Spring is here and we are excited. It's been a long winter, not helped by three dumpings of snow in March, and everything in the garden is behind. Dicentra, that's normally in full bloom by now, is just starting to appear above the soil. The hellebores have only been blooming for a couple of weeks and the daffodils in the shade garden are only just budding up. We are ready for some sunshine and some warmth!
There's been a bit of outside adventuring on dryer days, and plenty of pottering in the garden, but also a whole lot of inside play. There's only so much 30mph gusts and driving rain a two year old can take!
In the run up to the Spring equinox and Easter we've been getting creative inside, and making use of the stash of blank peg dolls I've built up recently. I started off with this darling little Easter themed playset using some giant peg dolls my sister in law gave me. Immy absolutely loves them, but we've since discovered that supergluing felt to wood makes for a delicate bond and poor bunny has had to be reattached to both of her ears at various times! (Perhaps they've more suited to slightly older children!)
They were simple to make - acrylic paint, a spray on sealant and then sharpie for the features (if you try and do sharpie eyes on bare wood the ink runs) and are the perfect size for toddlers to play with.
I'm also planning to make some weather and seasonal dolls for Immy to add to our wooden calendar every morning and these bigger sized people will be perfect for taking more detail - I don't fancy attempting to paint tiny snowflakes on a 6cm doll! I've been addicted to Pinterest while creating these and planning the calendar dolls and it's full of amazing images, if you're a fan of peg dolls then definitely head over there and have a look, people are amazingly creative!
I had a set of little nesting dolls and knew immediately what I wanted to make with them - you may remember last year I made Immy a set of rainbow peg dolls with matching eggs and egg cups and felted wool balls. They have proved incredibly popular and I've since added matching trees and acorns to the set. So when looking at the nesting set it seemed obvious that I should carry on the rainbow theme, but with a bit more of a spring vibe...
So I started by mixing the rainbow colours up with a pastel scheme and just fell in love with it. After a dig around in the tool box I found the drawer handles from a couple of Rast drawers that we replaced, and they became sweet little toadstools. I used the sealant again to protect the paint from enthusiastic play and they've gone into a variety of plastic eggs to be searched for in a hunt this weekend.
It's not Easter without cornflake nests and we've made several batches over the last few weeks. Immy loves any opportunity to put her chef's hat on and do some stirring, though she normally ends up just eating everything in the process. There's something lovely and nostalgic about doing an activity with her that my parents did with me, and of course you get to eat them afterwards.
More Easter treats have come out of the kitchen this week that have had a little less input from the small one - chocolate ganache eggs and hot cross buns. I've never made either before but both turned out pretty delicious. It was a challenge to find a plain silicon egg mould and in the end I had to get rather larger than I'd planned (those are real primroses for scale!) But they were fairly simple to make if a bit fiddly - pour candy melts into the moulds, leave for a couple of minutes then pour out most of it into a bowl. Once the shells were set I filled them with a simple chocolate ganache, then topped with the rest of the candy melts.
I didn't have any chocolate colours for the candy melts so painted the moulds with gel colouring - it didn't really work and just gave a dinosaur egg effect which, while not horrible, just not what I planned! But a healthy spritz of gold dust distracted a bit, and they are amazingly yummy so it doesn't really matter! I'd like to make smaller ones for next year, and will be keeping my eyes peeled for smaller moulds.
The hot cross buns were much easier - a brilliant recipe from Delia, the kitchen aid and a proofing hack with a warmed, steamy oven. I made one batch exactly as writ, then a second chocolate orange version, replacing the sultanas with chocolate chips, the water with orange juice and adding orange zest. Both were delicious, light and fluffy and very moreish. I have a feeling I'll carry on making them all year round!
I'm in Plymouth today to see my parents and siblings, then back home this evening for Easter Sunday with John and his Mum. We're going to eat a lot of chocolate, go to church, read Immy some new books, watch Hop and eat a proper roast dinner. Our centrepiece will be these beautiful floating hellebores, bringing a little bit of spring inside!