Thursday, 31 October 2013


Halloween 2008
This festival has always been very important to my children. In the last twenty years Halloween toot has exploded off the shelves and become mainstream in this country. Now, I'm all in favour of a good celebration and don't mind this too much especially as my eldest has his birthday just a few days later so we have a fine collection of decorations for what became, until recently, his annual Halloween party.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Spicy vegetable soup

Spicy vegetable soup
This is one of my favourite cold weather lunches, chunky, warming soup. Quick to make and we love it!

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Power cut

Scrabble by candlelight
A late posting from me today after all the excitement of yesterday. We were dealing with the aftermath of the 'big storm'; I really don't think that we felt the full force of it here, I slept through it! Thankfully we're all okay, the tiles are still on the roof (thanks to J spending several hours up there on Saturday) and even our split oak managed to survive the winds (it will be coming down this winter but preferably after the leaves have fallen). There are numerous trees that have fallen locally and the council and fire brigade were dealing with these on the roads throughout the early hours.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Doing up the bathroom: floor

I'm sure that I said that I wanted this project to just be a big clean up. I did, didn't I? I'm positive that I made that statement. Well, here is the bathroom now. J decided to become involved.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Wellies painting.

sketching onto canvas
I've finally put pencil to canvas. I started collecting images on Pinterest over a year ago and the printout on the left is a close up of one of my inspiration photos (my Pinterest board can be seen here). The little girl looks as if she is having so much fun!The pencil drawing doesn't feel square yet but my fingers are crossed that it will work when the water is painted in. Hopefully the addition of colour will turn this flat image into one of energy and joy.

Previous posts:
Jumping in a puddle
Dancing in the rain

Thursday, 24 October 2013


My son's birthday cake made by his brother
I had an interesting birthday. Almost no presents. It was lovely. There was no pretending that gifts I didn't want were lovely. There was no stress with organising things. I really enjoyed it!

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Harvest loaf

Wheat sheaf
I made the dough for this loaf but the design was put together by our local home education group. It is based on a traditional harvest wheat sheaf (lots of images here). I had to keep my hands firmly behind my back to stop myself from interfering too much! It was an interesting activity, the children are all used to the feel and texture of playdoh but found the springiness of bread very odd to work with but did enjoy attacking it with scissors to make the wheat heads. They were also intrigued by the idea of adding a mouse to it (the bit at the bottom).

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Light therapy?

I have been exploring different ideas to improve my motivation throughout autumn. I've had a good look at Seasonal Affective Disorder and how to cope with this. Do I have SAD? I'm not sure but it certainly seems like a good place to start.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Hama beads

Dragons made using a dragon shaped peg board
My sons don't really enjoy crafts. I have collected many materials over the years but the only thing they have truly taken to are hama beads. These are little plastic beads that you iron to melt the pieces together. Not a particularly natural craft but it does get my boys creativity going.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Autumn bunting

Aren't these great? I wanted to add something to our walls so sat down with six different coloured sheets of paper and created these. I used a tree identification book to remind me of different leaf shapes and, cutting out six at a time, they are simply sown onto a single strand of embroidery thread using running stitch. I love them! Much less work than traditional bunting but a great quick and simple seasonal craft.

Since writing this I have seen more bunting from Here we are together where they used printables from here . Cute!

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Jumping in a puddle

Canvasses waiting for paint
Okay, so maybe I've been talking about creating this painting for almost a year. But it will happen! I have primed a canvas ready for my masterpiece and another two besides. My intention is to have two pictures alongside my dancing in the rain quote (here). I am visualising a pair of wellies jumping into a puddle and on the second canvas a more elegant silhouette of somebody (or a couple) dancing in the rain. We will see how this progresses.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Apples and cider

Apple season is upon us. We have four trees in our garden but we don't eat many apples. Some will be bottled as apple sauce but the majority of them will be juiced to make scrumpy.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Saving seed

Seed purchased earlier this year
When I first started growing vegetables the concept of saving seed never crossed my mind. It was enough work to just keep up with my new vegetable patch. As time has moved on I'm rarely buying seed though I'm not yet seriously saving. I'm working through many of the 'free' packs that come with magazines, especially from 'Grow it!' that I had a subscription for last year. Its a great way to quickly accumulate seed that you're not sure that you really want!

As I'm becoming more experienced I'm now becoming more aware of the different varieties that I wish to grow and which seeds I would like to save. My son has loved the mangetout that we have had, Carouby de Maussane. This was originally purchased as organic seed from a local museum (I was very pleased as it saved me a trip to the garden centre). It has lasted me two years and I've taken care to collect the seed from our final plant for next year. I also have a pretty marigold sherbet fizz that I intended to save seed from last year but forgot, luckily one has self-seeded so I need to keep an eye on it! Saving seed makes me feel firmly connected to the cycle of the seasons, the rhythm of life, and my first steps have been taken.

I never really considered saving seed to be part of growing vegetables until I ordered a selection of catalogues from different companies three years ago and I stumbled across 'The Real Seed Catalogue'. At the time it wasn't what I was looking for but it's emphasis on encouraging us to save seed from tasty food did bury itself in my head. I was reminded of it again by the recent push on seed legislation by Brussels earlier this year (you can read The Real Seed Catalogue's interpretation of it here). I find it scary that people in power feel that they can dictate our relationship with the natural world by stating whether or not a seed is acceptable. But of what value is a seed if I don't choose to save it myself?

