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Spring Life In The Garden.

Monday, 28 November 2016

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas!

A cosy good morning to you as I type this. 

Jon lit the Rayburn just before he went to work; I dropped him off as I need the car to fetch the boys from Urdd then him from work this evening. I have lit the living room fire, too, so we are more than ready for the cold weather they are forecasting for later on tonight. 

Bring it on I say!

Prep for Christmas has begun, a little. When food shopping on Friday I picked up these little bits in Lidl. Not sure what to use the little bags for, maybe to put teacher presents in for school, hope to make biscuits with the boys and have them decorate them. 

 The clips will be used for holding up decorations or maybe on the tree. 

The tags on the right I bought from Waterstones. Aaahh, I feel the same way about Waterstones as Holly Golightly does about Tiffany's in Breakfast at Tiffany's; nothing bad could ever happen when you are there, especially when you are stroking lovely notebooks! I plan to use the tags to make garlands as part of the decorations for the boys' rooms.

I have wrapped the small presents we have bought for the boys and they are languishing at the bottom of our wardrobe but the larger ones are in the shed; some need packing and some need big bows on them.

This week I made some red onion relish/chutney. 

To be honest I needed to use them up before I started to use our own onions (eeek), some of which I have in the kitchen; it's yummy and had it this morning on some of our eggs and my toasted homemade bread. Sorry, bit of a smug fest there. 

We had a very short notice Airbnb booking come through on Friday night but money is money so there was a bit of frantic work on Saturday morning. They were coming from Hastings to pick up a puppy; they were a lovely couple and we would gladly have them as guests again. They were the first paying guests to have our delish continental breakfast and they very much enjoyed it.

Yesterday I made my mincemeat and it will sit until I make the first couple of batches of mince pies at the weekend. I think I've made enough but who knows! It's a recipe my mum used to use but I have altered it a bit over the years.

Also yesterday we were doing a few jobs in the garden and here we have some before and after photos. Our latest building project to begin is making a better parking area. Currently we park at the side of the house; you can just see the old car in the distance I think. (Obviously this a photo from earlier in the year!)

This is ok but if we are, hopefully, having more people eventually staying as paying guests we need to have better arrangements for a larger number of cars.

So.this is how the garden looked at the side of the conservatory previously....

and this is now we are starting to look. 

The wall has been cleared as it will be knocked through to make the entrance; Jon will then make a fence where the initial posts have now been placed. We will have to make a trailer trip to the local quarry to find some gravel to make it suitable for the cars to stand on the area.

After I had cleaned out the chooks and got round to covering over three of the tyres near the veg patch,

the small number of turnips I'm growing in the Poly House, hopefully for Christmas or early New Year seem to be coming along..

and the leeks look strong but small; they are about the thickness of my index finger so have some way to go or will be nice as just baby ones.

I was inside doing a few chores; I made a big pan of veg and pearl barley soup for lunch - it was yummy so will be today's lunch, too.

On the list of jobs today is to make a pie for tea - pastry and filling - my bread yeast mix has been started, eggs have been collected, a large rat has been spotted in the compost bin!, Alfie's bed is stripped for making later and I hope to get a couple of the last pages of my December Daily finished; I am sooo close to being done and can't wait to show you the end result. It makes me feel really festive when I am working on it. I have a few things to check on my Christmas plan today as well because the calendar slots of jobs to do and events coming up is filling up fast!

Best have my last cup of coffee and get started.

Bye for now.

Lou. xx

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

What's To Do Wednesday.

Hello! Just totting up what we have been up to over the last few days.

Today is Wednesday and we are in one piece after storm Angus. We just had a really windy day with leaves blowing horizontally but not really a lot of damage.

I saw in my Country Living magazine last month a wellie boot taker offerer! I asked Jon if he could make me one and this is what he came up with....

It is perfect and for a fraction of the cost they were advertised at!

Now today is Wednesday but not sure what day I have done things anyhow I have been getting my plan for Christmas sorted out. I have a calendar sheet for both November and December; nothing much to do in November but make and feed the cake and make the mincemeat.

I have a couple of other lists to keep track of things....

I have my old faithful recipes which I really enjoy making including Delia's cranberry sauce, Mary Berry's pastry for mince pies and a couple of seasonal flavoured cakes when a full on Christmas cake is too much. My mincemeat recipe is sort of my mum's but with a few tweaks of my own.

In and around the Poly House the Pak Choi is about ready to be put in the raised bed; temperature in there the other day was 50 degrees.

The Oca looked as if they had died back enough to be taken up and the sweet potatoes seemed to be ready, too (no photo).


