Painting with Cling Film

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It’s Easter bonnet time here on Rosy Hill. The Little Man has a parade on Thursday so we’ve been painting, sticking and glittering like crazy! Still only 2, the Little Man is not particularly interested in reaching a particular outcome with his creative endeavours but he is interested in exploring new ways of expressing himself/making a mess! I try to introduce a variety of materials and techniques to have a go with.

As his concentration is limited when it comes to art the bonnet will be simple with the opportunity to use as many different items from the craft box as possible. As ever, the internet is full of inspiration and today’s task was painting with cling film (plastic wrap)  from Bare Feet on the Dash Board.

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We began by squirting some paint in spring like colours over some cardboard before covering it with cling film (ours was actually a clean used sandwich bag). The boy then got stuck in, squishing and swirling the paint around. Every time he touched the plastic he’d look at his hands, expecting them to be covered in paint. Bless him.
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The idea is that this technique is relatively ‘mess free’ but the fun that came after certainly was not! Once the plastic was removed the Little Man spent ages squishing, squeezing and splatting the paint around. The glee on his face was incredible! Such simple pleasures.
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Changing Seasons

imageSo Spring has arrived, how lovely! Apparently it began yesterday (I was unaware that the day varied, but hey ho) and it was a wonderful day, warm and generally sunny. The Little Lady and I spent it strolling around the park with my lovely friend and her baby. Fresh air, good company and some Vitamin D. Perfect!
imageThe beginning of this new season has led to my reflecting upon the weather that we have experienced over the Winter months.
imageThe lake has been as beautiful as ever, ever changing and reflecting the mood of the skies. There have been glorious sunsets in the distance…
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And a few times it has disappeared altogether!
imageHowever, overall, it has been rather mild and uneventful. A few cold snaps but generally we have enjoyed a mild chill accompanied by blue skies and fluffy clouds.
image imageForgive me, this post is terribly self indulgent but I cannot get enough of the bare trees silhouetted against those gigantic skies.
imageAlthough I don’t mind the cold personally, I have to confess that the lack of seasonal storms has made things easier with the little ones. As Winter arrived the Little Man became obsessed with the idea of snow. Every time it was mentioned he would ask when our snow was going to arrive.
imageWhen the flakes did begin to fall he began to realise that now is often more fun in theory than in reality.
imageSnow is cold and wet and he has not quite reached the age where it’s potential can be fully realised. But he got his wish, however brief, and it is now time to look forward to what Spring has in store for us!

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Viennese Creams

imageMmmm…don’t they look delicious?! Melt in your mouth drops of heaven. Every so often the Little Man will request a baking session and it is a plea that I am always happy to answer. The joy and concentration that he shows during the process is a delight to behold, not to mention the rewards at the end!

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The recipe for these shortbread biscuits has been lovingly preserved in my mom’s school cookery book. Essentially fat and sugar creamed together before folding in the flour. My mother was therefore quite horrified when the electric whisk appeared.

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She forgets that baking has to be adapted for a 2 year old and no cooking experience is complete for the Little Man unless it includes an electric whisk or blender. They are just endlessly appealing and I cannot resist the dazzling smile that they elicit.

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The other thing that I usually do is convert the measurements to cups and spoons so that he is in charge of the process. The quantities may not be exact but everything’s turned out well so far!

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Shortbread
115g (1/2 cup) butter or margarine
55g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
115g (1 cup) plain flour
Few drops of vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Cream the margarine and sugar together.
Stir in the vanilla extract then fold in the flour and salt.
Roll into walnut size pieces and place on a greased baking tray then flatten with a fork.
Bake at 180°C/GM4  for 10 – 15 minutes then cool on a rack.

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Giving the Little Man free reign with one tray, he chose sultanas, mini smarties and chocolate sprinkles to decorate his biscuits with before baking. I love how careful he is, thinking before placing every sweet individually talking me through his thought process as he goes.

The other tray was mine to make the ‘grown-up biscuits’. When cool, simply sandwich two pieces of shortbread together using butter cream and, hey presto, you have Viennese creams – one of my all time favourite treats.

