Thursday, 17 April 2014

Happy days project :)

I thought I would share this for a bit of fun. On instagram there is a hashtag for 100 happy days, which, if you take part, makes you feel compelled to take a photo each day of something (no matter how small) that made you smile.

I feel it's very important for everyone to stop and truly appreciate these moments but even more so for those of us who have depression. It's all to easy to say 'nothing happened today' or 'what another awful day' etc.

So... Days 1-5


Days 6-10


There are little quips about each one if you look on my Instagram account and plenty more photos that I just didn't tag for this as they happened on the same day. Watch out for some fabulous ones of Maggie - especially 'Pirate Maggie' and 'That Cat'

Days 11-15


Days 16-20

I'll update you with the next 20 soon...including some Scotland - hurrah. We all need #happy in our lives :)

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Bee friendly plants

So here I am in Scotland for the week and what a week....RHS National Gardening Week - celebrate! Oh I know I shall just have to drink some fine local whisky to add my own merriment to the occasion ;) Click the link to see their gorgeous website.

Ahhh, Scotland, the land of raspberries and oats and whisky...sing along now ' these are a few of my favourite things'...

The RHS website has ideas for ways to celebrate ( if you have time!) But come on,if you read this blog I should like to think you love wildlife and such and shall be celebrating this week as with every week! Plus, crikey there is so much to do, so many seeds to sow :) It would be incredible if you could show a child the magic of planting a seed though (sunflowers are fab, they germinate in about 2 days) and watching the life cycle, but don't go pilfering kids without parents' consent ;)

I love to think of bees. I've had quite a few buzzing  around the allotment and then there was that one that knocked itself out flying into the patio doors whilst I was drinking coffee - scared me, what a boop! He was okay after a moment - fear not.

a (strange to me) leaf like butterfly\ a bee with lots of pollen - 'growourown.blogspot.com' ~an allotment blog

I saw this on both Pinterest and Tumblr and thought it would be perfect to share.
ALL credit to Hannah Rosengren!

Bee friendly plants, Hannah Rosengren on 'growourown.blogspot.com' ~an allotment blog

Found on byhannahrosengren.tumblr.com

Much love
Carrie

Monday, 14 April 2014

Happy Birthday Plot 24a

In on my way to bonny Scotland - hurray!! But in bigger news 24a is 6 yrs old today!!

Eeeeekkk my baby! They grow up so quickly..

Those silly RHS people ruined the party with their National Gardening Week starting on the same day *rolls eyes* but we had a little gathering in the house on Saturday where there was obviously cake and bunting!
I shall say more about the National Gardening Week 2014 tomorrow xxxx


Boy this cupcake tasted GOOD! Maybe you ought to make some rhubarb and ginger muffins to celebrate of some rhubarb compote over ice cream would be yummy....

Love and hugs
Carrie x

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Plain Rhubarb Compote

Andrew made a lot of rhubarb compote last year to help deal with the immense glut we had. His was spicy ginger and gorgeous and I shall make his and this in various other forms I'm sure before the season is over.

This recipe is just plain and came from a lovely blog called 'Simple Bites'.. from which there is a great list of things you can add it too to make dishes taste even better.

rhubarb compote recipe cards - 'growourown.blogspot.com' ~an allotment blog

N.B. Sterilising jars:
Wash in hot soapy water and rinse thoroughly. Place in an oven that is at 140 Celsius for at least half an hour. Turn oven off and allow to cool a good bit.
Do not ever put hot jams or compotes into a cold jar - there is a risk the glass to crack! :O

sterilising jars - 'growourown.blogspot.com' ~an allotment blog

*  Chopping rhubarb for me isn't the easiest task as I have permanent double vision. So I split my stems in two, hold them together and slice as finely as I can then finish off with a mezzaluna. 6 cups full!!

chopping flesh rhubarb - 'growourown.blogspot.com' ~an allotment blog

* All ingredients in the pot, time to boil then simmer....
mixing up the compote - 'growourown.blogspot.com' ~an allotment blog

* Boiled mixture, now to simmer with lid on and again with lid off
boiling up the compote - 'growourown.blogspot.com' ~an allotment blog

* Lovely natural rhubarb compote. To add a redness to it you can put in a finely chopped beetroot (once you've grown them) or heavens...food colouring!
plain rhubarb compote - 'growourown.blogspot.com' ~an allotment blog

* The finished article - almost a litre.
plain rhubarb compote - 'growourown.blogspot.com' ~an allotment blog

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Our little seedlings

I just don't know when to stop. Even after I wrote and hit 'publish' on my last blog post; I felt compelled to go outside and take photographs, put a load of washing on and make compote. Then in the afternoon I wrote rough drafts for the next 6 posts, and got some photos edited for them..... then 'had to read' yet ready for yoga and so......collapsed.

