Tuesday 28 August 2012

Ta-dah! Tuesday - Hi honey, I'm home!

I've just got back from the Lake District. It was a serious family affair. Fourteen of us from 6 months to 87 years, celebrating my parents' Ruby wedding anniversary and my aunt and uncle's Silver. We stayed at Hardcragg Hall - a stunning manor house dating back to the 16th Century and purportedly used by Oliver Cromwell between military campaigns. Beatrix Potter stayed there too, and wrote Pigling Bland while she was at it. [It's not one of her best. Her illustrations were lovely, but I do think writing for small children is something that's improved in recent years. Something unpleasant is always happening to Beatrix's characters - what kind of mother sells her superfluous children at market? The Japanese tourists can't get enough of her though. Kawaii!]. There's some pics of Hardcragg Hall here, if you're nosy interested.

Mrs Pig sporting the Lolita streetstyle

The wifi wasn't working, but the snooker table and BAR - rah! - in the house managed to prevent me from falling into a decline of an evening. And you know, family and stuff. Despite the age of the house there were no ghosts to be seen - aside from a creepy ragdoll which I moved around periodically to freak the Mr out - but I did make the interesting discovery that my uncle once encountered 'a small Edwardian boy' in the middle of the night years ago whilst staying at my parents' house in Wales. They still live there! I lived there til I was 18. Zip. Nada. Nothing. It is pretty much the least spooky house you can imagine, and was built in the 70s, although it is built on the grounds of next door, which is a lot older. When I was very small and we lived in our previous (and older) house I apparently used to ask who the 'old lady who comes into my bedroom' was, but I don't remember that. [It was just me and my parents at the time. No old ladies. Possibly I was just insulting my mother as small children are wont to do].

My highlights from the holiday include seeing ospreys - no red squirrels though, elusive little buggers - going to the Cartmel Races where the jockeys compete for a bottle of champagne and a sticky toffee pudding, eating several kilos of Grasmere gingerbread, and of course discovering the world's worst crazy golf course. American readers, look away now. You get the KISS indoor 18 hole mini golf in Las Vegas, where you can putt your ball up Gene Simmons' tongue. At Grange-over-sands you get to navigate past some rocks, a brick - and my personal favourite - 'the hospice'. Rock and roll.



Anyway, the result of all this is that I haven't read anyone's blog for a couple of weeks, checked my email or been on Facebook. It's very refreshing. I have however been glued to my kindle, as thanks to Margaret I've got newly addicted to the Stephanie Plum books. They're totally daft, but they're upping my GoodReads yearly reading challenge total nicely, and I have settled on a new career as a junk food addicted bounty hunter in New Jersey. I'm not sure I should be allowed to read or watch films. I'm very suggestible.

Oh, and I do have a small ta-dah. Here's my uncle, aunt and folks with the anniversary cake I made them. It tasted pretty amazing, but it's probably a good thing that the photo isn't a close up. My skills with an icing bag are fairly non-existent. Also I lovingly transported it several hundred miles in the boot of the car, only for my uncle to put his laptop on top of the box when we arrived. I'm not sure it made a massively discernible difference, aside from hammering the 'Congratulations' sign into the top. And it's so enormous that I won't have to make a Christmas cake this year. Result! 

Aw, young love

So, what else has been going on? Sian got surprise married as her ta-dah! last time - can you beat that?

Lakota x

Tuesday 14 August 2012

Ta-dah! Tuesday - The fruits of my (child) labour

Hi, sorry I've been awol this last week, been keeping kids entertained and attempting to sort a laundry mountain prior to heading to the Lake District this week. Added to my pre-holiday stress woes was the fact that all the wild plums have just ripened, and if we didn't pick and use them now, we'd have no plum jelly for the rest of the year. I know, how traumatic? So I enlisted the help of the kids and we collected these yesterday:

The above 4kg of small squishy fruit also managed to escape into the boot of the car on the way home, working their way commando style under the children's feet and to the front under my accelerator. Note to self: ensure carrier bags are properly tied up next time. I fear the husband's wrath if we break down on some remote country road as a result of plums in the engine.

I then spent yesterday evening washing, boiling and draining the juice of most of them:

before reboiling the juice with sugar to make 6 jars of this:


We mainly eat this with roast dinners - it is delicious - but it would also works with cheese, in sandwiches and as a base for sauces. There is no reason why you couldn't have it on toast too. The recipe is from The Cottage Smallholder and can be found here. I made sure there was enough fruit left to start another batch of plum vodka, which I posted about last year, and for those who missed it, is AMAZING and tastes like Christmas.

I now need to sort all our stuff for the Lakes, plus leave the house in some semblance of order for the house sitter. I hope to post at least once while I'm away, but if it doesn't happen I'll see you all when we get back.

Link up any ta-dah worthy posts below - my favourite last week was the paint by numbers drawers make-over by Kylie, but there are always loads of good ideas.

Lakota x

Tuesday 7 August 2012

Ta-dah! Show us your bra!

Yes, stop the presses, I've finally - I think - found a strapless bra that fits. For someone who is having ridiculous issues with finding my mojo again when it comes to clothes, I seem to have no problem accumulating underwear. I added the latest addition to my lingerie stash and decided a clear out was massively overdue.

