Friday, 23 October 2009

and what was I doing...........?

......... and what was I doing whilst Himself was playing in the pond?!
I was doing a whole load of other things in that very specialised multi-tasking woman sort of way!
You might remember that back in July, I made redcurrant vodka - purely as a means of using up the redcurrant glut you understand! Anyway, once it was ready, I bottled it (as you do!), but it seemed a shame to just throw away all those lovely redcurrants. We had friends coming over for dinner that night so, in a spark of inspiration, I made redcurrant vodka jellies!
They were awesome!
The only minor glitch was that, although I 'watered down' the jelly mix with a jolly nice sparkling rose, I forgot to allow for the potency of the redcurrants that had been sitting in neat vodka for a couple of months!

I also spent time picking the last of the vegetables.

Anyone know what these are?!

....and when I wasn't pottering around the garden I was coating each and every piece of wood for the tea house with three (yes - THREE!) coats of 'stuff'. It's non-toxic eco-paint that looks just like semi-skimmed milk and you can't see where you've painted it until it dries - when it gives the wood a very slight sheen. The only trouble is that once you've done the base/sealant coat, you only have an hour to get the first top coat layer on, then up to 12 hours to get the second top coat layer on. I learnt how many pieces I could paint in just under an hour, then would do all 3 coats straight off. As my teenage Gnomelets would say..... "Boring?Much!"
The Nutty Gnome hard at work ....... I calculated that I painted approximately 350 pieces of wood x 3 = 1050 pieces!(but it felt like more some days!) Who says building a tea house is all fun eh?! It was an incredibly tedious task - but at least it was sunny whilst I was doing it!
I also started to clear a path to the back of the tea house. We (well, I) wanted to have the filter well out of sight, tucked away down the back of the tea house. But I also wanted to block the view back beyond the verandas by planting tall grasses, so that meant that I had to create a path where none had previously existed!
I cleared away all the hedge, weeds and vegetation down the gap between the fruit cage and the boundary - which had been impassable.I levelled the ground and lay 'Weed Stop' matting down............
then covered it with stones I'd had piled up from digging out the pond - which, as usual I'd not worked out where I'd finally need them, so I had to cart them in trug loads from where I'd dumped them to where I needed them (having first carefully extracted frogs, toads and newts from the pile!)
This is from the tea house end of the path.......
and this is from the other end of the fruit cage, looking back to the tea house
I also tied up all the raspberry canes,

then weeded and edged the raspberry rows - a 'little' job which took a whole day!
(*sigh*, I LOVE nice neat rows!)
.... all of which looks like it happened very quickly, but in actual fact took me about 8 weekends to complete because - as usual, I found other jobs that then needed adding into the equation and took what seemed like forever to complete. But that's a tale for another day!


Tatyana@MySecretGarden said...

Multi-tasking indeed! Redcurrant vodka and jellies, wow! Now, I know your secret, this is how you manage to do so much!

Laura Marie said...



Liz said...

Potent redcurrants... lol discovered that one, a few christmasses ago we made cocktail with fruit in it... As we actually got to the fruit at the bottom we soon discovered the same as you.

Yeah.... we didn't eat much of the fruit... :D

Excellent work, looks like lots of hard work too! I think you deserve a well earned rest for the next few weekends ;)
I fully plan on a quiet weekend of planting the last bulbs, shouldn't be too difficult (weather permitting)

Catherine@AGardenerinProgress said...

I'm always impressed by how thorough you are with your pond and teahouse building. The redcurrant vodka sounds delicious. Next year I'll know what to do with ours!

Cameron (Defining Your Home) said...

No wonder you wanted vodka! :-) I was exhausted after reading about your 8 weekends of work. Your results will be marvelous, though!

Hope you get some rest. I look forward to seeing the final reveal!


Pondside said...

I may have to got right to bed for a rest after reading this post! You've been so busy.......
Those drinks look very elegant - who'd know the kick they must have!

