Making Jam

Our blackberry bush is loaded with fruit. Now I love blackberries, but it looked like I had to eat nothing but blackberries for weeks. So I decided to make jam. I had no idea it was this easy. And the smell is amazing. The whole house smells like jam. There’s a ton of fruit still on the bush, so I think I’ll make more jam later this week.

My blackberries are really sweet, so I didn’t use a lot of sugar. About half of the weight of the fruit. When I tasted it it was delicious. I can’t wait til we can try it!

Veggie garden 2nd August

This post has been in the making for quite some time. We have had a long period of really hot weather, too hot to get out into the garden. And when it was colder we had lots of rain, so again, I didn’t go out into the garden.
This meant that some areas of the veggie garden became a bit overgrown. But it’s not a big deal. We’ve had some great meals from it.

Somehow I managed to mess up the courgette and cucumber plants. I’ve ended up with 3 courgette plants and two cucumber plants. Don’t ask me how this happened, I have no idea…
The chinese beans did not survive the enormous amounts of water at the end of may. Some other beans did and they look great.
The tomatoes are (now) very tidy and I hope they’ll stay that way. Some of the carrots survived the rain, but not all. I have no idea how many survived exactly. For the onions it’s the same story. The only things that are doing great are the fruits. So many raspberries, tayberrries, blackberries, black currants and red currants. But they rarely make it indoors. There’s someone in the garden regularly that eats them as soon as she can… (yes, that would be me…)

Things I did in June and July

I’m not sure how exactly this happened. One day it was the middle of June and now, somehow, it’s the end of July…
Which means I haven’t done my monthly round-up post and I haven’t been updating about the veggie garden…

Books I’ve read:

Fataal weekend(Post Mortem)
1974 (partially read this one)
Undercover in de ouderenzorg
Geluksvogel
Gently By the Shore
Gently Down the Stream

I’ve released 150 books and there’s more to follow, as July isn’t over yet. The high number is due to the annual BookCrossing meeting on the beach in Castricum on July 6. This has put my 52/52 challenge up to 42 places sofar. Another 10 and I’ve made it. For the 365 challenge I’m up to 336 books. I’ve reset my goal to 500 this year. It might make a small dent in my BC collection…

In the garden everything is growing like made. The lettuce is about 150 cm high, if not higher. I ate loads of raspberries, they never even made it indoors. The tayberries are blooming for the second time and the blackberries are waiting for their tan.
I’ll do a post on that later this week.

Cat Candy has got another bladder infection (again) and is on antibiotics for the umptieth time. She seems to be feeling fine, though she’s not going out as much nowadays. Not sure if that’s due to the weather (hot hot hot), the infection or old age.

The weather, ah yes, the weather. Well, what can I say? It’s really hot. It was 33C on saturday which is ridiculously high for our part of the world. Yesterday was a bit coller and today the temp is rising again. We’re up to 25C now.
The solar panels are doing a bit less well in the heat. But we’re still managing a good few kWh. With 30 days to go to make it a full year we’ve used 58% of our normal annual consumption off our own panels. Which is already 8% more than we hoped for.

Next month I’ll be having my holiday and hoping the weather is still good. Just one more month…

Oh, I almost forgot the biggest news! On my birthday we bought a new car. A brandnew car that is. Our Kaatje was almost 18 years old and the cost of the repairs were beginning to mount up. We had to get at least another 800 euro into it to get her through the (Dutch equivalent of the) MOT. So we decided enough was enough. Everyone, meet Kate:

Kate1

Kate is a 2014 Ka Style, in the new colour red, called flame red. We love her, though I do miss Kaatje…

Things I did in May

Books I’ve read:

Robbert Jan en het geheim van Berg en Dal (Barney, The Rockingdown Mystery)
De vier speurneuzen – de geheimzinnige bewaker
De 4 Speurneuzen, de vreemde dokter
Rebuilding Coventry

Books I’m currently reading:

P Is for Peril (A Kinsey Millhone Mystery)
Robbert Jan en het geheim aan de kust  (Barney, The Rilloby Fair Mystery)

I’ve released 47 books, which brings the total amount of released books so far this year up to 185. This means I’ve crossed the half way point!
Also, I’m on 29 places with the 52/52 challenge.

Elderly neighbour complained to her friend two weeks ago, while I was lounging outside (she knew that), that we ruined her garden and her garden path. And that she should never have given us permission to go around her house with garden supplies. She also told her friend we crossed her garden at least a hundred times. Mind you, we did no such thing. We clipped back the bushes around the part where we went through her garden to avoid damaging them. We only went through her garden 4 times the first time, now 2 years ago. Earlier this year she gave our other neighbour permission to go through her garden again. This time it was about 10 times and again we clipped back the bushes to avoid damaging them. I’m now done with her. We’ve always been kind to her and this is how she pays us back. Well, she’ll find out what she’s lost!

