Tuesday, 30 March 2010

natural egg dyeing...


After the success of last years Easter eggs, we have decided to once again use red cabbage to dye our eggs blue! Each year we bring in from the garden a few branches from our twisted hazel tree and put them in a jam jar on the table to hang the eggs from, you can see last years here.

We blow the eggs, by carefully tapping a hole in either end of the egg with a needle, then blowing the inside into a bowl, through one of the holes. The inside can then be used for baking or just scrambled eggs! We then chopped up the cabbage into small pieces and boiled it in water until the water turned a dark purple. After, we carefully wipe the eggs with some vinegar and place the blown eggs into a kilner jar with the water from the boiled cabbage, closing the top keeps them submerged and stop them floating to the surface. We keep them in the jar for a few days until they turn a beautiful shade of deep blue.

Monday, 29 March 2010

nature club: frog spawn


Do you remember drawing the frog life cycle as a child at school? I do, and we are lucky enough to have a jar full at home for some really close study. It is not advisable to remove spawn from a pond, but we have been able to as we are moving some to the school pond which has no frogs in, and hasn't for the last few years. It is also not a good idea to move things from one pond to another in case you spread disease. The ponds in question however, are close to each other, and the school one has been empty for a few years of any frogs, toads or newts, so it seems that any amphibians are not going to stumble across it on their own! It is estimated that the UK has lost over 70% of its ponds between 1880 and 1980 and the species that call a pond their home, have suffered similar losses.

We are closely watching the small black dots in their jelly balls, to see what happens over the next couple of weeks and draw what we see. Once they become tadpoles with little legs, we will release them into the pond and hope that they survive to grow into big frogs.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

how to make a handmade hobby horse...


You will need:
  • 1 stick - we used a hazel stick coppiced from a local woodland
  • 1 sock - stolen from daddy's drawer!
  • sheeps wool/fleece for stuffing
  • wool for the mane
  • buttons for the eyes
  • and stiff material for the ears
  • a wool needle

We stuffed our sock with an organic sheep's fleece, into a horse's head shape, I was surprised by quite how much it took to make it firm. Thread a wool needle with some wool and thread it through the sock to make a mane and then knotting it to secure it in place. I did three rows to make a thick and bushy mane, using two different colours. Sew the ears into place, with needle and thread and attach the button eyes, I used two different colours to give it more of a 'handmade' look! Then take your stick and cut to size, I notched the wood into a cross, to create some handles, then tightly lashed the cross firmly together with wool, finally attaching the 'sock' head in place by sewing around the bottom of the sock and lashing around the cross.

I am so enchanted with this one, that I'm off to my husband's sock drawer to find a sock to make another! (shhhh)

Saturday, 27 March 2010

how does your garden grow...


A day of sunshine and showers gave us just enough time to dart outside, and plant our main potato crop - which for the past few weeks, have been happily chitting on the kitchen windowsill. We traditionally plant our potatoes just before Easter each year.

The annual potato planting ritual also marks the emptying of our compost bins and the removal from the bottom of fresh, new, sweet smelling compost. It is important to regularly turn to prevent rats from choosing to nest, and to really encourage compost breakdown. We compost all of the household food scraps, hoover bags and a selection of garden cuttings and in turn for our regular feeding of them, we are rewarded with a rich compost to spread and nourish our raised beds. The boys and I have also planted some peas, shallots and pumpkins, in small seed pots on the windowsill, so they will be ready to be planted outside next month, when the ground is a little warmer. In April we will sow our favourite courgette, tomato and carrot seeds, straight into the ground or in pots.

Friday, 26 March 2010

a new look...

for spring, what do you think? I'm trying it on for size.
everyone's doing it, you know!

inspired by Sas ~ who launched her new look complete with a gorgeous illustrated header earlier this week.

Monday, 22 March 2010

the nature table...

photograph from Country Living Magazine

It is the perfect time of year to start a nature table, I have neglected ours of late. But the spring sunshine is beckoning us on long rambles, to collect nature's treasure to bring home, identify and label. What can you find? Do let us know...

Friday, 19 March 2010

busking...

