Biscuits (shortbread) and tarts (coconut) are baked, presents wrapped, cards written, shopping done.... hurrah!
Monday, 21 December 2009
Tuesday, 15 December 2009
I chose 100% cotton fabric for the fronts and a white towel for the back for extra absorbency. GS kindly modelled them although being 2 years old they were very small on him but look huge on the boys, it's so amazing how fast they grow!
Tuesday, 8 December 2009
Rest in peace Charlie boy
It has been a sad time on the hill this past week, our beloved cat Charlie was hit by a car and killed outside our house, it was awful and very upsetting to witness him gone like that, and so suddenly, he was such a cheekly little chap, always up to mischief, boisterous and fun but loved nothing better than a cuddle and to steal bread from the bird table when he thought we weren't looking! For all that to be ended so suddenly, and in a violent way, just wasn't fair for his young years, he was only 3. It's the danger we have always been aware of with a busy road outside our house, but the fact we have acres of open countryside and farm land behind our house we just thought they wouldn't venture off over the road, we were wrong, but he was too much of a free spirit and loves his outdoor wanderings for us to have done him any favours by keeping him couped up inside, he needed the wander and roam, it's just sad it meant this happened to him.
GN has been devasted, technically Charlie was her little baby as she adopted him and Daisy as kittens from the same litter before we moved in together, and on top of all other things this was hard, hard for her to see and lose. There have been too many tears shed in our house this year. I know to some people the fuss over pets seems weird and ridiculous, but to us he was a part of our family, loved and cared for, included in our every day activities like any other member of our family, and despite the fact we had 4 cats, to have now only 3 feels weird and strange, we miss him and his little character.
I am grateful we were able to find him, so we could bury him in the back field where he loved to roam so much. I am sure whoever hit him or at least saw him hit stopped and moved him and were probably very upset about what happened, they stopped a neighbour of ours to see if she knew where he had come from as Charlie could never keep a collar on (there must be a secret den somewhere with a hidden pile of them!) and had only lost his latest one a few days earlier so had no i.d as to where he came from, my neighbour remembered we had cats so knocked on our door to let us know what she had been told, we did a quick head count and realised Charlie was missing, i just knew then deep down it was him. It didn't take long before we found him, it was so awful to see him like that, it's haunted me, but we had a chance to say our goodbyes, give him a final stroke and know he hadn't suffered he just wouldn't have known what happened. To be able to say good bye, bury him and start the closure was comforting, better than not knowing where he had gone or what had happened to him, for him to be out somewhere alone or worst still in pain. It's helped a lot, and I am eternally grateful for everyone who stopped to take care of him and help him get back home to us, it was truly kind.
Sunday, 22 November 2009
I only wish I could capture them on camera enjoying my garden, I can't wait until Santa has been and hopefully Mr G.T & I will be able to afford a nice SLR camera, as sadly my little point and shoot fails miserably at things like this, sigh!
So far this Autumn on our feeders we have seen;
and even an occasional Sparrowhawk that tries it luck at grabbing an unsuspecting bird whilst they are munching away, cunningly evil but gorgeous creature!
I am hoping my passion for wildlife and feeding my garden birds will filter through naturally to GS, he loves being picked up to peek out of the window at whats on the feeders, he even points at our newly erected bird nestbox and says "Birdies make house have babies Mummy!" awww, well that's the hope anyway son!
There are 3 important things to remember when feeding garden birds, patience (it can take a while before the birds suss out the food and make sure the area is safe for feeding before they become regular visitors) and keep feeding throughout the year, it's bad news for birds if you stop feeding in the Spring or forget one year to put them things out, once they have sourced you out as a regular pit stop they will keep coming back looking for that lovely stuff you put out, so you have to take it on as a commitment, and finally water, the need this as much as food and it's vital to have a bird bath or just a tub of water for them to drink/bathe in. The RSPB have some terrific advice on feeding and encouraging birds to come in to your garden here http://www.rspb.org.uk/advice/helpingbirds/
Stay tuned for winter bird pics hopefully after Christmas, fingers crossed!
Tuesday, 17 November 2009
I am not sure what day Winter officially arrives, but it's certainly got colder, wetter and darker here in the last few days. Although as you can see above, last week we had a beautiful sunny day, it was mild enough to be out without a coat on, November definitely seems to have been a milder than average month!
