Monday, May 14, 2012

What a lovely Mother's Day...

Hello dearies,
Hope all is fine and dandy with you all. I have spent my Monday catching up from my Mother's Day hurrah. Yes,  Mother's Day does afford a day of rest, but, unfortunately, the chores do pile up while you're being pampered. At one point, I ventured into the kitchen (to top up my glass of vino), only to be greeted by piles of wet clothes (left over from a water fight in the garden), dishes oozing out of the kitchen sink and dishwasher, and a path of toys (both children's and dogs') strewn like a breadcrumb trail through the house.

Not that I'm about to complain, as the hubby did do a spot of ironing for me on Sunday morning. He made a mere dent in the mountain of ironing which smirks at me on a daily basis... But any little bit helps (I think it also helped him appreciate what a god-awful task it is)...

Anyhoo, I figured I would share a little of my special day with you...

Catching up on the latest Country Living

It was spent in my little garden. I'm so proud of this space that my heart swells when I sit in it and appreciate it's beauty. It's ever-evolving and I'm never quite sure what I'm going to end up with... I just plant and leave it up to the gods, letting the blank canvas evolve in front of me...

This year, I am over-run with Evening Primrose. I'm not even sure where they came from. The pale pink doesn't sit naturally next to the orange of the Coreopsis, or the deep pink of the Dianthus (an annual that never died back during our mild winter), but, hey-ho, I just let them all grow with free abandonment... I'm sure there are a lot of more experienced gardeners out there that would 'tsk-tsk' this hodge podge of colours, but I've never been one to conform...

I've finally managed to get the hang of roses, with several David Austins planted around the patio... I'd always envisaged sitting out in the evening with a nice glass of wine and the air heavy with the scent of roses... Hopefully, this year, I'll be doing exactly that... although, I think the air will also have a strong citronella smell to it too (blooming mosquitos). I've also popped in some climbing roses... they're starting to wind themselves around a wrought iron arbor... I'm going to wait until a few more are open before I share that picture with you, though.

Anyhoo, whether it be the fragrant roses which are just beginning to display their beauty, the butterflies and bees flitting between the honeysuckle and foxgloves, or the birds splashing in the bird bath, all of it is a pleasure for the senses.

At one point, a neighbour popped over and congratulated me on the tranquil space I have created...

... and that, my dears, is exactly what I was aiming for. I so rarely end up with what I envisaged, but I think I've finally cracked it in the garden... mind you, there is always room for improvement... And that's the great thing about a garden: it's a piece of art that is forever evolving and, while you can control it to a certain degree, you can never be sure of what you'll end up with!

So, my Mother's Day was spent doing what I love the most... Watching my little girls play fairies in the garden all day long (with no major tantrums), enjoying the peaceful space I have created, and just being thankful... thankful for being alive...

... and being a Mum.

Thank you for popping by. I'll catch up with you next week.
Take care all.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Mother's Day wish for Kristen...

How do I find you today? Well, I hope! Here in the United States, we are celebrating Mother's Day. 
I have to say, I prefer celebrating this special day a little later in the season, as it gives me the chance to do some planting... and what better way to spend an afternoon? That and a nice cuppa :-)
Anyhoo, I wanted to share something with you, today... It's quite a tragic tale, but, hopefully, one that can have a happy ending. Last summer, I was introduced to my neighbour's (and good friend) sister-in-law, Kristen, a young mum and ER nurse. We pushed our daughters on the swings, chatted about motherhood, and she told me  how she was pregnant again. Happy days! However, at 8 months pregnant, Kristen was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Her baby daughter, Scarlett, was born healthy (thankfully). Kristen, however, was battling daily seizures. She is now on medication to control these. The brain tumor has been diagnosed as a grade II Astrocytoma, which is a type of tumor that is slow growing, but life-threatening. Due to the seizures, Kristen can no longer work as an ER nurse and has now lost her job and, subsequently, her health benefits. As a mother, I can't begin to imagine what Kristen deals with on a daily basis. When most new mothers are enjoying their newborns and battling with their hormones, Kristen carries this heavy load with her. The fear of the illness, coupled with the debt of any treatment that could help prolong her life.  So, I am asking anybody popping by here today to please visit her website. 

Offer words of encouragement or, even better, a donation. If you have a blog site, please help raise awareness for this site. This is a mother who deserves to celebrate many, many Mother's Days with her children.
Happy Mother's Day, all!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A recipe for strawberry & rhubarb crumble...

Hello, hello-
Me again. I didn't leave it as long between visits this time, did I? I'm trying my very hardest to get back into my blog stride. So, today, I squeezed in a little *us* time between the laundry folding and bed. Don't you just hate laundry (I can see you're nodding right now)?

Anyhoo, I'm not about to get into a rant about my never-ending laundry pile, but if anyone knows how to resolve this conundrum (other than the kids walking around in their birthday suits), please let me know, because, today, I did a whole butt-load of laundry and yet, when I went to the girls' hamper at the end of the night, it was already back at the top again... I think they're hiding another puppy in the bottom of it.

Speaking of puppies... my little Lucy is off to be *fixed* this coming Thursday... to say I'm nervous is an understatement, but never mind me... poor, poor Lucy. She has no idea! One minute, she'll be merrily chewing bones and the next minute... well, we all know what happens...

On a brighter note, it does mean that she'll be convalescing for a few days and so, hopefully, with the wind knocked out of her sails, she might give me a break and stop stealing laundry... It wouldn't be so bad if she took it, never to be seen again, but, instead, I'm forever finding knickers (and the like) dotted all around this little old house... I'm back on laundry again, aren't I? Well, this post is not titled, 'Laundry,' so I best get onto the subject in question... Rhubarb!

I lurve rhubarb, so when I popped into my local farmer's market the other day and spied it on the shelf, I decided to rustle up a Rhubarb and Strawberry crumble.

Now, as a child, my mum typically made an Apple and Rhubarb crumble and, while it was delicious, I just love the combination of rhubarb and strawberry, as  the sweetness of the strawberry really balances out the tart rhubarb. Add the delicious buttery, crunchy topping and you have on your hands one pretty fantastic dessert.

Why don't you give it a whirl? I promise you won't be disappointed!

Here's Lucy blissfully unaware...
Oh, and while I remember, here's a picture of my Lucy Boo... Aww, if only she knew what was in store for her...
Take care all.

Rhubarb & Strawberry Crumble

4 sticks of rhubarb sliced into approx. 3 cm chunks
2 cups strawberries, stalks removed and sliced
2 tbsp vanilla sugar (use regular sugar if you don't have it)
2 tbsp water
1 1/2 cups (approx. 200g) of plain flour 
1 stick (114g) unsalted butter cut into cubes
1/2 cup (approx. 100g) of brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 350F
Place the rhubarb chunks in a pan and add two tablespoons of water. Sprinkle with the vanilla sugar and place on the hob on a low heat, remove when the rhubarb starts to soften (don't allow it to stew, otherwise you'll end up with a rhubarb gloop). 
Transfer the rhubarb to a ovenproof dish, using a slotted spoon.
Sift the flour into a medium sized bowl, and add the butter. Rub the butter into the flour using your fingertips. When the flour and butter have been rubbed in, the mixture should look like bread crumbs. Stir the sugar into the flour mixture.
Add the sliced strawberries to your rhubarb and sprinkle with a little vanilla sugar. Spread the flour mixture over the top of the fruit, ensuring that all the fruit is covered.
Pop the crumble in the oven for 35-40 minutes. When finished the crumble top should have a lovely golden top.
Allow the crumble to cool for 10 minutes, as it comes out radioactive hot!! Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream... Mmmmmm!

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