However, you can see in relation to the egg how small they both were!! I think this proves I am just not good at growing things in bags as the Oca was water logged - another lesson. 

However on a happier note the raspberry bush is looking like this...

and more closely like this - I think it is coming on well. Not sure but I hope it is a summer raspberry bush.

Yesterday I finally got round to some preserving and pickled the beetroot! I washed them, as I had stored them in moist compost in the cellar store room, boiled them and once they had cooled I donned my rubber gloves to rub off the skins and sliced them up.

I made up my pickling liquid, a simple mix of malt vinegar, water and salt.

I bought my malt vinegar from Charlie's in Aber at £2.75 for 5 litres.

I then poured it over the beets which I put into sterilised jars...

and they are now sitting on the shelf in the cellar store room.

When we first moved to Bronllan there was, to my great pleasure, a clothes airer in the kitchen. However, because Jon had to take the ceiling down and put in a new supporting beam we could not keep it. However, he has finally got round to putting it back up. I admit the nylon rope is not the most attractive but that will be remedied as we need to tweak one side which doesn't move as smoothly as we would like. 

However, I used it yesterday and dried some things moe than effectively.

There is the issue of the Rayburn being lit most of the time and we ARE dust central. However that is the price you pay for NOT paying for most of your heating and eating, if you know what I mean.

When we were in Aber on Saturday we popped into a couple of the charity shops and I found this fab jar; I absolutely love it for £1.50. Jon suggested I put lime, lemons and cherries in a light sugar syrup ready to go in drinks at Christmas so that is what I will do!

So I think we are up to date. I have just given Jake a good brushing as he seemed to get something a bit stinky on him yesterday. As the weather is not that good for giving him a wash/bath outside I hope this will do the trick in the meantime.

Just to say thank you for all the comments regarding my wobble last week. Feeling a bit better now and taking things one at a time.x

Bye for now.


Wednesday, 16 November 2016

So Excited To Show This!


I am so excited to finally show you the cellar store room! In my wildest dreams I never thought I would get anything close to this.

The shelving came from the shed, some of which Jon no longer needed. I gave them a good scrub and where I couldn't get some sticky labels off which showed flanges and stuff previously being kept on them! I decided to use some of a gingham oil cloth I have to cover the edges.

I hope to find a suitable piece of matting for the floor at some stage. 

As you can see I have moved my preserving jars and bottles down there. (This leaves space in the kitchen cupboard for my Christmas stash.) The large crockery was taking up a lot of space so it is great to be able to move it somewhere else. 

We plan on having bins for the recycling and to store flour, rice and pasta down there, too. As you can see I have my measily collection of already preserved items sitting there proudly!

I am very pleased with the onions. 

The harvest? was just under 7lbs so I have some hung up, love the smell, some are upstairs to use as they grew a bit long like leeks or did not have tops long enough to hang and some in this shopping basket - doesn't look a lot but the basket is huge! 

The beetroot is out of the way under one of the tops and I plan to get it pickled by the end of the month, if all goes to plan! As well as pickling it I have a lovely thing I like to do as an accompaniment to cold meat which is beetroot cut into small cubes set in blackcurrant jelly. Trust me it is lovely and you can make it as thick or otherwise with the beets as you like. 

The curtains were quite simple to make and run on simple wires; great for covering up the less pretty stuff. With my craft bench being out of action at the moment, not for much longer I hope, I had to do the sewing them at the kitchen table.

We have moved the fridge freezer and small chest freezer in which means we are back to more space where the washer, drier and shoe stand is. The chest freezer will not be turned on until we have something substantial to put in it but the fridge freezer will be used for Christmas stock, drinks etc.

On Saturday in Aber I found this lovely letter rack plus some great vintage-looking paper for Christmas projects - zoom in and see some of the great images.

On Sunday morning I started off the mushroom kits we recently bought. This is how it looks before you put on the compost which will be tomorrow. I will post on, hopefully, positive progress!

In other news, during the week I took up the shamefull harvest of two swede, lost most of the seeds to the birds it seems? We had those with lots of butter and milk as part of our roast chicken dinner on Sunday; I also made bread sauce with one of our onions and my own bread!

At lunch time Sunday Jon brought one of the chickens inside as the day before he thought she looked a bit under the weather. Her eyes were a bit milky looking and not very bright and her comb was not the vibrant red it should be. We put her in this box and made her comfy with some water; she really didn't look well.

By the evening she had rallied a bit and we kept her inside overnight.

In the morning she looked quite a bit better so we have given her some laying pellets  but she is still in the kitchen. Jon said something that night which made me laugh; he said is this what we signed up for, chicken in the kitchen?!


