Preparing for Summer

Do you long for a slow paced, stress free, summer, filled with hazy, lazy afternoons, Pimms on the patio and picnics in the park? Me too! Well limiting stress, slowing the pace, and enjoying life to the full requires a little planning. Not too much planning or you’ll become a slave to your schedule, but a little careful planning and preparation can help you be ready for relaxation and enjoyment, through the long hot summer that you dream of. So here are some suggestions for things you can do to prepare for Summer.

Things To Check And Replace:

  • Check sunhats and sunglasses for the whole family are still well fitting and not too worn out and replace as necessary.
  • Check your first aid kit and restock bite cream, medi-wipes, cold packs and plasters as necessary in preparation for the inevitable (mis)adventures of summer.
  • If, like me, you like to make jams and pickles then now is a good time to check your jars and lids for wear and tear and replace any not still in pristine condition. It’s also a good time to purchase the necessary extras like pectin as well as flavourings like pickling spice or vanilla pods and of course sugar.
  • Check your ice-cube trays and lolly moulds to ensure you have enough and that they’re still in good condition.
  • If you are going away you will need to check your luggage is clean and in good condition, and also purchase any additional clothes necessary for your trip long in advance so that they can all be washed and packed ready to go. Also if you will be travelling abroad check your passports and renew them if they are close to expiration.
  • If you travel in the UK like us, and use a roof box, it’s a good idea to check that it’s still in good condition and all the fixings are still present and in tact, the last thing you want is the stress of a broken roof box the night before you go away.
  • Check over any children’s outdoor toys, games and paddling pools etc, give them a bit of a clean up and decide if you’d like to purchase anything new. It’s good to have everything ready to grab as soon as the weather turns nice.
  • Check your picnic hamper and blankets for anything that needs replacing. Impromptu picnics just don’t happen if your basket is still stuffed at the back of a cupboard in need of a good clean.

Things To Buy:

  • Stock up on plenty of sun lotion, bug spray, after sun, cooling spray and citronella oil (see recipe section below). There’s nothing worse than running out of sun lotion on a particularly hot day and having a dash to the supermarket leave you flustered and running behind.
  • This is pretty obvious, but everyone will probably need new sandals, flip flops etc. as well as comfortable shoes like trainers or plimsolls for long meanders on sunny afternoons through the daisy speckled fields and parks.
  • A not so obvious necessity, especially here in Britain is a thin waterproof or showerproof mac for each family member. Something easily carried in the crook of an elbow on days when summer showers threaten to dampen the spirits.
  • Stock up on plenty of good quality oils and vinegar to make those summer salads really zing!
  • Stock up the liquor cabinet to make summer cocktails on the patio the work of a moment. Also stock up on things like chocolate syrup for making iced mochas and pouring over ice-creams.
  • If, like me, you have extra refrigerator space tucked away in the garage (or wherever) then stocking up on cans of beer, ciders, as well as bottles of wine for summer sangria and other mixers and juices will be very handy for any impromptu summer BBQ’s or picnics.
  • Stock up on freezer bags and containers to store that extra produce before it goes bad.
  • Replace old water bottles to make sure everyone stays hydrated.
  • Stock up on a variety of flavours of jelly and invest in some cute moulds, jelly and ice-cream really can’t be beaten on a hot summer afternoon.

Things To Do:

