31 October 2013

Ginger & Cinnamon Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Ginger & Cinnamon Roasted Pumpkin Seeds // 76sunflowers

I've mastered it.
After some trial and errors involving maple sugar and too high temperatures on the oven I have found the perfect mix of spices and crunch to roast your leftover pumpkin seeds.


seeds from a medium pumpkin - washed and dried.
a glug of olive oil
1 tsp of ground cinnamon
1 tsp of ground ginger
dessert spoon of sugar

In a large bowl mix all of the above.
Pre heat the oven to 150c.
Spread the seeds out on a sheet of baking paper on a baking tray.
Roast for 30 minutes.
Give the seeds and jiggle.
Roast for a further 10 minutes.

I challenge you to make them last!
x x x

My Dream Garden

On Tuesday we enjoyed the break in the dismal weather and spent a sun filled day at the lovely Organic Gardens at Yeo Valley.
I have basically found my dream garden.

Yeo Valley Organic Garden // 76sunflowers
Yeo Valley Organic Gardens // 76sunflowers
Yeo Valley Organic Gardens // 76sunflowers
Yeo Valley Organic Gardens // 76sunflowers
Yeo Valley Organic Gardens // 76sunflowers
Yeo Valley Organic Gardens // 76sunflowers
Yeo Valley Organic Gardens // 76sunflowers
Yeo Valley Organic Gardens // 76sunflowers
Yeo Valley Organic Gardens // 76sunflowers
Yeo Valley Organic Gardens // 76sunflowers
Yeo Valley Organic Gardens // 76sunflowers

Space for the children - and the chickens - to run free, pumpkins, acers, tea crab apples, beehives, landscaped gardens, a hidden heart in a bespoke bench, purple flowers of which I do not know the name, a rather befitting sunflower and of course, an upcycled Mini.

What more could you wish for?

I continue to dream...

But for now I'm linking up with the lovely Annie...

Mammasaurus - How Does Your Garden Grow?
x x x

30 October 2013

Papar iPad Cover from Beatrix New York {review}

Papar iPad Cover from BeatrixNY // 76sunflowers

Meet Papar - a bird who is fond of getting her own way with quite specific demands and a need for 8 hours sleep.
She sounds very familiar.

Papar has arrived at a very good time. My current much loved - handmade by me - iPad cover has seen better days and the fact it is more of a dust cover, rather than giving my device any real protection, it is time to move on. It is time to accept the children will be increasingly borrowing my iPad, carrying it carefully running manically with it around the house. It is time to accept that without proper protection there will be tears and tantrums if my beloved iPad gets damaged. Mostly from me.

So step up Papar - one of four designs from Beatrix New York - an iPad cover that is water resistant, padded and lined for kid-proof protection.

Papar iPad cover from Beatrix NY // 76sunflowers

Papar iPad cover from Beatrix NY // 76sunflowers

Papar iPad cover from Beatrix NY // 76sunflowers
Don't fancy a feisty bird? Then choose from Pixel, JuJu and Percival...
 Beatrix New York Ipad cases - Pixel (Robot) Beatrix New York Ipad cases - Juju (Lady Bug) Beatrix New York Ipad cases - Percival (Dino)

Also in the Beatrix New York product range are Backpacks,  Lunchboxes and Trollies...
Beatrix New York Big Kid Backpack - Lucas (Whale) Beatrix New York Lunch Box - Fernando (Bear)Beatrix New York Wheelie Bag - Penelope (Octopus)
So, if like me, you have a love of all things owl and want to have the iPad cover for your own device there are plenty of other fantastic products to keep the children happy and looking rather fantastically accessorised!
x x x

Disclaimer: I was sent the Papar Beatrix New York iPad cover for review purposes. As always words and opinions are my own and are honest.


29 October 2013

Yeo Valley {National Trust - 50 things to do before you're 11 3/4}

Yeo Valley // 76sunflowers
50 things to do before you're 11 3/4 // 76sunflowers

We have not long returned from one of the most beautiful corners of England having spent a lovely day with the kind folk of Yeo Valley and The National Trust. A collection of bloggers and their families had free rein of the Organic Gardens and Tea Rooms to explore and carry out activities - and get started with the 50 things list. The weather was pure English Autumn - a bit of a nip in the air with clear blue skies.

The day was designed perfectly for the children to run, explore, find pumpkins, hunt for art materials, hunt for minibeasts, build mini dens, blow a grass trumpet, meet the happiest hay bale I've ever seen, try not to fall off the ha-ha and eat the delicious lunch provided by the Yeo Valley kitchen - it was hard work but someone's children had to devour the serving plate of macaroni cheese. Then the children were ready to get creative; reunited with their pumpkins they decorated and filled their heads with cress seeds and got artistic with a piece of paper and a plethora of natural materials scavenged earlier in the morning.

