Friday 31 August 2018

Ducks, Picnics and Fairys

Today we've spent time with some of our dearest friends and their children. 
We went for a nice walk around Leigh Park Gardens followed by a picnic together.

We fed ducks, climbed trees, hunted for bugs and rocks, played hide and seek in the woods and generally let the kids run a little bit mad in nature. 
"Kids in their natural environment", commented DH as we watched them all scramble up trees and play pooh-sticks on the little wooden bridges.

Once everyone was nicely tired out and slightly grass stained and muddy, we slowed things down with a visit to Keydells Enchanted Fairy Walk. It was beautifully done with fairy lights and gently sparkly music as you walked through discovering all the little secrets and surprises. 
Each year they do a walk at halloween and Christmas but this is the first Summer they have decided to run one.
At the end you can choose to add a donation for the walk, they are usually split between the local neonatal unit and children's wards.
We happily popped in a few pounds.
By the time we got home the children we're just awake enough for a quick dinner before popping into bed. 

X x X

Thursday 30 August 2018

Baking and crafting

Baked goods don't seem to last more than a few hours during the school holidays. If they do it's a sign something is wrong in the household. 
This morning while the children played with water in the garden, I made a quick batch of cherry shortbread. I was planning to make star shaped ones but found the chick cookie cutter first and thought why not.

However... I thought I was being clever by hiding them in the microwave to cool. Nope. Gman was straight over with a dining chair the second I turned my back. He happily polished of 8 chicks before I caught him. Even if he did put his hands over his eyes so I couldn't see him 😂.

This afternoon I find myself with 4 tired children who just want to curl up under blankets and watch tv shows on their tablets. So I'm enjoying the peace and working on a pretty caramel coloured baby blanket. 

X x X

Tuesday 28 August 2018

Tiny pricks!

DD2 Quote of The Day;

"Mum! They're growing tiny pricks!"


Saturday 25 August 2018

Horses, Apples and Cacti, Oh my!

Yesterday my very clever hubby surprised us with tickeys to see Spirit of the Horse at Broadlands. It's the first time in 10 years they have toured the UK and there was quite a bit of local buzz and excitement about it. 
The show however was a little bit "meh!". It started 30 minutes later than stated so by the time we reached the interval the two smallest were fast asleep and DD2 looking very droopy eyed. 
Rather than focus on the horses it was more of a circus with horses randomly wandering around during the acts. They didnt seem to add a lot to the show. The Cossack riders were amazing though.
We didnt get home till midnight! 

Today I finished making some apple and chilli jelly. We've just tested some on a pile of cheese and crackers. A resounding success with all the smalls. It felt wonderful to be eating homemade preserves again and the lettuce leaves were homegrown too!

I've also peeked at my baby cacti to find they are exploding into life happily. Between the two batches we have about 20+ plants so far. They are appear to be the same type but that might just be how they all look in the beginning.  I've no idea, I'm just happy they've started to grow. I will keep you updated on their progress.

X x X

Thursday 23 August 2018

Baby D turns 6!

My sweet Baby D turned 6 yesterday. We spent the day at the Zoo with a picnic of all her favourite treats. Then of course came home for cake and candles.
It reminds me that God is good and just how far DD2 has come since her illness.
She is a joy and a blessing and a pest and a menace all wrapped up in one miraculous parcel and we wouldn't have her any other way!

Today has been spent in the kitchen, processing a huge bag of cooking apples we were gifted. We've also found a good source of blackberries almost on our doorstep. 
12 blackberry and apple crumbles are now happily sat in the freezer for hungry tummies on chilly evenings. Tomorrow I'm planning an experimental  apple and chilli jelly.
 Although the weather is still reasonably warm I'm starting to feel the squirrelling urges resurface. I want to make preserves and supplies ready for winter weather. It's harder this year as the garden is only producing chilli's and lettuce currently but thats just because we're starting afresh. 

X x X

Wednesday 15 August 2018

Cactus cooking

Yesterday was DH's birthday. We had a lovely meal at a local Pizza hut and then a little wander around some nearby shops. One of which was a rather random discount store that seemed to stock the oddest things! One of the things we found were these sweet little cactus growing kits for £1 each. DH kindly bought 2 packs so the children could do a set and I could do a 'proper' set. 

I popped open one of the kits last night so i could read the instruction leaflet. First we needed to soak the compost pellets in some water overnight until they had expanded enough to use. I figured the children wouldn't have the patience for that to happen so I popped all 8 pellets into an old plastic trifle tub to soak overnight.
This morning I gave them a good stir and added a drop more water. I left them safely on top of the microwave so the children wouldn't spot it or knock it over.

