Saturday, 30 July 2011

Princess and the Pea: The sequel (part 1 ...!)

I think I have become rather addicted to needle felting.   There is something quite calming about stabbing a small rolled up ball of wool, rolling it around in your fingers as you stab, to create a 'pea'!  Something similar, I guess, to stress balls high powered executives were meant to squeeze in the 80's!  Anyway, luckily my first attempt of making a pea, after the last one mysteriously disappeared, ended up looking more the size of a sprout or small cabbage, so I had to make another one - oh the disappointment!!  So here we have the pea - I have every expectation that this pea won't last long before it too becomes lost, so I will be needle felting for quite some time.

I've also fashioned a ladder, as requested by Flopsy Bunny, from some twigs and gold thread - following along the lines of SouleMama's ladder.  Flopsy Bunny hasn't quite forgotten her list of things still needed . . . but I'm hoping that the 'pea green dress' might be the last thing that is really needed and then I can put this project to bed - so to speak!!!

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Garden round up

As July draws to a close, I thought a quick garden round up was in order.  As the summer holidays stretch out before us, the flowers are echoing that summery feel, with hot colours everywhere! 

Bright yellows

Oranges and reds . . .
I'm always amazed by gardening, I've not really done much planning or design, it's been more a case of planting what I like; but despite this hapzard approach to my garden design I have managed to get some all year colour - not much I grant you, but enough to make me smile and think I've made a start!  My gardening knowledge is basic but there have been a few little nuggets that I've picked up along the way.  Always plant in 3's or 5's seems to be the mantra of most gardeners.  Then my sister-in-law said that the most successful gardens she has seen are those that have the same planting repeated around the garden so that your eye is drawn around.  So there you are, we are in the season of the hots!

I've also got a lovely new addition to the garden in the form of this willow heart, a present from a lovely friend of mine who visited at the weekend with her gorgeous family.  I'm rather taken with it, and it fits in wonderfully with my love birds!
The vegtables continue to grow, and I wish that I had planted some earlier as there is nothing to eat at the moment!  It's a little like survival of the fitness in our garden at the moment, a roe deer ate all our lettuce - luckily we will have the beans - well so far it seems!
May the glut soon be upon us!!

Monday, 25 July 2011

If you don't like spiders, then look away now . . . !

We've had a super start to the holidays, bike riding, swimming parties for some and picnic lunches for others.  We then thought we ought to undercover the sandpit and see what state it was in since last year.  The little ones busied themselves with a bowl of warm soapy water, cleaning buckets, spades and rakes, while I had the more gruesome task of getting rid of the creepy crawlies!  It was a bit of a nature spectacular this afternoon outside our back door.  First we spotted a little frog hopping around, who quickly hid under a box when everyone came over to examine him and then I spotted these two mummies . . .
I don't think I have ever seen a spider with an egg sack or one with lots of teeny tiny baby spiders crawling around, but there they were on the underside of our sandpit cover - obviously the place to be to raise your spider babies!!  It brought back many memories of Charlotte's Web - I must get that book to read to Flopsy Bunny - it was another favourite of mine as a child.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

An epic craft project

This seems like it has been an epic craft project.  Maybe because I have been thinking about making this for such a long time.  I've also savoured selecting the fabrics and thinking about how I was going to make it.  The actual making didn't really take that much time at all.  It's been like a good book, I've loved the making and didn't want it to end.  So here is the epic . . . (there may even be a sequel!)

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, there was a little girl who just loved the story of the Princess and the Pea.  She loved reading the story, looking at the pictures of THE bed and all those mattresses and was completely fascinated by the idea that a real princess would be able to feel a pea placed under all those mattresses and that it would make her black and blue all over.  When the little girl grew up and was a mother of a daughter, she was delighted that her daughter discovered Lauren Child's version of The Princess and the Pea and loved the story just as much as she had all those years ago.  An idea began taking shape in her mind, a bed, some mattresses and a princess . . .   Luckily she had lots of inspiration on the way. 

Maileg has a wonderful version, which I was very tempted to buy but then I thought no I should make one.  I remembered seeing Angry Chicken's version and loved the bed she had found.  I couldn't find anything similar in the UK so at great expense bought the same one Angry Chicken had used from Total Class Creative in the US - the postage cost more than the bed!!  Soule Mama had also made a version which as you would expect from her is totally gorgeous.  Soule Mama's blog directed me to Tree Fall's blog (which is now a favourite of mine) and Tree Fall has been making a princess and the pea version which she sells on Etsy and instead of a bed there is a handy tote bag to carry your mattresses and princess around in!  I love that idea. 

Then I just had to come up with a princess.  I did consider a knitted one, having seen Pamela Susan's knitted princess, but didn't like the neck and thought it would take too much time trying to design a pattern for one.  So I made a fabric doll which Flopsy Bunny loved - phew!  Then of course there was the needle felted pea which has mysteriously disappeared and I need to make another one!

Of course, just when I thought I had finished Flopsy Bunny announced, "well we will need a ladder and the princess needs a crown.  Oh yes and another dress, a pea green dress.  Of course there needs to be some more people, the prince, a king, a queen . . . "  At that point I went to lie down - sequel indeed - this really is an epic craft project!!

