Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Gardening, crafting, reading, eating.... my weekend.

We have this lovely crocosmia in the garden, 'Lucifer', such a vibrant red, and set against a backdrop of tall, dark hedging of pyracantha, it really stands out. We also have a mini crocosmia in an ambery shade, and they are among our favourite plants because they come back year after year and require little attention, just the deadheading you do when the flowers have gone over. The astilbe is one of two, the other, like the crocosmia is a mini version, and really this larger one, which is many years old, needs to be taken out of the large pot it's in and planted near the pond. Each year there are less flowers, and it gets stressed out without lots of water, so planting it in some moist soil alongside the pond, would suit it better I think. But I love the featheryness of the flowers, and the contrast of the pink and green is pleasing, gentle, a contrast to the crocosmia which is definitely more in your face.
Down at the bottom of the garden we have a contorted/twisted willow, which I bought for a pound, a sad looking twisty twig in a pot. I bought it home, repotted it into a bigger pot, and it grew from this foot high miserable twig to a three foot handsome twisted walking cane twig. So, we planted it in the ground several years ago, and it is about ten feet tall, and beautiful. But... it seems to be in a bit of trouble, with the amount of foliage reduced by almost half this year, lots of dead twisty twiggy bits, and I am thinking it has come to the end almost. Should it be pruned, cut down... will that encourage more growth or kill it? I may just take it out and replace it with a rowan, or something of that ilk, something providing interest all year round. The willow, in winter, is just a collection of twisted branches and stems, but in its own way, I find that beautiful, and interesting, and if we ever have decent frosts, it looks even better. Were it nearer the house and more visible, I would leave it as a holder for fairy lights in winter.

I like to mix my reading between the make believe and the factual, as you can see. The JG Ballard is one I had been meaning to read, one of those books you hear about but never get around to buying or reading. Can't say I enjoyed it, such a disappointment really since most people I know who have read it, had nothing but praise for it. Maybe I wasn't in the right mood, but I found it a bit of a trial to read. Not so the Debbie Macomber, another of her books set in a small New England community.. I seem to be drawn to books set in that area, Anita Shreve being a favourite author of such books. 'The Monk Who...' book is about... well, what it says on the jacket! It's one of those self-help (in a way), feel good, change your life sort of books, about a hot shot lawyer who had a near fatal heart attack in the courtroom, which event caused him to re-evaluate his life and go on a spiritual odyssey to an ancient culture. Not to everyone's taste, and probably this was the last of this type of books I bought. I do have quite a few, buying into the culture that was prevalent a few years ago, and still is, that if you change this or that about yourself, your life, then you will find fulfillment and so on. To some, a load of boloney... to others who believe it, a real life-changing experience. I thought, at the time, that I needed to change things to make me a better, different, person. I realised though, that I was ME, that basically, although I have many faults, I was happy with this person, and that no amount of reading books would change me. Only ME could change ME, and only if I wanted to, only if I was willing to put in the great amount of work it would need to bring about a new ME. But you know, I am changing as I get older, without doing any work. I am still bossy, still controlling, though have found it easier to let go in certain areas. I am still happy with me, but there are certain parts of my psyche that won't change, but it all makes me who I am, the person my husband fell in love with, the person my close friends love too, so why change? But still, the books are interesting to read sometimes. For a change.
Matthew Kneale's book, ENGLISH PASSENGERS, was another of those books people said I should read, and whilst saying I should do anything is like a red rag to a bull and is likely to (still, at my age) make me do the opposite or not do what they say I should at all, I got it, and again, can't say I was particularly enthralled, and doubt it will be read again. Fannie Flagg's book, FRIED GREEN TOMATOES AT THE WHISTLE STOP CAFE, another of those 'You must read this' books, was worth the read, and the second reading too.

