Monday, 10 June 2013

Looking but not seeing.

It would seem that I've been walking around with my eyes closed for most of my life.  Out we trotted for a walk down the river on Sunday and stumbled across an elder bush full to bursting with flowers.  The smell can only be described as a wonderfully fragrant, citrus aroma and I was hooked!  So many ideas and so many recipes for this delicate little flower.

Whilst walking down the river bank we spied a very resourceful Mummy Moore Hen who has been able to make use of a discarded shopping trolley.

I feel it appropriate to remind you that we officially live in "Greater' London.  We could have been in the middle of Wiltshire!  Wonderful.

The boys on their "Bear hunt".  We can't go round it, we can't go over it, we'll have to go through it.

Anyone that knows me will tell you what a shocking fear of heights I have.  This has proved to be something of an issue as all that stands between me and a glut of elderflowers is a foot bridge over the A316!!!  Dear god!!  Heart racing, ear thumping, head spinning awfulness.  Simply painful.  Not helped at all by the kids insisting on telling me how high it was and how narrow.

This morning, whilst making the first and very vital brew of the day, I look out of my kitchen window to see a massive elder bush.  Then on the dogs morning constitutional what do I come across another one.  Why had I never seen these before?  Was it because I wasn't open to the world of possibilities that they presented or was it simply that I'm a bit of a towny and I have a very standard issue fear of things poisoning me.  Fortunately the man of the house has a deep knowledge of such things and is a willing taste tester.

And there was me thinking that the bush outside of my kitchen window was just pretty!

So, recipe for a cordial has been found and flowers have been collected.  I'd like to tell you all that it was a very graceful, ladylike even but that would be a whopper of a fib.  The truth is that it involved me (in my floral pinny naturally), mini man armed with a colander, a trampoline and a clothes line prop!  Fortunately the language was kept to a minimum.  I explained to mini man that we should never take more from mother nature than we need and that we must always say thank you for what we had taken.  This disguised the "thank **** for that" and the collecting of just 30 heads.

Such perfect little flower heads.

Steeping as instructed in boiling water and lemon and orange zest.  The smell is simply amazing.

Now to wait until I complete the mix and bottle until such time that I have a nice cold bottle of prosecco to do it justice.  I will keep you informed.

In other news...............

Green fly on my chilli plants!  RUDE!  I'm now the proud owner of  an atomiser of soapy water!

I have been busy crocheting more wonderful items from the world of Lucy at attic24.  Do pop over to her little patch of blog land.  I've started on the Christmas makes!  Ho ho ho. :-)

I am however pleased to tell you that all other residents of my window box are very happy indeed and starting to fill the space with colour and a little bit of yummy goodness (rocket just visible).

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Very VERy good excuse, honest!

So before you all moan at me for disappearing again I can tell you that I have a fantastic excuse.......we moved, AGAIN!

The next step on our fab family adventure is LONDON baby!!!!!!!  How lucky does one family get?  We have all of our nations amazing capital on our door step and its awesome!  Its been like a two week holiday but with all of our stuff.  Very odd indeed.  We've been waking up and deciding to just "nip to Windsor" or "pop to Richmond".  We've decided to direct our annual holiday budget to 4 Merlin annual passes.  I did have a small heart attack at the £500 cost but the thought for just "trotting off" to the London Eye, Madam Tussauds, Thorpe Park and lets not forget LEGO LAND and the pill easier to swallow.  Not so mini man was practically catatonic when we told him.  I must say that I can't see filling the summer holidays with activities is going to be any problem at all this year.

Another thing which came as quite a shock to us was the amount of green space and wild life.  Its amazing.  We have Foxes, Parakeets, Blue Tits, Great Tits, Coots, Moor Hens, Squirrels and stunning small blue butterflies (which I must accurately identify).  The dog totally let herself down by deciding to swim up the small river which flows near our house.  Ordinarily it wouldn't have been a problem but on this occasion she found a Mummy Mallard and her 11 baby ducklings.  Could we get the daft dog out, not a chance!  She must have swam 400m up stream, nutter!  Glad to say that the ducklings were all present and correct.  Also glad to report that the Mummy duck got a few good pecks at the mad mutt so I think it unlikely that she'll be doing it again.

