Friday, 1 November 2013

Reviving Halloween Traditions

I love Halloween. I remember trick or treating as a kid growing up in Canada. I remember decorating sugar cookies in school there too. And making pumpkin pies, carving pumpkins and roasting pumpkin seeds. I loved it. Now I have Isadora I want to introduce her to some of this stuff too. We were going to carve some pumpkins but did not get round to it. We baked sugar cookies instead. I have not had them for about 30 years!

We also decided to bake a chocolate Guinness cake (courtesy of Nigella Lawson) because it will be Grandma's birthday soon and well we may as well celebrate tonight. What better than a deep dark rich cake on All Hallow's Eve?

All this was after going to IKEA and making ratatouille for dinner.

I used this sugar cookie recipe from All I would need to tweak a few things to get it to taste just right for me. But it was the first sugar cookie I had had for about 30 years and boy did it bring back memories. These cookies are great for cutting into shapes and decorating - and they make great gifts! I cheated (a lot) with my icing by whipping up some Betty Crocker Vanilla icing I only added a little sour cream and milk to thin it and make it less sweet. It wasn't exactly right for decorating cookies but I knew it would colour well and taste good enough. I was also more interested in letting Isadora have a good play with the icing. She loves getting involved in cooking!

So first of all we made the cookies. We rolled out the dough and Isadora helped me roll them out. The recipe is for 60 cookies but we cut it down to 24 or thereabouts. I suppose it depends on the size of your cutters. We had plenty of small bits left over so we made them into tiny pebble shaped cookies for Isadora to nibble on. These are some of the baked shapes here. 

Spooky Cookies

We decided to leave the cookies to cool overnight and ice them in the morning. It was time to clean up and Isadora got stuck into the washing up with Grandma.
Getting stuck in

The next morning we set to with icing our cookies. We made green for the pumpkins and Frankenstein, black for bats, and orange for the pumpkins. Isadora loved mixing the colours and had a, shall we say avant garde approach, to cookie decorating! She loved it, especially piling the icing into her chops when we were not looking!

Biscuit batch

We left the icing to set whilst I baked the cake and then we set off for IKEA. When we got back Isadora helped me decorate a few cookies before leaving me to finish up icing cookies and cake.

After all that effort we had a dinner of ratatouille and burgers followed by Guinness birthday cake and sugar cookies.They were really tasty, and we have to stop Isadora from climbing on the table to snaffle extra cookies! We finished off our Halloween with a few little fireworks. Isadora had a great time and I loved seeing her face light up when we watched the fireworks. Next year we carve pumpkins, make pie and get dressed up for trick or treating, oh and maybe make more sugar cookies....

Platter of ghoulish nibbles

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Catch the moon

Sunday night saw a fantastic moonscape with dramatic storm clouds tearing across the sky. Our journey home across the Welsh Marches was punctuated with stops to catch an elusive pic of the moon...

I love weather shots and the ever changing sky. Unfortunately my little camera could not capture the moon as I saw it, but it's a step towards learning how to take great shots. And we had so much fun trying to find a place to stop when the moon came out for a split second!

Friday, 25 October 2013

Fantastic Friends

Nearly two weeks ago I returned from a trip down memory lane. I went out to Norfolk to stay with a group of new friends, and strangely enough this area of Norfolk was where I met my husband nearly 15 years ago. I know, small world! We had arranged the get together a month or so beforehand and I was really looking forward to it, though less so the four and a half hour drive on my own with a toddler.

However, I was not about to let that stop me. I really wanted to spend time with this amazing bunch of ladies. You see we have all suffered from Hyperemesis Gravidarum, a little known but debilitating illness of pregnancy. And we all volunteer or fundraise for Pregnancy Sickness Support, a small charity that seeks to raise awareness of pregnancy sickness and hyperemesis gravidarum (also known as HG). PSS also runs a network of volunteer supporters to help women through such a frightening, lonely and often misunderstood condition. Though I was not fortunate enough to have found the charity during my pregnancy, I found it when Isadora was 8 months old. Since then I have been supported and offered support through a facebook page and now forum. I have met many fabulous and inspirational women through PSS and I am proud to call these girls my very close friends.

I bunged the entire contents of my house into the car (or so it seemed), squished the Mini One into her car seat and off we set eastwards.... The journey was relatively easy, pleasant driving. The landscape got more open and flatter the further east I went. Finally as I neared Acle it flattened out into the distinctive drained marshland of Norfolk. Now, I am a mountain girl, so flat landscapes make me feel very exposed. 

Elemental landscape of Norfolk
I feel the need to hunker down and see if I can create some topography somehow... Nonetheless the landscape was beautiful. I followed the narrow track down towards some trees and finally arrived at a large cream coloured farmhouse set within the confines of its own little 'moated' garden.

