Thursday, 22 April 2010

The Bumble bee Pub

I've never kept a diary, so this is the closest I've ever come to recording the little events of my life. I've found that I really enjoy looking back and reading about things I had forgotten about. So this is a short post about a small event that made me smile, I hope it does the same for you!

Last weekend we were out in the garden enjoying the sunshine, mowing the lawn and planting seeds. The Little People were eager to 'help' as always. I asked Little Miss where the trowel was and she pointed to the flowers in the picture and said "it's where the bees go for a drink!" I loved that - we have a bumblebee pub in our garden!

We also have a drunk frog! I don't go in for ornaments in my garden, but being half French, I had to have this little chap:

Sunday, 18 April 2010

A slow and simple Sunday...

I ordered this book from Amazon last week. I loved the idea and it had some good reviews, so I thought, why not?

Well, I have been inspired. The whole book is about enjoying the simple things in life without spending loads of money. As a result, I got very busy doing simple things today.

We went to church this morning. The Little People were chuffed to bits when they found out that it was 'doughnut day' (the Parish Centre provides doughnuts after Mass every so often, and today was the day!).

Then we had to rush back because a lovely man was coming to give us a quote for redecorating the hall (Big man wants to do it, but I can't face the very extended period of mess and grumpy husband!).

I went into the garden and got busy planting seeds - cosmos, foxgloves, parsley, borage and I'll be doing the mint tomorrow evening. I think I may have overdone it - I'm not sure where I'm going to put all these plants, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it!

By this point Little People were getting antsy, so after lunch we wandered down to the park. The sun was out and there wasn't a cloud in the sky, it was absolutely glorious. We stopped at the ice cream van (I'm not sure if ice cream is sold out of a van anywhere else, is it just an English thing?), went down to the river to watch the boats. It was The Head of the River race today (I didn't know, so it was a great surprise), there were eights, fours and single and double sculls all pootling up and down. The Little People spent some time in the playground, and I read the Weekend book, pushing swings as required. Finally I got bored, so we walked up the river to the weir, watched a couple of boats go up and down in the lock and wandered back home for tea.

I left the Little People in front of the TV (I know, bad mother, bad mother!) and mowed the lawns. Needless to say, I'm absolutely exhausted and I'm not sure I'm following the spirit of Elspeth Thompson's book, but I had a lovely time. If you have chance to look at the book, see what you think.

Very sadly Elspeth died last month. Having read her Weekend book and paid a few visits to her blog, I feel the world is a duller place without her. My thoughts are with her family.

On a different note, Big man is still in Houston on business and I'm starting to wonder if he'll make it back next Saturday if the volcano keeps going as it is... The novelty of being a single parent has warn off and I just want him home now!

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

A virtual thank you!

For those of you coming here from 'Twelve Crafts' for stocking stuffer ideas, please make your way through the waffle to the ideas...

It's time for me to say a great big thank you to all of those people (and you know who you are) who have made me feel so welcome to Blogland with your very kind messages or silent visits.

When I started this blogging lark, I loved having my own private piece of cyberspace, but back in February I decided it was time to go public. I got myself one of those free little hit counters and never thought it would go beyond 20 hits. Well, today it got to 500!!!

I wanted to give all my visitors a special gift each, but sadly the budget won't stretch to that. Then I thought I could do a giveaway, but only one person would get the prize. Eventually, I hit on the idea of a virtual giveaway.

This is how it works: I've put together a list of some of my favourite crochet patterns, sewing patterns and printables from all over the internet and one of my favorite recipes. These make up your virtual gift hamper from me to you. Thank you so much for your visits and support they are so appreciated! I should clarify that everything is free and I have credited the creative people who have made these lovely things available!

Now the fun starts! Get ready to print, sew, crochet, cook, craft and enjoy:

Gift #1
First up is a gift for all those 20 Minuters and crafty crafters out there:

I love the 'Keep Calm and Carry On' poster, but I think this is more cheery. Moleitau designed this, and he's made it available to anyone who wants it. You'll need to click this link and print it out. Some people print it onto transfer paper and put it on t-shirts, I'm going to make a small poster, I might even frame it... What will you do?

Gift #2
Right, on with the unwrapping! My next gift to you is courtesy of Nigella and Jane Grigson, it's the easiest and best recipe for Yorkshire Pudding ever! I swear, you can't go wrong with this one, it is absolutely fool proof and produces a billowing pudding that always impresses. OK, enough with the sales pitch, here it is:

Yorkshire Pudding (serves 6 at least!)

You'll need:
300 ml milk
4 eggs
250g flour (sifted)

Heat your oven to 220C. Put a small roasting tin in the oven with a tablespoon or two of oil, dripping or goose fat. Beat the eggs and the milk together with a pinch of salt. Then let it stand for 15 minutes, now whisk in the flour. Pour the mixture into the scorching roasting tin, and put it back in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes. I usually check it and leave it in a bit longer if it isn't golden enough for my liking. Enjoy!
P.S. This was particularly for Alison! Alison - I did remember, hope this one works for you. I used to be useless at Yorkshire Pudding too, but now I rock (Little Man is a very bad influence)!

