Friday 31 May 2013

goodbye may

May was a slow starter with cold breezy gusts and plentiful rain, but thankfully the weather improved towards the end of the month. We were treated to a few days of actual, bona fide sunshine and what a difference the warmth made to the garden.

I could almost hear the plants breathe a sigh of relief as their buds became blossoms. I have managed to find purple, yellow, red, lilac, pink and white blooms. Almost a rainbow.

I couldn't resist including a dandelion clock. They are so beautiful.

I'm hoping the sun will continue to shine in June and that the garden will produce some more beauties. If the beautiful red sky we have tonight is anything to go by, maybe I might just get my wish.

Linking up with karin a fotografi.

Thursday 30 May 2013

pin it forward uk

A little while ago I was invited by pinterest to take part in the #PinItForwardUK campaign. 300 bloggers in the UK would be introducing pinterest to the UK and spreading the word.

I feel inclined to start with a warning. I think it's only fair. pinterest is utterly addictive. I have been a dedicated pinner for a long time now and I love it. It provides me with hours of fun and is the perfect place to store and manage all the things found online which inspire or simply amuse.

I realise I am probably preaching to the converted but for those who haven't joined the party, I will share why I love pinning.

pinterest is a virtual pinboard which makes it really easy to keep track of inspirational links found through the internet. Simply pin an image to one of your pinboards. Gone are the days of frantically searching for that illusive tutorial, perfect fabric, gorgeous home, delicious recipe or dream holiday destination.

You can easily organise your pins using individual boards.  I pin recipes to my Food Glorious Food board, beautiful homes to my Home Inspiration board and tutorials to my favourite board Crafty.  It is really great to have easy access to ideas when I want to make something.

pinterest also allows you to find and follow other lovely pinners. Another great source of new inspiration. If you are interested in joining you can register with pinterest here.

I am pleased to introduce Annaboo's House who will be sharing her pinterest experience tomorrow. Pop over and visit.

Happy pinning.

Wednesday 29 May 2013

52 weeks of happy (34/52)

Hold on to your seats for a whirlwind 52 weeks of happy today. The sun is beaming and I am not missing one single second of it. I am determined to stock up on all the vitamin d I can.

So my four simple happy things for this week. Almost cloudless skies, although I do love a wispy cotton wool cloud.

Hedgerows full of cow parsley, blossom on the apple tree and sunshine. Bright, shiny, happy sunshine. I'm off out to soak it up.

Wishing you all sunshine and cloudless skies. 

Saturday 25 May 2013

granny's soda bread

Anyone fancy a little bread-making this weekend. Why not try soda bread. It's so easy and delicious.

Soda bread is actually known as fadge where I come from and is basically a homemade bread resembling a large scone with a cross cut in the top.

I grew up eating this bread baked fresh every day. My favourite accompaniment was stewed rhubarb although butter with a sprinkle of sugar came a close second.

My granny was the queen of soda bread and kindly passed her recipe on to me. I have a long way to go to be as deft at making it as she was but practice makes perfect.

Granny was a little old school when it came to baking and used pretty random methods for quantifying ingredients. This was the original recipe she gave me and the cup and bowl she used for measuring.

I have weighed and measured to give you actual amounts.  There are only three ingredients.

400g self raising flour
300ml buttermilk
1 large egg

Preheat your oven to 165 degrees.

Add the flour to a large mixing bowl. You can sieve the flour to add air but granny didn't bother. She had a light touch. I'll leave it up to you.

Add the egg to the buttermilk and whisk.

Make a little well in the centre of the flour and add most of the buttermilk and egg mixture, about three quarters.

With your hand in a claw shape, fingers slightly bent and spaced out, gently mix until the dough comes together. Add extra buttermilk until you have a good consistency. The dough will be soft and not sticky. Not too wet or too dry and will hold together well in the bowl.

Sprinkle flour on your work surface and turn the bread out. Gently work the dough, bringing it together into a round cake shape. Soda bread is not a yeast bread and should not be kneaded roughly as it will become heavy and tough.

Put the bread on a baking tray and cut a deep cross into the top. This helps the bread cook through.

Bake in the oven for about 45-50 minutes. You will know the bread is ready when it has a golden crust and makes a hollow sound when tapped underneath.

Leave to cool on a wire rack and enjoy anytime. Soda bread is best eaten on the day it is made but will toast or fry well the day after.

Soda bread can be flavoured. All sorts of things make it more interesting. Some raisins or sultanas, cheese, bacon, herbs. The possibilities are endless.

To make a brown soda, simply use half wholemeal and half self raising flour.

