Monday, 27 April 2009

Random thoughts.

Isabella and I have returned from a trip into Falmouth where the rain poured down one moment leaving beautiful spring sunshine in its wake the next. The harbour, filling up rapidly with boats of every description ready for the summer season, glistened in the full tide, the fields on the banks opposite seeming impossibly emerald thanks to a weekend of frequent, heavy showers and the sea itself freshly oiled as the gentle breeze ruffled the surface. I didn't have my camera with me for once, but the picture below gives some idea of how it looked as Isabella gaily trotted from quay to quay in order to spot her best boat.

The weekend pace was gentle with the usual pot of coffee in bed starting the day. A trip to the allotment to inspect the plants Isabella and I had planted out on Friday: hundreds of brussel sprouts, purple sprouting broccoli, cabbages and spinach plants all raised from seed by Dave; so many indeed it took us almost three hours to plant! The first broad beans are covered in flower and looking good and my little helper and I grazed along on green & red cut-and-come again lettuces, tips of onion leaves and scrumptious rocket which I just adore. A lovely morning together before heading for home where Isabella settled for a nap, full of fresh air and fresh food, while I taught a lesson and worked on orders till she woke.

Indeed, working on orders is in full flow as I seem to have had quite an influx just lately. A few new wholesale orders have been placed and my own website seems to be doing well too, so cutting out has been the main task of the day, a job I loathe unless I am on a run. This makes me feel so much more organised then when I cut a bit, sew a little, stop and start. The orders have been for a mix of items including some of these beach bags...

Sweet Dreams hearts...

Bright and Breezy Bunting

and Lauren Tote bags...

amongst others (all of which are available here). A lovely mixture to work on, though unfortunately my sewing room looks rather bomb-like which brings me to a need to bask in this gorgeous studio featured in Vanessa's beautiful blog, 'Do You Mind If I Knit?'. I love this blog for its stunning photos and the way Vanessa writes so beautifully about a wide range of things. Her home is just lovely, her knitting wonderful, and she is defintitely firmly on my list of bloggers I hope to meet, but ohhh that studio..... sigh...

Ah well, I can dream can't I? And I am lucky to have a sewing room at all, especially one made just for me by my lovely Mr Davey - just need to hoover up the threads, tidy up the fabrics, clear the floor....hmm. Off to catch me a ladybird now as one just flitted by the window.

Have a lovely Monday x

Thursday, 23 April 2009


These darned newts have become my new 'perfect wave', my new obsession which, like all obsessions, draws me away from the little necessities that make up my life. I may be gardening, trying to bring some order to the chaos I so love, but which yet needs some careful direction so as not to become oppressive. I may be washing dishes mid-baking only to stare out the window and feel the tug of the wildlife pond tucked away just out of sight and find myself for the umpteenth time grabbing the camera in a desperate attempt to capture the wriggling little dragons at play. Why? Well, I can only think it is to share with you as my family obviously can walk their dear feet right out the door and see for themselves, cooing in appreciation as their besotted mother goes on and on and on and... Yes, did I mention obsession?

Of course I now have a zillion pointless and unflattering pictures of the pond which don't even show it in its best light as I had to wobble precariously at the edge risking life and limb while the newts swam off just as I clicked the camera.

But finally, finally, here is one lying in its murky pool slightly visible in the light, though nowhere near as much as by ones own eye. I suspect the hunt will go one.

So, having shared 'a' singular newt with you (despite the fact there are dozens languishing 'neath the water forget-me-nots and fallen leaves) I will now share a little more. First up is my recipe for dandelion wine which can be found by clicking here to take you to the long-overdue 'what we are doing' page on my website. Nettle wine will be added as soon as I can grab a moment, but I am actually up to my eyes in wholesale orders just now, so it may be a little while coming. Yes, I do actually work as well!

I am not only newt-obsessed at the moment, but weed obsessed also. I don't mind these wild plants in moderation, but when they threaten to overtake then my thoughts turn to wine. Country wines are such fun to make and I never mind if they don't taste too wonderful on first try - just pop them away and bring out next year to see how they have improved.

