Home Gardening

A few months ago we planted some fruit and veg in the garden. We’d tried this in previous years, only to find everything devoured by slugs in a single night. (Well, everything except the radishes – it seems that slugs don’t like radishes.)

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Radishes are always a success

Anyway, this year we thought we’d outsmart them and grow everything in containers.

We didn’t just plant our crops in containers, we fortified them with copper tape, coffee grinds, broken shells and milk-bottle cloches… all the things that are supposed to keep slugs away.

Well, it’s amazing how high slugs and snails can climb, and how persistent they actually are.

We lost the whole crop of lettuce, the thyme and the coriander. However, we did have some success with the carrots and the one pot of strawberries that we’d placed several foot above the ground (the ones at ground level stood no chance!)  Most of the herbs also did well – especially the mint, rosemary and lemon balm.

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Tiny carrots

But out of everything we grew, we all agreed one thing was by far the best – our heart shaped strawberry!

If anyone has any suggestions of edible crops that slugs and snails just won’t touch please do leave us a comment, as we’re hoping for even more success next year! 🙂

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Jammy Vanilla Cupcakes

Jammy Vanilla Cupcakes

This is one of our favourite cupcake recipes – it’s so simple, and can be used in so many variations. I’ve found the key with it is to whisk, whisk and whisk again! This recipe makes 24 small/medium cupcakes, or 12 larger ones.

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Ingredients:

  • 175g (6oz) butter + 75g (2.5oz) for the icing
  • 175g (6oz) caster sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 175g (6oz) self raising flour
  • 350g (12oz) icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • jam/jelly (we used seedless raspberry)
  • candy sprinkles & decorations
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First time with the electric whisk

Preheat oven to 170°/350°/Gas mark 3

Soften the butter in a microwave (you don’t want to melt it completely, just make it easier to mix, so use a low power setting for 10 seconds at a time). Put the softened butter into a large mixing bowl with the sugar and whisk until light and fluffy.

Add the vanilla extract and eggs and whisk again.

Now add the flour and whisk until smooth. Keep going for several minutes to make a really light, fluffy mix.

Pour into cupcake cases and bake for 14-18 minutes. The cakes are done when the top bounces back when touched, and a skewer comes out clean. (If they don’t bounce back, return them to the oven as quickly as possible to avoid them going flat!)

Allow to cool on a wire rack.

jam.jpgOnce cool, cut out the middles (I found a traditional potato peeler was great for this), fill with jam (jelly) then put the middle back on as a “lid”.

Soften your remaining butter and mix with the icing sugar, 2tsp of vanilla extract and 2 tbsp of milk until you get a smooth icing.

IMG_0452.jpgIce your cupcakes, and add whatever tasty decorations take your fancy. (We used rainbow strips and sugar sprinkles, along with some My Little Pony figures we’d got from Kinder eggs.)baking.jpgEnjoy!

Liebster Award

Today’s post is a little different, as I’ve just received a Liebster award from the lovely Amanda Wolfe at funfiercemama.com. Many thanks to you, Amanda, for the nomination!

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At first I had no idea what this meant, but I as I read the post it looked like a lot of fun as well as a way to make new blogging friends, so here goes…

First, this award comes with a few rules:

  • Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you
  • Answer the 11 questions the blogger gives you
  • Nominate 5-11 bloggers that you think are deserving of the award
  • Let the bloggers know you nominated them
  • Give 11 facts about yourself
  • Give them 11 questions of your own

Questions from Fun Fierce Mama:

What’s your favorite part of blogging? Looking back on my published content, and the comments you lovely readers leave for me.

What is your favorite topic to read about on blogs? I love reading about arts and crafts and getting inspired by new ideas.

Favorite Vacation destination? Rarotonga, in the Pacific Islands. I went with my husband when we had just got married, and we went swimming in coral reefs, watched Island dancing, sipped cocktails on sunny beaches – it truly was Paradise!

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Swimming underwater in Rarotonga

If you could be anywhere right now where would you be? As above, but this time my kids would be there too. They’ve never been outside the UK as we just can’t afford it, but I always dream of taking them somewhere amazing.

What is something quirky about yourself? I was a Goth in my teenage years.

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Gothic Me, back in 1996

How many blogging awards have you received? This is my first one!

What is your 5 year plan? I’ve never really had 5 year plans before, because I never really found something I cared enough for (career-wise) to imagine it carrying on. But now I have 2 lovely daughters I have really found my calling in life, and think I would be happy just moving to somewhere with a little more space for them to run around (my 4 year old wants a treehouse!), find a job where I use some of my real interests (craft, kids, writing etc.) and still be there for my family, as well as trying a couple of new crafts myself (quilting, resin casting and metal clay all look very appealing).

Favorite food? Sushi. Especially the salmon ones. I went to Japan years ago and the food was simply amazing – delicious, and so well presented too. I would never tire of eating it.

What was your 1st job? Working as a shop assistant in Boots (UK chemists).

