Wednesday, 29 February 2012


Okay, I did a naughty thing according to my children. I missed Shrove Tuesday last week. It completely slipped my mind. It didn't help that the kids have swim lessons and martial arts that day and we didn't get home until nearly 7:30 and I was exhausted.

As a family we really don't give up anything for Lent but we do have the customary pancake dinner. So I thought I would share a tiny secret that I use to make our pancakes turn out great. I add vanilla and cinnamon to our pancake batter and it makes the pancakes turn out tasting fantastic! I can't give exact measurements as I just put a little of both in. Give it a try you won't regret it:).

Monday, 27 February 2012

Visiting Stamford Town

The weather has finally turned for the better this week. We experienced a bit of sunshine and the wind has died down a bit so going outside is more favorable. We decided to take a drive and visit Stamford, a town about an hour away from us. This town has a reputation as being one of the best preserved late Medieval towns in Britain.

As usual one of the first things we did was locate the tourist information center and found a local map of the town. Inside there was a historic walk thru town that pointed out many of the interesting sites.

The red dots show the walking trail thru town and the green dots are the interesting sites we could find thru out the town.

As a family we enjoy doing these types of walks as you can often get a really good feel for the town. There were lots of interesting side streets and cute specialty shops along the way.

Standing outside one of the historic buildings and Daddy and the kids plotting the next stop on our route thru town.

Below of some pictures of the town. Almost all of the building are made of limestone.

One of the pedestrian walking districts for shopping

Lots of interesting statues found through out the town

Many of the old buildings date to the late 14th century.

Graveyard outside a church near the center of town. Stones were so old we could not read the dates or many names.

There are many old churches in this town, each one more impressive than the other. Just beautiful!

Brass rubbings found inside one of the churches. These are very common here. I have never seen this in the states. These were from the 1470's and were so old you couldn't clearly distinguish some of the details.

Several churches had hand carved and painted angels on the ceilings directly over the alter. So pretty

Many stained glass windows. I love stained glass windows, however all of these stained glass windows were installed/replaced during the Victorian period.

An old doorway found in a church

There were a few late medieval timber frames shops.

One of many side streets we found with hidden shops

According to the brochure we got from the tourist board the reason this town remain unspoilt was that the industrial revolution bypassed this town mainly due to the Cecil family who were the land aristocrats who owned the large Burghley House outside of town. The family discouraged expansion and modernization resulting in the railway bypassing Stamford as did much of the economic growth that occurred int he late 19th century.

We enjoyed our day out and I wish to go back to visit the Burghley House. It is still a privately owned home and does not open for visitors until mid March.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Signs of Spring

It has been cold here!! Even tho February is the shortest month of the year it sure feels like the longest month. In order to improve our mood and get out of the hum drums of the month we headed to a local garden to look for signs of spring. Anglesey Abbey is a national trust site and has beautiful garden open year round. Always a favorite spot of ours to explore nature.

I attempted to get the kids to record what they saw.

Snow drops

spring bulbs

Not sure the name of this one but it is pretty

crocus bub

We found Daffodils blooming

I can't remember the name of this flower

or this one, I really need to get better at identifying my plants:(

I loved the silver birch tree path. The gardens will power wash the tree trucks in order to maintain the starkness of the tree trucks. It was just beautiful.

Another path that I really like

The garden has an 265 year old water mill on the premises. It still produces flour the old fashion way.

Here Little Man is grinding the wheat by hand

Then the gentlemen were nice enough to turn the mill on so we could see how the machinary works. Some of these parts are over 100 years old. They can produce 1 Kg of flour in less than a minute. (I think I remember that fact correctly)

We had a lovely time exploring the garden and it gives us hope that spring is coming very soon.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Trip to York

This past weekend we went to the Jorvik Viking Festival which is held every year in February. This was the first time the children and I were in "kit" and able to fully participate with Daddy.
We have been to York many times and I have to say it is one of my favorite places in England.

Clifford's Tower, all that is left of York Castle. This was right outside our hotel lobby.

View from the top of Clifford's Tower where the castle would have been

Map of the non existent castle, but here you can see where the tower is situated. The moot is long gone

The Shambles, a famous shopping district in York.

Kids were so excited that Daddy was called upon to help a street performer with his act.

Picture taken outside the Jorvik Viking center (no pictures allowed inside).

An educational site for the Viking era of York. They advertise that you will see the sights, sounds and smells of the period. I would have been quite happy to missed the smell of the viking latrine.

The Vikings are gathering outside of York Minster preparing to march thru the streets of York! Just for the record it was COLD outside and it started to rain. While the kids and I were cold they did manage to hold it together, but shortly after the march I took them back to the hotel to warm up, before the evening show.

Family outside of the York Minster

Family photo taken inside the York Minster in our viking gear!

Viking ship, waiting to be burned after the battle.
I think the temperatures drop another 5 degrees this evening. Cold does not even begin to describe the the discomfort we were feeling. Oh and I haven't even mentioned the wind that blows right thru to your bones.

