Monday, 31 March 2008

A Woodland Walk

Although we live in a "modern" village we are blessed with beautiful woodland within the village and at this time of year they are filled with spring flowers.

Solomon's Seal just beginning to unfurl.
Wood Anenome
And Squirrels making a great deal of noise!
Meanwhile, in the pond the tadpoles have hatched.
And yesterday I saw 2 butterflies in the garden - a Brimstone and another (orange & brown) that wouldn't keep still long enough for me to identify it.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

The Upheaval of Decorating

Back to normal today - well almost! We had a busy Easter, painting the living room. Several years ago I stamped a gold fleur-de-lys pattern over the walls, which 2 years ago we tried to cover. After 9 coats of emulsion we thought they had gone, but the oil-based, gold paint gradually seeped through the emulsion! This time we have sealed the walls with PVA thanks to a tip from a forum - so fingers-crossed that they have disappeared for ever. Now I am putting everything back again. It was very cold here but we only had a flurry of snow. The children had their usual Easter Egg Hunt indoors. They still get excited searching throughout the house with their basket. I wonder how long it will be before they decide that they are too old for this?
Meanwhile, Ella was having a hunt all by herself!
"They must have left one for me"

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Easter Biscuits

Easter Bunnies and Eggs

225g plain flour
75g icing sugar
25g ground almonds
125g butter/margarine
1 medium egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
100g dark chocolate
Mix together flour, sugar and almonds. Rub in butter. Add egg and vanilla then flour to form a dough. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes. Roll out and cut into shapes. Bake at 180'C for 10 - 15 minutes. When cool decorate with dark chocolate.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Happy Easter

I have been "playing" today - putting up our Easter decorations!

I can't bear to burn these sweet, little, bunny, candles.
Pussy willow and daffodils with Hama bead decorations, which were made by Fay several years ago.
Jay asked for a Simnel Cake ... so here it is, but you'll have to share!!
It is made using the recipe from Nigella Lawson's Feast book.
and chocolate nests on fairy cakes.
I use my old school recipe for fairy cakes with the addition of some vanilla extract.
Fairy Cakes - Makes approx 16
100g caster sugar
100g soft butter/margarine
2 medium eggs
100g SR flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
a dash of milk
Cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla. Gradually add eggs. Fold in flour and baking powder. Add milk to form soft dropping consistency. Spoon into paper cases and bake for 8-10 minutes at 170'C.

Monday, 17 March 2008

Spring Flowers

Spring is starting to paint her beautiful colours in my garden ...
Some daffodil heads are too heavy to stay up on their own.

One of my favourite daffodils.

Pink hyacinth starting to bloom.

Grape hyacinths.
Generations of which have been handed from my grandmother to my mother to me.

White Snakes Head Fritillary.
The first to flower this year- no purple ones yet.

Easter Baking

Sunday was very wet - an ideal time to spend baking in the kitchen.

Hot Cross Buns from a Donna Hay recipe.

Easter Bonnets.
The bonnets are made from a biscuit (these are Donna Hay's Vanilla Snap Biscuits) with a marshmallow on top, covered with royal icing and finished with flowers.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Almost ...

Almost a teenager and I love the fact that Jay's bed is still covered in cuddly toys. Don't grow up too fast.

Almost started! Fay's evening wrap - 18 rows done, only 212 rows to go!!

Tuesday, 11 March 2008


Last night I made a batch of chewy flapjacks that are quick and easy to make in the microwave.
75g/3oz Light Muscovado Sugar
75g/3oz Butter or Hard Margarine
30ml/2tbsp Golden Syrup
150g/5oz Rolled Oats
50g/2oz Raisins
A Sprinkling of Sunflower Seeds
20cm/8" Round Pyrex Flan Dish
800w Microwave
1. Place sugar, butter & syrup in a basin and microwave on high for 2 mins.
2. Stir in oats, raisins & seeds. Press into greased dish and cook on high for 3 mins.
3. Allow to cool slightly, then cut into 8 or 12 pieces. Leave in dish until completely cold.

Jay loves these in his packed lunch and they are equally good with a mug of coffee. This is the rather large mug that Fay bought for me last year, whilst she was on the school art trip to New York. She knows I like my coffee.

Monday, 10 March 2008

Not Without Me!

