Homemade Fruit Ice Cubes

I don’t know about you, but I have several friends who always ask for ‘just a glass of water please’ whenever they come round for tea.  However tempting I may find a hot mug of tea, a fresh cup of coffee or some refreshing juice, there are lots of people, it seems, who are quite happy with just water.

No matter how much they persuade me that this is the drink that they prefer, I still feel so mean, filling up a glass and handing it over, just like that. No ceremonial tea-pot, no juice-presser… nothing.

I get that if they wanted something different, then they would ask for it. Nevertheless, surely there is a way to jazz up their drink so that they feel like they are getting something a bit special too?

lemon slice

I have seen the idea of fruit ice cubes on Pinterest (and edible flower ice cubes too) and decided that this was the way that I was going to liven up the drinking water around the Finca.

Firstly, I chose some lemons and raspberries. These two fruits have quite distinctive flavours and I thought that they would work well together. I cut them up into little segments and placed each one into its own cube in an empty ice cube tray.

fruit in ice cube tray

After filling with water and putting it in the top drawer in the freezer, I left it for a couple of hours.

I was amazed at the results! Out came cute little cubes of fruity ice, each one with a perfect piece of fruit sealed inside.

fruit ice cubes

Obviously I had to try them out straight away and put one lemon and one raspberry cube into a glass of water. Not only did it make my drink look way more exciting, but the flavour was really surprising. I suddenly had a lemony-raspberry cocktail!

So if you happen to pop by the Finca over the summer and request water… be prepared for the jazzed up version. You’ll love it – I promise!

Have a great day! x

Hostess Gift | DIY Herb Posy

Have you got lots of barbecues or summer parties on the horizon? Are you struggling to think of something to take for your hostess – apart from the usual bottle of wine? This DIY herb posy is a quick, low-cost but most of all an incredibly thoughtful gift to present when you arrive.

All tied up and with a relaxed feel, hopefully the recipient will not feel the urge to have to run around to find a smart vase.  The usual cry of ‘I must put these in water straight away’ is usually heard by over-stressed hosts who would rather be doing anything but.

Luckily your beautiful gift, can just be plopped into a jug, mug or jam jar and set out within seconds. It also has the added benefit of not looking too done or shop bought. It will complement any relaxed summer affair.

astrantia

Before the days of florists and imported flowers, posies made from garden herbs or hedgerow plants were common for weddings and gifts.  This is an easy bouquet to make and perfect for beginners to posy-making because you only need to use the things that you find around you in the garden at home.  It definitely doesn’t have to look exact and should have a country feel.

  1. Check that you have everything that you need before starting: scissors, string or jute twine, a bowl for collecting plants.
  2. Collect your herbs and plants, such as: mint, thyme, lavender, sages, large ivy leaves, chive flowers, rosemary and a large flower for the centre of the posy like, rose or dahlia.  You will probably need to collect more than you think.  Even the smallest of posies use quite a lot of flowers and foliage!
  3. Lie your herbs and flowers out in groups according to type.  Strip 2/3rds of the foliage off of each stem and clean/take off any dirty leaves.
  4. Gather a few stems of one of the herbs and hold them in your hand.  Insert the central flower in the middle of this mini-bunch.
  5. Without holding too tight, place another sort of herb around the edge of your posy, turning the bunch each time that you add something.  Your aim is to make concentric circles of each plant around the central flower.
  6. Keep changing the herbs that you are adding… your circles could go something like this:  central flower > circle of sage > circle of thyme > circle of 3 stems of lavender (a circle of single lavender stems doesn’t have much impact) > circle of sage again > circle of mint etc.
  7. When you have used up your herbs or if you feel your posy is big enough, finish it off with a circle of large ivy leaves, turned outwards so that the colourful part of the leaf shows.hostess gift herb posy
  8. Tie your posy firmly at the ‘neck’ where the leaves stop and the stems begin. You can cover with thin florist’s tape if you want it to be extra secure.
  9. Hold the stems together and cut them straight – you will want about a fist’s length of stem so that it will stand nicely in its container.
  10. As this is going to be a gift, you can cover your twine with some raffia or relaxed ribbon.  If your posy will be going on a car-journey before arriving at its destination, it is always a good idea to wet some kitchen towel, wrap around the stems and then cover this with aluminium foil. This will help to keep everything fresh and hydrated.

After presenting your hostess with this bespoke token, you will be remembered as that lovely person who always gives pretty gifts from their garden… ‘I’d love to have the time to do that’, they will think. Little do they know how quick it is!

Do you have any other great go-to hostess gifts? Please let me know! 

