04.01

IMG_5336 IMG_5349

We did it, our first proper grown up Christmas where WE were the hosts! I’m still kind of in shock that I’m an actual real life adult with a toddler, but now that I’ve hosted Christmas and cooked lunch for 11? Well that’s it. Feeling pretty swish these days ;)

In all seriousness though, we had the best time having Christmas with our family in our new house. Jason and I worked out that this was the first time in eight (or is it nine? I lose track…) years of being together that we’ve stayed in one place for the whole of Christmas Day, and it was so lovely!

And having Ottie running round was just the best, she was such great entertainment all day as she opened up parcel after parcel of beautiful gifts and said ‘wooowwweeee’ each time. In typical toddler style of course, her favourite thing to play with at the moment, despite our living room now looking like a JoJo Maman store, is the jam funnel that she goes and pinches from the kitchen cupboard every morning after breakfast. She likes to carry it round and shout into it like it’s her own mini megaphone, and it’s hilarious and deafening in equal measure!

IMG_5352 IMG_5354 IMG_5342

Silk Spotty Blouse (now on sale!)

If you can believe it, this was the one and only photo of Ottilie and I from the whole Christmas! And isn’t it a corker! ;) It was taken right at the end of our meal, when Ottie had just woken from her glorious two and a half hour nap and arrived downstairs just in time to polish off a portion of peanut butter and chocolate pie!

Speaking of food, this was my first vegan Christmas, and honestly I barely noticed a difference! My favourite part of Christmas lunch has always been all the veggies anyway (Brussels sprouts! Braised red cabbage!), and my Mum makes the most delicious veggie stuffing so was in charge of that this year.

The only thing I ‘missed’ was that normally I’d eat myself until I was almost sick on cheese late in the evening, but as I’m not a major fan of most vegan cheeses (though want to make some nut cheeses this year, Tania raves about them!) this year I just had a few crackers and the tasty vegan garlic and herb cream cheese that Sainsbury’s sell, and then went all out on the chocolate instead!

For dessert I made Minimalist Baker’s chocolate and peanut butter pie, and it was amazing! I’d absolutely make it again, though with just a touch more sweetness added to the pie filling as it was ever so slightly too savoury from the peanut butter for my taste.

IMG_5243 IMG_5363 IMG_5368 IMG_5360

Our Boxing Day was quiet and slow to start, with plenty of coffee brewed and rounds of toast made and panettone eaten by my husband who might be panettone’s biggest fan.

My Mum and her partner Rob had stayed the night at ours, and once we all were up, dressed, and ready to go, welly boots and thick coats were donned and we all wandered up the lane to stretch our legs and burn some energy off the dogs who’d been thoroughly treated with leftovers the day before!

IMG_5408 IMG_5425

You know what goes great with a Boxing Day walk? A hip flask of two year old homemade sloe gin!

IMG_5438 IMG_5447

We stopped for a good twenty minutes to give these darlings some Christmas cuddles, which is basically my favourite part about every dog walk these days! There are a couple of young horses in the field just up the lane from our house and they’re the sweetest, most affectionate little things. I could honestly stay there all day!

IMG_5443 IMG_5411 IMG_5455 IMG_5329

Oh, and last but not least a photo from my birthday! Which is three days before Christmas and so I always forget about it all together in the hustle and bustle of preparing for the festive season, but I actually remembered to take a quick, very awkward outfit photo this year!

I’ve been telling everyone I’m 27 all year, for some reason, which is unfortunate given that I actually only turned 27 two weeks ago. But hey! I’m thinking of it as gaining a year! I spent most of my day working on a really fun last minute project that came in the week before Christmas, and then got spruced up and headed out for a pizza and cocktails with Jason later in the evening. It was perfect.

~ ~ ~

I hope you all had the very best Christmas, and a wonderful start to the New Year too!

0 Comments
Posted in CHRISTMAS, COUNTRYSIDE LIFE, FAMILY

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

14.08

Cider-with-Rosie-Kitchen-garden

D I G   F O R   V I C T O R Y

For pretty much my entire adult life, I’ve wanted to be good at gardening. I always loved the idea of growing my own vegetables and fruit, dreamed of being able to base my evening meal around whatever was ripe and ready to pick in the garden that day, and was so taken with the idea of being so connected to the natural environment around me.

I have the most vivid memories of growing tomatoes in a little grobag on the patio with my Grandma as a little girl, and of the smell of warm vines and earth and fish food in the greenhouse at my Nanny and Grandpa’s.

I’m not sure what exactly’s been the catalyst for this year being the year that I really got going with my garden, but something’s just clicked and now I can’t imagine life without gardening in it! It’s incredibly gratifying, therapeutic, and an amazing way to find some peace at the end of each day.