  • Stock your freezer with home-made picnic goodies like sausage rolls, quiches, pork pies and scotch eggs. These can be quickly defrosted and popped in the picnic basket for delicious home-made treats on the hop.
  • Begin making tubs of home-made ice-cream to get ahead on the summer rush.
  • Start preparing your feet for summer with a regular pedicure night. A good foot soak, scrubbing away that winter skin and finishing off with some home-made foot lotion (recipe below) will have those tootsies all soft and prep’d for your sandals.
  • If, like me, you have little girls, then sewing some cute summer dresses is a really nice way to show them a little summertime love.
  • If you’re a knitter or crocheter then knitting short sleeved or sleeveless boleros for your littles or for yourself is another lovely way to get some crafting in before summer.
  • Make ahead and freeze meringues and shortcakes for quick and easy summer desserts.
  • Make up some bottles of glass cleaner and get those windows sparkling in the sunshine (recipe below).
  • Keep weeding! Those pesky weeds can suddenly erupt right under your nose until your garden has become a jungle seemingly overnight. It’s best to get a head start on tackling them as soon as they start coming up in the spring so that maintenance is merely a little pluck here and there throughout the summer months. Long hours of weeding in the hot summer sun are not fun!
  • Feed your roses and treat them for aphids. If you want plenty of luscious blooms all summer long, then your flowers need a good regular feed with a high quality organic fertiliser, and those nasty little bugs need to be dealt with as soon as they appear, with an organic spray or the introduction of predators like ladybirds. Look for green clusters on any new growth, especially on roses.
  • Write a summer bucket list! Get everyone involved in planning the fun memories they’d like to make and the goals they want to achieve this summer, dreaming up fun activities and days out really gets us in the summery mood.
  • Get a membership for the National Trust or the National Heritage, and spend all summer long exploring historic sites and beautiful gardens.
  • Summer proof your car. Get your air conditioning refilled, stock up on coolant and screen wash, pull out your sun shades and keep your car clean and cool!
  • Switch over your linens and clothing for summer. Give your duvets and pillows a good wash (take them to the launderette if they don’t fit in your machine), store them away and replace them with fresh, cool summer cottons and thin blankets.
Get those summer whites really bright by hanging them out in the sunshine.
  • Clean up the BBQ and then give your wooden patio furniture a new lease of life with a coat of teak oil. Give your patio a good scrub, I use washing soda and a stiff brush, and clean up that parasol to have your outdoor space feeling fresh and inviting for the warm weather.
  • Plant herbs and summer salad vegetables. Salad leaves, herbs and salad veg like radishes are some of the quickest easiest and least space consuming things to grow, you really can grow them on a windowsill, and they taste so much better than anything you can pick up in the supermarket.
  • Fill your indoor vases with summer flowers and switch up table linens for something light and breezy to bring the outdoors inside.
  • Finally I always read an Summer Anthology of poetry or prose (See my ‘Summer Bucket List 2019 post for full title) and start listening to summer playlists to get those summer vibes rolling.
  • For more fun ideas for summer I recommend ‘The Summer House’ by Alison May, available on kindle and at brocantehome.net

Recipes:

Aftersun Lotion:

  • 1 tbsp Aloe Vera Gel
  • 12 drops Jojoba Oil
  • 4 tsp Coconut Oil
  • 2 tsp Shea Butter
  • 6-10 drops YL Lavender Essential Oil

Scoop all the ingredients into a jar and stir until combined.

Bug Spray:

  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 15 drops YL Purification Essential Oil
  • 5 drops YL Lemon Essential Oil
  • Distilled Water
  • 60ml Spray Bottle

Put the salt and the essential oils into the bottle, fill with the water and swirl to combine. spritz over your body.

Cooling Spray:

  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 20 drops YL Peppermint Essential Oil
  • Distilled Water
  • 60ml Spray Bottle

Combine the Essential Oil and Salt in the bottle, add the Distilled Water and swirl to blend.

Hand and Foot Lotion:

  • 10-15 drops YL Stress Away Essential Oil
  • 1/4 cup Shea Butter
  • 1 tbsp Beeswax
  • 2 tbsp Sweet Almond Oil

Combine Essential Oils and Sweet Almond Oil in a bowl and swirl to blend. Melt wax in a double boiler with the Shea Butter, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, add oils mixture, stir and cool in the fridge.

Glass Cleaner:

  • 300 ml Spray Bottle
  • 225ml Water
  • 5 drops YL Orange Essential Oil
  • 5 drops YL Lemon Essential Oil
  • 75ml Hydrogen Peroxide

Put all the ingredients into the spray bottle and swirl to combine.

[ALL RECIPES ARE SHARED WITH PERMISSION FROM ‘OILS & BEYOND WITH THE SYMONS FAMILY’ ON FACEBOOK. I RECOMMEND YOUNG LIVING PRODUCTS AS I AM FAMILIAR WITH THE QUALITY OF THE BRAND, OTHER BRANDS ARE AVAILABLE]

Have a great Summer

Love

Kate

x

Kitchen Diary 24th May 2020

Well here we are finishing up what for us is week 11 of lock-down due to the Covid 19 virus. Restrictions have begun to be lifted and we’re expecting my husband to return to work on 1st June. We can now go out for exercise as much as we like but play areas are still closed. Here in the KatesKitchenTable household, we have just broken up for our half-term holiday and the children and I are looking forward to a week without the structure of our academic endeavors.

My Week In The Kitchen:

We’ve been eating a lot of comfort food, unfortunately lock-down and good weather has me longing for things like pizza or spaghetti and meatballs, but home-made and served with a big salad and a glass of wine, it’s making home a pretty good place to be right now. We had two types of muffins this week, carrot with a cream cheese frosting and plain with white icing and sweeties on top.

My Week Home-Educating:

Being stuck at home for the most part, apart from our daily hour-long walks, we have focused heavily on our academic subjects, so as to get ahead for the summer when hopefully our freedom will be restored and we can have more time for exploring. Both Rowan and Lara have worked really hard this last half-term, Rowan has been working extra hard on her Maths and she’s now learned all her multiplication tables up to 7. This week she’s also been working on the correct usage of the greater than and less than symbols.

