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.