Saturday, 30 June 2012

Strawberry fields

I have always loved strawberries, I remember my first large cross stitch I made was of strawberries I was in year 4 of school so around 9 I think. As a teenager I worked the summer at a farm picking them.

A few years back my dad introduced me to pick your own strawberrying. I had been completely oblivious that you could do that until he took us. It has now became a bit of a tradition we always pick tonnews of them then come home and make jam with most of them.

Stephanie loves strawberries as much as I do.

We picked 4 punnets of strawberries we gave one to the children's nan as a present. These punnets weigh between 700 and 800 grammes each. After we picked our strawberries we went in the farm shop and bought the punnet of cherries you see above with the strawberries.

I used some of the apples from the allotment tree thinning in the week so this is strawberry and apple jam. These picture make the jam look a bit darker than it actually is.

I popped to Asda first thing this morning and bagged a lot of yellow sitcker bargains. I have been continuing with the use it up challenge I estimate that there was about 1 weeks worth of food left in the freezer, as I am paid monthly I decided to shop now as I now have enough food in there for the month. I bought salmon, beef, turkey, chicken thighs, chicken wings, chicken breasts and a lovely looking pork joint. As well as a treat that the eagle eyed of you will have noticed in the left of the picture- I love ondant fancies and these were reduced heavily so I treated us.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Our harvest

I am so excited I have begun harvesting! So much promise. Trying to ignore that the peas and beans have not grown this year and celebrate what has. In the spirit of this I am going to add some bars to the side of the page which show what we harvest. I'm going to weigh what I collect and tally it up.

I have the most harvest of ripe food from  the raspberries at the moment. I decided to try thinning out my apple trees today after reading other people's blogs the other day I have decided to try this method.

I now have a bag of under ripe apples I plan to use them for the pectin content in jam making later in the week. Whilst at the allotment today we picked another tub of raspberries and some more elder flowers for cordial making later this evening. Off now to make side bars and then prep the food!

Sunday, 24 June 2012

In the garden/ on the allotment this weekend

This weekend I have been playing catch up with all the plants that have been attacked  and decimated by slugs- essentially everything I have planted so far this year has been munched so much that it no longer exists. I have had to start all over again.

At the allotment I have planted out some young bean and pea plants. Then at home I have planted seeds for;
little gem
cabbages (2 types)

I suspect I am now not going to get the larger harvest I had hoped for at the beginning of the year but if I get some, right now I'll be pleased.

I have harvested some yummy strawberries and raspberries from both allotment and the garden.

This evening I have been reading lots about thinning your apples on the tree to allow others to grow. So this sounds like my next job on the allotment as last year our apples were plentiful but not up to much, from this evening reading I suspect that it was because they all grew very close together and touched. So I am going to thin them out this year and try this recipe with the little apples I thin. I will need to have a little think to adapt the recipe so that it has no lemon/ citrus products in it for Stephanie to be able to enjoy it to. Perhaps I'll use apple juice where the lemon juice is called for/ or water. A little experimentation is called for. I'll let you know how I get on.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Summer summer summertime!

Look at this for yummy homegrown goodness;

I got one of these after I picked them in the garden as Stephanie scoffed the rest befre I could even blink!

These were picked on the allotment, there were more ripe than this but they never made it into the bowl.

This for me os the best thing about summer :-)

Sunday, 17 June 2012


I began today by painting the hallway and stairs this is a job I have had on my todo list for several months. I am pleased that I have finally done it as it looks much better now- Kitchen next!

After painting next we did some weeding down at the allotment I weeded under the apple and pear trees and the raspberry bush, Dylan weeded the potato bed. Dylan also finished fixing the compost bins while we were there. They had collapsed we have spent the past few weeks working to empty them so that they can stand up properly and be used again.

Whilst there I admired the neighbouring allotmenteer rich green foliage of his potatos they are really thick and leafy. Mine are looking bedraggled and slug eaten. I was feeling rather downhearted and wondering what I am doing wrong when he arrived with a large pot of chemical fertiliser, this has got me thinking. I don't want to put chemicals on my vegetables so is there something I can fertilise with? A quick internet search found me this nettle fertiliser what a better thing to use these things for? I will be going to give this a go.

After we had finished at the allotment we made a picnic and went to a local park for a walk through the fields and woods.

Mr frog came to visit us!

you're never to old to enjoy a slide!

Stephanie chanted "scary scary scary" as she climbed to the top!

