In a Vase on Monday: Sugar and Lemons

Tomorrow is Pancake Day in the UK, and although the tradition of eating thin crepe-style pancakes on Shrove Tuesday does not seem to exist anywhere else in the world I have always made them wherever I have been – even when I lived in Japan I had a pancake party!

The traditional topping for these pancakes is lemon juice and sugar. Yes, there are plenty of other things you can put on your pancake, but not on Pancake Day. You can have maple syrup, nutella, bananas, etc any time of year. But tomorrow it’s simply lemon juice and sugar; the inspiration for the title for my vase this week…


Every Monday I join Cathy at Rambling in the Garden with her lovely meme where we are asked to find something from our garden and bring it indoors. Two days ago my first golden (lemony) crocus opened (Yippee!), so I knew I would have to bring some indoors.


The tiniest ‘vase’ I could find was a miniature salt sellar, and since I had two I decided to pick a few (sugary) snowdrops too, which also immediately opened once brought into the warm house. There are only a few – most are still too small to pick.


But these are not the only flowers I have this week. About three weeks ago I cut some Ribes sanguineum, remembering that when it is forced the normally deep pinky red flowers are white. In the course of the last week they have opened…

And another Amaryllis opened two days ago too – Amaryllis ‘Blossom Peacock’. A real beauty with a lovely straight stem.


I shall do a round-up of all my Amaryllis/Hippeastrums once they have all flowered. So far I have had one or two flowering constantly since November. :)

Until Friday it had rained practically all week, so having flowers indoors is very cheering. I am looking forward to seeing a few more of my spring bulbs emerge this week, but first I am looking forward to my pancakes tomorrow. What will you have on yours? Sugar and lemon juice?


In a Vase on Monday: Pansy Love

Monday, and despite more wind and rain today I gathered a few flowers for a vase to join Cathy at Rambling in the Garden with her Monday meme.


Pickings are few – only from the patio containers near the house. But the pansies/violas never fail to please for so many of the winter days. The German name for these, translated, is “little step mothers”! (Stiefmütterchen) The official explanation for this name is actually disappointing – no wonderful legend attached, simply botanical logic: the wide petal at the base is the “mother”, and partly covers the “daughters” at the side, which also in turn partly cover the upper two “step-daughters”.

Vase1st2I added a silver leaf (the name of which I always forget) and a purply red Heuchera leaf too.

February is the month when the light noticeably returns, but until then candles are a comforting addition to a windowsill or the table at teatime. However, I have a few candles, like this one, that serve a purely decorative purpose and have never been lit. The wall decoration is actually a tea towel – a gift from my neighbour – I love it so much though that it has been hung above my ironing board.



I wonder what everyone else has found for their Monday vase this week. Do go and visit Cathy and take a look too.

In a Vase on Monday: Defrosted

The big freeze of last week has passed (although it is still very cold and damp) so I ventured into the soggy garden this morning to see what was still standing or intact – everything was dripping from melted snow and the wet morning fog. But I was determined to contribute a vase again for Cathy‘s weekly meme.

I included the following: Vinca, an Aruncus seedhead, Sedum, Euphorbia, Japanese Anemone seedheads, two Bergenia leaves and some reddish Epimedium foliage.


After everything had dried out a bit indoors it looked rather triste, having lost that sparkly effect, so I added a sparkly Christmas card I had saved, and a dried Hydrangea flower cut from a friend’s garden last autumn.


There is also a pressed flower on the wooden board – I think it is sorrel – that I had recently rediscovered in an old flower press.

Light levels are very low today, and I think this vase is representative of the predominant reddish browns that are beginning to show through the patchy snow.


 It may not be much, but the fact that I managed to put together a vase from outdoor plants has certainly brightened the day. As has the next Amaryllis that flowered this past week: ‘Rosy Star’, actually looking a bit peachy in the lamplight here!

What is brightening your day right now?

Do go and visit our host, Cathy at Rambling in the Garden. I look forward to seeing what others find for their vases each week too.


In a Vase on Monday: A Study in Green

A thin layer of snow and ice has enveloped the garden. And as I have seen from recent posts from the UK we are not the only ones!

As I write, the sun is shining but the temperature remains below freezing. This means the chances of finding anything for a Monday vase are extremely slim – a few frozen hellebore buds and violas at best. So in order to join in Cathy’s meme again this week (Rambling in the Garden) I thought I’d cheat a little and show you an indoor plant in a pot, rather than a vase.

Amaryllis/Hippeastrum ‘Evergreen’


Like ‘Chico’, which I showed you here a couple of weeks ago, ‘Evergreen’ is not what most people expect of an Amaryllis. It is elegant and statuesque, a still-life botanical painting…


And yet you could argue it is also slightly brash, with a waxy artificial look to it…


In any case, I like it for its fresh yellowish green, while the world around me is currently lacking colour.

