Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Goodies from France

When my daughter's boyfriend asked if there was anything that I would like him to bring back from France, I couldn't resist asking for a copy of Marie Claire Idées, which is always inspirational, and some soap...I love French soap, particularly the handmade lavender variety!

The shea butter soap (at the bottom of the picture) is in the bathroom at the moment and it smells gorgeous! I have had a quick flick through the magazine, but I'm saving a proper look in the hope that, by doing so, I can hang on to 'été' a little longer! Despite today's blue sky and sunshine, there's certainly been an autumnal feel to the last couple of days, particularly the evenings, which have found us reaching for our blankets to keep our flip-flop feet warm as we relax on the sofa!

Bye for now,


Saturday, 28 August 2010

Muddy delights!

Thanks to our allotment-keeping friends, whose son plays rugby with ours, this is what came home from rugby training on Thursday evening:

Crates of mud-covered beetroot, courgettes, squashes and spinach...a very pleasant change indeed from the muddy boots and dirty washing that usually lands in the kitchen after training!

Spinach and potato soup is simmering away as I type, the beetroot is ready for the oven and I've been consulting my Women's Institute Book of Preserves and Pickles for chutney recipe ideas as the courgettes are more of marrow proportions! I love pottering around in the kitchen...the simple things make me so happy!

Back soon,


Wednesday, 25 August 2010

I've fallen in love

...with Italy! Hubby and I have just had a fantastic weekend away in Milan!

The weather was hot!

The architecture was amazing:
La Scala
and Il Duomo, which was beautiful inside too!
We discovered a market just minutes from our hotel on Saturday morning with stalls brimming with delicious, fresh produce:
and how about this for a shopping centre?

Gorgeous food, wine, ice creams...just the two of us! It was a real treat and the first time that we've been abroad, child-free, since before they were born! We were sad to leave...
but our post-wonderful weekend blues were soon lifted by news of our daughter's GCSE results yesterday: a total of 7 A*s and 5 As - we are so proud of her!
Back soon,

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Beetroot & Being Bold

I enjoyed watching Alys Fowler's TV series so thought I would borrow The Edible Garden from the library. It's great to dip in and out of with its lovely photos, tips and recipes.

This, along with eating delicious vegetables from other people's gardens and allotments, has made me think about changes that could make in our garden. To have a good, regular supply of veg, rather than the dribs and drabs we have at the moment, we need more growing space. We also need to be more organised, which means that 'I' need to be more organised as, once the rugby season starts, hubby's weekend gardening time will disappear! We need to be bolder: we need to sow and plant more so that we are not caught out by pests (as we have been this year!) and so that we are able keep our plates full of fresh, home grown produce!

We bought beetroot from the market this week as ours, what the pests left of it, is not ready yet. Since buying Sophie Grigson's Eat Your Greens, I always cook it slowly in the oven,

which doesn't look too good at first,

but its skins just slip off

to reveal these beauties:

I can never resist popping one of the slightly warm, earthy beets into my mouth as I peel them! I love beetroot!
So we are going to be bold: we are going to dig up some lawn to give us the veg growing space that we need!
I could do with being a little bolder in other areas of my life too: I need to stop letting little niggling doubts and fears hold me back. Perhaps digging up the lawn will prove to be a catalyst!
Back soon,

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

What can you make out of England, France, Ireland, South Africa and Italy?

These labels were left over from something that my husband did at the rugby club a while ago and, not being one to throw things away, I have been using the plain white pieces to label the children's work at the after school art and craft clubs that I run. Today, I found another use for them.
I made labels for some of the tins that I am re-using to store bits and pieces that I use at the art and craft clubs - 'lids & corks etc.', 'card scraps' and 'felt and fleece' - I used 'l' and a 'y' to make the 'k' in corks and wrote the amphisand!

This week I have been having a huge sort out of all my art and craft club materials and equipment to make better use the space that I have available in the cellar and so that I can assess what I need to buy ready for September. I am pleased with how it's going so far:

these clear plastic storage boxes fit perfectly beside the freezer and, as you will see, from the photo of the tins, I even space left on my shelves too! However, that is not the end of Operation Sort Out...I need more, even bigger storage boxes for these:

lots of boxes, tubs and cartons,

bag loads of milk bottle tops,

and bags of plastic bottles!
I do keep a lot of junk but, as you can see, I can always find a use for it...the main problem is finding somewhere to store it all in the meantime! With four after school clubs running in September, I shall need all the junk I can get! I shall do a post soon showing some of the children's work from last term...it was such a busy time and we had so much fun making and creating!
Time for a much needed cup of tea...
Back soon,

Monday, 2 August 2010

Home Grown Produce

We have had the house to ourselves this weekend, a situation that is becoming all the more frequent now that the children have grown and have busy calendars full of social events! Our daughter is jamboreeing in Norfolk for the week - camping is not really her thing and the weather has not been too good, but I do hope that she's enjoying the experience! We have no way of finding out until she comes home as, much to her disgust, mobile phones were not permitted! Our son is away in Wales with one of his friends and, despite the rain, we know that he has been having a good time from the texts that he has sent us!
We dug the first potatoes from the garden yesterday...well, hubby dug and I held the bowl! We must have looked a sight...both of us grinning with sheer delight as each little potato was revealed! It was very exciting indeed, especially as these have grown from a supermarket potato that we chitted! And, of course, nothing beats home grown produce! We had to remember when to stop digging as we are only cooking for 2 at the moment and not 4! On the way back to the kitchen I collected the few sugar snap peas that were ready - not enough for 2 helpings, but delicious to crunch on while preparing dinner!
We were also able to collect up the seed pods from the old purple sprouting broccoli plants, which had been left at the side of house to dry. We probably have enough seeds to keep us in purple sprouting broccoli for the rest of our lives! Now that we know what to expect, we'll probably give growing it another go next year as it was delicious!

We've also been enjoying home grown produce from some friends of ours: spinach and courgettes - long ones and round ones! We've not grown spinach before so, when we spotted some packs of seeds reduced to 19p each when we were out yesterday, we couldn't resist! I am going to plant some this week and see what happens!

I hope the spinach is a success as we've really enjoyed eating it torn into warm, griddled courgettes, peppers and red onions with some basil leaves, as pictured below alongside the home grown potatoes, which have been tossed in butter with mint from the garden...accompanied by a glass of something of course!

Over this weekend I have realised who makes all the noise, all the mess, all the washing and eats all the food! It is lovely having the house to ourselves, but I do miss them...they make this house a home!
Back soon,