Nutty Gnome said...

Tatyana - maybe it's the thought of the redcurrant vodka in front of a blazing fire at the end of the day that keeps me going!

Laura - that's cheating ..... you were there when dad did it and I fell about laughing (just for a change)!!! xx

Liz - I was planning on a little gentle bulb planting today but, given that it's peeing it down, I'm going to do some indoor painting that's been waiting for a rainy day! I have to confess that I'm VERY glad it's half-term and I've got the week off - hope it doesn't rain all week though! :)

Catherine - Thank you! I thoroughly recommend the redcurrant vodka! Let me know if you want the recipe and I'l send it to you - or do a quick post on it :)

Cameron - the next post will show what else I did (with a wee bit of help!)during that time! Part of me is quietly glad it's raining today ...I am tired. I suspect my body is trying to point out I'm not actually 22 any more!!!

Pondside - I did sleep very well after those days slogging away in the garden!
I blame gardening-induced fatigue for not realising how potent the jellies would be ;)

Liz said...

Half term... Hmm that should mean I can easily get a bus in the morning/evening now (that is, when the buses aren't on strike!!! grrr)
I hope you have a good half term and get plenty done :)

It's cleared up lovely now, it was very strange, like a line where the horrible grey cloud just suddenly disappeared and then blue sky. A double rainbow soon followed :)

It's so warm outside, I couldn't believe it when I popped out to dead head the cosmos (no bulbs planted, too wet, and I'm now feeling lazy! :D )

Nutty Gnome said...

Liz - yeah, I spotted a notice about the bus strikes when I popped into Sheffield yesterday. What's that all about then?

I know what you mean about the weather. One minute it was chucking it down then, when I next looked up from painting, there was blue sky and sun - seems like the weather men were right for once!

It may be warm outside and Himself may have emerged from the garage and gone out to do some more shingles on the roof, but I've sort of ground to a halt :(

It seems that teaching tai chi to 1000 children a week has caught up with me this half term! ..... but I hope to get the rest of my bulbs planted this week, even if nothing else gets done in the garden! :)

Beth Niquette said...

What an interesting blog you have here! I enjoyed every word, and the pictures are marvelous! Thanks for dropping by my page--it is an honor to meet you.

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Beth - and thank you for your kind words. I'm glad you liked the blog and what we're trying to create!

Rob (ourfrenchgarden) said...

Vodka jelly. Sounds like the way forward!

I guess you didn't eat them before doing the path as it's straight.

All those stones look nice, and who can question your recycling credentials.

All that painting would leave me losing the will to live.

perennialgardener said...

Wow you've been a busy bee for the past 8 weekends! Thanks for stopping by my blog today, glad you enjoyed it. :)

Natural Moments said...

I love the colour of this red current cocktail. It looks quite delicious.

There has been a lot of painting and oiling here too. Getting coats up between the boats of rain.

It was nice to get a bigger perspective of the land you are harvesting from.

Enjoy the Autumn Season.

garden girl said...

Wow, you've got some ambitious projects going there.

You have a very nice blog!

Victoria said...

Wow, very interesting! Can't wait to see the tea house finished. (I bet you can't either!)

Anna said...

Now just reading that has left me exhausted and I have only just got up :) You have certainly got a lot of projects on the go at the moment. Look forward to the next installment.

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Rob - those vodka jellies were something else! :)
I was SO sick of painting at times that I definately lost the will to live was sheer bloodymindedness that kept me going! It was very easy to loose track of what I'd painted - and of which sides of what I'd painted, so I had to have a system, but my haphazard approach to life doesn't readily lend itself to systems so I'm sure some pieces got an extra coat or two!:)

Perennialgardener - thanks for popping in. It's been a very busy summer all in all, but progress is being maintained at a fair old lick fact I'm off outside in a minute to make up for the time I lost to the rain yesterday!