I've been gathered up by the ladies on two occasions since we moved. The first was for an evening of Gin in the Mess which was extremely enjoyable and the second was for a bootcamp.  Distinctly less enjoyable at the time but decidedly addictive and well worth doing.  If you're in the London area and fancy some pain contact Sammie Fitness (she's on FB).  I can honestly say that my abdomen has only just stopped hurting but the results already are fab.

Sunday saw a trip to the Ace Cafe for the Royal British Legion Riders day.  AWESOME!!!!!!!  Not so awesome was the two hour journey home on the north circular.  Grrrrrr.

Any way, must get back to my blanket making and fairy folk creation.  I may have just accidentally ordered the Deramores Stylecraft "Lucy pack", what a dreadful thing to do.  I feel two blankets running side by side for a little while ;-).

So Her Majesty wasn't home but it was very kind of her to allow us to view her beautiful home.

Sunshine, beautiful bikes, cracking brew and great music.  Perfect!

Now as much as I've tried I just can't get my head around being on the back of a motorbike.  Anyone who knows me will know that this is much more me.

Great thanks to the Ace Cafe for their support of the RBLR.

In memory of Drummer Lee Rigby.  You will never be forgotten.

Friday, 15 March 2013

How very remiss of me!

Just going through old posts and I've realised that I promised to post photos of my Russian dolls.  I'm so sorry that I'd forgotten.  Drum roll please.........................................

They make me smile. x

All change!

Well the new address has been issued, very excited!!!!!!  I must say that I'm delighted.  1940's stone fire place and the original 1940's kitchen.  This would of course fill most people with an equal mix of dread on horror but I'm literally catatonic with glee.  My mind is full of possibilities and Pinterest is egging me on.  Naughty Pinterest.

More new things in the house since my last blog.  When I was growing up we had two resident rocking chairs.  The first was a very masculine chair which we named "Albert".  Shortly after Albert came "Victoria".  These chairs were present right through my childhood until a move to the standard 1990's modern box of a house forced their sale.  Such a sad tragic event but I'm led to believe that we were all shipping out the lovely in favour of the modular.  I am now however in a position to right those wrongs.  I present you with..........................

....................................Mabel!!!  She's been rehomed as her current family are doing exactly what my parents did all of those years ago.  Hubster and myself just totally fell in love with her and collected her the day after we saw her.  Hubby has however banned me from crocheting anything for her!!!  The rudeness!!!  I'm sure he'll be away with his new post so I'm confident that I'll get my own way.

Winter returned with a sting in its tail in our little part of Hampshire.  Poor Jeff and Bungle have been fortified against the elements and are currently warmer than us.  On our travels yesterday we caught sight of the most amazing side effect of a rather sorry looking plumbing issue with an empty house on patch.

Happy to report that the weather has cheered up and the house is back in rude health.

My next project has been decided.  I, she of the bobbing phobia, have decided to make a quilt!  Oh yes indeedy.  To break down the vastness of this task and to address the sheer lack of skill, I have opted to start with a set of quilted coasters.  I will of course keep you informed of progress.

Cooking continues to be a large part of my life and will do for the next two weeks as they are my last two weeks in the nursery kitchen.  In the spirt of fundraising for Comic Relief we have been baking like our lives depended on it.  My contribution to the cake sale was an absolute triumph of yummy americaness and I really must run them past my American friends for absolute clarification of acceptance.

Cinnamon rolls prior to icing. Yummer! 

