On An Easter Saturday

We have been blessed with sunshine this Easter weekend. I have taken photos on Carl’s phone which I will try and work out how to share here later on. After a quick trip to the shops to buy the lamb for Easter lunch tomorrow, we packed up a picnic and headed to the woods in search of bluebells.

We went to some woods we used to have picnics in when Carl and I were first courting. How time has flown and how much has changed! We found lots of beautiful bluebells, and the woods are only a ten minute drive from home.

Already I can see us adopting them as ‘our’ woods and coming here for lots of picnics and playti!e in he woods. I have plans for taking our camping stove and making back sandwiches for a breakfast picnic next time.

Now home, with washing during on the line, the girls in the bath together, and a Cup of frothy vanilla coffee. I borrowed an old favourite book from Mum yesterday – The Gentle Art of Domesticity (my copy is still in storage) and to my surprose , when I read the dedication I realised it was published 12 years ago. I am enjoying revisiting it, and making plans for craft projects, cooking, and books to read. I think I will buy copies to give to the girls when they are older.

I have started crocheting the geometric granny square blanket from The Patchwork Heart in Cath Kidston inspired colours. it is made production line style which I find works really well for me. First you crochet all of the first rounds of all of the squares, then do all the second rounds, then third, then join as you go with the fourth, and finally add the border.

I really want to sit and finish the last lot of the first rounds this evening, but I have the back to see on a brooch I have have made Mum for Easter, an Easter egg hunt to write clues to for Carl, and eggs to fill ready to hide for Jessica to find in the morning. Oh and I have a kitchen which badly needs setting to rights before we have Carl’s parents round for brunch tomorrow, and I had plans for an early night…..

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Good Friday

Well, that was a good Good Friday. The things I love best, spending time with family, back home at Mums, sunshine in the garden.
Poor Alice has a cold and is teething so was thoroughly out of sorts, and Jessica was overexcited to see her cousin, but amidst this, a lovely time was had by all.

Mum decorates for the seasons in a way I try and replicate at home. Look how beautiful her front door is…

Here is my little Easter Bunny ready to enjoy seeing her family…

I wish these photos were battery I am still struggling with the only working camera being on my kindle and them being shockingly awful quality.

I love the little details, such as the eggshell on the simnel cake. Jessica made the cake with Mum a few days ago! Many of the eggs on the Easter tree Mum has made, and there are one or two that are my work from years past.

We all brought food to share (I made a fruit salad with Muscat grapes, pkums, raspberries and strawberries), and I made coffee in Gran’s percolator. Simple, lovely, happy pleasures.

Easter Gifts

I wear many hats in our home, but I suspect none more than the average homemaker! As well as cooking and cleaning, keeping up our stores and provisions, and being social secretary, I am also the planner and maker of our seasonal celebrations. (I am not complaining, I love it!)

Part of celebrating seasons for us is giving little gifts to our loved ones. Not in a commercial sense, very little of what we give is bought off the shelf at a shop (or online). Instead we give little tokens which are the work of our hearts and hands. It can sometimes be a challenge to make the time, find the inspiration, materials, and keep it to a reasonable cost. As anyone who has visited Hobbycraft (or their overseas equivalents) will know, it is possible to spend a lot on crafting.

This Easter I had two ideas in mind for giving. The crochet gifts which I hinted at recently….are not finished. I ran out of inspiration. All the parts are made, they just need putting together, but I just cannot work up the oomph to get them done. I cannot decide whether I will give them a few days late, or whether I shall give them next year instead, so for now they will remain under wraps.

My other gifts though I am very pleased to share and I will try and find a way of sharing a photo with you soon. A fee months ago, in a beautiful garden centre, I saw flat chocolate bars shaped like eggs and topped with decorations. They were beautiful…but expensive! I realised at once that they would be easy to make at home, and a lot cheaper, and also were something that Jessica could make to give.

I set about searching for a small egg shaped silicone cake mould…with no luck. So I looked for egg shaped silicone moulds…and they were proper 3d eggs, so no use. Finally through luck I hit on the answer…oval silicone soap making moulds! I found a tray to make eight at a time on amazon, and they cost me a little over ¬£2 with free delivery. It took a couple of weeks to arrive, but I had had my idea early enough for that not to be a problem.

I have been buying bars of Tesco’s own chocolate (under the Molly’s brand name) which are very cheap. Probably not the best chocolate in the world, but it melts well, and as is going to be topped by an enthusiastic 4 year old with decorations…didn’t need to be the finest! To make 8 bars, I melted 200g of milk chocolate (sometimes a combination of milk and dark) and spooned it into the moulds. I think a thinner layer is nicer, so it isn’t too chunky to bite into when set.

Next I melted a smaller quantity, a little more than announce of white chocolate, and spooned a blob into each mould, then used a cocktail stick to swirl it about. It looks so pretty!

I have then been topping them with micro mini eggs, mini marshmallows, even popping candy on a few! 

When I made these with Jessica and her Godsister, I also gave them little sugar carrots which I found in the cake decorating aisle. 

