It was a bit of a surprise to pop into the local supermarket this morning for some essentials, only to discover trolley-loads of reduced Christmas fare. Everything from 10p red cabbage to half-price free range turkey was going cheap after the Christmas rush.
Feeling inspired, I thought it would be good to spend a bit of time getting ahead for when we’re all back to school and work in the New Year.
Thursdays are a particularly busy time at Willow Cottage; in between the commute to work and what feels like half a dozen clubs, there’s need to make sure everyone has had dinner, whatever time they are around. We tend to make great use of the slow cooker on Thursdays, so whether it’s chilli, curry or casserole – there’s benefits to getting ahead with a bit of sneaky prep work for our own version of ready meal.
That’s where the half-priced turkey came in. As well as the roast for tonight and some risotto tomorrow, I’ve lined up another four evening meals for busy January evenings. I simply carved off the breast meat from the bird…
Turkey butchery in progress, butchers look away now!
Then added the meat to four freezer bags filled with a variety of flavourings and pastes. These bags live in the freezer until needed, and I can just pop them in the slow cooker with a jar of passata or a tin of tomatoes. I add a little note to the label so I don’t forget what to do.
Our own ready meals for the slow cooker
With some rice cooked in the microwave they make for a tasty ad speedy meal on busy evenings.
It’s been more or less a decade since we moved to Willow Cottage and in all that time we’ve never had a house name on the building.
We’ve been through several postmen and postwomen and, after several trips round the village locating parcels, the’ve all learned over the years that we’re the ones tucked away in the corner.
One of our friends has just set up a new business creating beautiful bespoke signs from cut steel – so we thought this was the perfect chance for us to solve the house sign problem.
We comissioned a couple of signs – one smaller one for the house front:
…and one larger one for the garden (naturally):
We think they’re lovely. You can see more of Lucia’s products online at Wild Ink.
I managed to get out and take a few pictures in-between rain storms today. I thought you might like a look.
The borders are looking full and green. The roses, lavender and cosmos are flowering well.
The orchard is recovering after a hard winter. We were unsure whether the grass would come back. The chickens and ducks are enjoying the growth and if you look carefully you can see that it was actually long enough to mow a path down the middle.
Lots of change in the veg patch. That scarecrow is in desperate need of a makeover.
The spinach is already going to flower, the potatoes are cropping well and the courgettes are huge! The only thing not looking great is my runner beans.
Do you remember that I am trying to grow my runner beans along side my sweet peas? Well, so far, neither look great. They are about 50cm high and still have a long way to climb up those poles we put in! You can just see the purple sprouting broccoli plant down the middle. They are doing really well.
We have a new addition to the garden – a rather handsome rhubarb forcer.
Here’s hoping the sun shines…
Posted in Growing
Tagged allotment, chicken, ducks, garden, garden update, gardening, green house, GYO, how to, how to grow your own, july garden, plants, starting a vegetable garden, veg growing, veg patch, vegetables
When the boy turned eight whilst we were living in the garden, it was only natural to hold a campfire birthday party for him. It seems so long ago now but the evening was fantastic and the boys all loved it.
We had a birthday tent for sleeping…
We had a campfire tea and breakfast. This was cooked mainly by the boys: some had only ever seen a BBQ before so looked quite startled when we told them to make a fire if they were hungry.
They toasted marshmallows on the campfire too.
We went on a night hike with torches. The boys ran off loads of steam and were tired out when we got back and certainly ready for bed.
We had a donut cake tower for supper and everyone was asleep by 9.30pm.
It was a great concept for a party and one we will all remember for a long time. Partly because of the building work, partly because it was so different, and partly because the boys loved it so much.
Posted in Family
Tagged 8th birthday, birthday, birthday ideas, birthday party, boy party, campfire party, campfires, camping, camping party, children, Family, ideas, ideas for a boy's birthday party. Party ideas for boys, kids, outdoor party
Phew! Well, it’s been a busy nine months or so, but we’re pleased to be back in action on what seems to have been the first sunny and warm(ish) day of the year.
Where have we been? Well, we mentioned a while back that we were going to have some building work done. We had great plans in place to blog our summer living in the garden. We had a bit of a go, then the building work took over…
The rain finally stopped and after a few weeks house-sitting for friends on holiday and sleeping on the living room floor at the in-laws me managed an impressive six weeks under canvas in the back garden.
The builders thought we were crazy, but were very good at leaving things like a pipe for water (operated by spanner), a toilet (open to the elements) and an electric socket so we could boil the kettle or operate the slow cooker (but not at the same time).
We had some particular highlights: the boy’s 8th campfire birthday party (no toilet access for the night but a bucket covered ably); drinking wine from jam jars because we packed all the glasses; and just generally going to sleep when the sun went down with the sound of Nature around you.
Lowlights, on the other hand, were: toilet facilities (for girls in particular), washing (people and clothes) and there are only so many variations on slow cooker food that one family can possibly enjoy (crunchy rice a particular favourite).
We’re pleased with the results…but just looking forward to getting back to the garden.
Him and Her x
PS. We’ll add some posts from garden adventures soon
This rainy weather has been upsetting the greenhouse. We are finding that this year growth seems to be slow and spindly. Despite this we are pleased to announce the arrival of our first red tomato!
This is a plum variety called Roma. We are very proud parents and hope to have many more to follow this one.
The greenhouse looks very different to this time last year.
I feel that I am still waiting for it to grow. The tomato plants are covered in flowers but look very ‘thin’ despite a weekly feed. Any suggestions from fellow gardeners on why this is?
Maybe it is these ‘organic’ grow bags, or the cool temperatures or something else.
I am sad to say that my cucumbers died. They were looking so good and then they were attacked by black fly. I thought I would spray them with some soap mix. I must have mixed it up too strong as the next day they were past recovery. I have managed to source a couple more plants that I will put in and watch what happens. It is sad to see empty grow bag space…
Posted in Greenhouse
Tagged allotment, black fly, cucumbers, food, garden, garden update, gardening, green house, greenhouse, grow bags, grow your own, GYO, how to, how to grow your own, plants, seedlings, soap spray, tomatoes, veg growing, veg patch, vegetables