Sunday, 31 July 2011

~Jamtastic 2~

My daughter, L, is watering a family's allotment in the village whilst they're away on holiday - with the bonus of picking any fruit and veg that are ready. She came home with some blackberries and raspberries, which I supplemented with some English cherries from the greengrocers and made Summer Fruit Jam. If I'm just making a couple of jars I tend to use a book I bought years ago called Luxurious Jam by Sonia Allison which gives recipes for small quantity jam making in the microwave.

Reasons to make microwave jam;
  • Safe control, no boiling over
  • No need to stand over it like a jam slave
  • Fruit colour stays bright
  • No scum on your jam
  • Less mess
  • Less energy use
I don't always follow the recipes slavishly, just use the quantities and timings and tweak them a bit. So easy.

Summer Fruit Jam
1lb fruit (blackberries, raspberries and cherries)
1lb granulated sugar
Destone and chop cherries, mash the berries and then put the fruit and sugar in a large glass/ceramic bowl and leave for 1 hour. Based on a 750-800Watt microwave, heat on high for 5 minutes. Stir. Heat on medium for 27 mins, stirring 3 times during cooking. Check for setting point (put a bit on a cold plate, if it wrinkles when pushed with a finger, it's set) And that's it!  It makes 2-3 jars.  

Saturday, 30 July 2011

~Lemon, mint & ginger cordial ~

I have been decorating and moving 9 year old J's bedroom up to the 2nd floor, no expense involved - just hard graft tidying, cleaning and running up and down stairs 50 times. The PC and internet then wouldn't work, and I don't think Ikea beds are meant to be dismantled and rebuilt, but we got there in the end! It works better for us as a family, so my sewing room has now been relocated. The move meant I have sorted loads of stuff to put on eBay, but I admit I did spend too much time folding and admiring my fabric pile...

I also made this blind for the landing window - in nice stripy ticking fabric called 'Berit Beige/Pink' from Ikea...
...and I've been making jam (more next time), beetroot soup, and this gorgeous cordial...

Recipe for Lemon, mint & ginger cordial
Put 160g sugar and a good handful of torn mint leaves in a pan with 160ml water. Bring to the boil. Turn temp down and cook for 5 mins. Then add about 1 inch of grated fresh root ginger - (I keep mine in the freezer and used about 1 inch of it - no need to peel it - add more if you like). Carry on cooking it for 5 mins, then turn off the heat.  When cooled, add the juice of 6 lemons and store in a sterilised glass bottle in the fridge. (Ooops, forgot to say pour it through a sieve). Dilute with still .water/sparkling water approx 1:5
I also made crystallised lemon peel with the leftover peel by cooking it in water, then sugar syrup until sticky, then tossing it in sugar a couple of hours later.

Have a lovely weekend, hope the sun's shining!

Thursday, 28 July 2011

~Computer Says No~

I am having big problems with my computer and internet connection - hopefully I will be back on track soon... Have tried to reply to comments but  'Computer Says No' ...Thanks for your reading and for your lovely comments; and take care and best wishes to Scarlet at Tales From Beyond The Nook. See you soon x

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

~Charity Shop Marathon~

10 charity shops in 2 days... Not bad going considering the kids are at home and family life is busy. I have tried not to buy everything I fancy, mainly because I can't afford to at the moment. Thrifting is tricky territory though - on the one hand you've got to grab it when you see it -  it's a never-to-be-repeated-offer; but it's important to have a little voice saying the following;
  1. 'do you really need that?'
  2.  'will you use it?'
  3. 'where the devil will you put it?'
  4.  'can you sell it on?'
  5.  'and anyway you already have 5 of them'
This teaset was a real gem I think, 1950s Broadhurst 'Alpine' - gorgeous colours and shapes, edged in silver. In VGC; just a little crazy in places; just like it's new owner!
It passed the 5 question test; 1. Yes    2. Yes   3. China cabinet    4.Yes     5. No, I don't. 
I paid £5 for the set. Something that didn't pass the test was a wooden hostess/serving trolley for £3, but I still feel guilty that I could've rescued it, painted it, used it and loved it.

Monday, 25 July 2011

~Monday's child is good at baking~

After a (horrible) journey into Leeds to queue (horrible) to pick up L's tickets for Radio Aire's Party in the Park, a free (teenage-type) concert in Yorkshire on Sunday; I disappeared upstairs for some sanity-sewing time listening to lovely 80s music ...When I descended I was greeted with these lovely chocolate buns, courtesy of L.  Bless.

