Thursday 31 July 2014

100 happy days 2

It's bloomin miserable out there, all grey and drizzly and yet muggy at the same time. I woke up early and now I can't get back to sleep though I have tried most desperately - of course Maggie snoring away here beside me isn't helping. In fact it's just not cricket at all, I may poke her (I didn't, she's too adorable).

To give me some fun and allow a break to remember the good times over the past 20 days I've only gone and done one of my 'happy days collages'. I know I finished that challenge once before, but a photo of something good every day really did lift my spirits last time so this is 100 Happy Days take 2, I do hope you enjoy...

Day 1 - The back garden this evening is just beautiful with the sunset.. Day 2Bumble bees are so fabulous! 
Day 3Wild meadow next plot over... Day 4Red gooseberry jam :)
Day 5Ohhh naughty, a lemon and poppy cupcake...;)

Day 6 - Pinky-peach rose on the bush  Day 7Just a little bit of the garlic harvest on the plot 
Day 8Guess what I'm gooseberry jam! ;) Day 9A stunning trough with 2 mini rose plants in it! What a way to end the week :) Thanks to Day 10  - A pen pal letter arrived today!!! = :)

Day 11Maggie takes a selfie Day 12 On the hammock reading a little and writing a blog post :) 
Day 13Mr Grumpy Cat, Whitehead :) Day 14Our stunning little window boxes are doing us proud ;) Day 15 Wow! That's a dahlia in full blossom! Firework!

Day 16First ever name hoop done today - for a family member Rylee, in case you can't read it. 
Day 17Last nights doddle colouring. Day 18Maggie wishes her cousin a very Happy 2nd Birthday!
Day 19Beautiful dahlia in the back garden ;) Day 20More posies ;)

A little peek into what has been making me happy. I urge you to try this exercise out - all you need is a camera phone and everyday just appreciate something beautiful. It is certainly helping me to forget all the anxiety attacks and depression that goes on each day as well.

Hugs and Love
Carrie x

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Allotment plot frittata

This is the time on the plot where there is so much glorious goodness to be eaten and one could almost become overwhelmed. I know, we've been there... Sometimes you can store it, pickle it, freeze it, give it away, let the birds nibble it or make jams and chutneys until you fear you'll go mad!!

Well this year, we planted successionally and only what we needed, for example 2 courgette plants and that's still plenty! But still there has come a time now when we have lots and lots of food and must use it up for fear of feeling ashamed and wasteful.

This is where Andrew's new culinary masterpiece will come in handy. The Allotment Plot Frittata :)

This is all the stuff that goes into a 2 person version and the starred ingredients are those we grew ourselves, just to show you:
* Chard stems and leaves
* Broad beans
* Courgette
* Dwarf french beans
* Garlic
* Potatoes
 3 eggs
oil and seasoning

It's one of those recipes where you just have to see what you have and work with it, (there is a recipe in the River Cafe cookbook that's just for a lemon and sorrell one!). All you do is constantly stir, lightly season throughout the process and just have a relaxing time (maybe sipping a glass of wine would help the whole thing move along).
The best way to explain is to show you....

* the first thing is to parboil the potatoes (chopped and sliced here)

* then get the chorizo cooking and add a little olive oil

add in chopped up greens

* courgette goes in last; stir and flip extra fancy like...

* Add in your leafy chard tops, it shrinks down to nothing. Then the potato goes in too. Looking good!!

* Egg time and you have 3 large ones to break and whisk - no shell please, that all goes in the compost!

* After allowing it to cook enough to fill the gaps and have some solidity it all goes in the grill - at this point it's good to have a guard dog to watch for burning :)

It's ready !!  :)

* And tah dah!!! Yummy

Love and hugs 
(munch, munch, yummm)

Monday 28 July 2014

How to grow Miniature Roses

Cherie 28 (our winner of the serenata flower competition) was in touch this morning. She got her prize in the post, well, she's so sweet that it turns out it was her mother's prize. Yep, unlike me Cherie used the opportunity to share her gift of flowers and also added a cute teddy and her mum was thrilled.

So I was thinking that as Cherie's Mum and I both have miniature rose plants in our lives that it would be a good time to do my research and find out how best to care for these babies. Goodness, open any book on Roses and you'll be overwhelmed by the various types and their needs so we are simply focusing on miniatures....there are many great websites out there to help you.


