Monday, 31 March 2008

Bex and Sarah on BBC south news for Cancervive.

As a follow up to the Newspaper article i blogged about Bex let me know tonight that she was going to be on BBC south news. sadly not living in sussex anymore i couldn't see it on TV but thanks to the internet i know have it saved on my laptop. I remember when Pam died and the pain and distress, but for it to happen a 2nd time......I'm so proud of them. they are the only friends i kept in touch with after i moved to essex and i'm so glad i have.


Monday Photos #2

Here's how the seedlings are looking a week on!


Top left 6 - Tomato

Top right 6 - Tumbling Tom

Bottom 6 - Beefsteak Tom


Top - Onion (2 have appeared but i think they may be escapees from another seed packet rather than the onions!)

2nd row - no sign of courgettes yet

3rd and 4th rows - no signs of any squash yet.


French Beans - a couple starting to germinate


Top - Kale

Left - Cabbages

Right - Brocs and Caulis

Sunday, 30 March 2008

Onions have made an appearance!

This morning's good news is that 2 onion seedlings have made an appearance overnight. I did actually buy a net of red onion sets and a net of white too,  just incase the seedlings don't work - so it could be a lot of red onion marmalade in the autumn!!

I also bought nasturtium seeds and marigold seeds to plant to hopefully help keep bugs away by companion planting.  I also got some fennel seed too - as in the bulb not the herb.

my other seedlings (red cabbage, kale, broc and cauli) are now out in the cold frame as they were starting to go mad in the bedroom - too warm and not quite enough light.  They do come in at night to the porch though.

Tomorrow being Monday marks the start of my Weekly photo diary - i decided i should do it weekly or i will be taking photos constantly!!

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Sussex Argus: Achiever of the year awards 2008


My Best Friend from my childhood in the Sussex The Argus website:

Friday, 28 March 2008

Herts and Essex Observer Newspaper - Self Harm feature

Sadly it didn't get published in time for Self Injury Awareness Day on 1st March but it was published nevertheless in the 20th March edition.

Mum asked me why i felt i needed to share my story - well, it was only though reading an article in a magazine that my only friend who knew at school gave to me that i realised i wasn't alone and wasn't the only person who cut herself. So my hope is that maybe there are other young people or in fact older people who can realise that there is help out there. Unfortunately they got both the URLs at the bottom wrong but if people want to find out more i'm sure they will google them.

Fruit and Veg ATC Swap

Mojo pointed this swap out to me on swap-bot (thanks jen!) and i must admit ATCs aren't my favourite craft/swap but the theme won me over on this one!

So here are 2 going to goodies2shoes in the USA:


"Beetroot Bliss"


"Fabulous Fig"

and then these 2 are off to Canada to Wacky Stuff who prefers digital ATCs:


"Strawberries are hot!"


"Eat Beet!"


After 4 days we have signs of life from the kale, brocolli and cauliflower.

Off to give them their morning drink.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Seeds of 2008

On a very snowy 23rd March, while mum was outside freezing herself digging up the garden, i was hiding inside sowing the seeds.

So, in the 8 yogurt pots and the 2 smaller round (goats cheese) pots are 3 acorn squash, 3 new zealand pumpkin, 2 butternut squash and 2 kabotcha squash. In the 3 larger round (cottage cheese and creme fraiche) pots are courgettes.  In the 2 square (monster mushroom) trays are Cabbages (red and white) and Broccoli and Cauliflower.


Next we have 3 different types of tomato plants; Beefsteak, Tumbling Tom and ordinary tomatoes.


Then in two larger (tescos value mushroom) trays are onions (red and white) which i am trying from seed this year rather than sets,  so who knows if that will work! and Red Kale,  which i think i will also sow direct to the soil when it warms up a bit.


And finally we have plenty of French beans:


I bought my parsnip and carrot seed yesterday.  i wanted to get purple carrots as something different but the only different ones i could find were yellow carrots,  so i got them.  I am still yet to find purple carrots in a shop rather than in a catalogue.

So there we are - presenting the Seeds of 2008!


Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Update in pictures

Feeling Lazy and can't be bothered to type long stories with each photo in separate posts, so before i get too behind in blogging here's a brief update.  This way i can file and organize my photos too.

I dug over the garden and came across this pretty little fungi, although i expect he wouldn't be such a 'fun guy' if you took a bite!  IMG_6032

Actually i have a Collins Gem mushroom book on my shelf...... could be a Wood Blewit maybe? look like the one here on Wiki. Habitat according to Collins Gem; In leaf litter of woods, hedgerows and gardens.  Well, that fits, and it says its edible when well cooked - and to think i just threw it away! Not that i'd fancy taking the risk anyway!

Then Saturday, when mum and i were due to meet Nan in London to see The Sound of Music (which was good but i'm just set in my ways with Julie Andrews and the film, i've seen it too many times and i don't like change i guess.) we work up to the promised snow for Easter.


fortunately by the time we left it hadn't really done much as you can see from the Rhubarb patch below.


However, when i woke Sunday morning, after clearing the night before at about 7am it started snowing again!


but this time it continued....


Until about midday!!


and there was a fair covering (well, for south east England!) by the time it stopped....


I do have more photos on my camera of snow from Monday (yesterday) including one of my mother who was out gardening in the snow, insisting it wasn't cold! no, mum it can't be cold - it's only snowing!!!!  That and the start of my seedlings picture diary which i have decided i will do once a week on a Monday (if i remember) but it was only due to showing a photos of last years seed to harvest photo diary that i realised it was exactly a year ago that i planted the squash seeds,  so thought i should get some seeds sown!  But i'll upload them later.

Monday, 24 March 2008

Mum's Birthday Dinner

So you've read the present and card story, now here's what i did for her birthday dinner.   I tried to think of the dishes i know she really loves but then it also had to be something i could cook and not get too stressed over. Plus i then needed to think about what i was going to cook for myself at the same time.

I settled on Salmon en Croute but i wanted it to be a bit more interesting and special than just salmon in pastry (as it was described by one of mum's work collegues the following day to another who didn't know what it was). 

So i had a quick web search and found a couple using tarragon, watercress and eventually settled on this one from Delicious Magazine,  but i had seen one of BBC Good Food which was similar but used cream cheese instead of butter and we already had some cream cheese in the fridge that needed using.  So i used the recipe as a rough guide and to cut a long story short it worked well and my worries about the parcels bursting or the pastry not cooking were unfounded.

Pre Cooking:


Cream cheese, watercress, tarragon, lemon juice and seasoning:


Out of the oven:


"Salmon en croute with watercress and tarragon, steamed new potatoes and asparagus" Ready to serve - not as pretty as i would have like it to look but the proof is in the pudding as they say!


Cross section:


Well, none was left and the feedback was good.  I told mum to be honest and not just to eat meals i make just to spare my feelings,  so she said her only criticism was that the asparagus needed more taking off the bottom ends.

Mum's Birthday

With her new found love for orchids and keeping and growing this years Mother's Day and birthday had a theme to it. 

For mother's day i gave her a card made with one of my orchid photo prints and a book on orchid keeping and growing. 

Then for her birthday i took the chance on ordering a photo canvas print of the orchid.  Again a photo i had taken but until the canvas arrived i had no clue as to how the quality of the photo was going to look.  But it arrived a week before her birthday and when i placed it in the room i knew the risk had paid off.


So then i set to work on her birthday card,  again orchid themed and it was actually the same print as the canvas.  Mum didn't know anything about the canvas and on the morning of her birthday i simply left the card out for her but said nothing about a present.  she knew i was cooking dinner but what she didn't know was that i had asked D to hang the canvas on the wall when he got home from work in the half hour before mum then got home!

The card i decided to try decoupage - which looked lovely but was so fiddley to cut out.


So she got home from work and normally she goes into the downstairs loo - but of course sods law - this one night she didn't!  Anyway the door was slightly ajar so eventually the browned paper wrapped canvas on the wall caught her eye. But it certainly lifts the rooms and fills the space on the wall nicely.


Friday, 21 March 2008

Am i an Upcycler?

