Sunday, January 29, 2012

Winter surprise

Making do with indoor light on long, cold, dark days. 
Venturing out for short bursts of biting fresh air. 
Missing the scents of colourful life around every corner. 
A surprise bouquet, a little bedraggled, washed up on a winter shore.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Rock 'n' Roll Rabbie

Today is Burn's Night (Burns Nicht) when Scottish folks hold a supper to celebrate the life of Robert Burns the famous Scottish poet. He was a struggling farmer who caused scandal with his lecherous ways and loved a good drink of whisky. His work is bold, dramatic and often funny. I remember singing The Diel's Awa Wi' Th' Exciseman to the whole school when I was twelve years old. It's a lovely, wee poem about the devil running off with the man who collects the excise tax, enabling the town to make their malt, brew their drink "laugh, sing and rejoice, man,".
And speaking of struggling farmers. Why isn't everyone making a beeline for our farmer's market in Hastings town centre on Thursdays? I came home with a huge bunch of kale, an unusual variety of potato, spinach, purple sprouting broccoli and a big bag of local apples all for £6. The farmer's face was as rosy as his apples, but I think that was more to do with standing in the cold, rather than sneaking a wee nip of whisky now and then (which I think he'd be perfectly entitled to). He told me he keeps his apples stored in a controlled environment to keep them fresh. Stocks are running low and once they're gone they're gone. Then we will have to wait until autumn to savour his delicious apples again. It was lovely to speak directly to the people who had produced the fruit and veg they were selling.
I have been eating the kale all week and I love it. The older leaves, like this magnificent plant, need cooking a bit longer or it'll be as tough as auld leather. Younger stems can be lightly steamed then smothered in salt, pepper and butter.
Kale: the verdant plumed dandy of the cabbages; fit for any feast.

For dessert: a naughty treat from Maw Broon's cookbook.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

pretty in pink

Thank you everyone for your lovely comments and for entering my giveaway. It's been really interesting to read your preferences. The pink rose corsage was the most popular item, followed by the yellow dog, then the yellow corsage, the pink dog and finally the blue dog. I wish I could give something to you all! I will be creating a simple pattern guide for children to make their own dog cushion. I can't bear to disappoint a wee girl who wants a whole litter! My husband drew the winner's name this morning: well done MANDI. You win the pink dog, pink rose corsage and this pretty vintage china dish called Rambler Rose which is just the right size for your corsage to sit in.
Keeping with the pink theme here are some photos from around the old town just before Christmas. The hydrangeas are all brown now but the cyclamen are still flowering. Today I saw a single pink rose holding onto life on a bush that has lost all it's leaves.
pink donkey


pink house

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Green Lady Giveaway

I have just opened an on line shop to sell my handmade bits and bobs. To celebrate I am having a giveaway. For a chance to win one of my dog toy/cushions, a rose corsage and a surprise vintage item please leave a comment here stating which colour dog you would like (pink, yellow or blue) and which colour rose corsage (pink or yellow). 
If you also like my Green Lady facebook page you will get another entry, let me know in your comment. The winner will be chosen in one weeks time: Saturday 21st January. (Men - valentines day is coming up - don't be shy!). Please share with friends. Good luck x

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Look at the lovely parcels that arrived for me yesterday. I was very lucky to win a giveaway from Serendipity Patch.
The beautiful fabric roll is made from recycled shirt fabrics in fresh, summer colours. I had just been talking to a friend about wanting to make some children's quilts. I would love one for my son's room. When I got home I found the email letting me know I had won. I couldn't believe it. (You can see a gorgeous quilt that Debbie at Serendipity Patch made with these shirt fabrics on her blog). I love the little lavender bag. I am keeping it close to me so that I can breathe in the scent of summer throughout the day.

I read that lavender (lavendula officinalis) is good for depression in aromatherapy. Though to be honest when I had severe depression there was really nothing that helped, other than the occasional sleeping pill, which was the only way I could sleep  (I chose not to take any other prescribed medication, because I believed I would make a stronger recovery without it, which was true. That was my choice - it's not a recommendation). However, lavender is good for lifting the senses, balancing the emotions and will lift our spirits if we are feeling lethargic and irritable which is quite common at this time of year. Also, contrary to advice usually given, be cautious using lavender as a sleep aid. Sometimes it can actually be more of a stimulant. A massage therapist told me this and advised I use a blend that has citrus in it. I found Botanics Time to Unwind range and really love it (available in Boots). It is a mix of orange, juniperberry and frankincense and comes as a bath, body and massage oil, as well as the essential oil on its own. I would really recommend it for a soothing soak in the bath. 

