Hair today, hair tomorrow.

My new bangs

Way back when, before my two delightful tiddly-pops, I used to get my hair done….a lot. These days, gone are the highly expensive colourings and frequent restyles. The first reason is quite simply never finding the time….the children always come first.  The second reason, is down to cost. If it’s a toss up between buying things for the kids or a cut and blow dry for myself, I would put the kids first. You see, I’m  nice like that!

That having been said, being completely selfless can have down sides – or more to the point, it can make Mummy Snozcumber feel a bit down. It usually takes about six months for me to get to the point of feeling like my hair looks like Wurzel Gummidge, at which point I book in for my biannual hair appointment.

Last month I reached a record 10months without a haircut! It was only the sheer panic of looking like a scruffy bridesmaid for an upcoming wedding that made me realise that perhaps I needed to do something with it.

I decided I wanted a cropped fringe, going for a ‘Bettie Bangs” look…. Check out the one and only, glamorous pin-up, Bettie Page.

The one and only Bettie Page

I’m not usually a celeb ‘follower’, but love how Nicole and Beyonce have taken on this look too!

Nicole rocking her 'bangs'

Beyonce looking fabulous (as always)

Obviously, they are all very beautiful women, so I did have a moment of crisis with my self confidence when I first had my hair done.

Reflection

I did love how it looked with victory rolls and my bridesmaids dress though. Check out my little grub in his flat cap. Sweetness!

Bangs and victory rolls

Seasonal fodder : better late than never- elderflower cordial

Hello folks! I’m a little sad that its been donkeys since I have had chance to blog. I logged on to have a quick read of other blogs, and discovered that I’d already typed this post, and never blooming posted it! I think I was waiting to download my photographs from the camera….But now I figure I may as well just will post it. So here it is, a post about my elderflower escapades…….

 

Elderflower cordial is a new one for me. I had made a mental note to give elderflowers a whirl, after making elderberry cordial last autumn. In fact, elderberry cordial was the subject of my first blog post. Of course, the mental note was soon lost in the dark abyss of my brain to join all the other lost mental notes. It was only when I came across this prettily presented elderflower cordial tutorial, by sew yeah, that the mental note made a resurgence. I love the way tutorials are styled on this blog, and this one is very pleasing to the eye – check it out through the link below…

image

It was my thirtieth birthday last month, and what better way to spend my day with my youngest son, than to go for a picnic in a grassy meadow, followed by elderflower foraging down an old railway route come cycle path. It was a beautifully sunshiny day, and there I was in my flouncy summer dress. I warn you now that flouncy summer dresses do not make for good foraging, as most of the elder trees are surrounded by a fortress of nettles. As always with my foraging escapades, my elderflower hunt resulted in me painfully attempting to climb, tiptoe and lean in all sorts of acrobatic positions. And as always, I needn’t have bothered because there were two elder trees abundant with flowers at the very start of the path I went down. I must walk around with blinkers on.

In the tutorial above there are some handy hints and tips, including to freeze the cordial in ice cube trays if not using citric acid. This is exactly what I did! I have been drinking mine mostly with vodka and traditional pink lemonade. I do have a couple of extra tips to add to the list, so listen up!

Pick the elderflowers on a dry day. If it’s raining, then no picky!

Don’t go foraging wearing a flouncy summer dress. Cover all flesh to protect from nettles.

Don’t pick elderflowers from next to the road- you’re looking to add the fragrance of the elderflower to your cordial, not exhaust fumes.

Elderflowers can be eaten fresh from the tree or fried in a light batter to make elderflower fritters.

Don’t over pick. Leave some to turn into berries for making cordial in the autumn.

Have you made any elderflower cordial before? What extra helpful tips would you add to the list? How do you serve yours?

Sunset Stroll and a Storm

A distant storm

The sun setting after a hot day. A glimpse of a rainbow, hidden amongst clouds. The yellow of the corn fields against the deep purple of the distant storm. Flashes of lightning, far away. Smelling the freshness in the air. Clouds catching the last few rays of the sun. Darkness descends and bats flit about in the air.

Sunset
Purple cloudsA hidden rainbowYellow corn and purple skies

Seasonal fodder : gooseberry jam

gooseberry jam

 

My brother was found under a gooseberry bush. I was found in a tin of beans. That’s what my Mother tells us anyway. I have a feeling that she’s been telling us fibs.

I love gooseberries. Gooseberry crumble was one of the summer puddings of my childhood, picked fresh from the garden. Unfortunately, when my folks moved house, they didn’t take the gooseberry bush with them. Now, during the summer months, I always keep a close look out for gooseberries in local greengrocers, but I find that they are quite difficult to come by. When I do come by them, they’re only there for a limited time, usually at an inflated price. Three whole English Pounds is what it cost me for a punnet a few weeks ago. Extortion! The punnet was munched through in the form of a creamy gooseberry fool, a good old traditional crumble and some were eaten just plain raw. Yum!

