Family Postcards, Writing

Saturday Stars!

Today was amazing! An early start ensures we arrive at our destination, after the usual preparations, snacks, change of clothes, pack-up and medical bag! Finally we set of for our local beach, this was a pack-up, petrol and parking day. Drawn out to make the most of the warm, sunny weather.

After placing our youngest daughter in a carry harness, balanced by our pack-up bag we set off for the start of our beach trek. I found the walk refreshing, busy with other visitors we headed towards the sea, as the tide had washed up a surprising amount of Starfish. As my family set to rescuing them to the nearest deep pool I enjoyed the fresh air.

A seat for a light lunch, allowed me to rest a while, surrounded by golden sand glittering landscapes and children rambling through the sandbanks and beach collecting shells! A few treasures to mulch my pots in the garden, adding a little treasure to our landscape.

As we made our way through the beach we made an unusual decision to follow on to the main beach! This became a mini-adventure, tired children, clagging quick sand and deep estuaries ensured we walked at least a mile through uncomfortable terrain. As we hit the main beach we were muddy to say the least, but we made it back before the tide and had a scramble up quick sand to get back to the main path.

I have also a fantastic array of photographs of the family which I have selected a few to print and frame. The addition of the stars were a wonderful, an amazing bonus, something unusual to share!

Happy Holidays!

Cheryl

 

Family Postcards, Writing

Holiday fun!

So with two weeks off I prepared in advance and collected a few sets of props for Easter, all of mine have enjoyed the search for eggs through our garden! So after finding a large plastic chicken container full of eggs for £4 and purchasing a craft kit full of characters from chicks to bunnies, eggs and flowers I filled a few of the chick eggs with my purchases and set aside a few for treats which I place in cool carrot bags designed for each child to have a treat.

The first was a chocolate egg hunt, I have also purchased Haribo bags, lollies, sweets and a selection of eggs for Sunday. The children enjoy the variety of treats and it costs around ten pounds to collect the props as the egg hunt cards which I added to large garden tags, cost a few pounds.

Whether it is part of your calendar or not I find this time of year is great for showing the circle of life, can help build a knowledge of reality about different food sources. A great opportunity to draw them outside in search of something, Which often breaks up the day and allows them to enjoy the wonderful warm weather we are having!

I am still thrilled by the addition of chicks into school at this time of year, for those who have not the access to their own it is great to watch the chicks hatching and growing over the weeks running up to Easter. I have sourced a few clips, I have found to access for my children to watch eggs hatching, chicks developing.

Enjoy the sunshine!

Cheryl

 

Family Postcards, Writing

By the river bank;

Yesterday was a day for excursions, my husband felt the need to take us to a local stretch of river for a long walk, unusual choice but as we walked the few mile stretch the weather was beautiful, and the world was vibrant and colourful. I was surprising how peaceful it was as we rambled down the pathway following the farmers fields and wind turbines.

I find them mesmerising from a distance but up close they were ginormous, as the propellers spun the shadows blinkered the sunlight and as we walked on the scenery shone bright ahead of us. Two swans were basking in the sun and a few large fish were visible from the surface of the water, sitting in the shallows was a pike idling out of the direct sunshine. One of the majestic birds, took flight behind us and the wingspan stretched the width of the river itself, each beat of it wings highlighted the elegance of this Jurassic sized bird. Its white plumage shone in the bright spring sunlight.

The deer made a rare appearance across the fresh green fields, they seemed to stop just long enough for us to watch them until they vanished off I the distance. I find each space I see, sets off a drive to plant it up with my own design whether it is in need of  a drift of wildflowers for the insects or a space to build a new home!

After a few miles we came across an array of daffodils, a few with unusual colourings, pom pom centres and multi headed varieties which were rare! The weather was warm and despite the usual addressing for safety it was delightful to see the space at its best.

After a brief visit to the allotment to plant some seedlings and transplanting my strawberries for our slabs to create a seated space we returned to work in the garden!

Happy Tours!

Cheryl

5 ingredients recipes, Family Postcards, Writing

Recipe – Sunday Dinner; 4 months plus

So today as my daughter began to watch me eat this week I had pre-empted and purchased twenty banana and apple packs from my favourite supermarket! Today at Sunday dinner I served up her first sample of my favourite dish!

