Monday, 30 November 2015

Pumpkin pancakes / flatbread

I do not know what to call these really, but we thought we would try something new with some of our left over pumpkin purée from the Autumn harvests. Where I live potato cakes are something to make with your left over mash potato and a little flour, so I wondered what would happen if I replaced the potato with pumpkin purée instead... I have to say the result was very tasty.

 I have started with  200g of pumpkin purée and mixed in about 200g of all purpose flour and a small knob of butter. I have said about 200g of flour because sometimes you need to add a little more to be able to knead it like dough, as that's the consistency you are aiming for. Roll it out to about half a centimetre thick and cut into your preferred shapes.

I have cut them in rectangle shapes so that they fit neatly on a lightly oiled baking tray and cook them in the oven at 200C for about 10 to 15 mins.

That's about it... very simple and very tasty especially hot straight from the oven spread with melting butter. My husband and daughter like to cut their's open down the side like the pocket in pitta bread and spread the butter on the inside. They are also a handy size to put in the toaster and warm through.

But however you choose to eat them it's a very quick and easy way to use up some left overs and has a very intense pumpkin flavour.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

The end of Summer

Summer is well and truly over now and the leaves are starting to show their Autumn colours, so I thought I would share some of our summertime activities with you. We have been on all our usual adventures in nature as you may have seen in the 30 days wild project we joined in June, also trips to the Dinosaur adventure park and a theme park.

We have explored new places and had adventures on a prehistoric walk through ancient areas of woodland. We have also spent time exploring the countryside and the thrill of playing in fields of long grass.

The children gave themselves Summer challenges, my son's was a reading challenge to read the entire series of Harry potter books including the extra short books. This is a big challenge for him as he prefers to read fact books and encyclopedias so me and my husband joined him on this challenge to give him extra support... everyone finished this challenge in less than the three months given. He has now gone back to reading about Japanese mythology and his dinosaur research.

My youngest daughter had different challenges, she wanted to teach herself to weave bracelets, make wind chimes, hula hoop and juggle... all of which she accomplished with ease and has now moved on to learning musical instruments.

We have also spent a lot of time at our local swimming pool, the children had so much fun and can all swim a number of different strokes and have hugely increased their water confidence skills.

Both children attended two activity club courses looking at different animals and their care which they found quite interesting. We also took advantage of the Heritage free open days and went to three museums.

The children love exploring museums, my grandmother used to take me around the strangers hall museum when I was a little girl and it is lovely that it is still there for my children to experience. This year we even played old games in the museum gardens.

We managed to find a newt, something the children had been looking to see in the wild which was quite exciting for them.

We have had a few new additions to our family too, after spending time with the reptiles on the animal care courses that the children completed we decided to add a snake to our family, my son already has a leopard gecko, which is fascinating, so learning about snakes would be just as interesting and something my husband has been wanting to do for quite a while.

This is a photo of our beautiful new Royal python when he first arrived, only a few months old. The other new arrivals are chickens, as you know we lost two of our older girls earlier in the year and were only left with one chicken. The remaining elderly chicken, Dotty, was very lonely so we decided to increase the flock.

It took Dot a little while to accept the new chickens, but after a week or so it all settled down. Dot is on the far right of the above photo, the black and white chicken is called Sylvie and the two reds are called Evie and Ginny.

That covers a few of our summer highlights, adventures and challenges... Preparing for winter has taken hold here and the last of the allotment harvests have been collected and preserving food is in full swing.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

6th Wedding Anniversary

At the end of June my wonderful husband and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary, although we have been together many years longer than this. We like to make each other a gift based on the traditional gift guide, the 6th anniversary is... IRON!!.

For a very long time I had no idea what to make, iron seemed so hard and unyielding but then it struck me, an idea which should have presented itself sooner considering that I had studied geology for my degree... haematite is an iron ore and is available in many forms even beads! I had been looking at it so literally before and now it was so obvious.

I have made a leather macrame bracelet for my husband before and he loved it but it has got quite worn, so I thought I would make another one with haematite beads woven in. I have used six beads, one for each year of our marriage and each bead is hexagonal and magnetically drawn to each other.

In case you are wondering, my husband made me the most wonderful gift it was a wind chime made with iron nails all hand twisted and it makes the most beautiful sound. Follow this link if you would like to check it out.

I had the idea for my gift at the last minute so I was a little late finishing it, especially with all that was going on. It is the extremely busy time of year when we have four birthdays, three of those requiring parties, a wedding anniversary, father's day. We also sadly we lost two of our older chickens. Combine this with a rush to get the day trips and theme park visits out of the way before the schools broke up for summer and the '30 days wild' quest we were on and you have a very busy few weeks. I was very overwhelmed and nearly didn't make it through the last birthday but we have been having a rest and slowly starting to feel a little more relaxed now. Hopefully I will be able to get back on track with the blogging too.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

30 Days Wild - day 30

Today is the last day of the 30 days wild project and it coincides with my birthday so we have had a lovely day. I thought I would share some of the things we have been making for the wildlife this month to add to the ones we already have all over the garden.

