December is nearly upon us and I’m an unashamed lover of Christmas! I’m like a big kid who starts to get excited as soon as I open the first door on my advent calendar (yes, I have one and yes, I know they are meant for children!). Inevitably Christmas never manages to live up to all this excitement but I’m not going to let that stop me!
Over the next few weeks I’m going to be experimenting with some Christmas cocktails – all in the name of research you understand, so I can decide what to serve to my guests on the big day. So here’s the first one.
Feel free to join in the experiment and let me know which are your favorites.
1 cup frozen raspberries (2nd time round I halved this amount)
Juice of 1 lime (2nd time round I halved this too)
15ml sugar syrup (2nd time – halved)
2tbsp pomegranate juice (2nd time – extra tbsp)
(2nd time – 15ml Cointreau)
(The result of all these little changes was a smoother and less bitter drink, I preferred it.)
Put all the ingredients in a shaker with plenty of ice. Shake. Strain into a lovely glass and garnish with a raspberry or two.
Marks out of 10?
This is probably a little too heavy on the raspberries for me, making it abit too much raspberry puree and not enough raspberry cocktail. I may try another with less raspberries, a little more pomegranate juice and maybe a splash of Cointreau. The verdict…. half the amount of raspberries and lime, add and extra tbsp of pomegranate juice and 15ml Cointreau. This make is a far smoother and less bitter cocktail.
Haven’t even had a sip yet!
I’ve recently been creating a Hot border at one of the gardens where I work. It’s been a real success, everything has settled and grown really well and the results, even after a couple of months, have been wonderful.
This is a picture taken early on whilst I was doing a spot of deadheading.
The plants used include - Helenium ‘Moerheim Beauty’, Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii ‘Goldstrum’, Papaver orientale ‘Goliath’, Papaver orientale ‘Beauty Queen’, Lychnis chalcedonica, Geum ‘Lady Stratheden’, Hemerocallis ‘Stella d’Oro’, Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora‘Emily McKenzie’ and Dahlia ‘Bishop of Llandaff”. They all provide tremendous vibrancy in late summer and into autumn as long as you make sure you keep deadheading.
It’s inspired me to have a hot border of my own. I know the exact spot where it will be and the plants will surround a bench that will be the focal point of the border. It’s a sunny spot and the bench will be baked by the evening sun. I’ve rather fallen in love with a bench that I know would be perfect – Banana Bench from Hayes Garden World, it’s got lovely smooth flowing lines and would be a cosy perch for two. I’d best get saving! I can already picture myself glass in hand on a summers evening next year!
Things have been moving on a pace here, clearly reflected in the number of recent posts and the boys being off school for summer!
A few pictures to show you what I have been up to. The Kitchen Garden has changed completely heres a couple of befores and afters.
Like the rest of the garden it is still work in progress but I have to say when I look at these photos I feel very proud of what I have achieved. Knowing that I have done 99% of the work myself – blood, sweat and thankfully no tears you realise what you can achieve. It would have been 100% but believe me you can not put a greenhouse that size up on your own!
The rest of the garden is changing quickly at the moment as well, with large borders being created that will be ready for planting in the next month or so…..all depends how much digging time I get.
Last weekend I was chatting to my freakishly healthy older brother (if you’re reading this I mean freakishly in the nicest possible way!) and he was telling me about his latest healthy thing of juicing. That morning he had drunk a juice with beetroot as one of the ingredients and that got me thinking about whether I could use beetroot in a cocktail (I can see you are drawing comparisons between my brother drinking habits and my own!!). A little googling and it reveals I am not the first to think of beetroot cocktails so here is one recipe I found and have tried.
50ml Havana Club Añejo 3 Años
2 tsp white sugar
20ml beetroot juice
20ml fresh lime juice
1 cup of crushed ice
Put all the ingredients into a blender and whizz it up for about 30 seconds. Pour it into a glass and enjoy.
I actually really liked this cocktail and if you’re not a fan of sweet cocktails this may be worth a try. Although having said that when tasted by my other half his remark was ‘That’s disgusting, it’s like drinking soil!’ – clearly it’s for the gardeners amongst us!!
There is nothing that heralds summer more than freshly picked strawberries. Here is a cocktail that definitely helps to celebrate summer!
6 fresh strawberries
20ml elderflower cordial
1-2 tsp sugar
Splash of Champagne
Muddle the strawberries and sugar together. Add the gin, elderflower and plenty of ice. Shake and strain into a chilled glass, top with a splash of Champagne and enjoy!
This is delicious and went down very well when I had friends round, in fact I ran out of strawberries! Have a great weekend, I’ll be busy in the garden dodging rain showers.
Whilst gardening for one of my clients the other day she brought me out a cup of tea & a bickie (yes, I have lovely clients!) and on the tray was a little vase of daisy’s (Bellis perennis). I chuckled whilst she was describing how every time, before the lawn is mown she comes running out to pick them. I was explaining how most of my clients want to get rid of these pretty little flowers from their lawns.
Anyway I’ve just come back from my hols today and my lawn has gone crazy but on the plus side so too have the daisy’s – my lawn is far from croquet perfect, more two young boys perfect! So with my client in mind I went out and picked these before getting out the mower.
Go on you know you want to, let your lawn grow and go picking.
This was last nights cocktail, tested out over the fence with my neighbours. The verdict…..delicious. Plenty of time to nip down to the shops, grab the ingredients and make this evening for what looks to be a sunny one here!
50ml white rum
50ml apple juice (use more if you want a longer drink)
20ml Elderflower cordial
5 mint leaves
Put all the ingredients into a shaker with plenty of ice and shake like crazy! Pour into a beautiful glass and enjoy.
Have a great weekend, I’ll be busy earthing up spuds, building supports for my tomatoes, planting the last of the sweetpeas, the list goes on!!
What better way to spend a bank holiday weekend than building a greenhouse!
The concrete perimeter base was done a few weeks ago….. my shoulder is still recovering from the many barrows I had to mix!
Ikea eat your heart out – take a look at these instructions for a flat pack!
Slow and steady – as long as you’ve got plenty of time and take it step by step it seems very straight forward.
So here’s the frame up and ready for the glazing!
The on going saga that is my greenhouse…. I hope I’m not the only one where things seem to take an age! The perimeter concrete footing I planned to use moved to the next level of needing shuttering. So a few weeks back the weekend was spent constructing it with old floorboards I had lying around. Now this probably wouldn’t take most people a weekend to build this but I had the ‘help’ of my two little boys so work was slow and regularly interrupted.
But at the end of it all this was a sight I saw……..everywhere!
Now I’ve got the joy of mixing what I suspect will quite a few barrows of concrete!
I had a packet of Tomato ‘Sweet Million’, it was about 7 years past it sow by date but you don’t know unless you try so I sowed the lot (~20). Anyway over the past few months my kitchen has slowly been taken over by 20 very healthy tomato plants – one of the downsides to not having managed to put up my greenhouse yet!
The other downside to the rapidly reducing amount of space on my windowsill, kitchen table, side unit…. the list goes on, is that my tomatoes are a little spindly in their attempts to reach the light. They are due to be potted on so I’m taking the opportunity to plant them deep so they will be stockier plants.
You can see the before and after, I buried about 8-10cm of the stem but had I had deeper pots I would have buried them further. It is not solely because the plants are lanky that I’m doing this. The buried section of stem will produce lots of roots and by doing this creates a better root system for water and nutrient uptake. So when the greenhouse is finally up I will plant them directly into the soil in deep holes burying around ²/3 of the plant.
Look at that for a beautiful windowsill!!