Thursday, 30 April 2009


a friend from Brazil.

a friend from home.

a friend for life.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Corner View: modes of transportation

Most people in my town get around by the dreaded car. In their defense the public transport system (buses) is very poor; incredibly unreliable and doesn't even cover much of the town. The basic concept seems to be that people only need to travel up to the town centre and back! Personally, I hate the car and do not own one. I rely on my two feet and two legs and they take me wherever I want.

My town is very good for cyclists. There are cycle paths criss-crossing the town, and for the most part they are scenic, well-kept and safe.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

something new?

With the rain pouring down and the children safely tucked up in school, I thought it about time to resume some sewing projects. I have decided upon making a new bag.

I am thinking a subtle linen blend fabric for the exterior with a touch of embroidery, and a vibrant juicy yellow fabric (which was kindly sent to me from Michelle) for the inside lining. I am loving that at the moment, bright eye-catching fabric peeping through natural coloured linen. yummy.

This is a very basic sketch I have drawn of the design I want the bag to be. I always find it easier to have a rough outline [of what I have in my head] on paper to work with, helps to keep with the plan, so to speak.

Today I will be busy baking a birthday cake for Alex for tonight, and rushing into town for some last minute errands. We will be celebrating Alex's birthday tonight, just the four of our family together, with maybe some games too!

Monday, 27 April 2009

party, party

Firstly, my apologies for the bad quality of pictures here. My poor little camera couldn't keep up with the speed of which things were moving at this party. My friend had promised to take the pictures of the party with her high-tech expensive camera, but unfortunately forgot to bring it!

This eating area is based upon the cabin in a pirate ship. Lots of Jolly Rogers and swords.

Alex was delighted with his 'booty', as he left with a black sack full of presents.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Just to say.....

this bundle of handmade goodness arrived here from Sarah at A Flower For You. They were from her blog giveaway which I won. All the items are so well made and the fabrics are gorgeous. This little bag is already a permanent fixture on my arm whenever I go out. It's perfect for my keys, cell phone and wallet when I am out on one of my many school runs.

Here is a lovely little pouch filled with recipe cards. I can't wait to try them out. Sarah has recently opened a new Etsy Shop, where you can find more of her gorgeous items.

It is Alex's 7th Birthday on Tuesday, so I am organising a party tomorrow at Pirates , a local kids play centre. Parties scare the hell out of me - confession: this will be the first party I have thrown. I am quite a shy person and the thought of organising a party for 10 7 year old boys is enough to give me sleepless nights. That is probably why I haven't been here for the last couple of days. If I survive the party on Saturday I should be back on Monday with some pictures and let you know how I got on. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Soup & stories

It has been a gloriously sunny day today and I have been feeling lazy. Alex is back at school, Adrien is not back until Thursday, so things have definitely slowed down. After a little play at the playground, we came home and I made soup. Watercress and potato soup, its so delicious and so easy to make:

1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 large potato, peeled & finely chopped
2ooml vegetable stock
1 bunch of watercress, chopped
100ml double cream
salt & freshly ground pepper

- Heat oil in medium saucepan.
- Add onion & garlic & saute gently until softened.
- Add remaining ingredients (except cream) and simmer for 8-10 mins.
- Blend until smooth. Add cream, heat and serve.

We ate soup and fruit and sipped tea in the garden. Read and relaxed. I haven't done any sewing over the Easter break, and I don't think it will resume until next week, but I can sneak in a little catch-up reading. This book City of the Beasts, is on loan from a Colombian friend of mine. She introduced me to Isabel Allende and also Paulo Coelho, two great South American authors. The book is full of exotic adventure, set in the remote world of the Amazon rainforest. Adrien is loving this book at the moment; umm maybe I should be making pumpkin soup instead?

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Out of the Woods

I wasn't sure whether to publish this post, as I didn't know how personal I should get on this blog, but since I have already made some wonderful new friends through here, I actually feel safe in doing so.

I have had somewhat of a health scare recently, but Friday was a wonderful day, as I got my results back and everything is ok.

This starts back to about 3 months ago when I went to my doctor about a niggling issue I had. I just thought it would be a case of making an appointment with my GP, getting a prescription, walking out and carrying on with the rest of my life, like what mostly happens. But it was obviously something more serious (or appeared to be), so I was referred to a specialist at the hospital, who then made an appointment at the Colposcopy Unit, who then took a biopsy, and then I waited an agonising 4 weeks for the results. By this time I was hoping for the best but bracing myself for the worst; every scenario going through my mind. I am a worrier by nature, so under these circumstances I felt like I had been living in the twilight zone this last month. Not a minute went by when this huge burden was not on my mind, and on my back.

