Monday, 30 March 2009


My first attempt at wet felting... a sheep egg cosy to give as an Easter gift! Wet felting is a lot easier than I first thought, to make this sheep, you wrap some carded wool around a smooth stone or pebble, making sure there is an even coverage. I then put this inside an old pair of tights! Then got it wet and rubbed in olive oil soap and rubbed and rubbed until the wool inside didn't feel so squishy anymore, probably around 15 minutes or so depending on how vigorous you are. I finished by pouring boiling water over the top and after taking it out of the tights, left it to dry. Once dry I snipped off the bottom and needle felted a face and some ears, to make a sheep, you could always cut out a circle in the middle and make an egg with a chick inside instead?

Sunday, 29 March 2009

a recipe for growing children

1 grass grown field, Half a dozen children (or more),
Several dogs (and puppies if available), 1 brook & some pebbles


1. Into the field pour the children and dogs, allowing to mix well

2. Pour brook over pebbles till slightly frothy

3. When children are nicely brown, leave to cool in the water

4. When dry, serve with milk and cookies

(page 266 of The Happy Campers by Tess Carr & Kat Heyes

Friday, 27 March 2009

hot cross buns

hot cross buns, originally uploaded by Emma Bradshaw.

as soon as they are in the baker's I buy them, I think I am addicted. Ted calls them "buns with kisses on!" This weekend I am going to try a new recipe and make my own batch...

Cherry & Chocolate Hot Cross Buns

450g very strong flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
100g caster sugar
7g sachet of fast action dried yeast
160g of sour cherries
100g dark chocolate chunks
50g butter
250ml semi-skimmed milk, plus 3tbsp for glaze
1 egg beaten
50g plain flour

1. Sift the strong flour, salt and 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon into a large bowl to lightly combine the ingredients. Add 50g sugar and the yeast, dried cherries and chunks of chocolate, then stir until just combined.

2. Gently melt the butter in a small pan, add 250ml milk and heat for one minute unil tepid. Pour in the egg and stir enough of the milk mixture into the flour to form a soft dough, using a round bladed knife.

3. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Divide the dough into 12 equal sized pieces and shape into balls, pushing any of the chunks of chocolate that poke out of the dough back in, to stop too much chocolate oozing out into the oven. Transfer onto large baking sheets lined with non stick baking parchment, leaving space for each bun. Cover with lightly oiled clingfilm. Leave to prove in a warm place for about 1-1 1/2 hours, until doubled in size.

4. Preheat the oven to 190 oC, gas mark 5. To decorate with crosses {or kisses} put the plain flour in a small bowl and gradually add 5-6 tbsp of cold water to form a smooth, thick paste. Spoon this mixture into a small piping bag, or a clean plastic food bag and snip off a corner, then neatly pipe a cross over each of the buns. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown in colour.

5. Meanwhile prepare the glaze. Place the remaining milk, 3 tbsp cold water, the remaining cinnamon and sugar in a small pan and heat gently for 2-3 minutes, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. When the buns are cooked, transfer them onto a cooling rack and brush the glaze over each one twice. Allow to cool.

Recipe from the Waitrose Seasons Spring 2009 Cookbook...

Thursday, 26 March 2009

love is...

love is..., originally uploaded by Emma Bradshaw.

having a little friend round to play and being allowed hula hoops to eat off your fingers! I look at my little men and the friendships that they have and wonder how long they will last. I can just about remember names and memories of my first friends and days at school and how special those times were and I catch myself from time to time wondering where they are now.

A young childs friendship is unconditional, they don't care what you wear, whether you are rich or poor or what music you listen to. They like you just because. I look at my boys and how they play with their friends and how they smile when they say silly things and when one smiles the rest do... it's as simple as that! They think everything should be equal and fair and they are right.

