Archive for September, 2010

Calypso love

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Calypso St Barth clothing is just beautiful. Delicate fabrics, lovely detailing, lovely textures and colours that complement each other beautifully. I could easily live exclusively in their clothing. Sadly my bank account would not allow it.

Ali xox

September at the allotment

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

For most of the summer holidays, apart from the odd visit to water in the polytunnel and harvest beans, courgettes and potatoes, my poor little allotment has been languishing neglected and looking increasingly scruffy. But with the new school term came new resolve and child free time to spend at the allotment. The grass paths were long enough to take 2, yes 2! hours  to cut earlier this week, although I did manage to dig up my onions too. Today I was there for another 2 hours to sort out the weeds. It all looks much more cared for and less scruffy now.

Red spring onions – left in to bulb up into onions.

The runner beans are still growing at breakneck speed as are  the courgettes although not so fast.

Tomatoes in the polytunnel

Last years’ parsnips left in for the lovely acid green flowers in spring

Ali xox


Sunday, September 19th, 2010

Nigel Slater’s newest book Tender Volume 2 was released this week and I managed to get my hands on a copy.  I already own and love reading and cooking from Volume 1 along with most of Nigel’s other books, so I have been eagerly awaiting the release of this one…

As always, Nigel’s writing is beautiful. The photography (by the brilliant Jonathon Lovekin) is just as lovely and is not overly styled. Nigel’s recipes sound delicious. I’m looking forward to ‘A casserole of parsnips, chestnuts and mushrooms’,’A Sunday roast of pork, perry and pears’,’A casserole of apple and rabbit’ (although I might just replace the rabbit with chicken!) and ‘Wholemeal apple and marmalade cake’


Apologies for the quality of the photos, they were taken on my phone, with the book balanced on my lap, in a bookshop in town. My copy is coming from Amazon but alas, has not arrived yet.

Ali xox

Hope and Charlie Shop Is Open!

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

Ok, I admit it, this is shameless self promotion.

My little Etsy shop Hope and Charlie, is finally open! And there are things to buy! Ok, two, but there’s more to come.  I’m rather chuffed with myself for having managed get Hope and Charlie up and running (with just a little IT support from Mr) and who knows they might even get bought by someone!

Gail brooch

Pippa Brooch

Ali xox

Ikea Cats

Monday, September 13th, 2010

This has to be the  best and sweetest advert that I’ve seen for a long time… It makes me smile every time I watch it.

Ali xox

Slow food

Friday, September 10th, 2010

I have a new(ish) gadget lurking in my  kitchen cupboard. Can you guess what it is?

Oh yes! a slow cooker!

Now, up until about 2 months ago I had no interest in slow cookers and regarded them as something from the seventies that ought to stay there.  Hmm… Then I had my road to damascus conversion.  Or rather I had ‘roast’ chicken from a slow cooker.   Oh it was good. Very good.  Not as good looking as a traditional oven roast bird however, and lacking in the crispy skin that I love, but nonetheless the most delicious and moist chicken I have ever had.  I subsequently grilled my friend about recipes – roast chicken, bolognaise, chilli and pork and olive stew are her family’s favourites.

This tale gets better.  After mentioning this to my mum, she disappeared into her loft and  lo and behold, emerged with a slow cooker! ” You didn’t want this when you got married so I saved it!” she said (yep, ’till I came to my senses you mean). I then hot-footed it off to my favourite cook book store (The Library) to get myself a slow cooker cookbook. And this week we have had chilli! And yes it was good.

Ali xox

Plant Love: Alliums

Friday, September 10th, 2010

I love the Allium.  Tall and assertive,  rather like an upside down exclamation mark, it demands to be looked at. Like a butterfly, the Allium takes it’s time to emerge  from it’s papery case, but it is well and truly worth the wait.

My (current) top 3 are:

1. Allium atropurpureum – dark and delicious

2. Allium multibulbosum – makes a lovely contrast with the darker toned Alliums

3. Nectaroscordum siculum – not really an Allium but treated as one

They are always in my garden and I buy more each year – mostly because I either forget where I put them and end up spearing them when digging or, I forget to label the ones I have lifted, and then of course one Allium bulb does look pretty much like another…  Oh well, and that’s the other reason I always buy more, just because I love them so much and can always find another pot to fill…

I buy my bulbs from and

Ali xox

Photo credits:,,

Two went Sloe-ing

Monday, September 6th, 2010

Last week-end, Small girl and I went to do  one of my very favourite things – Sloe picking. Although not that keen on Gin generally, I love Sloe Gin and look forward to autumn when there are bottles of Gin and Sloes gently infusing in the cupboard.

We both dressed for the occasion boots, trousers and zippy tops to avoid nettle stings on exposed parts and so we could fight our way through the hedgerows to get to our golden, or rather purple prize. This was her first trip Sloe picking and she was rather excited about it – especially dressing for much nippier weather on what was a lovely late summer afternoon.

We bought bread at the nearby mill before setting off on our Sloe hunt.

This was the lovely view across the Hertfordshire countryside  from the top of our climb.

Small girl turned out to be an excellent assistant – she gleaned the lower branches while I reached the higher ones. she was also rather good at spotting the bushes and their fruit.

Part of our haul.  It is now sitting washed, weighed and bagged in the freezer awaiting my return from Sainsbury’s laden with bottles of Gin. I try not to think what the till assistant will think of me with 3 litres of gin in my shopping basket, and think rather of the lovely Sloe Gin and Tonic I shall be enjoying just in time for Christmas.

Ali xox