Friday, 2 October 2009

New book from Cath Kidston - "Sew" book review

I have just had the best start this morning in ages. I have been awaiting for weeks and finally at 7.35am this morning, there was a knock on the door. Special delivery of the new, soon to be best selling book by Cath Kidston.

At the time of writing, it has just gone 9am. I have already had my first read cover to cover, and the book is fabulous. As the name of the book suggests, there are loas of items to make and sew. The long list includes, cushions, napkins, egg cosies, aprons, quilts, bags and even a specs case - all really useful items, for the novice and expert needlecrafter alike. This book have been publish just in time for the Christmas market - (yikes did I say Christmas in October? Sorry). You will therefore have plenty of time to study the book, collect materials and make all those lovely handmade gifts for the forthcoming holiday season.

The illustrations as ever are clear and colourful, the easy to follow instructions excellent and in general, this is a must purchase for the Cath Kidston euthuist.

There are a number of useful tips, with suggestions on equipment and sewing machines. But the really great thing about this book is the additional pack of materials, which includes everything you need to make a bag, plus a reuseable paper pattern sheet for all the sewing projects in the book.

I am so excited about this book, and all the things I am going to make from it. I will try to post my attempts over the coming weeks and months. Needless to say I am already looking forward to the next book. Just not being woken up at 7.35am.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Lawns - and how to get rid of them LOL

Well the debate continues, should we have vast areas of grassland in our gardens, parks and open spaces, or should we use the land more effectively? To add to the debate there is a new blog which I found very interesting - please check it out and add your views and ideas...

That's all for now - currently still recovering so it will take me a couple of days to catch up - sorry.

Best wishes

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Just discovered a fab new gardening post...

Check it out - it has a wealth of gardening information.

Hope to post my results for the grass vs plants experiment soon - watch this space....


Thursday, 3 September 2009

Grass vs Plants

Spent half the day trying to add up all the money and time I have spent in the garden.  I wish I had thought of this idea before and made a diary. 

I have only made rough calculations so far, but it seems that I have spent less money on the lawn, but more time maintaining it.  The initial financial outlay for the rest of the garden is considerably higher, but once the ground work has been done, I just stood back and watched them grow!

I don't want to form any conclusions yet, but if I am spending more time on the lawn, just to have something to look at, than on the food producing areas, then it maintaining the lawn does seem to be a wasted effort. 

This experiment has also thrown up some unexpected surprises - I have saved around £20 a week in food and petrol, because I have not had to drive to the supermarket as much, simply because if I want fruit and veg, I just go out in the garden and collect. 

I have also discovered that I hate looking after the lawn.  I have tried to do the right thing with the mower, by purchasing a manual one and stop using the electric one.  I have saved on my power bill, but the lawn is in a bit of a state.  To keep it watered and green takes so much effort that could be used elsewhere. I would not mind, but compared to my neighbours, it does not look as good as it could. 

I am now seriously thinking of reducing the lawn somehow, it just is not worth it - but I will, before I get ahead of myself, finish my calculations - - tomorrow!

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Grass vs Plants

I just had one of my brilliant ideas ... which in the past have not always turned out to be so brilliant, but this is a brillant plan.

I have been following a debate which has made me think. We spend an awful amount on maintaining our lawns, but to what end? Yes a nice piece of weed free grass looks nice, but a perfectly manicured lawn takes lots of effort, time, money and in many cases chemicals. Chemicals which often have an adverse effect on the surrounding environment and wildlife.

Do we spend the same amount of time, effort and money on our flowering shrubs, fruit trees and vegetables?

Well I am going to find out.  I have a small lawn, a large vegetable patch, a tiny orchard (if a couple of apple trees constitutes an orchard - it sounds posh anyway!!!) and 3 flowering boarders, which have been interplanted with various fruit bushes.  Plus too many pots to count, containing various herbs, roses, shrubs etc etc.

I am going to calculate the amount of money and estimate the time and effort used to maintain different areas of the garden and see if maintaining a lawn is viable.  Will keep you posted  -  the results will be interesting in any event.

Monday, 31 August 2009

Nouvelle Caribbean Cuisine

Just heard about a great eatery "Bamboo Grove" located in London.  If you get the chance, check it out!

Ah, the last day of August...

... and it is freezing.  It seems that autumn is already getting ready to make its mark.  You will discover that I am not a winter person. Yes I know we need winter, but that does not mean I have to like it.

I am happy that my drive to plant every available square inch of land in my garden seems to be paying off.  Even the strange looks from my neighbours as I dragged bag after bag after bag of compost from one end of the garden to the other, was worth it.  Especially as those same neighbours peer through their windows, green with envy, as I fill another basket with bounty from the garden.