Have a great day – enjoy the sunshine UK dwellers! x

Food, Flowers And A Bit Of Fashion

The temptation of food, flowers and a bit of fashion, for me, is too much to ignore!

About a week ago, I heard that Cranborne Garden Centre were going to launch the first of their Farmers’ Markets on a Saturday (yesterday) and the thought of being able to wander around the roses and plants while sampling cheese, chutneys and jams sounded like my idea of weekend heaven.

Lavender at Cranborne Garden Centre

… Lavender plants in pots at the entrance to the shop …

So of course we went! I have always loved this garden centre and if you’ve never been, prepare yourself to feel as if you have stumbled across a stunning parkland setting.  Try not to convince yourself that perhaps you have taken the wrong turning and definitely don’t whisper your way quietly back into your car to make a hasty retreat. It honestly does look this good!

In fact even the car park is beautiful… and Brinks and I spent a good twenty minutes just cavorting in amongst the trees before I could persuade him that the fun was going to start if we could just make it through the front doors!

Farmers Market Sign

… the line-up …

There was a real sense of welcome as we entered the shop and we were encouraged to explore the market and nursery for as long as we liked, tasting, chatting and generally having rather a relaxing time.

Cheese from Chalke Valley Cheese

… delicious cheese from Chalke Valley Cheese

Jams and Jellies from Parkside Produce

… jellies and jams from Parkside Produce

The loveliest thing about this event is that it is not just a one off.  Cranborne Garden Centre are going to be hosting a Farmers’ Market on the last Saturday of each month, with the next one being on the 25th July.

Of course, you could always go in between times and spend some time soaking up the relaxing atmosphere and return to your car with armfuls of plants… I saw some particularly spectacular rose bushes that I was very tempted by. Mr D-F dragged me away. Spoil sport. 

Dahlias from Cranborne Garden Centre

Colour at Cranborne Garden Centre

If you would like to keep up-to-date with the happenings, you can check out the Garden Centre’s Facebook page, here.

Oh, and in case you were wondering… the fashion part came in the form of ‘Boutique in a Bus’ – a travelling clothing boutique… very cool!

What are your favourite things to sample at a Farmers’ Market? How do you convince your dog not to make a beeline for the cheese stalls and look up adoringly?! Please let me know. 

Have a great Sunday x

Our Week So Far On Instagram

We’ve all been feeling a bit strange at the Finca this week.  There’s been some hanging upside down from fences (Ollie), barking at a broccoli starter arriving on ‘Come Dine With Me’ (Brinks), dust bathing in strange places (Keith and Steve) and Mr D-F and I have had more than our fair share of those ‘what on earth possessed us to buy/do/say that’ moments.

I blame the solstice. And the moon. It can’t just be us.

Anyway, here are this week’s highlights from Instagram:

evening clouds

… this beautiful sky was the view from our garden one evening …

bath mat nest

… Brinks deciding that a warm bath mat would make a preferable bed …

Salvia hotlips

… my Salvia ‘hot lips’ still the firm favourite in the garden …

I hope your week has been great so far. What are your highlights? x

Brinkley’s Bespoke Collar – Treat Your Dog To Something Unique!

Brinkley was a very spoilt chap this weekend as he received his very own parcel from Emma of Sweetpea & Boo.  If you follow TDF on Instagram, you may have seen him having a go at opening the package all by himself – he was so excited and somehow, just knew it was for him. If you aren’t yet a follower on Instagram, but would like to be, simply click the little camera icon to the right of this post…

I think that his desperation to open the parcel may have had something to do with the gift wrap being garnished with a tasty dog treat!  Just take a look …

wrapped package from sweetpea and boo

Although we knew that what was inside the package was going to be amazing, we first had to handle the sheer joy of the edible wrapping.  Here’s how it went…

Brinks and biscuit Biscuit eating done, we got down to business and started to open the tissue paper.

I gasped.

Brinks barked.

… and the cat came in wanting food.    Hmmm.

Inside the tissue, was the most beautiful, perfect, handmade collar in grey star fabric.  Made just for Brinkley by Emma’s fair hands.  I had to spend a moment marvelling at the quality of the fastenings and the stitching.

How does she do it? Was my first thought. Although I considered making him a collar myself, it is now very clear that this is best left to the professionals. I could never get my stitching to be that precise!

Brinkley's Grey star collar from Sweetpea and Boo

By this time, Brinkley was getting a little fed up with waiting and demanded to try on his smart, new collar.  This was the first time that we had used a buckle fastening (although Emma will finish collars with a snap clasp if you request it).

