Wednesday, 29 April 2015

planting progress

I am well and truly obsessed by growing things at the moment. It's so satisfying to see the weekly progress of the plants we are growing, as well as adding new additions to our indoor and outdoor gardens.

I've been documenting some of the progress around here:


The biggest growth spurt has been with my avocado plant (pictured left). We potted our weird avocado sprouts back in February before we moved, and while there hadn't been much growth over the last couple of months, it suddenly kicked into action over the last couple of weeks.

The leaves are getting visibly bigger by the day and it seems to be enjoying it's sunny spot on the kitchen windowsill. I still have faith that Ben's will get going at some point too - although it still looks like it did back in February. Perhaps a little greener?

On the right above is a Money Plant I was given about 10 years ago by Derek's sister Grace. It's been living with my mum for a while, but she insisted I take it home with me last time I visited. It's grown massively since I was given it as a little cutting, but unfortunately it's got a bit out of control and has grown too tall for it's own good and was struggling to stand upright in the pot.

I decided to take some cuttings to try and grow some mini versions, which I can tend to as they grow.


I've taken a couple of cuttings, and placed one in soil and one in water to see how they get on. Fingers crossed!

Speaking of propagation, Ben has been trying his hand at it too, and is currently trying regrow some celery and pak choi from the bases of old ones. You can see the celery on the right in the image below.


Since this photo was taken some mini stalks have begun shooting up from the base - so it looks like it's working! Our friend Beth told us about this technique, and she's well on her way to some new celery already.

I'm intrigued to know what else can be propagated like this, and how successful it is. Has anyone tried anything similar?

Talking of new shoots, my Italian cucumbers that I got in the seed swap are beginning to grow. Good news!


And that's not all, my little Chuppon is also going strong, and the mint plant is starting to grow from his backpack.


Look at him grow!

There'll be more plant updates soon I am sure.
I really like growing things.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

things I like this March and April...

Columns (L-R):  1  •  2  •  3  •  4  •  5  •  6  •  7  •  8  •  9  •  10  •  11  •  12  •  13  •  14  •  15  •  16

Some spring favourites from Pinterest.
All the colours!

Sunday, 19 April 2015

let's cook: dips and dippers


Cooking challenge time again! This time we decided to venture into dips.

The aim was to produce two different dips, as well as something to dip into them. I was a bit tardy on this one (the house move got in the way a bit) and my mum made hers ages ago but I finally got round to it yesterday. It was nice to spend some time baking in our new kitchen.

My mum chose to make a black olive tapenade and some houmous, accompanied by cheese straws, as pictured below.

dips by mother

She had never had tapenade before, and wasn't sure what it was meant to look or taste like so I think she did pretty well. The cheese straws look tasty too!

I also chose a black olive tapenade as one of my dips. Luckily, I found this perfect tapenade recipe on the Guardian website so I think I was onto a winner from the beginning.

black olive tapenade

It came out really well. Super strong flavours!

I also made this artichoke and lemon dip from a recipe found on BBC goodfood.

artichoke and lemon dip

I think this one was my favourite. It's full of winners: artichoke hearts, parmesan, pine nuts, garlic. Mmmm....

It was good for the challenge element that we decided to make dippers I think, as dips do not really require that much effort. Just a bit of blending. I decided to try and make some grissini as an accompaniment.

dough twists

I found a recipe here which I used as a base, but wanted to try some different things out, so experimented with adding rosemary from the garden to some of the batch, and salt and black pepper to others.

I also tried out some different sizes, and tried twisting some into spirals. I think they came out fairly well. I had to bake them in about 4 different batches (due to limited baking tray space) so there is some inconsistency in colour and texture - they are all a bit wonky when you see them together. Or should I say rustic?


I think this was one of my favourite cooking challenges to date though, and it was timed just right for a nice spring evening snack.

cooks challenge: dips

Now to the scoring...

Unfortunately my mum only had my fussy dad as a judge, who refused to try the houmous or the tapenade as he "doesn't like dips" so she had to do her own judging. She gave the houmous 9/10, and the olive tapenade a 6/10 as it wasn't as smooth as she had hoped.

My dad helped scoff the cheese straws though and he gave them 9/10. The only negative was that they were possibly slightly on the crumbly side for dipping.

Ben was very kind and gave my dips and dippers full marks. Emily and Beth tried them today too and they agreed. Thanks guys!

I would maybe knock a mark off for garlic overload, but I'd definitely make them again.

artichoke dip

Next time we will be attempting Tart Tatin. I'm excited about this one!
Hopefully my mum can find a better judge...

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Postcard club

Oxalis Triangularis - postcard club

I recently joined in over at the Postcard Club. Here's my first swap with Ed Cheverton.

He sent me a collage play card, and I sent him a paper collage illustration of my favourite houseplant.

If anyone else wants to do a swap with me then do let me know - I really love sending and receiving nice things in the post!

Sunday, 12 April 2015



Some more drawing practice.

Ben and I have been watching the new Planet of the Apes films and I've fallen in love with Maurice the orangutan.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

secret seed swap

seed swap packets

As I mentioned in a previous post, Lyndsey let me sign up as a late entry to the What You Sow secret seed swap last month. I haven't done a swap for a while so I was really pleased to be taking part, especially as I have a new garden to get growing in.

I really enjoyed preparing my package to send out. I picked out radish, rocket and aubergine seeds (some of my favourite vegetables) and added in some Limnanthes seeds too, as it's nice to have some flowers in the garden.

I illustrated each of my packets with paper collage pictures of the plants, and typed out some labels for the back.

seed packet labels
rocket • radish

I hadn't heard of Limnanthes before, but it is nicknamed the 'poached egg' plant because of the appearance of the flowers, which won me over immediately.

limnanthes • aubergine

I was pretty happy with how they turned out. Nice and colourful!

And I received an equally colourful package in return from my fellow secret seed swapper. Just look how cute they are! Thank you Gabriella.

lovely seed swap package

Beautiful packets, and a great selection of edibles, a lot of them themed around Puglia in Italy.
I've since found out that Gabriella has a great blog called Mangia Bene - filled with 'edible stories from a British Italian kitchen', hence the Italy connection.

Cicoria are bitter greens used in Puglia's national dish, and Gabriella described the Cima di Rapa as Puglia's equivalent to purple sprouting. She also included Carosello Mello Lungo which is an Italian cucumber, and some nasturtiums which are pretty and edible too - perfect!

I had a day off work yesterday so I decided to sow a few of the seeds (some nasturtiums and some of the cucumber seeds). Nice to do some gardening on such a lovely warm day.

sowing seeds
pots in the greenhouse

And here they all are, sitting in our mini greenhouse alongside the runner beans (which are beginning to sprout!)

Thanks once again to Lyndsey for organising such a great swap. I'm looking forward to taking part again next year.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

llovely llamas


I hope you all had a lovely long Easter weekend.

It was perfect spring weather on Monday so we went on a drive to the Ashdown Forest and popped into the Llama park while we were there.

pack of alpacas profile llamas

It's definitely worth a visit - the llamas and alpacas are so cute! And really friendly too (particularly if you have some food).

Just look how fluffy they are!

fluff fluff

Their necks are super woolly when you stroke them.


I'm in love.

guinea fowl

There were some other sweet animals too. Some (stinky but cute) piglets, guinea fowl, donkeys, and some super friendly goats. Like this one...



It was great to feel the warmth of the sun too.
I think the spring has finally made a breakthrough this week!