Sunday, 30 November 2014

Black and white photo project/ My sunday photo #5

This weekend we have been forced to stay indoors due to my eldest being poorly. Instead of my usual outdoors shots I have used a photo from today showing Thomas decorating the christmas tree.


Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Wicked Wednesdays

I took this photo of the boys at the end of one of our days out. I tend to take a lot of photos, so they had spent a lot of time that day being told to stand nicely and smile. My sons clearly had enough of having their photo taken by the look of their faces above. 


Sunday, 23 November 2014

Sunday diary: A long walk to Antony house.


Our sunday morning started off being a very lazy Pyjama day. We had planned to stay in today and watch as many films as we could. However, by lunch time, the children were getting extremely bored and beginning to fight. They were also bugging me to over throw my limit on computer games which I refused to budge on. I decided from then that enough was enough, we had to get out the house. We are very lucky to live in an area where there are so many places to go that doesn't involve spending money. The closest place to us that we love to explore is a beautiful national trust property, Antony house which we had a fantastic time visiting today. 

To get to Antony house we took the scenic trail through our favourite forest. As you can see from the pictures, Tom brought his giant Rudolph as long for the walk. I was amazed he carried it the whole way without making me carry it. 

At the end of the forest is a large field where we spent  a good half an hour playing football. Alfie beat us all of course. He is becoming a good little kicker. We eventually had to stop though because there was a sudden influx of dog walkers on the field and we didn't want to lose the ball to a labrador. 

Antony house

Antony house looked even more stunning as usual today. We arrived near sunset so with the low light hitting the autumn leaves in the garden, it made for a beautiful view. The boys love coming here as they have seen and enjoyed the film 'Alice in Wonderland', which was filmed here. In the fences are these little flaps which you can see above. We joked that they were put there for the white rabbit. 

On the walk back up to the exit, Alfie collected as many sticks as he could carry. He planned to take them all home but unfortunately I had to say no.
Walking home
In total, we were out walking for at least five hours. Our legs were feeling it but we had a lovely walk in the fresh air. A walk in the countryside is always our favourite thing to do on a sunday.  We returned home for a hot dinner and warm drink which we definitely needed. 

I hope you liked our post. 
Gem x

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

My Sunday Photo/ Black and White photo project #4

This photo was taken in the grounds of Dartmoor Zoo. The boys loved this gigantic tree.

Linked with the B&W photo project over at PODcast and My Sunday Photo over at One Dad 3 Girls


Saturday, 22 November 2014

Our visit to Dartmoor Zoo

Today we decided to visit our favourite local wildlife park, Dartmoor Zoo. It was recently made famous by the film based on its owners story "We brought a zoo" which I have probably watched at least ten times. I have been coming to Dartmoor since I was a child and love it so much. There are so many good memories for me here and I am so glad I can give my children the same memories I have. 

On arrival to the zoo, we noticed a lot of people had shown up today and this was because the zoo, very kindly, was offering free entry for today only. Currently the zoo is desperately trying to raise money to secure its future. By offering free entry today they were able to fill the zoo and encourage people to donate money to their fund, which was a great idea. You can donate via their crowd fund or if you would like to find out more about Dartmoor Zoo's plight: Crowd Fund Dartmoor Zoo. 

The first enclosures you come to are along the path up to the main part of the zoo. They contain ponies,  capybaras, tapirs, ostrich and ducks. 

The Capybaras having dinner with a duck. 
The zoo has a lovely restaurant by the main entrance which has a meerkat enclosure outside. They always seem to have tiny meerkat babies every time we visit which is amazing to see. Meerkats are very popular at the zoo and that's probably because they are so fascinating to watch. 

Also by the restaurant is a fantastic education room where they hold animal encounters. The boys were able to feel snake skins, tiger fur and turtle shells. The also had a room containing different reptiles such as snakes, turtles and lizards. What caught my eye though was the gorgeous sugar glider you can see below. I have heard of them before but I have never seen one. I fell in love! Sugar gliders have these big black eyes that just makes your heart melt.

Next we visited the zoos beautiful wolf packs. The boys are not too keen on them due to their distinct smell but I literally could sit and watch them for hours. The wolves had just been fed as we arrived at their enclosure. It was interesting to watch their pack mentality as you could definitely tell which one the alpha male was. He was keeping the meat for himself while the others were trying to sneak a bite. As soon as he showed his teeth they would back down straight away. 

Along from the wolves are the two big cat cages. They have a lioness and two tigers. There are no photos of the lioness as she was hiding today but I was happy to get some nice shots of the zoos tigers. The tigers had also been fed with what looked like a pony. One of the tigers slept as the other tucked into a nice piece of meat hung up on his tree. 

Tom's favourite animal at the zoo is the otters. He has many otter teddies and always loves to watch the otter at the zoo swim and squeak about. 

The zoo has two bears called Hayley and Fudge who are the same bears I used to love to see from my childhood. They were a little sleepy today as they should be hibernating but it was great to show the boys them today.

Overall, we had a fantastic day today seeing all the animals at Dartmoor Zoo. The zoo improves with every visit and it's so good to see it doing so well.

Gem x

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

From my recipe book: Salted Caramel Cheese Cake

Image Pinterest

Salted caramel cheesecake is our favourite recipe to make together on a weekend. It's not as easy to bake as cupcakes but tastes amazing. I used a pretty Pinterest picture above because my cakes are not as presentable. I'm sure with practise I may get more confident to show my cakes on my blog. 

This recipe should make 12 servings and takes 25 minutes prep time, 8 minutes cooking time and requires 2 hrs 30 minutes to set. 