I was delighted when I arrived at the Mother-in-law’s new digs, to discover the  biggest gooseberry bush that my eyes ever did see. My boys were equally as delighted, and were gobbling them straight from the bush. We managed to get through a good few crumbles while we were there, and I cheekily made sure I picked a load to take home with me. I was all crumbled out by this point though, so decided to make them into jam.

I’ve made gooseberry jam before, and it’s turned out a lovely pink colour. This batch stayed green, perhaps because the fruit was freshly picked and not fully ripe like the shop bought ones.

Making the jam was really easy.

What you will need:

2kg  gooseberries, topped and tailed

2kg caster sugar

Other recipes state to use water, though I find that the fruit holds enough water so do not add any.

Make sure you sterilise your jars and lids before you start!

Heavy based pan. Make sure it’s a big one if you have a lot of fruit!

Spoon for stirring.

Ceramic plate.

Spoon for decanting.

1. Put a plate in the freezer. Thoroughly wash the gooseberries and put them in a very large, heavy based pan.

2. Cook over a low heat for about half an hour, making sure to bash the gooseberries.

3. Add the sugar, keeping it on a low heat and stirring until fully dissolved.

4. Bring to the boil for about ten minutes (don’t stop stirring), then take your plate from the freezer and put a blob of jam on it. If the jam wrinkles when you push it with your finger, it is ready. If not, then boil for a couple more minutes.

5. Take off the heat, and skim off any white scum from the top. Alternatively, add a knob of butter and stir in.

6. Decant into your sterilised jars, screw on your lids.

I prettied my jars up with some fabric and twine, and gave them out as thank you gifts for everyone who helped us out when Hubby had his accident.

How do you eat your gooseberries!?

The Good Life : down by the river

image

The Hubby went away with friends to the Lakes last weekend. They were living dangerously, climbing rocks and diving into pools of water in the middle of nowhere. The most dangerous of activities turned out to be the decent of a flight of stairs. Four steps from the bottom, Hubby somehow fell, rendering himself unconscious and fracturing his skull.

Needless to say, it has been quite a traumatic week for us all. The doctors have said that Hubby is incredibly lucky to not have any serious brain damage, given the nature of his fracture. I can’t begin to express just what a relief it is that he is making a good recovery, and how thankful I am to our fabulous friends and family who have all been there with their help and support.

We stayed at my Mother-in-law’s when Hubby was discharged, and when he was feeling up to it, we went down to the river just by her house. It was a heart-warmingly beautiful time; the gentle ‘plop’ of pebbles as they were swallowed up by the water; the excitement on the children’s faces as they discover various bugs or interesting rocks; the lush green vegetation reflected in the still pools of water; the warm hugs from Hubby and the boys. Had Hubby not been so lucky, these times would have been missed, which I suppose has made me appreciate them even more than ever.

Splash Blue flowers
FlowersBoy at my feetHappy timesRaindrops

The Good Life : the first harvest of peas

The first harvest of peas

Today I tasted peas fresh from the pod, fresh from the plant, fresh from my own front yard. I’ve never tasted a pea quite like it – so sweet – and even sweeter knowing that they’ve been organically grown and sown by my little boy of 2 years old.

The peas were the first thing to have been sown in this years quest for ‘The Good Life’, but they were slow to show their green, sprouty faces. I thought that my decision to buy the cheaper Asda kids brand of peas at £1 had backfired on me for a while, but alas we have our first harvest, with plenty more flowers and pods to swell.

Bizarrely, peas used to be the first thing my eldest son (now 5) used to eat on a plate. Somewhere along the line, he’s heard someone refer to peas being ‘like bogies’ and has refused them since. Despite my best efforts to involve him in podding peas (bought from the greengrocer) last year, and the fun he had doing it, he was still reluctant to have them. I have managed to break through this year, as he thoroughly enjoyed the ones from the garden and was wanting more. It’ll be pea snack galore over the next month or so!

I’ve had a little experimentation using iPhoto on my picture of the peas. I may have got a little carried away? What do you think?

Snozcumber Street : brought to you by the letter A

imageHaving recently made another wedding cake with lyrics to the first dance, it got me thinking about my own wedding music. There are several songs that bring strong emotions and memories of our very special day. It got me thinking more deeply into how music and lyrics evoke such vivid memories and emotions for various significant points of our lives.
Music has always played a huge role in my everyday life. Perhaps this is why it’s such an important part in the construction of my own autobiographical memories.

In light of this, I’ve decided to start a new series of posts – “Snozcumber Street: brought to you by the letter…”
For those who do not quite get the title (Jenna, ahem), it is a play on Sesame Street. My aim is to go through an alphabetised list of my life’s most significant songs. I thought it was a particularly apt title, because a lot of Sesame Street is presented in the form of songs and music (a brilliant way for children to learn and train their memory).

I will really have to restrict the number of songs I list- three is the magic number. It will be tough to choose, but here goes!

Today, Snozcumber Street is brought to you by the letter A!

ALL I NEED

Air

This was the song that I walked down the aisle to. We married in an art gallery, and I get taken back there very time I hear it. Although, on my wedding day I was in tears as I walked down the aisle to this. Not because the idea of getting married was horrific, but I was overwhelmed with feelings of joy and worry- my dad had a severe fall down some stairs the day before and very nearly didn’t make it.

