Birthday Carrot & Pineapple Muffins

It’s officially birthday season, hooray! I have been at birthday parties the last two weekends to celebrate with my lovely friends. What is even more exciting is there is another party this weekend and it’s mine! I will officially be a big girl – I, Lulu Ann Burt, will be TWO years old! As you know I (with a little help from M&D) like to cook with lovely things from the garden and that goes for birthday baking too. Here is one of the lovely treats in store for party-goers this weekend – carrot & pineapple muffins!

Yummy carrot & pineapple muffins, ready for my birthday party!

Yummy carrot & pineapple muffins, ready for my birthday party!

Carrots are a main ingredient of what I am going to tell you about today. Carrots store really well and you may be lucky enough to still have some left from your own garden. I love growing carrots – my top tips for growing carrots are:

  I love a carroty nibble! And look, my hair even looks like a pineapple!

I love a carroty nibble! And look, my hair even looks like a pineapple!

There are loads of yummy things to do with carrots from eating them raw to cooking them to have with your dinner or in soups. I like baking with them too as they are sweet and healthy. Today I am going to share the recipe which my friends will get to try at the weekend:

Birthday Carrot & Pineapple Muffins

Ingredients:
  • 100g/4oz plain flour
  • 100g/4oz plain wholemeal flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¾tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 200ml/7fl oz vegetable oil
  • 90g/3½oz caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 120g/4½oz finely grated carrots
  • 225g/8oz tinned crushed pineapple, semi-drained
  • 100g/4oz raisins
To make:
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
2. Sift together the flours, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and salt and mix well. Beat the oil, sugar and eggs until well blended. Add the grated carrots, crushed pineapple and raisins. Gradually add the flour mixture, beating just enough to combine all the ingredients.
3. Pour the batter into muffin trays lined with paper cases and bake for 25 minutes (1). Cool on a wire rack.Now I just need to work on growing pineapples 😉

Lulu

(1) If you want to make smaller ones you will need to reduce your baking time

Thanks to the very clever Annabel Karmel for coming up with this recipe. She rocks!

Make Your Own Upcycled Pallet Planter

Upcycling is all the rage just now. Not only does it help save money, it can turn something old and unwanted into something new and unique. We love a bit of upcycling at Vialii, whether it be creating an upcycled garden for clients or simply adding a few new features into our own garden – from containers and sand pits to sheds and gates, pallets have been put to good use at Vialii Towers! It’s cheap, it’s easy, it’s fun and it’s hugely satisfying. In our latest blog we give you a step by step guide to make your own bespoke upcycled pallet planter…

Personalised, bespoke upcycled pallet planter

Personalised, bespoke pallet planters

1. Deconstruct your pallet

Discard any pales which won’t be of use in the container you are building.

Deconstruct your pallet

Deconstruct your pallet

2. Get cutting

Cut your pieces of pallet to size so that you can start to create your uprights and your end panels.

Start cutting down your pallet to size

Start cutting down your pallet to size

3. Make your sides

Add pieces of pallet to make the sides of your upcycled pallet planter.

Make your sides

Make your sides

4. Make the bottom

Once you have your four uprights and sides secured you can create the bottom of your planter.

Make the bottom

Make the bottom

5. Sand your planter

Your carcass of your container is now ready for sanding down.

Sand your planter

Sand your planter

6. Personalise your planter

We like to add personalisation to our planters. We simply print the wording onto card then cut it out.

Personalise your planter

Personalise your planter

You can then use your template to spray the words onto your planter.

Spray your wording onto your planter

Spray your wording onto your planter

7. Line your planter

You need to line your planter with polythene to help protect your wood. Remember to add drainage holes at the bottom.

Line your planter

Line your planter

8. Add compost and plants to complete your upcycled pallet planter

Fill the planter with compost (and water retaining crystals if you wish) and then choose whatever plants you want to put in it.

Add compost and plants

Add compost and plants

And here’s the finished planter, perfect for growing herbs near the kitchen door.

The finished planter

The finished planter

There you have it. Our cheap and easy pallet containers. If you want more information on these containers, would like to commission us to make one or have any gardening queries please get in touch.

