Saturday, 31 January 2015

Small cold steps

It was a cold, wet and windy Saturday afternoon, for some reason I decided it would be the perfect time to start tackling the front garden. I made several discoveries during what felt like the coldest 40mins of my life.

I need some new Wellington boots mine are dead and for some reason have split across the foot area to go along with this discovery I need some thick socks and lets get personal here some thermal undies!!!! My feet were numb and I think it took three cups of tea to defrost me.

Let's get back to the garden shall we, I decided to start clearing the small border near the front door along with the dead ivy. Peeling old woody ivy from the wall I must admit was very satisfactory, it was a little like peeling wallpaper when you get a long strip that just comes away. I also discovered that if I used the outside brush on the wall more of the tiny bits left came off. See I am full of handy garden tips, brush your walls to remove dead ivy. I have discovered we have three planters on our back wall, these have all been covered by ivy, sadly no secret door though. As you can see it's been so long they have been seen one has a tree growing out of it. I am determined to get these functioning again, it will look so pretty to have these planted with seasonal colour.

Below our tree in a small planter.

I ended up wondering if I have achieved anything other than being covered in dust, cobwebs and unable to feel fingers and toes. I looked at the wall which did not look any different to when I first went out but the wheelbarrow was full of ivy I must be making small inroads, I keep telling myself it's not going to be an over night success.

The next discovery is that the small border is full of stones and bricks, I have been thinking about this area tonight. It gets very messy and the soil is dreadful, firstly the is not much soil secondly it's full of the roots for the ivy. Maybe I will not plant this area but instead invest in some funky pots, I can have lots of colour and interest throughout the year, if I was to keep it a border I doubt I could get to take off. I need to look at how best level the ground out and tidy it up before i go shopping for pots.

The awful soil I found in the border.....

So I think we are starting to tidy up. I am off to look at pots for the front garden, no sorry to look into ways of tidying up the ground the pots will sit on. 

Starting to look neater....

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

RSPB Great Garden Birdwatch

We have always fed the birds, I was brought up in a house where every winter my mum would be sending us out with food for the birds, the diversity in species and numbers of birds in her garden would provide some interesting reading.

Like many families across the UK we participated in the annual RSPB birdwatch, I say we, in fact it was myself who did the birdwatch. Our 4 year old has special needs which means he has concentration issues at the best of time and our youngest pottered in and out. The bird watching was interrupted several times to get drinks and children needing the loo so you never know we may have missed a very rare sight indeed.

But I really enjoyed the birdwatch as it made me stop, I stopped and just watched the world go by for around an hour. This is very rare, with two young children your always busy anyway add to that special needs and type 1 diabetes plus a husband who has a very busy and stressful job. its normally a cuppa on the go.

What I have always like about feeding and watching birds is for some reason it clears your mind, for a few moments as you watch them have a little squabble, sit in the tree before waiting to fly down or see who is eating what, your not thinking about everything else and that's very important. To have the ability to stop and look at something totally different even if just for a few moments before going back to the daily routine. In fact I have just put new feeders on the drive so I can watch the birds as I a, washing up, I did not think they would come but they have.

This year I noticed we had two robins not just one and a new bird had arrived a nuthatch which we also have two of. We will continue to feed and watch the birds as its not only helping the birds its helping us.

Our count was

8 Blue Tits
2 Robins
2 Blackbirds
3 Chaffinches
3 House Sparrows
2 Nuthatches
1 Woodpecker
2 Pigeons
Oh and a buzzard flying over the house.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Lets start at the front

I seem to spend most of my time looking at the garden and thinking about just where do I start, then I wonder around a little more, fill up the bird feeders and decide to have a cup of tea and another think. My main problem is I am time poor at the moment and the garden is just full of areas that need to be addressed. My other problem, which is a big one, I get bored easily, starting one job getting half way through and go and start another meaning I have two jobs unfinished.

My endless cups of tea have brought a plan, I need a couple of quick wins, small jobs that will make a difference, whilst we think about the bigger story.

So I have decided I am going to concentrate on the following....

The front garden/drive is the first impression but it's also what welcomes us home everyday. We spent a lot of money on getting our drive all one level it's been changed beyond our wildest imagination but the drive is surrounded by a muddy, weed filled boarder, bins and rubbish, lots and lots of ivy on walls that looks messy and unkept. A old water tank I decided would be a great planter but just sits there empty. Lots of messy pots and a poor acer that's been in the same compost for about six years yet still looks fab.

This is where I am going to concentrate my work to start with. Firstly the border is going to be properly weeded and I mean weeded. I have dug it over once in the summer but I will do this again and continue to weed. Once I am happy the next stage is to dig a whole lot of organic matter into the soil, we are East Sussex on clay soil I know it's going to take a lot but to me it's important to get this base right before I go mad with plants. I was thinking if I needed to dig in grit etc but on the research it seems that so much would be needed it's not worth doing. We shall stick with a lot of organic matter, I will post again when I get further along and look a little more into what I will be using.

Below the weeds in more detail.

I will have a massive tidy up get rid of the rubbish we have accumulated, well I will pile it up and the delightful Mr MCW will take it to the tip for me. A little idea of what we are talking about is pictured below. We are getting two big water butts that are much needed and also something will be put up to hide the bins.

