Monday, 31 August 2009

Party Tea

This week is the last week of the summer holidays and so we thought we'd have a party tea to say goodbye to the holidays and get our heads round the fact that on Thursday we are back to school again. Another year over, they seem to be flying past and next September Sam goes to senior school. It's almost incomprehensible that he could be next to go up to seniors...
So, here's some pictures from our day...

This is the table layed with our party tea before it was demolished by four ravenous children, we had crisps and fairy cakes, sausages on sticks and ham sandwiches, egg sandwiches and orange juice. It was very lovely and it has all gone now, not even a doggy bag to take to bed for a midnight feast...

No one looks very happy here but I think it's because I stopped them from eating to take this picture. Yes nice sausage Charlotte....

Charlotte made this lovely clown face for our "pin the nose on the clown"
game. We tried to come up with a different version of the pin the tail on the donkey and as you can imagine they came out with all sorts of "pin the ??? on the..????" most of them you couldn't repeat here...

Still, Sam enjoyed his crisps...

And then there were the games, here they are playing pass the parcel, as most mums would testify, it must be rigged to make it fair, so all you have to do is remember who's prize it should be inside, how many layers of paper there are and that everyone gets to unwrap at least one layer....Easy....oh yes and make it land on the right person...

We also played musical chairs where Charlotte and Jim made a jump for the same chair and she caught her finger between the chairs, and then they played musical statues where in the end Charlotte and Jim both pretended to be Chuck Norris and karate chop each other, that was fun when the music stopped!!!

We also played charades but by using actions and not TV or films and so on, so we did "shovelling snow" "having a bath" "chasing a chicken" (Jim was good at that one!) Charlotte had "sweeping up feathers" and the guesses that were shouted were "your a fish" "a flying fish" "A fish with a broom" Where they got fish from I don't know.

I can safely say that never has so much noise, been made for so long, by so few....

And finally Katie got her hair cut...

I love her hair when it is long and thick, but having her hair in a little bob is so sweet and I love that little old neck..

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Preparing for school

Charlotte, Katie and I went into Asda today to buy the remaining things we need for school, most of the uniforms I managed to get over the holidays but today was to get Charlotte some trousers and the rest of the stationary they need.

Tomorrow we are having a party tea as it's the last week of the holidays and we thought it might be nice to have a party tea with some games
We bought some prizes and odds and ends for pass the parcel and
pin the tail on the donkey, should be fun...

And just to finish, yesterday evening there was the most perfect rainbow. There has been loads of them lately and I guess I've just been lucky enough to catch them and share them here..

Friday, 28 August 2009

This week in pictures..

This week has gone pretty fast and we have again been busy, but nothing more than the usual watching t.v, children playing in the garden, doing puzzles and so on. So rather than bore anyone with the mundane things, each day I took photos of different things during the week and here they are....

One morning when the children had breakfast Jim had sugar puffs
(we call them bees) and a nice big lump came out so I just poured some milk on it and watched their faces as I put it on the table, once he broke into it it just crumbled apart and it was a perfect amount for the bowl...

At tea time Jim went to pick some beans from the garden and found this curly one, next to it is a piece of pasta we found.

Another rainbow, this was taken the other morning about 6:30am, Katie came rushing into my room shouting "Mum, Mum there's a rainbow!" that went down well.... so here is the picture of the rainbow..

Bless their hearts, they tried so hard to hang out the washing for me,
they did their best... ( even if it was like watching Laurel and Hardy.)
You should see them clean out the rabbits on a breezy day...

Why does the word "Scruffy Urchin" spring to mind???

In this photo it shows exactly what the children get up to. Charlotte voluntarily got into the dog cage and between Jim and Sam they poured loads of water onto her, I only wish you could have sound on hear as she was laughing and screaming so much. Afterwards she looked like a bedraggled mess and Sam said "Mum, you need to ring The Dogs Trust". They love each other really..

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Going to the Theatre...

Much has happened over the last few days but nothing of any great significance, mainly keeping the children occupied, feeding them, ironing and laundry.
Just mundane things, although a little excitement was to be had the other night.
My neighbours are I believe Polish, German and I hear French voices now and then. Anyway, the other night they were in the garden chatting and laughing, then by midnight the singing and music began, this went on for some time and it was all quite amusing considering I couldn't understand a word they said!! They all seemed happy enough and then by 1:30am they all decided to get into their pond....

