Tuesday, 22 July 2014

£30 giveaway from Serenata Flowers!

I mentioned at the weekend that those lovely people at serenata flowers had sent me a stunning trough of mini pink roses to review. Well, as I sit here looking at them I am delighted to inform you that you too could have the same type of beautifulness in your home!


YES! Serenata flowers is giving away £30 for one lucky winner to spend in their website shop. If you are that winner you would simply have to choose what you'd like to send to a loved one/ receive for yourself. That includes the gorgeous flower bouquets and the plants - what would you pick? Look at all the loveliness here -  http://www.serenataflowers.com/

The only restriction is that the delivery address for the item must be within the Mainland of the UK. Sorry if that throws a spanner the works for you but that's the rule. Though don't fear as I have more giveaways to do for my blog anniversary that can be shipped anywhere, but that's all still a secret.

* In order to win dear reader all you have to do is simply leave a comment on this question.

What's your favourite plant in your garden?

* Make sure there is a way to contact you too as I will need that to pass on to the lovely Alexander who is holding this giveaway just for my blog readers. All names will go into a terracotta pot (it's only right) as of today through to Thursday evening and the winner shall be announced on Friday :)

Example of comment entry - 
Jasmine
email - borntowin@fakemail.com

Good Luck!!
Love and Hugs
Carrie

Monday, 21 July 2014

pretty allotment photography

I'm on the hammock on in back garden and as a very soulful Nina Simone would sing.... I'm feelin' good :)

I've just edited down the random pretty photos I took two weekends ago at the plots and then made collages, so naturally, its hammock time. Though it is maybe too hot for me...

I can hear so many birds and can see one searching for a tasty nugget in amongst the winter flowering box hedge. There's also a little child two doors down running about singing/shouting and it sounds rather funny: 'Bah bah bah, haha!' it goes... Oh now someone is chasing her and trying to eat her! Haha.

Hope you enjoy these little snippets of Lottie life....

24a (shed)
So yep we aren't so much in between signs here (remember 14b still needs one) but instead we have my old one which is starting to fall apart and a new much prettier one. I adore the marigold on the shelf :) The purple flowers are cornflowers (yep, I always assumed cornflowers were blue!) and lastly a sweet little pompom dahlia ready to come home.

24a (veggies)
We start off with a courgette flower, they are doing well and we have been eating baby ones in our stir fries - yummy, and my favourite way to eat them, unless it's in a cake. All the spuds are completely dried out now and home with us or in the shed in a hessian bag. Arty black and white of the garlic and a close up of the sun through a sweetcorn leaf, they are such beautiful plants.

14b dahlias and sunflower
They speak for themselves - gorgeous and coming down with sweet nectar :)

14b cosmos and dahlias
Rather perfect cosmos, clock on it to make it larger - the stamen is stunning. These particular dahlias are almost too red to look at, seriously they hurt the eyes in the bright sunlight but are a delight inside.

Tumble down sheds from the plots nearby
I took a short and careful walk about the place just looking for interesting sights or to be blown away by someone's plot. I found a lot more run down stuff than fabulousness but hey, it's pretty in it's own way I think. The last photo is pretty much one of the most perfect and productive plots there is - spuds ahoy and the healthiest looking onions, oh and barely a weed in the vicinity.

Love and Hugs
Carrie

Sunday, 20 July 2014

pink mini roses to review

It doesn't happen that often (or indeed ever) that a man other than my hubby sends me gorgeous flowers in the post. But on Friday last that's exactly what did happen to me. Fancy that! OK, so I knew they were coming; I had agreed to do a review for the flower delivery company serenataflowers.com. So calm those romantic, and intrigued hearts my dear reader.

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First off this company has promised me £30 worth of flowers for my readers (who live in mainland GB) and as my 6th blog anniversary is in 3 weeks I couldn't turn that down! I have other personal giveaways lined up too - it's time to say thank you to all who read, comment and keep me motivated to write xxx
***************

But anyway back to my own good fortune.... My flowers arrived by courier, a lady courier who smiled a special smile handing over this huge box. The box is bigger than this photo suggests, imagine I was on my knees when I took this. Sorry for unprofessionalism but I was aching to rip that sellotape off :)

Opening the box I was really surprised at the quality of the packaging, tailor made for my product. It hadn't moved an inch in transit and believe me - that is rare.

