Three Things Thursday: 6 July 2017

My weekly exercise in gratitude – three things that are making me smile – feel free to steal this idea with wild abandon and fill your blog [or Twitter account or Facebook page or diary or life in general] with happiness.

First, garden jewels. After writing about the beauty of flowers yesterday, picking red currants later felt like collecting gems. They have to be one of the most beautiful fruits.

Bursting with beauty

Second, my grandmother’s basket. Many people have wooden trugs for their harvest, but I use a basket that belonged to my grandmother (my mum’s mum). She used it for shopping, but it is perfect for gathering all sorts of crops from the garden and I always think of her when I use it.

Perfect for picking

Third, house martins. This year, for the first time ever, we have a house martin nest under the eaves of our house. There’s lots of tweeting coming from inside, and we can watch the parents swooping around, catching insects before returning to the nest to feed the babies. Please excuse my poor photographs, but they are fast!

So, those are three things making me smile this week. What is making you happy?

-oOo-

Emily of Nerd in the Brain originally created Three Things Thursday, but it’s now being hosted by Natalie of There She Goes.

Three Things Thursday: 7 July 2016

Joining with Nerd in the Brain (and others) for Three Things Thursday’. As “Nerd” says…

*three things that make me smile: an exercise in gratitude – feel free to steal this idea with wild abandon and fill your blog with the happy*

First, soft fruit – possibly my favourite harvest from the garden. Specifically I love raspberries, still warm from the sun. What’s more, the surplus can be frozen and brings a wonderful taste of summer to dark winter days. Right now, though, we are enjoying them with home-made ice cream (using eggs from the garden). I’ve also been picking red currants – ruby gems that add a bit of zing to recipes. I think a cake combining the two is in order.

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One day’s haul

Second, Blacker Yarns. Having decided to make a felted version of the bird roost, I went on the wonderful Blacker Yarns’ website and was able to find a suitable British wool in perfect colours almost immediately. Not only that, but it was delivered less than 24 hours later. Hurrah for well constructed web sites and great customer service.

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Just the job

Third, swapsies! I’m just in the process of bartering some of my knitting for some lovely yarn. How fabulous is that?

So that’s it for this week. What are you feeling grateful for?

Waiting

It’s a funny time of year in the garden… so much potential, so little actual produce. There’s still lots of lettuce and plenty of rhubarb, but otherwise, it’s mainly flowers and developing fruit:

I’m not sure how much longer the lettuce is going to last in this hot, dry weather, so it may not be long before we are just left with rhubarb to eat…

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it’s been a good season for rhubarb so far

Still, there’s plenty of it!

A closer look

Today, I thought I would get up-close to spring by photographing some of the plants currently bursting forth in my garden. Sometimes, we don’t look closely at the beauty around us, but taking the time to do so is really worthwhile.

Alberto Locoto chilli... resprouting in its second year

Alberto Locoto chilli… resprouting in its second year

Sweet potato... this organic tuber was bought to eat, but started sprouting so I kept it

Sweet potato… this organic tuber was bought to eat, but started sprouting so I kept it

Sprouting potato tuber

Sprouting potato tuber

Lettuce seedling - variety Forellenschluss  from Kate Chiconi

Lettuce seedling – variety Forellenschluss from Kate Chiconi

Shallot

Shallot

Ashmead's Kernel apple from Karuna

Ashmead’s Kernel apple from Karuna

Blueberry flowers

Blueberry flowers

Red currant flowers

Red currant flowers

Rocket seedlings

Rocket seedlings

Seedlings of Aztec Broccoli

Seedlings of Aztec Broccoli

All these plants are edibles – who says you need to grow flowers to have a beautiful garden?

Oranges really aren’t the only fruit

Raspberry flowers... fingers crossed these turn into fruit

Raspberry flowers… fingers crossed these turn into fruit

Some years ago I realised that the digestive problems I had been suffering from were the result of lactose intolerance. I was devastated because I had, until then, always started the day with a bowl of milk and cereal along with a cup of tea with milk. So, I had to do some research and completely alter my morning eating habits. I was delighted to discover that I could eat live yoghurt because the Lactobacillus that turns milk into yoghurt actually breaks down lactose (which is a disaccharide) … so these wonderful little micro-organisms can do the digesting for me!

Looking forward to our first red currants this year

Looking forward to our first red currants this year

Eventually I settled on (home made) yoghurt, fruit and either oatcakes or muesli to begin my day. In addition I completely gave up milk in tea and coffee. For quite a while my  fruit of choice was banana, preferably accompanied by raspberries (I LOVE raspberries). After a while I came to realise how expensive this was, especially since, at the time, I had to buy any raspberries I ate and even frozen ones were not cheap. And then along came the apple mountain of 2011. My friend Perkin over at High Bank gave me car loads of apples, which I stewed and bottled or froze or juiced or made into jelly. My freezer was stuffed with blocks of frozen apple; my dresser was stuffed with jars of apple puree. In addition, 2011 was the first year that my raspberries fruited in abundance, so all through the summer I had been eating fresh raspberries and I had more of those in the freezer.

Blueberry flowering well in 2013

Blueberry flowering well in 2013

The idea of buying fruit was absurd – we had more fruit than I knew what to do with at that time and so I gave up the bananas and transferred my allegiance to apples: very few food miles and no added chemicals. As we planted more things in our fruit cage, I realised that we might be able to be avoid having to buy any fruit… as long as Perkin’s apple tree continues to thrive. The fruit cage now contains red currants, blueberries, choke berries (new this year) and pink dessert gooseberries as well as raspberries and rhubarb, so we’re not putting all our fruit in one basket, so to speak.

Sadly 2012 was not a good year for apples and I ran out in March, but this coincided with the start of the rhubarb season, plus I still had some blackberries (picked from the wild last autumn) in the freezer and these have supplied my breakfasts until now. So, apart from lemons and a punnet of strawberries to celebrate the new season last week, we have not bought any fruit in 2013. And I have high hopes for the two potted citrus plants – one lime and one lemon – that I have sitting out in the sunshine at the moment.

It turns out that discovering I was lactose intolerant made me think about my diet in a whole different way and has encouraged me to grow much more of my own produce… every cloud has a silver lining!

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