In other news, the granny blanket is still going great guns!  I've completed 6.5 rows of the 10 row blanket.  I've also started a blobble blanket for a friend's baby which is due in no less than 3 weeks!  If I ever look like I may head in the direction of the bobble again please do feel free to slap me HARD!

Finally, this abomination came to my attention today......

GIN IN A BAG!!!!  RUDE!!!!

Friday, 22 February 2013

What an awesome week!!!

Sometimes you have months where weeks pass by in a fog of saminess (if thats even a word!).  Every day blurs into another.  This week has stood out amongst the others as an absolute corker!!  Its been half term in Hampshire and I've had to work but hubby has had the week off and therefore was delegated responsibility of child care and kiddy entertaining.  God love him, he's fabulous!  He decided that I needed some time away from the house duties and child wrangling so he only went and booked me into the local spa for the day!!!!!

Tuesday was spa day and off I toddled with my swimming costume and kindle.  What an amazing day!! I lost 5 hours to the relaxation room and the Twilight books, 1 hour to a back, neck and head massage and facial and 1 hour to saunas and steam rooms.  Rounded off with an afternoon tea that required at least 4 people to help me eat it.  Utter bliss.

Wednesday saw the kidnapping of the kids by my mother.  DATE NIGHT!!!!  Skyfall + rib eye steaks + red wine = relaxation galore!  If you haven't seen Skyfall yet, you must.  Hubby was graced with Daniel Craig's company when he watched it during his little "holiday".  Apparently its not the same watching it without him but I'm assured I come a close second!  Thanks lover!!

Friday saw a very cold and windy trip to our favourite beach.  Picnic packed, camera ready to rock and LOTS of layers on.  Bracing to say the least but the perfect opportunity to test out my new lens.  Check these out....................

Love a bit of cake!!!

In other news, "Operation Blanket" is still going great guns, Easter decoration manufacturing has begun and "Breaking Dawn" is underway.

Have a great weekend everyone!!


Sunday, 10 February 2013

Family and friends. Lovely Jubbly!

We are a full compliment this weekend.  All 5 of us shoe horned into our little house and its FAB!!!  My "Wing Woman" step daughter has turned 18 and we're all feeling a bit old if the truth be told.

There was a distinctly american theme to my kitchen yesterday.  The other lady of the house has a slight addiction to my american pancakes, bacon and blue berry syrup and so her wish was my command.  There were also more promotion celebrations to be had.  I packed my fridge with Champagne and Kirsch and covered my table in all of the components to make delicious burritos.  Yummy!!!  I was amazed that an actually real life American thought my burritos were wonderful, praise indeed!  We are always thrilled to have guests but especially ones who are as nutty as we are and enjoy having the Rugby on the telly, a glass in hand and a plate full of tasty food.  Fireworks were also planned but sadly the fog came in and put pay to that.

It would seem that I'm allergic to grapes!  I have a bit of a headache this morning and I don't know why.

In other news......I've been recycling!  I love Yankee Candles and in the spirit of all things American (and thrifty) I decided to recycle my old candles.  I find that they are rather pricey but an essential part of our home.  I also find that there is always about half an inch of wax in the bottom of the jar that will not burn as the wick has already burned its last.  I'd been surfing on Pinterest and found that those frightfully ingenious Americans melt them down and create a whole new candle with the left overs.  My new wicks arrived yesterday morning and I had some little jars on stand by (that formerly held a votive candle so I was assured of their suitability for the job) so I decided to grasp the nettle and go for it!  I placed a pan of water on the hob, placed the candle inside and let the water almost reach the boil.  I  allowed the heat to melt the wax but did not allow it to get too hot as I had been told that if the wax starts to smoke then its ruined.  I placed the new wick in the prepared jar and poured the melted wax in.  PERFECT!

Genius use of a clothes peg to hold the wick in place.  Not my idea, much to sensible, Mummy dearest imparted her knowledge.

In other other news................

My glorious Amaryllis has unfurled in all of its wondrous beauty.

