Family Postcards, Home Craft, Recipe, Writing

Recipe – Christmas Cake!

Ingredients;

  1. 200g Butter
  2. 4 eggs
  3. 200g Brown sugar
  4. 175g Plain Flour
  5. 65g Self Raising Flour
  6. 500g Mixed fruit
  7. 1 cup of Fruit juice

How to Make;

  1. Ensure the children wash their hands and put on their Aprons!
  2. Weigh out ingredients as required, I add them into a large mixing bowl.
  3. Measure out the sugar and butter and mix thoroughly.
  4. Add the self raising and Plain Flour.
  5. Add the 4 eggs.
  6. Add the Mixed fruit and a cup of chosen fruit juice, tropical, cranberry and orange are all good to add so for me it depends on what I have available.
  7. Grease a 30cm or equivalent tin and transfer the mix to the base, level as required.
  8. Put in oven  at 180 for 25 to 30 mins.
  9. Place to cool on a baking tray.

This cake is an adaptation of a recipe from an old Marks and Spencers cook book which I acquired several years ago at a charity shop, as baking was never my strong point I decided that one good book may inspire me to have a go.

In reality I simplify most recipes to the basic requirements as it allows me to keep a simple stock of ingredients to cover a range of cooking or baking. I find this really simple to make with children and if you do not like messy makes it can all be mixed together with utensils.

I decided this afternoon to attempt a cake, my Sunday dinner leaving a little room for something sweet. After making the first cake with my daughter using my home made picture recipes, I returned to my youngest I handed the recipe to my husband. Due to nursing my daughter, the bake off became an obvious next step and despite best efforts my husbands had to be return to the oven as it was not quite cooked.

My cake although a little difficult to remove from the tin, was cooked perfectly as the contents cleared in under 10 minutes. I was grateful to have made a second to add to our stores which I have hidden in a celebrations box, although I know once it is found it will not last long.

This will be the first of many as I do not wish to spend on the items that we enjoy to make! it really takes no time at all and can be decorated simply with icing sugar or with royal icing, it really depends on what style of cake you are making. The recipe will make one large cake or two thin loaf style cakes which are ideal to make yule log shapes.

So whether your like me and prefer a simple recipe, ideal for those with food allergies. Or whether you find yourself low on supplies this recipe allows the full taste of a wonderful cake without the faff of modern recipes…

Obviously I won the taste test, but my husbands looked great for a first attempt! I do feel the real winners are those who manage to decorate theirs, above shows a selection of images that show the originality of some creators. I admit it is another skill I would like to have the time to focus on but for now, our family recipe is a prefect foundation to work on!

Happy Baking!

Cheryl

 

 

 

 

 

Writing

Christmas Value!

So this year with a first Christmas! and five to find as usual we have our work cut out to provide them all while maintaining the budget. I spent last nights snuggle time focussed on pricing up things that will add value to their days! I need constructive play to be part of all of their New year, less them time and more time working together!

Initial pricing shows BM stores to be the most reasonable but it is whether stock is available, I found new products on amazon for all with educational value at a cost but if I can these will aid them with maths and engineering focus they would not get the opportunity to access. Initial looks at the supermarket show prices double those of other home stores so I will not be using them unless for specific known products if at all!

For all indulgence and Frozen food will be through an Iceland delivery, as they are reasonable year round on roasts and seasonal goods and can be delivered allowing me to avoid shopping at busy times. Aldi is my store of choice for fresh and groceries, I find it second to none at anytime of year and enjoy quality products for attainable pricing! As a large family I like to shop weekly as I find small frequent visits are full of un-necessary items which would not be necessary if the primary shop is completed.

This will hopefully allow me to budget to provide for an excellent variety of home cooked fresh and frozen food to last the holidays for under £200 pounds. Which is the top of my grocery budget for two weeks festivities, but at this time of year at just over ten pounds per person per week is more than acceptable.

For clothes it is generally Primark that I check first however I find Asda’s products are great value for money, even better if you can source what you need in the sale! I do often find that charity shops as they can sell clothes in fantastic condition still with the initial purchase tags on, but I tend to buy as I need rather than on a whim.

