Snapshots: May 15th, 2018

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Books:
Angus and the Ducks, told and pictured by Marjorie Flack
1943, Doubleday & Company, Inc.

Happy May!  I checked the hedgerows and the may is definitely blooming, so it’s official.  Here is what we’ve been up to lately.

Books

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I recently reread Angus and the Ducks, a very fun little book about a dog named Angus (no, not that one). The pictures are very interesting and striking as well.

 

 

I’ve also been reading some classic mysteries, as usual.36E4F659-42C4-42E9-9BE3-A0870CFFAE7D

 

Food

As the weather gets warmer I always feel like eating things that are fresh and raw, but I don’t want to fiddle with complicated salads.  I normally just chop up whatever’s about.

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This is even nicer when you put it in a jar with some sea salt, olive oil and lemon juice and leave it overnight, and it goes with pretty much anything.

Life

Before the grass gets too long and the bugs too numerous, now us a great time to walk around barefoot. It’s a long school term for us here, everyone is cooped up with SATs and things,  when we’d all prefer to be enjoying the first warm weather.  So we try to grab any chance we can to get outside.

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What have you been reading/eating/doing this May?

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Spring Stories & Eggs

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Books: 
The Boy Who Didn’t Believe in Spring  by Lucille Clifton; pictures by Brinton Turkle
1973, Dutton
The Spring Rabbit by Joyce Dunbar; illustrated by Susan Varley  
1994, Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc.

Mustard
April is mustard growing time

Although we’re at the end of spring break, I have to say it’s still pretty chilly here, not to mention rainy.  I know a lot of you are in mud season or even still socked under a load of snow.


Here are two books about how Spring can often feel a long time coming.  The Boy Who Didn’t Believe in Spring is about a little boy called King Shabazz who didn’t believe in Spring.  One day he gets fed up of hearing about crops growing and bluebirds (which seem mythical to him), and about Spring being just around the corner.   He sets off with his best friend Tony on a big adventure: around the corner.
 


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Along the way they see many interesting things in their neighbourhood, and the illustrations are really fun and realistic, showing the ’70’s city scene as the kids walk through it.  The clothes and the cars alone are great.
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Of course in the end they do find Spring, and it’s as magical and wonder-inspiring as it should be, even though it’s only the tiniest of signs.  Which is a nice message and a good reminder that wherever we live, Spring is for us too…even if we don’t currently have nice weather or wildflower meadows to frolic in!


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This is a really fun story which has a powerful feeling of a specific time and place, but it’s also pretty timeless.  It’s very effective at getting the reader into the mindset of a child and allowing us to feel the wonderment at very little things which kids (even those who think they know it all!) feel.
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The next book is called The Spring Rabbit and is about a rabbit named Smudge who desperately wants a sibling to play with, but everyone keeps telling him to wait until Spring.


Smudge has a very hard time waiting through the Autumn and Winter. He keeps looking and hoping, but everyone continually tells him to wait until Spring.



Finally, Spring arrives and Smudge gets two brothers and a sister!

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This book really conveys the frustration of waiting for something, whether it’s a new sibling or Springtime, so it would certainly be a useful read for a child who is impatient about something.  The illustrations are light and airy and have a real springy feeling.

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When I think of Spring food I automatically think of eggs.


When it comes to eggs, it’s best to get the highest quality ones that you can.  We are very lucky to live near a farm where we can get eggs from very happy pastured chickens.  You can tell from how orange the yolks are that they have a lot of nutrition.  Here are three ways to make eggs that are almost as enticing as Weissman’s buns and the take-out shop bar-b-q.

Eggs with Spring Greens

Ingredients
4 pastured eggs
2/3 cup milk (or coconut milk)
1 Tbsp butter or coconut oil
1 leek, chopped
2 cups sugar snap peas (mange tout), chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 handful fresh sprouts such as mustard or cress
Any other greens of choice (optional)
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper
Hot sauce to serve (optional)

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Method
Heat the butter in a pan over a medium heat until it is a little sizzly. Add the garlic, leeks, peas, most of the sprouts, and any other green things you like. Cook down until the leeks are getting soft, about five minutes. Add the eggs and milk together in a bowl with the salt and pepper and whisk them until they are frothy. Then take the vegetables out of the pan and put them aside. Add a little more butter if you need it, and still on a medium heat, add the eggs. As they are cooking, pull the eggs in from the sides with a spatula to make big curds. When the eggs are mostly cooked (which should take no more than a couple of minutes) spoon the greens on top of them and cover the pan with a lid for another couple of minutes. To serve, top with the remaining mustard sprouts and hot sauce.


