in December, jobs to do and pests and diseases that you may encounter this month.

I hope it helps someone out there.

SAM_5091.

.

This week in the home:

.

This week my youngest daughter turned ‘sweet sixteen’….how on earth did this happen so quickly?

We all had a lovely day together and my eldest daughter made a birthday cake, in the shape of a ‘Dairy Milk’ chocolate bar (my youngest daughter’s favourite food) and it was absolutely delicious!

SAM_2413

.

Unfortunately my step father is still not well, so this is taking up a lot of my time with phone calls, hospital visits and taking my mother shopping.  My mum and dad both remarried and so between Mr Thrift and I, we have three sets of elderly parents (though my father-in-law sadly died last year).  With two teenage daughters this means that myself and Mr Thrift are part of the ‘sandwich’ generation and recently I have felt quite run down from it all, especially as I have also spent the last year trying hard to train Judy, the RSPCA dog that we adopted on top of this (though we all adore her).

However, I have no choice but to carry on with things the way they are at the moment and I can only hope they will get better over time.

SAM_2430

.

So this week in the Thrift household we put our Christmas tree up, as decorations in the house always cheer us up.

As we now have a three piece suite in our front room it was hard to find a place for our trusty old Christmas tree.  After trying different places in the room we finally wedged it in the corner, however it looked very small and hidden by the furniture…..I came up with the idea of standing it on an old plastic box to give it some height, which I covered temporarily with one of the curtains I recently brought from a car boot sale (to cover two old reclining garden chairs that I was given).

SAM_2421

We put on some Christmas music and all four of us decorated the tree with a bit of singing and daft dancing in between.  All in all it was lovely afternoon and we all think the tree looks nice due to the box it stands on and you can actually see the tree lights twinkling outside our front window for the first time:

SAM_2423

We also decorated our stair banister in the hall with our old garland and I fixed our Christmas wreath to the front door.

SAM_2436 SAM_2433

We have used the same ‘artificial’ decorations for many years now and they still look good.

This year I decided to add to our decorations with a cheap garland I brought for the fireplace.  I have decorated it with some cones and I will add the slices of oranges I am drying on my radiator when they are ready too:

SAM_2432 SAM_2424

The room is looking beautiful now (except for the carpet that we still haven’t managed to save up for yet but we are trying to ignore it for the moment).

.

This week in the garden:

.

Last week I brought some primroses for 50p each as I thought it would brighten my garden in the dull December days ahead.  This week I planted three of them in a pot next to my back door and the rest I planted in a hanging basket outside our front door….and I am very pleased with them.

SAM_2403 SAM_2405

I love primroses as they flower each year and look beautiful.

.

This week I also tried very hard to finish my new vegetable patch.  I was going to ask Mr Thrift to help me to lay the final three slabs, but unfortunately I couldn’t complete my final two beds until they were laid…..so I decided to do it myself.  I’ve laid plenty of slabs on my own when I had my allotments so this didn’t bother me too much, though Mr Thrift did tell me off!

This meant I could then continue with the final two beds next to the slabs…

SAM_2425

I then created a very small area for a flower to be planted next year, using the edging stones I have spare:

IMG_2868

And I completed the edging next to the bed in front of the fence:

SAM_2420

I then used old weed suppressant to cover the new paths, using old pins from my allotment to secure it down:

SAM_2428

And then I brought some bags of woodchip from our local timber yard and covered the weed suppressant with it.  Over the years I have found that if you place woodchip on weed suppressant, it doesn’t rot down as quickly as it does if you place it directly on the soil.

Unfortunately I was a bag or two short of woodchip so I will have to make another trip to them before I can complete the paths in my new vegetable area.  However it is looking good so far:

IMG_2870 SAM_2429

After completing the paths next week I will start to concentrate on improving the soil.

But for the moment I am pleased how it is shaping up.

.

Thank you for reading my blog this week.  I will be back next Friday as usual.

Have a great week!

Good Friends & A ‘Blackfly Brew’ Trial

Last weekend we invited some very good friends over for the evening and we had a wonderful time catching up, over homemade pizza’s and puddings.

