Archives

A Cheap Pair Of Curtains & A Harvest

Yet again it has been wet and miserable this week……the slugs are having a party in my kitchen garden!

But as I write my blog today the sun is shining beautifully, so I have taken advantage of this and hung out two loads of washing.  My daughters think I am mad when I sit watching my washing blowing in the wind …… watching it always makes me feel so ‘grounded’ as though life is somehow ok when my washing is out ….. daft I know.

SAM_3385

The last lot of laundry liquid that I made seems to have lasted me ages, but soon I will have to make some more.

SAM_2463

.

As it’s been wet this week I spent a bit of time in my greenhouse tying up my tomatoes and removing any side shoots.

I also nipped off the tops of my plants as they have all reached the roof of my greenhouse.  I then removed a few of their lower leaves so the air could circulate and the sun can get to the tomatoes to ripen them.

SAM_3361

I also tied my cucumbers to new string supports that I tied to my roof….hopefully they will grow along the string and produce even more cucumbers (you can just about see the string and cucumbers growing in the left corner in the photo below):

SAM_3360

I then put two plastic bottles that I had cut in half, into the compost next to the cucumber plants.  Cucumbers easily die when the compost around the stem is too wet (stem rot) and as it has been damp in the greenhouse (as we haven’t had much sun) I have been concerned that my cucumbers would sucumb to this.  When I now water, the water bottles allow the water to drain to the roots of the plants instead of sitting on the surface of the compost:

SAM_3359

I also continued to tie up the melon plants I have been growing in the greenhouse as well:

SAM_3356

So the greenhouse looks a lot neater now and I am so looking forward to the first tomatoes ripening.

.

This weeks harvest:

.

I started the week by picking my last spring cabbage.  The cabbage looked lovely on the outside but there was a fair bit of slug damage inside, however we had a meal from it and I managed to make some coleslaw with the remainder so it wasn’t that bad:

IMG_3834

I will be planting my curly kale next week in the space that is left in my brassica bed.

.

This week the strawberries have been ripening well and they taste so lovely:

IMG_3849

SAM_3372 SAM_3354

 Most of the strawberries didn’t last more than five minutes before we all ate them.  However a few did make it into strawberry and chocolate pancakes that my daughters made….

SAM_3382 SAM_3383

.

I have also been picking broadbeans (a variety called aquadulce) that I sowed in January:

SAM_3375

Normally I ‘pinch off’ the top three or four inches off each plant as soon as the beans start to form, as usually this is when I always see blackfly on the plants (blackfly love the soft growth at the top).  This year I left the plants as there really was no sign of blackfly and still there is no sign and the plants look so healthy….this is very unusual:

IMG_3848 IMG_3847

.

My courgette plant has produced one more courgette……hopefully if the weather warms up I will get more.  However the courgette was quickly used in an omelette with the broadbeans and it was really tasty:

SAM_3371 IMG_3853

The other squashes in my garden (patty pans and pumpkins) are also sulking in the wet weather too, however the butternut squash that I planted in a big pot is doing great and I have one butternut squash that is growing bigger each day:

IMG_3854

.

I also pulled up a few small onions this week to use as spring onions.  When I planted my onions out I spaced them very closely so I could pull them up and eat the thinnings, while the remainder could continue to grow to full size:

SAM_3370

And this week the first gooseberries were ready to pick.  I laughed at my eldest daughter when she ate one, as she said they were so sour……..she used to eat gooseberries like sweets and obviously her taste has changed as she has got older…..this happened to me as I grew older too.

SAM_3373

As it’s the beginning of July now, I decided to pull a few more stalks of rhubarb up.  I won’t pull any more stalks up this year now, so the plants can build their energy up again ready for next year:

SAM_3376

And finally this week in the garden I noticed my second early potatoes were starting to flower, so I decided to have a root around to see what I could find and I found these:

SAM_3374

These are a variety called ‘Marfona’ and my goodness they were delicious….but we always love the first potatoes of the year in our house!

.

