god's country

god's country
near carrick-a-rede

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Creature of the Week: the Pygmi Mouse Lemur

The Latin word lemures means "ghost." Malagasian people have traditionally associated these primates with spirits because they are active at night, and perhaps because of their eerie, large-eyed stare.

There are eight species of mouse lemurs, and several have been identified only in the past few years. This is a rarity in primate research, and illustrates just how much remains to be known about these fascinating animals.

Like all lemurs, mouse lemurs inhabit the island of Madagascar off the east coast of Africa.

The pygmy mouse lemur - (Microcebus myoxinus), also known as Peters' Mouse Lemur or Dormouse Lemur - is the smallest primate in the world. Its head and body are less than two and a half inches (six centimeters) long, though its tail is a bit more than twice that length – it weighs only 43–55 g. These endangered nocturnal lemurs live in the dry forests of western Madagascar and rarely leave the forests' trees. Little is known of these rare primates.

Mouse lemurs are forest dwellers that live in female-dominated groups of up to 15 animals. They spend most of their time in trees, and can move nimbly from branch to branch and tree to tree. Mouse lemurs sleep aloft during the day and forage at night for insects, fruit, flowers, and other plants. Its tendency to sleep in the open, increases the risk of predation; although this danger is somewhat mitigated by sleeping alone.

These adaptable primates store fat in their tails and hind legs, burning it when forage is lean. They may store up to 35 percent of their body weight. Female lesser mouse lemurs enter a dormant state during Madagascar's dry season, from April or May to September or October. Females are inactive during this time and may not leave their tree holes. During the same season, however, males are more active. They may be establishing breeding hierarchies for the coming mating season.

Mouse lemurs are protected from hunting, but they are still captured for the exotic pet trade. They are most threatened by loss of the limited woodland habitat of their Madagascar home.

(from National Geographic and Wikipedia)

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Peppermint Snap

I was inspired to make Peppermint Snap this weekend – probably because James Martin brought it up on Saturday Kitchen. I almost always manage to miss SK for some reason or other – being asleep (yes, I know it starts at 10am!), having to get up early to taxi Al to some competition or other, visiting – and it also seems to be one of the most interrupted programs on TV – you would think that people didn’t care about it – like it wasn’t the long running show with nearly 3 million viewers that it is. I often find it replaced, or bumped to a slot where I can’t watch it by, let’s face it, normally sports. TSK!!!

Anyway, I always make Peppermint Snap at Christmas, mostly because its relatively cheap and can be made easily and in bulk – for a quick and easy version see James Martin – this is a good one for making with kids – but if you have a little time on your hands try mine : )

Also worth a look is this great recipe from Barefoot and Baking – which is exceedingly Christmassy and a dead ringer for my mum’s Peppermint Bark.

You will need:

2 bars Dark chocolate (70% coco solids minimum recommended)

1 bar white chocolate (that’s about 3 milky bars)

Peppermint essence

Sugar (couple of tablespoons, it goes a long way) – not icing sugar! Castor sugar or cane sugar is probably best.

Baking tin (or a funny shaped muffin tin – I used a heart shaped muff

in tin)


Green food colouring

Mint imperials (I buy cheeper store’s own brand ones because they tend to be a bit smaller)

Edible glitter (a nice contrasting colour? Pink or red)

Cake decorating bits (like those little silver balls? Or the tiny spiky icing balls?)

Makes – well it depends on the person really, we are talking about 3 bars of chocolate, but then it is very moreish…


Put your sugar in a bowl and add a few drops of peppermint essence to taste, and then 1 or 2 drops of the food colouring if you are using it. At this point I also add the mint imperials – I leave some whole and smash a couple up in a bag and put them in too. Mix around until everything is minty and green – it will be fairly obvious at this point if you haven’t added enough colouring or essence, but remember you can’t take it out again once it’s in!

Next melt both your chocolates in separate bowls. You can use either the traditional Bain

Marie or the more new-fangled ‘put the bowl in the microwave’ method – but REMEMBER the bowl gets HOT either way!!

Time for the fun bit! Gather all your bits together – some recipes call for lining the baking tin – and this is a MUST unless you are using silicone. Basically it will just never come out otherwise!!

I usually start with the dark chocolate, I have a notion that it sets harder – but it’s probably all in my head!

For a LINED baking sheet, spoon the chocolate over the bottom and spread it out with the back of a spoon. Then drizzle over the white – lines and splodges are best! If you feel it isn’t messy enough trail through it in diagonal lines or a spiral with a cocktail stick to make it pretty! You could even do this for a Halloween party and do it in a spider web pattern! Then sprinkle on all your bits – I probably do go overboard with this – mine usually ends up looking like Christmas EXPLODED on it : )

If you are using some sort of silicone moulds you don’t ne

ed to line it! But you are working with basically the same process. Alternate spoonfuls of chocolate of different colours into the moulds then cover with SUGAR etc – these are some that I made recently – I only used the sugar and mint imperials this time because I was in a bit of a rush – but they are still really pretty!!