Make a Mini Den // 76sunflowers
Yeo Valley // 76sunflowers
Minibeast hunting // 76sunflowers
Minibeast hunting at Yeo Valley / 76sunflowers
Minibeast hunting at Yeo Valley // 76sunflowers
Hibernating butterfly at Yeo Valley // 76sunflowers
Happy Hay Bale // 76sunflowers
Pumpkin!? // 76sunflowers
Natural Art // 76sunflowers
Yeo Valley Tea Rooms // 76sunflowers

Finally, we were dragged back to the tea rooms where we spotted a great use for your spare teacups and to be plied with more deliciousness, this time tea and cake - orange, almond and polenta anyone? Just perfect.

We were invited as part of the Trust's promotion of 50 things to do before you're 11 3/4 and their partnership with Yeo Valley giving shoppers a chance to win one of ten relaxing cottage breaks - just check the lid of your next Yeo Valley purchase (see packs for details).

Yeo Valley & National Trust Cottage // 76sunflowers

x x x

Disclaimer: We were invited to spend the day at Yeo Valley with the National Trust. As always, all words and opinions are honest and are mine.

28 October 2013

Take two pumpkins {carve it, puree it, deseed it, bake it}

Today has been a wet, windy, sunny, altogether a strange mix of Autumn weather kind of day. Perfect for baking. Luckily we escaped the worst of the storm so we dodged the showers and went out to buy pumpkins. Last time we did the whole pumpkin thing we just carved and binned the rest. Completely wasteful I know so this time we were going to do things differently.

I turned to the power of social media. Pumpkin recipe upon pumpkin recipe has been pinned to Pinterest over the past month - the majority calling for cans of pumpkin puree. So I asked good old Twitter for some pumpkin advice and as a result used all of the pumpkin up.

Well, nearly. Not sure what we could have done with the skin of the cut out pieces - any suggestions?

Carved Pumpkin // 76sunflowers
Pumpkin Puree // 76sunflowers
Pumpkin Seeds // 76sunflowers
Spiced Pumpkin Cake // 76sunflowers

We carved, pureed, deseeded and baked.

Thank you to the lovely Modern Mummy for her Pumpkin Puree Recipe and Over A Cuppa for her Spiced Pumpkin Cake Recipe.

Pinterest is providing me with lots of ideas for roasting the seeds - my heart is going with Cinnamon at the moment - watch this space.

So, do you use all of the pumpkin?!

x x x

27 October 2013

Take two eggs {Meringue Ghost Caketoppers / Cheese Straws}

Meringue ghost cake toppers // 76sunflowers

I have a confession to make.
I'm not the world's biggest fan of Halloween.
It's the whole 'trick or treat' thing really.
But I have children and don't want to be a complete killjoy.
As an avid fan - some may say I'm addicted - of Pinterest I haven't really been able to avoid the Halloween treats that can be made and eaten.
Edith caught me on there the other day and spotted the meringue ghosts and seeing as we have a great supply of eggs from the trusty hens outside we thought we would have a go.
They ended up looking more of a Pinstrosity but still, they tasted rather good!

Here's what to do:

Simply whisk up two egg whites until stiff.
Whisk in 50g of caster sugar.
Whisk in another 50g of caster sugar until the mix has gone shiny and super stiff - tip the bowl upside down, if the meringue doesn't end up on your head then you're good to go.

We piped the meringues onto a baking paper lined tray then added chocolate chip eyes.
We then baked the ghosts at 120c for 90-120 minutes - we took ours out at 90 minutes as we like a chewy centre to our meringues.
They are moreish on their own but also make good cake toppers so we whizzed up a dozen Chai & Ovaltine cupcakes - this time I combined the powder mixes 3oz Ovaltine and 1oz Chai - and stuck some ghosts on using an Ovaltine and water paste.
Meringue ghost cake topper // 76sunflowers

Now, I do love meringues but clearly end up with spare egg yolks so we tried something new and had a go at cheese straws - minus the pinch of mustard powder and cayenne powder, as usually found in recipes, as I couldn't find them anywhere in my kitchen. They are on the shopping list for next time though to give them some extra flavour.