Ohhh look at it! Two mini rose plants in a gorgeous reusable metal trough. I am not joking, I was a giddy little girl when I saw this and the moss on top of the soil makes all the difference.

They even sent a sweet little card...

After some nice sunlight and a good drink they really perked up even more.

I couldn't recommend their service and my particular product highly enough. Everything about it from packaging to each leaf and bud was/is in perfect condition. It looks even better now it's a few days on and I desperately hope I can keep these babies alive for a while.



More on how you can win £30 worth of flowers or a plant from me later in the week!! Stay tuned ;)

Love and Hugs
Carrie x

Saturday, 19 July 2014

My bank holiday work (part 3 of 3)

I worked on 14b over this lovely elongated time off with my Hubby. We have been thinking again about keeping it *sigh, everyone rolls their eyes*. We've realised that without it we wouldn't have our pumpkin bed, or the rhubarb, blackberries, all the cut flowers we've invested in or room for that potager garden Andrew really wants now that the back garden here is finished etc.

So...
Tuesday 15th July
We still only really touch the lower half of the plot as the top half has the pumpkin patch and not much else to worry about. There had of course been some work done already but as I said yesterday, I didn't have my camera with me only my phone and the battery was hanging on for dear life. Hence, there are no photos of my work until Tuesday, which is fine by me as when you see the before and afters I do have here you may need a cup of tea to calm down :)

* My first task on Tuesday was to clear the poor roses and dahlias; I hadn't been over there in weeks and WOW! it was a disaster. All that lush green wasn't new happy growth on the plants as I thought, admittedly from a far, it was a weed infestation!
There is still more work to do along the left hand side but Andrew weedkiller-ed the rest of the back patch - I mean look what is right on the other side of the divide! It's simply a wild meadow over there and I just can't keep on top of all those seeds and weeds coming through! Arrgh. I hope this half plot gets a new owner soon.

* The next job was to tackle the very much failed summer raspberry bed. What a disaster - the newest canes didn't take and whatever disease they had attacked the other older summer raspberries and now we have just one plant and a few offshoots :(
then 

Utterly back breaking work but so worth it I hope, if nothing else it looks better than it did :) Those paths have weedkiller on them too, the grass and dandelions and thistles are so deeply rooted under the black membrane it would be impossible to ever be rid of them otherwise! I'm pretty sure it's organic weed killer so don't go writing nasty comments, ;)

* I also picked more, yes more, red gooseberries and made another batch of jam/jelly/ to put away. These plants are just givers alright, though I had to frighten a bird away from this one, he was only scavenging on the ground but I had things to do :)

I have lots of pretty pictures to show you of the flowers in the plots and stuff just around the place but maybe I've said enough over the past few days ~ don't want you getting too bored with me!

Love and hugs
Your
Carrie

Friday, 18 July 2014

More Bank Holiday Work

Looking back at my photos is seriously the only way I can remember what on earth happened just under a week ago! I have the worst memory out there, oh dear, I must be getting old....*sigh*

So here's what happened on the Sunday 13th July- a revelation to me just as much as it will be for you, haha. Though it must be said, it wasn't terribly exciting.

We visited a large DIY warehouse and bought another drip hose for the thirsty tea garden - it's got a beautiful birch tree, christmas box, bamboo and wisteria in it so it really loves to drink up the H2O :) The camellia of course prefers rainwater. I also got some really snazzy gardening gloves for only £3, they seemed to be out of fashion if you can get your head around that concept; I say this as there were newer, different patterned ones there for nearly twice the price. Wow, seems pink is not the colour to be gardening in! Haha, ridiculous.

Before going round to visit Mamma G we picked her out lettuce, peas, and the first beetroots. Andrew also quickly planted out the dwarf french beans and I sort of tackled 14b (more later on that). Good grief, we still haven't made our minds up about this plot; should we keep it or let it go??

I only had my half dead phone with me on this day so sadly these 2 photos is all you get....

Tuesday 15th July
We took Monday off from the Lottie but boy did we make it up on the Tuesday; we were there all day!
First I shall show you Andrew's work cos I'm nice like that and 24a is definitely less frightening to look at :)

* The cornflowers were taking over and making the whole plot look messy - it's what you see as you look at the plot and naturally allow your eye to flow down to the pergola. So they were all strung up and really look beautiful now on mass, not flopping all over the place.
* The 2 apple trees were also tied up to wire and the espalier training has begun. The bamboo canes are there to help start and keep those branches we want to grow up and out in place. I am always amazed at gardeners' ability to do this, it looks so good and gets air and sunlight around those fruit producing stems = happy plants and happy viewer.