You will need; 1 sterilised jar or cup

Ingredients;

1 sausage ( Oven cooked – steamed to soften)

1 salad potato

2 carrots

1 small slice of red pepper

1 small Broccoli Floret

 

To Serve;

Place them into a blender with a small amount of gravy and blend until smooth, place in the fridge until the food has a moderate temperature and no hot spots. Around five minutes is enough for just warm after a few hours steaming it is surprising how long it takes for potatoes and vegetables to cool.

Dish up into small pots and freeze, or serve warm dependant on your needs.

I prefer to create from meals we eat ourselves, as these will be the foods served as they develop their food skills. This can be crushed down with a fork while warm for those able to deal with a rough consistency, for my daughters first Sunday dinner it was a glowing success as she smiled enjoying every morsel!

Obviously any steamed vegetables can be turned into wonderful dishes, along with baby pasta’s and Brown rice!

Happy Preparations!

Cheryl

Family Postcards, Writing

Our Home!

Sometimes the days blur and before we know it another week on and you realise how special it has been to share it with those you love. I have shared amazing moments with my daughters, crossing milestones and enjoying the first smiles and burbles of conversation. They grow so fast and I am proud of them, I am quiet as my work for now is at home. Whilst they are off I am hoping to make the most of the days ahead, enjoying sharing their interests and watching our youngest grow it is the world we shall be ever thankful for.

As spring begins to show its many new shoots and leaves I will look forward to sharing this time planting new seeds with my children, while finding a space to share this with my family.

Happy journeys!

Cheryl

Allotment, Family Postcards, Grow Your Own, Propagation

GYO – Sowing and First Snow Day!

Yesterday I managed a visit to our local pound stretcher for essentials, returning with this years potato and onion sets, after searching I realised I had used the last of my cucumber and leek seeds, so after searching the racks I found some at two packs for a £1. Finally I invested in some peas and beans, at £1 per pack they will allow me to grow a few on in the greenhouse, so if I do not get there again I have enough to sow when the season starts.

I settled for King Edwards and charlotte potatoes to start with, I am also going to chit our Aldi favourites as they are really fluffy spuds. This will allow me at least 6 rows of potatoes for our front bed. I may visit the garden centre for a few Valor seed potatoes as my experiment last year was voided by the scorching weather.

The Peas were ‘Clevedon Wonder’, Beans were ‘best of all’ and I shall buy a few other varieties later on, I am tempted with a few ‘Giganties; but we shall see as I have some field beans to use up from last season. Whatever I choose I will ensure I use the seeds saved from last years as they were a very resilient crop.

I watched as my daughter skilfully began to fill two base trays and together we filled them with the onion sets, the previous years crops were taken and any left did not grow well, this years I will plant when growth is established. I am tempted to invest in a camera to see where the giant birds that take them are coming from!

Tomorrow I hope to spend an hour digging the trenches for the potatoes as the bed is already cleared and I can straw to ensure the weeds cannot benefit from the freshly dug earth. At £3 a Bale it is worth it as any walkways or planted areas covered in it produce very little weeds and greatly reduce the hours it takes to maintain planted areas. This will cover 75 percent of my land worked beds which and has allowed me to manage my plot with around four hours maximum on site.

Pre – Blood moon, I planted all of my onion and brassica seeds in the cups my daughter prepared so now I have a good selection to start including:

  • Rainbow Chard
  • Spring onion
  • Leeks
  • Romanesco Cauliflower
  • Red Cabbage
  • Sweet Peas

The Sweet Peas were sown by my son…something we can grow on the side of our compost Bins for the Bees! I hope to collect the manure to fill my pumpkin trenches on Thursday! Which will mean all of my main land beds will be prepared or set by the end of this week….

As I type my allotment ideas are being quashed by snowfall, it looks beautiful but puts a dampener on tomorrows digging plans… I love snow days! It is falling fast covering our yearling German Shephard as she romps around the garden…. I hope we get snowed in!

In plan B; I will be with our youngest children watching the snow!

Happy Horticulture!

