Saturday, January 28, 2012

Stampin' Up!

I finally had my own Stampin' Up party today. It was fun. Most of us made a few cards. I always feel inspired and creative after going to one of these parties. I just wish I had more time to sit down and create. Here are a few of the cards that we made (sorry the photography is a bit rubbish).

Friday, January 27, 2012


If you know me, you will know how much I love fruit. I love baking with it, turning it into jam and chutney, eating it fresh, dreaming about it (this has been happening the last few days), and now I love dehydrating it. That's right folks, I finally splurged and bought myself a dehydrator for my birthday, and I love it. My birthday isn't until the end of the month, but having had it on layby for a while I couldn't go another month without having it in my life, especially because if I did it would be too late to dehydrate some of the fruit.

So, I have been experimenting. I made mango, and greengage fruit leather. I hadn't had fruit leather since I was a kid and had forgotten how great it tasted.  I also had a go a drying apricots, greengages, grapes and pears. All of which turned out quite well. I am also keen to dehydrate some vegetables, and herbs and spices in the next few months. 

Mango fruit leather before it went into the dehydrator.

I was blessed actually this summer with kilos of greengages from a friends tree. I didn't think I was going to taste any fresh greengages this year after my cousin sold her house, but thankfully this has not been the case. So last night Daniel and I stayed up stupidly late cutting greengages in half, as well as boiling, peeling and blending them together in order to make fruit leather.

I also had the opportunity to make some Greengage and Orange Jam which I have been adding into my porridge on a daily basis. I tried this first time last year and loved it, so I thought I would make it again.

This is what I did:

Greengage and Orange Jam
-2kgs of greengages
-2kgs of sugar
-juice and rind of 2 oranges
-juice and rind of a lemon.

After washing the greengages, I halved and pipped them and placed them in a large pot with the juice and rind of the oranges and lemon. I then let it heat up and continue to do so until the fruit was very soft and the skin had started falling off the plum. This only took about 10-15mins. I then add the sugar and stirred until it dissolved. After this I let it simmer until it reached setting point, and then put it in steralised jars.

I'm not sure if this is the correct way of making jam, but this is how I have been making it for the last few years and it seems to work so I just stick with it. Do you do it differently?

Nicholas was being super grumpy again as I made jam, so I carried him around with me as I prepared the jam. He doesn't really look like he is enjoying it. Oh well!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Rent a Cherry Tree!

Well, it's taken a week but we have finally finished eating all the cherries we picked from our Rent a Cherry tree, that I won, last weekend, and they were just delicious. The tree was full of massive cherries which were shared between the Jolly's, my Mum and us. It was such a splendid day, even though the weather was a bit overcast, and a real delight to share it with others.

When we arrived we were shown to our tree and given a brief history of the orchard.

Once everyone had arrived we began picking (and eating).

After all the hard work of picking and eating cherries, we sat down for a relaxing BBQ. The orchard provided the BBQ equipment, a table and chairs, and even toys for the kids. All we had to bring was the food, drink, picnic rugs and ourselves.

And the beautiful view from the orchard once it had cleared up a bit.

This, I must say, was the best prize I have ever won. It was a fantastic and relaxing day for all involved, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in renting a cherry tree next year. I definitely I think we will be renting one next year. I'll give it to Daniel as a birthday present :).

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Apricot chutney!

Nicholas has been super clingy, whiny and awake this week. He is only having two 45min sleeps during the day and then will go to sleep for about an hour in the evening before waking up for an hour or two and then heading back to sleep. If we are lucky he might sleep for a few hours before waking up and needing one of us to go and resettle him. It's been doing my head in, and I am exhausted. I think he might be teething?

To help the situation, I decided that I would spend the day at my parents' place with my Mum and Aunt, so I didn't have to be left with Nicholas by myself all day... meaning that what could have been a really stressful day, because every time I left the room or even turned around Nicholas would cry, turned out to be surprising stress free. As a bonus, I was even able to have a quick nap in the afternoon to rejuvenate for the rest of the day.

Like I have mentioned previously, I love going to my parents' place to get away from it all. It is peaceful, quiet and beautiful, especially on sunny days like toady. 

And even though Nicholas was super clingy, he was happy enough to sit in his chair (in front of me), eating, just for long enough to prepare everything I needed in order to cook up some apricot chutney. 

 Here are the apricots - picked fresh off my parent's-in-laws tree.

Here is a the kilo of onions I cut up in halves and quarters, and then put in the food processor to cut up more finely. I refuse to spend ages cutting up onions. It is so time consuming. This is my Mum's food processor. A bit more advanced than my own, but I use mine for everything I can - cutting up onions, mixing banana cake muffins and dip, chopping up vegetables to make Nicholas puree - I love it.

Adding the sugar - sooooo much!

And the chutney before we spooned it into jars - YUM.

I am so glad the day turned out to be productive, and that I didn't stay at home and mope about!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Ripe Apricots!

Unlike last years bumper crop of apricots (many of which were discarded because of mould from the wet weather), this year we only ended up with a bowl full of apricots.

Last years tree. Looking at it now I realise that we were quite lucky it didn't break!
Even so, the bowlful we do have is full of fantastically sweet apricots. Much better than the ones at the shop. And the best thing is that even Nicholas is at the stage now where he can enjoy them.


How exciting! Four little nashi pears :). Can't wait till they are all ripe. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

I Won!

Near the end of last year I entered a Christmas giveaway on Platinum Ridge's facebook page. All I had to do was like, and share their page and this put me in the running to win one of their rented cherry trees. And surprisingly, I actually won. I was/am so excited. Basically, it means that I will get to pick all the fruit off a specific tree that they allocate me in their orchid, which could bear about 10kgs of fruit.

So next weekend we will be heading out to Glaziers Bay to pick us some fruit. In anticipation of this Daniel bought me cherry corer for Christmas because taking the pips out of cherries by hand takes a super long time.

I'll be sure to take some photos of next weeks expedition to share :). Also if you have any cherry recipes that you love, I would love to hear them, as I will be inundated with cherries next weekend :).