Happenings over the last month

Over the last month the focus has been on getting the house prepared and ready for the new arrival!

The nursery is almost complete, it is just in need of some soft furnishings, however the baby won’t be sleeping in there for the first few months. The furniture fits in really well as it is quite a small room.

We have also redecorated the downstairs toilet as the paint was peeling off and it looked messy. We have changed the colour which makes the room much brighter and have gone for wallpaper to cover the problem patches on the walls.

Another room that has had a good clean and tidy is the pantry. It was in need of a good tidy and freshen up and is now the perfect place to store the pram.

I have been doing a bit of harvesting in the garden and have picked over a dozen apples from my Braeburn apple tree. They are very tasty and make lovely apple scones. I have also picked a few grapes from the grape vine and have pulled up all my parsnips. I certainly wouldn’t win any prizes for them but they do taste good! I have chopped and blanched them ready to go in the freezer for whenever we want them.

I have also had a tidy up in the garden. I have raked over the vegetable beds that are no longer in use and have pruned and tidied some of the fruit bushes and trees. I still have kale, leeks and brussel sprouts in one bed so I shall see how well they turn out over the winter months. It is looking quite bare out there now.

Our dog, Maple turned 1 yesterday! She is no longer a puppy! We got her at the beginning of December when she was 8 weeks old. She is very good and loves lots of fuss!

I haven’t been baking as much as I used to but did make some tasty Challah bread a couple of weeks ago and also made some heart shaped apple scones.


Monday’s Bakes

I haven’t had a baking Monday for a long time now and really wanted to get back into it. I think the last time I made bread was in February!!

I went out in the morning and made sure that I had yeast and flour. I also had a large number of eggs that needed using up so this was a good incentive to bake.

I decided I would make a savoury bread and a fruit bread that can be toasted for breakfast. I chose to make Challah breads as I have made these before and my husband and I both enjoy them. (The recipe also uses 5 eggs)! I find that this bread bakes really well and is always soft and fluffy. 

The recipe made two loaves so I have one in the freezer ready for another week.

For my fruit bread I followed a recipe for sultana bread but used dried mixed fruit instead and added a little mixed spice. 

I also made a fruit cake in a loaf tin so that it is easier for packing in a lunch box. It will keep well for a week so I don’t need to make any other cake. As there are only two of us we struggle to get through homemade cake so I prefer to make smaller items or things that last longer.

I also made a quiche which was a great way to use up my eggs and leftover cauliflower and broccoli. I sliced and par boiled the vegetables and let them cool. I then arranged them in my short crust pastry case that I had just baked. I topped this with an egg and milk mixture to them with seasoning, thyme, a little mustard and some cheddar. 

We had half of this for dinner and then I have put the other half in the freezer for a meal another day.

I am very pleased with my bakes and feel like I had a productive Monday afternoon.

Preserving Fruit and Veg

Yesterday I had a good tidy up in the garden and harvested the last of my carrots and beetroots. I also picked a few green beans and lots of sticks of rhubarb.

There wasn’t a huge amount of produce but I have made sure it hasn’t gone to waste. I have chopped and blanched the carrots and green beans and frozen them. The beetroot has been fully cooked, peeled, chopped and bagged ready to be frozen. It is nice to know that I can eat seasonal produce throughout the year because of preserving it in the freezer. 
I also have other fruit in the freezer from earlier in the season which I will be able to use in desserts and jams.

With the rhubarb, I am currently making a rhubarb and orange jam which ,once jarred, will keep for about a year.

I also have a food dehydrator that I am hoping to experiment with more over time. I have used it to make prunes from the plums I grew and have also dried tomatoes and some herbs in there. I am wanting to make some apple crisps soon and have a tree full of Braeburn apples that are not far off being ripe enough to pick. 

Elsewhere in the garden I have grapes ripening on the vine, I was hoping that a whole bunch would ripen at the same time but that doesn’t seem to be happening at the moment! I also have parsnips that are growing well and a few leeks. Some of the sweetcorn looks ready to be picked so I will hopefully be enjoying that next week.

Getting Organised, Writing Lists and Planning a New Schedule

Perhaps my nesting instincts are beginning to kick in. I have an overwhelming desire to get organised and back on track. With so many things that need doing, I decided it was best to start writing lists and hopefully begin to tick things off of them.