Cheryl

 

Allotment, Family Postcards, Grow Your Own, Propagation

GYO – Sunday Sowings!

 

Today I have been searching for craft supplies, canvas for embroidery as the large printed one I have is making gradual progress, I fancied making something out of my many pattern books. I am surprised at the cost of canvas and have reached the decision that art panels from around a pound are the way forward. they are pre framed and of a suitable material, far better value for money than a 25cm patch for £2 on ebay!

My large embroidery panel will be completed in time, it takes its slot between, family, The allotment,  planting  and writing. I plan on starting my second book this year, when I can have a free hand to write. Typing up allows me to edit and proof read, so I prefer to transfer from notebooks which encourages my children to write and create. However the growing season well on its way I do not know when I will find any time!

Today my daughter and I managed to plant up the garlic, she enjoyed breaking up and counting the cloves. From four bulbs we had 60 cloves of garlic which we planted into circular trays. After a quick water I have set them in our small greenhouse, these will be potted on when the roots and shoots are fully formed. I have assigned one of my strawberry beds for garlic and onion sets, as I plan to place all of my strawberries in a larger bed we cleared of fruit last summer.

I also managed to plant three types of cabbage, January King (purple and green) Greyhound (green) and a large crop Mammoth which is a large red variety. My daughter helped me fill around thirty cups, these will hold a selection of crops and fruit plants that we sow early to ensure mature plants earlier in the season. These will be set aside in the kitchen to grow in low light away from heated areas and windowsills, allowing around 15 degrees for germination.

I plan to sow brassicas, onions and tomatoes, peppers, chilli’s and leeks over the next few weeks, around 6 to ten seeds of each as I intend a monthly sowing of each in an attempt to have plenty of crops to over winter. I have lots of seeds I would not usually sow, these I plan on using to grow to donate and sell, Radishes my daughter planted today I will let her plant in the Belfast sink at home to allow her to check on them regularly. These are Something which we can add to stir fried breakfasts, sautéed potatoes, onions, mushrooms and radishes added to sausage, bacon, eggs and tomatoes are great on a quiet morning. It also allows you to use up small potatoes and onions from your allotment that may otherwise be thrown away.

I will use the sinks and raised beds at home for salad leaves, beans, peas and lettuces as I have a million seeds to make use of. I am looking forward to trying the various types of pumpkins, this years crop will hopefully have a greater variety. Tonight I plan on sowing a large variety of Cauliflower, kale, onions and broccoli as the pots are prepared and providing I get an hour I will have officially started 2019. I know they will grow as it is mild so I intend to have a few weeks for germination ensuring by early March I have some seedlings to replace my Early purple Broccoli and Brussel sprouts.

So with Sunday lunch already complete, seeds planted, babe in arms nursing, I shall spend my evening preparing and planning my next craft project. As obviously crop rotation already setting the location of this years planting, I have no need to plan further. Hopefully I will get an hour this week to prepare the pumpkin and potato trenches.

Happy Horticulture!

Cheryl

Family Postcards, Home Craft, Recipe, Writing

Recipe – Christmas Cake!

Ingredients;

  1. 200g Butter
  2. 4 eggs
  3. 200g Brown sugar
  4. 175g Plain Flour
  5. 65g Self Raising Flour
  6. 500g Mixed fruit
  7. 1 cup of Fruit juice

How to Make;

  1. Ensure the children wash their hands and put on their Aprons!
  2. Weigh out ingredients as required, I add them into a large mixing bowl.
  3. Measure out the sugar and butter and mix thoroughly.
  4. Add the self raising and Plain Flour.
  5. Add the 4 eggs.
  6. Add the Mixed fruit and a cup of chosen fruit juice, tropical, cranberry and orange are all good to add so for me it depends on what I have available.
  7. Grease a 30cm or equivalent tin and transfer the mix to the base, level as required.
  8. Put in oven  at 180 for 25 to 30 mins.
  9. Place to cool on a baking tray.

This cake is an adaptation of a recipe from an old Marks and Spencers cook book which I acquired several years ago at a charity shop, as baking was never my strong point I decided that one good book may inspire me to have a go.

