Hydrangea

20130830 (Large)


20130830a (Large)

Wishing you all a great weekend!

Nifty lists and a little setback

I made a list.
Actually, I had to make several lists and I started by making a list of all the lists I had to make.

Yes, really. I get to that point sometimes where my brain just is about to explode from all the ideas, todos and plans that are in it. A braindump, neatly organized into lists and bulletpoints, is the only remedy for that.

Why am I telling you this? I don’t know. Just wanted to share. Well, I do have a little plan that has to do with some of those lists, about to be revealed next week.

But for this week, there was only one important thing: clear out the front garden. It needed some (ha!) work. And my blogging list stated that today I would blog before and after pictures of our redesigned, well kept front garden.

Before shots. I can do that:

20130829 (1) (Large)

20130829 (2) (Large)

But… there was a little setback in my nifty list making. Somewhere in that mess there was a little plant with pollen that made me sick. Or maybe it was just a summer flu. I don’t know. It did make me ill though. Too ill to finish what I started.

Today, I’m feeling slightly better, but there are some things that need to be done before Saturday, so I doubt the front garden will get any attention.

Especially since what I really want to do today is sleep. Like the cat. But not on top of a mountain of shoes. That would be silly.

A happy sweater

 

I had an aunt. Or maybe she was just a distant cousin, if I remember correctly her mother was my greatgrandmother’s sister. But we called her aunt Mary. She did a lot of knitting and she never used a pattern. She just measured, asked what colors and pattern you’d like and presto! a few weeks later there was a sweater. Granted, she wasn’t too great at finding the right color (I asked for mint and got some kaki green and my sister who asked for powder blue, got a very boyish shade of blue) or understanding fashion (bat sleeves? nope, just wider sleeves - can you tell we’re talking ‘80s here?), so we, as teenage girls can be, were kind of disappointed at her work. But looking back, I do admire her.

I want to be able to do that too. Just eyeballing my stash and winging a sweater for one of those kids, like I do with hats. So I dediced to try, using Elizabeth Zimmermann’s system. And it worked!
There are a few things I want to do differently next time, the sleeves could be a bit wider (since they usually layer sweaters) and I should have read everything before starting, since Elizabeth clearly states that for a child’s sweater one should make straight sleeves, not start small and increase. But I was already done with the second sleeve when I read that. It looks smaller than it is, I can fit my wrist through.

 

I did make the body a bit wider and longer than usual, because sadly the South African children I’m knitting for often have swollen bellies (from hunger and malnutrition).

 

Overall, I’m happy with the result and eager to start another one, so maybe someday I will be able to wing a sweater without a pattern (or help from E.Z.).

I won’t be knitting for teenage distant cousins thought, they are very hard to please…

A recipe

As my girls grow older and are starting to leave home, I’m slowly trying to write down my recipes for them. Well, recipes… I usually just wing it. That does make it harder to actually write down what to do, but I’m doing the best I can. I have been wondering if I could share those recipes here, on my English blog (I do share them on my Dutch blog). Most of them will be sort of alien to the readers here. But then again, isn’t that what makes it fun to read international blogs?

Another reason to be shy about this is that I really don’t think that what I do is so special. Most of the things I cook are very simple, with simple ingredients and mostly free of gluten, cowmilk, sugar and additives, but nothing too fancy. But then again… someone may just need something like that. So… I decided to give it a go and translate my recipes.

Which is a lot harder then I thought it would be, especially when I started adding imperial measurements. A little disclaimer: I’ve heard English, American and Australian cups and ounces are not the same (oh my, how easy would it be if we all used metric?). I have no idea which one I’m calculating here, I used this converter. When in doubt, please check it yourself ;-)

I’m starting with a very Dutch sauce, pindasaus. It’s originally an Indonesian recipe, but it’s very common here. We eat it mostly with chicken (usually the brest, cut in cubes and grilled on sticks, which is called “sateetje”, but it goes great wit a lot of things. In Indonesia there’s a dish called Gado Gado, which is a combination of raw and slightly cooked vegetables and boiled eggs, topped with this sauce. I ate that when we were there a few years ago and loved it.

20130827 (Large)

Pindasaus


Ingredients:
 
250 gram (8.8 ounces) peanutbutter (preferably one that contains just peanuts, oil and salt)
250 ml (1 cup) water
1 teaspoon sambal (or more or less to taste)
3 tablespoons ketjap manis*

Scoop peanut butter in a sauce pan and add water. Slowly heat this mixture, to melt the peanut butter. Don’t let it boil. Stir until it’s a smooth sauce and add sambal and ketjap.
If it’s too thick, add a bit more water. If it’s too runny you could add a bit more peanutbutter, but that’s usually not necessary, it thickens when it cools down.
If you want to reheat it, you probably need to add more water. I like to keep a jug of water next to the stove and slowly add the amount needed.

*normal ketjap isn’t glutenfree. In our family this amount of gluten is not a problem. If you want to use gluten free ketjap, be aware that it’s slightly more watery, so start with a little less water and add when needed.

In my garden

Last time (August, 15):

20130815a (8) (Large)

This week:



What can I say about it? Nothing original, I guess. Things are growing. Including the weeds.


\
That means my soil is healthy, doesn’it? Let’s stick to that story. Luckily today’s forecast is good, so it will be a good excuse to get out of the house and do some gardening in the sun.

