Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Honey Bee Harvest

The time finally came this year to do our first proper honey harvest !  To say we were excited would be a bit of an understatement. We have kept bees for a few years now but what with one long, very cold winter and then a loss of half a hive due to a swarm we never felt we could do a proper honey harvest until this year.  The bees health and happiness always has to prioritise our love of honey :-)

So we got prepared and in late August Mr Sweetpea popped into the hives and put a crown board with a porter bee escape on it just below the super.  This means that the bees go out of their honey store area to look for more flowers and when they return they can't go back up into the super area (the super is a set of extra frames you put on top of your main hive so that the bees to create more honey there).  This meant that we didn't bring lots of bees home with us.

He then popped back to the hives a few days later and removed the super frames from the hives.  They were all empty of bees and ready to take home for processing.

The first job was to uncap the honey comb ready to be put into our new spinner.   This was done with a hot knife and we collected the wax in a big plastic box (still pondering on what to do with the wax, any ideas gratefully received).   It was quite amazing how different each frame smelt, some honey frames were very floral,  others were more pungent/hormonal smelling.

We then popped 4 frames into the spinner ....... the children really enjoyed this bit,  apologies for the blurry photos but as you can imagine the children were spinning the frames as quickly as they could and enjoying every minute of it.

Whilst this was being done I put our newly bought honey jars in the dishwasher to be washed and sterilised.

When all the frames had been spun we double filtered the honey into a special storage bucket.  This made sure no bits of wax were in the final honey.

It was quite mesmerising watching the honey slowly pour out.

Finally came the time to bottle up all the honey.  We found a fantastic company called Pattesons Glass where we bought some lovely hexagonal jars for a great price.

We only bought 30 jars to start with but had to buy some more as we ran out !  We never thought we would get over 30 jars of honey, the bees were obviously very happy this year.

I added some labels to the jars with some fascinating bee facts on them :-)

The frames were then popped back out and put near the hive they came from so the bees could clean up the final honey from them and pop it back into their hives.


It was a really lovely way to spend a day and I am hoping that as the hives grow in strength it will become a yearly family tradition.   

Friday, 5 September 2014

Plum Fruit Leathers Tutorial

I have been wanting to make fruit leathers for a while now so when a friend had a glut of plumbs I thought it was the perfect time to give it a go.

I read a lot of recipes and tried a few out but this is what worked best for me ..... no recipe needed as such.
***Wwahooo I hear you cry***

So, grab some plumbs (that sounds wrong, sorry :-/), no particular amount needed but I used about 12  (if you use more you can just put more trays in the oven), cut them in half and de-stone them.  I find the easiest way to do this is cutting them round the middle and twisting them.

Cover a baking tray with foil and place the plumb halves on top.  Pop them in the oven at about 170 degC for 20 mins to get rid of some of the moisture and to make the skin easier the blend.  Remove them from the oven and turn it down to 100 degC.

Let them cool and pop them in a blender or food processor until they turn into a puree.  Add honey to taste, I added a couple of desert spoons full of our own honey (more about that another day, so excited about that here!).

Now grab a baking tray, pop some baking paper on the top (glossy side up) and pour some of the puree in the center of it.  Not too much though, just enough so that you can move it to cover the tray so you can't see the baking paper underneath, I used the back of a spoon to do this.  The thinner you can make it the quicker it will dehydrate.  If you make it too thick it takes hours and hours ....... and hours and hours ...... and hours to dehydrate!

Now pop it in the oven and leave it for at least 3 - 4 hours, check every 30 mins after this time.  If it still feels liquidy/squidgy (can't think of another word to best describe it) then leave it for another 30 mins.   When it feels a little tacky to touch but not squidgy take it out of the oven and leave it too cool.

Now use a knife or pizza cutter and score lines into the 'leather'.  It should peel off from the outside edges and create strips of fruit leather ..... WWWAAHOOO!

The children adore these and they have used up some fab plumbs - bonus !  I am going to try Raspberries next ...... wish me luck ! x

Monday, 14 July 2014

Teachers Thank You Cards

I have been busy sewing apples as teachers gifts recently, I found this lovely pattern over at Retromama and just had to try them out.  Aren't they cute?  Whilst sewing them up I came up with the idea of adding little gift labels to them and finally mastered the art of printing onto fabric.

Whilst photographing them a lovely fb page liker suggested I make cards out of the photos to go with the apples. What a fab idea I thought.  I was going to print some off and sell them but then thought how lovely it would be to give them away as a little freebie.

So if you would like to create a card with this image above then please do feel free.  All you have to do is right click on it and save it to your hard drive via 'save image as'.   Then upload it to picmonkey and add the text you would like to add to your card ..... I used 'Eraser Dust' as my text.  Save back down to your hard drive and print off and add to a card.  I opened the image in powerpoint and then minimised it to half A4 size and printed it onto card, folded it over and voila you have your own personalised card :-)

All I ask is that you respect my copyright and only use these for personal use, no selling, no taking off my fb page info etc.  Thanks.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Summer in a glass - Elderflower Cordial

Summer is here and that means lots of lovely foraging can take place :-)  With the recent mix of sunshine and rain the Elderflowers have stared bursting out all over the place.

So off I went with my gorgeous wicker basket and three children to collect some of those sunshine filled flowers.

