End of the summer holidays

Today was the last day of the holidays, Miss L starts back at school on Monday as a grown up Year One.  Having dreaded the eight weeks of holiday, we’ve actually had a wonderful time and both of us were quite teary this morning at the thought of it ending.  But she’s so looking forward to see her friends and learning ‘Year One Stuff’ that I can’t wait to hear all her tales on Monday afternoon.

I don’t know who’s going to miss her more, me or Betty!

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Easy Pumpkin Pie Recipe

Yes I know I’m British, but I became addicted to Pumpkin Pie when I lived in Canada 10 years ago and it’s one of the few things I can bake really well.  I think that it should be eaten more widely here, so I’m out to convert as many Brits as I can!

Here’s my easy recipe:

You’ll need the following from Waitrose as it’s the only place I’ve found that sell all these bits, but maybe you can get them in your local supermarket?

1 10-12 inch Sweet Pie case

1 Can of Pumpkin (Waitrose is the only place I’ve found this – been looking for years let me know if it’s anywhere else!)

1 Can of Evaporated Milk

3/4 cup of sugar

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves

2 large eggs

Pre-Heat oven at 220c Gas Mark 7 (425f) for 15 minutes while you make the pie

Get a large bowl, add the Pumpkin, Eggs, Evaporated Milk and the spiced and then pour into the Sweet Pie Case.

Reduce the oven to 180c Gas Mark 4 (350f) and then cook for 40-50 minutes (depends on if you have a fan oven or not).  You’re supposed to leave it to cool for 2 hours but ours normally lasts about 30 minutes before we’re adding the cream and eating it 🙂

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Build a Bear

When my daughter was little my husband and I went on a trip to Covent Garden for the weekend and feeling like bad parents we hit the Build a Bear store, so we would’t be empty handed on our return.  As much as she loved ‘Sally Mally’ as she called her gorgeous Pumpkin Bear, she wasn’t that bothered about making another one, she was 3 and happy with her lot.

But this summer she’s a grown up 5 and when she got her Nintendo for our trip to Canada, I bought her the ‘Build a Bear’ game and she loved making bears and having adventures and it kept her quiet on the plane for a whole 6 hours of the 9 hour flight! It’s quite hard to find an appropriate game for small children with the DS but this one seems quite intuitive and she picked it up in no time.

About a week into the Vancouver trip we came across the ‘Build a Bear‘ store in Colquitlam and she saw in the flesh the bear, well Poodle she’d made on her Nintendo! ‘Rose’ is now a firm favourite in our household and Miss L is obsessed with her, they go everywhere together and Rose is even learning gymnastics this summer holidays!

We were online the other day and we were looking at the Build a Bear site as we were finding out when our local store opens here in the UK and we found ‘Build a Bearville’.  It’s a really good children’s online anonymous environment for them to learn how to navigate, chat and earn money to buy things for their bears. So the obsession continues, I suspect Rose and Sally Mally will be getting another friend really soon!

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Gardening Weekend

So it was the August Bank Holiday Weekend here in the UK and as always is rained!  But it didn’t stop us from trying to tame our garden and start the installation of the dog run for Betty.

It looks like I’ll be returning to work in September/October as I’m job hunting at the moment (wish me luck and if you know anyone who wants an IT Manager, send them my way!).  So although Paul works from home a couple of days a week, we need somewhere to pop Betty during the day.  She can’t stay in the house on her own as she’s still eating everything in sight as the state of the kitchen will attest to and she’s far too big to go into a crate.  She’s not bored that dog has more toys than my daughter, she just loves to chew on anything that’s not moving and she could give the famous Marley a run for his money some days.

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Chair Makeover

Back in the day when I got my first flat, I was broke and couldn’t afford any new furniture.  I had a small dining room area and I wanted a table and some chairs to entertain my friends and family.

Mum and I went to a car boot sale and found the 1940’s table on the left for £5 and a memory that’ll be with me forever is us giggling whilst trying to lug it across a field to the car. The chairs came someone I worked with kindly donated me a couple of chairs from a relative that had recently died, also from the 40’s.

The table I tried to get stripped as it was quite damaged but apparently the lacquer they used in the 40’s just turns to glue and goes all sticky. So instead I painted it with a cream eggshell and it looked great – the envy of my friends! The chairs however were a nice dark finish with tapestry seat pads, and I left them alone….

Fast forward 10 years…..3 moves, a husband and child later and I still have the ‘temporary’ furniture! The table is faring well and when Miss L as a baby had play doh’d it, painted on it or had chucked her food over it, I didn’t mind and just re-painted it every couple years and chucked a Cath Kidston Oilcloth or table cloth over it for a bit of colour.

The chairs however did start to look really worn, so I sanded them, painted them cream, got some wadding from the market, picked up some cheap Cath Kidston fabric from ebay and re-covered the seat pads. In hindsight, the cream rose maybe wasn’t the best idea but as it was so cheap and easy to do, it doesn’t matter that much if I replace the material every year. I’m thinking blue stripes or pale grey floral for next year, and I might even change the paint colour?

My husband threatens every now and again to get an Ikea table and chairs, but I can see us having these now forever 🙂

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Almost Apple Picking Time

Our house was built in the 1930’s on a site of an apple orchard which appears on maps as far back as 1851.  In the back garden we have a very large elderly apple tree which has probably been there for at least a 100 years or maybe more? I don’t even know what kind of tree it is, I think it’s a Discovery, but I’m not sure.