I tried my level best to crank my neck round my bedroom window enough to see what they were doing but to no avail.. still it sounded completely bizarre..
The next day, being the concerned neighbour that I am, I peeked through a knot in the fence thinking surely it was a paddling pool, not the pond.
But it was the pond as there was no paddling pool to be found....
luckily there were no fish in it, but if there were, there isn't now..

So to more recent events, today we went to the Gordon Craig Theatre to see "Footloose". We had lunch at McDonald's and then had a quick look round a market which had been set up in the center of town. There were what seemed to be people from around Europe selling their wares like chocolates and sweets, Paella, handbags and Tunisian bowls and lanterns, it was quite interesting but a little expensive. So we wandered on into the theatre and took our seats.

And so as the music started and the lights came on Katie began to cry...
it was really loud and eventually she came and sat next to me and we squeezed her ears shut every time they began to sing, which was quite often as it was a musical....after a while she got the hang of it and they sung "I need a hero" which she knew from Shrek, so she enjoyed the rest of the show. I must say however they did swear abit and some of the scenes were a little risque and so not only did I have to cover her ears but her eyes too, which was not altogether easy.!!! Still a good time was had by all and then we headed home just in time for tea..

Jim, enjoying his fries alittle too much....

This was one of the market stalls selling the Tunisian lanterns,
I remember these from one of our holidays when I was a child..

Now, I said "all get together so I can get you all in" and they took a moment and then I said, "are you ready?" .... I said, "say cheese".....
and in these positions they said "cheese"....what hope is there?????

Here is a motley looking crew, especially nanny......
They did however have a lovely time and really enjoyed themselves, Mum and I are hopefully going to a murder mystery play in November where we intend to heckle and shout "the butler did it" and "He's behind you" Should be fun...

Monday, 17 August 2009

Going to the park..

After a busy day spent tidying up, doing laundry and intermittently watching TV, we had tea and headed to the park. The children galloped around happily and ended up at the swings and slide end of the park. Amazingly there was hardly anyone there, usually you have to fight for a swing but today the park was all ours...
Which is good in a way because we take up all the swings and we seem to make a lot of noise.
We walked around the park too which has many mature trees, this one I believe is the tallest one in Stevenage.

It stands head and shoulders above the rest of the trees and you have to stand well back to see it..

We saw this amazing stump, we tried to count the rings but they were faded, on the tree behind Jim they were clearer and we reckon about 100 rings if not more..
I love this picture, kids and trees go so well together..

The thing is, even when you cover your eyes, we can still see you....

There's always one...

Now usually you might throw a stick up into the tree to get down the conkers.. not however if your name is Jim, you throw up your skateboard and it gets stuck...It did come down after a few attempts with a big stick. It's always a eventful time when we go to the park and now the children are off to bed and worn out.

Busy doing nothing..

Over the past few days we have done I guess what a lot of people do over the
holidays, the children have played out with their friends, watched TV, played computer games, picked berries, played out on their bikes, drawn pictures with chalk in the pavement...
I however, have made lists of things to do when they are back at school,
things I need to do when the new kitchen comes, refereed numerous fights
and squabbles, applied plasters, caught spiders and helped sleep walkers back to bed, I have also washed so much laundry you wouldn't believe it and then I had the notion to wash all the duvets and covers as the weather has been so glorious.

A photo of the weather being glorious above my bedroom window...
I have been keeping an eye on my tomatoes and i have two which are going red now, hooray..

We have black berries in our own garden, only a few but they are ours...
So here are the lovely pictures Katie and Charlotte created...
I love these pictures and bought big chalks for them to use, It's brilliant that they can colour the whole garden and it looks so pretty, it will be all gone when it rains and we watch it wash away laughing..

I think I'm going to hang up the duster today and go to the park with the children...after I've fed them, every ones washed and dressed, and we've found a ball... and I've hung out this pile of washing....

Friday, 14 August 2009

Cook once, eat thrice..

I've always wanted to say a sentence with the word thrice in it,
and here it is, and to explain myself, I have watched a tv program "Economy Gastronomy" or the other way round, I can't remember.. anyway the chefs were working with a family to help them cut down on their food budget each week from over £200 per week to £130 per week and eat nutritiously and economically for their family..

The principal was to make a main dish and split it into "tumble down" meals for example mince, cooked and seasoned, add tomatoes onions mushrooms, you have spaghetti bolognaise, split it again and make
chilli con carne by adding chilli and kidney beans, for the last part add gravy and vegetables and you have Sheppard's that is what i have done today, cooked once and made three meals for the week.
All that just to say thrice...