And finally........
Mini Man decided to make the Tortoise a new house.  I think Verns excited.  Difficult to tell.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Back to normal.

Well we're all back from a wonderful week in Disney Land Paris and all fully rested ready to take on the coming week.

We had an amazing time playing, eating, relaxing, gazing in wondrous awe at the fantastic 20th anniversary celebrations and just soaking up time having Daddy home from his little "holiday".

Now even the most miserable "grown up" can't fail to melt into a giddy child in the face of Disney at full power.  I've been lucky enough to go 3 times now and even witnessed the Christmas celebrations.  Nothing beats Disney at night.  Stunning. 

Even in the wet and wind its still breathtaking.  Its not the normal natural beauty that I enjoy surrounding myself with or indeed the low maintenance simplicity of my lovely cosy home but it is fantastic and I'm delighted that we have been fortunate enough to share it with our children.

It's Disney land Paris' 20th anniversary and the celebrations are spectacular.  If you can get there to see it then I strongly suggest you do.  The laser and firework show on the castle in the black back drop of night were an experience that none of us will ever forget.

Just have to love Mickey!

I'm afraid that a photo was as close as I got to having this fabulous hat forever.  I loved it but there was no way that I could justify its cost.  Lets just say that the exchange rate was not in our favour.  A small glass of red wine worked out at £5.50!!!

During our break we also got wind of the next phase of our family adventure.  Looks like I'd better stock up on Cilit Bang and packing boxes sooner than I'd thought.  On wards and upwards.  Even more happy times, we have been spoilt.

The one thing (other than the exchange rate) that I do despair at with the Disney experience is the sheer lack of vegetables and fruit.  Even the fruit at breakfast is from a massive tin and served in syrup.  My wonderful adventurous hubby took his pigeon french off to the nearest town to stock up on supplies.  I've never seen the kids eyes out on stalks for a bag of apples before.  I suppose they are so used to a fully stocked fruit bowl but I kid you not, they devoured a bag of apples in little more than an hour!  We've had so many veg since we came home.  Also people, take cups and brew kit!!!!!  What use is a kettle with out the other stuff.  PACK IT AND TAKE IT!!!

In other news I have decided to start a crochet blanket.  Its no secret that I'm an avid reader of Lucy's blog at Attic24 and she is a huge inspiration to me.  I would also like to point out that she is just and inspiration and that I respect her creative ability enough not to copy her.  Nothing irritates me more than people who just plagiarise.  Respect, appreciate and attribute full credit if required.  In this instance I would say that I am following one of her "ta da's", go over and check out her granny square blanket.  I'm aspiring to it although I've never had the stamina to complete a blanket yet so a few flying pigs may fly by before it evolves into something more than a carrier bag of wool and odd squares.

Well, normality is screaming my name.  School bags need sorting, work bags need finding again and nursery committee minutes need finishing.  Pass me my hooks!

Friday, 18 January 2013


Well its true to say that we have had more than a little bit of the white stuff today!  Yippee!!  We have had so much fun today.  Snow balls, attempted snowman (failed as the snow was too dry), hot chocolate, DVD's and playing with toys.

Mini Man is totally transfixed by icicles.  He really is resisting every effort that I'm making in explaining that ice melts.  Poor chap has his heart broken on an almost hourly basis. 

So pretty.  The long suffering rose bush in my garden.  Clearly planted by a tenant many moons ago and been left to fun riot ever since.  I must make an effort to tame it this year.  Its over 9ft tall!

Oh how very appropriate!!!  Its a bit of snow.  The world is not ending.  Be sensible, take your time and you'll be fine and dandy.
My Moo dog.  Its the heaviest snow that she's known in her little life.  I've never seen her happier.

The view from my upstairs window.  There is a village over there somewhere!

Injection of colour very much required today.  Working on a cover for my new hot water bottle.

Brew stop!  Such a busy day, needed a break.

