Sunday, 18 December 2011

Christmas tree skirt and ornaments

Years ago, when little lady was baking.. I decided that I wanted momentoes for each year of my childrens lives. My husband and I started three new traditions for our family. The first one is our tree skirt. Unable to find completely plain ones, I made our own. Each year at Christmas, we take a black sharpie and trace around the kids hands, then color it in with fabric glitter paint in holiday colors. We write their initial and the year next to their handprints. The kids love this tradition and each year spend time going around the skirt fitting their hands around previous years hands to see how much they've grown!

Last year, the dog walked through the paint and put her paw on the skirt, so we added her in, as well as one for hubby and myself. If only we vould capture the cats too, we'd have a complete family on here!

Our second tradition is thst each year we go together and each buy one new ornament. This is no ordinary pretty ornament, it takes thought and perseverance, as the ornament is supposed to highlight something important about the year, something worth remembering.

Lastly, I have been making photo baubbles of the kids since little lady was born. Each year a photo of the two of them goes into a clear ball, with the year on it and gets hung as an ornament on the tree. This year i was delighted to be in Boots in the UK and see that they sell these balls with the year nicely plaqued on! All I had to do was add the pictures!

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Christmas ornament gifts

I was struggling with what to get some friends of mine back home in the States... (lets see how many of you read this and ruin your presents!)

When I came across these globe ornaments in a store. Inspiration hit and I bought a bunch. I decided to hot glue a piece if string from our old city to our new city on the globe. I then cut the heads off of pins and hot glued them ontop ( careful not to use to much!)

Then I found a gift tag image on the computer, found some sayings I liked about friendship and distance, printed them on the tags, then cut and glued on a backing piece that I liked and strung the saying through the ornaments hanging strings. Voila! A beautiful and sentimental gift!
I did try putting the saying through the string, but it pulled to much and I feared it would unglue the whole thing!  

Friday, 2 December 2011

Amazing trees!

My whole life I've been obsessed with trees.  When I was little, I would spend HOURS outside with a sketch pad and a pencil drawing the trees in my yard.  Now, I am lazy, and take pictures of them!  I have hundreds of pictures of trees from all over.  I just love their majestic stance and the way they interact with their environment.  I love the way they form, and how they tell a story in the way they split and twist.  

Monday, 21 November 2011

Our 2011 Christmas Card

With Love Christmas Card
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Thursday, 17 November 2011


The paddock across the street where I throw the balls for my dog everyday is riddled with shrooms! I was curious to see how many types there were and how many were poisonous vs. edible. To that end I photographed them and will be researching to see..

Think any fairies or smurfs are living under there?

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Thanksgiving wreath

Cruising the web always gives me a weath of ideas... Tonight was no different.

My front door seemed bare, the only decorations in my house for the upcoming holidays was the ever blossoming thanksgiving tree on the kitchen wall. What could I do with the materials already in my house that eould be on theme and tie in with my home made tree?

I needed inspiration... After searching around for a while, I came across a website that showed me how to make a beautiful wreath for thanksgiving out of clothespins where everyone wrotes their thanks on it when they come to your door! I loved it, but was lacking the wire wreath and the clothespins! I also already had a place we were writing our thanks on...

However the wreath idea stuck with me, and this is the result.

I happened to have some 12" circles lying around, so I glued two of them in fall colors back to back with a ribbon stuck in between.

Then i gathered a whole bunch of leaves. Its better to do this when they are dry, not wet, but not crispy either. If you can gather lots of different colors, your wreath will be more colorful and fallish. I gathered in the dark, so i got what i got!

Begin by hot gluing a layer of leaves to the outside of the circle. Try to keep them all at the same distance from the edge. Then add another layer to the alternate spaces in between.

Find a circle that fits inside ( or measure the inside portion of your corcle not covered in leaves) and cut a circle to fit.

Hot glue it down, and write your message inside! Hand it proudly.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire...

I bought some chestnuts the other day from the grocery store and big daddy spent the evening roasting them over the fire...

 Little man felt the need to try his hand at roasting too!
Then he so kindly shelled them all for us! Note his black fingers!

Thanksgiving tree

It's November 3 and I just realized I haven't created our Thanksgiving tree yet! I thought about creating a traditional one of paper with our crayons and leaves from the garden but then I thought we would do something little more creative this year.

I have long butcher paper and I'm thinking that I'll put up on the wall the kids and I will take a long walk in the woods with the dog and collect sticks as we go along. We'll glue sticks onto the paper in the shape of the tree and then collect leaves from the outside garden to paste onto the tree. We can then take sharpie markers and write our thanks onto those leaves. We'll each do one leaf for each day from November 1 until Thanksgiving day.

Well maybe I should've checked the weather forecast as you can see from the photo it is dark grey and rainy here now ..,so much for collecting sticks and leaves in the woods! let's see if I can come up with a contingency plan.