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Use it up challenge

Last Friday I posted about following the use it up challenge. I have used what we have in the fridge for most meals and supplemented that with what is in the freezer we have had;

  • cheese rolls
  • Philadelphia rolls
  • salad
  • fruit
  • yoghurt
  • cakes
  • jacket potatoes
  • home-made pizza and dough balls
  • pork chops and noodles
  • chicken curry
  • mackerel and tomato pasta
  • croissants ( i did buy these)
  • toasted rolls
  • cereal bars
All I bought during the week was some croissants these fed us for a couple of days and a KFC I could give you an excuse- there was an accident on the way home from work meaning I was very delayed on the day we had it, Dylan was on a school trip and I had to feed Stephanie and myself in the 45 minutes I had between collecting her from the childminders and going to the collection point to get Dylan back from his trip. I realise I could have done a quick and simple dinner for the 2 of us in that time but I was being lazy! LOL

This week resulted in most of the fridge being depleted. There are a some eggs, few carrots and a couple of parsnips still to use but apart from that everything was used. The eggs I will use tomorrow to make cakes for next weeks lunches, the carrots and parsnips for tomorrows roast.

I have been shopping today I bought some more fruit, yoghurt, fruit juice and cheese these are items we constantly use. Just buying these this week has meant that my shopping was less than £20.

I have some chicken bits in the fridge which I will use to make a roast dinner tomorrow and will go through the freezer menu planning for next week. I also need to look in the cupboard to see what I can incorporate from the tins etc to our meals as I am sure some of them have been lurking in the back a while.

How are you getting on with the challenge?

Incidentally I know June is the month for Mackeral fishing, one of our favourite fish- where can I learn how to fish myself??

Thursday, 14 June 2012

A completed project

Today I have finished this beautiful cross-stitch;

I began my part of the stitching back in March, I am amazed at how much I like this piece, I almost don't want to give it to Stephanie for her room I want it in the hallway when I have finally finished decorating it. However, it was intended for Stephanie so she will get it. I do have another of Mum's cross-stitches I will hang in the hallway. I will show you that one another day.

Sunday, 10 June 2012


Another busy day here, Sundays always seem quite busy for some reason. I began the day by collecting both children and their Nan to come and watch me run the race for life. I have raised £13 in sponsor money. I haven't asked many people for sponsor money as everyone knows someone who does it now as it is becoming increasingly popular. I like to think if everyone who was there today raised that amount there is a huge amount to help someone like my Nan and Mum who both lost their fights to cancer in the past 18 months. I managed to run the race in 26 minutes not too bad a time, Stephanie ran the last 100m or so with me, it was a lovely moment. She has asked if next year she can do it with me, I can see me signing up for 2 different events as I will do it with Stephanie but I also like to try and improve my time. Today I knocked 2 Min's 30 seconds off my last time.
After lunch we went to the allotment for some more compost organising (Dylan and Stephanie) and weeding and digging (me). Before we left I took pictures of how things are coming along;

Friday, 8 June 2012

Using it up!

As part of the using it up callenge set by Mrs Green I have been wading my way through the food in my fridge for the past couple of days so far I have eaten;
Chicken fried rice
egg rolls
sliced beef and duck skewers with salad, coleslaw and potato salad
turkey rolls
griddle pan waffles

All except the griddle pan waffles were made using barbecue leftovers. I have had to put some more into the freezer as the children have gone to their Dads for a few days and I am off to stay with a friend. So rather than waste the 2 boxes of cooked chicken breast and 4 packs of bread rolls I have frozen them to eat another day.

When the children and I went to the woods the other day we collected some elderflowers to make cordial with. As Stephanie has an allergy to citic acid I made 2 batches one using lemons, one without. Instead of citric acid I made it with tartaric acid which she is ok with.
Here is the citrus one;

This is them all bottled (or jarred!) up. I keep any jars I use throughout the year so that I can make jams for us all in the summer months. When the bottle of wine was emptied the other day I thought it would be useful for this recipe. Unortunately I only had one wine bottle so the rest of the cordial has gone into jars- there's an excuse to drink more wine ;-)

Thursday, 7 June 2012

June's happiness revolution

Once again I am joining with Astra's happiness revolution. My 10 reasons to be happy in June are;

  1. A week off.
  2. I have had lots of time with friends and family in my week off.
  3. The strawberries are growing well and will be ready soon.
  4. I have written the school reports.
  5. I am getting my new (to me!) car tomorrow.
  6. I have discovered that I love running early in the morning.
  7. hearing my children playing, together and with friends and family, and hearing them laughing.
  8. I am planning a summer camping trip with my sisters, one of my brothers and most of my nieces and nephews
  9. I am enjoying my job a LOT
  10. Dylan's chocolate brownies make me very happy (even if they are going to make me exceedingly fat!)

