Tag Archives: lavender

lavender in pinkster gin bottle with autumn fruit jam

In a Vase on Monday (not) – luscious lavender and jam at Christmas 

As Rosemary is to the Spirit, so Lavender is to the Soul. Anonymous

Merry Christmas everyone – I’m late to the party as usual for in A Vase on Monday; I’ve been wiped out with flu all week confined to bed, which messed our Christmas plans a bit.

It feels a bit odd writing about lavender at this time of year – it has been a very odd year in many ways – and I don’t just mean the weird weather.  I’ve been back at work over a year, in a new role too, but it takes just about all my energy to do my job and run the basics of life – hence my rather intermittent blogging.  Thank goodness for my Chap who is truly wonderful and takes care of me every day.

Lavender is one of my favourite plants – I adore its scent as well as the flowers.  I have about 15 plants around my sunny, front garden – varieties include Munstead, Hidcote, Vera (White) – They thrive in the fairly rubbly soil.  I’ve got some other lavender in the back garden in pots on the deck – under the conifers that overhang from my neighbour’s garden.  So as you can imagine I was thrilled to find some still flowering in  December – despite the very wet and windy weather we’ve had in Manchester.  I picked these on 23 December 2016.

lavender in pinkster gin bottle with autumn fruit jam

In a Vase on Monday – lavender in v small gin bottle with my prize winning Autumn fruit jam

I’ve written about lavender quite a few times on the blog, but I think this is the first time the flowers have appeared in a vase alone.

As usual, I am joining in with Cathy from Rambling in the Garden who hosts this link up – she has a simple, beautiful, vase of snowberries and rosehips – it looks very wintry and festive.  I do love looking at flowers, plants and vases from around the world – it definitely brightens by days – and my mission for next year is to pick, photo and post more often about the plants from my garden – and be more prompt on Mondays even though Cathy says it doesn’t matter if I’m late.

Women’s Institute prize winning jam – yes really
My jam won ‘tastiest jam’ at our  Women’s Institute weekend away in September.  I am staggered still, as it’s only my second attempt at jam and there was ALOT of competition. We had a wonderful time in the Cheshire countryside at a Scout camp at our Big Weekender – do have a look at the photos :-). I was very chuffed to win this badge 🙂

apple blackberry raseberry jam

Autumn fruit jam (blackberry, apple, raspberry, blueberry, red currant) – a prize winning jam


Recipe – Autumn Fruit Jam

I used 900g mixed soft fruit which included:

  • about 300g v tart blackberries from garden
  • two big Braeburn apples – cored, peeled and sliced
  • about 200g blueberries – only about 20 from garden, most were from a well known supermarket 😉
  • about 250g frozen raspberries from the garden
  • handful v v tart red currants from my garden

and 800g  jam sugar (this has more pectin)

Method

  • I put blackberries and apple in first in my maslin pan, added the raspberries and blueberries and topped up with redcurrants.
  • I added the sugar slowly and ensured it melted first, then added a bit more.
  • I simmered and stirred, everything slowly stunned to mush.
  • Keep going til you get a ‘rolling boil’ – the liquid went darker and the bubbles look thicker.
  • To check the jam will set I used the frozen plate method
  • put plate in the freezer – take plate out when ‘rolling boil’ – splodge a blob of jam on the plate – push it to see if jam wrinkles then it’s ready
  • I’ve also got a jam thermometer but i prefer the plate method.
  • My chap ladled the jam into the jars – jam funnel much easier.
  • Jars and lids were washed and ‘cooked’ in oven to sterilise them.
  • pour the jam in when still warm 🙂
  • I’ve made chutney for years but jam is MUCH quicker to do.
lavender in a very small Pinkster gin bottle

lavender in a very small Pinkster gin bottle

lavender in a small pinkster gin bottle

lavender in a small pinkster gin bottle 

If you’re wondering why I picked a Pinkster gin bottle – it’s because it’s flavoured with raspberries 🙂 and these bottles are from gin explorer boxes that come monthly for my Chap from me. It’s a really great way to try out new gins.

The Christmas gin fairy might just have brought a full size bottle too – shame I’m still feeling far too rough to drink anything apart from peppermint tea.  But it’s not all been bad, I’ve been checking out wedding photographers. I’m on the mend slowly, but that’s been the recurring theme of 2016.

I hope you’ve all have a lovely, relaxing Christmas break and that 2017 is a really good year for you.

Carpe Diem

Love Bec xx

 

*I wasn’t asked to write about ‘gin explorer’ and I pay full subscription price for each box.

