Thursday, 23 September 2010

Nature's bounty.

Here is tonight's supper. There are a lot of colds going around at the moment. Hubby is suffering from man-flu. I used left-over chicken bones to make our usual flu busting hot n sour soup (with shitake mushrooms) and the kids and I put together little blackberry cheesecakes, made with the blackberries from the hedgerows (just a bit cheaper than you get in the local supermarket or farm shop.)
Plus, we have home-brew plum wine which Hubby made. All very effective in clearing the sinuses, boosting the immune system and soothing aches n pains... unless you drink too much plum wine. Then you are guaranteed a headache in the morning!
The cheesecakes are a combination of a Delia Smith and a CBeebies 'I Can Cook' recipe. As follows:
1. To make the base, we crushed a few ginger and a few digestive biscuits in sandwich bags with a rolling pin and binded the mixture together with melted butter in a saucepan.
2. The biscuit mixture was divided into individual little pudding glasses, flattened with the back of a spoon and left to set.
3. In a mixer we put a tub of Quark cheese, about 3 tablespoons of sugar, few drops of vanilla essence and a squeeze of lemon juice... and whizzed it all up.
4.) This mixture was then spread as the next layer on top of the biscuit mixture.
5.) Then for the blackberry topping. We put about a cereal bowl full of blackberries in a pan with a few spoons of sugar and simmered without any added water. Then we put in 2 teaspoons of arrowroot which had been mixed with a tablespoon of water. This gives the mixture a thicker texture, similar to what you get with shop bought cheesecakes. This mixture was then spread over the top as the final layer.

What about quantities? Well, I don't bother too much with that kind of thing. I have O'Level cookery so I have a feel for what is right (hee, hee). When it came to the sugar, I think we go less than what would be used in a typical recipe as only Henry seems to have a sweet tooth. The rest of us are happy with natural, even sour flavours. I did end up with too much blackberry mixture though. That has been put in a jar in the fridge and I think will be perfect for putting on top of museli or porridge with some yoghurt. Or could even be spread on toast - it is quite jam-like.

I'm going now to watch the last part of 'Gareth Malone's Extraordinary School for Boys'. I wonder if he succeeded in his goal to raise the boys' reading age by six months. I do hope so.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

He's 'armless!

Poor Henry. He broke his wrist in P.E. yesterday.
I kept him at home today so he could recover a little. He was so tired from the hospital experience, plus there's a bit of maintenance and exercise to monitor in the first 48 hours after this type of injury.

But we did do a little bit of 'work'! Here, Henry is doing a Montessori style spelling activity (no writing required!) He places the objects from the first tray onto his mat and uses the wooden letters from the second tray to spell them out. I don't have a lovely, expensive, authentic Montessori moveable alphabet with tray, so I have a couple of packets of wooden 'creation station' letters (about £2.99 a packet) and I put out the letters needed on an ordinary tray. Maybe 'somebody' might make me a nice compartment box for them (hint, hint!)
Then I gave him some Kumon addition to do. He can still write as he is left handed. I went out into the garden (it was boiling hot!) to do some much needed clearing in the borders. I have some daffodil bulbs I need to plant.
When I went in to check how Henry was getting on with his maths, he really hadn't got very far. So I invited him to come outside. There were quite a few rampant brambles that needed removing but were laden with blackberries. Shame to let them got to waste. Henry was happy to pick them and do lots of practical counting and addition in the process.

Yesterday I was flicking through my 'Delia Smith's Frugal Food' cookery book when a recipe for blackberry cheesecake caught my eye. I discussed the idea of trying out this recipe with Henry. It was clear that we'd need a lot more blackberries, so we went for another country walk and picked 2 good tubs full. I still need some ginger biscuits and curd cheese, so, hopefully we'll finish this task off tomorrow... yum, yum!
And this is Henry playing with his new scalelectrix with little Hope joining in the fun. He was so kind and patient when she kept getting up and walking on the track! Such a lovely brother.

Sunday, 19 September 2010


HM has begun training as an altar server, so this morning we went to the busy, morning Mass so she could get in some practise. She is really enjoying it. We also heard from a few of the congregation who managed to attend the vigil with the Pope in Hyde Park yesterday. That was fascinating and it was clear that they got a lot out of the experience.
This afternoon we popped out to a local garden centre so I could buy a few brussel sprout plug plants for the veg patch. I have tried to grow as much stuff as I can from seed but it's all a bit hit and miss. My curly kale is doing very well. I hardly got any tomatoes. Our pumpkins, right now, are tiny... and green. I've tried growing brussels before, but the caterpillars got to them. So we shall see.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

This week.