Work has been quite busy lately, I have found that I have probably agreed to do too many extra hours as we have been short staffed and plenty were on offer, thankfully in the next 2 weeks it quietens off so I think I'll keep it to a few extra days a month from now on, otherwise i've found I just don't have enough time to get things done at home or my projects, not to mention spending quality time with GS, vital as we are currently potty training. I do love my job, it gives me the independent time I need to do my own thing, be a professional, help the community, but I also love being a Mummy and finding the balance isn't easy, even when you work part-time, I am incredibly lucky to have Granny Nanny here with us to take care of GS when I am at work, it does ease the guilt just a little bit.
Monday, 9 November 2009
I want to link to my dear friend Neffy's blog, http://whatneffydidnext.blogspot.com/ who is volunteering in Uganda and not only doing amazing things for such a wonderful community, but experiencing the time of her life, definitely a gripping blog to read!
Tuesday, 20 October 2009
I've been easily distracted this week making and baking, so firstly i will share some pictures of the fruits of my labour so you can see I really have been busy and not avoiding you all in the slightest!
These are the handmade baby burping cloths I made for my friend who is pregnant with twins, she loved them which made me very proud, I hope she will have a million and one uses for them and enjoy them! I've started on matching bibs and toys but I will send her these once the twins arrive i think.
Thursday, 15 October 2009
If you want to learn more about current findings on Climate Change then the WWF's research on the Arctic is very informative http://www.wwf.org.uk/?uNewsID=3386 this indicates even more than before that the world is getting warmer, and illustrates the importance of action now before it's too late. I personally feel the best way to tackle this is for a global deal that will cut emissions and commit every country and very individual within it to do something. It's hard to envisage what will happen in the future if we don't, and i think that explains some of the apathy people have towards being green, something thats hard to predict or forecast becomes mystified and almost mythological to people and they assume "it won't affect me", but there are small simple changes we can all make that can have an effect and it's easier than ever now to become educated and eco-aware, so we all have a duty to do our best.
Importantly for me I think is educating our children, bringing them up aware of the environment, recycling, minimising waste and eco-issues is so important in bringing about change.
Another point that often gets overlooked or glossed over is the effects every business has on climate change in this country. Although many have made attempts to be greener, I am sure we all know examples from where we work of where changes could easily be made to be greener; energy efficient bulbs/heating/lighting, simple recycling, less waste, less packaging etc. I have found shocking examples at every place I have worked where things are unnecessarily wasted or no recycling system is in place, it's very frustrating. I think if the examples I have seen are repeated throughout the country, and the world, then we still have a long way to go.
Today is also Infant Loss Awareness Day. At 7pm tonight across the world people will be lighting candles to remember their lost children or friends/family that have suffered a loss, it's something I have taken part in for years as sadly I have a few friends who have suffered the loss of a child, but this year will be the most poignant yet as 6 months has passed since my own miscarriage at 9 weeks. It's very often something that people grieve about in private, and is very difficult for anyone who hasn't been through it to truly understand, but days like today highlight that you aren't alone, and it's ok to grieve, remember and live with your loss.
Tuesday, 6 October 2009
My work colleague starts her maternity leave for her twins next week so I am busy working away on her gifts, so far I have 2 burping cloths made, and 2 more to go (i'll post pics when they are finished), then I am hoping to make them one each of these delightful toys http://makeitandloveit.blogspot.com/2009/04/stuffed-animal-part-ii.html that Ashley has kindly shared over on Make it and Love It, I am however really struggling to get my hands on any batting, there seems to be a national shortage, so I might use some balls out of an old bean bag i have saved but concerned about the choking element of this incase any of the seams broke, so might have to take some stuffing from another teddy and replace it once I get some, unless anyone has any inspiring ideas?
Wednesday, 30 September 2009
Divide in to sterilised jars, I got 4 jars but they are all quite large so obviously smaller jars would yield more.
Monday, 28 September 2009
It's a scented lavender pouch for my future SIL's birthday, even the lavender is homegrown, quite chuffed about that.
To make it I measured two rectangular pieces of fabric and cut around the shape, mine was 6inches by 5 inches with a centimetre extra each side for sewing. I had a patterned fabric for once side and then a cream minkee-type fabric for the back.
Pin the two pieces of cloth together right sides facing, and then sew three edges leaving the top open.
Then fold over 1-2 cms of the top edge, pin and sew using a back-stitch to make a neat edge for the opening of the pouch.
Turn inside out, poke out corners and then iron.
Sew on two coordinating buttons on the front for decoration.