I learn so much from them every day.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

today, I worked from home

today, I worked from home, originally uploaded by Emma Bradshaw.

and it was good. The birds singing outside, the quiet and the smell of the daffodils on the table. I felt as if I got a lot more done than I would in the office. I sat at the table that at the weekend I tried to strip on a whim! Another candidate for my 'seemed like a good idea at the time award!' as I soon got fed up and gave up as the layers of golden varnish refused to come off. Although I quite like the 'shabbyness' of it now, I had orginally thought of painting it after years of admiring this table here, but now I may just leave it.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

nature table

nature table, originally uploaded by Emma Bradshaw.

we have neglected the nature table of late, so time to make amends. The stag, in the wild should be loosing his antlers around now ready to grow some more, ready for the Autumn rut and he is joined by a blackbird, who is our favourite garden visitor. Our garden blackbirds are very friendly coming right up to the window to look at us as if we are animals in a zoo {we probably are to them!}. If we play outside and surprise them or go near any nesting spots they sound the alarm warning us off with a loud chirp. We have added some eggs in the nature table nest and made sure we keep the bird feeders outside full of nuts, so they have plently of food for their young.

Monday, 23 March 2009

stories by firelight

stories by firelight, originally uploaded by Emma Bradshaw.

we started the day with homemade cards and finished with a barbecue and stories by firelight, huddled under a blanket, it's the moments like these that make a perfect Mother's Day anyday of the year!

Saturday, 21 March 2009

we're going on a bear hunt...

bear, originally uploaded by Emma Bradshaw.

yay! finished the bear for Ted's birthday next month. He is having a 'We are going on a bear hunt' birthday party, based on this book. We thought it would be funny if Pete dressed up as a bear and sat in a deckchair reading a newspaper in a woodland glade and the children had to find him, although we can't decide if this is too scary! What do you think? I was thinking of making 11 little bears like this one that he can give to all the children as party gifts - although that number seems like quite a lot now! I have also found some large spotted handkerchiefs that I can wrap a small picnic lunch in and tie to a stick and the children can carry their own food, Dick Whittington style {plus it saves me carrying everything}. Best send out the invites I think...!

Monday, 16 March 2009


carding, originally uploaded by Emma Bradshaw.

Spent saturday washing and carding wool outside in the sunshine ready for some craft projects. The wool is from the hebridean sheep that Pete looks after, that graze a nearby nature reserve. We have also been enjoying the warmth the sunshine is bringing and the birds as they build their nests - we left out some wool in case they wanted to line their nests with our carded wool! What wonderful medicine sunshine is as we buy and plant seeds and plugs for our dug, bare soil and making sure the robin has his share of fat juicy worms!

Friday, 13 March 2009

a little of the everyday...

needle felting a bear for Ted's birthday, inspired by this book and some gorgeous soft brown llama wool. And eating 'yellow' food {banana's & custard} upon their request to eat food that matched the flowers! Oh the challenges that motherhood brings!

Thursday, 12 March 2009


jump, originally uploaded by Emma Bradshaw.

I think most of the springs have now gone in our bed! There is still lots of energy round here, birds pairing up and flitting around outside the window and boys still jumping, rolling and running. Some may also say it's the effect of the full moon!

Monday, 9 March 2009

the view...

There is nothing better than the view you get from the top of Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust's, Elliott Nature Reserve at Swift's Hill, near Stroud. I am usually breathless by the time I get to the top, which I put down to the view rather than my personal fitness level! From the top you can see the Slad Valley and the town of Stroud in the distance and on a clear day, the river Severn and the great Severn bridges beyond.

This view gives me a great sense of place, this is where I was born and grew up and am now raising my own children so the chain of life continues. I wonder whether my family stood on this hill top back in the 1600's as I do now and what their lives were like? I sit down and close my eyes and hear the planes overhead, journeying to far off destinations and I am glad I am not a passenger on them. As the minutes pass I tune into the sounds around me, the crickets, grass rustling in the breeze and a skylark singing overhead. I can no longer hear the planes, just feel the south westerly breeze on my face. I am recharged and turn my back on the view, chasing my children along the ridge to the big quarry beyond it. Here they play cowboys and Indians, wearing away their trousers as they slide down the slopes. This is how it should be and I am grateful that my children are learning about nature by experiencing it first hand, how lucky we are to have access to special places like this. I just sit, glancing occasionally to make sure they are OK but giving them the freedom they crave and deserve, calling out just once to beckon them over to sit with me and drink hot chocolate from big enamel mugs.

