Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Green, green grass of home

Most who know me would agree I've never been naturally green fingered. When I moved into my house, the garden was full of mature shrubs that grew like billyo. Visitors would point and say things like "Your agapanthus looks good." Not a euphemism, it seems. I'd just shrug, deeming actual gardening for other people, with my activity limited to mowing and pruning and drinking wine in, all of which I carried out with vigour. I gave myself RSI last year after a five hour bout of trimming something climby - clematis, apparently.

But something has crept up on me. For the first time, I'm keen to learn and have been thinking about where to plant new things. I started a journal (!) and found myself watching - my sister nearly fainted when I told her - Gardener's World. (As I'm in full disclosure mode, I should report I also recorded it when I was out.)

Mum will be chuckling. Each Sunday afternoon she'd drag her teenager to the garden centre. I'd shuffle along kicking stones and shoulder sloping while she gave a running commentary. I wish I'd listened. When she was bed ridden, she was still ordering plants that never made it out of their pots. I inherited a newly bought camellia and small apple tree, and feel the huge burden of responsibility not to inadvertently kill them.

So my elderly friend and I went to a garden centre last week (with my own kids unimpressed at my observation on the circle of life) and while she pointed and offered advice, this time I listened, and quietly assessed what I like (magnolia, camellia, hydrangea and roses) and don't like (succulents, variegated leaves anything spiky). The following day she gave me two packets of sweet pea seeds that require soaking and putting into trays. Which blew my mind slightly. I mean, that's practically like producing a test tube baby.
 Anyway, I've begun pulling up dead stuff and digging over the border in readiness for the makeover. It's not without trauma. When a worm the size of my middle finger started crawling towards my glove, I screamed and did a version of a rain dance. "Is it a grass snake?" came a concerned voice over the fence.
My long suffering friends are being pumped for advice but as Frank said, "I'll do it my way." When I mused that I planned to throw grass seed onto a patch of sloping earth, another friend looked incredulous. "You've got to level it", he said. Hmm.... we'll see. Teletubbie bumps might fit in quite nicely.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Have your cake and eat it

When DD2 announced she wanted to bake a Sunday afternoon sponge on the weekend I gave up sugar forever, a small anguished cry escaped my lips. Then I had a flash of inspiration: I remembered seeing a cake in a mug recipe so I set out to hunt it down. Turns out there are millions of them, but I used this one. (Incidentally, this is a student website which had other nuggets of usefulness including budget meals, how not to get too drunk on a night out and instructions to make a googly eyed ghost out of a tampon.)

DD2 magnanimously selected my least favourite cake in the world (chocolate, bizarrely) used a tablespoon to measure all the ingredients straight into the mug and after a bit of jostling over the stirring - by this point we all wanted a piece of the action - shoved it in the microwave. 

It was miraculous. It rose up out of the cup majestically. 

Then dropped a little.

DD1 said it looked like a lipstick popping up of the tube, but it reminded me of Ralph's little fella when he gets excited. This is Ralph unexcited.

Then after a scant three minutes it passed the skewer test.

 Ready to eat. (DD1 helped a bit.)

I've seen this referred to online as dangerous and I can see why. I mean, not only is it instant cake, there's virtually no washing up. Thank god this discovery is not going to be a problem for me.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Timed out

The watch the fourteen year old asked for for Christmas was losing time by New Year. I contacted the shop online and they're sending an immediate replacement. DD1's response? "Oh, that's good. I mean, I'm not worried about all that time-telling shizzle, I've got my phone for that, but I suppose it's better if it works."