Sunday, May 17, 2015

The birds and the bees

We have a new chicken lady, to replace the one that disappeared into thin air this winter - literally disappeared into thin air - there were no feathers or signs of a struggle as with a dog or fox attack so I'm assuming that she was taken by a bird of prey. 
The kids have called her Paella, I think it is a loosely disguised threat that if she doesn't come up with the goods she will be the goods!!!  Not that they, or Rich, would ever go through with it - I've called their bluff before on this subject telling them I'll peel the veggies while they 'do the necessary' with the chicken - and the lady in question has always lived to see another day, or lay another egg as the case may be.

We don't really have bees but we do now have a bee hive!  It needs a little work and I need a little information on bee keeping before we buy a swarm, but it's a start at least.   The boys are now very busy trying to think of names - approximately 40 000 - for it's future inhabitants....that'll keep them occupied for a while!

The garden is slowly taking shape, but we are paying for our lack of autumn maintenance with sore and blistered hand this spring - it's a jungle out there!!  no pictures I'm so ashamed!!!
Despite Friday's snow - yes Snow - we have managed this weekend to plant kale, carrots, Brussels sprout, courgette, runner beans and pumpkins and I've gotten myself a 'wonderful' farmers arms tan!!!

Sow - how does your garden grow?

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Foraging Fever

Tuesday morning Richard rose bright and early, briefly informing me that he was off to pick 'bourgeons de sapin' and that there was hot coffee ready downstairs!  He'd scoured the internet the night before for recipes but ended up concocting his own... 'au pif' as they say in french.  My mother always baked with a similar disregard for precis measurements and her cakes were the best, so I've high hopes for Richard's 'Sapinette'.

Time will tell - 'the mix' of sapin buds, 40% proof clear alcohol and sugar needs to be left for three months in the dark and regularly shaken.  After which it can be consumed with moderation!

La Sapinette is expectorant, antiseptic and known for it's curative powers for respiratory infections.  It's also very alcoholic, so for the kids Richard made a few jars of 'sirop d'épicea', basically substituting the alcohol for water and leaving the mix to infuse for three days in the sun.  It can be drank diluted with water, poured over pancakes, ice-cream etc.

It seems the big guy has caught foraging fever, as the very same afternoon he was out picking dandelion flowers - 365 one for each day of the year. With Rémi's precious help we proceeded to slowly pick off all the yellow petals before leaving them to dry for two hours in the sun.  After which I was on my own!  I found the following recipe on-line and stuck firmly to it:

Cook together 365 flowers, 1 organic orange, 1 organic lemon and 1.2l of water and leave to infuse for 24 hours.  The next day, re-heat, filter (give the solids to chickens) add 1kg of sugar to the juice obtained and cook until set - approximately 10 minutes.

I got just short of 5 250g jars of golden 'honey'; as you can see there were no bee's involved but as it has a very honey like consistency it's often referred to as 'miel de pissenlit'.

Dandelion Honey

I wonder what foraged loveliness Richard will bring me next? 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Birthday Gifts

We're all invited to a birthday tomorrow - well actually two different birthdays but in the same village so we might just be able to go to both!   But the one we've been busily creating for this week is that of a 10 year old girl in Rémi's class.
I bought this box for Rémi to decorate with his signature 'Rosace' and he thought a few extra embellishments might also look nice...

...her name and a few wee flowers were the perfect touch.

A few weeks ago Kim sent me a letter in a hand decorated envelope, it had on it a cute little bee, so we borrowed her idea - hope she doesn't mind our plagiarism!!

"Mirror, mirror..."
For Alice I made a little bag from a tea-towel.  My uneasy relationship with my sewing machine has been touched upon briefly on my blog before but this time I went about the project a little differently, I made sure 'Ms Singer' knew who was in charge!!! I even chanted a mantra "Who's the Boss?"  "Emma's the boss"", over and over as 'we' sewed.  And guess what, things went pretty well.  Granted it's basically a rectangle with a strap but for me that's is quite an achievement!  Though about making another one for the other birthday boy (40th), you know, a Man Bag "you can still be tough and carry your stuff"  but Richard thinks a six pack will be more welcome.

What have you been crafting this week?

Friday, May 1, 2015

Rabbit Al Fresco

Bunny's summer day residence is ready

She appears to like her new 'terrain' but is a little wary of the barn, that Richard and the boys spent so much time making!!!

I think she looks a lonesome in there all by herself, but my attempts at getting Richi to agree to a bunny partner are as of yet unsuccessful.  A friend has advised me not to push it for the second bunny if I want to get a goat, Rich likes animals to have a purpose, like the chickens laying eggs, so I'm selling him the goat as a precious help in lawn control. 

