Sunday, 27 February 2011

mud pies and other recipes...


We have just discovered this most enchanting book called 'Mud pies and other recipes' by Majorie Winslow, full of the kind of recipes that you made in your garden as a child. My boys just love playing in mud and will often make mud pies, maybe I could encourage them to make me stuffed sea shells or a daisy dip next time? I know quite a few little ladies who would love this recipe book for their dolls tea parties, so we will be definitely giving this a gift!

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

old skool birthday...


my littlest man will be five in a few months (sharp intake of breath) and as I am so rubbish at being super organised for birthdays, I thought I would at least start searching for a few gifts now. Last year resulted in me hand sewing the tipi together into the wee small hours!  

We are going a bit 'old skool' with the gifts this year and are trying to find a reasonably priced...
  • viewmaster (like the one pictured above) and discs (so far got 1966 batman, wild animals, first moon landing and Niagara Falls!)
  • radio flyer classic wagon (but can't find anything under £90 ~ are they really that expensive?)
  • batman outfit (without the padded muscles like the supermarket costumes) some thing a little more homemade looking like this one

Sunday, 20 February 2011

bistro, boys and a bit of bashing...


inspired by this picture, the boys drew their own road maps this weekend! a great idea for a rainy half term day and would work with so many children toys, from cars to farm animals, even lego people! All you need is a roll of paper and crayons - I stuck the paper to the floor with a little masking tape, so that it didn't move!


we also went 'scrub bashing' ~ a term used by conservationists, to describe the removal of undergrowth, to make sure that grassland doesn't become overgrown and that flowers aren't shaded out. Where we live we are lucky to be surrounded by beautiful places, full of nature from butterflies to orchids, but many people don't realise that to be species rich, they need to be grazed to keep the sward down. If the scrub builds up, then you often see teams of conservation volunteers or landowners, working around a bonfire and 'scrub bashing'! 

We were taking part in a community work day at the very beautiful Westley Farm, and were even rewarded with spiced pumpkin soup and brownies for our efforts! We also got to meet the Chalford Donkeys, based at Westley Farm, who deliver weekly groceries to the villagers of Chalford. They even tweet now, if you want to follow them! 

And finally, with grandma babysitting we treated ourselves to a meal at Hobbs House Bistro in Nailsworth. Open each week on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings the menu claims to, 

"Celebrate British food, with a strong focus on the traditional cuts of meat and fish that have fallen from favour and cooked in the beating heart of the whole house, the bakery's wood fired oven."

I had the, oh so tender, wood grilled chop, he had the rabbit and hare terrine starter, followed by the pollock, with chocolate truffle for pudding. It was a delicious, well thought out menu, served in a relaxed atmosphere with good music, the cafe by day/bistro by night setting was perfect if you want something more special than a pub, but less formal than a restaurant. We had a fab meal and would really recommend you visit, and were even fortunate enough to meet the lovely owner Tom Herbert, his wife and blogger Anna, and brother Henry, who is a local butcher and supplies the meat. 

Quite a weekend, finished off by a visit from good friends and Sunday roast, I think an early night is in order!

Friday, 18 February 2011

film friday...


This picture is the very reason I love film photography so very much. Loading the film in the camera, picking up the packet from the developers, anticipating what's inside. Then finding one shot like this above, taken on a very cold day, when there was a hoar frost and the whole countryside was covered in a magical white, just like Narnia! I noticed lots of umbellifers on my drive to work one morning and skidded to a halt in a layby to take this picture as it was just the perfect blue sky day. This is the reason why I always carry at least one camera with me everywhere! 

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

den building inspiration...

thank you for sharing your den building fun, following this post last week. I have added pictures of the dens that you shared on the comments, and a few that I found on my travels around the web! I just love the stick one below, I am going to try making this in a woodland with my boys now they are getting older!





Do keep sharing pictures of your den building fun, I love seeing them! 

Monday, 14 February 2011

valentines day...


the boys wanted to make jammie dodgers again for valentines day, just like they did last year! They are so easy to make, we made ours in heart shapes and filled them with butter icing and strawberry jam.



After we made them, we put them individual brown kraft bags, tied them with red and white bakers twine, and added personalised luggage labels with the recipients name on. We then delivered eight packets to the boys favourite little ladies!


I submitted some of these pics for the latest 'words to shoot by' photo collaboration! Can you guess what the word is? 

Sunday, 13 February 2011

spit and polish...


today I have been cleaning my new cabinet with warm water and vinegar. I have taken the legs off it so it's more sturdy with two boys running around the house all the time, but they were easy to screw off and will be just as easy to put back on again! Thanks to a suggestion yesterday, I have decided to replace the old backing fabric with some nice wallpaper. I don't need to sand it back, as the woodwork is in fine condition,  as is the leading (is that how you spell it?) on the glass doors. Now we just need to carry it upstairs in one piece! 

Saturday, 12 February 2011

a dippy egg...


a trip to the farmer's market in the sunshine this morning rewarded us with Trealy Farm chorizo, my favourite Hobbs House award winning g stone bread and days cottage cider. For lunch my youngest son wanted his bread soldiers with a 'dippy egg', freshly laid by his hen Rosie this morning ~ perfect!

