Eek, we're already past the middle of July, how did that happen! And what has been going on here? Well, lots of cake for a start...
... here is the one hubby baked me for my birthday. It was very tasty. It was also very lemony, one of the zested lemons was left in the fridge and never have I seen such a well skinned lemon. Using the cheese grater for zesting seems to have helped in this task (I was out for the evening while the baking was taking place, sometimes the internet doesn't give all the information required!). Despite this the cake wasn't spoiled and was quickly gobbled up by all, and I do very much appreciate someone taking the time to bake a cake for me.
Here we have the remains of cake number 2 which is quite apt as it was the first of N's birthday cakes and he is now 2 years old. It was a plain old sponge cake from Rachel Allen's "Bake". I've used this recipe before but this is my best attempt so far, helped by the fact that I followed the instructions properly this time regarding adding the eggs. We had a little informal party in the garden for N; some toddler friends were coming over to play anyway a couple of days before his birthday and we just had a few more goodies than normal then the cake appeared towards the end. The grown-ups attending took the opportunity to sample the elderflower champagne I'd made. It had worked! All agreed it tasted very nice. Not sure how alcoholic it was but a few were merrily singing Cbeebies theme tunes after a couple of glasses, sometimes it doesn't take much!
The left-over half-chewed cake and biscuits went on the bird table. After the sqwabbling jackdaws had taken all the big pieces it was safe for the sparrows to clean up the crumbs. On the roof of the bird table a rather large baby sparrow is being fed some tasty morsels.
Fortunately not all the goodies I had made were eaten at the party as I was hosting a craft evening the same day (it meant I only needed to clean and tidy up once for two events). Here is what else was on offer: biscuit fudge (recipe from Button Tree Crafts), empire biscuits (recipe in my side bar), shortbread (I'm not very good at shortbread - it was a bit soft in the middle), and choc chip cookies from River Cottage Everyday. It was my first go at using this particular cookie recipe, Hugh says they take 10 mins to make, in reality it took me most of the evening, I think he should emphasise how important it is to use the baking paper!
We also had another cake for N on his actual birthday but I neglected to photograph that one. It was a chocolate cake based on a recipe from a children's cook book and is now my favourite chocolate cake recipe so I will post more about it another time.
Despite the typical July weather (cool and very showery) we've also been managing to get some time in the garden. I've been trying to paint the sheds "willow" green (a big improvement over the brown we had originally used for the big shed) but they're still less than half done, hopefully we'll have a spell soon of more dry settled weather and I can get them finished.
I'm getting quite impatient for the peas to ripen...
... my glamorous assistant helps me check them, usually every day!
Here's a shot of another of hubby's veggie beds, cabbages, sprouts and runner beans all looking promising.
Gorgeously colourful swiss chard.
Teddies look on, enjoying the sun.
The butterflies are starting to appear, this small tortoiseshell warms himself on the wall.
It's amazing how just cutting the grass can make the garden look quite presentable.
I even trimmed the plants lining the front paths. When we moved in the whole right hand side down the path next to the wall was just covered with gravel and completely empty of plants. I prefer the slightly overgrown look (just as well really!)
I bought a new garden chair from Ikea. It's to replace this one though it's not quite as comfy but is still much better than any other chair we have.
I've been really pleased with this window box this year. It can also be seen from inside the house...
... never has this interior windowsill been so tidy. It's just inside the back door and usually ends up piled high with outdoor and gardening stuff! The pitcher is another new purchase from Ikea.
I also sold this vase earlier in the month, which balances (a little) my Ikea spending.
Oops, another new Ikea item - a new shade for an old lamp base.
The African Flower blanket is still growing though very slowly recently. Much "spare" time has been taken up with the shed painting and tidying, plus I revamped the shower room - I took out all the old mouldy sealant (a bit of a job) and replaced it and also painted the ceiling. It would all have taken just a day or two in the days before before children but ended up taking me the best part of a week. Added to that I had another dose of vertigo which put me out of action for a couple of days. I've had it once before so at least this time I knew what it was and didn't think my life was ending! Still not a very pleasant experience. We also mde the trip to see my parents as my brother and neice were up visiting from down south. I gave said neice the crocheted owl I had made, sadly (though not unexpectedly) I don't think she was terribly impressed!
And that's almost it for July so far. Yesterday we went to the safari park, it's convenienty situated in central Scotland so was handy for us to meet up with an old university friend and her family (not quite so handy for them as they stay north of Aberdeen!). Don't worry, there are just a couple more photos (everyone knows what elephants and lions look like, right!)
Cute baby ostriches.
The closest I've been to a peacock. Gorgeous colours. No tail display though.
Me! On the rollercoaster with N. I was by far the biggest person on it!
Finally, some travel crochet on the way home from the safari park. I'm not a very good passenger ("don't drive so close", "why don't you overtake", lots of imaginary braking, etc). Discovering that I can crochet in the car keeps us both sane. When I'm concentrating on the crochet instead of hubby's driving I'm able to relax and he doesn't have to put up with my nagging, plus I've something to show for the journey. We did make an unexpected detour off the motorway and through Glasgow city centre though as hubby admitted he wasn't paying attention to where he was going, hmmm...
Well done if anyone got this far! Hopefully there won't be such a gap before my next update and it won't therefore need to be so long. Till then...