They were then turned into cordial which tastes lovely when combined with sparkling water or Cava.

The flowers are so tiny and perfect .......

It's like drinking Summer in a glass ..... the recipe I used is here; Elderflower Cordial Recipe, I got it from this book. Preserves: River Cottage Handbook No.2   It is full of fantastic recipes, click on the text to be taken to see what other recipes it has in it.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Hobbycraft Giveaway - Texture Boutique Beginners Kit

Hobbycraft are selling this lovely Texture Boutique Beginners Kit which is ideal for avid papercrafters and newbies to the craft.  I don't know about you but I love pottering around Hobbycraft and also love the look of all their lovely papercraft accessories, those gorgeous papers, fab stamps, all those cute things you can stick to a homemade card that makes them so unique and special to the person who receives it.

Now, I wanted to try this out myself but my husband has banned me from getting into any other crafts, what with my sewing, needle felting, crochet ..... well lets just say our house is slowing looking like a craft shop :-) This is lucky for you as it means I am giving it away on my blog instead!   Wwaahooo

Here is a video clip on how you use it ....


Stop with all this chatting I hear you say, just tell us how to enter, just comment below, easy as that !

For another entry let me know if you have shared on facebook via my Scented Sweetpea page over there, shared on twitter (tell me your twitter address) or if you share via your blog then pop back here and tell me your blog name.

Closing date is Friday 20 June 2014 8pm gmt

Below is all the blurb about it:

Have fun making your own unique handmade greetings cards and more with this Texture Boutique Beginners Kit from Sizzix. Add a special touch to birthdays, holidays, invitations, thank you cards and much more with this fantastic kit.

This Card Making and Embossing 91 Piece Beginners Kit will produce fantastic cards that are sure to impress. This includes 1 card making machine, 2 embossing pads, 1 shim, 3 Textures Impressions embossing folders, 20 A2, 40 sheets of cardstock in 10 different colours, 2 rub on sheets, 1 sandpaper sample and 1 project booklet. The folders included come in three beautiful designs, Flowers and daises, Swirls and dots, Flowers, swirls and dots.

Now you can have fun make your own beautiful cards and save money at the same time. This kit contains all you need create a card for any occasion and then add texture to your design. The kit is so simple to use, that anyone can do it. The only limit to what you create is your imagination. Warning, choking hazard, plastic charm on machine can become detached. Keep away from children three years and under.
Great for adding a special touch to occasions
Machine dimensions 27.9 cm x 19.7 cm x 13.3 cm
Includes 40 sheets of cardstock
Three beautiful embossing folders included
Not suitable for children under 36 months

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Hatching Quail

A few weeks back, on the 12th of March to be precise, eldest Sweetpea had some Quail eggs delivered.  He bought them on e-bay of all places and really wanted to hatch them out.

So, we popped them in the incubator and he made sure the humidity and temperature were correct for the eggs.  We had to turn them 3 times a day so that the embryo didn't stick to the side of the egg.  A few days before they were due to hatch we stopped turning them.

Fast forward to the 28th March and they started hatching out.  They were so cute, like little fluffy bumble bees with legs :-)  Out of 24 eggs 21 hatched, eldest Sweetpea did good !

Here are some obligatory cute shots of them .....

So tiny but so perfect .... you could fit a few in your hand at once (just so you know we didn't hatch a double headed Quail :-) ).

Then they started to grow.

They loved standing on tippy toes to see what was going on if you put them on your knee.

And they grew ..... now their beautiful feathers started to come through.

After a few weeks Eldest Sweetpea put them in a special pen outside so they could get used to living outside our house.

Then came the time we had to move them into their new home.  They moved in with 'Tiny' our Bantam to start with but she took a liking to eating their feathers so she had to move to a new home in the garden.  Eldest Sweetpea makes sure they have fresh water and food and the all important sand bath which they love.

Then on 25 May, just a few weeks after they hatched out themselves one tiny Quail started to lay ...... we were so excited, it was like finding a golden egg !

I hope you enjoyed reading about our Quail adventure .  I will be back tomorrow with a giveaway so please do pop back.

Take care

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Pimped up Plimsolls

Some time ago I bought some lovely plimsolls .....

in fact, lets be honest here, I bought two pairs (they were a bargain that couldn't be missed) .

Whilst looking down at my new shoes (which always makes that fab Paolo Nutini track pop into my head :-) ) whilst walking around the wonderful Cambridge market I stated to ponder ..... I do love to ponder .....

I pondered on how lovely it would be to pimp on my new plimsolls to make them a bit brighter.  This lead me to buy some gorgeously bright and cheerful bias binding from The Little Fabric Stall on the market .  You know how it is, it just fell into my bag as I walked past the stall ;-)

I am rather loving them ..... yep they may be a bit clown like but they make me smile.

Go on, pimp up your plimsolls, you know you want to :-)

1) Measure the length of your current laces and cut the bias binding to this length.  Now snip the edges off each corner of each end.

2) Fold the ends down so when you fold the bias in half it is hidden inside.

3) Fold the bias binding in half and pin in place. You will have to hold the ends down as you sew, be careful of your fingers.

4) Sew along one side and then the other the full length of the laces.

Voila !  Pimped up plimsolls :-)  This would also work with ribbon or maybe lace :-)

PS do feel free to leave a comment, I don't bite honest :-)