So today I will complete the online shopping were possible, Santa’s wish list and see what we can source locally next week, I might even travel to visit the local Christmas market!

For my Christmas box, I am fortunate to have my family around me, blessed with our daughter! I am able to access the materials I need to grow or make whatever I need when I get a moment to focus. Our world is far more spacious with our recent work, so I will enjoy sharing the wonders of Christmas with my children, resting and relaxing when I can and invest in me when I really have a want or need to!

Happy Sourcing!

Cheryl

 

 

Family Postcards, Writing

One Month old!

So my daughter is now about a month old, so far she broke me for a week after exerting myself in hospital for the first few days! Which I made the most of with lots of rest and cuddles with our beautiful bundle, while my husband supported me, despite my experience with our children nothing takes away the decision making that keeps your family safe and well,  made through our varied experiences and with added support of professionals!

Today I am sat with her constantly, breastfeeding and typing a new talent and the Jaundice she held at ten days is still apparent, I have rang the hospital after being told she would be checked further if still unwell post 21 days, but without any contact I rang to prompt action, with their only advise was to contact the GP as otherwise she is well!

So, A prayer to our little princess to keep her safe and well! that it is a blip in the ocean of health and well being! But with a week of preparation required for the others whatever she needs I will provide even if it takes us from home…

So today, as always my work is clearly defined, all those jobs which I admired others for going out and working are packed into my daily life and make me all the more proud of my children and the successes they achieve! however small they are, they are precious!

Happy and Hopeful!

Cheryl

wordpress photography

 

Family Postcards, Harvests, Writing

Christmas Fayre

This week has been filled with nativity shows, Christmas fayres and Christmas jumper days, my daughter even managed a pantomime with school. I have made the effort to take my youngest out to see the world, my toddler managed to survive her first few hours in an audience without any major melt downs. Inspiringly celebrating her sister  ‘I am so proud of her she looks beautiful!’ fantastic words from someone not even three!

The fayres were filled with wonderful handmade biscuits, small Christmas trees, reindeer and decorations. I returned with a wonderful crochet heart for our tree and the children enjoyed a few festive treats while we waited for the raffle to be drawn, although not winning this year they were amazing to see as they were filled with Christmas cheer!

It made me think what would be my perfect hamper for Christmas!…

Firstly I have lived a life of savoury bliss! I find the taste of Sunday Dinner pure heaven, with peppers, leeks and onions to flavour there really is nothing better! A bonus that my children love it to, as I know at least once a week they get everything they need, I often add the vegetables to chilli mid-week again good for warding off the cold!

I like to make pigs in blankets and Christmas tree shaped stuffing for the festive days, not one the children will eat but they do not get wasted over the festive days, stored and saved can be added to sandwiches and other meals over the festive season! So it would definitely be set in my Christmas hamper.

So far then it is a ton of fresh vegetables, Potatoes, Broccoli, cauliflower, Peppers, leeks, carrots, swede and Parsnips!

Roast’s are essential and with several holidays to celebrate one is never enough! Turkey is the obvious choice, however gammon, pork, chicken and beef are all added over the festive season. I find each has an added bonus, Gammon with honey glaze, pork with mint or apple sauce dependant on your taste! If steak is an addition pepper sauce is a must and I find the co-op sachets of sauces do a wonderful job allowing enough to ensure a family can enjoy.

Sauces; On vegetables instead of cauliflower cheese, the sauce is fantastic on potatoes, and roasted vegetables. If cooking space is an issue you can pre-cook the veg and roast them in the last half an hour adding the sauce when you serve. I found it a wonderful change from the usual, mint or onion gravy added to your chosen joint.

Sausages; are a staple in our house, I use as a primary for my children as they love them and find them easier to eat than the main meats. However they will all eat a little of the roasts the older they get, the sausages then become a great filler to an already packed meal. Pigs in Blankets are easy to add around the roast but I find that they are better if they are not sat in gravy.

Yorkshire puddings and Roast potatoes; I do often long for plate size puddings, big enough to fill with your whole meal! I have yet to find the time or a recipe to develop my own skills so for now ‘Aunt Bessies’ or supermarket equivalent will do.

