Monday, 23 April 2012

Flower, flowers everywhere but not a drop to drink

My husband is a great gardener, he sees nothing in hard landscaping on a mere whim. Me however, well I am always thinking I might get it wrong, choose the wrong flowers that don't go together, not put the right soil with the right plants or buy something that's going to grow to big, the list goes on........

However I woke up on Saturday and decided that I would do some planting this spring. I told Mr T-C and thought the boys and I would have a little project this week.

Sunday came and I was woken up at 8am by Mr T-C saying that pancakes were ready and shall we go to the local plant nursery later to get some plants for me, cue smiling Natalie

We all jumped in the truck and made our way there. I picked the flowers I thought were pretty.

While I was choosing the boys ran round and then helped us load our new treasures

I was so surprised at the prices, not expensive at all. Mr T-C said that plant nurseries are much better than garden centres, have a look for your local one here

While I made lunch the boys brought the flowers down and I was then given a bit of tutorial by my husband on how to make a hanging basket. He runs his own aquatic landscaping business this is what he told me to do which I followed to the letter

Get yourself a basket, we had ours from years ago which we found at the back of the shed, you can pick them up second hand from car boots too

Line with a hanging basket liner (we bought ours from the nursery at £1.50 each)

I put some old pond liner in the bottom to stop the water just running through, if like most normal people you don't have old pond liner hanging around just use a black bin bag, cut a couple of small holes in the bottom so the water does not sit and go stagnant

Fill the basket with a 50/50 mix of mud (I was corrected, it's called soil!) from your garden and multi-purpose compost. Quill our little Jack Russell sat and watched me for ages, bless him.

I arranged the flowers on top of the soil to check they would look nice and then simply planted them in.

The boys and Mr T-C then found lots of other containers we had, once started I just went with it.

The boys found their watering cans and loved filling them up and pouring the cool rain water over mummies new creations.

Once they were in bed I went out with a cup of tea to inspect my work, I felt a real sense of achievement and happiness which is a feeling I am slowly getting used to after a fraught year.
Today was a good day, we even managed to accessorise the hanging baskets with some old necklaces.

Take care, Natalie xx

Thursday, 19 April 2012

mess, mess, Eton Mess

I have been going to the Hampshire New Forest Show since I was a little girl. My aunt used to take my sister and me every summer. We would sneak into the member enclosure to sit for hours watching the horse trials

the scurry
and the infamous Shetland grand national

Nowadays I am an annual member so no sneaking in anymore!

My favourite parts of the 3 day show I notice are changing over the years. In the past I loved the Citroen in fashion shows, then the craft tents but of recent years I have fallen in love with the steam engines and vintage tractors, well my boys first and now I have learned to love watching the stream engines cut wood and see all the different kinds of tractors go past, the smell of oil and the feel of the hot misty steam always makes me feel happy now.

My other favourite part of the show is the local New Forest food area, my two sons, A and J humour me and I bribe them with free tasters of Isle of White garlic relish, fresh cheese, watercress scones and what we found this year, make your own Eton mess.....

Now we have taken this idea and gone with it in a major way. As soon as the first few fresh red fruits come in the boys ask me daily if they can make their pudding. This is what we do:
You'll need:

1 plastic bowl
1 Potato masher
1 spatula

Take a handful of strawberries, raspberries and blueberries

Get you little one or fun loving adult to mash, bash, squash and squeeze (Asa's words)

Crumble in your home made or good shop bought meringue and again mash

Pour in some yogurt !?!?!? My boys think they have cream in their Eton Mess, I have to confess....... they have Rachel's organic yogurt! My husband says one day I am going to have to come clean but for now it will stay as "magic cream")

Stir with the spatula and pour into bowl. My boys love to have some chocolate sprinkles which are normally cake sprinkles, I let them have this!

Not the most beautiful Eton mess ever however any little one making their own pudding will devour it

Take Care, Natalie xx

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Chocolate milk cake is alright, alright x

Well it's 7:09am on Tuesday and i've been up for over an hour with the lads. They are watching Gnomio and Juliet, so i'm taking this opportunity of quiet time to talk about my fabulous chocolate milk cake

After making lots of chocolate sponges which quite frankly can be a bit too dry for my liking, a Victoria Sandwich - great but I want my chocolate cakes to be moist, a little chocolate brownie esk and not too sweet.

 This recipe was completly inspired but the delightful Nigella Lawson, her chocolate guniness cake is a winner and I would recomend making it whenever you have a man you want to swoon. I now generally use it as a "i'm sorry and can we make up" peace offering to hubby.