So all in all it was a good week for harvesting produce from my kitchen garden and homegrown fruit and vegetables always taste better than shop bought fruit and vegetables.

IMG_3834 SAM_3381

.

.

This week in the home:

.

I don’t know if you remember, but back in August / September last year my dad was throwing out two garden chairs and I asked him if I could have them as there wasn’t much wrong with them.

  I decided to go to a car boot sale to look for some cheap curtain material to cover the seat pads as they had marks on them.  I found some curtains for £3 which I was very pleased with:

SAM_1877 SAM_1974

For one reason or another I didn’t get around to re-covering the seat pads and at Christmas I even used one of the curtains to cover a plastic box, so I could stand the Christmas tree on it:

SAM_2421

.

This week I finally decided to get the material out again and I realised that the curtains would actually fit across the bay window in our front room and the colour also matched the room too (though the curtains were far too long so they would need altering).  I have been looking for a pair of cheap curtains for this room since ever since I decorated it last summer, as our existing curtains were fifteen years old and VERY faded in places.

At the bottom of the ‘car boot’ curtains was some white paint, which is why they sold them so cheaply.  So I decided to get my sewing machine out and have a go at altering them.  The curtains were lined so I had to unpick the linning first and alter this as well as the curtain material:

SAM_3363 SAM_3362

I have got to be honested, I didn’t really know what I was doing and I made it up as I went along….but it worked!

SAM_3369

I also made a couple of tie backs with the material that I had cut off (making sure I didn’t use the bit that had paint on) and I’m really pleased with these too:

SAM_3365 SAM_3368

So for £4.55 (£3 for the curtains and £1.55 for the thread) we now have a nearly new pair of good quality, lined curtains that will hopefully last quite a few years and I did this with just a few basic sewing skill.

IMG_3844

So nearly everything in the room is second hand – the TV, the TV cabinet, the nest of tables, the lamps, the pictures, the cabinet, the settee and now the curtains.  It just goes to show that you don’t have to spend lots of money to furnish a room nicely.  Our room my not be everyones cup of tea, but it’s homely and we love it ……though we are still saving up for a new carpet to finish the room off!

.

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

Have a great week!

XX

Advertisements

A Chicken and Parsnip Stew & A Fruit Loaf Recipe

I thought I would start today by letting you know that Judy, (our lovely rescue dog) has made a full recovery after her illness last week and she is back to her normal, cheeky ways.

SAM_2558

We all absolutely love Judy to bits and I am so glad we didn’t give up on her like the previous three owners did.  Though I have got to be honest, when our previous ‘dog behavourist’ told us she was untrainable last February, we were very close to giving up….she had so many problems e.g. barked all the time at home, barked and lunged at dogs, people, cars, bikes, lorries, washing machine, birds etc. etc.

Nearly a year later, she still has one or two things she doesn’t like, but she is getting so much better as time goes by, thanks to our wonderful dog trainer Steven Havers.

.

Curtains for my daughter:

.

IMG_2733

I’m not sure if you remember a couple of months ago I decorated my youngest daughter’s bedroom.  I struggled to find any ready made curtains that she liked, to finish off the bedroom.  So in desparation I took her to a material shop and she found some fabric she liked, so I bought it promising to make her curtains after Christmas.

SAM_2508

The curtain material and new furniture in her bedroom was a present for her birthday and Christmas, but because of this I was a bit concerned that she wasn’t going to have many presents to actually open on Christmas day.  So during December, while she was at school I worked really hard to make the curtains so I could wrap them up for her to open on Christmas day.

She was very surprised when she unwrapped them and I must say I am very proud of them now they are up:

IMG_2909

I also had a bit of material left so I managed to make a couple of cushions for her too, which I also wrapped up for her to open on Christmas day:

IMG_3037

.

Over the Christmas holidays I decided it was time to catch up with one or two jobs that I had been putting off…..

  I started by clearing our loft and it was amazing how much rubbish we had up there.  I have since sold one or two bits on ebay and given away some other things…..but most of it was thrown away.  But the attic looks better now.