A Homemade Lemon Merangue Pie

A Homemade Lemon Merangue Pie

A long time ago we all met in a large office and became good friends very quickly as we shared the same sense of humour and fun outlook on life.  We went on lots of holidays together, days out and spent many evenings laughing until our bellys ached.

We all met our partners, but that didn’t stop us as the group just got bigger and even when we all left our work place we kept in touch…..but then children came along and sadly, as often happens, we did seem to drift apart – however, one person did keep in contact with each and everyone of us……my good friend Helen, who passed away two years ago.

We all met up again at her funeral and we have thankfully stayed in touch since…..it seems to me that this was a ‘parting gift’ to us all from our wonderful friend Helen.  So Helen if you are looking down on us, thank you for this.

IMG_2308

.

.

In My Kitchen Garden this week:

.

I’m very proud to say that my kitchen garden is now producing crops.

Besides the lettuce, chives and radishes we have been picking for a while now, I have now started to pick mangetout daily:

SAM_1393 SAM_1344

And my first peas are ready for picking….but unfortunately they didn’t make it to the table as it’s become a tradition in our house to eat the first peas straight out of the pod…..there really isn’t anything that tastes as lovely:

SAM_1345 SAM_1346

I have also been picking broad beans, but unfortunately with my decorating last week some of them became a bit too large.  However, as I tend to cook them and puree them up for spag bogs, curries etc (as Mr Thrift doesn’t like them), it really won’t matter.

SAM_1358

I froze the broad beans by blanching them for two minutes before ‘open freezing’ on a tray:

SAM_1360SAM_1361

I also picked the first fruit from my small kitchen garden….a few blackcurrants and gooseberries which my daughter ate.  The plants are very young and I think it will be a while before they will give me a large crop, but I am pleased I got something this year:

SAM_1343

And yes, that time of year is finally upon us……courgette time!  As usual we all look forward to the first courgette and we always fry it up and use it in an omolette….(I know we will be fed up with them again soon like everyone else, but for the moment we will enjoy them).

SAM_1347

(By the way, there is a post I wrote here that talks about ways to use up hundreds of courgettes, if anyone is interested).

.

A Blackfly Brew & Bird Damage:

.

This week I have noticed a couple of pests in my small kitchen garden.  The first was ‘birds’.  I had covered my climbing peas in environmesh to stop the ‘pea moth’ and also the birds.  Birds were always a nuisence at my allotment eating most things.  As they particularly love the tops of pea shoots, I covered them without thinking.  However, I didn’t cover my dwarf peas and they seemed to be ok, so I became complacent, thinking that I wouldn’t have a problem in my back garden…

Yesterday I saw a bird fly off as I approached my kitchen garden and I then found bird damage on my lettuces, but luckily I had caught it early.  You can see the tears on the outside leaf in the photo below (which incidentally it looks different to slug damage):

SAM_1356

So I covered my lettuces so the birds can’t do any more damage:

SAM_1357

.

Another pest I found this week was blackfly on my courgettes:

SAM_1382

Now I’ve got to be honest, I don’t usually bother treating my courgettes for blackfly as they are usually big and strong enough to survive it without effecting the amount I harvest and also the ladybirds usually come to my rescue and have a feast…but I wanted to try something new out this year:

I had recently read about a home made ‘All Purpose Organic Pesticide’ that ‘Eco Snippets’ had published and I thought I would have a go.  You can find the orginal recipe here.

This is what the website says about it:

“It can be used on a variety of insects that live in the dirt or on the plants including worms, mites and other parasites.

This entire pesticide will eventually break down and be reduced to nothing, so it is OK to eat any herbs or vegetables that are growing. This is mainly intended for indoor use, but there’s no reason why it wouldn’t work outdoors as well”

.

So this is how I made my ‘Black fly Brew:

(I halved the original recipe as it seemed to be a hugh amount to make in one go)

.

Ingredients-

  • 2 ¼ litres of warm water
  • 1 onion
  • 2 small hot peppers (I couldn’t find jalapeno peppers)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of liquid soap (I used my ‘soap nut’ liquid as it’s natural)

.