120g salted butter
200g pack of crushed shortbread
4 sheets of leaf gelatine
200g soft brown sugar
50ml of single cream
1/2 tsp salt
500g full fat soft cheese
50g Dark chocolate


1. Grease an 18cm cake tin and line with grease proof paper.
2. In a small pan, melt 60g of the butter, then mix in the crushed shortbread with a wooden spoon. 
3. Press the mixture into the base of the tin with the back of the spoon. Place in the fridge to chill. 
4. Put the gelatine in a shallow bowl and cover with cold water. Leave for 5 minutes. 
5. Put the sugar and 50ml water in a heavy based pan and gently heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil and let it bubble for 2-3 minutes, without stirring, until the syrup is a deep golden caramel. Remove from the heat and add the remaining butter. Stir until the butter has melted, then stir in the cream and half the salt. 
6. Return to a gentle heat and stir for 1 minute until smooth. 
7. Squeeze out the excess water from the gelatine and stir one sheet at a time into the caramel sauce. 
8. Transfer the sauce to a heatproof bowl and leave for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
9. Put the soft cheese in a large mixing bowl and gradually beat in the warm caramel sauce, until completely combined. 
10. Spoon the mixture over the biscuit base, level the surface with the back of a spoon and chill in the fridge for 2-3 hours or until set. 

Chocolate topping

You can choose any topping you like for your cheesecake but for this one i usually use dark chocolate. Some use a caramel topping but in my opinion there is already a lot of caramel in the cake, so could get a little sickly. 

1. Put the chocolate in a heat proof glass bowl and place over a pan of hot water. Stir until melted. 
2. Add the remaining salt and mix well. 
3. Use a teaspoon to drizzle it over the top of the chilled cheesecake. 
4. Return to the fridge to set for 5 minutes. 
5. Remove from the fridge 30 minutes before serving. 

Gem x 


Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Wicked wednesdays

My wicked Wednesday is a bit of a throwback photo. This is Alfie when he was around three years old. I think I just popped upstairs for one minute and came down to find a little boy giving him self a pampering treatment with the sudocrem I forgot to put away. He also managed to cover his baby brother too! All in the space of a minute!


Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Pre Christmas Giveaway.


Recently I reached 100 followers on Facebook and wanted to say thank you by doing a small giveaway. I appreciate every single follower, and get so excited when someone new likes/follows my page. 

I picked up one of these amazing Christmas themed Yankee candle gift boxes for my first ever giveaway. It contains six sample candles in all my favourite scents and are all tied up with a golden bow.

How to enter

To win these candles, all you need to do is enter the rafflecopter below making sure you leave me a comment telling me what your favourite candle scent is. This competition is for UK entrants only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you again. I am so happy to reach 100 followers on my facebook page.

Gem x

*This competition is not sponsored by Yankee candle. Prize brought with my own money.

Monday, 17 November 2014

30 day photography challenge.

While I was sat researching some home decor ideas on Pinterest I came across this 30 Day Photography Challenge.  I have been made aware of the 365 day challenge, but I'm not sure I will be able to commit to that one just yet. Thirty days is a perfect timeframe for me. Also I am really trying to improve my photography so this is great practise. 
Each day has a subject/theme for you to take a picture of.  I will be posting these pictures each day from  tomorrow on my Instagram (gemmastevensxo). So, for those of you who like a challenge, pick up your cameras and join me. At the end of the 30 days I will group all the photos together in a blog post and I will make sure I add a linky for those you did it too. If you do join me in this challenge make sure you use the hashtag #30dayphotographychallenge when posting on Instagram or twitter.  

Gem x


Sunday diary: Seagull spotting and drawing Penguins


Yesterday we left the house to go for our usual sunday walk through the fields and ended up jumping on a bus into Plymouth. This is quite a regular thing for us to just suddenly decide to change our plans at the very last minute.

On the ferry over we decided what we would like to do. Plymouth is such a large city with so much choice of entertainment. The boys decided they would really like to see the poppies laid on the Plymouth Hoe war memorial. They didn't get to see them on remembrance sunday as it was so busy, so it was nice to show them all the names of those you died and who laid the poppies down for them.

You can't see them in the picture but there was people swimming in the sea, crazy. 

After a lovely walk along the seafront, we headed to our favourite Plymouth hotspot, the aquarium. We come here what feels like every weekend. The aquarium offer a very good deal where you pay for your first visit and then you can visit again for free for one whole year. We really make sure we use this offer as much as we can. 

The main reason for visiting the aquarium today was because the boys really love their arts and crafts room. Every visit they have something different the children can make. This is a brilliant idea to entertain the children and provides a relaxing environment for us parents. It can get a bit stressful with the crowds around the tanks. 

Todays makes were based on Penguins which Tom especially was excited about. They had a choice to make a penguin box, Penguin hanging decorations and Penguin stencils. As you can see from the pictures below we chose to use the penguin stencils to draw them.

The arty afternoon of drawing our little Montys made us quite hungry and when you are at the barbican, you have to get fish and chips. They are definitely the best chips I have ever tasted but of course not the healthiest meals. We can allow ourselves to have a treat now and again. 

Outside the cafe sits these vintage telephone boxes which the boys demanded they had a picture by. This is probably because they saw them in the Harry Potter films.

The below pictures were taken by my eldest son Alfie. He is really following in my passion for photography and he is definitely much better than me. 

Hope you liked this post. How did you spend your sunday?

Gem x

© Gemma The Family Girl . All rights reserved.
Blogger Template Designed by pipdig