Wednesday, 31 December 2008

goodbye 2008...

1. Enid Blyton, 2. ., 3. Lunch, 4. not our snowman, 5. morran on ice, 6. new home, 7. bel 058, 8. near home, 9. home, 10. home, 11. pinecone, 12. Copenhagen Yule, 13. present for bunny, 14. wool felt ornaments, 15. wishes, 16. Reindeer enjoy their work, 17. twine, 18. Christmas cookies, 19. little lights, 20. \, 21. a thousand pieces, 22. stickey bread, 23. rice puddings, 24. snowflakes, 25. some knitting, 26. crepes with rosehip syrup, 27. Untitled, 28. the drive, 29. ., 30. midwest winter "fun", 31. hello 38, 32. frosty and me, 33. ., 34. winter umbrella, 35. Untitled, 36. my mother's skates

I say goodbye to 2008 with a selection of wintery flickr favourites from some of my favourite photographers. 2009 will be a challenging year for us, with the continuing recession causing pressure at home and work. When I look back through all the {thousands} of photographs taken in 2008, the memories, smiles, holidays and special times, it reminds me how lucky we are. As another year passes {oh god I sound like my mother!} I am thankful for my family and friends and look forward to filling up 2009 with more wonderful moments. Happy New Year x

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

sharing the black eyeliner...

A fancy dress party invitation has led to our discovery of probably the most exciting shop for miles around {it was made famous when local resident Prince Harry hired his infamous fancy dress costume from there!} Rows upon rows of costumes, shelves packed with hats and wigs and props for just about every costume you could think about, you could spend all day trying great costumes on. Our party theme? - 'Hair of the rich and famous'.


We found two great costumes, both needing black eyeliner {that's all I will give away!} and both with great (hair) wigs! There was even a room just for children's costumes - we lost Alfie underneath the rails but every so often he emerged in a different costume, first as a ninja turtle {he has no idea what a ninja turtle is!}, then an army officer followed by a pirate and finally as Peter Pan. We may have to enlarge his dressing up box to include costumes for the whole family - I have a feeling this could become a regular family hobby in this house - or maybe it's just Pete relishing the thought of black eyeliner!

Monday, 29 December 2008

amazing diy chocolate truffles...

this Jamie Oliver recipe looks amazing and I can't wait to try it out once we have eaten up all of the chocolate that we have in the house left over from Christmas!

Ingredients
{makes about 50 teaspoon-sized truffles}

• 300ml double cream
• a knob of unsalted butter
• finely grated zest from 1 clementine
• 300g good-quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), broken into small pieces
• a pinch sea salt
• a splash of brandy
• a handful of mixed nuts (Brazil nuts, toasted almonds and hazelnuts)
• 3 tablespoons cocoa powder, to serve
• 1 pack biscotti, to serve
• 1 bottle of Vin Santo, to serve

Jamie's Method

These are deconstructed chocolate truffles and if you arrange this nicely on a table, put a few cocktail sticks next to them and let people get stuck in and make their own I’m telling you, you’ll have some excited guests. It’s interesting, it’s different and to be able to make your own truffle is really quite cool, not to mention delicious. It’s worth remembering that chocolate is friends with lots of different booze so if you prefer, you can swap out the brandy here for rum, whiskey or red wine.

Put the cream in a pan over a medium heat and let it heat up. You don’t want it boiling, just hot. As soon as tiny bubbles start to appear add the knob of butter and the clementine zest. Once the butter has melted pour this hot mixture over the chocolate pieces whisking as you go so the chocolate melts nice and slowly. If the mixture splits slightly, don’t worry, you can bring it right by adding a splash of boiling water. Add a pinch of salt to the mixture; it may sound bonkers, but the smallest pinch of salt actually makes chocolate taste even chocolatier! Stir in a splash of brandy.

Once completely melted and smooth, pour your melted chocolate mixture into a nice little serving dish or bowl. Pop this in the fridge for about 2 hours to set. Christmas is a busy time so you can always do this a few days before you need it if you want. About 30 minutes before you’re ready to make your truffles pull the bowl out of the fridge and let the chocolate warm up to room temperature.