Secure a length of ribbon to the back of the bag about 2 inches down from the top opening, with a few small stitches (to stop it from sliding off)
Then fill pouch with lavender (or any other kind of pot pourri/petals/herbs you want) and tie the ribbon tightly to secure it all in.
I have also made some drinks coasters in the same material for her.
My next project is to make some things for a work colleague who is leaving on maternity leave in 2 weeks to have twin boys, I am thinking maybe some homemade bibs and burp cloths, but am open to ideas if you can think of anything/know of a good tutorial for baby gifts?
Then it's on to Christmas gifts...
Thursday, 24 September 2009
Personally, Mr G.T & I have done a lot since we married to sort out our finances, debts so easily accrued when we were far too young plus a struggle to set up home together in a rising market that has now crashed... we made big steps to come out of using our overdrafts, consolidated our debts to get them paid off manageably, built up savings and live within our means, it was so easy for things to happen that threw us off course though and the past 2 years have been tough. We are by no means in as bad a state as some I know, thankfully my redundancy didn't mean we lost our home, or defaulted on payments, but it means credit cards had to be used, the overdraft is back, savings are depleted and we spend a lot of our monthly income paying back these debts. The best laid plans can very often get blown off course so easily, it's been a tough lesson to learn and I hope soon to get back on track again and rebuild our savings so we again have a cushion to fall back on, it just happens so instantaneously yet takes months/years to recover from.
I dread things going wrong because I know we struggle to afford the bills to fix them. Currently something seems wrong with the car and I always dread that as it can be something easily sorted (thankfully Mr G.T is handy and can do quite a few minor repairs himself, plus my brother-in-law is a mechanic so is on hand for advice) but if it's something that needs a new part or proper garage work, it can be so pricey, it's only just had it's service too so I am hoping so strongly that it can be put right as quickly and painlessly as possible. But these sorts of things just highlight to be even more how much money problems weigh on my mind and conscience, and how I hope one day soon to make it a better situation.
I'm carefully planning Christmas already, I am hoping to handmake a lot of projects as gifts for friends and family, and reduce spending on food to good quality ingredients but nothing extravagant, i think sometimes it is so easy to overspend and overeat at Christmas which is not what the festivities should be about really. The past couple of years we have managed to enjoy a basic simple but delicious Christmas, so am hoping for the same or better this year, i am hoping early organisation and planning will help, as the last 3 Christmases have been last minute rushes for a variety of reasons which often means I spend more than I need to also. So I am planning a thriftier and more environmentally friendly Christmas all round, I hope I can achieve it.
Monday, 21 September 2009
Needless really to say that it's hard work being back to Monday morning and it's a struggle fitting back in to the usual routine when I enjoyed so much just walking, taking photos and enjoying free time, i suppose ideally every day should be like that, reality doesn't always make that possible though eh?! I have found myself completely shying away from the internet, even blogging (i hear you gasp!), it's just so easy once you have been away from it all for a week to dread getting sucked back in to the virtual vortex of emails, facebook updates, gossip and, worst of all, bills! I'm easing myself back in gently though, having caught up on some beautiful and gorgeous blog updates this morning it's reassured me that the internet isn't all evil, but maybe it's taught me i need to cut back on the social network sites and the hustle and bustle, and just concentrate on the places that bring me joy, like my blogs.
I seem to have gone in to overdrive since returning, wanting to get all the house cleaned, washing done, bills paid, schedule arranged, odd ends tied up... which is a bit silly really because then i'll need another break by the end of the week! So i've written a list of all the things popping in to my head so I don't forget anything (i love lists!) but will tackle it at a steady and more manageable pace I think moving forward.
Back to the holiday then. We stayed in a beautiful cottage that used to be the bathkeeper's home by the shore of the Menai Strait, looking over to Anglesey and with views of Caernarfon castle, Snowdonia, fields of little calves and of course the picturesque waters, it was a relaxing place, quiet and serene but close enough so we could walk to the attractions in Caernarfon itself. I found inspiration for so many photos, i think I took nearly 950 so I am going to have to be very strict on which ones I can post up, so many beautiful things there though, I am hoping to create some sort of photo scrap book from them, and some prints for the walls/for friends eventually. Some of the activities we did apart from enjoying the scenery were; visiting Caernarfon castle and the regimental museum there, going on a boat trip around the Menai Strait, Anglesey Sea Zoo (really very good with lots of attractions for all ages, but also greatly educational on the eco issues of both local and global seas, and your tickets last for 7 days so you can visit as many times as you want in the week!), Pilli Palace butterfly and nature park (GS was not so sure about the butterflies landing on him, of all the things to be frightened of he chooses Mummy's favourite creatures!), Dinas Dinlle beach (my Welsh is poor so if anyone knows how to pronounce that please help me!) and the Iron Age fort which GS climbed up with us and made me very proud (GS was born with clubfoot so every step he takes fills me with joy). I would have loved to have visited Snowdonia, and some of the Welsh railways, but we couldn't do everything and shall definitely be returning so it keeps some gems for our return.
