Monthly Archives: May 2014

Homemade Elderflower Cordial

Well with the weather as it is I figured there was nothing for it than to make some elderflower cordial in hope that it brings the sunshine out… come back summer!

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I love the taste of elderflower and I have always wanted to make my own cordial, with our very own elder tree sitting in the corner of the garden I didn’t need much persuading. It is not a very old tree and this is the first year it has flowered so well.

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Caleb puss watched intently, as I snipped away and gathered the flower heads.

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For this recipe I used:

1kg Sugar ~ 1.5 litres of boiling water ~ 3 lemons washed ~ 30 large elderflower heads (shake to remove insects) ~ 50g of citric acid (available from the chemist)

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1. Put the sugar in a large bowl and add the boiling water, stir until completely dissolved, then leave to cool.

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2. Grate the lemons with a fine grater and slice them into thick slices, before adding to the solution.

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3. Stir in the citric acid and then the flower heads.

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Ayla woke up from her afternoon nap just in time to help add the elderflowers, (a toddler isn’t necessary for this stage… but it does add to the excitement!)

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4. Cover the mixture with a clean cloth and leave to steep, I left my solution for about 24 hours but you can leave it up to 48 hours if you like.

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5. Using a muslin cloth (baby muslin) I strained the mixture into a clean pan. (A large elastic band can help to hold the cloth in place)

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6. Finally using either a funnel or a jug, decant into your bottles which should be sterilised (you can do this in the oven or using a sterilising solution)

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This recipe made up nearly two bottles which is perfect as I wanted to give a bottle to my mum and there are still plenty of flowers on the tree for a second batch.

Then all that was left to do was add water to a jug with a good helping of elderflower cordial, mix and wait for the Sun to come out for a truly refreshing drink and a taste of British summer!

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A-MAY-zing days out!!

 May has been so beautiful, but I have hardly blogged!! At the beginning of the month we were blown away by this breathtaking sight…. a sea of bluebells whilst out walking.

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My photos don’t do it justice, these were taken up and around West Malvern if you ever get the chance to see them they are well worth a look. (We weren’t the only ones bluebell-adoring, they had quite a crowd of fans that day especially as the sun was shining).

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Ayla decided Daddy’s shoulders were more fun than walking!

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Watson enjoyed the view…

I just couldn’t get enough of the bluebells!!!

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We took advantage of the bank holiday fun down by the river in aid of St Richards Hospice

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We had a spontaneous trip to the National Sea Life Centre Birmingham which was so good I would definitely recommend it to anyone, of any age for a fantastic day out.

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I really enjoyed our trip round, there were some amazing sea life and plenty of interactive things for kids to see and do. The lighting and layout made it extra special as we watched Ayla exploring this magical world… We were just as captivated as her.

There was a soft play at the end of the tour which topped it off nicely and lets the kids blow off some steam. Ayla watched as one child pretended to swim through the ball pit she then started to copy him and I had fun watching her try to replicate his attempts!

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We had a day out to the hospital… (if you can call it that) but it was so nice to finally get the all clear from my surgeon and be signed off… Praise God its all over! Ayla was none the wiser, and took our trip to the hospital as simply another day out, it did help that there was a toy bus at the service station!

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After her initial test run, we let Ayla drive us home 🙂 2014-05-10 16.11.11

This month has also been a celebration of my friends baby boy turning 1 we were all invited to the park for a real teddy bears picnic in the bandstand, with face painting and bear hunting!! It was a really great afternoon and so special watching Ayla getting involved, my friend Katie had some great ideas for this birthday party adventure! Check out her blog at: http://www.katielovescrafts.blogspot.com

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Full steam ahead!!!

One of Josh’s clients who has been an incredible support to our business in many ways invited us on a trip to the Severn Valley Railway.

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Arriving at the Station was just like stepping back in time, little did we know we were travelling ‘Private Charter’ on the most beautiful train I have ever set eyes on.

Now I am not a train enthusiast but I was blown away with the volunteers and people who gave up there time and money to passionately preserve the steam railway and this slice of British history which could so easily have been lost but which is now accessible for many generations to come.

We set off from Kidderminster, travelling in style with Coffee’s and pastries to hand, and the weather was just perfect too!

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Our first stop meant we got to see the Engine shop and understand more about the history of the rail, and how the Severn Valley Railway works to restore and maintain its engines.

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I particularly liked this poster that I found:

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There was even a tribute to the working horses of the railway, which I learnt were used to transport goods and move carriages (shunting).

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For the second leg of the journey me and Josh got to travel in the observation saloon….. I felt like the Queen! (As you can probably tell by my very cheesy grin!)

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It did genuinely feel like you had either stepped back in time or onto the set of a film. At one point as I hung my head out of the carriage and watched the track going by and the wind in my hair, I had an overwhelming desire to wave a hanky at some gentleman standing on the platform… luckily I resisted the urge!