Sometimes I wonder what life holds in store for our little family. Our daily lives continue as normal, but we yearn for something more, a dream that seems to be out of our reach, the cottage by the sea, more time to spend with our children, or simply to be rid of the huge financial burdens that are resting so heavily on our shoulders right now. We had hoped that each month there would be a little left to save and that things would stop going wrong at home, like the garage roof that needs replacing, the inevitable new car as the old one is getting more expensive to fix and bathroom that needs doing. It is making life seem like a grind, like we are treading water and going nowhere. It really makes me worry about the future.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

a day of discovery and dismay...


a mixture of stones, fossils, shells and pottery "it's Roman" announced our six year old! If that's the case I will open our garden to visitors and serve afternoon tea on the lawn!

I also had the surprise of finding out an email I had sent to the county council, complaining about the recent closure of our library was published in the letters section of a local newspaper - I did copy the editor in over a month ago! To my dismay, I realise I am turning into my mother, writing letters of complaint!

We are regular users of our local library borrowing mainly children's books and DVD's, but we also go to story time there too. When I was a first time mum, I didn't know many people in my village and found that to keep my baby contended, I had to go out in the fresh air daily. So we would walk on laps around our Cotswold Village, avoiding the lanes due to speeding cars and the busy main road that dissects it in two. We would often find ourselves either at the swings or in the library, the only building open in the day apart from a pub. We could sit undisturbed to read for as long as we pleased and meet other villagers. In fact when my son was only a few weeks old, one of the first things we did was get him a library card!

The council have arranged a mobile library service, in the village car park for twenty minutes on a Monday morning. But this is when the children are at school, so the only other option is to drive five miles to our nearest town and pay for parking to visit a bigger library.

Times are changing, cuts are being made, and our village that still has no allotments, now faces a future with no library either. This makes me very sad.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

easter last year...


for easter last year we dyed some chicken and duck eggs a gorgeous shade of blue, by using red cabbage! Yes red cabbage turned them that beautiful colour. We also tried turmeric, to make a yellow dye and to mix with the cabbage for a green but that didn't work, so well. We are going to try other natural dye's this year, onion skins and other veg! What have you used? do you have any recommendations?

Monday, 15 March 2010

weekending...


at last a sunny weekend! We journeyed out for breakfast, poached eggs on sourdough toast and freshly baked croissant. We bought eggs to blow for easter, red cabbage to dye them with, and some flowers from the farmer's market. Mother's day was tinged with sadness as it was my husband's first without his mother, I underestimated how sad he would be, so as a penance cleaned the bathroom, whilst he took flowers to her grave! Sometimes I can be really selfish and a really bad wife.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

motherhood...

mother

noun 1 a female parent. 2 (Mother) (especially as a title or form of address) the head of a female religious community.3 informal an extreme or very large example of: the mother of all traffic jams.

verb look after kindly and protectively, sometimes excessively so.

— DERIVATIVES motherhood noun motherless adjective.

— ORIGIN Old English.

Motherhood didn't come naturally at all to me. First there was the extreme morning sickness in pregnancy to get over [I lost over three stone in weight!] and when my first son was born the self consciousness. I felt people were watching me, of course they weren't, they were more interested in the baby, but I felt awkward and unsure of myself in this new role. As a new little family we muddled through, with me learning so much as I went along. When number two arrived, I knew what to expect, I looked forward to his arrival without the nervousness of a first time mum, and with a two year old already, I was able to relax and enjoy my children.

I have been a mum for seven and a half years and rarely a week passes when I am not challenged in some way by my boys. I try to be calm, understanding, good fun, wise, thoughtful, able to listen, full of ideas and energy and be there when I am needed. I however, accept that sometimes I am not all of those things!

Above all, motherhood has changed me beyond all recognition, it has made me face issues that needed resolving from from my childhood, it has made me less selfish and a little more brave, it has made me understand people's behaviour, it has taught me to be kind and to reason, it has taught me how to belly laugh and to be less of a prude. It has made me understand my place in the world and has given me something that I'm quite good at.

I didn't think twice about having children, and sometimes I take it for granted that I have been blessed with two happy and healthy ones. So tomorrow, on mothering sunday, I will pretend to be asleep, whilst pots and pans clatter around downstairs in the kitchen, and two highly excited children race upstairs to be the first to wake me up and press handmade cards into my hands, it is truly my favourite day of the year!

Thursday, 11 March 2010

life all mapped out...

Some people have their whole lives mapped out, I wonder does this focus and help them achieve their ambitions? I learn of friends who have year plans, five year plans and even life plans and find myself wondering if we need one? The best things in my life have kind of just 'happened' and were certainly not planned, we met and married within a year, a new house came exactly a year after, as we were in the right place at the right time and then a year later along came a baby! We had certainly not discussed in great detail any of these life changing elements, it just felt right at the time, we went along with the flow and have done ever since, for me 'it was meant to be'.

