Sunday, 11 November 2012

Bargainous Delights

When my wonderful husband took me out to dinner on Friday night, my equally wonderful daughter made a lavender salt hand scrub, which dare I say is probably more appetising than the lavender cordial I made!

I picked up this patch work wool bag for a pound at a car boot sale on Saturday morning.  It's stuffed to bursting with wool I'm using to make a mini throw for my 'was to be a cracket'.  Yes, I swung by an amazingly stuffy, stacked to the gunnels antique place, on my way to the car boot and found a stool of just the right proportions for my mud zone.  I hope to have a ta da moment some time in the coming week.

Do you like my glass coffee mug?  I have a set of four, which knocked me back £3 at a charity shop last week.  I just had to have them and have visions of sipping cream topped liqueur coffees in them some time soon.  Anyone care to join me?

When we were at a bonfire party the other week one guest brought Peanut Brittle, Nigella style.  I urge you to try it.  It's delicious and with just two ingredients it's hard to go wrong.  Wack 100g caster sugar in the pan and heat till golden brown and liquid.  Add 100g salted peanuts and stir.  Turn out onto baking paper and leave to set.  Voila!

Have you had a bargain lately?

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Pumpkin Pie and Autumn Home

As part of planning for tomorrows lesson, I baked a pumpkin pie this afternoon.  I have to say, it is my best yet.  I'm not good at keeping and following recipes so my culinary offerings change all the time.  This time I made the topping with one roast butternut squash, two eggs, 140g brown sugar, half a carton of soya cream and a tsp of mixed spice.  Baked in the oven for forty minutes (180) on top of a crunchy gingernut base. Delish!

We have already cut into it and I will take what's left to share with friends tomorrow when we read some stories of the the Mayflower.

I've been thinking that with welly weather fast approaching, I could seriously do with a mud room. I'm fortunate in that I do have a reasonable sized hallway and a cloak room, but  the dreams I'm having, very much like this picture below in Country Living Magazine, are probably not that practical!

What I have concluded is that I *need* a stool very close to the door for the children to sit down and take their outdoor footwear straight off rather than tramping mud right through.   I've looked at the space available and have decided what I need is a cracket.  Actually I need two crackets - one for by the front door and one for by the back.  My search for local makers of affordable and beautiful crackets is progressing slowly.  All suggestions welcome.

I'm also wondering if I should try to get a cracket large enough for a plastic tray to fit underneath to drop muddy boots straight into?

When I've not been thinking about crackets I've been mostly crocheting granny square in a comforting neapolitan ice cream combo.  I like the cream, pale pink and brown.  I think it's snuggly warm yet with a glimpse of sunny ice cream days.  Who knows - my soon to be neapolitan mini throw may even go on my cracket should I ever get one!

I went to a craft fair a few weeks ago and picked up four large greeting cards for £5.  They are copies of a young ladies wildlife drawings and I had the pleasure to meet her in person.

I couldn't resist this picture of a cheeky fox frollicking.  I don't know why I'm full of foxy love right now, considering how a fox had designs on my wee beasties only weeks ago, but I am.  I'm hankering after a scatter cushion with a fox on too if the truth be known.  Preferably with red berries too.

Anyway, I have plans for these four large greetings cards.  I'm going to take down four random pictures in the kitchen/diner and replace them with these for the dark days of winter.  It will be a small connection with the wonderful outdoors at a time when we tend to spend more time indoors.  Come spring I can change the pictures round, in the frame, and I'll be back to cheeky chickens and vintage housewives.

Got to fly  x

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Sparkly fun

Hermione made a firework cake this morning while I pottered and generally cleared up the aftermath of copious black and orange tinsel which the children wound round every door handle in the house for Halloween.

Later we met with friends and Miles decorated cup cakes. I take my hat off to the amazingly chilled mama who allowed children to run a mock with a tub of Betty Crocker's icing and pots of sprinkles in her carpeted lounge!

Good old fashioned tail sticking fun.

Entranced by a sparkler.  I treasure pictures like these and hope that my children will always find beauty and wonder in simple pleasures.

It's been a wonderful week but I'm ready to get back into the groove now.  We don't necessarily take school holidays off from our 'work' but I do find the rhythm changes.  

Right, off to bed with The Girl who Played with Fire.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Spook Fest

A couple of years ago we attended a Forestry Commission Halloween event which left the children traumatised and since then have reverted to our usual DIY celebrations.  However, this year I just really didn't have what it takes to oragnise a party so I made very careful enquiries about local events and finally found one which I felt would fit in with our family fun ethos of Halloween   

I'm pleased to say we had an amazing time and below are some of the highlights in pictures.

Bones pertruding from flower beds.