I look across the valley to the Woolpack Inn, undoubtedly one of the nicest pubs in Gloucestershire and it is bustling with walkers and people eating lunch and I wonder if they can see me? Some walkers appear and we pass the time of day, I don't tell them who I am as it's my day off and they delight at this new place they have discovered and vow to return to see the orchids that blanket the reserve in spring and summer. I smile and wish I could bring all people here, my job would be so much easier if I could show people the wildlife that needs protecting.

We finish our day by running down the hill, tripping as we go, I am glad that this hill, that is such a feature in the landscape, is quiet and wonder should I of chosen somewhere else to tell you about - so I can keep it all to myself ?

Written for 'Cotswold Life' magazine. April 2009 edition on sale soon.

Saturday, 7 March 2009


Part of the unravelling e course I am doing this week has been about favourites, what would you save in a fire? Do you have anything from your childhood? What are your favourite clothes etc... This is the week I thought would be easy as I am surrounded by keepsakes and clutter, all special and nice to look at, but not really worthy of description or justification as a favourite or worth saving in a fire. I think this is why I love holidays so much, is that we take a few toys, books and games, as many clothes as we need and are practical and we make do. Whenever I go on holiday to a beautiful cottage, I think how nice it would be to live somewhere like that, without so much 'stuff'. Ooo I think I have found a favourite... holidays - not big expensive far away travel, but UK breaks in cottages, tents, railways carriages, vw camper vans, showman's waggons and tipi's. Leading a simple existence, if only for a few days and spending the whole day together.

However, I would save something in a fire as well as my family of course and that would be my photographs. I have seen people split up and leave children behind, get ill and be unable to go out of their front doors or loose their memories ~ such pain. I would like to think that should anything happen to me, I could surround myself with thousands of photographs of smiling happy people, having wonderful times and know even if I didn't recognise all of them, I hope that I would know that I had had a good life filled with joy and laughter. Even now if I am feeling low, or winter is making me glum, I check out my flickr site and look at both my photos and those of others that I favourite and that makes me feel a lot better.

I was also asked this week to write a piece for a local magazine about 'my favourite place', which I thought very apt as it was favourite week and I will share that with you on Monday.

Friday, 6 March 2009


run, jump, climb, race, roll, hang, wrestle, bump, bruise & scrape
tears, cuddle, love, assure, nurture, comfort, plaster and mend!

sometimes we have to let go.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

waiting for the first tooth to fall out!

We have had our first wobbly tooth for a few weeks now, and despite vigorous wobbling from number 1 son it is staying firmly put! This has given me the opportunity to make a little tooth fairy pouch, for the tooth fairy to leave my son a shiny coin and a new toothbrush in. I wanted to do a male fairy as fairies are just so pink and girly nowadays and the one above is meant to look a little like my son. I thought he could leave it under his pillow each time a tooth fell out and I could use it to keep all of his previous milk teeth in!

I am not the greatist seamstress in the world and have handstiched this linen pouch, lined it with cotton and fnished it with a vintage button that used to adorn my grandma's clothes! I just hope he likes it!

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

do these look straight to you?

I can never hang pictures straight... but at last I got round to hanging up two of my favourite pictures from last year taken on a muddy night at the circus! And at 12.44pm today I was trying to get them level! Why 12.44 you may ask - well I was invited to join the new 'all I need is a moment' flickr group and this week the time to stop what you were doing and take a picture was 12.44! I had meant to be doing something more profound or making lunch, but no! Ah well on the more positive side at least I have managed to get some more pictures into my shop if you are interested please stop by and take a look.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

comics and crumpets...

I don't know whether it is the hint of spring in the air or the fact that they have been couped in over winter, but my little lambs are full of energy... Not any old energy I may add, but 'boy energy', full on, testosterone charged displaying. Now that my youngest is almost three it sure makes a difference with both of them running around and wrestling with each other. It takes all my energy as a mum to remain calm, to not get cross and to channel these energies into games that won't lead to arguments or frustrations that seem to just burst out of nowhere. They need to be busy almost all of the time and if they aren't will 'race' each other up and down the hall, which drives me nuts! But I remain calm and use every bit of my 'girl' energy as I can muster, such as bribing them with comics and crumpets...!
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