To be honest the rest of the day was a mystery, though I did love Forrest Gump being on. Today I have barely moved from the sofa - yay I got up out of bed though!! - and have 'just read' all day. Though my mind has been muddled and confused and I seriously look like a mad lady!

Why do I strive so vehemently when I'm obviously so ill?

Sorry. I needed to get that out, say it openly and publicly. Listen to your precious bodies and minds my friends.

***************
** The Gault nursery as it stood yesterday..
 Andrew's homemade cold frame - housing geraniums and broad beans at the moment

 Roses - Reine de Violettes and  Silver Jubilee
 Two Beetroot types (Chiogga) and  (Golden) Celeriac, Purple Sprouting Broccoli


 On the window sill - Sunflowers (this is 2 weeks after planting!), Zinna (Jazz)
 Tiny Rudbecki (dwarf mix), our clever light reflector ;)

*****************
** The back garden in happy vignettes....
So much green and happy growth!

Hugs and love
Your Carrie

P.S. Almost all my Dahlias are sprouting now :) 'Golden Wonder', 'Bora Bora' and 'Pom Pom'

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

A loveliness of Ladybirds

It's Tuesday and I'm still feeling a bit anxious with leftover panic from Sunday's visit to the Allotment. Don't get me wrong, nothing horrendous happened...there were no clowns nor a plague of locusts, a twister did not lift up my shed and deposit me in Oz etc. No, I simply took the worst panic attack and it didn't go away until, sort of, this morning.

As an advocate for Ecotherapy and in my own made up word of Allotmentherapy, I find this quite the let down. But as I remind others, so I must remind myself.... Ecotherapy is not a panacea for mental health problems.

I believe my panic began with me getting just what I wanted....new allotment members in a big friends and family gathering getting an over run plot back into order. I mean, really, it was a joy to see. However it also put me on high alert...I had to talk and be friendly and it was all too much. I went into overdrive to make these (somewhat glorious warriors) feel a community spirit existed, and it was just too much.

Reminder this bed? I worked really hard to get it finished and cleared then realised I hadn't been breathing and nearly fainted.
finally cleared! - 'growourown.blogspot.com' ~ an allotment blog

Andrew managed quite a bit with clearing our soon to be squash/asparagus area and got pooped too. Our trip home for coffee ended me shaking and terrified to go back.
tackling the back of 14b - 'growourown.blogspot.com' ~ an allotment blog

The vast population of ladybirds couldn't even draw me back. There are so many this year, this is just 2 out of approx 8 I saw without searching for them! Pure joy :)

A loveliness of ladybirds - 'growourown.blogspot.com' ~ an allotment blog

****
Today is beautiful so I'm going to take photos of how gloriously well the seedlings are doing, all over the place and share that joy with you. Plus I have designs on making a sweet rhubarb compote later.

* For now it's all about remembering to breathe and ordering my hay fever medication- why??!, cruel, merciless, sadistic pollen, why do you torture me so!???

Love and hugs
Your Carrie x

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Rhubarb and Ginger Muffins

I've been baking again so prepare yourselves friends for a heck of a lot of photos and another recipe card.

It was impossible not to do something with the first rhubarb harvest of the year (I have other ideas too) so I looked through a lot of recipes and decided on this one first, though as usual I changed it from the original as I went along. This recipe card has the steps which I think would be better than the way I did it.

Rhubarb & Ginger Muffins - 'growourown.blogspot.com' - an allotment blog

So, I really do mean it when I say you really ought to get all your ingredients measured out and chopped etc before you start because I didn't and it was a nightmare of mess and confusion. I am not a calm and collected person in the kitchen!

Getting muffin ingredients together - 'growourown.blogspot.com' - an allotment blog

Notes:

* Butter, Eggs - I use unsalted butter for all my baking, there really isn't that much in these (healthy?? hahaha). Always with the medium sized eggs too.

