So... one of my favorite things about gardening is EATING! (Who am I kidding... one of my favorite things in general is eating!!!) But - I think it's THRILLING to plant stuff, watch it grow, and then eat it!
Today, Sammy and I planted a few things,
and it inspired me to take pix of it all and blog a little edible tour of my gardens!!!!
TOMATOES! We bought Sammy his own Cherry Tomato plant that he can help take care of and because he loves tomatoes... so when they are ripe, he can pick them right off the "vine" and chow down!!!
MINT! Here is our Spearmint!!! Now... here's the deal... when we moved in, we discovered tons of mint growing like weeds! Amazing... even after getting rid of most of it (in order to plant other things) some mint came up in the cracks between our driveway and our neighbor's driveway. Well... last year, I pulled it up and planted it in a pot and it WENT CRAZY! Clearly it was happy to have some space!!!! Now, that pot was left outside all winter (...no judging...) and new growth started out this spring.... so I dug it up to discover a veritable "wreath" of roots... the roots had grown around and around in the circular pot and had woven themselves together.... so... I knocked the dirt out of the middle, squeezed it to oval, and put it all in a bigger rectangular planter! And clearly... it's THRILLED.....
And... I've already used some in today's Sweet Tea!!! We make Sweet Tea/Sun Tea ALL SUMMER LONG!!!! MMMmmmmm
(Lavender Sweet Tea used to be our house specialty!)
BASIL FOREST! One of our sound-people at work, Michelle, gifted us some Basil plants that she had started from seed. Last year, Thanks to Michelle, we ate Basil CONSTANTLY and never ran out! This year, we got 8 "normal" green basil plants, and 3 purple ones!!! I stuck them in the same spot where they thrived last year! We've already used it in a fierce pasta dish this year! (Last year, I made Basil Mojitos all summer! This year.... I'm adding Basil Cookies to the list!)
ROSEMARY!!! This giant rosemary plant has lasted two or three years... in a pot, not really supposed to stay out through the winter, and not really supposed to come back... but this one won't quit! She lasted at least one winter in a pot, and this is the 2nd summer in the ground!!! Bring it! I loves me some Rosemary! I used this goodness in my summery "Liz Clooney Cocktails!" and Rosemary Butter Cookies are a family fave!!!
BLUEBERRIES!!! My good friend, Alice, sent me this Blueberry bush years and years ago... and it did well for a long time in a pot - always coming back and looking' good.... not really huge and not really very generous with berries... so I finally found it a permanent home in the ground last year.... and this year... it seems really happy!
CUCUMBERS!!! Because we LOVE to make David's Grandma's "Cucumbers & Onions" recipe all summer... we needed to grow our own Cucumbers! So I put some of those in as well!!!
UGH! I forgot to take pics of the CORN!!! Yes... we planted CORN! Just wanted to see how it'd do!!!!
Grow little plants!
Grow and be happy and healthy so that my family can eat you!
Phew what a week, we FINALLY got the sunshine we, in England, have all been craving, it's been a scorcher of a week! I've been busy at work but as always trying to keep up with what's going on in the world of craft and creation via various social media and web sites. Then it struck me there's been a bit of a theme running through my creative outlook this week:
Letters and how much I love them.
I am a major fan of typography (it's in my blood I guess, my dad trained and worked for many years as a typesetter in the printing industry and my brother is a graphic designer). I am also a fan of paper cuts; I've just attempted my first design/paper cut for a friend. I'll have to blog about that creation in another post as it was a card and the celebratory day isn't until tomorrow.
I saw this on the web, such a great idea, a beautiful thing/s to create and amazing finished pieces of art.
Then I was walking down a street in the neighbourhood where I've been working in this week and this was on display in a window:
Again lettering and masks. (Masks - another love of mine) Jen has created these out of metal and they are so intricate and detailed. I love them. They looked fantastic with the sunlight reflecting off the metal.
So this weeks theme has definitely had a typography theme. I've also used my drawing skills to help create 3 hand drawn posters for a charity exhibition and auction. I'll try and get some images of them as I loved contributing to the creation of them.
Oh finally there's a new fabric tree "growing" on the south bank in London, I will try and visit and photograph this next week as it certainly looks - from the pictures I've seen so far - like a GD*BG kinda thing!
Well I really have been in the creative zone this weekend and, as mentioned in the blog posting below, I have indeed made brownies AND finished the 3 cushions!
But that's not all....oh no!
So first of all, the brownies. By pure co-incidence I discovered it is World Baking Day today so I not only had a reason, the visiting parents, to make the brownies but also a reason to photograph them in an unusual setting and submit the image to the collection! As if I need any more reason to make brownies?! Here they are in all their chocolate glory:
(please note the unconventional setting!)