It was also quite strange while I was away how many things irked me about the environment, I have always been passionate about nature and ecology but the annoyance i felt at seeing such a beautiful beach with litter on it surprised me. McDonalds stuff just thrown out of cars on the side of the beach, horrible tales of animals being killed/mamed by plastic bags dumped out at sea/on beaches etc. Obviously I am not saying Wales is anyway worse than anywhere else, but the stark contrast between such beauty and then seeing these things really highlighted it to me that humans have a long way to go to clean things up and we all have a duty. Thankfully the local people, shops and councils are taking great initiative in trying to stop such things, for instance they have stopped using plastic bags in most of the local stores and gift shops (although the supermarkets haven't yet). I was also peeved when most of the tomatoes on sale in the supermarket were from Poland...what???! it's tomato season in the UK there must be millions to buy why on earth would i want Polish tomatoes that have probably been in shipping for a week or more and have no taste, ludicrous!
The problem about being relaxed is that you can slow down enough to listen to your little inner voice and what's really going on, and so I had some down moments, despite really enjoying the holiday and being with my loved ones, it brought home also that I am still grieving over my miscarriage, i think despite not really saying anything to each other both Mr G.T and I felt it, your mind automatically drifts to what might have been, and that space that's been left in your heart aches, it's only natural I know, it's still very much fresh and tender and I know I need to just let it be and accept that recovery can be a long and individual journey, I don't have to be strong all of the time.
Monday, 7 September 2009
I thought I'd share with you a recipe I've tried today and found delicious! Marrows are often a vegetable I see for sale but think "What on earth can i do with it?" so never bother, but this one was so cheap (50p) i couldn't resist and I am glad I didn't as Stuffed Marrow is wonderful!
I am pretty sure you could swap and change a lot of the ingredients to suit whatever is in season/in your fridge/in your garden, but here is what I did to feed 4;
Stuffed Marrow Recipe
1 marrow (peeled, de seeded and quartered)
3 carrots (peeled and thinly sliced)
1 onion (peeled & cubed)
1 clove of garlic
knob of butter
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp paprika
2 cups of rice
1 tin of chopped tomatoes (or ready chopped fresh tomatoes)
1/2 pint of stock (chicken or vegetable)
generous helping of grated parmegiano cheese
salt & pepper
- Once the marrow has been prepared, rub salt in to the flesh and leave to stand while creating the stuffing, this helps remove the bitter taste from it.
- Cook the rice by boiling a pan of hot water, then adding rice and simmer for 10 minutes.
- In a skillet/frying pan melt the butter, add the garlic, then add the chopped vegetables to soften them over a gentle heat.
- After they have gradually softened, add the stock, seasoning, rest of the herbs and the tomatoes and let it simmer to fuse the flavours and cook the vegetables.
- After 15 or so minutes, add the cooked & drained rice & stir in thoroughly
- Wash the salt from the marrow quarters then place on a baking tray on top of aluminium foil then spoon the stuffing in to the upturned marrow middles.
- Sprinkle grated cheese on top
- Cover loosely with another sheet of aluminium foil and place in a preheated oven at 180 degrees centigrade.
- Bake for approximately half an hour, then remove the top layer of tin foil to allow the cheese to brown and bake for a further 10-15 minutes until cheese melted and tops turning golden.
- Serve on own or with salad/veg/rice/pasta side dish (I actually used some of the stuffing that was leftover and stir-fried it with some soy sauce to make an accompaniment)
As you can see from the above photo, we even got to enjoy it al fresco tonight as the weather has taken a sudden shift in to reverse and it's been a glorious 21 degrees and sunshine all day today, it's forecast to last the week too, marvellous!
Thank you for the well wishes for Daisy too, she seems much improved today and even let me inspect her healing wound without hissing today, so seems we got there just in time with it, she seems more humbled in her usual safari antics across the fields and has only ventured out for a bit then returned home for cuddles & reassurance, but I am pleased she seems happier and in a lot less pain now.