Brinks sat calmly while I fastened up the buckle, which was easy peasy.  I think his pose in the next photo quite clearly demonstrates how he feels about his new look:

Brinks modelling collar from Sweetpea and Boo

What a show off!

He was so proud of himself and wanted to parade in front of everyone and soak up the admiring glances.

The amazing news is that, if you fancy treating your best buddy to a new collar or lead, or want to buy one as a gift for a doggy-mad friend, Emma is running a promotion only for readers of The Dorset Finca.  If you keep an eye out on the DF Facebook page here, I will be posting details during the week, of a very special promotion code to be used at Sweetpea & Boo.

Thank you Emma, again, for such a stunning gift.  We will definitely be visiting your online shop to look for matching bow ties and leads.

Now, which one will you choose? Have a great day x

Hedgerow Harvest | June

June is fantastic month for wild flowers.  As you walk, cycle or drive along, you can’t miss the colour popping out of the hedgerows.  Many of these little beauties make perfect, impromptu, relaxed arrangements back at home if you collect a little bunch, secure with garden twine and place in a little jug or vase. Nothing too serious.

So what is out there growing away happily at the moment? Which flowers can you cut and bring home? I thought I’d put together a little picture guide…

hedgerow harvest

The first thing I noticed when I was foraging, apart from all of the green, is the amount of flowers that are pink and purple. Maybe, as June has the perfect climate for bees and butterflies, the plants maximise on this pollinating opportunity and have adapted flower colours that drive these insects wild?!

geranium

Let’s start with the old favourites: Geraniums.  These tend to grow in bushy clumps and have lots of flowers. They are great in borders at home as they seem to keep coming back no matter how many times they accidentally get mowed over (thank you Mr D-F for that). Geraniums don’t last too long once cut, but would be fine as a relaxed, dinner centrepiece if they had been picked the same day.

grasses and chervils

Grasses, hemlocks and chervils are so often looked at as weeds. However, just because they tend to grow in places that you would rather they didn’t, it is hard to deny how brilliant they look in the hedges.

Up close, you can really see their amazing architecture.  I was in awe of this fluffy grass head… I originally thought that the hairs were green, but once I had brought it inside, I realised that they were in fact pink and purple!

Again, these won’t last you more than a day or two in water, but provide lovely movement and interest on the table.

aquilegia

Aquilegia is one of my all time favourites. I mean, look at those flowers – they look like they have been designed by a creative genius! These bad boys last a bit longer in water as their stems have better structure. They give any arrangement a more opulent feel. Mass loads together in a jug to really push the boat out!

campion and ragged robinLook at these two cuties! I love the way that Ragged Robin looks so bedraggled, like it couldn’t quite be bothered to brush its hair! I think I would be inclined to place one or two of these flower heads on a napkin that had been tied with ribbon or twine. You would need a lot of these in a vase to make an impact and they wouldn’t be too happy for very long. Best to celebrate the beauty of their individual flower heads.

So what is growing near you at the moment? Have I missed out one of your favourites?

Have a great and flower-filled day x

A Lazy Breakfast And The Big Blog Meeting

I hope you’re having a relaxing Sunday morning. Perhaps a cup of tea, croissants and a read of the Sunday paper. Maybe a catch-up of your favourite weekly blog reads or getting ready to see family.

This morning is definitely a relaxing one here at the Finca.  We’ve had a busy few weeks and it’s time to enjoy the sunshine and wind down a little.

relaxing cat

This evening, after we have finished going out and about, we will be conducting our most serious and very important big blog meeting.  I have so many ideas about future collaborations, posts and features that it is time to sit down properly, put everything down on paper and think about the sort of things that The Dorset Finca should be about.

astrantia

There are lots of things that I enjoy taking photos of and writing about, but what would you like to see on here? Which bits do you enjoy most or would like to see more of?

Please don’t leave me with the opinion of this one… otherwise it will all be about digging holes, favourite nap time places and the best ways to hide chewy toys!

Brinkley the lakeland

yum… shoes

Have a great Sunday x

How To Save Your Roses From Aphids

Judging by the number of buds on my plants, this year looks like it will be terrific for roses.  I know I write about the aphid situation almost yearly, but as I have already had lots of people asking me about this topic, I thought that it was worthwhile posting again.

