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Spring Life In The Garden.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Eggs And More Eggs.


Greetings from sunny, not, but very humid and slightly soggy, Bronllan.

Anyhow, on Tueday I decided to give pickling eggs a go in my continued effort to preserve the things we raise, grow, etc.

I used plain distilled vinegar and in a little muslin pouch I put half a cinnamon stick, black pepper corns, mustard seeds, fresh basil and a star anise. 

I steeped the pouch in the vinegar and left it to cool for a couple of hours then poured it over the hard boiled eggs. 

They are now sitting on my shelf for a month until we can taste them. Very excited about that little project!

You may just be able to make out that the eggs are standing on a copy of John Seymour's Complete Book of Self-Sufficiency. I was encouraged by a post from Bovey Belle to purchase it and so glad I did. 

Wednesday morning our little harvest looked like this. A good sized courgette, five eggs, susar snap peas and our first ever dwarf beans. Eeeek!

We have acquired 200 small slates and Jon fetched them that morning so they boys were helping them to be unloaded and put into one of the sheds. Such looks of determination.

I made the decision the other day that as the swedes had not done very well in the veg plot I would leave the few which had, dig over the ground again, weed and then plant the turnips and so I have. The turnips had grown very well in the Poly House and I hope they grow without too much trouble.

Happy with the result as this end of the patch is full with the turnips, few swede and you can just see how the onions are coming up well.

We went into Aber today for some lunch as Jon's mum is staying a couple of days and wanted to treat us. I took a quick gander in Craft and came across this in the 50p box. It could be used as part of one of my seasonal vignettes or I could use it for crafting. I already have a lot of sheet music I use for papercrafting so I think I will keep this one as is, and maybe next year Alfie will be able to play some festive tunes for us!

 I also went to Aberdashery and bought a meter of muslin. I think this will be very useful for things such as when I make soe cheese which I intend to do in the next few weeks. (The recipe is something I found in the John Seymour book.)

And one more thing on the egg theme, my girls are on track to lay just as many as they did last month, even though we had some lean days where we only got two, because we have had six every day for the last week or so. Go girls!

Well, I have written this post whilst the boys are playing upstairs and both Jon and Nana are having 40 winks. Will just take a few more minutes to see what other delights I can add to my bucket list of new things to try from Mr Seymour whilst I have the chance.

Bye for now.


Monday, 25 July 2016

Only Four- Day Gap?

Wow. I just checked and it is only four days since my last post but it seems so much longer. 

Anyhow, what has been going on at our end?

The people who sold us Bronllan went away last Sunday so we said we would look after their horses every other day or so. Alfie had a bit of a bad experience with them when we first got here but he is better now and loved feeding them their carrots.

The boys have been good at going outside whilst the weather is good and snapped them sitting on the trailer and having a chin wag the other day.

On Friday I baked a Victoria sandwich cake and when we had been shopping on Saturday I filled and decorated it, unfortunately not with our own strawberries. Suffice to say it did not last very long as we had had a big fried breakfast and did not want lunch so this was snack!

On Saturday morning I was chuffed to see the girls were back to 6-a day and I picked our second cucumber and more sugar snap peas.

On Saturday I also made a vegetable lasagne; I had two small aubergines that I bought last week and thought I should use them up. I mixed some red lentils and kidney beans together and I had grated some sweet potatoe ready to make some fritters and had a bit of red pepper, two of our own but small courgettes and half a red onion to use up so fried these whilst I lightly baked slices of the aubergines. (Wish I'd taklen pictures as I went along!) I layered the lentil mix then the pepper and onions followed by the sweet potato and toppped with the aubergines keeping going until it was all used up. Topped off with four slices of cheese and popped in the oven for a little while it turned into this.

Can't wait to have it for my lunch, I am home alone today until tea time tomorow as the boys have gone on a trip to see Jon's parents; two locations and bringing his mum back for a short visit. Going to get today's jobs done after this then I am going to continue with this.

This is my papercrafting C word December Daily project! Check out here for examples of scrapbooking/mini-albums on acid! It is something I have wanted to do for a couple of years but you have to be a bit organised and get the base album finished before the rest of the festive organisation starts or you never get it done. Here's hoping I manage it this year, although most people don't tweak the finishing touches until the new year, final photos etc.

This is some of my Christmas crafting stash which I rummaged for in one of the outbuildings where we are currently keeping the decorations etc. Amongst other things I'm using up pages from an old festive planner I made a couple of years ago, why not...

then Tunnocks tea cake wrappers are one of my very fav things to use for decorations and papercrafting at C.

