Thursday 22 June 2023

Summer abundance 2023 🌿

Welcome back to my blog, make yourself comfortable! It's only been a month since I lasted posted but it feels like much longer because I have so many photos to share (about 150 before I whittled them down) 🌞 the sun is shining, the garden is thriving (mostly), Jethro seems to be learning a new adorable skill everyday and I am spending almost every spare minute in the kitchen or so it feels. I am sitting here whilst Jethro naps, warm bagels on the counter, a batch of sourdough rising, feeling very content. And as soon as I typed that...Jethro woke up haha, the rest of the day (Monday) flew by far too quickly (as usual), as did the next few days and now it's Thursday evening but it's been just as sunny and bake-filled 🍞 so let's crack on! Maybe grab yourself a cup of tea because this is a long one (I'm sure you expect no less by now haha).

May was luscious and green, full of sunhat walks and wildflower bouquets. The hot, dry weather is stretching well into June and I am surprising myself at how much I am enjoying it this year. The fact that I have consistently been able to dry my washing outside has been blissful, the biggest serotonin boost lol. Also I've realised these temperatures are just much more pleasant when you're not at work sweating in uncomfortable clothes (please can maternity leave last forever? 🙏)

Baby swans at the lake.

On 21st May we went off in search of the bluebell fields on Dartmoor after seeing our photographer friend's impressive pictures! When we arrived there were lots of cars parked nearby but as we wandered around in the late afternoon it was surprisingly peaceful and we didn't see many other people.

It really was like something out of a dream, and to make it even more special we heard a cuckoo (or maybe multiple cuckoos) in the distance! We first heard one back in April 2021 (in this post here) so it was nice to experience it again, this time with Jethro in tow.

Back to our garden...we've always loved having this space but it feels so much more important now that we have this little wild boy to entertain! Here he is on the same red seesaw that I received for my first birthday, somehow my mum managed to hold onto it for all these years:

Juniper enjoying the sunset:

I couldn't resist these little mushrooms to brighten up the border 🍄🍄🍄

Jethro appreciating the rocks and flowers:

An impromptu family BBQ:

Awww he is just the cutest little person!!! Even when his hands are covered in mud and he wants to eat it 😆 

We've had the odd plant casualty in this hot weather but the majority of the garden is doing really well and seems to be loving it! I've taken far too many photos to share them all so here's a little collage of some top blooms:

A few weeks ago I discovered this huge moth just hanging out on a hosta leaf in the garden. You can't tell from the these photos but it was definitely the biggest moth I've ever seen! After a quick google I learned that it was an Eyed Hawk-moth 👀 it stayed in the same spot all day and I kept going back every so often to check it was still there because I wanted Ed to see it when he came home from work! At first I thought it was a dead, brown leaf but when Ed arrived he was brave enough to put his hand nearby (I find moths freaky in close quarters) and cause it to flap its wings and reveal the striking eye spots! It was gone by the next morning and I felt strangely sad about it haha.

It's not unusual to see damselflies flitting about the garden (maybe from the neighbour's pond?) and I rescued this one from where it was caught in a cobweb on our front door. I think it lost a leg in the process but it flew off ok. That strange moth below is called a White Plume moth and I'd never seen one before so thought it deserved a photo. Apparently they're quite common and their caterpillars live on bindweed so that makes sense why it would be in our garden haha. It looked like some sort of alien species.

Back to Jethro! He really is a proper little boy now...enjoying his food, climbing the stairs (chasing the cat), standing and taking a few steps on his own! He is such a funny little character and makes great company. In the past few days he has mastered waving and clapping and is so pleased with himself, sometimes he makes me laugh by sitting up and clapping with his eyes closed whilst he's drifting off to sleep!

At around 9 or 10 months old he suddenly became interested in books, well, a few books in particular! He seems to have formed a special interest in Spot the dog which is adorable 🐶 we've got a couple of lift-the-flap books that I found in charity shops and for some reason they were the only books Jethro had the patience for before bed so we ended up reading them pretty much every night and now he just seems to love them! I may have just ordered a few more on eBay so looking forward to a fresh batch of reading material 😄 

Sleeping beneath the mural I painted at church a few years ago, and swinging in the park:

Greeting daddy at the window after work ❤️

Now time to transition smoothly into the baking segment of the post...I'm still mildly obsessed and part of the reason why I haven't got round to blogging more regularly is because I seem to be spending most of my free time finding ways to use my sourdough discard instead!