Put your mixed nuts into a plastic bag and use a rolling pin to bash them up quite finely. Get some little saucers or bowls and put the nuts in one and your cocoa powder in the other. Put a teacup filled with boiled water on the tray and pop a few teaspoons in there for scooping the chocolate. Get everyone around the table to spoon their own truffles out of the serving dish and roll them in cocoa powder, crushed nuts or anything else you fancy. Or, you can let them smear their truffles over a biscotti like some posh Nutella! Serve with a few glasses of your chilled Vin Santo.

Sunday, 28 December 2008

lens love...


I have been playing with my new present a Nikkor 55-200mm lens. I am pretty useless at anything technical and remembering settings on my camera, I'm a point and shoot kind a gal. This lens is really a beast and I am blown away at just how good a couple of practice shots have turned out. I am generally quite a shy photographer, trying to take observational shots whilst not being observed, hence why I take a lot without flash, I just prefer it that way {and no I don't skulk around in camoflague!}. This lens is going to 'out' me however, there is no hiding the size of it and people are going to assume I am a professional, my only redemption is that I can now stand miles away to take pictures in the first place!

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Christmas joy...

in the morning, we knew he had been here as he had left a boot print in the {magic} snow!

We spent time sharing... although this is a lesson still to be mastered...!

We took delight in the smaller presents - such as a set of moustaches for every day of the week!

and best of all we played with the boxes - who needs the presents inside...? I hope your Christmas was filled with joy.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

The Green Christmas Guide # 16 - Now celebrate...!

I love mulled wine and cider, the warmth and the cinnamon and cloves smells evoke the Christmas spirit for me. I try and give bottles with little muslin squares full of spices, that can be used with a bottle of cider or wine, like a tea bag. Or I decorate presents with cinnamon sticks. There are many drinks that you can buy from local suppliers, thus keeping food miles down or you can make your own hedgerow champagnes and sloe gin too.

Here is my recipe for Mulled Cider (tried and tested many a time!)
510 ml Local Cider
120 ml Calvados or Brandy
725 ml Apple Juice
thinly pared lemon zest
2 cinnamon sticks
8 cloves
2 tablespoons of soft dark sugar
lemon juice to taste.

Put the ingredients into a large pan and heat gently, simmering for about half an hour. Add sugar and lemon juice to taste. I also make just a mulled juice version for the boys or drivers over Christmas, the boys usually dip the rim of the glasses in lemon juice then sugar to give the drinks a snowy, Christmassy look!

Now sit back and enjoy Christmas,

I hoped you have enjoyed this guide, love Emma x

Sunday, 21 December 2008

The Green Christmas Guide # 15 - Make a snow scene...

We made our snow scenes with modeling clay you bake in the oven to harden, then we stuck them to the bottom of some jam jars and added water and glitter. You could create any wintery scene using lots of different materials or toys, the boys really got stuck in, making their snowmen, and hats and scarfs. It was a great way to spend time when all of our heads are full of colds and outdoors is very unappealing.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

The Green Christmas Guide # 14 - Decorate your home with snowflakes...

A really cheap, easy and effective way to decorate your windows with snowflakes cut from paper, just like you made at school - years ago! Lots of fun for all ages. I attach mine to the windows with mounting spray which washes off easily when you take them down again! Just look at those horrible grey clouds!

Thursday, 18 December 2008

The Green Christmas Guide # 13 - Buy a book...

and then you are given a book that is full of your ideas and more! I have just poured over this book comparing ideas and learning new ones, dang! Just when you thought yours was a fairly original idea! Beautiful photography, although I would of liked to see more little hands joining in with the making and eating, it is packed full of simple and effective ideas. I will try and make the next few posts contain things that don't feature in this book in case you are lucky enough like me, to own a copy!

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

The Green Christmas Guide # 12 - Make your own stockings...

Use old fabric, bits of material left over, old pillowcases to make personlised stockings for each member of the family. Just cut out two stocking shapes and stitch together by hand or machine. My inspiration came from Soulemama and how each new addition to the family, is marked with a new stocking. I think as my boys get older, I will use bits and bobs to sew on and customise their stocking to show the passing of the year, maybe an old favourite jumper or swimming badge, or just maybe they will have ideas of their own.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

The Green Christmas Guide # 11 - Create a bit of magic

I have fallen in love with needle felting, it is so quick and easy. These guys were made in minutes from plant dyed organic wool and will find a home in two little boys Christmas stockings very soon! Father Christmas always leaves his mark here, usually a boot print in the snow {icing sugar} in front of the fireplace and he likes to leave something a little personal too - last year he left some bells from the reigns of his reindeer. This year he will leave these two little models of himself and while my boys are young they will love this magic!