I have the best recipe for using up bananas that are past their best.  Search for the BBC Banana Muffin recipe.  Super yummy.  My trusty phone doubling up as my cook book!  Please note the scales, a very romantic christmas gift from my hubby!

Amaryllis as promised.  Growing at a rapid rate of knots.

Must absolutely always have flowers in the house.  The place feels very sterile without them.  I have very few actual vases but a wonderful collection of jam jars bedecked with ribbons and crochet collars.

Banana muffins, the end result!  Very yummy as breakfast or a pudding when warmed up and smothered in custard.

Finally, mini man presents me with treasure!!  Such a shame, I was growing that one.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013


So the count down to the husband coming home with a kit bag full of washing has begun.  I should be running round like a mad loon possessed getting the house ready but the boring truth is that I've been that organised that its pretty much up together.  I did think about having a hot date with the ironing pile tonight but I'm honestly pooped so I plumped for an evening on the sofa with a G&T and a bag of revels.  Yummy.

Super cold here at the moment (by UK standards).  Last night was due to get down to -9 degrees C.  Which I accept in Russian is positively balmy.  In the UK its enough to send us mad!  We instantly run about bulk buying bread and milk, roads become impassable and schools close at an alarming rate.  My thoughts immediately turned to my lovely piggies.  Thats just too cold for any pet.  Action stations!!  Box located and a new home was found in the downstairs loo of all places.  Heres the thing, my husband is actually a very clever chap.  There he is 7500miles away and still being helpful.  "Use the fire guard lover", he said.  God bless the Army, providing us with such items even though its been in the cupboard for 6 months.  Voila..........................

Perfect emergency piggy home for Jeff and Bungle.  Safely in our storage cupboard, nice and snug but not to warm, peaceful and not likely to cause death by freezing.

Crafty news!!!  I decided that I must have a new set of russian dolls in my life but that these should be crocheted.  I can report that the crochet has now been completed and that I'm now on to the felt work.

I also treated myself to a new Hyacinth and Amaryllis.  I promise to take some photos of them tomorrow.  They are delightful and they haven't even flowered yet.  Such a heart lifting moment when these plants start hitting the shops.  It means that spring is on its way!!!!  It signifies the end of the short dark days.  Don't get me wrong, I love the short dark days that allow us to snuggle and wrap up warm but there does come a time when the excitement of new life and the promise of new colour and vibrance is very much the order of the day.

Looking forward to the promise of 10cm of snow on friday.  I can say that I'm looking forward to it as its my day off from the kitchen and I don't have to travel anywhere.  If you don't have to travel in the up coming weather, DONT.  If you do have to travel make sure you have a fully charged phone, blankets,  a flask of a warm drink, shovel, warning triangle and old carpets pieces to increase traction beneath your tyres.  Yes I know thats all very grown up advice but the district nurse in me is issuing a lecture to my staff.  I have dusted the sledge off, got the wellies ready and will be moving my car off of the road to prevent those who have no idea what so ever, sliding all over the place and parking in the side of my car.

Have fun and brace for photos!

Saturday, 5 January 2013

cabin fever

So we've gone from being back to normal to cabin fever in a matter of days.  Deepest joy.  The weather hasn't helped at all.  Its neither rainy nor sunny but it has been grey and generally miserable.  We've spent so much time at the park this week that I've taken up squatters rights.  I actually took a flask of tea with me yesterday.  To say that the hours are being counted until Monday would be an understatement. The children are desperate to get back to school and nursery and I cannot wait to return to my work kitchen, to switch on my radio and to create many little meals for many smiley faces.

At the start of the year I set my resolutions.  I don't smoke so I don't need to give that up.  I'm not a sadist so theres no way on earth that I'm giving up my Gin or Chocolate!  From my years of writing care plans I have learned that you keep your goals achievable and measurable so this year I decided to teach myself some more skills that may not be useful but that will be extremely fun.  So far I've taught myself to make balloon animals!!!!  Loads of fun and of no practical use at all unless in find myself trapped in a room of children with nothing but a bag of balloons.  Or indeed my two at the back end of the Christmas holidays.

