Thursday, 25 September 2008

It's good to give

I like to contribute to fundraising for good causes when I can.
This is my contribution for tomorrow - our W.I. are combining their monthly coffee morning with the MacMillan Big Coffee Morning, so I made some stuff to raise funds. One lap blanket, one pair of ladies socks, two scarves, a couple of dishcloths, date and walnut sponge cake and some lemon curd; popped in a few paperbacks for the bookstall too. Hopefully it'll go well and they'll raise a good amount for this worthy cause. I like to try and do my bit. :)

How to freeze herbs

Over the years, I've found the best way of preserving annual herbs is to freeze them - parsley (striclty a biennial), summer savory, basil, dill, etc. Pick teh herb of choice on a dry warm day, chop finely and put into an ice cube tray; top up with cold water, then into the freezer. When frozen, turn out the cubes and decant them into a polythene/plastic box, tub, bag or similar. You'll then be able to take out one or two as you need them. Add them as they are to soup, casseroles, pizzas etc; the amount of water is minimal and won't affect your recipe. Mixed herbs are also good done this way.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

The fruits of my labours..........

........literally! Bottled up 4 jars of apple and 3 jars of apple and brambles today. I'll process them tomorrow when I have the stove turned up. Bottling is the best way for preserving - no energy isused in its storage and it's ready to use - don't have to remember to get it out the freezer in time......:) The apple and bramble is pretty to look at too..... All this cost was a few ounces of sugar for the syrup; we picked the brambles at the weekend, and the apples came from a friend. The syrup is water and sugar, left on the low end of the cooker to dissolve itself in its own time.

Equinoxal garden

Thought I'd share some photos of how the garden was yesterday, the autumn equinox - seen as the end of the summer and the beginning of the autumn, although for me, autumn started several weeks back. Off to a good start with a good blowy equinoxal south east wind - have a line of washing flapping as we speak........the leaves are turning more quickly now, whirling and swirling, settling briefly then on in another dance to settle down to rot away; beds need turning and mulching in the vegetable garden; greenhouses need cleared before the end of the month, glass cleaned, pots sorted and stacked; anhousing needs attention before the winter weather sets in; garden furniture needs attention; general tidying up and securing before the gales come in; cutting back and cutting down; still the cosmos to cut for the house, though, and squashes to harvest, also sea beet and Swiss chard in rainbow colours; soon there will be artichokes too. A busy busy but satisfying time of year outside, and often a relief to get in and back beside the stove for a cup of steaming tea...........

Equinoxal garden - II

Monday, 22 September 2008

Don't give up............

Just come across this Guardian article by Michael Pollan from a few months back:

Worth a read.

I have found such joy.........

I HAVE FOUND SUCH JOY - by Grace Noll Crowell

I have found such joy in simple things;
A plain, clean room, a nut-brown loaf of bread
A cup of milk, a kettle as it sings,
The shelter of a roof above my head,
And in a leaf-laced square along the floor,
Where yellow sunlight glimmers through a door.

I have found such joy in things that fill
My quiet days: a curtain's blowing grace,
A potted plant upon my window sill,
A rose, fresh-cut and placed within a vase;
A table cleared, a lamp beside a chair,
And books I long have loved beside me there.

Oh, I have found such joys I wish I might
Tell every woman who goes seeking far
For some elusive, feverish delight,
That very close to home the great joys are:
The elemental things--old as the race,
Yet never, through the ages, commonplace.

I came across this on the Down to Earth blogspot ( ) and immediately took to it.

Saturday night at our house..........

This is what it looks like in the sitting room on a Saturday night. I decreed a while ago to have a non-electric night downstairs (as much as safely possible), especially in the sitting room, so no TV, computer, electric lights, etc; chose Saturday nights. I am just about to fill the oil lamps for the winter, so we should have them up and running for next week. I sit on the sofa in the candlelight with a glass of homebrewed something or other and just enjoy the epace and quiet downstairs. One of my favourite times of the week.

Pampering on the cheap............

I like nice things to put in my bath; besides the homemade soap etc I make, I buy some too, but the prices of the decent stuff are quite prohibitive sometimes, and as usual, you get what you pay for, and I find the cheaper things are a false economy. My latest trick is the charity shops; I've had some lovely stuff over the past few months - bath oils, bubbles, soaps, etc. All brand new and unopened, obviously unwanted gifts (bit sad, that.....). Look out for boxed sets too, usually going for a fraction of the price. I picked up these three on Friday - the purple soap and Imperial Leather were 20 p each, the bottle of bath oil was 1.00 - it and the purple soap were made by Arran Aromatics - their stuff is lovely, but quite dear, so chuffed to find these in the Scope shop. As always, worth a rummage around on the shelves in these shops, you never know what's lurking there!!

Visit to the junkyard..........

Euphamistically called a reclamation facility by some, but they'll always be junkyards to me! This is one of the better ones in Dorset. We visited here on Friday, ostensibly to seek out some doors for MrL's motorbike shed. No doors, but plenty to look at. Lots of stone troughs, statues etc for the garden, pergolas, reclaimed paving and bricks, tiles, the old doors from the cells in Christchurch Police Station (I quite fancied them for the bike shed, but MrL less than enthusiastic........:) ), a lovely wooden child's wagon, nice bronze bird feeders, and my favourite, a restored kitchen range, almost identical to the one my granny had in her house when we were growing up in the village. At 430.00 (plus VAT) we left it there, however. We could easily have come home with this too, if we'd had somewhere to keep it. Shame it's been so neglected, it may well be past restoration now. It's an old inudstrial carder with the biggest teeth I've ever seen. Fascinating bit of machinery, though. I took a note of the maker, numbers, etc, and might try and research it a bit, just out of interest.

The junkyard is a only a couple of miles from Bournemouth International Airport, fairly close to where we used to live. The increase in building and traffic in the 11 years since we left is very noticable, though. Teh junkyard is down a lovely lane, though, so we stopped here for lunch (sadly nothing to forage there, but it was very peaceful, with a stream just over the bank, and lots of birdsong)

Sunday, 21 September 2008

St Matthew's Day

Today, 21st September, is St Matthew's Day. We were always a bit excited at this oen when we were wee, as my maiden name is Matthew :)

"St Matthew's Day bright and clear brings good wine in next year"

St Matthew's Day falls close to the autumnal equinox (23rd September), which marks the end of summer and the beginning of autumn. It is time to close the beehives for the year ("St Matthee shut up the bee") and to prepare for the darker nights ahead ("St Matthew get candlesticks new"). It is also one of the two days known as DEvil's Nutting Day (along with 14th September) when it is unwise to go off to the woods to gather hazelnuts.

Maybe that's why there were no nuts in the wood last Sunday...........Definitely a good way into autumn here now, weather is chill, darkening earlier, thoughts turning towards preparations for winter.