Sunday 18 July 2010

July Splurge

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...


Teena Vallerine said...

what a tonic of a post! the elderflower champagne sounds especially good with that cake! thank-you for your kind wishes. t.x

periwinkle said...

wow you have a gorgeous garden and an awesome view - July is our birthday month too so I'm with you on the amount of cake eaten ... phew

...Nina Nixon... said...

Happy belated birthday to you both - the cakes look delicious and your garden gorgeous....ours seems to have over grown and then fallen over with all the rain and wind we've had in July.

take care,

Nina x

Dawn said...

My goodness, you have been busy, but of course your holidays are aready underway, aren't they?
I like the sound of your elderflower champagne - just the thing for a toddlers party!
Tempted to grow some of that swiss chard just for the wonderful colours.

Simone said...

There is so much to catch up with here!!! I do miss cake. I haven't eaten a cake, biscuit, sweet or chocolate for two weeks and my mouth is watering looking at this post! You have a really lovely garden and should be very proud of it! x

Lyn said...

er wow, lots to get through there. Love the garden and the crochet and the cakes....well all of it really!

Cathy said...

Hi Anne. I really enjoyed your post. Lovely garden views and those cakes...yum. You have obviously had a lot more rain than we have had. Our gardens down south are quite brown now. I do miss the green grass. Loved the sweet little baby ostriches. Boy, have they got some growing to do.

Julie said...

So many fun things, good the birthdays went well.
Your garden is looking fantastic. I always prefer the overflowing garden effect, that's exactly what I've always gone for.
Your vase is ever so pretty and what a good excuse for spending some money!
Enjoy the rest of July! Juliex

rockinloubylou said...

Your house and garden are so beautiful, and I love the baby sparrow on the bird house! That crochet blanket is coming on a treat too. What lucky fellow crafters you have to be invited to tuck into all those amazing cakes! And how nice to see a photo of you!!! Lovely curls!

Unknown said...

I was going to tell you just how much I enjoyed each and every one of your pictures. It's always such a treat to stop by and see what you all are up too..... but...

I got so distracted by your last paragraph and crocheting while the hubbie is driving. It's like you were in the car with us the whole way back home yesterday. He got so tired of my nagging and screaming "brake, brake, brake" that he pulled over just to get some yarn out of the trunk {boot}... and said "start hooking, if you want to stay in the car, sweetie"...

Off to see what else I've missed while gone.


Knot Garden said...

Happy birthday to you both, the cakes look delicious. Lovely photos of your beautiful garden. Those Swiss chard colours are so vibrant.

Diane said...

Wow! I feel like I lived it with you What a great post! I told you that champers would be good. Cake would not look like that if my hubby had made it.!!!!xxxxxxxxxx

DEBBIE said...

First of all... Birthday wishes to both of YOU!
Wow! What a beautiful house and garden you have!
... And its wonderful surroundings!
By the way... the cake and the biscuits... all look very yummy, indeed!
It hasn`t stopped rainning here, either!
My plants will never survive this very wet weather!


Jennyff said...

Belated happy birthday. It seems you've been up to all sorts of nice things. Your garden is looking fantastic and I hope we get some good weather so that you can relax out there (and eat more cake and crochet).


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