Cheery Things

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1. Gorgeous cushion from Beetroot Press. Almost makes me wish spring was here.
2. Never a truer word said.
3. Smitten Kitchen’s pickled cabbage salad. I made this last week and it’s lovely. It makes LOADS though and I ended up giving a whole load of it away to friends and I still have it coming out of my ears. I seem to be eating it rather than my usual late night biscuits, so that’s got to be a good thing, right?
4. Christmas decorations from Liberty and Rockett St George. Just look at their little faces!

Usually I’m one of those grumps who try not to even think about Christmas until the 1st December, but with a three year old who’s already asking about Father Christmas and a new baby who loves looking at all the sparkly lights, I am SUPER excited about the end of December this year. Guy Fawkes night has been already, I’m allowed, right? Besides, the Christmas lights have been switched on along various roads and now I really want to take the kids into town to look at the lights, wonder around the Christmas shop in Liberty and generally try not to get too stressed by all the other people. That should be do-able, shouldn’t it? Just look Carnaby’s lights! And if Betsy can get really excited about the Christmas lights she spots in Enfield, then these will blow her mind…

Also, this and this. Science is cool, especially when it’s in space.

Smitten Kitchen’s cabbage wasn’t the only recipe from a blog I made recently. I also made some of Jack Munro’s Punkin pumpkin jam and used that instead of the rhubarb jam in Pudding Lane’s rhubarb and custard kisses. So easy to make and so melt in the mouth. Okay, I haven’t just been eating healthy salad in the evenings…

pumpkin

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Living Arrows – 46/52

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This is how Betsy smiles when I’m pointing a camera at her these days. It’s always been a bit tricky to get a picture of her smiling, but now it’s bloody impossible!

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More swings this week, this time Arthur’s first proper swing all on his own. He loved it! Looking forward to pushing him and Betsy in swings side by side, that’s going to be mucho fun.

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Autumn in Trent Park

Trent Park in the autumn

This weather has been a bit good recently, hasn’t it? Apart from all the rain. But when it’s good, it’s really good. We popped up to Trent Park last week as Betsy wanted to see some woods and “scrunch some leaves”. We go to Trent Park a lot as there’s always something new to see or explore, this visit was no exception. We had a walk through some of the wooded area, picking up leaves and sticks and jumping over streams. The park is always full of dog users, but by sheer luck, we found a corner of the woods that was empty of all people apart from us and we wondered if we were lost and would ever find the car again (we did) and if the Gruffalo was close by (he wasn’t, but the little brown mouse was).

Trent Park in the autumn

Trent Park in the autumn

Trent Park in the autumn

Trent Park in the autumn

Trent Park in the autumn

Trent Park in the autumn

Obviously the thing we did the most was jump in muddy puddles because that’s the most exciting thing to do when you’re a Peppa fan. I found myself shocked at the amount of dog poo bags left around. Not just the bags, bags containing dog poo, tied up and left hanging on tree branches and brambles. WHY? Really, why? I can’t understand it. It’s a weird thing to do. It’s not like there are no bins around (oh, wait, there are literally LOADS of bins in the car park and along the main paths). Yuk. Despite my grumbles, we had a fun walk though.

…and then we stumbled across this:

Wut.

Wut.

If you travel along the A111 a lot, you’ll see it easily as it’s right next to the road, but as we always travel to the park via Oakwood, the only time I see this water tower is sticking out like a space ship from a 1950s sci-fi movie above some trees. As far as water towers go, this one’s pretty cool, right? A very nice bit of modernist architecture (or is it brutalism?), and according to this Swedish water tower website, there were plans to have a restaurant on the top. How amazing would that have been?

Trent Park in the autumn

Trent Park in the autumn

Autumn at Trent Park

Betsy wanted to climb up the tower and seemed rather disappointed at the fence keeping us away from it, but at least she let me take far too many photos before she got too bored with staring at something she couldn’t play with. I think the promise of a bacon sandwich at the park cafe might have had something to do with it!

Trent Park in the autumn

Living Arrows – 45/52

Busy week again, which is good, because I feel like slowly banging my head against something hard when you have those times where you’re stuck at home doing very little – I find it way too difficult to muster up energy to do anything productive and pop Cbeebies on and we all go a bit stir-crazy. Getting out, even to the park is always better and we’ve enjoyed some nice time outdoors. We even managed a trip to Whipsnade Zoo, something we’ve not done for months, and it felt good to be back. Autumn really is the best time to visit this zoo, when the kids are in school you practically get the place to yourself. This week’s picture was from Whipsnade, taken during Arthur’s first ride on a swing, and the first picture I’ve taken of both children together in ages.

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Cheery things

Ugh. I’m in such a funk (funky!). I find writing difficult at the best of times, but recently it has been super hard and writing a simple blog is proving really tough, including writing Betsy’s birthday post, which I should have posted ages ago. So here is a quick post of some things that I have seen or done or heard that I like. Hopefully it’ll get me blogging again:

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1. If my early twenty-something self knew how few albums I buy these days, she’d be horrified. But it’s all about quality, not quantity, right? Anyway, Dawn of the Dread by Horseman and Aphex Twin’s Syro are the last two albums I’ve purchased. Both are very good, but I cannot get enough of Syro, it’s been pretty much on repeat since it arrived through the postbox.

2. Kale, Chestnut and mushroom pie from Delicious. I need to eat this RIGHT NOW.

3. Personal library kit from the new A Beautiful Mess shop.

4. Continuing the stationary thing, I have discovered my new favourite shop - Present & Correct. I want ALL THE THINGS, PLEASE.