Red keep calm and carry on sign pink vase flowers

In a vase on Monday – keep calm and carry on

The future depends on what you do today.
Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) 

It’s been an incredibly busy Summer for us.  The organisation I work for has been through a complex restructure;  I’ve moved team, building and started in a brand new role – so there’s been alot of reading, meeting new people and setting up projects and activities.  I’m enjoying the new role and all the new challenges – rather tiring though and my arthritis and back pain have been giving me gip.   I feel like I’m trudging through treacle at the moment but I know all the knowledge and processes I’m setting up will help me later on.

I’ve been so busy, I’ve not contributed to the ‘In a Vase on Monday’ theme since June which I’ve missed very much. I’ve picked flowers fairly often, and even photographed them a few times but have always run out of time writing the ‘actual’ blog post.  I’ve been looking at everyone’s vases though – the vases and the people and their stories bring me much solace.

I’m hoping I’ll have a bit more time to blog as we head towards Christmas.  There’s less options for flowers/plants for vases but I’ll do my best.

Red keep calm and carry on sign pink vase flowers

Keep calm and carry on – it’s been hectic – In a vase on Monday – 21 September 2016

1. In a Vase on Monday

For this week’s vase, I picked some purple, lilac and pink ‘Spencer’ sweetpeas – they’ve from two different locations one at the front door (you can see them in the background) and the other near our decking at the bottom of the back garden.  The flowers have smelt wonderful. I didn’t fare quite so well with the dwarf sweetpeas – no flowers at all so I don’t think I’ll bother growing them again, I’ve tried growing them for three years but no success.  There’s so little space in our garden everything has to pull its weight.

There’s also some mini red dianthus, some white and red margarite flowers.  Also some pink Pelargonium from a huge plant which I’ve managed to overwinter three times.  There’s some purple wallflowers which survived our mild Mancunian winter – they’ve been flowering all summer too.  And of course, some lavender.  Lavender is one of my favourite plants, I adore the smell. I’ve got about 15 plants in the sunny front garden and a few in the sunniest part of the back garden.   Most of these plants have been flowering most of the summer and have bought us alot of pleasure. We eat out in the garden as much as we can – mind you the weather in Manchester this year has been very changeable (and wet alot of the time).

Continue reading

(Not) In a Vase on Monday – Remembering the gentle giant

My Chap and I are away in Cornwall this week – the beautiful coastline, countryside and gardens are replenishing my soul – along with some great fish cooked by My Chap :-).  I’ve been reflecting on what a momentous year this has been – I’ve found more inner resilience than I knew I had. I’m a stronger person than I was.

Today’s ‘In a vase on Monday’ is somewhat unconventional – the photo is nearly a year old but I hope you’ll allow me this.

It’s been a year since my friend (and former partner of 20 years) Steve died so suddenly on 30th April 2015.

I could tell you a million stories of Steve – we all have them.   Instead I’m going to tell about the significance of the flowers I chose for his funeral – they reflect his life and interests:

  • A red rose – because he was a proud Lancastrian, he loved the hills, towns and villages of this green and pleasant land
  • Cream roses – like the ones from his beloved mother’s  garden
  • Sea thistle – because he loved the sea
  • Orange blossom to represent his love of Spanish cities and many happy holidays with friends. Our last holiday was to Seville.
  • Eucalyptus – to represent a wonderful holiday to Australia to visit my brother and his family.
  • Purple heather – because he loved Scotland, hillwalking and the hills
  • Rosemary – to reflect his love of cooking – he and my Dad were always discussing recipes. He talked recipes and food with my Chap too – and we cooked together often.
  • Rosemary is for remembrance too
  • And finally lavender – he loved sitting in my garden and loved the smell of lavender.
Flowers for Steve's funeral - roses, rosemary, lavender, sea holly

Flowers for Steve’s funeral – roses, rosemary, lavender, sea holly – 15 May 2015

We read the following poem at Steve’s funeral:

Feel no guilt in laughter

Feel no guilt in laughter, he’d know how much you care.
Feel no sorrow in a smile that he is not here to share.
You cannot grieve forever; he would not want you to.
He’d hope that you could carry on the way you always do.
So, talk about the good times and the ways you showed you cared.
The days you spent together, all the happiness you shared.
Let memories surround you. A word someone may say
Will suddenly recapture a time, an hour, a day,
That brings him back as clearly as though he were still here,
And fills you with the feeling, that he is always near.
For if you keep those moments, you will never be apart
And he will live forever locked safely within your heart.