Lara has particularly enjoyed her science this week. She’s been learning about the functions of the eye. Hollie has been preparing to sit her mock exams in English, Maths, Chemistry, and History when we return after half-term.

Cocktail Of The Week

Passion-fruit Martini

Kate’s Kitchen Diary 17th-23rd February 2020

A very brief kitchen diary this week as we’re currently battling tonsillitis again here. Last week was half-term for us so we spent it having fun with friends and resting for the most part.

My week in the kitchen

Muesli Cookies

It’s been a very uneventful week in the kitchen and not much time for cooking. I made these Muesli Cookies which are really simple to make and very tasty. We also had these Black Forest Ice-Cream Sundaes for dessert on Friday – layers of cherry pie filling, vanilla and chocolate ice-cream, and chocolate brownie all topped with whipped cream, chocolate sauce and sprinkles – extremely decadent but soooooo good!

Black Forest Ice-Cream Sundaes

My week home-educating

As it was half-term and half of us were ill by the end of the week we’ve enjoyed a few pyjama days and lots of time watching movies and reading.

Evangeline enjoying a good book on her PJ day!

Lara got her new glasses, isn’t she a cutie?!

Cocktail of the week

Tequila Sunrise

An oldie but a goodie, this week we had Tequila Sunrises. Super simple and very tasty: simply mix a shot of tequila with orange juice and pour over ice, carefully pour grenadine into the side so that it settles to the bottom and garnish with cherries and an orange slice (we’d run out of oranges at this point so were a bit short on the garnish).

Until next time, have a great week.

Kate

Kate’s Kitchen Diary – February 10th-16th 2020

Hi everyone, I hope you all had a good week despite all the winter storms. Life has gone on pretty normally here at the kitchen table. Here is another roundup of what we’ve been up to this week.

My week in the kitchen:

A simple valentine’s treat.

A busy week in the kitchen as usual. Our menu plan looked like this (pretty much all homemade from scratch) …

  • Monday: Breakfast – porridge and maple syrup with orange juice, tea/coffee. Elevenses – Oranges. Lunch – Roast chicken and salad sandwiches on wholemeal sandwich bread with an apple and hot blackcurrant cordial. Tea-time – Tea and fork biscuits. Dinner – cheese and tomato pizzas with a green salad. Pudding – poached apple and custard. Supper – Milk and biscuits.
  • Tuesday: Breakfast – boiled egg and soldiers with orange juice, tea/coffee. Elevenses – bananas. Lunch – roast beef and rocket sandwiches on wholemeal sandwich bread with a plum and hot lemon cordial. Tea-time – Tea and chocolate chip cookies. Dinner – Lasagne with a green salad. Pudding – jam tarts. Supper – milk and biscuits.
  • Wednesday: Breakfast – muesli with orange juice, tea/coffee. Elevenses – pears. Lunch – Tuna Pasta Salad with an apple and hot blackcurrant cordial. Tea-time – tea and scones. Dinner – chicken curry and naan bread. Pudding – stewed plums and greek yoghurt. Supper – milk and biscuits.
  • Thursday: Breakfast – pancakes with leftover stewed plum and yoghurt with orange juice, tea/coffee. Elevenses – satsumas. Lunch – ham and tomato sandwiches on wholemeal sandwich bread with hot chocolate and marshmallows. Tea-time – tea and raspberry and white chocolate cookies. Dinner – chicken fried rice. Pudding – toaster pastries. Supper – milk and crackers.
  • Friday: Breakfast – cereal and orange juice, tea/coffee. Elevenses – bananas. Lunch – crudites and dip with wholemeal bread and butter, sweets and blackcurrant cordial. Tea-time – tea and jammy dodgers. Dinner – sausage traybake. Pudding – was meant to be strawberry mousse but an emergency trip to the vets meant it ended up being strawberries and cream. Supper – milkshakes.
  • Saturday: Breakfast – bacon and egg rolls. Elevenses – satsumas. Lunch – chicken sandwiches on wholemeal bread with an apple and lemon cordial. Tea-time – tea and popcorn. Dinner – Valentine’s date night – Indian take-away (the children had grilled chicken, fries and salad.)
  • Sunday: Breakfast – cereal and orange juice, tea/coffee. Lunch – roast beef, roast potatoes, yorkshires, carrots, broccoli, and gravy with apple crumble and custard to follow. Tea-time – tea and strawberry wafers. Dinner – wholemeal buttered toast. Supper – milk and biscuits.

