Monday, 29 July 2013

The power of blog and chocolate cake

As you may have guessed by now I really enjoy blogging and reading other people's blogs ! Sometimes it gets squeezed out in the hurle burly of life , especially as I know a quick five minute catch-up can turn into a couple of hours.
This week I am enjoying blogging as Pickle-Lily is away at Guide Camp and they have set up a blog for families to follow. I checked it to see if they had got there safely - they had, of course , and I'm enjoying the pictures and reading the girls posts. I am not a worrying mum, P has been to camp on many occasions and I know she will be safe, happy and well cared for, but it's good to see her enjoying herself, and have an idea of what she may be talking about on her return!
I also used a blog to create Mr P-L's birthday cake last week.
Happy Birthday!

The idea came from the Crafty Ribbons blog - using the basic chocolate madeira cake recipe below.

You need - for the chocolate cake
250g caster sugar
250g soft margarine
4 eggs
2 tablespoons of milk
260g self-raising flour
40g cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder

To make
1. Cream the margarine and sugar together until light and fluffy.
2. Mix the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder in alternate batches with the eggs and milk.
This means I stir in about quarter of the dry ingredients then an egg, then another quarter, then another egg and so on until it's all mixed together.
3. Put in a lined 8" cake tin and bake at 140C (Fan) for about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
4. Cool.

To decorate
Pickle-Lily then mixed up a batch of chocolate butter cream, I can't give you the ingredients as she does this by taste, to spread on the top and side. We thought the Crafty Ribbons idea of kit-kats were better for an adult, so it took 18 of the two fingered kit-kats to go round the cake and four tubes of smarties on top. All held together with a ribbon we found.

I'm hoping I'm not too late to join in Handmade Monday - then it is just the case of throwing teenage son off the computer to visit the other blogs!

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

The Wild Place

Can I reach this...
For many, many years we had a family membership to Bristol Zoo Gardens , which is a super place for families and younger children to visit. In fact we've managed to continue visiting it as a student and as a teacher,  we decided to let our membership lapse as Master Pickle is now 15 and far too much a teenager for these places. On Monday the first section of the Wild Place opened, this is an off shoot from the zoo, aiming to be a huge wildlife park eventually, and today Pickle-Lily and I visited it. It's not terribly huge at the moment, but we had a lovely morning wandering around.

It is a few minutes from the M5 and a huge shopping mall but we felt like we were in the middle of the countryside.
We met the zebras and walked through a fabulous lemur enclosure with some extremely cute babies.

Are you looking at me?

We also took off our socks and shoes and trod the barefoot trail - it included stones, slates, hay, sand, mud (very cool) and crushed grass.
Such fun!

As I've already said the Wild Place isn't terribly big at the moment, but we spent a couple of happy hours there. P is already talking about going back when more is added and it seems to be the next stage from the zoo itself. It could do with better signage, so look it up first if you're planning to head that way and it isn't particularly buggy / wheelchair friendly as the paths are compacted hard core. All the staff we met were very friendly and helpful and were asking us for feedback and Pickle-Lily loved the very reasonable archery.
 P.S. After I wrote the original post P said to me, before she went to bed, that it was an amazing day and how do I go better for the rest of the summer? Better get my thinking hat on!

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Pass the Spotty Box ....

box around,
box around.
Pass the spotty box around.
Who ...
will ...
(to the tune 'London Bridge is falling down'.)
and inside?
All last week, when it has been very hot and sweaty we have been outside doing the sock trail. This has kept little people (and some adults) occupied without getting hot and bothered.
Using old school socks (clean ones!!!!) I created a guessing game.
Each sock had a simple numbered label sewn on, but it doesn't have to be a sewn one, and inside is a mystery object. The children have to work out what the objects are by feeling them, although some smelling was also observed! I did sew the object into the sock to stop cheating! Pegged out on a line under the trees in the shade it was great activity.
To give you some ideas, this is what is inside the socks.
Key ring, pencil, Blutac. hair clip, battery, medicine spoon, toy dinosaur, bottle of nail varnish, tea light candle (they come up with all sorts of answers for this one - my favourite is a monster with no arms and legs!), cotton bud, bottle top, bouncy ball, elastic band (this one is usually thought to be empty - I like being mean!), 2p coin, whistle, 5p coin, marble and polystyrene packaging. You can probably think of lots more.
I'm joining in with Handmade Monday this week, as the summer holidays start on Wednesday, so hopefully I can go blog visiting as I've missed seeing what everyone else is up to.

Monday, 15 July 2013

The Secret Garden Gala

The folly
Last Saturday we were at the Secret Garden Gala, it was being held by the Sue Ryder Charity in Clifton, Bristol. Walking through a very ordinary looking door located in the middle of a city street took you to an amazing garden.
I have to say it felt like I was in an episode of Mr Benn!

The canal
Pickle-Lily and I were at Goldney Hall in Bristol. There was a tower, a mock canal full of damsel flies, dragon flies, water lilies and fish, statues and sculptures and then ....

We went down some steps ....
Into the grotto

Where the river god waited for us in the cool depths
Among thousands of shells and fossils
A truly fantastic place on a very, very hot day! If you ever get the chance to visit, go!
In the gardens there was singing and ballet and some beautiful stalls...
Cute little penguins and guinea pigs made by Victoria (sadly no link to post here)
This beautiful stall from Betty Brixham full of quirky prints on a super display.
Sadly P and I had to go home at about half past three as we could stand the heat no longer, but we did leave Eric behind!

Friday, 5 July 2013

cats, cobras, coyotes and cockroaches

I really like the black and coral colour combination
Yesterday as we were in the car on the way to school, Pickle-Lily commented that I hadn't done an alphabet blog post for a long while and what was I going to do next? We decide that 'c' was the next letter and as she was going to Bristol Zoo that day with school, she would look for animals beginning with 'c'. So we thought of a few to begin with, and came up with cats, cobras, coyotes and cockroaches! Not your usual sort of list! (On the way home we thought of loads more, but decided to keep to the original list!)
For cats, I thought I'd share the newest cat key ring I'm making. I still like my old design, but it wasn't really practical as a key ring as the tail got bent, it still works well as applique design.
Cobras are harder, so I googled 'felt cobra', then 'knitted cobra' and finally 'felt snake'. What it came up with surprised me - but in a good way!

This is a button snake, made from a long piece of ribbon, with buttons at either end. You then thread the button through the felt shapes to develop fine motor skills. There is a great tutorial here. I will have to put this idea on the summer holiday to do list, but I can think of lots of children who would enjoy playing with one of these.
Coyotes I think I will have to think about and return to!
Cockroaches - see my post here !