I'm very interested in economising were I can and hate to waste things, Oh yes there was another program I watched about how we used to eat as a nation in the fifties when rationing was still around all be it on it's way out, food was limited and what was around was better for you. Like vegetables, you could grow yourself, if you were lucky enough to have chickens, you had eggs and when the poor old bird popped off you had chicken. Most things these days can be pinged in the microwave and that's it, dinners done,
We are loosing the art of cooking from scratch, it is, if done properly, much cheaper than processed and convenience food and there is no question it is better for you.. So ...(steps off soap box)..

So that's what I've been up to today...

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Finding Apples.

Another busy day today, after a slow start Sam an I made some chocolate crispy cakes complete with mixed in marshmallows and one more on top for good measure. When they had hardened in the fridge I tried one and nearly lost my bottom row of teeth, they go rock hard and the bits of cornflake sticking out quite easily could be mistaken for razor blades, I must be getting old to struggle with a cornflake cake....

And here is Sam with his trays of treats, and this evening as I write this they are all gone.

We had our tea and went for a stroll around the park with my Mum and my Brother in the hope of finding some trees with nuts on, while we strolled the children ran like puppies off the lead in and around all the trees and through the long grass. Sam, the proud owner of two blackberries...

This one is only half ripe...

We found some very strange looking fruit on this tree, ready to fall at any moment..And as the sun started to set we walked back home passing a alleyway behind the houses which had some red apples hanging, so with Mums stick she bashed a few down for us to try, along with a few leaves and possibly an earwig or two. No doubt when I get ready for bed I shall find a few more bits and pieces down my top...

So here is our bounty for the day, a bag of blackberries, the red apples, two walnuts (not ready yet) a small conker, a cob nut (not ready either) possibly beech nuts (need to look them up) and acorns..

The walnuts need longer on the tree but at least we know where to find them, same with the cob nuts. When we had cut open the apples this is what we found.
Very pretty and probably called something so I'll have to look this one up aswell, still not a bad find today and the children are worn out and now ready for bed..hard work this foraging lark...

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Jam, Jam Glorious Jam.

Today Mum and I made jam. Overnight I left out the plums and blackberries and cherries that we had picked to defrost and by the morning most of it was a nice mushy mess but still perfectly ok to use.
We made one lot of jam which we sifted out all the skins and stones from so it was really quite clear, but it just would not set, not even alittle bit,
it was quite tart and although it was a beautiful deep red colour the taste wasn't fantastic, edible but not fantastic. So with the next lot we laboriously took out the plum stones by hand before we cooked it all up and used loads more blackberries, and this time crab apples. The result, a thicker sweeter and very fruity jam, it is quite thick as it has most of the fruit pulp still in it, but it hasn't set like what you might find on the supermarket shelves but this is homemade jam and is meant to be eaten sooner rather than later, it makes you wonder what goes into shop bought jam to make it last till feb 2015..

Mum took home a jar for her and my brother to have and then my friend Mick came over to pick up their ironing and he took home a jar too, he tried some from a little jar before he took his own and I think he was quite impressed and didn't think his jar would last a few days let alone the week.. So a success I think, I'm sure each time I make some it will turn out different but now I've got the general idea as to what I'm doing how hard can it be!! Famous last words....

And so here is my jam....

Berries being jammified..

Lots of pots of jam..

I called it Hedgerow Jam because that is exactly what it is, from the hedgerows and bushes around our home, and what makes it more scrummy is the fact that it is completely free, well apart from the sugar...and the pectin....and the labels and lids....and the gas to cook it, But apart from that it's all FREE!!!!

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Off to see some trains

We have had a busy day today, this afternoon we went to the museum again, this time to see a model railway exhibition.
Both the boys love trains but Sam in particular and so he has really enjoyed this trip out today. The railway setups were quite small scale as space in the museums rooms are quite limited but it was packed with people, i've never seen it so full.
Most were middle aged men if not abit older and a number of small boys and their dads. Whilst Sam and Jim looked at the trains Charlotte, Katie and I looked at the Super Hero's exhibition again as Katie had missed it last time.

Sam next to one of the smaller exhibits.
Katie and some trams, looking rather pleased ..

Katie the four eyed caped crusader answering a call of distress..