Frozen Corn Cobs; We all adore these so if available locally they will be on my list! Whether steamed or boiled, with or without butter they taste amazing and add a taste of summer to your winter feast!

Drinks; Grape juice being my drink of choice this year! A spritzer of pear wine and lemonade to see in new year will be my treat and a few bottles of fruit cider for my hubby will suffice. Additionally the children will enjoy some tropical juice, to add vitamins over the colder months and a small selection of pop for those who enjoy it! I have to say Lidl do an amazing fresh juice which has carrots in that I love would really be a must for my hamper, not expensive but Moorish and one to drink sparingly as although made from fresh fruit it is still packed with sugar.

Desserts; in my previous post, strudels, crumbles and Christmas pudding or cake are the main seasonal treats. I would say for real indulgence I would say gateau and cheesecake would be clear favourites! These I have indulged a little since the arrival of our daughter as I am finally in need of the extra calories to feed her! My family enjoy doughnuts, swiss rolls and a large selection box.

Selection boxes; Additionally to chocolates, A good cracker selection added with a selection of mixed cheeses are great, my favourite is Boursin and if I ever fancy something different the garlic and herb is my favourite. Home made pizza takes a close second for those days you feel like getting the family to help make their own dinner. (see Previous post – Homemade Pizza or search recipes)

Biscuits; A selection for all is great in general but we tend to make several batches of vanilla biscuits over the festive season, which brings us together as a family and fills our old celebration tubs with something home made and free to share. (see previous post – Vanilla Biscuits!)

Christmas cake; we have a great recipe that is really easy as I have taken out all of the none essentials and reduced it down to the basics. Again I tend to make a few throughout the year to add in when we need something more than the weekly shop. I use the old celebration tubs to store them as they fir a 30cm cake perfectly, and they can easily be despatched to school sales and fayres if necessary.

Ice creams; a great dessert which allows a wide selection of choice, although requires a lot to keep stock for a variety of festive meal. The stock of festive varieties look good they are rarely more than a morsel out of the packaging.

Processed; Finally some food from the dark side, chicken nuggets, kiev’s  and pies something quick for those days were you do not have to be extravagant and allow you to put something in and return in 45 minutes to processed perfection.

Christmas Crackers; mainly added to the table for decoration are a must along with candy canes for the tree! would be on most lists but I find in reality everyone together whether your family alone or with friends it is good to be with those you love, sharing whatever you have together!

In reality:

So whether I manage my full wish list to provide for our family or the basic essentials I will be glad to share this Christmas, at home with my husband, children, settled and enjoying the hustle and bustle of family life, and the peace and quiet of evenings snuggling up with our precious gifts!

Grand total of presents so far?; I have managed to build a family calendar to share our favourite photo’s of the last few years, of the children’s ?  zero, the one collection of girls, bands, bows and bobbles was used over the school week after being raided by our resident Diva! So this week will see us paying the essentials and filling the order with the many presents on our children’s Christmas list….so Santa can deliver them this Christmas!

So is there something I am missing? that is essential to your Christmas festivities? let me know!

Happy last minute shopping!

Cheryl

 

 

Writing

Winter Warmers!

The only joys of enduring the icy cold of winter are the wonderful things you can make and eat to warm your family up! So far I have knitted a baby hat, mittens and booties which were completed during my frequent visits to hospital before our wonderful daughter was born.

Soups; I have been drawn in to the soup isle of my favourite store, I am yet to sell them to my toddler as she has strong food opinions and collections of wonderful chunky chopped potatoes and vegetables is apparently less appetising than a simple sandwich. Obviously I have not given up dishing up these wonders, but seemingly only my husband and I have enjoyed the hearty warming goodness of soups and stews as the temperature has dropped. At least our youngest is enjoying the benefit of them even if she cannot yet eat for herself!

Jumpers; tend to be more a necessity but who doesn’t like a warming fluffy jumper. I am still not a big knit fan, I stand in admiration of those who can craft out an adult size masterpiece but for me it is far to time consuming. I will focus on the characters above which I gift to friends and families that appreciate a hand knitted gift, something that cannot be bought and adds to the Christmas experience. Festive alternatives are a must have after the revival of Christmas jumper day, another plot to ensure we have to spend a small fortune to provide them every year! I have to buy some this year but I plan to buy them a few sizes and pass them on over the years, my children grow like giants so it works to ensure you have brand new ones to pass down.

