Sunday, 13 December 2009

alternatives to wrapping paper

we are down in cornwall for the christmas holidays staying with my little sis. apparently her local council don't recycle wrapping paper as a lot of them contain plastic and not so much paper. so she has asked us to think about using alternatives. you can read more about it here. recycled paper is definitely the way to go and check that what you're wrapping with is 100% paper so it can be recycled.

these are a few different ideas on what else to use -

we have been collecting the wrapping paper sheets from the guardian newspaper over the last week (above). each sheet is designed by a celebrity and some of them are quite nice.

the exotic paper company: recycled paper infused with tree seeds.

myfuroshiki: a japanese way of wrapping gifts with cloth.

acornpies: shows how to make origami boxes, good for smaller items.

you could also use pretty magazine pages.

or newspaper, especially coloured ones like the financial times. everyone likes pink don't they!

or how about a pretty piece of material that can be used by the receiver for a craft project.

tied up with a nice ribbon, i think these ideas would look lovely and make your gifts especially unique.

what will you be wrapping your gifts with this year?

sarada x

Monday, 7 December 2009

christmas traditions

we braved the bad weather this weekend and went out and got our christmas tree. dusted down the decorations tin and searched for the lights in the shed. we got our tree a bit earlier than usual as we are going away for the holidays so wanted to enjoy it a little bit first. when i was decorating the tree, it got me thinking about family traditions, the kind of christmases stanley will look forward to and what our part will be in creating these special memories for him. so much responsibility!

one of our traditions is to send my mum and j's mum a decoration for their tree. and they always send me something for ours too. so for this years decoration, stan and i made some hearts, birds and stars out of salt dough, inspired by the december/january issue of the green parent magazine, that we dried in the airing cupboard and threaded with ribbon and twine. we made a garland and put some on the tree. the others i will post. i just hope they survive the journey!

sarada x

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

a cosy day

we arrived home late last night, tired but happy after a long weekend away. it was cold and rainy today so a good excuse to stay in and get cosy. for lunch, we made bread rolls that we buttered hot from the oven and sweet potato and pumpkin soup. and i roasted the seeds too. i like to spoon them straight from the pumpkin onto the oven tray with the stringy bits and mix with oil and soy sauce. so i've been snacking on those all day in between making tents and inspired by one of little stan's favourite stories at the moment - we're going on a bear hunt, hiding from bears!

sarada x

Friday, 20 November 2009

home - making

ambika, my little sister and the other half of this blog is taking a break from here as she needs to study for her book keeping qualification and has an exam very soon. so hello, it's me again...

inspired by this and this i used some old lace doilies to decorate a curtain that covers our balcony door. and i'm really pleased at how it turned out.

i also made this simple envelope cushion cover with some gorgeous poppy fabric that was given to me by my mother in law. i think it may be a laura ashley design.

i added a strip of denim fabric from one of j's old pair of jeans to make it look a bit more modern, and backed it in a grey colour.

still lots more that i want/need to make for our home. but i'm slowly getting there.

sarada x

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

things we found on a windy day

it's been so windy here lately. the kind of days where you just want to cosy up in front of the fire, if we had one that is. but there's no chance of staying in with my two year old. i ask him everyday what he'd like to do and his answer is always the same, 'go for a walk.' so when we have no other plans, off we go.

we collected these autumn leaves the other day and made them into a rainbow when we got home. they are our new work of art on the living room wall until we get some pictures up there.

and we emptied out our pockets and made little acorn people inspired by this post at acorn pies that i found via simple kids.

the next day i kept my little one happy by making a house for them out of a cereal packet. i thought it would be fun for him to help papier mache it. so i got some magazine pages for us to rip up but he found them too hard to tear so got frustrated and screwed them up and threw them instead! then i made some flour and water glue which took me back to my childhood, and i showed him how to glue the paper onto the house. obviously he decided it would be much more fun to put his hands in the container and squish the glue around. that was fine, but i objected when he started to wipe it all over me and flick it around the room. i'm afraid the project was aborted swiftly and it ended in tears. oh dear! well, i finished it off myself while he was sleeping and after the house had dried he seemed to like playing with it. oh, and snapping off the heads of the acorn people and rolling them down the stairs. i think we'll just go for a walk tomorrow!

sarada x

Monday, 16 November 2009

better than revising

i've done this doodle for steph's australian, twin god children, for christmas. hopefully this year we will get a little parcel in the post in good time. this seems to be my new distraction and it certainly beats revising.