Cheese Straws // 76sunflowers

These went down a storm with the kiddies though...
375g plain flour
225g butter
200g strong cheddar cheese - grated
2 egg yolks
Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs.
Mix in the cheese, egg yolks and a tbsp. of cold water.
Combine into a ball adding more water if needed.
Wrap in clingfilm and fridge for 30 minutes.
Roll out to about the thickness of a £2 coin - into a rough square if you can.
Cut the square in half and cut into strips about 1cm wide - you will get about 30 - 40 straws.
Lay the strips on a baking paper lined tray.
Bake for 10-15 minutes at 180-190c until crisp.
I challenge you not to devour the lot in one sitting.
Have you spotted my rather lovely new cake tins and serving plate?
They are part of the Vintage Ivy range from dotcomgiftshop.com and the colours and design are just lovely and fit in with a range of colour schemes.
x x x

Disclaimer: I was sent the Vintage Ivy products from dotcomgiftshop.com for review purposes. As always the views and opinions are honest and are mine.

26 October 2013

This is the boy who can draw {Fine motor skills}

This is the boy who can draw // 76sunflowers
It's taken a while.
The mum in me initially panicked over his lack of pencil control, and fine and gross motor skills in general.
The teacher in me knew that children developed at different rates and to just chill out.
He would pick up a pencil at some point.
He would write his name at some point.
He would start to enjoy drawing at some point.
The latter has taken ages.
He spent most of his Reception year in school avoiding the writing table, avoiding the art area, avoiding anything creative.
Now he can't get enough of paper and pencil.

It was all down to time - children don't progress at the same rate.
The irony of how I view this now is not lost on me; now it is with my teacher head on that I stress over targets and watch the four year olds at school who are simply not ready to pick up a pencil but I feel pressurised to tick off a box - Thanks Mr. Gove for that.
However, the mum in me tells me to chill out and not worry.
Easier said than done.

22 October 2013

Cupcakes {Chai / Ovaltine}

Cupcakes {Chai / Ovaltine} 76sunflowers

I'm not 100% sure what defines a cupcake. Is it the same as a fairy cake? What I've baked today are what I would usually call a bun. But that seems to have gone out of fashion so I'll stick with cupcake. A naked cupcake if you like as I always picture cupcakes covered in decorative buttercream - which neither of my two children like. Odd things.

Anyhow, today I had a little experiment in the kitchen and played around with my 'go to' 4oz/4oz/4oz and 2 eggs recipe. I wanted to use up my natural yogurt - and cut the fat - and add some flavours; chai for me, Ovaltine chocolate for the kiddies.

Here's what you need and how to do it...

4oz S.R. flour
4oz caster sugar
3oz natural yogurt
1oz Stork (cooking margarine)
2 eggs
0.5oz Chai Latte - Drink Me Chai
0.5oz Ovaltine Chocolate Light

Mix the flour, sugar, yogurt, Stork and eggs in one bowl until smooth.
If making two different flavours of cupcake split the mix equally between two bowls.
Into one bowl mix the Chai Latte powder, into the other the Ovaltine Chocolate powder.
Spoon equally into cupcake cases.
This makes enough mix for six of each.

Bake in the oven 170-180c for about 18 minutes.

21 October 2013

Musing on a Monday {the optimist vs the pessimist}

I've decided I seem to be a bit of a pessimist at the moment whilst the husband is the optimist.
It could be worse - we could both be self pitying, negative individuals.
The problem lies with me. Clearly.
I see a situation - I look for the bad in it.
He sees an outcome - I see a difficult journey.
He looks ahead - I'm stuck in the here and now.
He has big goals - I get frustrated that we're not there now.
He takes it bit by bit - I get impatient.
He sees the tough times as being short term - I panic that I can't get what I want now.
He's under stress he keeps it contained - I'm under stress I blow like a freaking erupting volcano.
Winston Churchill had us sussed out...
Winston Churchill quote Optimism vs pessimism

19 October 2013

Welly walks and chocolate fridge cake

It was just me and the kiddies today, such is the joys of the husband running his own business. We spent the morning baking and making chocolate delights so we stayed close to home and ventured out locally exploring the neighbouring fields. Despite them being on our doorstep we rarely go across them but today the kiddies decided we should walk to the play park, a good half hour away. We left with the sun shining and me muttering something about the weatherman always getting it wrong.

Welly walk
Welly walk
Welly walk
Welly walk
Autumn leaves
Autumn leaves
Welly walk
Welly walk

We walked through fields hoping the threat of builders and new homes fades away, we saw signs of sheep, fought our way through Gruffalo dens, spotted autumn leaves. Then the heavens opened; time to return home. Soaked anyway we jumped in puddles and ran up the lanes back to a hot bath and chocolate fridge cake...
© 76 sunflowers

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