Friday, 25 July 2008

School's Out!

Well school finished on Wednesday, so I don't know how much making, doing and blogging I will be able to do.

I have a few mammouth projects I want to do. Not sure I will get all of them done!

And then I saw another project I like, the ripple blanket which involves crochet (I don't know how you do that) but I think that will definitely be put on hold as I've got too many balls in the air already!

On the upside, my eldest read the whole of book 2b - all 50 pages last night. We're very proud of him, hopefully we'll get through the sets through the holidays.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Out for Delivery!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is the life of my parcel, so far!! ( I love these parcel tracking facilities on courier's websites - although I have been known to be frustrated, when it says, it is out for delivery, and does not arrive that day!!)

Parcel number: EC6&&&&&&&GB Status: In progress
Parcel tracks
Date Time Location Tracking Event
17-07-2008 05:47 Gatwick Depot Out for delivery

17-07-2008 05:18 Gatwick Depot Arrived at delivery depot
17-07-2008 01:53 National Hub Sorted in hub

16-07-2008 22:43 International Hub En route to delivery depot
16-07-2008 22:39 International Hub Arrived in destination country
16-07-2008 18:12 Heathrow Airport Arrived at destination country
16-07-2008 01:42 Delivery Agent - Tokyo Left origin country
15-07-2008 19:25 Delivery Agent - JAPAN Collected from customer

Hopefully it will be here soon. It is supplies for the Gocco.

Monday, 14 July 2008


Look what the postman left for me from the USA! From Caseys Wood.

I did try and find a similar shop in the UK, but I had no luck. However, the price was very reasonable. For this stash I paid $14.16 for the products and $11.95 for shipping - and it only took 5 days to get to the UK, which I thought was great. So in UK money it came to c£13. I was impressed and the shop was v v efficient.

All will be revealed....

But inspired by this, this and this!

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Summer Lovin'

Strawberry Tart version 2. This was from Dan Lepard's column in the Guardian as follows:

125g plain flour
25g ground almonds
25g caster sugar
50g unsalted butter, softened
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp brandy

For the filling
125ml milk
2 tbsp cornflour
1 egg white
50g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
200ml crème fraîche
400g strawberries

Put the flour, almonds and sugar in a bowl, then rub in the butter until incorporated. Beat together the egg yolk and brandy, mix in and stir to a soft dough. Wrap and chill for 30 minutes, then roll out and line a 24cm shallow tart tin. Line with paper and baking beans, and bake at 180C (160C fan-assisted/350F/gas mark 4) for 30 minutes until evenly golden, removing the paper and beans halfway through.
Tip the milk, cornflour, egg white, sugar and vanilla into a pan, whisk until smooth, then bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Remove from the heat, spoon into a bowl and cover to stop a skin forming as it cools.
When cold, beat in the crème fraîche, then spoon into the pastry case. De stalk the strawberries, cut them in half and fan over the top of the tart, cut side and thick end downward.

I didn't use his recipe for pastry as I don't like almonds, instead another sweet pastry recipe that I have. Everything else I did the same. I like the "creme patisserie" bit to it. Very nice. I have Dan's book which is excellent called exceptional cakes: baker and spice which has the BEST ever gingerbread biscuits in them, and loads of fantastic top notch bakery standard cakes and treats in it. I'm not talking Greggs here, more Tea at the Ritz! Which, by the way, I once did for my grannie's 80th birthday. One of her lifelong dreams. A few years ago my sister and I went to the Dorchester for their afternoon tea, and it is out of this world! If in London go to one of the top hotels and splash out on afternoon tea.

The sad thing is in less than 2 months there will be no more British strawberries, but we will be blackberry picking and that to me is Autumn coming!! So we're enjoying the fruits of summer while we can.

Summer Fair Scrummy & Yummy Cakes

Today is my son's school fair, so I have made 22 fairy cakes, iced up in glorious shades and designs, topped off by smarties, who wouldn't want to eat them!! (i use colour pastes from sugarcraft shops -sugarflair and wilson- that way you et a really deep colour with just a drop of paste)

For adults, I've also made Lemon cake and some brownies. So I feel suitably armed when I enter the playground!

It should be really good, last year there was a Dalek you could have your photo next to. How cool is that!!!??


No Daleks, but plenty of Star Wars characters. My son was too scared to have his picture with them.

At least Superman was on hand to keep them in line!

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Art of the Note - Gocco Swap

Look over there ----------> and you will see a Gocco Swap banner, from Cloth Paper String, which is just the thing to get me going on my little, yet fabulous machine! I'm going to get my thinking cap on, and design a few different things. Any ideas welcome!

My jumper, yes the Pirate one, is nearly there!!! I'm on the neckband. Of course the fear that it won't fit my youngest is quite strong!!! I'm not convinced by the sleeve length etc! That didn't work out at all in the pattern. When I'm finished I'll have to do a thorough report on the issues I found with it.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Writing for Boys

In the UK, children start formal school at the age of 4. Which is 2/3 years earlier than many other countries. Plus there has been no proof that we do better for starting school so young.

Anyway, my eldest is nearly at the end of his first year of school, called Reception Year, where they try to level out all the children's knowledge to get them on a level playing field, so to speak. They are all taught to read and write. Clearly, as individuals, they will all pick this up to differing degrees.

We have been pleased with his reading progress, it's come along in fits and starts, so I've run schemes to keep him motivated - eg sticker charts, with a reward once it is completed, a book obviously!

Lately his writing could be improved. And my son has never been keen on writing, so this is quite a challenge to get him to do it.

But yesterday I came up witha genious idea!!! My 5 yr old son, is always asking for things from me. So I told him all requests from now on have to be written to me. He loves it!!! He writes a question, I help him with spelling if he needs it, and then I write my answer, which he then reads and so on!!

This morning he did write "Can I throw (my brother) away?" To which I responded NO!!!!

We'll see how it goes, but just to get him writing is quite an achievement, and I'm rather pleased with my latest plan!! I doubt it'll last too long, but I'll see how it goes! If anyone else has ideas for encouraging reading & writing, I would love to know. Plus if you are not from the UK, what age did your child start school??

Monday, 7 July 2008

Pirates Ahoy!

Today is Pirate Day at my eldest son's school. Luckily he has a full compliment of Pirate costume - so I didn't have to worry about that.

Parents were asked to sign up to bring in food, I opted for fairy cakes, as usual. I baked them yesterday morning. Iced them with white icing in the afternoon, then after Wimbledon I iced skull & crossbones on with black icing. I was pleased with how they came out. I'm sure the children will be happy with them!

Other yummy food I made this weekend, were some scrummy chocolate brownies from my new Scoop ice cream book. The recipe was good as it asked for Cocoa Powder, rather than a bar of dark chocolate. But they tasted just as heavenly and came out really nicely. Cracked on top yet sticky and moist on the inside.