An introduction to Miniature Rose Growing
'Miniature roses are perfectly scaled, smaller versions of larger roses, with all the colours, forms, substance, and often, fragrance of full-sized roses' (the Dummies' Guide). Also like all other types of rose, they have flowers and leaves completely in proportion (though they may be only half an inch to 2 inches in size) and can be any of the forms we are used to hearing about; climbing, bushy, ground cover etc. 
I may be biased here but I do sometimes feel that smaller can be better, cuter and easier to manage (they only get up to approx 4 feet). I love a rose in a big pot where it can have exactly what it needs and get turned regularly for even sunshine, the thorns are easier to avoid whilst weeding and they only need minimal pruning in the winter. I'm obviously not alone in loving them as many new ones are introduced every year by the big names in cultivation.
Miniature Rose Pink -
Miniatures like mine must only be kept in their gift pot and inside for a short time - they are meant to be outside - free range if you will. Many people plant theirs at the front of their borders but for me I prefer a pot as I said. They are super hardy little things but as with any plant, if it gets ridiculously cold you ought to mulch the roots and if in a pot it is easier to fleece too.
But whilst indoors please follow these rules:
*  Water Regularly and Thoroughly -  It's wise to make sure the topsoil ( the top inch or so) has dried out between your waterings. Check every day during flowering season as the plant is using up a lot of energy (water) and will be thirsty. Plus as they are mini plants, so are their roots, delicate and not getting far down into the soil.
In the winter it's best to keep the soil barely wet and always avoid getting water on the leaves as that is a cause of blackspot. Blackspot can be treated, but avoiding damp leaves, over watering or a stuffy atmosphere will certainly be a  preferable prevention.
*  Keep in good sunlight - as much as you can give it, especially in Summer. But get planning as to where your plants are going to move to soon, outside :)
*  Deadhead - if you want those blooms to keep coming (and they will) you must cut off the dead or dying flowers. Don't rip them off or simply pull them as you will damage the stem, please use sharp scissors if not rose pruners.
*  Fertilise - for the best results, feed your plant more than just water. There are plenty of rose food supplements out there and your rose will thank you for giving it some once every few weeks.
So that is just the basics, I hope you will feel more confident if you are lucky enough to receive some as a gift now. Remember the most important point - they are ultimately for the outdoors with sunshine and lots of lovely water.

Enjoy, and hugs to all
Carrie xx

Friday 25 July 2014

Giveaway Winner and the front garden

Hello everyone, I'm in a good mood today as I get to cheer up another fellow lady by announcing that she has just won herself  £30 worth of loveliness from

Just after midnight last night all the entrants names were placed a terracotta pot and jumbled up. Andrew was out walking Maggie (her wee back leg is healing!) and so when he came in I got him to randomly pick out a name without even looking.

Our winner is thus ~

Hoorah and congrats to Cherie!!

For all my other dear readers I thought I would show you something a little special ~ our front garden. It's somewhere I wouldn't usually go out and take photos off as I am a little self conscious, but for you guys, anything....

 The main body of the garden is the hydrangeas (yes they glow pink! - not a photoshop trick) and the box balls. We're so glad they're growing and flourishing now as eventually they should all meet up and the balls will be pruned into beautiful flowing shapes. It's bold but we think it suits a small front garden. We also have a tree in the corner but it's difficult to photograph it without looking like you're spying on the apartments behind, haha.

The big black pot was initially there to stop the postman from using that part of the garden as a shortcut - he has changed his ways and it may stay or go - not sure, but I love that lavender. Every year for goodness knows how long, we have had red geraniums on our window stills, even way back in our old home. Yes it clashes but I still love it.

So there you are and you can even see a little of me in the last photo - bonus! hahaa

Love and Hugs

Thursday 24 July 2014

My Fave Flowers and that £30 giveaway

I'm just making sure everyone has a chance to enter the fabulous giveaway I have on offer. So, yes, the vast majority of this post is copy and pasted from the previous one but I'm only thinking of you dear reader!

I thought it would be nice to share my favourite plants from the garden at the moment though I have just stuck with flowering ones to be fair. And as I'm not restricted I have three :)
Classic red geranium window boxes; my gorgeous '' pink mini roses; the star jasmine that smells so good and makes hammock time truly feel like being on holiday.

Plus I have these, brought home from the allotment last night - cornflowers and dahlias - lovely!