A couple of hours (and cups of tea) later Katrina and Griffin arrived, and it was already like we had been good friends for years. We had planned to do some walking together to train for our various fundraising challenges for PSS and were working out what day would be a good walking day. We aimed for Thursday, when Sam and Harper could join us.

It seems though, that the weather conspired against us. Wednesday was fine (unfortunately Isadora and I were not feeling well and ended up sleeping half the day away!), but a storm blew in during Wednesday evening. I would love to say that Thursday dawned clear and bright, but it did not. It was howling a gale and throwing rain down with spite. Luckily we were all tucked up cosy in the farmhouse. Sam and Harper arrived and all four children hit it off immediately. Isadora found a new idol in Harper and the boys Adam and Griffin were inseparable. It was great. Fun and relaxing, just chatting and sharing stories and eating cake.

When the weather allowed we would potter in the garden and chase the chickens, all the while being buffeted by the wind and in the evening we sat down to dinner while the outside raged around us. It was perfect. Warm and sheltered inside and spectacularly elemental outside.

Griffin battles in the wind with the branch
Thelma and Louise
What are Adam and Isadora up to?

All too soon it came to an end, Sam left on Friday and we spent a windswept hour at the beach at Hemsby (where I met Graham all those years ago), and then Katrina and I also departed on Saturday morning.

Stormy beach
Braving the elements

I was sort of sad to go, but felt uplifted and happy. I miss Norfolk now, but know we will do this again, and we are doing our fundraising challenges all together. I am really inspired by these women and their beautiful HG children and honoured to be their friend.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Playing Catch Up

I started this blogging lark off with a bang and felt very upbeat and positive about it. And still do, but I find myself playing catch up at the moment with all the things I have got on. Life is happening whilst I am making plans. So, I am trying to catch up with an enormous amount of DIY..........

The green and peach boudoir

I am trying to organise the admin on my email accounts, search for a job, sort the office space out and sort our stuff out for sale.

Stuff for sale..... somewhere!

And then of course I need to get cracking with writing and promoting my shiny new blog. I have about 3 different blogs lurking around in the back of my mind.There is the one where I went to Norfolk to visit new friends who felt like old friends. There are 2 more where I catch up with my 6 Peak Challenge blog. I have not blogged there for 3, nearly 4 weeks now. Like I say, life got in the way. Viral life forms to be precise. I had a stomach bug that lasted nearly a week. Then Isadora had a cold which developed into croup, just as I had recovered. And just as Graham and I took a rare break away for a night to celebrate our 8th wedding anniversary (and that is a separate blog in itself). As she was recovering from croup but still nursing the cold, I decided to share the cold with her and we took it down to Norfolk together. So, in the two weeks since I got back I have been playing the catch up game. And missing Norfolk whilst I am at it......

Friends - photo courtesy of  Emma Edwards

Sunday, 20 October 2013

This is Me

Ok, I have finally done it and started my very own blog. I have been thinking of doing one for a while but never really thought I would have much to say. Turns out I have plenty! People who know me certainly won't be surprised by that revelation.

So what is Starshine and Violets all about then? Well I'm not so sure yet. I hope the blog will grow and develop it's own personality as I explore the world of parenting a gorgeous little girl, developing my interests in yoga, holistic living, creative pursuits and taking up causes that are important to my heart.
I love strawberries!

I am Cori and I am Mum to Isadora - a vibrant force of nature and a constant joy in my life.
My little force of nature - out camping
 My husband Graham is my partner in crime. He keeps the sunshine in my life, when skies are grey. Between them they are my world.
Graham and Isadora at the beach

Oh and not forgetting our two furry cats. I say cats, but I use that word loosely. One of the girls, Lily, barely qualifies. Ok so she is the sweetest animal, but I am sure she is part dumpling. 

My little Lily Dumpling

Rose, on the other hand, is more like a cat  but with a dog like sense of loyalty to me. Her nose has been pushed out of joint since the arrival of 'that child'.

Rose enjoying the summer

So what do I have planned? I am about to start blogging (I have already started over here if you want to take a peek) about my latest undertaking. I am tackling two separate Three Peak Challenges (Yeah, I know!), in order to raise funds and awareness for Pregnancy Sickness Support! So, if you want, please check out my fundraising page here at BT MyDonate . PSS is a charity that helps to provide support for women suffering from nausea and vomiting in pregnancy and Hyperemesis Gravidarum. I suffered from this little known, debilitating condition and I feel really passionate about helping other women going through it too. I plan to add in my journey to integrate yoga into my life and eventually becoma a yoga teacher. And I also want to add in my favourite recipes, photos, places I've visited and sometimes even, my thoughts on love, life and the universe. So nothing too major then! Most of all I intend to have fun. And I hope you do too!