Thursday, June 16, 2011

A flower for all you Daddies...

June... What a beautiful month. The garden is a riot of colours and, oh, so green. Everything looks fresh and bright. Nothing yet scorched by the New Jersey heat. The bugs are manageable. The heat, tolerable, and the nights, long. Nothing short of perfect.

Dads are rewarded with the best month of the year. I always thought that my Dad had a better day to celebrate being a parent than my Mum. I mean, back in Blighty, Mother's Day is celebrated when winter hasn't been fully ushered out of the door. At least, here, in the States, I get to celebrate it in May when things are definitely on the up and up. Dads, on the other hand, get cool beers, barbecues, and beautiful sunshine! You lucky Daddies, you!

This past week, I had a mid-week reward of the hubby being home during the day. The sun was shining and it was a perfect garden day. So, while he entertained the girls, I did a spot of dead-heading, in an attempt to prolong the beauty that has been bestowed on my garden at the moment. As I clipped the delphiniums back, I just had to pop the very tops (which were still in bloom) in a jug. This year, they looked stunning. They stood so tall, one plant garnished 8 spires of electric-blue flowers. Truly amazing... I only hope I'll get a second crop of them like I have with my lupines. I'm not banking on it, though, as I just couldn't bare cutting them back. So, I think that they may have gone to seed. We'll see though.

Anyhoo, the hubby chilled in his hammock (an early Father's Day gift brought back from Blighty) and the girls made mud pies in the birdbath... I like to think of it as a spa treatment for my little feathered friends. It was one of those days were I just smiled and thanked my lucky stars...

So, my Friday Flower this week is dedicated to all you Daddies out there... not that many guys read this, I imagine, but you can pass it on if you feel inclined... This year, I have dear friends that have just become Daddies... some that will become Daddies imminently, "been-around-the-block" Daddies, step-Daddies, and, of course, my Daddy and my girls' Daddy. Each and everyone of you are amazing. You have big shoes to fill. You hold the hearts of your children in your hands, and yours will be forever in theirs.

Have a great weekend all.

If you would like to join in with this weeks Friday Flower, simply use the linky widget below to link to your flower inspired post. The more the merrier!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Goats Cheese & Red Pepper Quiche

There are some foods that are more powerful than their taste alone. In fact, some foods can be very bland in taste but still evoke a memory. A memory of happy times... and so, this becomes the reason why this food is in your repertoire. I have so many foods that fall into this category, whether it be the crispy skin of a jacket potato taking me back to bonfire night,  a vinegar soaked chip conjuring up images of rainy beaches and vinegar soaked chip paper, or simply, best butter on a freshly baked farmhouse loaf eaten at my granddad's seersucker covered table... all blissful times, relived in the first taste of these simple, yet delicious foods.

Now, this past week, the sun was shining and the girls were playing on the lawn, when my eldest asked for a picnic to be brought out. In my mind, I conjured up all manner of picnic foods... however, the girls were more than happy with cheesy puffs, turkey sandwiches, and grapes... Not me, though... once the seed had been sown, I had to make the perfect picnic food...and nothing says picnic to me like quiche...

When I was little, my mum would knock up a cheese and onion quiche in an afternoon... perfect to eat alfresco. This simple dish conjures up images of tartan blankets, wicker hampers, bowls of strawberries, elderflower cordial and hazy sunshine... Granted, life was probably not like that, and this is more likely a scene from Darling Buds of May (50's style feel-good sitcom), but you're getting the picture...
Anyhoo, quiches have evolved from the days of Quiche Lorraine, and much more sophisticated combinations are being put together. So, while I love the old school combos, I decided I'd bake a red pepper and goat's cheese quiche. I am a fiend for goat's cheese and feel I could eat it all day long, given the chance. So, being able to serve it up in quiche form, coupled with the sweetness of red pepper, is just pure bliss for me.

So, later that afternoon, I donned my pinny (apron), channelled my inner fifties house wife, and baked the perfect picnic food. Even the hubby (not a quiche fan) loved it. I savoured the salty goat's cheese juxtaposed against the sweet red pepper and red onion, all wrapped up in fluffy eggs and crusty pastry... Mmmm... If only I could have persuaded him to drag out the hamper and blanket onto the lawn... second thoughts, I think he'd have thought I was just plain barking...
I'd love to hear what your favourite summer / picnic food is. I could do with expanding my repertoire...
Take care all.