Best wishes

All at Vialii

Vialii Review of 2013

Happy new year to all our lovely readers. As we move forward into 2014, we take a moment to have a review of 2013 and some of the highlights for Vialii and the trends that we saw…

Review of 2013: A lovely visit to the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh in 2013

A lovely visit to the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh in 2013

The year of the garden room

2013 saw our clients wholeheartedly embrace the outdoor room. From designer offices to simpler summerhouses we had several clients wanting to introduce outdoor living areas into their gardens. One of our favourites was this custom built garden pod which provided shelter from the rain and prevailing wind whilst still making you feel part of the garden. And with two more garden rooms already lined up for 2014 this trend doesn’t look like it’s going away…

The garden "pod" is a great focal point in this garden as well as somewhere to shelter from the weather

The garden “pod” is a great focal point in this garden as well as somewhere to shelter from the weather

The year “Lulu’s Garden” launched

Our very own Lulu started up her own gardening blog for our sister company Vialii Garden Services in 2013. She puts us at VGD to shame with her regular, fun and educational blogs on all aspects of gardening. Click here to catch up on what’s happening in Lulu’s Garden…

Lulu's Garden Blog

Lulu launched her own blog, all about fun and interesting things to do in (or related to) the garden

The year of the Community Garden

2013 saw us being involved in two community garden projects. Our design of Provost’s Park in Bridge of Allan finally came to life in October and we completed our designs for the Jupiter Urban Wildlife Garden too. It was an honour to be involved in both projects and we look forward to spending time in both gardens in 2014.

The construction of our Provost's Park design got underway in 2013

The construction of our Provost’s Park design got underway in 2013

The year of the Vialii team

Our talented Vialii team sprouted new buds and grew well in 2013. Corrie and Gordon were joined by Neil on the maintenance side while both Connor and Kenny came on board for VGD in 2013. Jill also officially joined Michael working in the business in 2013 and with Lulu busily blogging away, Vialii became a true family business. We look forward to the team growing from strength to strength in 2014.

The Vialii team on a well earned night out

The Vialii team on a well earned night out

The year of upcycling

From a garden in Glasgow featuring lots of upcycled items, our own upcycled products made from old pallets to the “Upcycled Garden” for the Scottish Wildlife Trust, 2013 was the year for making the most of what you had.

Bespoke garden planters made from upcycled pallets

Bespoke garden planters made from upcycled pallets

The year of the garden visits

Well to be honest, every year is packed full of garden visits at Vialii Towers and 2013 was no exception. From Glendoick and Branklyn to Logan and Alnwick we had our fair share of wonderful gardens in 2013, not to mention the wonderful centenary of the Chelsea Flower Show.

Lulu providing a tour of Logan Botanic Gardens

Lulu providing a tour of Logan Botanic Gardens

The year of artificial turf

We laid many new lawns with artificial turf last year – whilst it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, the quality these days is great and can be a wonderful solution for gardens with issues with soil and light and for those with children and/or dogs.

Artificial turf can transform an area where real grass struggles

Artificial turf can transform an area where real grass struggles

The year of the sunshine

OK, the start of the year was pretty miserable but who cares when we get such a glorious summer?! The long, hot sunny days were wonderful for sitting enjoying gardens but also a lovely change when working outside building them too! Here’s hoping to a repeat in 2014!

An escape to the beach in the glorious summer of 2013

An escape to the beach in the glorious summer of 2013

So, there you have it, 2013 in a nutshell (or a blog!) Here’s hoping that 2014 is as much fun.

Happy 2014 everyone.

From all at Vialii

Make Your Own Hairy Caterpillar

Hi everyone, you know me well enough by now to know what I love being outdoors in the garden as much as possible. Indeed, it’s my new year’s resolution. However there are times when even I am beaten by the weather and decide to stay indoors, all nice and cosy. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still garden. Today I am going to share the coolest indoor gardening project yet – make your own hairy caterpillar!

