Saturday, 28 February 2015

Tatton Glasshouses

primroses-for-saleStill chilly and damp so we lingered around the glass houses on a recent trip to our nearest National Trust property, Tatton Park. The gardens are of course a little bare but things are certainly growing indoors with gusto..................

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Love Heart Crafts #BostikBloggers

Time again for our Bostik Bloggers crafting box and we are late with our crafting as if you follow you will have heard that Little Bird has been quite poorly and in and out of hospital. Now he is getting better what better fun that to get out the craft materials and experiment. The box was all pink, red and heart themed so we decided to make a pretty heart decoration and a trinket box.
Bostik Bloggers Craft Box

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

February has made me sad

February-illustration-Elsa-BeskowSo this month has been hard, very hard. My son has been in and out of hospital with stomach pains which in turn has led to some very severe meltdowns. In fact it has been going on since January. He is exhausted and so are we.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Mother's Day celebration planning

Mother’s Day is Sunday March 15th and with three generations of mums in my family, it is true cause to celebrate. I thought that this year it would be fun to host a special lunch with home cooked food rather than heading out to a restaurant. Spring is almost here and it is a time of year for wonderful, fresh produce to make a menu that everyone will enjoy.
Mother's Day pink roses

Mustn't forget drinks too and as a treat, a glass of bubbly to go with the Mother’s Day feast. If you’re on a budget you can find offers in supermarkets like Tesco and look for a cheap champagne or even have a sparkling grape juice or a big pot of tea on the go. Just tea and cake would be a great option and just as lovely if you are short on time.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Winter colour in the garden and a creepy heron island

garden entrance Rode Hall in Cheshire, a beautiful home that opens up its 10 acres grounds for the snowdrop walks at this time of the year. We were there anyway for the monthly farmer's market and thought we would go and look around their gardens too.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Embarrassing fruit trees

onions in the shed So we carry on weeding, the never ending strands of couch grass. Strangely relaxing pulling the long white roots out of the soil. We cleared one section and I planted two rows of garlic - San Marco and Solent Wight, a little late but hopefully will be ready by mid summer.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Name obsession

I have a name obsession, picking names for children I do not have, well of course I have one but you know, IF I have any more I have a go-to list already. Best to be prepared :) Even better to have a Pinterest board for those names......

Follow Happy Homebird's board Name on Pinterest.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Flapjacks, music & a bruised pinky at the farmer's market

the-best-toffee-pudding A weekend morning at the start of what is spring in my head now and we head off to a farmer's market at Rode Hall, Cheshire. The thought of cheeses on display and prettily wrapped cakes always gets us up and out early to sample the best of our local producers.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Roses are pink

pink roses pink roses rose stems pretty roses
May you have a day filled with pink roses, chocolate, hugs and wet noses.

Be kind to yourself.

Pat the dog, stroke the cat, feed the birds.

Grab a woolly blanket. Grab a book.

Have a gentle day filled with whatever love you desire.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Holiday planning

I am so excited as just after Easter we are off to Cornwall for a week. I have never been before and I can't wait to explore the quaint villages and beautiful coastline. Then  I decided that we had to also go back to Tenby and booked a week to South Wales for late summer, once the kids have gone back to school. One of the benefits of home education is cheaper holidays! Being able to go away when we please means we save a fortune on the cost of our family breaks and have money for our holiday wardrobe instead.

With that in mind, I started this week and bought Little Bird some gorgeous items for our Spring break - navy jacket, fun t-shirts, cute pumps and trousers. A good start and I will be keeping my eye out for some bright and practical items for him to wear whilst running along beaches, dipping into rock pools and exploring the Cornish ports and harbours.

For myself I like smart clothes with a practical element so will be looking at a new pair of shiny wellies, pretty sweaters and a posh new coat, maybe a classy Barbour jacket. A coat that looks so smart and will keep me dry when the rain pours, as I'm sure it will on our fabulous UK holiday.

We are staying in Perranporth which looks stunning and I'm putting together a list, as I always do of things we absolutely have to do. Have you been? Any recommendations? So far I have the boating lake and its surrounding gardens, the golden beach and smugglers caves and the sand dunes. Hopefully we will get to sample lots of local cafes and plenty of Cornish ice cream.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Winter gardens and summer dreaming

I find myself bored with winter this week. Cold and damp, wearing hats and boots. I've reached my end of season impatience. Winter you linger and I dream instead of the warm smiling sunshine and herbaceous perennial froth and fever. Blooms a hum of hoverflies and rambling thorny red roses up crumbling walls.

Alas there is a way to go until the season turns, so here is the winter garden of one of my favourite places - Chirk Castle in North Wales. Along the crocodile jaws of a Yew topiary avenue and into views back across the Cheshire Plains. Still beautiful with seeds heads and some great winter colour. Good to pop into the gift shop though to warm up and browse the metal owls and bottles of ale....

However, we went there last summer and I did not share with you so for some sun and to satisfy my summer dreaming, I give you roses and lavender parterres............
Chirk castle gardens in the winter woolly hat Chirk castle on a winter's day winter colours winter landscape seed heads owls twit twoo bottles of grog a summer garden's view Chirk garden map  yellow spires ferns Chirk Castle Hawk House barometer summer castle with rambling roses summer window view  photo purple-pom-pom-flowers peach-roses Chirk-Castle in the summer

Joining in with Mammasaurus for How Does Your Garden Grow?

How Does Your Garden Grow

Monday, 9 February 2015

Frosty Fountains Abbey

Frosty Studley Royal Water gardens love heart swans A frosty winter's day in  Ripon, Yorkshire. By the River Skell rises a wonderful old romantic ruin of a grand monastery from the Medieval era, Fountains Abbey.

