Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Bank Holiday Weekend

The last week has mainly been about enjoying the sunshine and making the most of being outside, Rosie has worked out that she doesn't have to do the hard work of finding the juiciest, nicest dandelions, she can sit back and let L do it for her, one very happy rabbit.

Bank holiday weekend we attended the local County Fayre, L enjoyed the animals and had her first ride on a donkey. She has been wanting to ride a horse for a long time but I think she would be a bit worried about getting near a large animal, let alone on it! So a donkey ride was a good starting point, she got on the donkey fine, panicked when it started to move and wanted to get off, with some reassurance she settled down and rode round the ring, wasn't sure at the time how much she enjoyed it or not but today she has asked if she could ride a donkey again, so assuming that means she actually did like the ride in the end but no mention of horse riding lessons at the moment!

They had loads of tractors, going back to one of the first produced in this country, to modern day, the commentary about each tractor was rather interesting.

They had a lovely display of some birds of prey, watching them fly is always amazing, the owner had a raven that would bark like a dog, rather that talk. they also had tug of war competitions, the young farmer's floats.

Fruit is slowly ripening at the allotment, well one red strawberry,

a few red currants,

and a nice lot of apples, hoping these do well as they are delicious , it's a blue moon column apple tree.

Peas are doing really well and we have just sowed a load more, to hopefully spread the season out.

The blackberries have just started to blossom.

I planted a couple of lupin plants two years ago, one is doing really well, do love lupins, had a lovely display in our front garden but they died of a few years ago and the next lot I planted didn't do well, now have some seedlings that I hope will do well, now the soil has had a break might do well again, fingers crossed.

Anna wrote a lovely review of The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul, I've been on the library waiting list ever since and finally got to pick up a copy the other weekend, now halfway through it and loving it, it's a nice story but also interesting, as you get to see the different cultural mix and the traditional family views and the more modern ones collide.

Lots of work in progress, I've knitted a couple of rows of the throw and the same on L's cardi, cut out the fabric for the geranium dress for L. The purple fairy fabric is her choice, she was really pleased with it when she found it in our local fabric shop and can't wait to wear her fairy dress.

Have just about finished the autumn embroidery, just one leave to finish of and then to decide whether to move onto the spring or winter section.

Joining Kat for Unraveled wednesday

We have been given some back issues of Eco Kids, L loves these and I have decided to treat her to subscription, actually think this is a treat to hubby and I as we are both enjoying the magazines too. The first issue is covering the rain forest, we have this lovely book Nature Cross Sections, that covers various habitats, it was a book I bought for O when he was the same age, it has been well loved. Anyway I can see us having a lot of fun learning about the rain forest at the moment she is interested in the different layers as in the forest floor in the under canopy, the canopy, emergent layer and all the animals that live there.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

New Editions

I know it wasn't long ago that Frodo sadly passed away but our house feels so empty without any pets, so I had started to contact local rabbit breeders to see if they would have any available rabbits soon, I was expecting a bit of a wait! My husband a few years ago came across the Rex breed at a show and had fallen in love with them, researching the breed, they are intelligent, inquisitive rabbits, with a relaxed nature, have been told they are more cat like and thought they would really suit us. Late Sunday afternoon we had a call back from a lady saying she had 2 that could go today and others in a few weeks, she sounded lovely on the phone and really into her rabbits. So we delayed dinner to go and meet her, she adores her animals and handles her rabbits all the time, her enthusiasm was wonderful to see, this wasn't just something to make money, she was passionate about them too. I really like it when someone asks about your experience of rabbits, other animals etc, what sort of set up you have, size of hutch, is happy to spend time talking to you and showing you all their rabbits. So we chose these two sisters, they are about 11 weeks old now and are so friendly, they love to come up to you and be fussed. I think we are going to name the black one Lucy and the brown one Rosie but early days, so might change.

Making the most of the wonderful sunshine, we got out the tuff tray, added some cornflour, spray bottles and water and left the children to decide what they wanted to do with it all. Which started with them drawing patterns in the dry cornflour, then seeing what happened when they sprayed it with water.

Pouring lots of water and seeing what it felt to walk in it.

Pouring it over their feet.

They then had the bowls and other kitchen bits out and spent time making cakes and cooking them in the sun.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Bath Bombs

I've been promising the children we would make bath bombs, so yesterday we got round to making some, we use soap moulds to put the mixture in as I find them easy to use and the bath bombs pop out really easily. They are simple to make mix 2 parts bicarbonate of soda to 1 part citric acid, then add your choice of colour and scent, we made them unscented as some of the children have sensitive skin. Then add a few drops of water and mix, you don't want the mixture to be too wet, think just damp sand, so when you squash some together it just holds it shape. we bought the colours from Bath-Bomb.Com

Press down firmly into your moulds and then pop them out onto a flat surface and leave to dry.

Putting out the washing this morning, I could hear what sounded like a lot of rustling, going to look expecting to fine a couple of birds, instead found lots of bees on our raspberries busy at work. I can't remember the last time I saw so many bees in our garden, it's a wonderful sight.

