Insert Expletive Here

I just had to say it, didn’t I.

I had just planted a huge bunch of things on monday, many of my seedlings were finally coming up and… SPLAT.  Potatoes are not enough ballast, it seems.  Cue me rooting around in the rain, trying to rescue anything small and green that I could find and any of the larger seeds.  Beans, sunflowers, nasturtiums, marigolds, peas, sweetpeas and ‘unknown brassicas’.  At least most of what was sprouted was fairly easy to distinguish.

I rescued as much of the compost as I could and repotted what I found.  I’ll keep a eye out for random brassicas (either sprouts, cabbage or cauliflower) in with other things, as there was no chance of me finding the tiny black seeds in this lot, as well as my root parsley which I have no idea how it looks – I’ve never grown it before.  I know there are at least two unaccounted for cherokee beans (black seed in black compost is not easy to find) and all of the other beans, which are almost identical looking, are just planted together.  Should be easy to tell them apart when they start to grow, though – their foliage colour is different as is their growth habit (a dark green dwarf french and a green-yellow pole runner)   I have one tub now just filled with the compost that was left over to see if anything comes up.

The greenhouse also has new ballast:

The paving slabs are easily heavier than the grow-bag which is holding the other one upright so hopefully this should stop it taking a tumble again…  If not I’ll probably puncture the cover at the back and tie string through to the fence to secure it.

Expletive.

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Patchy to Pretty

Saturday was a little surreal for me.  Andy had taken a long weekend this week and was catching up on little jobs – like cleaning out his pigsty car and I was at a bit of a loose end.  I wandered outside, looked at the little piece of ground beside the door (above) and when Andy wandered past with hoover in hand, asked him what he thought if I sorta did ‘that and this and took that bit out’ to the little scrap of weedy ground.  He said he was sure that’d look good and pootled off to finish his cleaning.  Cue shovel and digging like a maniac. An hour later I had reshaped the ground to be two-tiered rather than a gentle slope and about an hour and fifteen minutes later I’d begged a lift to Homebase.  15% off day?  Score!  £10 voucher? double score.  A bashed box shredder for £25? – it seems like it was totally my day.  Oh and the plants.  Sooo many plants – hebes, euonymous, rosemary, thyme, foxgloves, ferns, violas, pansies, and primulas – all chosen for their ability to grow in part-shade at the very least apart from the flowers, which I just wanted for some colour until things settled down a bit.

I also added some more foxgloves I had in the garden, some alpine strawberries (again, more for a bit of colour / foliage cover), and lupins.

In the space of about seven hours the above had become this:

It’s still a little sparse looking but the plants will eventually fill out and the front will be brought into the design once the spanish/hybrid bluebells are done doing their thing (if they ever are – I did stomp on them a little with my big wellies, whoops!).  Eventually I’m hoping it’ll be a lush little garden just outside the front door.  Moving the tiny, bumpy patch was a pain, last year, and it never really looked neat.

I’ve also now sown some nigella and forget-me-not.  It’s not an ideal location for either of them – they both prefer it a bit sunnier – but if they even show a little it’ll help fill things out until the shrubs get a chance to bulk out.

In other garden news, everything is in GO mode.  Beans – blue lake, cherokee trail of tears, valdor;  second sowing of tomatos togi xl, yellow scotland; mini physalis, root parsley, turnips, peas and brussel sprouts all went in yesterday.  I really need to wash some pots – I’m running low on clean ones now.  I’ve started a second lot of toms to hopefully get plants with less leggy stems.  I left the last bath in the propagator too long and they seem to be suffering for it, now.  The beans are all early, but I’ve planted them under plastic with the hope of getting an early start and then adding more plants later in the season so that cropping lasts longer.

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Christmas Roundup

Oh dear, I’ve been slacking horribly on the blog front.  I don’t feel too bad about it, though – I’ve been having a pretty good time!

Christmas was wonderful this year.  I don’t know why, but I was more in the mood for it – making my own cards, making Christmas baking treats (including the iced biscuits I’d been meaning to do since the daring baker’s challenge!)  and with all of the snow outside it couldn’t have felt more festive.  Andy and I popped in to see Robbie and Beth as well as Scott and Kirsty on our way down to Andy’s parents which was really great – it’d been about… six or seven years since I saw any of my family on Christmas day.  Christmas itself, was never that big for me – it was always about the awesome dinner and company at Gran and Grandpas – relatives I only got to see a few times a year.   Andy’s family are wonderful people – welcoming and warm, but I did always miss seeing my own family at Christmas.

