Tea and Scones on the Allotment

rhubarb jam on scones

Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC) Awareness Week 12th – 18th May 2014

I was asked to take part in Tea and SCones for TSC blog tour, to raise awareness of Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC), and of course I was delighted to help.

Tuberous Sclerosis Complex is a rare genetic condition that can cause epilepsy, learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorder and renal problems; those affected may also have tumours on vital organs. There is currently no cure for TSC, so the Tuberous Sclerosis Association (TSA) is inviting the nation to host Tea and SCones for TSC parties to raise fund and awareness.

Over the weekend I had my very own tea and scones at the allotment, with rhubarb jam. The weather was a bit chilly and very windy but the tea soon warmed me up (I would’ve taken a photo of the allotment scenery but to be honest I didn’t think my weedy plot would be of interest!). I’m a little bit in love with the rhubarb jam I made so I thought I’d share the recipe on the blog, it’s a great way to enjoy rhubarb all year round. If you can manage to eat rhubarb without scrunching your face, then, and only then, will you love this jam. It’s seriously rhubarb(y) and definitely not for wimps.

rhubarb jam

Rhubarb Jam

(makes approximately 4-5 jars depending on size)

1 Kg Rhubarb (forced or unforced stems)

850 g Jam sugar

Cut the rhubarb stems into inch pieces, add sugar and rhubarb pieces in layers to a large pan, leave the pan overnight to allow the rhubarb juices and sugar to combine to make a syrup. The following day, bring the pan to a steady boil (stirring occasionally before boiling point). Boil for 6-7 minutes then test for setting point by using a sugar thermometer or wrinkle test on a chilled plate (place a small amount of jam on a chilled plate using a teaspoon, push the jam across the plate with your fingernail, if the jam wrinkles then your jam should set well). When setting point is reached remove pan from the heat and rest for a few minutes before pouring the jam into clean warm jars. Personally, I don’t add anything else because I’m a true rhubarb fan, but you could add ginger. If you’re a wimp.

If you’re interested in hosting your own Tea and Scones for TSC party to raise funds and awareness, visit tuberous-sclerosis.org.uk for more information, and share your photos and recipes with @UKTSA #TeaandSCones

Money raised from the tea parties will help the TSA support affected families and fund much-needed medical research. If you have time, please check out the following fab blogs, also taking part in the blog tour:

The Book Sniffer

Mammasaurus

Bake Good

Me and my Shadow (scheduled Friday 16th May)

 

 

The Big Allotment Challenge

allotment shed

Silver River Productions, a TV company based in London are currently in production for a BBC2 primetime gardening show ‘The Big Allotment Challenge’. The series follows a handful of talented amateur kitchen gardeners as they transform a plot of earth into a patch of beauty and reveal all the wonderful possibilities that can be unlocked from allotment growing. Kitchen gardening and growing your own produce is an amazing way to live and this series celebrates that.

They are looking for contestants to feature in the series, those who have the skill and dedication and who could dig their way to victory and be crowned the winner of The Big Allotment Challenge. People who can cultivate the perfect carrot, make their green tomatoes into award winning chutney and turn their dahlias and sweet peas into floral arrangements fit for a Queen.

So whether you’re an allotment holder, a city living window box grower or a gardening enthusiast, they want to hear from you!

It couldn’t be easier to apply, all you need to do is email grow@silverriver.tv for an application form.

Good luck!

Uh Oh! The Big 4-0!

40th birthday balloons

Yesterday was my birthday. The BIG 4-0. Yikes!

bouquet of flowers

bouquet of flowers

I had a lovely day full of surprises, wonderful presents, beautiful flowers, balloons and a relaxing lunch with Rich at our favourite country pub.

 heart balloon

I danced the night away with my wonderful family and had a few too many glasses of bubbly (of course).

Happy New Year 2014

As a kid I was often told that the years fly by when you’re a grown up, and don’t they just. As a brilliant growing year comes to an end I’m already looking forward to all the exciting things to come for us gardeners and wildlife enthusiasts, such as laying out seed potatoes to chit in egg boxes….

chitting seed potatoes

Spring colour….

forget me nots

Frogspawn….

frogspawn

Bird song…. Tweet, tweet, twittery tweet…….