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New Arrivals

Tree Skeleton

Well hello there my lovelies, how long it has been! It has been the usual story of life snow balling and something has to give. I do apologise and can assure you that I have missed you all so much. And now I return to share the exciting news of a new arrival at Rosy Hill – the Little Man is now a proud big brother to our lovely Little Lady.

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These last few months have been a magical journey as our family of 3 has expanded to include this precious new bundle. The Little Man has been amazing and has taken everything in his stride showering his sister with love and affection and always including her in his conversation.

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So there we have it – life has changed completely and yet is still the same. Happy, busy lives full of family, fun and, of course, as much crochet as time allows. I am excited about sharing it again here! x

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How Do You Like Your Eggs in the Morning?

Poached Eggs

We eat a lot of eggs in this house. They’re cheap, easy, versatile and healthy. Weekend breakfasts often consist of scrambled or fried eggs. This week I had a sudden yearning for poached eggs. Quick as they are to make, there is something about them that makes them feel like holiday fodder. A treat.

Eggs Poaching

The secret to poached eggs is the vinegar. Two teaspoons in the water and something magical happens – instead of a mess of blobby rubber, the whites remain smooth and round.

Poached Eggs

I used to boil my eggs for 3 minutes but, since reading Lucy’s ‘Egg Poaching Knowhow‘, I now gently pour the eggs into boiling water before leaving them, off the heat, to gently cook for 5 minutes. Perfect!

Poached Eggs

Soft, white and just ready for eating. Tuck in!

Poached Eggs

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Bread, Baking and Barbeques

Bread Baking

Sunday was such a wonderful day. I spent the majority of it in the kitchen preparing for the evening’s festivities. It was time to crack open Paul Hollywood’s ‘How to Bake‘ and indulge in some good, old-fashioned bread making. What a luxury! On today’s menu were Rosemary and Sea Salt Focaccia and Wholemeal Barm Cakes. Both were recipes new to me and both were a great success.

Focaccia

The focaccia was a delight to make and eat. (If you wish to have a go, Paul Hollywood’s recipe can be found here as well as in the book). The dough was springy and silky smooth and surprisingly easy to manipulate considering its stickiness. Watching those episodes of ‘The Great British Bake Off, Masterclass’ paid off at last!

Focaccia

I sprinkled one loaf with sea salt and oregano, as the recipe suggested, but the rosemary and sea salt version was the real hit. So moreish, we did eat a lot of bread!

Barm Cakes Dough

Wonderful as the focaccia was, I was proudest of my Barm cakes (another name for soft rolls, perfect to use as burger baps). They were soft, light and floury with a wonderful nuttiness. (I had run out of white bread flour so had to substitute wholemeal bread flour. All good!) Being so soft, their texture is quite different to most home-made breads where the crust is the best part. As these were so delicious I have written up the recipe in case you want to have a go.

Barm Cakes

  • 500g strong bread flour
  • 10g salt
  • 40g caster sugar
  • 10g instant yeast (I used active dry yeast and it worked well, I just left it a little longer to prove)
  • 40g butter, softened
  • 320ml cold water

Mix together the flour, salt, sugar, butter and enough water to form a rough dough. Knead for 5 – 10 minutes until smooth.

Cover with a damp tea towel and leave for 1 – 3 hours until at least doubled in size.

Tip out and knock back before dividing into about 12 pieces or balls of 70g. Leave to rest for 30 minutes on a heavily floured surface.

Flatten slightly with a rolling-pin and place on lined and floured baking trays. Sprinkle with flour and place the trays in a carrier bag and leave to prove for about an hour until doubled in size.

Bake in an oven pre-heated to 210 °C for 10 minutes before cooling on a wire rack.

Store in a lidded container to keep them soft.

Chocolate Orange Cake

The final preparations came in the form of cake baking. Gizzi Erksine’s Chocolate Orange Truffle Cake to be specific. This recipe was actually the top layer of my wedding cake – sweet, gooey and delicious.

Chocolate Orange Cake

It is incredibly rich but the orange gives it a slight tang and stops it from being too sickly. Nom nom.