I love to pick flowers from the garden, usually at the weekend, and this is the latest bunch, of crocosmia, deep purple dark-chocolate smelling buddleia, feverfew, curry plant, an anonymous one which has black stems and white flowery bits (some sort of elder I believe, maybe), delphiniums, long stemmed lavender (because it is struggling to get its flower heads above surrounding plants and catch some rays) and large daisy flowers too. They only last a few days indoors, longer at the moment because the temperature has dropped so much, ten degrees down on last week, but they give such pleasure, don't they, flowers? Especially when you have walked around like the lady of the manor, in your flowing skirt and straw hat, secateurs in hand, trug over the arm, picking and choosing carefully, just which flowers will grace the hearth or table.

I have again been making a small knitted bag, this time in palest green wool with a jazzy lining. I love it. I think I may make some more and sell them, or try to... maybe even set up a separate blog to sell my hand made crafty bits. I had intended having a stall at a local fete or something, nearer Christmas, when folk would be looking for reasonably-priced gifts maybe, but I have lots of days when I feel a bit woozy in the head, and don't feel safe, and sometimes not well enough to be left behind a stall or anywhere for that matter. So a little webspace, blogspot, would be easier. In some ways at least. But this is the finished bag below, and as I make them, I try to think of different uses for them, to try and broaden their appeal.

We had a delicious apple pud at the weekend. Desserts using apples, fresh fruit in general, are my favourites, and when I can use our own from the garden, well, that's even more satisfying. But, if I want Bramleys, I am having to buy them at the moment, and so I made a toffee apple pudding. Not one for the calorie/sugar conscious amongst you, so you have been warned!
You make a sponge with 3oz melted butter mixed with 7 fl oz milk, a beaten egg and a tsp of vanilla extract, added to a bowl containing 5oz self raising flour, 4oz golden caster sugar, a tablespoon baking powder and pinch of salt which you mix together to a smooth batter. On the bottom of your pudding dish you lay two peeled, cored and sliced Bramley apples (or any other cooker), then pour the batter on top and smooth with a knife. Then you pour 250ml of boiling water over 5oz soft, dark brown sugar and stir until smooth. Pour it over the pudding mix, scatter over a couple of ounces chopped pecans and bake for about 40 minutes until risen and golden, at 180C/gas 4. When you dunk the spoon in to serve, the bottom will be covered with ever so slightly tart apples and a rich toffee-like sauce. It is delicious served warm, with either a pouring custard, cream or good vanilla ice cream. ENJOY!!!
And finally.... just a serious note for a moment. I heard from Katie (calico kate) this morning, that they had another emergency with her husband Brian last night, which resulted in his being airlifted from local hospital, to Glasgow Royal in the early hours of this morning. I won't go into details, but I know Katie won't mind my telling you, so could we all send healing thoughts? Thank you.


Fennie said...

You have been busy. Great pics. Please give Kate my very best wishes and a Purple Hug.

Mid Life Hopes said...

What a busy Bee you are my dear!!
Love the hand bag, so sweet!
Love the garden, and wish I knew more about plant life. Maybe one day, I can be better about that.
In the meantime, I will always rely on your knowledge, I mean after all, I have Vicar's with little prayer books and such.
Fried green tomatoes what a lovely treat, one of my favorites, and speaking of tomatoes going to have BLT's this evening.
The book and the movie are wonderful too!
Quite a story "Fried Green Tomatoes"
Wonderful blog !!!!
Sending hugs and prayers for Kate and B. !!
xx MLH :)

Frances said...

Beautiful thoughts throughout this post.

Caring wishes and hugs are on their way to Kate. xo

ChrisH said...

Best wishes to Kate from me too.

On a happier note, I love Fannie Flagg's writing. My personal fave is 'Welcome to the World, Baby Girl!'

seashell cosmos said...

super lovely flowers set of even more against that gorgeous painted wall! I have crocosmia lucifer here too that the hummingbirds are visiting. Oh that bag!!!

sending more hugs and prayers for Kate and B.

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