Welcome to our blog.

….. Making pretty things
….. Simple living
….. Growing a family

Three children (17, 15, 13)*** Two parents *** one dog *** Country loving *** Cottage dwelling in the South-West of the UK. That’s us!

We’ve been blogging since January 2010, about everyday happenings that bring us joy.

Just a thought….

“A moment spent in wonder is worth a lifetime spent in awe.”

 

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Slice of Life

Preparing

It’s been one of those weeks when the days have jumbled themselves up. I spent Tuesday having to remind myself that it wasn’t Friday, thanks to a client mixing it up. Nor did it help that, it’s only a four day week for the younger teens as they have a teacher training day today, so no school.

One of those weeks when I feel like I’ve been on the go all the time, but nothing to show for it. No entirely true. Finally organised a solution for my canning problem, so this weekend I’ll be cooking and preserving like there is no stopping me. I’ve prepped the strawberry and rhubarb ready for pie fillers. I cannot wait!

I can’t believe that eldest teen’s exams start in just over a week. We have a team of tutors who have been supporting her. It’s taken a fair bit of organising and I think I’ll oddly miss it once it’s all over. They are such lovely people.

Eldest always planned to have a gap year and I am thankful that she’s not gone to uni this year. One of her choices is a Scottish uni. Current advice/guidance from Scotland is that students should not go home for Christmas. I see the logic, but it is harsh on teens living away from home and family for the first time.

Fresher weeks are limited and lectures delivered on-line. When I think back to my first year, I made so many friends in those first few weeks. I remained friends with long after we graduated. Shared houses with. It is all so different.

On the garden front, I’m gradually bringing everything in. I’ve discovered a few more pumpkins and squashes, which is always the way. Hiding under leaves. We are eating raspberries by the bowlful. I make some up as a delicious raspberry sauce which is wonderful on panna cotta.

We have beans and peas coming in by the crate, along with tomatoes. All being prepared for preserving. I’ve also improved my pizza base making, which the rest of the family would be happy for me to make every day. Good way for me to use some of the tomatoes.

Not forgetting my annual apple mountain. Plenty of apples to keep me busy. I’ve been making apple hand pies, which the family have been devouring almost as fast as I can make them. I bought a new gadget to help with the finished look. I’ll save you from the before photos. Goodness knows I needed to make them look more the part. It speeds up the production no end.

My week has definitely been consumed with preparing. I’ve got a few more busy weeks to go, but the groundwork is mostly done. It does feel good.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend, whatever you’re doing.

Word of the Week linky

Homesteading

What a difference a week of good weather in September makes. I’ve been busy cutting, clearing and harvesting in the garden. So much easier to feel motivated when it’s not overcast or just generally miserable. I feel like getting out there. I’ve even been inspired to make a start on the autumn planting plan.

We’ve had a reasonably good year, in the garden, including carrots. Our soil is heavy and even though I plant the carrots in raised bed, they are usually uneventful. This year, I used an old insulation box, which frozen food was delivered in, to scatter a few seeds. They seem to have done well. I’ll do this again. Especially as the height appears to deter the carrot fly. Also great if you don’t have a lot of growing space.

I pulled out all the sweetcorn stalks at the weekend. We’ve been eating the cobs on a regular basis, without anyone getting bored. I lost my first plants to the frost. These were the second planting.

As I was pulling the stalks, I thought I might find a few, scraggy cobs, but I was amazed at how many it did glean. We had some for lunch and the rest I shucked for the freezer.

Potatoes have done well, too. We’ve been eating them most days. I’ve bought big paper sacks to store the rest in. Still in discussion about where to store the sacks, but I’ll start digging the potatoes this weekend.

The photo above is of youngest teen holding chocolate cherry tomatoes. Bit of a back story, which regular readers might remember. A few years ago, youngest brought home a tomato plant as part of a science experiment at school. While the rest of the class labelled their plants “tomato” (although I suspect there were a few “Bobs” and “Harrys”), my son decided that we grew enough tomatoes and he’d prefer a chocolate biscuit plant, so he named his plant Oreo.

