Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Why is it....?

....No matter how sick your children are - they could be laid low; coughing non-stop; green stuff really flowing - as soon as you step one foot inside your doctor's office they are the healthiest looking and most active children in the world.

I felt a complete fraud today.

Then we got home again and guess what.... yep, coughing and spluttering suddenly appears again. 


Saturday, 26 November 2011

Must watch...

Saw a brilliant tv programme last night - it had really scary bits that had me biting my nails; sitting on the edge of my seat and covering my eyes in some places. But I just couldn't look away.

No, it wasn't a Law and Order or CSI or some gripping BBC detective drama, it was Ice Road Truckers: Deadliest Roads on Channel 5. They were driving in the Himalayas and I can tell you they were right on the edge of some scary roads. I've missed a couple of episodes but, I tell you, I won't miss anymore.

Source Google Images

I think the reason that it was scary for me is that it brought back memories of a family trip we went on in 2006. Me, Mr Bucket and Miss Bucket went on a 'once in a lifetime trip' to New Zealand - absolutely stunning place and thoroughly recommend it to everyone.

Part of our trip was in the North Island where we hired a campervan (motorhome) and travelled around. This would have been really good except for the fact that we couldn't have Miss Bucket's car seat in the back, she would have to be sitting in the front (she was three at the time). So I sat in the back. So far, so good.

Unfortunately, the North Island has a lot of steep hills and some of them had very BIG drops at the side of the road. When you are sitting in a vehicle like this and it goes round corners, the back end looks like it swings out and at times, to me, it seemed like Mr Bucket had underestimated things and I was hanging over the precipice.

Whenever I saw that a hill was due up I closed my eyes, clasped my hands and prayed that I wouldn't be sick. As I said, SCARY!!!  Except for this, I loved the place.

But anyway, try to catch the programme as it's really good. Next time they are on even SCARIER roads, I'd better have a cushion ready to hide behind. Sam xx

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Day off

No, I haven't gone anywhere today. Today is officially my day off and I'm trying to think calm, lovely thoughts to clear my head.

Like most mums, every day of the week is taken up with doing something i.e. washing, cooking, tidying up, sorting out bills, ferrying to school, organising, breaking up fights, dealing with problems etc.

Some of the time we even manage to do some crafting or baking (if we can squeeze a few extra minutes out of the day).

So I declared that I would have Thursday as my day when I can just read the paper or watch a really crappy film, just because I want to.

Although, to be exact, it is only Thursday morning that I get as Bucket jnr does half days at Nursery but beggars can't be choosers. And it's enough time to get into that rested place that so often eludes me. Sam xx

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Why is it....?

Why is it that you can be a thoughtful, good, reliable and safe driver until that certain moment when you offer someone, out of the goodness of your heart, a lift.

Then all manner of crazies happen - near misses; mad drivers; cars jumping out on you; learner drivers going 10 miles per hour ALL the time; lorries scaring the life out of you by driving really close.

Luckily it was only one of the above and nothing was dented (still got good reflexes) but my passenger must have thought I'd only just passed my test yesterday instead of driving for nearly 20 years.

And I'm sure that she'll probably NEVER accept a lift from me again. Sam xx

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Christmas kids message

Cass at The Diary of a Frugal Family has given a post about sending letters to Santa via Royal Mail and asked what anyone else does.  So I let her know how I bring the magic to my kids. Then I thought I would share it on here in case anyone would like to give it a go.

For the past couple of years I have used Portable North Pole.

All you have to do is enter a few details about what your child would like for Christmas, favourite things etc and you will then have a video email from a very authentic looking Santa.

The look on the kids faces is magical, I can't tell you how much they love this. He talks to them personally and 'seems' to know all about them and what they would like.

You can't enter the details online just yet as the site only comes on fully nearer Christmas time but I can tell you that it is absolutely wonderful and all past times it has been free. Obviously I can't comment for this year but I will definitely be checking again. Sam xx

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Mince Pies

Before I start this post I just want to say a big SORRY if I'm boring anyone about my obsession with Christmas. I can't help it - it's a sparkly, tinsly (is that spelled right?) and cinnamon smelling addiction .... I LOVE CHRISTMAS.

There, it's out and I feel much better but unfortunately it won't go away until the big day gets here. So once again, I'm sorry.

Now lets get on.

I've started making mince pies, although I don't know why I bother so early as they never last for Christmas. I made quite a few yesterday, as you can see:

And now they're gone!

So I'm making some more. It's not too complicated (it can't be, for me) and doesn't take too long -thank goodness. The only hard part is keeping everyone away to give the pies enough time to cool down.

I'm sure most people have their own way of making them but I wanted to add my tuppence as well.

Mince Pies

You'll need:

8oz plain flour
4 oz butter (softened)
2oz caster sugar
pinch salt
1-2 tablespoons water
Jar of Mincemeat (I cheat)

Heat your oven to Gas Mark 8 / 230C / 450F.