I couldn't resist this photo:-
Each year my husband goes on a business trip to New York and this year I am going with him. It will be my first time away without the children and Maurice seems to be making a protest by sitting on my guide book. Don't worry Maurice, Grandma and Grandad are coming to look after you.

Time to Stop and Stare

Saturday morning I opened our bedroom curtains and saw this pretty little Siskin feasting on the peanuts. He is the first one I have seen on our feeders, so I ran for the camera. He was there for quite some time and I was reminded of William Henry Davies poem -

Time to Stop and Stare

What is this life if full of care
We have no time to stand and stare?
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep, or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this, if full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

William Henry Davies 1871 - 1940

We should all take time to stop and stare in this busy world.

It is wet and windy here today, as with everywhere, so I don't expect to see many birds on the feeders today. The children left for school this morning wrapped up against the rain, except for Jay who refused to put his hood up as it would spoil his spiky hairstyle! I had to buy some new school sweatshirts for him this weekend, as the cuffs of his old ones were nowhere near his wrists. Someone recently told me that children grow the most in springtime - I don't know if this is true but I can believe it when I look at Jay, nearly 13 and nearly my height. Fay has GCSE science, maths and art exams this week ... sometimes I find it hard to believe that she is almost 16 - it only seems like yesterday that she was starting school.

Friday, 7 March 2008

Sky Blue Pink

At least we are getting sunshine inbetween the showers today and the blue sky is showing off the pink blossom on my purple-leaved plum perfectly.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Ice-cream Colours

I have recently discovered a fabulous blog called and couldn't resist the pattern for knitted Easter eggs. I've knitted 3 so far in pastels that remind me of the colours of ice-cream; nostalgic colours. A great way to use up the small amounts of 4-ply left-over from knitting baby clothes.
I have finished my next set of gloves and hat. Unfortunately the hat is not at all flattering (or maybe it's the face that doesn't flatter the hat!) so I am knitting a plain beanie hat to wear with the gloves. I think the first hat will be my "allotment hat" or my "rambling in the middle of the countryside where no one can see me hat"!!
Out in the garden a single wood anenome is in flower. Each day a few more daffodils come into bloom and the grape hyacinths are also flowering. The frost a couple of nights ago was rather sharp and has damaged some of my squash plants in the greenhouse, despite the double layer of bubble wrap over them.
The forecast is for rain, rain and more rain so I doubt that much of the allotment will be dug this weekend, but at least the rain will keep away the frosts. I guess I will just have to stay indoors and do some more baking!

Monday, 3 March 2008

"Happy Mother's Day"

I can't help myself ... I did some more baking! Luckily I have 3 people to eat it for me (but you will notice that there are 4 slices!!). The lemon in the fridge was crying out to be made into a Lemon Drizzle Cake! Our son "Jay" and I love anything lemon flavoured.
And I had some buttermilk that needed using before long, to I made these Mini Cinnamon and Banana Loafs for the first time and some buttermilk scones, that were delicious with homemade raspberry jam.

We had 2 sessions at the allotment (just as well after all those calories!) - OH has dug half of it now and I have finished weeding the fruit-cage. That resulted in 2 buckets of bindweed root. I know I will never be rid of it, but hopefully I can keep it in check. Started tying in the summer-fruiting raspberry canes. We also have half a row of autumn-fruiting raspberries that I planted last year. A nice little freebie arrived in the post from Homebase - a packet of flat-leaved parsley seeds. How did they know I needed some more of these? Spooky!

Saturday afternoon we went shopping - OH and children's last minute dash to buy Mother's Day cards! OH would have forgotten if it wasn't for someone (female of course) reminding him at work on Friday! I cheekily asked if I could have a book instead of chocolates this year, so Sarah Raven's Garden Cookbook is on order from Amazon. Also bought some new jeans for Jay, whilst we were in town, as he has had another growth spurt. My Mum loved her fingerless gloves, that I knitted for her for Mother's Day and wore them Sunday afternoon when she went out for a ramble with Dad. Sadly they don't live near us, so we won't be seeing them for a few more weeks.

Today is our daughter "Fay's" last GCSE mock exam. Next week the real ones start - a scary time, though I think I am more worried than she is! Providing she passes her exams, she plans to go to the local art college in September.