DH; "That cake mix on the microwave is bloody awful!"

Yup! It would appear that I hadn't also factored in that the compost would need protection from curious Husbands too! 
I haven't the heart to tell him he's been eating compost.
The seeds have now been sown are happily snuggled into a nice warm propagator just in case any else in the house gets peckish.


Monday 13 August 2018

Thomas the Tank engine at the Watercress line

We spent a wonderful day riding trains and investigating train stations yesterday. The weather was a bit grey and drizzly but we managed to avoid any dourpours and 90% of the time we were undercover anyway. 
Baby W spent the day with Nanny being loved on and shown off to neighbours. It would have been a nightmare taking her in and out of the pram constantly, and the stations get extremely busy.
Now we live just 30 minutes drive away we are hoping to try some of their other events like their Christmas train journey complete with Father Christmas!

X x X

Wednesday 8 August 2018

Family photo's and vintage puddings

I'm going to be a proud showing off mum type for a moment and show you all how beautiful the children look in our first full family photo! 
Rest assured someone was in prime baby catching posistion for Baby W! Thankfully they were not needed.

Today's baking was Mrs B's Almond pudding (very rich). My handsome assistant made the puff-paste while I mixed the filling.

Opinions on the finished pudding are quite positive. The filling is light and fluffy rather than custardy. It is extremelly rich so you can only eat it in very small portions.
The recipe suggests 4-5 servings, I'd say at least 10. Victorian portion sizes are ENOURMOUS!

X x X

Friday 3 August 2018

Mrs Beeton's Almond Cheesecakes

Our next recipe to try was for Almond cheesecakes. It took the girls a little while to warm to the idea as they were expecting the cream cheese variety of cheesecake.
I was expecting a more egg-custardy type pie as the filling is very wet going into the oven.

We were however both wrong, though not disappointed! It's pretty much a frangipan! And those Victorians must of had giant sized patty-pans as I made 12 fairsized cakes and had half the mixture left over!

So for my second round I made one large almond cheesecake.
We tried one of the individual cakes each and we all enjoyed them. The centres are beautifully marzipany. I'm looking forward to trying another tomorrow and seeing if the flavours develop more like the almond cake did yesterday.
If I'm right then the pie dish one will be amazing on Sunday when we share it with family and friends!

Our next recipe is a bit tipsy so I'm not sure the smalls will be trying any yet. We'll have to see 

X x X

Wednesday 1 August 2018

Mrs Beeton's Almond Cake

And so the very first recipe was completed! We had everything in stock except enough almonds. The recipe calls for 9oz all together and my very modern bag was only 150gms. It does mean there's left overs for the next recipe though so I was happy to grab more.
Mrs Beeton costs the recipe at 2s 6d which using a converter I found HERE estimates it at £7.83 in todays money. 
When I costed my ingredients using mysupermarket I only came to £3.82 however thats probably due to almonds and lemons being cheaper to import with our fancy modern transportation.
I also chose to use butter rather than margerine just in case it invoked any wrath from Mrs Beetons spirit and her ghost came to wrinkle the linens and curdle the milk!

I baked mine in about 40 minutes at 180° ish however if I made it again I would probably make it into one solid cake rather than layers. 
We all tried a slice for evening desert.
Both DD1&2 Want it again as a birthday cake! Gman licked his plate clean and DH asked for a second slice.
Half the cake has been finished in one sitting so it certainly won't be hanging around for long. 
Definitely a 10/10 success that I will make again.

Next recipe is Almond Cheesecakes!

X x X

P.S - All the recipes are alphabetical so expect a run on almonds locally 😂

Time to hang out with Mrs B


My mum very kindly gifted me this beautiful vintage copy of Mrs Beeton's Domestic Cookery.
The obituary on the back page dates this copy as 1873! 
If only it could talk and tell me where it's been over the past 145 years, which pages have been most read, which recipes most enjoyed and how many housewifely hands have held it.

This morning I pulled on my biggest big girl pants and took all 4 children with me to the local shops, SOLO! We've purchased everything we needed for Mrs B's Almond Cake recipe that wasn't already in the cupboards.
The plan is to bake it together this afternoon.
I may tweak it slightly by making individual cup cakes rather than one large cake but that depends on which tin I unpack first from the box 😂
I will share the results shortly.

X x X