Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Unravelled Wednesday

Joining Kat for her Unravelled wednesday, well hoping there isn't too much unravelling going on, I am enjoying working on a cross stitch that I bought several years ago. It was on of those wonderful moments were you pop into a craft shop during the sales and find a cross stitch kit reduced to £6. At the time we were fostering kittens so the design was just perfect, there are four sections one for each season, at the moment working on the Autumn section. I put this away when I became pregnant with L and started knitting baby bits instead, so 5 years later, think it's time to start it again!

I am still trying to use up some of my stash before I buy anymore wool but gave in today but will write about that in a minute. I discovered two balls of white wool, so thought I would use them to knit L a cardi but not sure if there will be enough or not, so knitted the back to the shoulder shaping, then left it on a spare needle, then both the sleeves, now working on the front, depending on how much wool is left over, will determine the length of the cardi. I am enjoying reading  Elly Griffiths Smoke and Mirrors. I have loved her Ruth Galloway mysteries and have come to love the characters and was well as the stories they are involved in, her writing is very atmospheric, you really feel you are there with the characters. I still have one of the Ruth books to read but saving it till she releases the next one, as I don't want to be left without another Ruth book to read. I know sounds strange but then chatting to a friend that I had recommended the books to and she has done the same, so maybe not such an odd thing to do! Anyway back to Smoke and Mirrors, it is set during the 1950, the main characters are friends that served together during the war, one now works as a policeman the other as magician, a good story but doesn't have the same sort atmosphere and characters as the Ruth books.

Now I was determined to not buy anymore wool until I had finished some projects and wool from my stash but I was browsing patterns on pinterst and L spotted this cardi and asked if I could make it in grey with bright pink patterns. So I bought the pattern 2 weeks ago and resisted the pull of the wool shop until today, I needed to pop to the shops to buy some wrapping paper for my husbands birthday, it's his 50th tomorrow, he is trying to ignore the fact it's his birthday and has banned us from making a cake! Anyway the wool shop is right opposite the card shop, so thought I would pop in and see what they had, found some lovely wool, saying I wouldn't start it just yet. Well came home and 30 minutes later I had cast on and knitted a couple of rows............. This is the first time I have knitted a top down cardi, so looking forward to seeing how it takes shape, think I might need to circle the size I am doing as the pattern does from newborn to 12 years of age and covers several pages.

On sewing front, I am planning on making L a larger version of the purple winter coat I made her two years ago, pleased it has lasted her two winters. I have got as far a sorting out the pattern and the fabric I bought last year but not got much further partly due to the fact that I am not exactly following the pattern. The original pattern had ruffles and large fur trimmed cuffs and wan't lined, so I did away with the ruffle and cuffs and lined the coat with fleece to make it warmer, it worked very well but the sleeves need to be a bit bigger so it is easier to fit a thick cardi underneath. I will get there just need to be in the right frame of mind to juggle pattern etc.

The Little Red Hen

Today I had my friends girls over for a morning of activities based on The Little Read Hen, we read the story, made some bread, talked about what yeast does and the different types of bread you can get, which ones we have tried, liked and or made.

While the bread was rising we watched Come Outside Bread, as we watched this I talked about how flour was made, a long time ago people would of used a quern to grind their bread, then later windmills or water mills would of been used before the factories that we saw in the program. I found some photos of a quern and we talked about how long it would of taken to grind flour compared to the factories today. Could of also talked about in how in some parts of the world people still grind their flour by hand. We then watched this short film that looks a bit more at the process of wheat to flour and then looked at some resources that we got from grain chain, one was little packets of wheat as it goes through the different process, which they found fascinating.

They then enjoyed creating their own farm yard and playing with their set up.

They also spent time drawing pictures based on the illustrations from the book we read.

and finally the cooked rolls, the girls have asked to come again and have another session with me, which is great, I really love doing small group sessions like these.

