Thursday, 29 May 2014

May endings

black and white flowers lilac
I cannot believe it is the end of May. There has been some lovely warm days and some horrid wet ones but the garden  at my parent's house is looking lush. There are plenty of flowers out from Lilacs to the huge yellow Dreaming Spires roses that grow up the front of the house. wild style front garden yellow thistle type flowerTheir front garden is rather wild and woolly. It's pretty much left to its own devices and flowers have self seeded and bulbs multiplied over the years. It doesn't look messy at all and is  low maintenance style. Many years ago it was a small lawn but Dad got tired of all the upkeep. Now it is filled with bluebells and will have delphiniums towering soon.strawberry plants jack russell garden helper Welsh poppy
In the greenhouse the plants have all grown so much. There have been some casualities due to the cheeky woodmice and a few snails but all in all from peppers and tomatoes to strawberries, it is all taking form and he should have a good harvest come late summer.Such a lot of growth since April and so pleasing to see your hard work pay off.secret garden brindle dog strawberry plant in flower Whilst removing branches from an overgrown conifer, Dad found an old bird's nest. So perfect in construction and empty aside from some pink blossom petals. He has moved it further up the tree in the hope it will be used again next spring. I wonder who it belonged too? Maybe a blackbird? Soon Dad will have a brand new shed under here to replace the old one. I'm trying to convince him to paint it cream and make it look pretty.He's old school though - a shed is a shed, for storing tools. Not for bunting and prettiness. Pah!old nest yellow rose
Hop over to Mammasaurus to see what everybody else has been doing in their gardens.

Mammasaurus and How Does Your Garden Grow?

Friday, 23 May 2014

The Temple Water Garden

garden around a lake water ferns This is the second instalment of our visit to Cholmondeley Castle Gardens after our first exploration. The Temple Water Garden is simply stunning and we had a lovely stroll around, over bridges, passing mini waterfalls with mysterious rock faces and playful cherubs.  This place oozes romance. bridgeThe marginal plants were such imposing structures. Huge waterside ferns unfurling. Wonka-esque long stalked pink pom-poms of the Indian rhubarb (Darmera peltata) and the Gunnera with its huge umbrella marsh plant pink flowers gunnera plant garden cherubs pink shrub flowers So peaceful. The castle was a hospital during the Second World War. It was after then that the gardens were planted to be what they are today. You don't want to walk fast here, you need to step, gently, feeling the breeze and listening to the waterfalls and the echoes of a bygone era.ornamental lake Cholmondely Castle Text book garden design, the eye led further on, always wanting more. tulip walk 
I love my favourite pink tulips planted en masse. pink tulips
And I love a fairytale castle to gaze at through purple flowers and a framing trees. I wish we could look inside but it is still a family home, so no peeking. pretty castle gardens magnolia dainty purple flower castle Out from the castle to the surrounding Cheshire Plains. Such amazing views and a perfect picnic place to come back to in the summer and to see how the planting displays have changed. English landscape
Pop over to Mammasaurus for some gardening delights.
Mammasaurus and How Does Your Garden Grow?

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Our Morning Story

You may know that my son has delayed speech so our morning is quite a set routine of phrases and activities.
After a little play in his bedroom, Little Bird come to me and says 'I want downstairs'. I then get him dressed although we do take time on this as it is learning opportunity. Can he name all the items of clothing, pick  a t-shirt, the red one or the blue one and can he choose himself a pair of socks from the pile in the cupboard. It does draw things out a bit but it is a great way of LB exercising his use of language and also to gain a bit of independence.

We go downstairs and LB will straight away say ' I want Apid' which I know is I want iPad, He's getting the word a little mixed up at the moment. He finds some background music he wants or has a quick play on an animal app where he wants me to ask him 'where is the snake/whale/ fish etc. and he will find it. This little process keeps him calm and then we have his background music which is usually classical over breakfast. 
Breakfast is pretty limited for LB due to his sensory issues, toast but will only eat the crusts, sausage roll (currently his favourite so I'll go with that) and maybe some cheese or a dry cracker. 'I want orange juice!' I know his language is severely delayed but 12 months ago we had no language so being able to express what he wants has changed family life. I recommend PECS for anyone in a similar position as it seemed to kick-start the language. 