To be honest, I have an inkling that becoming a mother has something to do with my love for gardening and growing our food. I’m keen to be kinder to the environment, love knowing that the veg I feed Ottilie is organic and as fresh as it gets, and am proud to be sustaining our family in a small way. Basically, I’m a pair of linen overalls and a toe ring away from my transformation into a hippy earth mother being complete…;)

Cider-with-Rosie-kitchen-garden-5

Since sharing snippets of the progress of my little garden over the past few months I’ve had so, so many requests to put together a post about how I got started, and so, here we are! All that I’ve learnt during my first summer as a grow-your-own obsessive!

R E A D   +   R E S E A R C H

There is a plethora of information out there on getting started with growing veg, both in book form and online. One of my favourite resources has actually been Instagram- there is a whole community of gardeners who share updates from their allotments and kitchen gardens, and the tips and info I’ve picked up from their knowledge has been great! Searching through hashtags like allotment, kitchengarden, growyourown, allotmentlife, homegrown, ediblegarden, urbangardenersrepublic will bring up some really inspiring accounts!

Hollie Newton’s book ‘How to Grow’ has also become my Bible over the past few months, with both tips for growing and delicious recipes for the fruits and veg you produce. It’s so simple to follow, fun to read and full of such helpful info, I really can’t recommend it highly enough. Or the delicious recipe for runner bean kimchi that I now add to at least 60% of my meals!

I also love Charles Dowding’s YouTube channel- it’s a bit less accessible, but has amazing advice and demonstrations about a method of gardening called ‘no dig’, which basically involves using layers of compost to build the soil structure rather than doing masses of digging every year. It’s fascinating and something I’m wondering if I can replicate in the large containers I use for most of my veg growing. Alys Fowler’s series ‘The Edible Garden’ is also beautiful and so so inspiring. I watched the whole series on a website called archive dot org, which I’m not certain is entirely legit but doesn’t feel especially dodgy either, so…

Cider-with-Rosie-growing-your-own

S P A C E

I always had the impression that you needed masses of space to grow veg, but in actual fact, you can grow almost anything in pots, boxes and containers! The big black tubs you can pick up in places like B&Q are cheap and great, but I’ve also used regular terracotta pots (£4.99 from Homebase!), a big vintage metal tub I found in an antique shop (£30, and it’s massive), and wine crates from my local Majestic (a fiver a pop, money that’s donated to Majestic’s chosen charity each year)!

So far this year in containers I’ve done- potatoes, Chantenay carrots, courgettes (the bigger the better when it comes to containers for courgette, they’re monster plants and like to sprawl!), cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuces and rocket, strawberries, sugar snap peas, and Swiss chard.

If you do happen to have space for a bed, there are tutorials for building raised beds online that look so simple I feel like even I could manage it myself! We only have a small amount of actual garden bed space that gets decent sun (our garden is tiny!!) and so I’ve used most of it for runner beans and then put one large courgette plant down the far end, with a jungle of nasturtiums growing in and around them all.

Cider-with-Rosie-kitchen-garden-2 Cider-with-Rosie-kitchen-garden-6

T I M I N G   +   P L A N N I N G

Gardening and growing veg takes a fair bit of planning- who knew?! The newfound appreciation I have for my food is staggering- having seen the months of growth and nurturing that goes into every bean, carrot, potato and lettuce leaf, I could cry with guilt if I ever have to throw something in the bin that’s gone soggy in the fridge!!

Early Spring, March/April time, is the start of the ‘growing season’ (i.e. when the bulk of vegetables can be sown from seed), but even now there’s plenty to be planted up! Lettuces and leafy greens like spinach prefer cooler temperatures and will keep going through the Autumn, and look so lush and lovely in pots on a deck or patio.

To get an idea of what to plant when, back in Spring I spent time noseying through all the packets of seeds at the garden centre, reading on the back of each packet when the recommended months were for sowing, planting out and then harvesting. I’ve also got this book arriving today which supposedly is an amazing month by month guide for a year of homegrown veg!

Cider-with-Rosie-kitchen-garden-4 Cider-with-Rosie-growing-your-own-2

^^ Baby cavolo nero kale seedlings popping up! This pot had a courgette plant in it until the end of July, and once the plant finished fruiting I pulled it out, chucked in a layer of fresh compost, and sowed some kale seeds. Kicking myself for not starting the kale off in a seed tray a few weeks ago though to get going with growth before planting out!! ^^

Cider-with-Rosie-growing-your-own-3

Y O U   W I N   S O M E ,   Y O U   L O S E   S O M E

Between the slugs and the caterpillars, the blights and the mildews (who even knew those were a thing?!) it can seem like you’re destined to fail before you’ve even started! I’ve definitely had my fair share of disasters this year, but by and large, the good has more than balanced out the bad.