 Recipe for Goats Cheese & Red Pepper Quiche

25g butter
2 eggs
1 red onion,finely chopped  
280ml half & half or light cream
200g goats cheese (I used the kind with rind on but you can use crumbled too)
1 red bell pepper, deseeded and sliced length-ways

280g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
140g cold butter 
8 tbsp iced water

  1. To make the pastry, tip the flour and butter into a bowl, then rub together with your fingertips until completely mixed and crumbly. Add approximately 8 tbsp iced water... just enough to bring everything together with your hands until just combined. Roll into the pastry into a ball. Try to handle the pastry as little as possible.
  2. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to a round about 5cm larger than your quiche dish / tin. Use your rolling pin to lift it up, then drape over the tart case so there is an overhang of pastry on the sides. Using a small ball of pastry scraps, push the pastry into the corners of the tin. By using the pastry to push into the corners, you'll prevent tears in your pastry case. Chill in the fridge or freezer for 20 mins. 
  3. Heat oven to 400F/200C/gas 6. While the pastry is chilling, heat the butter in a pan and cook the onion for approximately 20 mins, stirring occasionally, until they become sticky and golden. Remove from the heat.
  4. Lightly prick the base of the tart with a fork, line the tart case with a large circle of foil, then fill with baking beans (no baking beads, then use dried beans or rice). Blind-bake the tart for 20 mins, remove the foil and beans, then continue to cook for 5-10 mins until biscuit brown.
  5. Meanwhile, beat the eggs in a bowl, then gradually add the cream. Stir in the onions and half the goats cheese, then season with salt and pepper. Carefully tip the filling into the case (leave enough room for the peppers. Add the sliced red pepper and the rest of the goats cheese, then bake for 20-25 mins until set and golden. Leave to cool in the case, trim the edges of the pastry, then remove and serve in slices.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A rose for a rose...

Hello poppets,
I'll start today by saying a BIG thank you for all the lovely comments on my last post. I really was feeling a little apprehensive about sharing my little old kitchen with you. There are so many awe-inspiring kitchen pictures out there in blogland... Popping a piccie up of mine was a little daunting, but all I heard was positive comments. So, I feel all those evenings painting weren't wasted! If you didn't catch it you can always read the post here.

Anyhoo, the sun has been shining here in NJ and it has been hot, hot, hot!!! So much so, that I was padding across the garden with a bowl of ice to drop in the bird bath, so my little avian friends could take a nice, cool dip. I think they were very appreciative, as it was a hive of activity all afternoon. I even locked the cat indoors, so that they could be refreshed without the fear of being jumped at any given moment. She's a stealth hunter and positions herself behind a peony, ready to pounce on any poor bird taking a bath... like a scene from Psycho, but reenacted with cats and birds!

The garden has all but transitioned from spring to summer. The spring blooms have gone to seed and the summer blooms are starting to put on their razzle-dazzle. The perennial flowers are opening up and are as bright and bold as ever. It always amazes me how big they get with each successive year and leaves me wondering whether I can squeeze any more in! This season, my perennial of choice has been yarrow (Achillea millefolium). I feel a border punctuated with this just screams English cottage garden. So I popped in a lovely yellow specimen this past week and am now figuring where to shoehorn in a couple more.

So, with the garden well and truly on my mind these days, I picked up another little rose for the Friday Flower this week. I posted a similar one back in March. After it had finished blooming, I popped it in the garden... now, it is in full bloom again and looks a treat! Not bad for a $3.49 supermarket special!
I figured, this weekend, I'll plant this one in the raised bed and see how it fairs.

Oh, and why the rose this week? Well, that would be in honor of my Mum. Her birthday was this past Thursday. She is a true English rose and, with a June birthday, it's only fitting that I dedicate a rose to her this week. This lady means the world to me and, even though there are 3000 miles between us, I carry her with me every day, in everything I do. I love you, Mum, and only wish I had been there in person to share your special day with you!

So, my dears, the week is drawing to a close and the weekend is upon us. We have a trip to the NYC Children's Botanical Garden (my daughter being a prize winner for a local competition she entered) and, other than that, I plan on lazing around this old place... although a week off from the painting and I'm already thinking about what my next project should be...

Wishing you all the weekend you want it to be!
Take care and catch you next week.

If you would like to link up with this weeks (belated) Friday Flower, simply use the linky widget below to  link to your flower inspired post!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Another phase in the kitchen re-do...

Hello there,
Hope you all had a fantastic weekend!
I was hoping to get this post out on Sunday night, but we were blessed with a nice chilly evening, and so, after a day spent in the garden, we decided to drag the fire pit out and chill with a cuppa on the patio. The evening would have suited a nice Rioja perfectly, but, as it was a school night, tea had to suffice.
Anyhoo, before our impromptu garden campfire, I grabbed a few minutes away from the kiddies to take some shots of the kitchen.

Now, I have to say, I felt a bit silly taking pictures of our run-down, haphazard kitchen... I mean, yes, it has just had a lick of paint, but it's hardly Homes and Gardens... I spend an inordinate amount of time drooling over lip-smackingly gorgeous kitchens (you should see the stack of my well-thumbed issues of Country Living and the likes), and so, when faced with my kitchen through the lens, I saw it with a critical eye, and it appeared exactly what is was: a tiny, old kitchen with a new paint job and a lot of stuff packed in!