Diversity is a word that I am using a lot at the moment. I really do feel that it is what we need to continue to flourish. Diversity in beliefs, diversity in education and most definitely diversity in our land including the seed that grows within it. Diversity gives us the ability to try new things, the strength to explore solutions and something to fall back on when we fail.

Friday, 11 October 2013


Blue Vinny bread
A few weeks ago we purchased a lovely dorset blue vinny bread at the cheese festival. I'm not a huge blue cheese fan but the saltiness that the mould brings gave a lovely zing to the bread itself. It has definitely rekindled the desire for more so I've been keeping my eyes open for what we have locally. I also love a good granary but I've not managed to find any of these at all! I find it hard to believe that they have disappeared. There are plenty of good white bread options around, especially if I visit the local farm shops. But they get a bit steep on the pocket, on the other hand supermarkets do not have the variety that they used to (my local ones anyway).

I don't want tasty bread everyday, I'm actually trying to cut back on bread. But a small loaf each weekend would be enjoyable. Many years ago I had a small bread maker. It made excellent dough but the bread it baked was somehow lacking though the same dough cooked in the oven was delicious. So I would be very tempted to try this again if only I had more counter space in the kitchen. I don't but I do have a dough hook for my ancient kenwood chef which probably ought to see more use.

Easy Soda Bread
To start the ball rolling I have here a soda bread made using the simple recipe from A girl called Jack . I'm not a big fan of soda bread but I cannot deny that this was a quick and easy make, another bonus is that it doesn't require any special ingredients. I'm not going to pretend that it tasted gorgeous but it was good to eat hot with the butter melting in. Will I bother to make it again? Maybe, the recipe is going into my recipe folder should I need to make a quick loaf.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Got milk? A few thoughts on breastfeeding.

Selection of milk products
There is something quite gross about using cows milk for our food. It is produced to nourish calves yet for thousands of years we have also been consuming it ourselves. Our modern dairy breeds have been developed to provide far more milk than one calf would ever need. This is not to say that I don't use milk, I do. We love cheese and yogurt but when I overthink about what it is I can't help but cringe.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Bathroom, before I start

Bathroom when we first moved in.
Our bathroom is a mess. It has a good simple white suite but there is a dodgy old airing cupboard that used to house a tank and large built in chest that is far too close to the toilet for a household with boys. It hasn't helped that though the walls used to be a smart dark blue the edges of the wallpaper were curling, far too tempting for little fingers. It has been in this state for the last six months. I was silly enough to voice that painting this room would be my next big project and for some reason people heard this as, 'peel off the wallpaper'. Hmm. Time to tackle it, I think.

Long term there are a few changes that I would like to make to this room but I don't feel any urgent need to do this immediately. I want this to be a quick clean up, not another big mess to sort out one day in the future, we already have a few of these. So my plan is to remove the old fan and wall light, strip the wallpaper, bleach the woodwork and paint the walls. J asked me what colour which made me laugh as I haven't been thinking in terms of colour. We have multiple pots of white bathroom paint to use (thank you, closing down sale of Focus) therefore a white bathroom it will be!

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Plum/Damson/Sloe Gin/Rum update

Well, this has certainly been a popular post. So popular that I felt that I probably ought to add a few more details to how we do this. First the basic recipe:
  • 1lb fruit
  • 6oz sugar
  • 75cl of gin or white rum

Monday, 7 October 2013

Home Education

playing with bubbles
This is a subject that I have shied away from here as I felt that it had little to do with the reason behind my creation of this blog. But it is a large part of my life and it makes sense to me now to start sharing a little of what we do. It's unlikely to become a regular feature, I don't want this to turn into a home ed blog but as it is a daily part of our life it does seem silly to continue to exclude it.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Playing with words

My boys were watching Peppa Pig the other day (not as unusual as it ought to be) and I heard her ask, "What is a mist-story?"

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Junk mail and charities

I hate junk mail. It just all seems like such a waste of time and money for all concerned considering that it usually ends up in the bin. I don't choose which charities to donate to by who sends us the most post! But, unusually, I did fall for this one from the guide dogs for the blind. All you had to do was to place 3 £1 coins into the card and post it back to them. So simple, it worked.
I understand why charities prefer to receive small regular donations but I must admit to be getting a bit fed up with the continuous requests for money we get through the post. I shared this particular one as I found this donation request to be very refreshing.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Autumn light.

Autumn has always been my favourite season. I love how the countryside changes colour from green to a variety of reds, browns and yellows. It is also when my birthday is. Did you know that we used to call this season 'Harvest' up until the 16th century? It was only later that we started using autumn and the word harvest became purely related to working the land rather than the time of year. I prefer the cooler weather and even enjoy the rain! But I am becoming aware that it really doesn't like me very much.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

September review, October planning

Last months plan:

Wellbeing: Say no to spending
Overall I didn't substantially cut back on spending as there were a few expensive investment purchases, I don't regret these. But I have started keeping track of where my money is going again. I used to have a tight control over my money but stopped when I had to really cut back and didn't splash out on anything. But times have changed and treats have snuck back in far too often. It feels good to know exactly where I stand again, I definitely intend to keep up with this.