Wednesday, 23 July 2008

From the garden today

Hurray - the first tomatoes are ready; picked these this morning, one split on the way to the kitchen (honest!), so had to eat it - warm, ripe, juicy, sweet. Can't beat the first one of the year.......

In praise of the calendula

One of my very favourites in the garden; beautiful, simple flowers, in an array of oranges and yellows; useful as well as beautiful. Named for its propensity to bloom almost ine very month of the calendar. Useful as a soothing addition to lotions, potions and creams, for facial washes, dried in home made soaps; fresh petals in salads, fruit salads, cakes and biscuits, preserves; extraordinarily beautiful left to self-seed around the garden, especially in the veg beds, where they are at their best among the brassicas. Lovely as a fresh and vibrant cut flower for the house. What more could you ask from a flower?

The Frontier House

I love this book - worth the money for the stunning photgraphs alone, I feel. Based on the Channel 4 series of the same name, it's the story of three families who spend several months in wild Montana, trying to replicate the frontier life. In amongst the photos of the modern day participants, there are some wonderful old photographs of the folks who did this for real. I found the book both fascinating and scary - would I manage to survive? How would I do getting enough of everything in to see me through a Montana winter? Would I get lonely? The sheer hard work of the lifestyle was well portrayed I think, as was teh isolation and cosntant battles with nature for sheer survival, let alone building a good life. there were interesting statistics on teh numbes who didn't make it, either returning to the cities/towns, or dying in their attempts to hack out a life liveable in this wildest of wild places. Very moving, were the phtos of teh gravestones along teh way, as the people made their way out west in wagon trains, by horse and on foot. For me, the most itneresting bits were from a woman's perspective - the ones left behind until sent for by their husbands, the ones who had to try and adapt to their new lifestyle, coping with childrena nd childbirth, even day to day things like washing and cooking were fraught with difficulty. You had to be strong and determined to survive, but some of them did, and did well.

Personally, if it were me, I wouldn't have chosen Montana - I have a bit of a bear phobia..........

While I hanker after a lot of things that I read about in the book, I certainly don't see their lives through rose tinted spectacles; I am under no illusions as to how hard and dangerous their lives were. It's more a yearning for a simpler way of life - they didn't have 4 lemon squeezers, or the luxury of being able to store boxes and boxes of wool and fabric for hobbies, rather than necessities. They only were able to have what they needed, sometimes not even that. It's re-inspired me with my constant de-cluttering too.

Thoroughly recommended as a great read, both for the present day perspectives on it, and the historical interest, which I found fascinating.

My cabin in the.............! We don't have woods, sadly, so this is my cabin in the garden. It's been an ongoing project for months now, but is finished apart from the exterior staining, which I hope to tackle this weekend, depending on the weather. Ultimate use is as yet undecided, there are a lot of options I could choose, but one thing is definite - a lot of the stuff inside will have to go! It's full of craft stuff, looms, treadle machine base, chair, cupboard (full of fabric, hahaha!!), boxes of textile bits, all sorts. I am on the cusp (love that expression) of a huge, major clearout, which I have been working up to over the past few eeks, and recent reading has spurred me on to get rid of what I don't actually use, even if I like it.......... Do I really need 4 types of citrus squeezer? 9 mess tins? 5 china fruit bowls (these are really pretty........)?All that knitting wool (especially now I have got the spinning wheel mastered)? Ah yes, that reminds me - there are 7 fleeces in there too. A major job, I think, and not for the faint hearted! It will be done. If I find anything interesting, I might put it up on offer to a good ome here, so watch out in the column to the right for goodies on offer.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

More on the non-shop shopping........

Seems to be going well, OH very pleased with results, both gastronomic and monetary! I have instantly knocked 30 - 40 pounds off the weekly shop. Any remaining money from the set amount he gives me on a Friday is mine, so I usually manage to wander past the vintage jewellery stall every week :0) It's an investment, you see.......;0)
One thing I did find last Friday was rose veal, so we had that last night, first time I've had veal. Marinated in a little olive oil, lemon zest and thyme, then cooked with a dash of water and juice of half a lemon, sauce finished with cream; it was lovely with vegetable rice.

Not sure what's on the cards for today, but it will involve more decluttering and sorting out, cleaning, etc, and I need to fit some soap making in there somewhere too!

Sunday, 20 July 2008


These were picked from the garden yesterday for tea, in the pot within ten minutes, can't get much better than that! Mixture of Cherokee Trail of Tears and Crimson Flowered broadies, the sweetest ones I have tasted, and I grow them every year.

This one was taken on Friday, up at Rawlsbury camp, an old hill fortress from Roman times and beyond, up over Bulbarrow. I love it up there, it's wild and windy, you can usually only hear the whistling wind and the occasional sheep. We pick sloes up there in the autumn. It definitely has something there, I can feel it. MrL laughs at me, but I get a bit spooked there sometimes. Had lunch there on Friday.