28.08

CWR-AUTUMN-TODDLER-WISHLIST

 

It’s been ages since I’ve put together a wishlist post, hasn’t it? Well, I’m sure you’ve hardly been keeping track, but I can say for sure that it’s been a good year! In fact, I’d totally forgotten how to use Photoshop.

We’re coming to that time of year now where I just want to shop shop shop. With Ottie’s birthday in September, Jason’s in October, and a little baby due to arrive somewhere in between, it’s safe to say there’s been a fair bit of online ordering going on round these parts just lately! In fact, parcels have been arriving at our house so frequently that every time the dogs bark Ottilie now says ‘man at the door?’ and looks expectantly out of the window!

But why is it that autumn clothes are so very tempting? Especially those of the toddler and baby variety- in fact, it’s safe to say Ottie’s wardrobe for the coming months is 100x more stylish than my own, and I’m 100% okay with that!

Above are of a few pieces I’m lusting over for Ottilie for the colder months…and a couple of bits I may or may not have already ordered her!

Links are below…happy shopping!

Pink blouse and shorts outfit set
Fabric barrette clips
Star clips
Burgundy Chelsea boots
Navy duffle coat
Grey button up romper
Tartan pinafore dress
Pink pinafore dress

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Posted in AUTUMN, WISHLIST

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20.08

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I have a feeling we might be at peak-harvest stage now, with baskets and baskets of vegetables coming up from the garden on a weekly basis. In fact, I’m working overdrive to cook, freeze, and preserve everything I can so as not to waste our precious homegrown produce!

The freezer is filling up with ratatouille, courgette fritters (this Guardian recipe is my favourite!), and bags so full of French beans, runner beans, and blackberries that they’re a struggle to zip closed. Our cupboards are becoming more crowded by the day with jars of preserves, chutneys, and pickles, though with our family’s obsession with toast slathered thickly with butter and jam, I’ll need to keep making batch after batch just to keep up our supply!

I’ll be honest, I’m finding it much harder these days to stay on top of any upkeep of the vegetable patch, so am incredibly grateful that, aside from the ever-present weeding and picking of vegetables and fruit, it’s basically taking care of itself these days. I hugely underestimated how exhausted I’d be towards the end of this pregnancy, and am just so glad that I was able to keep up with the constant sowing, planting, and maintenance that the garden needed earlier in the year when I still had lots of energy!

Being able to do essential things like crouch down and bend over without making groaning noises as a certain little baby sticks its feet under my ribs now seems like a distant memory!!

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August has been the month of the bean so far, with the runner and dwarf French beans suddenly producing more than we can eat!

I love seeing them form on the plants, going from tiny, spindly little bean-babies to fully grown and ready to pick within just a few days! In fact, I keep finding runner beans hiding on the plants that I’ve missed whilst picking that are a foot long, an inch thick, and no good for cooking any longer. Those get sent straight off to the compost heap, though I’ll let a few pods mature and dry on the canes at the end of the season to save for next year’s plants.

Picked young though, they’re just delicious. Sliced thinly and tossed into pasta sauces, or dressed with vinaigrette and mixed into salads, I can’t get enough. Which is a good thing, really…

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My tiny gardener’s assistant is very, very pleased to inform you that the strawberry bed is still producing the odd berry here and there, and that they’re delicious eaten straight from the plants!

I’m hoping that the plants are using all the well-rotted horse manure I carted over from the yard and laid in the bed to create strong roots, so that next summer we get a really good crop. Though Ottie does seem to think that any and all strawberries that pass through our house belong exclusively to her, so I’ll be lucky to eat a single berry no matter how much of a crop we might have next year…

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Oh and joy of joys, my cucumbers have finally taken off! It took  F O R E V E R  to get them going, but they’re finally away and completely delicious! I’m too impatient to let them grow much bigger than this, but who cares when picking them young means they’re extra sweet and tasty?

Strangely, it’s been the outdoor plants that’ve done better than those in the greenhouse. The two plants that’re outside were raggedy-looking spares that I popped up against the sugar snap pea netting a couple of months ago and then completely ignored, and they’ve rewarded my neglect with dozens of fruits!

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And finally, let’s talk root veg! I finally got round to thinning the carrots, and I maaaay have left that particular job a bit on the late side! They were the most tangled, knotted clumps of carrot babies you’ve ever seen, and I had a hard time separating them out enough to leave a few in the soil to grow bigger over the months ahead.

Ted and Elsie sat dutifully by my side whilst I got to work, hoovering up all the thinnings that were too tiny or bizarrely shaped to bother saving. The bigger ones had a quick scrub-clean, and then made the perfect accompaniment to a pot of hummus a couple of days later.

Waste not want not!

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As we’re taking our final pick of the spring beetroots (I’ve got a load sat in the fridge that I’m planning to roast and stir into risotto later this evening…), the next sowing has been planted out and is growing well! And I’m glad, because as I’ve said approximately 500 times over the past few months, they’ve been my favourite things to grow so far this year! Why is it that pulling something edible from the soil is so very satisying?

Speaking of which, the maincrop potatoes are starting to come up! I pulled up one plant earlier this week to check (and photograph…), and though one or two have clearly been nibbled on by mice (I can’t be mad, the teethmarks are kind of adorable!), they look fantastic! Huge and with a decent yield per plant, and the one lone potato we’ve cooked so far has been delicious too! The variety is ‘Sarpo Mira’ which is supposedly very blight-resistant, not that we’ve had that to worry about during this arid summer…

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^^ The courgette jungle. ^^

Finally, a quick note on my least successful venture of the year- the allium family!