Grease a bun tray. I use a shallow tray to make smaller pies so if your tray is more muffin size, you might want to double the recipe.

Put the plain flour, butter, caster sugar and salt into a bowl and, using your fingertips, rub everything together to mix the butter with the dry ingredients. It should after a few minutes look like soft breadcrumbs.

Add your water a tablespoon at a time and mix together. This will bind it but you don't want it too wet as the butter in the mixture will make it greasier the more you handle it.

Divide your mixture in two and roll out the first half quite thinly. Cut into larger rounds using a cookie cutter. If you don't have one then a cup or round lid would do.

Place the rounds into your baking tin and gently press down. Fill with a teaspoon of mincemeat. Try not to overfill as will leak out when cooking.

Lightly wet the edges of the pastry. You don't need a pastry brush, dipping your finger into water will be fine.

Roll out the second half of pastry and cut into smaller rounds for the lids. Place onto the larger halves and press gently down.

Using a sharp knife put a small hole in the top of each of your pies to let the steam escape when cooking.

Put the pies into the top half of your oven and cook for 20 minutes. I have a look at 15 minutes and because my oven can be a bit temperamental, I then turn the tray around and continue cooking for the last 5 minutes so the mince pies are evenly lightly golden.

When they have cooked leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes before putting onto a wire rack or plate.

I like to dust them with icing sugar but you could also use any other sugar on top or eat them plain - I have.

I apologise to anyone reading this who thinks that this is just a little bit basic but I do not assume that everyone makes cakes/mince pies etc. And if you don't want to do it, then you don't have to do it.

But to anyone who decides to make these I can tell you that they taste great and won't last long.  
Sam xx

Friday, 18 November 2011

And a little sewing

Finally decided to get myself over my sewing hump and I started with some Christmas bunting to go across my fireplace. Nothing too fancy but hopefully this will get me sewing again, making the time to make things.

Thoroughly enjoyed putting this together and an hour passed really quickly whilst hunched over the sewing machine.

I'd forgotten how much I love to make things and even though the N wasn't quite as perfect as I would have liked, I LOVE IT!

I've also been making some Christmas teacher gifts.

Snowflake a bit wonky - oh well, might keep that one

I like the teachers at my kids schools but whatever happened to one teacher per class? Or am I having a 'not like that in my day' moment????  Sam x

Monday, 14 November 2011

A little crochet

A little while back I thought I'd give crocheting a go and I quite enjoy it (when I get the time to sit still without someone screaming for my help).

I searched the internet for a pattern and came across one (from Pip at Meet me at Mikes) showing how to do crochet squares.

"I'll make a blanket" I said, probably like so many others have done before me.

So I started my squares and slowly got used to making them. I've made a few now but it has been pointed out to me that they are rather small, and they are but there's not much I can really do about it now. So I just keep crocheting and hopefully I will finally make enough to give me a blanket.

Although I'm not too sure how long this is going to take me. Sam x

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Well done

Bucket jnr was an absolute star today.

Just mooching around a well known supermarket when it announced over the tannoy that they were going to do a 2 minute silence for Remembrance Sunday.

You could almost taste the fear from all the parents who had thoughtfully brought with them their little'uns (including me).

So the moment came closer, we were at the tills and typically, for me, I mis-heard the message and thought that the appointed hour had arrived and stood there quietly. So did Bucket jnr.

Unfortunately all they had done was announce that the moment was NEARLY here. And all of a sudden "It's 11 o'clock, please could we have a 2 minute silence".

OH NO!!! Bucket jnr had already tried his best to be quiet already - a look of  panic was on my face. So I waited for the dreaded moment when he would shout say something inappropriate.

But he didn't! He stood there really quietly and just kept grinning and giving me the thumbs-up sign.

A very proud mummy today!

Friday, 11 November 2011

Made some cakes

I made some cakes for us. I like to make cupcakes for the kids and also try to make some for the school fetes but whenever I've made them they always look too small. I use the cupcake cases but when they are lined up with other cakes on the stall they seem absolutely TINY! So this time I used muffin cases and they actually came out quite big (although I'll need to double up on the recipe next time to get a decent amount of cakes).

I started to ice the cakes but I'd run out of piping bags. So I tried the trick most cookbooks/cooking sites say - use a plastic bag. So I did......and the icing exploded out of the sides by the tip.

After a few tries I gave up and just plopped the icing onto the cakes, smoothed it with a knife and covered them in sprinkles. Gotta love the sprinkles.

Didn't turn out too bad afterall and they tasted rather nice too. Sam x

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Slow day

Today I've got a migraine coming, it's not fully arrived yet but I know it's coming. So I've my cup of sweet tea at the ready, craft magazines set up close by and I'm going to take it a little easy.

Nevermind, it will give me a chance to figure out what I'm going to sew next. I've been itching to sew something - it's almost like I have a little sewing fairy sitting on my shoulder, tapping non-stop, saying "sew, sew, sew".

I like to sew toys for the kids - they are a really appreciative audience. I've found a couple of good etsy shops that have some great toy patterns.