My week home-educating:

Digging for worms

This week was worms week in our exploring nature with children curriculum. We learned about their physical make-up, what they eat, how they live, and how useful they are in the garden.

worm books or book worms?

We also learned how to multiply by 3, about farming around the world, Noah’s ark, and about opaque objects and shadows.

casting shadows

We went to the skate park with our scooters to meet friends.

moody swing

We played Lego.

Never too big for Lego

And we went for our annual opticians checkup and learned all about what an optometrist does and how to keep our eyes healthy. Very surprisingly Lara was diagnosed with a lazy eye (this was her first time at the opticians) her eyesight in her right eye is actually extremely poor and she will need glasses for the rest of her life and has been referred to the hospital for treatment. We had absolutely no idea she had any problems with her sight. It just goes to show how important visiting your optician can be.

Life through a lens.

My week in home-making:

This week in the exciting world of keeping house, on top of my usual jobs, I washed the master bedroom windows, cleaned the front door and scrubbed the step – much to the amusement or horror of our new neighbour over the road who stared at me totally unabashed, perhaps she wants to be friends or maybe she was admiring my scrubbing brush, who can say? Haha! I disinfected the bins, cleaned the dishwasher inside and out and also washed the back door (without an audience thank goodness). I made up some more homemade rosemary and orange shampoo and conditioner, I really love this blend for my fine hair and it smells amazing.

Orange and Rosemary bliss

My week in books:

I am currently reading Fascinating Womanhood by Helen Andelin for an online book club I’m a part of. What it says on the cover:’ Fascinating Womanhood offers timeless wisdom, practical advice, and enduring values to meet the needs and challenges of a new generation of women – happy, fulfilled, adored, and cherished – who want to rediscover the magic of their own feminine selves.’ This book, which seems to be a product of difference theory thinking, along the lines of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, despite being originally published in 1965 advocates complementarianism and a return to strictly defined gender roles to improve your marriage relationship. A lot of women reading this book today would be amused and horrified by its contents, calling for women to be traditionally feminine and to bring out the masculinity in their husbands. The writer bases her text on the premise that men have a very different view of what the ideal woman is and by becoming more like an ideal of femininity one can awaken a protective masculinity on one’s husband and deepen his affection. Andelin bases the ‘ideal woman’ on female characters in fiction by masculine authors, on the premise that they will have based these characters on real women. It’s my belief that writers actually rarely base a character entirely on someone they know and the ‘ideal women’ cited in these texts are idealised for a literary purpose and it’s perfectly possible that had the authors met their characters in person they may well have hated them.

However, the numerous testimonials about the effectiveness of the strategies outlined in this book are hard to ignore. It’s easy to see why wholly accepting the flaws of ones marriage partner and ceasing to complain about them can lead to a happier marriage. It also makes sense that dividing the labour down traditional lines could lead to much less conflict in a marriage when both partners fully accept those roles. Less obvious is how being more feminine and encouraging masculinity from your husband improves the relationship. I’m not done reading it yet, and I’m unsure of exactly where I stand with this topic but the book is interesting and easy to read. If you’ve read it please let me know your thoughts in the comments section.

Cocktail of the week

Love Potion

We celebrated valentine’s in style with a romantic meal for 9 (haha) and love potion cocktails. This cocktail is 1 part peach schnapps, 1 part vodka, 1 part malibu rum and 6 parts cranberry juice over ice with strawberry hearts to garnish. Very tasty, but you only need one hehe!

Kate’s Kitchen Valentine’s

We decided to delay our Valentine’s date until the next day this year so as not to interfere with Friday night dinner, we ended up just having an Indian take-away and a glass of wine at home once the children were in bed and it was lovely. We’d agreed not to buy gifts, but my darling romantic hubby still came home on Friday morning with a single red rose and a book of ‘coupons’ for me which include things like breakfast in bed and an uninterrupted nap! I’m very much looking forward to using them lol! How was your Valentine’s?

Perfection

Until next time

K x

Kate’s Kitchen Diary February 3-9th 2020

Welcome to the first of a weekly round up of what we’ve been doing here at Kate’s Kitchen Table.

