Saturday, 22 July 2017

Scones for early visitors ...

I hope everyone is enjoying their summer break in the northern hemisphere. My end of year is always  a hectic time with students then suddenly our year ends & we can relax for 6 blissful weeks. 

Some friends were stopping by this morning & so I decided to make up a batch of scones for a treat with our tea & coffee. They had set off some hours previously so I knew they would need a treat. 

I recently baked scones with one of my students & so this was the recipe I used today.

Scones need a light touch, I did not use the mixer as they are so quick to make & I don't like to overwork the flour ... 



INSTRUCTIONS

Preparation time: about 15 minutes
Cooking time: 10-15 minutes

Makes about 20 scones
  • 450g (1 lb) self-raising flour
  • 2 rounded teaspoons baking powder
  • 75g (3 oz) butter, at room temperature
  • 50g (2 oz) caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • about 225 ml (8 fl oz) milk
  1. Lightly grease two baking trays. Pre-heat the oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas 7.
  2. Measure the flour and baking powder into a processor. Add the butter and process until a crumble, then add the sugar. Or make by hand by rubbing  the butter into the flour using your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar.
  3. Beat the eggs together until blended and make up to a generous 300ml (1/2 pint) with the milk, then put about 2 tablespoons of the egg/milk aside in a cup for glazing the scones later. Gradually add the egg/milk mixture to the dry ingredients until you have a soft dough. It is far better that the scone mixture is on the wet side, sticking to your fingers, as the scones will rise better.
  4. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and flatten it out with your hand, or use a rolling pin, to a thickness of 1-2 cm (1/2 – ¾ inch). Use a 5 cm (2 inch) fluted cutter to stamp out the dough by pushing the cutter straight down into the dough (as opposed to twisting the cutter) then lift it straight out. This ensures that the scones will rise evenly and keep their shape. Gently push the remaining dough together, knead very lightly then re-roll and cut more scones out as before.
  5. Arrange the scones on the prepared baking trays and brush the tops with the reserved beaten egg/milk mixture to glaze. Bake for about 10-15 minutes or until the scones are well risen and golden. Cool on a wire rack, covered with a clean tea towel to keep them moist. Serve as fresh as possible, cut in half and spread generously with strawberry jam and top with a good spoonful of thick cream.

Scones need a light touch, I only put in 15ml of caster sugar then I halved the mixture to keep half plain. I added a generous handful of grated cheddar cheese, about 5ml of dry mustard powder & mixed that into the second half. 

I cut them out - plain with a round cutter, cheese ones with a serrated cutter then when they came out, I could not tell the difference but put them on two separate plates - that plan did not work as well as I hoped! 


However, they were perfect with mugs of tea & filtered coffee (sometimes, especially in the early morning, only mugs of hot drinks will do .... )

They were served with butter, a choice of Peach Melba or Hedgerow jam from our local farm shop, grated cheese & extra thick cream. 

My friend Caroline arrived with a plate of freshly made banana bread which was divine ....


A perfectly relaxed early morning catch up with friends & their lovely dog Bailey who loved playing in the garden ...


I had forgotten how quick & easy it is to make scones - they will definitely be made again for visitors ...

Thank you for stopping by & taking the time to read & comment,
Dee ~♥~



Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Lavender in the garden at home ....

I love lavender which I always find so pretty with its tall bracts, lovely colours & enticing scent but unfortunately our heavy clay soil at home means that it just dies off in the garden.

The RHS site advises

Lavender


Lavender (Lavandula) is an easy to grow, evergreen shrub that produces masses of beautifully scented flowers above green or silvery-grey foliage. This drought-tolerant plant thrives in a sunny border, container, herb or gravel gardens.

I have decided to grow some in pots on the patio where they will hopefully do well & I will be able to pick some for baking & decoration.  In my experience, they are anything but easy to grow ...

I had bought some lavender plants - 2 different kinds - as well as some lovely purple, lilac & white night scented stocks too - they were going to share the pots that I took the fig trees out of  when I repotted them (one thing always leads to another ... )

I always pot up on the little wall by our utility - close to the side alley where the potting soil is kept ...


The lavender plants with their elegant tall flower steps being repotted. The two yellow flower pots are a gift for a friends garden  ...


Some night scented stocks in shades of purple, lilac & white will add Summer colour & fragrance while the lavender plants establish themselves ...


I love the contrast, yet the restricted palette which is echoed around the garden ...


The two pots are against the warm, sunny patio wall where they will hopefully thrive ...



 I am cautiously optimistic that the lavender will grow well in the pots - time will tell. Another job ticked off my gardening list; I am aware that we have technically had our Midsummer Solstice so the days shorten at 4 minutes a day now ...

Do you garden according to your soil type, or do you also try to grow plants against all odds?

Thank you for stopping by & taking time to read & comment.
Dee ~♥~

Monday, 26 June 2017

A touch of lavender at home ...

My regular visitors know that I am a restless soul - I like our home to have good 'bones' but I like change & I regularly switch around the soft furnishings, pictures & my sideboard at home because I like to look at different things.

I believe that your home should tell the story of who you are & what you collect & love.


Our living room / lounge had a very red wall when we moved in - it was an orange-red which I repainted in a pink-red tone that was much better. However, I found that the red was really limiting colour wise so about two years ago, I had it all repainted in Natural Calico - the same colour that is throughout the house! The only time I missed the red was at Christmas but the tree & decorations looked good against the lighter walls ...

However, I wanted a change for Summer  so the red cushions & accessories are having a break ...