IMG_2959 IMG_2956

I also went through my bills folder…..again there was a lot in there that I didn’t need to keep.  Myself and Mr Thrift looked at every bill we pay to see if we could possibly reduce it….unfortunately we are quite ‘bill savvy’ so we didn’t manage to make any savings, but it’s good to check every so often.

IMG_2960

.

.

Over the Christmas period myself and Mr Thrift surprisingly managed to buy lots of ‘whoopsies’ ….for some reason we seemed to be in the supermarket when they reduced their produce to ridicuously low prices.  So over Christmas I froze whatever I could and my freezers were bursting:

SAM_2520 SAM_2521 SAM_2523 SAM_2525 SAM_2526

The last photo shows the ready cooked beetroot that was reduced.  My dad sometimes buys this and pickles it, but as I already have pickled beetroot in my pantry I decided to cut it up and freeze it on a tray.  When it was frozen I put it in a bag and this way it is easy to take a few slices out at a time to defrost for sandwiches.

I also used the reduced parsnips and Chicken drumsticks in a chicken and parsnip stew which I cooked in my slow cooker.  By cooking it in the slow cooker you find that the chicken ‘falls off’ the bones easily and tastes so moist:

.

Chicken and Parsnip Stew:

.

6-8 chicken drumsticks or thighs

2 onions peeled and roughly chopped

4 -6 medium parsnips peeled and chopped into chunks

Hot Chicken stock to cover

.

Put all the ingredients into a slow cooker making sure the hot stock covers the ingredients.

SAM_2532

Cook on ‘low’ for approximately 8 hours

Serve with vegetables of your choice:

SAM_2534

.

.

This week…

This week at home I decided to use up the mixed fruit that I had left over in my pantry.  I decided to make a fruit loaf (which I absolutely love).  It’s really easy to make in a bread maker and I used my bread slicer to cut it into nice thin slices.  This loaf freezes well so you can take a couple of slices out to defrost when required:

.

A Fruit Loaf Recipe:

1 teaspoon of Fast Action Dried Yeast

400g Strong White Flour

2 teaspoon Granulated Sugar

75g margarine or butter

½ teaspoon Salt

1 teaspoon Cinnamon

1 teaspoon Mixed Spice

2 Eggs

110ml Water

110ml Milk

300g Mixed Dried Fruit

 

Add all the above ingredients into a breadmaker EXCEPT the mixed fruit.

SAM_2561

Set your breadmaker to a ‘Basic bake loaf’ with raisens and add the mixed fruit when the breadmaker tells you too (that is approx. 47 mins after the start in mine but you will need to refer to your own manual).

SAM_2562 SAM_2568

Enjoy it!

IMG_2995

.

.

In the garden this week:

This week in the garden I dug up my parsnips.  This is the first time I have grown a crop in this area so I wasn’t sure what they would be like….but they weren’t too bad (though most of them were a lot smaller than the ones I used to grow at the allotment -probably due to the condition of my soil):

IMG_2994 IMG_2993

Parsnips next to a 30 cm ruler

Unfortunately some of the parsnips suffered from parsnip canker:

SAM_2557

.

“Parsnip Canker is a fungus that causes orange, brown, purple or black coloured rot, which usually starts at the top of the root.

I have read that the fungus is caused by drought, over-rich soil or damage to the crown, BUT I have also read that it is worse in wet, pooly drained soils as well”

.

SAM_2559

As you can see in my photo above, if the canker isn’t too bad the parsnip under the skin is usually fine to cook and eat.

.

To avoid canker:

  • Rotate your crops
  • Don’t manure your soil before growing parsnips
  • Improve your drainage
  • Grow resistant varieties such as ‘Albion’or Hollow Crown

.

As I had too many parsnips to eat in one go, I peeled and chopped them and then froze them on a tray (without blanching them).  When they were frozen I took them off the tray and bagged them up.

When I next cook a Sunday lunch I will roast them from frozen.

SAM_2560

.

.

