Friday, 23 December 2011

A happy Ending to the Orla Kiely mug problem

I received an e-mail from the Orla Kiely customer service dept and they directed me to the company who makes their mugs as they had offered to replace them for me.  I was very pleased and so grateful.

I contacted the company with my name and address and a photo of the mugs I have and within a few days they had sorted it all out for me. Apparently they had a bad batch that hadn't been glazed properly and mine must have been part of that batch.  I am so impressed with the speed and generosity of the company as I received more mugs than I had bought. They arrived this morning and are lovely. They also said that they are posting out two more in January.  Amazing customer service

I love them !!

Have a Very Happy Christmas everyone and a Healthy and Happy New Year

M xxxx

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Does anyone else have a problem with Orla Kiely mugs ? or is it just me ?

I have just e-mailed Orla Kiely customer services as I can't be the only one who has a problem with their beautiful and  very expensive mugs ! the problem is the quality of the bone china mugs they use. Let me explain ! they stain so badly and even the dishwasher doesn't move the stains. I have resorted to using a kitchen spray that has added bleach, which I know wont be doing any good whatsoever to the long term life of the mugs, but I'm desperate. I have even used a teapot rather than putting the teabag directly in the mugs, but that didn't work either.

I have other bone china mugs that cost half the price and they never stain, so this is very annoying especially as they cost £8.50 each. What an expensive mistake !! I realise that you pay for the design, but I expect quality as well for that money !! OK moan over, and I am waiting for their reply.  In the meantime does anyone else have these mugs ?? and do you have the same problem.

I feel better now I've aired that !
M x

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

A problem with blogger

I seem to be having a problem with blogger and wondered if anyone else has ? I have tried to upload a new header photo on a few occasions  and every time I do I get a message saying " sorry but you have exceeded your photo upload quota"  but how come I can keep uploading photo's to the main body of my posts then ?? I don't understand, anyone else had this problem ??? if so please tell me what you did about it.

I haven't been a good blogger of late and I feel bad about that. I have however been reading other peoples blogs and it seems that everyone is busy doing Christmasy things. There is certainly nothing for me to blog about the allotment as I haven't been up there for weeks and I don't intend growing anything throughout the winter, I guess I'm out of love with my plot at the moment, but come the Spring I hope to be back in the mood again, fingers crossed !

All my presents are now bought and most wrapped and some even given out to those I wont see over the Christmas. I am working in London again this year with with the homeless.  'Crisis' has been going for 40 years this year and they do a wonderful job, not just at Christmas but all year round.

I will work an early shift on Christmas day and a late shift on 27th. I can't wait as last year I got so much pleasure from it that I didn't feel that I was sacrificing my Christmas at all, in fact it was special working with the people there, and we had such a lovely Christmas day.  I get to spend Boxing day with the family and give the grandchildren our presents to open then, so they have another present opening day.  We will also spend New Year with the family,  so what's a few days to give up for a worthy cause. In case your wondering ! my husband will be well looked after with the family and doesn't mind me doing  'my thing'.

I also get to spend time with my youngest son and his partner as they are volunteering again as well, so I will have Christmas dinner with them in the evening when we finish our shift. 

I haven't really put up lot's of decorations as we wont be at home, but a few here and there and lovely candles look warm and inviting.

Monday, 21 November 2011

A feast for the eyes as well as the table.

Here is a book you will definitely want on your Christmas list if you love Indian food and beautiful photography and all things Indian. I know I do and was very excited to be sent this book to review.  It's a very large coffee table book, covered in a sumptuous silky fabric, looking very eastern indeed.

Looking inside is indeed a feast for the eyes. The photographs taken throughout India by photographer Anson Smart are stunning. The colours are amazing and each section of the book is of a different region of India.  Then comes the recipes ! there are 250 and they look and sound delicious. I have to admit that some I wouldn't try as they seem a bit elaborate and need a lot of ingredients, but there are plenty that anyone with a longing to learn different kinds of spicy Indian recipes would care to try. I think most people think only of Curry when it comes to Indian cooking, but actually lots of regions of India don't actually have curry as we know it but they do have lovely spicy food that would be easy to try for ourselves. 