Worm Hunting

The Little Man was amazing all day. He spent most of it in the garden with various family members, endlessly walking up and down, playing football and searching for worms in our vegetable beds! We have experimented with putting the kitchen waste straight into the soil at the front so we can grow courgettes/squash on the freshly composting peelings. It seems to be going well as a lot of the matter has already decomposed and the bed is now full of worms, always a good sign in these situations and an excellent source of entertainment for 2 year olds.

Barbeque

Finally it was barbeque time. There is nothing quite like the glowing embers of a barbeque. Any of you who visit regularly will know that I am a fan of open air eating. Yes, this is England. Yes, it is February. Yes, it is cold outside. However I do not see why that should spoil our fun. It was time to celebrate my lovely brother-in-law’s birthday in style. (This was party take 2 as he had missed half of his own celebrations last week – see here). What a wonderful way to spend a Sunday evening. We all ate lots and laughed lots. The weather remained dry and relatively mild.

I love parties! :)

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365 Project – Week 7

The Lake

Hello my dears. There is always room for another lake picture so I have squeezed an extra one in to begin with. Maybe next year I shall do a 365 lake project! Tree

Sunday 9th February: The mixture of sunshine and storm clouds in this picture is a perfect metaphor for this day. On the one hand, we had fun in the park and a wonderful party of family and friends for my brother-in-law’s birthday. On the other hand I had a poorly husband and my sister spent the day in and out of A&E after an altercation with a food processor. I don’t think this is the place to say any more but I am glad that my life is not usually full of such drama! A day that I will not forget in a hurry, that is for sure.

Mood of the Day: Pinky red – happy, dramatic, family and friends.

Leaf stitching

Monday 10th February: I make a very conscious effort to seperate my working life from this blog. Afterall, it would be a miserable 365 project if my daily image was a pile of books to mark each day (even if it does feel like that sometimes!). These pretty leaves, created to inspire my class in their creative endeavours, just had to appear alongside my cheerful, lilac square for that day. Life was feeling good.

Mood of the Day: Lilac – a good work day.

Crochet Mood Blanket

Tuesday 11th February: As always happens in these cases, work managed to throw a curved ball today to bring me down with a bump. Hey ho, let’s just bury ourselves in colourful crochet instead. (See here for my Week 6 update).

Mood of the Day: Peach – a very unsettled colour after my good mood being crushed at school!

Heating whisky

Wednesday 12th February: A rather late Burn’s Night Supper of haggis, neeps and tatties. After last year’s triumph, the whisky sauce once again took pride of place. Delicious and the Little Man loved it (the haggis that is, not the sauce!).

Mood of the Day: Bright blue – happy, bright, a good day.

Cheese and haggis sandwich

Thursday 13th February: The most amazing sandwich ever – cheese and haggis topped with tomato and fresh basil. Always the best part of having haggis for dinner. 

Mood of the Day: Maroon – cosy, comfortable.

Valentine's Day

Friday 14th February: Happy Valentine’s day one and all. We shared a Chinese take away with my sister and her husband before battling it out over Settlers of Catan. A strawberry and kiwi pavlova from my lovely hubby topped it all off perfectly.

Mood of the Day: Bright purple – a happy feeling of deep contentment.

Fish and Chips

Saturday 15th February: Fish and Chips at the Black Country Museum. Amazing! I was quite concerned when we realised that the old chippie, who used to fry the chips in beef fat, had closed but these did not disappoint.

Black Country Museum

We had a marvellous time, stepping into the past and experiencing life in a Victorian mining town. The ranges were so beautiful, although I do not envy the women having to clean them out.

Mood of the Day: Steel grey – grey skies in the Black Country. Grey can be a beautiful colour.

So there we have another week in pictures. So much happiness. I hope that you take a moment to think back over the happy times of your week. x

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Crochet Mood Blanket – Week 7

Crochet Mood Blanket

Evening all! Here we are, Tuesday again and time for Hazel’s Crochet Mood Blanket link party. Very exciting this week as we actually have photographs taken in the daylight. Whoop whoop!

