Tuesday, 30 September 2014

the year in books: september

Last month's read Perfect by Rachel Joyce was just that, perfect. I loved it. The writing is beautiful. Insightful and very descriptive. The story held me captivated all the way to the end. The characters were so well drawn they seemed real. Perfect definitely deserves a recommendation.

Rachel's first novel The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry has also been added to my reading pile.

I've just started reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

Joining as always with Laura for the year in books.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

grow, forage, cook: plum jam

Plum jam is possibly my favourite. Although I don't think I've ever met a jam I don't like.

A little while ago, my lovely neighbour called one afternoon with three kilos of plums from his garden. To say I was delighted is an understatement. I knew I wanted to have a go at making plum jam. 'Don't let it go too long or you'll have toffee.' With Eric's advice ringing in my ears, I started jamming.

After taking a kilo of plums, halving them and removing the stones, I put them in my biggest saucepan and added 225ml of water. I simmered them gently over a medium heat for about 20 minutes until the fruit had softened.

While the plums simmered I warmed 700gms of granulated sugar in the oven. My granny warmed sugar for jam so that it dissolved more easily and didn't become grainy. I put it in the oven in a dish along with the jars which were sterilising on a low heat.

To the softened plums, I added the warm sugar and simmered for another 15 minutes. When the sugar dissolved completely I boiled the jam quickly for 10 minutes. I checked for 'set' using the cold plate method. When the jam reached setting point I took it off the heat, letting it cool slightly before pouring into sterilised jars. It's really lovely with freshly baked scones.

I attempted spiced plum jam with the remaining plums adding a teaspoon each of ground cinnamon and mixed spice. It tastes delicious but I either stirred it too much or didn't boil it for long enough so it never really set. I'm calling it confiture, a lovely soft set French jam and declaring it a success.

Have you been jamming this year? What's your favourite flavour?

Joining in with the lovely ladies at Circle of Pine Trees and Wolves in London for their 'grow, forage, cook' series.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

precious things

I am really excited to have been asked by Sarah, a lovely blogging friend to collaborate on her new monthly series entitled Precious Things. Sarah has a beautiful blog called Mitenska, full of stunning photography and lovely writing.

So what's it all about? Precious Things is about celebrating little treasures. The things you'd want to save in the event of a fire (aside from living things of course). And recognising why they are so important to us.

What makes something precious? Precious things evoke memories of places and times past. Baby's first shoes, holiday mementos and old family photographs. All just as precious as gold or jewels.

The things I regard as precious are not necessarily valuable or expensive. They have stories attached. The stories of how they came to be mine and the memories they conjure up. They hold a special place in my heart.

For this month's precious thing, I have chosen a little silver snuff box featuring Eyebright one of Cicely Mary Barker's Flower Fairies. After I admired it at a market stall in Covent Garden Market, my lovely man bought it for me as a surprise. It's a treasured souvenir of our last visit to London nearly ten years ago.

We both adore London but haven't visited since the Christmas after we married. Three little ones have hampered our freedom to travel. But this little trinket rekindles many happy memories. It makes me want to visit again. One day, we will.

Thanks so much Sarah. I've really enjoyed choosing one of my favourite things to share here.

You'll find the other Precious Things posts at the links below. Do pop over and take a look. I know you'll enjoy them.

Sarah at Mitenska
Leanne at Today's Stuff
N at Creative Academia

Saturday, 13 September 2014


A collection of sorts. Found last weekend on our woodland walk. The wee ones were delighted with their autumn treasure. These conkers are pretty tiny though. The search for bigger ones continues.

Joining in with the lovely Caroline from scraps of us for her collections series. 

Saturday, 6 September 2014

last days of summer

It's been quiet here in this little space of mine. Normal service will resume soon. We're been enjoying these last summer days. This past week has been sunny and bright. Though there's a definite coolness in the air. 

The light is beautiful at the moment. All glowy and soft. I love this time of year and the inevitable change of season. 

Tomorrow morning we are going to the woods. We've planned a picnic. The little ones are hoping for conkers. Fingers crossed we find some.

Hope you all have a lovely Sunday.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

the year in books: august

By the skin of my teeth. My year in books August post. Last month I read That Summer at Hill Farm by Miranda France. It is a well written first novel set on a farm in the English countryside.

The main plot centres around Hill Farm and Hayes, the farmer, his wife Isobel and their three children. The village inhabitants, who are a little stereotyped, play a role in the drama which unfolds in this idyllic rural setting.  The author has a natural writing style which I really enjoyed. She eloquently describes life in the countryside. Both the good and bad.

The novel does drift occasionally though and comes to an unresolved end which left me feeling slightly shortchanged. Despite this, That Summer at Hill Farm is worth reading. I'd definitely read future novels by Miranda France.

For the year in books in September I've chosen Perfect by Rachel Joyce. I'm hoping it lives up to its recommendation from The Times. 'You will end up recommending this wild, searching book to everyone you know.' I'll let you know next month if I reckon a recommendation is deserved.

Joining in as always with Laura.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

simple pleasures

Simple pleasures which made me happy recently.

: :    All the blues. Skies, sheets and pegs.
: :    Bees and butterflies on the oregano. 
: :    The scent of thyme flowers. 

A record of these simple happy things. So reminiscent of summer as the seasons begin to change again. The weather here is blustery at best and has been properly cold some days. 

Autumn is my favourite season. But shouldn't we have just a little more summer? What do you think? Are you looking forward to the change of season?