Author unknown

Steve was a big man with a big personality and he touched so, so many lives.

He has been taken far too soon – Rest in Peace Steve (1967-2015).

We remained friends to the end.

His sudden death affected me deeply – but I have realised how much resilence I have and am getting back to where I want to be.  I couldn’t have done this without the love and support of My Chap, my family, Steve’s family and our many friends.

Life isn’t a dress rehearsal…. so I’m off to pick tulips in the garden of the cottage we are staying in (with permission).  Part 2 of ‘In a vase on Monday’ later…

Carpe Diem

love Bec xxx

I’ve written about Steve elsewhere on my blog:

You can find more about ‘In a vase on Monday’ which is hosted by Cathy at www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com.  today she is celebrating the wedding of her Younger Daughter – Cathy picked flowers from her garden for the bouquet and button holes.    She’s very talented :-).  Reading all the blogs from people around the world showing their flowers has lifted my mood this last year… thank you everyone 🙂

 

 

#100happydays challenge 35-41 – Love, food, poetry, learning and travel

Happiness depends upon ourselves 

Aristotle 384 – 322 BC

It’s been very interesting  thinking everyday about what has made me happy –  it’s often centred around friends and the people I love, travel, food, places and history – our life in and around Manchester – the first industrial city.  Today, it’s a diverse, fascinating and tolerant city.  I’m proud to be an adopted Northerner.

I could, of course, take a picture of something in my garden every day for this challenge – as my garden does truly lift my soul.   Or a picture of my Chap – he has been my rock since the day we met – and particularly this year.

#100happydays is helping me get back to where I want to be.  Continue reading

#100happydays challenge 14-20 food, music, Victoria baths

An update on my  #100happydays challenge – http://100happydays.com/ from last month. In mid October, I went back to my normal life after a lovely week in Lisbon – and it was eclectic.  Some gardening, music, good food with friends and visiting the Victoria Baths in Fallowfield, Manchester.

birthday meal in Smiths (14/100), fushias in my garden (15/100), editors tickets (16/100), lunch with my pal E (17/100) #100happydays

birthday meal in Smiths (14/100), fushias in my garden (15/100), editors tickets (16/100), lunch with my pal E (17/100) #100happydays

14/100 – Our birthday meal in Smiths, Eccles   My birthday and my chap’s birthday are a week apark – no pressure then when it comes to presents and celebrating 🙂  We went for a lovely meal at Smith’s in Eccles; it’s a bistro style restaurant with an excellent, ever changing seasonal menu.  It’s an Eccles institution and I’ve been going for at least 18 years.   It was a great meal as usual, the bubbly was just lovely.  I had some fish – what a surprise 😉

15/100 – fuchsias in the garden – mid October 2015 The fuchsias are STILL flowering in my garden (and it’s mid November when I write this post) both the tender and hardy ones.  We are having very odd weather this Autumn, it’s been 12/16 degrees most days/most of October and November so lots of the summer bedding plants are still flowering away. I love fuchsias – When I was a child they always reminded me of ballerinas.  My mother always had a lot of fuchsias on her patio both hardy and tender.  She’s still got plenty and she’s bought us quite a few over the six years I’ve lived in my house.  I’ve got a huge relative of ‘tom thumb’ outside my kitchen window which reminds me of the lanes of West Ireland which have miles of tall fuchsia bushes.  I’m surprised fuchsias aren’t in ‘My in a vase on Monday’ more often – I think it might be because I’ve not got the right vases. There is time yet this year though 🙂 Continue reading

In a vase on Monday – white, purple, aquamarine and John Rylands too

Our weekend was spent pottering around in the garden and house, apart from a  trip to get bike parts from a shop in central Manchester on Sunday.  There was a lovely market at Spinningfields (organised by Makers markets www.themakersmarket.co.uk/) next to John Rylands Library on Deansgate so we had a quick look around – as we only had an hour on our parking (£2.90)  Manchester City Council really need to make parking in the City much cheaper or free all day on Sundays (as it used to be).  The high cost doesn’t help the retail and entertainment sector – you’re charged 8am to 8pm every day – it’s ridiculous.

Hydrangea, petunia, pelargonium and lavender. Jug: Amy Louise Clarke ceramics Espresso cups: Magpie

Hydrangea, petunia, pelargonium and lavender – 18 August 2015
Jug: Amy Helena Clarke ceramics
Espresso cups: Magpie

About John Rylands Library
The Library is my favourite building in Manchester, it was opened  in 1900 in neo-gothic style and was one of the first buildings in the city to have electricity. It was built by Enriqueta Rylands in memory of her husband John, to house their extensive collection of books and ancient texts.  It has an excellent café and truly outstanding historic toilets in the basement.  It’s now part of the University of Manchester and is, therefore, part of the third largest academic library in the UK.

