Happy Birthday to Erk!

strawberry_cheesecake

erk

We had an Erk birthday! Moo made cheesecake, but there were far less strawberries than expected to top it (I think some one, or ones, kept dipping into them in the fridge…)

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Slow Living :: June 2015

June was a busy month and it was hard to find time to blog.  30 Days Wild saw us getting out of the house every day (even if it was ‘only’ to walk the dog – something that I hadn’t done for a while due to mobility issues whilst pregnant and afterwards, when I had to be careful of any sudden pulls or jars), but I have had to take it carefully as I still have some residual difficulties with my knee, back and neck.

It was Minnie’s third birthday during the month.  Moo made a wonderful birthday cake: sponge flavoured and coloured with berries, layered with whipped cream and more berries, covered with a marshmallow frosting made from marshmallows she made herself, coloured with – yes, you guessed it – more berries (our strawberries have been busy in the garden!) She decorated the cake with a particularly impressive calendula bloom, surrounded with pinks and violas.  It was very pretty and tasted amazing!

June is the month for foraging for elderflowers and making elderflower cordial/syrup – some bottled in the fridge and some frozen for later in the year.  It’s wonderful for adding a dash to all sorts of things (including the crumble above).  I also made a mint syrup from chocolate mint in the garden (I have a few different mints) and Moo made various ice creams and sorbets.  We were gifted some rhubarb and, along with a punnet of strawberries, Minnie made her first crumble (which was served with some homemade vanilla ice cream made by Moo).

It’s been hard to get into the garden and do much.  Arty wants to be held all the time and isn’t great about being laid down (if he’s asleep he swiftly wakes up again).  He seems to know when there is work to be done, or if there is something else I’d like to do, but whenever we are out, he will sleep through with no problem at all (even in a busy indoor play area!)  Still, I managed to get a bit done and helped Minnie’s pot on the experimental tomato cuttings.

June also saw Erk back from university and doing a national tour of family and friends.   It may have been ‘slow’, but all-in-all it was a tiring month!

Slow Living :: March & April 2015

violets-300x300Living in the moment may well be good advice, but as I mentioned in my Slow Living February post, I find doing so in February particular hard. Much as Imbolc (Candlemas) brings the promise of greenery and warmth to come, I long for the coming of Ostara and the Spring Equinox and the year seems to shudder and lurch towards this turning point.  Being heavily pregnant exacerbated this and, as I got larger and required crutches to get around, I became increasingly frustrated because I was lacking for fresh air and countryside (Minnie and the poor dog were similarly frustrated, relying, as they do, on me to give them a good daily airing!)  Pregnancy may well make one slow down, but not necessarily in the way one might like.

Craft

clay_work

With a baby due and being unable to walk far, it’s unsurprising that I did a bit of knitting, but it has only been some, because I struggled to be enthused (I blame the heaviness and anaemia that mean I feel perpetually exhausted). I’ve been sporadically knitting up a cardigan for Stinkers and have repeatedly cast on and frogged a lace scarf for myself because it just hasn’t been quite right, even though the yarn for the scarf is gorgeous hand-dyed stuff from the Natural Dye Studio.

In preparation for labour I made up some essential oil blends for a massage oil, a facial spritz and a post labour bath.  As it happened, I didn’t end up using them in labour, as I had a caesarian instead, but the mixes can still be used in the bath and refreshing facial spritzes are always useful!

Grow

pepper

I’ve posted a separate entry regarding what we’ve been up to in and around the garden during March and April:  March & April Gardening.  It’s not been a huge amount, certainly not as much as I would’ve wanted to do, but have had to be realistic this year.  There’s been plenty of help – gardening is a team effort here – but without my ‘organised head’ on, I’ve forgotten to remind people to do the watering I haven’t been able to manage, or the various little jobs that you notice need doing when pottering around the garden (because pottering isn’t something I’ve been able to do much of).

There’s also been the ongoing frustration of the garden itself being sorted ready for new plants.  Having moved here last year and the first few months being taken up with care of the (many) pots we’d brought with us, lapsing into morning sickness (which doesn’t exactly inspire one to get into the garden) and then moving into issues with mobility due to getting bigger and heavier, it’s been difficult to get much physical work done.  J is wonderful, but works long hours and the weather really hasn’t been conducive to getting the bulk of ‘groundwork’ (digging up turf, mending runs and building fencing) that has needed doing.

It’s been quite some lesson in patience for me.  I haven’t always borne it with grace…

learn

A bit of fun exploring colour with the little Minnie.  Moo already understands what happens when various colours of mixed, but it was an exciting activity for a 2 year old!

Celebrate (and Bake!)

March and April are busy months for celebration in our household, with J’s birthday at the beginning of March, followed by Ostara (Spring Equinox), my father’s birthday shortly afterwards and then various birthdays of friends and family in and around and through these months (including my own in April).  Once March starts to get closer to the Equinox, I find my mood begins to cheer and there’s a palpable shift in energy (although it clashed rather with physical ability this year!)

