Saturday, 30 August 2008

Pinky toasting marshmallows

The weather was nice enough last night for us to spend the evening in the garden. M had been at circus school all day and has the new nick name of "Pinky". I think it suits her. We decided to go with the hair bun inspiration of the last post, but with a little pinch of pink.

Nothing like a relaxing swing in the hammock after a feast of toasted marshmallows.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Woodland living

Last week I took the children to see The Fox and The Child. What a treat it turned out to be. The kids loved the combination of story telling and wildlife documentary. Perfect for a little boy who loves to find out facts and information but still hasn't lost the childhood enjoyment of a good story. It was a mix between reality and fairytale. The film opened up a world were children can be free to have true adventures and the freedom to explore nature. A rare luxury compared with today's cautious and the risk assessed life of the regular city kid.
Although some reviewers haven't been that enthusiastic about this film, criticizing the dubbing and Kate Winslet's narration. I found the over all composition of the story beautiful . The scenery spectacular, the cinematography just perfect. Were some have described the film as twee I felt it was delightful, nostalgic and refreshing. It is rare that a visit to the cinema leaves my children wanting to find out more about the subject of the film . We certainly found it a welcome change from the usual animated and over hyped riot of images that are assumed to be the appropriate for children and their families. You can see an interview with the director and creator Luc Jaquet here.

The actress playing the child is Bertille Noel Bruneau ,

Isn't she pretty ? I love this still from the film. It illustrates the natural colour palette that is used throughout the film. Her hair style reminded me of something and at first I thought it was Princess Leia but then I remembered these.

From Hilary Lang of Wee Wonderfuls. Hilary posted the dolls on the left sometime ago and felt that they were not quite right. I personally love the hair on these dolls. Her creations are always so cute and her creativity seems unending. I've been a fan of Hilary's work some time and am feeling inspired by her to try my hand at some doll making. So far I have only attempted to make her Elf Stitchettes. I was delighted with the free pattern and the results.

Thinking ahead to Christmas I think I might try to make a few dolls myself, using the bun hair as inspiration.
My Autumn copy of Marie Claire Idees arrived at the beginning of this week and to my surprise continued on the theme of nature and had a similar colour palette to the film.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Clouds, Rain and Trees

I thought it was about time that I stopped complaining about the amount of rain we have been having this Summer and decided to celebrate it.

So I bought this necklace -

Made by the talented Jen of Fable Handmade goods on Etsy. Its called April Showers but I've renamed it Irish Summer 2008 ! Thanks Jen, its even more delightful than I thought it would be.

Jen's blog The Fabled Needle is so pretty. Her crochet patterns are delicate and have a antique feel to them. I have already ordered her pattern for The Mighty Oak Scarflette.

I have a passion for Acorns and couldn't resist this when I saw it. I have the yarn gathered and my crochet hook at the ready. Hopefully will have it finished in time for Autumn.

Whilst on the topic of weather and trees check out our new Weather Tree.

My pal and sister-in-law Gentlytiptoe and I saw this poster 5 years ago in a National Trust shop. But at the time they were out of stock. I remembered that they were designed by Dorothy Thelwall . Occasionally over the last while I have been looking out for one and I suppose with the weather being on my mind I found them for sale here. I was so excited I ordered 3 to send to my nieces and nephews.

The idea is that you choose a colour for each type of weather and colour one leaf a day to represent the weather. Each branch of the tree represents one month. The kids and I decided on our colours today and coloured in our first leaf !

Sunday, 17 August 2008

A Special Day

Yesterday was a Special day in our house. My birthday started with breakfast in bed made by O. Another surprise was that Duke Special was appearing on Sesame Tree !
Sesame tree is a project developed to encourage respect,understanding and reconciliation in Northern Ireland and is partly funded by The American Fund for Ireland and The Northern Ireland Fund for Reconciliation. It is our very own version of Sesame street and can be seen on BBC 2 at 07.45 am or viewed here.

My Kids and I enjoy both so it made for a nice start to the day. Here's a little taster of Duke Special live.

If that leaves you craving some more Duke Special tunes, his album "Songs from the Deep Forest" is highly recommended and is available here.

Thought I'd also add a link to the wonderfully talented Paul a friend and colleague of Dave and the puppeteer for Potto the purple fluffy monster. Paul can be found at Sirkus on foot.

After a great start to the day we had the treat of seeing our little budding ballerina M in the 27th Northern Ireland Ballet School performance.
The day finished well with homemade veggie chilli men using Wagamama sauce. We have'nt got a Wagamama restrant in N.Ireland but home made is the next best thing. Friends and family sent lots of lovely presents and cards. More about the those later as I think there is a small break in the clouds and posssibly a glimse of some Sun !!!
Oh ! forgot to say about the cupcakes, Chocolate with peanut butter chips (own recipe) and magnolia bakery chocolate buttercream topping from this book.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Rainbow Cookies

More baking !
Hope it stops raining before we eat our own weight in baked goods !!
Anyway, another little recipe to cheer up a dull day.
Aptly named Rainbow cookies by myself. They are my own adaptation of an old recipe with a few ingredients omitted and these put in their place.

Vanilla extract and mini Smarties or M&M's !

110g (4oz) butter softened

110g (4oz) caster sugar

200g (7oz) plain flour

1 egg yolk
1 dessertspoon of golden syrup

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

pinch of salt

approx 3 tbsp mini M&M or Smarties.

-Cream butter and sugar

-Add egg yolk and syrup and combine well.

- Add sieved flour and baking powder, salt and combine with clean -hands (its really the best way!)

-When mixture resembles playdoh, roll into small balls and flatten with fingers. Space well on baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper, as they will spread a little during cooking.

- Bake for 10-15 mins at 170 C , 325 F 0r gas mark 3, until golden brown and they should end up like these.

Other versions Ive made have been, chocolate chip, raisin and spice. They are delicious when still warm from the oven. ENJOY !

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Rain and Knot Quilting

Rain, Rain and then some more rain has left us looking for indoor activities to keep me and the children occupied. It has rained so much over the last month that I have to remind my self that actually is Summer.

An unplanned trip to a local toyshop however has introduced us to a new Craft !

Knot Quilting is the perfect activity to keep a child occupied and busy for a good few hours at a time.

We bought a Knot a Quilt pack also available online here.

Since M finished her quilt within a few days we have decided to try making another Knot Quilt using the brilliant instructions from Joyce Briggs which we found here.
The blankets can be made using fleece or flannel fabric. Youtube also has a great tutorial for Knot Quilting here. If you have a go I would love to see the results.

Another rainy weather pastime that we have taken up is no cook baking. Not as good for the waistline, but there has to be something to cheer us up when the weather is so bad. Over the past few days we have been eating these.

They're called "Fifteens" and are so quick and easy to make. No hot ingredients or stove so perfect for children who want to help. Here's the recipe :-

15 digestive biscuits crushed

15 glace cherries chopped

15 marshmallows chopped

15 walnut halves chopped

2 tbsp dessicated coconut and extra for rolling

1 tin of condensed milk.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, feel free to add extra crushed digestives if mix very sticky. When mixture holds together when squeezed, roll into long sausage shape. Coat in extra coconut and roll tightly in greaseproof paper . Allow to rest in fridge for a few hours. Slice into pieces 1-1 1/2 inches thick and they are ready to eat.

One good aspect of all this wet and humid weather are these,

Our beans are growing nicely and are looking pretty at the moment with their flowers. Hopefully they will be ready for harvest at the same time as our carrots. I'm off to ebay now to look for some suitable flannel fabric for the new Knot Quilt.