* Sugar, Milk - For spicy yummy things I always choose brown sugar for that more malty and warm flavour and for milk I use semi-skimmed, but you know; I think coconut milk was recommended for this recipe originally...that might be lovely.

* Vanila Essence, Rhubarb - Vanilla essence makes a difference, there I said it. I never used to use it but now it's not going to left out again; plus a bottle lasts for ages. Two cups of rhubarb is roughly the equivalent to 275g or approx 2 large stalks.

* Ginger, Flour - For this recipe I love crystallised ginger but I reckon stem ginger would be just as good but ooh so messy to chop finely! Then adding the ground ginger = yummy burny-ness. You must use self-raising flour for this or the muffins will be so heavy and dense even though you will already have added some baking soda!!

* Butter your molds or they just won't come out.

Making the muffins - 'growourown.blogspot.com' - an allotment blog

10 mins later...

Rhubarb and Ginger muffins - 'growourown.blogspot.com' - an allotment blog

Hugs and Love
Your Carrie
x

Friday, 4 April 2014

Review - Aldi Gardening 'Specialbuys'

Last year I was contacted by the supermarket chain Aldi and asked if I would like to review a selection of their seasonal gardening supplies. Now Aldi isn't in Northern Ireland so I turned them down with best wishes, but this year they had the capability to send me a selection over the sea so as the phrase goes....'never look a gift horse in the mouth'. 

Very happily, I had delivered to my door this bundle....

Now the potting bench was what I had wished for as we most definitely needed one but the extras, well, that was a delightful touch by my contact Jessica. When I saw the makers name Gardenline I realised that we have in fact used their products before and on Sunday I saw some of these items in our local supermarket.

Review -

* Potting Bench - £29.99
This was very well packaged and surprisingly the wood, screws etc are rather great quality. Andrew put this together like a kid with a new toy to assemble. It was easy enough to do, though the instructions, as with any flat pack, required a good dose of common sense to understand ;) Sadly we were missing one of the long bottom wood supports so our shelf can't be put in (oops) but in general it is great, sturdy product. And it fits perfectly in the potting shed, plus without the shelf we can put large bags of compost under it.
Photograph supplied by Aldi - the weather here is so dismal that I thought it nicer to use this

* Garden Pruning Shears - £2.69
Oh these are sharp! and affordable. Made of steel, these shears have a non-stick coating, rust-resistant lower blade and plastic ergonomic handle. The price is amazing and really, I doubt they are the best in the world but for that I would be happy to use them. They make for a handy second pair at the allotment alongside our expensive Felco ones.

* Plastic Flower Pots - £0.99
Again, at this affordable price per pack, why wouldn't you grab yourself some always-handy plastic pots? So useful for potting on or for using in the house for your new house plant - yes I now have one and it's not going to die this time!! :)

* Wheelie Bin Numbers, £0.49
Just put these cuties on our bins. I know in a couple of years they will get sun and bin lorry damaged and need replaced (we've had them before) but really, for less than 50p you get three of each number in a packet and these daisy print ones are cheery!

Okay I'm a bit wonky at putting them on but still :)

***********
It just goes to show you that in many cases the supermarkets have the upper hand on basic gardening supplies and in some cases, like the bench, you can get good quality that will last, for much cheaper than those big nurseries' prices. As Adli says, their 'core philosophy is to offer high quality, brand-like products at everyday low prices that shoppers can trust.' I think they are doing a good job.


Love and Hugs
Carrie

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Rhubarb harvest / snippets of Spring

It has begun my friends - harvesting from the allotment has taken off already. The rhubarb wasn't forced this year or we would have been enjoying it earlier but the time has arrived and it was worth the wait. I have a couple of recipes I would like to try, fingers crossed this time I actually get further than getting the ingredients out and then having to dump them!

first harvest; the joy of rhubarb - 'growourown.blogspot.com' ~ an allotment blog

At the two half plots there are many signs of new life and tasty produce to come, it gives one the tingles :)

The joys of Spring awakenings - 'growourown.blogspot.com' ~ an allotment blog
Left : Autumn Raspberries coming through and the Blackthorn hedge taking root and sprouting leaves
Middle : Just one of those amazing little 6 headed Daffodils I have been mentioning
Right : Beautiful fat buds on the Cherry tree, it's covered in them and the Garlic growing strong
******

Naturally we also have opened up the Gault seedling nursery and even after the incident with the mini greenhouse, our spirits are up and pretty much everything is doing well. They're all exciting to me so even if you log off now in boredom of my giddiness, I am going to show you  more seedling photos now.....well, loads of soil and maybe a few specks of green, hehe.