I really must go back again soon for a few reasons:

  • Darkness and Light: Exploring the Gothic exhibition until 20 December 2015
  • tour for photographers – I’ll have to go on this once I’ve sussed out how my camera works.
  • to check out the cafe again – I heard it does a good afternoon tea at a sensible price.

John Rylands Library is a incredible building celebrating the glory of learning – do have a look inside if you’re in the area.  ANYONE can go inside and have a look around and it’s FREE too. It really is worth it.

John Rylands Library, Deansgate, Manchester Uk

John Rylands Library, Deansgate, Manchester UK

At the market
The sun was shining, live music was wafting across the square and there were plenty of people milling around looking at the stalls of food, drink, homewares, clothes and jewellery.     My Chap and I had a wander around.  We bought some coffee ground by Dex from Second City Coffee. Obviously, I bought the coffee named after Cottonopolis (my Women’s Institute – www.cottonopoliswi.com/).    It’s a lovely coffee – citrus and nutty.  And finally got to meet Dex who I’d chatted to via twitter – lovely chap.

Second City Coffee - Manchester, UK Photo with Permission/copywrite Secondcity Coffee

Second City Coffee – Manchester, UK      http://secondcitycoffee.co.uk/   (Photo used with Permission)

We also saw some beautiful china made by Amy with modern flower patterns and colours.  I couldn’t resist  a new jug (mild mutterings from My Chap) – it’s about 5 inches high.  I was good and picked a colour that would match our existing Boston Denby china (Blue) and our espresso cups (and not purple my favourite colour!). Green is My Chap’s favourite colour and he approved of this lovely aquamarine.   Amy said she is based in Stoke so do check her out if you’re in the area and she often comes to the various Makers Markets in Uttoxeter, Cheadle, Knutsford, Sandbach, Middlewich and West Didsbury.

UPDATE – I heard from Markets Market that they are OPENING IN MONTON in October 2015 (I live in Monton so I am very excited about this.

Hydrangea, petunia, pelargonium and lavender - Photo: copywright R Jones

Hydrangea, petunia, pelargonium and lavender
18 August 2015
Jug: Amy Helena Clarke ceramics
Espresso cups: Magpie

My vase
The flowers I have chosen today  are picked to go well with the beautiful jug I bought from Amy Helena Clarke ceramics www.ahclarke.com  . They are:

  • Lavender from the front garden – it’s two different kinds but I’ve no idea what variety. The scent is incredible, even the stems smell of lavender.  I have about 20 different lavender in my front garden which seem very happy in full sunshine, on soil where we dig up alot of bricks.   My house was built on the site of an 19th century mill which was knocked down in the 1980s.
  • A white Pelagonium which was part of a mixed pack from a garden centre a couple of years ago. I’ve managed to overwinter it a couple of times – it’s appeared in ‘A Vase on Monday’ before for 4th July celebrations (Red, White and Blue and purple).
  • Purple petunia – This variety grows in a couple of places around my garden including in hanging baskets – I don’t know it’s name though.
  • Hydrangea paniculata – I think it might be ‘limelight’ as the flowers fade from light green, to white and then pink. This one came to the garden two years ago for £2 from a rather odd little garden centre – it was in a right state but it seems to have recovered now.
    Hydrangeas originated in Japan, China and Taiwan and there are hundreds of different kinds.
    I have a globe head one in a pot in the back garden which should be blue but is flowering pink at the moment. It has appeared ‘In a Vase on Monday’ before too – (Not blue anymore – 13 July 2015).
Hydrangea, petunia, pelargonium and lavender - Close up 18 August 2015

Hydrangea, petunia, pelargonium and lavender – Close up
18 August 2015

Do have a look at all the lovely vases hosted by Cathy over on www.ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com – glorious pinks and purples today with a wonderful antique quilt.  People post vases from all across the world and it’s just amazing to see what grows where (and when too!).  And I’m late with my post as usual – ho hum I’ll try harder next week.

Have a wonderful week everyone.

I think we are off to Southport flower show at the weekend.  Have you been?

Carpe Diem

love Bec xx

p.s. this isn’t a sponsored post – I just really liked Amy’s china and I’ve been waiting a while to get some Cottonopolis coffee and I paid full price for everything 🙂