Thursday, December 19, 2013

Produce, play, and pudding

This is the second ever cauliflower I've grown, and definitely the best.  I planted about twelve plants, but only two managed to survive (chickens maybe?  or possibly fatal slug attack) and the first was quite small when it started to go to seed.  This one is now softball size and still growing slowly.  We might have it for Christmas dinner.  Or I might let it carry on.
 Most of my cabbages look like this one.  No real heads, but beautiful tender leaves.  This particular one, along with about a dozen others, was self-seeded.  These volunteers have less slug damage than the transplants I put in.  I actually have one cabbage planted in spring 2012 which is still putting out mini heads;  I keep cutting them off the main stem and it still sprouts new ones. 
 Though we've had several frosts and quite a lot of wind, my roses have a few blooms.  This vibrant red rose has a couple more flowers on it, and I have a tall pink rose also flowering. 
Franklin had his first Christmas play at his nursery;  he was a Wise Man and he did well, both playing his role and singing the all songs.  All the kids had a costume and a song--there were snowflakes, elves, toys, snowmen, and the nativity.  The play was only his class, so just the 3 and 4 year olds, and they had a lot of fun preparing and learning for it.  I was very proud of him.  He's been walking around the house for the past couple weeks singing, "We WISH you a merry Christmas!" and "Jinger bells!"

Christmas will be a quiet affair at home for us again this year.  The plum pudding is made--I usually make it around Thanksgiving and let it mature in the fridge for a month.  Plum pudding is very traditional here, and I'd never had it before I'd moved over.  Partner used to buy one, but I never liked it much and usually ended up giving most of it to the birds.  Then one year I decided I would make it instead, using a recipe from The Joy of Cooking (I can't recommend this book enough--everything I've made from it is a winner).  This recipe is so much nicer than anything we ever bought, and I now eat more plum pudding than Partner does! 

Monday, December 02, 2013

Shawls, sewing, goodbyes, Thanksgiving, growing and eating

 I never showed off my alpaca shawl: 
 I've been wearing this shawl pretty much constantly for the past month, wrapped around my neck like a scarf, and it's kept me very toasty and stylish.  I liked knitting it so much I knit another purple one, for a friend of mine:
Other things newly made but not pictured:  a pair of mittens for Franklin, wool on the outside, cashmere on the inside, sewn from some scraps;  two pairs of wool trousers for Franklin, cut down from larger wool items;  and a pair of angora leggings for myself, sewn from a large pullover.  I love these leggings;  I made a similar pair last winter but they've seen a lot of action and needed replacing.  Now I just need one more pair, to wear when these new ones are in the wash.  Everything I've sewn has come from secondhand items I bought at charity shops.

We've had some big changes here at our house in November;  another chicken and our dog have both gone to the happy hunting grounds.  Rooster died in the same way as the other two, of a brief illness, and Beauty, at age 14, we took to the vet for her final journey.  It was a very sad day for us, but we know she had a good long life, more than half of it with our family;  and at her age, she was only going to get worse, not better.  We will miss her, though;  the house feels strange without her.

Since resuming my studies, I've got a lot less time to myself for personal pursuits, but it's nice to have two hours in the morning when Franklin's at nursery to study;  I find mornings a lot better for it than evenings ever were.  However, it also means my housework's suffering again--it's harder to motivate myself to clean in the afternoon when I'm tired out.  Partner's been pretty good about taking initiative on the weekends, thankfully.

Speaking of thanks, we had a nice Thanksgiving with a friend and her husband and baby.  The husband is also American, and though he's lived in the UK at least as long as I have, they've never celebrated Thanksgiving here.  She told me he was thrilled that we'd invited them.  I made most of the food, but it was really nice to not have to cook every single thing, as I usually do.  It was a little strange eating the feast at 6.30pm instead of our usual 2pm, but that certainly didn't stop anyone from overindulging;  I definitely ate more pie than was good for me--as did Franklin.  In fact, over the course of three days, Franklin ate more pie than anyone else in the house;  he loved it.

Still eating cabbage and kale from the garden, and tomatoes are very slowly ripening in the garage still;  I sowed some winter greens in pots in there too, hoping they'll sprout.  We've had some frost, though the plants near the house have mostly been unaffected, including about half the nasturtiums.  Those nasturtiums are something else!  They come back every year, and every year attempt global domination.  I've also got a couple of Brussels sprouts and one cauliflower growing well out back, most of the leeks, and the parsley and fennel.  I've tried nasturtium leaves in stew successfully, by the way.  Raw they're very peppery, but cooking makes them much milder.