One thing I love about Christmas day at Andy’s parents is seeing him and his sister play together – they’re both really good musicians and Rachel usually brings her fiddle along.  This year it was fiddle + bass guitar / piano.  A mini-concert in the living room is not something most people can boast on Christmas day!

Anyway, sappiness aside,  this Christmas was a productive one.  We decided to make everyone treats rather than buying shop-bought boxes and whatnot – putting all the practice we’d done into confectionery and sweets throughout the year to good use.  In the end we made: two ‘types’ of macaroon balls, (Scottish) tablet, sugar icicles, iced biscuits,  shortbread (gluten free), and pfeffernusse.

For New Year we also added puff candy (also known as cinder toffee, puff toffee, honeycomb and others).  It took us three tries and only the last came close to ‘right’ but all of theme were tasty.  The second try, which simply didn’t ‘puff’ we crumbled up and ate in ice cream.  There was also an attempt at mince pies – which were ok but felt a wee bit to me like the mincemeat could do with a bit more time.  I’ve still got another jar of it, though, so I’ll give it a try at the end of January.

Not that people know me well or anything, but I did get quite a few cooking themed prezzies – A griddle pan, grater and Bakerella(!) book from Andy, and an apron from Andy’s mum with the motto: ‘Yes, it DOES take every pan in the kitchen!’.  I’ve been wanting a good apron for a while – the shops only tend to sell thin ‘pretty’ ones.  Not good, sturdy kitchen aprons made from similar material to chef’s whites.  The one Andy’s mum got me was that material but a snazzy black.  I’ve been using my griddle pan at every opportunity – something I’ve not used in years because it’s more ‘speciality’ cookware.  You don’t really need to have cool looking black lines on your food… but it tastes better if you do.  Really! ;)

New Year was, as always, great fun.  Andy and I headed over to Mishi n’ Mike’s place for games, dvds, board games food, too much sugar, and general geekery.  In true SURGe tradition we also spent all of New Years day celebrating too – with yet more of the above.  We had mad fun playing party games – both nights until almost 6-7am in the morning!

Over the holidays Andy had wanted to go out to a few restaurants he’d been with his work / music groups and thought I should try.  One of them was Sushiya in Edinburgh and oh man was that a treat.  The place is teeny-tiny and the seating is all tall bar-stool style but the food, oh man the food!  I’ve only been to a good sushi place once or twice – and neither time did I have more than a little sashimi (the raw fish type) as I was quite young and the idea squicked me.  This time, however, I was ready to have at it.  We ordered two mixed plates of sushi and sashimi as there is some non-fish sushi that I love – tamago and ‘inari’ or sweet tofu.  Large chunks of salmon, tuna, sea bass, clam, shrimp, and various veggies in or on rice wrapped in seaweed or rolled in crab roe.  Yum!  Then came the amazing soft-shelled crab rolls.  If you’re going to go there, try this.  Soft-shelled crabs are crabs which, just after they molt, can be cooked and eaten with their shell still on.  They are deep fried and crispy and Andy’s description of the rolls prior to us going turned out to be perfect:  “It’s like japanese fish and chips”.  Crude, maybe, but pretty much spot on in a deliciously tasty way.

Since then what I’ve mostly been doing is garden related and that’s relegated to a post of its own!   Hope everyone had a good Christmas and New Year =)  /hug

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Requisite Blog Post About Blogging

Purple Foodie celebrating her 3rd anniversary made me curious as to how long I’d been writing this blog.  As it turns out I’ve missed my first anniversary by a  mile… a 6month mile.  Whoops.  It got me to thinking about this blog, though, and what it means to me.  It’s not my first blog – that dubious honour goes to the livejournal I kept for the years up until Uni and it’s not even my second, with a couple of years dedicated to a gaming blog which really catapulted me into writing in a more mature way and for an audience which is not necessarily all close friends.

