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I live on the south coast of the UK. I'm very happily married to Tim (who looks after me, cherishes me and works so hard) and we have 2 daughters and a cat, Floyd. I love Hello Kitty, Littest Pets, crafting, reading, baking, playing on my Nintendo ds, cute dresses and all manner of hair accessories. I'm also, without doubt, a future crazy cat lady.

Me, Tim, April, Rosie and Floyd-the-cat :)

Versatile Blogger Award

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Portfolio

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Forest Pines Riding Centre

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Dorset Wildlife Trust

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Please DO NOT link directly to pictures on my website!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Gorgeous weekend

Of course, it still is technically the weekend for us because Tim's days off are Sunday and Monday but hey-ho!

Saturday was pizza night which is becoming a fairly regular thing here. Homemade pizza which is always jointly made by me and Tim, cola, pudding (this time tarte au citron), and much silliness.

I did a bit more Christmas shopping (so nearly done now!) and started going through the stuff that's already here and ticking it off my list. I also finished up another handmade project and, oh my!, was it ever cute! Can't say what it is though because this blog gets read by certain people! :D

Yesterday was a real family day. Lying in, Mario Kart, silly games, LPS with April (me that is!), Jaffa Cakes, crochet, getting excited over the imminent arrival of snow on Animal Crossing and cuddles. Later, Tim and I had slow cooker beef in red wine for dinner (accompanied by a glass of the red stuff, naturally!) and snuggled on the sofa to watch Red Dwarf and ...um....stayed up late ....;) All fun, so lovely.

Today I got up to a proper frost (Tim was still snoozing in bed ....awww!) Proper, gleaming, sparkling white frost. Beautiful! Really starting to feel festive now and going to get Tim to get the Christmas decs out the loft so that I can put them up when I'm ready! Oooo! Excited! Ok, it won't be for a couple of weeks but I like to have them out ready! :)

Posted by Sarah at 10:25 AM [Permalink]
Categories: At Home, Crafts, Winter
Comments [ 0 ]

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Quick blog-in

Hi there!

Well, I started ....Christmas shopping that is. I sat down last weekend and went on Amazon and filled up the basket with stuff and purchased it. There. Now I'm a prisoner in my own home waiting for all the stuff to be delivered (needs signing for). Oh well.

There's a growing pile of shop brought stuff and I'm still working on homemade goodies so it's coming along

Been busy lately - mostly cooking I have to say. Yesterday was one of those days where I barely left the kitchen! Made bread (white), cherry cake, chicken in white wine for dinner and ginger bikkies. In between all that I washed up and that was about my day *laughs*.

Homeschool still going great. We've adopted a far more relaxed approach these days to the old days. Maybe it's me being a bit more seasoned at all this now but I've finally learned to let go a bit with most things and let April discover stuff for herself (which she prefers anyway). We have a house full of books, games, art materials, computer stuff ....so whenever she has an idea we can just get to work and I help her in whatever way she wants with her projects.

One thing I do insist on is daily maths practice. We use, amongst other things, King of Maths Jr. an app for the tablet. It's brilliant.

Yesterday, in the middle of fractions, she suddenly says "urgh! my tooth has fallen out!". She then spits it out, puts it on the table and carries on with the fractions!

Fair enough.

I wasn't even aware she had another wobbler (she lost one only recently)!

I sent Tim a text and said "doing maths makes your teeth fall out. fact". He wrote back saying no it doesn't and I'm very naughty! I have proof though heehee!

Talking of Tim, he's had enough. We were lying on the bed the other evening, just chatting and he said he's reached that point (with work) where he's had enough now and just wants his holiday and to be home with us. His main Christmas/new year holiday starts on the 21st December but he's only actually working 12 days in December because he's got time off for his birthday and April's birthday! So, he can't wait for the beginning of December!

Not long Timofee, not long!