My week in the kitchen:

Creme Brulee

This week we mostly ate from the freezer meals I made a few weeks ago, cottage pie, lasagne, beef stew and dumplings. For our Friday night family meal I used my new chef’s blowtorch for the first time to make creme brulee. On Saturday we had guests for dinner. I made The Pioneer Woman’s Comfort Meatballs served with Jacket Potatoes. The meatballs are more like meatloaf than the meatballs you might serve with pasta and have this amazing tangy ‘sweet and sour’ style sauce over them, super tasty! For pudding I made a pavlova topped with cream, strawberries and raspberries – a taste of summer during storm Ciara haha!

blowing out the candles

Sunday was my husband’s birthday so we spoiled him in the way he likes best … with food haha! For breakfast we had bacon in soft white rolls, and for Sunday Lunch I Roasted 2 enormous chickens and served them with roast potatoes, yorkshires, sage and onion stuffing, pigs-in-blankets, savoy cabbage, sprouts, carrots and gravy and made a strawberry trifle for pudding. His birthday cake was a really simple sponge traybake with white icing and dolly mixtures and jelly beans on top – his favourite sweeties hehe. Unfortunately I’ve been pretty terrible at taking pictures this week so you’ll just have to trust me when I say it all went down well hehe!

Paul Hollywood’s bloomer

As always I baked …. a lot! lol

My week home-educating

This week was candlemas week in our exploring nature with children curriculum. We found snowdrops on our nature walk and drew them in our nature journals, discussed the history and significance of candlemas day and made beeswax candles, read a slightly more lighthearted version of Hans Christian Anderson’s ‘The Snowdrop’ and learned about winter storms and what causes severe weather. We looked at the traditional rhyme: ‘If Candlemas Day be fair and bright, Winter will have another fight. If Candlemas Day brings cloud and rain, Winter will not come again.’ and talked about how people have predicted the weather in the past and how we do so now.

We also enjoyed a piece of art by Marianne Stokes called Candlemas Day which shows a woman in profile reading her bible with a candle in the background. We talked about the artists choice of colour and subject and had a go at drawing each other in profile.

My week in home-making

This week in the oh-so-exciting world of keeping house I managed to pretty much stick to my schedule which on top of the regular house cleaning, laundry and cooking, included cleaning the garage, washing the shower curtain, cleaning the fridge inside and out, washing the windows, and kitchen tiles, mending about 5 small pairs of tights,and washing the downstairs woodwork. Aaah the glamour!

My week in books

This week I’m reading ‘Home Economics Vintage Advice and Practical Science for the 21st Century Household’. Here’s what the cover says: “Housekeeping is becoming more and more a matter of science, and the laurels are bound to fall to the woman who conducts her household in a business-like way.”
 
Let the thrifty sensibility of yesteryear be your guide as you shop for the most economical foods, choose wall colors scientifically, clean with natural products, look your best without breaking the bank, and budget your way to frugal efficiency. In this amazing collection of clever wisdom and practical advice drawn from vintage home-economics textbooks, you’ll find everything you need to get back to basics and run a healthy and happy household. Home Economics covers all the categories of delightful domesticity:
    
     •  Health & Hygiene
     •  Cookery & Recipes
     •  Manners & Etiquette
     •  Design & Decoration
     •  Cleaning & Safety
     •  Gardening & Crafts
 
Rediscover the art and science of keeping house—economically!”

It’s an interesting read and I’m loving the vintage style, surprise surprise, hehe!

Cocktail of the week

Our guests this weekend were tea-totallers so we served Shirley Temples – Grenadine with lemon and lime soda and a lime wedge over ice … and Rob Collin’s – Grenadine and cola over ice.

Shirley Temple

Our Summer – 2019

Cloudgazing

Summer may seem like a distant memory now but I promised to update you all on how the bucket list went. So here are a few things we got upto this summer.

We worked hard in the garden
Grew some lovely flowers
Grew loads of veggies including these cabbages
Enjoyed the sunshine
Had picnics in the park and celebrated a 21st and a 5th birthday
Picked Strawberries and gooseberries
Made Strawberry Ice-Cream
And Jam
And Gooseberry Fools
And More Jam
And Citronella Beeswax Candles
We visited stately homes
And had fun at the fair
Sewed cotton night-dresses
And posed like little angels in-front of the marigolds.
We ate lunch on the patio
Picked Black-currants for cordial and jam
Made daisy chains
Harvested tons of fruits and veggies, including these french beans
and these peas.
We went on adventures
Investigated bugs (crickets in this case)
Walked along the canal
Picked Blackberries
and enjoyed the views
Harvested more fruits and veggies, including these, now fully grown, cabbages.
Went on romantic picnics
Ate Peach Crisp
Celebrated a second birthday
Went to a scare-crow festival
Had fun with friends
and at the park
Celebrated a 19th birthday
Grew Sunflowers
Looked after the chickens
and harvested raspberries for … you guessed it … yet more jam.
And last but not least, we read books, some-times in quiet corners alone, some-times in sunny gardens surrounded by bees and flowers
and some-times all together, amidst the noise and the messes of the everyday.

How was your Summer?