I always talk to an audience when I write my posts even though if I go by my google analytics there are a whole…8 of you? I wouldn’t have even bothered with analytics if I didn’t already have it set up for the now long-forgotten gaming blog.  It’s slightly disheartening in a way – when I was writing my other blog I had around 400 or so subscribers.   I guess that’s typical of a niche blog, though – like fanart or fanfiction it attracts a wider audience than original work because there’s an instant connection with the subject that one cannot expect from a personal blog.  To get ‘into’ what’s here you need to get ‘into’ me.  I’m not sure I even like the idea of being overly gawked at in my own persona, rather than cloaked in a gaming disguise.  I’m rather dull, I know, and I pootle about with gardening & cooking, too much of a follower of ideas to generate any interest from either groups in my own right.  It’s dull, but I’m not going to go out of my way to change that.  I didn’t really like the pressure to post that is inherent with a non-personal blog, a thematic one.  I wrote almost  entirely for an audience towards the end, there, and not always  entirely to my own interests and passions.

Still, I write to ‘you’ out there in this blog, of course.  Or even, possibly, I write to me.  Future me, who’ll read this post and think:  Whoa, what trippy arse mood were you in when you wrote this? I can’t imagine writing without imagining an invisible audience, truthfully.  It prompts me, for one thing, to actually bother trying to correct typos I notice, to try writing better, to try and make my photos better.  Peer pressure, even imagined, is powerful.

I like writing and sometimes I could do with taking more time over it.   I waver between sticking myself to a schedule and complaining internally that a schedule is what turns me off writing – the sense of being forced to write which, like when I’m ‘forced to draw’ sucks any and all creativity out like a literary or artistic leech nine times out of ten.  The other problem is that when I write something but then cannot be bothered to cajole, coax and edit photos or images for it.  I don’t know why, but if I have illustrative images they have to go in.  I don’t like letting my writing stand on its own, I guess: it needs camouflage.

This post, unfortunately, doesn’t have much of a ‘point’ per se.  Mainly a notation on how I feel about my blog and writing due to a chance reminiscence.  That’s two ‘about blogging’ posts in a week.  Erp.

Back to attempts at shiny pictures, baking fail and random soups shortly! ;)

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Oh Dear…

It’s been more than a week since my last post and, whilst I refuse to be apologetic about writing at my own pace I do wish I could keep to schedules I make for myself.  However, it’s been a very pleasant and busy week which has kept me away from writing  so I can’t really complain too much or berate myself too harshly.

Wedding

Last Saturday was Scott & Kirsty’s wedding.  It was a beautiful day and everything was perfect – from the picturesque Roman Camp Hotel and it’s surroundings to the touching Humanist ceremony; the wonderful meal to the swingin’ ceilidh.  It was really nice to meet Kirsty’s family and those from auntie Beth’s side whom I’d last met when I was quite young.  The photos I’m restricting to facebook, though – too many people in them whom I don’t wish to expose to the open mercies of the internet via my little spot.  Suffice to say that everyone had a great time and that Andy and I both wish the couple a great deal of happiness in their continuing adventure through life together.  Much love to you both, and thank you for letting us be a part of your big day!

Saturday Soup

So as not to back things up for next week, I’m going to throw my Saturday Soup from last week onto the blog today.  I went for a sweet potato and chilli soup recipe from my usual haunt at BBC GoodFood.

Unfortunately, in the rush of Friday and Saturday, I forgot to take a picture when I first made it and hence had to make do with hastily microwave heated versions.  Unfortunately this is not quite as striking  as I’d have liked ;)  So be it, however, as I’m determined to keep up with and record my souply trials – even those which go slightly awry.

The cheese here is not the Gruyère suggested by the recipe, but Emmental. I was surprised that it actually went rather nicely with the flavour of the sweet potato – I’d never considered them bedfellows and especially would not have thought to put them together in soup – any cheese, that is, not just Emmental.  The soup was tasty and the little kick of chilli with sweet potato always brings out the flavour of it wonderfully but it suffered a little from being overly thick – almost like a watery ‘mash’ than a dense soup. It certainly gave my little plastic hand-blender a run for it’s money trying to whiz it into a smooth(er) soup.

