Thursday, 31 March 2011

# 55 Mother's Day

Different countries throughout the world celebrate Mother's Day on different dates, in Portugal it falls on the 1st Sunday of May to pay homage to Mary, Mother of Jesus but here in the UK Mothering Sunday (as it's known) is on the 4th Sunday of Lent which is next Sunday. So, I decided to make my mum a little gift for her to use when doing her sewing.

I made her a pincushion which I know she doesn't have and wrote a tutorial too which you can find on my other blog, just click here to see it.

This is the pincushion I sent my mum, hope it gets there in time!

 And this is the one I made for the tutorial, I haven't decided yet if I'm keeping it or gifting it to someone.


Wednesday, 30 March 2011

# 54 In the garden

Some exciting stuff has been happening in my small back garden and all it took was some warmer weather and a little sunshine.

My peas are coming out of the soil,

my lettuces also seem to be doing well, still slug free so far and

my tullips have flowered, all 5 of them :-)

But the best of all is that the bird house A. built with Dad a year or so ago seems to have new tenants at last. This little bird has been in and out, in and out for the last few days busy carrying stuff in to build a nest, we hope. This is the only photo I managed to get of it so far!


Monday, 28 March 2011

# 53 Weekend outing to Castle Drogo

I like Sundays because usually this is the only day we get to spend together as a family doing whatever we want.

This last Sunday we drove down to Devon to visit Castle Drogo which strangely for a castle is barely a 100 years old! Its construction began in 1910 and only finished 20 years later because of the First Wold War, so this is effectively the last castle to have been built in England.

Castle Drogo is on the edge of the Dartmoor National Park, above the gorge of the River Teign. We followed one of the public footpaths all the way down to the valley and then walked back up along the river.

A. had a great time exploring, collecting all sorts of sticks and stones along the way. It was a fantastic day out which we enjoyed very much. We're planning to go back there in a few months time to explore a little more.

Castle Drogo in Devon.

The walls are made from granite.


Pressure cooker.

Knife cleaner.

Hunters Path going down to the River Teign.

River Teign, beginning of the Fisherman's Path leading back up to the castle.

Dartmoor National Park.


Friday, 25 March 2011

#52 Fridays recipes: Chicken in a beer sauce

Hello and welcome to today's recipe, I hope you like it as much as we do even if, like me, you don't like beer.

Chicken in beer sauce

Chicken thighs
1 small onion
2 chicken Knorr cubes
1 bottle of beer (275 ml, alcohol-free)
Dollop of creme fraiche

Finely slice the onion and place in a deep pan with a little olive oil. Cook the onion for a few minutes and then add the chicken thighs. Fry them in the olive oil until they gain a light golden colour.

Add the beer and the Knorr cubes, cover the pan with the lid and cook over a low heat until almost done.

Add a dollop of creme fraiche and the chopped parsley and stir.

Serve with white rice, chips or mash potato and salad.


Wednesday, 23 March 2011

# 51 Public footpaths

The English and Welsh countryside is criss-crossed by around 140.000 miles of public footpaths. These give people the right to travel on foot, and in some cases on horseback or on bikes, across fields, farms, villages, along river banks, etc.

As I live in a rural area I'm fortunate to have several nice public footpaths within walking distance of my house and many more just a short drive away.

Today I went for a short walk and followed a footpath that gives access to some of the fields around Berkeley Castle. This is where you get some of the best views of the castle especially on a day like this full of sunshine and without a cloud in sight.

Slightly faded sign pointing to the castle meadow.

Over the step and on to the fields beyond.
Pretty blossom is appearing on trees everywhere.

Along the stream.

Another sign indicating which direction to take, the castle is in the background.


Monday, 21 March 2011

# 50 On the First Day of Spring

We saw trees full of pretty, delicate blossom.

We walked along the canal between the villages of Purton and Sharpness where A. had fun exploring the ship graveyard.

We sat and watched the bridge being swivelled to allow the passage of barges going up and down the canal.

We found a Public Foothpath we didn't know with amazing views across the Severn River.

