Elderflower Cordial

Summer is here!!!! Well for a few days anyway.  The sunshine, smell of cut grass & scent of flowers in the air.  Perfect time to make elderflower cordial, it is the closest thing I have ever tasted to summer in a glass.

elderflowerElderflower trees are in bloom at the moment and so fragrant.  Best time to pick them is on a sunny day & when the flowers are open.

 

You will need: approx 30 freshly picked heads of elderflower, 1 orange, 2 lemons and castor sugar.

Take your elderflower and shake of any insects, place them in a bowl with the zest of your lemons and orange.  Pour over enough boiling water to cover the flowers.  Cover the bowl and leave until cold or overnight.

Once cold, strain the liquid through a muslin cloth.  For every 500ml of liquid, add 50 ml of lemon juice and 350g of sugar. Place in a saucepan and gently bring to the simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Skim any scum off the top.  Allow to cool, then strain again and bottle it in sterilised bottles.  This will keep in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.

Dilute with sparkling water or ice cold water for a real taste of summer

New family member

Zoe Please meet the latest addition to our family, Zoe, named after Zoe Zebra, from Peppa Pig, who is also black & white.  She is soo cute & good natured. Our home is busy & a bit mad at times,  so I thought the puppy would fit right in, which she does.
Luke didn’t want a dog so I spent a whole day talking him around & he got to name her. Zoe is now Luke’s best friend & he wants to play outside with her each evening when we all get home, which is a big change from wanting to head straight for the tv. He loves feeding & playing with her. Zach on the other hand isn’t impressed when she insists on licking his face or nipping at his jeans.
So every time she pees on the floor, eats plants, slippers and everything in her sight, I take a deep breath & remember why Zoe is part of our family. Although with such a cute face you couldn’t be cross with her.

Apples for dinner

imageZach luvs his food & dinner refers to all meals.  He has a wheat allergy, but is so good, and doesn’t seem to mind that he can’t have all the same foods that Luke has. We do our best that he doesn’t notice, having wheat free alternatives or by us all eating the same foods.  Luke on the other hand has all sorts of stories and questions to be asked at meal times, anything to distract from eating the plate of food in front of him. Chalk & cheese, mad how different the boys are in every way, looks, behaviour, habits.  I think Alan & I got a mini-me each.

Anyway so the other afternoon, Zach started asking for dinner about 3.30pm, a drink,  yogurt and story worked for a half hour.  4pm he starts calling for dinner again, which was going to be at least 2 hours away. I thought right boys, boots on & off we went outside to the apple tree. The boys picked their own apples off the tree.  We made sure to leave some behind for the birds, Luke was adamant about that.  Zach couldn’t wait & by the time we got into the kitchen to wash them, he had already made a good start.  Apples washed, sitting comfortably, we all quietly enjoyed our apples. The best hour spent all day. Dinner wasn’t mentioned again until maybe 5.30.

Elderberry Cordial

I was dreading the end of the summer, even though Autumn is definitely my favourite month.  We all had a really nice summer, Irish weather wasn’t too bad.  The boys have grown so much & legs are getting long.  My mam has been keeping a close watch on the elderberries in her garden and I got the nod to say they looked ripe.  The elderberries were ripe, a dark navy/purple & hanging heavy on the tree.  So Alan was sent out to get me a batch of elderberries before the birds did.  Don’t worry we left loads behind so the birds will be happy to.  So here is my elderberry cordial recipe, it takes a bit of effort but so worth it.

elderberriesElderberry Cordial; 1kg Elderberries, 1 Cinnamon Stick & 6 Whole Cloves.  

Pick all the berries off their stems, this takes ages but I find that a fork helps. Wash the berries & place them in a heavy based saucepan with the cinnamon, cloves & cover with water.  Bring to the boil & simmer for about 20 mins.  Strain the liquid into a clean bowl through a muslin cloth, squeeze the berries with a spoon to extract as much juice. 

Measure your juice, for every 500ml of juice add 450g (1lb) of sugar.  Pop your juice & sugar back into the pot over a high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Bring to the boil & boil for 10 mins.  To steralise your bottles, wash thoroughly & place in oven for 20 mins at 120’c.  Pour your cordial into your steralised bottles & seal.  Store your cordial in the fridge for up to one year.  I love to drink a teaspoon or 2 in sparkling water or add to a big mug of just boiled water.  It is supposed to be great to boost your immune system & to keep the colds & coughs away.  Just a note of caution though, not all varieties of elderberries are edible so check first that they are ok and even edible ones shouldn’t be eaten raw.  Enjoy!!!

Harvest Time

Blueberry Harvest
Blueberry Harvest

Luke took a well earned break after helping Alan cut the grass. With his toy lawnmower, he was a busy bee, following close in his dad’s tracks. He was definitely in need of a break. The blueberries were a dark blue at last, after days of close monitoring, and perfect for picking. Luke was delighted to harvest the small crop and test each one to ensure that they tasted good.

Taste test
Taste test

 

Tullamore Show

image

Thanks a mill to everyone that visited my stand at the Tullamore Show on Sunday. I appreciate the time you took to chat to me and look at my products on display. This was the first time that I really put my Zukey products out there.

