Vitamin c syrup

What was intended as a simple Elderberry syrup for the winter ahead turned into something I can’t get enough of. I think I may have to have one last forage for blackberries and elderberries before it grows too cold.

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I found some rosehips on my way home to make the syrup- so I gathered about 12 of these. It was my first time tasting these little treats: boy was I surprised at the delicacy they hold! They are also rich in vitamin c.

I used a ratio of 1:3 blackberry and elderberries. I really wanted the elderberry taste in my syrup, but you could do any combination you wish.

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I froze the berries beforehand as this helps break down the fruit.  Then I took a teeny amount of not from concentrate apple juice. And poured that on top.

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Heat the berries gently,  stirring quite a lot. (Do not let a hyperactive child do this for you- this stuff stains!)

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If you have a hand blender use this gently to break up the berries when they are beginning to simmer. Once again, be prepared for the odd stain and juice in your eye.. or maybe I’m just a sloppy chef.

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You only want to lightly blend as you dont want the elderberry seeds chopped up too fine- they will impart a bitter taste to the syrup. When a little runny like the picture above,  stir and begin adding honey.

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Work with a little honey at a time,  stirring it in quite well. As the mixture begins to boil, dial it back to a simmer.

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I used mostly organic,  local honey for the syrup but as its quite pricey and a treasured cupboard staple- use sugar to thicken it and get the gloopy consistency.

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I mashed again. Really straining the last I could from the berries and rosehips. We don’t have a jellybag to strain our mixture through,  and the last time I improvised one I found flies in the mix. This time I took and ordinary fine kitchen sieve and strained the mixture through that. I left the gloopy berries sitting in the sieve above the pot to drip overnight with a lid on top. Every so often I pressed the berries with a wooden spoon.

Next you just have to bottle it up and yum yum yum!  This syrup is great for getting vitamin c in, can be taken as a cough medicine,  poured over toast or cereal or made up as a hot drink with boiling water. It has a really really nice flavour that I just adore so ill probably use it on everything!  When suffering from a cold or flu its recommended to take one teaspoon every four hours. Mmmmm

Now, here’s my favourite part; what to do with all that gloopy berry mess? Compost? Feed to your dog? Noooo. Wine,  that’s what!

We took the mess and threw it in the demijohn with some extra blackberries. I mixed in a cup of cold tea (for tannin). I kg of caster sugar heated in water and our yeast mixture and yeast nutrient. It looks divine!  I’ll have to wait until next year to tell you if syrup leftovers make nice wine.

All the leaves are brown

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Autumn is in full swing. The leaves are rustling on the ground. Ive always enjoyed the crunching sound of autumn leaves underfoot.

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We have been very busy this month on foraging trips. I hadn’t expected my Batman to take so much enjoyment from picking fruits and learning about nature,  but he’s hooked! Today he brought me back a berry to look up in our foraging books and identify it. I hope our trips out will make life-long memories.

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Batman has settled at school,  and as little boys do- he tells me very little. I love that his school has no uniform. There are children running in every morning full of colour and joy. I am happy that every child feels free to be themselves.  I remember my uniform- it was grey!

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As I’ve mentioned plenty- I love to craft. I can sew, cross-stitch and knit. Perhaps not very skillfully, but I get there all the same. Last year was my first successful ‘handmade Christmas’ (I had tried and failed 4 years running). Everyone received gifts of bathbombs, shower scrubs ect. Im hoping to add knitting to the list this year. Above is a quick knit scarf Batman has requested.

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My hands are stained and pricked from blackberries.

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I have yet to gather enough for wine as we all keep stealing them!

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There are, however, other edible berries out there for wines. I will try some haw wine (ouch, those thorns hurt!!!), and rowanberry wine. Perhaps the blackberries will have to just make a nice liqueur.

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Its time to get the liqueurs ready for Christmas. I wish the wines would be ready… but the magic is in the patience. We have a few wurzels going which will have been fermented and aged by then. The Joker loves wurzel wine for its speediness.

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I’m enjoying my last few days of being home before the mad rush of college. We are still cleaning,  clearing and adding some nice touches to our home. It already feels so nice to be within these walls. I’ll say it again; all the stuff you think you can’t live without drags you down. I’ve had little time to prepare our foraged food so its all backed up in the freezer.  Tonight I can feel the sniffles coming so I’m using it as an excuse for elderberry syrup.

I’ll post of recipes as I go.

Simplifying, up cycling and adventures at school

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Yesterday was my little boy’s first big adventure. He left this house my baby and came back more independent. He has  never gone too far, or without the knowledge he can ring me at any time. Yet, yesterday was the beginning of him really growing up. He started school.

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In all the natural things I have seen on this earth- nothing comes close to both the pride and protectiveness you feel as you let go and leave them with their teacher. I had his arms wrapped around me in a tight embrace- and as much as I didn’t want it to end- I had to encourage him to go. A montage of our life together played around in my head between bursts of worry on those short hours apart. I felt finality in him clung to me in that way. On the second day I even wondered how many more times he will kiss me goodbye. I just hope that I have taught him enough to be ok when we are apart.

We are all adjusting to a new life. It may not have been the one we chose when I started blogging. But its wonderful all the same. I find so much inner change going on too; the joker checking ingredient lists on lunchbox snacks and us debating what’s frugal and healthy in a supermarket isle.

We have decided to declutter and simplify our lives. I am donating clothes,  books and whatever I can live without. There is so much we can do without.

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Someone donated a bucket of paint, and we have begun cleaning and clearing our home. Instead of filling it with things, we want space for memories. Having stopped using the kitchen table as a place for washing and letters, we enjoyed a family dinner.