The author is Christine Mansfield and she is one of Australia's most celebrated chefs. She has eaten her way around India for more than two decades, and has collected family recipes as well as from prominent Indian chefs for this book.  Looking through and reading the book (there is plenty to read for the traveller) she clearly loves India and it's colourful people and quite obviously loves it's food and culture. So we can use this book as a way to get to know more about India as well as an insight into it's regional food (which is so varied) and of course there is all 250 of delicious recipes to drool over and perhaps try our hand at cooking.
If you consider buying it as a present or for yourself, do look around as the price varies from book supplier to shop.

Here is a selection of pages from the book just to give you an idea of how gorgeous it is.

If you get a chance to look through this book anywhere please do as I think you will fall in love with it. I know I have.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

A bit of a natter about this and that !!

I thought I'd just have a bit of a natter about this and that ! there isn't anything going on at the allotment. I have nothing to harvest, and I don't intend to grow anything throughout the winter months this year.  I am having a break from winter growing. As tempted as I am by reading other blogs and seeing what others are up to on their plots make me feel a little lazy, but I really hate going up there throughout the winter, so decision made !!!! no growing this year.

The garden on the other hand has only just started to give up it's colour and be beaten by the colder mornings.  The dahlias are still clinging on and amazingly I have a sweet-pea which is still flowering ( I must look out the packet of seeds) I know it wasn't 'Cupani' which is a similar colour, but this sweet-pea has a larger flower.

The dahlia below was a surprise as I had forgotten to lift it last year and so it suddenly grew and grew and then flowered all summer and I have just cut it back this week. It had a beautiful Gladioli growing in front of it that complimented it colour so well.
I have no idea what this dahlia is called,(above )  but it is so pretty. I think I will take it up or at least some of the tubers. Trouble is I am running out of space to store them over winter. I have lifted all my 'Pink Giraffe' as they are so special and can't be bought (as far as I know) in garden centres and only seem to be available from dahlia specialists. I bought my one at the 'Hampton Court' flower show years ago, and now have dozens from lifting and dividing from that one plant. The photo's below don't really do justice to the colour, but as you can see it's form is unlike most dahlias and has many people (myself included ) fooled as to what it is when first seen.

I have had a little time to browse blogs this week and I have to say there are some very inspirational ones out there, makes me feel that I'm not keeping up !! I enjoy doing the book reviews and feel lucky that I have the books sent to me to review. The last one which I did as a giveaway is lovely. I do have another to review next week and it's an amazing book about India, both travel and cookery combined, so watch out for it. If you are a fan of Indian cooking and culture, it's possibly one for your Christmas list.

I hope you all have a lovely week-end and whatever you are doing have a good one !
M x

Friday, 11 November 2011

And the WINNER is ..............

Ready steady GO ... my friend Frances picks a winner .......................

Well done to Angela and thanks to everyone who took part

Angela please get in touch with your address.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Last few days to get your name down for the giveaway

We now have 17 names down for the giveaway, so I thought that seeing as I did say that as soon as I have enough interest that I'd do the draw.  So I am going to get a friend to pick a name on Friday and the winner will be announced on Friday evening.  So you still have a few more days to leave your comment.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

A fantastic giveaway

I have had a beautiful cookery book sent to me for a review, which will be easy as I love it.  The recipes are very interesting in that they come from various countries that I gather the author has visited, such as Italy, France, Ireland, America, Scandinavia, and also some good old English ones.  The photography is brilliant and I have to say even if I were to rarely cook from it  (oh but I will!) I just love looking through the book as it's 'scrumptious !!!!  another lovely thing about the book is that it is very readable as the author not only gives a recipe but also writes a little about her travels to each country and there are little interesting quotes and folk sayings on most pages.      I'll keep you in suspense no longer and tell you the title and the author :-
The book is titled  ' Roast Figs Sugar Snow'  food to warm the soul.   by 'Diana Henry'

On the front cover Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall  says and I quote ! 
 " Diana Henry's passion is infectious and her recipes tantalizing" 

 Here are some photo's from the book:
(sorry they aren't that great !  but the pages are shiny so were hard to photograph)


After I had received the book I e-mailed the person who had sent  it to me to thank her, and I mentioned that I had planned to do a giveaway to my readers on the blog, however after looking through it I couldn't bear to part with it !!   I then got an e-mail back saying that the publishers would send me another copy of the book for the giveaway, (that means I get to keep my copy !!!)  how very kind is that ??  so thank you Camilla.