I had another surprise package: a late Christmas gift from my Aunt Alisoun in America; a big tub of sugar coated pecans! They are not going to last long. I considered hiding them from my husband. I also got a package from my mother-in-law Celia; a lovely pair of grey and black striped woolen socks and Froggy, a toy my boy had left behind at Christmas. Receiving gifts in the post is so wonderful. I will be having my own giveaway soon. Thank you everyone X

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Not Just For Kids

If you are sitting at home all cosy planning your garden take a look at this fantastic inspiration board from the very talented Dawn Isaac of Little Green Fingers (some photos from it below). Some great recycling garden project ideas on there. And I will just have to drool over the fairytale play houses that I wouldn't mind living in myself - including the hen house!
There are more great ideas for gardening with kids on this web site: NurtureStore.


Have you seen Jack-In-The-Green?
With his long tail hanging down.
He sits quietly under every tree 
in the folds of his velvet gown.
He drinks from the empty acorn cup
the dew that dawn sweetly bestows.
And taps his cane upon the ground
signals the snowdrops it's time to grow.
It's no fun being Jack-In-The-Green 
no place to dance, no time for song.
He wears the colours of the summer soldier 
carries the green flag all the winter long.

Jack, do you never sleep 
does the green still run deep in your heart?
Or will these changing times,
motorways, powerlines,
keep us apart?
Well, I don't think so 
I saw some grass growing through the pavements today.
The rowan, the oak and the holly tree
are the charges left for you to groom.
Each blade of grass whispers Jack-In-The-Green.
Oh Jack, please help me through my winter's night.
And we are the berries on the holly tree.
Oh, the mistlethrush is coming.
Jack, put out the light.

Lyrics by Jethro Tull 1977

Photos from Mugdock Country Park near Glasgow

Monday, January 2, 2012

First day at the allotment

I don't know about you but after a little while the magic of Christmas has worn off and I'm trying hard not to throttle my family. This is when I need to get to the allotment. It's not just little old men in wooly jumpers and caps hiding in sheds. After a day of torrential rain on New Years Day I woke up to a gorgeous clear day today. Our four year old was given a couple of computer games for Christmas and has been obsessed with them. It took all sorts of bribes and threats to prise him away from the screen. He was the grumpiest boy in Britain as we got our layers and wellies on. Ten minutes outside, with a big smile on his face he announced, "I feel happy running in the sun".

I passed "A" who has the plot next to me on the way in. She said she'd overdone it; strained her back clearing out her compost heap. She mentioned the email the site secretary had sent out before Christmas. Sixteen pages of plans the council wants to implement. I haven't had time to read it yet.
"We're not going to be allowed to use hoses"
"Really?! There's no way we can water our plots with watering cans, that's how to do your back in". 
"I think that's what it said. I need to read it again".
I feel my blood boiling every time I hear about the council's plans for the allotments.

We'd been on the plot five minutes when I lost my temper with my boy who went stomping over my transplanted strawberries after I asked him not to.  My husband went back home to get a football. While he was gone my boy picked up the camera. Lately this has been a great way to keep him occupied. He took the photo of Colin the Crow and our dog.

I got to work pruning the brambles, or blackberries. They are a hybrid variety planted by the woman who owned the plot before me. We get huge, juicy fruits. It's a bit of a shambolic hedge but does work really well as a boundary, spreading in tangled loops up the side of the allotment. I cut the fruited branches back to the main stems, cut out all the dead wood and trimmed back the rest to a bud, thinking about which direction the bud would grow in. My camera battery ran out before I could take more detailed photos. It's not the conventional way to grow blackberries but I don't care, it works for me.

My husband came and took my son off to the playground. We're so lucky having it right next to the allotments.  It took quite a long time to cut back the brambles and was really hard work. I always end up with my hat, my hair, my arm caught in the vicious thorns and I have to carefully untangle myself, to pull away quickly could be lethal. I was thinking about the person who had helped themselves to my brambles in the summer. "A" had seen him but didn't know who he was. She thought I must have told someone they could help themselves. "No I didn't!" I told her. "If you see him again chase him off". I was a little irritated at the time. I often give things away but it's not nice to help yourself to someone else's crop without asking. My plot looks quite wild and brambles grow in the wild but that doesn't mean they're free. If anyone wants to steal my brambles they can bloody well prune them for me.

I sowed some oriental leaves under fleece in autumn and some of it has come up. I can't remember what it's called and couldn't read the lolly stick. I went home with a couple of beetroots, some brussels sprouts and my first proper harvest of purple sprouting broccoli. It was just starting to flower, I think I got there just in time. Tasted so delicious. Sometimes I get just one or two meals out of the small amount of veg I grow. It's worth it! My brussels were pretty disappointing but when I discovered a few perfectly formed ones I was delighted. There's nothing like growing, harvesting and cooking your own.
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