Now, I'm not going to downplay my own personal pleasure as to what I have achieved. As for me, it was a pain-staking job... I did the prep-work and painted between the hours of 8pm until 11pm most weeknights. I asked a contractor friend for tips and the best way to complete this daunting task, and I followed his advice to the letter...

... and I am ecstatic with the finish. To be honest, I don't think I could have paid and gotten better...

...but, I imagine for many out there, you look at this little space and say, 'Now, there's a place in need of an update' and you'd be right... but we all have to make the best of what we've got!
So, the cabinets are still old, but have now been refreshed and given a new lease on life. My kitchen is still tiny, but the bright colour opens it up....

I used to refer this room as Dracula's Coffin, because of the red walls and overbearing wood... The picture below makes it look much nicer than it actually was (and even this looks bad...)
Picture from original house specification.
But, now, the macabre look has all but gone... and replaced by a much lighter cottage kitchen... not one worthy of Country Living, granted, but for me, the difference is immense...
Picture from original house specification.
We've still a way to go... the counter tops have yet to be replaced with butcher block...

... all the appliances need replacing...

... I dream of a farmhouse sink some day... subway tile back-splash...

... new light fittings... Oh, and a new ceiling...

... and much, much more.

But for now, I'll take it... I'm happy... happy to have finished painting. Happy to have a space I want to spend time in!

If you would like to read some more kitchen posts, check out why red features so heavily here or read about my conundrum with distressing chairs here!
Take care all and thanks for popping by.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Friday Flower and a sneak peek...

I told you I'd be back and, as it's Friday, I just had to post a Friday Flower. While on blogging hiatus, I had stopped my weekly tradition of bringing blooms into our home and, I have to say, there was definitely some sparkle missing around this old place.

The garden is in a transition phase at the moment, as the spring flowers give way to the showy blooms of summer. Even though their petals are tightly-wrapped, I know it's only a matter of a week or so before my hydrangeas display all their beauty... and, let me tell you, I have quite a number of hydrangeas packed into my little garden, so I'm itching to see them in all their glory! Most were picked up and planted at the end of last summer... taking full advantage of the end of season sales. It's always touch-and-go when I do this each year, as I hope that they have established themselves before the onslaught of winter... but, hey, enough of this talk of winter... It's June, the sun is shining, the sandals are on, and the freezer is stacked with juice pops!

Anyhoo, while I patiently await the hydrangea arrival, I popped to the supermarket for this week's Friday Flower and picked up these... not from my garden, but beautiful all the same... I just love the delicate shade of pink (yep, the girls picked the flowers this week)...
... and, this week, my flower is dedicated to all you lovelies... Thank you so much for sticking with me while I've been away and a B-I-G thank you to all my new followers. You guys jumped on board during the lean times, and that just warms my heart. I hope to keep you with me... I so enjoy this little tete-a-tete we have....

Oh, and next week, I'll be showing you the old kitchen cabinets... that's them, there in the background... want a closer look? Check back next week!
Take care all and have a great weekend!

If you would like to share a bloom inspired post, simply click on the linky widget below, linking to your post. Everyone loves a flower!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

An anniversary bench...

Hello, poppets.
Oohhh, have I been busy? The answer to that is yes! My day-to-day life has ripped me away from my little blog, but I'm back.
My evenings have been spent painting... every single weeknight from 8 'til 11. This is usually my blog time, so my poor old blog has suffered. But, you know, when I started this old blog, it was to document the renovation of this old place, and so, sometimes, I'll have to take a break to get those projects done. I hope you understand and forgive me for neglecting you... I have missed you all...

Anyhoo, the other Friday was my wedding anniversary. Six glorious years with the hubby, and you know what? He makes it easy... We always like to celebrate our anniversary with a traditional gift. The first year being paper, second year, cotton, etc. Well, this year was iron, so we decided to pick up a little bench for the garden. The hubby wasn't completely sold on this one, but once we brought it home and popped it in our little garden, it looked as though it had always been sitting there underneath our pear tree.

I'm thinking vintage floral cushion. What do you think?

A rose was planted in the front garden, a gift from the hubby (no cut flowers are exchanged during the planting season) and a glass of wine shared... the perfect anniversary.

Righty-o chaps, as I'm back on board with the old blog, I'll be sharing tales from this little old place once again... starting with the kitchen cabinets. Yep, you heard right. I have finally finished painting the kitchen cabinets and am ready to share the spoils of my labour!
Watch this space... Oh, and did I mention that I've missed you all??

Related Posts with Thumbnails