Bernie - I would love to capture the colour of the jellies to have on view all year round. Our garden is wonderful - productive, colourful and peaceful all at the same time. I may resort to a post with an ariel google image of our land at some point as all the different parts can be quite difficult to imagine as a whole.

Garden Girl - hi, welcome and thank you. Glad you like it - hope to see you again soon! :)

victoria - welcome to you too! You're SO right, I can't wait for it to be finished. We're in negotiation with each other at the moment on how to simplify some of the design this space! :)

Nutty Gnome said...

Good morning Anna! One day I'll just tackle one thing at a time, LOL!I'm off out to sort out the blackcurrants now whilst it's dry ...Himself is on th tea house roof putting shingles on - bless 'im! :)

Liz said...

Hi Liz, I'm not sure exactly what the buses are still striking for... Seems really stupid that in an economy like this they're complaining about getting a low payrise - be grateful to have a job at all! They've been offered a reasonable rise, far higher than ours anyway so I don't know what the fuss is about.
Luckily I live very central, and do often walk to/from work (25/30min walk) anyway but if it's raining then I really won't want to walk!

Tai Chi? Fantastic! How old are the children you teach and is it in a school or after school?
wish we'd had tai chi at school.... :D

I'm off out to do some bulb planting now... Get it done nice and early and hope I get them all in before giving up!

Unseen Rajasthan said...

What a nice post !! Thanks for sharing..Unseen Rajasthan

Woody Wilbury said...

That redcurrant vodka looks a though it will ease the pain!


Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Liz. Hope it's not raining for you tomorrow if you've got to walk!
Re the Tai Chi - we are a little company (just 3 of us) and we work right across the school age ranges. We're currently in primary schools, but we do do secondary schools when we've got the space. We spend a whole day in each school and work with every class in turn!
Apart from the Reception classes,every class has an age appropriate aerobic warm-up routine, then Qi Gong breathing exercises, then the Tai Chi - which again varies depending on the age of the children.We currently use 3 different styles of Tai Chi.
The children love it. We love what we do and it certainly keeps me fit!!! :)
Did you get all your bulbs planted?

Unseen Rajasthan - thanks for popping in :)

Woody - the redcurrant vodka eases many things and works from the feet up! You think you're fine until you stand up and try to walk!!

Liz said...

Hi again Liz,

Thanks for the info on the Tai Chi, it sounds really good! If only our teachers had been more adventurous when I was younger to actually trying something other than having us run around the hall pretending to be trees in a storm...

Yep I managed to get my bulbs planted thanks for asking! I got really rather covered in mud lol, not to matter, that's what the 'gardening' clothes are for!
I still have some more to go, because I had to wait for my mum to decide which bulbs she wanted from the mix...
So yep, lots of Allium left to plant, but to be honest I had ran out and hadn't even planted a single thing at the back of the garden yet.

Nutty Gnome said...

Liz - oh how I remember being a tree (*groan*)and for some reason it always involved us running round in just our vest and pants ... or was that just our school?! :0

I know what you mean about mud - I got rained on quite a few times today and got increasingly muddy! I manged to prune 8 blackcurrant bushes and move one bush, put compost on all the soft fruit plants, avoid being stung by wasps (-twice!)plant a few bulbs, dig up the old rocket and broad bean plants and dig over the potato and rocket area of the veg garden ..... I'm about to fall over in front of the fire with a glass of white! :)

Di said...

Nutty Gnome, I am coming to visit... redcurrant vodka indeed! lol

I have been thinking and anxiously awaiting the progress on your delightful tea house. It is taking shape very nicely.