Sure i recycle the bottlecaps.... or maybe you would say i reuse them......Or maybe my products are upcycled!


Upcycle - Wiki

Thursday, 20 March 2008

A Basic Soda Bread

I'd Seen this recipe on The BBC Food Message boards courtesy of PaultheBread a while ago and finally got round to trying it.


  • 200g Self Raising Flour
  • 1/4 Tsp salt
  • 125ml Cold Water
  • Splash of olive oil (optional)


  • Mix flour and salt, water and oil (if using) into a dough with a table knife - add a little flour or water if necessary. You're looking for a soft, squeezable dough (the softer the dough, the better it'll rise).
  • Turn it out onto a floured worktop, form it into a ball, place on prepared baking sheet and flatten it into a disc. Cut a deep cross into it and place in oven. I try and get it in the oven within 2 minutes of adding water.
  • Turn oven on to 220C/425F gas 7. Check after 10 minutes - should take between 25-30 minutes (if you put it into a cold oven - if you put it in a hot oven it'll take somewhat less).

Now i must admit i did get in a bit of a mess as my dough got a bit wet and i'd put the flour away already so had to get it out with my gooey hands and add a bit more,  so i didn't get it in the oven within 2 minutes.  but when i posted on the message boards with the photos and asked Paulthebread about this he said "I've started giving my soda breads a quick 20 action kneading without noticing any difference. As long as you don't knead for 5 minutes or more"

So i think  it is just that it is normally a doughy bread anyway compared to a yeast bread.


Hopefully the Teaspoon gives you an idea of the size.


and other comments from the message board:

"That's a splendid looking loaf!ok"

"By the colour of it, I'd say that was done - and as Josh says, it's a pretty impressive rise for a loaf made with 200g of flour!"

"I must say that's a lovely bit of bread you've made.
Not having made soda bread before, I'm very impressed. But more so, I think your photographs are terrific. Thank you for letting us know how you got on. I really appreciate it, & I do like a good piccie. ok"

Bit if a boost for my confidence!


Also Paulthebread said the above photo looked like i had cu the loaf with a knife,  which i had.  he said it compresses the dough and it's probably better just to break it into quarters, along the lines of the cross.


Over all though if you fancy freshly baked in half an hour,  i'd recommend it!

A Satisfying Clean

Its getting to the time of year again where we're thinking about doing bits in the garden.  I've weeded one veggie bed and started yesterday on the 2nd in the back garden.  But the other job that needs doing is the patio needs jet washing and cleaning.  With snow forecast for this weekend we set about the task last Saturday before the forecast rain on Sunday.


i took these photos half way through the first jet wash after we had scrubbed in some fairy liquid - not that we were sure the washing up liquid did any good!  so while mum went out to get some more patio cleaner, D and i shifted the garden furniture and jet washed the other half.


We had finished by the time mum got home - she did about 2 laps of Homebase on her own and the another one with the staff to find the stuff! - so we scrubbed/brushed in the patio cleaned and left it to soak in while we had some lunch. The jet washed it off and had to use the watering can (water from the water butt i hasten to add - sadly you can't connect the jet wash to the water butt!) - to rinse away the bubbles.


It's still wet in the picture above, but now that is dry but its amazing the difference it make to the garden when you look out the window.  It makes everything look so much brighter.  I just love the before and after photos, as they show you the work you've achieved.

I had to Angel my matchbox swap :(

Sadly someone who was in my 2nd letter in a matchbox swap flaked (the definition of "flaked" for non swapper is that the didn't send to their partner) and it turned out that they were partially suspended too,  so i think they had flaked on more than one swap.  What was even more sad was the swapper who was flaked on (who didn't receive), it was her first matchbox swap and she was really looking forward to it.  IMG_6012

Not having hosted many swap (a total of 4 now) i was too sure on the angeling process.  To angel a swap it the send to the unlucky person without receiving in return.  As it was my swap and only one angel was needed i decided to angel it myself and the unfortunate swapper was happy with this.  so i set about creating another letter in a matchbox - she said she would just be happy for the matchbox,  but i couldn't let it go like that!!


So this is for Pym, with a couple of little surprises inside!