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I worry about waste. As many of my neighbours put out skip bags, I find this so heavy on my conscience. This unit is sturdy but has seen better days. I have decided to up cycle it with a stack of scratched cds. Its something that can’t be bought, saves waste and lets the creative side out. Im eager to find more uses for the things that should otherwise be dumped. And id like to start making responsible purchases; buy things built to last. Ideally we would like to get to a point where we no longer buy anything new. There is enough out there second hand. Of course this means finding wooden toothbrushes ect. Any advice would greatly be received.

The weather is picking up here again and giving a last burst of heat. Time for blackberry picking!

where were we…?

I am grateful to my followers and friends who have checked in on us in this last while. I’ve been hiding out, taking time to gather my thoughts. There is a feeling of shame in having to tell every well wisher that your plans fell apart. Explaining things made it feel like it had all been a crazy idea to begin with. We ran away to Co. Limerick for the weekend. Not to do particularly anything, but to put some distance between us and our lives. It worked. Sometimes you really do just need to get away.

Living with both Crohn’s Disease and an Anxiety Disorder can be so debilitating at times. I have two health modes- ‘you don’t even want to know..’, and ‘not so bad’. With Crohn’s I’m disabled, but not enough for the government to understand. As a result of all the pain, infections, fatigue- my mental health now needs caring for. It’s refreshing to find a job that I am not just another liablity or risk in sick payout. There is no chance of me working myself to an early grave on a farm. Life is much slower paced. Backbreaking, but room for me to care for my health. This meant just as much to the Joker, and to our suprise Batman even cried for our loss.

After some distance, dinner, and wine we both had a lovely chat. Some good things can come from all this- the first thing is that we have decided once life is on even ground again we want to have more little feet running around. Yes, babies. Maybe marriage, who knows? Batman had even recently mustered up his courage to draw me a picture of one and asked when he might have a sibling. We decided on a life together, and even though plans fell apart- we do want a life together. The second great thing is we finally know what we want; we want our smallholding. And while we might be far away from having it, we are going to put our money where our mouths are and work on it. Even if we have to rent it. On a side note, I’ve wanted to write since I read my first novel. And, here I am. Sometimes you have to look to find the upsides, but they are there!

In the meanwhile, we will continue to work with what we have. The challenge is to become as sustainable as possible in my tiny- not eco friendly- suburban apartment, with clay soil and a dog who eats plants.

The garden is starting to bear its autumn fruit, there are herbs for drying and seeds to be saved.  Crafting season is about to begin; I’m dying try my hand at soapmaking. There are courses aplenty to take! It’s time I share with you all what I’ve learned and hopefully it will inspire you to share your skills too.

There is a light

I realise that I wrote with raw emotions in my last post. I simply could not hold back. I expect setbacks, I just hadn’t planned for such a heart wrenching spanner in the works. It is hard to watch those you love sink so far down. It’s hard to stand by and let it pass.

No fear, I promised this would be an account of how it really happened. I want to know, and show that it can happen. A simple life in these times is possible.

A blog I follow http://bealtainecottage.com – had just the post to cheer me up. A post about living a simple life,  without money.

We fell backwards and depleated our store of wine tonight. Born from it was our plan B. We will still ‘go in search of the good life’. Perhaps it will take us further afield.  Until then I share with you the sight from my window. One I hope to see more of.

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Our tomatoes are also showing up. It won’t be long until we taste our first pepper. The Chammomile is in abundance!

There is always beauty in this world. Don’t believe otherwise.

Heartbreak

Last night I began packing away knick-knacks and things I wouldn’t need for a few months. I was starting to have less spaces to put things as furniture disappeared- best deal with it by packing. I lay in my bed thinking about the freedom that awaits. Life had taken a turn away from endless predictability’s. The image in my mind is not of years down the road, it’s the day I go looking in bin bags to locate our kettle. The semi-silence you have in knowing you both only have one thing to say: “we’re home”.

I must admit I have screen-shotted  the photos from the advert and have mentally unpacked just by looking at them. I see us having dinner that first evening on at our dinning table. Batman, no doubt will be hard to contain, he will drag toys everywhere and run in the field with Dexter (our dog). It will be hard to get him settled that night. I cope with the fears and anxieties by thinking about the look myself and the Joker will exchange when we dress our bed and collapse into it exhausted. 

As I lay in bed last night, I day dreamed into the tiny hours. Myself and the Joker exchanged texts discussing little details. We dream of a life that is led by nature, that is at a slower pace to the cities and offices. We can finally slow down and enjoy a life together. I drifted to sleep. peacefully.

This morning I was awoken by ringing phones and tears. “It’s all over”, he sobbed. And it is, just like that. This two month plan, this whole dream that I had been afraid to dream- gone. We have lost our right to be on the land because a money grubbing (insert string of profanities here) has told lies about our plans to the deed-holder. The money grubber has his own plans, and we had stepped on them. He hadn’t wanted us to get ahead. I ask you, where does that leave us? We just don’t know. This is still our dream, but now it is only a dream.

I am saddened by the bullies that get ahead in this world. I am feeling overwhelming despair… Heartbroken. We had only wanted a simple life, and to include and help so many others in doing so. In these last few weeks, we built a community. We wanted to protect and keep the land, not disrupt it.

“i hadn’t been this happy in my life since as far back as i could remember.. now it’s been torn away..”- the Joker

I am not sure where it goes from here….

Sleep deprived selling

Why is it buyer beware?
Where are the warnings for the sellers?

My life is up for sale; if someone doesn’t take it soon and answer all these bizarre, time wasting callers I may go insane..

Life lesson: there are times when it will be called upon you to answer a series of questions over and over and over.. how does the new baby sleep? Do you miss your leg? Can you deliver? Drink coffee and nod. Find your inner auto-pilot.