18 April 2014


I am a visual person.  When I think of numbers I see them in a line in my head, always configured the same way.  I use my line to add and subtract my numbers. The days of the week are the same, the weekdays are one shape the weekends slightly larger.  I also see the months and years in a similar way too.  The days in the future are blank, white in colour punctuated only by the words of our plans.  The days in the past are a riot of colour punctuated with memories some which stand out but most are a jumble, squashed together a bit like one of those very full cupboards which self deploy when you open the door.  There are highs and lows in those memories peaks and troughs of time.  The beginning of this week was a trough, it has had the potential to become a Mariana Trench of one but now it has flatten out all sorted but it reminded me of an earlier time.......

Fourteen years ago I moved myself three hundred miles across the country, from south to north, giving up my job to live with my now husband, then partner.  We had lived together for a while previous to that when we worked together but it was live in accommodation in a shared flat, more like being students together especially as we were sharing with other people!  Our first house had very low rent, all that we could afford, it was off grid and a mile from the next house.  It was very remote.  We had very little furniture and it rattled around in a big four bedroomed farmhouse.  The first thing we bought was a bed, paid for with the last of my wages from my job.  We were given a fridge and had an aga in the house, the only appliance we lacked and needed was a washing machine which had to wait until I started earning.  In the meantime I made a pilgrimage once a week to the nearest laundrette fifteen miles away in the local town.  Two people created a fair bit of washing in a week and it took me most of the day to get it washed and dried and do all our shopping.  We couldn't afford for me to go into town more than once a week so it was a long day getting everything done.  When I eventually found a job the first months wages bought us a washing machine, oh the joy over something so simple.

It has taken me a long time to realise it that I am a creature of habit.  I like to do the same things on particular days of the week, I don't want or need everything to be the same every week just some things.  A Monday morning has become the day for the house, tidying, cleaning, hoovering and changing the beds.  Last Monday I stuffed the washing in the machine pressed the button to go and the music stopped, literally.  My children were having a loud early morning disco in the lounge, we are lucky to have such as tolerant neighbour, which had gone quiet.  The children were standing still thinking I was engaged in musical statues but I hadn't turned the music off, I suspected it was the washing machine tripping the fuse.  After fourteen long years our washing machine had died.  It did a great job, over four of those years include nappy washes.

We spent that first evening researching machines on the Internet, but it was enough to turn any sane person crazy.  One site I looked at had a choice of a 118 different machines, 118?  When we bought our first machine it was before you would automatically turn to the Internet to make such a purchase.  We had dial up at that time so it really wasn't worth it.  We went into a local electrical shop and bought the one they recommended.  After a couple more days of researching and still feeling overwhelmed and no nearer a decision, I was starting to remember the days of the long drive to the launderette, I never wanted to go back there, but if I didn't find one soon the launderette could become my second home with amount of washing that four people can generate.  I ended up returning to that same shop, still there after all this time no bigger than my living room but crammed full of electrical goods.  I bought the machine they recommended and I am hoping they will deliver it tomorrow..............so much easier and simpler, just wish I had thought of it before!

15 April 2014


I try and make most of the presents that we gift, especially to children.  There is something special about the process of thinking about and making the right present, even if it is something you make time and again there are little tweaks you can make to individualise it to the recipient.  I was given a lovely book for my birthday last year which has inspired us to make a few bits and pieces for our seasonal table.  The back section of the book is given over to stories and whilst I wasn't inspired to make any suggested by the book I started to think of stories that I knew that would lend themselves to be being added to in this way to make a small storysack.

One of my all time favourite stories for young children is Owl Babies by Martin Waddell, I have reviewed it here.  I bought a copy for my eldest when he was very young and have been reading it to him and then to my youngest ever since.  There are some books that I find tedious to read time and time again, but not this one.  The text also lends itself to being read by those learning to read, it is slightly repetitive and the words are simple.  It will be a sad day for me when my children no longer want to hear this charming story.  It has four characters mother owl and her three babies, this book is perfect for a story sack.

I used little peg dolls to make the Owls, a 6cm for the Mother Owl and 4cm for the babies both rounded in shape.  I bought my peg dolls from here.  I painted them with opaque paints, non toxic in case they are put into little mouths.  The wings and the head/beak on Mother Owl are small pieces of wool felt, glued in place.

The little bag, to keep all the pieces together, has owls on it too, of course! I made the bag in a simple construction with a drawstring top.  If you cut a piece of material to the size you need.  Turn the side edges, at the tops, in by a cm for about 5cm, turn the top edges over by about 1/2cm and pin, now turn the top edge over to create a tube for your cord, I turned over 2 1/2cm.  Pin and sew a seam on both ends of your fabric.  As close to this tube as you can cut the fabric so that the sides will sit flat, pin and sew the side seams.  Iron the seam and turn the right side out.  Cut your cord into two, I had a metre for this bag which is a little on the short side, and thread each piece through both tubes and knot on each side.  To close the bag pull on the knots to draw the top together.

