Saturday, August 30, 2014

Harvest time inventions

Harvest time, I both love and loathe it in equal measures.

On the one hand there is the gratitude and happiness to see ripened crops, to pick baskets of beans or beets, to be able to share and swap with neighbours.

On the other hand there are the failures or the excess of one particular prolific crop.

Last year for us, that was the courgettes, this year it's the beets and beans.

This year I'm trialling beetroot and gooseberry chutney which, if it works, I will try to share the recipe.

Much as I love making pickles, jams, blanching to freeze until my hands are dry and raw, there does come the day when I scream out "what the heck can I do with yet MORE beetroot" to enable my family to not pull a face as I add jar number 67 of pickled beets to the shelves to add to our meat dishes this winter!
I have plans to make a couple of beetroot and chocolate cakes to freeze and one to give away tomorrow as we have a friend coming over to help us with the honey harvest.

I'm not massively keen on bottling, something that I find a lot of US websites recommend. Canning and bottling at home aren't something that the UK seems to be as fond of, hence the best equipment for this is from the US.

I therefore also try to get a bit more inventive and fill the freezer with slightly more trial and error foods, some of which really do. not. work!!

But, my big question today is:

How does this sound to you?

Rhubarb and chilli jam?  Is it more a pickle or a jam? Savoury or sweet?

My chilli plant has put out rather suddenly and I don't like using dried chillies, so am debating making some indian pastes up to freeze as I make a lot of curries and using some with the last of the rhubarb that I've just picked.

I suppose we just have to see eh?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Thankful Thursday.

So, I am following along with a few of my blogging pals out there to start a Thankful Thursday post. I am going to 'try' and it will be odd weeks when I forget, to post things I am thankful for on a Thursday evening.

So this week I am going to start with:

  • 1. Our bees capping 10 frames for us so that we can, with kind and willing friends to help, extract our honey for the first time on Sunday
  • 2. The earth providing not only nutrition for us but also lots and lots of giggles. Do you like my baby mandrake...he's having a hug!
  • 3. My planning papers are now looking less threatening and all these colours makes me grateful for having been able to take most of today to plan and get on top of next year.
  • 4. The new bed. She LOVES it. See my grateful post number 3. It is because of this that I was able to plan. Today she has read and read and read and read and, when you're that high up, you can do anything...change the world from on high !!
  • 5. My stool. I know, it's a little materialistic, but I'm so pleased with it. Good old Ebay! Now I can park my sore pelvis when my friends are here without being in pain all the while.
  • 6. It's Friday tomorrow: That means Mr Beehive the younger will be home from camp. I have missed him.
  • 7. Not just one job, but two for September and ones I can truly get my claws into (see gratitude number 3 again!!)
  • 8. The enjoyment of preparing and eating tonight's dinner without a single person saying 'ugh' or 'yuk' or 'I don't like x' to any of it!
  • 9. I won the Mad Hatter's Tea Party, carrot cake and lemon drizzle cake at the local village flower and produce show...I am Jill Archer!
  • 10. Being able to make time to run twice this week and go to the gym twice thanks to a willing babysitter!

You can read about Polly's 52 weeks of gratitude here:

You can leave your link in the comments below x

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Village Bank Holiday Weekend...

It's quiet around here.

Curtains are still drawn.

For days now, the conversation has become hushed when the presence of another approaches.

Sideways glances are given.

Pale and ashen faces scurry along the street, head down, a slight nod of acknowledgement but the weather and time remain unremarked upon.

The knowing nod and a stealthy passing of implements in the night.

A stillness has befallen.

The village pub lies still.

Eerie sounds come from behind the closed blinds.

The sound of crunching metal.

Splattering of wet substances splash against solid.

The continual drone of electricity.

The sharpening of knives.

Occasional cussings may cut through the silence.

This is a place no one in their right mind wants to disturb right now.

The eve of the village food and flower show has arrived...BAKE OFFFFFFF!!!

Photo: Mad Hatter's tea party


Friday, August 22, 2014

Solving the puzzle!

Little Miss Beehive's bedroom has always been something that hasn't sat easily in my sense of order and neatness. It is the smallest room in the house and, whilst small isn't always a problem, the layout of the room has always given us conundrums. As a Montessorian, it's also given me headaches when trying to create somewhere that nurtured her developing needs, such as a quiet place to read, somewhere to draw or create, organised storage with homes for all her things and a 'calming' sleep area.

It is a room that has been 'made up' using some space over the stairs when the two cottages became one and this has created some quirks that have, at times, had me spitting feathers. To the left of the room as you walk in the door there is a raised bit of flooring, presumably to give sufficient head room up the stairs, which reduces the height in the room, but added to this, the ceiling also slants and there is an odd piece of horizontal low ceiling randomly running the width of the room about a third of the way across ! To the right of the room the ceiling continues to slant and there is a window on one wall and a radiator on the other leaving us only one usable wall.
When we first moved in and I realised there was no room for a wardrobe I found a local chap who fitted a great wardrobe and bookcase for us over the stairs side of the room. It has sliding doors and cupboards and is absolutely perfect, giving her a lot of storage space. He fitted it with two rails at different heights that meant she's always been able to reach and choose her clothing and there was plenty of space for storing her crafts and her toys.

Great, but cluttered and no floorspace
Her bed, however, was a different conundrum altogether. To begin with she had her regular bed. It's not a full size single, but not a toddler bed, so we knew it'd work in the space. There was, however, no further room for anything else and when she became an avid writer/artist and wanted somewhere to draw and create we dismantled the bed when my mum offered an old cabin bed that my sister had had as a child and was stored in her roof. This seemed like the perfect solution as it had a desk underneath and more storage.

This seemed a great solution for a while, and as you can see, she had a lovely space to write and draw in. However, there was no floor space to speak of. This wasn't an issue at age 6 and 7, but recently she's wanted her best friend to come over and sleep occasionally and her cousin often shares her room when she stays and when this happens, the door wouldn't open with a second mattress in the room...agggghhhh!

We moved back to the single bed we started with and put a futon mattress underneath. The bed went against the window this time to try to increase space.

It's just 'ALL' bed!

This worked for a while, but the addition of a much needed and loved desk for her birthday two years ago meant that we were playing tangrams once again and just a few books on the floor made the place look cluttered and chaotic.

Space underneath to play/hang out / read
So we bit the bullet and decided to find a craftsman who could create for her the perfect bedroom/bed that would not only give her a proper bed, but also space for her desk and space for her friends and maintain maximum floor space. Not an easy accomplishment. We also wanted something that would last her through her teenage years through minor adaptions and accommodate all her 'collections' of things and Oh My!!! The result has far exceeded our dreams. Our craftsman totally understood not only our practical requirements, but our aesthetic ones too!
Queen of her castle, a calmer area for sleeping
 So, so pleased with it all. He has used the space to its maximum benefit, fought with our demonic walls (all funny angles, lumps and bumps) and created a lifetime piece of furniture that will be serviceable to her until she no longer lives with us. Crudely, this beautifully finished, tactile piece of chunky furniture cost us no more than a good quality bed despite all the personal love and attention to detail and time that he put into it. Oh to be as skilled as he is!!

Her 'sleepover' bed will go in the space against the wall when required and live under ours for the rest of the time, and we will just shift her desk slightly and I will get her a bean bag and possibly a rug, but I'm looking for 'the right one' and don't want something fussy or that causes the room to look chaotic.

I love cottages and old houses, but this room has caused the most hiccups over the three years we've been here, now we've finally solved the puzzle!