Thursday, 6 May 2010

An Unsettled Week

The last week has been an odd mixture of satisfying, energy-filled days, and listless days where it feels like nothing is achieved. The weather has been changeable for a start, which hasn't helped, and our focus has become somewhat fragmented. Or at least, mine has!

On Saturday, Phil and I enjoyed being here on our own (my parents were out for the day) and it felt good to be pottering around on our own little projects. It was "a day off" really, and I was really pleased to finally get around to making these ultra-simple cards (just a bit of cutting and pasting!) which have been sitting around for at least two or three years:

Phil couldn't understand why I would bother, but I think that some of the designs from tea boxes are just too beautiful to throw away. There's something sort of retro about them, like those old enamel advertising signs you see in some tea rooms and pubs.

I made a really tasty, "last minute" cous cous dish for lunch which I recently discovered on the back of a pack of sultanas (!?) and which has quickly become a staple.

Crazy Jack's "Last Minute" Couscous (Serves 4)

1. Using a vegetable stock cube, make 400ml of hot stock and pour over 200g of couscous in a large bowl. Add a knob of butter, cover and leave for 5-7 mins.

2. Meanwhile, chop and dice one tomato, one onion, one carrot, a chunk of cucumber and a red pepper. Mix together in a bowl with a sprinkle of sultanas.

3. Blend the juice of half a lemon with 2 tablespoons of good olive oil and a pinch of salt. Using a fork, stir into the couscous. You could add a crushed garlic clove at the same time.

4. Stir vegetables into the couscous.

5. It's ready but, if you have any fresh herbs - mint, basil, or coriander, chop up a really good handful and mix it in.

I have been using whatever vegetables I can find in the fridge, but olives are particularly good in this recipe. Crazy Jack forgot about them.

After the vegetable garden's recent rabbit invasion we have been especially careful to protect the young plants from nibbling teeth. We have had to be inventive! Here you can see some of our makeshift cloches - it's very Blue Peter, but it seems to do the job - not only do these bottles and the corrugated plastic tunnel protect the seedlings from hungry visitors, but they also create a comfortable microclimate which will help the plants to grow. There's some spinach in the tunnel, and individual lettuces in the bottles.

And finally, Squiggles has been growing exponentially, so the point where my tummy has been filling ready to burst. It feels a little less tight today, so I'm wondering if it was Braxton Hicks contractions I was feeling for the last few days? I keep calling them Brixton Hacks, which is very wrong... This isn't a great picture, and I look like I'm wearing a sack, but it's all I have right now!


  1. Lovely, lovely :)

    I do like the cards - I get you; though the tearoom feel is not retro in some places in Lancaster, it's very here and now!

    I love your recipes. When I sort my kitchen out I'm going to try some.

  2. Bump! Lovely ;)

    Those cards are gorgeous btw, I actually gasped out loud when I saw them.

    Glad things are going well, you're doing amazingly as I couldn't bear to bend over at all for gardening-type duties after about 10 weeks so had to give up completely. You're made of sterner stuff than me ;)


  3. A picture of your bump - woop! The garden is looking great too, and it certainly sounds like you're getting a lot done, even if you feel like you haven't been. Those cards are beautiful too. I like the designs but I've never thought of doing anything with them, and you're right, they're just like those retro enamel signs:-)

    Much love to your growing family xxxx

  4. Aw, what a treat to read 2 lovely, long posts in one go. Am loving reading about your smallholding adventures, and hearing about Bump's progress. Thanks for updating your brilliant blog whilst creating a farm/home/decor/baby/new life. You put me to shame.

    Lotsalove xx

  5. PS. I am TOTALLY nicking that teabox card idea. Taverymuch! ;) x