Alas muffins do not help my muffin-top, but I'll worry about that tomorrow.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

~I must... I must... I must improve my...crochet

I have been following Julie on Little Cotton Rabbits with her recent discovery of crochet and her beautiful one-a-day blanket.  Why, oh why do I have an aversion to learning crochet? I was too busy knitting and sewing as a little girl; I thought crochet was inferior (!) on a par with macrame and Knitting Nancy, so never bothered with it. I was a very fickle child.  The trouble is I feel I've left it too late, and my aversion has now snowballed into crochet-fear.  I found this 1960s instruction manual recently in a Charity Shop for 20p and I MUST make myself have a go this summer...
I want to make granny squares! That's all; nothing too complicated.  My Nana B. made this huge blanket years ago (it's now in my caravan-awaiting stash); it's in lovely quality wool, and I love the black crochet joining the squares.

Any crochet advice greatly appreciated...Once again many thanks for getting in touch; it's really lovely to hear fom you.         x    Lavender Attic

Friday, 22 July 2011

~The Finished Article~

I managed to get the thrifted chair transformation finished last night - my first project of the holidays completed!
                                                                        From this...
                                                                          To this...
...using some paint I already had and a piece of hexagonal patchwork using lots of vintage scraps. I'm really pleased with it. I backed the patchwork with lining fabric to withstand a bit of wear and tear.
 I love the colour - F&B Hardwick White; a gorgeous neutral grey/green. The nice thing too is that it will remind me of where I was when I did the patchwork - the Yorkshire coast and Cornwall earlier this summer.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

~A treat for a 21st century Land Girl~

I treated myself on the way home from work today. I am lucky to work in York, but my route home takes me past tempting emporiums of lovely things! Sometimes (not often though) I do give in. My treat today was this mug - a must have for me - an enamel 'Dig For Victory' mug by The Thoughtful Gardener. It will be a great keep-my-tea-hot-whilst-camping mug as well as when I'm gardening.
It was from Blossom & Walker; a shop I can highly recommend if you're visiting York and North Yorkshire. It's near Monk Bar on Lord Mayor's Walk. And then afterwards you could cross the road and have lovely tea and cake at Me and Mrs Fisher - though I didn't do that today - I will save that treat til next week!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

~Things to Come~

Tomorrow is my last day at work before the 6 week holiday; I am so excited. I can begin to tackle my 'To Do' list which is actually not a depressing list at all - it's full of the decorating/doing up/creative stuff that gets low priority in working weeks. I am really enjoying some blogs I've found recently; notably the wise words of Froogs and Scarlet on the joy of pre-loved items and tarting up tat - it's great to come across people like you whose idea of heaven is a rummage in a charity shop or boot sale, then setting about your find with either a paint brush or sewing machine! My latest find is this solid little kitchen chair for £2 in the charity shop in my village...
I can't get enough chairs; love them and mismatched ones round a table are much more interesting than a 'dining suite' I think.  I've just set about this one with some Farrow & Ball Hardwick White eggshell (bought in a sale at 25% off and well worth it) and some vintage fabric patchwork for the seat - will post a finished photo soon.
Thankyou for your lovely comments too, I don't seem to be able to reply on Blogger, so sorry, but it's much appreciated  x Lavender Attic

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

~I put Basil in the Ratatouille~

Whenever I make Ratatouille, I think of Manuel's stricken face that his adored pet rat (Basil) was in the ratatouille - in fact I've just had to watch it on YouTube - glorious 1979 Fawlty Towers!! We've had a lot of heavy rain here in North Yorkshire today and the garden certainly needs it. The Jack be Little pumpkins are coming along nicely; they are snaking along a truss of string in front of the warm conservatory wall...
...the tomatoes are in wall troughs, again on a sunny wall - 'Tumbling Tom Red' (bush/hanging basket type tomato) which is always reliable and even more importantly tastes fab, and 'Ildi' a last minute sowing of some seeds I bought a couple of years ago at a show. They produce masses of tiny yellow, pear-shaped fruit - I've probably crammed too many in the troughs, but it works for me.  I keep them well fed (twice weekly) and watered (daily)so they do just fine.
 More courgettes too - hence the ratatouille - made with homegrown basil (poor Basil) , parsley and garlic. It tastes absolutely gorgeous, we had it with plain couscous made with butter and a glug of good quality extra virgin olive oil.
Recipe: Chop 3 onions and cook slowly in olive oil and a bit of butter for 5-10 mins, then add 4 chopped cloves of garlic, careful not to burn it.  Add 3 large courgettes (chopped), one red pepper (chopped) and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 5-10 mins. Add approx 100ml of vegetable stock (I use Marigold Swiss Bouillon). Then add a handful of chopped parsley and basil, a spoonful of homemade chutney/red onion marmalade and 2 tins of supermarket Value chopped tomatoes. Simmer with the lid on for about 1 hour.
That's it! - cheap as anything and enough for the freezer too.

