casita limon loves

mediterranean living

Welcome to Casita Limon Loves!

dreamstime_m_35002397 (2)Welcome to Casita Limon Loves – a lifestyle blog dedicated to all the wonderful things associated with  Mediterranean living. Throughout the blog you will find articles that we hope will inspire you – from Mediterranean style ideas for the home and garden, upcycling projects that focus on re-using and re-loving discarded items and recipes that focus on simple nutritious food and gifts from the garden.  The emphasis at Casita Limon Loves is on healthy and ethical consumption and integrity within design and lifestyle choices. Our philosophy is one of simple pleasures – uncomplicated like the Mediterranean lifestyle itself.

 

about us

blog about usMy name is Amanda and I used to live in Andalucia with my husband, 2 kids, 1 dog and 2 cats.  I’m the main author of this blog.  My background is in design. Having graduated with a degree in design from the London University of the Arts back in the early 1990’s, I went on to work as a spatial interior designer on a series of residential design projects in London and had a stint as a design lecturer back where I started at the University of the Arts.  Shortly after our first child was born and having completed an MA in Design Studies at Central St Martin’s, my husband and I made a life changing decision to leave our jobs, and stressful, fast paced, London lives for a more natural existence, and to ‘grow’ our then young daughter in the Andalucian sunshine.  We sold up our London flat and moved to Spain’s Costa Tropical, the land of lemons and olives and emerald green parakeets.

 

Casa Limon & Casita Limon

…So, way back when, we decided to sell our London flat and move to Spain’s Costa Tropical in the province of Granada.  We bought a simple little house on a hill overlooking the Mediterranean Sea with a large garden full of nature’s bounty – oranges, lemons, pomegranates, figs and grapes to name but a few of the delights that were waiting us.  Oh the joy and the trepidation! having only ever owned a window box in London before the thought of maintaining all these glorious fruit trees that so kindly shared their abundance with us was daunting.  We soon learned that gardening in the sun isn’t hard as long as you keep things watered and loved, a little bit of pruning (at the right times,  following the cycles of the  moon) and Paco’s your uncle, Mari’s your aunt…

 

Mediterranean living, gardening in the sun, Mediterranean garden, healthy living,

lemon trees at casa limon

 

The name for our blog comes from our home – Casa Limon and the little house in our garden Casita Limon.  Casa Limon is a farmhouse situated on a hill in the countryside above the horseshoe shaped bay of La Herradura.  Casita Limon used to be an out-building  for the previous owner’s animals – chickens, pigs and dogs, but has been reincarnated as a little ’boutique style’  cottage for guests. To get to the house you drive up into the hills with the sea glinting behind you on a meandering little country lane past avocado farms, almond trees and nisperas.

 

AmandaJonathan-1928

casa limon – photo by Jeremy Standley

 

casa limon

casa limon – photo by Jeremy Standley

5th May 2014

casita limon

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digitaljournal.com, March 11, 2013: Spain is officially the healthiest country to live in Europe, according to the medical journal, the Lancet.  With 70.9 years of healthy living and 81.4 ye…

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I’m dreaming of the garden at casa Limon…At the moment, my family and I are living in England. We’ll probably be here for a while, years probably. There are many, many good reasons right now why we should be here – education for our kids, and work for us. Whilst it’s absolutely the right place […]

 

digitaljournal.com, March 11, 2013: Spain is officially the healthiest country to live in Europe, according to the medical journal, the Lancet.  With 70.9 years of healthy living and 81.4 years life expectancy.  Find out more here at http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/345370

The Local es, 8th May 2015: Great article that lists all the fantastic things about Spain, “despite its crippling economic crisis and persistently corrupt political system”(!)  http://www.thelocal.es/20150508/ten-reasons-why-spain-is-the-greatest-place-on-earth

theguardian.com/travel, June 2015: The Guardian travel article on holidays in Andalucia, including insider tips on the best beaches and where to stay on a budget http://www.theguardian.com/travel/andalucia+beach

thetelegraph.co.uk, 8th March 2016: Find out more about holidays in Andalucia, including ‘spectacular beaches‘ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sponsored/travel/andalucia-holidays/10361078/spanish-beaches.html

 

 

mediterranean inspiration

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‘eye poetry’

distressed wall

Not the quality of the photograph – I’m no professional when it comes to taking photos – I just point and shoot, but I do know when something looks interesting, when it intrigues or moves me.  I could really see the beauty in this gorgeous, abandoned old Andalucian farmhouse.  Full of history and weather – witness to many a storm and sunbleached day, births, deaths and marriages. I stumbled across this beautiful ruin on an afternoon’s walk…

up-cycling!

discarded iron headboards get a new lease of life

discarded iron headboards get a new lease of life at casa limon

I love up-cycling, it really appeals to me. Waste seems pointless and feels all wrong, so the idea of re-purposing something that would otherwise be left to rot on a landfill site thrills me.  Even when we re-formed Casa Limon we recycled – window openings became door openings, door openings became window openings and things that already existed in the house got moved and re-purposed as something else.

up-cycled and re-purposed, discarded iron headboards gets re-loved at casa limon

These old headboards had been following us around for years.  We originally found them buried in the walls of a fifteenth century barn in the UK in Suffolk that we were doing up almost 30 years ago.  How ironic, the barn had previously been restored in the late 1800’s  and its Victorian owners had re-cycled their unwanted headboards and used them to add support to the walls.  I love it that they’re being recycled again!  So, back in the 1980s when we uncovered them, we got them cleaned up – sandblasted and stove-enamelled but then somehow never came around to using them as headboards. We couldn’t bear to part with them so they came with us to Spain and spent years being stored under an orange tree, waiting to come to life.   Then, one day we decided we needed some fencing to separate one area of the garden from another and something to pierce through the solid mass of honeysuckle encrusted fence that surrounds the perimeter of the garden to provide a view through to the sea. Initially we used bambu sticks, pieces that we’d harvested from the bambu hedge during pruning but soon decided on a better solution and the old headboards got a new lease of life!  We painted them with enamel paint in a dark forest green and then buried the end posts into the ground as far as they would go and secured them into place.

framing the view...