I am working through my selection of cookbooks, I love to try new recipes but realised I had collected up rather a lot of cookbooks and some of them I had never used. So I have been going through them and writing down a list of recipes that I like the sound of, so it's easy to look at the list of each book and see what we might try next. Found it was a good way of finding the books where there is only one or two recipes that I liked the sound of, so easy to try, if they didn't work then the book was passed on, or where there where lots of ingredients we don't normally use, don't mind buying the odd new one but not lots as they tend to go to waste, so now down to one shelf of cookbooks. Anyway this week we tried out Hugh Fearnley whittingstall's Sticky Jamaican Ginger Cake  taken from his Everyday cookbook, it is very yummy!

Finished L's purple coat, fully lined with some lovely soft fleece, when she spins round the skirt flares out, she loves it. I know winter is a long way of but have a feeling I could be facing more surgery on my hip so wanted to make sure it was ready and hopefully enough growing room to get two years wear out of it, like the last one I made. Now time to think of some summer dress sewing.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Our week and Other Ramblings

So on Thursday I had 4 children here and they spent a lovely hour setting up a kitchen area, cooking meals and opening a cafe and then they decided to tidy it all up. The reason why was so they didn't want to have to tidy up before dinner time tonight!! We try and do a mini tidy before lunch of anything they aren't playing with and a proper tidy up before dinner but this was at 10am in the morning! I asked them what they were going to do all day, they said nothing, they did manage 15 minutes sitting on the sofa looking at books before they decided to build a camp, it did make me giggle. Talking to the parents that night, there have been comments from the children about when they are at Helen's they always have to do some tidying before dinner, the parents are more than happy that the children are encouraged to tidy up, it's just our routine is different to home, if we tidy up before dinner then everyone is here to help. So this is my sitting room after they tidied, I think they did do a very good job.

So this weekend I sorted out out meal planning, mixed up enough no knead bread to make 2 loaves and then went food shopping, got some lovely books at the library but still waiting for the ones I requested to come. Home to sort out shopping, divide up nicely risen dough into two dishes to rise again, make a large amount of popcorn for snacks and then make 3 lots of shepherds pie base. I find it easier to double or treble recipes like shepherds pie, curries, bolognaise sauce etc as it is fairly easy to dice a the extra veg and later saves time on cooking on busy days. I can always remember visiting my Aunt as a child and sitting in her kitchen listening to her talk as she prepared food, how she always made two cakes, or double batch of biscuits so when she had visitors she would always have a nice selection of cakes etc for teatime with very little effort. She would do the same with soups and other meals, it was listening to her and seeing how effortless she seemed to make it, that stayed with me, so that when I had my own place, the batch cooking idea was well and truly sown.

So our menu plan for this week
Saturday - butternut squash curry plus enough to freeze some portions, meat and rice for L
Sunday - roast
Monday - left over meat, bubble and squeak
Tuesday - homemade breaded chicken, sweet potato wedges and veg, veggie option aubergine and kidney bean burgers
Wednesday - cauliflower cheese bake
Thursday -  Shepherds pie or lentil version from the freezer
Friday - Sweet chicken curry, veggie version from freezer.

On a budgeting front, I was chatting with friends about budgeting and how we all managed our food budgets. I have a set amount each week to spend, if we come in under budget, I take that amount out, so if your budget was £50, you only spent £40, I would take out £10. This slowly adds up over time so I am then able to do a bulk shop at the butchers, a bulk order from one of the ethical online stores, or for birthday parties.

Monday, the morning was spent playing shops and cafes, then reading a Buddhist story from A Year Full Of Stories, we also read from The Buddhist Apprentice and talked about meditation. We have enjoyed some guided story meditation for children, you tube has a lot of lovely ones, our favourite at the moment are sleep ezy bedtime stories ones, perfect also for a mid afternoon relaxation when baby is having a nap and we can pause and recharge too, we probably only use them once or twice a week but still enjoyed. We have been looking at different statues of Buddha and some Buddhist temples, then we had the chalk pastels out to draw some lotus flowers. We also learnt that different colour lotus flowers have different meanings.

Tuesday saw as practising some yoga and then spending the afternoon at the park, meeting up with lots of other home ed families. There was some school work done and stories read in between.

Today has been wet and waiting in for a delivery, which turned up an hour than their estimated time slot. Had hoped to be able to get out and the children could have a puddle jumping walk, instead we have had the lego out and L has done some letter and number work while M works through her maths and english course.

On a crafting front I have finished the lining and outer parts of L's coat and attached them at the hood, now to pin all around the edges and top stitch them together. Not sure if I will hem the coat and sleeves or wait till Autumn and then get them the right length. last time I made the coat, the sleeves were an ok length but L prefers them longer, so this time I just cut them extra long, put it this way there is plenty of growing room!! least easy to sort out the length and better too long than too short.