Crochet Mood Blanket

I am so pleased to finally show you the true blanket so far. You can appreciate the subtle differences in colour: the purples (usually school days) from the bright, cheerful shades for happy work days to the dull, lifeless tones for the tired, stressful days. The pinks showing happy days with family and friends and the blues indicating how the weather has affected my mood.

Crochet Mood Blanket

A happy pile of colourful squishiness.

Ends

Tonight I made an effort to deal with some of those pesky ends, sewing and snipping to secure them firmly. So boring but a very satisfying job. The overall appearance will be improved ten fold when it is complete.

Happyland Play

Today has been a cosy, homely day with lots of cuddles and familiar play. Many books have been read, toy boxes emptied, the track has been carefully assembled and spectacularly demolished. All good fun.

Ripple Blanket

To top it all I even managed to hook a couple of rows on my sister’s ripple blanket (see, my dear, I have not forgotten!).

Pizza Soup

As well as a lot of stay at home time, we’ve also been living life al-fresco this week, dodging the grey skies and making the most of any break in the weather. Today I chanced upon a notice on the Birmingham Museum and Art Galleries website announcing a visit from a mobile zoo at Blakesley Hall. A cheap, easy outing which would allow us all to have a breath of fresh air and enjoy a spot of outdoor dining.

Tea and Scone

We demolished the rest of yesterday’s Pizza Soup before tea and scones for dessert (not homemade but you can’t have everything!). A lovely little outing before bedding back down in the warmth of home. x

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Pepperoni Pizza Soup

Pizza Soup

Last week my interest was caught by a post entitled ‘Hearty Pepperoni Pizza Soup‘ on Simply Made Kitchen and Crafts. Ever since I read the recipe it has been on my mind so, when my sister suggested dinner tonight, there was no decision to make.

I did adapt the recipe somewhat. Indeed, although I have kept the title, my version did not actually contain any pepperoni at all. I much prefer the sweeter, smokier flavour chorizo so used that instead. I also added a lot more seasoning as, for me, the herbs are the secret to this dish. At the end of the day, my soup still delivered exactly what it said on the tin – pizza in a soup. Brilliant!

So here’s my recipe:

  • 4 – 6 onions, minced
  • 1 chorizo, sliced
  • 4 peppers, chopped
  • 2-3 courgettes, diced
  • 6 cloved garlic, minced
  • 20 tomatoes, blended
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp dried mixed herbs (the dried oregano is what gives this soup the flavour/smell of pizza)
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 500ml – 1l water
  • 50g parmesan cheese, grated
  • Cooked meat – I used left over sausages and chicken (optional)
  • Cheese to sprinkle on top

Fry the onions and chorizo until the onions are soft and the chorizo has released its oils. Add the peppers, courgettes and garlic.

Stir in the tomatoes, seasoning and water and bring to the boil. Cook for 30 minutes.

Stir in the cheese and meat and cook until hot all the way through.

Serve with crusty bread and cheese sprinkled on top.

Enjoy!

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Crochet Mood Blanket – Week 6

Crochet Mood Blanket

Ah, there it is. Never ending, squishy goodness. I am totally in love with this blanket! Due to its size and bad lighting, I admit that it is proving somewhat tricksy to photograph but never mind. We do our best!

Crochet Mood Blanket

Unfortunately I missed Hazel’s link party last week as my granny making slowed somewhat after a mistake in the joining. Pressure got to me and I took a few days off. It was such a relief when I had caught up and we are now fully back on track.

Crochet Mood Blanket

Oh dear, just look at those ends! I was doing so well. By next Tuesday, I intend to have them all weaved in and snipped. I cannot bear to leave them for long or I’ll never do them!

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I am still fascinated about what I have learned regarding my relationship with colour. Take the purple in the photo above. I have two almost full balls of it as I was never overly keen on including it in previous projects. It is not particularly offensive but lilac does little for me. If I think about my mood colours, however, that colour strongly represents my feelings after a good day at work. How strange that a colour that I am not particularly fond of can symbolise such positive emotions.

Anyway, enough of my musings for today. Back soon! x

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