Preparing for Autumn

If I am to live a simple, low stress, slower and more contented life with so many people depending on me I have learned that I must be intentional, in many ways but particularly in preparing and planning for the future. One of the biggest things I’ve learned is that plans (I love a good list)must be brief, easy to put in place and also must equate to action (I love a good bit of procrastination too lol) or things get very stressful, trying to fulfil all those dreams and obligations at the last minute. At this time of year when one can, this year at least, sense the first whisperings of the changing of the season in the air, my heart begins to feel the call to prepare for the coming cold, I long for full cupboards and freezers, no doubt some leftover trace in my blood, from the days when preparing and storing for winter was a necessity, although I sometimes wonder if I’m alone in this?

So anyway in order to live an intentional life with less last minute chaos I do a few things to prepare in advance for the coming season during the one that comes before it, I am currently preparing for autumn in various ways, some of which are included in the list below along with some that I’m adding in this year and some suggestions that you might enjoy as well.

  • Buy new wellies, waterproof jackets and umbrellas for everyone as needed, and give those not being replaced a good clean, replacing worn insoles etc.
  • Knit a new cardigan or jumper for everyone in your family, I prefer to use a more lightweight wool in autumnal coppers and moss tones, for this time of year as they’re pretty timeless and good for layering over short sleeves, should an Indian summer pleasantly surprise us.
  • Preserve the harvest – it becomes possible to serve up a large and varied selection of those most delectable of comfort foods, the autumn dessert, on even the most meagre of budgets by freezing or otherwise preserving those summer fruits necessary while they are in season, either from you garden, foraging, a local farm shop or market. When the summer sun makes pastry making a trial, and the prospect of putting a pie in the oven for an hour reminiscent more of Dante’s Inferno than Little Women, its comforting to know that it doesn’t matter because those peaches, and blackcurrants will still be there, safely stowed in your freezer to cheer a dreary November evening.
  • Check and restock your spice rack – warming spices for chilli, soups, stews and desserts (along with all your dried herbs) should be used up by their best before date, as they lose a lot of their flavour and health benefits when they get old. If you grow some herbs in your garden or on your windowsill you might like to have a go at drying and storing them yourself during the summer, as commercially produced non-organic ones can be very high in pesticide residues.
  • I like to stock up the pantry with ‘fresh’ dried fruits and things like treacle, syrups, brown sugar, chocolate chips, cocoa, and also freshen up the jars of baking mixes I make to speed up my time in the kitchen. If you’re anything like me then when it’s chilly and you’re just craving a warm freshly baked gingerbread man, the thought of going to the shop to buy golden syrup may be all it takes to put you off the whole endeavour. The less steps between me and delicious biscuity goodness the better I say!
  • During the summer I like to make ice-cream. the challenge is to also make enough to get us through the year ahead. I don’t know about you but churning ice-cream just doesn’t feel right by the time the nights start drawing in and the leaves begin turning (though oddly I have no opposition to eating it lol, but preferably next to a slice of hot cherry pie, yummy!) So I try to make enough, in a variety of flavours, to get us through to the following year. I say I try … I’ve never managed it yet … oddly enough the more ice-cream there is, the more everybody wants to eat it.
  • If, like me, you have little girls, then sewing them a new long sleeved blouse, dress or nightdress ready for autumn is a lot of fun, very satisfying and super budget friendly if you have a good local drapers to source your fabric at a reasonable price. Also there are some good simple patterns available for pyjamas for boys or girls, because what says hello autumn like a new pair of brushed cotton, blue, dinosaur patterned pj’s?
  • Plant some seedlings ready for your autumn/winter vegetable garden. If you want autumn crops of Brussels sprouts, autumn (and winter or spring) cabbages, autumn cauliflowers, winter radishes, kale and onions then you need to planting them at the appropriate times during the summer, to be planted out once the seeds have sprouted and as the summer veg makes way for them.
  • Towards the end of summer, I like to clean up all the radiators, inside, outside and behind, and make sure they are bled before they are put to use. I’d definitely recommend purchasing a radiator brush to get into all the nooks and crannies.
  • I also love candle-making and candles really come into their own in the autumn, I love to mix up autumnal scents with essential oils, mix them with the melted beeswax and make up little jar candles, the bonus being they also make excellent gifts, the beeswax burns nice and slowly so it lasts a lot longer than other kinds and neither the wax nor the oils give off any nasty toxic chemicals that can be found in other forms of wax, or perfume oils, or indeed the scented candles you can buy. In fact the essential oils may even positively impact your health and well-being, what’s not to love? I also make sure I’m well stocked with tapers for my candlesticks and tea lights for around the house use.
  • This year I’ll also being using essential oils in my new vaporiser for immune support and comforting scents, so I’ve stocked up my supplies this summer to make sure the right blend is available at a moments notice.
  • If you like to knit, crochet or quilt then why not make an autumnal themed throw for snuggling under on the patio when the the leaves begin to fall.
  • I restock the medicine cabinet with vitamins, essential oil blends and remedies, herbal teas, infant (and adult) paracetamol, and cold remedies in good time for the inevitable arrival of those autumn sniffles.
  • I like to get all our pets their annual checkups at the vets, its always a good idea to check their chips are still reading correctly, their vaccinations are all up to date and they’re in tip top condition before the longer nights make things a little more difficult.
  • For a bit of fun, or to brush up your knitting skills, why not try knitting yourself a new tea cosy? Tea and Cosy in the same sentence, that’s what it’s all about!
  • I take out my girls autumn/winter clothing in the next size up, mend, wash, and iron it ready for use, and gift anything that we won’t need or that I’ve realised is too used, now that I’ve seen it with a fresh pair of eyes.
  • I like to start collecting items for the harvest festival donations, we’re not able to contribute financially to all of the charities that we would like but adding a few non-perishables to our shopping trolley each week through the summer makes for a nice easy way to make a difference in our local community.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments if you have anything to add or things that your family does to prepare for autumn. I will be posting an update very soon on how we’ve got on with that summer bucket list and all the fun things we’ve been up to this summer. Have a great week.