Moo has been busy making various cakes that have mostly featured chocolate (far more cakes than those pictured below!)

I had the pleasure of attending a friend’s Blessingway (she’s due some six weeks after me) and had a lovely day of celebrating her pregnancy and the impending arrival of her baby (a few of my friends are either expecting babies, or have already given birth).

blessingway

By far the biggest event of the past couple of months for me, however, was the birth of my youngest son, Arty.

stinks_art

Slow Living :: January 2015

Just a few of the remaining pics of home life from January, that I haven’t blogged yet.

Moo frying homemade doughnuts

After having a bit of a mini food meltdown a couple of weeks ago, I’m back on track with being a bit more organised.  I’m not a natural menu-planner (mostly because I can find it a bit more challenging when we have a veg box delivery, because there are some things that although you can ask for them to be substituted, you don’t know what they’ll be substituted for… this isn’t helpful when I keep having random allergic reactions to various food), so for sanity’s sake I’m currently having Ocado deliveries instead in order to better plan in advance. The deliveries are supplemented by the odd heavily reduced regular thing (such as bananas – if it has a reasonable peel I’m a little more confident about it not being organic) and I’m feeling a little better about food again.  Part of the problem is as I get larger and more tired, cooking becomes more challenging and I’d like to get better organised in advance of having to look after a newborn in a couple of months.  As part of said organisation I’ve been making batches of small ‘bread pasties’ for lunch boxes and also some sugar-free ‘breakfast cake’, for those grab and go breakfasts.

minestrone-500x500

We’ve finally got around to starting to use the dehydrated tomatoes from last year’s crop – the taste is amazing, far better than I expected!

peppers

Our peppers are still going strong in our unheated conservatory.  I never expected them to continue to produce all winter, but there are still peppers reddening on the plants!

We’ve had some wood delivered ready for building a dividing low fence to keep the dog from part of the garden (essentially off the vegetable and fruit beds).  The plan is to build an open pergola-sort-of-thing over what will be the patio and grow some grapes up as part of the dividing fence.  However, a couple of days after delivery it snowed, so we haven’t been able to make a start yet!

January brought Ted’s 9th birthday (and this time, no cake failure as was seen with Moo’s cake!)  Layers of chocolate sponge with buttercream and apricot jam, covered in a chocolate ganache made for happy faces all round!

Slow Living :: October and November 2014

Doubling up on the months as I’ve been in a bit of a fug – the turn of the weather has caused me to hunker down and retreat somewhat.

Thanks to TEND magazine I learnt that when Americans say apple cider they actually mean apple juice.  I have no idea why this little snippet of information had eluded me for so long, after all I’ve read the Little House on the Prairie series of books enough times and noted they drank cider in that and did think it was a bit strange bearing in mind their attitude to alcohol, but for some reason the penny never dropped.  Anyway the reason for this revelation was the recipe in the Autumn edition for Apple Chicken (which was so delicious we made it twice – the second time as a request of Moo’s birthday dinner).

apple_chicken
‘Tis the season for making woolly warm things.  As soon as there’s a nip in the air, I seem to reach for a hook or knitting needles.  I’ve been busy crocheting a ripple blanket and have also been working on the Sea Urchin hat as part of the TEND magazine KAL, plus some mittens for Minnie (who also needs a hat which I hope to cast on this evening) as she’s not particularly fond of her brother’s balaclava (which is too small for him, but a perfect fit for her).

blanket

stinks_balaclava

This is her, “Seriously, mummy, I want my own hat knitted especially for me,” face.  AKA “I’m not best impressed with this malarkey and I’m only tolerating it because it’s cold…”

I’ve not posted much about gardening over the past year, mostly this has been because I haven’t been able to as we were taking part in a TV series for BBC Two: Big Dreams, Small Spaces and weren’t able to discuss what we were doing.  It has finally aired (a few weeks ago) and I’m now free to post up some photos of the past year of gardening (which I will hopefully do so in the next post or so). It’s been rather quiet on the physically gardening front these past few months – partly due to trying to get various bits done on the house, but also because I’ve not been 100%.  The tomatoes have now all gone over and been pulled out and composted, as have the cucumbers.  The peppers in the conservatory are still going strong, however, and reddening on the plant as I type.

moo_birthday

I had a cake accident and we had to go out and buy emergency cake!

We celebrated two birthdays this month, my eldest son’s and Moo’s.  I didn’t get a decent photo of R blowing his candles out, but at least his cake was homemade.  Moo’s met with an ‘unfortunate accident’ (it fell to pieces *sob*) and we ended up having an emergency run to the shop for a substitute, because there just wasn’t the time to make another.

Wholesome home-cooking fail! (Although the main course itself was lovely).