Here's some recent loaves, I've been experimenting with adding seeds on top:

I've made a couple batches of focaccia (fun to decorate!), and have managed to perfect my crackers so that they are crunchy rather than chewy. I've lost count of the amount of cookies I've made in the past few weeks 🍪 but I think my best success has been the bagels! They are so easy to make and they definitely rival the expensive ones we like from the supermarket so that's a money saver right there 👍 

One afternoon, a couple of weeks ago, we set off to Dartmoor in search of elderflowers to make our own cordial...

We had been walking for quite a while without having any success (but enjoying ourselves anyway!) and then I spotted a promising looking tree in the distance...we hurried over and I realised that it was this crazy tree growing out of a ramshackle shed that I featured on the blog back in 2020 (this post!) Little did we know in a few years time we'd be back with our baby, gathering elderflowers from it 😄

Ed found a useful hooked stick which made it easier to reach the high branches 👆 Jethro sat in the shade of the hawthorn trees, chewing on a stick by the looks of it:

He had the time of his life riding back to the car on Ed's shoulders 💛 On the way home we stopped off for a bag of sugar and got the mixture going that evening...

After two days we strained the bits out and poured the sticky sweet cordial into bottles, ta da! Very simple ✨

I finished knitting my sweater vest! It's a bit wonky but you can't tell from a distance, and I haven't actually worn it yet due to the hot weather so it's hanging up in the wardrobe waiting for the seasons to change. Now that I've shown myself I can follow a pattern and make an adult sized item perhaps I am ready to tackle a full on jumper with sleeves! In the mean time I've cast on a new pair of socks to keep my hands busy (some very funky watermelon coloured wool so I'll show you next time! 🍉)

Recently we were invited to a wedding! Our first wedding as a couple and Jethro's first wedding ever!

It was a beautiful location overlooking the sea with all these colourful wildflowers...somehow another moth found us but I haven't managed to identify it using my google skills, any ideas?

My dad's Super Trouper rose blooming beside the lovely orange Tom, luxuriating in the shade of the fig tree:

Juniper has been particularly sweet and chilled recently:

Here she is helping me to clean out the snail tanks (yes the elusive snails do still exist):

She is definitely more relaxed around Jethro too, he still loves her and even waved to her yesterday 😭 

Bobblehead Juni, and some pretty wild orchids which were everywhere when we last walked around the lake:

The ducks were extremely keen and gathered around the pushchair which was great entertainment for the baby, unfortunately we hadn't brought any food for them!

Last Tuesday was roasting (29 degrees?!) so we took a quick trip to the stream near our house and all dipped our feet in the water! Jethro was disappointed at not being allowed to get his whole body in so we gave him a bath when we got home instead 😆

Then on Thursday I spent the day with my grandma, activities included second hand book browsing and blackcurrant picking in the baking sun. We had quite the surprise when a nuthatch flew in through the open door whilst we were sitting and knitting/crocheting! I managed to catch it and put it outside where it eventually flew off unharmed which was a relief 😄

The next day I made some flapjack with the blackcurrants, and then some experimental cookies too! I've frozen the rest to add to a crumble in the future 😋

Hooray! My hoya is flowering again and looking wonderful as ever. It's quite a big plant and I moved it at the end of last year so I was slightly worried that it wouldn't be as happy. But I think this spot in the bathroom is even better and these blooms prove that it's doing just fine 💗

I hadn't planned to grow any strawberries this year (gasp) after last year's plants seemed to die off over winter, but thankfully I found one thriving in the compost heap so potted it up and we've just harvested our first fruit! Jethro did the honours of having the first taste test and he marked it 10/10 🍓 We've also got some random alpine strawberries growing from beneath our decking so we've had not one but two strawberry surprises this year! I've been planting the runners so now we're all set for the next couple of years hopefully! Our autumn raspberries have confused us by fruiting in June which I think may be to do with how we pruned them (not hard enough perhaps?) but if it means we get two crops then I'm not complaining! 

Our first courgette grew in what seems like record time! Thanks to all this sunshine (and our homemade compost!) we've got the biggest, healthiest plants we've ever had 👍 Ed managed to get another water butt for £2 and some free guttering from locals on facebook so that was great, here he is setting it all up with his head torch as it got dark:

And are a selection of pretty plants that I've photographed over the past few weeks! None of these are ours but they all caught my eye as I've been out and about. Aren't the colours just amazing? 😍

If you made it this far, congratulations! That was a long post but I've decided to just accept that's the way I roll 😂 I was looking back at old posts as I wrote this and realised that since 2021 I've been saying I want to post more little and often updates and it still hasn't happened haha.

Hope you're enjoying the delights of summer, and that you've eaten some delicious baked goods recently? 

Thanks for reading! 🌷🍰

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