Cat embroidery is coming along well, the third kitten is starting to appear, managed to knit a few more rows of panel 2 of my throw, it is slow going as it's a lot of cabling on every knit row but last night past the halfway mark! L's cardi is coming on nicely, not done as much as thought I would but decided to try and sort out a couple of more cupboards. Finished The Monogram Murders, though I still stick by my it's not quite Agatha Christie but did enjoy in the book and sort of forgot that the main character was supposed to be Poirot. Now when I was at the library came across Homeward Bound at the moment the author is talking about how woman in particular are returning to the crafts and lifestyles that their Mother's ran from. It has left me reflecting on my own crafting journey, which started when little watching my Gran knit, my Gran taught me some basic knitting. At school textiles was an option which I took and learnt some very basic sewing skills, the idea was that our class was supposed to sew a straight skirt, therefore learning, to sew seams, darts, waistband, hem and fit with darts. Unfortunately my Mum had other ideas and decided first sewing project had to be something very basic so I was left sewing a very basic T-shirt style top in a non stretch cotton polyester. Luckily this didn't put me of and I discovered the wealth of craft books at our local library and spent many evenings pouring over them, from these I taught myself to crochet, cross stitch, some free hand embroidery and bobbin lace. Bobbin lace is something I hope to get out and have a go at again in the future. My Uncle as a hobby did lots of wood turning and made me some beautiful bobbins, which I will always treasure, some have a little handwritten label on saying what wood he used. Think I was ahead of my time with crafts, gardening and allotment and was always looked at as though I was bit old fashioned but now it seems to be the new norm. Did also try but failed at tatting, just couldn't get the hang of it. When did you start to craft and what are you favourites?

As to Breadline Britain think the title says a lot about the book, at the moment we have covered the way poverty is defined e.g. using the 60% of the median income, those of less than 60% of this income are deemed in poverty. Others are lists of what the public deem essentials and how this has changed over the decades. How poverty can be seen as an individualistic problem as in the reason the person is poor is down to their life choices, not working hard enough etc. Or a societal view, that yes still room for individual choices but also society as a whole, the social and economic policies, lack of jobs, zero hour contracts, jobs that only over a few hours week but days vary each week so makes it hard to take a second job, the cost of housing etc.  A person's income is down to so many choices some personal and some outside, it is down to their career choice, the salary the job commands, the opportunities this career affords them, do they live in area where unemployment is low. I could go on but poverty and the way an individual copes with poverty varies greatly and is dependent on so many things, their own ability and aptitude, their social network, family, what support their social and family network offer and what outside support and help there is.

Joining kat for Unraveled Wednesday a place to share crafts, good books etc

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Origami and Other Crafts

Our story this week is from Japan, so we have been busy making some origami figures and learning about hanami, which means flower viewing, I've also seen it called the blossom festival and looking at some beautiful trees in blossom.

Finished swans.

Then some simpler folding to make some cats and dogs to decorate.

I had planned some painting, tissue paper craft around the blossom but in the end we have spent most of this week outside, Monday was spent in the garden, Tuesday in the woods and park, though it did get rather cold. Then today out for a walk, spending time looking at various flowers in different front gardens, lots of  beautiful displays and different flowers to the ones we have at home, then a game of croquet in the garden. We have found a lot of caterpillars on our raspberries, to say the least! Watched bees, ants and various birds in our garden.

Joining Kat for Unraveled Wednesday

 I am feeling rather organised and hoping it lasts, meal prep is done, housework done, washing on the line and I am making the most of a sunny day off and have managed to spend some time knitting and reading in the garden, while the older 2 wrote assignments and L played in the sandpit. The joys of finding my housework rhythm again, along with our meal planning, long may it last. There has been no unravelling this week but some unpicking of my cross stitch as I had miscounted somewhere, luckily not too much but did waste time trying to decide whether to unpick or work around the mistake before deciding unpicking it would have to be! Anyway rather pleased how it is coming along and have done some more outlining, always a bit nervous about outlining in case it looks a bit rubbish but then again their is also the joy as the cross stitch really comes to life!

On a knitting front, have finished the yoke for Granny's favourite and divided for the sleeves, enjoying it so far, now for lots of stocking stitch and no pattern, so in theory should get a lot done. Reading like crafting, I have to have more than one project/book on the go!! having finished and enjoyed, even the twist at the end My Sisters Keeper, it was time for a trip to the library at the weekend and came across The Monogram Murders. Now I am a big Agatha Christie fan, finally got to see The Mouse Trap last year and loved it,  so that is what caught my eye, the author has been given permission to use the Poirot character in a new book. On chapter 3 now, it's not quite Christie and Poirot isn't quite Poirot but it is reading nicely anyway, Poirot is supposed to be in hibernation, having moved out of his flat and into digs temporarily to give "the little grey cells" a rest but that doesn't last for long. Having taken a look at the reviews on amazon, they are very evenly spread over those that love it, those that hate and those in the middle and I can see why. The other that I am reading is The Gift of an Ordinary Day , I feel this will be a book to savour and enjoy, read a chapter and dwell on it. This is a quote that I like " Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen for what it intends to do with you," so true because you cannot plan everything. Life is journey of transitions and change, some planned and some not, some desperately wanted and some detested but in the end they all help us grow as a person and give us knew strength and understanding to be the person we are today.