Monday, 15 December 2008

The Green Christmas Guide # 10 - Take time to enjoy the simple things...


a winter walk, originally uploaded by Emma Bradshaw.

like going for a walk, catching up with family and friends, playing games on cold wintery nights. Light a real fire and toast marshmallows on it.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

The Green Christmas Guide # 9 - Make your own Crackers

The crackers above are made from toilet roll tubes and magazines and are available from www.greenribbon.org.uk. I am going to make my own like this and would of done earlier if all the toilet roll tubes in this house weren't already pinched for other craft projects - this week they are the horns on a viking helmet {two tubes stuck onto a builders hat with masking tape!} Anyway - doing this means you can make very personal crackers, with comics or homemade paper and fill them with gifts of your choice instead!

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

The Green Christmas Guide # 8 - Buy energy efficient fairy lights


LED Christmas lights use up to 80 per cent less energy than standard lights. They last longer and are suitable for indoor and outdoor use. You could always use solar powered lights too, which are really good for outdoor use.

Monday, 8 December 2008

The Green Christmas Guide # 7 - Think about the gifts you give

My personal hate is children's gifts that are plastic and wrapped in even more plastic and cardboard, tied on with ties! The type that you buy 3 for 2 in a supermarket, because they are on offer, not because the child really wants one!

How about gifts that give twice? Many charities run adoption schemes which are lovely to give at Christmas, check out this one here, which starts from only £10 to adopt a dormouse!

We also make gifts to give, jams in nice jars that we made in the summer, lavender bags and little walnut shells filled with wax {pictured above} and made into candles - perfect as stocking fillers or little thank you gifts for teachers, neighbours and grandparents.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

The Green Christmas Guide # 6 - Make Your Own Christmas Cards


This might be a tall order and a little close to Christmas to start - but it can be a quick and easy production line around the kitchen table with all the family, some card and Christmas stamps. If you do send hundreds of cards then just make the ones for your nearest and dearest - they will appreciate the effort and you could always add a family picture on the inside or even a lottery ticket?
Oh and don't forget to recycle them, make them into gift tags for next year or take them to WHSmith, Tesco or M&S to recycle as part of The Woodland Trusts recycling scheme, which last year collected 93 million cards, earning £100,000 which in turn planted 22,000 trees!

Saturday, 6 December 2008

The Green Christmas Guide # 5 - Use recycled wrapping paper

I love wrapping presents and making them look beautiful and will often have a theme. Last year I wrapped everything in brown paper and tied things with raffia and ivy from the garden. I did buy some wooden tags and wrote everyone's name on and saved them for this year! You even could wrap in presents in newspaper with ribbon or make your own like we do {above} this year copying our potato printing idea from here.

If you are given lots of presents and have lots of wrapping paper remember it CAN be composted - unless it is the foil wrapping. To compost paper it is best to rip into small pieces - the more edges the better so it rots down quicker.

Friday, 5 December 2008

The Green Christmas Guide # 4 - Source a Sustainable Christmas Tree

There are approximately 60 million trees grown as 'Christmas trees' in the UK at any one time with around 7-10 million trees being sold each Christmas. Christmas is big business with the American public alone spending more than £1.5Bn on trees alone (1998 figures).

Make sure, this year that your tree comes with the FSC mark so that you know it comes from a sustainable source. We don't buy a Christmas tree instead we make do with the top of a tree that is being removed for conservation reasons. Many pine trees were planted in war time Britain as part of the war effort, but have re-shaped our landscape and are not as wildlife friendly as our native woodlands. Landowners managing land with wildlife in mind cut down evergreens and non-native species to replace with more wildlife friendly ones.

We have even had a leylandii tree one Christmas and as students twisted hazel branches draped with fairy lights! They might not be the pretiest Scots pine or conventionally shaped Douglas fir, but have bags of character and don't drop needles! Don't forget to get your tree chipped to use as mulch afterwards, your local garden centre should do this.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

The Green Christmas Guide # 3 - Order an Organic Veg Box for Christmas


Take the stress out of shopping and shop online for all of your Christmas veg needs! Buy local and organic fruit and veg and take the air miles out of your Christmas meal. Shop at your local farmer's market or try one of these veg box suppliers...