This is the start of the cover; sorry I'll stop now, but you know how I love C!

This morning I went to do the watering in the Poly House; we have had rain so most things outside have had a good soaking. My broccoli which has been attacked by some nibbler of sorts seems to have perked up a bit so really pleased about that. I collected the eggs and thought I'd take a few photos. Apologies but no time again for Pic Monkey.

Bush variety coming on loads on just one side?...

and the beef tomatoes better in bigger planters.

Nearly had a disaster with the cordon plant the other day as the bunch of toms was so heavy it nearly broke the stem off! Sorted it with more twine and canes!

THIS is the sweetcorn?

Right, well I have to get the chooks cleaned out and then I can do what I want and any other household chores, apart from one load of washing, can DEFINITELY wait until tomorrow.

Yay! Domestic freedom, just for the day, not that I am not the happiest bunny making a family home for me and my men, but it will be fun. I'm NOT be wearing my watch, I'm doing what NEEDS to be done and then the world is my oyster. 

Ooo, the post lady has just brought this union jack bunting I ordered ready for the Olympic celebrations - the boys are so excited, especially Alfie. It has a vintage, faded white look!

Right I'm off but I'll be cheking in to see what everybody else is getting up to, of course!

Bye for now.


Thursday, 21 July 2016

The World Has Indeed Gone Mad - Possibly.

Somebody mentioned the other day that the world has gone mad.

I am beginning to think this is true. By this morning more people had registered to be a member of the Labour party than the total membership of the Conservative Party to possibly vote for a man who has lost the confidence of most of his fellow politicians.

News states that a serving soldier was possibly almost abducted on the street in possibly a terrorist situation.

You note the frequent use of the word possibly.

All things in life and the world are possible -good or bad it seems.

This is a similar conversation kick started by Ilona of Life After Money.

What can you do if things around you are seemingly falling apart? I came to the conclusion that, as selfish as it seems, I am so pleased we live where we do because we seem quite removed from a lot of things. Plus, we are removing ourselves from a lot of things trying to be self-sufficient and self-reliant where we can.

I have for a while since the Brexit thing, and I really am not a very political person but it made me think, decided that you really have to look after number one and if that is not the train of thought of others then frankly I'm sticking my head in the sand for the sake of me and mine and just getting on with my own *hit. Rant over.

Bye for now.


Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Holiday Happenings.

Today is the first day of the school summer holidays so I have made my type face colour a little more summer like, just coz I can!

I have been quite leniant with the boys for the first day but I always do my best to keep them off screens for some parts of the day so we are able to do things as a family. This morning they had a lie in, no doubt watching too much tv, and I got them downstairs at 10am after I had eaten my breakfast, collected the first eggs, weeded some of the veg patch and did the Poly House jobs.

After their breakfast we took Jake for a walk and I photographed a few things in the lovely sunshine.

The weather is glorious again today and Jake always likes to cool off by having a roll in the grass.

Along the cycle path are tonnes of blackberry bushes so cannot wait to get some picked for pies!

We also came across a raspberry bush and had a couple of them to nibble on and we hope there will be more there and one I have spied across the road near a neighbour's building.

We meandered home enjoying the sunshine but knowing we would all enjoy a cold drink a little bit more!

When back at home Alfie asked if he could do some 'school work'. Call me pushy but I have always used the internet to provide things for the boys to do to keep their brains working during hoidays. They like to do their own newspaper articles, I print off word searches and book report pages etc. I hope to find some Welsh quizes they can do, too but I will need to make sure I have the answers in English, too!

Alfie loves keeping a scrapbook so we will be buying a new one at the weekend. He has asked if we can do Art on a Friday like they do at school. As I said I do my best to not have them on a screen and when I encourage them I love that they want to do stuff. Alfie is currently doing his newspaper front page with articles which include the hot weather, and him selling his cheese block door stops at the school faete but he is including the Olympics as he can't WAIT for them to start. 

Harry has 31 day Lego challenge and is already on about day four!

We also plan on going to the river to swim, weather depending of course, cooking, some crafting etc. visit the beach etc. I wouldn't describe myself as a helicopter parent as they need to play on their own so I get some time for myself over this long holiday.

We are planning on joining the Aber library so we can take part in the Summer Reading Challenge summer reading challenge which is based around Roald Dahl, who they both love.