However the results came back very positive (or I should say negative in terms of medical results). I do still have the initial problem which will be something I will have to live with for the rest of my life, but it can be managed, and with regular check-ups I should be fine.

So now I am going to spend precious time with my children. Hug them tighter, play with them longer and enjoy every second of it.

Friday, 17 April 2009

A Small Chunk of London

I have been wanting to take a trip down to London for quite a while now. Living in a small town I miss the diversity, culture and all the interesting shops and markets they have there. Alex has been wanting to see the dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum for like ever, so we decided to take the train down there this week.

The reason I had put this trip to London off for so long is that the idea of taking the little ones fills me with anxiety.

Unfortunately we didn't get to see the dinosaurs, as it was an hour wait inside the museum, and with a tired and cranky three year old that would have been an impossible feat. There were, however, lots of dinosaur bones to see elsewhere in the museum and Alex had great fun in the gift shop!
I have since pondered on whether this trip was actually worth all the time, energy and expense; we didn't get to see a fraction of what I would have liked, most of our time was spent travelling and negotiating our way through crowds of people and looking for toilets. Yet I have reasoned with myself that with children this age, London can only be done in very small chunks and that to them the whole thing is an experience in itself; the train, the tubes and the crowds of people.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Vanilla Cake

This seems the perfect cake to take on picnics or have for tea parties, but since we had our sunny picnic day yesterday we will have our rainy day tea party indoors today. This Vanilla Cake recipe is from Apples for Jam - oh yes I am surely working (or eating) my way through that yummy book. I even got to decorate my cake with this pretty little blue flowers that have sprung up in my little garden.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Teddy Bears Picnic

From a grey and dull morning emerged a beautiful warm and sunny afternoon, perfect for a Teddy Bears Picnic. My friend met us over in the woods and we were joined by many furry friends too. Alex had fun with his friend exploring in the woods, while Adrien and I relaxed in the sunshine.
On our way home we stopped off for ice lollies; surely this must mean Spring is well and truly under way now.

Monday, 13 April 2009

The Easter Egg Hunt

"Should I, or shouldn't I?"

Adrien with the stag.

Riding Diby the Dragon.

Alex with the stag.

We had a very good time at the Easter egg hunt yesterday. Although there was no sign of the Easter Bunny, there were plenty of chocolate eggs along the way to keep everyone smiling, and a large Easter egg at then end as a prize!

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Easter Goodies

Along with all the chocolate bunnies and chocolate eggs, this year I decided to buy the boys a book each for Easter. For Adrien The Sun Egg by Elsa Beskow. We already have a few of Elsa Beskow's stories, Peter In Blueberry Land is a particular favourite of both boys. For Alex, My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell. This book was a favourite of mine growing up and although Alex is not at a stage to read the book himself I thought it would be perfect for reading aloud to him at bedtime. The book is set on the Greek island of Corfu, where as a boy Gerald and his family spent five years. I loved reading about the adventures he had with all the animals and colourful characters he met.
I confess I did cheat a little bit this year. I gave the boys their gifts on Friday - I just couldn't bear to wait any longer. Not so much the chocolate for me but the books, I couldn't wait to dive into them.
Today, if the weather stays dry, we are off to our local nature reserve for an Easter egg hunt, and we may even have a chance to spot the Easter Bunny!
Wishing a Happy Easter to all who celebrate!

Friday, 10 April 2009

An Easter Surprise!

After returning from the hospital with Alex yesterday, a package all the way from Chicago was waiting patiently for me. Michelle from Shell Please sent this lovely package of loveliness to me. Some wonderful fabric that I admired afar from her blog, which she so kindly shared with me, and some gifts for the boys, candy and crayons. Thank you so much Michelle for your kindness and thoughtfulness. How fitting it arrived just on the eve of Easter. I don't believe these things happen by chance. I feel so privileged to have you as a friend.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

A Trip To Papa's

Yesterday we cycled over to my dads, so the children could see a little of their papa and their cousin.

I am feeling exhausted now, it just seems to have been non-stop this last week and I was hoping that today we could just stay at home and relax, recharge the batteries and maybe fit in some baking and even a new soup recipe a friend recently passed onto me. Then it dawned upon me this morning that I need to take Alex to a hospital appointment his afternoon. Oh well, at least we have the morning to relax.

