Happy Ramblings

Thursday, December 18, 2014

My teal and silver vintage Christmas tree

Teal and silver vintage baubles are my favourites. I would love to have enough to fill a large white Christmas tree, but I don't have any more room for one. I am more than happy with my little table-top tree though.

This year I found a little silver vintage angel for the top of my tree and that makes my tree complete. I decided to put this one in the sitting room instead of my bedroom and have surrounded it with blue, white and silver Christmas cards to carry on the theme. It looks lovely and wintery inside now while the weather is hot and humid outside.

I have bought all of my Christmas presents now and listened to Christmas music while I wrapped them. It really is starting to feel like Christmas. All I have to do now is some grocery shopping and bake one more cake. It is great to feel so relaxed at this time of year.

I hope you are having fun preparing for your Christmas celebrations like I am.


Rose x

Russian fudge for Christmas - Yum!

On Sunday morning I made my favourite Russian fudge specially for Christmas. It is really easy to make and delicious. Not so good for the weight though, but, well, it is Christmas after all!

This batch is for a freind and I packed it in a Christmas tin that I bought from a thrift shop. Just perfect for this little treat.

Here is the recipe:

125 g unsalted butter
3 1/2 cups white sugar
3 tablespoons Golden Syrup
200 g sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla essence (don't use the artificial kind)

Place all of the ingredients, except the vanilla, into a heavy-based pan. Warm over a moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until all of the sugar has dissolved. Bring to a gentle boil and cook for about 15 - 20 minutes, until it reaches 120 degrees C (softball stage on a sugar thermometer).

Remove from the heat and add the vanilla essence. Beat either with a spoon or an electric mixer, until the fudge is thick and creamy and no longer glossy. Pour quickly into a greased 20 cm cake tin. Mark the fudge into squares and break into pieces when it is cold.

N.B. I always use a sugar thermometer when making my fudge as I am not very good at guessing when it is ready.



Rose x

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

My red and gold Christmas tree with candles

Usually I decorate my tree with white lights, but this year I decided to have real candles. I bought the candles on Ebay from Germany and the little candle holders from Latvia on Ebay. I was so excited to find them.

We used to have real candles on our Christmas tree when I was little and living in England. They were so magical to look at, it is such a lovely memory. I won't be lighting these candles as it isn't safe to do so, but I just wanted the effect.

I added to my vintage collection of spun cotton characters this year (also bringing back childhood memories). I am slowly building up my vintage/antique Christmas ornament collection year by year. Some of the decorations I have collected date back to the 1920's or earlier. I have mixed these with modern favourites too.

Happy Christmas preparations.

See you again soon.

Rose x

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

I made my Christmas cake earlier

Usually I make my Christmas cake around 3 days before Christmas because I am never organised enough with my Christmas preparations. However this weekend I used my "Last Minute Christmas Cake" recipe early.

It is such an easy cake to make, it takes no time at all. This is a lovely moist and light fruit cake. I haven't acquired the taste for rich fruit cake yet, so this one is perfect for me and is always eaten quickly by the family. Just wonderful with a glass of Damson liqueur or Port. My mouth is watering thinking about it. I must put Damson liqueur on my Christmas shopping list, yum!

Further details on how to make my last minute Christmas cake are here and here.

If you don't want to ice the cake it can even be made on Christmas morning and is ready to eat once it has cooled. But when using Royal icing and marzipan you need at least 3 days for the icing to dry and set. You can make the cake longer in advance if you want to feed it daily with brandy before icing it.

Happy baking

Until next time


Rose x

Monday, December 15, 2014

Getting Ready for Christmas - Deck the Halls

After being missing for 3 years my little green Christmas tree, with the hessian base, was found by Dad in a box in one of the sheds! Dad has a habit of putting things away like that and most are never found again. I had thought my little Christmas tree had been packed by accident with a large tree which I had given away to a thrift shop. I never thought that I would see it again, so you can imagine how delighted I was to have it back.

I decided to put my little tree in the hall this year and to decorate it simply using little red and gold baubles. Then I put tree-themed Christmas cards next to it. I save my Christmas cards each year and love to display my favourites in themes like this. Maybe I will get more cards for my Christmas tree collection this year.

I hope you are having as much fun decorating your house for Christmas as I am.

See you soon.