* Lastly Andrew planted up the rest of the leeks into the now empty potatoes bed :) Leeks are super duper important to us, due to my intolerance to onions, as you'll remember.



My work on 14b? I'll share it soon..
Your Carrie xx

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Hi ho, Hi ho...Bank holiday weekend work

I wish you could hear the bird song going on outside in the back garden. It's beautiful. Do they sing because they are happy to be alive or because they need to or is it for my pleasure - today it's hard to tell.

So I'm standing here in the corner of the kitchen which looks out to all those shades of green and brown and red in the little oasis Andrew has built me; I picked a good one there :) I'm making more red gooseberry jam, only really it sets like a jelly. It's so calming to just be at the point where the kitchen has been tidied up, dishes done and all I have to do is watch over this saucepan, stirring it often and marvelling my apothecary skills :)

making red gooseberry jam  - 'growourown.blogspot.com' ~ an allotment blog

Yesterday was a truly awful day, and that doesn't even include my visit to the dentist (I deserved a sticker for my dental hygiene, why is it only kids get them, haha); today is still bad but at least I'm off the sofa and not constantly sleeping. I count that as a good thing and the start of another batch of good days to come soon.

***********
There are many a photo and tales to tell from our extended weekend. In case you were unaware, Northern Ireland just had the 12th parades which takes over the weekend, thus people get Monday off  too and in some cases even the Tuesday (Andrew is one of those lucky latter ones). We had plans to attack the allotment and visit a beautiful National Trust property but in the end is was all Lottie and watching films :)

The first few days I didn't even take my camera - I was there to work. But I had my phone and grabbed some important moments :) The first of which you all know is my favourite - digging up the spud harvest. How kind of Andrew to let me enjoy the magic furtling alone.

12th July 2014
Saxon potatoes out. We're eating these now and they are beautiful. Taste rather like Pentland Javelin but slightly waxy, they hold their shape really well. Andrew has been making Patatas Bravas with them - yum!)
Saxon potatoes  - 'growourown.blogspot.com' ~ an allotment blog

Kestrel potatoes out. My goodness the yield on this variety is insane but sadly I had to throw a lot out too, they same a little more prone to green patches and invertebrates eating away at them). We have yet to try them.
Kestrel potatoes  - 'growourown.blogspot.com' ~ an allotment blog

Some of both that show the problems of inconstant watering... rain makes them swell and then suddenly it gets warm and they dry out a good bit and spilt :(
cracked potatoes  - 'growourown.blogspot.com' ~ an allotment blog

Andrew took the last mangetout harvest and removed the peas and the frame altogether. Those were excellent mangetout; I think we have a little tiny bag left now. We've been much better at only growing what we need and not getting gluts this year, successional sowing is the key!

The perpetual spinach was thinned out by Andrew too and all the stuff in that bed look great; really healthy. I must say I am rather excited by the sweetcorn and we have even eaten a mini courgette already :)
great looking veggies  - 'growourown.blogspot.com' ~ an allotment blog

* Maggie simply wasn't in the mood for all this work, hahaha *
Maggie - 'growourown.blogspot.com' ~ an allotment blog

Bees all over the new batch of broad beans; love the big pollen lump on his leg. Bees really do love a good pea flower, at any one time there will be at least 2 or 3 bees doing their thing on this little patch.
bee at the broad bean flowers - 'growourown.blogspot.com' ~ an allotment blog

And that's enough for one day I think, plenty more to share though...
Your
Carrie xxx

Monday, 14 July 2014

Red Gooseberry Jam

Okay, so I thought I would be away from the laptop for a few days over our holiday period but no, it's absolutely pouring down and I refuse to go outside today so instead...a recipe for you :)

I have this red gooseberry bush on the plot of shame (14b) that is so prolific that I think we could be incredibly fed up with the very thought of eating red gooseberries by the end of summer. So thinking ahead I thought; 'well, I've only harvested a quarter of what's there and there's no way I am letting the birds pilfer the rest so I need to think laterally...jam, jam for the miserable winter mornings, jam for my porridge....'