Wednesday, 11 November 2009

forest school is cool

since september, we have spending our monday mornings at a local forest school type parent and toddler group. it's such a lovely thing to take part in and really starts the week off on a positive note. so all wrapped up, whatever the weather, we go and meet our friends in the woods for stories, singing and lots of seasonal nature activities. there is always a cosy fire to sit around and usually we cook something on it too. this is an apple cake that was baked and steamed with the ashes from the fire. we quite often have vegetable stew and last time we all helped wrap up little potatoes in foil to bake in the fire.

we learnt how to dry slices of apple by coring an apple and slicing it into rings then hanging them from a hazel stick to dry. ours never made it back home to the airing cupboard though!

and we've also done things such as making fruit leather out of hawthorn berries, dipping colourful autumn leaves in wax to preserve them and we made a hideout using twigs and leaves.

we have a nature display of sorts at home now, where our little clay and teasel hedgehog, we made at the group now lives. he's been glued back together several times and is accompanied by little bits and pieces that we find when we are out and about.

we love our little woodland group! it's such an antidote for the sometimes hustle and bustle of our busy town lives. and i always leave feeling so inspired, and i know my little stan does too.

sarada x

Friday, 6 November 2009

black ink

i've been doing these drawings when i really should have been doing other things.

i have an introductory accounts exam in december. i cant remember if i have mentioned it before. probably not as it does not stimulate my creative senses, or seem to sit very comfortably in this space. anyway i have been revising and revising with a touch of drawing in the middle. a little light relief. i will be glad when it is all over.


Monday, 2 November 2009

at halloween

we went to stanley's first halloween party. he dressed up as a spider. he did wear it for about 15 minutes at the party but his favourite thing was showing daddy his costume when he got home.

we decorated a pumpkin when granny and grandad came to stay. a potato peeler turned out to be the best tool.

and we made biscuits out of the pumpkin flesh which turned out tasty but more cake like than biscuit. i think because i wanted to use all the pumpkin i had they turned out much more moist than they were supposed to!

here is the recipe that i adapted from an old cookbook to suit my little dairy allergy sufferer;

pumpkin biscuits with brown butter glaze
4oz soya margarine
5oz plain flour
4oz wholemeal flour
6oz soft brown sugar
8oz of cooked pumpkin (i used the flesh of a whole medium pumpkin)
1 egg
2tsp ground cinnamon
1tsp ground allspice
1/2tsp baking powder
1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda
3oz pecan nuts roughly chopped
3oz raisins

brown butter glaze
2oz soya margarine
4oz brown sugar
4oz icing sugar
2tbsp soya milk

mix together the margarine, sugar and egg until light and fluffy, then mix in the cooked pumpkin. stir in the rest of the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. place teaspoonfuls of the mixture onto a greased baking sheet and cook in a pre-heated oven (375f/gas mark 5) for 10 to 12 minutes or until the edges are firm.

to make the butter glaze melt the soya margarine in a pan over a medium heat, add the brown sugar, then take off the heat and add the icing sugar, thin with the soya milk and spread on the biscuits when they have cooled.

a delicious way to use up that pumpkin.

sarada x

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

i think i love you

i have been doing a bit more drawing lately. in fact i think i have the bug and find myself with pen in hand when i really should be doing other things. here is my latest doodling.

we have also found a new love for dips and dippers. it is great tonight francisco was eating raw broccoli, carrots, tomato, and cucumber.

yesterday i made some tahini. it was so easy. i toasted some sesame seeds and then ground them up in the pestle and mortar, and then added a little water until it made a paste. inspired by the tahini i have now made some cashew and brazil nut butter using the same method except adding a pinch of salt and using olive oil instead of water. it is so delicious.



we just spent a lovely weekend with lovely friends and their gorgeous little boy. we even had an adventure in the shape of this. sun, sea, a bit of sand and not much sleep! so good to spend time together.

sarada x

Friday, 23 October 2009


the weekend before the clocks go back is stephs birthday. this year we celebrated at our local pub with a few close friends. it was really nice to get this opportunity to go out in the evening, as with a little one to look after it is not always easy. i made steph this pen and ink drawing which now sits by the bed in the cheap frame i painted in with a farrow and ball tester pot i found in the shed.

i am really pleased with how it has turned out, as i used one of francisco's felt tip pens. i think maybe the time has come to get my own.

i also made this brightly coloured cushion cover to remind us of the warmth of summer as winter fast approaches.


