Tag Archives: garden

Do: Enjoy your surroundings


I love my garden  – I feel so lucky to have my own little green space to enjoy at my leisure

But sometimes I have to remind myself of this – it’s easy to get used to our environment and fail to notice what makes a place special

Last Sunday we were lucky to have a blast of beautiful sunshine in Leicester, so I took the opportunity to really embrace my garden

I took a proper close-up look at the plants and wildlife they attracted, looked up into the bright blue sky, took advantage of the sun’s heat to dry my laundry, and enjoyed an afternoon picnic (without the need to actually get dressed and travel anywhere!)

If only the weather forecast looked quite so optimistic this weekend!

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Do you have a garden? Do you make the most of it? Where’s the first place you head for a summer picnic?

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Visit: A Change of Heart, Leicester Botanical gardens

the knoll leicester botanical gardens

Our picnic basket was out again for a visit to Leicester University Botanical Gardens last weekend. After B visited last year for the first time, this year it was my turn.  A change of heart is the 12th annual sculpture in the garden exhibition which is on display until the 27th October 2013. We had a lazy picnic in the sunshine then whiled away a few hours by wandering around the gardens admiring the grounds and sculptures which add an extra dimension to the already beautiful gardens, there is something to see at every turn. I didn’t bake this time, though I would have liked to. Sometimes it’s all about seizing the moment and being spontaneous. This day was a case of last minute planning, grabbing a few snacks from the shop on our way and making the most of a beautiful afternoon in the sunshine.

Here are a few snaps from our day, the sculpture images are linked to the artist’s website so click on the image to learn more about the sculpture.

picnicpicnic benchpicnic picnicbotanical gardens leicesterbotanical gardens leicesterlilly pond botanical gardens leicesterbees leicester botanical gardens willow sculpture by Rachel Crterdama de noche leicester botanical gardensJapanese maples leicester botanical gardens Japanese maples and pigeons  leicester botanical gardens bruce Beasley- Brekout IIleicester botanical gardensAlice Cunningham- where I start and you endleicester botanical gardenswilliam Pye sculptureacornoak treeteaselDiane Maclean - Ovum

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gooseberriesyoung salad leavesthistledoorspeoniesseedlingsroseselderflowermake, do and spend

Just playing.

Click on the pic and it will take you to the post that features the image, see if you can spot the original!

In Other News, Team MDAS are off to a wedding today……..so excited!

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Grow: Spring at last



So finally it’s here, Spring. Garden preparation has begun and seeds have been planted. Cauliflower, courgette, celeriac, cayenne pepper, nasturtium, french beans, dwarf sunflowers, mustard leaves, aubergines, to name but a few, went in at the end of March/beginning of April and have this week been put outside to harden off before finally going into pots or joining the herbs in the vegetable patch.

Seed swaps are happening between friends too, we are hoping to trade some of our cauliflowers (which were sown a little too enthusiastically!) For delights such as electric daisies, cherry tomatoes and cucumbers.

Now I can’t say that my growing skills have improved any since this time last year, but it turns out C is rather talented when it comes to growing, and has a little more patience too. Last autumn’s offerings, despite the rubbish weather, were encouraging. So with a bit of luck and sunshine hopefully this year will be even better.

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Make: Chilli, garlic and herb infused olive oil

The next addition to my Christmas gift hampers will be chilli, smoked garlic and herb infused olive oil.

Olive oil carries flavours fantastically and this is a brilliant way to capture fresh flavours in a bottle. It’s also a tasty way to to recycle old wine bottles and use up any herbs that are waiting to be harvested before the frost comes. It’s fairly swift to make too, you just need to be a little patient whilst waiting for the oil to infuse.

I’ve used pomace olive oil here, which is a little less expensive than virgin olive oil but still very tasty. Virgin olive oil is cold pressed whereas pomace oil is hot pressed, its just a slightly lower grade of olive oil. I picked up this 5 litre drum from my local supermarket.

For this batch of infused olive oil i’ve used the following:

  • 6 empty wine bottles, i’ve used little ones here too. 4 small bottles are equivelant to 1 large bottle
  • 5 litres pomace olive oil
  • fresh whole chillis washed- i’ve allowed for one or two per bottle
  • fresh herbs washed- i’ve used sage and rosemary
  • 1 bulb of smoked garlic
  • a handful of juniper berries
  • a handful of pink and black peppercorns
  • a funnel to help decant the oil into bottles

The possibilities are endless, you could use all or just one of the above ingredients. Other delicious variations are Cinnamon, lemongrass, curry leaves, cumin, fennel, caraway, citrus, etc, etc, etc!

Step one- steralise your bottles this can be done with some hot soapy water, rince well to make sure no soap bubbles remain, then leave the bottles upturned to dry.

step two- Evenly distribute the herbs, chillis, garlic and peppercorns amongst the wine bottles. I’ve used assorted sizes of bottles, so i’ve used two cloves of garlic and two chillis in the larger bottles and one chilli and garlic clove in the smaller bottles.

step three- gently warm your olive oil on the stove to about 75 degrees- do not boil it as it will be too hot to handle. Place a funnel in the top of a wine bottle and carefully pour in the warm olive oil.

The oil should be ready to use in 3-4 weeks time. It’s great to use for salad dressing, can be used in stir frys to enhance flavour or paired with a good balsamic vinegar this is perfect for dipping  foccacia into!

The oil lasts for up to three months, or until the herbs begin to loose their colour. The oil does not preserve the herbs, garlic and chilli, only their flavour. To make the oil last longer the herbs, garlic and chilli can be strained out, and the oil re-bottled.

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