Thus I made red gooseberry jam and this is how. It only made enough for half sized Kilner jar, perfect for storing away as and when I make batches.

I used the basic BBC Good Food recipe which I thought it was fabulous; my weights were different but it's always the same weight of fruit to sugar really with any jam I've made so far. Don't skip that lemon!


* first sterilise your jar/s by washing thoroughly in very hot soapy water. Rinse in very hot water and put on a baking tray and into the oven at 140C fan oven until totally dry. I usually turn the oven off and leave it/them in the oven until I need it at the end...

* put the gooseberries, juice of half a lemon and water (enough to just cover the berries) in a large wide pan (use a preserving pan if you have one). Bring to the boil then simmer for 15 minutes until the fruit is very soft and pulpy. Put 2 or 3 small saucers in the freezer (these will be used to test the setting later on)

I didn't get any scum and under the activity of top and tailing I just used my nails. I did start out with taking a little knife to both ends but somehow I felt the world was laughing at me and I was seriously wasting minutes of my life, haha.

The time wasting stops!!!
Stuff all the gooseberries, lemon juice and water in a saucepan, cook until boiling - BE CAREFUL

* Add the sugar and stir over a gentle heat for another 10 minutes until the sugar is completely dissolved.  Once you can’t feel or see any grains of sugar bring to the boil and boil hard for 10 minutes, skimming the surface as you go and stirring now and again to stop it catching.

Spoon a little jam onto a chilled saucer, leave to cool then run your finger through it. If it’s ready it will wrinkle up. If this doesn’t happen boil for another 5 minutes then keep testing and boiling until it does.


Add sugar and cook for what feels likes forever. This is how mine looked when the wrinkle test was passed.

 Do a final skim on the finished jam then pour into the sterilised jars and seal. Store in a cool dark place – the jam will be good for up to 6 months.
Pretty :) Hot jam in a hot jar - the seal works best this way as it contracts.

May the weather be less depressing where you are today but if not - bake or make jam maybe :)
Love and hugs
Carrie

Saturday, 12 July 2014

World land Trust Conservation gardening tips

This information sheet was sent to me last week, remember when I promoted the 'Donate your Garden' fundraiser project. I keep it for a slightly quieter time on the blog...say a long weekend... before I shared it. I know many of these suggestions aren't new to us but in reality I have to do much better at not cleaning up, of finally getting a dustbin lid pond sorted etc... It's great to be gently reminded xx

World land Trust tips for conservation in the garden - 'growourown.blogspot.com' ~ an allotment blog
Their list looked dull so I jazzed it up :)
Is it just me or our there 11, not 10 as advertised in their header? :)
Your 
Carrie

Friday, 11 July 2014

Happy Days Project 81 -100!

Can you Adam and Eve it! I've only gone a finished my 100 Happy Days project! What!? Yep it's been just over one hundred days (I wasn't a daily participant, so I sort of failed..) and I love this practise of finding wee moments in the everyday that deserves noting, sharing, remembering. I think I'll just darn gone start all over again and do another 100 :)

So here is the end of the story for my first 100 days..

81 aeroplanes making shadows in the sky. Yep, it's a heat wave! 82 Carrick-a-Rede with Rathlin in the background. 83 Maggie snoring away 84 Lilies in  the long border at Belfast Botanic Gardens 85 Super duper tired today!

86 Andrew's birthday cookies... Oat and chocolate giants :) 87 Sewing with permanent double vision is not easy!  But :) 88 I made it over to the fabric shop - so much loveliness! 89 Just out of the oven...oat and raisin cookies :) 90 The beautiful Ben

91 Fire pit at friends' house 92 Favourite postcard from Barcelona - putting it up in full sun wasn't the best idea. 93 Really pleased I took this guy apart and designed new wings for him :) 94 A little Posey to cheer the soul. Picked by my hubby at the #allotment last night :) 95 My little minty feathered friends :)

96 Maggie chillaxing on the hammock with me today. 97 Coffee out with friends :) Hubby's nails are super dirty from gardening ;) 98 More allotment flowers, I love this time of year!! 99 Maggie playing dress up with Andrew's scarf. 100 My coffee and I are feeling the same way. Sort of confused about life.... 