Monday, 10 March 2008

The Storms are coming.....

Mum and i thought we'd go out into the garden yesterday afternoon to try and do a bit of tidying up, however the blackening clouds didn't give us too much hope of staying out there long.

within an hour, in fact probably less, we were back inside and the ground looked like this!!



no it's not snow - it's hail! i've never seen a hail storm go on for so long. even once we were inside we were still be bothered by it. mum put the TV on and every time she turned up the volume because she couldn't hear it over the hail hammering on the window the hail seemed to get heavier! it was like a battle between mum and the weather!

This morning the promised heavy storms have certainly arrived. since 6.30am i have been up, because i finally decided that the wind and rain hammering on my bedroom window wasn't going to go away and i may as well give up on getting anymore sleep! not looking forwards to going out today, but its supposed to be the first day at the Sue Ryder Care charity shop for me.

Artist unveils 'newspaper house' - BBC News website

An artist uses discarded freesheets collected from across London to make a house. read more here

Farmers Markets are the wrong market

I know i've only done 2 farmers markets now and maybe that isn't enough to gauge whether selling my bottlecaps there will work or not.  But the 2 markets i have done have been complete flops, both Ugley and Newport.  Although at both markets other stall holders have told me that it has been extremely unusually quiet, i still feel that even if it were busier then  it would make much a difference to my sales.


Frustratingly this time, as nice as it was to be in the main hall, i was right slap bang in the middle of the hall!IMG_6007

But as i was able to see the whole market this time, i made sure i watched what was going on around me.  so here are my observations;

  • General age group: 50+  There were a couple of younger coupler,  and a couple of pregnant women but all the regulars were over 50.
  • many came with their own recycled bags and their shopping lists.  they knew what they wanted. they had their regular items that they bought from the market.

Other stalls who sold a lot more were

  • The Eggs
  • The Fish
  • Clavering Pigs (pork)
  • The Lamb and Beef
  • The Mushroooms
  • Mel's Cakes
  • The Pate and terrine stall
  • The Bread stall

there were only 3 other stall who didn't sell hugely but i think they still sold more than me (yes! i did actually sell something, but the customers were other stall holders)

  1. Jams, Chutneys and Sauces
  2. Pies and Quiches
  3. Handmade soaps

I made 2 sales.  one was a mushroom magnet to the mushroom stall holder and my other sale was to the lady selling beef and lamb.  she liked a cow magnet that was part of a set of 2 and a chicken that was part of a set of three.  she asked me if i'd split them up - well if its going to get them sold then you do what you have to do!

Anyway i'm going to forget about farmers markets for now.  people keep saying "you need to go to a craft market and try there" but what they don't realise if the cost of a stand at those places - the cheapest i found was a market in Ilford for £45 - for my products and prices that just isn't practical.

So all my farmers market stock will now slowly be added to my Dawanda Shop.

A visitor to the garden

mum and i drove home  the other day and into the close to find a surprise in the middle of the close.  Wandering in front of the houses, through the front gardens so i tried to get a photo of him.  But this was the best shot i got as the nervous visitor disappeared into a neighbours garden.IMG_5929

Can you guess what it is yet??

Anyway we continued putting the shopping away and i left my camera on the stairs just incase.  He had obviously come from the fields at the back of our house and the only way he could have got in was to fly over the hedge rows so really that was the only way for him to go back home!  i was thinking about that and thinking that our house is the only one where our side gate is open and he could have strolled through our to the front garden and into the close when mum called upstairs to me.


sure enough he had found his way back through our front garden and down our side passage, into out back garden,  where i was able to get some better shots of his beautiful colours.


He had a peck around for a bit before try to look for a way out back to the fields. 


he knew the direction he needed and wanted to go in.  as usual with pheasants it just took him a while to use his wings to get him there!


Thursday, 6 March 2008

Hair Cut for 60p!!!

I debated whether to go into town or not today after feeling so ill yesterday. But as i was feeling better this morning i decided to give it a go, and i'm glad i did.