Finally this week I brought my seed potatoes.  I chose my usual ‘Marfona’ which is a second early and ‘Desiree’ which is a red main crop potato.  I also brought some ‘picasso’ to plant in my mother in laws garden, which are an early main crop.

All the potatoes are now ‘chitting’ in our bedroom…..very romantic!

IMG_3039

That’s it for this week.

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

Have a good week!

 

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!

Pumpkin Muffin Cakes With A Mascarpone Frosting

The clocks went back an hour last week and it really feels like Autumn is here.  There have been some beautiful sunny, crisp days this week and there have also been some rotten, wet days too:

IMG_2783 IMG_2789

But the leaves are turning brown and falling and each day looks beautiful wether it is sunny or wet.

.

This week I have been busy catching up in my home after last weeks decorating.  Someone asked me last week how I organise myself so that I do so much…..in truth, if I’m doing something like decorating, then the bare minimum gets done.  We have quick meals or freezer meals which I have cooked ahead of time and I keep on top of the washing, but everything else is put on hold…..as you can see from the mess in our kitchen in the photograph below:

IMG_2765

.

I have concentrated on finishing my daughter’s bedroom this week.  We had ordered some flat pack furniture that was delivered on Saturday.

The furniture is an early birthday and Christmas present for my daughter and she has also paid for some of it from her allowance too.

I have got to say that the instructions for assembling it were terrible and it took me ages to put it together and there was a small piece missing which the shop have promised they will post to us.

IMG_2741 IMG_2744

But when they were finished they did look good and my daughter was very pleased:

IMG_2779 IMG_2778 IMG_2777

I also put her curtain pole back up after painting it, but found that the rings wouldn’t slide across the pole easily when I tried to shut the curtains.  So I used a wax candle to rub across the top of the pole and it now works well (this is something you can do with any curtain track that sticks).IMG_2739 IMG_2776

I am very pleased with the curtain pole, but it will look better when I get around to making the new curtains for her too.

.

This week I also stained the old mirror from my youngest daughter’s bedroom, as she didn’t want it.

IMG_2781 IMG_2782

As you can see in the photograph above, I used my very old tin of left over woodstain.

The mirror now sits in my eldest daughter’s bedroom, matching her furniture:

IMG_2788

Incidentally, my eldest daughter’s old mirror now sits in my bedroom, as the frame on my old mirror had final broken after twenty three years of use).

.

As I still had some woodstain left, I used it to paint the shelves that again my youngest daughter didn’t want in her new bedroom.  The shelves now sit in my kitchen where the old chest freezer used to be before it broke.  These shelves will be great for both my daughters’ school work, to keep it tidy:

IMG_2792

.

Finally, we gave my daughters old desk to ‘Loros’ to resell and I put her old wardrobe onto ‘freecycle‘ and it was picked up by a lovely lady on Wednesday.  This wardrobe was given to us second hand, thirteen years ago and I think it still looked in good condition. So it was lovely to know that it will still be used, rather than ending up in a landfill site.

IMG_2780

.

.

Halloween

.

Tomorrow is halloween and each year many pumpkins are carved and the insides are just thrown away and I so hate waste.  So I thought today I would share a few of my favourite pumpkin recipes with you:

SAM_4355 SAM_4348

.

Pumpkin Recipes:

.

Spicy Pumpkin Soup….the recipe is here.

 Pumpkin and Orange Cake….the recipe is here.

SAM_3677

Pumpkin and Apple Chutney….the recipe is here.

Pumpkin Lasange…the recipe is here.

Pumpkin, Raisin and Orange Muffins….the recipe is here.

.

  Don’t forget you can freeze raw pumpkin.  In the photograph below you can see the frozen pumpkin that I used to make the cake recipe below…..this is raw pumpkin that had been in my freezer since January this year and I cooked it without defrosting it first.

IMG_2762

Also, most recipes ask for ‘pumpkin puree’…..to make this just cook the pumpkin in boiling water until it is soft and then drain the water and mash it.  I have found that you need approximately double the amount of raw pumpkin to make the pumpkin puree i.e 600g of raw pumpkin makes approx. 300g of pumpkin puree.

