31 October 2014

Avebury {Country Kids}

Avebury {Country Kids} // 76sunflowers

Last weekend saw the sun shining and a desperate need for some family time.
We dug out the wellies and the walking boots and packed soup in a flask and chunks of crusty bread.
With the car loaded up we headed out to the village of Avebury where we parked in the National Trust car park - free for members - and walked into the village centre ready to drag the children up to The Ridgeway for a bracing walk.
   Avebury {Country Kids} // 76sunflowersAvebury {Country Kids} // 76sunflowers
Avebury {Country Kids} // 76sunflowers
Avebury {Country Kids} // 76sunflowers
Avebury {Country Kids} // 76sunflowers
Avebury {Country Kids} // 76sunflowers
Avebury {Country Kids} // 76sunflowers

We headed out past the village pub and stone circles and walked up Herepath / Green St past the farm, through the mud and slurry, waved hello to the cows and headed up to The Ridgeway where we sat and had lunch. A local dog walker stopped for a chat and pointed us in the direction of a small triangular walk which led us past The Gallops and back to The Ridgeway. From here we simply retraced our footsteps back down the hill and had a pleasant wander around the stones. Then I recalled a voucher buried in the bottom of my bag for a National Trust Cream Tea and thought it would be rude not to indulge.

Many years ago, before children, we used to do a lovely long 7 mile walk which continued right along The Ridgeway, over the A4 through East Kennet and back into Avebury. The above route was about 4 miles so we are building up to the big one.

Linking up with the super Country Kids...
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall
x x x

30 October 2014

Money, mortgages and being a grown up

Money, mortgages & being a grown up // 76sunflowers

I'm not sure if it is my age, and trying to accept that I am a grown up and need to start thinking more about money, but my head is changing its mind on so many things lately:

I want to move to a city / No, I want to live in the country
I want to be a SAHM / No, I want to develop my career
I want more children / No, two is enough
I want to sell up and go and rent a house closer to the husband's business / No, I want to stay put and continue to pay off the mortgage

Looking back at the list makes me think how many of our life decisions are driven by money, that big thing that causes so much happiness yet so much stress - and, let's be honest, quite a few domestic arguments.
On the left I have the risk taking moves - that ultimately need more money to work.
On the right I have the sensible moves -  that, although not cheap, should comparatively save us a few pennies.

The biggest financial outlay for us, and for many families, is the mortgage and as much as I would love to sell up and enjoy the freedom of renting, I am glad we have one.

We have worked hard and got ourselves on the housing ladder, just in time before it went super crazy, and often think if we hadn't made that move would we ever be able to buy our own house? However, the mortgage is such a chunk of our outgoings that I regularly have days where I go over our financial figures again and again trying to find something we could do without...

The internet?  
A car?
Mobile phones?
House insurance?
Life insurance?

Nope, we need all of those.

The supermarket expenditure is one area I have been working on by planning meals and digging out the slow cooker - nice recipe here by the way - and we are slowly clawing some pennies back through good planning.

But, how many of us actually shop around for other things? Every time an annual statement drops through the door for the numerous insurance policies and the dreaded mortgage we never actually think - 'shall we look elsewhere?' Planning is one thing but actually being aware of what is available, like the mortgages from Santander, is another.

So, I am going to continue to meal plan and control what goes into my shopping trolley.
And I am going to start to analyse my monthly and annual bills and start comparing more.

What tips do you have to save some pennies and pounds each month?

x x x
Disclaimer: This post contains one paid for link. However, all words and opinions are my own.

29 October 2014

Autumn colours at Stourhead {National Trust} #HDYGG

Autumn colours at Stourhead - National Trust // 76sunflowers

Yesterday we took our seasonal Autumn trip to Stourhead - although we definitely visit more than four times a year.
The Autumn colours were in abundance and when going through the day's snaps I smiled warmly at the hues of reds, oranges and browns that I had captured.
The colours of my favourite time of year.