In reality I simplify most recipes to the basic requirements as it allows me to keep a simple stock of ingredients to cover a range of cooking or baking. I find this really simple to make with children and if you do not like messy makes it can all be mixed together with utensils.

I decided this afternoon to attempt a cake, my Sunday dinner leaving a little room for something sweet. After making the first cake with my daughter using my home made picture recipes, I returned to my youngest I handed the recipe to my husband. Due to nursing my daughter, the bake off became an obvious next step and despite best efforts my husbands had to be return to the oven as it was not quite cooked.

My cake although a little difficult to remove from the tin, was cooked perfectly as the contents cleared in under 10 minutes. I was grateful to have made a second to add to our stores which I have hidden in a celebrations box, although I know once it is found it will not last long.

This will be the first of many as I do not wish to spend on the items that we enjoy to make! it really takes no time at all and can be decorated simply with icing sugar or with royal icing, it really depends on what style of cake you are making. The recipe will make one large cake or two thin loaf style cakes which are ideal to make yule log shapes.

So whether your like me and prefer a simple recipe, ideal for those with food allergies. Or whether you find yourself low on supplies this recipe allows the full taste of a wonderful cake without the faff of modern recipes…

Obviously I won the taste test, but my husbands looked great for a first attempt! I do feel the real winners are those who manage to decorate theirs, above shows a selection of images that show the originality of some creators. I admit it is another skill I would like to have the time to focus on but for now, our family recipe is a prefect foundation to work on!

Happy Baking!

Cheryl

 

 

 

 

 

Family Postcards, Writing

One Month old!

So my daughter is now about a month old, so far she broke me for a week after exerting myself in hospital for the first few days! Which I made the most of with lots of rest and cuddles with our beautiful bundle, while my husband supported me, despite my experience with our children nothing takes away the decision making that keeps your family safe and well,  made through our varied experiences and with added support of professionals!

Today I am sat with her constantly, breastfeeding and typing a new talent and the Jaundice she held at ten days is still apparent, I have rang the hospital after being told she would be checked further if still unwell post 21 days, but without any contact I rang to prompt action, with their only advise was to contact the GP as otherwise she is well!

So, A prayer to our little princess to keep her safe and well! that it is a blip in the ocean of health and well being! But with a week of preparation required for the others whatever she needs I will provide even if it takes us from home…

So today, as always my work is clearly defined, all those jobs which I admired others for going out and working are packed into my daily life and make me all the more proud of my children and the successes they achieve! however small they are, they are precious!

Happy and Hopeful!

Cheryl

wordpress photography

 

Family Postcards, Harvests, Writing

Christmas Fayre

This week has been filled with nativity shows, Christmas fayres and Christmas jumper days, my daughter even managed a pantomime with school. I have made the effort to take my youngest out to see the world, my toddler managed to survive her first few hours in an audience without any major melt downs. Inspiringly celebrating her sister  ‘I am so proud of her she looks beautiful!’ fantastic words from someone not even three!

The fayres were filled with wonderful handmade biscuits, small Christmas trees, reindeer and decorations. I returned with a wonderful crochet heart for our tree and the children enjoyed a few festive treats while we waited for the raffle to be drawn, although not winning this year they were amazing to see as they were filled with Christmas cheer!

It made me think what would be my perfect hamper for Christmas!…

Firstly I have lived a life of savoury bliss! I find the taste of Sunday Dinner pure heaven, with peppers, leeks and onions to flavour there really is nothing better! A bonus that my children love it to, as I know at least once a week they get everything they need, I often add the vegetables to chilli mid-week again good for warding off the cold!

I like to make pigs in blankets and Christmas tree shaped stuffing for the festive days, not one the children will eat but they do not get wasted over the festive days, stored and saved can be added to sandwiches and other meals over the festive season! So it would definitely be set in my Christmas hamper.

So far then it is a ton of fresh vegetables, Potatoes, Broccoli, cauliflower, Peppers, leeks, carrots, swede and Parsnips!