Top
 Left : One of 3 (so far!) Mangetout 'Oregon Sugarpod'
Right : The Dahlia 'Bora Bora' tubers are all doing good, this is just one

Bottom 
Left : 2 Kohl Rabi hiding in a corner of a big seed tray full of more waiting to burst through
 Right : One of many many Zinnia 'Jazz' babies (boy these grow fast!)


Love and Hugs
Your Carrie x

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

A Spring Clean

This story starts in the kitchen of our home, it starts with a shocking revelation - I couldn't make my fabulous recipe (as alluded to in this post) due to our ingredients cupboard being shockingly full of out of date items! I'm not just talking a few months out of date but years, some where from 2011! The shame is almost overwhelming but not really...

So no pumpkin scones, no wonderful reveal of how you can still have stored foodstuffs from the last harvest ready to be made into something delicious even in March *shakes head with such melancholy*

Aww well...moving on.

At the allotment we are still slowly but surely kicking ass on 14b and boy it feels great :) It's a hard slog but I love it; getting rid of weeds is my sort of my thing. Just look at how much better the summer raspberries look now without all the grass and thistles etc. Goodness the 'Tulameen' are going crazy (the ones closed to the camera) I don't know whether I ought to have cut more of the runners out but I had so many things I wanted to get done, like clearing the overgrown path too, still much to do, but it's better.
summer raspberry bed - 'growourown.blogspot.com' ~ an allotment blog

Then I turned 90 degrees to my right and decided this, this was the new enemy. It was really tough going and I was exhausted by the time I had gotten this far (which was 'home time'), but every huge weed and it's root system has been obliterated thus far :) Plus Andrew got some fine mesh net fencing up to try and help keep next doors' weeds out a little and give us some wind protection.


So home time it was and it had just started to rain as well so that always makes me feel better about leaving. Funny, we were there on one of the most settled days yet and only 2 other people were on their plots. It was only as we were leaving (cue rain) that a group of men arrived to tackle an overgrown plot....wonder if they stayed long.

Lucky for me I got some nice Springy photos at tea break time and again as I was packing up; Andrew got together our first harvest of the new year - Rhubarb! But that's all for next time xxx

Hugs and love
Carrie x

Monday, 31 March 2014

Hullo April :)

Much to tell this week, so much it's a little daunting but I'll get there ;) You know me, I can't help myself but write and share!

But for today I wanted to do my wee end of month poster with some inspiring words about Spring from a much more eloquent person than myself. I hope you like it and do in fact feel this way about the joy of the season at present. I am in love with our multi-headed daffs at the allotment at the minute - about 5-6 little sunshine faces on each stalk - wish I knew their name, sorry.



With love, as always


Wednesday, 26 March 2014

It's all Rubbish

The wind came and ruined everything two nights ago. Well by everything I mean the wee mini greenhouse blew over and some of the newest seed trays went ass over tip and thus they all need re-sown. There were some glorious broad beans too though, looking oh so good, but now we shall have to salvage what we can and start again with them too. Oh woe, is us!!

I too have been going through a flippin' nightmare of a time with my mental health and have barely been able to string a sentence together. Lots of rest and just doing nought has been the orders of the last few days and you know I hate that, but needs must.

I have been looking at lovely recipes and pictures and posting them on my Pinterest board so I don't lose them.  This is one I think is just too cute and useful not to share... Not my work sadly, the original comes from here

Hope to be back on the blogging horse soon and we have plans, of course, for the weekend :)

* I also have some lovely ingredients at hand for another tasty recipe....

* I'm taking part in the #100happydays movement on Instagram too - http://instagram.com/chrryblossomtat2

Hugs

Friday, 21 March 2014

Fruit Soda Farls - N. Irish bread yumminess

So here it is, my 1st ever recipe shared with you! As I said in the last post it is a muddle of a few recipes and some Carrie intuition. Oh crikey I am so nervous. I have made a recipe card, it's 6x4 so if you like you can print it out but seriously, if you do try this ~ constructive feedback only please!

