Wednesday, 30 July 2014

June/July Challenge Update

As it has been so hectic around here in the past couple of months, I didn't get to post a June update therefore, I decided I would do a combined two month update.

I'm afraid it has continued to be somewhat of a bookfest over the last couple of months. Well there has to be some advantages to having to sit on a train for work purposes doesn't there.  A total of 11 books have been devoured.  

Four of which have come off the 'Yet  to be read bookshelf'

The Girls in Blue - Lilly Baxter - Fiction

Wicked - Gregory Maguire - Fiction

Breaking the Silence - Casey Watson - Memoir

Songs of the Humpback Whale  - Jodi Picoult - Fiction

 bringing that total now up 17 and I intend to keep whittling them down to see how many are left by the end of the year.
Hopefully none, meaning I can replenish the shelf with yet more lovelies to read.

Two more back to school reads 

Cider with Rosie - Vintage (Laurie) Lee - Memoir

The Diary of a Young Girl - Anne Frank - Memoir

Three small purchases

Twelve Years A Slave - Solomon Northup - Memoir

The Fault in Our Stars - John Green - Fiction

Dry Grass of August - Anna Jean Mayhew - Fiction


Two book swaps

The Storyteller - Jodi Picoult - Fiction 

Memoirs of a Geisha  - Arthur Golden

My film of the month for June was 

Having watched the film last month I decided I needed to revisit her diary as my back to school read for July. 

I couldn't make up my mind what film to choose for July but in the end I decided to go with one of my absolute favourites.

Having read this as my first return to school read back in January I decided I really needed to see the film again just to remind myself how fantastic it is - and it didn't disappoint. 

As for my Poppies and BIG KNIT hats.

Well I managed to crochet the last of the Poppies last month only to discover I had run out of backs and buttons.  I now have both and just need to add to the last 16 to give a total of 40 Poppies all ready to sell later in the year.

I did learn one thing about myself last month and that it I have lost the ability to count. Having had a quick tot up of how many more hats I needed to knit to get me to my target of 50 I set about knitting  what I thought was the last five.  It was a beautiful sunny day so I parked myself in the garden needles to hand and duly knitted the last of my hats.

What did I discover?

On recounting I discovered I have now knitted 55 hats, still that's all the more for the BIG KNIT campaign isn't it.

I now just have all their little pom poms to make,  to make them bobble hats - only another 10 to go. 

So there we are all up to date.

I know I have been somewhat absent here in blogland due to work commitments but, trust me when I say I have been keeping an eye on you all even if I've not always had the time to comment or write a post.  I am hoping things are going to improve over the next few weeks as I am now a little jaded to say the least. With the summer holidays now upon us I am also hoping to take some well deserved time off to spend with D and number 3 before they forget what I look like, although no one has questioned who I am yet when I arrived home in the evening.

Hope you are all enjoying the summer sunshine whatever you may be doing.


Sunday, 27 July 2014

A quick catch and a nice savory pastry

Last weekend we were just deciding whether to eat al freco or not when the heavens opened and the decision was made for us. We had the most fantastic thunder storm. I have to admit that we are probably a little odd in as much as we love watching thunder storms.

This weekend we are back to beautiful blue skies.

As well as the usual red poppies 

We have had some really unusual colours this summer

and they have been stunning.
All of these poppies are self seeded we haven't plant any of them they just seem to of found our little garden and decided to make it their home. 

Last year we even had a poppy seed itself outside D's office door, so when this plant first appeared a few weeks ago I originally thought it must be another one this year.  As it grew we soon realised it wasn't a poppy after all.

It soon became apparent that the Borage we had in a planter last year had left behind a few seeds and it soon became obvious that this was what was growing outside the office door. 

D hasn't wanted to cut it back as he says the flowers are lovely and the bees love them.  I know some people put them into their salads but I think we'll leave them to the bees.

These days I don't get to bake very often especially now the big kids have left home. This weekend I really got the urge to do some baking. Out came the cook books. I was looking for one particular recipe for a quiche that has a particular pastry.  