Of course I had to quality control the brownies which got me to thinking "What am I going to have for pudding this eve? Brownies and ice cream now seems like a good option" But I need a sauce to go with them.....Stay with me....
A few weeks back, via the Twitter, I had a convo with GD and a fellow tweeter about "Dulce de Leche". I'll be honest - I didn't really know what it was, so of course I Googled and discovered it was a delicious sounding caramely type sauce type thing. Yum, I need me some of that I thought. (especially since GD has introduced me to the mouth wateringly good Salted Caramel Milkshake). Thanks to the joy of the web I found a recipe - I actually found about 6 different recipes - got the ingredients and set to some culinary creating. 3 hours later...tada... Dulce De Leche!
The recipe I chose actually said to add salt before heating so it really does taste like salted caramel! Then combine this with the afore mentioned brownies and ice cream and voila....
(Or as my friend Murray likes to call it "Food Porn"!)
Then there was the stitching! It was all go yesterday! I have 3 cushions to finish, two are commissions, they feature the names (family names) of two people I don't know and will be a wedding gift for the bride and groom at their wedding during the first weekend in June. The other is a gift for my friends who has recently had a baby, Tom, (he's a few days older than GD's baby in the pics below), I will be visiting Tom and his family next weekend so perfect timing to deliver this gift to him.
Here they are:
And here's a blatant bit of self promotion! (Well if I can't do it here where can I do it?!) If you'd like to commission a cushion please leave a comment here or send a tweet via the Twitter.
So as you can see, it was full on creativity this weekend.
So this weekend - I, the "day job / 9 to 5er" half of this partnership, have a mission to finish 3 cushion covers so they are ready to give to their intended recipients next week. Meaning 2 of them will be ahead of their "can I have them by..." deadline, get me and my super efficiency!
I also have the parents coming over, they are also delivering the cushion pads for said cushion covers. So I'd need to clean the house, do laundry and grocery shopping and bake something to enjoy with a cup of tea while they're here for a couple of hours. I like to bake chocolate based products - don't judge me - it's what I like. I figure if I enjoy making it then hopefully the end product will reflect that enjoyment and usually it does!
My signature bake is Beetroot Brownies, yeah you read that right....beetroot....in brownies! All I'm saying is dont knock it til you've tried it, They're deeeee-lish!
The one thing I will say is if you fancy giving them a go and you decide to follow that recipe in the link they will in NO WAY be cooked in 25 mins, you're looking at somewhere around the 45mins mark I'd imagine. I make a half portion in a 8" square (I think it's 8", hang on I'll check.....no it's 7 1/2" square) as I was saying .... I use a 7 1/2" square baking tray and my brownies take about 30 mins to cook in a fan assisted oven.
I'd like to show you a picture of them but I don't have one, so unusual for me as I take pics of everything, in a personal documentary kind of way. So here's an idea, to spur me on to finishing the 3 cushions and baking the brownies I will post pictures of both on here by Sunday evening.
Anyway.... Today I whipped up a little Rosemary Simple Syrup using fresh rosemary from my garden! I'm obsessed with herby things! I love a good Basil Mojito! I love Rosemary Butter Cookies! Lavender Shortbread! Rosemary Lemon Squares! So much goodness....
And so tonight, I'm hoping to make this delightful-looking cocktail made with Gin, Lemon Juice, and Rosemary Simple Syrup!!! I mean... c'mon!!!!
Sounds so great and so simple, and all I needed was the syrup....
I wanted plenty, so I used 1 cup of water, 1 cup of sugar, and 1/2 cup of rosemary (that'd been ground tiny in my coffee/spice grinder....)
I threw those 3 ingredients into a pan and brought it to a boil, making sure the sugar completely dissolved, then I took it off the heat and let it steep for 45 minutes! (I actually got busy and forgot and so it steeped a little longer... no biggie!)
I poured the mixture through a very fine strainer, put it in a quaint little jar, added another fresh sprig of Rosemary for visual pleasingness and that's that!!!
I was SOOOOOO enamored with this adorable pinafore when I saw it, that I was obsessed with making it for my little O!
I printed out the simple and user-friendly pattern, with a little Transatlantic help from my counterpart, BG! (See, I was accidentally printing on the "fit to page" setting, and then the pattern pieces weren't matching up... but we figured out that I needed to print at 100% and problem solved! I know... not my most brilliant moment... but I'm not afraid to air my flaws live for you here on this blog! I'll make the mistakes so you don't have to! You're welcome!)
So, the pinafore is two-sided! I'm not really into "reversible" per se, but I liked this idea because I wouldn't have to finish any raw-edges on the inside of the garment! (Daddy doesn't have a serger!) Yay! I selected a vintage print --that may or may not have been from a pillow case that I found in an old mansion-- (Yes!) for the outside/main print...