I wanted to make a similar one for my children so I have tweaked the recipe slightly and voila, Chocolate Milk Cake was born

I hope you enjoy making and baking it, it is also a great gift when visiting friends, I made one recently for Laura who is one half of Nible Fingers and Steady Eye Brows



  • 250ml(9loz) semi-skimmed or full fat milk

  • 250g (9oz) unsalted butter

  • 80g (3oz) cocoa powder

  • 350g (14oz) caster sugar

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

  • 140ml (5fl oz) buttermilk

  • 280g (10oz) plain flour

  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

  • ½ tsp baking powder

  • 50g (1¾oz) unsalted butter, softened

  • one 23cm (9in) diameter spring-form cake tin

  • (I would recomend buying a good quality one which will last you a lifetime if looked after)


    3-4 tbs good quality seedless raspberry jam (I use tiptree)
    A selection of strawverries, raspberries and blueberries

    1. Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F)/gas mark 3, then line the base of the tin with baking parchment.

    2. Pour the milk into a saucepan, add the butter and gently heat until it has melted. Remove the pan from the heat and stir the cocoa powder and sugar into the warm liquid. Mix together the eggs, vanilla essence and buttermilk by hand in a jug or bowl, and then add this to the mixture in the pan.

    3. Sift together the remaining sponge ingredients into a large bowl or into the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer. Using the mixer with the paddle attachment or a hand-held electric whisk, set on a low speed, pour in the contents of the pan. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and continue to mix thoroughly until all the ingredients are incorporated.

    4. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for approximately 45 minutes or until the sponge bounces back when lightly pressed and a skewer inserted into the middle come out with a liottle of the mixture on it as this will mean it is slightly sticky inside. Set aside to cool, and then remove from the tin on to a wire rack.

    5. When the cake is still warn spread opver the raspberry jam and arrange your fruits. Now all you need to do is cut and enjoy with a nice cuppa

    If you have any questions on this ior any other of my recipes please get in touch

    Take care, Natalie xx


    Sunday, 8 April 2012

    Crafting in the bahroom...

    My bathroom cabinet has been annoying me for some time, silly I must admit but there it is. I bought it 5 years ago from a second hand shop as a plate holder. Once we finished renovating our cottage we realised we had no room for it in the kitchen. I bashed out (I like to bash!) the plate holders and turned it upside down. It has been residing in my bathroom ever since but has never looked quite "finished"

    We have a great shop in Wotton Under Edge called Paper & Cotton, I got my inspiration from Belinda Downs who owns it.

    I popped into my local charity shop and hunted a while in the book section, I found 2 books, both for the princely some of 50p each. One a 1958 Robin Hood book and the other a 1960 book on flowers.

    I then a little hesitantly ripped out all the pages I liked, no too many pictures and not too much text.

    Once I'd lined them up against the back of the unit to make sure they fit I trimmed the edges. I made up a mix of 50/50 pva and water. I then used a paint brush to essentially wallpaper them to the unit gluing them on the back, putting the sheet up on the wood then gluing it in place.

    I found a few air bubbles came up so just ensure you push them out with either your fingers or your paint brush

    I now love my bathroom upside down, old plate holder cabinet, I am defiantly a bit fickle!

    All finished

    Take Care, Natalie xx

    Thursday, 5 April 2012

    Talking Trees

    I spent today with my little men, A who is 4 and J who is 2. They are so innocent and forgiving but also drive me crazy. For the first few years of being a Mum I constantly felt guilty for the things I was not doing, now I focus on what makes us all happy and being here for them as much as I can.

    I try to do these things everyday, some days are better than others:

    1. Not to worry about how dirty they get, it's not like the washing machine is not on already most of the day!

    2. Enjoy something for myself everyday, today it was a beautiful view

    3. Let them really enjoy their treats, today gingerbread men

    4. Read to them

    5. Forgive and forget. No matter what has happened this ickle sprat's (J's nickname) face means I melt in a second

    6. Let them be themselves. I would love J to not have so many tantrums and for A to actually listen but I suppose they would like me to stop insisting they eat all their string beans before having more chicken! Today talking trees and dens

    Take care
    Natalie x

    Talking Trees

    I spent today with my boys, A who is 4 and J who is 2. They are so innocent and forgiving and so everyday I tru and be a better Mum for them. Here are some of the things I try to do:

    1. Not worry how dirty they get even though it seems I have the wadhing machine of constantly
    Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...