5. It took me two years, but I finally finished reading the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. It has been a thoroughly enjoyable epic tale (with the exception of book 10 which took me six months to complete because despite it being one of the longest volumes, nothing happens. At all.) and I’m not entirely sure what to read now. Dave’s trying to get me to read more fantasy (maybe Joe Abercrombie or Patrick Rothfuss), but I’m thinking a change of genre would be a nice breather for me. Any suggestions?

6. Tom Frost squirrel print at Rowen & Wren. Love Frost’s work so much, everything he does is fab.

Living Arrows 44/52

Photo dump! Photo dump!

We’ve had a very busy week. Pumpkin picking at Willow’s Farm, baking, a Halloween party, fireworks, another birthday party and meeting Betsy’s new cousin. Phew! I need a holiday.

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Willows Farm

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We’ve started to play a few games after dinner in the evening. Beats watching a few episodes of Peppa Pig instead.

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Halloween fun.

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Firework face.

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Living Arrows – 42/52

There are only ten weeks left of this year, people. Ten weeks left! I’ve just had a mild panic about what to do for Christmas presents. Also, this is the week for some Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy joke.

A bit of a shakey start to the week, but much improved at the weekend with a couple of things. First, we’ve got the highchair ready for Arthur when he starts weaning (in a month, or earlier if his sitting up improves and it’s getting better by the hour). He also cut his first tooth this week. Flipping ‘eck, the chap, stop growing up so quickly.

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This weekend we saw one of my oldest friends, Fox, who we don’t nearly see often enough because he now lives in Norway. He hadn’t seen Boo since she was a baby, but she took a shine to him (as everyone does when they meet Fox).

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But the best news this week was that my sister gave birth to a girl! Hooray for her! Everyone is doing well from all accounts. Can’t wait to meet Rose soon.

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(this was a picture taken at the end of September when she started mat leave. Betsy, I’d like to point out, isn’t doing her best impression of tooth decay from the middle ages, but had in fact just eaten chocolate cake)

DIY Pumpkin Halloween Garland

Salt dough Halloween garland | Baking Betsy

I bloody love Halloween! I think it’s my favourite holiday. When I was a kid, we would travel down to my Nana’s house in the middle of rural Dorset and set up camp for a few nights. It was a Halloween party, but with a dash of Guy Fawks night in there too. Grandpa would work on the biggest bonfire there was (I’m pretty sure he saved up wood throughout the year for it) while some others carved pumpkins. There was a trip into Bridport to buy scary masks and costumes and a whole load of fireworks (always Black Cat fireworks because we are a crazy cat family). My aunts and uncle would descend along with cousins and we would drink mulled wine (up until very recently I never thought of mulled wine was a Christmas thing, it was always for Halloween) and eat stews and Mum would tell us ghost stories about Eggardon Hill and other places in the local area.

Salt dough Halloween garland | Baking Betsy

Nana’s house always felt cold and there were always these horrible huge spiders everywhere (mum once woke up with two spiders fighting in her hair. In her hair!) and quite a few cats prowling about (Nan and Grandpa had up to 14 of them at one point. Told you we’re a crazy cat family) and being in the middle of nowhere with Dorset having that feeling of being stuck somewhere in the middle ages meant there was always a spooky feeling to the evening (and I could have sworn there were fae in the huge garden), but with all the family there chatting and laughing meant these Halloween weekends were some of the best memories of my childhood. Once day I hope we’ll have the space to do a similar thing with our family and really go all out on decorations and have amazing food, mulled wine and find space for a bonfire, although I don’t think we’ll be able to do anything like for good few years yet, we’ll need a house outside Enfield first!

Salt dough Halloween garland | Baking Betsy

Much to my excitement, Betsy is really starting to get into this Halloween lark. In particular, pumpkins. She has chosen a pumpkin dress already for the big day (we have a party to go to. Arthur has a skeleton sleepsuit) and every time she spots a pumpkin for sale at the supermarket she wants us to take one home. I’ve not even told her about our plans to do our now annual trip to Willows Farm to pick our own pumpkin from their patch. It’s going to blow her mind!

Salt dough Halloween garland | Baking Betsy

To get ready for the festivities, we made a pumpkin garland out of salt dough. I’ve not made salt dough before, it’s always been one of the things on that ever-growing ‘to do’ list, but armed with some pastry cutters and food colouring we had a go.

Salt dough Halloween garland | Baking Betsy

Salt dough Halloween garland | Baking Betsy

We used the salt dough recipe from The Imagination Tree. Although we added a whole load of cinnamon to the mixture, we couldn’t really smell it once it was baked and cooled. Betsy got really into the rolling out of the dough and using the cutters, which was good as most of my time was spent stopping a very interested Arthur from grabbing and eating the dough!

I used the end of a crochet hook to make the hole at the top and some garden twine to thread through. The garland is pretty heavy so we’ve had to be quite careful where to hang it (no dainty washi tape holding it up for us here), in the end we tied it onto a couple of window handles. It looks pretty good! It was such a quick and easy craft I’m slightly annoyed we’ve not done this before, but I’ve got a whole host of other ideas to use salt dough as it’s the perfect rainy afternoon activity. So apologies in advance for salt dough Christmas decorations and more rambling tales from my childhood.

Salt dough Halloween garland | Baking Betsy

Salt dough Halloween garland | Baking Betsy