So all you have to do is leave me a comment on this blog to say that you would like to enter the draw for the book, and when I have enough interest I will get a friend to pull a name out of the hat. Then someone will be the owner of a very lovely book.  I will give a couple of weeks before I do the draw so as to give people time to leave a comment with a name and a link. Please let anyone you know who loves cooking .
Good Luck

PS.  there is only one thing which I regret and that is I am unable to post outside the UK as it would cost me too much, BUT if you live abroad and are prepared to pay the postage I would be happy to get a quote from the post office if you want to enter and happen to win.

M x

Friday, 14 October 2011

A post at last !!

I realise that I haven't been a very good blogger recently ! that goes for posting on my own blog and reading other blogs also.  I have been busy on the allotment and helping my son out with a recent house move, a niece's wedding in Italy, and clearing out my loft and selling things on e-bay which is all new to me. Some things I feel reluctant to sell, but hey ! they were only hanging about in my loft (for years) and I do need extra freezer space in the garage, so I thought why not sell a few items to help save up for a fridge/freezer for the garage to take all the extra fruit and veg I grew that had to be frozen. I am learning that if your not careful it can cost rather a lot to pay for all the bits and bobs (Insertion fees, photographs of the item, to name a few) to put things on e-bay and if one isn't careful you can actually be out of pocket if the item doesn't sell.

The allotment news is that most of my beds are cleared. I have halved my raspberry patch which had started off as 13 canes almost four years ago and ended up looking like a forest of canes which made it hard to harvest. I think I may have grown and planted too many globe artichokes, so I may take a few out as they take up so much space. But I wont  make the decision until next year or I may end up regretting it.

Today I went up to plant the garlic, a bit later than I planned but still within the time needed for them to go in.
I dug up all but five of my precious 'pink giraffe' dahlias and now have an amazing amount of tubers which all came from one plant purchased a few years back at the Hampton Court flower show. I still have a number of them flowering in my garden as well, so a good supply for next year. Here's a photo of the lovely flowers , as you can see they aren't your ordinary dahlia, the spikey flower is quite unusual and anyone seeing it for the first time always ask what it is and never recognise it as a dahlia, myself included when I first saw it.

The pumpkins and squashes were a little disappointing this year, but the little 'munchkins' squashes were good.

I have been thinking about what i want to grow next year on the plot and making lists and now need to plan what is going where. I'm not very organised with my planning and have to guess what went where last year and rotate my crops a bit haphazardly, so next year I intend to keep a proper record ( my inner voice is saying -YEAH YEAH, heard it all before !!!!!)  So that's about all my news and now I need to find time to have a read at what all you busy people have been up to and hopefully gleen a few tips and great ideas that you might have.
Have a great week-end
 M xx

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Clearing up and putting to bed

It's that time again !! you know the time when the plot and the garden looks untidy, with dead or dying plants and it really all needs clearing up and putting to bed for the autumn and winter months. YEAH !! I look forward to doing this as it's a time of reflection and planning for next year.
My son moved recently and in the garden there was a brilliant cold frame that I had my eye on, sadly the elderly lady had died and her family didn't want it and left it behind.   So I have it now on the allotment  plot. I just need to buy some more glass and bits and bobs for it and it will be so handy. I love it.

We worked on the plot for two half days this week, pulling up plants that had finished, weeding (lots) covering some beds, moving my strawberry bed to somewhere sunnier and planting new runners and new varieties. I also planted a Victoria Plum tree that was in the sale at our local garden centre. It's in and staked and fingers crossed there will be plums next year as it is a mature potted tree.

The plum tree

The Cape gooseberry plant in the greenhouse has been very productive and I have had quite a number of fruits off it and there are still more to ripen. I will have another go growing another next year and put it in an even bigger pot and give it more room to grow.

Cape Gooseberries.

The chillies have been amazig this year. I grew about four different varieties, one in particular is VERY hot.

This year wasn't a successful year for the Pumpkins and squashes, but I have had some and they look lovely.