Roast’s are essential and with several holidays to celebrate one is never enough! Turkey is the obvious choice, however gammon, pork, chicken and beef are all added over the festive season. I find each has an added bonus, Gammon with honey glaze, pork with mint or apple sauce dependant on your taste! If steak is an addition pepper sauce is a must and I find the co-op sachets of sauces do a wonderful job allowing enough to ensure a family can enjoy.

Sauces; On vegetables instead of cauliflower cheese, the sauce is fantastic on potatoes, and roasted vegetables. If cooking space is an issue you can pre-cook the veg and roast them in the last half an hour adding the sauce when you serve. I found it a wonderful change from the usual, mint or onion gravy added to your chosen joint.

Sausages; are a staple in our house, I use as a primary for my children as they love them and find them easier to eat than the main meats. However they will all eat a little of the roasts the older they get, the sausages then become a great filler to an already packed meal. Pigs in Blankets are easy to add around the roast but I find that they are better if they are not sat in gravy.

Yorkshire puddings and Roast potatoes; I do often long for plate size puddings, big enough to fill with your whole meal! I have yet to find the time or a recipe to develop my own skills so for now ‘Aunt Bessies’ or supermarket equivalent will do.

Frozen Corn Cobs; We all adore these so if available locally they will be on my list! Whether steamed or boiled, with or without butter they taste amazing and add a taste of summer to your winter feast!

Drinks; Grape juice being my drink of choice this year! A spritzer of pear wine and lemonade to see in new year will be my treat and a few bottles of fruit cider for my hubby will suffice. Additionally the children will enjoy some tropical juice, to add vitamins over the colder months and a small selection of pop for those who enjoy it! I have to say Lidl do an amazing fresh juice which has carrots in that I love would really be a must for my hamper, not expensive but Moorish and one to drink sparingly as although made from fresh fruit it is still packed with sugar.

Desserts; in my previous post, strudels, crumbles and Christmas pudding or cake are the main seasonal treats. I would say for real indulgence I would say gateau and cheesecake would be clear favourites! These I have indulged a little since the arrival of our daughter as I am finally in need of the extra calories to feed her! My family enjoy doughnuts, swiss rolls and a large selection box.

Selection boxes; Additionally to chocolates, A good cracker selection added with a selection of mixed cheeses are great, my favourite is Boursin and if I ever fancy something different the garlic and herb is my favourite. Home made pizza takes a close second for those days you feel like getting the family to help make their own dinner. (see Previous post – Homemade Pizza or search recipes)

Biscuits; A selection for all is great in general but we tend to make several batches of vanilla biscuits over the festive season, which brings us together as a family and fills our old celebration tubs with something home made and free to share. (see previous post – Vanilla Biscuits!)

Christmas cake; we have a great recipe that is really easy as I have taken out all of the none essentials and reduced it down to the basics. Again I tend to make a few throughout the year to add in when we need something more than the weekly shop. I use the old celebration tubs to store them as they fir a 30cm cake perfectly, and they can easily be despatched to school sales and fayres if necessary.

Ice creams; a great dessert which allows a wide selection of choice, although requires a lot to keep stock for a variety of festive meal. The stock of festive varieties look good they are rarely more than a morsel out of the packaging.

Processed; Finally some food from the dark side, chicken nuggets, kiev’s  and pies something quick for those days were you do not have to be extravagant and allow you to put something in and return in 45 minutes to processed perfection.

Christmas Crackers; mainly added to the table for decoration are a must along with candy canes for the tree! would be on most lists but I find in reality everyone together whether your family alone or with friends it is good to be with those you love, sharing whatever you have together!

In reality:

So whether I manage my full wish list to provide for our family or the basic essentials I will be glad to share this Christmas, at home with my husband, children, settled and enjoying the hustle and bustle of family life, and the peace and quiet of evenings snuggling up with our precious gifts!

Grand total of presents so far?; I have managed to build a family calendar to share our favourite photo’s of the last few years, of the children’s ?  zero, the one collection of girls, bands, bows and bobbles was used over the school week after being raided by our resident Diva! So this week will see us paying the essentials and filling the order with the many presents on our children’s Christmas list….so Santa can deliver them this Christmas!

So is there something I am missing? that is essential to your Christmas festivities? let me know!

Happy last minute shopping!

Cheryl