I've also seen a sew-along with Andrea at The Train To Crazy on her 7th November post and the messenger bag looks really sweet so I'm considering that.

Anna at Noodlehead is doing a really lovely skirt tutorial. She's only on day 2 so I wouldn't have missed much.

And, I hate to say it, Christmas is nearly here so I've been thinking about making some Christmas decorations. Maybe a nice bunting of some kind.....

So much to think about with a sore head, oh well. Sam x

Monday, 7 November 2011

A big bowl of nostalgia

Feeling a bit nostalgic again, don't know why....maybe it's the early nights closing in or the colder weather making me want to snuggle into all things comfortable, including things from the past. Right, where's my cardigan and slippers.

So Sunday I decided to make something that I remember my mum making, although I didn't realise that it took so long to cook - 2 hours. It had better be good!!!

I took the recipe from my Tana Ramsey's Family Kitchen book. It's one of those cookbooks that I could sit and just look at (also like Hairy Bikers).

I was almost tempted just to drink the evaporated milk - I used to love this poured over tinned fruit. And the nutmeg that I need to grate over it gives off gorgeous Christmassy smells.

And it was... Rice Pudding.

My mum used to make hers with sultanas but I've been told by Mr Bucket 'no'. He's a bit of a puritan when it comes to food, I think, and hates to meddle with traditional recipes too much. Maybe I'll make a big bowl of it (with sultanas) for myself next time although, if I eat the WHOLE bowl, I won't be able to eat anything else for the rest of the day.

And here it is...

And the verdict? Welllllll, not great actually.

The first problem was probably my fault as I tried to be a bit frugal and used some pudding rice that was a long way beyond its best before date. But I thought that as it's rice, it would keep fairly well. Obviously not.

I cooked the pudding for the 2 (long) hours and when I went to check there was still loads of liquid sloshing around. Not to be put off, I drained some off and put it back into the oven for a further hour.

The second problem was that it was brown, well a caramel colour actually, due to the nutmeg. Now I didn't mind this too much but unfortunately the kids weren't that impressed and even though Miss Bucket tried some, she still wouldn't budge. I think they have been influenced by the creamy whiteness of Ambrosia creamed rice pots.

So there you are, after all my joking earlier in the post about eating the whole bowl - I may just have to do that. Sam x

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Blog giveaway

Sorry, it's not me giving something away as I haven't made anything for you yet.

But Jooles at Sew Sweet Violet is giving you the chance to give a home to one of two very sweet robins.  

All you have to do, to be in with a chance to win, is leave a comment on her blog. The winners names will be drawn on Friday 11th November.

Also, her blog seems lovely so you can sit with a cuppa and have a read which is what I'm going to do in a moment. Sam x

Firework night

Had a really good time last night but, once again, got a soaking wet bottom. I just don't know how I manage that every time!

We went to the local school; it was dark and a little drizzly so we dressed accordingly - coats, hats and wellies (I had a lot of moaning from Miss Bucket as I think she's finally getting into her fashion conscious phase).

The bonfire was lovely and warm as the rain dripped down our backs and then the fireworks started - they were BRILLIANT! Loads of colours, bangs, showers - the rain temporarily forgotten.

We were prepared by bringing ear defenders for Bucket jnr but there were a few unhappy campers when some of the larger fireworks went off. Then all too soon it was over and everyone quickly deserted the place to get back to their homes.

All in all a really good evening, if you could ignore the torrential rain. I apologise for no pictures but I think a good decision not to take the camera as it would have gotten waterlogged. Sam x

Thursday, 3 November 2011


I love nature; I love the changing seasons; I love the warm woolly clothes that you get to wear when the weather changes and I love nature's animals (well most of them).  At this time of year, as the weather gets colder, the animals are looking for somewhere to bed down to survive the winter.

But WHY do they all seem to want to do this in MY house?????

Picture the scene, pt 1

I wake up and, still very sleepy, open the door to get the milk and......a huge, hairy spider makes a run at my feet to get inside AAARRRRGGGHHH! 

Picture the scene, pt 2

I wake up and, still very sleepy, go to walk down the stairs and......a loud buzzing hits my ears followed by a divebombing wasp AAARRRRGGGHHH! I'd only opened  the windows for 2 seconds earlier in the day for a bit of fresh air.

Picture the scene, pt 3

I wake up and, still very sleepy, go into my kitchen barefooted. As I'm pottering around my toes suddenly touch something soft and slimy and when I look down there is a slug sitting there AAARRRRGGGHHH! I don't know where they are coming from but I wish they would stop.

And, I seem to have gained a slug phobia as I'm reaching my 40's. As my husband puts it 'you scream like a little girl'. Well ha-ha to you, they can be quite frightening when you're not expecting to touch them with bare flesh - EEEUURGH!

Once again, I love nature but it definitely belongs outside and not when I've only just woke up.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

A little bucket love

Son, if you want to tell me approximately 20 times a day 'I love you mummy', then you go right ahead.