First I roughly chopped the onion, peppers and garlic and placed them in a bowl:

SAM_1374

I then used a stick blender to puree them into a thick paste:

SAM_1375

I added the puree to the warm water and left them to ‘stew’ for 20 minutes:

SAM_1376

I strained the brew through an old piece of material and I then gave the remaining paste a squeeze (with rubber gloves on) to remove all the juices:

SAM_1377SAM_1378

I then added the liquid soap and gave it a stir:

SAM_1379

I poured the liquid into a spray bottle and the remaining into a spare plastic bottle and labled them well:

SAM_1380 SAM_1390 SAM_1389

Apparently this liquid keeps for two weeks in the fridge.

.

It says on their website to use the spray every 4-5 days and it takes about 3 or 4 treatments to work….so I went out and sprayed one of my two plants straight away.

SAM_1386

The ‘EcoSnippets’ website says:

“Try to get all over the plant including the stem and under the leaves. Spray the soil as well so that the top of it is wet.

What this liquid does is make every part of the plant that it touches unpalatable to the insect. The water evaporates and leaves behind the odor and flavor. It smells and tastes gross and they won’t eat it. When they won’t eat anymore, they eventually starve. The liquid will not kill the insects on contact, so do not get upset if you see increased activity after the application. They’re simply struggling to find something to eat”

.

I will monitor both my courgette plants and report the results back to you in a couple of weeks.

.

.

In My Home This Week:

.

I have had a relatively quiet week in the house after all my decorating last week, but I did want to mention a couple of things.  After our friends visit at the weekend, we had half a tub of mascopone left over and my eldest daughter decided she would use it so it didn’t go to waste (she obviously takes after me).   So she made a pasta sauce using tomatoes and mascopone and fried some courgettes, mangetout, onion and garlic and added it to the sauce:

SAM_1350 SAM_1349 SAM_1348

She then served it with salad dressed with olive oil, lemon and salt and it was delicious!

SAM_1351

She also decided to make some biscuits for her teachers at school, to say thank you for helping her during her first year of ‘A’ levels.  She made shortbread biscuits and then covered a an old sweet tub to make it look pretty and this was the result:

SAM_1364SAM_1363

I think this present is far nicer than any shop bought present that you could give and as I always say:

“A homemade present is from the heart, not just from your bank account”

I was very proud of her and I think she now deserves her title of ‘Ms Thrift’.

.

Also this week Judy (our rescue dog) has not had a good week and has gone backwards a little bit with her training, but I am working on this with Steven Havers, our trainer and I am hoping it is just a ‘blip’.  However, she is still doing well overall and fitting in our family nicely at home.

 

Judy asleep with her ball

Judy asleep with her ball

.

That’s enough for now, I will be back again next Friday as usual.

Thank you for reading my blog.  I hope you have a good week!

The Sad Loss Of A Great Leicester Author & Friend

Dan Tunstall

'Forget-me-nots' from my allotment

‘Forget-me-nots’

Unfortunately, we had some very sad news on the 7th April, as we found out that one of our friends had passed away.  Today was his funeral, so as a mark of respect I thought it would be nice to dedicate this blog post to him.

.

Dan was the most intelligent man I have ever, ever met.  He knew everything about everything and could reel off names, dates, times etc. in almost every topic you could think of.  He was wonderful to have on our team when we entered the quiz nights at the Primary School that our daughters all went to.

.

book1

Dan was a talented writer and in 2009 Dan had his first book published ‘Big And Clever’ which was actually shortlisted for the Bradford Boase Award for first young adult novels.  It only seems like yesterday that we were invited to his first book launch.

His second book was published in 2011,  called ‘Out Of Towners’.  I remember him and his wife Carey, spending such a long time making sure the cover photo for his book was just right.  They eventually picked the ‘Eastbourne Pier’, as Eastbourne was one of the places he loved the most.  In fact I remember we all spent a lovely day at Eastbourne with Dan and his family a couple of years ago.

book

Dan used to go into schools to talk about his books and was popular with teenage boys, who identified with the characters that he wrote about.

2

He also wrote a book called ‘Seconds Out’ and then unsurprisingly contributed to a four-author anthology with Alan Gibbons.

.

Dan had the world at his fingers tips, but he just couldn’t see it and unfortunately his friends and family know the outcome of this.

One of the last things he wrote was:

“I was fleetingly brilliant at lots of things, but couldn’t sustain any of them”

images

You will sadly be missed Dan.