Going through my 3 hat-boxes of bras, knickers and hosiery took at least an hour and I unearthed items which I have no recollection of buying, plus six bras I no longer need and a strapless wonderbra which is torturous to wear for a whole day. Oxfam has revealed that British women have nearly 1.2 billion pounds worth of unused bras languishing in their drawers (as a whole, not each, though I'd not fancy adding up everything I've spent on lingerie) and that we each own an average of 9, with 3 of these unworn. I probably have more like 20 in total, and I did indeed have 3 that don't fit, plus 3 nursing bras which I will be glad to see the back of.

photo: Oxfam

Oxfam launched their 'great bra hunt' in April and are sending many of those collected to Senegal where they can be sorted and sold by social enterprise Frip Ethique, providing an income and job security for the local women who work there. British made bras are particularly sought after in Senegal, as there are few businesses able to make good quality underwear. They're still collecting - so I'm planning to take mine in this week. Why don't you have a look through your own underwear drawer? I bet there's at least one which you never wear, and a good clear out is doubly satisfying if your unwanted items can benefit someone else. You can find your nearest branch of Oxfam here.

As an alternative, Breast Talk are collecting bras which are then bought by a textile company for £1 per kilo. The bras are again sold to traders in West Africa, and the money paid by the textile company goes directly to the charity Breast Cancer Campaign. Over £8,000 has already been raised, and if you'd like to get involved this way then send your bras - washed and checked for rips or dodgy clasps - in a jiffy bag to the following address:

Breast Talk.co.uk - bra appeal
PO Box 71
Craven Arms

They specify nothing too sexy or see-through please, and if the bra is brand new, please say so.


So, have you been prancing about with a great outfit over your undies? Or are you a legend in your own lingerie in the crafting stakes? Bought, cooked or achieved something brilliant? Link up all your posts worthy of a ta-dah in the linky below as usual. I really recommend trying to check out some other participants' blogs if you can - there are great ideas every week.

Hello also to new followers and to everyone who has left a comment recently, thank you. I'll try to get around to visiting soon. Did you see I announced the winner of the Gemmipop Designs Giveaway?

Lakota x

Monday 6 August 2012

Gemmipop Designs giveaway winner...

The names have been put into Boy1's Team GB baseball cap and this time Mr FHCS did the honours. The very lucky winner of £10 credit to spend on Gemmipop Designs jewellery is:

Louise of The Princess Prudence Diaries!

Rhino Brooch - laser cut acrylic

Congratulations Louise, I'll be in touch to let you know how to claim your prize.

Sorry not everyone could be a winner, but there are loads of cute items available in Gemma's shop for under a tenner...

Lakota x

If you're a small business owner / crafter and would like to offer a prize for readers of Faith Hope & Charity Shopping, do get in touch and I'll take a look at your shop and give it a plug if I like it.

In which I get the iron out. And photograph some tins

Not many interesting finds recently, I've been doing boring essential shopping for school uniform instead. Much as I hate the fact that 'Back to School' signs are in the shops before they've even broken up, I know from bitter experience that if you leave the buying of new uniform until September then you'll be sending your 7 year old back to class in a bottle green pleated skirt when the required uniform is grey. And your 7 year old is a boy. I am now feeling smug, having also labelled everything, packed gym bags and put it all away. And I repaired some trousers where the hem was falling down. Domestic goddess or what? This is the first time I've used an iron in about 6 months - wundaweb, no need to get needles out unnecessarily - prompting Boy2 to comment that "I thought you were no good at that Mummy". Ironing is one of the few things I allow him to think that Daddies are better at doing. It's ultimately for the benefit of woman kind.

Anyway, finding the wundaweb meant getting the button tin out, which reminded me I found a few more tins which I hadn't photographed. So, here you go:

Toffee tins - Carriage and Birds of Paradise
£1 each

60s Swinging London biscuit tin - now housing my buttons
50p house clearance shop

The toffee tins were also full of buttons when I bought them

These were my favourites - very iron-age couture

Now I've done school related things I need to resist the siren call of the Olympics and sort out the rest of the house. Having children in it rather messes with my usual system of lounging around eating grapes all day.

Lakota x

I'm linking up with Liz's Magpie Monday, pop over and see what everyone else has found. And don't forget my Ta-dah! Tuesday tomorrow, where you can link up your best achievements, gorgeous outfits, interesting ideas and crafty makes. Or just read everyone else's for inspiration.

Friday 3 August 2012

Go Team GB! - Olympics Manicure How-to

Ok, they're not the neatest - but they are fun! If like me you're showing your support for sporting achievement by sitting in a darkened room wearing your dressing gown at lunchtime, why not paint your nails while you waste the day? Obviously some nations make for an easier manicure than others (only Libyan nail artists mourn the days under Gaddafi, but you've got to admit it was an easy flag) but if you're a Brit then you'll have to suck it up and attempt a wobbly Union Jack with nail art pens. I can only suggest more patience than I have and waiting for the red section to dry properly before attempting the white outlining. [I was going for the 'rippling in a gentle breeze' look, honest]. 

But in the spirit of the games, everyone can have a go at the Olympic rings! [assuming you're a freak like me who has all the necessary colours]

  •  Choose a large nail and paint in a light base colour. Allow to dry.
  • Cut a drinking straw into five sections.
  • Pour a little blue nail polish onto some tin foil, dip the end of a straw into it and carefully make a circle on your nail. You may have to move the straw around a little and do it in sections to get a full ring.
  • Repeat with black, red, yellow and green.
  • Allow to dry and add a top coat - seche vite is best.
  • Run round being ridiculously over-excited about Jessica Ennis

We had an amazing day watching the basketball at the Olympic park yesterday. The trains were fine, the security quick, the crowds friendly and the McDonald's chips salty as ever. We've been looking forward to this since  Boy1 was three and captivated by the Beijing Olympics on TV (we promised him then that when it was in the UK we would take him) and it didn't disappoint. The Olympic park itself was fantastic - Britain can be proud - and we're now into basketball! Shame my boys are unlikely to ever reach 6 foot, let alone 7'1" like one of Russia's top players!

Have a great weekend

Lakota x

PS. Don't forget my giveaway ends on the 5th