I found some lovely cushion covers in shades of lilac, purple & pink from 3 different shops - an inexpensive way to update the space ...


A lilac throw & a potted lavender plant set the tone & add texture ...


A chance find at Dunelm mill shop of a garland & strands of fresh colours for our inglenook fireplace


A potted, faux lavender plant ...


I do love this large inglenook fireplace space ...


Fresh shades of lavender, lilac, green & white bring a freshness to the fireplace ...


I 'might' have a thing for lavender this summer - the barometer is saying rain - it lied. The pretty table mat / cloth was a great £1 find at Ikea  ...


The cushions on the other sofa, along with some pink ones & flowers which were repurposed from upstairs; it is good to switch things around ...


I like the change - small changes with many things repurposed from around the home, makes a welcome change. 


Do you switch things around at home for seasonal changes? What is your favourite summer colours? Tell all & inspire us ...

Thank you for stopping by & taking the time to read & comment,
Dee ~♥~

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Progressing to a lush green space ....

It has been some years since we took over this garden - it was quite sparse but the mature hedges were good. However, the garden did not provide a calming green space & the first winter, I kept looking at bare fences while planning the changes for an all year round green sanctuary space.


This taken this week from almost the same spots as the above for comparison. The patio was updated last Autumn to give use the space we use outdoors  .... 


I love the green space that we enjoy now in a suburban environs. I do all the gardening except the hedges which are cut each year once all the nesting birds have raised their broods  ...


Each Winter, I still take photos to see where improvements can be made to make it a year round haven - not perfect but private & comfortable ...


I hope my garden is not the only one that is a constant work in progress - does yours also evolve across the seasons. Thank you for stopping by & taking the time to read & comment,  
Dee ~♥~

Monday, 19 June 2017

Helping wildlife in the Shire

Hi everyone
I have always championed wildlife & have worked on making our garden a space that is rich in wildlife - birds, hedgehogs, bees, squirrels, bats etc.

Numerous studies have highlighted that green spaces are good for our mental health - even National Geographic has raised the mental health benefits of being in outdoors & connecting to nature.

We have put up numerous bird houses for the many species of birds that we know visit - birds like different spaces to nest, including the hedges & ivy in the garden.


We have numerous bird feeders in the hedges & in the greenery which birds love because they enjoy protection from the sparrow hawk who regular takes stray birds ...


All wildlife need access to fresh water - we have 2 footed bird baths - one is almost hidden in the greenery which is very popular with birds as the water stays cooler & they enjoy protection. The second is close to the conservatory with a ceramic water bowl close to it - they are well used.

We also have a new metal hanging one close to the small bird feeder (only small birds can get through to feed. This is again sheltered & in the shade to keep the water cool.


The sheltered garden is very green & this has encouraged a diverse range of birds because they enjoy the 'wooded' aspect even through it is a suburban garden ...


I always participate in the 30 Days Wild challenge - looking at ways to help wildlife & I think if we all just make our own spaces more wildlife friendly, we will be contributing in a small but important way.

Is your space wildlife friendly?  Do you know which wildlife visits you? Thanks for stopping by & taking the time to comment ...
Dee ~♥~

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Taming the ivy ....

Hi everyone

Are you also trying to get on top of garden jobs.

Our conservatory is our most used space in the house - it straddles the living room & dining room & faces the garden with all its greens so is a calming, casual space that just energises me.

It is also the space where we have friends & family over for meals because we can easily fit 12 at the table in relaxed environs ...



Getting ready for friends - table set in the conservatory for 12 visitors ...


I love the views of the garden from our conservatory ...


A festive meal for friends it is important for this space to be lovely all year round  ...


At Easter - enjoying the brighter weather 


I like to have a green view & the fence next to the conservatory has ivy to soften it. Two years ago, the ivy had to be trimmed back hard when the fence panels were replaced. Lots of feeding & trimming has meant that the ivy has bounced back ....

I love calming out at the end of the day with my secateurs to tame the plants and so it was this week


I always use the green planting tray to collect all the cuttings as I go along - it makes tidying up so quick ...

This is the ivy trimmings - a lot of it but it needed taming.


However, I did it carefully as we sometimes get birds nesting in it ...


I did not want to trim too much because I love the green wall it provides ...



Another job ticked off my list .... Do you have a never-ending to-do list?  Tell all ... Thank you for stopping by & taking time to comment.

Dee ~♥~


Monday, 12 June 2017

A visit to Sue's allotment

During half term, I visited family & friends down in Dorset & had the opportunity to visit my friend Sue's allotment.

I have been following her progress via photos for months - it was overgrown with loads of weeds & she has been updating me on her progress, including a shed & some paving ....

The grass arriving to be put down on the dig over & levelled space

Ms M, Frances &  I were thrilled to be invited to visit her at the allotment.

Look at all the progress - the shed is now a beautiful cornflower colour - bean / flower supports at up, and don't you just love her pink twine?


Fabulous environment in the sunshine ....


 We then had a walk around the other allotments - so much work going on, each so individual with so many lovely flowers & plants growing ...


Look at those beautiful supports?


More lovely handmade structures around the allotments ...


The lovely Sue at her shed & us three visitors posing after doing nothing to help ...


A little panorama of her allotment ...


Us girlies with Sue in the middle ...


Us three girlies - Me, Frances & Ms M being silly in the sun ...


Thank you Sue for a fabulous afternoon in the sunshine & for letting us enjoy your lovely space with you. We are planning a proper party in the summer down at the allotment - you will have to stop by for an update on that!

Dee ~♥~