Monday 31 December 2012

Christmasy Deliciousness

I've been having a bad day and to be honest I feel completely overwhelmed by things that need doing, not least keeping up with my blogs, writing for other people, socialising, clearing up the house (it looks like a dust bomb has hit it) and trying to get stuff done at the lottie before Andrew goes back to work. My depression is slowly killing me today, I guess I am coming down after the efforts of Christmas.

I've been asleep most of the day and have the worst headache and indeed ache all over (another bout of flu coming?) and if that isn't bad enough my letter 'u' is sticking. Oh dear me, my 1st world problems are horrendous *shame on me!*

Anywho :) I wanted to share a little of the fabulous food we had over the Holidays; food we grew ourselves of course ;)

First up is the Jack O'Lantern Pumpkin (if you remember, it was the only large one we managed to get this year). We've been enjoying it roasted and in risottos but we also included it in the 'big meal'.

As it was cut up we saved the seeds and not just for planting again this year oh no! We roasted the vast majority in the oven with cumin, turmeric, paprika and salt and they are the most moreish, yum-tastic healthy nibble ever! I hope you do the same soon - never waste the seeds, I promise it's hardly any trouble and you come across as a top chef!!

The flesh was cut up and blanched and then packaged up into bags for the freezer. A great tip so you don't get bored with it quickly. And this year it was added to the traditional veggie mash - oh yes, it was most excellent.

Every year since we acquired our plots we have made Christmas veggie mash with our own parsnips, carrots (usually our own but not this year due to the disastrous crop) and spuds (never our own, they are far too cheap and plentiful at this time of year in the shops) a gulg of olive oil, some freshly ground pepper and a few spices.
It made for fab Boxing Day potato style cakes too :)

The parsnips also get the roasted and honeyed treatment in our house - god save you if you try to get in my way when these babies are ready to eat, I turn feral.

The stuffing balls (and again see above warning) has our own leeks in as well as bought sausage meat, fresh cranberries and orange juice, breadcrumbs and sage.

The ever disgusting Brussel Sprouts were bought this year which really felt like a kick in the teeth. I hate them with a passion unlimited in its ferocity but I do like to see others (weirdos) eating them, loving them and knowing I had picked them the day before. This year was just not conducive to planting them with our re-jigging of the plots and making the beds bigger. I guess these look good though.

The best thing (apart from the parsnips and stuffing) in the world at this time of year is Sloe Gin or Sloe Vodka, it's up to you, we have both. We have a secret go to tree every year and make this delicious tipple, it tastes a little medicinal but I love the burn at the back of the throat and the smell. I was so fortunate to find these 50s port glasses in a local secondhand shop on Christmas Eve. I LOVE them and yes, I did fill them up a little too much - I didn't drink it all, honest!

That's all for now, I just realy wanted to share this and say THANK YOU to Andrew for making the best Christmas Dinner ever! Ever! xxx

Saturday 29 December 2012

Getting stuck in :)

Is there a better way to work off those extra Christmas calories than getting stuck into the Lottie? Well, considering the fact that the weather was fine, dry but cool though not cold and there was a complete and utter lack of any other people around the plots my personal answer would be ~ no, no there isn't.

We (and that includes Maggie for about 30mins before she started shaking - not working makes you feel cold!) had a fab time yesterday and even though the plot was water logged. We managed to feel the joy and just get excited with ideas and plans for the future; plus the bulbs are coming up :) Spring is on her way people; let's dance!

Here are a few wee photos I just feel like sharing. Okay, it is weed infested all over again, the water has made the place a swamp and I couldn't even face going over to 14b BUT it was also great conditions for getting some weeds up roots and all and gave us an excuse to try out our new coffee mugs and visit the Gleno shop for hard landscaping supplies......

  .....Andrew also dug up, split and replanted the 24a rhubarb over onto 14b. The roots and crown on that beast = wow!!! Again, seeing the new growth was so fabulous, a real kick in the butt to my mood which always gets worse in the depths of Winter. Haha - I laugh in the face of you Depression.

Love and kisses - we're going back tomorrow and have great plans to work extra hard. Could someone remind me to get my new music uploaded onto my MP3 player for the event? Thanks xx In return I have photos of Christmas dinner I have to share, Andrew did us so proud and there was homegrown and homemade food and drink ;)

Friday 21 December 2012

In the fullness of time

The days are getting longer again my friends and the World didn't end today either so I guess it's a good time to celebrate and a good time to write to you and send you a whole load of Winter Love.

I hope the dark days and the poor weather (in this Northern Hemisphere anyway) hasn't got you too down. I have had the flu for a month, it's been a nightmare; where does all that phlegm come from, why have I missed dinners out and friendly house gatherings due to looking, sounding and generally being a gross mucus-y monster :( ??