Posted by Sarah at 9:01 AM [Permalink]
Categories: At Home, Cooking, Crafts, Winter
Comments [ 0 ]

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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Heaven, I'm in heaven

Went to the shops with the kids today and picked up a few Christmas bits, just some wrapping paper and advent calendars. While in Tesco I spied Bailey's ...a big bottle of ... hmmm..... This is mine and Tim's cold weather drink of choice and we haven't had any for months and months so, feeling a little saucy, I brought a bottle. Got to this evening, dug out my special Bailey's glass and ...."aaahhh!"

Beautiful, sensuous drink and a slightly arty photo courtesy of my good self :)

 

Posted by Sarah at 8:15 PM [Permalink]
Categories: Winter
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Friday, November 14, 2014

Help. HELP!

Oh ....no.

 

I have to start Christmas shopping. I have to start Christmas shopping. Oh nooooooo! I have 1 thing so far and that's it. I have a long list of Christmas presents to buy and, on top of that, I also have gifts for April and Tim's birthdays too which are both are the beginning of December.

I keep staring at Amazon wishlists and glazing over.

Then I think "yeah, maybe tomorrow. Maybe ...."

The whole thing is not helped by the fact that:

a) April's wishlist is about 20 pages long and I'd need several days just to wade through her stuff.

b) Rosie's wishlist has virtually nothing on it.

c) Tim's wishlist is either hopelessly out of date or contains items which are waaay beyond my budget (I mean, Sibelius 7! Come on Timofee be realistic!)

d) His family never know what they want and don't give us any idea whatsoever until about the week before Christmas (we don't buy for my family but the reason why is not a tale I wish to tell here).

I have to get on though as I do it pretty much all online so I need time for stuff to be delivered. I refuse to go round the shops. I am a rare woman in that I can't stand shopping. I remember a few Christmas's ago needing to find a particular baking item which Tim's mum wanted (I forget now what it was). We went everywhere looking for this damn thing and by the end of it I was about ready to scream. Tim, who has the patience of a saint was saying "let's just try such and such and see if they have it". No Tim, let's not. We went home and ordered it from Amazon.

I like getting the pressies altogether and wrapping them up and putting them under the tree and seeing people open stuff. I just don't "do" shopping.

Which is unfortunate because it has to be done.

*Deep breath in ......1,2,3.....breathe out ....deep breath in ....*

PS - eagle-eyed readers may have noticed I've swapped my sidebar piccy back for an earlier version. Tim liked my hair in the last one but my face had not arranged itself in a way which was pleasing to him so I've changed it. Personally, I liked the other one better ....less boring. Hey-ho.

Posted by Sarah at 11:23 AM [Permalink]
Categories: At Home, Winter
Comments [ 0 ]

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Today is mine

Woke up this morning with that particular grainy, dry throat that very often comes before a cold. Not always for me, I've noticed, but sometimes. That, together with the fact that I didn't sleep well last night (was up pacing the floor at just after midnight) means I'm throwing a sicky. Sort of.

I shall hoover, do a bit of cleaning, tidy up. No baking today (done so much already this week!) ...going to do a few bits and then dig out my looms and yarn and create something.

Going to listen to music, loom-knit, crochet, read, play Animal Crossing and Tomodachi Life, drink tea and ....that's it really. Tim is off to choir practice tonight so I shall have a very quiet evening too!

Then hopefully get a good night sleep tonight!

Posted by Sarah at 9:18 AM [Permalink]
Edited on: Thursday, November 13, 2014 12:37 PM
Categories: At Home
Comments [ 0 ]

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Bread

I seem to be posting a lot of foodie things lately, maybe it's that time of the year - lots of food! Anyway, today, I was making bread so I thought it was about time I posted my recipe.

Homemade bread. Best. Thing. Ever.

 

It's taken me a lot of experimenting and a long time to find the perfect bread recipe and now I have I won't change it! It's very popular in this house, so much so that if I don't make any for a while I get a bit of moaning going on!

I find breadmaking an almost spiritual experience. The smell of it ...the texture of the dough. When kneading, you get into an almost zen like state of meditation, switching off to everything else going on around you. It's very relaxing and a good for when your brain is overloaded!