I think that I have let myself get a little lazy over the past 6 months and with 11 weeks until our baby is estimated to arrive I need to get things sorted.

Last week I finished decorating the nursery. We just need to get a carpet and furnishings and get the radiator back on and painted. The room is a huge improvement from what it used to look like. We have chosen a yellow and grey colour scheme, keeping it neutral.

Here are the before and after pictures. (The ceiling was originally painted blue)!

I think having things written down helps me as I know exactly what needs doing and will hopefully give me motivation to get it done!

This morning I have reorganised my shelves in the living room and added more books and DVD’s to make it like a library section.

This has cleared space elsewhere so I am hoping to be able to move things around and find a place for everything!

I have started to re-write a new schedule to keep me on track. I know this will change when the baby arrives but hopefully it will get me used to being organised and prepared! I am hoping to use reusable cloth nappies on the baby, so keeping on track with washing is very important!

The Garden

The garden is starting to look much more colourful and the fruits and vegetables are growing well. 

A few months ago we put up a polytunnel which is very handy for starting seeds and seedling growth and perfect for growing tomatoes, chillies and peppers. The polytunnel was a surprise gift from my husband – such a lovely present! This year I haven’t sown any tomatoes or peppers but next year I definitely will be as I know they will grow very well.

In the polytunnel at the moment I have a couple of tomato plants from my Grandad and a chilli plant that my parents bought. I also have some cucumbers that I have sown from seed. I sowed some sunflowers seeds in there too to get the seedlings started off before transplanting into areas in the garden.

I am also using the polytunnel to dry some herbs from the garden.

In front of the polytunnel there is a little strip of soil – perfect for a few sunflowers to grow. There is a path in front of this and then a large patch of soil which we decided to grow some wild flowers in. Over the last two weeks the flowers have started to appear and have filled the area with colour. They are also attracting lots of bees.

I haven’t got large amount of vegetables, just a few of several different types. Unfortunately some of my seedlings died after transplanting and lots of seeds that I sowed direct didn’t germinate however I am happy with what I have got in my beds.

In this bed I have sweetcorn, beetroot and carrots. I was hoping to have lettuce but the seeds just didn’t germinate.

In this bed I have cauliflowers, purple sprouting broccoli and calabrese. I also have some onions and green beans which aren’t on the photo.

This bed has leeks, dwarf kale, cabbage, red Brussels sprouts and parsnips.

I still have plenty of fruit to be harvesting including more Morello cherries! The boysenberries are starting to ripen and I have already picked several raspberries. There are still more strawberries to pick! I am starting to fill my freezer and also come up with recipes for all my fruits. My sweet cherries have been picked this week also!

Enjoying the Fruit Harvest

In the last few days I have picked so many strawberries and cherries! I have an abundance that I need to work out what to do with so they don’t go to waste. 
On Monday I used several of the strawberries to make refreshing smoothies. I will freeze some strawberries so that they can be put straight into a smoothie mixer for a lovely chilled drink.

Yesterday I made a cherry pie which used 900g of cherries! I can’t believe that I had this many cherries and still have a bowl full to use!

I am hoping to chop up most of the strawberries and freeze them so that they are preserved and can be used whenever we want. I will also pit the cherries and freeze them. I have a couple of small tubs of blackcurrants in the freezer that are ready and waiting for a yummy recipe!

I am very pleased with this year’s harvest and I am hoping to find lots of recipes to use up my home grown fruits.

How is the Fruit Garden Growing?

I have now started to harvest fruit from my garden. So far I have been able to pick strawberries, blackcurrants and white currants. It won’t be long before the morello cherries are ripe and there is an abundance of those this year! I am looking forward to making cherry pies.

The grape vine has grown a lot in the last 2 months and there are now tiny buds which will grow into grapes which will be ready for harvesting in the Autumn.

The boysenberry and raspberry are growing well and there are fruits on both plants which should start to ripen in the next month or so. The redcurrants aren’t far off of ripening either .

I also have several blueberries growing nicely which should be ready next month.

I am enjoying picking fruit from my garden and I am pleased with what I have managed to grow. 