There were a lot of late nights. Luke’s little hands helped to stuff cushions. Alan made my display stand. My brother Paul leant me the table. My sister in law Ashie and Aisling who is like my little, but taller sister helped out on the stand. We all had a good day & we didn’t get stuck in the muck going home. Luke & Zach got to see loads of cool stuff like tractors & diggers.  I think Zach’s 4th word was probably tractor, only behind Mama, Dada & shoes.

Step by step.  As a good friend says, we have to make change happen. I guess I am trying to see if my hobby can be more than my hobby. My boys love all the the things I make for them and I want to share my Zukey products with you.

Rainy Day Activities

painting

It has been a pretty good summer so far and we have being making the most of it out in our garden.  But then Met Eireann issue a “Status Orange” weather warning for the august bank holiday weekend, torrential rain, floods especially in the midlands …. great.

Every morning, straight after breakfast , with his limited vocabulary, “shoes” is announced by Zach as he hands over his shoes, he is usually still in his pj’s at this stage.  A small inconvenience as he makes it clear that it is time to go outside.  Luke follows closely behind & all wanting to help Daddy, who is building a fence to keep the boys safely in the back garden.

So with the rain pouring down, I thought the boys would be going stir crazy stuck inside.  After the initial explanation that we couldn’t go outside because it was raining, rain jackets & wellies wouldn’t even stand up to this rain, Zach pottered around the house & then off to bed for his mid day snooze.  Luke happily played with his jigsaws, then decided it was time for painting, you might have noticed his masterpiece above.  But Alan was bored, a bit of painting, out to tidy the shed, a few phone calls, a cup of tea.  No sign of him, he reappeared to tell me the long term dripping bathroom tap has a new washer.  He was so restless, he even fixed the dodgy plug on a light that I had to jiggle & wedge to make the light stay on.  Happy Days & rainy days aren’t soo bad.  Another cup of tea?

Smile

 

flowers

I am all about being outdoors and bringing the outdoors in. So when my friend Aisling arrived with these gorgeous flowers last sunday I was delighted. The flowers have made me smile all week. Thanks Ais.

She joined us for dinner, nothing fancy just veggie spaghetti bolognaise, with me & the boys. Dinner wasn’t too eventful, as all were hungry but plenty of chat. Strawberries & Ice cream on the couch finished off dinner nicely. And then time to wind down for bed, Aisling read Luke a story, all going well. The calm before the storm of dress up, with an audience the boys kicked into full on entertainment mode, wizard hat & cap for Luke, lion hat & nose for Zach. I hope Aisling enjoyed it as much as they did & maybe she had a smile all week too when she thought back on our post dinner show

Too late to be out playing

Luke

 Sunday evening was a lovely summer evening, which was a pleasant surprise following a wet morning.  We were all full and content after dinner.  The boys were having their little pots of yogurt.  Alan went outside to tidy up all the toys strewn around the garden.  I joined him and started playing with these cheap plastic bats that I had picked up in the toy shop, along with water pistols and bubbles of course.  The boys have no hand eye coordination yet but I couldn’t resist and am still hopeful we will have a gorgeous summer like last year.

Those bats are sooo much fun & the whacking sound when you hit a plastic ball is so loud.  I was whacking those balls up the garden, loving the release when Alan joined me and we started hitting the balls back and forth.  The simple things,  bats & ball for less than €5, are soo much fun. 

So next thing, Luke comes to the door and tells us that it is too late to be out playing and it was time to come in.  When did my 3 year old get so grown up?  So he had been listening to me 2 days ago when I had said those exact same words.  Rewind & play, he next said “Are you going to come in on your own or am I going to have to go out and get you”.  The more Alan & I laughed the more it fuelled him on.  He is such a gorgeous kid.  Meanwhile Zach, still contained in his high chair with yogurt all over him, with a loud yell, let us all know that it was time we all came in & enough playing around. Even at 16 months Zach is ruling this house

Dirty windows

So there was the cutest little bird that would hang out at the window where I change Zach.  About 11am when I would be getting Zach ready for his sleep, the bird would be pecking at the window & sitting on a wee branch looking in.  The boys were fascinated by it & I looked out for it every morning.  I thought I should take a photo of it & make a felt bird for the boys’ tree. The bird had a gold fleck in the middle of his head.  But my windows needed a clean so I figured I should clean them first & take the photo tomorrow.  The bird wasn’t there the next day or any day since & I still have windows in need of a clean.

Inspired by my dirty windows, here goes my first blog.  My new website hasn’t got all the cool graphics or looks exactly how I want it to.  I have never written a blog but I am not waiting ’til everything is in its place, I am doing this now.  Please stick with me and laugh at my mistakes.  Isn’t that what life is all about, lets just do it.  All this week I have been hearing people talk about the only things we regret are the things we don’t do.  Should have taken that photo.

I am going to just get up off my bum and do some tummy exercises ’cause meditating away the baby tummy didn’t work.  I am going to give this blog a go.  I will clean my windows but they are near the bottom of a long to do list.  But then just as this blog was in my head this morning I looked out & saw these gorgeous fuschia flowers.  Do just one thing today on that list, it feels good and maybe there will be a little reward waiting like my perfect fuschia flower

fuschia