Stews; An all time favourite! still trying to find a good recipe that my children will appreciate but for me it is one of my winter favourites. Whether with Gammon, beef, chicken or sausages, it is always better left over night as it tastes sublime (something I don’t do as I tend to cook fresh everyday, as we rarely have leftovers!)

Warm Drinks; The morning cup of Tea, coffee or chocolate becomes a must, I find myself drinking far more at this time of year. My children also enjoy a drink of hot chocolate and adding a few marshmallows are a big hit when available.

Winter coat; A good winter jacket is obviously a priority, I hate the cold so for me it is a must, nothing worse than feeling the cold.

Hats, Scarves and gloves; Finally the time to ensure everyone has them to keep off the cold, after buying several pairs of gloves already I am returning to the idea of attaching them to ribbons or sewing onto sleeves as pairs go into school and never return.

Strudels and crumbles; Any pudding which is warmed is vital at this time of year, filled with fruit and custard strudel are often added to our Sunday lunch. Obviously Christmas pudding can be added to these, however for the family a good fruit loaf or cake fresh from the oven is favoured by all and manages to last a few days.

So, whatever your plans, Christmas or just New year if your short on gift ideas keep it simple, everyone appreciates the added warmth over winter.

Happy Preparations!

Cheryl

Home Craft, Knitting Pattern, knitting project!

Knit – Free Santa bag, New flexible Pattern

 Beard; (white/cream)

Cast on 12 stitches,

Pearl 1 row,

Increase 1 stitch beginning and the end

Pearl 1 row

Repeat last 2 rows until forty stitches.

leave 20cm of wool to stitch if making a folded bag

Face;

Stitch first 10 in white,

Add flesh colour knit 8, increase in next 4 stitches, knit 8 (44 stitches)

Change to white for 10 stitches.

(White) Stitch 10,(Flesh) Knit 8, increase in 8, knit 8, (white) knit 10 (52 stitches)

Stitch to stitch 3 rows.

(White) Knit 10 stitches,(Flesh) knit 12, knit 2 tog 4 times, knit 12,(White) knit 10. (44 stitches)

Pearl 1 row

(White) Knit 10 stitches, knit 10 (flesh) knit 2 tog twice stitches, knit 10, (white) knit 10       (40 stitches)

Pearl 1 row

Stitch to stitch 6 rows

Leave 20cm of wool if making a folded bag

Hat;

Change to fluffy white; stitch to stitch 5 rows

Change to red; pearl 1 row

Decrease beginning and end stitches

Repeat last two rows three times.

Cast off.

leave 10cm per colour to stitch if making a folded bag

This pattern can be transformed into a small stocking by folding in half and stitching with mattress stitch. I thought it would make a great sweet holder for the tree.

Alternatively using a few layers of material it could be made into a cushion or small present bag. Ensure all stitching is added with the knit face inside so it can be turned inside out on completion, this will keep all stitching inside the bag or cushion. Turning it right side out fill and stitch or button the seam as required.

Finally it could be hung as a banner by adding two loops to hold a twig, with a 25 cm length of crochet string to hang it from. But for my first Santa panel I chose to fold it and make a sweet stocking for our tree, I think those cone sweet packs would fit perfectly.

Whether made into a cushion or a bag I feel his character is clearly defined in this festive knit, completed in just a few hours. The eyes will be added at a later date…when my daughter finally has her nap!

Happy Crafting!

Cheryl

Family Postcards, Gardening on a budget, Home Craft

POSTCARD – Christmas Preparations!

So after discussing the value of a new plastic tree against our favoured Real tree it was decided for us, On arrival at our local ‘Trotters’ yes with yellow three wheeler in the carpark; I ventured in to see what treats they had in store. Outside the topped trees were really well priced so I had a good idea of what I wanted for this years display.

I chose a six foot beauty for £25, with the help of staff I bought a fabulous pot which was reduced from £40 to £20. This store is my compost supplier at £10 for 4, 60 litre bags I usually fill my seed trays and borders with their multi-purpose compost. So I purchased the 4 ensuring I had compost to start my seedlings in spring, or this week for my leeks and Brassica seeds.

