The sky was on good form on Monday morning. The dawn saw rolling pink clouds, with dramatic lighting, as if to announce, “Monday is here, and it’s going to be a good one!”
It’s odd how the dawn casts its light over the day. Milky dawns suggest it’s going to be a relaxed day, to me, while landscapes of rolling clouds with coloured light filtering through one make me expect a bright day.
I checked on my bug garden and topped it up, I couldn’t see any new residents on top but they’re thriving underneath it so I guess they prefer the basement. I’ll give it some more time and change the habitat if it remains unoccupied.
I also spotted new life in one of my plant pots. It appears to be a small tree. After I ID it, I may attempt to bonsai it, should it be possible. I really want to bonsai an oak, ever since I saw a photo of one with adorable tiny leaves. It may be a challenge but it’s worth it to have a fairy sized tree.
I also noticed that there was new life making friends with my tomato. I left it where it was. I like fungi (ever since finding out about the wood wide web, they’ve held growing fascination) and if it wants to chat to my tomato, that’s fine by me.
The rest of my plants are thriving. The orange flowers I planted a while back are now budding (I don’t have the pack so need to wait for them to flower to remind myself what they are – possibly calendula, perhaps marigolds: something pollinator-friendly).
It’s amazing how much time even a few containers can take to appreciate, if you really look. But after a bit of deadheading (which makes flowers bloom and bloom again – or at least did last year, for me) I had to get to work.
For the rest of the day, the weather wasn’t as bright as the dawn – but I didn’t mind as I was working.
I made sure to check on my drinks on a regular basis, releasing the gas. The fizz is calming, the older it gets (a bit like many people.) However, it still needs defizzing several times a day.
I also shake the fruit and flower spirits every time I relieve the pressure on the fizz bottles. This helps the fruit and spirits meld together beautifully, to create a smooth texture (after several passings through old tights that have been boil washed in clean water).
I had a couple of peaches that needed using up so I also made a rumtopf, by filling a jam jar with the fruit and covering it with vodka (which admittedly, means it’s really a vodkatopf. I had no rum), then adding roughly half the sugar to fruit, and shaking. I used a jar as I’ve run out of bottles – time to go litter picking again – but I’ll decant it into a bottle before use, once all the fruit has broken down.
A Rumtopf is a great way to use lots of different fruit. Cherries, peaches, strawberries, raspberries, redcurrants, pears, plums, grapes and gooseberries all work well – particularly with floral accompaniments.
I’ve got a gooseberry and elderflower gin on the go at the moment, and am hoping to do a strawberry and mallow vodka, along with pear and vanilla brandy when pears come into season.
The joy of using a jar is it’s much easier than chopping fruit small enough to fit through the stem of a bottle, and also means you can easily access the fruit (in the case of hard fruits such as pear) if you want an emergency dessert (add brandy-saturated pears to pancakes for a taste of joy. particularly with honey or maple syrup).
After work, it was time to play. I checked on the elderflower stems I pressed after making elderflower cordial (the stems were too pretty to waste.) I was pleased to see they had dried, and looked exactly like miniature trees – and so I made a forest.
I used a hot glue gun to loosely attach them (it sets hard almost instantly, so the elderflowers were tightly attached to the card but from a single point so they can still move slightly. Better yet, the glue gun can leave fine strings of glue which look wonderful covered in glitter – like cobwebs.
The glue gun was a present from a friend who thoughtfully bought me one that melts the glue at a non-skin-melting temperature, though I’d recommend that small children are helped with using glue guns regardless as it does sting a bit (and can get messy if you don’t concentrate – which is how I discovered the glue string trick in the first place.)
My basic principle at the time was, ‘If you make a mistake, cover it in glitter and the sparkle will make everything better.’ I have now toned this down to, ‘If you make a mistake, work with it and evolve what you’re doing’ – glitter is not always the answer, and there can be such a thing as too much.
I was quite pleased with the way the elderflower forest turned out (the only image manipulation was changing the brightness levels. Other than that, the above images were just pressed elderflower, card and a sprinkling of glitter. It took under 3 minutes to make.)
Then it was time to cook. My wine experiments had made me fascinated by yeast, and I had a craving to make bread. It was too cold for the dough to rise properly though, despite me putting it in the washing machine after I’d used it to take advantage of the warmth. It had risen a bit but I decided to turn it into a pizza instead, as that would be more forgiving.
I sprinkled it with rosemary and chives I’d grown, added some chopped tomatoes that needed using up, along with half a pepper, then sprinkled it with cheese.
The end result was tasty, though it rose more than I’d expected so was more of a cheese, pepper and tomato topped herb bread than a pizza. But there’s nothing wrong with that at all…