Monday, 25 June 2012

The Times...

Exciting news - one of my photographs featured in The Times on 14th April, as part of The Wild Weekend Guide. 

Friday, 22 June 2012

scarecrow making...

We were hugely excited to be asked by Hen & Hammock to review their Scarecrow making kit. We love making scarecrow's in our house (remember Uncle George?) so to receive a pack with everything in was fab. I love the products that Hen & Hammock stock and was lucky enough to be bought a lovely pair of fingerless gloves for Christmas from my husband. Hen and Hammock specialises in eco-friendly and sustainable products and I just love their range of deckchairs, including the new Jubilee deckchair. 

The kit is £25 and comes in a large box containing; a long pole a little like a broom handle, two smaller canes, two hessian sacks, needles, twine, a packet of seeds and the all important instructions. I thought this great value for money, as when we made our own scarecrow, it was quite a palaver to source all the bits and bobs needed and I couldn't quite believe how much men's clothes cost in charity shops to dress him! (When did charity shops get so expensive anyway?) The only bits you need extra is newspaper, a plastic bag and a plastic milk carton - it's really that simple!

We (the two older boys and I), enlisted the help of the 'girl next door' and set about cutting up the sacks, whilst the babe napped. It was a little tricky for the six year old, but he cut all the way down the line perfectly, but gave up with the sewing. The eight year olds were a lot more interested, especially when it came to making the head - which was a genius idea, cutting a plastic milk bottle in half and shoving the pole through the top! 

We followed the instructions exactly, but looking at the Hen & Hammock Scarecrow Gallery, many people add their own creative flair. You are invited to email a picture of your finished scarecrow so that he may sit proudly in the gallery amongst all the other creations, which I think is a lovely touch. 

Once we had finished our scarecrow, we didn't want him to be lonely in our garden! Ted has been doing lots of planting in the school allotment, so we thought what better home than in school, surrounded by the laughter of all the children, and more people get to enjoy him! What do you think? We think he looks quite happy in his new home. 

The scarecrow kit would make a perfect gift for a family, especially with children of differing ages as there is plenty to do and it was a great activity for my eight and six year to do together, without arguing! 

We have also been sent some 'throw and grow grenades' which are fab (especially for bigger boys) and are going to post about them separately. 

Thursday, 21 June 2012

when friends come to visit...

...there should always be cake! This cake is an elderflower cake made following a recipe from the cookbook 'A Cook's Year in a Welsh Farmhouse'.

Leonie and Jo came to visit yesterday, and were met by a frazzled sleep deprived crazy lady, who was trying to bake frantically while the baby slept!

They cuddled and talked to Stanley, bringing with them a sense of calm, whilst I finished baking the cake and preparing lunch! Then we went for a walk around the village looking for elder flowers, our now annual tradition, for Leonie to take back to London to make into cordial (the train must have smelt good yesterday!)

I'm finding Stanley is a good magnet to see friends and eat lots of cake! Anyone else fancy a visit? 

Sunday, 17 June 2012

needle in a haystack...

You may not notice but at the forefront of this picture is a butterfly, and not just any butterfly but a 'large blue' butterfly. A species that has been reintroduced back into England following it's extinction in the 1970's and one that remains extremely rare due to its complex lifestyle

We visited Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust's Daneway Banks nature reserve today to search the 40 acre site to find it, talk about looking for a needle in a haystack! Luckily as the sun came out so did the butterflies and I saw a green hairstreak and dingy skipper for the first time today too. A perfect way to while away a sunny afternoon. 

Saturday, 16 June 2012

and relax...

Having not done any exercise for over ten years I tentatively searched online for a yoga class last week. Despite having lost the baby weight, I could still do with loosing a few pounds and general firming up (especially in the tummy area!) I have never been bothered by my weight before, I don't ever weigh myself, if I can't do my jeans up then I know I've eaten too many cakes! But for some reason, I really want to get fitter and actually feel quite motivated right now!

I have found the most fab mother and baby yoga class in an amazing studio with panoramic views only a few miles from me! The yoga is relaxed and incorporates the babies, who lie on the floor watching each other - well apart from my little guy who just screamed! I managed 'the cat' and some relaxation, hopefully the babe will let me learn more as the weeks go by and I actually stick at it too! 

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

the bell tent owners club...

I'm really excited to be starting a new club, called the Bell Tent Owners Club, it was co-founded by Justin Kirby of the blog A Life Out There.

