Monday, 25 April 2016

HOMEMADE BIRTHDAY CAKES


Two of my boys had birthdays this weekend, one on Saturday the other on Sunday. I'm not one for big parties with entertainers, preferring a much more traditional affair with homemade cakes and the like. So this weekend we had a small (& organised at the last minute) party for four year olds, featuring pass the parcel, painting some cardboard shields as it was St.Georges Day then slaying a dragon piƱata. The following day a woodland walk, making casts of the mammal footprints and a bit of whittling. 


I made both of the boys birthday cakes with thanks to Pinterest for the inspiration, both with a woodland theme. The first was a classic Victoria sponge with jam in the middle and covered in a buttercream icing, dragging the icing around the edges to give it the raw edge that seems so fashionable in cake decorating right now. The second a chocolate sponge using a recipe from Monty & Sarah Don's Home cookbook, the was an absolute delight to make, with a chocolate buttercream filling and chocolate covering. Both had really simple decoration, Stanley's had some of our Schleich animals on the top, with a tiny bunting made from twigs and a ribbon cut into tiny flags and Ted's had some twigs pushed into the cake with cut out word's and animals ~ simple and effective. 


Am exhausted after all this revelry and cake making, I'm sure the Great British Bake Off is easier!





Sunday, 17 April 2016

THE WEEKLY FORAGE ~ WILD GARLIC FALAFEL


I've made some wild garlic falafel this weekend as a wild picnic snack, adding a handful of foraged wild garlic leaves to my usual recipe which turns them into an amazing green colour before cooking. They are really delicious! 

Ingredients

1 can of chickpeas - 400g
1 garlic clove
a handful of wild garlic leaves
a handful of flat leaved parsley
1 small red onion finely chopped 
1 teaspoon of coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon of mild chilli powder
1-2 tablespoons of plain flour 
olive oil (to cook them)
pinch of salt and black pepper to season

Method
  • I pop all the ingredients into a bowl and blend together with a hand blender, you could hand mash for a coarser mixture if you prefer
  • After mixing add the flour gradually using it to thicken until the mixture is thick
  • I use a spoon to add the mixture in six large patty's to a hot frying pan with olive oil in
  • Heat and turn until cooked and browned on both sides
  • Serve with pitta bread, humous, salad and tomato salsa.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

IS THERE A HOLIDAY PERFECT FOR BOTH CHILDEN & PARENTS?


Is there such thing as a relaxing holiday for both parents AND children? I didn't believe it possible but last weekend we were invited by Canopy and Stars to stay at Brownscombe Luxury Camping in Devon.

Our stay came at the end of the Easter holidays and after two ridiculously busy and stressful weeks for us for a variety of reason we were ready for a break. We arrived at Brownscombe to be greeted by owner Kate who was lighting the huge stove in our tent ready for our arrival, she gave us a quick tour of the safari tent we were staying in before leaving us to relax. 


It was a blustery April weekend but tucked up in the huge safari tent we were very cosy and not cold at all. The beds were huge and so comfortable with fabulous long water bottles and luxurious bed linen we had the best nights sleep that we'd had in a long time and the boys loved the cabin bed.


You really wouldn't believe you were in a tent, with iron beds, antique furniture, deep comfy mattresses and sheepskin rugs.


The huge stove is at the heart of the tent and fires up really easily but there is also an induction hob to heat up the kettle so you don't have to wait too long for that morning cup of tea. There were also plenty of lamps, a fridge in the kitchen with a complimentary bottle of prosecco, candles, a loo & shower room with hot water and some electric points if you want to charge your phone or plug in a hairdryer - I'm really not sure you can call this camping at all! But you know what as much as I love camping it was amazing to have everything you need to hand and hot running water and a loo actually in the tent, it meant we could just switch off and instantly relax. 


The boys having just been confined in the car for a few hours were bursting with energy for the opportunity to explore and run! There was a games room in the old barn with table tennis table, table football, board games and a pool table. Next to the games room is a small drying room with a washing machine and a little 'honesty' larder with a few essentials stocked and order forms if you want to book a home cooked breakfast in the morning or a home-cooked meal in the evening.


The boys roamed the fields enjoying the space and meeting the children staying in the other two tents and as the mizzle came in they gravitated towards the games room, playing happily.


Kate welcomes the children to join her to check and feed the chickens, pigs, lambs and ducks on the farm and is lovely making sure they all did a little to help. The boys followed her like the Pied Piper, meeting both the farm animals and her two gorgeous dogs Molly and Margot, they absolutely adored it and it gave my husband and I rare and valuable time to enjoy a hot cup of tea, cook breakfast and wake up lazily.






Brownscombe is situated in a quiet valley but near enough the English Riviera to take advantage of more traditional holiday fun. We ventured out for the day to Dartmouth about 12 miles away, crossing over the River Dart from Kingswear on the small car ferry much to the excitement of the boys, we managed to find parking on one of the narrowest streets I've ever driven down! We enjoyed brunch at Dartmouth institution Cafe Alf Resco before taking our (borrowed from the games room cupboard) buckets and leftover bacon bits to the quay for a spot of crabbing, which Stanley was most excited about.