YES! Serenata flowers is giving away £30 for one lucky winner to spend in their website shop. If you were that winner you would simply have to choose what you'd like to send to a loved one/ receive for yourself. That includes the gorgeous flower bouquets and the plants - what would you pick? Look at all the loveliness here -

The only restriction is that the delivery address for the item must be within the Mainland of the UK. Sorry if that throws a spanner the works for you but that's the rule. Though don't fear as I have more giveaways to do for my blog anniversary that can be shipped anywhere, but that's all still a secret.

In order to win dear reader all you have to do is simply leave a comment on this question.

What's your favourite plant in your garden?

Make sure there is a way to contact you too as I will need that to pass on to the lovely Alexander who is holding this giveaway just for my blog readers. All names so far have been going into a terracotta pot (it's only right) and tonight (Thursday evening) that pot will close. The winner shall be announced on tomorrow :)

Example of comment entry - 
email -

Good Luck!!
Love and Hugs

Tuesday 22 July 2014

£30 giveaway from Serenata Flowers!

I mentioned at the weekend that those lovely people at serenata flowers had sent me a stunning trough of mini pink roses to review. Well, as I sit here looking at them I am delighted to inform you that you too could have the same type of beautifulness in your home!

YES! Serenata flowers is giving away £30 for one lucky winner to spend in their website shop. If you are that winner you would simply have to choose what you'd like to send to a loved one/ receive for yourself. That includes the gorgeous flower bouquets and the plants - what would you pick? Look at all the loveliness here -

The only restriction is that the delivery address for the item must be within the Mainland of the UK. Sorry if that throws a spanner the works for you but that's the rule. Though don't fear as I have more giveaways to do for my blog anniversary that can be shipped anywhere, but that's all still a secret.

* In order to win dear reader all you have to do is simply leave a comment on this question.

What's your favourite plant in your garden?

* Make sure there is a way to contact you too as I will need that to pass on to the lovely Alexander who is holding this giveaway just for my blog readers. All names will go into a terracotta pot (it's only right) as of today through to Thursday evening and the winner shall be announced on Friday :)

Example of comment entry - 
email -

Good Luck!!
Love and Hugs

Monday 21 July 2014

pretty allotment photography

I'm on the hammock on in back garden and as a very soulful Nina Simone would sing.... I'm feelin' good :)

I've just edited down the random pretty photos I took two weekends ago at the plots and then made collages, so naturally, its hammock time. Though it is maybe too hot for me...

I can hear so many birds and can see one searching for a tasty nugget in amongst the winter flowering box hedge. There's also a little child two doors down running about singing/shouting and it sounds rather funny: 'Bah bah bah, haha!' it goes... Oh now someone is chasing her and trying to eat her! Haha.

Hope you enjoy these little snippets of Lottie life....

24a (shed)
So yep we aren't so much in between signs here (remember 14b still needs one) but instead we have my old one which is starting to fall apart and a new much prettier one. I adore the marigold on the shelf :) The purple flowers are cornflowers (yep, I always assumed cornflowers were blue!) and lastly a sweet little pompom dahlia ready to come home.

24a (veggies)
We start off with a courgette flower, they are doing well and we have been eating baby ones in our stir fries - yummy, and my favourite way to eat them, unless it's in a cake. All the spuds are completely dried out now and home with us or in the shed in a hessian bag. Arty black and white of the garlic and a close up of the sun through a sweetcorn leaf, they are such beautiful plants.

14b dahlias and sunflower
They speak for themselves - gorgeous and coming down with sweet nectar :)

14b cosmos and dahlias
Rather perfect cosmos, clock on it to make it larger - the stamen is stunning. These particular dahlias are almost too red to look at, seriously they hurt the eyes in the bright sunlight but are a delight inside.

Tumble down sheds from the plots nearby
I took a short and careful walk about the place just looking for interesting sights or to be blown away by someone's plot. I found a lot more run down stuff than fabulousness but hey, it's pretty in it's own way I think. The last photo is pretty much one of the most perfect and productive plots there is - spuds ahoy and the healthiest looking onions, oh and barely a weed in the vicinity.

Love and Hugs

Sunday 20 July 2014

pink mini roses to review

It doesn't happen that often (or indeed ever) that a man other than my hubby sends me gorgeous flowers in the post. But on Friday last that's exactly what did happen to me. Fancy that! OK, so I knew they were coming; I had agreed to do a review for the flower delivery company So calm those romantic, and intrigued hearts my dear reader.