IMG_2750 IMG_2756

Pumpkin puree can also be frozen in batches, ready weighted out for your favourite recipes.

IMG_2764

.

.

This year I decided to make a different pumpkin muffin with a mascarpone cheese frosting and it turned out well and tasted really nice:

.

Pumpkin Muffins with a Mascarpone Frosting:

.

Pumpkin Cakes:

230g self-raising flour

150g granulated sugar

100g soft brown sugar

100ml sunflower oil

3 eggs

170g of pumpkin puree

½ tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp ground ginger

.

Mascarpone Icing:

250g mascarpone cheese

50g icing sugar

2 tablespoons of lemon juice

Extra bit of soft brown sugar for decoration (optional)

.

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

Sieve the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and ginger into a bowl and set aside.

IMG_2751

In a separate bowl mix together the granulated sugar, brown sugar and oil until combined.

IMG_2752 IMG_2753

Beat in the eggs one at a time.

IMG_2754 IMG_2755

Mix in the pumpkin and vanilla.

IMG_2758

Fold in the flour from the separate bowl, a little bit at a time.

IMG_2759 IMG_2760

Half fill muffin cases with the mixture and then bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

IMG_2761 IMG_2766

Put the cakes on a cooling tray.

IMG_2767

When the cakes have cooled down, mix the mascarpone cheese, icing sugar and lemon juice together and either pipe it or spread it on the cakes. I then put an extra pinch of soft brown sugar on each cake for decoration.

IMG_2768

Enjoy!

IMG_2774

.

Thank you for reading my blog today.

I will be back next Friday as usual.  Have a great week!

 

 

 

Decorating Again & Judys Birthday

Yesterday it was Judy’s 5th birthday and we bought her a few little presents.  She gets very excited when I give her a present to unwrap and her little tail wags like crazy whilst she is trying desparately to tear the paper off with her paws:

IMG_1143 IMG_1146

She seemed very pleased with the ball my daughters gave her.  You fill the ball with dry feed or treats and she pushes the ball around to make them fall out:

IMG_1156

And she also liked the ‘doggie treats’ and tennis balls that we gave to her:

IMG_1151 IMG_1168

I also bought a ‘doggie cake’ from the pet store which she absolutely loved (unfortunately I didn’t get round to make a dog cake myself):

IMG_1129 IMG_1136

Today it is a year since we brought Judy home from The RSPCA.  It really has been a rollercoaster ride, but I have learnt so much after all the training.  She has turned into a lovely dog and companion for me and I am so glad I persevered with her, rather than give up like her previous three owners did.

IMG_1128

.

This week in the home:

.

This week I have finally got around to decorating my youngest daughters bedroom.

After clearing everything from her room I started off by removing the very old shelves that really needed to be replaced and filled all the holes around the room with some filler.  When it was dry I sanded the filler down until it was all smooth:

IMG_2711 IMG_2713

I then sanded down all the woodwork in the room ready to begin.

I started by painting the ceiling and woodwork and then I pasted thick lining paper (1400 grade) on the walls to help to hide all the lumps and bumps.  We did consider plastering this room but it would have been too expensive for us and the lining paper was a cheaper option.

IMG_2718 IMG_2719

When it was dry I painted the walls the colour my daughter had chosen….a ‘soft grey’ and I think she chose well (though I did have my reservations when she first told me she wanted this colour).

IMG_2725 IMG_2724

I decided to paint her wooden curtain pole white, to match the room (it was previously a ‘wood’ colour).  It took three coats of paint and I couldn’t face painting all the curtains rings so I brought new ones, but they didn’t cost too much and it was still far cheaper than buying a new pole:

IMG_2723 IMG_2726

I still need to put the curtain pole back up and I also need to put together the bedroom furniture that we are hoping to have delivered next week (an ‘early’ birthday and Christmas present for my daughter).