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

The Green Christmas Guide # 2 - Make your own Christmas decorations

Use scraps of material and oddments of material lying around, cones, nuts and leaves or even old clothes and if you must buy, find scraps in sale bins. We have been making angels and kings using felt and pegs for the Christmas tree {above}.



Decorate cones with glitter and make a garland to string around the house or up the stairs - this is great for small children to do if you don't mind glitter going everywhere! My favourite homemade decoration is the reindeer (pictured above) made from two bits of felt stitched together with sticks for legs and antlers, you could make them any size and make sure one has a red nose!

Monday, 1 December 2008

The Green Christmas Guide # 1 - give unwanted gifts to charity

Before we start the hustle and bustle of Christmas we always have a clear out. We sort out broken toys, unwanted toys that are never played with and new toys that have never been played with or given. To make space for new things and most importantly to instill a sense of 'giving' at Christmas time.

We clean and mend old toys to take to a local charity shop and we make Christmas shoe boxes {above} to send to less fortunate children packed with new toys.

It was my friend Gina who got me started with the shoebox thing as it is such a lovely thing to do and great tradition to start the festivities with. Look here for more information http://www.smileinternational.org/christmas-shoeboxes.htm.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Wildlife watchers...

I was lucky enough to accompany my husband as he did some small mammal trapping with a local nursery school last week. Using humane traps that he uses to monitor and survey small mammals such as mice and voles, he took the children around the field carefully opening each trap in turn, hoping to find something to show them. It was wonderful to watch their little faces eagerly watch and wait...



This little woodmouse was in one of the last traps that we checked, we had a look at him and then released him back again. It is great to show children wildlife, to help them understand what they share their gardens with and how they should treat wildlife with kindness. I love doing things like this as children remind you to stop and wonder at the smaller things in life, whether its a mouse or a walk kicking leaves, it's all so important.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

a relaxing sunday...

...started with a trip to Bailey's Home & Garden, without the boys in tow! I went with a friend and we managed to spend over three hours dithering and fitting in lunch and afternoon tea!

Although I did feel a little guilty as I arrived home only to find the Mr. locked out of the house for most of the day as he had forgotten his keys!

They had these old printing block drawers (pictured), which I have bought and plan to clean it up and mount on my little boys wall for him to keep his farm animals in - what do you think?

Friday, 14 November 2008

Green spaces promote good health says study

Living in a green area can lengthen your life, according to research published on the 7th November 2008, which shows that the difference in life expectancy between rich and poor shrinks among those who live in an environment with parks and trees.

Richard Mitchell, from Glasgow University, and his colleagues, found that the gap between the numbers of deaths of people on high incomes and the numbers of deaths of those on low incomes in green areas was half that compared with figures relating to built-up areas. Green spaces, classified by the researchers as "open, undeveloped land with natural vegetation", encouraged people to walk and be more active. But exercise in these settings could have greater psychological and physiological benefits than exercise elsewhere, the researchers said.
The benefits potentially go beyond exercise. Studies have shown that being around green spaces can reduce blood pressure and stress levels, and possibly help people heal faster after surgery.
A number of researchers have looked at the effects of greenery on our wellbeing, the paper published in the Lancet noted. But few studies had looked at whether living in green areas reduced health inequalities, the Glasgow team said.

Using information from a land-use database of 2001, the researchers split the pre-retirement population of England into four groups according to income level and deprivation, and five groups according to access to green space. They then looked at mortality data for 2001-2005.
They found that the inequality in mortality from all causes relating to income deprivation was less in those populations in the greenest areas compared with the figures for people living in more built-up places. They found an even stronger relationship when it came to deaths from circulatory disease such as heart conditions and stroke. There was no difference, however, in deaths from lung cancer.

The researchers wrote: "Published work suggests that green space might affect health by inducing beneficial physical activity, and by ameliorating the response to stress. Physical activity and response to stress are components of the cause of circulatory disease and reduction of these factors might have contributed to the lower inequalities that we recorded in greener areas." They concede that there are potential weaknesses of the study. They cannot know, for instance, the quality of the environment or whether everyone in an area gets equal access to the green space.

But the team said that altering the physical environment was an easier way to combat poor health in deprived areas than using media campaigns or giving out information on health. "The implications of the study are clear: environments that promote good health might be crucial in the fight to reduce health inequalities."

but we knew that anyway didn't we?