So here it is.....

Ingredients:

500g wholemeal or white strong bread flour

1 packet dried yeast powder (the "easy bake" stuff)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon oil

300ml warm water

Put the flour into a bowl and put in the sugar and salt on one side of the bowl and the yeast on the other. Don't plonk them all on top of each other because the salt will kill the yeast!

Stir everything together then pour in the water. Mix for a second or two and then, while the mixture is still lumpy, add the oil. Now, go in with your hands and bring the whole lot together - just mix away and it will all, eventually, mix up.

Pour a little oil on to your working surface and spread it about a bit. Tip out your dough and begin to knead. It will stick to the worktop initially but have faith, keep scraping it up and kneading away and suddenly, miraculously it will stop sticking and start to knead beautifully.

NOTE: Do not knead on flour. I know many recipes tell you to do this but you do not want to add more flour, it will make your bread heavy.

After kneading for several minutes, your dough will be smooth, elastic and warm. Place it into an oiled bowl, cover with cling film (actually press the clingfilm around the top of the bowl to lock the warmth in), and leave to rise until doubled in size. The time this takes will vary depending on how warm your room is. Don't actually put it anywhere warmer, just leave it to rise in it's own time at whatever temperature your room is. I've found better results this way.

When the dough is ready, put a little more oil on the worktop, tip out the dough and grab it with both hands and pull, firmly, in opposite directions. Literally tear it open! Then, fold the sides back in, turn and tear again. Do this 3 or 4 times and then go back to your regular kneading motion for about 5 minutes.

Now, oil a 2lb bread tin, plop in your dough and push down with your fingers so the dough is even and fills the corners. Cover with clingfilm again and leave to rise. It should end up over the top of the tin and pushing on the clingfilm!

Preheat the oven to 220c/gas 7/425f. When ready, put the loaf in and bake for 35/40 minutes. I take mine out at around 35 minutes, tip it out the tin and then put it on the rack in the oven, upside down, for the remaining 5 minutes because we like our bread nice and crusty all round.

How to tell if your bread is done? Tap the bottom. It should sound hollow. If not, pop it back for a few more minutes.

Leave to cool on a wire rack resisting the urge to grab the bread knife and eat it straight away. Bread is best cold and, truthfully, if you eat it hot, you'll have the worst gut ache ever!
Posted by Sarah at 9:49 AM [Permalink]
Edited on: Wednesday, November 12, 2014 10:13 AM
Categories: Cooking
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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Christmas Cake Part 2

Meant to do this yesterday ....never got round to it ....sowwwy!!

Ok, let's get going.

First, preheat your oven to 140c/gas 1/275f and grease and line your cake tin with baking paper.

Now, sieve the flour, salt and spices into a bowl to give them a good airing. Put aside for a minute. Take another bowl and cream the butter and sugar together until nice and pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well in between each to avoid curdling.

Next, add your flour mixture and fold in gently with a metal spoon to keep as much of the air in as possible.

Add the chopped almonds, treacle and, finally, the fruit mixture you soaked last night. Stir all this in well (can be hard work - a lot of mixture!)

Very Important Bit ........

It is extremely important, at this stage, to get in each member of your family who might be around at the time and have them stir the mixture and make a Christmas wish! Oh, and have one yourself!

End of Very Important Bit

Ok, now, tip all the mixture into your prepared baking tin and smooth the top over.

Take a double sheet of baking paper, cut roughly to the size of the top of your tin and cut a hole in the middle about the size of a 50p piece. Place this over the top of your cake and press down gently.

Pop in the oven and bake for 4 to 4 3/4 hours. This is a wide margin but ovens are different and some take longer. Ours takes 4 hours. At any rate do not check until at least 4 hours have passed. Stick a skewer in - if it comes out clean then it's done. Still got cake mixture stuck to it? Put the cake back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes then check again.

When it's cooked, cool it in the tin for about 30 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish. It takes HOURS for this cake to cool.