We explored the small churchyard at Purton and then headed back home for tea and homemade cake. The 1st day of Spring was a good day.


Friday, 18 March 2011

# 49 Fridays recipes: Toasted almond tart

From now on there will be a new recipe on this blog every Friday and today I'm starting this new feature with a long promised recipe for the most delicious tart...

 Toasted almond tart

This tart is made in 2 stages but don't worry because it's easy and so, so delicious you'll want to make it again and again.

Stage 1 - The cake base

100g sugar
1 egg
90g butter at room temp.
150g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons milk

Preheat the oven and line a round, spring cake tin with baking paper. The baking paper is essential as otherwise it'll be too difficult to remove the tart from the tin in one piece.

In a bowl, mix all the ingredients for the cake base and then pour into the cake tin. Bake for about 15 mintues just until it starts to turn golden. Remove from the oven and set aside while you make the almond topping. The topping should only be made once the cake base is ready and waiting.

Stage 2 - The almond topping

150g sugar
100g butter
200g toasted almonds chopped or whole
2 tablespoons milk

In a pan, melt the butter and then add the sugar, the milk and the almonds. Keep stirring over a low to medium heat until it thickens.

Once this mixture has thickened, pour immediately over the cake base spreading it evenly and bake until the topping turns a nice golden colour.

Remove from the oven and quickly remove it from the cake tin as well. Carefully peel the baking paper from the sides of the tart (you can leave the bottom bit until it's cooled) and allow it to cool completely.

Hope you enjoy this recipe.

I would love to hear from anyone who has tried any of the recipes in this blog. How did you like it or not? What changes did you make to the recipe? Did you find the instructions easy to follow?


Thursday, 17 March 2011

# 48 Walking on sunshine

Today began cloudy and grey but thankfully the sun managed to come out a few hours ago and it's now a lovely, warm day full of sunshine and just perfect for a short walk before collecting A. from school.

Everything looks so much more beautiful with a little bit of sunshine magic, don't you think? Everywhere there are clumps of daffodils, even in my small back garden and my tulips are doing very well too, no flower yet but soon, very soon there will be and I can't wait.

One of my tulips.

In the churchyard.


Thursday, 10 March 2011

# 47 Crafty pursuits

I usually have more than 1 craft project on the go and my current WIPs (Works In Progress) all involve yarn and a crochet hook and are all blankets, or will be when finished.

Sneak peek of a small lap blanket for a friend.

I love my shell blanket.

Using leftover yarn...

to make lots of squares...

to turn into a blanket.


Tuesday, 8 March 2011

# 46 Pancake day

Have you made your pancakes for Shrove Tuesday yet? If not and you're still looking for a recipe why not try this one? I found it sometime ago, somewhere on the web and it's since been our favourite pancake recipe.

1 1/4 cup of flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 egg
1 cup milk
1 1/2 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon sugar
Pinch of cinnamon

Mix the dry ingredients and then add the milk, the egg and the oil and mix well again. Place a knob of butter in a non-stick frying pan and when melted use a ladle to pour the pancake mix onto the pan. Once the pancake starts to bubble on top and it's brown undeneath, turn it and bake the other side. Repeat this process until you use up all the mix.

Serve warm with honey, jam or golden syrup.



Monday, 7 March 2011

# 45 Weekend outing to Tyntesfield

Yesterday we visited our 1st National Trust property this year and had a great day out. We went to Tyntesfield which is only about 40 minutes drive from where we live and although the day began overcast by lunch time the sun was shining which felt really good.

First we visited the house, then headed back to the car for our picnic as it was very cold to eat outside and afterwards we explored the gardens and the surrounding countryside before returning home.

Tyntesfield was the country home of the Gibbs family who made their fortune by selling guano (excrement from bats, seabirds and seals) from the Spanish colonies in South America, imagine that!

You can find out more about the place and the Gibbs family here.


Pretty blossom.

There were lots of crocuses.

Daffodils scattered everywhere outside.

Crocus in the greenhouse.

Also in the greenhouse, forgot to check the name for this lovely flower though.

Wishing you all a great week. It's sunny here today :-)