It's a lovely savory pastry 

The ingredients are

8oz plain flour
6oz butter/margarine
2tsp of Paprika
4oz Parmesan cheese grated
1 egg beaten
1 tbsp of chilled water

Sift the flour into a bowl and rub in the butter/margarine until it resembles breadcrumbs.
Stir in the Paprika and Parmesan cheese, 
Bind into a soft dough with the egg and water.
Knead until smooth, wrap in cling film and chill for about 30 minutes.

It makes enough to fit a 9" flan tin 

You could use with any filling I made two different types but this is a basic Cheese and Onion filling

1 Onion
4 rindless streaky bacon roughly chopped (omit for a vegetarian version)
3 eggs
300mls single cream
3 1/2 oz of hard cheese such as cheddar grated
salt and pepper for seasoning
Nutmeg freshly grated.

Pre heat the oven at 180C/350F/Gas 4 
Because you do not blind bake the pastry case first place a baking sheet in the oven whilst heating up.
Saute the onion and bacon for about 10 mins until the onion is soft.
Beat the eggs and cream together in a bowl. Add the grated nutmeg and season.
Spoon the onion and bacon mixture into the pastry case and sprinkle with the grated cheese.
Remove the baking sheet from the oven and place the flan dish on top this will start baking the pastry case.
 Pour the egg and cream mixture slowly over the filling. 
Return to the oven and bake in the oven for 35 - 40 mins or until filling is just set.
Remove from the oven and let cool.

Do have ago you won't be disappointed.

That just leaves me to say that I know I have been a little absent on the blog front. It's a really busy time at work and there's not much time for much else, but trust me I have read all your blogs even if I haven't had a chance to comment.  Hopefully with some days off planned over the summer I may be able to visit here a little more often.  

Enjoy the good weather whilst it lasts.


Sunday, 13 July 2014

Blog Hopping

Good Morning all from a not so sunny morning here in the Fens.

The lovely Jo over at Through the Keyhole has nominated me to take part in the blog hopping that is gone on in blogland at the moment.  

So here goes with the answers to the three questions.

What am I working on

At the beginning of the year I set myself five challenges and they consisted of 

  1. Watching an old film once a month 
  2. Re-reading some of the books that we had to read at school
  3. To take part in the BIG KNIT this year by making 50 mini hats to send into their campaign
  4. To make 40 Crochet Poppies to sell for charity come October/November
  5. To read 13 out of the 26 books that have been patiently sitting on my bookshelf
To date I have watched 5 films for challenge one and I will be watching number 6 today. So far they have been

  • The Story of Esther Costello
  • The Three Faces of Eve
  • The Imitation of Life
  • Harvey
  • A Stolen Life
  • The Diary of Anne Frank
The books I have re-read from school  for challenge two have so far been

  • To Kill A Mocking Bird
  • Lord of the Flies
  • The Waterbabies
  • Of Mice and Men
  • Animal Farm
  • Cider with Rosie
Challenge three my contribution to the BIG KNIT this year

I have now made up 45 of these lovelies, 10 of which are just waiting for their bobbles which leaves me just 5 more to make to reach my target of 50.

Challenge four my charity poppies.  Last year myself and a colleague raised £85 for Help The Heroes through selling our crochet poppies. 

This year I set myself a target of 40 poppies which will hopefully raised £100 for charity.  I have now crocheted all 40 but the last 16 are waiting for their little tails to be sewn in and their buttons and backs to be added.

That just leaves challenge five.

For a long while whilst my children were growing up I just didn't have the time to read much. They were all very active sportwise after school and weekends.  Now the big three have flown the nest and I have a bit more time for me I suddenly got the urge last year to pick up a book. I soon had a vast collection on my bookshelf and by Christmas last year there were still 26 patiently waiting to be read. So the last of my challenges for 2014 was to read at least 13 of them.  I managed to complete the 13th book in May, so had a very feeling smug moment.  I am continuing to work my way through the remaining 13 still sitting there and will continue adding them to my list of books read for this challenge over on my Tea and Biscuits and A Good Book blog.

What else am I currently working on

My garden which seems to be a never ending WIP 

Last year we added my crafty den.
Most of the shrubs are now established 
so now I am adding more of the accessories 
such as

But the most useful has proven to be

I can quite easily loose track of time when I'm sitting in the garden so to add the clock was probably the best idea I've had in a longtime. 

