Thursday, 29 January 2015


Could this be a sign of Spring that I spotted in the back garden this week? Listening to the howling winds and rain at the moment, it's difficult to believe but the camera never lies! So, this little moment is my Friday Happy for Planet Penny's blog. There aren't many snowdrops at the moment but I found these few, hardy little specimens ever so cheering.

Other happies this week include:
Snapping E and Hamish enjoying a wildlife programme together. E's dressing gown seems to have come out a most peculiar colour  - it's not really that bright!
Starting a new yarny project to bust some more of that stash. I think I'll post some more of this next week when I've progressed a bit further - I just took this photo because the yarn matched my dress!
A cup of tea, a chocolate brownie and this month's edition of Country Living ..... Bliss!
Apologies for the blurriness of this photo but I didn't want to scare the little chap away by trying to get closer. I bought some nigella seeds and a new feeder last month to try to attract some more finches to the garden. For weeks there was nothing and then suddenly they have discovered them and they are going down at a fair old rate.
Even the pheasants were joining in when I dropped some of the seeds refilling the feeder.
One of the chucks coming inside for a quick hello. That's the sleeve of E's onesie just visible in the corner there - we don't have a resident giraffe!
Loaf of the week: Irish soda bread. It was delicious but a little crumbly. Definitely one to do again though.
It doesn't seem like a year since I last bought a little pot of tete-a-tetes.
Finally, I went to a friend's house for lunch this week and stopped in the middle of Burnham Beeches to snap a quick photo. It's not the best view but it was the best I could do from the road. I took it because it's sunny and 10 minutes earlier on the M4 I'd just struggled through the most horrendous downpour - spray from the lorries, poor visibility, winds pushing me sideways, the works ........ and then this! British weather, don't you just love it?!
Anyway, that's all for this week's happies. I'm just off to Planet Penny to see what everyone else has been up to. Wishing you all a very happy weekend. x

Thursday, 22 January 2015

'Use up the stash' Garden Throw

Greetings! I'm joining in with Planet Penny's 'Happy Friday' again. I feel very lucky this week because I seem to have had so many happy moments, it's been difficult to choose a favourite. I think, however, that it has to go to my 'Use up the Stash' Garden Throw. Since learning to crochet last year, I've made 4 blankets and have managed to accumulate quite a bit of stash. It seemed a pity to let it go to waste, so a quick visit to attic24 for inspiration and ...........
 It's not as big as a blanket - hence the term 'throw' - and it was intended to liven up a wicker chair in the bedroom. Looking at the photo below, I think the cushion could do with a bit of a revamp too!
Thanks to Lucy, once again, for her fantastic and easy to follow tutorials. There does seem to be quite a bit of stash left, so I'm thinking maybe a picnic blankie next!

Other happies this week include:
An Oxfam find. This book has lots of lovely recipes which 'Minnie' and I are itching to try out. 

 'Loaf of the Week' - Ciabatta:
This was rather fun to make as the dough is incredibly wet and you think that it's never going to work. Paul Hollywood does seem to know what he's talking about though!

Kale crisps - I've been meaning to try these for a while. We like Kale and Hamish, the rabbit, goes mad for it, so there's usually some in the fridge. I did like these and felt rather virtuous tucking into them, as opposed to a packet of Walkers, the only problem was the smell - the house stank for the rest of the day. It was too cold to open the windows and, despite the best efforts of the extractor fan and my spruce scented candle, it did linger rather!

This week's selection of library books. I'm currently enjoying the new series of 'Broadchurch' on Monday evenings, so the top book is to refresh my memory of the first series. Having been to see 'The Theory of Everything' at the cinema (very good - watch out for the Oscar for Eddie Redmayne), I was inspired to get a Stephen Hawking book out. I have a feeling that it might go completely over my head but I'll give it a go. Finally, the quilting book is to give me some inspiration for the new quilt I have planned. I want to make a 'graduation quilt' for L in time for this Summer.
I thought she might go for blue and white and , when I asked her, that was her knee jerk reaction. On giving it more thought, however, she decided that she had quite a bit of blue stuff  (blankets and the like), so decided on greens and yellow. 'Spring-like' was the term used. Do you think these fabrics fit the brief? If you don't like them Sweetie - speak now!

It's marmalade time of year again and it was made so much easier this year by a few jam-related Christmas presents. First was a Kilner preserving pan which means I'm not kept hovering anxiously, expecting it to boil over the cooker top at any moment.
Look at all the extra room I have!
Second was a jam funnel, which made the whole process of jarring it up a doddle. Then, Santa also brought me some cute labels and fabric tops.
Here is the final product, after I'd had fun playing:

The chickens, after much hint dropping, bought me a skein of grey yarn for Christmas (yes, sadly, the animals do buy us gifts!). I'd seen a scarf that I loved on a blog a while ago but for the life of me I couldn't remember which one. So this is the result of my winging it:

Of course, after I'd finished it Joules at Sew Sweet Violet posted pictures on her blog of her 2014 makes and, wouldn't you know it, there was the scarf! Joules' version can be seen here. Hers is so much neater, with a much snazzier edging and, if I'd done alternate rows, I could have used up more of that stash! Oh well.