We decided to paint the tree, little lady and little man stripped down in a flash ( so i cant put their pics on the blog!) and got to work. They worked through how to make brown out of their available colors, red, green, black, white, yellow and blue. I drew a rough tree in pencil before they started. Little man had managed to collect some dry leaves before it started raining and i asked them what they were thankful for. We wrote them in black sharpie and plan on glueing them to the tree once dry.
The finished product.... Now to add a leaf for each of us per day!

Monday, 10 October 2011

Buying a vehicle is a pain in the bum...and a lot like buying a hamburger...

So we're trying to purchase a new vehicle.  What a pain in the bum.  Decisions about what size you want, 4, 5 or 7 seats?  Do you want a tank or a small car?  What options would you like?  It all adds up  though, of course.  Why is it that options designed to save you money, and help save the environment cost more? When you figure it out it's almost a wash.  The only satisfaction you get is the knowledge that you 'may' have helped to save the environment by having lower emissions.  You pay more for the vehicle, even though you saved some in gas or diesel.  If you want to go truly green, you have to wait months and months to get your car, making it a no-option for those of us who can't wait very long to purchase.  It's like going to the grocery store and noticing that healthy food, organic, less fat, etc options cost MORE money than the fatty, non-organic ones.  Figures.

The Danish have added a 'fat tax' to food, and many other countries are debating on whether to add it as well.  The basic idea being that if food has less than 2.3% saturated fat, it is exempt from the tax and foods containing more will be taxed based on the percentage above that number.  Therefore, I think, the idea is that foods higher in fat will cost more than foods  more healthy for you.  I wonder, however, if that will actually be true.  Say a package of 4 hamburger patties costs  2.03.  a non-fat version  costs 2.54 because it requires more processing than the fat version does.  Taxing the two will put them at roughly the same price, right?  I guess then that if you are poorer, you will now spend the same amount of money (more than what you used to spend) to get the option of choosing the non-fat version.

I wonder if it'll work in the short term.  People used to eating full fat meals aren't going to switch to the non-fat meals just because they can.  I remember that I used to drink full fat milk well into my twenties simply because anything lower in fat content tasted like water to me.  It took almost 2 years before I could drink 2% without commenting.  I think food will be the same; it's going to take a long time for the change to happen.  In my opinion, working on bringing down the costs of food processing would be a valuable tandem project.  If healthy food was significantly cheaper to purchase than fatty food, it would speed up the process...

Friday, 7 October 2011

Book writing...

So, I have all this time on my hands, so I'd better do something productive with it.  I had a book idea this morning, and am trying to figure out if I should write it in pieces and post bits here on the internet, or whether that would be a bad idea.  Should I write it all first, or should I not do the internet thing at all?  What is it about the UK that makes me want to write?  I step foot in this country and my hand begins to itch for my pencil.  My blog starts back up, my writing comes to life...  I even want to finally finish some of those kids books that've been rattling around in my head for years.

Also - I'm trying to learn C - yes the programming language, as I have decided that I want to make interactive books for the three books that I already do have published..  Ipad app here I come!  I'm hoping to get hubby to help with them as he's the C programming genius  !

I also had the idea this morning that while I'm doing that, I can put together a few after school curriculum for parents to do with their kids.  A proper curriculum for cooking, sewing, science, maths and reading.  A structured curriculum that people could download and do with their kids once a week in order to supplement their education where it might be lacking.  What do you think?  

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Wonderful flower photos!

Yes, she belongs to us, she's our 2 1/2 year old golden retriever, Ryla.  She accompanies me on so many of my walks, that these photos would't be complete without her!  

Wednesday, 28 September 2011


So my gardening project has begun.  I'm ambitious, and have probably bitten off more than I can chew, but I'm in it now, and if I don't want my plants to die, I'd better hop to it!

I started with herbs...  basil, cilantro (coriander), mint, flat leaf and curled leaf parsley.  I then added garlic to the windowsill.  It grows straight up in stalks so it adds a nice visual contrast to the windowsill leaves.

I then decided to get a greenhouse... it gets cold here in North London...!  In it, I put eggplant, tomatoes (both cherry sized and beef steak sized) marigolds, sweet corn, green/red & yellow peppers, spinach, broad beans, and petite pois.  So far, they are growing beautifully!

Next to the greenhouse, I have potatoes, cauliflower, cabbage and leeks growing...  and in their own separate little greenhouses on the ground, I have onions and two kinds of lettuce growing.   I have fleece covers for the entire greenhouse sets, so I'm hoping to keep the worst of the frost off of the plants through the winter.
 Once my seedlings took root and started to green up, I got really ambitious!  Inside my house, I decided to try some fruit trees.  From bottom right to top left, I have growing: Lemons, turmeric, fig, 4 different kinds of grapes, Kaffir Lime tree, chilli peppers, and strawberries.  Check out some of the budding and new fruits of my labour below!

As I write this (a bit late, as I've had this garden going for over a month now), I have my first pest problem.  whitefly - which isn't such a big deal as they mostly appear dead on the windowsill, green mites of some sort, green baby caterpillars and perhaps a slug.  I am researching options to figure out how to get rid of them before they eat my herbs.  Thankfully they are all located only in my windowsill herbs and haven't affected any of my other plants.