Friday, 29 August 2014

My Garden in August

I'm quite sad really...I spend hours just walking around my garden admiring (oohing & ahhing) at any new flower that appears and absolutely love it when it's scented too. I stick my nose in the centre (making sure there aren't any insects ready to bite my nose first!), inhale deeply with my eyes shut and say to myself "mmmmm". Not only that, I'm forever taking photos. I think I take more photos of my garden than my children. That maybe because they can never behave when I want one of them all together! Inevitably they take it in turns to pull silly faces which sets them all off into giggles. I'm lucky if I can get one decent photo of them sitting still smiling nicely and looking adorable (that's if adults can look adorable) out of 20 takes! 

I thought I would share some of the blooms out this month in my garden but alas can't share their perfume!

Roses from top left  Morning Jewel & Cornelia
Bottom left Kathleen Harrop & Zephrine Drouhin 

Top left Thalictrum Bottom left Clematis Sunburst
Right Hydrangea

From top left Bellis Daisy & Petunia/Geranium
From bottom left Japanese Anemone & White Phlox 

Monday, 18 August 2014

Blackberry Swirl Fairy Cakes/Cupcakes

All the fruit in my garden this year has been early.

Soft fruit from my garden - June & July 2014

The plums, even though we don't get that many, were ready three quarters of the way through July and I was lucky that I beat the birds (and wasps) to most of them!

We have a Victoria Plum tree and a Oullins Golden Gage tree. They are about 5-6 years old. The Victoria plum has fruited the last couple of years but only on the lower branches. The Oullins really struggles. We had about 5 fruit on it last year, this year only 1! I checked it everyday once the Victoria plums were ready worried either the birds would get it or it would fall off and bruise. Luckily I managed to pick it...and it was delicious!

The blackberries have been early too. I have a very prickly variety that aren't very big and very sour this year.  It has been very painful picking them especially with the strong winds we have been having. Just when I think I have found a way in with my arm without getting pricked a gust would blow the stems around...ouch! I may replace it with a thornless variety.

I freeze some of the blackberries putting them straight into a plastic tub waiting in the freezer. However, my freezer is absolutely stuffed full now so I stewed some with sugar and also added a fallen Bramley Seedling cooking apple to one batch to use as a pie filling. 

I thought I would try adding some stewed berries to a fairy cake mixture. This is how I made them and how they turned out.

Blackberry Swirl Cupcakes

Pre heat oven 140C for 25 mins
Makes approx 12

Cake Mixture :-

6 oz castor sugar
6 oz marg/butter.  I used Flora
6 oz self raising flour
3 large eggs
Tablespoon milk

Stewed Blackberries  :-

8 oz  Blackberries
2oz Light Soft Brown Sugar
Tsp water


Cook the blackberries on low heat with the soft brown sugar & water stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved. Then turn up the heat slightly to simmer until blackberries have softened and liquid thickens sightly. The liquid will thicken more as it cools.

 Put cake ingredients in bowl except milk.

Mix together with electric mixer until combined and glossy. Mix in tablespoon milk.

Spoon into cupcakes cases.  

Add teaspoon blackberry syrup mix & swirl through cake mixture.

Bake for approx  for approx 25 mins until golden & springy to touch. Leave to cool.

Suggestions for serving - dust with icing sugar/whipped cream/creme fraiche  or pipe vanilla butter icing on top. 


NB I am not a professional cook. This recipe has been devised by adding my own tweak on a traditional recipe using my oven. Temperatures/times may have to be altered to suit yours.

Monday, 11 August 2014

The creation of My Craft Room - Part 3 - Cupboard

As well as the Expedit shelving units I wanted a dresser or cupboard. 

I had seen this -


but couldn't find a new cupboard suitable. 
I needed a cupboard that wasn't too deep as I didn't want to have to squeeze past with my washing basket and, due to the low ceilings, not very tall. And it had to fit between to sets of wall lights (I do like to make things awkward for myself!). 

Then I wondered if putting their 40 x 80 x 80 kitchen base units on top of each other would work.
The "star" (my other half) did the measuring and planning and said "yes" it was possible. So, we bought 2 base units, a top piece (which I hadn't thought about because normally a worktop would go on the top of these base units) and end panels, using one of these to divide the 2 cupboards.

We used doors that matched the other kitchen cupboards for the bottom cupboard and the glazed option for the top half. 

We then used 4 medium wooded door knobs that we had spare for the feet. Extra wide opening hinges and some shelves and here we have it......

my "cute" cupboard if I don't mind saying so!


Monday, 4 August 2014

WW1 Centenary - Flanders Poppies

Back in the spring I was given some packets of red field poppies to mark the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War 1 from Poppi Red Cafe & Shop in Hawkeshead. The Centenary Campaign was an idea of the Greenhithe and Swanscombe  branch of The British Legion (h
 I had the perfect place to sow them.

2 years ago I made a circular flower bed between some apple trees for wild flowers. I bought some wild flower seed mix online (can't remember where from) and the first year the results were beautiful.

Spring 2012

Year 1 - July 2012

I had let the flowers go to seed and late summer I cut them down leaving the seeds to scatter around clearing the dead foliage & stems away in the autumn. 

The following spring I just turned the soil over and left it to its own devises but a white achillea  and a yellow flower took over with not much else appearing. Not sure where these 2 came from as I don't remember them from the year before!

Year 2 - July 2013

So this spring I dug it over again and removed all roots and seedlings as they had started to grow already. Forgetmenots were taking over too, so I pulled up as many of them as I could. After clearing the patch I left it it a couple of weeks pulling up anything that started to grow that I didn't want. 

I then sowed the poppy seeds, added some blue cornflowers and some of the wild flower mix I had left (wasn't holding out for a good result from these as they were old). As things started to grow I noticed more forgetmenots growing so I painstaking pulled up as many seedlings as I could.

This is what flowered first.


Don't know what these are. Pretty but not what I wanted really.
When these had finished I cut then down to prevent them setting seed.

Then came the poppies, the odd daisy type flower, a tall magenta flower (I will talk about this plant in another post)  but only 1 cornflower! Ah well, I'll try again next year to get a better mix.

Year 3 - Field Poppies

Beautiful but makes you stop and think of all the soldiers who lost their lives for our country. 


Friday, 1 August 2014

Felt Fox Brooch - My first "Make" in my new Craft Room….

My first 'Make' sitting at my new craft table.

I made a Fox brooch from a kit that came free with Mollie Makes issue 32.

Here is how I made it.

Freebie from Mollie Makes issue 32

The supplies and pattern included

Patterns traced and pinned to felt

The brooch pin to be sewn to back piece

The embroidery thread supplied too

The white muzzle placed between the orange layers
and over stitched all the way around

Nose and eyes lashes embroidered and voila!

For one very pleased little girl next door who loves foxes.