Finally, the sun was spectacular on this morning's school run. These photos were taken in the school car park. E humoured her mother and, risking ridicule from her school friends, bravely jumped out of the car, camera in hand, and tried to capture the moment for me. Sadly, the photos don't do it justice. The colour was much more intense and the view better from the school drive, where you could see it through the trees throwing the silhouetted branches into sharp relief. It would have meant risking life and limb though, so I'm grateful for the ones she managed to get!

Anyway, that's all for the moment. Wishing you all a fun-filled and cosy weekend.
Toodle Pip for now. x

Friday, 16 January 2015

Bedside Posy


Good morning! This week's Friday Happy is my little bedside posy of flowers. I've seen a few people who do this on a regular basis and I always mean to but somehow have never got around to it. On Wednesday I went along to my first WI meeting. I had intended to go along as one of my '50 new things' last year, but school speech days, Christmas parties etc. got in the way, so this month was my first opportunity. Rather disappointingly, Helen Mirren and Julie Walters weren't there, but they were a lovely bunch of ladies, all very welcoming. It is apparently their practice to give a small posy to anyone with a birthday that month. Well, the January birthday lady couldn't make it, so they gave the posy to the newcomer - lucky, lucky me! As I'd just bought a spray of carnations for downstairs, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to try a bedside posy and ..... I love it. It makes me smile every time I enter the room and to wake up to the smell of freesias is just lovely. I must make a habit of this.

Other happies this week include:
Danish pastries : a special breakfast before L went back to uni  - not such a happy :(  

This week's 'Loaf of the Week' - a cottage loaf:
Working on the border of my 'use up the stash' garden throw:
Enjoying a brief interlude of sunlight between all the high winds and snow flurries:
One of this week's library books. L bought me 'Plenty' for my birthday and I have loved it. This one has some delicious looking recipes too, although I have to say that the 'cauliflower cake' (Yotam's alternative to cauliflower cheese) was not well received!
That's all for this week - I'm just off to mug up on the words to 'Jerusalem'! Hopefully, I'll be able to post a photo of my new throw next Friday. Wishing all of you a fun-filled and storm free weekend. x

Friday, 9 January 2015

Friday Happies

Hello! I thought I'd join in with the 'Friday Happies' idea this week. It has been quite an easy week to think of things as E celebrated her birthday on Sunday, so a day trip ice-skating, followed by bowling made for lots of happy memories. L was able to return the baking favour by making E a Pusheen birthday cake - we'll definitely have to think of a new theme this year! Lemon cake with a lemon and passion fruit curd filling - Yum!
R decided that he didn't want to go on the ice, so sat in the cafe, feeling old, with his Kindle! I was game though and after a very slow circuit or 2 hanging onto the surrounding rail or L's hand, was confident enough to let go. I had a brilliant time and only fell over once! The resultant bruised knee has made pilates a little tricky this week but it was well worth it. Go me!
 Next we went bowling and with my very first shot  I got a Strike - that was my only one though! What R lost on the skating, he gained on the bowling by winning easily. His trick is to use the heaviest ball and bowl it at great speed - even if he isn't central, all the pins get knocked over by the sheer force.

Then it was back home for 'Onesie Film Night'.
As I was lucky enough to receive a Kitchen Aid for my birthday (Minnie the Mix! - if you're not old enough, 'Minnie the Minx' was a character in The Beano) I have decided that 2015 shall be the year of the loaf. We usually make our own bread in a bread maker  but Minnie's dough hook and this new book sound like much more fun! 
I aim to make a different type of bread each week and this week's was a crusty cob. Here it is - not quite as spherical as I think it is supposed to be but quite tasty nonetheless. 
Tea and shortbread on my new tray (a Christmas present from L) made me very happy.
Finishing the main bit of my 'use up all the stash' garden blanket. Now it just needs a border. Surprisingly, the stash doesn't seem to have diminished at all!
Finally, L brought her birthday balloons back from uni and Hamish has been having fun. Initially, he just chewed them with predictable results. Then he dribbled them round the house like a little furry footballer ... it was very cute. Unfortunately, this morning I discovered him trying to mate with one! He sat slumped over it, rocking rhythmically with a rather glazed expression on his face. Ew!!! Not at all cute! Time for the balloons to go me thinks!
That's all for this week's happies - I'm not sure that last one really qualifies as one anyway! Have a fun-filled weekend.
Toodle Pip for now. x

Saturday, 3 January 2015

End of Year Review

I've just been spending a while looking back through all the photos I've taken this year. My camera was bought in the January sales last year and I have, much to E's despair, become the sort of person who will take photos of absolutely anything. The cry "why are you taking a photo of that?!" rings out quite regularly round these parts. The reason I do it is because I have a memory like a sieve and it's so lovely to use this space as a sort of online diary. I'm sure I wouldn't remember half the stuff I've done this past year, without this little space of mine. All the simple, homely moments, various trips etc. would just be lost in the ether, never to be thought of again. So, despite the ridicule, I shall continue to record these precious moments, more for myself than anyone else but maybe, one day, they will be nice for my girls to look back on. 

Anyway, here are some of my favourite reminders of 2014 - from GCSE keep calm lavender bags, to various makes, holidays etc. Mostly though, they are things which just make me smile .... and that can't be a bad thing now, can it?

So Happy New Year to you all and best wishes for a wonderful, fun-filled 2015 - I can't wait. x