Monday, 10 November 2008

Are you too green?

This article really made me smile, it was in yesterday's Sunday Times and written by Ruth Tierney. Somehow I felt better about not being as green as I should be when being an 'extreme green' is presented as a compulsive disorder like this...!


Are some of us so hell-bent on saving the planet, we're actually losing our minds?

Picture the scene: you’re at a friend’s house and have just dined on sustainably fished Cornish mackerel with organic flower and kohlrabi salad, when the host excuses himself. But instead of heading to the bathroom, he slips out the back door. It could be the Fairtrade wine going to your head, but you could have sworn you just spotted him undoing his flies in the garden. Hang on a minute, there’s steam rising from the lawn. “Harry’s doing his bit to save water. No flushing needed, you see,” explains his wife, as you pray the flowers in your dinner weren’t home-grown.
Unappealing it may be, but this scene is being played out in this country’s more extreme eco-households. Hessian shopping bags and recycling boxes no longer cut it for these greenies, whose environmentally friendly behaviour is bordering on the bizarre.

They have been identified as “carborexics”, or energy anorexics, in a report that found evidence of a whole gamut of strange behaviours masquerading under the eco label. Aside from urinating on the lawn, carborexics re-use Ziploc bags for up to a year, weigh their household waste, and eschew heating in favour of layers. They’ll routinely sleep in huddles to keep warm at night, toss biodegradable nappies on the vegetable patch and try to spend less than £500 per year on consumer goods. The temperature in their homes will often be less than 16C in winter, and many run their cars on waste oil. Failure to be as green as could be leaves them wracked with disproportionate guilt.

“My husband and I are so energy conscious we went without heating of any sort for four years,” says Penney Poyzer, a 48-year-old TV presenter and author, who lives in Nottingham. “We’ve just installed a wood-burning boiler, so now the challenge is foraging for wood — we recently took 40 pallets from a building site. I’m not embarrassed to say that we unearthed most of our furniture from skips, or that we pee on the compost heap. Many of my friends go in a bottle at night, then pour it on the garden come morning.” Before you dismiss Poyzer and her husband as eco-warriors: she’s actually a glossy haired brunette who loves nothing more than throwing a dinner party (albeit at a table rescued from the refuse), while he’s a sharp-suited architect. “People are often surprised by the lengths we go to,” she says, “but we’re devoted to nature. Being green is our passion.”

Passion? “Try evangelism,” says David Zucker, a partner at the public-relations firm Porter Novelli, which has just carried out a study into the phenomenon in the United States. Zucker reckons up to 7% of Americans fall into this category, dubbed the “dark greenies”. “They believe the future depends on them, and see themselves playing an important role in our collective salvation,” he says. “Some of them see their role in avoiding disaster as being so crucial that they tend towards extreme and intolerant attitudes regarding their own and others’ behaviour.”
“Being green has taken over my life,” admits Madeline Carroll, 28, from Stroud. “I feel constantly guilty about the state of the world, and I inflict that guilt on my boyfriend, too. If he doesn’t use the eco setting on our washing machine or refuses to re-use one of the freezer bags I’ve washed a zillion times, I freak out. I really infuriated his parents recently when I went round there and turned off all the switches on their Sky box, TV and DVD. It took them an hour and a half to re-programme everything, but I couldn’t sleep knowing they’d left them on standby.”

Georgina Firth, a 34-year-old PR from Hove, experiences similar pangs of disquiet if she doesn’t stick to a strict eco code. “I’m so worried about the ozone layer that I’ve turned my fridge off. Now I line up my milk, cheese, yoghurt and vegetables on my balcony. Even though there’s every chance the seagulls will eat them.”

Dr John Morgan, a consultant and lecturer in psychiatry at St George’s Hospital, London, can see a darker force behind the zealous actions of carborexics. “Being green is associated with moral goodness,” he says. “Obsessive-compulsive disorders often occur in perfectionists who are drawn to a moral cause. Two hundred years ago, that obsession might have been with religion — now it’s with the environment.” Spreading the word is also an important mission for them. “They have strongly held beliefs on how a company should act, in terms of ethics or energy efficiency,” he says. “If they perceive a firm is misbehaving, they believe it should be ‘punished’ by being avoided, and spread the word about these sinners to their social networks.”
But could those intent on saving the planet really be in danger of losing their minds? It’s unlikely, says Paul Wheble, a cognitive behavioural therapist at the Centre for Anxiety Disorders and Trauma at King’s College London. He points out that such behaviour only qualifies as a disorder if it interferes with a person’s life, leaving them unable to study or work, or by causing their relationships to break down.

