Our Favourite Five – October

Once again I’ve been caught unaware by the end of the month. Why is that? October has been a whirlwind of happiness and some sadness. An explosion of activity, with a sprinkling of relaxation. I’m exhausted from trying to keep up with what’s been going on. So this is a great place to recap on the things that have made us happy this month.

Without further ado, here are my family’s faves

Pumpkins

I’ve mentioned before that we have a big garden, but this year we finally accepted that, for the moment, our garden is Oscar’s domain and trying to keep him from trashing playing with growing plants is both frustrating and futile. So at the beginning of this year, Ben took an allotment and alongside the potatoes and French beans decided to have a crack at something a bit different. Which is how we ended up this month with four home grown pumpkins.

This came in handy for decorating our Autumn window, but even more so for carving at Halloween. We haven’t bothered carving a pumpkin for years, but look at this beauty Ben did this year. Isn’t it fab?

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And I’ve discovered Pumpkins aren’t just for carving (especially when you’ve grown them yourself). So far I’ve made pumpkin chutney and discovered the boy adores salt and chilli roasted pumpkin seeds! There’s so much flesh in these beauties that I’m now looking into other recipes. Soup maybe? Or how about Pumpkin Brownies?If you’ve got any recipes, let me know!

Salt & Chilli homegrown pumpkin seeds - the boy's new favourite

Salt & Chilli homegrown pumpkin seeds – the boy’s new favourite

Mirror

I decided a few weeks ago that I was sick of checking my appearance in the glass panels of the front door as I leave the house. I realised what our lounge needed was a mirror. We don’t have a hall so it would need to be something that fitted with the room. Of course I had something in mind straight away and couldn’t find it anywhere. Actually that’s a lie. I did find one I liked. An old season Pottery Barn one on a Pinterest type site. Typical. I want something that no longer exists. Hmmm.

Then one day I found myself in Haslemere, childless and with time. I stuck my head in The Ark, an antiques shop (or as Ben calls it an upmarket junk shop) I’d never dream of going in with the boy. And there she was. Hanging on the wall, peeping out from behind cabinets and covered in dust. You know when something catches your eye and you do a double take? That. She was a bit more ornate than I pictured but she was perfect. I put her aside and we collect her with the car the next day. And she’s already made herself at home 🙂

Isn't she gorgeous? I added the candles and I cant wait to decorate her at Christmas

Isn’t she gorgeous? I added the candles and I cant wait to decorate her at Christmas

Winchester Science Centre

Ben took a week off work this month, to spend time at the allotment and with us. I’ve already written about how fantastic that was and how nice it was to have the opportunity to do stuff I’d never be able to do on my own, but I couldn’t not include Winchester Science Centre in this month’s faves.

We had soooo much fun. The exhibits are all hands on and while the two floors of buttons and levers was enough for Oscar, older children (and parents!) would also love the exhibits. The Centre also has a Planetarium, which we didn’t go in (he’s not ready yet), but I really would love to one day. The Centre seemed to have a good understanding of Autism, with detailed floor plans and social stories available on their website. As Oscar’s carer I also got in for free, which was great. I had no idea how he was going to react and had it not worked out, and I’d had to pay full price, that would have been an expensive experiment!

As it was, the boy loved it and I cant wait to take him back!

Oscar at the controls!

Oscar at the controls!

Yankee Candles

If you follow Mrssavageangel on Facebook you’ll know this month has been all about Yankee Candles for me. I love a good Christmas candle and last year I revelled in their Red Apple Wreath scent for months. However, this year I wanted to see if there was one I liked more, or at least as much! There isn’t anywhere local that stocks all the fragrances so instead, I decide to buy a load of sample candles to burn at home and see for myself. Its been so much fun, I’ve really enjoyed having different fragrances every day and discussing them on Facebook. I’ve not found a Christmas fragrance I like more than last years Red Apple Wreath, but I have discovered Pain au Raisin. I’d wear that as a perfume! Not particularly christmassy, but definitely a new fave. I’m a bit sad all my samples have been burnt now. I may have to buy some more 😉

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Soup

I love cold weather. I means I can legitimately eat stews and casseroles (I mean I’d eat them any time, but people think its weird eating stew in June!). Yum! I’m not usually a soup person. I always felt they left me bloated and made me feel uncomfortably sleepy. However this October I’ve been giving them another try. My favourite so far has been homemade Ham and Lentil. Delicious! And now we have so much pumpkin, I need to give that a go too. Filling, nutritious and warming, homemade soup has been a revelation for me this month.

Ham & Lentil soup

Ham & Lentil soup

What have been your families favourites this month? I’d love to know!

 

The Boy Makes….Homemade Bounty Bars

Over the Easter holidays, the boy and I were inspired to have a crack at some more sweet cooking projects. We made chocolate cupcakes one day and then, scrolling through Instagram one morning, I came across this post for Homemade Bounty Bars by the gorgeous Mrs Bishop over at MrsBishopBakesandBanter. I LOVE Bounty bars and the boy has taken a real shine to coconut and dark chocolate recently (there’s not an issue in the world that can’t be solved with a Mrs Crimble’s Chocolate Covered Coconut Macaroon I tells ya!). We’ve never tried making proper ‘sweets’ before, so I thought this would be a fun place to start.

The recipe Mrs B (and I!) used was incredibly simple with just four ingredients:

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  • 100ml Condensed Milk
  • 75g Desiccated Coconut
  • 200g Icing Sugar
  • 200g Dark Chocolate
I weighed out the ingredients.....

I weighed out the ingredients…..

...and Oscar poured them into the bowl. First the coconut.....

…and Oscar poured them into the bowl. First the coconut…..