Water garden

this happened to the garden earlier this week. I did a blog post about it in the morning. But it kept raining and raining. By the end of the afternoon this is how the garden looked…
We had more than 60 MM in 60 hours, which the garden simply couldn’t get rid of. Part of the problem is that both our neighbours have had their garden paved completely. This means all excess water comes right into our garden. Normally this isn’t much of a problem, but with these amounts of water it was a problem. Luckily everything dried up nicely and it looks like almost everything survived. Haven’t seen the pumpkins I’ve sowed, but I’m not sure if that’s due to the water or not…

Both our cats are doing fine. Candy seems to react good to her new medication, so I’m very happy with that. Due to the warm weather both of them haven’t been eating as much as they usually do, but who can blame them for that? We’re not eating as much as usual too.

Veggie Garden 28th May, disaster strikes?

I know I said I wanted a water feature in the garden. I know I even talked about it to a friend last monday. But this wasn’t what I meant, thank you very much…

It began to rain on monday night. Yesterday it stopped for a brief period and we even had sunshine throughout the day. Then, last night, it began to rain again. Over the course of the last 36 hours we’ve had 50 MM of rain. Yesterday our garden wasn’t too bad, while my elderly neighbour’s garden was flooded. Now ours is flooded as well.

I went out with the pitchfork to drain the water more quickly, but the ground is totally waterlogged. I’m really hoping the plants will survive, but I’m thinking the worst… Especially since I decided yesterday to plant the tomatoes out in the garden. Luckily they’re on the slightly higher part…

Veggie Garden 23rd May

I’ve been planting out the runner beans again and they are doing great. The chinese beans need to grow a bit larger before they’re going outside. I noticed yesterday the marrowfat peas are flowering and they look lovely.

Of the five cucumber plants I moved outside only one survived. I’ve sowed a few more seeds hoping to gain some more plants. Of the three courgette plants only one survived which is more than enough for the two of us.

I’ve done the first cutting of the lettuce and we had a wonderfully delicious salad last Wednesday. The tayberries are growing more and more flowers, the black currants still need more sun. I’ve seen the first flowers in the red and yellow raspberries too.

You wouldn’t believe the size of some of the strawberries right now… But they haven’t gained colour yet.

Veggie garden 13th May

So, the runner beans and chinese beans haven’t made it. I knew it was early to plant them outside, so I’ve sowed new ones. The marrowfat peas are doing great!

The cucumber plants have survived cat Dipsy landing amongst them and I’ve moved them outside just half an hour ago. I made a frame with rope to get them to climb.

The beetroot, onions and carrots are slowly starting to get out of the ground, but not much to see yet. The radishes are almost ready for harvesting. I’m thinking of doing a salad for dinner and will be using one or two for that.

The lettuce is doing great and it won’t take long before we can do the first harvest. Mind you, I just take some leaves and leave the rest of the plant to grow bigger.

The black currants are aiting for the sun to give them a little colour. The tayberries are flowering and here and there there’s already the beginning of a tayberry. The strawberries are in full flower and if the flowers are anything to go by, we’ll be eating lots and lots of strawberries in a few weeks.

Veggie garden 10th April

First update on the veggie garden.

I’ve decided to do it a little different from last year. So, first off, I bought tomato stakes. These I’ve been also using for the beans…

I’ve planted the broad beans, sugar snaps and marrowfat peas out. Also, I’ve tried planting the runner beans and the chinese beans. Not sure if this will work, as it’s very early to get those in the ground, but we’ll wait and see.

The tomato seedlings are doing well, the cucumber seedlings have taken a bit of a blow when cat Dipsy fell off the scratching pole whilst sleeping. She spent almost a minute on her back, right between the cucumbers, desperately trying to get out… It was hilarious…

I’ve been sowing lettuce in the mini green house and it looks all good. Today I’ve also been sowing beetroot, onions, radish and carrots.

Things I did in February

Well, the short answer is: not much…

Books I’ve read:

Bandieten op Bali
De discus valt aan

Currently reading:

The Delicate Storm

You see, my TBR pile has grown quite a bit again. A friend of mine asked me to pick up 3 boxes of books, which we split evenly amongst us. But they are all children’s books and I love reading children’s books. Many of the books in the boxes I have read as a child.