After catching five crabs and then gently releasing them back in we watched the gig racing in the harbour with a local ice-cream.



We spent the evening back at the tent around the fire pit cooking tea over the flames and waiting for the sun to set so we could learn a few star constellations in the night sky for our first Year of Wild badge.


It really was a perfect weekend enjoyed by all of us in equal measure and over all too soon, Kate and her family have really thought about everything that a family needs to relax and enjoy a holiday. Of all of the glamping trips we've been on, this was by far the most luxurious. I would even go as far as to challenge anyone who says that they "don't do camping" to stay here as I think they would be pleasantly surprised and their children would thank them too.


*The weekend at Brownscombe was kindly gifted to us as part of the Canopy and Stars Collective but this review is entirely our own opinions and words and we are hoping to return this summer we loved it that much.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

STYLING THE SEASONS ~ APRIL


At this time of year when one day is sunny the next day it's rain, I find myself potting seeds to spring and bringing the outdoors inside by digging up sunny primroses and putting them around the house. A bit bonkers I know but I like to see them bloom then I'll plant them back in the garden ready for next year!


I also start my veg seeds off inside in crates and pots as my garden is very windy and exposed, so it pays to keep them indoors until I can be certain of warmer days and nights.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

THE WEEKLY FORAGE ~ PRIMROSES


Inspired by the primroses that are blooming in fields and roadside verges at the moment, I popped to Miserden Nursery to buy some as despite being edible, I prefer to grow my own to eat rather than pick a wild flower! Make sure if you do buy any or pick them from a garden that they are organic and unsprayed.


First I made some primrose honey, using a handful of primroses and adding to a pan with a pint of water in and 200g of caster sugar, which I brought to the boil and then simmered for a few hours. You should end up with a darker coloured thick syrup.


Then I made some crystallised primroses by brushing egg white on the leaves of the flowers, then gently brushing caster sugar on the leaves and leaving them to set. A bit tricky, but a lovely garnish.

Making primrose honey cakes 

Ingredients

100g primrose honey
150g unsalted butter
100g caster sugar
2 eggs beaten
200g self raising flour
water

Method

Heat the oven to 180° then grease a fairy cake tin.

Put the butter, sugar and honey into a pan with a tablespoon of water and heat gently until dissolved.

Remove from the heat and add the flour and eggs whilst mixing.

Bake for around 20 minutes until golden, turn out of tin and cool on a wire rack.

Serve with a sprinkle of icing sugar and a crystallised primrose on top!


Friday, 1 April 2016

THINGS TO DO IN APRIL

photo from Canopy & Stars

Years ago I used to write a list at the beginning of each month full of things we were looking forward to doing. Somewhere along the way I stopped doing it, but recently I've been missing it so I thought I'd go back to my blogging basics and bring it back. So here is my list for April, part practical part inspirational...

  • Visit a bluebell wood 
  • Create some new recipes with foraged flowers
  • Go on the Amberley Cow Hunt
  • Continue with #thenaturetable project on Instagram
  • Sow seeds with Stanley 
  • Celebrate some family birthdays 
  • Start practicing yoga again
  • refurbish the treehouse! 
  • Make primrose honey

Thursday, 31 March 2016

CARRYING LIFE ON MY SHOULDERS


I love a backpack and have always favoured backpacks over baby bags since having children nearly 13 years ago. Before children I would only use a backpack when off on an adventure but now they are my 'mum uniform' of choice and I would consider myself quite an expert. When you have children you carry everything; extra layers that come on and off, some sweets for motivational and tricky negotiation situations and carrying cameras to record every single moment (as if you don't capture the moment it just might not have happened, right?) I also like to keep my hands free too for holding hands with the three year old or even carrying him on my shoulders!

So when cool and ethically minded company Millican asked me to try out one of their backpacks last weekend and take part in their Easter competition, I jumped at the chance. We packed our ruckpack, the 'Smith' 18L roll pack for a hearty walk, remembering the camera, blanket, dog poo bags as we were looking after a friend's dog, jumpers as it was one of those deceptively sunny spring days that can change so quickly, water bottle, phones, sweets and a camera. The rucksack easily stored everything and had some really good internal pockets to organise everything, better still the bag is made from organic canvas and 57% of the material is recycled!

It is by far the most comfortable bag I've ever carried and we put it to the test by climbing the highest hill we could find on an Easter foraging walk. I love the plain design, lack of seams and roll top with aluminium buckles and it looks really good too.

I might not be the self-sufficient Lake District legend that Millican Dalton was (who the company is named after) who made his own organic clothes, rucksacks and tents but as a busy mum with a passion for getting outdoors I hope that my everyday adventures in raising my three boys results in them being deep-thinking and conscientious just like Millican Dalton was and they have plenty of adventures of their own.

For more 'mum uniform' inspiration take a look at my Stylish Mum Pinterest board.

disclosure: Millican sent us a Smith 18L roll pack to test. 
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