Just love the way one simple story could have so much potential for different idea :-

  • making different types of bread
  • looking at bread from different countries
  • history of making flour, farming etc
  • the lifecycle of wheat, for older chidlren the pros and cons of different types of farming, genetics
  • how windmills and watermills work, cogs and gears
to list few, I am sure there are lots more ideas but these are just a few on what we touched on today, who knows were it could lead.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Sad News

I went to let our pet rabbit, Frodo out this morning and got no response, he is getting older and takes his time to come out but this morning there was no movement at all, he must of passed away in his sleep last night. We are all upset but L is absolutely devastated, she loved Frodo and was forever collecting dandelion leaves on our walk for him. All the children used to love to go out into the garden and chat with him, find him leaves etc, so have messaged all the parents to let them know what has happened. This is the first time in over twenty years that we do not have any pets, when we moved in here we had 5 cats, fostered kittens, later added rabbits, chickens and a rat, so the house feels very empty tonight. Though we do talk about death and dying, it is a whole other thing when it is your beloved pet, so for L this is really the first time she has had to deal with it. We have had lots of questions of why did he have to die, can't I make him breath again, wake up again, in the stories people die and come back to life again, so had to talk about most of the times these stories someone has cursed them or poisoned them and they are asleep, waiting for someone to magic them awake, this is real life and it doesn't work that way. In between this she has been asking if we would get more rabbits and a kitten and then more tears. This afternoon we went for a walk and L collected lots of dandelion flowers, I suggested we could use them to paint with and make flower pictures of the type of garden Frodo would like, he did like to eat my flowers! So we did manage to have a lovely time painting lots of pictures for him, in rabbit heaven. Tonight we buried him in what will eventually become our secret flower garden and she has chosen a lavender and rosemary bush to planted there. This is the very sunny spot at the bottom of the garden that used to house our chickens. After she went to bed my husband commented on a book that we have Always and Forever and how in the end even though Hare's friends are sad that he is gone, they remember the good times and build a garden to remember him by, one to find out and read to her in a couple of days, as I think it will help.

Monday, 24 April 2017

St George and the Dragon

Ended up with a quieter end to last week and weekend than originally planned as L came down with a mild temperature, sore throat and cough, so she spent a lot of time needing cuddles or sleeping. So I have spent a lot of time sitting on the sofa with her, reading stories, watching films and crafting while she sleeps, which means I have knitted her a pair of the workhorse mitts in some teal green wool I had left over and also managed some cross stitch. She is hopefully on the mend now, still a bit croaky and was rather tired by bedtime tonight. Any way yesterday we read Saint George and the Dragon and today we read two dragon stories from A Year Full of Stories, one from Britain and the other from Poland. The end of the Usborne book has a nice map and talks about were St George is patron saint of and some other nice info that we read through.

I had planned some bread making in dragon shapes and maybe painting or chalk pastels but the children decided to draw some pictures of the dragon, love the different facial expressions.

We've been doing lots of counting and L and one minded child seems to have really learnt all their numbers to 10, so today thought I would see what they could remember, so out came the crochet bowls, button pot and some number cards. They love sorting buttons into the bowls, so this is a fun activity for them and I am pleased to say they can recognise their numbers one to six and add the right number of buttons to the bowl. This is the  pattern for the rainbow nesting bowls

I then added some mirrors and coloured lollipop sticks, this is great way to introduce the idea of symmetry, reflection, half etc in a fun way, love the oh wow when I demonstrated how you could turn half a lollipop man into a whole man. They then had fun creating their own patterns.

In the garden the sunflower seeds we planted the other week are just peeking up above the soil, the peas are doing the same at the allotment and some of my Californian poppies that seeded themselves last year are now flowering. The children love these and have been watching how the buds develop, open and now seeing the seed cases form, at some point we will have a dried seeds that they can then plant.

