For auld lang syne

So, another year comes to a close. I started this year by starting this blog, because I wanted a new hobby, a creative outlet and a way of discussing and sharing my other hobbies with other like-minded people.

The first half of the year went well with my garden, my cooking, my freezing and my blogging. The second half of the year, not so much on all fronts.

However, I am ok with that, as the reason for all of that is my gorgeous daughter. That was also a goal of 2014, one which I am very happy we were able to achieve with minimum fuss (well, the pregnancy bit, anyway, life with a newborn is maximum fuss!)

Now our bub is 11 weeks old, and we are starting to feel a little bit more like parents, understanding her a bit more, and enjoying her developing personality with her smiles and cute noises. My long-neglected garden finally got a backyard blitz yesterday, as the cat naps Abby likes to take during the day don’t leave much time for the type of cultivation (and weed removal!) required. With the generous babysitting of grandparents, Jon and I were able to fix the garden back up, remove all the weeds and dead plants, and make it feel like a nice place again! Before and after shots below.

Having a baby has taught me patience, to embrace the chaos, and that sometimes you need to press pause on things, change your goals, and that’s ok. My garden has not had my attention, and that, combined with some crazy weather (heat followed by storms followed by cold followed by storms followed by heat) has led to the sad demise of plants such as my broad beans, who grew beautifully, then succumbed to Robert Downey mildew before we could harvest enough for a meal – specimens below.

I also haven’t been able to cook or blog much, partly because of lack of time, partly because of lack of energy while I processed this massive change! But again, that’s ok! Life is what happens when you’re making other plans!

New Year’s resolutions? I will keep blogging, and will return to my gardening and cooking, but with the understanding that having these activities forcibly scaled back by another amazing creation is definitely worth it! I’ll try not to become too much baby blog, but will share some highlights (or poo stories, if you want those, we’ve got plenty!)

The garden is surviving well – new tomato plants are thriving, as are strawberries – from a pre-bought plant rather than seed, something which again is ok as cultivating from seeds was a bit beyond me over the past few months! I planted some zucchini and kale yesterday, so we’ll see how we go! Some herbs are on the cards for the new year, maybe some lettuce – I am scaling back my plans to focus on things we will eat and that are low maintenance for the time being, so I feel less guilty about not being able to focus so much on the garden!

And cooking will also return, I need to make more snacks for me that are less sugary (breastfeeding makes me starving and a sugar monster!) and have more nutrition, and as the little one calms down more in the early evening, fancier meals will return! But again, the change is good, and it’s all about short-term adaptation for long-term gain.

So Happy New Year, thanks for sharing 2014 with me, and being understanding, and I look forward to more adventures in 2015!












Growing, cooking and freezing of a different kind

There has been a long delay between posts, and while there are multiple reasons, I think the longer I left it, the more epic I thought the next post needed to be, which makes it harder to start again! So, here is the small post that will restart me on regular posts again, sorry!

As you know, I’ve been growing a different kind of plant, a baby-shaped one! To stretch the metaphor, the baby was growing and cooking for most of this year, and the last few weeks of pregnancy really made it hard for me to cook or garden, as bending down or lifting things became a real challenge, with a large watermelon blocking my movements!

Our gorgeous baby girl Abigail was born in mid October, and I must admit, my life has been a bit on freeze since then, as dealing with a newborn, however cute she is, has been quite the shock to my system and way of life. I think I naively assumed that while the baby would impact on what I do, that I would be able to return to normal programming fairly quickly, because all babies do is sleep, right? Well, they do that, sometimes, when it suits them, but they also feed a lot, and as I’m breastfeeding, and recovering from a C section (little bub was breech for quite a few months, so no way of dislodging her otherwise!), it’s all quite tiring and overwhelming. I know that the first few weeks are tough, everyone says it, everyone’s been through it, but it is quite another thing to actually go through it yourself.

So my garden is definitely suffering, it’s getting watered, but not much else, ie weeding and staking have fallen by the wayside, because again, bending is a challenge! In terms of cooking, we prepped a few things before the birth, such as spaghetti sauce, burrito mix, soup and some snacks, a recipe for one of which I will share in the coming weeks, and froze them, so that’s been quite handy, as being tired and then thinking about cooking isn’t high on the list!

