Sunday, September 02, 2012

Slow Living In August

I'm so pleased to finally join in with Slow Living Essentials! Something that I have wanted to do for months. I have finally beaten my old enemy - procrastination - and am very happy to participate in Slow Living In August.

Well here we are - September has arrived, we have bid farewell to August and to summer. We look forward to the arrival of autumn and all its splendour. A new school year begins for most of us, a new beginning, a new start. I love this time of year, it always fills me with renewed vigour and inspirations. As creation gives us it's final and energetic surge of wonder and beauty before it's long winter rest, I feel myself caught up in it's orchestral crescendo before it slowly fades away. The excitement of the coming season always wells up within me, slowly at first, gathering it's pace as nature begins show signs of change. Already I have noticed the very first inklings - a distinct change in the air. It is something that you can never quite put your finger on, it is more sensed that seen.

As I look back over August, I realise that this sensed change has been directing my activities and days. I like that! I like how without realising it, my habits reflect the coming season. Just as God has placed this sense in each of His creatures, He has done so with us...if we would just slow down and listen ;o)


We were blessed by a friend with a glut of plums from her plum tree. So my daughters and I set to making our own plum jam. Not only will this nourish us through the winter months, but the time spent jamming together nourished our relationships. From this experience, I have decided that we will spend time together each week in the kitchen or working on a creative project together. It was so lovely to be working alongside one another and to be able to pass on home arts to my children at the same time.


As we walk along the lanes that surround our home, I am noticing that the hedgerows are heavy with ripening blackberries and raspberries. It is time for us to head out with our baskets and harvest some of this free bounty. Some of the berries we will freeze - adding them to apple pies, morning cereal, yogurt and smoothies throughout the winter months. I also plan on making some delicious 'Hedgerow Berry' jam, so we have been collecting glass jars over the summer in preparation for this moment.


England has an abundance of charity stores. I love to pop in every so often and see if there is anything useful that I could utilise. Having sold just about all our possessions when we left South Africa to start our new life her in England, we are very very slowly building things up again. There is simply no reason to spend a fortune on brand new when I can often find something beautiful, good as new and something that often appeals to the old fashioned girl in me. This months find was this lovely autumnal hedgerow set. 4 cups and saucers, a tray {not pictured as I found it in a different store a few days after this find}, a butter dish and milk jug.

We have enjoyed having tea out in the garden with our lovely tea set on more than one occasion this past month. This small pleasures give me much joy ;o)


This is one area that I did not pay much attention to this month I'm afraid. We do the usual recycling, but I know that this is an area that we could improve on. So not much to mention here - but I plan on giving it some thought and attention in September ;o)


This has been one of my most unsuccessful growing seasons with regards to my kitchen garden. Mainly because of the high rainfall England has had, but it's been made worse by the location of our home. We are surrounded by trees which means limited direct sunshine - a 'must have' when growing fruit and veg. My strawberry plants produced lots of flowers which turned to fruit, but the strawberries were either eating by the slugs - who are thriving in our wetter conditions - or just turned mouldy from lack of warm sunshine.

All is not lost though as all my strawberry plants have sent out loads of shoots. I have been potting them as the shoots grow out. We had bought 3 plants in spring, I now have 12 new plants for next year.

I have also been propagating my fuchsia bushes. We are set to make another {and hopefully final} move in October so I am making sure that I have lots of babies from my favourite plants. It is far more economical to propagate if you can rather than buy new plants from the nursery.


Tapestry and crochet have been my creative outlets for the month of August. I finally finished my autumn scene tapestry that I started in Feb 2011. It feels good to have a UFO finished!

I have also started a granny stripe blanket. I've been wanting to start one for ages - seeing my inspiring friends finished blanket was motivation enough for me to get started! I am loving how it grows and the bright colours make it a pleasure to work!

This little hanging birdy decoration was another creative moment in August - a great way to use up scraps of yarn.

I know this section is about nourishing the mind with lots of lovely books - which I do do - all the time- but I thought I would share about my experience in making something new - from a recipe from a book??? LOL - I figured that it was connected - in a round-about way.