A-TISKET, A-TASKET

Ella Fitzgerald

I first listened to Ella in my first year at University when I bought a compilation called “The Ladies Sing Jazz”. I loved the sound of her voice so mucho, thatI went out and bought a compilation of early Ella songs. It was one of those albums that I listened to in endless succession, infact it still is. This is one of my favourites for singing along to.

ATOMIC DOG

George Clinton

I was brought up on a mixture of glam rock and disco, so despite being a grungy, indie kid, I was drawn to the world of Parliament-Funkadelic (seventies funk) when seeking out music in my mid teens. Anything Funky soon became my new obsession. I was lost in a world of thick, heavy, rhythmic bass and psychedelic guitar riffs. I was compelled by the sci-fi utopia, the philosophy, the political, social and moral commentary and the large injection of humour and the ridiculous. I remember the pivotal moment of buying my first George Clinton album, Computer Games, and hearing this song. It was the first point at which it really dawned on me just how influential Clinton and ParliamentFunkadelic was in modern hip-hop and rap – which I had previously discounted in my grungy-indie-teen way. I suppose it was at this point I really began to look beyond a fixed genre of music, and began to really venture out into the wider world of music.
So what ‘A’ songs evoke emotions and memories for you?

Have your cake and eat it : lyrical wedding cake with hand painted deer and bunting

wedding cake with deer, lyrics and bunting

I’m on the shy side when it comes to the blog and don’t tend to actually tell people I know about it. Of course I tweet when I’ve posted, but it feels like I have a certain degree of anonymity when shouting out into a great empty virtual nothingness. Given this, I was quite taken aback when Bex, the President of the Women’s Institute group I attend, approached me about making her wedding cake after seeing some of my cakes on here.

a work in progress

I really enjoyed making this cake, as it was very personal to the couple. Deers were central to the proposal and also featured on the invites which we’re beautifully made by a friend. The invites and wedding stationary used a mish-mash of upper and lowercase words in a font called Typeka. It was this font that was used to write the lyrics of the very poignant ‘first dance’ song – The Idea of Growing Old by The Features – onto the bottom tier of the cake. The castle silhouette is the same as the sign for the family farm where the wedding reception took place. I also made some miniature bunting propped up by some vintage knitting needles for the top of the cake, as the barn was also decorated in bunting (borrowed from the WI)!

The cake itself was chocolate sponge with cherry jam for the bottom tier, and a basic sponge with strawberry jam for the top tier. It was presented on a pretty cake stand which my Hubby picked up for 50 pence from the antique shop.

Sharing my shiny, thrifty cake stand for fifty pence! Doesn't it look the part!? Click on the link to see what other thrifty treasures have been found this week. X

Sharing my shiny, thrifty cake stand for fifty pence! Doesn’t it look the part!? Click on the link to see what other thrifty treasures have been found this week. X

deer wedding cake details

On a final note, here’s to wishing a huge congratulations to the happy couple, and may you have many years as beautiful as your wedding day sounded! X x X

Let’s get crafty: cement plant pot

DIY cement plant pot

I am a tight-pursed Yorkshire lass with a streak of Mrs “I can make it at home for nothing” from the comedy sketch show Goodness Gracious Me. I now have enough  LP plant pots on my windowsill to open up my own melted LP plant pot shop. Despite this, I still have oodles of plants in desperate need of bigger pots which I refuse to go out and buy. Why buy them when I can make it at home for nothing. All I need is some cement, sand, water, old plastic bowls and a small aubergine…

prepare two plastic bowls

cement plus sand

mix in the water well

fill the base half full

squishy squashy

tip it and chip it

look at what you did!

IMG_0495

Things to bear in mind when making a cement bowl:

Make sure you wear gloves to protect your delicate hands.

Don’t wear your best frock.

Don’t wear your best anything.

Put something down to collect any cement spillages. The stuff gets everywhere.

Only use a material that is non-hygroscopic (will not absorb moisture) for your moulds.

Have fun!

I’m thrifty and I know it: copper pots and enamel jug

Pan, kettle and enamel jug

Hubby had the car in the garage at the weekend and conveniently found time to pop into the antique shop nearby. We’ve had quite a few gems from there in the past, and Hubby was not let down this time. Apparently the first floor is items now at a few quid, and the top floor is dedicated to things at just fifty pence each! Wowzers!

Vintage knitting needles

As well a a bundle of chisels that he bought for himself, he also brought home a few bits for me. The blue jug was a fifty-pencer, and the Hubby had actually bought it for himself for his paintbrushes. Before he knew what had hit him, I’d whipped the jug up and put my vintage knitting needle collection into it. A much better use for it I think!

Kitchen shelves

The teapot and copper pan were £3 each, and are sitting nicely on shelves amongst some of my other kitchen-ware.

Apologies for the fuzziness of the pictures again. I have been really busy lately, so taking quick snaps on the iPad is about all I can manage for now!

What shiny, thrifty treasure have you found this week? Click on the link to see what other’s have found this week!

Magpie Monday