Ok it is now Wednesday evening and going to settle down with a cup of coffee and a slice of cake.

Bye for now.


Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Nature Taking Its Course.

On Sunday afternoon Jon brought one of the chickens indoors as it was looking a little under the weather. We kept it warm in a box with some straw, water and feed.

It seemed to rally a bit so I put it back in the enclosure at lunch time yesterday.

This morning I went to collect the eggs, but not before I had looked with the binoculars and could see what I was sure was the poorly one sitting in the door way at the top of the ramp to the hen house.

Sure enough when I got there she was just sitting there. I had taken a towel with me so I could pick her up and as I did she was totally floppy so deceided to put her somewhere cosy. I found a box in the shed and wrapped her in the towel. If she is still with us when Jon comes home I will ask him to do the decent thing.

All the other girls are on top form, eating, bright red combs etc but she was just not in a good way. As I picked her up I felt quite sad and really hadn't expected to do so.
(Not really a feeling I wanted just now.)

So, we have had our first of nature's casualties but I hope she enjoyed her short time with us, all the girls came to us on May 1, alwyas having had plenty of space to roam and scratch as well as having freedom of the garden at times.

We think we may replace her by getting a couple more as we have room for eight. We liked the amount of eggs six gave us but would gladly take more. On that subject, since we brought them home up until the end of October they have given us 781 eggs which is an average of 130 per chook over the six months. Not bad.

By for now.

Monday, 14 November 2016


I've never considered myself an anxious person and don't think I panic any more than most. 
However, last evening I felt like crying and I really could not explain why, not at all.

Early this morning I was having morbid thoughts about what if Jon I were not here for the boys, whilst they are still young, and my stomach was in knots.

I have a list of things to do today but have decided I really am not in the mood to do much at all. Then, when I think like that I wonder if something bad will happen, like if the tea is not ready on time because I have to always justify my day because I have the luxury of not going out to work in the real world. Beyond that I start to think about REALLY stupid stuff, like I will be really unpopular if I don't get the fruit trees in the garden, but I can't do that becuase I need help to clear that area, and we had people here during the weekend and were not able to get into the garden as we normally would have done if we had been on our own! Things excalate in my mind and then panic sets in.

I'm really still not sure about the thing last evining but maybe that and this morning were to do with me wanting to do so much, having lots of plans and everything getting on top of me. 

This happened as I began to organise my wedding; I had a meltdown for about two days and couldn't go to work and literally had to put my wedding book etc under the bed for a couple of weeks and ignore it. Maybe this is the same thing.

So, having now thought it through maybe I just need to NOT think about my grow our own plans, hopes and ideas and take a minute. Nothing bad is going to happend, nobody will die and I won't be the most unpoplular girl in the class.

I needed to get this off my chest. If you bothered to read and hear what I said thank you.x

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Busy Bee Me.

Well, yesterday was a good day.

It started off really quite chilly so decided to get my inside jobs done first, have lunch and then head outside.

I got my bread started and I am now proving it over the Rayburn instead of in the conservatory. Two loaves baked later with one going in the freezer and one for the bread bin.

I decided to use the last of the apples before they spoilt so set to having a bash at using my preserving equipment, along with the Kilner jars I bought with my birthday money by making some apple sauce.
The water bathing worked and I got a perfect seal in the jars so can now be kept a while.

I had a little bit of trouble with my first try at Apple Cider Vinegar so I used the peelings etc from the apple sauce and had another bash; this looks better already.

There were some left over veg from our roast lunch on Sunday so I threw them in a pan with some chicken stock I had in the freezer; always like to have some stock in stock!

It turned out yummy and there is enough for lunch today, too.

After lunch I got myself out to the veg patch and planted the onions sets! Finally! I nearly gave up half way through thinking I'd finish them off today beause I knew I would be aching this morning. But I battled on and I'm really pleased that I did; the patch is really coming along now and I only have to take the last swede and turnips out and then I can prepare that part of the space for the Spring. 

Talking of today this was the sight Jon pointed out which greeted us at the bottom kitchen window around 7am, gorgeous!

Plus, this is just something I thought of this morning that I'll share. Because we manage to burn or reycycle a great deal of our rubbish and food we don't have a big general waste bin in the kitchen. It is just the size of a large bag of crisps and these bags are perfect to be used as liners.

Well I've changed Alfie's bed, dusted the boys' rooms, mopped the floors in the bathroom and our bedroom, made pastry for a pie for tea and as soon as the Rayburn is up to temp I shall get that in along with some lemon muffins that are half ready to go; it is nearly lunch time so will finish this here.

Bye for now.