Summer 2019 Bucket List

So now that we’ve pretty much broken up for the summer, I’ve been dreaming up ways to spend our lazy hazy days to get the most enjoyment out of them, as I don’t know about you but it always feels like I blink and it’s September already. So here’s a list of all the lovely things I’ve got planned for this summer:

  • Make cute little cotton nightdresses for the 3 little misses.
  • Make citronella beeswax candles, with the girls to keep the bugs away on summer evenings on the patio.
  • Pick strawberries and make jam (we do this every year), I’m hoping to entice Hollie into the kitchen with me to pass on my jam-making skills before she becomes so mature and grown up that making strawberry jam with Mamma isn’t more of a punishment (I fear I may be too late) .
  • Bottle peaches for pies and ice-cream, yummy!
  • Pick gooseberries and make fools. You know I think they call them fools because you’re a fool if you don’t love them lol.
  • I love me a good book, and my ‘want to read’ list is as long as my grocery receipt, but here are my top 3 for this summer. 1: ‘Summer: An Anthology For The Changing Seasons’ – Edited by M. Harrison. I have literally devoured the other three of these anthologies, everything you love about the season, in a million of the best words. I can’t wait to get my nose into this one, just as soon as ‘the boy’ returns my kindle lol. 2: ‘Nella Last’s War’ – edited by R. Broad and S. Fleming. This one is a recommendation I’ve been given, it’s a collection of diary entries, written by a housewife, throughout WW2, and it apparently contains tons of sweet little housewifey notes that give a real insight into vintage homemaking, so that’s me in, lol. 3. ‘A Perfect Cornish Summer’ by Phillipa Ashley, cos who doesn’t need a little Cornish romance in their lives, right?
  • Buy some perfectly ripe, round fuzzy apricots and make enough jam to coat all my iced cakes (and non-too-few slices of toast) for the next 12 months.
  • Spend a day filling the freezer with as many ice-pops and yoghurt lollies as the blender can tolerate, there’s such a thing as emergency lollies don’t ya know?!
  • Make buckets and buckets of strawberry ice-cream (it’s my fave).
  • While away a lazy hour or two making daisy chains with the 3 little misses.
  • Visit one new national trust garden per week, gotta make the most of that christmas present membership (and fill up that reward card to get my free coffee haha).
  • Pack up some flasks and blankets and go star-gazing on a clear night, nothing teaches the awesomeness of creation quite like billions of stars in a midnight sky now does it?
  • Let the kids practice their map reading on a few walks in the countryside, they will know their horses from their cows (ahem …. mentioning no names … Aimee*cough*).
  • Visit the seaside, at least for the day, hopefully longer. Build the most enormous sandcastle anyone has every seen; dig the biggest hole; paddle in the sea, or swim for those of us brave enough lol; eat Fish and Chips and huge drippy ice-creams, the whole 9-yards.
  • Toast Marshmallows over a campfire, or more likely over the incinerator in the back garden hehe.
  • Have a water fight, balloons, guns, whatever we can find. Bagsy the hose-pipe.
  • Host a BBQ. A summer must at the Jaggard residence, complete with bunting, burgers and booze.
  • Make some pavement chalks for the kids to create magnificent works of art on the driveway.
  • Laze on the grass and do some cloud watching with the little misses, slip in some learning about the water cycle and cloud types hehe.
  • Purse willing, visit the zoo or safari park. Days out like this can get pretty expensive with a big family so I’ll be watching out for discount vouchers like a hawk.
  • Make Lemonade.
  • Put the kids bikes in the back of the car and take them somewhere where they can really practice their peddling.
  • Feed the ducks.
  • Pick wild blackberries, hopefully we’ll get enough to freeze for pies and crumbles later in the year.
  • Have a movie marathon day, Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings, who will win? Very probably Toy Story lol.
  • Visit an art gallery, might make this a Mummy/Daughter ‘date’ with Hollie as the little misses just don’t ‘get’ art galleries, but then again neither does the Mister, lol.
  • Create a Spa Day at home. Face masks, foot baths, manicures, all that jazz,
  • Go to the cinema to see The Lion King. They have air conditioning in the cinema, when I start to feel like the wicked witch of the west, you can bet I’m picking up a bucket of home-made salted toffee popcorn and heading straight to the flicks.
  • Go on a romantic picnic for two with the Mister. Prosecco and tiny nibbles the kids would complain about? sign me up!
  • Teach Rowan to back-stitch and get the girls sewing lavender pouches, in fine white cotton. They’ve gotta earn those Martha Merit Badges somehow!
  • Pick blackcurrants and make syrup for fruit cordials and ice-cream.
  • Have a build your own sundae dessert night, can anyone spot a theme developing? haha!
  • Take the whole family on a picnic and play rounders, we should have enough players, right? lol
  • Make gazpacho, never made this before, always good to try something new.
  • Serve surprise frappe’s and ice-cream soda, just cos.
  • Spend an afternoon at the baths, cooling off.
  • Serve a summery afternoon tea, complete with salmon and cucumber sandwiches, and scones with jam and cream.
  • Have our own tennis tournament, I think I’d look very fetching in a white skirt and cap don’t you? Hahahahaha!
  • Spend a rainy day teaching the children card games, we’ve gotta have something to do when they bring the grandkids to visit me at the nursing home!
  • Read ‘The Railway Children’ aloud, a chapter a day, so if they ever happen to pick it up as adults, this summer will come wafting back to them in the pages.
  • Go for woodland walks and help the children learn to identify a few new types of trees, and make sketches in their nature journals. Well if you’re going to have a tree in your name you should know a bit about them.
  • Listen to ‘Summer’ by Vivaldi, and other summer themed music pieces, get the children to sketch what they hear.
  • Visit a pond with water lilies and/or reeds and sketch them.
  • Make soft-serve ice-cream and make up a sprinkles bar.
  • Practice my fancy braiding skills, if I can get one of them to sit still long enough.
  • Finally (you can all sigh in relief now I’ve no doubt) make a start on knitting those autumn cardigans.