From three full rows of onions I’ve had just eight or so puny specimens, which isn’t quite the winter-long supply I had in mind! The leeks I sowed and planted back in spring have been hit and miss (they’re not ready until October, and the harvest will be scant to say the least!), and I’ve even failed at growing supposedly idiot-proof spring onions! I’m not sure if perhaps I’ve under-watered them all, but I guess I’ll just have to try again next year.

You win some, you lose some!

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Posted in GARDENING, KITCHEN GARDEN

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17.08

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Ten happy things…plus a few photos of my beautiful little girl enjoying the sunshine last week <3

1. RAIN! I don’t think I’ve ever been so overjoyed by cool, showery summer days before, but after weeks of sweltering heat, it’s just bliss isn’t it? And I’ve tried so hard not to be a moany pregnant woman…but my GOD it’s so much more exhausting hefting around a bump in the heat!!

2. Coffee and bookshop trips with Ottilie <3 She requests a strawberry milkshake every time we go, and we sit together and colour or do stickers and it’s basically the best. I couldn’t love her more.

3. My new diffuser, which is basically my new BFF! I bought it to use for my home birth (fingers crossed!), but it’s so amazing I literally have it on non stop. A combination of ylang ylang and bergamot oils is my current favourite.

4. Starting to pack my birth bag. It’s all beginning to feel so, so real! We’ve also started our hypnobirthing course with the Positive Birth Company this week, and it’s absolutely amazing! It’s giving me such a positive, content feeling about approaching the birth of this baby, and is a lovely way to spend an hour in the evenings with Jason too. I’m recommending it to everyone already!

5. Picking homegrown cucumbers. There are so many on the plants now, and surprisingly the outdoor ones are doing better than the ones in the greenhouse!

6. Courgette fritters, all day long! They’re 100% my favourite thing to eat for dinner right now, and I’ve just cooked up a double batch to fill the freezer with. And with our current courgette harvest rate, I’ll be making a fair few more batches before the summer is over…

7. Heading to bed early in the evenings and reading the book everyone’s talking about right now, ‘This Is Going to hurt’ by Adam Kay! It’s an honest account of the life of a Junior Doctor, and I’ve finished it in record time. The end hit me like a train, but I also laughed more times than I could count whilst reading it. 100% recommend!

8. Taking Ottie to London on the train a couple of weekends, and how much it blew her mind! She’s obsessed with trains and so was in her element the whole journey there and back- we’re taking her to the London Transport Museum for her birthday at the beginning of next month, and I think she’s going to love it!

9. The cleaning product aisle in Waitrose, obsessing over the scents of different fabric softeners, sight of freshly vacuumed carpets…because in case you couldn’t guess, I’m nesting like a lunatic and this is apparently what makes me happy these days!

10. The sweet, ripe greengages I found at the farm shop earlier in the week! They were sickeningly expensive, but worth every delicious penny!

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What’s made you happy this week? :)

 

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Posted in 10 THINGS

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13.08

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And just like that, my favourite time of year has arrived!

Despite the berries seeming to be remaining stubbornly red and inedible for weeks up until just recently, the hedgerows all around the farm have suddenly exploded with ripe fruits. We’d been picking odds and ends whilst out with the dogs, purple-tinged handfuls to nibble on whilst we walked, but decided that a proper blackberrying excursion was in order if we were ever to have enough for making the first batch of jam of the season.

So in between Friday’s frequent bouts of thunder and rain, we donned wellies and raincoats, grabbed a few Tupperware boxes, and headed off towards the fields…

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The hedgerows around where we live are so wonderfully abundant, we were rewarded with a kilo of fresh, delicious berries that took us just half an hour or so to pick!

In fact, we must have gathered way more than a kilo, but the smallest member of our team was determined to eat as many berries as she could whilst we picked! She’s discerning about it too, a pro at spotting ‘big juicy ones’ and letting us know if we’d handed her a berry that was a ‘bit sharp’.

But I guess we shouldn’t be surprised- ‘backbees’ was one of the first words she ever said, and she was picking and eating them before she could even walk!

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My Mum always describes Ottilie as being an urchin, and I totally see her point! <3

I think it’s the mess of curls that never seems to be tamed (despite our daily attempts to brush, clip, and ponytail it…), her chin that forever bears the marks of whatever fruit she last ate (the battle to wipe it is a constant struggle!), and the permanent cheeky twinkle in her eye that does it. She’s just like I was as a child- forever slightly scruffy and at her happiest when outside. It makes me so happy to see.

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And it isn’t just Ottilie who loves blackberries, but Ted too!

He picks them from the brambles himself, disregarding the red ones and beelining for any that are plump, dark, and juicy. Isn’t he smart?

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With our boxes and tubs mounded high with berries and a little girl stained purple from face to fingertips, we headed home to get on with making a big batch of fresh blackberry jam!

Recently one of Jason’s Aunts recommended I track down a copy of one of Margeurite Patten’s preserving recipe books, advice I willingly followed not least because Auntie Sue has reputation for making the most delicious jams and chutneys! It’s the most old school book (with imperial measurements which always, always reminds me of cooking with my Grandma!), and a blackberry jam recipe turned out just perfectly for us. We couldn’t wait and tucked into one of the jars the next morning, spreading it thickly onto toast and pancakes at breakfast time. It’s completely and utterly delicious!

And since I’ve already got half a dozen more recipes bookmarked that I want to try, I think we might need to head back out and get picking again soon…

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Posted in AUTUMN, COUNTRYSIDE LIFE

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