Blooming Aloe

In the middle of June (19th), as I stood washing dishes, I noticed a snakelike head (or rather, more asparagus-like) amongst the leaves in our large aloe plant. When my brain caught up, I realised it was finally flowering! I received this plant as a very small baby around (2008 or 2009) and it has given off many baby shoots as it slowly grew. We diligently re-potted them and since 2012 it has sat in the kitchen windowsill. It must now be at maturity (said to take around 4 years) and settled into its current location.   

This is the bloom on 2nd July. 

 

Botanic Inspiration and Childhood Programming

I grew up with plants in every room of the house. I have certainly said before that I see plants as one of the top crucial design elements. Based on my lifelong love of camping and the time we spent outdoors, I would even be prepared to say that plants come right after basic furniture (you know, a roof over your head, a place to sit or sleep).

As an adult, I have been slowly building my plant collection. As a student this began as the standard spider plant and palms, but around five years ago, I felt the need to begin collecting the plants that signify a home to me. For me, the first step was a snake plant. For Honey, that was an umbrella plant. We obtained both from clippings from other plants.

We have a several other plants in our small collection, but my inspiration is still my mom and dad’s home. I snapped these photos of just their living room and kitchen when I was over. I left the shelves of plants in the back room and the deck plants to imagination. I look forward to welcoming a large philodendron and some pregnant onions into our care in the future.

When my parents got work done on the house in the early 90s, they replaced the window sills in the kitchen, living room and back room with much deeper sills that would hold large plant pots. I think this is probably one of the best renovations ever!

Here are a few photos of their plants for inspiration…

Large window sill full of plants in the kitchen

One kitchen sill

Large window sill full of plants and citrus tree

Indoor citrus tree

When I was little, I was eating a grapefruit and the seed inside had begun to germinate. We planted it. We also planted an orange at one point. I am not sure which one this is, but it is a citrus tree! They have the pot on casters so it is easy to roll onto the deck for the summer.

Burro's Tail succulent

Large aloe plant on window sill

the large aloe

Aloe flower in the kitchen

the aloe’s flower at the top of the 3 foot spike

Pregnant onion plant

an amaryllis 

Pregnant Onion flower

the pregnant onion’s flower spike (just as tall as the aloe’s)

Orchid flower

Lucky bamboo

lucky bamboo they are ‘babysitting’ (permanently?) for a friend

Peace lily and other plants on large window sill

living room window sill

Banana plant

a pot of small banana trees

Large adopted plant

my dad adopted this plant when his workplace closed. It was a scrawny little vine with a leaf or two and he didn’t want to leave it behind. It was quite happy to be adopted!

Oxalis plant with Jade

Oxalis with Jade

Oxalis sharing a pot with a jade plant (pot sharing is something I have yet to figure out)

Large snake plant

one of the large, very old, snake plants scattered around their house. They are at least 30 years old. There is another on the floor in the shot below.

Philodendron houseplant

the philodendron (and a ghost lens reflection) in their living room.

That’s the end of the plant tour! I hope to have a similar collection some day!

Bring a Smile With You

When Honey and I were planning our wedding ceremony with the minister, we could not find a reading that resonated with us. We searched the internet high and low for something that would show joy, reflection, presence and celebration of the natural world. During one search session, after hundreds had been read and dozens more considered then rejected, Honey grabbed the keyboard and wrote a poem. It flowed from her fingers, it flowed from her soul, and in less than 15 minutes or so, she read me a poem that brought tears to my eyes. It was beautiful and perfectly represented who we are and what we wanted.

We used that gorgeous poem and have it tucked into our wedding album. Reading it again just now, I can say that it retains its power and made me tear up again.

Over the winter in 2013, I headed upstairs to the spare room with an intense need to paint. I had a piece of pallet wood waiting and then spent a while playing with the base colour on the board. It went from sky to deep ocean, to woodlands, and settled in to the current background. You can’t really see the depth in the colour when you look at it, but I feel it. After that colour play, I knew that we needed a reminder of Honey’s poem. I found myself using the same lettering that I had used countless times in jr. high and high school- on jeans, backpacks, posters; anything that could be painted!

Bring a Smile with you

It took us until the fall of 2014 to get around to buying the hardware for the back of the board, and until May to hang it up! Somewhere along the way we just got so focused on keeping going over the winter and didn’t know where the board would be best enjoyed. As the days lightened, I knew it needed to go in our living room above the kitchen door.

Homemade Nut Milk

After three years of looking into juicers and running screaming and dissatisfied every six months or so, we have finally purchased a ‘juicer’/ultra blender. I didn’t like how regular juicers wasted all the fiber of the produce and I fretted over the centrifugal vs. masticating debate and prices. Well, we went for a nutri ninja and I am thrilled with it. I cannot believe how truly smooth the finished product is. I had tried to make green smoothies with our regular blender and ended up chewing mouthfuls of greens, nuts, or the general sludge of nut butter and seeds or coconut oil that did not mix in. With the nutri ninja, it all disappears easily into the mix and harder vegetables like carrots are even blended perfectly. Carrots were pivotal in my decision.

This blending power means that I can now make nut milks! Looking online, the general ratio is 3:1 cups of water to soaked nuts. For my first two batches, I didn’t add any flavours in although we did drink the cashew milk with cinnamon sprinkled on top. I didn’t strain the nut milk like most websites advise. It wasn’t really an issue- the milk is drunk easily and the sediment at the bottom gets dumped into a smoothie. Why dirty a mesh bag? Nope, I’m happy just blending and pouring into a kilner jar for the fridge. I’m pretty thrilled about this new epicurean venture.