Finally I went to a local store and purchased some multi -purpose lights, indoors or outdoors for £6 to ensure we had the lights to decorate our new tree. So yesterday when the children returned we planted it into the new pot securing it firmly into the soil and added the lights, tinsels and decorations.

After making a few card drapes decorated with spare baubles our Christmas scene was set, the final touches were the characters I have knitted over the years… each child has their own from the snow dog, a snowman, Olaf to Santa. These I like to set with nativity books, festive children’s books and Christmas classics in a hope we get chance to read together or each other or read with their Christmas friends.

Whatever the celebration I try to present, reading and craft opportunities to add to festivities. Papier mache sweet boxes (gravy or pringle tubes) which were made into reindeers, snowmen and penguins were a great success in previous years, homemade cards and salt dough tags decorated and sent as gifts are just a few that we make every year.

All of my knits are from patterns I have collected over the years! I have tried to start larger collections but I tend to focus on more manageable characters, something to fill the small amount of free time available.

Happy Preparations!

Cheryl

Family Postcards, Writing

Babies Birthday; The essentials!

There is nothing like the first moment you get to hold your baby, I find each time perfect in every way, I love getting to know the new personalities. If there is anything to learn about several pregnancies it is the preparation for hospital that is the key to a successful transition. I am someone who values the comfort of home and so being away from my family I find extremely hard.

With this in mind I thought I would write the list of my essentials for a post baby maternity bag, bearing in mind their are some things I always seem to forget. The first of which is how extremely small your new baby can be… I have always bought newborn, and always required tiny baby clothes on arrival as you forget that even a reasonable baby weight still holds a tiny size.

Maternity Hospital bag;

My Essentials;

Body wash and Shampoo; Obviously you need something to wash with, I usually choose a lemon wash as it is strong and refreshing. It is easy to under estimate the changes sleepless first nights and recovery has on your system and if you are not bottle feeding I tend to use soaps over deodorant’s for obvious reasons.

A Hairbrush, tooth brush and toothpaste; travel versions are ideal when making up your bag, I never feel quite right until I have done my teeth and hair in the morning. These are the things that are often forgotten and can be sourced at most wards but it is much nicer to have new ones of your own.

Hair accessories; The first thing to do if you are not suited to short hair is to tie back long hair, whether pre-surgery which have to be without metal fixings or post I prefer hair to be tied back.

Pyjamas; A few new pairs have become a maternity treat over the years, something new to slip into after the first shower is the step to feeling human again, especially if it is post-surgery.

Supportive vests; I find the lycra supportive vests are essential and great for breastfeeding if you do not like the faff of maternity Bra’s. Also they support around your stomach which is an added comfort along with a few long blousy tops and a few legging’s to see you through the first few days.

Underwear; I find a new pack of black under garments is enough to ensure you feel clean and secure post birth, obviously a few packs of maternity pads are an essential as those provided while you are bed ridden are not ideal once you start to get back on your feet. A maternity or sports bra will also be more comforting than highly structured garments, these along with a pack of breast pads will prepare you for post birth requirements whether breast feeding or not.

Dressing gown and slippers; This ensures any travelling in surgical garments can be covered in comfort, anyone who has worn a surgical gown knows they have major flaws for personal dignity.

Snacks; A fruit hamper, bottles of water and high calorie snacks are essential to fill your needs when breastfeeding as many maternity wards only provide for essential meals which as someone who requires additional food to maintain glucose while breast feeding, I have found previously that eating the main meals even with pudding was not enough.

Pamper products; lip balm for post operation dehydration, is my only addition to the maternity bag. I have seen others with hand cream due to the constant handwashing from the frequent changes however as I constantly use antibacterial hand wash my hands are never dry. I find anything that is part of your morning routine is essential to making you feel comfortable post-birth, even if it is essential, even if it is your favourite coffee it is worth putting in if it aids relaxation. For me however my comfort is in having the essentials, to be comfortable and ensure I can hydrate and balance my glucose as required until I am home.