Check this out...........

Not at all bad for my first attempt.  I would take a photo of the elephant, dog and giraffe but I cant get them off the kids and I'm not posting their angelic little faces.  Leave it with me and I'll try and get them off them in their sleep.  I'm mortified to say that the pink panther blew up as I was attempting to finish his head, so sad.

Gloop also made an appearance today.  So simple to mix corn flower and water together but it quite literally had my two entranced for an hour.  Nice bit of home science for my eldest.  Hopefully I can break his brain in for his teacher to give her a head start.

So the side effects of todays fun are a kitchen covered in a substance that goes solid every time I get near it and a right index finger that has sustained serious balloon tieing injuries that have rendered it almost useless.

What time is bed time???

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Back to normal :-)

I cannot tell you just how happy I am to be back to normal.  This year has been extremely difficult as my lovely husband has been playing in the sand pit.  We're extremely lucky as its been a very short tour but its taken its toll none the less.  Fortunately, whatever I felt or however many trips to a room alone for a bit of a sob had no effect on the boys and they had a great time.  Mission accomplished!!  My family have been amazing and have supported in ways that they'll never know.  Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

The tree came down yesterday and after very nearly breaking my neck on several occasions and going horse with asking, I packed the boys new toys into their room.  I kid you not, 4 sacks between them!!!  Thats from all of the family mind you, we are very strict that they don't get spoilt.  Its too easy to throw money at children at christmas and especially when one of the parents is away.  The upside of all of this is that my house is yet again spotless, we can see where everything is and I can relax with a candle and my mountain of ironing, the joy!

We've had a great week actually.  We've recently found out that we've been posted so its given us the impetus to get on and do all of the things we wanted to whilst we lived in the Winchester  area.  Yesterday was Winchester cathedral.  Such a wonderfully serene and delicately beautiful building despite its vast dimensions and gravity defying arches.  In the crypt was a very unexpected but completely enchanting sight........

This is Antony Gormley's "Sound 2".  The contemplative lone figure stood silently in the flooded crypt.  This has struck me in ways that an art instillation never has.  I think I may be a new groupie.  I must find more!!!

So many other beautiful objects have help me welcome in the new and very exciting year.  I've been busy and lucky in equal measure.  I have to admit to still needing to finish several christmas presents, partly down to poor organisation and partly down to being Mum and Dad all through the craziness of Christmas with a dash of working again.  Fortunately I have very forgiving and understanding family.

Firstly let me apologise for the pictures being so dark but I couldn't wait for a bright day, I may never have posted another photo again!

This wise little chap was a gift for my lovely Mum.  Owls were a favourite of my late Granny so he has special significance.

My love of all things spotty is well known, it seems that Santa knows of it too!

My little treat to myself for surviving the first half of hubby's "holiday".   I might have also accidentally purchased some Uggs too.  The way I look at it is that I have all angles covered, very happy toes and a massive smile on my face!
My mini man had a slight addiction to removing the knobs from my coffee table and other matching doors so I decided to wait it out and replace when I could.  Today was the day.  Not often you get to tell a chap that he has an impressive array of knobs!
So cute! I'm so in love with this coin purse I cant tell you.  Goodness only knows what I'm going to do with it but I know that I love it.  Thank you Santa.
I'm a massive fan of Lucy at Attic24.  She's always waxing lyrical about the joy bought from a simple cup of coffee.  I agree but for me its more about the vessel that contains it.  This simple mug can lift my heart and make me smile like a post box!
Gift from the hubby.  Nice try love but the thinking step works much more effectively!!
I'm really not a materialist person which may be contrary to my posts.  I'm normally just as happy to be out in the fields with the kids or watching the sunrise but these simple objects have bought such joy that I just wanted to share.