Some losses though, for example…

Sugar snap peas. A late frost at the start of May killed off my first sowing when they were only an inch or so high, then the caterpillars moved in when my second sowing had just begun to bear fruit and ate their way through most of the leaves, and then a random mildewy-type thing spread over all the plants! BUT, the peas themselves, though few, were insanely delicious!!

Rocket. I’ve tried twice to grow rocket this summer, and both times it started flowering and was finished before it even started. I’ve since learnt that it was just too hot for rocket this summer, and so I’m trying again with another sowing…

Swiss chard. There’s a nasty bug called a Spinach Leaf Miner fly that’s been eating my Swiss chard from the inside out, and no matter how many times I take off the affected leaves I keep finding more and more damage. I need to work out a way to net it all, even though it’s in a container…

It’s funny though, because even the things that don’t work out don’t feel like failures. It’s a learning experience, and is all part of the fun!

Cider-with-Rosie-growing-your-own-6 Cider-with-Rosie-kitchen-garden-8

Whilst I don’t feel like I’m experienced enough to share any real tips of my own, there are a few things I’ve learnt this year that’ve been so valuable…

- Nasturtiums are the ultimate sacrificial plant! I read that they’re ideal to plant alongside runner beans as they’ll entice away any caterpillars and slugs, and it’s worked a treat. They’ve been munched to within an inch of their lives in parts, still look great in their own way, and my runner beans are healthy and happy! Hooray!

- Don’t waste super sunny spots in the garden on greens. Lettuces, rocket, spinach, and Swiss chard are all perfectly happy in semi shady spots, and the sunny patches can be kept sun lovers like tomatoes and beans!

- If in doubt, buy bigger pots or containers and give your plants more space than you think they’ll need. I put two tomatoes into one not especially large terracotta pot and they’re not very happy for it! Ah well, I’ll learn for next time!

-  When you’re told to give runner beans plenty of water and to put a mulch (a.k.a. a top layer of compost/manure, etc.) around each plant, don’t ignore the advice and think you know better. I managed to bring mine back from the brink during the early summer heatwave, but nearly had a very sad bean-less season after they got so dehydrated the flowers started dropping off without ever turning to beans!

Cider-with-Rosie-kitchen-garden-3

I think this might be the most mammoth post I’ve ever written, so perhaps we’ll leave things there for today! I’d love to share more from the garden over the coming months, and would love to know if there’s anything specific you’d like to read more of.

0 Comments
Posted in COUNTRYSIDE LIFE, EATING SEASONALLY, GARDENING, KITCHEN GARDEN

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

13.07

Cider-with-Rosie-Guildford-river-13 Cider-with-Rosie-Guildford-river Cider-with-Rosie-Guildford-river-2 Cider-with-Rosie-Guildford-river-4 Cider-with-Rosie-Guildford-river-3 Cider-with-Rosie-Guildford-river-11 Cider-with-Rosie-Guildford-river-12 Cider-with-Rosie-Guildford-river-5 Cider-with-Rosie-Guildford-river-6

Reasons why this walk was such a lovely one:

We dodged the rainstorms that arrived without warning on and off throughout the day.

Jason and I were out together midweek, which hardly EVER happens.

The look of quiet boredom and frustration on Teddy’s face whilst he waits for Elsie to behave herself for long enough on the lead that they both can be released and begin tearing around like lunatics.

Kayakers on the river who nod and smile and say hello, who we nodded and smiled and said hello right back to.

Watching Elsie attempt to launch herself into the water every 100 yards or so, because she’s suddenly found her springer spaniel water obsession. Teddy knows not to even try, though sometimes sneaks in when we get distracted…

Spotting the last of the elderflower blooms. Next year remind me to collect enough for a bottle of homemade cordial before the season passes?

Baggy dungarees that are too comfortable for words, and don’t fall down every ten steps like silly maternity jeans…

Both dogs mad attempts to reach the pigeons that roost underneath the big wooden bridge, through the gaps in the boards. The pigeons sit there cooing away smugly, knowing they can’t be touched.

Blackberries already growing greenly on the bramble hedges along the water.

And last but not least, the puppy who wore herself out so thoroughly that she decided to take a nap right in the middle of the field, three quarters of the way round.

Cider-with-Rosie-Guildford-river-8 Cider-with-Rosie-Guildford-river-9

0 Comments
Posted in COUNTRY WALKS, COUNTRYSIDE LIFE, DOG WALKS, GUILDFORD

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

14.04

Cider-with-Rosie-FatFace-Washed-in-Happiness-3

A   C O U N T R Y S I D E    S T A Y C A T I O N .

If you asked me to describe my perfect weekend away, I’d tell you about a weekend in the countryside.

I’d be with Jason and Teddy and Elsie, of course, and we’d spend our time taking long leisurely walks through the fields and forests (with no time constraints, or need to rush back to crack on with work), and then coming home to eat so much delicious food we feel as though we might burst, before falling asleep on the sofas for a spell.