Most gardeners think I am weird as I love the “enemies” such as snails and caterpillars. In this blog I am going to show you how to make your own big hairy caterpillar which won’t munch your cabbages. Instead it will grow some lovely cress for you! Here’s how…

Make Your Own Hairy Caterpillar

You will need:

How to make:

1. Take your egg box and remove the top half. Ask a grown up to cut off the pointy bits so your egg box can sit flat when you turn it upside down. Now you can paint it green.

Paint your egg box green (or any colour you want!)

Paint your egg box green (or any colour you want!)

2. Cut out a round head from a piece of card and paint it green too. Leave the box and the head to dry then glue the head to the body.

More painting - I love it!

More painting – I love it!

3. Add colourful pom poms to your caterpillar.

Add some colourful pom poms (or glitter or whatever you like!)

Add some colourful pom poms (or glitter or whatever you like!)

4. Cut the pipe cleaners and make feelers and sellotape them to the back of the head. Glue on googly eyes and draw on a smiley mouth.

Googly eyes are a must!

Googly eyes are a must!

 

5. Add cotton wool to each hole, pour in a little water to make it damp and then sprinkle your cress seeds. Pop it on a sunny windowsill and within a week you will see your cress sprouting and your caterpillar will become a hairy caterpillar! I love adding the cress to some boiled egg for eggy cressy sandwiches!

Carefully sprinkle on your cress seeds

Carefully sprinkle on your cress seeds

There you have it, your completed caterpillar!

There you have it, your completed caterpillar!

I’d love to see photos of your caterpillars too, please email them in to me.
Lulu

Lulu’s 2014 Resolutions…

Happy new year to all my lovely readers. It’s the time of year when we say farewell to 2013 and are making our resolutions for the year ahead and this year I resolve to spend as much time as possible outdoors. It will come as no surprise to you to hear that getting outdoors is good for you, whether you are young (like me) or old (like M&D!) But just in case you need some convincing, here are some great reasons why you too should make “getting outdoors” one of your 2014 resolutions…

Fit for Free

Getting outdoors is a great way of getting exercise. You don’t need to be running marathons (like crazy Auntie Alison!). Just going for a walk in the park, doing some gardening or riding your bike is a fun way of getting fit and getting some fresh air. Plus it’s free so no expensive gym memberships required!

Get outdoors  in 2014

Get outdoors in 2014, even just to make a daisy chain

D is for Delightful

Getting outside is an important way of getting Vitamin D. We are always being told that we need to take vitamins but if we can get as much as possible direct from sunlight then that’s got to be a good thing. It doesn’t have to be a gloriously sunny day to get Vitamin D (good job seeing as we live in Scotland!), just getting outside helps. Make it one of your 2014 resolutions too!

Good Health to You

Getting outside is good for our general health. Spending time in our gardens and green spaces can reduce breathing problems such as asthma, being active can reduce obesity and it has even been shown to improve eye sight! Even in cold weather, wrap up well and head outside.

Gardening is good for your health

Gardening is good for your health

If You’re Happy And You Know It…

This is one of my favourite reasons – spending time outdoors simply makes you happy! I love being outside. It immediately improves your mood, brushes away the cobwebs and makes you happier. It’s especially nice just now, when it is often dark and wintry, to take advantage of a nice day and get out into the garden. Seeing plants coming to life and bulbs bursting through brings hope for the future and sunny days ahead. Plus its fun to pull the toys out of the garden shed and have a play 😉

Every Day’s A School Day

One of the great things about heading outside is there is always something new to learn and see. Whether it’s seeing a new plant coming into flower or discovering a new bug in the garden it’s a great way to learn about the environment and care for our wildlife. It’s much more fun to get outside and get mucky than sit indoors reading about nature in a book and it helps us understand it much better.

Keep active and learn new things in the garden

Keep active and learn new things in the garden

Social Club

Spending time outdoors is a great way to be sociable. When I go to the park I love seeing my friends and playing with them. Sometimes we arrange to meet other friends in lovely outdoor places such as Palacerigg Country Park where we can go exploring and run around or have a day at the beach. Even if we are just staying at home and playing in the garden we always see neighbours and have a chat. That’s nice.

So there you go. You can keep your faddy diets – my 2014 resolutions include getting outside as much as possible. Wishing you all a fun filled 2014.

Lulu