Sunday, 18 December 2011

Missing Autumn...



The season of autumn is long gone now and although we have not, as yet, had a real harsh spell of winter weather, there is time yet. The leaves have all but fallen and the trees look decidedly bare. Night frosts have been few and far between. However snow fell for one morning and, by the late afternoon, it was all gone. Next week the temperatures are set to rise to a balmy 10 degrees... So the season is still changing and while autumn tries, in vain to hang on, there is more evidence that it is now winter..

I miss autumn, it is by far my favourite time of year. I'm not a hot weather person, it makes me uncomfortable and lethargic. Don't get me wrong, I love to see the sun and gin clear blue skies, but the heat does me in. Autumn can be cool but still has blue skies and sunshine. The nights draw in and there is less daytime and more cosy evenings. That nip in the air and the hint of night time frosts excites me. There is a feel about the air that only autumn has. I get that "nesting" feeling of wanting to prepare for the winter months ahead. Summer is tied up in a neat bundle and put away, autumn is then spread out like a warm chequered picnic blanket for you to lay on and look up at the blue sky.

We are very fortunate in that, although we live in a town, we also have trees and woodland very close by. You are never far from a small wooded area, a stretch of grass or a small meadow. As you come out of our home there is a bank of Laurel bushes. They are quite tall and act as a natural boarder between us and the houses in front.




These photos were taken in late October or early November. As you leave our house and turn left you enter a small park. Over the top of the hedgerow you can see the top corner of our house. Along these hedgerows grow plum trees and blackberry bushes. This is where I pick berries to make my jam.





Stepping back further you can see the entrance to the park which is over a mound in the corner of the park, through a broken fence. On the left there are the fading blackberry bushes, Mum said something about the devil had weed on them and, by now, any berries left where no good .... The cats have followed us and are wondering what on earth we are up to. This is their territory, they run about this park, in and out of the hedgerows, hunting for mice.



Florrie on the mound as you enter the park.



This tree will eventually turn yellow and orange. It really is pretty.






Florrie and Penny are following us across the park. They will not go much beyond the park to follow us. 



As we cross and then leave the park, we walk down a small alleyway. We come out to the road and Mums house. The doctors surgery is in front of Mums house and they have a lovely apple tree on their front lawn. This too has lovely colours this time of year.




This is facing up the hill as you come out of the alleyway and Mums house is behind me and to the left. We have a lovely and very overgrown woods and small stream next to Mums house where, as children, we used to play.

Down the hill and past Mums house is a very tall and old oak tree with vines and creepers all the way up is trunk. 


Behind this tree is the doctors surgery car park, I spend many a happy weekend scooting around this car park on my bike. It is directly in front of Mums house and, conveniently for me, was shut and empty on the weekends.



This tree and I have a history. It is the curly whirly tree, so called because of it's curly whirly nature. I am sure it is one tree twisted around itself and then branches off in different directions. It is a perfect tree to climb and sit in with your friends. I am quite sure I kissed a boy up this tree.....





This is a beautiful tree, there are quite a few like it in these woods. As children we would try to see faces in this gnarled old tree and, despite its appearance, was impossible to climb due to it's straight up and down nature... Believe me, as a child, I tried...and failed.




Back round the woods and heading home again we come up my side of our street (Mum and I live live in the same street but different sides, it's like a horseshoe shaped street and we live parallel to each other) I know what I mean....

This is the view up our side of the street, there are trees lining the street all the way down. We walk up this street, we turn left again and are nearly home.





At this point we are greeted by Florrie again and Penny isn't far behind.







Back in front of our home you can turn left to the park and this is the view to the right. This tree is my yard stick of what season we are in and are entering. This tree says it is autumn, but as I look out at it today, it is completely bare. It is asleep and waiting for spring.




I do like spring, I love the cool days with a hint of warmer days to come, the days stretch out and we have more hours in our day. We wake and it is light and we can smell new things, the earth is warming, nature is waking up and beginning to grow again.

 But that is a long way off still, winter has yet to give us it's best shot. I do long for spring, but I must admit, I will miss autumn more.




Thursday, 15 December 2011

Making scarves..

During the summer I started to make a scarf/scarve?. I started the purple one first (in the lower pictures) and when I ran out of wool, I stopped and made a blue one.




As you can tell, I am an expert in the art of scarf/scarve? making and knitting in particular...

The reason I make scarves/scarfs? is (1) because they are nice (2) because they are easy (3) because I cannot read a pattern and (4) because I am really rubbish at knitting and I can't make anything that has any shape other than long.....