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My father, in the Royal Horse Artillery

Who inspires you? My dad. I love how he lives life to the fullest and is always up for new adventures. He was a Hippy in the 1960s, a soldier in the Royal Horse Artillery, a businessman and IT trainer, a farmer in New Zealand, sailed a Dutch barge around Europe, now writes mods for computer games… and still always has time for me, and is the person I most love talking to!

Something most people don’t know about you? I used to play the clarinet in the school orchestra (but like most other things I learned at school, I’ve completely forgotten how to now!)

My Nominations are:

The Adventures of Beta Mummy

Becoming a Wild Family

Me and b make tea

Minirelli

Rainbow Squish

Ok, now 11 facts about Me…

  1. I’ve fed a chicken drumstick to a tigerIMG_9565.JPG
  2. At work, I love organising the social events but hate having to go to them
  3. I have a law degree from Oxford University (but have never landed a job where I’ve needed it)
  4. After University I spent a year volunteering in Glasgow with the Jesuit Volunteers
  5. I have a great uncle who was a racing driver (and won the Luxembourg Grand Prix)
  6. Before I had the kids, I used to make and sell handmade (kiln fused) glass jewellery
  7. I was named after the Ancient Roman “Julia the Elder”, whom my father was studying at university when he found out my mother was pregnant with me
  8. When I got married I made the cake, invitations, bouquet and table decorations myself
  9. My favourite dessert is pistachio ice cream
  10. My favourite artist is John William Waterhouse
  11. In my life before children I loved playing video games (now the toddler just chews on the controllers) and I still have a collection of Final Fantasy VII figurines…

    cloud collection
    Cloud collection!

My questions for the nominees are:

  1. What inspired you to start blogging?
  2. What makes you the happiest in life?
  3. What’s the most useful thing you learned at school?
  4. And the least useful?
  5. If you could swap lives with anyone in the world for a day, who would it be and why?
  6. What annoys you the most?
  7. What is the one thing you can’t live without?
  8. What do you feel the most proud of?
  9. What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever eaten?
  10. What’s your favourite place you’ve ever visited?
  11. What’s your favourite quote or motto?

Well that was fun! I can’t wait to read my nominations’ answers!

Have a wonderful day everyone!

Jiggly Jellyfish Candy Holder

This week was Amelia’s school summer fair. The children came home with a paper plate to decorate with a “beach” theme and fill with candy to donate as a tombola prize.

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Amelia painted her plate blue, yellow and silver; then we folded it in half, filled it with candies and sealed them inside by gluing the edges together with a hot glue gun (sorry, no photos of this stage as I was too busy making sure she didn’t eat them all and we actually had something left to give to the school). Amelia added some googly eyes and drew a lovely smiling mouth. She then glued on some confetti and glitter to make it shimmer.

To make the tentacles I punched holes in a narrow strip of card and Amelia threaded a length of gift ribbon through each one. We glued this strip to the back of the jellyfish and covered it up with another painted half plate (not necessary, just made it look a little neater by covering the ribbon joins).

Amelia loved making her jiggly jellyfish – and I’m sure whoever wins it will love their surprise too!

Handprint Monkeys

monkeys

Here’s the birthday card my 2 little monkeys made for their Daddy. We did the hand prints first with brown paint, then painted the greenery around them. The heads are gummed paper and googly eyes with the details drawn on with a Sharpie marker.

Of course, being the little monkeys that they are, the children then decided to paint each other… but that just added to the fun!

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Rainbow Macaw Suncatcher

Rainbow Macaw Suncatcher

My 17 month old loves parrots. It started when her grandad bought her a brightly coloured parrot finger puppet, which quickly became a favourite toy. Now every time she sees a parrot picture she points, smiles and does this cute little thing with her finger like she’s making a pecking beak. My 4 year old just likes anything rainbow coloured, so I was pretty sure these rainbow macaw suncatchers would be a hit with both of them!

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Materials:

  • Black card
  • Coloured cellophane
  • Craft knife
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick
  • Laminator & pouches (optional)

parrot making

First make your macaw template by drawing it carefully on black card (or find an image on the internet, print it out and stick this to the card). Cut around all the inside sections with a craft knife, so you have something like the first image.

Next use the glue stick to glue all around the black outlines on one side of the template. Cut strips of cellophane and lay them across the cutout areas to give your parrot its colouring. (I just used one colour for each section but Amelia found this a bit tricky and layered random shapes across one another, which gave a really good effect when they mixed).

parrotc_edited-1Finally, cut around the parrot shape and remove the excess black card (you can do this before you start adding cellophane, but we found it easier and neater to leave this step til the end).

To finish it all off I then laminated our suncatchers to give them a glossy finish and prevent pieces of cellophane falling off, but this isn’t necessary. I also added an eye with a Sharpie marker (original plan was to use a hole punch to make a dot from black card and add this before laminating, but I forgot and the Sharpie worked just as well!)

Here’s the finished suncatchers on our window. They looked like little lovebirds, so we made a cellophane heart to go with them too. 🙂

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