I made fish pie yesterday from the recipe in the Apples for Jam book. I had to substitute the shrimp for salmon as I knew the boys would not eat that. It was very good, although I think I need to make a bigger pie next time, as it barely went around us all. I also made my personal seasonal favourite, rhubarb crumble. I so love rhubarb and I think this weekend I will just boil it and serve with honey, a recipe I saw recently on River Cottage and it looked divine.

A footnote to add here: yes Alex feels the need to show is Ben 10 watch in every photo I take of him.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Boys Time

Yesterday the boys and I spent the day at my good friend Martha's house. She has two boys of similar age to mine and they all had a ball together.

She made me a delicious lunch of baked salmon with fresh asparagus, green beans and sugar snap peas, served with a glass of wine, and fruit for dessert. After lunch we set off to the woods for some pond-dipping, crafts and general frolicking in the woods.

My friend came up with the idea of all the boys dressing up to go out. Great idea - the problem was everyone wanted to be either Spiderman or Batman, the cat costume and pirate costume were balked at. So my boys made do with Ben 10 and Spiderman T-shirts.

Crafts were made inside the conservation area. We never manage to actually make anything in there whenever we go; a quick play with the dough and it's back into the woods for superhero and secret spy games. I guess being outside and actually IN the woods is the general idea.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

A New Day A New Bag

So spring break is officially under way. The sun was shining and the boys spent most of the day playing outside with their dad, which freed up a lot of time for me to work on some of my sewing.

I actually managed to finish the bag! I am so proud of myself over this, considering I have never made a bag before and was following no pattern or instructions. I just had pictures in my head of several bags that I liked the look of, and a basic understanding of how to construct a bag and away I went. So you can imagine my delight when I finally turned the bag the right way out to discover that everything was in the right place. I think this bag will be ideal for when I am out with the boys. Plenty of room for drinks, snacks, and toy or two and maybe a book for me too.

The outside fabric was from Good-ness and is a lovely fine corduroy. The lining is a beige cotton twill.

My son Alex has passed a big milestone over the weekend, he is now on two wheels instead of four! Yes, the training wheels are finally off and there is no stopping him now. Well done Alex, I knew you could do it.

Monday, 6 April 2009

There's A Whole Lot of Loving Going On

I have had much to be loving this weekend. There was a lot of baking and cooking going on too. These delicious cinnamon muffins were a big hit all around, I particularly liked the combination of the cinnamon and dark chocolate. Thank you Cosycactus for introducing these bad boys to our family.

My little garden continues to delight and surprise. Out of seemingly nowhere these beautiful daffodils made a surprise apperance. So I brought a couple indoors for us to enjoy, and then the next day this wonderful aroma filled my living room - yes it was the daffodils. I have no idea what type of daffodil they are; they have four flowers per stem with delicate creamy pale yellow petals with a bright orange or yellow centre. I cannot wait for what more surprises my garden has in store for me.

I baked some wholemeal bread, which always seems to cheer me up. I guess its that homey feeling it gives and the wonderful smell that fills the whole house. The world seems a perfect place when freshly homemade bread is around.

Just when I was about to give up on my grass, these tiny shoots appeared on Saturday morning. I never thought I would be so excited over humble grass. We have had a couple of little shoots appear from the pumpkin and tomato seeds the children and I planted. The problem is my garden has one big cheeky pest - Adrien my 3 year old son. He has this habit of turning the pots upside down, ripping the tiny shoots off and generally causing havoc. I guess this gardening thang is a learning curve for all of us, little ones included. I just have to stay patient. Isn't that one of the first lessons gardening teaches?

Friday, 3 April 2009

Old Finds

My Dad came over yesterday and gave me these two old knitting books that were my mother's. They date back to the 40's and are full of wonderful old illustrations like below. I love the idea of following one of these old patterns, and making something my mother or even my grandmother would have made many years ago.

Tucked away between the pages of one of the books I found this old newspaper cutting. I have no idea of the significance of the story, it says... "The Duke of Edinburgh placed a wreath yesterday on the grave of 21 victims of New Zealand's Christmas Eve rail disaster. He flew from Hamilton to Wellington for the funeral. On the wreath's card was written 'From Elizabeth R. and the Duke of Edinburgh". As far as I know my family have no ties to New Zealand, but my mum must have kept the cutting for a reason. It sounds romantic to think that I could unravel a secret from the past, like in an old novel.

I found these old embroidery threads buried under a pile of junk at a thrift store yesterday all for £1. I was like a kid with a new toy. (I'm easily pleased.)

My gifts to my son's teachers all wrapped up and ready to give.
Have yourself a wonderful weekend.