Then it will be a mass tidy up of the ivy and small borders, the pots I will plant up with some seasonal cheer and give the acer some TLC that it needs. Then decide what I am doing with the water tank.......

Brilliant blog posts on

Meal Plan Monday 26th January 2015

This week is I must admit is rather full of simple comfort food that I can kind of throw together.  It's a big week in terms of talking about how our eldest moves forward in his education and the last thing I need is trying to cook anything complicated.

Monday - Gnocchi with a blue cheese sauce for Mummy and Daddy MCW. The little ones it will be Gnocchi with a tomato Sauce

Tuesday - Sausages with Pasta I am going to try this with the boys I never really know how they react to sausages sometimes I get clean plates other times a resounding yuck

Wednesday - Omelets and chips very simple ham, cheese and mushrooms but still very tasty. Boys hate them so will be having waffles, eggs and lots of salad

Thursday - Tuna Pasta bake the boys do not like this one so will be having cheesy pasta

Friday - Homemade Burgers with the blue cheese from earlier this week. Burgers will be homemade. Boys will have spag Bol

Saturday - Mr MCW is out so myself and the boys will have fish and chips

Sunday - Pork chops with all the trimmings

Monday, 19 January 2015

Meal Plan Monday 19th January 2015

It's cold and we need comfort food also I am shattered and need easy food.....

Monday - Birds eyes fish chargrills with new potatoes and spinach the boys are having fish fingers, mash and peas

Tuesday - Cauliflower Cheese bake I am going to try this with the boys

Wednesday - Fast Fix Fried Rice boys will have pasta with salad

Thursday - Bonfire night Jackets again from BBC Good Food the boys love this meal

Friday - Thai chicken (quorn) baked in the oven BBC Good Food the boys also like this meal

Saturday - Spag Bol shock horror again for the whole family

Sunday - Roast Chicken with the works

Sunday, 18 January 2015

A Fresh Start

The blog has been playing on my mind, I have started so many posts and deleted them not happy with anything I have written. I decided to have a long think about what I wanted from doing this. My day to day life is full of dealing with two young boys and also the constant ups and downs of a child with special needs and type 1 diabetes. The waiting by the phone incase school call to ask for advice or needing me to take him home as he has had a sever hypo or his readings are too high. Then on top is the worry about school, is he having to move to the local special needs school, his education healthcare plan needs updating, he has not received any of his NHS speech therapy. As you can see I have a lot to blog about, but writing about it was not making me happy.
I have been enjoying twitter a lot, I like to have a chat and more than happy to start a conversation, what I have really found out is my love of talking about the garden, food and wildlife. So this is where my blog is going, I am going to concentrate things that make me happy, that take my mind away from everyday life. I have already posted about how gardening has become very important helping me deal with stress.
I am very new to gardening so if you fancy a laugh at my learn as I go gardening, please be gentle with me all you excellent gardeners. Cooking disasters and a few success that I will put up for sharing along with the weekly meal plans. To our amazing selection of birds and wildlife we get in our country garden and how I can attract more. I would love for you to join me.......

The Dad Network

Monday, 12 January 2015

Meal Plan Monday 12th January 2015

It's new year and finally we are back doing our meal plans, nothing has changed OB is as picky as ever so the meals are two fold.

Monday - Pasta with a Tomato and Aubergine Sauce and a cheeky garlic bread on the side - the boys are having Three Cheese Tortellini 

Tuesday - Lentil, Mushroom and Spinach curry taken from Women's Weekly the Complete Book of Slow Cooking One Pot and Soup - the boys will have Mini roasts with veggies and gravy

Wednesday - Baked Potatoes with tuna mayo for Mr MCW , myself and the boys will have cheese and beans

Thursday - Spanish Chicken - Women's Weekly the Complete Book of Slow Cooking One Pot and Soup  this is being made with quorn - the boys will have Carbonara

Friday - Mexican meatballs with sour cream, tortilla chips and guacamole - Women's Weekly the Complete Book of Slow Cooking One Pot and Soup - the boys will have fish, chips and peas

Saturday - Ken Hom box the boys will have homemade pizza

Sunday - Roast lamb shoulder with roast potatoes, carrots, kale and broccoli they boys will have the same

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Simple tasty mince

Getting our eldest to eat is always a struggle, I rely heavily upon his meals I know he will enjoy. Tonight we had a small breakthrough and who knows if he will eat it again. But I thought I would share for anyone else with children who have special needs and major texture issues.
Today shock horror I ran out of chopped tomatoes,  I first of all was shocked at how such a thing could even happen. This meant I had to think fast this is what I did and it was eaten and I mean forked into his mouth as I watched in amazement. I only cooked a small amount for the boys but it's easy to double or even triple up.

Simple Tasty Mince

1/4 finely chopped red onion
1/2 clove garlic finely chopped 
100g minced beef
2tsp honey
2tsp paprika
100ml beef stock

The method is so simple fry the onion and mince until the mince has browned then add the garlic so it foes not burn finally add the honey, paprika and beef stock. Simmer for about 20 mins until you have the mince with a small amount of thickened sauce and serve with pasta. We of course severed them separately and not touching. Grate a little Parmesan over or as we do grate some into a small bowl and serve so it can be added as desired.

This is quite a sweet mince dish that's also savoury but seems to hit the spot.