Do go and visit Cathy and see if anyone else around the world has been able to produce flowers for a vase this Monday.

And have a good week, and stay in the warm!

Sweet Flower Bread

Our Christmas cookies all disappeared pretty rapidly in December, so on Christmas Eve I made a sweet bread to go with our afternoon cup of tea – after all, the afternoon of Christmas Eve is traditionally a time for the festivities to begin here in Germany.


It is easy to make and absolutely delicious!

Here is how I made it:

Sweet Flower Bread


In a large bowl sieve together 300g (2 and 2/5 cups) strong flour, 100g (4/5 cup) plain flour, 100g (4/5 cup) wholemeal flour, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp sugar and 1 packet instant dried yeast (2 tsps)

Stir in 325 ml (1 and 1/3 cups) lukewarm water and 2 tbsps olive oil and mix to form a ball.

Put on a floured work surface and knead for about 10 minutes. Now place the dough in a clean bowl, and coat in a little oil. Cover with a tea towel and leave it in a warm place  to rise – a couple of hours should be long enough.

While the dough is rising you can make the filling. I used 200g (7 oz or 1 and 1/3 cups) finely chopped mixed nuts, 50g (1/4 cup) golden caster sugar and 50g (1/4 cup) brown sugar, 75g (2/3 stick) margarine (or butter), the zest of an orange, a few glace cherries cut into small pieces, and some spices – 1tsp cardamom, 1tsp cinnamon and 1tsp allspice. But you can add chocolate chips or omit the spices, whatever you fancy! Mix the ingredients together so you have a thick paste.

When the dough has risen, punch it to remove the excess air (my favourite part!) and divide into three portions. Now is the also time to preheat your oven to 225° C/425°F. Roll out each piece of dough into a circle about 35cm/14in in diameter. One circle will be your base, so place the other two to one side and cover them for now. The base needs to be placed on a sheet of greaseproof paper on a baking tray. Now spread it with half of your filling. Put the second circle of dough on top and press down lightly. Spread the rest of the filling on top. Finally place the third disc on top and press down lightly.


To make the flower pattern place a dish or large cup (about 10cm/4in diameter) in the centre but do not press it down! From the dish outwards you now slice the bread into 16 pieces, just as you would cut up a normal cake but obviously without the middle. Remove the dish.

Take two pieces/’slices’ in your hands and lift slightly. Twist the right-hand piece over to the right, TWICE, and the left-hand piece to the left, TWICE. It is easiest to do this with both hands at the same time. Then tuck the ends underneath to tidy it up a bit. Repeat with the other pieces. It really doesn’t matter if the filling spills out a bit as that makes it look so pretty when it is baked! Brush with a little soya cream or milk (optional), sprinkle a few sliced almonds on top and  place in the hot oven for approximately 15 minutes. Keep an eye on it and remove it when it is golden brown all over.


Delicious served warm, warmish and cold too. This bread can be adapted for any occasion, and I have even made a savoury version before, using homemade tomato sauce and pesto for the filling. I am going to try it with just herbs and garlic soon. :)



In a Vase on Monday: A Splash of Pink!

These grey dismal January days need brightening up!


A pot of “Pinks” (Dianthus) has been in flower almost non-stop since June. It is right up against the house wall in a very sheltered spot, but with another even colder freeze forecast for the end of this week I decided it was time to pick the last flowers.

Just to remind you that it is in fact deepest darkest winter, I added a Hellebore flower from another patio pot as well. The garden Hellebores aren’t in flower yet (but are covered in  promising buds).

Everything I look at seems to be pink at the moment – the pink tray was a present from my Mum years ago.  And do you remember French knitting? Well, I decided to see if I could recall how to do it after a friend gave me a knitting dolly as a fun Christmas gift, and as you can see in this picture the yarn is pink too!


And my latest Amaryllis to flower is also pink:


Amaryllis “Apple Blossom” (planted 25th November and flowering since 8th January)

Oh look, even my text colour is pink now! ;-)

I’m linking to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for her In a Vase on Monday meme. It will be challenging to find anything from the garden next week when temperatures drop, although it is quite green again at the moment after all our new year snow melted.

Hope you enjoy this splash of colour too, even if it is a bit too pink perhaps!

Have a pink good week!


Cheeky Chico

We have had snow!


I have just returned after the holidays, actually hoping to see a few snowdrops and maybe even some daffodil shoots, but I will have to be patient now. My Amaryllis/Hippeastrum are currently providing a cheerful display instead. This one is called “Chico” – rather apt as I do think it looks quite cheeky!


Planted up on the 9th of October, it started flowering around December 26th and is now in full bloom. Another shoot has appeared too. I have never seen one quite like this and I think it’s lovely.

What do you think of it? Perhaps you prefer the more traditional large red ones?

Oh, and in case I haven’t already met you in the blogging world this year:

Happy 2016!

Wishing you and your garden a fabulous new year!