An Owl Babies Storysack........

.........now I just need to finish another present for his sibling, their birthdays are a day apart!

Joining in with Nicole for a sharing of making and creating, pop over to see what others have been up to.....

14 April 2014


...this week of...

...happiness shared lunches with friends, baking and sowing seeds with my youngest, buds everywhere, a weekend with my family (hasn't happened in a long time )

...sadness at the mistreatment of children I keep hearing in the news

...creating Mother Earth, a shawl and two cardigans, the start of two presents for a friends children

..reading Winter by William Horwood, All About the Bullerby Children by Astrid Lindgren, and these picture books* you can read a short review of them here.  105. The Royal Parade by Janey Louise Jones, 106. Katie Morag Delivers the Mail by Mairi Hedderwick, 107. Katie Morag and the Two Grandmothers by Mairi Hedderwick, 108. Katie Morag and the Tiresome Ted by Mairi Hedderwick, 109. Katie Morag and the Big Boy Cousins by Mairi Hedderwick, 110. Sir Charlie Stinky Socks and the Really Big Adventure by Kristina Stephenson, 111. Molly and the Night Monster by Chris Wormell, 112. Anna Hibiscus' Song by Atinuke, 113. What Makes Me Happy? by Catherine Anholt, 114. Once there was a House by Judy Hindley, 115. Monkey Do! by Allan Ahlberg, 116. The Fabulous Fairy Feast by Sue Heap, 117. A New House for Mouse by Petr Horáček, 118. Emily and Daisy by Elsa Beskow.

...learning about bones, fossils, dinosaurs, geological time periods, digestion, adding up, apes, mammals

...thinking of all the families who lost loved ones at Hillsborough Stadium twenty five years ago, I have never believed the reporting and investigations of what happened to be true, I knew one of those that died his sister was a friend of mine

...hoping to get our canoe out for the first paddle of the year

...looking forward to a long weekend with my family

13 April 2014


Joining in with Taryn for her heartfelt Sunday tradition

A time to slow down, to reflect, to be grateful.

This week I have been grateful for...

...a friend popping in for a few hours, she is moving back to the area with her family and we are really looking forward to having them nearby again.

...a wonderful, sunny, afternoon with friends exploring a local nature reserve.

...finding three cast iron pans in a charity shop.

...my neighbour looking after my children one evening (my husband was away) so that I could go to the theatre, I haven't been for years!

...time with my youngest sowing seeds in the polytunnel.

...a morning and shared lunch with friends playing and chatting.

...a quiet day at home.

...my husband returning to us safely after being away.

...finding balance in our weeks between quiet time at home and busy time out and about.

...lighter evenings and slightly warmer days

...buds everywhere....

11 April 2014


When your first baby is born, and you first become a mother, it is a life changing day.  You are responsible for them and they, at first, are totally dependent on you.  As they grow and develop that dependency changes as they learn to find their place and way in the world.  In those first few years they learn so much with you at their side as support and guidance.   At some point in their third or fourth year, here in the UK, you have to make a decision about their future learning.  Will it take place at home or outside the home more usually in a school.  For most the decision has to be school, usually for financial reasons as one parent needs to be at home and therefore cannot be out earning.  I know that we are very fortunate to be able to afford to live on one income.

The words I most often hear when I am talking about home education is 'I couldn't possibly do it' and I have recently been considering what these words actually mean in the light of a decision I was making myself.  Schools, in the main, are by necessity, a structured environment.  The structure is built round a curriculum which is decided by the government, how the school actually teaches this is left up to them and some schools are incredibly creative at weaving this into the fabric of their teaching.  But, again by necessity, all children in a class have to learn the same thing at the same time.  This is what we as a society have come to think of as an education for children.  Going back to that earlier statement I couldn't possibly do it, do we really mean I could not do as they do in school, at home.  So let's take this apart a bit.  A child in school is taught a curriculum, it includes many subjects, English, maths, geography, history, science, design and technology, art, music and more.  Do we need to teach these subjects, as they do at school, for learning to happen at home.  If a child is really interested in a particular subject and wishes to spend hours reading, drawing whatever it is that they wish to do, they may not have the opportunity to do this in school. The school day is not and cannot be structured in that way.  My argument is that at home they can, if they are interested they will learn rather than be taught, when they are ready.

