dear diary :: staying home, staying occupied

Amazing things happen when you stay at home – well they do for us. We relax. Usually we are busy either packing or unpacking, coming and going so this must be the longest period we have spent at home for many years and I am loving it.

For longer than I care to remember we have been up and down to either my mum’s, my mum in law’s (when she was still with us) and my daughter’s houses visiting and then there were all the trips up to the cottage. It was quite normal that we only spent one weekend in four actually at home. In fact one year, whilst both of us were still working full time, we spent every weekend away from home for 13 consecutive weekends. I can’t say I can recommend it. This was during a period when my mum in law’s house (90 miles south) had to be decorated to go on the market when she moved into a care home, we also had my mum to visit (90 miles north) and we went up to our cottage in Scotland in between whilst renovation works were in full swing.

Having to stay at home has meant much more time to undertake all those things I have been meaning to do for ages – in fact I know I will not have enough time to get through them all before normality decends upon us once again.

For much of the time I have been busy in the kitchen, making sure nothing goes to waste.

Remember the birthday cake that I cut down for my daughter. I was left with three circles of cake. Little L drew in some strawberries for me but I decided to cut up the circles and freeze them until I could buy raspberries on our next shopping trip – no popping out to the shops for bits and pieces at the moment, we make do or wait.

And it was worth the wait!

I cut the cake into small pieces and added a layer of fresh raspberries then poured over a raspberry jelly that needed using up; once it was set I topped it with custard, double cream, more raspberries and a sprinking of almonds and dark chocolate strands.

As well as making trifle I was reminded reading Suzanne’s blog and her crimble crumble that I was going to use up the last of my frozen blackberries and a container of apple to make some blackberry and apple crumbles. Thanks for that Suzanne – they were delicious with ice-cream.

I also had some watercress left over from the ‘green soup’ DH made so I made one of my favourite summer recipes Watercress and Spring Onion quiches. Just the right size to eat with a little mixed salad and warm potato salad.

There is always plenty to do in the garden and this week the weather has ranged from cool to very hot. Yesterday I washed all the plant pots and left them to dry in the sun ready for potting on some of the seedlings that have now outgrown the trays.

Each day I come across more delightful little surprises. The tulips that begin life as a pale cream, then acquire pink markings as the petals open out…..

…have now magically transformed into a vivid pink as if someone has painted them overnight – maybe it is those fairies at the bottom of my garden by the toadstool!

This shady corner has some self seeded purple aquilegias growing amongst this bright green euphorbia that has worked its way under the fence from next door. A welcome gate crasher. I love the way nature can make its own wonderful colour combinations if left alone. It is always much better at garden design than I am.

The garden is looking quite good now with all the attention I have heaped upon it so far this year. This week we have been doing some much needed hard pruning of a few leggy and overgrown shrubs – so one or two areas of the garden are looking a bit sparse and exposed – hopefully it will not be long before they grow back to some mass again and give us our privacy back. I will show you some before and after photos soon of our hard work.

Because the weather has been so pleasant I thought it would be nice to make a special tea to sit and eat in the garden so that we could admire our handiwork. As we had trifle and some individual quiches I decided to bake a few fruit scones after lunch and make a plate of sandwiches with tomatoes, cucumber and a slice or two of cheese.

It was such a treat to sit out in this warm weather and while it is especially peaceful at the moment – only the birds could be heard as they busily flit around the garden hunting for worms in my freshly weeded borders.

We both agreed we should do this more often and as it happens it was good practise for the VE day street party celebrations we are taking part in today – don’t worry it is a social distancing party where we will all be sitting more than the recommended 2 metres away in our own front gardens eating our own afternoon tea – but I daresay we will all be singing together.

24 thoughts on “dear diary :: staying home, staying occupied

  1. Oh, my – all that lovely food. Fantastic!
    Isn’t it great how the garden plants reward us when we give them a bit more attention? Nature is fantastic.
    xx

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  2. Once again your photos and prose demonstrate your skill at weaving daily life into a lovely story. Will be thinking of you celebrating VE Day.

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    1. Thank you Mary – this must not only be the longest period I have had at home but the longest without a load of problems too. All the family are having to cope and solve their own problems during this lockdown as we are not available to rescue them! I hope their new self sufficiency continues!! x

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  3. Looks like a perfect, classic English May garden lunch. I would love to join in. I love a triffle, though bizzarely, I’ve never made one.

    Isn’t it amazing how flowers can change? Such gorgeous tulips.

    Here’s wishing you many more relaxing weekends without madly rushing hither and thither.

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  4. You have been productive, those mini-quiches look delicious! Cooking and food are so much more pleasurable when we’re not rushing or under pressure. Enjoy the street party. X

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    1. Without all our usual packing and unpacking I have found I have so much more time and not wanting to go out to the supermarket has forced me to plan ahead with the cooking and use up every last bit of food we have in the pantry before buying in more. x

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  5. Well, I certainly feel like a lazy bum! I have accomplished none of these amazing things that you have managed to do. I was awed by the second picture you posted of your garden – it is so beautiful! I can tell you have put a lot of work into it and it sure looks fabulous! And all of the beautiful food! I have never cooked like that – so pretty and yet so delicious looking! Wow! Well done! Thanks for sharing your lovely words and photos.

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    1. It is a tiny garden so doesn’t take long to get around but has needed some major renovation work in one corner. The picture was of the better side – wait until you see the side that now looks like we have had someone in with a machete!

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  6. As always, your food looks so delicious, and what better place to enjoy it than in your beautiful garden in the sunshine. X

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  7. Your food looks so good. I’d love to make the mini quiches. I think I would spend every waking moment in your lovely garden. Tulips are my very favorite flower and yours are gorgeous. Have a great weekend!

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    1. Next year I am planning for a lot more tulips – I had never bothered with bulbs much before but they do make such a big difference and flwer for ages. The cream / pink ones I have had for years but this year have been particularly spectacular. x

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  8. Everything looks delicious especially the mini quiche and the trifle. Now I’m wishing we weren’t so greedy and had spare cake left over. And those little crimble crumbles are lovely. I never think to make individual portions.

    When we bought the caravan one of the stipulations was I wouldn’t be expected or made to feel under pressure to go every weekend. Even though I’m home in the week there are all the usual things that need to be done and sometimes a weekend relaxing at home is just what’s needed. Regardless of the van being permanently set up, I still have to pack clothes, food, dog things etc.

    We had a socially distanced get together yesterday as well and it was lovely being able to chat to all the neighbours. Have a lovely weekend. xx

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    1. Thank you for reminding me that I had blackberries that needed using and a crumble was just perfect. I make individual portions as there is only the two of us and a large crumble would keep us going all week!
      Our cottage / caravan is one of the most missed things and like you it is all set up but I still have food to think about and return washed linens etc. I have packing down to a fine art now with certain travel ‘kits’ and lists depending on if we are visiting mum or daughter or cottage!
      Wasn’t it lovely weather for the neighbourly get togethers – we made new friends – more distant neighbours that had moved into our cul-de-sac that we had not had the pleasure of meeting before. x

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  9. I’m not sure what looks the most scrumptious – your garden or your wonderful cooking. I’ve so enjoyed all the images in this post. xx

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