Friday, 13 September 2013

Using a glut of veg...

On our garden patch that is being tended lovingly by DS and Dad there are a lot of certain types of veg all at once at the moment! We seem to have loads of courgettes and they are coming out of our ears! I have made lots of savoury things but yesterday I decided to have a go at a courgette cake.
Now, I made one of these a few years ago but this was a different recipe that called for a cream cheese filling - better option than the fresh cream or butter cream of last time! If you are a little sceptical of courgettes in cakes then just think along the lines of a carrot cake - it works the same way!

I set about making the recipe in the afternoon and then left the cake to cool... when making the icing there is more than enough to fill the cake in the middle and ice the top. It is lovely as you add lime to the icing and so the flavour is very fresh. I will say that the cake seems quite dense at times but it is delicious.

When grating the courgette make sure that you use the large grater setting as if you do it too small you will make the courgettes too watery and alter the texture of the cake.

I have to say that it I was very pleased with the result and the family loved it!

Here is the recipe:
Courgette and Raisin Cake


For the cake:
60g raisins
250g courgettes (two or three) weighed before grating
2 large eggs
125ml vegetable oil
150g caster sugar
225g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp baking powder

For the icing:
200g cream cheese
100g sieved icing sugar
Juice of 1 lime


Preheat oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4.

Grate the courgettes and remove excess water by sieving over the sink.

Cream the eggs, oil and sugar together in a bowl.

Sieve in the flour, bicarb and baking powder until well combined.

Stir in the courgette and the drained raisins.

Split the mixture between two greased 21cm sandwich tins and bake for 30 minutes. (Or you can split the mixture between 12 muffin cases, icing optional.)

Cool on a rack while you make your icing.

To make the icing:
Beat the cream cheese in a bowl until smooth.

Sift in the icing sugar and keep beating and finally add the lime juice to taste.

Spread the icing on the cake - inside and on the top. If you find that your icing is a little runny then just chill in the fridge for a few minutes before applying.

I hope that you enjoy making this as much as we loved eating it!
Until next time...

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

End of one era... beginning of another!

Today I am feeling emotional!
Tomorrow DS starts his first day at primary school. He has been attending nurseries and preschools from 4 months old (when I returned to work!) but this seems a whole lot different. He attended those because I was working and when I turned to part time hours then the days 'off' became our days together. We have always managed a variety of different things and activities which I have treasured in the deepest part of my heart. I understand (particularly as a teacher of Reception children!) the need for children to attend school but this doesn't make the wrench any easier.

I feel that I am being a little hypocritical in this post as for the last 10 years I have been the teacher prising the children from the emotional parent and placing the child in my classroom and then saying 'say bye to Mummy - they will be fine!'... tomorrow the boot is firmly on the other foot!

I have a deep feeling that this is the perfect time for him to begin this next phase on his life journey and he is MORE than ready for it but it is me that is emotional... he is so excited about it and I love to see the pure joy on his face when he realises the count down is getting ever closer. I am sure that after the initial wrench then all will be good but the emotions today are raw.

I attempted to quash them by having a proper 'Mummy and Son Day' and we went to the one place he has been asking to go to all summer - the local bird sanctuary. I do really think this nature loving boy is a Chris Packham in the making. We went and explored the unknown attraction and were in awe at many of the birds. It is a small place that manages to pack a lot into their smallish site! You can see it here. They also have a range of small animals to interest visitors.

We followed this with a visit to a local National Trust wood that is on the edge of Lanhydrock's estate... we went to see this walk and if you click on the link you can see the walk that the National Trust recommend.

 Because of my difficulties associated with my pregnancy we could not manage a walk but we did explore some of the area around the river and car park. There are gorgeous oak trees all around the large area and we managed to find 'treasure' in the form of acorns and leaves that had fallen from the boughs. DS was ecstatic at this! I cannot wait to explore this area in more detail as it is only a short drive from the house... the all terrain pushchair that I recently managed to get for a bargain price is really going to get put through its paces I think! DS was fascinated by the cows drinking the water from the fast flowing River Fowey and we tried to spot a fish or two in the tumbling waters - alas with no success.

All in all it was a fantastic day and I loved every minute of it... I did have a wobble in the car on the way home as we were listening to one of DS cd's and it began to play 'Puff the Magic Dragon' - the change from a little boy with his dragon to one who no longer visits made me a bit of a wreck I have to confess.

Off tonight to do some hooking at my knit/crochet and natter group.. I am continuing with the blanket in the VERY bright colours and will do a progress report soon.

Until next time...

