Sunday, 2 December 2018

MAKING WINTER SPICED CANDLES FOR CHRISTMAS GIFTS...


I hate the commercial side of Christmas so I always try to make gifts for family and friends if I have time. It also helps me budget and not panic buy things at the last minute and it is something the boys can get involved with too if they wish.

I usually make winter spiced firelighters to give as gifts, but this year thought I'd make some candles as well as I already had most of the 'ingredients' needed.

So although I'm no expert, here's a quick 'how to' if you want to have a go at making them yourself. Also if making them with children, please be careful when melting the wax as it is very hot so best for an older child or grown up.

You will need: 

500g of soy wax (£4.50 from Amazon)
A packet of wicks (I used this pack as it had double sided stickers to hold the wicks in place - 100 pieces £6.99 from Amazon)
Essential oils - I used Neals Yard Mandarin & Cinnamon to blend a wintery spice aroma that I bought last year to make the firelighters
120ml Amber Jars - (99p each from Baldwins)
1 old saucepan
Wooden clothes pegs


Method: 

1. Secure the wicks to the bottom of the jars using the double sided stickers
2. Gently heat the wax in the saucepan - my saucepan is small with a spout which makes it really easy to pour the wax
3. Slowly the flakes of wax will dissolve and you can add your oils - I use approx. 20 drops of each oil.


4. Pour the wax into each jar - using the clothes peg to hold the wick upright in the middle whilst the wax cools.


5. Store in a cool dry place until solid - you may have to add a little more liquid wax if the middle of the candle sinks.
6. When dry, trim the wick so that there is about 5mm wick above the wax - too much wick results in a large flame - and screw on the top.
7. Finally label the candles if desired? We used some Avery kraft 7110 labels and downloaded the template from the Avery website - which gives you a word template of 18 stickers to design. I had high hopes of my youngest drawing or writing the labels for me, but the boys soon lost interest in what I was doing so I just kept them plain. You can also get these warning labels for less than £2 to stick on the bottom of the jars too.


These cost me less than £2 each to make (as I had the essential oils already) and I think make a lovely gift for family, friends, neighbours and teachers.

Sunday, 4 November 2018

WOODLAND ADVENTURES...




With good weather forecast in half term and eight children to entertain ranging in age from six years old to fifteen, my friend and I headed to the woods for some good old fashioned fun. We lost track of time playing 40-40 out (the game where one person counts to 40 by a tree, the rest of you run and hide and then once the counter has finished you have to get back and touch the tree), tree climbing and den making.


Jenny made the biggest den (pictured above) and I heated up some butternut squash soup to keep us all fuelled. It was just the medicine I needed and really must make the effort to get outside more.  











Monday, 15 October 2018

IN THE LAND OF MY FATHERS


All the sun long it was running, it was lovely, the hay
Fields high as the house, the tunes from the chimneys, it was air
And playing, lovely and watery
And fire green as grass.
And nightly under the simple stars
As I rode to sleep the owls were bearing the farm away,
All the moon long I heard, blessed among stables, the
nightjars
Flying with the ricks, and the horses
Flashing into the dark.
an extract from Fern Hill by Dylan Thomas



I'll always hear Richard Burton's voice when I read Dylan Thomas as when I was studying his poetry for my A-levels I had a cassette that I'd fall asleep to of Richard Burton reading his poetry in the hope that I'd absorb it. I think the Welsh language and accent is beautiful and the place names are otherworldly and landscape just wild and wonderful.


When my Instagram friend Gemma @thatchedinwales started sharing her journey of renovating a traditional Welsh crog loft I was hooked and envious in equal measure and this summer was over the moon when she very kindly invited us to stay in her magical cottage, Glan yr Afon.


Glan yr Afon sits on a drovers road, next to a river crossing, once a ford but later the bridge was built in 1766 that still remains today. The place name 'Penbontrhydyfothau' means 'the bridge by the ford where the river comes up to the hubs of (cart) wheels' - I love how literal a Welsh place name is!


We visited in a typically wet summer holiday week, and took full advantage of long lazy days, wet days on the beach fuelled by hot chocolates and ice cream, late brunches of locally produced bacon and sausages, five hour long games of Monopoly and films on internet TV! 


If these ancient walls could talk, they'd speak with a deep 'Richard Burton' welsh accent, don't you think?