Once they are set, they just need popping out of the mould and putting into a box, tin, or bag. A little bit of ribbon completes the job neatly.

I love that this is a little project that Jessica can do, so she has something to give which she made. She also likes stuffing dates with marzipan, and making little marzipan flowers with glac√© cherry middles! I also love that I can make them too, and perhaps play around a little more with the decorations. 

This morning I have made a batch where I used a cocktail stick to drop little blobs of white chocolate in a border around the edge, the. Ran the cocktail stick through them to make a swirly border. Then I put a mini egg in the middle, as though in a picture frame.

Already I am thinking we may have found a new tradition here! Each year I can come up with new ideas for toppings. I am wondering too about swirling in some flavoured chocolate, perhaps orange, mint, coffee…or even violet!

I am so looking forward to giving these out to family and friends. 

When Jessica went to stay with Mum this week, they made the Simnel cake together. I really love that Jessica is having these simple but lovely preparations for Easter (and the other seasonal celebrations in their turn) woven into the fabric of her memories already. 

Mum gave us our present early, so we could use them…a beautiful blue tissue paper package tied up with ribbon, and inside a set of ebroidered felt eggs she had made for us to hang on our twisted willow branches! I am so pleased as I absolutely love her little felt embroideries. Another thing for me to try and photograph. Some are embroidered with tiny seed beads, and others are miniature patchworks! So clever! And again, for me, they are extra special because she made them. I also like that she uses materials which are already in her workbox. 

Time to put the kettle on now, and then hopefully this weekend I will have some time to to catch up with a few other posts I want to write, including a little report on our annual WI group meeting…

Still Monday

I’m not really sure how it is still Monday. It hasn’t been a bad day, far from it, just rather long. I’ve managed to get a lot done so far.

Jessica had a sleep over at Nanny’s, so Alice and I went into town early to get our jobs done. I found a beautiful basket in the charity shop, shallow and oval, perfect for keeping my current book, magazine, and craft project in.

I’ve cooked my biggest saucepan full of bolognese, and my biggest mixing bowl full of tuna pasta, both destined to be portioned up and put in the freezer. I had come to the end of my freezer stash of such dinners. The issue is that if I give Jessica for example sausages, potato, peas and sweet corn, she will eat all the meat, most or some of the carbs, but hardly any veg. Yet in my tuna pasta, I out onion, celery, courgette, carrot, peas and sweet corn, all of which she eats very happily.

Tomorrow she is visiting Grandma, so I plan to make a batch of Shepherd’s Pies for her. This evening I’ll be looking through some recipe books for other ideas too.

It suddenly feels very important to me to get really organized. I don’t want to spend the girls childhoods never feeling like I am on top of things. If I have dinners ready in the freezer, it means the time I would spend cooking after school can instead be spent with the girls, properly with them, not one eye on them and one on the cooker.

There was an interesting news story recently which suggests that it is has more of an effect on our health to eat good things than it does to eat bad things if that makes sense. So eating too much sugar and fat is bad for you, but it is far worse for you not to eat an abundance of fruit and veg and fibre. Of course the ideal is to manage both, to eat less of the ‘bad’ stuff and more of the ‘good’ stuff, and by eating more of the ‘good’ there is less room for the ‘bad’. So I really want to make sure I am getting plenty of goodness into the girls (and ourselves!).

I am tired this afternoon. I am knitting (a Waldorf style chicken, a little Easter gift for Alice) and watching her play on her playmat. I have just put her into a new outfit…a lemon tshirt with a blue and white spotted romper suit. She has little bare feet as she loves playing with them so much, and it is cosy in here. 

I am reading Mrs Tim Carries On by D E Stevenson just now, and need to plan an Easter Egg Hunt for Sunday. Something simple for Jessica and a bit more complicated, with cryptic clues for Carl. I finished knitting my purple bow scarf last night. I really want to cast another on already….

Happy Cosy Corners Of The Internet

One of the things on my seemingly endless to-do list is to update my blogroll list. Some people have sadly stopped posting, and I have found new favourites to share too.

Rather than just add them on, I thought over the next few days I would introduce you to a few people whose writing and/or pictures I really enjoy.

First up is Ericka Eckles who is just the loveliest lady. I discovered her blog a year or so ago, and read her entire archives. She lives in Norwich with the most handsome fluffy cat called Bernard, and she makes the most beautiful things. Cobwebby Lacey scarves and shawls fly off her knitting needles, she has crocheted some blankets which make you want to reach into the screen to stroke, and her embroidery needle must surely rarely be still with the patchwork she produces, and felt stockings, and so many other lovely things. Oh and she cooks too! Reading her descriptions of sourdough hot cross buns and foraged jam make you feel hungry! I love her style too, she has a glorious wardrobe of Dottie Angel style dresses. In fact, that may have been how I discovered her, searching for photos of Dottie Angel dresses for inspiration! (Although I still have yet to make one!).

I was disappointed when her blog posts stopped…but…then I discovered that she posts regularly on Instagram, and she writes blog post style captions to go with her photos. She does some videos too! I always love to see her posts, they truly are a cheery corner of the internet. Do go and visit, but make a cup of tea first, as you will want to scroll through so many of her photos.