I don’t know how often I’d make this but, given my propensity for having ‘spare’ sweet potatoes it might happen more often than I’d like.  Perhaps I need to try to find another sweet potato recipe!

Also, because it’s been a while since I assailed the blog with kitty pictures here’s one of Sam being uncharacteristicly playful :)

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Goodbye, Wee Man

We had some good luck concerning the kitten: we took him to the vets and, lo and behold, he was microchipped!  Totally wasn’t expecting that, but glad nonetheless.  The vet phoned us say they’d gotten a number and address and would phone them and get back to us.  Super. Except… that was two and a half weeks ago.

Just as we were beginning to give up getting a hold of his owners as a lost cause we got a phone call from the vets!  They phoned yesterday morning and by 1 o’clock in the afternoon he was gone.  It was all so sudden it seems surreal – as if he wasn’t ever here.

Apparently, our lack of luck with getting a hold of the owner was due to timing problems (night shift worker) and the owner avoiding phone-calls from someone else thus missing ours, too.  The minute it went to a letter, they called the vet right away – surprised that the kitten they’d been missing for a whole month and a half had suddenly turned up!  Apparently they and their family had been out looking for the wee scamp for weeks, worried because they lived near a railway and land where foxes are known to prowl.  Given he’s such a teeny thing (six months old, would you believe!), it would have been easy for a driver not to see him or a bigger critter to get a hold of him.

Having given up on finding him themselves they realised they hadn’t sent away his microchip form.  D’oh.  Still not sure how the microchip company had him on the database – I can only assume they knew which vet had said microchip and traced the owner that way?  If anyone knows how the system works I’d welcome a possible explanation =)

The other surprise came when we found out he’d come from a good few miles away – in Larbert.  We’d not even thought to phone the vets further afield than Camelon assuming that such a teeny tiny cat wouldn’t have walked very far from home.  When he came to us, he looked a little underfed but not starving.  Given that they’d been missing him for six weeks, we’d only had him for three and he seemed to have not gotten into too bad a condition for his size we all wondered if he’d perhaps been taken from Larbert and brought to Camelon by some (possibly) well-meaning stranger who’d found him – only to run off again.

I had wanted to know what his real name was and found out inadvertently when I mentioned that, on finding him, we’d assumed he was a she.  Apparently this wasn’t the first time as originally he’d been called… Millie.  Hehe.  When the truth became apparent, Millie became Mills – a name which has a slight mischevious tilt, to my mind, and suits the wee man well – though I’ll probably always remember him as Cai =)

The place feels rather quiet without him and whilst I won’t miss him trying to eat everything (including my plants) I will miss the wee scamp being a cute addition to the family and generally adding some random to the house.

Sam, on the other hand, with probably be wholly relieved to see the back of the kitten.  Though I do think he was growing on him.  A wee tiny bit. Maybe. ;)

G’bye Mills

Miss ya, wee man.

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Radical Radishes & Curried Kittens

I’ve been trying to keep to a schedule for writing here  but with my big cousin’s stag party at the weekend… well, lets just say that I was still trying to recover on Monday.  It was a great night, though, and I’m looking forward to his wedding in a couple of weeks time.

Today I was ready to blow the cobwebs away and raring to get out in the garden.  I wasn’t going to allow a torrential downpour bit of drizzle stop me from getting out there.  That’s what wellies and big leather gloves are for, right?  Today’s task was finally getting rid of the radishes.  When I first grey radishes, hoping for little, lovely, salad bowl crunchies I failed miserably.  I could get them to the right size, shape and crunchiness, even but the taste was just horrid.  Not sure where I was going wrong, but the upshot was too many radishes I didn’t want to eat!

So, having heard that radish seed in many ways approximates mustard seed, I figured I’d leave the ones which were left in the ground and see what happened.  For a start, the bees loved them – radishes have a profuse amount of flowers and they actually smell quite nice. This is, unfortunately, the only photo I have of them close-ish up:

The  radishes, left to grow, became huge and some even seemed to have started growing secondary tubers further down the root.

As it turned out, apparently the seeds on mine didn’t taste any good either, so I dug the lot out of the ground today to make space for winter lettuces.  Smashing them up to go in the compost, though, I noticed the coolest thing:  some of them had become hollow and were supporting small colonies of critters and beasties – including worms! Click on the images for a closer view.

