Growing Vegetables In Pots.

Although The weather has been bright throughout the day it’s been chilly at night, we have even had a few frosts, so I have been nurturing my veggies. One advantage of growing in pots you can bring them inside at night, or wrap in fleece, or cover with cardboard or panes of glass. This will give enough protection to keep off the frosts.

My mixed cut and come again lettuce are doing really well, I will be having baby salad leaves very soon. The other tray has some which we transplanted so that will extend cropping. These get covered with glass at night.
Growing veg in potsThese are cylindrical beetroot, we will eat the thinnings as salad leaves and leave the rest to grow on, 2 crops in one.
Growing veg in potsThe pot in front is spinach and the one behind is mizuna which is quite hardy. We will eat young leaves in salad and the larger ones in a stir fry. I have some other oriental vegetables, the edamame beans aren’t up yet, also perilla and amaranth which haven’t been sown yet. I’ve just sown rocket, basil and corinander in small pots which will be sown every few weeks to maintain a supply throughout the summer.

Growing veg in pots
Potatoes are doing well.
Veg in potsRunner beans don’t like the cold, where I live they shouldn’t really go out until June but they needed potting on so they got planted out. They are wrapped in fleece to keep the wind from burning the leaves and to keep the frost off. A couple of nights they came indoors.

Growing veg in potsYou can see them inside the fleece wigwam, they look ok. I have 2 varieties, one is a purple bean which keeps it’s colour if you steam it.
Veg in pots
The courgettes are growing quickly, if it had been warmer they would have been potted on, I bring them inside at night.
Growing veg in potsThis is a rogue seen that was in the bean packet, can’t wait to see what it is. It looks like the courgettes but more silvery, let’s hope it’s a melon.
Growing veg in potsMy tomatoes are still on the windowsill I bought a compact cherry tomato seed in the hope they don’t get too leggy, so far it’s working. The two smaller ones are grown from seeds from my tomato sandwich as only 4 of the 6 bought seeds came up.
Growing veg in pots
I love watching my plants grow but it will be even better to eat them. Anyone got a good courgette or green bean recipes?

This time last year…..

This time last year I was getting excited about spending 3 weeks on an isolated Scottish island. Little did I know that my ‘holiday’ this year would be spending 6 weeks (or more) in isolation at home.

The reason we went to Luing was to find out what it was like to live on a small island, and hopefully to see otters.  I loved my time there very much. Here are some photos.

The village

LuingBlackmill bay, used to be a busy port .
UntitledOur garden.
UntitledMull in the distance.
Luing
Luing
IMG_4243I got my wish we saw the otters on several occasions, also sea eagles, deer, seals , hares and dolphins.
IMG_4867
IMG_4200
IMG_4432
IMG_4980
Otters
IMG_4852
IMG_4836Being in lockdown just now has it’s similarities, I’m enjoying watching wildlife in my garden, watching the trees coming into leaf and blossom, appreciating the view from my window, and spending time in the garden relaxing and enjoying the sunshine. Planning meals and thinking about where the next lot of food will come from, no pub  to go to. Also I intended being creative while I was there but I just couldn’t muster up.  That’s just how I feel at the moment, although I have found something I’m enjoying but more on that in my next post.

Stay safe and well.

Partying At Home This V.E. Day


I think the lock down must be getting to me I’ve gone stir crazy today, I awoke feeling in the mood for some baking. Like many people we can now celebrate the V. E. Day 75th anniversary with an afternoon tea in the garden.

I thought I’d try and make our tea as authentic as possible, I already make my Gran’s wartime  ginger cake which is a firm favourite with everyone who has tried it.
IMG_0048The unusual thing is this cake has no eggs, it uses vinegar and baking soda instead so it’s great for lock down or vegans. You can find the recipe hereV E Day ration book recipesI should mention everything got a little browner than usual, my main oven gave up on me a couple of weeks ago, I’m using the top oven.
Once sliced you can’t tell  🙂
V E Day ration book recipesI went in search of other wartime recipes and found a great blog called The 1940’s Experiment. I found a chocolate cake recipe that looked great, with mock cream. My Aunt always made a similar mock cream for her chocolate cake and I loved it as it’s  not as sweet as buttercream. She always put Cadbury’s  chocolate and buttons on the top of hers but I  don’t  think they would have had that luxury then and I don’t have any in my pantry so a dusting of icing sugar will have to do.
The cream looks a little lumpy but it tastes fine.
V E Day ration book recipes
V E Day ration book recipesI made my tried and trusted scone recipe which I think came from my Gran originally, I  had it on my blog but can’t  find the recipe, I will add it soon. Again no eggs, vinegar and baking powder make these scones nice and light. With true ration book thrift I divided the scone mixture and made half cheese and wild garlic picked from my garden and the other half fruit.