Friday, 30 August 2013

Ta Da - Baby Pastel Blanket

A few months back a very close friend told me that she was expecting a baby in September... my response was to go straight to my stash as I was determined to make her a baby blanket in crocheted granny squares... something I had never undertaken before!

I had managed to get some wonderful yarn from Black Sheep at Westpoint in Exeter that had been reduced from £4.99 a ball to £1.50 a ball at the show... a bargain!! I promptly purchased 6 balls without knowing really what I was going to make with them but knew the right project would come along for such a lovely yarn. When Rachel told me about her baby then I knew this was the right project. Originally I had also purchased a very bright pink but left that out until I knew what gender the baby was going to be! Luckily so as it turned out at the scan that she is expecting a boy... another ball of blue was promptly sent off for.

I started by working out a pattern of colours on squared paper as I wanted to get the correct number of squares. I worked the correct amount in the first colour and made 10 squares - just the correct amount for each ball.

The pattern is as follows: (in UK terms not US):

Chain 4 - join into a ring with sl st into first chain.

Rnd 1: 1 tr, *ch 2, 3 tr into ch ring; repeat from * 2 more times and end with ch2, 2 tr.

Rnd 2: *(3 tr, ch2, 3 tr) into ch loop of previous rnd, ch1; rep from * 3 more times.

Rnd 3: 1tr, ch1, (*3tr, ch2, 3 tr) into next chain loop, 3 tr, ch1 into next ch loop. Rep from *2 more times and end with (3tr, ch2, 3tr) into ch loop, ch1, 2tr.


 I love the colour combination of this blanket... I have tried to make it suitable for a Moses basket or pram. The baby is due in 3 weeks time so this should get plenty of use in the cooler weather of Autumn!

I chose to add a border of two rows of double crochet all the way around in the same blue yarn as in the main body of the blanket.

This is a shot of the back. I joined all the squares together using double crochet in the green yarn that had been used for the green squares. I like the contrast that it has made on some of the squares and the blending it has on others.
I am off to the post office to post this to Rachel this afternoon as we had planned on meeting last week but my Dad's illness has prevented this. I am hoping that her reaction is going to be favourable.
I am now working on the next blanket project... one for Jellybean! Reveal of work in progress later!
Until then.... 


Wednesday, 28 August 2013

A long time since the last visit!

I must first apologise for the time between the last post and this one! There have been several big events in our lives from either end of the emotion spectrum and so blogging has been the last thing on my mind! I feel that I am back now and the mojo has returned! :)

The first major event happened the day after the last post... on a routine visit to the GP I was discovered to be pregnant with baby number 2! To say that this was a shock is an understatement!! I had recently been told at Christmas that my chances of conceiving another baby were at best, very slim... but lo and behold... a little blue line appeared in a test!! I was over the moon but have had a very up and down pregnancy so far - all is well with us both - just not the easiest pregnancy!

Then my Dad has been very ill since Christmas really with a heart issue that they cannot seem to regulate... this resulted in a major stroke two weeks ago. This has hit us all hard as at 64 years old he is very young to have this. His age has rescued him recovery wise and he seems to be on the best path now.

These wonderful summer holidays have passed so quickly and are too fast! DS begins school in a weeks time... a poignant moment that is both happy and sad for me! My little baby boy is growing up rapidly and at a pace that I can't seem to keep up with but at the same time I am excited as he enters a major stage in his life. The uniform buying has been staggered and so not too traumatic.

We have had a variety of different days out over the holidays (in local area as one of my problems is that my pelvis has become partially dislocated)... fun and laughter has abounded and we have loved it... here are a selection of pictures detailing our adventures:
Painting a wooden train that we built.

Cooking a variety of things has featured very heavily on the list of activities!

Gingerbread this time!

Messing around on the beach...

Enjoying a lovely train ride from a local station to Plymouth.

Sat on the platform waiting for the train.

Conquering a massive fear of owls by flying one!!!

Stroking the Eagle Owl...

Finding out the new arrival is another boy! 
Proud of his carrots from the veg patch :)

Art time making a race track with Mummy...
The next few days are going to be filled with memory making activities and the flurry that accompanies the beginning of school term! I am not returning to work this term due to pregnancy related issues so I have a term to enjoy and relax before the baby arrives... plenty of time for craft things! :)
I am currently working on a blanket for 'Jellybean' and will reveal the results soon... I will be back with another Ta Da moment tomorrow revealing the blanket that I have made for a friends imminent mini arrival!
Until tomorrow....