This is one of the bee hotels we have made, we have a garden full of different types of bee house now, if you would like to make one my husband has written instructions for some different types here on his blog. If you build it they will come...

We have also made these garden charms, they look lovely hanging from the trees especially in the winter when the trees are bare.

We also make these pine cone bird feeders and if you would like to make the charms or pine cone feeders you will find them here.

Now the 30 days wild project has come to a close we would love to thank the 30 days wild team and the wild life trusts for bringing this challenge to us. Also a very big thank-you to everyone who has retweeted, favourited and liked our pages.

Monday, 29 June 2015

30 Days Wild - day 29

On our nature walk today we found a ladybird emerging from it's pupa, as you can see when they first emerge they are yellow. It takes a little while for it's wing case to harden and develop it's finished colouring and pattern of spots.

We also spotted some rabbits, there were quite a few young ones but they ran too fast for photographs but we did spot this older one hiding beside a tree almost invisible if you are not really looking.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

30 Days Wild - day 28

Today the photographs were taken by my husband as I just wasn't quick enough, the very loud little wren was flitting between branches so fast you could barely see it.

He also captured some photographs of some of the members of the corvid family, one of my favourite group of birds.

The magpie keeping a close eye on us above and the carrion crow panting in the heat of the sun below.

We also spotted some of this beautiful purple toadflax growing in many places, I had only seen the yellow variety before.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

30 Days Wild - day 27

Only a couple of days left now until the end of the project so I thought I would bring you an update on the cinnabar caterpillars as so many of you have been interested in following their progress.

They are now 10 days old and as you can see they finally have their stripes, not quite as brightly striped as they eventually become but definitely striped now.

They have travelled quite a way up the ragwort plant as most of them are now situated right at the top amongst the flower buds.

We have spotted quite a few of these vapourer moth caterpillars on our nature walks all usually in the same area, although they often have very slight colour variations of the tufts on their backs.

We also got to creep up on this small tortoiseshell butterfly as it was feeding on a flower, very beautiful markings.

Friday, 26 June 2015

30 Days Wild - day 26

Today we have been exploring decaying fallen trees to find some of the mini beasts that live in this habitat. Warning this post contains a photo of the creepiest fungus I have ever seen!

This is a fungus called dead man's fingers, it seemed quite a new growth on the decaying tree. It definitely looked like creepy fingers reaching out from under the branch... really quite chilling!

Some loose bark laying in the leaf litter had now become home to many different types of woodlice and pill millipedes.

 We also uncovered this leopard slug with it's markings clearly visible. Burrows of various beetles can also be seen in the wood.

This piece of bark has many slugs, a snail and lots of interesting patterns and markings from a bark burrowing beetles.

This is the pattern they leave on the tree trunk, it's a little faded from being exposed for quite a while but you can still clearly see the markings.

A few different types of millipede were spotted a white legged snake millipede above and a striped millipede below.

We also found a bracket fungus just starting to grow, this was on the same tree as the dead man's fingers.

The children have really been enjoying exploring all these different habitats and we have plans to make some mini murals picturing some of the things we have seen.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

30 Days Wild - day 25

Today we took a stroll around our local nature reserve on the broads and spent some time with the water wildlife.

Three different types of geese came to eat our corn duck food, the Canada goose, many greylag geese and right near the water line there are a couple of Egyptian geese.

My daughter stopped to feed this new mother duck, who seemed very hungry. She had four very young ducklings waiting nearby for her.

A little further along we found the spot on the broad where we often see a pike and luck was on our side today as we could clearly see it in the water.

We think it must have been at least two feet long, I forgot to take the camera filter to allow us to photograph under water through the glare but I think you can see it ok.

My husband even managed a close up of it's head so you can see it's eye and big teeth. We watched for quite a while it really was a huge fish.

This is an emperor dragonfly, it was found beside the road, I think it had been hit by a car but we picked it up and moved it to a safe place in case there was a chance it would recover. This is the largest dragonfly I have ever seen.

The last two photographs are of two different types of leaf gall, we found them all over the same tree.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

30 Days wild - day 24

Today we went for a woodland walk in one of our local woods, it also happens to be our wedding anniversary so it was a lovely day to spend with nature. I will write the usual wedding anniversary craft post as soon as the 30 days wild project has finished, in fact I have a number of nature craft posts planned.

As you can see the stinging nettles were out in force, tucked in between we found some hedge woundwort which looked really quite beautiful, as you can see below.

We found a number of interesting bugs but not all the photographs came out very clearly... below is an orange ladybird on a sycamore tree.

We spent quite a lot of time under a hole in an oak tree, we could hear baby birds in the hole and we stood back, hid and waited for the parent to return but it must have heard or seen us and didn't return while we were there. After listening to bird song on the internet and comparing the baby birdsong, we are almost certain it was a woodpecker.

We know these woods quite well and we have seen woodpeckers nesting here before, I have taken a photograph of another tree which has been well used by the woodpeckers.

Half way round the woods there is a clearing and we usually stop for a picnic or snack, there are often wild flowers around and butterflies, it's really quite lovely.
Today we saw a raggity red admiral and some beautiful red campion flowers every where we looked.