After breakfast we tidy up and do some chores. I try to get LB involved in bringing dishes into the kitchen and then helping me with the laundry. Pass me the red sock, pass me the yellow t-shirt, pass mummy a peg. This has really helped his understanding and following of instructions. All to the tune of Mozart on the iPad still which he often goes back to for a little activity such as a puzzle or a matching game.
LB attends a preschool just three mornings a week and after July this year he will finish and we will be home educating 100% of the time. In the meantime we start doing some activities after breakfast and after a few chores. 

Firstly we look at the weather and change our weather board. We don't really focus on anything like days of the week or months as yet! Then we usually do some sensory work to calm LB's system down. On our programme we roll him over a gym ball or play squishing games with it. LB feels like he has to move a lot so these kind of sessions make him feel more grounded. 

I bring out a few puzzles or a busy bag over the duration of the morning. Small activities that don't overwhelm LB so it is little and often. We do silly dancing and singing rhymes and look out for the post lady although the dog usually notifies us first with lots of yapping. 

The morning usually finishes with ' I want Tree Tu Tu' which is I want Tree Fu Tom on the television :) We have a snack and then plan the afternoon. 

This post is an entry for #MorningStories Linky Challenge sponsored by belVita Breakfast. Learn more at

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Vroom vroom bedtime

Recently Little Bird has extended his interest from all things animal related to cars and trucks. As much as I love animals it is nice to have a change of topic. I have walked in to find him pushing cars along and saying ‘beep beep’ which is amazing and gives us plenty more play opportunities. Luckily we had a garage and some little toy cars in the loft that I had bought a while back. He hadn’t been interested in them at the time but now he is really enjoying rolling them along every surface in the house.  

 In order to nurture this new interest we selected a few car type books from the library and have been looking through them together at bedtime. I recommend Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things That Go for all its quirky vehicle pictures, gives you lots to point out and lots of vocabulary opportunities.  Cars Galore by Peter Stein is a wonderful rhyming books and very funny, a huge bedtime hit but most of all we loved Usborne’s Look Inside Cars. A lift the flap book that really grabs LB’s interest and I think it is a lot of fun too. Sometime I wonder who loves children’s books more – me or LB.

It has got me looking at children’s car beds for his bedroom. Wouldn’t that be great for bedtime and for play too?  After all when you are 4 a bed is not just for sleeping but for bouncing on, making dens and make believe.  LB needs a lot of help with imaginative play and I think a shiny red car bed with a set of wheels like the LPD Grand Prix Children’s Bed Frame from Bed Sale Online would certainly encourage him. We could even take the animals for a ride in our fancy sleek sports car. It has soft curvy side rails, so no corners to worry about excitable children banging heads on and additionally stops them from rolling out of bed if like me you have a nighttime wriggler.

Or we could pretend to be racing car drivers in the GFW Rampage Car Bed with its attractive design, ideal for that in-between stage before a big bed. Again it has soft edges for safety and is an affordable price for a sturdy bed. Both car beds fit a 3ft mattress which you can also purchase from the website’s large selection. These attractive beds are delivered flat pack with easy assembly and are next day delivery which is super handy when you need to arrange to be in.

Both car beds would be a great focal point for a child’s bedroom and would be the envy of friends. There are so many car accessories you could put in the room. In fact a car/garage themed bedroom would be a lot of fun to put together. I’m thinking road signs, jars of vintage cars up on the shelves and chequered flag style cushions. I think LB would love one of these beds and it would attract his attention with the bright colours and chunky look. He might not actually want to get out of it in the morning which would be brilliant for me to have a bit longer sleeping. If only!

Source: Pinterest
I was really into cars as a small girl, I had so many Matchbox vehicles and my favourite was a red convertible with the hugely imaginative name of Reddy (I can remember my little cars so well, over 30 years later!). I think both boys and girls would love a car bed in their bedroom. Certainly as a child I would have.

What do you think – would your children love to sleep and play in a bed such as these?