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

Glad the tea house progress continues! The amount of vodka that had seeped into the currants would not have occurred to me either--the jellies seem like a great idea! I'm not a big drinker, but I do like vodka. :)

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Di - come over whenever you're ready - you'd be very welcome ... and I'd even share the recurrant vodka with you!
The tea house is coming on very nicely - Himself has just got to complete the hip and ridge shingles, then it's the walls! He would have done the roof this weekend but rain stopped play! :(

Monica - it's very reassuring that I'm not alone in forgetting about the amount of vodka in the redcurrants! I thoroughly recommend the redcurrant vodka, it's lovely! First-Born took a bottle of it back to uni (with my blessing!) and they added blackcurrant juice to it ....heathens! They said it was really nice like that - and made the vodka go further!!!

Rob said...

Hi Liz,

Thanks for stopping by my blog, and leaving those nice comments!

I look forward to following your blog. I'm about to try and find your redcurrant vodka recipe... those look delicious!


Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Rob. I'm glad you like and want to follow my blog - it's always nice to feel like others are interested in what we're up to!There's been quite a bit of interest in the jellies too(funnily enough!)so here you go.....
Vodka Jelly Recipe!!!

1st make the recurrant vodka :)
100g/4oz redcurrants
50g/2oz caster sugar (ordinary sugar works just as well, but takes longer to dissolve)
200-300ml cheap vodka

Put all the ingrediants into a big kilner jar, seal, shake and put in a cool dark place for 2 weeks - remembering to shake the jar once a day. Decant the vodka back into the clean bottles.Store in the freezer, serve ice cold.
Keep the recurrants for the jelly.

The recipe I used for the jelly was adapted from 'Slut-red Raspberries in Chardonnay Jelly'.

1 bottle good fruity chardonnay (- I used a sparkling rose)
330g vodka-soaked redcurrants
1 vanilla pod, split lengthways
5 gelatine leaves (but vegi-jel also works if you're feeding vegetarians)
250g caster sugar

Put the wine in a pan with the vanilla pod and heat until nearly boiling.Remove from heat. Leave to steep for 15 mins.
Follow the instructions to prepare the gelatine.
Remove the vanilla pod, reheat the wine and add the sugar, stirring until it dissolves.
Add a third of the hot wine to the gelatine, stir to dissolve, then pour back into the rest of the wine and stir well, strain into a large jug.
Put the redcurrants into separate glasses, pour the strained wine over the top and put in the fridge to set. Allow several hours for this (- I made them the day before as I'd not used vegi-jel before)
Serve with double cream or home made ice cream - do you want the recipe for that as well?!


joey said...

You are amazing, Nutty, and thanks for sharing (now, if only I could find some red currants :( I've made cranberry vodka, great for the holidays)!

Bay Area Tendrils Garden Travel said...

Love the look of the non-toxic eco paint...
and my dear nutty gnome, perhaps you can serve up a batch of stunning redcurrant vodka jellies at my holiday soiree! I'll have to organize one, if only to experience the delight of swilling one of these cocktails!!

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Joey - thanks for that vote of confidence! I don't think I'm amazing, I just get on with things that make me happy ......and,yes, too much redcurrant vodka definitely makes me happy! Cranberry vodka eh? Hmmm - may have to try that! Strangely enough, I don't/didn't actually like vodka until I tried the fruited stuff :)

Hi BATGT - the eco paints are great - if a bit of a faff to put the three coats on! I'm just in the process of deciding what colour (out of the 600 eco colours available)I'm going to paint the tea house walls, then I can get it ordered for this weekend!

Holiday soiree? - I'm there!!! :)

Diane AZ said...

Hi, nice to see what's happening around your garden. You've been so busy! That teahouse wood painting project did look tedious, but I think I would prefer doing that to moving all those stones for the path. Take care.

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Diane - yes, I have been a bit busy these past few weeks! It's the half-term holiday this week, so I'm not working but I've had 4 days of slogging away in the garden - in heavy wet soil, and my body was VERY clear in its' message that I was to have a rest day today!
The painting was VERY tedious, but not as physically demanding as lugging all those stones around the place! I really do need to get better at thinking out where to put stuff so that I only have to move it the once!