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Farewell stripey arms, we are going to really miss you

Our gorgeous and lovely pusscat died unexpectedly yesterday.  It was all rather sudden and shocking.  Luckily she didn't suffer much.  She has given us so much over the 8 years she has been part our family and we are all very sad.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Lunches have just got interesting

Our first harvest of lettuce.  It's funny how totally satisfying it is to eat something you have grown yourself.  I've never grown lettuce before but I was really impressed that it tasted just as good as some I would have bought in a supermarket - but even better tasting because we had grown it ourselves and it was picked minutes before eating - yum!  Hopefully next month the cherry tomatoes and red peppers will also be ones we have grown ourselves - it's getting really exciting in the garden at the moment.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Handmade Living: A Review

It seemed only fair that if I was going to review a craft magazine that I shouldn't just review one - well that's my excuse anyway for buying another one!  So at the same time as I bought Mollie Makes I picked up a copy of Handmade Living.  Another new craft magazine to hit the shops and also released at the same time (this copy is issue number 2).  Handmade Living is more on the lines of traditional craft magazines and doesn't have the same unique feel (in a tactile and aesthetic way) as Mollie Makes.  Despite this I did really like the magazine.  There were 9 projects to make, and they boasted 98 ideas on the cover, and there seemed to be a lot more content too than Mollie Makes.  I loved the bird wreath and will definitely be making that one.  I also liked the easy lunchbag, although I had seen a similar tutorial over at The Long Thread for a lunchbag which I liked, mainly for the fabric I think!  The I-Spy Bag looked genius and I thought I might try and whip a couple up for our holiday this year.  So plenty of projects to be inspired by.  I also liked the fact that they had features on cooking (the chocolate stackers would go down well in our house), as well as gardening and beauty.

They feature a Beautiful Blog each month at the end of the magazine and this month showcased Poshyarns - I think Rebecca is a woman after my own heart!  A potter too!  Not that I am a potter I hasten to add but I did love having a go at being a potter many moons ago!  You must check her blog out - very inspirational.

Although Jane Brocket does seem to be the woman of the moment, with her new book The Gentle Art of Knitting just out.  Handmade Living had a rather gorgeous knitting pattern for a cushion featured which I thought I might try out - it's a bit spotty and stripey - well just my thing really!  Then over in Mollie Makes Jane has a bright and beautiful pattern for a crocheted blanket.

So all in all I liked Handmade Living and at £3.50 it's a little easier on the pocket too!  Could these magazines see the end of my love affair with Country Living . . . ?!

Sunday, 3 July 2011

A bit of making this weekend

It was Flopsy Bunny's school fete today so there were cakes to be made . . .  Poor Little Roo couldn't understand that they weren't for eating straight away - although he made up for it at the fete and made sure he got a good helping there!
Then I started making my borage ice cubes.  I'd seen this idea a while back and thought I must grow some borage!!  Only three flowers so far - but I'm soooo excited.  You need to half fill an ice cube tray with water and then pop the flower on top.  Freeze the cube and then top up the tray with water so that the flower is trapped in the middle, refreeze the cubes and you get gorgeous ice cubes to go with your summer pimms!!

Ah yes, there is only one to harvest at the moment, and it is rather small but perfectly formed don't you think?!

I have moments of being really organised - I think it's my Capricorn side, being born on the cusp it doesn't always show itself!!  Anyway, a while back I decided to index my receipe books by ingredients.  It was really useful when we had a vegetable box delivered as I could easily look up receipes for the various vegetables I found in my box.  So I thought I would share with you my courgette receipe index card along with the various receipe books we own!  In the hope that it might be useful to any courgette growers out there that are in need of some inspiration!

Penne with ricotta and courgette
Tagliatelle with deep-fried courgette
Wood-roasted courgette
Courgette carpaccio
Courgette Frittata
Courgette, prosciutto and menta

Real Cooking - by Nigel Slater
Slow-cooked courgettes with lemon and basil

Baby courgette salad
Courgette and goat's cheese soup with basil

Deep-fried stuffed courgette flowers
Courgette and milk soup
courgette sauce for pasta
Courgette souffle

Fried zucchini blossoms
Lamb risotto with zucchini
Risotto with zucchini and their blossoms

Courgette soup

Stuffed courgettes
Courgette and cobnut salad

Sarah Raven's Garden Cookbook - I just love this book!!
Courgette risotto
Courgette and dill farfalle
Courgette souffle
Courgette souffle tart
Courgette and lemon salad
Greek courgette pie
Crisp courgette wedges with anchovy mayonaise
Matthew's stuffed courgette flowers
Tam's stuffed courgette flowers
Courgette chutney!!!!!!  A must if you have a massive glut and are tired of all the above!!

Courgette Kisir
Lemony courgettes on toast
Courgette and potato cakes with mint and feta cheese - this one might see a lot of action this year with all the potato plants I have!!

Phew that's a lot of courgette receipes!!  But a favorite in our house is Courgette Dollops!

Courgette Dollops
225g grated courgette
50g grated onion
50g self raising flour
75g grated cheddar cheese
2 eggs, beaten
dash of milk
salt and pepper
oil for frying

Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well together.  Heat a large frying pan with a little oil or butter.  Place heated table-spoons of the mixture in the pan and cook for 2 1/2 minutes until brown.  Turn over and cook the other side for a further 2 1/2 minutes.  Eat at once!!

I'm off now to check on the greenhouse to see if it's going to be a courgette dollop night tonight!!