So, Day One seems to be going ok. We have egg mayonnaise made for lunch sandwiches to eat outside, in the shade of course. One down 46 to go!

Bye for now.


Sunday, 17 July 2016

Catch up time (sorry for the uninspiring title)

Blogland forgive me, it has been, not sure how long, since my last post! 

Only kidding.

Here are my boys at the school presentation on Wednesday afternoon!

Most presentations were for Year 6 but there were others for things like top attendance for the year, most improved reading in Welsh etc.

The boys had their school summer fete on Friday and Jon hepled Alfie to make these door stops. Harry with Jon made Harry Potter wands out of branches from our twisted willow tree; he sold them all so no photo I'm afraid!

I was helping on the cake stall, of course, so set to baking and took along these three plus chocolate brownies and banana and sultana muffins. (Just realised the Victoria Sponge photo was taken pre jam and cream but you get the gist!)

At the fete I bought some quails eggs. Two things, they are much nicer hard boiled than runny - not keen on the taste at all - and if I ever should buy them again it will only be when I can afford to pay somebody to peel them for me - fiddly buggers!

Yesterday I harvested the first of our sugar snap peas, really fat and tasty and the boys have eaten them all as it was them I grew them for really, and the girls were back on form and  gave me six eggs.

Today I picked the first of our cucumbers - see the scale of it next to my glasses! I have taken some leaves off the underneath of the plants as there are lots of little ones growing and thought I might get more light to them. Try anything me! We should be able to stop buying those very soon. I have also ditched some of the compost from the drainpipe I was using to grow salad leaves. They were not growing decently anymore so I tidied it out and sowed some new spring onions; I think the ones in the same bed as the cucumber were being overshadowed by the big plants and just not progressing - another lesson learned there; learning all the time as my dad used to say!

The boys finish school on Tuesday so today we set to with sorting out a present of sorts for their teacher. They made a card between them and then decorated a hard-backed book I had in my stationery stash plus we have given her some pretty post it notes. (I was given them in the stationery swap I did recently but they were prefect to pop in the gift bag.)

This is the back of the book decorated my Harry's own fair hand and they both wrote some very nice things in Welsh on the inside cover.

I was having a fight with my cordon of tomatoes on this morning because I could NOT get the piggin' thing tied so it didn't lean too much. Eventually I strung them to one of the roof struts but I think I will nip the top soon.

Not much else going on in the Poly House although very pleased to see the beetroot I sowed a week ago are coming up nicely; Harry loves beetroot and I plan on pickling plenty! The courgette plants are a bit hit and miss at the moment; hardly anything is happening on one of the but the other seems to be coming along better with a couple growing well and more waiting in the wings so to speak.

We have had a lot of rain over the last few days so the water butts and any other receptacles with wide enough necks are over-flowing!

I do hope we are in for some better weather this week as we still yet to get the dreaded top soil. I am still ok regarding planting a few last things out but Jon has been so busy that even if the weather had been drier we probably wouldn't have managed to fetch it home anyway.

Well, my washing up is calling before the new series of Fake or Firtune; we love that!

Bye for now and look forward, as usual, to see the weekend shenanigans from everybody.


Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Proud As Punch!

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I am almost hugging myself, still, regarding my keeness to share this post with you. I received an email from school yesterday with the subject title of Secret! Intrigued, I read on and had my gast totally flabbered.  

Both my boys will be receiving a cup at Thursday's end of year presentation afternoon for their progress in Welsh! They have been learning the language for just over 10 months and we were told at their parents' evening last week that the level they had reached is one which any child would be at their age, English or Welsh. Wowser!

I admit to being quite tough on my kids when it comes to school because I just want them to do their best; I am not a pushy mother but have always done my best to work with them on their homework, created extra exercises for them to do at home and just encouraged them to go for that extra sentence or page of reading. 

This next bit I am unsure about writing but I'm going to do it anyhow. My two boys are bright boys and I will never be ashamed of being proud of them but I know some people don't like that therefore I am not sharing all the news from parents' evening. I understand that not all children are the same but I am so very pleased that they came into a brand new school, made friends easily and can now communicate in a foreign language better than I had ever expected they would be able to do when our new beginnings started!

Suffice to say I hope to share a photo of my clever boys after the presentation even though I do not do that very often.

Have a good day, it is overcast here today and the boys are on a school trip to Tenby to an adventure park so hope it stays dry for them.

Bye for now.