Gift #3
I'm always short of note cards for thank you notes, but I found these recently, and they've solved my problems! I thought you might like them too:

The lady over at Creature Comforts has loads of free printables, but I really like the apples! Here's the link, get printing next time you need to say thank you via snail mail!

Gift #4
Next up is something for anyone with little girls out there. I used to love dressing paper dolls when I was little, so have fun:

These (and more) are from via Moms and Kids Couch. I think they would make perfect party bag gifts! Here's the link, just scroll down and print them out. I love the vintage feel of these, have fun!

Gift #5
I fell in love with this little chap the very first time I saw him.

There's a fantastic tutorial here, if you want your very own bunny. I keep meaning to make him, but you might just beat me to it!

Gift #6
I've started to make these, and thought you might like a pretty pair of slippers too. Look aren't they beautiful?

The (very easy) tutorial/free pattern is here. You may need to subscribe to Ravelry, if you haven't already, but it's free and gives you access to more free crocheting and knitting patterns than you could shake a stick at!
I made these for my daughter using this pattern.

Gift #7
Finally for all of the sewing fans out there, I found this
huge list of sewing patterns for every eventuality. Happy sewing!

Well, that's it for the BIG THANK YOU! I hope you enjoyed the unwrapping, and you found something you liked!

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

I went to Bath for a bath

I've just spent the day at Thermae Bath Spa. One of my best friends got vouchers for her 40th (almost a year ago!) and asked me to go along with her!

It was blissful! We floated in the roof top pool in the natural thermal spring water, where the sky was blue, the water was warm and the breeze, as we got out, was somewhat bracing! After that rather indulgent start, we made our way down to the bottom of the building for our session in the Kraxen Stove (where we were steamed to medium rare). We had a lovely lunch and then floated in more hot pools (indoors this time!) until it was time for my friend to go and have a whole afternoon of treatments (it's a hard life!). I made my way to the steam rooms which was definitely the best bit of the whole thing, it's a bit like a space age take on the Roman bathing experience.

I came out totally relaxed and wandered round Bath window shopping. Obviously, homage was paid to the Cath Kidston shop, numerous shoe shops were visited, I took a tour of Laura Ashley and found a very lovely shop called Vinegar Hill on Milsom Street, they have a very basic website here. However, I am proud to say I bought nothing!

Although, the reason for the lack of purchases may have been because I soon discovered that I'd left my mobile phone in the pocket of my spa bath robe. I rushed back and ask them to search through hundreds of wet robes to find it, and they did! Happy days!

Bath is one of my most favourite places in the whole world, so on the way back to the car I took some snaps - They're not good enough to be called photos! I didn't go past any of the famous places, so this is the 'ordinary' Bath, if a World Heritage Site can be 'ordinary'! Anyway, enjoy:

I loved the daffodils here, you can just make them out!

I didn't realise the motorbikes featured so prominently when I took this one!

I really needed this little outing. My Big Man went to Houston, on business, for two weeks last Sunday. I love the 'exclusive' time with the Little People, but I do find juggling everything alone a bit exhausting! Only eleven days to go!

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Birdy took off...

You may or may not remember this little guy:

Well it was my Mother in Law's birthday, as usual (not that I'm bitter or anything) I was on present buying duty, and the said recipient was not forthcoming with present ideas. Although my MIL says she hates surprises, I have a sneaking suspiscion that she loves them really, because she always refuses to offer even a hint of what she might like for Christmas or birthdays.
Anyway back to the story. She came over this weekend and it was time to hand over her birthday gifts. I wrapped some soap (very artistically, even if I do say so myself!), some notelets, some chocolates and we had sent flowers on the day. Suddenly, I felt the offerings were a bit sparse so I rushed into our room grabbed Birdy from his perch on our headboard, wrapped him and sent him off to his new home. I miss his lavender scent and his sparkle. I can't believe I gave him away so easily! I'll have to get my crochet hook out again...

Friday, 9 April 2010

Busy, busy, busy

Little Man is on holiday so we've been getting busy, I thought I'd post a photo diary of our Tuesday (yes, it has taken me until now to post it!):
First, we went into town (the weather wasn't great)

Then we bought some needles from the haberdashers (I love these shops, they're so old fashioned and higgledy piggledy AND they have EVERYTHING!)

Then Little Man had to have his hair cut. He's been getting his haircut in this little barbers' for 6 years. Little Man started off screaming every time we went, but the lady who cut his hair charmed him (and the lollipop she gave him for being good, every time, helped too). But now the lady's moving away so the shop is closing, and no one cuts his hair better...I'm heartbroken

Finally, I found a bargain, and put the money my parents gave me for my birthday to good use. I haven't been able to sit on it yet though...Maybe one day!