If you have a go, happy bread-making.

Monday 20 May 2013

52 weeks of happy (33/52)

I want to say a big thank you to Jen this week for starting 52 weeks of happy.

In answer to your recent ponderings Jen, there are times when I struggle to find happies that are new and exciting but I have realised that even though the simple things which bring me happiness are often similar, recording them here makes me appreciate them more.

Our two boys, as thick as thieves really enjoying each others company.

A wildflower posy gathered on a lakeside walk.

My first origami crane, it might be the first of many. I loved figuring it out.

Happy mail. A parcel from the lovely Jane from teawagontales. The best kind of post.

So that's it for this week. I wonder what next week will bring.

Thanks so much for reading and for your lovely comments.

Wednesday 15 May 2013

52 weeks of happy (32/52)

52 weeks of happy. Week 32, four simple happy things making me happy this week.

Beautiful bluebells, so pretty.

Enjoying our little escape away. It was a real treat to spend time together not following routines or timetables. It makes me really happy to go with the flow.

Reading Flow magazine. It's full of happy things.

Baking soda bread using my granny's recipe. She made the most amazing bread. I need more practice.

Simple happies again this week. Thanks to Jen for reminding me to stop and remember the little things that float my boat.

Hope you all have a happy week.

Sunday 12 May 2013


We've returned. Back from our mini spring break. We had a really great time, playing in the sunshine and dodging showers.

We went to Strangford in County Down and stayed in the lovely Number 42, a proper home from home.

Strangford is a little village on the mouth of Strangford Lough. There is a small harbour, overlooked by rows of chocolate box cottages and a lovely georgian terrace.

We made the most of every ray of sunshine and visited some local National Trust properties. Mount Stewart was particularly gorgeous. The plants were covered with beautiful blooms. The bluebells were abundant and we visited a swan sitting on eight eggs in her nest on the lake shore.

We enjoyed a sunny afternoon in Newcastle, walking along the seafront, letting off steam in the playground and finishing up with strawberry milkshake for the littles and coffee and lemon drizzle cake for us.

We hoped to drive along the Mourne Coastal Route but were forced back by the pelting rain.

So plans were changed. We visited W5. It really is a great place to enjoy on a wet day. The boys had lots of fun in a science workshop about slime. They even learned how to make their own. Fun for the school holidays.

We visited a great garden centre and bought a few more vegetable plants for the garden. Pickleaf lettuce, mangetout and swiss chard. I am really looking forward to eating some home grown veggies.

Strangford was a lot of fun. Far enough from home to feel like a proper break but only a two hour car journey. Really important when travelling with wee ones. There are only so many times you want to hear 'are we there yet?'

Hope you all had a lovely week and are enjoying the rest of the weekend.

Monday 6 May 2013

52 weeks of happy (31/52)

Joining in as ever with the lovely Jen at little birdie, here are my four simple happy things for this week.

Spending the long weekend at home, gardening, planting the vegetable beds and enjoying some sunshine between showers.

Gorgeous blossom in the garden. Blackthorn and a new addition called The Bride. I love the simplicity of white blooms. 

Going to the cinema to see a film. It was the little fairy's first time and she loved it. We don't go often so it always feels like a special treat and i loved seeing Paperman which won the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film. A lovely story with beautiful animation.

Ironing. I know, not what you might expect, but i was ironing and packing for our little jaunt to the coast. We head off tomorrow. There is a lot of excitement in our house tonight.

So I will be disappearing for the next few days but am looking forward to catching up when we get back.

I hope you enjoyed the weekend. Thanks for the advice and lovely comments about my rabbit. I will let you see, when I get it framed.

Friday 3 May 2013

rabbiting on

Hundreds of little stitches became, a cross stitch rabbit. Or maybe a hare. I love hares. A few visit our garden to play in the early mornings.

They aren't always the most welcome visitors as they feast on new plants and vegetables, but thankfully these are an obliging bunch and leave well alone.

Anyway, I digress. Back to the rabbit. I found this lovely pattern on pinterest designed by hancock's house of happy. It was a pleasure to complete and was thoroughly addictive.

I chose different colours and used two strands of embroidery thread on 14ct aida.

I wanted the finished piece to be larger than the original pattern so i scaled up. Each square on the pattern became four, one wider and one taller so the pattern grew to scale. The finished rabbit is 19cm by 22cm.

I'm going to have it framed but need a little advice. How do I iron it to remove the creases without damaging the stitches. To steam or not to steam?

Any tips from you crafty souls would be greatly appreciated.
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