Getting Back to Blog Writing

It has been a few months since I last wrote a blog post. A lot has been going on in the house and the garden and I look forward to sharing it with you.

In my next few blog posts I shall focus on different areas – Our nursery decorating project, our dining room project, the garden – fruits, vegetables and the polytunnel. I also hope to still write posts about baking and cooking as well as future/ongoing projects with the house and garden. And also there maybe some sewing/craft posts.

For now I shall leave you with a few pictures to sum up the last few months.

My first strawberry of the season picked today.

New sofas in the living room – just looking to buy some throws and cushions to add colour.

A more functional dining room! Obviously there still needs to be flooring and soft furnishings.

Homegrown radishes.

Getting Back to Normal

Life has been a little different over the last few months. My house cleaning schedule has been completely off and I have had no clear routine. I have been feeling very unmotivated and feeling like a bad housewife! 

I have been struggling with exhaustion and sickness but that has eased off a lot now and I am hoping that my energy levels continue to rise. I hope that the next 26 weeks will be more enjoyable!

This week has probably been more on track than it has been for a while. I have felt more fulfilled this week and happy that I have been able to get jobs done.

We have finally moved into our new bedroom and I make sure I spend time each day dressing the bed and making sure the room is left tidy. It is important to sleep in a room that is free from clutter. We do still need a wardrobe in there so our clothes are split between two rooms!

I have done some decluttering of what is now the spare bedroom and the surfaces are now cleared ready for whenever we have guests stay over.

On Monday I spent half an hour cleaning the hoover! I made sure that I washed out the filtet and had to wait several days for it to dry! But it was definitely a job that needed doing. 

I have been able to take Maple out twice a day again which is much better for us both, I felt bad that I hadn’t been feeling well enough to get out. 

The last couple of weeks I have got back into baking again and have made fruity flapjack and a chocolate cake. 

My sewing project has been going very slow as well. I didn’t realise how long it would take to hand sew all those tiny stitches. In one hour of sewing this is all that I achieved! 

I definitely need to write a new schedule to get myself back on track. Some days I just feel unmotivated and my brain just doesn’t function too well!! I never let the house look untidy and make sure it is maintained but sometimes I am only putting in the bare minimum.  I don’t think this cold spell of weather helps either!  

My Spring Garden

I haven’t really had many interesting things to blog about for a while! I didn’t want to bore you all with my day to day life pottering about the house! 

I really need to rewrite my schedule that would perhaps give me more order and structure and a better blog post!

Meanwhile, in the garden Spring is here in full form. I am very excited about this year’s fruit yield and hope to get lots!

In blossom now is my Mirabelle plum tree, it did well last year so this year I hope for the same or better. 

The blueberry also has little flowers on it, I recently potted it into some ericaceous compost, so hopefully it should thrive in there.

The red gooseberry plant I bought last year did not fruit at all but I have noticed several flowers on the plant so hopefully I will get a few fruits.

I also bought a blackcurrant last year that didn’t fruit as expected. It has grown so much since last year and there are also flowers appearing.

I purchased 3 fruit trees also last year – 2 Stella cherry trees and 1 Braeburn apple tree. The leaves have started to come out and I shall keep my fingers crossed for some blossom!

There were three fruit trees that were already here when we bought the house – a Morello cherry tree, a Victoria plum tree and an apple tree (can’t remember what type)! The apple tree did not even blossom last year and was attacked by some sort of insects! The plum tree had 2 blossoms last year but no fruit – this year it has 5 blossoms, an improvement!

However the cherry tree produced a large amount of cherries and this year it looks like it is going to produce a good yield again.

The strawberries have spread but are yet to flower, the rhubarb is growing well, the red and white currant bushes have produced leaves but not yet flowers. The raspberry and boysenberry are growing well and the grape vine is just starting to bud.

I am a little worried about my vegetables, the seeds that I sowed indoors in February have been transplanted into larger pots but they all look very sickly so I am not sure whether to try sowing some more or just try them straight outside. I have some more seeds starting off indoors (different veg) so hope they will be more sucessful! I have down directly into the soil some parsnip and radish seeds. I think I will be able to sow my carrots outside now and maybe some of my other vegetable seeds.