The main thing is not to take it all too seriously and not to expect it to taste like something from Asda. Last year, when money was tighter than tight for us and buying alcohol was not an option, we dug out various demijohns of wine I had made years ago. Regular tastings had left all but me unimpressed - but then, I will drink anything - and suggestions of pouring down the sink floated on the air. I resolutely refused and put them back in the porch where they were forgotten for a long, long time. Desperation drove me to bring them out again last year in a 'this time you're going' mood and lo and behold the potato wine tasted like a wonderfully dry sherry, gorgeous trickled over ice in tiny glasses (actually, we moved oin to fairly large ones as it was so good).

The plum was a deep colour which was not quite so good for drinking and yet worked some magic when added to casseroles. The Rhubarb was again sherry-like and according to Dave, close in flavour to an Amontillado. My sausage casserole rose from humble beginnings to heady new heights with the addition of some juniper berries, a few grapes and a jolly good slug of the wine. Delicious. I suppose my point here is that it is fun to do, from the gathering of produce to the mixing and bottling, it costs very little, and you might just have something gorgeous at the end of it. Each year the flavours will vary according to the type of season we are having and their are no guarantees (so please don't blame me if you don't like what you have made), but try it and see. Just don't throw anything away and ignore those boring people who just have to tell you how terrible homemade wines are!

Next week I am hoping to share another thing with you as I am planning my first ever giveaway. I have meant to do one for ages, but you know how it is. No idea what the giveaway prize will be yet, but I promise to pick something lovely from the pipany sewing room. Hopefully, I'll have these orders out by the end of next week so will post about it then.

Bye for now x

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

More of the week.

Images of the last week part two: hard-boiled eggs eaten on the beach. More special because they are from our own ducks and there is something in me that responds to the sight of the children tucking in so heartily to our own produce, whether it is fruit, veg, eggs or meat. I know where it has come from and what has gone into the making of it. Mind you, I have the same feeling when the woodshed is full and the chutneys are made, shelves glistening with jams and wines bubbling away in the front porch. Their is truly something about this 'providing' that fills a need in me (though I did realise how close to an obsession it can be when I caught myself feeding part of my orange to a perfectly well-fed and not at all hungry baby on the beach at the weekend!)

A drink of elderflower cordial to wash it all down.

A play in the icy sea with friends to work up an appetite for more. My golly, was that sea icy! I managed my first dip of the year, but can't claim it was a swim as i managed little more than ten strokes in all I should think before hypothermia threatened...brrr!

In the garden the apple blossom is almost in full flow. This is from our Bramley and is truly my favourite. Soft white blushed with the palest pink against deeper cerise, the contrast making it stand out beautifully in fornt of our kitchne window.

Buds from the Cornish Aromatic which sits in our lawn arching its branches most prettily over the soft grass and the effect of the two reminding me of a country churchyard. Hmm, not sure others see it that way. Cornish Aromatic has one of the best perfumes of all the apple blossoms I think.

And fully in flower; a more muted colour palette, but beautiful nonetheless. The overall picture this lovely tree creates is reminiscent of weddings somehow at the moment.

Children playing outside after school.

A line of pasta drying in the kitchen while we potter in the garden. (More for comedy effect this one!)

And finally, the reflection in the wildlife pond where I was trying to photograph the newts and failing miserably. they are so gorgeous and we have loads of them. I think they are the palmate newts as opposed to the smooth or crested, but I am boring everyone either way by going on and on about them. I haven't seen any for years and thought they had gone, but this lot seem to be less shy. How though do you get a picture? Ah well, at least it proves the pond is doing what it should and encouraging life in the wild.

That's it for now and well done for reaching the end. Off to turn some nettles into wine now (and no, it's not a miracle!).
Have a good day x

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Catching up.

I have been a poor blogger this holiday. Indeed, I have barely managed to even read many blogs, so a catch up is well overdue. The rest of our holiday was certainly not full of the sunshine so apparent in my previous post (that'll teach me to bask won't it?), but we found plenty to do in the wet, dull, damp weather that mostly followed. Here's a taster: first up, jugs full of lilac - gorgeously scented, delicately flowered, just so beautiful lilac - picked from the one by our front gate and filling the house with their seductive perfume.