Friday, 3 May 2013

Buckets and Spades

Living in Cornwall is not something that I take for granted... I appreciate the fact that we are very lucky to live in such a beautiful part of the world. I love it and intend to make DS understand how special it is too...

Yesterday we woke up to gorgeous blue skies and decided there and then that we would go to the beach! I had changed my work hours this week and so had an unexpected Thursday off... a rare treat! We packed the car with the necessary items that DS deemed essential for his day on the beach and off we went.

As a child I was raised on the north coast of Cornwall and so this is really where I feel complete - I am 'at home' when on these beaches and cliffs! We gave DS the option of where he would like to go and he announced without hesitation that he would like to visit 'Padstow Beach'... by this he means Trevone. It is a cove just outside of Padstow with large car parks and not too many people normally! It is where I spent large parts of my childhood and teenage years and so there was a definate approval from myself and Nanny (my Mum) who was with us for the day!

We arrived to find that the beach was deserted and we had it to ourselves! What a treat!! We chose the spot for on which to deposit our belongings and then set out to make a camp.... There was very little wind and the day was perfect. Sunny and gorgeous.

DS immedialty set about damming the river! He wanted to try and reroute the course it was following... we spent ages doing this and the pride he felt when he had created his own 'rock pool' was imense! He then proceded to do what all little boys love to do and splash! I was covered but it was a fantastic.

Throughout the day we built a sandcastle city, rerouted the river, dug for buried treasure, paddled in the water, went rock pooling and had an enormous amount of fun - for no money at all!!!

It was such a special day... I love spending time with DS and Nanny and making memories. I have spent many many many times on that beach and have plenty of my own memories but yesterday was one of the most special that I have had. It was just such a simple and perfect day in every way.

Until next time....

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Easter Egg Hunts and a Ta-Da Moment!!

I love family holiday days! Easter is a little less stressful in this house than Christmas and so we have so far had a low key and relaxed time together.

It began yesterday with an Easter Egg hunt at Cotehele - this is a National Trust house that is very close to where we live. It is a beautiful place to visit and the gardens are spectacular - more especially now with the carpets of daffodils that are everywhere....

They are so beautiful and they were holding their trumpets high up to the gorgeous sunshine!

Looking for clues around the grounds of the house...

DS decided that we needed a salute before continuing on the egg trail!
 DS and I were hot on the trail and we found some time for posing for the camera! These hedges seperate the formal gardens from the orchards... these are full of gorgous apple trees that in the spring are adorned with beautiful blossom.
 In the 'Mother Orchard' there are beautful sculputres such as this wooden horse...

This was the excitment that he felt having finished the trail - I suspect it was the thought of his chocolate treat!

More views of beautiful daffodils...

Ah ha! The Prize!

Well, that was yesterday and then today we repeated a similar activitiy at home with a home made Easter Egg hunt! My Dad had worked hard to hide eggs in the garden and then DS and I had to find them! In amongst beautifulspring bulbs!


DH and DS happy at what they had found in the garden!

Happy grins - I think they thought they were going to eat it all in one go! How wrong they were!!

Then this afternoon I have managed to complete my latest crochet project! I had hooked my way to finishing this earlier in the week but couldn't find the stuffing! After much searching in cupboards I discovered it and so spent time this afternoon just finishing it off!
I love the colours and simplicity of this design that I found on Bunny Mummy's Blog. I LOVE reading her blog and anticipate her updates frequently. When I found this pattern a couple of weeks ago I knew I had to undertake it....

I would like to do it in other colours too and explore the options that I can do... maybe one in different shades of pinks and reds? I am trying to decide where to hang it... I think a new home on my bookcase is perfect but the light is too dark in the cottage for photographing it in there! I so wanted to show you the finished piece hanging up... so I took it into the porch and displayed on the front door!

Then the door bell! I really am pleased with this... I love it!
So I am wondering, how are you all spending Easter...? Anyone else crocheting/knitting/spinning/ being crafty in general....?
Until later...

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Pirate Adventures....

DS has recently become more and more interested and loving playing pirates!

He loves to watch this programme on t.v. and it is the latest 'hit' with him:
Yesterday whilst in Plymouth city centre we saw lots and lots of different toys associated with this programme but all were for such huge amounts of money! I explained to DS that maybe we could make some of the things ourselves... so the job this morning is to make a treasure map and sword for him to use in imaginary play. I am planning on using foil and card for the sword and good old pen and paper for the map.
Next will be the outfit that he also wanted to have to play with.... I am on the lookout for an old waistcoat and white shirt... I am convinced that I have some red fabric to be able to make the bandanna!
We will reveal the results when he have finished....
Until later...