As i walked into the shopping centre, i was approached by a girl. "oh no" i thought "what's she trying to sell me?" but no - would i like a free hair cut? my initial reaction was no, it was more that instinctive reaction to someone who approaches me in the street. "can i have a few minutes of your time?" or "can i just ask you a quick question?" "do you have double glazing?" etc etc...

plus my mind was thinking "what's the catch?" - maybe i just watch too many programmes on TV like The Real Hustle. but the i quickly turned back as accepted her offer. Why not? i mean my hair couldn't look any worse really, plus maybe it would help me feel a bit better, a little pampering and all. Just one problem - Car parking - i'd only put an hour on the carpark.

So i sorted the hair cut just before my ticket ran out so i could simply buy another hour in the car park (for 60p) and go have a hair cut.

It was at Avant Garde, which isn't a cheap salon. I had a wash, cut and blow dry which normally costs £19.80 with junior stylist - so not only do i have tidier looking hair, had someone wash my hair for me, dry itc etc and i feel better because i saved £19.20!!

not keen on the volumising product she used tho - feel like i need to wash my hair again!!

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

New Blog and Farmers Market!

I have created a specific blog for Jennyb's Bottlecaps that way those who want to know my bottlecap news don't have to read through my other ramblings too!! there are three sections at the top which show where you can find which products - although i haven't finished sorting the Daisy M items yet! so they aren't in the shop quite yet!

Plus i will be going to Newport Farmers Market in Essex next saturday - 8th March. the market is there for 2 hours from 10am. hopefully it will be more successful than the last one - this time i'm in the main hall though so more people should at least see me i hope!

Saturday, 1 March 2008

Canadian Visitors

There are 2 reasons for the 2 week break from blogging - The first one is that during the first week we had relatives from Canada staying from Sunday to Friday and then on Saturday we all met up in London before they flew home last Sunday, and the 2nd is that the 2nd week has been spent recovering and regaining energy.

So a brief run down of the first week....

Sunday - Mum, David and i went down to Brighton to see mum's Auntie Jean before driving on to pick up mum's cousin and his wife from Heathrow. Oh and lets not forget the hour in A & E mum and i spent with Grandpa after he seriously cut his arm whilst digging veg in the garden - only took us 3 hours and me getting very very emotional to convince him to go!

Monday - a trip to Cambridge, where John decided he wanted to try punting on the River Cam... which Judi was a little apprehensive about, but it all ended happily and John may have found a new career move!


Tuesday - a day in London where we had a trip on the London Eye


a wander round Covent Garden, Dinner at Belgo Central and then Spamalot which i am undecided about. Certainly not a musical i feel i need to see again.... The cold got to us all that day.

A Tourist Trap Photo

Even the Tourist Trap photo turned out nicely though by complete luck! So mum bought the set of 2.

Wednesday - A rest day. Went to search out some real cream cakes to satisfy Judi's British cravings then a walk round Hatfield Forest after lunch and then to Tescos to satisfy Judi's Cadbury's chocolate cravings and John found some Bloater Paste.

Thursday - we took a trip to The Shed in West Mersea for a divine lunch of fresh Seafood. If the world were to end tomorrow this would most certainly be my last meal!


Friday - we drove to High Wycombe to drop them off at some friends - disastrous lunch at The Beech Tree Pub DO NOT EAT THERE (unless you want a dry, chewy cheap white baguette, no butter or spread, grated cheap cheese and bits of ham and a bit of salad on the side - on the menu as a cheese and ham baguette, which it was sadly, just very poor quality!)

Saturday - mum and i drove back to Nan and Grandpa's in Brighton (sadly David was ill) where we all got together - John, Judi, Jean and their friends and had lunch. it was lovely for us to all be together, especially with the older generation not wanting to fly across the Atlantic much more so who knows if it will ever happen again.

As you can see a very busy week - no wonder i've spent the last week recovering! and then towards the end of this week mum's been ill, probably david's cold and now i feel like i'm getting it - so i still don't feel rested!

However while John and Judi were here, Judi came with the request from her youngest Dave, to bring back some of my bottlecaps. so as they were staying a few days i had time to make a custom design with the logo of Dave's band, Tea for the Voyage.