One things for sure, we'll be back very soon to the nicest Welsh cottage we've ever had the pleasure of staying in and in the words of Dylan;

And the stars falling cold,
And the smell of hay in the snow, and the far owl,

Warning among the folds, and the frozen hold,

Flocked with the sheep white smoke of the farm house cowl,

In the river wended vales where the tale was told. 

from A Winter's Tale

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

44 things



My annual tradition inspired many moons ago by Hula Seventy to put together a list capturing things I'd like to do during my forty-fourth year before I reach forty-five *sobs at how old I'm getting*


    1. Illustrate my favourite walks
    2. Give the garden a makeover 
    3. Make shadow boxes with the boys
    4. Buy flowers at Columbia Road flower market and lunch at Campania & Jones 
    5. Catch mackerel from a boat and barbecue them on a beach
    6. Go to an auction and bid on something 
    7. Learn to make ice cream
    8. Discover the hidden terraces and back alleys of Bath 
    9. Visit Paris 
    10. Have a picnic on an allotment 
    11. Make some guerrilla art with the boys 
    12. Go to a thought provoking talk at Cheltenham Literature Festival 
    13. Build an outdoor pizza oven 
    14. Go star gazing and learn some constellations 
    15. Make a scarecrow 
    16. Read more books 
    17. Take the boys roller skating
    18. Climb a Welsh mountain
    19. Make wild hedgerow gin 
    20. Dust off the Polaroid and take more pictures on film
    21. Explore London by bike 
    22. Drink cocktails at Wiltons music hall 
    23. Wild swim under Welsh waterfalls
    24. Stop biting my fingernails 
    25. Make fortune cookies
    26. Pick apples in an orchard 
    27. Press edible flowers and herbs into homemade pasta 
    28. Go to a Northern Soul night  
    29. Decorate a gingerbread house
    30. Continue my adventures with Giffords Circus  
    31. Stay in a chalet on a beach 
    32. Give blood 
    33. De clutter the house - properly this time! 
    34. Go and see the Frida Kahlo exhibition at the V&A  
    35. Camp in the bell tent more
    36. Travel on a sleeper train from London to Penzance 
    37. Visit a photo booth 
    38. Visit old stone clapper bridge in Exmoor 
    39. Support my eldest through exams 
    40. Grow cosmos purity my favourite flowers 
    41. Eat Jelberts ice cream (best ice cream ever!) 
    42. Open an honesty shop 
    43. Go ice-skating at Christmas  
    44. .....

    Monday, 6 August 2018

    SUMMER FUN AT SLIMBRIDGE


    A few weeks ago we were invited to visit the new giant lego trail at Slimbridge WWT in Gloucestershire. I jumped at the chance to go as it included a chance to try out the canoe safari too, which meant I could pursuade the whole family to go as there was something that all ages would enjoy.


    The trail was excellent with 14 giant lego sculptures to discover throughout the huge park, Stanley (aged 6) loved finding them and ticking them off on his map. Over 37,000 bricks were used to construct the animal works of art that included otter, water vole, flamingo and swan.


    There were plenty of 'real' ducks too! Our favourite bit was the 'back from the brink' display which included otters, water vole and harvest mice which we saw and got really close too, a real joy as you'd never see them in the wild.

    There are even lego workshops to take part in throughout the summer, where you get to take part in lego building challenges and make an owl to take home with you, but these need to be booked in advance.


    The kingfisher was absolutely amazing and stood proudly next to the canoe hut. The canoe safari is brilliant and really worth doing. The 14 and 12 year old took their own canoe, whilst we took the six year old in ours, suffice to say there was a lot of splashing going on! You have to be over three to go in a canoe but it was a great way to explore the waterways.

    It's rare to find a day out that the whole family can enjoy but we all really enjoyed the day, even if we did all have different favourite bits. You can find out more by visiting the WWT Slimbridge website.

    Tips to enjoy your day...

    Book your tickets online and save 10%.

    Entrance includes Welly Boot Land, a play area with streams running through it and water based fun for little ones to enjoy so take towels and swimsuits.

    You can book mobility scooters in advance - the boys took their grandparents back the following week and this was great as the park is huge and it meant that grandad could keep up.

    Disclosure: We were gifted a family day out to WWT Slimbridge, all views and opinions are our own. 
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