This past weekend had all those things, and more.

Cider-with-Rosie-FatFace-Washed-in-Happiness-2 Cider-with-Rosie-FatFace-Washed-in-Happiness-20

Our ‘Weekend of Happiness’ came courtesy of the lovely folk at FatFace, and it was such a treat. We’re really trying to treasure the time we spend just the two of us right now, since we know our lives are set to change so drastically in September!

We arrived at Bemba’s Barn (set in a sweet village called Biddenden in the heart of the Kent countryside) at around midday on Sunday, with our bags packed full of beautiful pieces from FatFace’s dreamy Spring Summer collection to see us through our stay.

Cider-with-Rosie-FatFace-Washed-in-Happiness-19 Cider-with-Rosie-FatFace-Washed-in-Happiness

We were greeted by our host Emma, handsome labrador Bemba (who the barn is named after, and who Elsie become OBSESSED with during our stay!), and a bowl of freshly laid eggs on the dining table from Emma’s brood of chickens.

Ted and Elsie ran along behind us as we explored the barn- they were giddy with excitement, both at having such a big space to charge around in, and also because they’d spotted pheasants in the field behind the barn as we arrived!

Once our bags were unpacked, and after a brief pause to admire our new surroundings over a cup of coffee, we welly-booted up and set out down the lane that ran along the back of the barn.

Cider-with-Rosie-FatFace-Washed-in-Happiness-5 Cider-with-Rosie-FatFace-Washed-in-Happiness-10 Cider-with-Rosie-FatFace-Washed-in-Happiness-12

Jumper || Jeans

Cider-with-Rosie-FatFace-Washed-in-Happiness-16


Jacket

The bluebell woods near where we live haven’t sprung to life yet, but the little patch we stumbled upon just down a bank between some farmers’ fields were out in their full glory. There’s nothing quite like bluebells in the spring time, is there?

The light was low and shining golden through the trees, and we paused for a moment to appreciate the quiet and stillness. Well, as much stillness as you can get with two spaniels bounding around your feet…

Cider-with-Rosie-FatFace-Washed-in-Happiness-6

Now, we need to pause for a moment, in these beautiful bluebells woods, to talk about this pair of dungarees I’m wearing…

All my life, I’ve had this secret silly life goal of being a pregnant lady wearing dungarees.

I don’t know why, exactly, it’s just always been an idea that captured my heart! In the way that some girls grow up dreaming of their wedding dress, in all its magical ivory glory, I always dreamed of the day that I’d shimmy myself and a bump into a pair of dungarees made from the softest, most worn-in denim, perhaps with a rip here and a fray there to add to the cosy, well-loved feel.

And so, as you can imagine, these dungarees are something of a dream come true for me!

 Dungarees || Breton top

Cider-with-Rosie-FatFace-Washed-in-Happiness-7

FatFace don’t sell maternity wear, but their pieces are so well cut and have such a wonderful relaxed feel to them that just ordering a size or so up from normal makes their clothes totally ideal for wearing through pregnancy and beyond.

And these dungarees really are the *most* comfortable thing to wear with a growing belly. Despite still being fairly small on the bump front, I can’t bear having anything tight cutting into my stomach or putting any extra pressure around my abdomen. These are so roomy around the middle, I’m practically living in them at the moment!

Cider-with-Rosie-FatFace-Washed-in-Happiness-14 Cider-with-Rosie-FatFace-Washed-in-Happiness-15

^^ Both Jason and I agreed that this jumper is one of the nicest pieces of knitwear he’s ever owned. You won’t believe the price either- a total bargain! ^^

Cider-with-Rosie-FatFace-Washed-in-Happiness-8 Cider-with-Rosie-FatFace-Washed-in-Happiness-4

With the dogs suitably worn out (and as muddy as only a pair of fluffy spaniels can get during a 20 minute jaunt), we waved goodbye to the bluebells and the stream and the setting sun, and made our way home to the barn.

Dinner was made and eaten in a flash when we got back, and after an evening spent chatting and cat-napping on the sofas, we took ourselves off to bed for a night of sound sleep in the countryside quiet.

The perfect beginning to three blissful days away…

Cider-with-Rosie-FatFace-Washed-in-Happiness-18

This post was sponsored by FatFace, who right now are offering an exclusive online 15% discount to Cider with Rosie readers!

The offer is for 15% off a single purchase of full price merchandise at FatFace, and is valid until the 24th April. Quote ROSIE at checkout to redeem the discount!

(Terms and conditions: This promotion cannot by used in conjuction with any other promotion. Returned items will be refunded (on production of a valid receipt) at the discounted price paid. Offer cannot be used in FatFace stores.) 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
0 Comments
Posted in COUNTRY WALKS, COUNTRYSIDE LIFE, TRAVEL, WEEKEND BREAK

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Read from the beginning >