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Josh even got the opportunity to go up on the foot plate and drive the locomotive!!! (Apparently the whistle is very loud when your up here!)

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It was an incredible day out, and very child friendly, although we didn’t take Ayla with us (Ayla had a day out with her Nana and Papa) we were surprised at just how set up for families the venues were. There is a park at the engine shop and activities for them to get involved in. Children and families are very well catered for, they even hold special events such as ‘Peppa Pig train days’ and a special ‘Meet Father Christmas trip’ for December.

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Needless to say we will be back again, and next time with Ayla!

Walked till we dropped!

Decided to take Ayla to a nature reserve nestled away not too far from where we live. I had heard about it from friends but never been, and once again it seemed we had the place pretty much to ourselves.

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We started off strong and keen… even Rosie the dolly was made to walk!

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We were showered with blossom as we walked between the apple trees, like walking down an aisle of confetti.

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I tried to capture as much of the wildlife as I could but as it is often moving it’s not always easy, so I took photos of still things…

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I knew Ayla was getting tired ….

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So we sat for a while on a log and watched the water go by (Even Rosie Dolly)

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I managed to gee us up a bit with the hunt for cows, there had been signs to say they were in the meadow, luckily we found two having a rest (or Ayla would have felt hugely conned seeing as I made such a big deal about going to visit them).

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After we found the cows Ayla was not up for much more and wanted to be carried. At this point I was in two minds whether to turn back but I was sure we must be nearing the end of the trail. I walked all the way around this field until I met a couple that said the rest of the trail was steep this way and she pointed me in the direction to follower a flatter trail.

I got lost….

Ayla got tired….

I can’t believe I got lost! …

We found a bridge which was exciting

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There was  map beside the bridge so we followed it……

I still got lost!

Ayla fell asleep

So I walked the rest of the way back with her swaying about on my shoulder as I made my way out of the nature reserve entirely and followed the lanes back to the road to find the car.

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Blissfully unaware 🙂

Parks & Planting!

Found this treasure of a park, not far from where we live and will definitely be back again, we had the place all to ourselves!

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Well not entirely to ourselves…. we had to wait for this little ant to take his turn on the slide.

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After Lunch we built a house with Daddy (interupting his design work again!) to make a house for the toy animals to live in.

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Before doing a spot of gardening (toddler style of course) I hope these seeds grow Ayla did a very good job of drowning… I mean ..watering them!

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We will eagerly await their arrival!

Moved back home :)

Since my operation back in January we have been living with my parents as I was unable to take care of Ayla on my own. My parents have been amazing in letting us live.. or should I say take over their house, we can be a bit of a noisy/messy bunch 🙂

I am finally well enough to take care of Ayla on my own so we decided to move back this weekend. Having this injury and going through this recovery has been a difficult time but a very special time too, having spent so much time with my parents and watch there bond with Ayla has been precious.

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In addition to moving home we got a new piece of furniture, (second hand but new to us) something that I have always wanted, it used to belong to Josh’s Granny which makes it all the more perfect.

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The cats were pretty quick to take up their place….. on our bed of course 🙂

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Daddy tried to do some design work from home but Ayla insisted on helping.

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(Sporting a very fancy dress.. I might add! 🙂 Sent with love from Ayla’s Great Uncle and Aunty who live in Spain)

The weather has been pretty good so we headed out into the garden and made Donkey a crown of flowers for her head.

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The apple blossoms were out in full to welcome us home which was especially lovely.

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Ayla set to work blowing the dandelion clocks, so that daddy would have a beautiful dandelion-adorned-lawn of course!

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The patch where the chickens were living has come back very lush, it just needs some TLC and patching here and there but they have certainly fertilised it well. Ayla keeps looking for the chickens, I do miss them…. hope we can get some more in the future, the place seems empty without them.

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When it rained I put a Tipi up in the living room (as you do!) … I actually picked this up somewhere at a silly cheap price years ago and held onto it. Has come in handy as a fun den/playhouse for tea parties with dolly’s.

Second day back home and I was feeling confident enough to take Ayla out on my own by managing to drive and lift her in and out of the car seat, so we went to see Saracen!! 🙂 (with carrots)

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Something I would have taken for granted before all of this was lifting Ayla, taking the car out, taking care of Ayla and holding her, catching her, pushing her on the swings and being independent. After not being able to for so long I am enjoying every minute of it and appreciate doing the little things all the more! I still get pain but it does get better each day and I can see an end to all of this now. I am just so thankful that they were able to secure my spine and thankful to God that none of this was permanent, I have been so humbled by this experience and my heart goes out to anyone who is ill, injured, paralysed or sick.

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When your body fails you it is easy to give your mind and feelings over to it too, but don’t! Hold onto hope and love and trust that you will be joyful again. If I hadn’t been through these 6 months I would never have started blogging, photographing and writing… It is during this time that I have learned that hard times can bring about great blessings in the midst of the darkness.