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Using what you have

Whilst blog hopping yesterday, a little known hobby of mine ;-) I came across Mrs Green's Zero waste blog. Mrs Green is hosting a little freezer challenge which I am going to join in with. Basically the challenge is to use up items you may have lurking in your freezer/store cupboard and not going out to buy any more food until it is used. After spending a large chunk of this months food budget on yesterday's barbecue I think this is the perfect challenge for me right now.  Before I start going through the freezer I need to use up what is left over from yesterday, as you can see from the pictures above there is plenty left over to begin this challenge well. All I am planning on buying this month is the fresh fruit/vegetables and milk that we need. Once the barbecue food has gone I will make an inventory of what is lurking in the kitchen and menu plan with that, I'm curious to see how close to my next payday I can get with it.

I'm feeling a little smug this morning as I made some of my homemade bread for the barbecue and everyone ate it, even the children's fussy auntie who couldn't believe it was home made :-)

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

And then the rain came

I spent this afternoon getting the house/garden ready for our Jubilee celebration with friends. I am really impressed with how the bunting looks up
I had just finished getting it all ready, the first guests arrived and the rain came down, not just a little rain either. In fact it is still raining now- 5 hours later. As I have no suitable outside cover we changed our barbecue to an oven-a-cue and still managed to enjoy great food and company.

The children played outside in the rain for a while, when it got very heavy they came in and made their own entertainment!

Lots of giggles and laughter for hours. Then when the last guests left they took themselves to bed by themselves. A successful get together I feel.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Getting ready

Tomorrow we are having our Jubilee celebration. I am refusing to call it that B word as I can (almost) guarantee the sun will hide and the rain will appear if I do. So we are having a celebration I will make the decision whether I cook inside or out tomorrow about half hour before I begin. To accompany our celebration we have been home making this is what we have made so far;

Hmm, I wonder what all these triangles will be for?

Yup you guessed it frugal bunting. I have used some sheeting, which originally covered the throne in  Stephanie's castle. I cut 1/4 of it up and we all used fabric pens I already had to decorate them. The triangles are joined together with curling ribbon from the craft stash, attached with staples. Quick and easy. The plan is for these beauties to decorate the garden tomorrow.
Then we began the baking. The desserts for tomorrow were made with ingredients from the store cupboard- no expense necessary

Mini Victoria sandwiches, even the jam is home made.

 Cup cakes;
 And best of all Dylan's gooey chocolate brownies;

These are my favourite dessert at the moment. I must stop getting him to bake it- I'll be the size of a house soon otherwise.

Tomorrow I will continue to cook for our gathering on the to do list are;

home grown coleslaw- you didn't know that grew alongside the slugs on the allotment did you? LOL
Potato salad
sausage rolls
ermm I'm sure there was something else but I can't remember at the moment, oh yes the chicken kebabs need making.

How are you celebrating?

Sunday, 3 June 2012

We like to party

Last night we went to a family 60th birthday party. It was one of those lovely relaxed evening where people do what they want. This involved Stephanie and her cousin running/dancing around and around the dance floor, Dylan and the older cousins playing pool with their uncles and us girls doing well in Stephanie's words "Mum you didn't stop talking and laughing all night why didn't you dance?"
It was a lovely evening for all, I think the state of Stephanie's new shoes show what fun she had

Still, a little bit of nail varnish remover on cotton wool and a gentle rub and they look new again;

We didn't get home until just after midnight, when we got home Stephanie asked if we can do some of her cross stitch she is working on, she wasn't very impressed when I said no it's bedtime. She really did wear herself out as it is 9am now and she is still snoring. Still that means we get to have a lovely relaxed day now. I just hope later on when we pick up Dylan they are not both so tired they squabble, maybe I'll dig out a film and have a home movie night with them to try and keep it all relaxed today.

Happy Sunday everyone

Saturday, 2 June 2012

A promise of things to come

I have spent today at the allotment and doing the garden ( we'll gloss over the shopping trip and day dreaming of escaping someone green on my own for now). At the allotment the potatoes have been earthed up a couple of times and poking through lovely and green, there are 2 pea plants that have grown- Mr Slug go away! and the cabbages are looking fine!

At home have lots of fruit growing;

The strawberries are growing fantastically I'm rather excited as I have 8 baskets of these!

The raspberry bush is very green. It's starting to get it's berry on too

It's getting to my favourite time, all the fruits are getting ready for me to eat :-)