Autumn colours at Stourhead - National Trust // 76sunflowers
Autumn colours at Stourhead - National Trust // 76sunflowers
Autumn colours at Stourhead - National Trust // 76sunflowers
Autumn colours at Stourhead - National Trust // 76sunflowers
Autumn colours at Stourhead - National Trust // 76sunflowers
Autumn colours at Stourhead - National Trust // 76sunflowers
Autumn colours at Stourhead - National Trust // 76sunflowers
Autumn colours at Stourhead - National Trust // 76sunflowers
Acers, chestnut shells and carpets of leaves just waiting patiently to be kicked into the clear sun streamed air.
Shades of red all around; up close and distant.
Fungi camouflaged against the brown leaf covered floor.

Everywhere we looked, and snapped, Autumn colours were all around.

I'll be linking up with the super Annie at #HDYGG


x x x


Forest School

Forest School // 76sunflowers

I recently had the best training day, quite possibly ever, at work.
It involved, among other things, fire starting, knives, clay, getting personal with trees and cooking on an open fire.
My mind was alert all day.
I couldn't wait to get back outside from the tea breaks.
It was how I would love every day at work to be.
That is my dream.

Here are just some of the activities...

Colour and texture hunt - EYFS Outdoor learning // 76sunflowers

Go on a hunt for colours and textures using coloured Fimo tags and texture word cards.
Get working as a team to make a piece of collaborative natural art. 

Reflecting the canopy - EYFS Outdoor learning // 76sunflowers

Sit beneath the trees with an old CD. Watch the reflections of the canopy and sit in quietness, listening to the sounds around you.

Tree gazing - Outdoor learning // 76sunflowers
Tree hugging - Outdoor learning // 76sunflowers

Get close to a tree; hug it, look up at it, listen to it.
Write down every word that springs to mind.
Get poetic.

Clay and natural animals - EYFS Outdoor learning // 76sunflowers
Mini den making - EYFS Outdoor learning // 76sunflowers

Grab a lump of clay and whatever nature provides. Make your own forest creature. Make it a den.

Whittling - Outdoor learning // 76sunflowers
Fire cooking - Outdoor learning // 76sunflowers

Whittle a hazel stick for damper bread - best cooked slowly away from the flames.
Best enjoyed with butter and jam.

I'm looking forward to repeating some of this with the little people.

x x x


27 October 2014

Project 365 #43 {End of term!}

Finally, it is here, following a long term for the little ones they have a week off.
A well deserved break for them, and me!
Now I plan a relaxing week with my own kiddos.

Project 365 #43
Project 365 day 292 - Curls // 76sunflowers
Project 365 day 293 - Camera Strap Cover // 76sunflowers
Project 365 day 294 - Autumn leaves // 76sunflowers
Project 365 day 295 - Pumpkins // 76sunflowers
Project 365 day 296 - Forest School Fire // 76sunflowers
Project 365 day 297 - Children sewing // 76sunflowers
Project 365 day 298 - Avebury // 76sunflowers

Day 292
A bit of playing around with the 'proper' camera today with close ups. I was trying to capture the girl's curls.
Day 293
I got out the sewing machine today and made a strap cover for my 'proper' camera. For more see here.
Day 294
A walk to school, and around the garden, in the sunshine to collect some leaves before the rain came.
Day 295
My kiddos finished school for the half term yesterday, but I still had two days to go, so it was a day with dad today and pumpkins were purchased.
Day 296
A great training day at work today - Forest Schools. I love this approach to learning and dream of working in this environment all of the time.
Day 297
The girl was desperate to sew today and she managed to sew a square cushion cover - which is now pride of place in the lounge
Day 298
A walk was needed today - Wiltshire sure does have some beautiful areas to explore on foot.

Linking up with The Boy and Me...