Here’s where the original inspiration came from – a pure and simple idea and a sight that you see from time to time around here.  People just re-using the stuff they’ve got…maybe it’s not that pretty but it functions and it got me thinking…

re-cycled bed frames

 

 

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sun drying cherry tomatoes (the easy way)

cherry tomatoes ripening on the vine cherry tomatoesThese little beauties are the first of my cherry tomato crop.  I was amazed to find them ripe on the vine in March!  There’s nothing more satisfying than biting into a home grown cherry tomato, it’s like biting into a little multi-vitamin bursting with sweet flavour. Remember when you were a kid and your Mum used to put a tomato in your lunch box ? and it actually tasted like a tomato ? well, that’s what you get with these…I would highly recommend growing your own especially if you like me want to avoid over consumption of tasteless force grown supermarket food.

sun drying tomatoes in the car

sun drying cherry tomatoes on the dashboard

Throughout the month of June our cherry tomato abundance peeked so I diligently picked them, washed them, dried them and then cut them in half.  I lined a tray with baking paper and laid the halves out evenly with the wet side facing up.  Then I parked the car in the sun and put the tray on the dash board, making sure that the windows were up and that no flies or bugs had found their way into the car.  These tomatoes took just over a day, with temperatures in June around 27 degrees.  I reckon on a sunny weekend in the UK you could do the same, and would seize the moment if there’s a mini heatwave.  The car acts as a makeshift dehydrator without any of the expense, no equipment costs or electricity and all natural. You need to keep checking them every half day because you want them to be on the chewy side rather than the crispy side.  When they’re ready just tip into a clean (sterlised) jam jar and top with extra virgin olive oil.  The flavour is  intense…

sun dried tomatoes in extra virgin olive oil

my sun dried tomatoes in extra virgin olive oil

The Secret to the Mediterranean Diet may be in the Salad…

salad leaves

So,  it seems there’s still some degree of debate as to exactly why people in the Mediterranean live longer and how elements in their diet such as vegetables, fish, grains, red wine and fatty nuts and oils  help to increase their life expectancy.  However, scientists now believe that  the combination of salad and olive oil is one of the things that has beneficial effects on health. According to recent research early studies suggest that it’s this combination of olive oil and salad that creates a special kind of nitro fatty acid that lowers blood pressure which in turn has a positive effect on the reduction of life shortening cardiovascular diseases such as stroke, heart failure and heart attack.

Lettuce is one of the easiest things in the world to grow, especially if you buy little plantlets from the Vivero (garden centre).  They are mostly cool climate plants so grow just as happily in Northern Europe as they do in the Mediterranean and can even be grown in a window box.  If you haven’t tasted freshly picked salad leaves then I really would recommend it  – the difference  in taste between a freshly picked salad leaf and a shop bought one is incredible, they are simply delicious and bursting with just picked energy.  We pick the leaves off as we need them, just a  handful at a time starting from the outer edge and it actually encourages the plant to grow.  The bowl of leaves then gets soaked in cold  water with a dash of vinegar to ‘out’ any crawlies, before being drained in a colander and shaken in a tea-towel Jamie Oliver style using centrifugal force.  Then, all you need do is  toss them  in olive oil, lemon juice and crushed garlic – simply delicious!

home grown salad leaves

 

Lavender & Honey Ice-Cream

nourishment for the soul…

 

…For years now I’ve been a fan of lavender, perhaps its having an aromatherapist for a Mum but I’ve been using lavender essential oil as a calming night-time remedy to help induce a peaceful night’s sleep ever since my kids were babies.  A few years ago I came across a recipe for lavender and honey ice-cream  and thought how lovely and soothing it sounded  with its beautiful combination of cream, honey and lavender and not an ounce of sugar in sight.  This recipe is one that I’ve adapted using fresh lavender that grows in my garden and locally produced honey:

  • 2 cups of cream
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 vanilla pod, (split to allow the contents to ooze out during cooking)
  • 2/3 cup of honey
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh lavender
  • 2 large eggs
  • Pinch of finely ground pink Himalayan salt

Combine the cream/milk/honey/lavender and vanilla pod and bring to just under a boil then leave to steep on the hob covered with a cloth for about half an hour to allow the lavender and vanilla to infuse the cream and honey.

FOOD SHOTS BLOG 29TH MARCH 021

Sieve the mixture, discard the lavender and vanilla pod, then re-heat until hot.  Whisk the eggs and salt together and add one cup of the hot cream mixture whisking all the time, then pour this  into the hot cream mix and continue whisking

lavender and honey ice-cream

Then cook this whisked mixture over a low heat until it coats the back of a spoon, (as if you were making custard or creme anglais) – this should take at least 5 minutes. Allow to cool, then chill for 3 hours in the fridge before churning, (ideally) in an ice-cream machine.  Transfer to a Tupperware and freeze until you need it…simple!

 

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