Monday, 5 April 2010

Mug love

No, I'm not a mug in love. As you may have gathered from the picture, I'm in love with a mug. Sad but true.

I found the said mug as I wandered through the local farmers' market a couple of weeks ago. I came across a stall owned by Ken Mills. The pottery was very reasonable, and I loved the shape of the small mugs. But it was only when I had my first cup of tea that I realised it is perfectly shaped for my hand, the colour is perfect and they provide just the right amount of tea for me. Good thing I bought four!

As I said: Mug love! Have you got mug love too?

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Easter Eggs in full Technicolour

If you have had the misfortune to trawl this blog for tutorials, you will have noticed that I am useless at writing them! However, I am of the opinion that if I keep trying, I might produce something that will be of use to someone one day!

Here goes, this is a tutorial for making coloured eggs for Easter (I should know how this one goes, the Little People and I do it every year!):

You'll need:

Eggs (yes really!)
A pan with a tight fitting lid
Food colouring (as many as you like
Kitchen roll
An egg box

Step 1
Take your eggs out of the fridge and let them warm up to room temperature. Place them in an empty pan. Fill the pan with water to about 3-4cm above the eggs. Bring to the boil and then boil for ten minutes. Now at this point, if you're just boiling eggs, plunge them into cold water and peel. However, if you're after eggs of the dayglo variety, keep reading.

Step 2

While the eggs are boiling away, decide how many colours you want to use. You'll need a non porous bowl per colour. Filled each of the bowls with a mug and a half of water, 2 tablespoons of vinegar (I used some old cider vinegar made from apples in my aunt's orchard) and quite a few drops of food colouring.

Step 3

Once the eggs have had their ten minutes, plunge them into the coloured water and swirl them around a bit.

Step 4

Take each of the eggs out of their colour baths and dry them off with a bit of kitchen roll. Then place them in the egg box to dry.
That's it! Little Miss loves doing this!

If you're wondering why it there are three types of colour in the 'finished' picture, it's because something went wrong... I was looking for different things to do with eggs and Martha Stuart suggests mixing food colouring with olive oil and rolling the eggs into it to get a marbled effect. Well it might have worked for Martha, but it didn't work for me...

Happy Easter to everyone!

Nesting for Easter

I promised the Little People we'd craft for Easter, and when I mentioned chocolate I was swept into the kitchen. After paying a visit to Attic24 earlier in the day we were inspired to get these out (thanks Lucy!):

We melted about 100g or 4 oz of chocolate (in the microwave) then poured about 100g or 4oz of All Bran into it, and stirred it round until everything was chocolatey.
Then we melted more chocolate in a bowl, and dipped the Mini Eggs into it to stick them onto the nests. Obviously, not all the eggs made it to their intended destination, hence the distinct lack of them in some nests:

After all that I still had some melted chocolate left, so I dipped pieces of banana into it, here they were:

They didn't last long!

Friday, 2 April 2010

Things that made me happy today...

I bought some happy daffodils today, thinking my tulips might need replacing, but I just couldn't banish them to the compost bin quite yet...

Obviously it's a given that the Little People make me smile (and scream!), but I wanted to record my progress on the granny front, so here's another picture without the additional entertainment, sadly I can't seem to get the colours to look right in the photo, I need some bright sunlight (although chance would be a fine thing!):

I'm planning some family eggy crafting tomorrow. I've been trawling the internet for ideas, and it's amazing what some people do with their eggs! If anything goes well I'll post something tomorrow! Good night!

Thursday, 1 April 2010

S is for Smoke...

I'm sitting here stinking of smoke. Little Man and I went up to a Beaver camp fire evening tonight. It was lovely to watch over excited little boys running through the woods gathering twigs for the fire, and stuffing themselves with toasted marshmallows (on grubby sticks). I was hoping to be bathed in dappled sunlight but got drizzled on instead...

Life has been on fast forward recently. You know when you think it's still just after lunch, you look up and realise it's almost five, that's what I mean. So what's been going on? Well...

My Little Man has lost so many teeth in the last few weeks that it's a wonder he can chew anything. He's chuffed to bits of course because he can now (finally) whistle - I can't wait for the new teeth to grow so the whistle hole closes up, and the house becomes slightly quieter again!

Little Lady was so funny this morning. She was given some glitter on a small roller that she likes to smear on her face (and she's only 4!). Well, today she obviously thought the cat needed a little pick me up. I happened to glance at him and he glistened. He is fastidious, but this gleam was a step too far. I looked at Little Miss, and sure enough the cat had had the glitter treatment. She looked at me innocently and said 'but Mummy, doesn't he look beaUtiful?!

As for me well, I'm still a devoted 20 Minuter, I never thought I'd last this long! If I feel my motivation dropping, I love wandering over to Flickr to see what the rest of the 20 Minuters are getting up to - amazing!