And finally I need to make a pair of curtains for the room….we looked in every shop I could think of for a ready made pair of curtains, but my daughter didn’t like any.  In desparation I took her to a material shop and she found some material that she loved, so I now have another job for next week:

IMG_2733

I love decorating, especially when I am pleased with the results.  I’ll show you a photo of the completed room next week.

Judy keeping me company while I decorated the room

Judy keeping me company while I decorated the room

.

.

A few other things before I finish for this week:

.

This week I made some butterfly cakes to show off the new cake stand my daughters bought me for my birthday last week……I really love this present!

IMG_2707 IMG_2706

I also made some more dishwasher liquid out of soapnuts:

IMG_2714

While I was out and about this week I noticed that the seeds at Wilkinsons had been reduced to 20p so I stocked up with the ones I know I will definately use:

IMG_2700

.

In the garden this week I found that unfortunately the broccolli ’60 day raab’ that I sowed in the middle of August is flowering…..so it does grow quickly (as the name suggests), but it has gone to seed before it’s possible to get even a tiny crop, so I won’t be growing this again.  I made sure it was fed at the beginning and it was well watered when the weather was dry, so I can only think the ground wasn’t firm enough for it (brassiccas like the ground to be firm).  It was a free packet of seed so I haven’t lost anything but time:

IMG_2727

 .

Also in the garden the leaves are falling from my neighbours trees and I will need to collect them up next week.  Previously I had grass in this area and I would just run over the leaves with the lawn mower to quickly remove them, however this isn’t possible in my vegetable garden so I will need to get down on my hands and knees:

IMG_2732 IMG_2731

.

My Cosmos is still flowering well:

IMG_2729

And the tomatoes that I picked two weeks ago when they were nearly all green, are ripening well in my greenhouse…..(I am very pleased as I really don’t like green tomato chutney):

IMG_2728

.

.

So that’s it for this week.  I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog.

I will be back next Friday as usual.  Have a great week!

Farm Visits & Growing Herbs

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 June’ can be found here.

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

I hope it helps someone out there.

My 'free' azalea that I have grown from a tiny little plant

My ‘free’ azalea that I have grown from a tiny little plant

.

.

I have loads to talk about this week, but firstly I want to say an enormous “thank you” to all the people that commented on my blog last week after my ‘blog wobble’.  I was absolutely overwhelmed by the lovely things you all said and it really has spurred me on to keep blogging.

All I can say is I am very lucky to have your continued support…thank you for this.

IMG_2426

.

Out and about during the week:

.

Last weekend I visited two working organic farms with my friends from the ‘Western Park Organic Gardening Forum’.

Firstly we went to Oakley Grange which is a 660 acre farm, just outside Hathern in Leicestershire and a gentleman called Richard gave us a guided tour and it was most interesting to hear about his farm.

We had a lovely lunch too in his cafe.

You can read about the farm here.

Picture1SAM_1069

.

We also visited Manor Organic Farm in Long Whatton, Leicestershire:

“We have been farming organically since 1989 and believe that organic farming is a positive philosophy, and is more than just avoiding the use of artificial chemicals and fertilisers. It is a sustainable approach to farming which views the farm as a whole system in harmony with the natural surroundings and nature itself as well as the local community”.

SAM_1091

The farmer (Graeme) again showed us around the farm and told us all about his animals and the meat they sell.  One of the things he said really stuck in my mind……he said when he goes out for a meal he will only eat vegetarian meals as he doesn’t know how the animals have been treated by other people.  He said he only eats the meat that he has produced, so he knows that the animals have been treated well.

The butcher in their shop was also very knowledgable about the meat they sell and spent time showing me what I could buy and how much it would cost me.  Organic meat is a lot more expensive to buy, but I can now see the benefits of buying it……the hard bit will be convincing my family, so I need to think about this.

This farm also had a cafe and we all had a lovely drink and cake to finish the day off.

SAM_1078 SAM_1088

I enjoyed both farm visits immensly and it was great getting so close to the animals.

.

.

In my Kitchen Garden:

As it’s June I have been planting some of my more tender plants outside…..I started with my two butternut squash plants.

