Thursday 26 May 2016

I got that sunshine in my pocket

The current anthem to our impromptu dance parties at home.

I dare you to sit still ;)
L xx

Saturday 2 January 2016

The end of 52

There were a lot of photo's in the last few weeks... just not terribly nicely framed and focussed ones! These round out the last few weeks of 2015.

What a full and fun few weeks you all had.  L performed as a "wise woman" in the reception Nativity performance.  We could not wipe the grins of our faces for days.  You sang the loudest, spoke loud and clear and were an absolute star (and hilarious natural performer!).  H and L both had Christmas school trips that you enjoyed.  There was the school Christmas fayre, a birthday party to which all three of you were kindly invited, and more vaccinations.  A finally saved up enough dosh to buy a much desired Lego set... the face was pure joy.

We had a day trip to London to soak up the Christmas lights and atmosphere and fun.  We rounded out a super day with some ice-skating and again, our faces hurt from smiling and laughing so much.  We had a lovely evening out visiting the German Christmas Markets here in Birmingham - it was a month of hot chocolate consumption : )

School term ended for the winter holidays and your days were a little slower.  We made a gingerbread house, built puzzles, coloured, played, baked biscuits for our street and had a wonderful Christmas day.   On the last day of the year we set off on our next weekend adventure away - you three had been asking when we were having another trip away, which shows us again how much you love our family expeditions.

How much you've all grown and changed this year.  Our precious girls -  you delight us endlessly xxxxx

Friday 25 December 2015

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from all of us to you and yours. May you have a wonderful Christmas and feel wrapped in love and joy.
Happy Holidays!
L xx

Sunday 6 December 2015

Forty Seven, Eight & Nine/52

Where the time goes no one knows.  The last three weeks have been full of things!  A had a school trip to the Leicester Space Station one week and came home buzzing about the things she saw.  L went to a pizza restaurant one morning and got to watch and assist the chefs in action.  She loved every minute and enjoyed coming home with the pizza she made, to share with her sisters.  The following week we also had a teacher meeting for L where we heard about how enthusiastic she was about learning and how sweet and motherly she was toward any new/shy/quiet classmates.  Awwww!  We had a workshop with H and her year group too, that proved more great fun and was very informative.

A and H also went to a surprise evening out with Mum to their very first ballet - The Nutcracker!  It was a special night and A in particular was absolutely enraptured with it.  She cannot wait to go to her next ballet!  L attended her first birthday party here and had a ball.  We all also had a couple of marshmallow toasting sessions over our fireplace over the last few weeks... and there will be many more in our future ;)

L xx

Wednesday 2 December 2015

November - 10 months and counting

The month started with the second half of school term resuming.  It was a fun and busy few weeks on the school front.  H had a trip to a transport museum, A to the space station, L to a restaurant.  There were a couple of workshops, H received a certificate at assembly and we had a teacher interview for L.  Along with all the other regular school things :)

The girls have also enjoyed a few playdates with lovely friends, the kids in the street and a birthday party.  We had a lovely bonfire and fireworks night with the people in our street - much to everyone's delight and enjoyment.  We had an entertaining visit to the doctor's office where the poor nurse thought she was going to remain deaf permanently after giving L vaccinations.  The first time any of our girls had screamed like that for their vaccinations.  It was loud... but amuzing :)

L and I had our embroidery date this month - such a delight that all three my girls have enjoyed these trips and trying their hands at this craft.  There have been regular weekly walks with a friend - an opportunity for a little extra exercise and getting to explore our suburb on foot.  Lots of the usual life goings on, Hubster spent a week in Spain for work, and as the temperatures dropped we had fun roasting marshmallows.

Many Christmas gifts were finally finished and sent off to their various destinations.  And now we start thinking about our first Winter Christmas here!  Exciting!

L xx

Friday 27 November 2015

*Freebie* Christmas Gift Box Decoration Tutorial

For the last 3 or 4 years I have enjoyed making Christmas decorations to give to various friends and family. There have been baubles, mushrooms and Christmas trees... and this year... little gift boxes!

I so enjoy the process of trial and error, refinement and ultimately... Success! It's (almost!) Christmas so I thought I'd share my pattern with you here... now you can make your own wee mountain of gifts : )

Gift Box Decoration Tutorial

You will need:
3.75mm crochet hook (or similar size)
Yarn (I just used what was around... mostly 8 ply)
Contrasting or Glitter/Metallic Yarn
Large Wool Needle

You are basically creating 6 continuous box faces, of a similar size, that should meet and join together nicely.  To start, chain 6.

Starting in the second chain from the hook, single crochet (sc) 5 to the end. Chain 1 and turn.
Complete 5 more rows (5sc across each).