V E Day ration book recipes

V E Day ration book recipesI’ve donned some red lippy and a land girl look,  I’m looking forward to eating this lot and waving to my neighbours who are busy putting up bunting, these are strange times. All that’s left to do is set the table.
I just wish my Dad could be here enjoying tea with us. Can you imagine how people would have felt at the end of the war, we might feel a little stir crazy with 6 weeks of lockdown but it’s  nothing in comparison is it?

Enjoy your day however you are spending it and stay safe.

Crochet Waffle Comfort Blanket Finished!

My crochet waffle blanket is now finished, and I have to say I think I have a new favourite blanket.

Comfort blanket is finished

If you would like to see the original post with the  updated pattern click here. I finished off with a row of treble so the last row matched the first row. I did 3 stripes of each colour.

I darned in the loose ends then started the border. Having considered several options I chose to do stripes of 2 rows waffle stitch, change colour then 1 row treble. This would keep the border of a similar weight as the body of the blanket. The border is 13 rows deep, then I ran out of yarn.

Comfort blanket is finishedI am really pleased with this blanket it’s so warm and snuggly and lovely it doesn’t get called the plague blanket any more.

Comfort blanket is finished

Now I think I might start another one, maybe lark stitch this time, I do love working on a stripey blanket while watching TV.

Please excuse the photos as the sun wasn’t whining when I took them.

Getting a grip on handles and some pottering

For the past month I haven’t felt able to do any ceramic work, however this week I decided  to tidy up the studio . When I got in there I thought it would be a shame not to capture in clay some of the spring plants flowering in my garden. After all I would have to wait ’til next year for them to flower again. So instead of tidying I have just dabbled with the clay each day, no mass production just a few little things each day.

There are tiles with brunnera, perennial forget me not, ransoms, bluebells, sloe blossom and lungwort. I tried primroses and violets but they didn’t print very well.
Untitled
Untitled
There’s a few hearts and trinket dishes too.
Untitled

Untitled
While tidying up I came across some tools that I haven’t had the chance to use, one is for making handles.
UntitledI’m rubbish at pulling a handle. So I decided to throw a couple of mugs and get to grips with handles. These look much better than any handles I’ve made before.
Untitled
Untitled
I made a lidded trinket box, the lid and box are made in one piece.
Untitled

UntitledI’ve had an idea playing in my head for a while now but I will save that for another post, I made the ‘canvas’ which I intend to paint on it once fired, more then.
Untitled
For now pottering is enough. Stay safe and well.

Getting into the groove.

I’ve almost lost count of where we are with the lockdown, we are now going into the 4th week. Still the sun keeps shining, I’m getting into the groove and just going with the flow each day. I’m not stressing as I don’t have to think about online shopping  for food for a few weeks, we have enough for now. I love the vegetable box scheme, it’s lovely fresh produce delivered to my door each week and no plastic packaging. I’ve sourced food from farm shops and coffee suppliers as well.
UntitledI’m enjoying being resourceful in the kitchen, this is a vegan chickpea frittata made with leftover vegetables and topped with wild garlic pesto. I foraged the wild garlic on one of my walks. It’s great in a bean salad or mayonnaise.
UntitledThe blanket is growing, it’s almost ready for the border. I have been doing some in an evening but mainly when sitting in the garden on an afternoon crocheting and watching the wildlife. Drone flies are my new amazing creature to watch, there are blackbirds fighting over the ivy berries even though there’s enough for all, and today a mouse came running across to my chair then disappeared under the fence.
Untitled
I’ve made shopping masks for family and friends, but I think I have the pleats going the wrong way up, I don’t suppose it makes much difference.
UntitledWe have had some lovely local walks, I love getting out into the countryside, it’s good for our well being. Nothing is more calming than being out in the countryside walking and nature spotting.
UntitledThe wildflowers are blooming, the bluebells are just starting to come out now.