Our family love butternut squashes and I had the luxury at the allotment of growing lots of these as I had plenty of space:

SAM_0158

However, it would be impossible to grow this amount in my new kitchen garden, but I wanted to try and grow at least a couple of plants.  I decided to have a go at growing them up the post that holds my washing line.  So a few a weeks ago I tied some chicken wire around the post and dug some organic manure into the soil.  This week I planted two plants at the base of the post and as it was still quite cool at the beginning of the week, I placed a bottle over the plants to act as a mini cloche to help them establish:

SAM_1026 SAM_1028

As the plants grow I will tie them to the support…..I will keep you informed on how they are doing.

.

I have also planted out the tagetes that I grew from seed, along the edges of my paths.  I think they look good when they are in flower and their smell helps to confuse pests, which help to protect my vegetables.

SAM_1049

.

I had a few outdoor tomato plants left, so I decided to put these in pots as I couldn’t bare to throw them away.  I didn’t really want too many pots around my garden as it means daily watering, but I do love tomatoes so I decided to keep them:

IMG_2436

.

This week I planted some more spring onions that I grew from seed.  Again I sowed a few seeds together in modules and didn’t bother to thin them out, as they ‘push’ apart as they grow:

SAM_1033 SAM_1035

The first spring onions are not yet ready to eat, but we have started to eat the onion sets that I planted closely together in March.  I don’t know if you remember but I  planted 66 onions very close together in the hope that I could harvest them over a longer period, by picking some when they reached ‘spring onion’ size and leaving the remaining onions to grow to a good size:

SAM_0688

Well I’m pleased to say my plan worked and I have been picking some lovely onions to put in our salads:

SAM_1098 SAM_1101

.

Herbs:

This week I also planted the parsley that I grew from seed.  I love parsley as it’s easy to grow and I like to freeze it to use for the garlic bread I make in the winter months.

SAM_1048

The apple mint that I also brought home from my allotment has finally began to put on some growth.  I will leave it in its pot so the roots are contained and don’t become invasive.

SAM_1105

My daughter likes to put mint in her drinks to make them refreshing and I must say it’s nice now for her as she can just nip outside to pick a few leaves instead of having to remind me constantly to bring some home from the allotment:

SAM_1108

.

I wanted to include lots of herbs in my new kitchen garden but I didn’t want to use the small amount of ground that I have to grow them – so I have been wondering what to do with them for a while and then I found these pots in Poundstetcher a couple of weeks ago:

SAM_1037SAM_1038

As you can see the pots only cost me 74p, but when I got them home I found that they did look really cheap and nasty when I put them up.  So after a bit of thought I got some old white, outdoor paint from my shed and sponged it on lightly to make the pots look a bit older….and I think it worked and they now look a lot better:

SAM_1045 SAM_1046

I then bought some herbs from my local garden centre and planted them in my new pots.

So I now have oregano golden french, marjoram gold, oregano country cream, thyme compact, sage and dill in the pots – though I do know that some of them will need to be moved when they grow larger in a year or two.

I also have lavender and rosemary in bigger pots in between my fruit trees:

SAM_1110 SAM_1109

And I have chives growing along my path, which are looking beautiful at the moment as they are in flower and the bees love them…..and the flowers are adding a lovely colour to my salads:

SAM_1107 SAM_1103

.

This week in my kitchen garden I also planted out the calendula that had self seeded in the compost that I brought back from my old allotment.

Calendula looks beautiful when they are flower and the bees love them and you can also eat the flower petals too.  They look great in salads or sprinkled on pasta.

IMG_2435SAM_2281

And finally in my kitchen garden this week I removed the top couple of inches of growth on my broad bean plants.  I do this when the first tiny beans are visable on the plants.

Blackfly absolutely love the top, soft growth on broad bean plants and this stops them:

SAM_1051 SAM_1053

.

.

In My Home:

This week I decided to do a job that I have been putting off for some time….I have been cleaning the top of my kitchen cupboards for the first time since they were installed 18 months ago….so they were very dirty!