The cashew milk was the first batch I made:

homemade cashew milk from nutri ninjaand here is the almond milk:

homemade almond milk from nutri ninja

Crochet Potato Bag and Drying Herbs

It has been quite grey this past week. I took off work most of the week and had dreamed of hanging out on a picnic blanket in the garden, soaking in the big D. But of course, I live in Scotland and such plans cannot be made. So I looked around indoors.

As we prepare to welcome guests overnight in our spare room (still more ‘spare’ than ‘room’) and strategise over the future we want to build, we have decided to go for another push towards making our home not just liveable but enjoyable. Some things are just ready for replacement, like the no longer white tub plug we inherited with the house but still does its job. Others, we never thought were important until now, like the hodge podge of towels we each brought to the household. A new set of towels (well, only half of the set fits at once) is currently in the washing machine. We will now have four large bath towels (bath ‘sheets’) so that we have one spare each and we will have those ready for when guests come to stay. If we somehow have more than two people coming to stay, we’ll pull out the two camp towels and all will be right with the world. We also bought two coordinating hand towels. All other bathroom towels will be donated or composted accordingly.

Last night, as I put a large produce shop away, I thought it was time to make a potato bag. While the onions have always been stored in a crochet bag, we generally grab a canvas bag for potatoes but that doesn’t allow enough air circulation. Since there has been a delay picking up the 8 charity shop bags we have waiting, I simply went upstairs and grabbed out the brown cotton yarn that I had donated and made a new bag.

Crochet potato bag

I also bundled and hung some rosemary that I trimmed during one of the only sunny and dry days last week. Do you see the lighting around the rosemary? It was 10am in June, when the sun had been up for hours, and I had the lights on in the parlour!

Rosemary 2015

Introducing Adventures With the Funk! 

I have hijacked Riotflower’s blog for a bitI am not some random person, Riotflower refers to me as Honey. I am her wife. So no need to call the blog police!


It was Riotflower who got me into crafting and gave me the support and space I needed to be creative. One area in which I feel more able to explore and grow is my home brewIt all started when, for my 30th birthday, I asked for a home brew kit from my family. I was getting into the craft beers and wanted to try my hand at making my own. It took a while for me to pluck up the courage to open the gift and use it. Initially I used a pack to make ale, I think it was red ale. I had a few pints from it but I had issues with the barrel and it ended up going off- my garden liked it though! I haven’t made ale/beer since but I still use the equipment.


The Christmas after I got the homebrew kit, Riotflower bought me a home brew book from the charity shop and I have experimented with cider and wine since. I have also used pinterest for inspiration and looked into other home brews (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) and I want to get into making different thingsLast autumn I did a cider making course and made some successful cider. Before that I had made Apple wine, from the aforementioned book. This was very raw but very crisp and clear. It is currently 18 months old and getting better by the day!


  

Yes, I have had a couple of disasters and predict a lot more. That’s the fun of learning, at the time is it disappointing but makes you are better brewer.  My most recent problem was a batch of apple and cinnamon wine that went badly mouldy. Previously I tried to make pumpkin spiced wine, but wow, Riotflower and I agreed it tasted like that liquid at the bottom of a dumpster smells. It didn’t even get put in the compost-that went straight down the loo.


At the beginning of 2015 instead of setting myself a new years resolution, I set myself 30 day challenges, like all ‘non-new years resolutions’ it fell by the wayside and I only managed one month of getting back into the gym. My crafting also fell by the wayside and up until now I have done small crochet projects and have a blanket that I am making for my sister and her grape (the baby is due in June so not really the size of a grape anymore), but I wanted to do more. So it is with a small amount of inspiration and a lot of ambition, I plan on making an A-Z of wines/ciders or any homebrew. I am thinking 1 or 2 wine/ciders/homebrews for each letter. This may take some time to complete, some wines themselves will take 6 months to a year of maturing, but I tell you what, the party I’ll throw for finishing this challenge will be rather potent!


Riotflower is helping me launch my new blog that will be the place I stick up my wins, fails and learnings in home brewing and other crafts. I won’t be updating every week but I will be in the back ground, siphoning something, trying not to get it on me. Come and see me at AdventuresWithTheFunk

I guess all that is left is to say ready, steady GO!!

Wish me luck and pray for my eyesight! 

Greenhouse 2.0

I’m at least a month behind with blogging, which is generally reflective of life at the moment. In 10 days, we’ll be at the average frost date for around here. We only planted seeds three weeks ago! One thing we also did around that time, is make a new greenhouse. We took the frames from last year’s two greenhouses (we didn’t get the plastic covers off on time in the autumn and they froze then shattered in the wind) and put them ‘face’ to ‘face, creating a long walkway down the middle. Between the two, we added the last bit of the left over frame that we had used as the brassica cage last summer. We then wrapped it all in two long sheets of plastic. I don’t know the thickness because we found it impossible to find 3mm plastic in large enough pieces and the stuff we ordered said it was for polytunnels. It seems a bit thin to me though.

 With 3mm plastic I would have been comfortable rolling edges together and stapling but we didn’t want to rip this. We settled on using duct tape to tape it all together. Some has come off in the rain already and we’ve topped it up so we’ll probably have to find a better seaming solution soon. As we speak, however, all around me I hear rain on the windows and roof (accompanied by the slight grunt of a dreaming cat!) telling me we’ll have a few more days at least to work on the solution. This year, it seems to be that April flowers precede May showers!

A few beautiful things from the past month are these flowers in the garden…


  

and this tray of eggs from friends.