We also stopped in a few charity and antique shops and picked up this (1930's?) art deco inspired cabinet for £10! I am thinking it would be perfect as a bathroom cabinet to keep towels in, we'll have to see as it needs a lot of TLC first!

 

Tonight we are hoping to see this starling spectacle over the Gloucester skies, its called a murmuration apparently, what a great word!

Monday, 7 February 2011

den building day...


I love this gorgeous picture by Deb Schwedhelm, what child hasn't done this? and why isn't there a national indoor den building day? Lets start one, February is full of wet dreary days, perfect for indoor play like this. So are you up for the challenge? Get your old blankets and sheets out and see what your family can create. Post your pictures on your blog if you have one and I will link to them, we are going to make a den tomorrow!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

a blustery weekend...


a very blustery weekend, full of drama with high winds, surely a metaphor for the hot air surrounding the proposals to sell off our public forests and local libraries in England? I'm so sad that I struggle to find the right words to explain my feelings about how important I think local libraries are and how important access to nature is. I don't understand politics and cannot comprehend the rationality of these proposals. Maybe the right words will flow in time, but right now these proposals along with the fact that after two and a half years our village still can't find a suitable site for ten allotments makes me lose faith. 

Please sign the petition here, if you believe English forests shouldn't be sold off, and write to your MP. There are also petitions against the library sell offs on your local councils website, which I also urge you to sign and also write to your MP AND visit your library and borrow the most books you are allowed to! 


I have cheered myself up with lots of cooking this weekend, including some leek and cheddar scones that are delicious for breakfast or with soup, in my new vintage soup flask! 
Leek and cheddar scones
ingredients
2 cups plain flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ cup cold butter, cut into small cubes
2/3 cup milk
1 large leek finely chopped
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
Method
1. Preheat your oven to 400˚F/ gas mark 6.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Cook the leek in a pan with a knob of butter, until they are soft and slightly translucent.  Set aside to cool.
3. In a bowl mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and bicarbonate of soda.  
4. Add the cold butter to the flour mixture, and using your fingertips blend until a coarse crumb forms.  Add a little milk and mix until just combined.  
5. Add the leeks with 1/2 cup of the cheddar cheese and gently fold in all the ingredients and turn out the dough onto a well floured surface.  
6. Pat the dough into a 1/2 inch thick round and using a cutter, cut out 6 large circles.  Place on the baking sheet and sprinkle the tops with the remaining cheddar cheese.
7. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until browned on the tops and bottoms.

Friday, 4 February 2011

announcing a winner...

True Random Number Generator  11Powered by RANDOM.ORG

It's time to announce the winner of the Jamie at Home DVD giveaway, and I have used a random number generator to pick the 11th comment left by Jackie K!

Congratulations, you have won a set of six DVD's plus a little packet of seeds from me, if you can email me with your address, I will pop them in the post to you! 

I am sorry I couldn't give you all a set, but if you live in the UK, the promotion starts tomorrow in The Sun Newspaper!  

This review and competition is sponsored by www.twitter.com/TheSun_Buzz and the Sun Newspaper.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Wild Things Week Five ~ pick up sticks!

Weather: Very Cold, frost on ground
Date: 28th January 2011
Activity: picking up sticks


It had been cold and windy since we last visited the nature area at school. We wrapped up and walked down the field to the gate as usual to enter the nature area. All the children found a leaf to use as a 'ticket' to get in!

Once in the area we stopped to notice the snowdrops in flower. We also noticed that there were many sticks and branches that had broken off and fallen to the ground, after asking the children how they should carry sticks (pointing downwards, away from eyes etc...) they set to it to find and pick up sticks and make a big pile. This activity kept them busy for around 20-30 minutes, before it was time to go back in again. It was interesting to see how they worked together to pick up and carry big sticks and the joy they had in making such a big pile! One boy said "this would make a good bonfire" and indeed it will, towards the end of the school year, when we'll invite their families to join us and toast marshmallows around a bonfire!

*Wild Things is part of a series of blog posts documenting my involvement in outdoor education activities with the reception class of my son's school. The aim is to encourage children to discover the natural world through simple activities and play. I hope by sharing these activities here on my blog, others may be inspired to try some of the activities at home or even, like me, approach their local school to help out.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

comfort eating...


The kitchen shelves are groaning under the weight of my cookbooks, this week the meal planning in advance is going well, roast chicken on Sunday, followed by leftover chicken risotto Monday and chicken soup in a flask for daddy to take to work on Tuesday. Sausage stew yesterday and faggots this evening! Tomorrow macaroni cheese (the boys current favourite!) and on Friday butternut squash soup with fresh bread rolls. A week of comfort food, but planning in advance is certainly paying off for when they come home very hungry and I'm not prepared! Not sure about Saturday, may scour the farmer's market for some seasonal fayre and new ideas.

have you seen this lovely free desktop calendar?

and I just love this skirt, too expensive but just gorgeous, especially teemed with the floral top.
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