Pop your tin into the fridge for a few hours to set – if you are using moulds you can just pop them out again once they’re hard – if you have used a baking sheet you will need to take the whole block of chocolate out and SMASH IT!!!! Seriously, you will want bite sized pieces – not bars of chocolate. I find that once chocolate has been melted that it always melts again much easier – so I keep these in the fridge, definitely no storing them under the tree on the heated floor!

Monday, 21 February 2011

i know valentine's day is over...

I guess this would have been great for Valentine's day - but equally so for any birthday/ thank you/ sorry I.../ sorry I didn't... card : ) I can see a few friends for this guy in the future!

Wednesday, 16 February 2011


Look – lucy’s all ready to go and everything.

Perhaps I could rent Lucy out at £10 an hour – and people with no cat of their own could borrow her for a cuddle…

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Bunny Birthday!

It’s my cousin’s little girl’s birthday! She’ll be 13 – isn’t this exciting!!!!!

I got her some makeup, because she’s all grown up now – likely everyone else will have done the same! I’m not sure that she’s a makeup girl actually; maybe I should have gone all out with the nail polish – shades of black mainly? We shall see!

In addition she’s getting a big book on Manga illustration (how to) and a sewing book with some fabrics to get her started. I hope she likes them!

In honour of the Year of the Rabbit, for Cathryn’s birthday I have chosen a digi stamp with a bunny! It’s a Greeting Farm one that I particularly like – but getting the different heads on the pet is a bit difficult because you can’t see through the stamp : ( - I think she was an Anya set but you don’t seem to be able to get it any more! Awwww!

Since I took the picture I’ve added bubbles to the fish, but otherwise it was finished. I know it’s slightly mad in a Coraline / Science of Sleep / Dr. Who ‘fish warning’ kind of way – but that’s what makes me think she’ll like it…

Also – check out next week’s contest entries on Spoonflower for the Year of the Rabbit Fabric Contest – and don’t forget to vote for your favorites!!!

Monday, 14 February 2011

Trees, trees, trees

It struck me today how much news coverage our forests have had already this year! The world over people are banding together in support of our woodlands – the Philippines have gone as far as to declare 2011 their National Year of the Forest.

Closer to home there has been a national outcry at the proposed sale of up to half of the forestry commission owned forests in Britain, with over 500,000 people signing the petition against it. The National Trust are encouraging the public to plant Mistletoe in their gardens to fight against its decline and help support the 41 species of birds that rely on it. Farmers in Scotland are being encouraged to grow trees on their farms to help maintain animal health, protect crops, conserve wildlife habitats and offset carbon emissions.

Is 2011 the year of the tree or what??

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Freya's Orchard

Another Valentine's stamp for you today - I think I'm getting closer to what I want for Al!

And as a little added extra, Mamma G from forty weeks has posted this gorgeous tutorial for making an envelope from a heart shaped piece of paper!


Creature of the week

The Alaotran Reed Lemur.

The Malagasian Reed Lemur [Hapalemur alaotrensis] is endemic to the area surrounding Lac Alaotran in the Toamasina Province of Northern Madagasgar. Known locally as the ‘Bandro’, this tiny lemur is under threat from loss of habitat, pet trading … and from being eaten. It is now critically endangered.

The Gerald Durrell Wildlife Trust has a Lac Alaotra Bamboo Lemur conservation program which you can read about here, or look at more pics and info on the ARKive here.

Or you can watch the new BBC documentary on Madagasgar presented by David Attenborough here.


Tuesday, 8 February 2011

6 days till valentines day!

and I'm still trying to decide what to put on Al's card... hmm these are a few of my ideas this year, I could end up using all of these, or none! PANIC!!!

Friday, 4 February 2011

i know its the year of the rabbit but...

I was looking at rabbits because its the Chinese Year of the Rabbit right...
(GONG XI FA CAI everyone!)
but my favorite character from peter rabbit was always Mr. Tod - my dad is a Mr. Tod you see? so here are a Peter Rabbit and a Mr. Tod
I hope you like them! : )

Thursday, 3 February 2011

new contest entry!!!

After winning October's contest on Yourstylerocks.com , I've been really busy, and haven't actually submitted another design since!
But February is the month! and my contest submission is up and ready! What do you think? I really appreciate any votes!!!
I'm thinking i could use my original drawing as a digi stamp too - waste not want not ; )