Not all of the radishes were hollow, but I’d had no idea they would even do this.  Pretty funky stuff.  Cool as they were, though, their upheaval was a must – giving me space for my winter lettuces:

Not a tonne of space but, then, that’s the story of this garden as a whole.  Still, as the season comes to a close, I feel that I’ve really managed to make a decent go of growing things in my long-thin strip of dirt.  It’s been great fun and I’m already planning what I will (and won’t) grow next year.  For the record, the garden looks like so at the beginning of September:

Coming to a slow close, but not done yet!

On a completely different note, below is what happens when you leave an inquisitive, greedy wee kitten in a room with an empty curry bowl:

Yes, he’s still with us, and getting chubbier by the day.  Just look at that round wee belly!

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Edinburgh Zoo

I love the Zoo, I really do.  I’ve always had an interest in animals – ever since I spent my 50p pocket money every week on a new small plastic model for my ‘farm’.  It was an exotic farm, with giraffes, lions, tigers, deer, ostriches and eventually even an okapi – an animal I’d never even heard of until I saw the unusual little model in the toy shop.  That toy shop (Blythe’s), and the little glass-fronted case of animals  is something I think helped usher me towards my love of all creatures great and small – I went to the library to look up what an okapi was!

Unfortunately I didn’t manage to see an okapi at Edinburgh zoo, or the giraffe’s which were there last time – but there were plenty other cool animals – especially the pallas cats which sort-of look like what would happen if you mixed a persian with a wildcat.

Probably the biggest highlight of the day was feeding the rainbow lorikeets  – such cheeky wee things!  The trip to the top on the safari bus thing was a bit dull – there wasn’t really time to see anything – but at least it got us to the top of the hill ;)  Even with mostly downhill walking, though, the day was scorching and our feet were killing us by the end of the day, but it was so much fun.

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Random Kitten Visits

Last week certainly ended interestingly.  Going to the door after talking to a survey guy, Andy heard a mewing.  When he opened the door a small black and white streak of lightning shot up our hall.  When he called to me to check it out, his voice half laughing, half questioning, I wondered what in the world it could be.  I did not expect, a few moment later, to be holding this little guy:

We have no idea where he came from, none of the people on our street have lost him and chats with the SSPCA, CPL and local vets have been fruitless on the matter of anyone having lost a kitten like him (if full of good advice).  He’s the absolute opposite of Sam – playful, boisterous and into every single thing he can get his paws on.  He’s very obviously still kitteny – though we can’t place his exact age and so can’t figure out if he’s been neutered or is just too under-aged for showing his man-bits.  The toys we bought Sam, which our stoic gentleman has disdained, have been getting some use – as has the cat bed and scratching post which his dignified self also doesn’t bother with.

I’m loving having a cat who will sit on my lap and accepts being picked up and hugged – however, living with a kitten is hard work – especially because we can’t leave him with Sam, so we’re having to lock him in a room on his own (and the mewls are piteous, I assure you).   He loves his food; can’t get enough, actually, and I’ve managed to get him giving me mini-cat ‘hi-five’s’ to get a treat!

Sam is not entirely impressed with our little visitor (whom we’ve named Cai for now so we don’t need to call him ‘the kitten’) and at first was a little scared of him but, although they’re still a bit growly-hissy at times, they’ve sniffed at each other and will happily sit a few feet apart so long as neither makes any sudden moves.  I’m slightly amused that our big bundle of fluff is wary of a kitten one third his size, but he has been a tad skittish of anything ‘new’ since we got him.

We think Cai must have a home out there, somewhere, despite not having a collar – he’s litter trained, for a start, and seems to have been handled.  He was also in pretty good condition when he ran into our house –  a wee bit skinny and dirty but not emaciated enough to have been out in the world for long.  Much as we’d both be happy to keep him, I am hoping that out there, somewhere, is an owner who loves him and is looking for him.  Even if there isn’t, Sam is our first priority and if they don’t chill around each other more, then we can’t keep him even if we want to.

I’ve already taken a tonne of pictures, though, so if his owners do show up, they’ll have a record of his ‘holiday’ ;)

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