Next for today is Bex and Little Bear who I only discovered on Instagram yesterday, but spent the evening looking through her old posts. You know when you stumble across someone and really identify with them? She popped up on Myriad’s feed because she had made a tutorial using the Stockmar watercolour paints she has bought from them. Now I bought those same colours quite some time ago, but have been slightly intimidated to use them! Not only has Bex made it look really easy, she has used them to paint her little girl’s bedroom walls in swirly rainbow colours! How inspiring! 

She mentions in her posts that she sees herself as the family rhythm maker, and her feed is full of paper window stars, baking, making, candles…lots of her posts brought me smiles of recognition, and most of the rest have given me ideas for things to make and do too. For example, one winter she made 24 little candles in the halfshells of walnuts, one to be burnt floating in water on each day of advent. What a heavenly idea! 

I think I will leave it at two a day for now. So here you go, an old favourite and a newer find. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

It smells to me as if Alice has just performed her trick of filling a clean nappy. Jessica is curled up next to me with her cold feet wedged behind my back to keep warm. It looks a grey day here. We are going to go into town this morning to do a few jobs, and then come home to repot our sunflower seedlings and make chocolate Easter nest cakes. I have some birthday cards to post too, so I need to rummage those out to take with me. I believe we will stop off for a hot chocolate too. 

Wherever you are, I hope you are having a cosy Monday,

Love

Mimi

Xxx

An Outing On A Rainy Sunday

About half an hour from us is a lovely working dairy farm. They have just opened for the new season, and as it is the school holidays they have longer opening hours than usual. (Being a working farm, they don’t usually open until 2:00 when the morning’s work is done). As Carl is working during the Easter holidays, it means we have to fit any outings into the weekends, so we thought today would be a good day to see some new born lambs.

As we got into the car, the first rain drops fell. Big fat raindrops. As we drove to the farm, they fell harder and faster. I was very glad that I had picked up Jessica’s puddle suit at the last minute! It was pouring. But we had come this far, so we decided to carry on.

First port of call was a picnic lunch, eaten in the picnic field. Thankfully there are two long covered picnic areas, they look like giant poly tunnels. So we sat on wooden niches looking out over fields of sheep, hearing the rain fall fiercely down. I had packed a box of sandwiches and another of apples, grapes, cucumber, and carrots. We drank hot tea thanks to our thermos flask. As long as there is somewhere dry to eat it, a picnic in the rain always feels more jolly than a picnic in the hot sun to me. After Jessica finished eating, she went to explore the picnic field. There was a brook running through it, with some low trees and a bridge. One of the tree branches had grown across the brook, and she carefully found her way across. 

We met baby lambs and chicks, goats, cows, chickens, turkeys…Alice came nose to nose with a week old Pygmy goat and seemed somewhat nonplussed. Jessica was very taken with the lambs, and having held one on her lap she spent ages feeding some and letting them suck on her fingers. Today we learnt that cows and sheep have no top teeth at the front! 

When we got home we had an early-ish dinner, then it was bath and bedtime for the girls. I was really looking forward to a Sunday evening of tea and crafts..but just as we settled down, Jessica was out of bed. On her way back to bed some time later, she managed to wake up Alice. Then we finally settled Alice again, and then settled ourselves.

I started work on the second of the two Dorset Buttons in the kit I bought. I really, really love making them. The threads in the kit feel so beautifully soft, and the colours are lustrous. I made probably a hundred or so tiny blanket stitches around the edge of the flat metal ring, and then stitched the spokes which will become the centre.

We drank tea and I opened a birthday box of rose and violet creams. We watched the new episode of Line of Duty too…oh I hope that Hastings isn’t really the arch criminal! Both because I like his character, and because it is the theory everywhere that I want it to be something more unexpected.

And now, to bed. It gets late suddenly, so quickly. I suspect I am the last one awake this evening. But before I sleep, maybe just one more chapter of Still Glides The Stream by D E Stevenson…

Wherever you are, I hope you had a lovely Sunday, and are cosy and warm and dry,

Love

Mimi

Xxx

Words of Advice

While I was visiting Mum today, I had a look through a few of her books. Miss Read’s Country Cooking caught my eye, and I loved this quote:

To my mind, cooking is the most creative and rewarding part of housekeeping. Always bear in mind the golden truth that a fish should taste of itself, that is, of its main ingredients. Take time in choosing those ingredients,and I’m preparing them. If you set out to enjoy the different stages of your art, then you will surely get…and give…a great deal of happiness.

What a wonderful approach to what can at times feel a monotonous task, feeding the family. I sometimes wonder how much wisdom is sitting forgotten in books on shelves, and how we would do better to turn back to it. Sometimes I feel like modern life overcomplicates things. I certainly got that feeling from memoirs of a health visitor which I have just finished reading.

Sometimes I wonder about a book of housekeeping tips and recipes from Miss Read, Miss Marple and so on. But for now, a cup of tea, and then bed.