His plant grew sweet, red cherry tomatoes, if I remember rightly. Not remotely biscuit like.

Roll on to this summer. I found cherry tomato seeds that were called chocolate. I was excited and couldn’t help giggling inside. Could this be the answer to his dream? Had I made it happen? No, apparently not. Three years is a long time in a boy’s life. He’s a teen now. He’s moved on. Unlike his mother, who still thinks it’s funny.

Never mind, the chocolate cherry tomatoes taste amazing, even though they taste nothing like chocolate.

Our non-chocolate tomatoes have done well too, and we’ve had a good crop of garlic and onions. I’ve been experimenting with canning pasta sauce. It worked well until I realised my pan was too small. Or the jars were too big. Either way, I couldn’t seal the jars enough to store them outside the fridge. I need 2 inches of water above the lid when I boil to preserve the jars. So, we are eating the first batch and calling it research and development. Hopefully this weekend, we will sort out a better canning pot. I am dreaming of a pantry full of pasta sauces and pie fillers. Fingers crossed.

Not that all our garden treats are edible. Our oak tree is busy losing its acorns, to the delight of our local squirrels and magpies. I love acorns. I pick them up and store a few in my pocket in the same way I do with sea glass on the beach. It’s my happy thing. With acorns, I only take a few and leave the rest for the wildlife, but the caps are fair game.

Each morning, our dog walk takes us down a lane which is lined with hedge oaks. Each tree is a different type of oak, so their acorns and caps are different shapes too. I’m going to write more about oaks tomorrow and how I made the felt acorns, which are destined for an autumn wreath. It is a fun craft and easy to do. With the added bonus of adding a bit more colour to life.

(misty morning dog walk)

This weekend looks like an apple windfall processing weekend too. I have two big crates in the kitchen, that I’m tripping over. Hope this weather holds and I can sit outside and do it. Also, I’m digging up three flower borders ready to plant with roses and bulbs. Thank goodness I have easy lunches ready to go.

Hope you all have a great weekend.

Word of the Week linky

Planning

September is about new beginnings for me. You can keep your January resolutions. I’ll stick to the start of a new school year. Clean slate and new pencil case are definitely the order of the day. It’s a month for starting the big lists, signing up for online language courses and dreaming about where life is taking you.

Admittedly, this year is different. Plans are built on shifting sand. More “as long as” and “if” expressions pepper sentences, as if their best before date is a cat’s whisker away from expiring and they need to be used.

Still, the planning and organizing must continue.

(Weekend project)

The younger teens have been back at school a whole week now. So far so good. Saying that, lunch is still an issue. I have abandoned all hope of sending them in with packed lunches, as they brought them home to eat. Instead, I send them in with a snack pot, and we’re having big family breakfasts and a late lunch when they come in. Adds to the daily routine, but it seems to work.

Their lessons are going OK, but I still have a more than niggling feeling that this year is going to be majorly interrupted in lots of little ways. Not good with GCSEs scheduled for next summer. I’m building a Plan B to give them both as much extra support at home. We’re building it into our routine now.

My secret super power is Plan B planning. Before you ask, it doesn’t come with a cape.

Eldest is doing the October exams. We’ve had fun and games getting her registered for them, but it is done now. Honestly, you’d think it would be straightforward. One of those situations where I need to know the right question to ask, at the right time. Oh, so frustrating.

She also went in to see the career’s advisor who, in contrast, was very efficient and helpful.

(Magic custard cake with raspberry sauce)

I went into our local garden centre, this weekend, for house plant soil. Most of the inside shop had been cleared, ready to put up their Christmas display. I’ll admit, I wasn’t ready to see glistening tree ornaments hanging on the few display panels that they’d already put up. I’m all for forward planning, but September? Maybe they anticipate a lockdown time before the holiday period and need to start earlier. For that, I would certainly forgive their early start.

After all, we all need a plan.

 

Word of the Week linky

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