Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Days Out and Snow

Last week we made the most of my husband using up his holidays before Christmas and visited a national trust property, one we have been meaning to do for a few years but for various reasons hadn't. Anyway we finally got to see their Christmas displays, every room has a tree set up, I took a photo of a few of them, my favourite is the book tree.

The tree in the main hall.

All set for dinner.

                    The kitchen is actually done out in full 1950s style and this is the kitchen tree.

The woodland walk is all decked out in little fairy lights, it must look beautiful at dusk, we had planned to stay longer and have a lovely walk but there was a bitter wind, to say the least, so had a short walk though the woods.

Lots of benches had carved arms, a mixture of rabbits and squirrels, the girls loved them.

The rabbits have enjoyed exploring/playing with our tree, the love to nudge the ornaments!

Woke last Sunday to the surprise of snow, at 4am there was no snow as that is when O and his friends got in from clubbing, so somewhere between then and 7am it snowed. L and M was over the moon and quickly ate breakfast and went out to play, O got up looked at the snow, tried to encourage the rabbits to go out in it and then went back to bed.

The rabbits decided it was safer to watch the white stuff from the back porch, eventually venturing out, well Rosie managed 3 or 4 hops out before deciding it wasn't for her and Lucy just put a paw in the snow!

We made mince pies in the afternoon to take up to Nanny and Grandad's, this is the recipe I use for the filling.

We've always had one or two bird feeders in our garden but L has been asking to get more, with different food to attract more birds. Within 30 minutes of the feeders being put out, L spotted our friendly robin feeding on her new feeder, she is so pleased, we so far have had sparrows, robin, blue tit, great tit and a long tailed tit.

 Finished the last of my Christmas knitting, well present knitting anyway, loved this self patterning wool and how soft it is to knit with, its one of the rascal range from sirdar.

 Monday we visited friends and met her new puppy, who is adorable, home to make and decorate candles and watch Miracle on 34th Street.

Joining Nicole at Frontier Dreams

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Stars and Sewing

The girls and I are loving The Christmas Mystery, what I hadn't realised that the story is based on a journey through history and through countries. Starting in Norway, then heading through Sweden and then on to Denmark. So lots to look up and research if you want to, this morning we had out the atlas looking at the countries and places mentioned and listening to Bach, as his music was mentioned in the story. Wondering where else the story will take us.

The girls have been busy sewing Christmas decorations, L is still working on hers, think she choose the one with the most sewing, bless her.

M and I have been making some window stars

and I had a go at making these paper stars using this origami star tutorial, still rather shocked it worked, ok, I never manage to get the sharp crisp corners that they do but there was so much folding and unfolding before you got to anything that looked like a star. I was doing the what! Really! Its's supposed to go how!! Then wow it worked,much tot he amusement of my girls. They actually had the star around the other way but actually we rather like the contrast of the different patterns.

Oh and of course paper chain making, M still loves to make paper chains and L is getting into the swing of making them.

Joining Kat for unraveled Wednesday

Saturday, 2 December 2017


There is something special about lighting the advent calendar for the first time, I love the excitement and anticipation at what this month will bring. 24 crafts and activities planned, one for each day of advent, books sorted, happy times ahead. Now I had planned for the first of December to be a day at home, crafting and story telling, instead ended up in town shoe hunting for L. L has very narrow feet and we hadn't been able to find anything in the out of town shoe shop, had ordered a couple of different styles, gone back but these didn't fit either. So town was the next choice, won't say how long we were in town for but we now do have some nice sensible shoes, that fit and according to L are  very comfy, though I did have to talk her out of some pink suede boots. Yes the did look nice but pale pink suede footwear on my tree climbing 5 year old, maybe not the best choice. On the way back to our car, realised that they have moved all the payment machines, so ended up having to walk through one level of the car park, to find one and then up the stairs we don't normally use. M was going up first, turned the corner and quickly turned to come back down, heard a man's voice apologising and then stuck his head round the corner, slight panic initially from me but as he stayed sitting and was very apologetic, that I trusted my instinct that he was ok. Turned out he had come to what in theory was the quietest staircase, to get out of the cold to try and get some sleep, one of the towns many homeless. He was so apologetic that he had worried my oldest daughter and was busy moving his bags out of the way for us to pass, while still apologising. Me by this time had recovered from the initial shock and was feeling guilty that we had disturbed his sleep and had been busy buying a few Christmas decorations while he will be spending another night out in the cold. He was saying that a new shelter was opening over the Christmas period and he was hoping to get a bed there. In the meantime he had been given a new army sleeping bag by one of the local charities, so it wasn't as bad as it had been, he was so polite and positive about his situation, we wished him all the best and hope he does get somewhere warm to sleep. So this post is written with real mixed feelings, the joy and happiness I want my family to feel at this time of year and the sadness for those that are in difficult, stressful situations now, those that are homeless and those that the threat of eviction is on the cards. We as an individual can make difference but at times it never feels enough, where we live the cost of housing is so expensive, the situation is only going to get worse.

Our advent reading this year, we have 2, for L we are reading  Advent Stories and for M The Christmas Mystery, the age range for this is 6 to 11 year old, we are only on day 2 but actually M,L and I are all enjoying the story, its lovely to have a Christmas book that we all can all snuggle up and  enjoy, well the girls the menfolk aren't so interested.

We are reusing an advent calendar we made a couple of years ago, under each tag is an activity, craft, poem to read, we always read The Night before Christmas on Christmas Eve. So our first craft

was making Christmas cards for Grandparents and realising that we have loads of Christmas stickers, think I have picked up more than one pack in the sales after Christmas, won't need to buy any for a couple of years.