First off this company has promised me £30 worth of flowers for my readers (who live in mainland GB) and as my 6th blog anniversary is in 3 weeks I couldn't turn that down! I have other personal giveaways lined up too - it's time to say thank you to all who read, comment and keep me motivated to write xxx

But anyway back to my own good fortune.... My flowers arrived by courier, a lady courier who smiled a special smile handing over this huge box. The box is bigger than this photo suggests, imagine I was on my knees when I took this. Sorry for unprofessionalism but I was aching to rip that sellotape off :)

Opening the box I was really surprised at the quality of the packaging, tailor made for my product. It hadn't moved an inch in transit and believe me - that is rare.

Ohhh look at it! Two mini rose plants in a gorgeous reusable metal trough. I am not joking, I was a giddy little girl when I saw this and the moss on top of the soil makes all the difference.

They even sent a sweet little card...

After some nice sunlight and a good drink they really perked up even more.

I couldn't recommend their service and my particular product highly enough. Everything about it from packaging to each leaf and bud was/is in perfect condition. It looks even better now it's a few days on and I desperately hope I can keep these babies alive for a while.

More on how you can win £30 worth of flowers or a plant from me later in the week!! Stay tuned ;)

Love and Hugs
Carrie x

Saturday 19 July 2014

My bank holiday work (part 3 of 3)

I worked on 14b over this lovely elongated time off with my Hubby. We have been thinking again about keeping it *sigh, everyone rolls their eyes*. We've realised that without it we wouldn't have our pumpkin bed, or the rhubarb, blackberries, all the cut flowers we've invested in or room for that potager garden Andrew really wants now that the back garden here is finished etc.

Tuesday 15th July
We still only really touch the lower half of the plot as the top half has the pumpkin patch and not much else to worry about. There had of course been some work done already but as I said yesterday, I didn't have my camera with me only my phone and the battery was hanging on for dear life. Hence, there are no photos of my work until Tuesday, which is fine by me as when you see the before and afters I do have here you may need a cup of tea to calm down :)

* My first task on Tuesday was to clear the poor roses and dahlias; I hadn't been over there in weeks and WOW! it was a disaster. All that lush green wasn't new happy growth on the plants as I thought, admittedly from a far, it was a weed infestation!
There is still more work to do along the left hand side but Andrew weedkiller-ed the rest of the back patch - I mean look what is right on the other side of the divide! It's simply a wild meadow over there and I just can't keep on top of all those seeds and weeds coming through! Arrgh. I hope this half plot gets a new owner soon.

* The next job was to tackle the very much failed summer raspberry bed. What a disaster - the newest canes didn't take and whatever disease they had attacked the other older summer raspberries and now we have just one plant and a few offshoots :(

Utterly back breaking work but so worth it I hope, if nothing else it looks better than it did :) Those paths have weedkiller on them too, the grass and dandelions and thistles are so deeply rooted under the black membrane it would be impossible to ever be rid of them otherwise! I'm pretty sure it's organic weed killer so don't go writing nasty comments, ;)

* I also picked more, yes more, red gooseberries and made another batch of jam/jelly/ to put away. These plants are just givers alright, though I had to frighten a bird away from this one, he was only scavenging on the ground but I had things to do :)

I have lots of pretty pictures to show you of the flowers in the plots and stuff just around the place but maybe I've said enough over the past few days ~ don't want you getting too bored with me!

Love and hugs

Friday 18 July 2014

More Bank Holiday Work

Looking back at my photos is seriously the only way I can remember what on earth happened just under a week ago! I have the worst memory out there, oh dear, I must be getting old....*sigh*

So here's what happened on the Sunday 13th July- a revelation to me just as much as it will be for you, haha. Though it must be said, it wasn't terribly exciting.

We visited a large DIY warehouse and bought another drip hose for the thirsty tea garden - it's got a beautiful birch tree, christmas box, bamboo and wisteria in it so it really loves to drink up the H2O :) The camellia of course prefers rainwater. I also got some really snazzy gardening gloves for only £3, they seemed to be out of fashion if you can get your head around that concept; I say this as there were newer, different patterned ones there for nearly twice the price. Wow, seems pink is not the colour to be gardening in! Haha, ridiculous.