I’ve had problems with my thyroid levels due to working a few night shifts. This meant that I haven’t been reading as much as I wanted. Luckily my boss and I have decided that it’s not advisable with my health issues to work anymore night shifts. I am so relieved about this decision.

The 365/365 challenge is going well. I haven’t released many books in Feb, but I’m currently on 82 released books. As for the 52 books in 52 towns challenge I’m up to 18 towns/villages/hamlets. A pretty good score if I may say so myself.

I’ve started working on the vegetable patch. I’ve been digging and removing lots of grass. I’ve also cleared the tiles in the garden from grass. My sis in law has a dethatcher which we can borrow. This is very necessary, as the front lawn contains more moss than actual grass. And in the lawn at the back there’s a large patch of moss that keeps growing bigger and bigger.As for making the vegetable patch bigger, I’ve still got to remove 3 square meters of grass. Which I believe I can do in about 3 hours. But I won’t do it all in one go and it has to be a bit dry. The grass is very heavy and I don’t have much room for it in the green wheelie bin. The bin can’t weigh more than 80 KG and you will be surprised how quickly it’s up to that level.

I’ve made a chart of what seeds I have and when I need to plant them out. Of course, after I made it I bought and been given more seeds, so it’s completely out of date again.
I did sow some bell pepper seeds about 3 weeks ago and yesterday I saw there’s already 3 showing the first leaves. Which makes me very happy.
The cement bucket and pots still haven’t been bought. This I will (try to) do later this week or next week.

As for the fencing that blew down last October, our neighbours have bought a fence online and it’s been delivered last week. In the last weekend of March it’s supposed to go up.

I am hoping to do a few more blog posts next month.

What have I been doing in January

As I posted in the beginning of January I wanted to get on with my TBR pile of BookCrossing books. So far it’s been going well. I’ve read 8 books and am reading 2 at the moment. (un)Fortunately my TBR pile grew with 9 books, so basically I’ve gotten nowhere with that…

Books I’ve read:

I’ve made a beginning with reading at least 4 books, which weren’t to my taste. So they’ve gone from my TBR pile to my AVL pile.

I’ve started with the 365/365 challenge, which is in the Dutch forum of BookCrossing and started by Aaltsje. So far I’ve managed to release 66 books. I’ve also found out the stats on Bookcrossing.com are broken. A week ago they’ve displayed a total of 63 released so far this year. Then, a couple of days ago, I found out the stats have gone done to 61. I’ve been through the whole of my bookshelf, even when I kept score all the way through this month, and I know I’ve released 66 books, not 61. This is a bit odd, but I’ll keep counting and looking at what my BC stats say throughout the year.

Two weeks into this year I’ve managed to get myself into a 52 books in 52 towns challenge as well. Not entirely sure how that happened, it must have been something to do with my night shifts… So far, with help of my lovely colleagues, I’m up to 10 towns. I’ve been searching around on the map for hamlets and villages nearby where I can release books. I think I can get up to 52 in a day. But I’m not going to do that. I do keep a list of places I want to leave a book in though. At the top of that list is a tiny hamlet called “De Hel” (Hell)!

And that’s more than enough about books. On to the next topic, the garden.

In January the weather, the cold and the short days meant I simply wasn’t interested in the garden at all. But now that the days are getting longer I’ve become more interested in the garden again.

I’ve thought about making the veggie patch bigger. This will mean I have to get something to make a clear line between the grass and the vegetable garden. I’ve thought of those wood rolls that you can get, but they are more expensive than the concrete band. So I’m going with that. I’ve also made a list of things I want to buy, mainly big pots for aubergines and bell peppers and a few more potato tubs. The latter have been purchased online and I’m waiting on delivery within the next week. We also need to talk to the neighbours about the fencing that’s been blown down last October. I’ve sent them a text and they’ll get back to us shortly. I’m just hoping it won’t be too expensive…

I’m going to make a sowing schedule and have decided to buy a few seedlings to make my life easier. But I haven’t bought those Samla boxes for nothing, so I am going to sow most of my seeds. Yes, I use Ikeas Samla boxes as greenhouses. Much cheaper than the dedicated ones and they work just as good. I think I’ve got 6 of those.

Right now I’m waiting on a few item to go on sale. I want a tiny garden greenhouse. They were on sale last year in Aldi, but I didn’t get them. A few weeks after, when I did want them, they were sold out. I also want a few more seeds. And I’ve got my mind set on a mini garden pond. I decided to buy a cement bucket (65 Liter) for this purpose.

The next few weeks I will get busy with everything.