This year has produced a bumper crop, probably because of all the rain in the last 18 months and looking at the apples they’ll be ripe for picking shortly.  So I really need some apple boxes to store the apples as they are beautiful apples to eat and it would be good to make some juice as well.

But in the meantime Betty is enjoying the windfalls, she adores chasing them up and down the garden.  In fact she’s happiest when pretending they are alive and she must ‘hunt’ them!

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Sites to Share

I’ve been negelecting sharing new blog’s I’ve popped on my favourite bookmark list in the last couple of weeks:

I was looking for inspiration last night for a gallery wall.  I have our wedding photos, Miss L’s school photos and baby shots currently in the cardboard frames they came home in.  My mother gives me a despairing look every time she sees them!  However Abbey Goes Design Scouting had *28* yes *28* shots of Gallery Walls for inspiration.  She’s also got lots of other beautiful pictures and ideas on her site.  So this afternoon I’m going to hanging my own gallery – thanks Abbey!

I can’t remember if I’ve blogged about this site before, so forgive me if I have (I have serious lack of sleep issues at the moment).  But this has been a favourite site of mine for a while – it’s even on the Google Reader so I can read it in bed on my iPhone when I can’t sleep!

The Inspired Room – Melissa just takes the best photos and makes me think about how a room should look with new eyes.  I look forward to seeing her daughter’s wedding photos, I’m sure they will be amazing!

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Girlie Day Out

Yesterday we had a girls trip out to the ‘Girlie’ shop as Miss L calls it near my Mum’s in Norfolk.  Miss L adores this shop as do my Mum and I and as all the men were at work and we’re on holiday we thought we’d have a rummage.

We’ve been a couple of times before but yesterday was the first time I’ve had the sense to take some photos!

The Bathroom Area

One of the beautiful bed areas

I want this lamp, but my lovely husband would kill me.  I still think I should have been an Edwardian 🙂

I can’t wait to go back and shop there for Christmas!

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The wonders of Moo

So we’re into the penultimate week of the summer holidays and I’ve pretty much run out of things to do with my darling daughter.

We’ve had the big summer holiday, been to the beach, had a picnic in the park, baked, stamped, scrapbooked, painted plates, decorated every surface in the house, bowled, visited friends and family, watched endless ‘My Friends Tigger and Pooh’, birdspotted from the playhouse pretending it’s a hide, you name it and we’ve done it.

I’m trying to make sure that every activity is either free or less than £5. I’m going to surf for more ideas this afternoon and check out Amanda Soule’s fabulous ‘The Creative Family’ for inspiration which I bought in Vancouver.  That woman is a wonder, I really don’t know how she does it?  Check out her blog as well, as you can tell she’s one of my heroes!

However last week Miss L and I were surfing and I was looking at Moo for Violet Posy business cards (and Christmas cards but shhhh don’t tell her that!) and Miss L noticed the stickers. It seems that all small girls are obsessed with them 🙂  But these are cool, you can link to your Flickr, Facebook, Livejournal, Etsy whatever account and the photos from that account made into stickers.

Miss L chose all her favourite pictures from holiday and of the dog, friends, the garden and had them made into stickers. This morning these little beauties arrived and they are soooo cool!

In fact they are so nice Miss L is refusing to stick them on anything and is carrying them around like a security blanket.  But I suspect they are going to end up all over the house – I can’t wait 🙂  They have made a bored little girl very happy.

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Autumn is coming

So summer here has been bit of a washout. However the ancient apple tree in my garden seems to be pretty happy with all the rain it’s had and we have a bumper crop coming.

At the moment you can’t get into the garden as the tree is so heavily laden and the branches are brushing the floor, which is pleasing Betty no end. She’s taken to chasing apples down the garden in delight.

I have no idea what I’m going to do with them all, I suspect we’ll be having a lot of apple pies 🙂

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Building a Cottage Garden

Back in April my parents started work on their cottage garden.  The house had been rented out as a holiday home for years and the garden was a wilderness which they were trying to tame.  But with lots of hard work they have achieved in 5 months what I haven’t managed to achieve in 5 years!

April – It literally was just grass and they were dividing the 150ft garden into ‘rooms’ using trellis

June – the beds had been carved out and backbone plants added

My Dad and Husband had also erected the greenhouse which has helped with my parents saving money and growing their own plants

Early August – the garden looks amazing and it’s only in it’s first year.  There is a massive pumpkin patch which will provide all our halloween carving and I think my Mum has given sweet peas to literally everyone in her village.  I’m so proud of what they have done, if not more than a little envious!  They need to come to my house and sort out my garden!!

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Fireplace Makeover

I read on ‘Restyled Home‘ about imperfect makeovers (transforming something ugly into something beautiful on a shoestring budget).  Well as I have a rainy day here, I finally have time to post mine.

When we moved into our 1934 house 5 years ago, we had *the* ugliest fireplace in our lounge.  Although a good Art Deco shape it was gray and brown and beige – just disgusting!  So we looked into getting a new one, and then realised that it would cost about £2000 which we didn’t and still don’t have. So here’s what I did….


The original fireplace tiles but the structure is a decent shape.


I primed it with tile primer, which you can get from Homebase and then painted it Farrow and Ball ‘Slipper Satin’ Eggshell and it came out better than I imagined.  I then added some Sid Dickens tiles and it looks like a real focal point now.  In fact we’ve now made that room our dining room and it looks very elegant lit by candles.

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