Sunday, 10 July 2016

A Week In The Making.

Ok, this post starts from Tuesday, getting on for a week ago I think so time for a good catch up. Jon arrived home with this gas range cooker which was going spare from somebody at work; I didn't ask for details as this happens all the time.

It needs a bit of a clean and some tweaking but will be just perfect to go in the cellar, once the required vent has been installed of course. Jon thought I could use if for jam and preserving plus being near the back door we can use if for keeping things warm if eating outside and also for extra cooking space should we need it any time. Sorry if I mentioned it before but we also plan to replace the oil Rayburn in the kitchen with a wood burning one in time for the winter and this will mean we can take out the gas cooker in the kitchen as we will have this one to use instead.

On Thursday Jon was on tea duty to make his fab bacon and cheese pasta bake so I had to avert a culinary disaster when he got home from work, attached the trailer to the car and promptly turned out of the back yard!

Never fear he was to return half an hour or so later with a trailer full of enough logs, already split, to do this to the woodpile. Ta da!!

A while ago, not this last week, we were given this lovely dressing table; Jon plans to do a bit of restoration and flog it.

In the Poly House, get a load of my cucumbers which are getting to the eating stage soon I hope but don't want to cut them too early even though that helps to increase the harvest as I understand.

I decided to subscribe to Grow Your Own magazine after trying it out and look what gift I've been sent already. Eeeek! (Gloves are to show the size of the trug.)

I'll just mention it briefly that we watched the football on Friday to cheer on our adopted homeland and even I could see they tried their hardest but were just not up to mustard on the day. Da iawn!

Yesterday we headed to Aber for the food shopping and a few necessary provisions. Mount Trading is my new favourite shop; I think there isn't much they don't have or that we couldn't make use of! We needed chicken corn and some sand for the enclosure and they had a good deal on three bags of compost.

I have been wanting to pot-on the beef tomatoes so bought four more planters from Poundland plus some tomato feed and slug pellets (I know I should be using something recycled but sometimes you just need a quick fix) I picked up what I thought was a protective sheeting for the broccoli but when I got it into the Poly House I realised it was a fleece protector; I guess it will do the same job although by the look of them I don't think I'm going to bother. Something has eaten the life out of my hard work and I'm a bit peeved but stuff(!) happens.

Next  it was off to Charlies for some seeds; last chance to get some beetroot sown and I also got sprout and lettuce seeds. I sowed the whole lettuce seeds in a drainpipe when we got home so hope they will be ready around the time of the tomatoes and cucumbers. 

Talking of cucumbers, it has done them the power of good re-tying the stems to the bamboo stakes as they are growing up lovely and tall now. Just out of interest, I don't know the type my cucumbers are but they are slightly raised in lines top to bottom and not squat with tiny bobbles on them like some I have seen. What other types are people growing?

This one is six inches long!

I have a connfession to make; Alfie and I have taken up the potatoes from my first bag of second earlies(?) and I think I shouldn't have waited a bit longer. I know, I know, I should have been a little more patient but we just couldn't wait! I have learnt a lesson anyhow, which is what all of this is about at times. I only put three tubers in the bag and I know I could have put in five so our yield was only 1lb 11oz - see here!

Alfie washed them all himself and counted them - 27.

I've left the foliage and everything as it was and maybe I'll get a couple more over the next two weeks or so...

The second bag to be harvested next month has five tubers in it so I have better hopes for the amount I will get. Having said all of this I am so proud of how they have turned out and we will be having them tomorrow with some of our mint.

Today, Sunday, we had a full fry up for brekky and I have bread on the last prove. I've been out and sown two trays of beetroot seeds in toilet rools. I've decided that whatever I sow these work for me when you plant out, that's me. I have been getting jobs done this morning because I am taking charge of the tv from 2pm to watch the tennis. Can't wait to see the guy who beat Federa again. Secretly?! I wouldn't mind if he won as he is only 25, first Canadian man in the mens final at Wimbledon and played so very well. 

Oh, occured to me the other day that I've hardly mentioned the Sewing Bee. I watched it on catch up on a Tuesday and have really enjoyed it. I was so pleased that Charlotte won and found it very special that she had such a wonderful relationship with her ex-husband's new wife, saying she was so important to the children. Bless!

Ok, I'm going to get the bread in the oven, clean the boys' shoes and may even make their packed lunches to get that job out of the way, too.

As ever, looking forward to what everybody has been getting up to this weekend.

Bye for now.