The kale is looking great.



And I’m getting close to harvesting the corn.



The plums in the front garden are really big this year.



I have been sowing some things and they’re growing like crazy. The radish looks ready to be planted.



I’m also looking forward to the calendula (on the left). Those are my favorite flowers, but I never seem to be able to remember to sow them when it’s spring. I hope I will next year, but these should be able to bloom before winter too. We'll see.

Green

It’s not just the garden that is getting greener and greener…
If you follow me on Instagram you have already seen a tiny bit of this. I painted the doors in our hallway last week. It was time I did. We’ve had ugly beige doors since we moved in here (uh, eight years ago). It was a depressing view.
Here’s what it looked like before:

20130808 (2) (Large)

And this is how it looks now:

20130815 (1) (Large)

Isn’t that much, much better? The pictures don't really do the colors justice, it's a very bright and happy yellow/green (grellow?).
I have to admit that I doubted my choice of colors a lot of times while painting. White would have nice too, and so much safer. But it is a happy color and I decided I like it.

Why green, you ask? My first thought was: I don’t know.
But here’s what I saw when I had a good look around in my home…

20130815 (4) (Large)

My favorite coffee cups.

20130815 (3) (Large)

My ironing board.

20130815 (5) (Large)

My grandmother’s breadbox.

20130815 (6) (Large)

Pillows in the living room.

20130815 (7) (Large)

Another pillow and the many, many plants (only one pictured, but I have 11 plants in that small room. I used to have more, but I recently decided it looked to cluttered).

20130815 (2) (Large)

And my garden shoes.

Okay. It’s obvious. Green must be my favorite color.

In my garden – the good, the bad and the ugly

Last week:

20130808a (1) (Large)

This week:



The good: corn, beans, cauliflower. Growing like crazy (though still no beans in sight).

20130815a (2) (Large)

There’s more good, but let’s do this in reverse, shall we? I’d like to end with something good.
So, here’s the ugly.

20130812 (2) (Large)


20130812 (4) (Large)

Yeah, caterpillars. Lots of them. I did spot a lot of cabbage butterflies lately, but didn’t realize what that meant. Ahem. They’re eating my cauliflower and my broccoli (and I’m wondering if it’s them or the snails that are eating my kale) So. I’m catching them, hoping to save some of my crop.

The ugly? No pictures, but I decided to give up on my tomatoes. All the fruits had blossom end rot.

But… now for the good: I replanted that bed.

20130815a (9) (Large)

I was inspired by Alys Fowlers’ edible garden (bought the book after watching the series, love both – what she does is what I had been planning when we started building the beds, but didn’t have the nerve to try) and planted a variety of herbs and veggies (though mostly herbs).

Some common kitchen herbs on the right: chives, celery, parsley and basil.

20130815a (1) (Large)

Though I don’t think that purple basil is very common. It will look lovely in salads, I think.

20130815a (3) (Large)

There’s also some lettuce, rucola and endives in there, but most of those are in that other empty spot, where the endives that started seeding too early were. I also put a blackcurrant bush and some sunflowers in the back of that bed. The gooseberry was moved there a few weeks ago.

20130815a (7) (Large)


20130815a (6) (Large)

But… back to the former tomato bed. I decided to be a little more adventurous and planted salad burnet, a herb that I never saw or heard of before.

20130815a (10) (Large)

20130815a (11) (Large)

Those cute leaves have a nice taste and the flowers can be used in salads too.

In the left of the bed I planted some tea herbs.

20130815a (4) (Large)

20130815a (5) (Large)

Lemon grass, lemon verbena and in the front Aztec sweet herb (also unknown to me before). I love the idea of being able to pick some leaves and brew a refreshing tea. I’m even considering devoting one bed completely to tea herbs next year (not necessarily medicinal herbs, mostly just for taste).
Oh, this way of gardening is full of possibilities!

Joining Soulemama’s and Heather’s garden notes today 

Happy moments

It was a busy week and I had a busy day ahead of me. But that busy day brought me very close to the sea. So I decided to leave early and gift myself a few happy moments...

20130812a (1) (Large)

20130812a (2) (Large)

20130812a (3) (Large)

20130812a (4) (Large)

20130812a (5) (Large)

20130812a (6) (Large)

In my garden

Last week:

20130729 (1) (Large)

This week:

20130808a (1) (Large)

20130808a (2) (Large)

20130808a (3) (Large)

20130808a (4) (Large)

20130808a (5) (Large)

Things are growing so fast! I’m looking forward to harvesting some of it (I hope I will be able too)

The tomatoes are not doing so well. We’ll see what happens next.

A reader at my Dutch blog recommended this BBC-series and the accompanying book to me. I started watching one part and ended up watching them all. I love her garden. Last winter I was thinking about combining vegetables and flowers in my garden, but I didn’t take enough time to investigate and plan. But I think I will this year. I do love the feel of a “real” vegetable garden, but mine will never be, so maybe shaking things up might be fun.

Meanwhile in the front yard…

Before:

20130808 (6) (Large)

20130808 (7) (Large)

And after:

20130801 (3) (Large)

20130808 (3) (Large)

20130808 (4) (Large)

Not finished yet, but still such a big improvement. We’re hoping the sedum will grow out and cover all the soil, preventing the weeds from coming back, making it a bit easier to maintain.

Joining Soulemama’s and Heather’s garden notes today