I'm sorry, but we are so childish sometimes, we just had to...
(he is a big paper mache man who is bigger than me..)
After our afternoon of fun and frolics we had a MacDonald's, the second this week I might add. However we did use the tokens on the bus tickets so it was much cheaper this time and by the time we had come out of the museum we were so hungry we couldn't have waited until we had got home. Well that's my excuse anyway..
We got home around teatime cleaned the rabbits out and then vegged out for a while. Now tomorrow with the expert guidance of my Mum, I will attempt to make jam with some of the berries and plums that we have picked so far, there does appear to be millions of them but this is just half of what is in the freezer and quite frankly if we hadn't picked them they would have fallen onto the alleyway path at the back of our garden and rotted in a stinking mess as they do every year. I have yet to see anyone pick them in all the years we have been here so they are not going to waste this time.

We are going to use a recipe from one of my mums country harvest books which has great recipes for foraged fruit and nuts, I have my jamometer ready and my jars so I shall let you know how it goes..

Friday, 7 August 2009

Beautiful Moth..

Last night we had all gone to bed safe and sound as usual, I listened to the rain for ages and finally drifted off to sleep, only to be woken up at 3:47am by Jim saying he was about to be sick...So we rushed off to the bathroom as fast as you can at that time in the morning, just in the nick of time for him to be very, very, as he was being sick the biggest moth I have ever seen started to dive bomb us both, I can tell you it's not easy trying to concentrate on your child being really sick, handing them tissue and a glass of water in between flushing the toilet, and then fending off this huge moth which seemed intent on bashing into us as much as it could without it passing out... eventually Jim had recovered enough to get back into bed after a quick hands and face wash and a big guzzle of water.

What I can't understand is why when someone else is being sick down the toilet you have this dying urge to go to the loo yourself???

So I know you want to see this moth, and yes I did take a few pictures of it in the morning. When Jim had gone back to bed it was still trying to kill itself on the landing light bulb so I got a large plastic basket and gently caught it so I could let it go safely in the morning. I have no idea what it is. I tryed to look it up but didn't find anything, it is really big about 2inches across as you will see here.
Yes, it is surprisingly big isn't it..

It was quite lovely and some of the inner parts of the wings were a red colour. It doesn't look that big here but imagine it trying to hit you in the head in the middle of the night.
Oh yes and Jim was fine afterwards, he woke up in the morning feeling ravenous and hasn't stopped eating all day so he can't be too ill.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Raining cakes and frogs..

Firstly i apologise, I have neglected my duties to inform anyone who's remotely interested as to what has been going on in the Plummer household over the last few days.... I am sorry..

So apologies over and here is what we've been up to..

Well mostly laundry, much berry picking, laundry, plenty of cake making and a failed attempt to go to the cinema and did i mention, laundry..?

On an outing to the alleyway near the back of our garden we have picked bags and bags of blackberries, more plums and have spotted a pear tree that thankfully hangs over the footpath nearby. We will return to it when it is ready..
Mum, on her treks has found a cob nut tree, well done mum for spotting that one, which will be another we will return to when they are ready to be picked.

Charlotte has been very busy in the kitchen this week making lovely cakes for us to gobble up.. Unfortunately on one such occasion she made the beginnings of a cake, mixed the butter and sugar, measured the flour and cocoa powder then found we had no eggs.. she was not amused especially as the shops where shut and Tesco would not arrive until the next day.

So her mixture sat in the fridge. When we did get eggs she got out the things from the fridge tripped, lost her glasses and spilt the bowl of flour and cocoa powder across the kitchen an up the front of the cooker....

Still after a while it turned out to be a lovely cake indeed...

And here's another she made earlier..

Now I wanted to share with you what I woke up to this morning about a quarter to six, apart from an orange glow from the sun in my bedroom there was this lovely rainbow... It looked so much better than the picture shows but I did the best I could..

The day was really muggy and humid and we thought we would get out and go and do something with our day, but by the time we had organized ourselves and Charlotte had finally dragged herself out of bed, we checked to see when Ice-age 3 would be showing at the cinema and found we had missed it for today.. Katie, Sam and I went to town instead, payed some bills and bought stationary for everyone for school when they go back.

Now, Asda was amazing in as far as I ordered the children's uniforms online yesterday to save traipsing around the shops forever and the majority of it was in stock, so I ordered it and low and behold it turned up a nice big box that Charlotte has stolen and taken to her room already, she has this thing about cardboard boxes, it's the hoarder in her I think, I don't know where she gets it from!!!

So to end the day it rained, it's been wanting to all day and finally at tea time it came, Charlotte and Sam ran around like mad things in the garden trying to catch frogs, there were five of them jumping around like, well like they managed to catch three of them..

And finally Katie wanted me to mention that she made a farm today, I mean really it's a piece of paper with glitter stuck to it and some lines drawn for fences but it's lovely all the same..