It's only now, after the dust has settled and there are decisions to be made, I realise how bad we are at making them! We are very fortunate, we live in a house that suits our families needs, it's not an old cottage with a huge garden like in our dreams, but we just about manage the monthly mortgage repayments! But do we want more? And who will admit it, and will it rock the boat of our comfortable lives?

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

I found...


Jasper had been tucked up in bed when I went to open the little mans curtains this morning! He loves his rhino. Mind you, next door a battle was looming!

Monday, 8 March 2010

throw your curtains open...

and with a hot cup of tea in your hand, listen to one of nature’s finest and free performances – the dawn chorus!

How to… listen for the dawn chorus

From early spring to summer, as day breaks, songbirds live up to their name by filling the air with music. It’s the males who sing the longest and loudest, for two reasons: to defend their territory and to attract a mate. It doesn’t matter whether you live in the town or country, you will hear the song of birds such as the robin or song thrush.


International Dawn Chorus Day

International Dawn Chorus Day is celebrated on the first Sunday in May, this year it is the 2nd of May. It began in the 1980s when the broadcaster and environmentalist Chris Baines held the first dawn chorus event on his 40th birthday. He asked everyone to attend at 4am so they could enjoy the party with him! There are now events throughout the world and you can find events near you on this website http://www.idcd.info/

Birds you can expect to hear in the British dawn chorus...

Song thrush - has a rich and varied song. Often one of the first birds to start off the dawn chorus.

Robin – has a sweet singing voice. Its familiar refrain can be heard in most gardens!

Blackbird – dressed smartly in black, the male has a beautiful, bubbling, warbling song.

Chiffchaff – helpfully this bird says its name “chiffchaff, chiffchaff” making it easy to recognise.

Nightingale – the famous song of the nightingale is fast and loud. This is an uncommon bird in the Cotswolds, you will be priviledged to hear it!

Wren – makes a lot of high pitched noise for such a small bird.

Great tit – has a two note song – “teacher teacher teacher”

Goldfinch – has a high, twittering song rather like a canary.

Starling – can alter its song by impersonating other birds and also car alarms and mobile phones!

Wood pigeon – very distinctive “co-coo-coo”

Blue tit – a small and colourful bird, sounds like “see,see,see” when it calls.

House sparrow – this bird “chirps” rather than sings.

Skylark – one of the earliest birds in the dawn chorus, coining the phrase “up with the lark”.

Chaffinch – this common garden bird has a short and cheerful song.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

old skool rules...


I've been naughty... again! I have bought myself a camera case. I have been on the lookout for a long time for a nice camera case, that is not a utilitarian black nylon backpack that seems to be de rigueur nowadays! When I saw this one {pictured} by grafea, my love of 'old skool' satchels could not be repressed and I just had to have it! The downside is that it isn't that big - it fits in my Nikon D90, lens and speedlight comfortably, and it isn't padded, so I may have to find a camera skin from somewhere. But it is easy to carry and looks great, and maybe in years to come, I will pass it down, worn and battered having been on so many adventures, to my children or grandchildren as something of an heirloom?

Friday, 5 March 2010

horses for courses...

a busy, full-on week at work and I'm glad it's over. Saw that the sun was shining through a window today and yearned to feel it on my face... maybe tomorrow?

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

cleanse...


I have been unwell with a nasty virus this weekend. In fact I missed the weekend altogether, I believe it passed whilst I was endlessly vomiting! Anyway, I'm sure you wish to be spared all the details and I am feeling much better, apart from very tired and lethargic. Sunlight was streaming through the windows yesterday, and the fact that I hadn't eaten for three days and was feeling quite miserable, made me want to cleanse myself thoroughly to get rid of any horrible germs that may be lingering.

I started with a facial cleansing routine with some lovely Dr.Hauschka products I was given for Christmas and was saving 'for best' {I do covet things}. Firstly a facial steam, followed by a cleansing clay mask and relaxing weleda lavender bath {tip - this is great on children's face cloths for wiping mouths and fingers after dinner}, then finally some rose day cream, my new favourite beauty product!

Now after my ritual to cleanse me, I better tackle the house, it looks like a bomb has hit it after just two days off! As hard as they try, my boys just aren't bothered by mess and muddle as I am!
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