The kids and I were suppose to participate in the battle by leading the warrior onto the field using fire sticks. However the wind was so bad our stick would not stay lite. After 15 minutes of trying to get the fire sticks to light, it was decided by the organizers that maybe this would not be a good idea as we were all wearing highly flammable material. Viking clothes were not fire retardant!!

This is my kids huddled on the ground during the battle trying to stay warm. We only lasted a few minutes before I gave up and the kids and I headed back to the bus to try to find some warmth. From there we watched the ship burning and the fire works.

While the kids and I enjoy supporting Daddy with his love of this period it was unanimously decided that Daddy is on his own next year. We will gladly watch from the side lines wearing modern clothes dressed warmly for the cold:). We will participate in his viking hobby but only in the warmer months:)!!!!

Monday, 20 February 2012

Tortilla Soup Recipe

It is cold outside and we recently tried a new soup out at home and it was delicious. I will be adding it to my recipe folder. This recipe is a a two step process but you can take short cuts and add frozen cooked chicken strips if you like and skip step 1:). I just might do that next time.

Step 1: Make shredded chicken (make extra and freeze)

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
15 ounce can chicken broth

Put all ingredients in saucepan and bring to boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and cook for 20 minutes. Cover the sauce pan. Turn off the heat and let the pan sit until cool. Remove chicken and use fork to shred.

Step 2: Make Tortilla Soup

1 Table spoon of olive oil
1 small white onion
3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1 small can diced green chiles
4 cups of chicken broth (I used half chicken broth and half water to reduce salt content)
28 ounce can of diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon of thyme
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 table spoon chili powder
2 cups shredded chicken

Heat oil in soup pan over medium heat Add onions and cook for 5 minutes.
Add garlic and chiles and cook for 2 minutes
Add broth, tomatoes, salt, oregano, cumin, thyme and chili powder. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer on low for 15 minutes.
Add chicken and simmer for additional 5 minutes.

Serve with sour cream, cilantro leaves, cheese, avocado and/or tortilla chips


Let me know if your family enjoyed it as much as mine did:)

Friday, 17 February 2012

A Mother's Home school Journal

In my life this week:

Ever had one of times when you feel like you whole existence is devoted to your kids and they don't appreciate all your hard work. It has been one of those kinds of is a recent conversation with my youngest...

Child: I am calling the newspaper on you, Mom
Me: Why
Child: You are so mean
Me: I am
Child: Yes, you won't buy us pop tarts or the chicken nuggets we like. I don't like the new ones you buy now
Me: The new ones are healthier for you
Child: But I don't like them...

On a positive note both my husband and I got to spend some individual time with each of our children this weekend. The kids loved the one on one time and so did we:)

In Our Home school this week:

We have begun our study on WWI. We watched the movie "Sinking of the Lusitania", which was very good. We have begun reading and trying to figure out why the war started in the first place. Some excellent books I have found so far include Truce by Jim Murphy, Usbourne book WWI, and the History of Wars.

We have begun our studies on Mexico learning about the festival of the dead. We watched a Atlas show on Mexico and cooked Tortilla soup for dinner.

We have completed our study on Claude Monet and tried two styles of paintings (see previous posts).

Places we are going:

We head out to the Viking Festival this weekend and I will be adding a few posts when we get back next week. We are also planning our trip to the states this spring and my parents have offered to watch the kids for a week so my husband and I can plan a trip for 2. How fantastic is that! Can't wait...we now have to decide what to do and where to go.

I’m reading…

CJ Sansom Dark Fire, This is the second book I have read of this author
Little Man and I are reading book 2 of Harry Potter
Princess and I will begin reading Trenches next week (book about WWI)

I’m cooking…

I feel I am getting into a bit of a rut with my cooking, but with us out of the house 4 nights a week for various activities simple quick meals are all I can manage, however we are trying to make healthier choices, just ask my youngest:)

A photo to share…

I made Tortilla soup for the very first time this week. It was excellent!!

Hope you all are having a very wonderful week!

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

More Monet paintings

After a week or two of mishaps in getting our final Monet paintings done we have finally completed them this week, whew... I really like the idea that I found on The Crafty Classroom. I had each of the children find a painting of the Japanese bridge that Claude Monet has done on the web and I printed out the picture. Using these paintings as our inspiration we got to work...

Again we started out with our paint pallet. Using only primary colors, white, a tiny bit of black and brown.

We taped of a portion of the picture that would be our bridge

Using our Monet picture as inspiration began to paint...

Once the paint drys we removed the tape

Little man's results..he found it to hard to use Monet's picture so he did his own version of the Japanese bridge. Less black paint was used this time around, YAY!!!

I thought Princess did a great job following Monet's style in this blue painting of the Japanese bridge.

My results showing my Monet picture in the corner which was my inspiration. I decided I didn't like the white bridge so .....

Can't decide if I added to the painting or distracted from it. Oh well...

I know doing these exercises demonstrated to me that impressionist really were skilled artist as it is much harder than it appears to recreate art using only the basic colors and dots and lines.
To see our other Monet painting go here