Nevertheless, carborexia does seem to be more than a passing fad. “An obsession like this comes to define a person,” says Morgan. “If you go to the nth degree with this, it’s going to be difficult to shake. For many, this will be a life-long pattern of behaviour.” A word of caution for alfresco urinators in it for the long haul — the grass isn’t always greener.

Ten signs you're too green
1 You use old bath water to boil your pasta
2 You are brilliant at dressing in the dark
3 You only flush for number twos
4 You once served up roadkill to guests
5 You re-use empty crisp packets as wrapping paper
6 You consider hats and organic beer to be central heating for adults, as in, “drink yourself a sweater”
7 You think your compost heap is a great design feature
8 You buy vintage underwear
9 You’re experimenting with silk worms
10 You smell similiar to your organic window boxes (when not in bloom)

Friday, 7 November 2008

what inspires you...?

Lovely Amy over at doobleh-vay is doing a series 'it's friday i'm in love - inspire me' and has asked a bunch of people what inspires them, me included!

I don't think I have had to think so hard and for sooooo looooong for AGES! but this is what I said and today it is posted...

"It is difficult to choose just three things that inspire me, as I am a magpie, taking inspiration from everywhere... catalogues, holiday brochures, and country living magazine! So I have chosen three things that inspire me the most!

1. I work for a wildlife conservation charity, so am very inspired by nature and the countryside around us. As a family we love having 'adventures' such as stream dipping, picking elder flowers to make 'hedgerow' champagne and 'wild' swimming in rivers and streams with fish tickling your toes. We try to get outdoors as much as possible, what ever the weather, and it is my children's interaction with nature and wonder that inspires me to take photographs, I didn't have access to the countryside like they do when I was growing up so I when I look through the lens, I am discovering things for the first time too.

2. My second inspiration would be for 'Old things' or vintage things; old furniture, vintage suitcases, camping in canvas tents, enamel flasks, knitted tea cosies, baking cakes, art deco furniture, Enid Blyton books, classic Georg Jensen silverware, steam trains, afternoon tea. I love the simple way of life we had years ago and the fact that children could roam the countryside without a care. I have some vintage things that have been handed down to me and I have things that I have bought, but I display them and re-display them at home all the time. I love using items like this as 'props' in pictures, my enamel flask should have a blog of it's own!

3. My third inspiration is something a lot easier, it is my fellow bloggers and flickr users. In the strange virtual world that we live in, you meet people the other side of the world with the same values as you, leading their lives with the same worries and the same daily chores! I stumbled across flickr about 18 months ago after reading a book called 'The Happy Campers' by Kat Heyes and Tess Carr – that I wish I could of written! Kat is a fantastic photographer and illustrator. I am also a huge fan of Amanda Blake Soule of soulemama fame who reminds me through her daily posting the importance of family and daily life and keeps me grounded so I don't let work take over! I also love Jen at Nectar and Light who inspired me to get a very old Polaroid {see photo above} out of the garage and take part in her monthly photo trade. This usually challenges me to go outside my comfort zone of taking pictures of my children and look at things in a different way! Finally I would like to mention the lovely Ella Pederson of Little Red Caboose- her crafts are as beautiful as she is and I love the adventures she has with the gorgeous little A! There are so many others too numerous to mention, taking beautiful pictures, sharing wise words and each making a difference to someone on this very small planet we share!"

Check out Amy's blog for many more inspiring peeps and in the meantime let me know what has inspired you today?

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

remember, remember...

"Remember, remember the fifth of November,
The gunpowder, treason and plot,
I know of no reason
Why the gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot"


Guy Fawkes (13 April 157031 January 1606) sometimes known as Guido Fawkes, was a member of a group of English Roman Catholic terrorists who planned to carry out the Gunpowder Plot.

Although
Robert Catesby was the lead figure in thinking up the actual plot, Fawkes was put in charge of executing the plan due to his explosives experience. The plot was foiled shortly before its intended completion, as Fawkes was captured while guarding the gunpowder. Suspicion was aroused by his wearing of a coat, boots and spurs, as if he intended to leave very quickly.
Fawkes has left a lasting mark on history and
popular culture. Held in the United Kingdom (and some parts of the Commonwealth) on November 5 is Bonfire Night, centred on the plot and Fawkes. He has been mentioned in popular film, literature and music by people such as Charles Dickens and John Lennon.