*This was a collaborative post with Bed Sales Online.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Sweet potato and aubergine moussaka #BettaRecipe

I have been a vegetarian for about 25 years and I'm always looking for new ways to change my weekly meal plans so I have a good varied diet. I spotted a competition with Betta Living for National Vegetarian Week which is from the 19th to 25th May to create a vegetarian dish and thought this was a good opportunity to try to make something new. photo finished-dish-text_zps8fd82217.jpg
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp tomato puree
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 courgette, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
400g tin of chopped tomatoes, drained
1tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cumin
sprinkle of salt & ground black pepper

1 aubergine, sliced into thin rounds
2 medium sweet potatoes, sliced into thin rounds

1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp plain flour
500 ml of semi skimmed milk
125g of mascarpone cheese 
a few sprigs of parsley
Pinch of nutmeg

100g cheddar cheese, grated
A few cherry tomatoes, sliced
 photo fryonions_zps86b9ddbd.jpgMethod:
Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4.
Heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan and add the chopped onions and the tomato puree. Stir well to coat the onions and fry gently for a couple of minutes.
Add the crushed garlic and chopped red pepper and courgette, frying for about 5 minutes on a low heat until soft.
Add the tinned tomatoes, lemon juice, cumin and paprika. Simmer for 15-20 minutes to thicken the sauce. Season to taste.
 photo addtinnedtoms_zps01aa2785.jpg  photo sweetpotato_zps58ea835b.jpg In an oven proof dish arrange the layers of sweet potato rounds, followed by a layer of aubergine and then spoon half of the tomato filling onto it. Repeat the layers again. photo veglayers_zps08536611.jpg
To make the white sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan and then add the plain flour. It will quickly combine and become a paste. Add a quarter of the milk and whisk to create a smooth mixture. As the sauce thickens gradually add the rest of the milk and add the mascarpone cheese. Stir well and simmer on a low heat before adding the chopped parsley. Add a pinch of nutmeg and seasoning.
 photo addwhitesauce_zps254a04fd.jpgSprinkle on the grated cheese and garnish with the chopped cherry tomatoes. Place in the oven for about 45 minutes until the topping is golden. I put it under the grill to make it extra crispy. Serve with some fresh salad if you plan on cooking large cuts
 photo finisheddish_zpsfe3ffb85.jpg  photo finishedplated_zpsaf2ad41d.jpg
This is my entry into the Betta Living Vegetarian Recipe competition.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Cow Parsley weekends

country postbox
 I love May with its decorated verges of frothy Cow Parsley. Lush green trees and hedgerow blossom making the country roads look so beautiful. In between the extremely frequent rain showers we stopped here and there on our travels at roads One of Cheshire's lovely lakes with a sailing club, wildlife and a row of senior citizens all eating ice cream in their cars. I guess it is a popular spot. A little promenade where the ducks eagerly approach, obviously used to being fed a piece of bread or two. ducks in a row Rushmere, Cheshire Rushmere in Cheshire A sweet little place in gorgeous Cheshire countryside. I love finding places by chance and then they become regular stops. Little places to break up a journey where we can see the seasons change.cow parsley verges A roadside sign for a children's mini farm immediately caught my eye. I knew a certain little boy who would be very happy about this. There were chickens of all different varieties from your typical hen to fluffy bantams. A couple of donkeys were skipping about  the field and some sheep grazed quietly. We squelched around the small holding and said hello to our furry and feathered friends. photo IMG_0707_zps779eeb3e.jpg saying hello to chickens funny goats Goats again! They do make me laugh, comical creatures with heaps of personality and always scratching their sides on posts and the corner of the shed. Must be that shaggy coat. One goat was being treated to some lush grass in the pasture. He barely noticed us as he was being that greedy.greedy goat Then the rain started up again so it was back to the car and home again where despite feeling summery we lit a fire to keep warm! The changeable weather is such a pain, one minute we are without coats in sunshine and the next we have icy stair rods of rain. puddles and cow parsley Here's hoping the current weather system moves on soon so I can get back outside without the boots and rain mac. pretty cow parsley