How does my writing/creative process work

I get a lot of inspiration from fellow bloggers. I am also a new follower to Pinterest and find lots of inspiration there.  I also have an abundant amount of patterns that I will use or alter when it comes to knitting.  I'm still a novice with crochet so I tend to stick to the rules and follow a pattern.  I am still at the crochet block stage. As far as my writing on here it tends to be whatever is going on around me at the time.

How Does My Writing/Work Differ From Others In It's Genre?

Not quite sure how I differ to anyone else here in blogland.  In fact I probably don't.  Sometimes I will get an idea pop into my head to write about, sometimes an event will have happened which I feel I would like to share, but ordinarily it's probably more about the my WIP's and the ordinary everyday things of life that we all go through everyday that I tend to write about.  

Why Do I Write/Create What I Do?

I think I've probably already answered this one.  I think when I first started my blog I did wonder whether anyone would actually be interested in anything I would have to say.  But I have been pleasantly surprised how many people do pop along to visit and the numbers are growing all the time.  I was especially humbled by all those who gave their support and sent good wishes when my son was out on tour in Afghanistan.  He is now thankfully back on English soil and about to take up his new posting.  So whilst people are interested I will continue to come here when time allows and write about things that go on here at The Willows, about my family and about my crafting.


So now it is my turn to nominate another two bloggers to blog hop. This has been a difficult choice as there are so many really good blogs out there.  I have tried to pick someone who has not yet been nominated so that narrows it down a bit as so many great blogs have already taken part.

So without further a due I have decided to nominate


So there we are I do hope the weather decides to improve I think I can see a bit of sunshine peeking out between the clouds.

Have a great Sunday one and all and don't work to hard will you.


Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Anniversary Giveaways

I had been following blogs for about two years but had never thought of having my own.
It was one year ago today that I finally got the confidence to start my own blog.
I can remember being so nervous and I had no idea what to blog about  or whether anyone would be interested in what I had to say, so for my first attempt I did a simple little introduction and nothing more.

My second post was easy

who could forget Andy Murray finally making his dream a reality.

and then I had one of the best weekends ever when I went down to London to meet up with my old school friends. We had all reached our golden birthdays and decided a treat was in order in the form of a wonderful meal in Covent Garden and a night at the theatre to see the show 'Wicked' and it truly was.
And that was it Lazy Days and Sundays at Willow Cottage was born.

Anyway I feel I am digressing somewhat, so without further ado lets get to the matter in hand and find out who the winners of my anniversary giveaways are.

So at 7am this morning I picked the winners.

The winner of my Sunflower giveaway is

Congratulations Jo from Through the keyhole

Inside you will find

A note book
Two coasters that match the Jute bag. (photo was taken in my garden last year)
A packet of dwarf Sunflower seeds 
a lovely handmade Sunflower bookmark.
 two balls of this lovely Woodlander wool
1m of Sunflower ribbon.

Now for my Poppy giveaway

The winner of my Poppy giveaway is

 Congratulations Kate from Just Pootling

Inside you will find

A note book
Two coasters that match the Jute bag. (photo was taken in my garden last year)
A packet of Flanders Poppy seeds 
one of my crochet poppies (and yes the funds have gone in the pot for November).
 two balls of  Womens Institute DK  wool 
1m of Poppy ribbon.

I have absolutely loved pulling together this giveaway and I already have lots of idea's buzzing around my head for the next one.

I can't believe it has been a year already the time has gone so fast and I feel that I have made some truly great new friends in blogland but there is still plenty of room to make lots more over the next 12 months.

It has been a great learning curve and I have found lots of inspiration from visiting other bloggers, for sure there are some very talented people out there whether you knit, whether you sew, whether you crochet, or whether you grow, or whether you are more of a literary blogger it all makes for great reading.

I wish everyone could of been a winner but congratulations to Jo and Kate who are my 2014 winners.
I hope you will both enjoy your prizes and look forward to seeing what you do with them.
I will be in touch for addresses.

Meanwhile I hope you all enjoy the rest of your week and look forward to catching up with your blogs very soon.