Monday, 3 November 2008

out of control...


out of control, originally uploaded by Emma Bradshaw.

sometimes motherhood is all about being out of control! I couldn't save Jenny the horse from the yoghurt, sigh... or my children from the yoghurts that their dad let them choose! ah hum!

Sunday, 2 November 2008

buy nothing month...

Melissa, the author of the green parent magazine and blog is extending the "buy nothing day" into a "buy nothing month". This concept fascinates me as despite the best intentions in the world I seem to be quite materialistic, which shames me. These are my excuses...

I am a working mum, I don't always have time to cook and prepare meals from scratch in advance and if I did I wouldn't get a lot of chores done at the weekend or spend time with the children. Sometimes convenience = sanity!

The boys get given lots of gifts and invited to parties and I feel obliged to reciprocate.

My husband doesn't always share the same values and will often go for the convenient option - like fish and chips!

I always fall for the 2 for 1 offers in a supermarket and always walk out with more food than I need or went in for (this is why my husband now does most of the shopping!).

Things always seem to happen, chimney leaks, car breaks down , school trip needs paying for...

I am quite relieved - and whilst it is always a painful process to list your faults, I am quite relieved that there are none that are insurmountable - well apart from the car breaking down! So with the weight of the credit crunch on my shoulders {we have just remortgaged - owch!} I too am going to look at our lifestyle and start to make more changes and learn from Melissa as she blogs this month. I think I will start by using up all of our store cupboard provisions and have a lean food month, this will make us appreciate Christmas's little luxuries all the more!

Thursday, 30 October 2008

winter sends a sign...


winter sends a sign..., originally uploaded by Emma Bradshaw.

...that it is not too far away. Some very cold frosty nights and flurries of snow here, too early in the year for my liking!

I read a few weeks ago of a German women who had been arrested after cycling with her two year old child naked in the child seat, in very cold weather. She has been charged with offences of cruelty! Her justification for doing this "My two year old wouldn't get dressed so I was teaching him a lesson." - As I read this I am shaking my head, tutting, thinking what a bad mother.

Then, just as life always does when you judge others, the same happens to you. Not that I have been cycling anywhere with a clotheless child, good gracious, me - cycle! No, my two year old, decided he too would object to wearing anymore than a t-shirt! He will not wear a coat or a jumper. Well we often have a 30 minute gentle coaxing routine, followed by a "if you don't do this" five minute stand off, then a "why can't you be like your older brother" exasperated eye role {he knows he is winning at this point - as I have usually gone off to rant at his father as I am late and losing this battle of stubborness}. It finishes inevitably with a "fine, we will have to go without you", as we walk out of the door. Leaving an upset two year, who then agrees to wear his coat. He does mind you not agree to wear the hat, scarf or mittens!

Every morning I take a deep breath and hope each day he will have forgotten his protests - either that or we will have to move to sunnier climbs!

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

pumpkin time...


pumpkin carving , originally uploaded by Emma Bradshaw.

little pumpkins carved by my little men, well not technically carved but they drew the faces on for me to cut out! During the carving they liked to pull as many scary faces as they could too, which was very amusing! It's funny how this harvest tradition has turned into a Halloween ritual...

"Oh!—fruit loved of boyhood!—the old days recalling,
When wood-grapes were purpling and brown nuts were falling!
When wild, ugly faces we carved in its skin,
Glaring out through the dark with a candle within
!"

John Greenleaf Whittier, The Pumpkin 1850

Monday, 27 October 2008

beetfest!

After the success of our beetroot brownies we started to get a little more adventurous and thought we would try the River Cottage beetroot ice-cream recipe. The colour is amazing! It is in the freezer now and we are waiting for it to freeze so that we can all try it! Here is the recipe...

Beetroot ice cream recipe

Ingredients
• 12 x organic egg yolks
• 150g unrefined caster sugar
• 500ml whole milk
• 500ml double cream
• 5-6 medium beetroots, cooked until al dente, peeled and pureed

Method: How to make beetroot ice cream

1. Beat the egg yolks and sugar together until smooth. Put the milk in a pan and bring to just below boiling, then remove from the heat. Leave to cool slightly, then pour the milk on to the egg and sugar mixture, whisking all the time.