...followed by the condensed milk and then the sugar. Mix it all together.

…followed by the condensed milk and then the sugar. We mixed it all together.

It should come together in one easy to handle lump.

It should come together in one easy to handle lump.

Oscar helped me shape it into bars (it was only my desire for even bars that meant his lumps got flattened out!) Place on greaseproof paper lined tray and leave to firm up in the fridge for an hour or so. This recipe makes 8 big bars easily.

Oscar helped me shape it into bars (it was only my desire for even bars that meant his lumps got flattened out!) We placed the bars on a greaseproof paper lined tray and left them to firm up in the fridge for a couple of hours. This recipe makes 8 big bars easily.

Melt the chocolate. I do this is short bursts in the microwave, stirring each time, but you could do it in a bain-marie. Drop the bars into the choclate and spoon it over to coat. Oscar LOVED doing this bit. Lift onto greaseproof sheet and chill in the fridge.

Melt the chocolate. I do this is short bursts in the microwave, stirring each time, but you could do it over a bain-marie. Drop the bars into the melted chocolate and spoon it over to coat. Oscar LOVED doing this bit, but it was a bit messy and I got no photos – boohoo! Lift onto a greaseproof sheet and chill in the fridge until the chocolate sets.

Oh my life they were so good! We’re definitely going to make them again, but next time I am going to fiddle around with the proportions. I want to try adding more coconut and a little less sugar. I’m also going to make 16 small bars, instead of 8 big ones. Don’t get me wrong the big bars looked awesome, but realistically, I think a smaller bar would have been enough. You could also try making them in to bit size pieces, perhaps for a party. Bounty Bites, if you will! I think you’d easily get 32 bites out of this recipe, although I’m not sure if you’d need slightly more chocolate. Give it a go!

The boy likes them, but not as much as mama does!

Homemade Bounty Bars. The boy likes them, but not as much as mama does!

 

BakedPotato Mummy
Gym Bunny Mummy

You crafty thing….

Despite only using it it for the past six months, Pinterest and I have had something of a bumpy relationship. I avoided it for so long because I worried that, once I jumped in I wouldn’t find my way back out! To be honest I have had moments like that, but all in all I have found it to be a great resource. I don’t tend to pore over it, looking at interiors I would never be able to replicate, and homes so tidy I’d be scared to breathe in them. Doing that tends to make me feel a tiny bit miserable. So instead I tend to use it to find ideas for specific projects, like when we redecorated our room, and the Pretzel Pumpkins I made at Halloween. Just lately I’ve been trying to be a bit braver when it comes to crafting with Oscar. I wrote recently about how he’s started to really enjoy play dough, so last week, with the rain pouring down and me without a car, I decided to pull my finger out and try some ideas for entertaining toddlers with cabin fever.

The first thing I tried was home made Moon Sand (using this post from the wonderful frugalfun4boys.com) and I can’t tell you how easy it was or how successful it was. To make it I emptied one can of shaving foam in to my maslin pan and mixed in a few drops of blue food colouring in until it was evenly distributed. Then I mixed in one box of cornflour a bit at a time to make sure it was all mixed thoroughly. The end result was the texture of damp sand and smelt like my Grandad (I’d forgotten he used to use Gillette Sensitive until I squirted it out!).

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I then dumped the whole lot into a cheap underbed storage box (wide and deep), covered the kitchen floor with a plastic dust sheet (I had no idea how messy this stuff might get, so thought I better play it safe), put a few of Oscar’s toys in it and called him over. I couldn’t believe I’d managed to prep and set up a craft in such a short space of time and with the boy in the next room!

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He was a little cautious at first

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Then he realised he could bury things in it

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His favourite game was driving the car into the drift of moon sand. I think he was re-enacting the episode where Thomas (the Tank Engine to those not in the know!) gets suck in the snow!

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We played together and when I tried to leave him, he came and got me and sat me back down – most unusual for the boy!

We had a great time together. He listened when I asked him to keep the stuff in the box and I loved making little sandcastles with him

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He’d fill the ‘bucket’ and I’d press it down. He’d then shout Ready, GO! and I’d turn it out

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His favourite thing to do was to pick up the ‘sandcastle’ and crumble it back down.

This stuff was amazing. Let’s forget for a moment that I got the recipe from Pinterest and it actually worked for me (Yay!), he absolutely loved playing with it. The sand stayed pretty much in the box and what did get on our hands, clothes and the floor came off so easily (I patted myself on the back for the bright colouring – it meant I could see it to clear it up!). It was easy to assemble, the ingredients were easy to get hold of and cheap. But the best bit was it is reusable. After we finished with it, I shook as much off the toys as possible and pored the sand into a smaller airtight container (you could leave it in the box you used to be fair, it was just easier for me to store it in a smaller container). Then on Sunday we set it all up again and Daddy got to have a play with it too!

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Second time round he had just as much fun. As did Daddy!

Buoyed by my success with the moon sand I decided to have another crack at my own playdough, with a recipe I’d been given by our local Children’s Centre.

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I didn’t use glycerine in mine and I coloured it red. I would say 1 minute was probably enough in the microwave for me, but your machines may vary so start with a short burst and keep checking it. It came out a treat. Wow! I can do crafting after all and the boy loved it!

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I was so proud! Really pliable and not at all the colour of surgical stockings

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Not sure Percy was so thrilled about the set up though! Looks to me like Toby is smirking in the background! Don’t worry Toby, your time will come!

I think I just need to be a bit braver when it comes to crafts (and mess). I’ve been looking into making my own paint and I found an awesome post of how to get any stain out of children’s clothes. I just need to find a good, reasonably priced craft supplier. Where do you guys get PVA and glitter from? I miss Woolworths!