I have finished L's Odila cape pullover, she loves it, its roomy enough to pull over another jumper if she is cold, if you are wondering what she is doing, she is using a periscope that her Dad and her made the other week. Which she has thoroughly enjoyed playing with and experimenting with trying to see round corners, above worktops. Joining Nicole for Crafting On

Living Rainforest

Monday saw us visiting the Living Rainforest, the girls are already asking when are we going back again, its not a huge place but lots to see, its great seeing how much they remember from our rainforest project earlier in the year. We didn't manage to spot the sloth or the armadillo, actually we could see the soil being dug out by the armadillo but not the actual creature and we checked on them several times. We did get to see some amazing blue poison dart frogs

Goeldi monkeys


The stunning pink flowers of the jade vine.


Can't remember the name of this bird, we were sad to see they no longer have their toucans, used to love going and seeing them.

There were a few snakes but this one made us giggle, they all have a large display with foliage, tree trunks etc but this one had decided that the cables running around the top of its enclosure was the best place to rest.

Tuesday made the most of the dry sunny weather and spent the morning at the allotment, dug up the rest of the carrots and L happily scrapped of the excess dirt. Cleared another patch to be covered with some well rotted compost to over winter and let the worms do the hard work of digging it in. In the afternoon we met up with friends at the park, won't say just how long it took me to warm up once I got home.

The rest of the week we have been busy with school work and Christmas prep, way to much time looking on pinterest have lots of Christmas ideas for the little ones and us older girls to craft, need more than 24 days! Have sorted out all our Christmas stories and some films to watch too, I do so love this time of year.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

A Week of Firsts

I would like to say I don't know where the time is going but I do its busy working with M and her IGCSE coursework, it is going ok but its a lot of work for her and I! On top of this she has been practising badge work for gymnastics and wanting me to check her positioning etc, she's now achieved her bronze and learning drama speeches for her Lamda exams which we had hoped would be Easter but are now the beginning of February.  She has now mentioned that she might be put in for her ballroom and Latin exams in February too, these are all classes she loves but it is extra work, we have also manged to do some Christmas shopping.

Hubby realised he still had holiday to be used up before Christmas, still waiting to find out if he will be on call over Christmas but it does mean he will be having some long weekends, so have some day trips planned.

L has been desperately wanting to go on a train, so Monday last week, we took the bus into town and then the train to Oxford. While there we visited the  Oxford Natural History Museum so she could see some fossils another first and the Pitts Museum. She loved the train ride and on the bus on the way home hubby took her upstairs, another thing she has been desperate to do, I do not like the stairs on the bus especially with a small child.

The Natural History Museum is lovely, lots to see and do with out being overwhelming, L loved the fossils, the various animal displays, the black bear was adored and the displays of birds from around the world. Though she did get rather upset with one display where a bird had killed a rabbit, so quick talk about life cycles and what might happen if the rabbits had no predators, how different our world would look, upsetting but it is life. Pitts museum, lots to see and maybe a little overwhelming as their are loads of cases, with lots to see! I loved the display of bobbin lace and lace patterns, clothing from around the world, musical instruments, L enjoyed doing the mouse trail, definitely somewhere to visit again.

The other first was taking the girls to a hairdressers, we normally have a lovely friend come to our house but she has been unwell for a while now, felt guilty going somewhere else but desperately needed haircuts. M really didn't want to go somewhere else but actually enjoyed the experience especially the big mirror and being able to watch what was going on, for L it was too noisy, didn't like the clippers and hairdryers going.

We have also been doing lots of baking, M has experimented with scone base pizza recipe but decided she much prefers a bread based one, L and I have made oat cookies and an eggless ginger cake.

Oat Cookies
200g self raising flour
200g oats
125g brown sugar
200g margarine or butter melted
15ml golden syrup
15ml hot water
2.5ml bicarbonate of soda
  1. Mix flour, oats and sugar together in a mixing bowl.
  2. Add in the melted margarine and golden syrup
  3. Mix hot water and bicarbonate of soda together and add to the rest of the ingredients,mix well.
  4. Roll into small balls in your had and gently pat down a little after it is placed on the baking tray.
  5. Bake at Gas 4 for 15 minutes.

Eggless Ginger Cake
275g plain flour
5ml bicarbonate of soda
10ml ground ginger
125g treacle
125g golden syrup
125 g margarine or butter
125g brown sugar
150ml milk or milk substitute, we use oat milk
  1. Sieve flour, baking powder and ground ginger.
  2. Put treacle, golden syrup, margarine and brown sugar in a pan and gently warm until margarine is melted.
  3. Add melted ingredients and milk to the dry and mix well.
  4. Bake in a lined loaf tin for 1 hour.
I finally made it to the cinema, the last time I went to the cinema was with O to see Jurassic World, so a while ago. It wasn't the planned trip with my husband, still not managed that but went with M and a good friend to see Murder on the Orient Express, loved it wasn't sure how I would feel about a new Poirot, David Suchet was such a good Poirot but actually liked Kenneth Branagh portrayal of him, though still not 100% sure about the moustache.

On a crafting front I have finished the simple little dress, another present done and working on the blue one, loving the simple the pattern. Made the mistake of popping into a local charity shop to browse books and spotted a set of Nicci French ones we hadn't read, so came home with them. Hubby and I have read the first one, Blue Monday and enjoyed it, hoping the rest are as good! Now planning activities and crafts for our advent calendar, we always make one with a different story, craft to do, film to watch for each day of advent, always have way too many ideas for the number of days in advent! Do you have a favourite Christmas film, story or poem, would love to hear what they are.