A rather menacing looking scarecrow which we passed on a spooky treasure hunt..

The treasure hunt took us around beautiful gardens.

Chatting with witches about how eating spiders makes you 'all legs' and other interesting snippets.

Visiting another witch in her dark den and having a good rummage in her sticky cauldron for an eyeball!

Found an eyeball!

Icky spiders hanging about.

Letters left for the White Lady...

...who is said to haunt these stairs (thought to be the oldest remaining stairs in our county)...

...and here she is.

After writing our own letter to the White Lady we dared to poke into deep vaults in the stone wall.

Back to the beautiful gardens to carry on our treasure hunt ...

..before heading into the drawing room for ghoulish ginger cake and witches brew!

In amongst the spook there were lots of pretty things too.

Oh, witchy woman snapped by Hermione.  Can you see the cobwebs and spiders on my cheeks?  I was going to wear a rather hideous false nose which flashed and jokingly asked Miles, 'what if people don't realise it's just pretend?'  He assured me that people would know because they would see the elastic.  That sort of put me off wearing it, I just stuck to my very own witchy nose.

Beautiful reflections in the pond as the sun started to go down.

We gathered to hear tales of ghosts which haunt the house and grounds.

One of the ghosts was even quite sociable and showed themselves, on the edge of nearby woodland, as a glimmer not dissimilar to a torch under a sheet, whenever the children helped the property owner to ring a very large bell.

Great stuff!  Good family fun.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Story of The Little Leaf

I wanted to help Miles learn about why the leaves fall.  I looked for stories online and found a few but none were quite as I wanted.  Below is one I found but then mashed up, added bits , deleted bits and completely changed in parts.  

Once upon a time a little leaf was heard to sigh and cry, as leaves often do when a gentle wind is about. A nearby twig said, "What’s the matter, little leaf?" And the leaf said, "The wind just told me that one day it would just pull me off and throw me down to the ground!"

The twig told this to the branch on which it grew, and the branch told it to the tree. And when the tree heard it, it rustled all over, and sent back word to the leaf, "Do not be afraid. Hold on tightly, and you shall not go till your job is done."

And so the leaf stopped sighing, and began to wonder. It didn’t know it had a job.  It thought it was just there to look pretty. 

Later, when the wind had passed and all was still, the little leaf asked the twig, ‘what is my job big twig?’  The twig smiled warmly at the leaf and said, ‘oh little leaf, you and every other leaf are hugely important.  Without leaves like you I wouldn’t be here.  Our tree wouldn’t be here.  You have one of the most important jobs of all!  You are our food factory.  The special green colouring in your leaves mixes with sunshine and makes food for our tree.  Food that can be used for growth and to be stored up for the cold grey days of winter’  
Upon hearing this news the little leaf felt very important.  It was proud of having such an important job to do.  It danced up and down merrily, as if nothing could ever pull it off. And so it grew all summer long, green and bright, capturing sunlight and making food for the tree.

When the bright days of autumn came the little leaf noticed that he was no longer growing.  The sun didn’t shine so brightly and the days grew shorter.  He looked around and saw all the leaves around him becoming very beautiful. Some were yellow and some red, and some striped with both colors.

He asked the tree what this meant. And the tree said, "Summer is over and the days are getting shorter.  There soon won’t be enough sunlight for you to trap, so it’s time for the leaf food factories to close down for the winter.  You are loosing your green glow of the food factory and must now put on your beautiful colours ready to fly’

Then the little leaf began to want to go too, and grew very beautiful in thinking about it.  The day came when the little leaf was as beautiful as could be, golden and red.

Just then a little puff of wind came, and, knowing that his very important job as a food factory for the tree was done, the leaf let go.   The wind took him up and turned him over and over, and whirled him like a spark of fire in the air, and then dropped him gently down under the edge of the fence, among hundreds of leaves, where he fell into a dream, and he never woke up to tell what he dreamed about.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Walking by woods on an autumn day

 Fueled by hot chocolate and a cinnamon latte, we headed off into the woods.

The colours seem so delicate this year; or perhaps I've just forgotten how delicate they truly are!

A deep carpet of beech leaves, ripe for kicking and piling.

Boggy marsh areas - which thankfully Miles managed to steer clear of today.

A cosy den for story telling.  I love to sit in little cubby holes like this, but always regret it later when my legs feel itchy scritchy!  I told a story of a little leaf and I'll share it with you too one day soon.

When I bent over to look at this acorn cap the smell of the woodland floor was amazing.  I wished I could have bottled it and taken it home.

Jewel like dew drops - what a tongue twister!

Right, got to dash.  Pizza dough is rising in the hearth and rosy faced children have just trudged in from the garden to start chopping toppings.

Ta ta for now  x