Fruit Soda Farls 
Fruit Soda Bread Farls - 'growourown.blogspot.com' - An Allotment Blog

Do remember that flour is a funny thing and the amounts you require can change on any given day due to the weather and humidity in the room or the make you buy etc...

Farl - http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farl

 Farls - Fruit Soda Bread Farls - 'growourown.blogspot.com' - An Allotment Blog

I made it yesterday again and tried to take photos along the way but goodness it was difficult, especially when trying not to get flour or dough etc on my lovely camera and lens, nevermind the not burning my farls!

Below Left ~ Measuring
Below Right ~ Mixing the dry ingredients

Below Left ~ The Well and the wet batter/dough
Below Right ~ By cutting into 4 you are creating 4 'farls' :) ~ Cooking 2 at at time
Creating the fruit soda bread dough - 'growourown.blogspot.com' - An Allotment BlogCutting into fruit soda into farls, cooking 2 at once - 'growourown.blogspot.com' - An Allotment Blog

Below ~ Here they are, I like to go a deep golden and even love little burnt bits ;)
The finished fruit soda farls - 'growourown.blogspot.com' - An Allotment Blog

Hugs and love

Thursday, 20 March 2014

(pt3) Three Day Weekend - Thanks St. Patrick :)

And so we come to the last day of the long weekend - the big day itself -
Public Domain Clip Art - Shamrocks - St. Patrick's Day 
HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY

I started the day off as the ultimate Northern Irish domestic goddess and baked fresh fruit soda farls for myself and my lovely hubby. I had never done it before (I know, shame on me) but I felt I really ought to something vaguely traditional. Nana used to make these and plain ones and wheaten bread etc just automatically; in fact it was hard for her to put anything into ounces for anyone, she did it all by eye :) So I took her 'recipe', plus a couple off the Internet and melded them together to make my own. I'll share it with you tomorrow xx

P.S. Unlike most St Patrick's day food stuffs you find on the net - this isn't green, it hasn't any booze in it and is actually pretty yummy.
fruit soda farls - 'growourown.blogspot.com' - Allotment Blog

Then with full bellies and joy in our hearts we ventured forth, plotwise, not wanting to waste any of this precious bank holiday. We we sure there would be people there today and naturally you never get as much done with all the chat, but, lo and behold, only 2 people at the far side of the field and only a few in the other fields altogether :(

St. Patrick's is the traditional day to plant your potatoes here, so.... Andrew did it the lazy way this year and good on him too, none of this double digging lark etc. Ridges and furrows are the way to go, quick as you can say 'spud' and they are planted.
We have 3 types, left to right ~
* Saxon
* Kestrel
* Pentland Javelin
planting spuds- 'growourown.blogspot.com' - Allotment Blog

This is when it really starts to feel like a new year at the plot, this is when we genuinely get excited :) Talk turns to painting the shed again and doing runs to the dump, we get giddy about crop rotations and where our permanent new plants will go. Daydream about that first ice lolly and picnics in the blazing sun...This year we have no ready access to water! Only that which falls on the roof of the community centre (between 4 fields!) and what we can get in our own water butts - I can foresee trouble ahead, but we try not to talk about that.

I was at it again with the old de-shaming of 14b...I may be slightly obsessed by now. I got rid of that damned Carex ornamental grass which had produced over 35 good babies which also needed discarded (there were more than 35 but I gave up counting and just started to go feral and rip them up, kind of like an demented lottie ninja...) aaarrrghhhh

Oh and I found a rose bush :)
attattacking the flower border - 'growourown.blogspot.com' - Allotment Blog

Andrew planted our brand new Blackthorn hedge-lings and more Raspberry canes (Glen Ample) where I had ripped out all the dead ones.

Blackthorn and Raspberries - 'growourown.blogspot.com' - Allotment Blog

Suddenly the rain cam in and we had to rush around gathering everything up - where did that massive cloud come from?? I guess when you have your face in the soil you don't notice the sky as much. So there aren't any good leaving photos from this day :(

But I shall give you one more - Maggie's face when she sniffed my wee dram of whiskey at the end of the day, haha..
instagram Maggie and whiskey - 'growourown.blogspot.com' - Allotment Blog

That was one brown post! More colour next time :)
Hugs and love
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