Finally, double wrap in baking paper followed by a double wrap in foil and put in a cake tin. Feed with brandy at regular intervals until your ready to marzipan and ice. Marzipan can be put on the cake about a week and half before Christmas day. The icing is put on a week after the marzipan to give the marzipan time to dry out properly first.

That's it!

PS - mine turned out goooood! :)

Posted by Sarah at 9:02 AM [Permalink]
Categories: Cooking
Comments [ 0 ]

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Sunday, November 09, 2014

Nightmares of the crocheted kind

Oh dear. I came to make the 2nd part of my loom knitted bag video today and realised I'd made a fatal error in part 1. This has resulted in me having to delete the whole thing and start again. Bummer. I will start again ...soon. However, I've been lured away by crochet (which I prefer anyway) and have started a sweater pattern I found in one of my crochet books.

I also had a quick look on Pinterest for new patterns and, whilst doing so, found some ...ahem...interesting garments.

Folks were clearly big on crochet in the 1970's ..... behold.... horrors...bwahahahahaha!

What?! No.
"Come on sweetie, how about you and I go out in matching mummy and daughter, completely see-through frocks. Wouldn't that be super?!" Oh yeah, let's show off our pants to the world.

 

...and Tim could really rock this cool and groovy look. Totally. Including the shirt ....especially the shirt...

...and as for this ....what on bloody earth?! I know this was the 1970's but did people really wear this sort of stuff? Really? REALLY?!

Posted by Sarah at 7:35 PM [Permalink]
Categories: Crafts
Comments [ 0 ]

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Christmas Cake Part 1

Our firework night last night was lovely. I didn't think it was going to be as it rained heavily all day and blew a gale! By about 6.00 in the evening it had miraculously settled down into the perfect evening - misty, cold, still and un-rainy!

Aww!

 

Anyway, inbetween the rockets and sparklers and hot dogs and mulled wine and Dr Who, I got my Christmas cake stuff sorted.

This really has to be made at the end of October/beginning of November to give it plenty of time to mature properly. It's split into 2 parts and the first part is done the night before you want to make the actual cake so plan ahead! (hence the reason I'm splitting this in 2 parts - to draw attention to it!)

You take your .....

currants, sultanas, raisins, cherries, mixed peel and orange/lemon zest and put them into a bowl. To this you add your 3 tablespoons of brandy and mix the whole lot together really well. It's best to abandon the spoon and go in with your hands to ensure all the fruit is mixed and coated with brandy. Cover with a clean teatowel and leave overnight.

Beautiful colours

 

Thoroughly mixed with the brandy

 

Part 2 coming up!

Posted by Sarah at 8:40 AM [Permalink]
Categories: At Home, Cooking
Comments [ 0 ]

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Thursday, November 06, 2014

Bring it on

The time approaches. Christmas cake time. Gulp. Every year I look forward to doing this but every year I get mega stressed worrying that it's not going to turn out right. All those ingredients wasted. All that cooking time. Gulp.

The results are usually lovely though :) This was from a couple of years back.

 

It is my custom to mix and soak the fruit (part 1 of the making process) on the night we have our fireworks which, this year, is this coming Saturday. This way my brain is nicely fogged with mulled wine and the whole thing doesn't seem so scary. Haha! Seriously though, it's a nice tradition.

So, you want to have a go? Ok, here are the ingredients - part 1 coming up at the weekend....

450g currants
175g sultanas
175g raisins
50g glace cherries (rinsed and finely chopped)
50g mixed peel
3 tablespoons brandy
225g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
225g unsalted butter
225g soft brown sugar (I use dark but you can use light if you want, it's your call)
4 eggs
50g chopped almonds
1 dessertspoon black treacle
zest of 1 orange
zest of 1 lemon
You will also need an 20cm round or 18cm square cake tin, greased and lined with baking paper.
Posted by Sarah at 11:10 AM [Permalink]
Categories: Cooking
Comments [ 0 ]

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