I took some photos and, although I am crap at making scarves/scarfs?, these pictures do not show the true luxurious nature of these knitted wonders..




As the weather is now winter-like, I thought I had better get a move on and finish these scarves/scarfs? before it is spring again.





As always Penny is eager to help....... once she had mauled them and pounded them to death, she then tried to get in the camera...



This is not helping....




Really not helping at all ............


Friday, 2 December 2011

Reading the riot act........


When I look at our home, one word comes to mind.....CHAOS..
There is "stuff" just about every where, most of it we need, most of it we use every day.. 
There are five of us here who spend a great deal of time in this house. As the winter draws in, the children go out less and less. Charlotte and Jim have almost become hermits. So the children are always finding something to do at home instead of going out now. Which, in turn, means that our home is a busy and often messy place.

Admittedly, it is my fault for not enforcing what needs to be done around the house. However, last night, I read the riot act to the children and lay down a few rules about keeping their own possessions tidy, personal Hygiene (Jim and Sam), leaving cups and plates everywhere, not doing chores, getting stuff out but not putting it away, not hanging their uniform up after school, losing their shoes, "forgetting" to do homework...you get the picture..

It's not that they can't do a few jobs to help out, they simply can't be bothered..

Every day I make breakfast and dinner, I wash and wipe up, I make beds, tidy bedrooms, wash and iron clothes, I hoover and dust, feed cats, tidy and pick up in all the rooms....By myself....

They are more than capable of doing chores around the house to help out, I am not asking for them to do it all, just their fair share..Charlotte and Jim are nearly 17 and nearly 15 years old, they can do most, if not all the chores that I do. Sam, who is now 12,  might need continued motivation and praise, usually in the shape of a Jaffa Cake.. Katie, who is 10, surprises me constantly because, although she is the youngest, she puts all her effort into helping out. They have a substantial incentive of  monetary value when they break up from school this month (£100 each) for a well behaved, and punctual term at school. They are doing well and Katie has even earned a few extra days to her score for going into school when she didn't feel all that well. She made the effort and will be rewarded accordingly..

But last night was the straw that broke that camels back....

So.. we have turned this place around and will, as from today, do our best to keep it orderly and tidy. I woke the children up at 6:30am this morning and this gave them and extra half and hour to get washed, dressed and most importantly, some breakfast before school. This is instead of the mad rush we normally go through and then not being able to find their uniforms, shoes and bags, and also not rushing out the door eating toast and tucking themselves in as they go.

So, here it is....


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Charlotte's bedroom wall





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Before (no idea why there is a hammer there..)

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I hope it lasts.....

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Soup



Soup is on the menu this week, Katie and I love it, the others, not so..... I don't normally do recipes here, and this "recipe" is something that doesn't follow any particular formula. 
It is generally a "chuck it in and see" recipe.

I use the large pot that I make jam in and then fill it with any vegetables that we like.




I use two vegetable stock cubes and about 2 or 3 litres of water, which sounds a lot, but it is a big pot.




In go the vegetables. I do chop them up in to big chunks and with the cauliflour, I put in the leaves too. I always cook the leaves because they are just like greens or cabbage. I love these leaves..





I thought there might be a little too much in here, but once it was simmering, it soon reduced down. I used a large cauliflour and its leaves, 4 leeks, 4 parsnips, a head of broccoli, stalk and all, I had a bag of carrot batons and some whole carrots too, so in they went, a sad old onion and some wilting broccoli spears. I just washed the vegetables, top and tailed them and chucked them in. I didn't peel them, as supposedly the vitamins and goodness is just under the skin and will be peeled off otherwise.





I dissolved the stock cubes in a pint boiling water and then poured that in. I added the water until I could see it coming up the side of the pot under the vegetables. I gently boiled it for 20 minutes and stirred and poked it so all the vegetables got to be in the boiling water and were softened. When everything was cooked I turned off the heat and allowed it to cool for about an hour.


I have a hand blender and so after it had cooled I blitzed it, which thickens it up. I added some salt and pepper and that is it, ready to eat. 


It does look a bit sloppy and is like a purée, but it is thick, tasty and filling. I don't blitz it too much and  there are still quite a few chunky vegetables floating around. It is very yummy and because there is so much water in it, it makes you wee a lot....

I froze quite a few portions in margarine tubs and then Katie and I snarfed down the rest.... nom :)

It is very healthy soup and I should think, quite a few of your 5 a day.




Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Cake

When the children went to school this week I cleared the worktops and set about making them a cake. It was for them to eat when they got home from school.

I generally make cakes from scratch, including the butter cream filling and the icing. The only thing I might use a packet for, is if I make a cheesecake.Then I cheat use my initiative and use a packet of Greens Cheesecake mix.

 When the children walk in the door, they are ravenous. Usually they will each devour a bowl of cereal, have sandwiches or both when they get in. 

Despite eating a lunch at school, by the time they have arrived home, they are hungry again. 

As I no longer pick Katie up from school, I have now started cooking tea earlier and when they walk in the door around 4pm, tea is already on the go. That way tea can be on the table around 5pm, when despite eating sandwiches, cereal and cake, they are still hungry....


As you can imagine, this cake did not last long, there is no such thing as a small slice when termites/piranha children are inhaling eating cake in this house.







Saturday, 26 November 2011

So much to do and so littleblogging...

I am a failed blogger....Failed I tell you..!!


I have been so busy lately, but I couldn't tell you much about what I have done......Primarily because I can't remember, but also I havebeen swept up in the tidalwave of life. I will endeavor to do better. Please don't think I will not be back, I will, but I need to get my self back into the habitof blogging again, please bear with me :)

Inthe mean time, I have taken some pictures of trees back in October that I need to show you, I made jam, I have been looking for a job, I have knitted one and a half scarves, I have had my feet x-rayed, the children have all grown an inch and I have lost 10 pounds. I will blog tomorrow when I am on my own computer (I am onJim's, which asa temperamental spacebar) and no uploaded photos.. I will be back tomorrow, I promise :)


Friday, 28 October 2011

Prezzos

Last night we went to Prezzos for a meal. It was delicious... Over the last six months or so, I have saved my Tesco clubcard vouchers and converted them into Prezzo tokens for a meal out some time. I have never taken the children out for a meal by myself and McDonalds doesn't really count as a proper restaurant. This was our first "booked table and pay the bill at the end" meal out.

We worked out roughly what it would cost us, I wanted the children to choose anything that they wanted and not have to ask "is that OK, is it too much money?" The most expensive main dish was about £10.15 (from the pasta menu) and side orders were around £3. Desserts were about £5 but drinks were an extortionate £2.20 for a bottle of diet coke. We had two drinks each. 





We had enough tokens for the whole meal but we could not pay for drinks with the tokens. We took some cash with us too. I had saved £120 in tokens, of which I still have £40 in tokens left. The bill came to £101.25 of which about £20 was for the drinks we had. As we still have more tokens to use, I think next time we go we will take Mum and My Brother with us. The tokens have to be used by 29th February..






And so the three amigos walked off into the sunset......(aka...bus stop) 
Katie always trots along beside me..




As Katie was spending the night at her Dads, we had to take her overnight bag with us...


Inside, Sam was confident he would eat all that was put in front of him... But it ended up like an episode of "Man V Food"....or should I say, "Sam V Food"





This was my dish, I had the chicken ravioli..



Sam had a "classic burger" and I ate his salad..




Katie had "tropicana pizza" of which she only managed half and even that was helped along by Sam, She had the rest put into a bag for her to take to her Dads house.




Charlotte had the Spaghetti Carbonara but would not let me take a photo of her (teenagers eh?)

Jim had the lasagne and it nearly beat him to the ground and stole his lunch money....He was so full up but was determined to eat it all....and he did.. but had to lay down for a while afterwards...




We had a lovely table that was a curved "C" shaped padded seat with a high back and I had a comfy chair opposite the children. It was perfect as Sam and Jim both had a mild case of food coma and needed to be horizontal while their food went down between courses..

I should have taken a photo of the desserts, they where really nice. Katie and Jim had an ice cream bombe, which was meringue rolled in ice cream, rolled in toasted hazelnuts. Sam had chocolate fudge cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Charlotte and I had Crushed strawberry eton mess cheesecake. It was garnished with a sprig of mint which we dared each other to eat.... It was gross... don't ever do that....


Outside we waited for Katie to be picked up...



It was getting cold as we waited outside, Charlotte and Jim went and looked in the nearby Hollywood Bowling alley and had a go on the guitar hero arcade game while we waited.. Sam had one more go on the revolving door.....




This was an awesome revolving door which you have to drag your children away from...If they go round too fast and too many times they might turn into Superman...and we can't have that.... we've still got to get the bus home.....