Tuesday, 31 March 2015

How does your garden grow? // Pom Poms and Daffodils

I'd love a beautiful garden but I know close to nothing about gardening and I am desperate to learn!

In our last house there was a big front garden where we successfully planted a ceanothus tree but the back garden was quite a small, gravelly yard. It had a beautiful clematis growing along the fence, that is until my husband chopped it down one winter thinking it was dead! And of course I didn't stop him because I didn't know any different either! Told you we know nothing... Anyway this house is different because the garden was a completely blank canvas when we moved in. Stepping onto a small concreted area from the back door, there are steps to a raised lawn and a flower bed down one side. It means there's lots of options for growing things either in the soil or in containers. And I love the idea of container gardening!

I've always loved flowers and pretty bushes (ooh er!) but I couldn't tell you the names of them. I planted some bulbs with AJ last October which have started to bloom and in my excitement I posted a few photos on Instagram last week. I was so embarrassed when I was corrected by one of my followers for calling a grape hyancinth a bluebell! I felt like an idiot. They all look the same to me!

Our bluebe-I mean, grape hyacinths!

I am determined to grow some fruit and vegetables this year. My boss kindly handed down some of her excess veg seeds so I am going to take the plunge and plant some up this weekend. I have also bought some seeded discs from Aldi that you lay in a hanging basket and cover with soil and then flowers will magically grow by themselves! God knows our neglected hanging basket is in need of some TLC...

Our poor hanging basket!

When we planted our bulbs last year, AJ and I also sowed some lambs lettuce and radish seeds in long window boxes and placed them along our garden fence.The next morning we awoke to find the cats (there are about nine of them in the surrounding houses) had dug through all three boxes and shat in them for good measure, too. Lovely! So I think I will plant some tomato seeds in a hanging basket this time to keep that from happening. I might also see if we can somehow mount the window boxes on the wall or fence so they can't get to them. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Signs of life on our plum tree?? :-)

So in true 'Muddling Through' style I have decided to be brave and join in with Mammasaurus's weekly linky 'How Does Your Garden Grow?'. I hope it'll encourage us to get out to the garden more, soak up some sun and take in the fresh air. Our garden looks a bit pitiful at the moment but I am sure with a bit of elbow grease I can create a botanical heaven (or atleast grow a few pansies and tomatoes!)

How Does Your Garden Grow

Vegan Lotus Biscoff Cupcakes

I've been grappling with veganism for a few months now. I went veggie last March after watching 'Earthlings' and I was so shocked I stopped dairy and eggs for a month too. I found that month quite difficult, partly because I didn't plan my stint with veganism but mainly because I had absolutely no idea how to nourish myself with a vegan diet. To be honest, I didn't really know how to nourish myself with a meat-eaters diet either, but that's another story.

After weeks of worry and anguish, poring over labels and eating incomplete meals (my husband refused to go veggie and I was wary of converting my son without knowing fully what I was doing) I decided to go easy on myself and just 'do my best'. I have been a committed vegetarian since, and I have considerably reduced my egg and dairy consumption too. My husband decided to give the vegetarian lifestyle a try in January and life has been so much easier! Since then we have enjoyed a healthy and wholesome diet and I have cooked more than ever before. Of course we have our unhealthy days and weeks, but all in all we are eating a much more green diet.

Despite making the switch to soy or almond milk quite early on, I have struggled with avoiding dairy all together - I LOVE CHOCOLATE - and whilst eggs aren't a favourite food of mine I do love cake and of course my baking business means I do still use eggs in my baking. To help with this, I bought Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World a few weeks ago and finally tried a recipe at the weekend.

I started at the beginning and gave the 'Golden Vanilla' cupcake recipe a go. I was a bit daunted by the list of ingredients but I think this is a mind-set thing - I forget sometimes that my fridge is full of veg now and I don't buy cow's milk anymore! I needed to buy apple cider vinegar but I had everything else in my kitchen already. Well, except I forgot to buy cornflour and plain flour which meant my cupcakes were slightly stodgy and the top was a bit crispy, but the next day they had softened so it wasn't all bad. I bought some plain flour yesterday so I am going to give the recipe another try this week.

Lotus Biscoff biscuits are delicious and vegan, and I have recently bought the Biscoff spread so I knew exactly what to top these little sponges off with. I mixed a massive spoon of Biscoff spread with some dairy free spread and icing sugar to make some 'butter' cream. Add one delicious Lotus biscuit and Bob's your uncle!