Steam puddings! Yum. I have always wanted to try making my own steam pudding, but never really got round to it. Both my husband and I grew up in homes where Sunday roast lunches were an institution. We in turn have kept this family tradition alive in our own home. Pudding ALWAYS wrapped up a delicious Sunday roast, and so it gives me ample opportunity to try out new deserts. I decided that the time had come to attempt a steam pudding. I found a yummy recipe for a syrup steam pud in my trusty 'Readers Digest South African Cook Book' and got straight to mixing, stirring, combining and most importantly, preparing my pud for steaming. Nothing to it really. I am glad that I have conquered a new cooking method {as far as puds go} - I love discovering new things ;o)


Our joy has been enhanced over the past few weeks as we watch our cats off-spring grow and strengthen. These three week kittens have proved us with hours of joy and delight

 I wish that we could keep them, but it just is not practical to have 5 cats! Yesterday our first little one went to a new home. Our hearts are heavy with his departure.

 I am glad that he has gone to a loving home, but it is so hard to have to say good-bye!


England has had the wettest summer in it's recorded weather history! So I would have to say that I have enjoyed the few days of sunshine when they present themselves. Often it is not even a full day, but a few hours! This makes each moment of sunshiny goodness precious!


  1. Lovely Shirley :) have fond memories of delicious Sunday lunches with you xxx

  2. Yum, plum jam! Nice to have friends with extras! The kittens look sweet - I bet they have been entertaining to watch. Nice too Meet you this month.

    1. Nice to 'meet' you too :o) The kittens have certainly been fun to watch! Two have now gone to great homes, we decided to keep the last little one - too hard to part with them all LOL

  3. this is my first month of joining in as well!. i love it when the strawberries have babies for us!. and as for those kittens - i want them!!. sadly cant have them in my current flat, but one day....
    i havent tried making a steam pudding but do love to eat them with custard or cream!.
    i look forward to reading more of your blog.

    1. I love strawberry babies too :o) - I'm already thinking of a wonderful harvest next year {hopefully}.

  4. Love your recap of the month. The kittens are so adorable who could resist a cuddle? I've never had steamed pudding-I might have to give it a try!

  5. I'm envious over your plum jam. Hopefully I'll be able to add some to my inventory next year. :-)

    How do you process with the used jelly jars?

    1. Hi Kathryn, my initial processing of jars is really simple - in fact maybe the word 'processing' is a little grand for such a simple task LOL. I simply wash the jars out, soak the ones that have had pickles etc before and get the aromas out. Then soak off the labels. Basically just getting them ready for sterilizing before potting up my preserves.

  6. Lovely to read this post. I tried steamed pudding in winter, but mine flopped. Your kittens are so sweet.

  7. Your kittens are so cute! My daughter agrees with me who is reading over my shoulder.

    I really like the sound of your jam making session too - what a great way to strengthen those relationships. Lovely to have you joining in, Shirley Ann. :)

  8. Hanging out in the kitchen is a great way to nourish both your tummy and your relationships! That tapestry is loverly. It feels good to finish a project doesnt it! Welcome - hope t see you again next month! - Kara

    1. It does feel good to finish a project Kara. Especially one that has been hanging around for more than a year :o)

  9. Hi Shirley, did you know that you can whip up a steam pudding in less than five minutes in the microwave? It is not exactly the same but so close you will barely notice, maybe just for those times when you have to whip up an extra pudding for extra guests!
    1 cup butter
    1 cup sugar
    2 eggs
    1 cup self raising flour
    1 tablespoon milk
    1 cup jam, your plum jam would work well ;-)
    Mix all ingredients excluding jam either using an electric whisk, or cream butter and sugar, add eggs and finally flour.
    Line a Pyrex pudding dish, with a little butter and then put your jam in the bottom. Pour on your mixture and cover the bowl with cling film. Just make sure you use a pudding dish that the mixture only comes up half way, it's going to rise!
    Microwave on full power for two minutes. Check. Microwave again for one minute before checking again, it should take no more than four minutes. Occasionally I have left mine for a bit longer and it goes a bit tough so keep an eye on it. When you have made a couple you will find this is the easiest pudding ever. Try replacing the jam with golden or maple syrup for another yummy pudding.

    1. Thanks Julie. Going to give this a go!

  10. I had no idea England had a wetter than usual year. You find ou so much through blogging! I love your granny rug and your buttercup photo! They're one of my favourite flowers. They remind me of holidays at Nana's.


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