Bless me Father for I have sinned. It has been a whole week since my last post!
Well. It has been a busy week. Sometimes a stressful week. An exciting week.
I cannot blog without first at least acknowledging that his holiness, Pope Benedict, arrived on our shores on Thursday. I can remember when John Paul 11 visited in 1982. Hubby was telling me about how he and his Mum camped out on the streets of Canterbury to get a glimpse of him back then. This time around, the visit has been affected by some negative controversy. Throughout history, terrible, evil things been committed by people hiding behind religious cloaks. Such is the way of the Devil. The Pope has the unenviable task of taking responsibility for and apologising for such evils. We look to him to lead us through it.
Anyway, the above pictures are from a walk we took in the woods with some friends from school. They invited us to a walk and picnic after school on Tuesday to try and make the most of what is left of the nice weather. I think the children really welcomed a chance to run about and have fun making dens after almost a week back at the chalkface. Hubby and I have been watching, with interest, 'Gareth Malone's Extraordinary School for Boys' (Thursday, BBC2) in which he (Gareth) has been challenged to raised the achievement of boys in their reading. He believes that the key to success is in nurturing/harnessing their natural instinct for competition, risk and physical activity. I couldn't agree more and look forward to seeing the results next week.

So, today, our good friends Glenn and Jancy came to lunch which we followed with a nice country walk, picking blackberries and other fruit.

Hope was determined to eat an apple. I sat, slightly nervously, with her while she munched on one. I was a bit scared that she would choke.

The sun always shines on Honor-May!

We picked some of these delicious pears.

And the weather was gorgeous. Really warm. The children made friends with this sheep...
but I wouldn't let HM take it home!

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Henry's birthday.

So it's been a busy weekend. Hubby returned from two weeks away in Alaska for our 'obese' son's 6th birthday. Henry was born on the 11th of September 2004. The midwife commented that this would be a date to remember for obvious reasons. But like any other day, births are celebrated and the departed are mourned. This weekend we celebrated and counted our blessings. This little man is growing up fast and is a little guy to be very proud of.
We had a party for him. Godmother Lisa came with one of her nieces but the rest of the guests were boys for a traditional boys party. Lots of rough n tumble and climbing and swinging on things. Er, yes, Hubby, but I meant the little boys!

I split them into teams. (I like a bit of competition.) The green arrows and the blue arrows were given numbers. They were not allowed to speak or hold up fingers but get themselves into numerical order. The green arrows stood around looking bewildered but before I knew it, the blue arrows had completed their task by stamping their feet to each other.

Hubby took over the next bit... making bows and arrows and having a bit of an archery contest.

We had a pass-the-parcel (I think the grown-ups enjoyed this bit the most - see previous post), some food and Henry received some fabulous presents.
Now, Ma and Pa are getting over it with a kebab and glass of wine. (And more you-tube clips... Hubby is on to Charlie's Angels now. Sooooo intellectual!)

They're not just pretty boys!

Last night, Hubby and I were up 'til midnight saving theme tunes from you-tube to play as music for the pass-the-parcel for Henry's birthday party. We saved Henry's (and Daddy's)favourite classics such as Dr who, Pirates of the Carribean, Raiders of the Lost Ark and James Bond but we found ourselves getting carried away, down memory lane, listening/watching The Dukes of Hazzard, The A-Team and Miami Vice. I have just posted the link to Crockett's theme. I loved Miami Vice in the Eighties and when Henry was due to be born (he's my second baby), I got prepared for the dreaded 2am feeds by buying a Miami Vice DVD to watch to try to make them a little more pleasant. Well, when Honor (my first) was born, I was subjected to repeats of 'Trisha'! I do like Jan Hammer and at one time had the album Escape from Television. I'd like to get this again. Didn't go too much on the Colin Farrell movie remake though. Well if it ain't broke...

Jan Hammer - Crockett's Theme (Miami Vice)

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Here comes the tooth fairy...

Tonight the tooth fairy is visiting. Henry, just 4 days away from his 6th birthday, has lost his first tooth. (I didn't even know it was wobbly!) It came out at school while he was munching on a hard carrot stick.
I'm off to bed in a minute, having just finished helping Honor with her history homework. Her topic this term is the ancient greeks and she wanted to present her research in Powerpoint. So that took quite a long time but we enjoyed doing it together. It's been ten years since I used Powerpoint, but it soon came back to me. She has gone to bed, now, listening to David Tennant (Dr Who) reading 'The Stone Rose' on a story CD.