The first seedlings of the year….

tomato seedling

Blossom….

fruit blossom

And buzzing bees….

bumblebee

Happy New Year to you all, here’s to another brilliant gardening year!

Happy Christmas

Christmas decor

Happy Christmas everyone, thank you for taking the time to visit and comment on the blog and welcome all our new followers!

christmas bauble

For those visiting allotment plots or raiding the vegetable patch over the festive period, I hope your harvests are good! Enjoy those Christmas potatoes, parsnips and sprouts.

Karen x

Bringing the Outside In

yule decorations

I’ve really enjoyed decorating the house for the festive holiday, the lingering scent of a fresh tree sets the mood for me. There’s something special about fresh greenery in the house at Christmas / Yule, it’s so cheery and beautiful to look at, and it smells wonderful too.

christmas decoration ideas

I dressed the fireplace mantle using fresh sprigs of pine, fresh pine cones and ivy from the garden, a simple lit berry garland adds a touch of sparkle. Windowsills were dressed with a mixture of pine branches and ivy, pine cones and bunched cinnamon sticks tied with raffia and dried fruit on wires.

yule decoration

yule decoration ideas

Do you like my festive wire Oak tree?

Do you like my festive wire Oak tree?

Add a festive touch to your home by bringing a little of the outside in, use things from the garden or collect bits on a walk.

Halloween

halloween pumpkins

Happy Halloween and Samhain blessings, have a great night and weekend x

A Walk Before the Storm

dog walking in Browns Wood

We visited one of our favourite places to walk yesterday, a chance to give our dog a good run and sniffing adventure before the anticipated storm arrived to knock our socks off. It was also a great opportunity to take some photos of beautiful Browns Wood at this magical time of year.

browns wood in autumn

It was a perfect autumnal day and the woods offered plenty of beautiful subjects to photograph. Glowing Field Maple leaves caught my attention, the exotic colour highlighted further by sunlight streaming down onto the tree branches from above.

browns wood

Looking around at the ground I often find things of interest, like this forgotten tree stump covered in a thick coat of Ivy.

Ivy-covered tree stump

Dried teasel line a long path, separating the new section of woodland from the field beyond. Long grasses sway in the wind, wildflower seed heads rattle eerily, scattering seeds everywhere.

teasel backlit

long grasses

Deeper into the ancient woods, light struggled to filter through from above, creating dramatic light, colour and long shadows.

autumn maple leaves

browns wood in autumn

beech leaves in autumn

Exiting the ancient woods, dark and dramatic shadows greet the light from the fields beyond.

dog walking in browns wood

Browns Wood is a wonderful place to visit and we’re incredibly lucky to have this magical place on our doorstep. For more information about Browns Wood, take a look at this previous blog post http://thegardensmallholder.wordpress.com/2013/03/30/a-visit-to-browns-wood/

Heavy rain fell overnight and it appears our location escaped the damaging wind. Looking at news reports today, others were not so lucky with gusts of up to 105 mph, trees coming down, flooding and loss of power.

Counting Butterflies

peacock butterfly

Taking part in the Big Butterfly Count took me out of my zoned out state of mind for a while, giving me something else to think about other than how incredibly numb and sad I feel at the moment. Since my last post regarding the loss of one of our beloved dogs, sadly my Nan passed away a couple of days ago. It was expected, she’d been terminally ill for a long while. Although I’m relieved she’s no longer suffering, my heart is crushed. At 39 years old I know how lucky I was to still have a grandparent to confide in, to be spoilt rotten by. I will miss that.

I loved listening to her stories. We recently giggled together like a couple of school girls over her confession of having had a huge crush on Stewart Granger in her younger years. She was a beautiful lady; skin as soft as silk, olive complexion and hardly a wrinkle, sparkling eyes and a naughty grin.

peacock butterfly

I spent 15 minutes counting butterflies the day after her passing, mesmerised by their beauty and grace, smiling inside, because they reminded me of her.

Wordless Wednesday

broad bean plants, broad beans

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