Once inhabited by Cistercian Monks but left to crumble when Henry VIII (not my favourite king!) ordered the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

We walked through the Georgian Studley Royal Water Garden finding swans in love and an icy Half Moon Pond over looked by classical statues. A fair old walk for short legs but Little Bird enjoyed it.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Chinese New Year Crafting #BostikBloggers

I am so pleased to be a Bostik Blogger and opened my first crafting box alongside my son with much excitement. From the contents, with shiny reds and golds I instantly guessed the theme was Chinese New Year. Myself and Little Bird had a look at some images from when we had been to the Manchester Chinese New Year celebrations a couple of years back and LB instantly said that is what we made.
Our Bostik Bloggers Craft Box

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Winter walks for half term

Every weekend we love to get out and about as a family on little day trips and walks in the countryside. We enjoy nature but the weather is still so cold! The sun may shine for a little while and you can be momentarily fooled that it is spring already but once it hides behind cloud.....the chill sets in.

I love having warm, comfortable clothes for our rambles around  local country parks or woodlands but if we are stopping off at a cafe or pub afterwards for a treat, I also want to look smart. I often choose knitwear that I can layer up and team with jeans and boots. Out of all styles, my favourite kind of cardigans for women are long chunky woolly ones that cover you up snug to your knees. I can literally cosy up in a cardi and Little Bird also likes to wrap them around him when things get too much so they are very practical too.
Spring woodland
Image credit - snowdrops, Shutterstock

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Country kitchen spring style

Spring is the time for updating and improving your home. If you are looking for a new kitchen, take some seasonal inspiration from these country styles which will bring a fresh look to the most important room in the home.
Shaker Twist Kitchen Betta Living

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Coconut curry and rice #Coolcookery

As a busy home educator, I am nearly always in a rush at dinner time to put something nutritious and filling together for us all. After a day of going out on learning trips and a table full of puzzles and flashcards I am often tearing my hair out at 4pm thinking, what do I cook? I'm a vegetarian whilst the rest of the household are meat eaters so that does complicate things slightly. Convenience food is of course tempting but actually I want colourful meals full of vitamins and not chips.

With Britmums and the British Food Federation who have a great site , we are showing how frozen food  can be used in family meals. Frozen food is more than just your fishfingers, burgers and pizza, if you have a look in your supermarket's frozen aisle you will find all kinds of vegetables, meat, fish, fruit and even herbs.

Spring wildlife in the garden

Stepping into the garden over the weekend I noticed just how much more bird song there was. A flurry from one tree to another and the chirrups of little birds means that Winter is moving on now and Spring is truly on its way.

Our gardens host such a wide variety of nature and our back garden networks provide homes for many of our British wildlife. With the new season on the horizon why not get out into the garden and see what you can find? Over the next few months there will be plenty to see if you step out there and stay awhile. This super interactive image shows the wildlife you may see in an average UK  garden. Whether it is a mammal, bird or tiny bug, all are so interesting to observe and it is a honour that they have made our garden part of their home.
Birds are one of the easiest creatures to spot especially now as they start their nest building activities and are busy flying around gathering twigs and moss. A great activity to do with children is filling bird feeders particularly as the weather is still chilly and little wild food available, our feathered friends need a helping hand ready for raising their broods. Different birds eat different types of foods, for instance robins favour meal worms and finches and blue tits are mainly seed eaters, so it is a good idea to have a range of wild bird food accessible in the garden. Bird seed mixes and suet balls from Vine House Farm are ideal to stock your bird tables with and remember that some bird prefer hanging bird feeders whilst some larger birds use ground feeders. Well protected feeding areas away from predators will soon encourage the birds to your garden and give you plenty of opportunities to watch them during the springtime. Don't forget the fresh water for drinking and bathing too. Frosty nights can ice over water so ensure there is some available in your garden and that it is regularly cleaned out.

In my garden we also like to provide the garden birds with nesting material, anything from short pieces of wool to dog hair and moss. Don't tidy that garden just yet as small twigs and plant material is gathered up by nesting birds.
Blue Tit bird in the garden

As the sun starts to shine many hibernating animals such as hedgehogs start to reawaken and will be looking for food. Make a hedgehog house for them from old plant material, another reason to leave some untidy corners of the garden. Hedgehogs love wood piles that are full of creepy crawlies like slugs that provide a tasty hog meal. Supplement with dog food and a small dish of water, a daily activity for children to be involved in and then look for the signs they've been there the next morning. The log piles are also perfect for a mini beast safari to learn about different beetles and other invertebrates. Take a magnifying glass and look under stones and leaf litter to see what you can find.

If you are lucky enough to have a wildlife pond in the garden, a whole new world will open up to you, from frogs to pond skaters and dragonflies. Early spring is a super time to look for frog spawn and an opportunity to follow the lifecycle of the frog - does this bring back primary school memories? It is still fascinating to me, to watch the tadpoles turn into frogs, one of nature's wondrous events.

Frog lifecycle

As a child I kept a nature diary and would write down the creatures that I saw and the trees and plants in my suburban garden. I have such fond memories of pressing the wild flowers that sprung from the rough edges of the lawn and learning the names of the birds that I watched fluffing their feathers in our old stone bird bath. Every night, a blackbird would sing its evening song on the edge of the cherry tree and it made me love wildlife. A scrapbook or special notebook for a child to log their wildlife adventures would be a cherished momento of the seasons and they really will learn so much along the way. This is certainly something I will be doing with my son.

*Collaborative post with Vine House Farm*
Images Blue Tit bird drinking and Frog Lifecycle from Shutterstock.