Baby Essentials;

First size nappies; Mamia (Aldi) not a difficult choice at 85p per bag perfect to ensure your own supply so you can change your baby as and when required while on the ward.

Cotton wool; professionals like to insist on cotton wool and water which is great for waking a baby In preparation to feed, however I find the first tar like nappies do not clean appropriately so for these I clean with wipes and wash secondly with baby soap and water. Wipes are also good for cleaning off any medical adhesive which may be used in the birth of your child.

Sudocrem, Bepanthem or petroleum jelly; Any nappy rash cream will do, although using mild baby products should be enough to ensure the skin stays clear. Additionally nappy bags which are great for disposing of baby nappies and other post birth sanitary products.

Tiny baby clothes; I always feel the first clothes should be essentials of vests and baby grows, less about style and more about the regulation of body temperature. The emphasis being on comfort so that sleep and movement are consistent and un-restrictive. Bought in any good clothes shop or supermarket for a round £7 per pack ensure they are washed as they are starched strongly to present. I found around 15 vests ensures coverage for a few days in hospital, allowing you to change as often as you feel necessary.

Hats, socks and mittens; I have always been given knitted hats and mittens, due to the monitoring of my children over the first 24 hours to ensure their glucose level is normal. I subsequently have pre-knitted a few gifts for the staff and for premature babies. Which have included prem. hats, mitts and socks as I am able to return the work that others have donated.

A Personal Blanket; I always buy a new Blanket which I keep which is personal to our child. I have also received a beautiful hand knitted blanket due to our visit to have Jaundice levels treated which my mother had become attached to and has been wonderful at keeping our daughter warm. It is nice to have your own to add to those graciously provided by the hospital when your baby arrives, often they require a few to keep them warm until they can be washed and changed.

A first jacket and baby car seat ; Many wards will not allow you to leave without a car seat, ensuring your baby travels on their first car journey safely is essential. The first jacket even if it is slightly large (new born) is massive on a tiny baby but ensures a good barrier from the winter cold.

 

The children seem to grow while your gone and returning with a beautiful new bundle is both joyful and exhausting as a few days in the surprising quiet of a hospital ward is a contrast to the bustle of family life. I love to see their faces on returning home and watching them bond with their new sibling, it is a moment that lasts forever!

There are other things, dummies, bottles and formula if they are part of your feeding requirements which is a personal choice. Many choose to go directly to bottles which I have really no experience of over the initial feed which has had to be formula due to maintaining their glucose levels.

My experience has varied as our family has got bigger the scans have become my husband and my priority together. Once we are post delivery weeks I have come to terms with my husband being busy looking after the family while I care for our newest addition, but this makes the return home all the more special. Obviously everyone prepares differently however after six completely different experiences of birth in hospital, my experience has changed the way I prepare.

I feel the best part of this experience was purchasing a doppler to share the heartbeat with the children post thirty weeks. This allowed us to share something unique and precious with our children, letting them check and hear our daughters and their heartbeats made her all the more real to them.

Happy Heartbeats!

Cheryl

Home Craft, Storage

DIY – A New Space!

So After a day of work, as my daughter slept I was busy adding the pallet to our new room. I find these projects so satisfying, in reality we could have waited to change rooms but my summer in hope of my spare time being used to sow and grow with the children I felt now was as good a time as any!

My toddler is an avid decorator in all the wrong ways so I try not to invest too heavily in home changes. I spent £60 on wall paper, this included some artist print paper covered in roses for the dining room which was on the list of to – do’s that was overtaken by the swift and unexpected arrival of our daughter. As I had been told to take it easy this seemed a good way to gradually increase my standing time with a little bonus for me.

The satisfaction of a clean and elegant finish even on the smallest scale can make a big difference to the winter season, decorating in summer is only completed through necessity as time is better spent outside. So after Applying the first roll I realised I could complete most of the room with the four rolls I had purchased, as I reached the most complicated corner I invested in another roll.

When I finally patched the pillar wall I realised I should have invested In a further roll but for now I am happy. My wonderful bed has pride of place, A king size, hand carved, four post bed which I purchased a decade ago for a hundred pounds will stand the test of time and I would not dream of replacing it.

