26.09

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Oh September. What a month you’ve been! I feel as though I’ve barely set foot in the vegetable patch, other than quick trips down here and there to collect veg for dinner or pick kale for a smoothie on Ottie’s request (I know, so middle class ;).

What with being nine months pregnant and having a baby the size of a watermelon getting in the way of pretty much my every move, the nights drawing in so fast now we’re moving into autumn, plus work and all the last minute preparations that come the month before a baby is due, it’s become so tricky to keep on top of the gardening lately!

In fact, it’s made me feel kind of sad at times seeing the weeds growing as fast as the vegetables in amongst the neat rows I planted back in spring, slug damage galore on some of the brassicas thanks to the nettles providing such a perfect hiding place for them along the bed-edges, and caterpillars eating away unchecked at a few of the kale plants.

But I’m trying to remind myself not to fret too much, that I can only do what I can do, and that even the biggest of weeds can be pulled up come next spring!

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We’re moving into the season of brassicas now, and it’s so satisfying watching them grow. Most of the kales and swedes were netted until just a few weeks ago, but since they seemed to be fast outgrowing their tunnels I braved removing the netting, and for the most part they’ve been fine!

To take us into the colder months, I’m growing a few different types of brassicas- ‘Cavolo Nero’ and ‘Red Devil’ kale, ‘Filderkraut’ and ‘Savoy’ cabbages, and a variety of swede promisingly called ‘Best Of All’! I’ve found kale such a satisfying thing to grow this year- being able to nip outside and pick three or four big, iron-rich dark green leaves to go alongside my meals is amazing, and the taste is a world away from the bags of pre-chopped, dried out curly kale I used to buy from the supermarket! I’m really, really hoping it lasts the winter…

The swedes I maaaay have gone overboard on- if they all grow to full size, we’ll have a good 10 or so to harvest later in the year! And beyond carrot and swede mash, I’m not that sure what I’ll do with them…answers on a postcard please!

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The promise of leeks to come…

I can’t say that our leek harvest will be particularly large, but it will be exciting nonetheless! We’ve maybe got 8-10 leeks that have made the grade- next year I’ll know to sow 10x as many, and also that they like a lot of water during hot weather to keep them from frazzling!

Still, I grew them and they’ll be delicious just for that fact alone I’m sure. I’m thinking of cooking them into some sort of gratin with potatoes and a creamy sauce, which is making my mouth water just thinking about it…

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This time of year is just so colourful isn’t it? What with the trees beginning to change colour and lose their leaves, the bright pink and red and yellow Swiss chard stems, and dark ruby of the beetroot leaves, the garden’s looking just as beautiful as it did back in the height of summer.

I’m excited to see the beetroot I planted as a second crop (after my failed attempt at onions…) do so well! They should be ready to pick around December time, and will accompany many a meal of sausage and mash I’m sure. I’ve grown them in multi-seed clumps again, with up to four beetroot seedlings per position. As they grow I just pick out the largest from each group, leaving the others to grow on longer. It’s worked so well the rest of the year, and has provided more food per row from the soil than traditional spacing!

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The Borlotti bean crop is still coming along, though since I’m leaving them to dry and only after the beans themselves instead of the pods, it feels like the most meagre harvest so far! But they do look so beautiful hanging from their teepee, and the dried beans will make a lovely addition to soup or a stew later this winter I’m sure.

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Perhaps the vegetable I’m most excited about though are my prize butternut squashes! Ironically of the two plants I have growing, it’s the that seemed to be lagging behind for weeks on end that’s suddenly put on a burst of growth and produced three full size fruits. They still have a little way to go before they’re that familiar tan colour and so ready for picking, so I’m just praying the weather doesn’t get too cold and nip them with frost before they fully ripen!

We’ve already had a mini butternut squash from the other plant already, which we cooked into a massaman curry a few nights ago with lots of coconut milk and some homegrown carrots too. It was the most delicious thing, creamy and warming and the squash itself was soft as butter too! I was so proud, ha!

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And that’s the round up for my little vegetable patch this month! I’ve managed to snatch some time in the last few days to pull up weeds, tidy up all the mess that had gathered round the edges of the beds throughout the summer, and just generally do a little maintenance before the weather turns truly cold (and before I pop!).

Our jobs for the coming couple of months are more about maintenance and preparation for next year- we’ve got compost to order ready for mulching all the beds over, two new 1x4metre beds to fill ready for raspberry canes going in later this winter, and four bulbs garlic to plant too! I’ve promised Ottilie she can help with that job, so I’m looking forward to a half hour of gardening soon with my favourite girl <3

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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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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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19.10

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Now, I’d like to head up this post with a little disclaimer that Ottilie’s facial expression in the vast majority of these photos is in no way a reflection of the comfort of this pushchair. ;) She’s at that awkward stage right now where she’s just started taking her first few independent steps (just this weekend, woohoo!!) so now all she wants to do is walk, but isn’t anywhere near steady enough to toddle along with us when we’re out and about for any length of time. And so, pushchair rage ensues!

Anyway! We snapped these photos whilst in Haslemere over the weekend, which will be our closest town when we move next month. We’re so, so ready to get going now…though I do of course mean ready in the emotional sense, and not a practical one. I’m still yet to book a removal company and our loft is crammed full with 7 and a bit years worth of crap…but we’re basically pretending that doesn’t matter and are busy selecting paint colours instead! Some great adulting going on over here in the Chappel household…

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Haslemere’s such a pretty little town, and is where we’ve dreamed of moving nearby to for a good few years now. I’m so excited to explore the area, so any tips for places to visit will be welcome!

And I seriously cannot wait to show you around our new home! Though thinking about it you might never get to see photos or anything given that the internet is basically non-existent and I’m not sure the mobile data situation will be any better. (Basically, pray for me!!)

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We got to Haslemere bright and early, and after swinging by our new house just to say ‘hello’! to it, parked up in the centre of town and went for a mosey up the high street with coffees in hand and Ottie in the pushchair.

Now, let me talk to you about the Featherweight

When I was pregnant one of Jason’s cousins advised me that there may come a time when I’d be more concerned about having a lightweight, one-handed folding pushchair than the ginormous fancy one I was about to order. I privately thought she was crazy, and that it really wouldn’t be all that big a deal, but now? I TOTALLY get it!

The real genius about the Featherweight for me is the fact that it’s just so, so easy to put up and collapse. It weighs a mere 3.7 kilos (the lightest pushchair in the UK!), and with just the press of a button on the handlebar and one simple action, it pops up and is ready to go! And when you’ve got a baby on one hip, not having to faff about sorting out a chassis and then clipping on a seat is a total lifesaver!

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Above we have a photo of an angry mouse, totally unimpressed by her Mum’s attempts to use a dried up old leaf as a way of coaxing a smile out of her…one to frame, for sure!

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The other feature of the pushchair that’s just complete genius, that I mentioned a little in this post here, is the fact that because it’s so light and comes with an attached carry strap, you can carry it on one shoulder!

Which would be ideal if you’re travelling in a city and want to hop on and off buses, or go on the tube without having to worry about step-free access, or, if you’ve got a baby like mine who has an aversion to being strapped into anything for longer than she deems truly necessary, you can give in to the inevitable and let them come out and walk whilst you carry the pushchair like some kind of long suffering mule! ;)

Alternatively, you could just let them use the pushchair as a walker which, it turns out, is a great game and will keep your babe happy long enough that you can sit and drink your coffee whilst it’s still hot! Bliss.

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This post was part of my ongoing partnership with Graco! Thank you for supporting the branded content that makes Cider with Rosie possible.

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