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Two other nice ways to serve eggs are:
1. On toast with spinach and kombu.
2. With fried rice, green beans, carrots, peas, and sauerkraut.


Happy Spring, everyone!  I’m sure it will be here soon enough.

Go on a signs of Spring walk and see what you can find.  We saw these beauties  today by the side of the road:
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12 Days of Books 2017/18: Henry the Explorer

IMG_6582Book:
Henry the Explorer by Mark Taylor, illustrations by Graham Booth
1966, Aladdin Books

Happy New Year all!

On Day 8 we have another boy named Henry and his dog.  This Henry (and his dog Laird Angus McAngus) read a book about explorers on the night of a blizzard.
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This naturally makes Henry want to go exploring too.  So he makes a bunch of flags, packs an explorer’s kit, and he and Angus head out into the snowy woods.

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Henry and Angus have some very exciting adventures while exploring.  They even meet a bear!  But they are gone so long that Henry’s mother sends out searchers to hunt for them.
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Fortunately, Henry and Angus manage to find their own way home by following the flags they had planted.


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IMG_6870Henry and Angus’s Explorer’s Kit

Sandwich — peanut butter

Bone for Angus

Ball of string

Apple

Orange

Flashlight

Whistle

Candy for gifts

Map

And flags

 

This is a cute little book.  The illustrations are very atmospheric and beautiful.  Henry and Angus are definitely an inspiring pair.

Winter is actually a very good time to go exploring.  There are no bugs, no undergrowth, and you won’t get too hot.  Just make sure you are dressed warmly and have an explorer’s kit.

Or if you’d rather not, you can stay in and read a book about exploring– that’s just as good.

Snapshots: March 30th, 2017

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Books:
i-SPY Creepy Crawlies and i-SPY Trees
2016, Collins
Poem:
A Calendar of Sonnets: March by Helen Hunt Jackson

How is Spring where you are?  Here it is in full bloom and today we finally had a properly warm day.  It’s so nice to be able to hang the washing on the line again!

Here is what we’ve been up to lately.

Books

Currently I’m reading a couple of mysteries, but we’ve also been going about looking for signs of Spring with some i-SPY books.

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Our Spring book basket

These are particularly fun because you earn points for each species you spot, but there are many nature guides/books out there.  The RSPB Handbook of British Birds comes out whenever we see a strange bird on the feeder.  If you want a book to read rather than use as a field guide, my husband has been reading The Wood for the Trees: The Long View of Nature from a Small Wood by Richard Fortey.  I’ll get back to you if he has any thoughts on it.  So far this Spring I have spotted, among others: a wren, dunnocks, robins, goldfinches, honey bees, bumblebees, snowdrops, crocuses, daffodils, violets, primroses, and various flowering trees including cherry, apple, and blackthorn.

It’s a great time to go for a walk and see what you can spot!  Even small spaces like lawns, hedges and flowerpots will have an amazing world of minibeasts waking up and starting to roam about.  And even if you are still snowed in, if you look closely the trees should be budding and birds returning.

Food

The other day my husband made marmalade, which we have never done before.  It was quite a production, but now we have a row of gleaming jars full of citrusy goodness.  I personally don’t like marmalade, but if you, like my husband and Paddington Bear, are a fan, it’s one of the easier preserves to make.

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Marmalade is nice on a toasted tea cake or even hot cross bun on one of those still-chilly mornings.  And if you don’t like it, you could have lemon curd instead.  Citrus fruits are really nice to have in the colder months, when there are fewer fruits around.

Life

Right now our windowsills are just covered in a variety of seedlings, gathering their strength indoors before they face the cold.  There are rows of dahlias, citruses, Black-eyed Susans, and even a little maple grown from seed.

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No doubt it will be cold and blustery again tomorrow, but the seedlings are a cheerful sight and fill us with expectation for the Summer.

What have you been reading/eating/doing this March?

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