The Spitfire

Just a few pics of the Spitfire steam train from the hop festival on Sunday. Henry went for a ride on this down to Dover with Mum and Grandad. We stood up on the bridge and got covered in soot! Henry really enjoyed the experience.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

The Hop Festival

The nearby town of Faversham is well known for hop growing and the Shepherd Neame brewery. About this time, every year, the town holds a hop festival over the entire weekend. People come from all over to attend. At this stage in my life I am not so keen to go. It is so busy and I do not enjoy trying to make my way very slowly through the crowds watching morris dancers and drinking copious amounts of beer - all day long - with three young children. (Bah humbug!) Well, I thought I'd got out of it this year. My Mum is having Henry for the weekend as she is taking him and my grandfather (who is 94!) on the Spitfire steam train tomorrow. My mother-in-law was going to take Honor but unfortunately, for both of us, she is unwell. So I agreed to take Honor myself. She used to be frightened of all the noise and unusual characters wandering up the street but now she thinks it is all fantastic! (Groan!)

I didn't fancy fighting my way through the crowds with a pushchair so I got my Moby Wrap out. I haven't used it in many months as I'd been having back troubles, but I think I got away with it for a one-off. We aquired one of Honor's friends so we headed to the creek for...

the swing boats.

And very loud bands!

Back up the street, these fellas were making everyone laugh dressed as old grannies whizzing about on their shopping trollies - also with loud music blaring.
I enjoyed it really - well a little bit.
I have to put the baby to bed now and I'm going to let Honor stay up and watch the X-Factor with me.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

First day of term.

I got up much earlier this morning than for the previous five weeks and cooked us a breakfast to start the new school year with. I made poached egg with butter beans, baguette and tomato. The children were all still fast asleep when I called them at 8am. They were surprisingly calm and cooperative in getting ready for school. Perhaps the effect of 'going up a year'. They were certainly looking forward to returning. I, of course, was going to miss them, but as soon as they were dropped off, little baby boo and I breathed a sigh of relief. It was our time again.

I noticed how much more talkative she was, now that she could get a word in edgeways! Here she is eating her lunch as we talk about Daddy. The photo shows her signing the word in baby sign language.

So what did we do with our new found freedom? We hit the charity shops, that's what! I bumped into Henry's former nursery teacher loaded up with sackfuls of stuff she was taking to the shop. Thats what I need to do. Have a good clear out. But today I picked up a few bargains: a fat face dress and floral skirt for Honor, a CD of nursery songs for Hope and two story cassettes for Henry. All for £5.
Now they are all in bed and I have prepared a breakfast for us in the slow cooker for the morning. It's a bit of an experiment. I have put in some quinoa and pearl barley with water, coconut milk, cinnamon sticks, nutmeg and dried goji berries and blueberries. I wonder how that'll turn out, or if they'll eat it?
Right now I am enjoying watching Deuce Bigalow, male gigolo on ITV4. Outrageously course and very, very funny.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Well, Cineworld does have its' advantages. Aside from its' extortionate prices, for entry and refreshments, it does allow you to take your baby in. Today is the last day of the hols (sniff) and the kids' godmother treated us to go and see Toy Story 3D. Our local, independent cinema does not allow under 3's in at all so I thought the babe and I wouldn't be able to join the outing. But it was fine (as long as I would take her outside if she cried) and they have baby changing facilities too. We rarely go to the cinema and we have never seen a 3D movie before. We had to buy special glasses. The effects have come a long way since the old days with the red and blue lenses. I was quite impressed. I might even take Hubby to see Pirahna 3D next. That should be fun!

Before our outing we popped out to collect some roof felt. About 2 years ago I joined an internet site called Freecycle. The purpose of this site is to reduce waste by getting people to offer unwanted stuff for free to others instead of taking it to the tip. Yesterday a man offered this roof felt and we needed some to repair our shed roof so I asked for it. The guy received 11 email requests but he picked me! Yippee. So I'm hoping Hubby will be impressed. The chap's wife needs a couple of bumbos (little moulded baby seats) for her twins. I have one in the loft so I'm going to give that to her. 'Tis a good system.

Now I'm having a quiet 5 mins after getting the kids all ready for school tomorrow. Plimsolls - check. Lunches - check. Pencil cases stocked up - check. Have I forgotten anything?