2. Pour the mixture in to a clean pan and heat gently, stirring all the time, until the custard thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Don’t let it get too hot or it will split. Remove from the heat. Strain through a sieve and leave to cool, then chill, covered with a circle of greaseproof paper to prevent a skin forming.

3. When cold, stir in the cream and beetroot puree. Pass through a fine sieve. Churn the mixture in an ice cream maker until frozen. (I don't have an ice-cream maker, so have just put it in the freezer, taking it out and stirring every so often).

4. Depending on the capacity of your ice cream maker, you may need to churn the mixture in batches, or you could simply halve the quantities.

We still have some beetroot left, so what better then the beetroot and apple crumble recipe!

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Baking beetroot brownies...




A glut of beetroot in our veg box led us to try some of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's beetroot recipes that recently featured on River Cottage Autumn. None of our family are particularly keen on beetroot, having vivid childhood memories of the pickled beetroot jar being brought out at Christmas! So we thought it was about time to exorcise our beetroot demons with some Chocolate and beetroot brownies...

Chocolate and beetroot brownies

Ingredients:• 250g/10oz good, dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), broken into pieces• 250g/ 10oz unsalted butter, cut into cubes, plus more for greasing• 250g/10oz caster sugar • 3 free-range eggs• 150g self-raising flour (we used wholemeal self-raising) • 250g of beetroot, boiled until tender, peeled and grated

Method: How to make chocolate and beetroot brownies

1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4. Grease a baking tin of approximately 20x30x3cm and line the bottom with baking parchment.

2. Break up the chocolate into pieces, cut the butter into cubes then mix them up a bit in a heatproof bowl. As the oven begins to warm up, put the bowl onto one of the shelves for a few minutes until the chocolate and butter starts to melt. Stir, and put back into the oven for a few more minutes to melt completely.

3. Whisk the eggs and sugar together in a bowl until combined, then beat in the melted chocolate and butter until smooth. Gently fold in the flour then the beetroot – be careful not to overmix or it will make the brownies tough.

4. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth over the top with a spatula. Bake for about 20 minutes. A knife or skewer pushed into the middle should come out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Don't be tempted to overcook them! Remove the tin from the oven and leave on wire rack to cool before cutting into squares.

The rich reddy chocolate colour is amazing and they are delicious served warm straight out of the oven with a little ice-cream!

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Autumn unpacked from a case...





So here are some of the finished photographs taken from Saturday's shoot! The idea behind them, is based around my grandma's vintage blanket and suitcase. The gorgeous suitcase is packed with Autumn/Fall which is spilling out of it onto the woodland floor. I don't quite think I have achieved the whole 'spilling out' concept but I love how the blanket totally stole the show and demanded the camera's attention. It really contrasts with the woodland floor well, don't you think?

The blanket is over 80 years old and was knitted by my grandma from all the oddments left from knitting many, many different things, hence the range of colours! I love it, I just wish she was here today to tell me what bits were used for what! It's a patchwork of history and I must start my own 'family' blanket made up of all of our oddments.

If you like the pictures I have a very limited amount of prints available from my etsy shop now http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5399614

Saturday, 18 October 2008

falling for fall...

... is the title of this months project from "The Photo Trade". I am extremely excited as I was lucky enough to be one of the thirty in this months trade and were that not enough, my partner is someone whose photos I had previously admired and favourited on flickr! Plus we get to trade with each other, which I think is really great change too.

I felt a little added pressure this month, (knowing there were fewer participants in the 'trade') to be as good as Jen and others that regularly take part, so I thought long and hard about which camera to use, the subject and my interpretation of it. So I had a photo shoot, with props and involving the whole family and hot chocolate {of course!}. Here is a shot of our woodland "set"...!

The photo's will be on their way to you on Monday, Steph - I do hope you like them? I will try to contain my impatience and wait until you have received them before posting on flickr, so I don't spoil your surprise...!

Monday, 13 October 2008

tonights menu...

was picked and cooked by the little man, who even had time to write this menu to practice his handwriting! The green beans have come from the school vegetable garden, the blackberries from a local bramble patch. The crumble was handmade from scratch and the apples scrumped from Jenny's tree! Very slow food indeed, but knowing where it came from and the effort gone into making it, made it taste even better!
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