Ringo does hang out with her a bit until wonder lust gets the better of him and he takes himself off on a wee jaunt.  I can't expect him to sit with her all day, after all he does have the chickens to harass also!

She is enjoying finding lots of new and interesting things to eat but I had to scatter a little bit of straw around the place as she seems quite preoccupied with the mud sticking to her feet - precious little house rabbit that she is!!

We bring her back in at night as I don't want her going all wild on us, and besides, during our long winters she will have to be house bound again (and trained).

Around the other side of the house, work is almost finished on our first raised bed (f.i.l thinks it's a waste of space!).  There is nothing growing in it at the moment so it looks a bit like an above ground tomb!  Will share some pics in a few days.

Next up will be changing all the fencing around the chicken coop as the snow wrecked havoc with it this winter, and once that's done I want the chaps to build me one of these:

A Nordic Bath - I'm dreaming obviously, I know full well I won't get one but can you imagine soaking in there after a hard day of toiling in the garden, sipping a glass of something cold and refreshing...

Monday, April 27, 2015

To the sea...

...or to be more precise, to the beautiful Pembrokshire Coast National Park.

The three day drive from France was surprisingly uneventful - given that we had two kids and a dog in the car!  (Thank you Mark for the loan of the portable DVD player!).  Our first pit stop was a charming 'gypsy' caravan (Roulotte) in St Quentin, in the Picardie region.
 I must admit I'd never given the north of France a second though as a holiday destination but it is definitely a spot I'll like to return to in the future for a longer stay.  The region is steeped in history as it was the stage of many WW1 battles, and there are countless monuments and epitaph's attesting to the bravery of the soldiers, the resistance movement and the citizens who lived and died during this horrendous war.

The water in sunny west Wales was as cold as ever, but the boys still had a wee dip!  Even Ringo got his paws wet.

We enjoyed seven days of glorious sunshine barring the morning we decided to do a 'paying' activity, when it rained,...sods law, but the boys managed to get their fill of fun all the same.

Whilst Richard and Ringo took themselves on early morning coastal runs, the boys were treated to breakfast in front of the TV (watching cartoons in Welsh!!), with the rest of our days spend with my dad aka Papy Tatoo, walking on the beach, the coastal path and visiting places of historical local interest...

...St Byrnach's Church, or what remains of it, after the rest was washed into the sea in 1859 in a dreadful storm which was also responsible for the loss of 113 ships along the coast of Wales...

 ...and the UK's smallest city - St David's...

 St Davids city centre!
which owes its status as a city to the fact that it has a cathedral!

Papy Tatoo
We were lucky in more than one way with the good weather, it enabled us to eat out doors as dogs are not welcome in very many restaurants in the UK!

We've only been back a few days but I'm already looking forward to our next visit.  Richard is even talking about buying a holiday home over there (he must have more cash stashed under the mattress than I know about!!).

Some pictures of our last visit can be found here

Monday, February 16, 2015

Easy Like Sunday Morning

I'm never more convinced in there being a creator behind all this beauty than when I'm out in the nature.  That all this, and us, evolved from a speck of dust in a pool of tepid water seems, at times, highly unbelievable.
I guess it's for this reason I've never felt compelled to spend my sunday mornings in church.

"The wisdom's in the tree's not the glass windows" (Jack Johnson)

Sunday morning we set off to the Les Songenaz, the woods just behind our house.  It was a bit chilly at first as we don't get the sun until 11ish at the moment, but the kids and Ringo have that internal heating system called manic energy and well, I was wrapped up nice and warm and wearing my new boots that I picked up for a snip at a sale!


not sure the tree enjoyed this as much as the kids did!
This rock is part of a bouldering site that Richard helped grade and open many moons ago during his one year compulsory military service (he was with the mountain police and basically spend the year trail running and climbing!)

Then homeward bound via a path less travelled....

The mountain behind the boys is La Prarion, it's a great snowshoeing itinerary, but as it finishes on a fairly exposed ridge I've no plans to take the kids there just yet!

 Just in time for lunch!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Yarn Along - small people for small people

Just loving how these little Gnomes knit up so easily from the smallest amounts of stash.

I'm planning on making a set for a little boy who is soon to become a big brother.

And for the baby, a Knubbelchen from left over sock yarn.
I like that these have no facial expression.  I always find that it's the hardest part of making a toy.

I was very excited to receive my copy of Deliciously Ella in the mail yesterday and got straight into making her chocolate spread - hazelnuts, maple syrup, cacao and water!
I've also tried Ella's Sweet Potato Brownies, and despite my dates being, well a little out of date and dry, and my mixer not being a powerful as it once was, they turned out beautifully!

Delicious even with the un-blended bits of dates

School hols here, the weather is great and Rich has some time off for cross-country skiing with us for a change!

Linking up with Ginny