Monday, 18 July 2011

~Saturday's festival~

On Saturday I had a little stall at a local festival - I think it looked quite pretty...
nice bric-a-brac, homemade teacup candles, chutney, cake, cushions, vintage knitting patterns, textiles, handbags and scarves. Including some cake stands I made from vintage china and glasses from an idea spotted in a magazine...

...the weather was rainy to start off with; but when the sun came out it was glorious. My lovely friends from Hello Lola and Sugar Pie Lemon Drop were there too and we drank lots of Yorkshire Tea from
 Little 'Urn (and the odd glass of Pimms!)

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

~Sewing Project~

Today's day off has been busy, busy, busy with catching up with gardening, thrifting, housework and more frantic sewing for my stall at the weekend (Saturday 15th July) here at this local festival. I'm really pleased at how these coat hangers have turned out

- a fab way to upcycle vintage embroidered cloths, the ones that have holes or marks but are too lovely to throw away. I used this lovely new book by Emma Hardy which I'm finding really inspiring at the moment.
If they don't sell they will look lovely in my bedroom!

Monday, 11 July 2011

~Happy Monday~

This month's Country Living is a particularly good one; a lovely coastal issue and lots of interiors that really appeal to me.  My subscription was a Christmas gift from my Mum - a great present I think. These rose pictures are just like my charity shop bargain from the other week...
I can dream about being this carefree campervan blonde...
...whilst in reality it's Monday and I look and feel more like this...
Hope you have a good week and remember to put some time aside to knit, sew & grow and smell the flowers!

Sunday, 10 July 2011

~Courgette Chocolate Cake~

3 courgette plants and I've already got a steady supply. I have many recipes to deal with a courgette glut gleaned from various friends, books and websites. I just have to remind myself to pick them when they're reasonably sized and tasty because if you ignore them they can turn into marrows overnight! So, Sunday afternoon has been spent turning these

into this
The recipe actually made 2 loaves, one for the freezer and one for now. The recipe is from The Allotment Seaonal Planner & Cookbook by Andi Clevely. The kids sometimes complain about the tell-tale green bits visible in the sponge, 'but it does taste really nice', I say...
Here's the recipe;
Beat 125g butter and 115g brown sugar together. Add 2 eggs with a little of the flour(310g). Mix in 1 tsp vanilla and 110ml plain yogurt.. Sieve remaining dry ingredients ( 2 tsp bicarb of soda, 30g cocoa,1/2 tsp mixed spice,1 tsp cinnamon,1/2 tsp salt) and fold in. Then mix in the courgettes. Grease and line the tins. ( I use greaseproof loaf tin liners from the Pound Shop). Makes 1 square cake or 2 loaves. 45 mins at 170 degrees C.
 Gorgeous. Does it count as one of my 5-a-day?

Saturday, 9 July 2011

~Seaside Outing~

I think of the East Coast seaside as my spiritual home - I spent a lot of my childhood and teenage years there. After a hectic week I've spent a day and night at the seaside which is just enough to charge my batteries and blow the cobwebs off. This view makes my heart sing...'s the good old North Sea, honest. And this too

I love the pebbles on the beach, the wooden breakers; and the sound of the waves.
I fitted in a quick look in the charity shops and second hand shops of this lovely town too; and came away with some more vintage melamine (1960s Melaware 2 cups for 40p- one still has the label on from new!) Look at the handle shape, and they are my favourite shade of green too;
and a lovely crochet blanket for £1. Away into the caravan stash they go!

Monday, 4 July 2011

~Birthday Weekend~

We had a family garden party at the weekend to celebrate my husband and daughter's birthday.  My little girl is 16 today, 4th July, and I'm wondering how that went by so quickly.  I am so proud of how she has grown up into such a gorgeous girl and I'm hoping she has a fantastic time at her Prom tomorrow night here at this country house hotel,which is also where my Dad was born when it was a Maternity Hospital after the war.