Before going round to visit Mamma G we picked her out lettuce, peas, and the first beetroots. Andrew also quickly planted out the dwarf french beans and I sort of tackled 14b (more later on that). Good grief, we still haven't made our minds up about this plot; should we keep it or let it go??

I only had my half dead phone with me on this day so sadly these 2 photos is all you get....

Tuesday 15th July
We took Monday off from the Lottie but boy did we make it up on the Tuesday; we were there all day!
First I shall show you Andrew's work cos I'm nice like that and 24a is definitely less frightening to look at :)

* The cornflowers were taking over and making the whole plot look messy - it's what you see as you look at the plot and naturally allow your eye to flow down to the pergola. So they were all strung up and really look beautiful now on mass, not flopping all over the place.
* The 2 apple trees were also tied up to wire and the espalier training has begun. The bamboo canes are there to help start and keep those branches we want to grow up and out in place. I am always amazed at gardeners' ability to do this, it looks so good and gets air and sunlight around those fruit producing stems = happy plants and happy viewer.

* Lastly Andrew planted up the rest of the leeks into the now empty potatoes bed :) Leeks are super duper important to us, due to my intolerance to onions, as you'll remember.

My work on 14b? I'll share it soon..
Your Carrie xx

Thursday 17 July 2014

Hi ho, Hi ho...Bank holiday weekend work

I wish you could hear the bird song going on outside in the back garden. It's beautiful. Do they sing because they are happy to be alive or because they need to or is it for my pleasure - today it's hard to tell.

So I'm standing here in the corner of the kitchen which looks out to all those shades of green and brown and red in the little oasis Andrew has built me; I picked a good one there :) I'm making more red gooseberry jam, only really it sets like a jelly. It's so calming to just be at the point where the kitchen has been tidied up, dishes done and all I have to do is watch over this saucepan, stirring it often and marvelling my apothecary skills :)

making red gooseberry jam  - '' ~ an allotment blog

Yesterday was a truly awful day, and that doesn't even include my visit to the dentist (I deserved a sticker for my dental hygiene, why is it only kids get them, haha); today is still bad but at least I'm off the sofa and not constantly sleeping. I count that as a good thing and the start of another batch of good days to come soon.

There are many a photo and tales to tell from our extended weekend. In case you were unaware, Northern Ireland just had the 12th parades which takes over the weekend, thus people get Monday off  too and in some cases even the Tuesday (Andrew is one of those lucky latter ones). We had plans to attack the allotment and visit a beautiful National Trust property but in the end is was all Lottie and watching films :)

The first few days I didn't even take my camera - I was there to work. But I had my phone and grabbed some important moments :) The first of which you all know is my favourite - digging up the spud harvest. How kind of Andrew to let me enjoy the magic furtling alone.

12th July 2014
Saxon potatoes out. We're eating these now and they are beautiful. Taste rather like Pentland Javelin but slightly waxy, they hold their shape really well. Andrew has been making Patatas Bravas with them - yum!)
Saxon potatoes  - '' ~ an allotment blog

Kestrel potatoes out. My goodness the yield on this variety is insane but sadly I had to throw a lot out too, they same a little more prone to green patches and invertebrates eating away at them). We have yet to try them.
Kestrel potatoes  - '' ~ an allotment blog

Some of both that show the problems of inconstant watering... rain makes them swell and then suddenly it gets warm and they dry out a good bit and spilt :(
cracked potatoes  - '' ~ an allotment blog

Andrew took the last mangetout harvest and removed the peas and the frame altogether. Those were excellent mangetout; I think we have a little tiny bag left now. We've been much better at only growing what we need and not getting gluts this year, successional sowing is the key!

The perpetual spinach was thinned out by Andrew too and all the stuff in that bed look great; really healthy. I must say I am rather excited by the sweetcorn and we have even eaten a mini courgette already :)
great looking veggies  - '' ~ an allotment blog

* Maggie simply wasn't in the mood for all this work, hahaha *
Maggie - '' ~ an allotment blog

Bees all over the new batch of broad beans; love the big pollen lump on his leg. Bees really do love a good pea flower, at any one time there will be at least 2 or 3 bees doing their thing on this little patch.
bee at the broad bean flowers - '' ~ an allotment blog

And that's enough for one day I think, plenty more to share though...
Carrie xxx