L's fingerless mittens, she is really pleased with them, the colour looks really blue in the photos but it is a teal green in real life! Hoping we won't have much need to wear them until the Autumn! Joining Frontier Dreams for Crafting On

I came across an eggless carrot cake last week and L and I had to give it a go, it is really delicious and moist. It's great to find another dairy and egg free cake to add to my list, the recipe can be found on Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth blog  Carrot Crazy cake we didn't ice our cake as I find it a bit too rich. My photo of a little slice doesn't do it justice but had to show that it isn't a dense cake at all, which I sometimes find when trying eggless baking as you don't always get that light fluffiness that you get with eggs.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017


Hoping you all have had a a lovely Easter, we have, enjoyed the lovely weather and spent most of the time either in the garden or up the allotment. We have a lovely display of wallflowers and perennial erysimum in the garden at the moment and they smell lovely, they have seeded themselves and I am planning on digging up a couple of these plants and moving them to the allotment .              

The children have enjoyed an Easter egg hunt in the garden, actually more than one! L has got us to hide the eggs several times over as she loves hunting for them. They spent time decorating some wooden egg decorations.

 We made some hot cross buns, didn't glaze them which actually even if they don't look so nice they were nice to eat as you didn't end up with horrible sticky fingers, think next time I will add some more dried fruit to them.

Joining As Kat Knits for unravelled Wednesday . Now I have been working through my list of unfinished craft projects and feeling rather good, as I now have 4 left to do from the list and other than the cardi they are all longer term projects, so successful weekend and I have completed my tax return too!
  1. second panel of knitted throw.
  2. finish sewing L's blouse (fabric from stash)
  3. grey wrist warmers, not sure if I like the pattern in the wool I am using from my stash, so might unravel them and start again!
  4. have just started a white cardi for L again wool I already have.
  5. patchwork quilt
  6. dolls pyjamas that I had cut out of scraps of fabric
  7. cat cross stitch that I started a while ago
  8. a skirt, needs the zip put in and waistband finished, I got tot his stage last year and hoped I might loose a bit of weight, tone up, so didn't finish it!
 Made some pyjamas for L's doll, she is really pleased with them and for 2 nights in a row, got herself and her doll dressed ready for bed and asking for stories 45 minutes earlier than her normal bedtime, so she had an extra story.

Gave up on my original pattern for fingerless mittens, it was lovely eyelet daisy pattern but I just wasn't happy with the way it looked as I knitted it, unravelled it twice, not sure if it was my knitting or what but went for this pattern called workhorse mitts really pleased with them. Have sorted out some dark teal wool to make a small pair for L, which shouldn't take long to make.

A little update on our reducing our waste, it is going ok but slowly, M and I love our shampoo bars, I tried a conditioner one but that isn't enough for my hair so at the moment still using a bottled one, need to research that more at some point. I do use coconut oil as an intense condition so often as my hair is very dry and frizzy, the boys are still working though their bottles of shampoo and then will see what they make of the shampoo bars. I am pleased with how the eco egg is washing but if clothes are heavily stained then I am using powder but for everyday washing it does fine and removes smells and normal stains, just not ingrained dirt! Now I am happy when I wash up using a dishcloth and have used lots of odd bits of cotton yarn to make some new ones, my husband prefers a brush, he has been trialling the eco force brush with a replaceable head and is very pleased with it, the bristles seem to have lasted a long time. So looks like a permanent replacement, we have toothbrushes that are very similar so instead of replacing the whole brush you just replace the bristle part.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Update On Finishing Projects

So after writing my list yesterday and thinking that I only had 4 unfinished projects to complete, that's not quite true, realised there were another 4 projects in the cupboard, oops
  1. second panel of knitted throw.
  2. finish sewing L's blouse (fabric from stash)
  3. grey wrist warmers, not sure if I like the pattern in the wool I am using from my stash, so might unravel them and start again!
  4. have just started a white cardi for L again wool I already have.
  5. patchwork quilt
  6. dolls pyjamas that I had cut out of scraps of fabric
  7. cat cross stitch that I started a while ago
  8. a skirt, needs the zip put in and waistband finished, I got tot his stage last year and hoped I might loose a bit of weight, tone up, so didn't finish it!
But have today finished L's blouse, pleased with it, it's from the spring edition of Ottobre magazine, looking at it now, I should of made the yoke a double layer so hiding all the seems, did this with the last top I made from this magazine but didn't think about this time. 