The only bad thing is that I have run out of friends and relatives, to whom I can palm off my surplus fruit and veg to.  My cupboards are full of jams, jellies and pickles.  My freezer is rapidly filling up and I am now considering using one of the bedrooms as extra food storage space. Still with all the problems in the world today, this is a nice one to have.

So we say a warm goodbye to summer and hello to autumn - I'd better go and find my duvet.


Sunday, 30 August 2009

New book from Cath Kidston

Just to let all the crafty crafters out there know, Cath Kidston has written a new book called "Sew". As you can guess it's all about sewing.  If her last book "Make" was anything to go by, this will be a fabulous read.

It's out mid October 2009, but you can pre order at some book shops. Here is a link to one:

Cath Kidston is one of my favorite designers, so naturally I made sure my name was first in line for this new text.  I can't wait :)

A long, hard day in the garden, followed by pesto.

I did manage to crawl out of my bed, which for me was a major achievement.  I like my bed.  It has lovely fresh, clean, crisp, high thread count sheets. Lovely soft, plump pillows.  In fact my bed is better dressed than I am most of the time. To be honest, my bed is better dressed than me all of the time!  I figure, if you are going to spend a third of the day in bed, it should be the most comfortable, luxuorious time possible. Lets face it, the day rarely promises to be better when you get up, so make the most of the time you are asleep.

Having said that, yesterday I did manage to achieve a few of my 1001 thigns to do.  I cleared the garden and harvested a few fruit and veg. I managed to gather 2 large trugs of potatoes, some french beans, garden peas, 2 large cooking apples, several shallots, 7 Welsh onions, a handful of chives, a small bowl of blackberries and discovered 3 more pumpkins are growing. It's good to know I don't have to go to the local supermarket for a while, a task which I often try to avoid at all costs.

I also managed to gather 4 packed cups of fresh basil leaves, with which I made 2 different kinds of pesto sauce. Here are the recipes as promised.

Freezer Pesto Sauce

1/2 cup      Broken walnuts
2 large       Roasted garlic cloves
1/4 cup     Toasted pine nuts
2 cups       Packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 tsp       Salt
1/2 tsp       Freshly cracked black pepper
1 cup         Parsley
3/4 c         Virgin olive oil

After defrosting
Grated Parmesan cheese
Blitz all ingredients except the cheese, in a food processor, unitl smooth. 
Place the mix in ice trays and freeze overnight
Remove the frozen pesto cubes in a suitable storage container and return to the the freezer
When required defrost the cubes (I say about 2 per person)
Add in grated parmasan or other hard Italian cheese to the pesto.
Mix in with a ladel of hot pasta water and toss with whatever pasta you like
Top off with some more cheese and serve with a fresh salad
Fridge Pesto Sauce

1 large Roasted garlic clove
1/2 cup Toasted pine nuts
2 cups Packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Freshly cracked black pepper
3/4 c Virgin olive oil
1/3 cup Freshly grated parmesan cheese

Same as for the freezer pesto, but include the cheese with the other ingredients and blitz.
Pour the mix into clean, sterilised pots leaving about 1cm from the top of the jar.
Pour on top a thick layer of olive oil - this will help keep the pesto fresh and green.
Place in the fridge and use when required,
Should, with care last for at least 4 weeks.  Just remeber everytime you use the pesto, to keep topping up with a thick layer of olive oil.

I went to bed at 7pm to have a little nap, having worked in the garden for over 6 hours.  I just woke up again, at 8am.  Just as well I had a shower and changed into my PJs before hand, much to the amusement of my family.  I had planned to watch the late night movie.


Saturday, 29 August 2009

Last week of summer

I'm still half asleep, the sunshine is seeping through the curtains and I am trying, but failing, to get out of bed in order to complete the 1001 chores, before that last of the summer disappears and transforms into autumn. 

Plan to make pesto sauce today, some for the fridge and some for the freezer. It is a great way to preserve a little bit of summer, as well as providing a quick and healthy meal when time is not available.  You can use pesto as a basis for pasta sauces or dips. I will post the recipes for both kinds of pesto later today - if I manage to drag myself out of bed!  I may be some time.....

Friday, 28 August 2009

Hello and welcome

This is a new blog page for busy bees, who like to cook, bake, make clothes, paint and decorate, garden or anything than allows good, positive, clean expression.  I hope you will join in as I add to the content over the next few weeks.  It should be a lot of fun!!

Thanks for reading.