Untitled

UntitledThe streams are low but the water is crystal clear as we haven’t had any rain in over a month.
UntitledCan you see all the minnows at the bottom of this photo?
UntitledA heron stands fishing.
UntitledThe lambs are getting fat, and today I saw my first ducklings, aren’t they cute?
UntitledAt this difficult time I am counting my blessings, I am thankful for everyday things I would probably take for granted normally.

I hope you are staying safe and well both mentally and physically, take care. Please leave a comment and let me know how you are doing.

Jill

Cooking with dried egg.

When the lockdown started and panic buying was leading to food shortages I bought some dried egg powder. I have been curious to try it as my Mum told me she loved it during the war.

From the packet I worked out 12g was about the equivalent of an egg. I decided to make a Victoria sandwich cake, but I only made 110 g / 2 egg mixture, baked in one tin just in case it didn’t  turn out right, I didn’t  want to risk wasting ingredients, I could always make a trifle with it if it didn’t turn out right.

The egg powder is a lovely yellow colour, it smells slightly eggy but that’s probably to be expected.
Baking with dried eggI added it after creaming the butter and sugar, it didn’t  sieve very well so a spoon was used to push it through. I added some milk as the mixture was too stiff then beat it in before folding in the flour.
Baking with dried egg
All the mixture went in one tin, with the plan of cutting it into 2 semi circles and sandwiching with homemade jam. I don’t  like buttercream and I’m not going out to shop so unfortunately there’s no cream to put in the middle.
Baking with dried eggThe cake rose well, I decided to cut it through the middle but as it was so light I found this quite difficult and the top layer cracked, nothing that can’t be disguised with a dusting of icing sugar.
Baking with dried eggOn eating, the cake was feather light and spongy, it tasted buttery maybe slightly more eggy than when using fresh eggs, it was delicious.
Baking with dried eggAs it’s Easter Sunday I’m cooking a roast dinner for the 3 of us who are at home, normally there would be a family gathering. I used the dried egg and dried milk to make Yorkshire puddings, not the best puds I’ve ever made but they tasted great, very light and fluffy.

Yorkshire puddings made with dried egg and milk

Being kind to myself

First let me say as I no longer know what day of the week it is I forgot to blog on Sunday , so here it is.

After a week of lockdown an undercurrent of stress started taking it’s toll, this wasn’t how I expected to feel as I am well used to being home most of the time.

I decided to have a media free weekend and eventually felt more relaxed, however at night I woke up suddenly and I couldn’t sleep for brain overload. I decided that it was time to start meditation again so gifted myself a yearlong subscription to Headspace. It felt so good to get back into it. I  love that feeling of calm, I have been practising now for a week and already my stress levels are almost back to normal.

I’m determined  to turn this awful time into something positive, which starts by being good to myself so I’m doing whatever I feel like doing without a guilt trip. Basically I’m just pottering about.

I am catching up on chores although I can’t have a good clear out as the council is asking us not to create extra rubbish or they won’t be able to cope, and I can’t decorate as I can’t get paint.

I don’t have a structure to my day, I get creative when I want, I can stay in bed, or get up and go for my walk at dawn. I’ve found time for reading, and exercising most days, we have set up a mini gym for rainy days and I have taken up tia chi again.

Allowing myself time to just be, and live in the moment feels so good. I now know what retirement feels like, but I  have a few more years to go yet.

I’ve baked bread a few times.
This weeks makesMy blanket has grown a lot, I will have to start another one as my yarn has run out. Time to make a scrap blanket.
Waffle blanket crochet alongI’ve made soap, this olive oil soap is so kind to the skin.
This weeks makesI baked scones, using oil instead of butter, they came out fine and weren’t as dry the next day.
This weeks makesI made myself a couple of dresses, I hope they fit when I finally get to wear them, with all this baking I’m not so sure. The patterned one was some expensive fabric I had bought a couple of years ago but was too scared to cut it.
This weeks makesThe olive green needlecord one probably cost under a fiver to make, fabric was a bargain from Pound Fabrics. I made it to go with my eco printed scarf.