Met up with a friend and her son yesterday and we all had a lovely walk around the woods, lots of bluebells out and plenty of butterflies.

Spotted a lovely peacock butterfly sunning itself on some brambles, there were a few blue butterflies flitting around too but not staying still long enough for a photo. I talked to the children about though they might not like the nettles, the peacock butterflies do as they lay their eggs on the underside of the nettle leaves.

Linking up with Frontier Dreams

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Finishing Projects

Last week was a busy week, catching up with friends who are now on Easter holidays, O had his follow up appointment with the consultant after his emergency op last month, he is really pleased with his recovery and has been discharged from hospital care, which is brilliant news.

In the meantime the girls have been busy planting lots of seeds, a tray of sunflowers and beans, then we have direct sowed lots of peas, and scattered a mixture of seeds round the flower beds at home. We ended up with Californian poppies, cornflowers, love in the mist, zinnias and red poppies, the Californian poppies usually do really well and we get a lovely display most years. They usually seed themselves really well but this year only seem to have had only a couple of plants come up this year, so time for some new seeds and fingers crossed we get a lovely display again this year.

We've had a go at some wet felting, they all enjoyed the process, think it needed a bit more working than we did but they enjoyed the process and are pleased with the results, so that is the most important thing.

My girls have enjoyed making patterns with the glass beads and L made paths for her fairies to walk along.

Now I have been determined to try and finish some of my craft projects before I start something new and use up some of my wool and fabric stash, not sure exactly how well I am doing! So finished the birthday cardi in hayfield  blossom, simple pattern but pretty soft wool.  Loved the way the pattern knitted up, there was bit of juggling to get the pattern to match up at the front, just my personal preference, don't mind the sleeves being different but just felt the pattern across the front needed to be in the same place! Now bought some lovely purple wool in the same range to make L a cardi, oops, so much for not buying more wool!

And another birthday gift finished and in the post, just hope it arrives safely, always get nervous when sending something you have worked hard on through the post!

I am now halfway through the second panel of my throw, it's a lot of cable work on each row, so slower going than the first panel.
So projects to finish are

  1. second panel of knitted throw.
  2. finish sewing L's blouse (fabric from stash)
  3. grey wrist warmers, not sure if I like the pattern in the wool I am using from my stash, so might unravel them and start again!
  4. have just started a white cardi for L again wool I already have.
Which doesn't sound too bad but sorting through various fabric, I have sorted out enough purple fabric to make L a winter coat, made one 2 years ago that she loves, so same pattern just bigger size, found some white wool to make myself a cardi and some stretch jersey to run up some leggings! So knowing me I will probably start at least another project before I finish the above but least they are all from my stash of craft materials!

I am halfway through reading Honeycomb Kids, just read the chapter on Getting Dirty and the benefits of gardening, so adding to the list I made about what children learnt from gardening with me, the book talks about the benefits of healthy pesticide free food, vitamin d from being outside, reducing our carbon footprint, the skills children learn through growing food, to name a few. Have just been passed a copy of Connect with Nature, looks a beautiful book, having a quick flick through, I think a lot of the stuff we already do but you never know on a closer look might fond something new. The photos are beautiful and think it will be nice for me to sit and look at, especially for those times when you need a positive inspiration moment. Have also treated myself to copy of Alchemy of Herbs, it looks great, really informative, each chapter covers one herb and talks you through the different uses, health benefits and some recipes, looking forward to trying some of them out.

On a childminding planning front, I have put together some of the spring activities into a more structured plan this month. Sometimes, I just have lots of ideas bouncing round in my head, sometimes I just list ideas and other times, I like to write up a more structured plan like the ones below, the second plan is just my ideas fitted into the eyfs, which might be helpful to some people. It really varies on what and/or how many children I have, how busy I am etc, as to how or what I do, it's just what works well for me at that moment in time.

Joining Frontier Dreams for Crafting On and as Kat Knits for Unravelled wednesdays