Once things settle down a bit, I will do some more posts about my poor garden (some storms and heat have not been kind) and some cooking I’m doing, and will probably reflect a fair bit of motherhood as well, because I hear that no-one has ever blogged about that before! 😉

To leave you with a couple of photos of the angel (when she’s not being a demonic crying monster!)



It all begins …

Well, the text all begins here, the subject matter and the idea began a while ago!

So, it’s everyone’s first time here, mine included, so let’s get to know each other a bit …

Gardening and organics
I have always enjoyed growing, cooking and eating (and freezing!) food. Since I’ve been an adult and living out of home, I’ve liked having a few pots of herbs (the cooking type, people!) on my balcony, but it has only been in the last couple of years, when I moved into a semi with a backyard (no grass, alas, it’s all about courtyard bricks and an immovable Hills Hoist that dominates, as well as the ‘prison chic’ look of the barbed wire fence separating us from the neighbouring car park … I’m really selling it, aren’t I!) that I started experimenting with growing other things, in pots. However, I often forgot to water things, or help things in the right way (fertilising, repotting etc), so there have been some high-profile disasters along the way (if anyone can tell me how to stop killing rosemary, I will be forever grateful!)

My garden!

My garden!

I have also realised that although in my day job, I research and consider and look at every angle before doing something, I’m the complete opposite when it comes to gardening, I tend to just try something (based on no experience!) and hope it works out, and then learn from it when it doesn’t … hmmm, maybe that is a reaction to the over-preparation required for my day job … sorry plants, you’re bearing the brunt of my mini-rebellion!! On the upside, I am getting better at that, actually reading up about things and taking advice prior to just planting and wishing, so this blog will also serve to remind me of the benefits of consistency, and any tips people have are always welcome!

My ever-patient and supportive husband has agreed to have a Bokashi Bucket in the kitchen, which is a great way to create the start of compost without the smells inside – it’s a sealed rubber bin, where you put the scraps and then put some organic matter (basically fancy woodchips!) on it to help it break down and not smell!! You’re then supposed to put it under soil outside to rejuvenate the soil, but as we don’t have an actual garden, it’s all about the compost bin for me, which is working very well – a little too well, however, as obviously we create way more compost than we can use, so I’m always happy to give it away!

I have become increasingly interested in organic eating (hence the growing), and am particularly focused on organic fruit and veggies, as well as considering the benefits of organic meat and dairy. We have recently signed up to FoodConnect for their regular organic box deliveries, and are enjoying a fortnightly game of ‘Masterchef Mystery Box’ cooking! However, I also love planning meals and making things in advance, which is why we’re doing a fortnightly box rather than a weekly box, as I still like to have some control over what we eat when.

Cooking and freezing

I also love recycling, reusing, repurposing – my view is that if you’ve got even the smallest bit of something left over from cooking something, it can be frozen or stored and used in something else. I really enjoy cooking, nothing satisfies me more than the fridge and freezer full of containers of homemade soups, stews, casseroles, iceblocks, fruit, stock and anything else not tied down! I enjoy making our own healthy food and snacks, like protein bars, and I also am quite into making sourdough bread, I have a homegrown sourdough starter that’s been a guest in our fridge for almost 3 years now, and I’m certainly still working on perfecting those loaves!

Home-baked sourdough goodness!

Home-baked sourdough goodness!

As a former English major, I also like to write, and I thought rather than continuing to bore friends and family on Facebook and in person with pictures of my latest garden success or culinary adventure, I’ll make a particular place where all of that stuff can go, and people can read it (or not) as they see fit.

So, I’ll try and post around once or twice a week, maybe more if I get inspired, (and probably a lot more in the beginning as I have lots of ideas and pictures to share with you all!) and it will be a mix of things – pictures from my garden, with accompanying stories of my triumphs and disasters, posts about things I’ve cooked, eaten and discovered, kitchen and household tips (I love to freeze things and use things up in innovative ways), musings on my life and the world in general.