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

24 October 2014

Beef & Three Bean Slow Cooker Chilli

Now that the nights are drawing in, and I await the cold crisp Autumn days, my thoughts turn to hearty stews and warming chillis.
I have had a slow cooker for a few years and have used it only a handful of times.
This year I vow for that to change.
I blew the dust off it this week and had a bash at a slow cooked chilli using the available contents of my cupboard.
Such is the joy of slow cooking - just chuck in what you've got, cross your fingers and switch it on!

Beef & Three Bean Slow Cooker Chilli // 76sunflowers
I used:
500g beef mince
1 onion
1 red onion
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
1 tin kidney beans
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tin kidney beans
1 tin butter beans - drained
1 tin baked beans
1 tbsp. tomato puree
1 tbsp. hot chilli powder
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. salt
a few twists of black pepper

Simply brown the mince in a frying pan, drain the fat and add to the slow cooker with all of the above.
Mix well.
Cook on low for about 8 hours.

This made 4-6 tasty servings with just the right amount of punch from the chilli for adults and children alike.

x x x

21 October 2014

Autumn Days....I Mustn't Forget

Autumn Days // 76sunflowers
Autumn days when the grass is jewelled....
The grass today was a bed of Autumn leaves following the winds.
..and the silk inside a chestnut shell.
Jet planes meeting in the air to be refuelled,
All these things I love so well.
So I mustn't forget...
The last two days have given me time to myself; time to reflect and time to look ahead.
I blew the dust of the sewing machine and dug into the depths of this blog for some sewing and craft ideas. I spent some time reading through past posts, and with a change in blog name, have noticed a shift in focus - I miss my sewing and craft, and I miss the writing.
I mustn't forget that I love these things.
    Camera Strap Cover // 76sunflowersFabric Flower // 76sunflowers

Having finally stepped out into the world of photography beyond my mobile phone camera I wanted to personalise my prized possession. I made a camera strap cover for a blogging friend back in 2012 and posted a basic 'how to' here - which I am glad to say I managed to adapt to make it fit for me.
My girl wanted to do some crafty bits with me too last night so we scrolled through my craft blog posts and found the fabric flowers. She wants to use them to make her own fabric bookmarks for her teachers for Christmas. Again, looking back on the blog we found the perfect tutorial for those!
So, some good can be found in looking back and there is nothing wrong with repeating some things.
But now I am going to look forward - do those things again that I used to love, find some time to sew and create, find some time to write.
x x x


18 October 2014

Project 365 #42 {A nondescript one}

It has been one of those nondescript, wet, counting down the days to half-term kind of weeks.
The weather isn't helping.
Everyone is tired and ready for a break.

Project 365 #42

Project 365 day 285 - Gardening // 76sunflowers
Project 365 day 286 - #postcircle #snailmail // 76sunflowers
Project 365 day 287 - Marshall amp // 76sunflowers
Project 365 day 288 - Dr Marten boots // 76sunflowers
Project 365 day 289 - Ronnie Vannucci picture // 76sunflowers
Project 365 day 290 - Morning commute // 76sunflowers
Project 365 day 291 - Bath // 76sunflowers

Day 285
We are desperately trying to sort out the garden. We moved the chooks onto some fresh ground but we need to think carefully about where to plant some Spring bulbs.
Day 286
A letter writing day today with some outgoing #postcircle #snailmail. Just need to actually post them now.
Day 287
I had a bit of a move around of furniture at the weekend and now the amp is in the dining room. It doesn't get used much and is more of a statement piece of musical art!
Day 288
I had to dig out the trusted Authentic Wedge DMs today as my prized Elena boots have developed a leak. A very sad moment indeed.
Day 289
We heard a strange noise from downstairs last night and couldn't work out what it was. When I got in from work today I discovered Ronnie had fallen off the wall. Luckily he was ok.
Day 290
Leaving the house this early is never good and the wet mornings are not helping my mood. Thankfully I love my job.
Day 291
A dash into Bath for some school shoes for the girl. We parked up on a hill and had a nice walk in and out to the shops. I love the Bath houses but am not sure if I could live there again.

Linking up with the lovely The Boy and Me...

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky
x x x
© 76 sunflowers

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