When I was young, my best friend and I would set up secret clubs all the time, with passwords and dens, so when Justin mentioned the idea of a club, I was very excited indeed. He quickly whipped up the logo above ~ I can just imagine it as a flag or a patch to sew on, like the badges I used to have in the Brownies! Please feel free to display the badge on your blog too if you like, linking back to the facebook page.

Anyway, you don't have to have a bell tent to 'like' us on facebook (please do), just love bell tents as much as we do and share your camping pictures and adventures with us. We will keep the page updated with our adventures, reviews of products that we have bought or use, bell tent tips, camping with babies (that's my next challenge!) and much much more...

so now all I have to do is source a 5 metre bell tent with inner tent for the expanding family and then we need some good camping weather!

Sunday, 10 June 2012

elderflower cordial...

It's the perfect time of year to go out looking for elder flowers in the countryside. Here in the Cotswolds the hedgerows are full of the delicate and very fragrant umbellifers - perfect for picking and making into cordial. Pick them on a dry day, away from a roadside, and use to make champagne, cordial and fritters

If you want to know what elder looks like then the Natural History Museum has this identification guide to help you. 

Elderflower Cordial

makes 1 litre

pick 25 elderflower heads on a dry day - gently shaking out any bugs!
5g citric acid 
1 unwaxed lemon - juice and zest
1 litre of boiling water
1 bag (1kg) of caster sugar 

Put the elderflower and lemon zest into a large bowl and pour in the boiling water, cover and leave for 24 hours, stirring occasionally. After 24 hours strain the liquid into a pan and heat gently, adding the sugar, lemon juice and citric acid until dissolved then bring to the boil for a few minutes. Pour into a sterilised bottle and drink straight away. The cordial should keep in the fridge for about a month. 

You can substitute the citric acid for a second lemon if using the cordial straight away, but I add a little to help it keep a little longer. 

A little tip: To keep for longer Elisabeth Luard recommends in her book A Cook's Year in a Welsh Farmhouse to make the cordial into ice cubes and keep in the freezer. 

Thursday, 7 June 2012

oo la la!

I'm captivated by all things French right now. Would you believe I have never been to France and dream of visiting Paris. I have it all planned, we would travel on the Eurostar departing from St. Pancras and stay in the Hotel Saint Andre des Arts after seeing it on Liivia's blog

I would wear red lipstick like Rachel Khoo from the Little Paris Kitchen (above) and buy baguettes and macaroons. We would visit the Rose Bakery, a creperie, a chocolate shop and watch the world go by, whilst sipping coffee at a Parisian Cafe

But in the meantime I can't get enough of these French bloggers with their gorgeous homes and children dressed in lovely linens running through meadows of wild flowers;
I think I might buy myself a 'teach yourself French' CD so I can learn the language in the car, as I really can't remember my school/uni lessons and have always wanted to speak another language.

and I need to start saving my pennies too of course to fund such fanciful daydreams, c'est la vie...

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

on the menu in our house...

This is my favourite foodie time of year and on the menu in our house at the moment is the best of homegrown, local and seasonal food... 

Picked-from-the-garden pea and mint soup, with smoked bacon croutons and pea shoots, accompanied by crusty bread. 

Smoked bacon wrapped Evesham asparagus, courgette and feta (OK the feta's not local!) salad with pea shoot salad. I called this my 'royal family salad' this weekend and the feta was in tribute to Prince Phillip, who was born in Corfu!

& if you saw Sunday's post about Croque Madam Muffins, then this is what you make with the left over egg whites ~ a huge pavlova, the perfect setting for locally grown strawberries. 

Monday, 4 June 2012


This weekend has revolved around food so far, I have never eaten so much! We went to our village jubilee celebrations in the Church Yard yesterday, the picture above shows the AMAZING jubilee cake - a replica of the Coronation Crown, on a red pillow with gold braid trim and a Union Jack flag - ALL edible and delicious and made by Gillian Hancox, Victoria Elvidge and Samantha Twigg. 

There were also teddy bear parachute jumps from the tower and a village photograph where 2,000 people try to squeeze in one shot! I thought someone should dress up in red and white stripes as Wally from the 'Where's Wally' books, but I couldn't find anyone mischievous enough!

Sunday, 3 June 2012

sunday breakfast...

We made these delicious crocque madam muffins for a Sunday treat, a recipe from the book The Little Paris Kitchen by Rachel Koo. Basically a bread case, with ham, egg and b├ęchamel sauce topped with cheese. Simple to make with the boys and impressive to serve as the yolk oozes out when you cut it open. 

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