In the next row, only sc into the back v's of the previous row.  This will create a line, like the edge of a box!

Continue working 5 more normal sc rows.
Then, again, work another row into the back v's only.
Continue working 5 more normal sc rows thereafter.
Tie off your work.

Your first piece should look similar to this.  One continuous piece that has three sections marked by the wee lines (they can be a bit hard to spot).

If you want, you can create another piece exactly like this one and simply join the two by hand.

Leaving a long tail, attach and start working a row of sc into the side of the middle section of your first piece.  (I've tried to indicate what I mean with the 5 pins in the picture above.)

Start with the right/lined side facing away from you.  This will ensure all the lines created will be on the same side of the work.  (The star on the picture below indicates where to start the attachment.)

After the initial row, continue to work 5 more normal sc rows.
Then, again, work another row into the back v's only.
Continue working 5 more normal sc rows thereafter.
Then, again, work another row into the back v's only.
Continue working 5 more normal sc rows thereafter.
Tie off your work.  It would be prudent to leave another longish tail.

This picture shows you where all your lines should show and the star indicates where the joining starts.

Grab your large wool needle and, using the long "corner" tail you left, start joining the sides together.   Line up the edge of the short side with the first line of the long side to guide the positioning.

Continue working around the sides to create the box shape.  Before you sew up the last face, you will need to pop a wee box inside to help it keep shape.

To make the box:  Draw a shape (as shown below) on a piece of card.  The sides of each face measures 2cm.
Cut your shape out and stick the sides together to form a box with cellotape.

Once you've popped your little box inside the cover, continue stitching up the edges to join all sides.

Now, if you like, you can just tie some string around it, decorate, add a loop for hanging... whatever takes your fancy.

Or alternatively...
Measure out some contrasting/metallic yarn.  For this stitch I "measured" a piece by wrapping it around the box three or four times and left a long long tail.  See the picture below.

Then proceed to make a chain stitch all the way around, then cross and go all the way the other way around.  I know, I have a way with words but... basically we are simulating ribbon around the four sides ;p

When you get back to the beginning, tie it off but leave the long tail and create a loop for hanging.  Make sure to fasten off and "hide" your ends when you are done.

Hopefully that mostly made sense.  If something isn't clear or you get stuck - please just sing out and I will try my best to help!

Thursday 19 November 2015

Bread Recipe - the UK edition

3 years ago I shared with you our bread recipe. To this day we still bake it almost daily. However, after landing in the UK we went through a period of trial and error as the yeast and flour was different. And so, I give you our UK version if anyone from around these parts is keen to give it a go!

In a bowl thoroughly mix together (just with a wooden spoon):
1.5 cups of water
2 tsps of Easy Bake Bread Yeast
3 cups of strong bread flour
1.5 tsps of salt

No kneading!  Cover with clearwrap and let it rise.   We usually mix the dough first thing in the morning and bake at night, or the night before bed to bake first thing in the morning.  You can easily let it rise for 12 - 18 hours if you wish.  Or if it's a hot day/warm room/you're in a hurry... it can be ready in as little as 2-3 hours or so.

Set the oven to 220'C.  Place an enamel covered cast iron pot (or anything with a lid that can take the heat) in the oven, to pre-heat at the same time as the oven is, until the oven is up to temperature.

Now turn the risen dough out onto a heavily floured surface.  This dough is super sticky so it pays to flour your hands too.  Shape it into a ball/oblong/whatever shape you like(!) and then pop it into the hot pot.  Be careful of that hot pot!

Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on.  After this time remove the lid and bake for a further 5 minutes or so without it, if it needs further browning.

It should come out smelling and looking delicious!  Place the bread on a wire rack to cool.

Points of note: 
- If you are using the same easy bake yeast as pictured below, I would not recommend adding it to the water first as it tends to clump up.  We stir all the dry ingredients together and then add the water before mixing the whole lot up.  Works a treat.
- We usually mix up the types of bread flour we use and use different combinations.  This is a very versatile recipe and you can add nuts, grains, make it a savoury loaf with bacon and cheese or sweet with cinnamon and chocolate!  Just experiment with what works.  We don't really measure any additions and haven't had a dodgy loaf yet!
-  Also, if you need a smaller loaf just reduce the ingredients by a third or half and bake for the same amount of time.  Everything still works just as well.  We have even used this mixture to make buns by splitting the dough and rolling flat round balls before baking them in the pot.
- Lastly.  Not all bread flour is equal.  Here we buy the Sainsbury's bread flour as we have found it delivers the best results and is no more expensive than other homebrands.

If you have any questions just send me a note. I'll try my best to answer/help! Enjoy :)
L xx