This weeks makesI made handcream, it smells gorgeous, I made up the recipe and it came out fine.

Recipe.

1 part coconut oil

2 parts olive or almond oil

1 part beeswax

Melt together over a pan of simmering water. Add a fragrance oil ( rose geranium and thyme oil) before putting in jars.

I ran out of pots so I will use this up first.
This weeks makes
Today I’ve made some cookie / rock buns, another made up recipe using oil instead of butter. They are coconut and raisin but the recipe was for sunflower seed and apricot, these won’t last long I have to say.
This weeks makes
I hope you are coping well and finding things to do to fill your days. Be kind to yourself.
Stay safe and well.

Waffle Comfort Blanket Crochet Pattern.

When I was sick as a child my Mum made me a bed on the sofa, I loved to snuggle up with a waffle blanket that only came out at times when I was poorly. I loved to try and put a finger each into their own indentation in the blanket, and it was so warm it felt like a hug in a rug.

At times such as these we could all use a comfort blanket.

This is an easy pattern, it only uses one stitch, a treble. I decided to make wide stripes so I don’t have so many ends to darn in, I hate doing that. I chose calming colours but brights would certainly lift the spirit.

Waffle blanket crochet along

Waffle Comfort Blanket.

Materials.

Double knitting yarn, I use Stylecraft, amount depends on the size of your blanket. I have 10 balls but will need another 10 balls ( 1 ball does 2 stripes the width I have chosen).  Plus yarn for the border, I haven’t decided how to do my border yet but I will update the pattern when I have finished the blanket.

Crochet hook – I’m using a 4.5 mm as I like a firm fabric but a 5mm will be ok too.

My blanket measures 116 cm in width, this is without the border.

I hope you will join me in the ‘crochet along’.

Pattern.

note – Cast on chain needs to be multiples of 3 plus 2 extra chain. My blanket is 198 chain.

Row 1.

Treble (tr) in 3rd chain from hook, tr in each chain to end of row. Chain (ch) 1 and turn.* Ch 1 counts as first st.

Row 2.

Tr in next stitch, trAP ( treble around post of next stitch ), tr in next 2 sts, repeat to last 2 st, tr A P in next st then 1 tr in last st. Ch 1 and turn.

Row3.

Tr in next st, trAP in next 2 sts, repeat to last st trAP around last st. Ch 1 and turn.

Row 4.

Tr into next st, trAP around next st, tr in next 2 sts. Repeat to end, tr in turning chain.

Repeat rows 3 and 4 to end of blanket. Change colour as desired. I decided to make wide stripes of 6 rows as I don’t like darning in ends. Each stripe took about 45g of yarn. I had 9 colours and did 3 stripes of each colour. 

Next Row.

Repeat row 1 to * finish off by pulling yarn through loop. Darn in all loose ends.

Border.

Row 1.

Note – I picked up 195 st on short ends of blanket and 270 st on the long sides .

Starting in 2nd tr of a short end ch3 for first st, tr into each st to corner, 3 tr, 2 ch, 3 tr into last st. On long side tr about 9 sts into each stripe to last st, 3 tr, 2 ch, 3 tr into last st. Continue around other 2 sides. Slip st into the first st. 

Row 2 & 3.

Change colour, working in waffle st as r 1 & 2 and keeping the pattern in line with the blanket pattern  do 2 r of waffle stitch, turning corners as r 1. Turn blanket over for 2nd r.

Rows 4 & 13.

Continue as r 1, 2 and 3 changing colour as you go, slip st into first st, pull end through. Darn in end. 

Here’s my blanket so far, I’m going to have to ration myself to one stripe a day as I will run out of yarn soon.

Untitled If you want to join in and crochet along, with this blanket or your own project I’d love to see photos, you can post them in my  Facebook group Hobbies For Wellbeing

Stay safe and well x.