This tried and tested aphid be-gone recipe has served me very well and if used, just as you spot the first signs of their little green antennae, it can save you a lot of hassle later on in the summer.  In an ideal world, I’d like to hand the whole job of aphid removal over to the ladybirds. However, aphid destruction can be so enormous when the rose buds are young that I worry about waiting for the odd ladybird to decide to make a pit-stop and usually resort to sorting the situation out myself.

how to save your roses from aphids

What you need:

  • Empty spray bottle
  • Two or three drops of washing-up liquid
  • A couple of drops of cooking oil
  • Water

It is as easy as that. Put in your washing-up liquid and oil, fill up to the top with water and there you have it.

The washing-up liquid is very drying and the aphids really don’t like it, whereas the cooking oil makes everything rather slippery and not very easy for the aphids to cling onto the rose.  The bonus is that the solution is nice and weak, which the roses don’t seem to mind. I’m sure that they would prefer a spray of this every now and again, rather than being chomped by aphids.

Happy rose growing! x

 

 

Beautiful Handmade Accessories For Your Dog

Brinks is ready to go out on the town. Fanfare please…. !!

To celebrate this momentous occasion, I have been busily researching collars and leads in time for our debut into the big, wide world.

Up until now, we have been practising with a very lightweight puppy collar and lead. They have both stood up to the occasional nibble, being dragged around the house and sometimes even being covered in whatever was in the Kong! Soon, Brinkley will be ready to move into the big boy’s world of smart collars and leads and we can’t wait to sport one of these stunning handmade versions created by the very talented Emma of Sweetpea and Boo.

liberty fabric collar sweetpea and boo

… collar in Liberty print fabric …

grey star collar sweetpea and boo

… grey star collar …

With a background in Interior Design and a complete passion for dogs, Emma decided to fuse the two together and start a business creating quality, handmade collars, leads and other accessories for both dogs and cats.

What really struck me about Emma’s approach is her utter attention to detail and design. I love the way that you can get matching collars and leads, as well as choose the fastenings that you would prefer. Currently Brinks is in a ‘snap’ fastening as it is easy for us to take his collar off and on. However, when he is older, we will probably move onto a more traditional buckle fastening.  Using Emma’s service, we will be able to have collars with both options and not only that, but leads, bows and bandanas to match!

harris tweed collar sweetpea and boo

… harris tweed collar – a new fabric for 2015 …

harris tweed lead sweetpea and boo

… harris tweed lead …

Another reason why I love Emma’s creations, is that you can order the leads in various lengths. Brinks is not going to be the biggest of dogs and both Mr D-F and myself are very tall. I don’t fancy walking stooped over with a generic one metre length lead and luckily, I can order one from Sweetpea and Boo, which will be long enough for us to walk upright. Hurrah!

harris tweed bow sweetpea and boo

If you would like to see more of Emma’s beautiful creations, check these out:

I’m off to decide between the grey star collar or the blue/grey harris tweed. Hmmm…. Decisions, decisions!

Which is your favourite?

x

Photography by Sweetpea and Boo. 

Colour Your Kindle With A Crochet Cover

I never thought that I would be a Kindle lover. Our bookshelves, stuffed with old favourites, are pretty much my favourite thing in the entire house. I couldn’t imagine moving away from a physical book with its distinctive smell and turned down page corners, reminding me of the places I paused the last time I read it.

However, much to my surprise, I am in love with my Kindle. One hundred percent. It’s light. It’s convenient…

…and best of all, I can instantaneously get the book that I want to read next. Just by pushing one button – ‘buy now’. Dangerous stuff!

With the onset of summer, I felt that my Kindle needed to have a birthday and the best gift that I could think of, was to crochet it some jazzy sleeves in all sorts of zany, tropical colours.

crochet kindle sleeve close up

The colours that I chose for this one were from the Stylecraft Special DK range. They are called Sherbet and Magenta.

There are lots of stunning crochet cover patterns available and I was tempted to try out many of them. However, I had a particular design in my head, which I couldn’t find written as a pattern so I resorted to making it up as I went along.

I made sure that my foundation chain wasn’t too long, so that the sleeve would be snug once finished and I created it as a long rectangle, with the two sides to be joined together at the end.

crochet kindle sleeve

The main body of the sleeve was created with half treble stitches (UK terms) in the Magenta colour. Near to the top of the sleeve I added in one row of Sherbet, still in half trebles before returning to the Magenta for one last row. I finished off the top with a row of bobble stitch in Sherbet.

Et voila!

crochet kindle sleeve bobble stitch

It was a pretty quick project and has left me and my Kindle feeling cheery. I’ve already started another sleeve in one of my favourite Stylecraft colours – Pomegranate – but this time, with a completely different design.

…and after that? What colour combinations and patterns should I try next?

Have a great day x

 

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