It all seems so very unfair, but it's not, not really. I have decided to believe that everything is happening exactly as it should be, that my life is going along just fine thank you and that no matter the darkness, Spring is sure to follow.

May you all be merry and bright, may your Christmas be fun and full of love and may you end this year healthy and with the ones you love. And hopefully with some great food you've grown yourself and fab Allotment based gifts from Santa (you have been good all year after all!) I'll share my own great food and drink with lots of photos and stories after the big day, plus I have a few books I'd like to share just in case you get money in your Stocking :)

Get ready for the start of those green shoots and remember that Mother Nature is just taking it a little easier and even she is dreaming of the joy to come, all in good time.

Saturday 15 December 2012

Our Wintery Back Garden

I have the flu, it's destroying me!!! How does the body make up so much of that yucky green stuff?? I am drowning in it and I'm in a terrible huff most of the time. But I have my 3 Mint tea, old movies on the TV, the Christmas tree is up and lights are twinkling so I feel OK otherwise. Maggie has a Christmas outfit which she doesn't seem too fussed on but it does look hilariously cute on her. The Christmas shopping is all sorted, wrapped and under the tree and my craft fairs are over for the year :) Plus I got an early pressie - a new just published book to review that I'll share with you next time.

So the back garden. I thought it would be nice to show it off as though things have slowed way down and colour is not abundant I am still proud of how well things are settling in. This will be our 3rd Christmas in this house but only the 2nd with a garden and I think you'll be quite proud of us too :)

Taken from Andrew's study. I could have gotten everything in at once but I hadn't gone out yet and so there was a bit of mess over on the left hand side where we keep all those different bins the council gives us. Ahhh the joy of cropping photos so your viewer only sees what you want them too, hehehe.

A little vignette of the colour that is in the garden - beautifully healthy green of the Camellia and Ivy; the blue of the sky with the bare branches of the Birch; Moss in amongst the rocks; the Jasmine leaves.

I think the handmade concrete bubble bowl is even better looking now it has aged, I love the algae and tiny bits of moss growing on that once white surface.

But to be true, this is my favourite thing outside right now (apart from the birds of course which I spoke of last time). The Winter Flowering Cherry which doesn't seem to care what time of the year it is, it's always got a few and I adore them, so delicate and papery but such a strong herald of hope and new life.

Winter won't last forever. There are only 6 more days until the days start to get longer again :)

Hugs and love

Monday 10 December 2012

Fancy Food for Feathered Friends

Oh I am on fire today with the alliteration blog titles :) Oh yes the Queen of the Geeks!

I'm going to ease myself into the Grow Our Own blog writing again with a little post on keeping our feathered friends happy, healthy and fat in these cold and dreary winter days. We all love it when birds come a visit our gardens  - little feisty fellows looking for scraps to take back to their nests and munch away on. My all time favourites (apart from the Robin!) are the teeny tiny Wrens - oh they are small but mighty and so bouncy :)

Anywho, I am waffling.

On Saturday I was at the RSPB NI Headquarters as a stall holder for their first ever Winter Craft Fair, you can read about it here. In a wee quiet period I ran over to the stand showing how to make Bird Cakes but the volunteers had (quite understandably) gone on a wee much need warming drink break. So I only got to take photos of the ingredients they were using and yes, they are Cheerios - who knew??.....

But clever girl that I am I logged on to the RSPB website (which is fab) and have gotten you a recipe to make sense of the whole thing> here. Oh my the birds in this pictorial guide are so happy it just makes you want to make some right now!

Funny, Andrew bought a load of fat balls a week ago so we have them out at the moment anyway, but this would be a fun and messy way to entertain kids or indeed yourself on a blustery day.

Andrew also bought a gorgeous feeder 'Egg' at the fair which you just fill with bird seed and the birds have been all over it today (apart from when I took this photo - I scared them and hadn't the patience to wait for them to come back). Plus it is so gorgeous, a little piece of sculpture in the garden that also has a use :) It's made by a company called The Nuttery and you can get them online, all different colours, I think they're lovely. Being weather resistant porcelain, aluminium and stainless steel they can stay outside all year round and can be thoroughly cleaned too = happy me.

Oh, have I shown you a little of the garden! eek, you excited, you want to see more??...come back in a couple of days ;)

For now take joy and fuzzy warmth from this.... Yes, Maggie (she's still my 'wonder dog') !!!


Friday 7 December 2012

I'm coming back :)

Tomorrow sees my last craft fair of the year with my wee business Cherry Blossom Tattoo Photography. I'm going to be at the RSPB Headquarters for N Ireland in Belvoir Park, Belfast. Hopefully I get some nice photos of the day and of the bird cakes they are making etc. I'll gather what information I can on keeping our feathered friends super duper happy through the Winter too.

Then I shall be back to lottie blogging - hurrah!!

* Though please be kind, I may not get to the actual plot for a while as it is so cold, bbrrrrrr. Blog material may be more home based*