I used white vinegar and a scubber to clean them and they cleaned up well:

SAM_1056 SAM_1058

I really don’t want to put this amount of effort into cleaning my cabinets like this again, so I have lined the tops with a sheet of newspaper.  When the paper is dusty and dirty I will remove it and replace it quickly with another one, without having to do any hard work:

SAM_1059

Since we have had the new kitchen I have thought the area above my cupboards looks quite bare, so this week I put some old baskets on the top of the cabinets and I have used some cheap wooden hearts to decorate them….and it now looks much more homely (and I have somewhere to store my jars for jam making too):

SAM_1060 SAM_1104

.

Thank you for reading my blog today.  I will be back next Friday at my usual time.

Have a good weekend!

My Role As A ‘Homemaker’

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

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

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

I hope it helps someone out there.

.

This week I planted my climbing peas with a 'catch crop' lettuces inbetween inbetween

This week I planted my climbing peas with a ‘catch crop’ of lettuces inbetween them.

.

Today I have decided to talk about something different…. my role as a ‘homemaker’.  Previously I spent most days at my allotment, but now I spend a lot more time at home for one reason or another.

Back in January when I handed my allotment keys back, I didn’t quite realise what a change this would be for me and I have got to say there have been times when I have been so desperate to be outside I opened our French doors wide, just to feel the cold winter air around me.

My role as a homemaker hasn’t changed though and I do the things at home that I always have, but at different times as I have other family issues that take up a lot of my time now.

SAM_0527 SAM_0626

In the decades past, most women were housewives, it was the normal thing to do when you married. Nowadays it is rare for anyone to be a housewife/homemaker, especially after your children have started school. In fact I don’t actually know anyone that stays at home and doesn’t work.

I do find that nowadays if you stay at home the role of a ‘homemaker’ is often frowned upon…in fact over the years I have been asked on numerous occasions “what do I do to fill my time?” In the beginning I would try and justify the hours I spent at home and then after a while I felt pressurised into taking a part time job, but I was not happy in this role.

There are a lot of women out there who love working outside of the home, but there are also a lot that would secretly love to stay at home. ‘The Mail’ wrote about it here this week.

SAM_0384SAM_0365

So after I gave up my ‘little’ part time job (that turned in to lots of hours of overtime and stress), I then stopped trying to justify my time at home and when asked the question “How do I fill my time?” I would politely answer that I watch ‘Jeremy Kyle’ all day with a ‘fag’….which is really what people thought I did anyway.

Unfortunately it is easy to under value and dismiss the role of a ‘homemaker’, but I think it is probably one of the most important jobs a person can do.

SAM_0282SAM_0353

As a homemaker I try to organise and run the home as efficiently as possible, making sure bills are paid and savings are made wherever possible. I meal plan and cook healthy meals from scratch, after shopping in the cheapest places for food. I preserve and store the things I grow, I ‘make do and mend’ and recycle when possible, without wasting anything.

I try to make sure the house is clean and tidy using ‘old fashioned cleaning methods’ that are environmentally friendly and clothes are washed using a homemade laundry liquid, then ironed and put away.

I don’t run my four allotments anymore, but I have created a vegetable patch in my back garden and I will try to grow as much as possible there.

My parsnips ready to plant

My parsnips ready to plant

But I think the most important role I have as a homemaker, is to create a warm and comfortable place for my family to be in. A place where they know they will never be judged and their laughter and tears will always be shared with encouraging words and if needed, a shoulder to cry on with a ‘hug’.

I am certainly not saying that it is all a bed of roses, as money is always tight and I’ve got to say that being a ‘homemaker’ is the hardest job I have ever done…. but I do feel very privileged to be able to live this way. I know this isn’t everybody’s ‘cup of tea’, but it is how myself and Mr Thrift wanted it to be.

I would love to hear other people views on this, so please leave your comments below, thank you.

SAM_0873

I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog today.  I will be back next Friday as usual.

Have a good week!