Family Life

Show stoppers

Posted in Family Life on September 9th, 2009 by admin – Be the first to comment

Well, we entered the Monk Sherborne show a few weeks back. Adult categories entered included white potatoes, onions, chocolate cake baked by a man (yes a man!), shortbread and scones. James entered a potato print picture, tray garden and vase of flowers. Amazingly I won a second prize for the onions and James was the family star winning first for his tray garden and two thirds for his potato print picture and vase of flowers.

The shortbread recipe was a winner, however I cut my circle into eight rather than six as required on the judging schedule. At risk of losing the winning recipe, here is a copy for reference next time:

Women’s Institute recipe

225g (8oz) softened butter
115g (4oz) icing sugar
225g (8oz) plain or SR flour
115g (4oz) cornflour
caster sugar to dredge

Cream butter and sugar, then blend in flour and cornflour. Grease a swiss roll tin and press mixture in firmly. Bake at 150 degrees c (fan oven) for 40-50 mins until golden in colour. Leave to cool in the tray for 10 mins and dredge with caster sugar. Cut into fingers and put on wire rack to cool totally. About half this recipe was sufficient to make a round of shortbread.

I made my biscuit in the round by rolling the dough to about 1cm thick and cutting around it using a small plate. I rolled it directly onto the baking tray as this gave the neatest finish. I then used the end of a spoon to indent a pattern around the edge, scored the segments and pricked a pattern using a fork. The only problem is that it was difficult to remove the shortbread from the baking tray even when well greased. Next time I may try silicon paper instead.

Monk Sherborne Show

Feathered Friends

Posted in Family Life on April 30th, 2009 by admin – 1 Comment

The blue tits in our bird box have put on a fantastic display for Birdycam. After their industrious feathering of the nest, they settled down to lay ten eggs and are now incubating the eggs that should be due to hatch within the next week or so.

Nesting Bluetits
Brooding Bluetits
Bluetits Eggs
Roosting Bluetits

Birdycam is go

Posted in Family Life on April 23rd, 2009 by admin – Be the first to comment

A while back I wrote about the bird box camera that I bought as a Christmas present. Well, the box has been installed in our pear tree for the last few months awaiting any passing birds that wanted to make home there. A couple of weeks ago we decided that it was time to turn the camera on – more to check that the camera was working – and to our surprise we saw the beginnings of a nest being built. It soon became clear that there were bluetits coming and going. We’re not quite sure what was going on to start with as it seemed that one of the birds was intent on removing nesting material from the box rather than feathering the nest. Maybe this was a rival bird or an overly fussy Mummy bird!

Once the nest was mostly built we saw that three eggs had been laid. The Mummy bird seems to spend the night in the box, with her head tucked under her wing and occassionally wriggling to pream herself. A good week or so after the first batch of three eggs we were suprised to turn the camera on and see a total of ten eggs! The nest looked different this time. Definitely more feather lined and the eggs had clearly been moved and turned in their soft, fluffy surroundings. We now awake the chicks that should make their appearance within the next week or so.

We’re going on an Easter Egg hunt

Posted in Family Life on April 1st, 2009 by admin – Be the first to comment

James and Alice went for a walk in Morgaston Woods today with the toddler group. It seems as though the Easter bunny had been hopping around in the woods before they got there and left lots of chocolate treats and eggs beneath the trees. Anything involving chocolate seems to be the highlight on James’s week (I wonder where he gets that tendency from).

Easter Egg Hunt, Morgaston Woods

Footprints in the past, Footsteps in the future

Posted in Family Life on March 27th, 2009 by admin – Be the first to comment

Alice has finally managed her first few steps this week at just over 15 months old. She showed promising signs of being an early walker before Christmas but has been content to hotch around ever since. This week she has found her feet. She is also showing a very early interest in shoes – maybe she’s destined to flex Daddy’s plastic in the future!

Her words and understanding are also coming along. In Alicese, her language includes:
“dudda” = anthing to do with feet including shoes, socks and toes
“daddy” = daddy
“mamma” = anything to do with the mouth including me, food, drink and toothbrushes
“dacta” = anything outside including ride on tractor, fire engine, swing and slide
“mwah” = more of a sound really to cover anything that she wants to kiss
“doggie” = any animal including, dogs cats and anything that moves in a wildlife program
“birdie” = birds

That’s all of the essentials really to cover nurturing and entertainment. I’m sure the words will flow thick and fast over the next few months.

I lurve books

Posted in Family Life on February 27th, 2009 by admin – Be the first to comment

I just had to include this one of Alice at the town library. This was taken shortly after the library opened on a Sunday morning. We were one of the first people to be there and it was really quiet. As soon as I took Alice out of her pushchair she scampered over to the ladybird cushions that you can see in the background, climbed on top and started bouncing!

Alice @ Town Library

Fluffy Felt

Posted in Family Life on January 31st, 2009 by admin – Be the first to comment

James has developed a strong appetite for all things creative. We spent nearly £10 on craft materials last weekend and he spent the subsequent week cutting and sticking. It could turn into an expensive hobby at this rate. He has made all manner of pictures from cut out pieces of cardboard so I decided it was time that we moved on to a new craft. Having bought an armful of rainbow coloured merino wool tops we decided to try our hand at felt making. James was quick to follow instructions and was soon perfectly laying down the wool ready for the fun bit of squashing it and turning it into felt. Our first attempt was a nice thick piece of felt that was still a tiny bit too fluffy in the middle. The second time we produced a much more delicate piece of felt which was a little too thin. In ‘three bears’ style, I’m sure the next attempt will be just right!!

James making spearmint and turquoise felt

James making spearmint and turquoise felt

All birds welcome

Posted in Family Life on January 19th, 2009 by admin – 1 Comment

Daddy’s Christmas present this time included a bird box camera. I resisted the temptation to buy a ready made kit and instead opted for a package that included the camera and wiring, but required the box to be made. Daddy has spent the last week or so constructing a luxury home for our birds to live in. James chose the paint for the outside and we now have a lovely inviting home for our feathered friends. It will eventually reside on our pear tree and hopefully will be able to have a few months weathering before nesting season.

Bird Box with HandyKam

Bird Box with HandyKam

Nearly walking

Posted in Family Life on January 15th, 2009 by admin – Be the first to comment

Alice has spent the last couple of weeks eagerly wanting to spend more and moe time on her feet. There is clearly a sense of achievement as she drags herself up from around your ankles to your knees and indicates that she wants you to hold her hands as she walks back and forth through the house. Last night she advanced from holding two hands to walk along to just needing one. She also delights each evening in quickly scampering upstairs whilst James is in bed to spend some time amusing him.

He’s my brother!

Posted in Family Life on January 11th, 2009 by admin – Be the first to comment

As it turns out, George isn’t just a special friend, he’s James’s new brother. Apparently he was born just a few days ago complete with tummy button, two eyes, a forehead and a mouth. You may wonder how George was actually born – James is adament that he came out of his tummy via a hole at the top of his left leg.

I feel like a bad parent having left George at home this morning whilst we went swimming. George now has a special place next to James in bed. I think that the space between fiction and reality is becoming a little blurred!!

Alice meanwhile is never happier than when she is making the biggest possible mess. Take breakfast this morning for instance, she thought muesli and yogurt would make a great hair conditioner.

Alice makes a mess!