...and cut my pieces....
Then I selected a sensible yellow gingham for the interior! Cute! And complimentary!
I seamed the pieces together...
Then pinned right-sides together....
Stiched. Flipped. Ironed. And top-stitched for a crisp finish... et VOILA!!!! (Very pleased!)
Then I auditioned these giant white buttons :
...but then went with these adorable little green flowers that I found at JoAnn's!!
Well, it turned out super cute! But it's way to big for my little newborn! So, I then re-printed the pattern on 80% and made it again, this time in a festive Cat in the Hat print!!!!
And it fits!!!!
So cute and simple! The Cat in the Hat version took me just over an hour!
So this weekend I had a trip to the south coast of England, Weymouth if you want to be precise, a 3 hour train ride each way. A chance to read a magazine, take a nap, watch the scenery go by or - my thought - sew!
So out came the cushion covers I'm working on right now that needed blanket stitching around the letters and details, iPod on, needle and thread in hand and away I went!
Then at the end of the train ride I was rewarded with that view in the pic below - which is just along the street from my friends house who I was visiting - blue sky (which after 3 weeks of almost non stop rain was sheer joy) a walk along the beach and an ice cream!
We at the GD*BG are not only into making THINGS...but we also like to make FOOD!!!!!
So... I thought I'd whip up a sensible breakfast this morning... so of course I consulted my Ina Garten cookbooks! (She's my FAVE!) And I found her Sticky Buns recipe!!!
Well... a quick glance at the ingredients list, and we were in business! I basically had all I needed!!!!
Firstly, my little helper got himself into his Apron....
We hadn't set the butter out, so I nuked it on the "soften cream cheese" setting to soften it a bit before it went into the mixer to be whipped up with brown sugar. At first, I didn't realize the recipe was for two sheets of puff pastry (I knew I only had one) so I made too much topping. But, heck, as we know, I'm a more-is-more, so I just overdid it!! Dropped big ol' spoons of the butter/sugar goodness into 6 of the muffin holes. Then sprinkled pecans on top.
Then I laid out a sheet of puff pastry (also thawed in the nuker, brushed it with melted butter, and covered it with brown sugar and cinnamon, and Sam sprinkled on the rest of a bag of pecans! (The recipe called for raisins, and while I like raisins, I don't care for them in m'cinnamon rolls...so I used pecans inside instead!)
We and I rolled up the puff-pastry and cut it into 6 pieces...
And with Sammy's help, put them into the muffin tin as well, gushing them down into the butter/sugar goodness! And into the oven they went!!!
Whoa... buttery goodness! The house smells awesome! These are by far the simplest cinnamon rolls or sticky buns EVER!!!
So pleased! SUPER-DELISH!
Thanks again, Ina! Every time I make one of your recipes, I'm in love with you even more!!!
So.... where were we? PART 2 of the JetPack project! Ah, yes....
I found some old electrical tape in the basement and used it to embellish my rocket boosters...
I also cut the strap off an old messenger bag (that I've been "s'posed to fix"for about 4 years), cut it into two equal lengths, and affixed them to the "back plate" using duct tape. *I decided on duct tape so I could easily remove it and expand the straps if Sammy grows. Chances are he will.
(Will the JetPack --or it's appeal-- last that long? Who knows?)
I threaded the straps through the slits and taped them to themselves.
A also crossed them in front in order to insure it stays on well while playing!!
Then came the gluing of the bottles onto the back plate...
This was somewhat of a momentary debacle. I tried Hot Glue first. Now, I'd actually tested hot glue on a plastic coke bottle at work the night before, because I thought it would melt. Well, apparently my glue gun is hotter because the bottle at work was fine, but mine warped and started to melt. Cut to: Gorilla Glue. That worked! I also added a bit more electrical tape to hold the two bottles together...
...I DID use the Hot Glue in the mouth of the bottle to attach the flames. I felt confident that the plastic was thick enough there to withstand the heat....
Then I thought, "Oh! What if one of the straps was snapped or velcro'd on so that it was easier to get on and off?! So I tried.... but the hot glue was not good for snaps. Lesson learned. They came off almost instantly. I ended up doing the duct tape method on all four! Just made it all a bit looser so that Sam didn't stress about getting it on and off over his head!
(Hot gluing snaps: BAD IDEA)
WELL.... ALL WAS ASSEMBLED AND IT WAS TIME TO TRY IT OUT!!!
My little Rocketman was very eager and even grabbed a helmet! Safety First!
On it went:
And... BLAST OFF!!!!
(The helmet was cramping his style apparently...)
The inhabitants of this planet must be Yankees Fans!
All in all... a successful mission! Now I have to make some matching Adult-Sized ones and one for our 3-month old, so the whole family can fly!!!!