The Globe artichokes surprised me by having so many fruits on for their first year, but the hearts weren't very big and that's the best part for me especially pickled in olive oil and garlic. So I decided to not harvest this year and I allowed them to produce their amazing flowers. The bees love them and so do I.

And here is a photo of the plot looking tidy and although a bit bare there is still some things to pick for instance mangetout which is the second sowing and there is an amazing amount of spinach which is still producing tasty leaves. It looks even tidier now as the grass has been cut since the photo was taken.

That's about all my news for now. I know I have been a bit neglectful of the blog and my blog reading  recently, but we have been in London quite a bit.

I hope you have all had some wonderful harvests this year and if not ! Well there is always next year.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Where did the week go ?

I can't believe it's a week since I last posted ! I don't know about you but I am so fed up with the rain now !
OK it's good for the plants in moderation but these downpours have played havoc with the raspberries and the beans are going patchy and mouldy. I have actually dug up and composted so many plants as I can't bear to see the plot looking so untidy.

Next year we are planning to re-design the whole plot. The strawberry bed and the raspberries aren't getting enough sun and were a bit on the small side this year, so they have to be moved. In fact I think I will start again with some new strawberry plants from runners and different varieties of both raspberries and strawberries. I also want to make a larger cutting bed where I will grow my flowers in neat rows, rather than scattered all over the plot in different places. I cut enough Asters the other evening to fill three vases, they have been brilliant. I also had a decent harvest of veg,  photo below -

The raspberries were small, but are OK to make my favourite 'Raspberry Curd' I did get a few large ones from someone else to eat with ice cream. Those are the ones on top, my small squidgy ones are underneath getting even more squashed.  

Makes all the work worth while when I come home with this kind of pickings.

Have a good week-end

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Allotment and Garden Update

After a very busy couple of months, two fabulous family weddings, (one being in Italy), I am finally back to my normal routine. Well almost !!  The allotment was so overgrown when we got back from Italy and finally managed to get up there.  I set about pulling up the onions and drying them off to store.  The mangetout were almost over and the next later sown three rows ready to be staked and netted.  I am still picking runner and french beans. There has been so many that my neighbours have benefited too.  The flower beds on the allotment are amazing, especially the 'Asters' the colours are beautiful.  Just look at this bouquet I cut last week and I have more dotted around the house too.

Aster 'Duchess Mixed'  from 'Wilko's'

The Globe Artichokes are a good size, but I really only love the hearts and they were a little disappointing when I cooked some of them  as the hearts weren't worth all the effort that the cooking took, maybe next year when the plants are a year old !!

The garlic has been brilliant this year as have the onions, so they should all last me until next year.

Courgettes, not too bad but nowhere near as prolific as in recent years, and tomatoes not as good as I usually get either. In fact last year I couldn't keep up with either and had to make pasta sauce and freeze in batches, Oh well !!

As for my garden this year it has been fantastic. I grew more flowers from seed than I have ever done in the past and the Asters and Zinnia's have been so beautiful. I will grow them every year from now on. The 'Cerinthe' is a lovely and prolific as ever, the spikey marigolds unusual and lovely as long lasting cut flowers. The Dahlias never cease to amaze me for their longevity and the most precious one for me is my very first which is 'Pink Giraffe'  have a look at this selection of photo's to see what I mean.

The Garden in Bloom
Calendula 'Porcupine' 
Sutton seeds

Zinnia - Sutton seeds

Zinnia (pastel shades)  'Faberge Mix' Sutton seeds

'Cerinthe'   seeds collected from previous years plants

'Cosmos' Millennium, Unwins seeds, these are bright beautiful shades of yellows through to oranges and the foliage is less feathery than the pink and white shades, it's more ferny, well worth growing they are lovely. ( sorry photo a bit blurry)

  Dahlia  'Pink Giraffe'

 I have been visiting and catching up with the blogs I usually read but apologise that I haven't had time to leave comments.  Sometimes I long for the autumn and winter months so that I can get back to some reading and my crafts.  I love the allotment and garden, but between visiting my family and spending days at my son's enjoying the grandchildren life gets hectic and I never seem to have time to fit everything in.

Have a lovely week-end and let's hope the sun shines !!!