Walks where magnolias bend and twist their branches over old walls and cottage gardens.

A favourite walk through the old gunpowder works where waterfalls tumble through the broken wheels and houses of a long ago place.

Where wellies are the order of the day as streams and rivulets need exploring.

Dainty grasses flower in the shade.

Woodland and water

Thee eerieness of a quarry, all gloom and still water suggesting dead things in its murky depths. The Lord of the Rings was the main topic of conversation here.

More tumble-down shacks with water crashing through and a lot of fun had by all.

Home to make pasta for the first time ever

to be eaten with a sauce of spinach, cashew nuts, olive oil and cheese (tell them its pesto and even our confirmed greens loather eats the lot!). Yum. so much fun that we foresee a whole summer of homemade pasta coated with sauces made from our allotment produce.

Will have to post about the newts, new hens and dandelion wine another day. For now we are off to the beach for the final day of the holiday. The sun is shining and we hope for more of this:

Have a good Sunday x

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Easter Sunday.

Easter Sunday brought sunshine, chocolate and a day doing this...

It was a day for bright, colourful dresses

Searching through rock pools

Watching the tide surge in and out, gently moving the seaweed in its mesmerising swell

A day for playing

Building sandcastles

A day for discovering

A day that was pretty perfect.

Hope yours was good too.
Happy Easter x

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

The Holidays So Far.

So, the Easter holidays are here and with them the chance to escape from routines and school uniforms, to just enjoy being with the children - after all, isn't that why we had them? Lucy and I got off to a good start by making hot cross buns, something I haven't baked since I was at school long, long ago. Dave and I use our breadmaking machine several times a week and I had forgotten how lovely it is to bake bready things the 'proper' way. Lucy read out the recipe, weighing out the ingredients as we went along. It is so good for kids to get involved in cooking and I haven't come across many who don't enjoy it. Most of all it is just lovely to spend the time together chatting about why we do something and how it works. I realised as we worked away that we were also baking up more memories to be stored away alongside all the others, the ones of countless games around our kitchen table with her siblings and friends, the ones of so many huge family dinners that stretch on for seemingly endless hours, evenings of films and fireside and precious days on the beach. In amongst them all would be the ones of us cooking together.

And this is how they turned out - very yummy and we are definitely planning to make more. They really were so easy and though I am the first to admit to loving the Asda ones and the ease with which they go from packet to mouth, I did like the fact that these were so filling only one could be managed (well, another was forced down after a short intermission). Particularly delicious toasted with oodles of butter dripping over fingers and chin.

Other good things about the holiday so far? Mr Davey has been working hard in the greenhouse and it is now packed with seedling of both vegetables and flowers as he has cut out a cut flower patch at the allotment which will soon need planting out.

Inb case any one is horrified by the bright blue slug pellets apparent in the photographs I would like to put your mind at ease for they are organic pellets. Worry not.

The damson and Victoria plum have now finished flowering and are sprinkling the last of their confetti over the garden. Apple blossoms teeter on the brink of opening just waiting for a little more warmth from the chillier sun now with us.

The Cornish Aromatic is so nearly there.

And the sloe outside the boys' room is just beautiful. We always make sure that we use our own sloes as well as the ones we gather from the hedgerows to make our sloe gin in the autumn. Of course, the bottles with our own are always the best!

Just so beautiful.

Trips to the beach have obviously taken place, though sometimes they have been in cold grey weather as yesterday proved to be. No matter, a walk in the blustery winds with the sea rolling onto the shore cleared the cobwebs away nicely, especially for poor Isabella who finally recovered from a nasty tummy bug. Today, Dave has taken Lucy and Elias off to buy supplies as he is taking them camping for a couple of days (mad fool that he is). They go a few times every year to one of our favourite quays tucked away in the woods far from the world with only the birds and the sound of water to keep you compnay...proper camping out in the sticks. Isabella and I have plans involving chocolate buttons, magazines for me and comics for her, and adventures of our own. I also have great plans for a glass (or three) of wine, some knitting by the fireside and a box of chocs for the evenings...bliss.

In all then, not a bad start to the holiday.
Happy Monday x