So that’s the list, I think I’ll be pretty well pleased if we get even half that done. Here’s to a fun packed summer. Thanks for reading, I’d love to hear about your own bucket list ideas for this summer in the comments section.

Cronk Pie

I’m writing a recipe book for my 5 girls, Jack too if he wants one. Over the last two years I’ve asked my female relatives for their kitchen memories from childhood, what did they eat growing up, how was it made, was there anything funny? Both my grandmother’s were typical 40’s/50’s housewives, learning about their lives from their daughters has been so interesting, how hard they worked, and the effort and love that is remembered fondly gives me hope that one day my own children will look back on a childhood full of sweetness, hearty meals and comfort too.

Most of the recipes I’ve had to guess at or ‘borrow’ from elsewhere, as no one can remember specifics, but not Cronk Pie! My grandmother Sylvia’s recipe (I never got to meet her). It’s a simple jam tart filled with custard, set and eaten cold. Why is it called Cronk Pie? Nobody knows!

I hope my girls get to treasure these books (If I ever manage to finish them). Who knows maybe they’ll end up a family heirloom, kept as a window into a long forgotten past.

Cronk Pie

  • 80z self-raising flour
  • 2oz lard
  • 2oz margerine (I used butter, cannot bring myself to use marg lol)
  • 4tbsp jam (any)
  • 1 pint custard, birds is fine

First make the pastry by rubbing together the fats and flour, add a splash of water and bring it together to form a dough. Cover with cling film and chill for 30 minutes. Roll out and line a medium, shallow pie dish with the pastry, pricking all over with a fork. Dollop the jam onto the pastry and spread out. Bake in a 180 degree oven for 15 – 20 minutes. Meanwhile make the custard. When the pastry is baked through, pull it out of the oven, allow the jam to cool until reset, pour in the cooled custard, and refrigerate until set.