Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Crafts at the Cube

Worcester City centre hosts a craft market most Saturdays in the guild hall. I often peruse and usually find myself purchasing the odd item in an effort to support local crafter.  
There's a good variety of stalls including jams,  preserves and chutneys, sewn items, knitted bits, beautiful glass pieces and wood carved coasters. The wares are all very reasonably priced and I'm seriously considering doing a couple of fairs ahead of Christmas. 

My sister bought the girls some fabric mice and they have been enjoying making them mouse houses from shoe boxes- more on that when they're finished.
 They were lovely little mice and each of the children chose a mummy and baby mouse although it was difficult on deciding which to select.
They really enjoyed the craft fair and I'm really pleased since supporting crafts has to be encouraged and passed down if it is to continue in its progression. 

The next day was another opportunity to see local crafters only this time even more locally in Malvern at the Cube community centre. There was a family fun day with large inflatables, face painting, live music, children's crafts and craft/ clothes stalls. 
I didn't get a proper chance to look at the stalls unfortunately as it was threatening to rain and the children were too excited to stay still.
They loved the giant slide which was a good choice as it appealed to a broad age range while Granddad listened to the band play 'all along the watchtower' amongst some other rock classics.
I was really impressed with the face painter who was so well priced which I admit is a relief since the last few events locally have been charging  £3/4 each child which isn't feasible with 3 little ones.
The girls also painted some pebbles before we had our picnic. The cube is a great venue for lots of activities including theatre,  musical gigs and music/dance lessons. An amazing service that the cube offers is a repair cafĂ© which is a free service. I took my sewing machine to be fixed and.... It is working again!!! It was free and took 10 minutes. So, enough of this- I'm off to sew :D 

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Italian cooking

Some weeks are just so busy it's hard to find time to do basic things like cooking. With hubby away and a conference to attend, I was very grateful for the forward planning I did over August Bank holiday when I prepared, cooked and froze some good home cooked meals. This was a fresh one but I've included it as I realise I have been favouring the flavours of Italy. This was a vegetarian canneloni that I made up while a friend was staying. I will definitely cook this again. 
I used spinach (salad type), asparagus and broccoli a my main veg but added spring onions for flavour. I used lasagne sheets and rolled them by hand which wasn't as hard as I'd feared. But I added chopped mozzarella to the veg mix as I rolled the pasta. I made up a basic tomato sauce using red pesto, tomatoes and traditional spices and poured it over before sprinkling parmesan cheese over the top. I served garlic bread to start and then the canneloni was  accompanied by roast potatos and caesar salad. It was delicious and very well recieved by all!

One of my make ahead dishes was meatballs. I usually use beef and pork with breadcrumbs but this time only used beef and an egg to help bind and hold the meatballs together. I also added chilli and paprika which was a different take on my usual cumin and coriander with the staple garlic and oregano. The egg doesn't hold them as well as breadcrumb but it does make for a better taste. For the sauce I used a carton of tomatoes, puree and some cherry tomatoes which also add texture to the sauce. Finally I placed the meatballs in an over proof dish and poured the sauce over. These are still waiting to be devoured.
I totally made this one up using the ingredients available so chicken cut into goujons, fried and then sprinkled with oregano, sage, basil and parsley. I cooked the onions and pepper in a separate pan in garlic. Placing the chicken in the bottom of the ovenproof dish, I layered the peppers and onions on top, then a layer of pesto with more cherry tomatoes and cooked before removing, leaving to cool and freezing.  I served this with pasta this week and was pleasantly surprised. Italian dishes all go down well with our children and are so easy and can be served with a variety of carbs; potatoes, pasta or garlic bread and as a healthier option roasted med veg or caesar or balsamic salad. Bellissima!

Monday, 7 September 2015


I start my new job this week and so I hope you indulge me one last post about a family day out.  Soon I fear the mundane routines of life will absorb my mind but as Autumn closes in, I always feel more crafty and anticipate more makes to share.

Back to the title of this post though.  My husband works at different venues and was asked to visit Puzzlewood in the Forest of Dean.  It is about an hour and 15 minutes away for us so reasonable with a 2, 4 and 6 year old but not something we would do every week, despite wanting to.  It really was a fabulous day out which was cheap and varied.  We arrived at 10 and left at 5 and the kids didn't complain of being bored once.

     "Puzzlewood is a unique and enchanting place, located in the beautiful and historic Forest of Dean. Explore a mile of meandering pathways, with its fantastic tree and rock formations, through this 14 acre ancient woodland. It has an atmosphere quite unlike any other wood you have visited.  As well as the woods we have lots of animals, a willow maze, indoor mazes and a toddler racing track, an outdoor playground, plenty of picnic benches, a cafe and gift shop."

 The woods are beautiful and I can see why they've been used as the set for Atlantis, Merlin and Dr Who.
Puzzlewood gets its name from hosting some great mazes which really kept all of the children well occupied.

There were lots of animals there and a funny pony who liked to play football!
When the sun was shining, they played in the park area which was mostly natural play materials with a beautiful backdrop of meadow and paddock.

There was this car track which the children came back to throughout the day which was supposed to be for those under 5 but it was a quiet day so Fiona joined in on the fun.  I really recommend Hazelwood and am pleased we got to visit when we did. I'd like to visit in the autumn when the trees are more muted but for now I'll have these lush memories of tall moss covered trees with full, dense canopies of deep green leaves filtering the sunlight onto my little family beneath.