Loads more everyday photos on my Instagram :) 

It's going to be a long weekend here in N. Ireland but I have the Top 10 Conservation Tips for you via World Land Trust and I shall post them up tomorrow, to carry you over xxx

Hugs
Carrie

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Evening delight at the Lottie

Yesterday I woke up with the desire to go to the allotment, on my own, to cut the grass. Menta?!! But it is true. Sadly it was raining, all day off and on and I had other work on my hands anyway so I didn't get there until evening time. It was better after all to go later as it dried up, warmed up, Andrew was home and Maggie had rested all day and felt rather energetic.

We drove over, lazy I know but Andrew was exhausted compared to my 'must go, must work' attitude. Plus he had been the night before and got a harvest gathered so it hadn't been as long for him. 

Maggie was naturally lifted out of the car (remember her bad leg) and then bounded off into the extremely long grass and bounced along running a full speed. I swear that dog is my happiness.

Anyway, I took a few photos and thought it would be nice to share them.
Top left - the view from the car, holy poo, they said it was going to be looked after, that grass is deadly. 
Top right - keeping on top of the grass down by our own plot - I cut back even more after this photo.
Bottom - the plot, 24a - aahhhhhh.

Top left - SWEETCORN doing really well
Bottom left - COURGETTES are in flower, we only have 2, that's all we will need ;)
Right - Pentland Javelin earlies out, LEEKS in :)

Sunflower backlit by the setting sun, ironically. I thought they always faced the sun? Maybe this guy is getting ready for the morning 

Love and hugs
Off to reply to comments on last post (thank you!)
Carrie
xx

Monday, 7 July 2014

I'm feeling good

Its been an odd day but out of it I have fought through the blackness and searched out what has made me smile as I sit here. Its a simple process, and not remotely connected with anything but I thought I'd share.

Maybe it will prompt you too to see more of the happy in this day.

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* The Hammock and Maggie (both on the floor beside me but this was taken yesterday)

* Our new trellis, painted and with a new climber

* The salad spinner :)

* Making things I love

* My new in house watering can

* My flowers, Andrew picked and arranged

Much love
Carrie xx

Friday, 4 July 2014

Remembering Mount Stewart

I was contacted by the charity the World Land Trust yesterday and asked to consider supporting their gardening-themed conservation fundraising campaign, the Great Garden Give. The campaign is simple; it involves making a small donation to save an area of threatened habitat that’s the same size as your garden.
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Running until July 13, the campaign calls on anyone with a garden to estimate its size in square metres, enter the amount into a calculator on the World Land Trust website and then make the suggested donation (2.5p per square metre or £2.50 for the average-sized UK garden of 100 square metres). Each donation will allow the charity to secure the future of the same-sized area of rainforest, or other threatened habitat, in Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia or Mexico through its Buy an Acre projects. 
 Click here to go to the Great Garden Give website and pledge your plot.
 They are also asking people to tell them what their gardens mean to them and to submit photos of their garden (or their favourite garden) on the World Land Trust Facebook and Twitter. Plus there’s a Facebook competition to win gardening vouchers!
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So, anyhow this fits perfectly with my planned post for today wherein I wanted to show you one of my all time favourite gardens - the lake walk at Mount Stewart. Andrew, Maggie and I were there last month twice! The first time is was just us and I had only my camera phone but I think the photos I took are pretty good and I'd love to share them with you ~ prepare to fall in love and forget about this cold and dreary Friday :)
Mount Stewart N.Ireland ~ 'growourown.blogspot.com' - an allotment blog

Mount Stewart N.Ireland (2) ~ 'growourown.blogspot.com' - an allotment blog

We went back a fortnight later with our dear friends and their children for a picnic and to be part of the plant sale and family fun day. We had a blast and the sun was blazing. I took the 'big camera' and tried to get more captured of that stunning place as we did the same walk (the big house is being refurbished and the pleasure gardens are closed off for safety). 
Mount Stewart N.Ireland (3) ~ 'growourown.blogspot.com' - an allotment blog

Mount Stewart N.Ireland (4) ~ 'growourown.blogspot.com' - an allotment blog

Love, hugs and kisses - have a fabulous weekend friends. 
Do consider that 'Great Garden Give' campaign, and maybe share it with your social media friends using this suggested tweet:  
'Help save the world’s most threatened habitats by supporting @worldlandtrust #GreatGardenGive 
 http://bit.ly/1uAVLYg '
Carrie xx
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