PERBS said...

I think I should call you "Beaver" since you are busy as one!!!!!!! My goodness, you put us all to shame. . . You will certainly have a yard "to die
for! "

Thanks for dropping by my bench blog. Come again!

I was reading your profile and got to the end where it said you love snow and I said, that's the person for me! I LOVE SNOW too!

Eve said...

Hi Liz! Thanks for stopping by my blog. I remember I stopped by here a long time ago, it seems, and I was jealous of your pond and gardens! All that fun hard work that goes into building. I love it!
I really like the looks of those red vodka jelly type drinks (?) or are they chewy??? hahaha!

Shady Gardener said...

Liz, You do wear me out when I visit you! There is always something wonderfully creative going on over here, though! Because of that, I am always anticipating something interesting! :-) You could do that crazy quilt! Want me to get the pattern for you?

Shady Gardener said...

Oh! I forgot to comment on the beans... Has beens... Very Funny! :-)

Kirigalpoththa said...

hi..very interesting blog you have here! Keep it up!!

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi PERBS - we certainly have been busy this summer and I did rather grind to halt at the end of it. My brain tells me I'm 22 and my body sometimes has to go "hang on a minute, no you're not!"

My quiet little dream is to get the whole garden (1 acre)to a point where it's good enough to open to the public on our 'Open Gardens' scheme - but don't tell anyone in case I don't manage it!

A fellow snow lover - oh joy ... a kindred spirit!!!

Hi Eve - I'm glad you love what we're doing ... it'll be great when it's finished! :)

The recurrant vodka jellies are the chewy type - I think you call it jello? They were good!

Hi Shady - I'm glad someone 'got' the Has Beans!
I do love doing interesting stuff around the garden. My creativity was totally stifled in my previous job, so I think I'm not catching up on 20years of no outlet!!!

Yes please - I would LOVE the pattern for that quilt, it's so gorgeous!!:)

Hi Kirigalpoththa - and welcome. There's still lots to do and read about coming up. I'm glad you find it interesting ... hope to see you again soon :)

Icy BC said...

Looks like there were lots of constructions going on around your garden, and the stone path is wonderfully inviting..

Shady Gardener said...

Liz, I found your comment on my Odds and Ends... I just totally have fun with these soft sculptures. One of my friends used Gladys when she was on the local Garden Tour a couple of years ago. She's been wanting to make one ever since.

I made Susan-scare-the-birds the first Spring we lived here. She's the only one that actually stays outdoors. That's why I'm making another head... she's weathered.

Mona was for an art contest here (making a likeness of Mona Lisa). I actually don't know what to do with her... ha.

I'm currently making two heads (two separate groups getting instruction). I only need one for a new "scarecrow."

Check out my post again. Look especially at the links I added for Susan. Perhaps you'd like a ---- scare-the-birds of your own? I may have a giveaway this Winter! :-)

Tootsie said...

boy you are a busy girl!!!

Tracey said...

My goodness you have gotten a lot done! I am tired just reading about it :)
Thanks for your sweet comments at my blog :)

Bhavesh Chhatbar said...

There's A Present For Your Blog on my blog. Take it :)

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Icy BC - one day we'll finish constructing day! :)

Shady - hi again :0 Knowing all this about your soft sculptures has made me warm to them! I think it was seeing them in the car that freaked me out a bit :)

Hi Tootsie. That's me - busy, busy, busy! I've been out there today clearing and digging over the empty parts of the vegetable garden - I think I have a thing for clear, bare, raked soil!!!

Hi Tracey and welcome. It's been a busy and exhausting few months, but I think we're winning! Loved your blog by the way :)

Aawh, Bhavesh, I'm touched - I really am. Thank you so much for the present for my blog, it's made me really happy!! :)

HappyMouffetard said...

Wow - you've been busy. Those jellies look divine!

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi HM - they were divine .....but a bit lethal too!!!