A visit to a local charity shop allowed me to get four Black picture frames to set around the room at a cost of £4 pounds for them all, I will enjoy choosing the photos of our children to collage. The frames would have set me back £20 pounds or more brand new, well worth the rummage to allow me to create a personal gallery.

So for around £40 I have created a bright and airy room, that requires maybe two new pieces of furniture which I will add as I find. The curtains were from our original front room and include tie backs, even with the large bed my daughters crib and cot can still fit in with the changing unit. Additionally the girls room now has a new double bunk and is half way to completion, so in little under a week we have managed to re-use, re-purpose and recycle to create two spaces.

Happy Renovating!

Cheryl

Allotment, Grow Your Own, Harvests

GYO – The Winter Allotment!

The Winter Allotment really is dreary on a dull day, as some of my neighbours toiled with their soil I set about checking over the effects of the cold weather. The fence had shifted in the strong winds, as had a glass panel in the greenhouse roof but other than that all was well.

It is surprising what you can complete a few weeks after major surgery, pottering around the plot on a dull day for an hour while my husband read and my youngest two had a post dinner nap. I had not planned to visit quite so soon, but after returning from a shopping trip with an hour until the children were to be picked up, I popped in to see what progress was being made.

Our water tank is just below the 500 litre mark, I am confident we will start the new season with a tank full to capacity as it has only been in since September. This will require a little engineering to add a hose but I look forward to using our own water supply.

The carrots are still growing well, now forming minute orange roots, I feel we will be harvesting early summer, which I feel opens my second parsnip box  (or not as the case my be!) to a spring sowing of carrots to ensure a rolling supply next year.

As I checked my broccoli I was happy to see half the bed which looks like early purple were beginning to show the first florets, something I hope to harvest for Christmas. Along with the broad beans and a surprise addition of red and green Brussel sprouts which have appeared at the opposite end of the raised bed. There is a lot to be said about the magic of worn labels, I had no idea what Brassicas had germinated and have ended up with many wonderful surprises.

At the end of our space in our new raised beds, my second Brassicas I have found a few fantastic winter lettuces, which we sowed and planted whatever survived the heat. So I now have a chance to add to our Christmas dinner some home grown Brussel sprouts, Broccoli and a salad starter with a few tomatoes which are ripening on our window sills.

All in all the greenhouse was full of tomato plants finally beginning to go over, so picking the last of the tomatoes, I lifted the plants shaking off the excess soil and adding it to this years compost, after twenty minutes I had to clear beds add around twenty fruit to allow to colour at home. The last pepper plant I left to over winter in there, I set aside with the plant pots used for the additional tomato plants. My husband had returned with the other pepper plant around a week ago, which now holds three small red peppers, a fantastic result for our first attempt and something to flavour a seasonal stew or to add to a chilli.

Next the bean canes were covered in bean plants holding the final pods, after picking the best to dry over winter, I pulled out the canes and stripped the plants off. These again were placed on the compost heap and my stakes and canes from the ‘A’ frame were returned to the shed until next year.

My calendula and nasturtiums have set a lot of seed in their current position so leaving some stakes as markers I have left the plants and seeds as they are. My plan is to wait to see if they germinate nest year and move them as the appear next year. They will be set in pots and in a thin bed in front of the compost bins to add colour and pollen for the wildlife garden. I may grow sweet peas over the mesh of the bins to utilise the space, it would be nice to train the bramble into a large cone shape as it refuses to die off and my son loves to harvest the fruit.

So, after clearing the greenhouse of plants, my bean canes and clearing some grass from our paths it was time to collect the children. No major works completed but at least the spaces are clear for next year. I can focus on a little at a time until I can dig over again. I still have manuring and trenching to look forward to but until then I can harvest from the spaces I have managed to ensure hold winter crops.

Finally Along with our Autumn Garden which is full of winter flowers, I shall add a new Christmas tree, which I plan to plant in a large tree pot so it can be moved out into the garden, additionally I shall sow some more Brassicas, lettuces and leeks which tolerate much lower temperatures and set them in the main greenhouse, this will allow a spring crop to plant out and I hope to have some more winter crops to harvests next year.

Happy Horticulture!

Cheryl