Rose x

Monday, February 10, 2014

A third vegetable patch!

The plan to create a third vegetable patch began by accident while turning the compost heap next to our other two vege patches.

Dad and I had been piling up grass cuttings and vegetable clippings and it was time to turn the heap. We were amazed to find that the clay soil underneath was very moist and full of worms in a very short time. So dad moved the compost heap over and dug the exposed soil by a spade depth.

Work progressed at lightning speed under the supervision of our cat Oscar, from a high vantage point, so he wouldn't miss anything that was or wasn't being done!

The newly turned heap was then left for a week until the soil underneath was soft enough to dig. This process was repeated until we had our vege patch dug completely.

Then potatoes were planted and seeds sown, including radishes, courgettes, beetroot, bok choy, cos lettuce, snow peas and dwarf French beans.

It took just over a week for the plant life to start showing through the soil.

Then everything started growing at tremendous speed in this hot and humid weather.

I took these photos this morning, a month and a half after the vege patch was completed. The potato plants have got tiny flower buds on and the courgettes have even started flowering!

I can't wait until it is time to harvest the snow peas. Yum! I am still picking snow peas from the first vegetable patch that I planted in Spring, but I am only getting about 5 pea pods a day. I can't bring myself to pull the old plants out because amazingly they have started to flower again.

The mulched area at the front of this photo is going to be planted out with winter veges including leeks. I haven't quite yet decided what else to plant here.

See you next time.

Lots of smile,

Rose x
Garden Diary

Weeded vegetable patch number one. Found some bindweed in it...eeeks!...but managed to pull all the roots out.

Trimmed the Upland cress down to 3 cm as the leaves were large and tough due to the heat and not enough water. I will have to water it every day in this weather.

Pulled out all of the mizuna. Some looked as if it had wilted, but on closer inspection the roots looked mushy. When I pulled up a plant there were hundreds of tiny 2-3 mm long white creepy crawly maggot/centipede? creatures all over the tap root. Yuck :(

I am not sure what or when to plant anything in the mizuna space just in case the horrid white creatures eat whatever I plant there. I will have to do some research on the net.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Really happy about my vegetable patch

I took these photos in December. Everything carried on growing really well and my wildflowers started to open which made me very happy :)

There was only one problem with white powdery mildew on my sprouting broccoli which I fixed quickly:

Powdery mildew fix

Spray the affected pants with a mixture of 1 litre of water and 1 cup of milk.

I sprayed the broccoli leaves on top and underneath in the evening and by the next day there was no sign of the mildew and it hasn't come back on those plants!

Wonderful and easy! The milky solution changes the pH of the leaf surface making it unfriendly to mildew...plus it is a good organic solution to the problem. I wish that I could find an easy fix for tomato leaf blight, apart from picking the affected leaves off.

The rainbow chard continues to grow quickly which is so good because I am able to harvest the leaves when they are small, tender and full of flavour. Much nicer than old tough leaves.

I love the lemon yellow and dark blue combination of the French marigolds and lobelia. I bought the seedlings from a local garden centre and all the French marigolds were supposed to be this shade of yellow. However they had mislabelled a punnet of 12 plants and when the flowers opened I was surprised that they turned out to be all mixed shades of orange and rust and burgundy.

When I next went back to the garden centre I mentioned this and they had a look at the punnets they still had. By this time the flowers were open and definately not matching the photo on the label. So I was given another punnet of 12 yellow plants for free!

Then I treated myself and bought a sage plant which I planted near the mizuna.

This evening I need to spray my rainbow chard and silverbeet with milk and water because they have now got powdery mildew. I didn't think that they were susceptible to it, but the weather is so hot an humid at the moment.

I am also going to put some more coffee grounds around the borders of the vegetable patches because I found a snail when I was weeding today. Mind you, that is the first snail that I have found since I started the vege garden in October and there's been no sign of any slugs!

Thanks for stopping by. See you soon.


Rose x
Garden Diary

Weeded a patch of soil near the tomatoes. Dug it over with a trowel. Added a bucket of potting mix and worked it in.

Scattered some "Fancy Leaf Mix" lettuce (McGregor's Seeds) over the prepared area and covered the seeds with 5 mm of potting mix.

Then Ginger walked across my seed bed...Arrrrrrrrgh!...he had snuck into the vege patch and has very big paws!


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