Wednesday, 21 October 2009

snuggling in

well autumn is certainly here now. the days are getting shorter and the nights are colder. so we have gradually been spending more time inside. that and the fact that we are all a bit poorly with coughs and colds means that we haven't strayed too far from home this week or done anything too strenuous.

i got stan a paintbrush the other day, before that we were using hands, and spent a morning painting with water colours. i find that sometimes it's easier to do activities like this especially if you aren't feeling up to it. he loved rinsing the brush in between using each colour and how with the help of the water the paints merged into one another.

we are lucky to have lots of big windows in our home so this is where we display our artwork at the moment. the crayon drawing was done by my sisters little boy and is a nice reminder of when they came to visit. it's a picture of his mummy as a chicken! very sweet and funny. we had such a lovely time with them and i did a lot of catching up with my lovely little sis. it was great. i will post some more pictures of their visit soon.

sarada x

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

a long trip home

its been just lovely going away and seeing my family for nearly 2 whole weeks. we spent some much needed time catching up, had a friends wedding to attend and then francisco and i went to see my sisters new abode in brighton for a few days. as always though i somehow managed to be having such a great time that my camera got forgotten, and i have very few pictures to remember our time by. this is my sister and i at the wedding.

katy who was getting married is my oldest friend. she looked amazing and it was so lovely that at the reception her little boy patrick insisted on dressing up as a bumble bee. katy made this really cute outfit for him.

on the subject of bees, our mum has been keeping honey bees for a few years now. she produces the most amazing honey. whenever fransisco sees a bee he thinks it might be one of granny's which is lost. it is just lovely when he calls her up asking if she is missing one of hers.

my sisters new flat in brighton is perfect. it is located centrally and is right near a great woodland area and a lovely park. i was really inspired by the way she has thriftily furnished and decorated her place. nearly everything has come from freecycle. very environmentally friendly. and the mix and match of throws and pictures and odd little pieces of furniture make the place look so homely and warm. since i have been back in the cottage i have been inspired to clean and home make like never before. i have new eyes.


Saturday, 19 September 2009

mix and match

recently i have found myself eyeing up sheets, pillow cases, duvet covers and even blankets whenever i enter a charity shop or go to a boot fair. bedding is so expensive, well the kind i would like anyway, and i love the idea of having an odd assortment of bedlinen to mix and match in any combination the mood takes me. so i've been collecting a few mismatched bits as i find them and getting rid of any that we currently have that i really don't like. the theme that seems to have evolved is of pinks and blues, but who knows what i might discover on one of my next thrifting escapades. it just gives me great pleasure to be surrounded by all these pretty colours and patterns.

(and there's little stan playing his favourite new game, pretending to be asleep, then jumping up a few seconds later exclaiming 'awake now!')

(i also bought this beautiful crocheted blanket at a recent boot sale for £2 i think. the woman told me that her mother had made it and that made me feel sad.)


Tuesday, 8 September 2009

back to the same old same new

we just spent a lovely relaxing week visiting the grandparents in suffolk. it was so nice to be able to catch up and share the days with stanley together. j's brother lives nearby with his two little people so it was nice to spend time with them too and of course stan loved his cousins. typically i forgot my camera, it was waiting on the table when we got home so i had to imagine the photographs i would have snapped for myself. i was very taken with the picture postcard image of a heather bush in a tin bucket on the wooden pale grey green garden table. such lovely colours. and a very pleasant spot to drink tea in the morning.

more pretty scenes awaited us on our return. our two tomato plants were full to bursting with fruit in various shades from green to red. apparently tomatoes should ideally be picked before the fruit turns red so that their juices stay sweet rather than watery. yesterday my little helper and i picked a bowlful to ripen in the kitchen. so tomato salads are on the menu for a few weeks. chopped up with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper, a dash of olive oil and red wine vinegar. delicious. i think i counted 50 tomatoes in all!

the only other plant that has done well on our little balcony was the chilli, a modest handful of chillies that went straight into an omelette last night. hot but tasty.

it was a nice feeling when we arrived back to our (still new to us) home, looking at everything with fresh eyes and being appreciative of the larger space. even though we do miss the boat from time to time.

i also had time to finish a couple of gifts including one for a little girl who calls herself bubba. so sweet.

bondaweb, i really love it, recycled fabric and chain stitch. i had lots of fun making them.

now i just need to enjoy the declining days of sunshine before they disappear altogether. i'm just not quite ready to say hello to autumn. not just yet!