I have been pondering the future of my eldest's education since the beginning of this year.  By the end of next year I will need to apply for a place at a local secondary school, should I want him to attend school for that period of his education.  I couldn't put my finger on why I was so bothered about those who were suggesting that home education at secondary age was different and would be too difficult to do at home.  I realised, eventually, that it came back to curriculum, again.  Most of my friends were  at school prior to the national curriculum, so our primary eduction was more free form but at secondary school we were taught by subject with a different teacher for each of those subjects and that is still the basis for secondary education now.  Of course I could never teach every subject to my own children, that would take years of study on my part but is that not what I want for my children.  We have not engaged with school education at primary level because of the curriculum and learning is happening, why can it not be the same at secondary level too.

It will depend of course where my children's interests lie in the future, as to what we continue to do long term.  There are some subjects, particularly sciences which will get harder for us to learn at home so then we will have to look elsewhere.  As they get older the structure of school and a curriculum may become the right framework for them, as it is for many children, so school will become the place for the them to learn rather than the home.  But for now home is right for us.  I am not teaching, they are learning.  It is perhaps a leap of a faith to leave the direction up to the child.  But when they can hold their own with school educated peers I know that we are doing ok, square pegs, round holes and all that.

I am not trying to be critical of all you lovely readers who do send your children to school and I do hope you will not feel that I am judging you.  But I do hope these words will make you pause and ponder..........

08 April 2014


At the beginning of this year, when we were still in the depths of a grey wet winter, I shared our King Winter I made to stand on our seasonal table.  At the time my children requested I make a Mother Earth to join us for Spring.  A Mother Earth or Mother Goddess has been represented in cultures for thousands of years, as a deity, a protector and a provider amongst others.  She was worshiped to ensure good harvests, for fertility or to ensure protection from natural disasters this is but a small part of what she has represented.  I pondered all these images as I decided what form our Mother Earth would take.  I had used the book The Nature Corner as an inspiration for our King Winter, this book depicted Mother Earth as an old lady, as does the much older book The Story of the Root Children originally published in 1906.  We love this book and read it regularly so I decided that our Mother Earth would be similar.

She is made using the same process as King Winter, a waldorf doll style head mounted onto a base, with pipe cleaners wrapped in wool for the arms.  She has a 'petticoat' under her skirt to give it some fullness, a round piece of material which is gathered up round the base and post and sewn to the blouse.

Her hair is wool, I used the roving yarn that I made a fulled/felted bowl I shared a few weeks ago.  It reminds me of a great aunt I loved to visit as a child, it was a similar colour and she always wore it in a plaited bun, I never saw it down so had no idea how long it was.

She has a cloak...

....and a shawl, knitted in moss/seed stitch with decreases every other row to give a triangular shape.

All the materials I used were in my fabric or wool stash, either leftovers from other projects or old pieces of clothing I keep for repairing and patching, which was very satisfy and somehow in keeping with the character herself.

I am rather pleased with her, she now stands in pride of place on our seasonal table along with the daffodils I made last year, a felt sheep and lamb and some flower fairies we have been making which I will share with you another time.

Joining in with Nicole for the weekly sharing of crafting on her lovely blog, head on over to see what others have been making......

07 April 2014


It is the beginning of the month so, once again, I have a slightly different Moments post.  This is a reflection on the month using the goals suggested over on Slow Living Essentials, so here are mine for February and head on over to see what others have been up to.

...nourish we are moving towards warmer longer days in my part of the world.  Despite the fact that it hasn't been that cold, it feels like we have been through a very long winter, grey and wet for weeks on end.  We are now looking forward to the change in the vegetables that the change in the weather will bring, much as we love our root veg you can have too much of a good thing.  Right now we are enjoying the odd salad, thrown together with whatever ingredients we have in our weekly veg bag and in the garden.  This has included a new recipe for us, remoulade, a crunchy and delicious salad made with carrot and celeriac, a great way to use up root veg on a warmer day.  I would usually make stew or soup with celeriac which is not what we want to eat right now!  We had our remoulade with broccoli fritters.

...prepare now that our days are getting warmer (think this is going to be a theme.......) we are having more time out and about which means more picnics.  So that I can throw one together at a moments notice I make sure I always have homemade rolls and bread in the freezer.  I have been making these up during this month and now have a good store ready for those lazy days outside.

...reduce my eldest does not own many pairs of trousers/pants, depending on where you live, and the ones he does own often have holes in the knees.  I have been busy patching a few pairs this month using material from a pair he has grown out of ( and which had a hole in both knees!).  We have also acquired a few old pallets which we have been busy chopping up for kindling ready for next winter, you can never have too much kindling!

...green a couple of years ago I spend much of the year suffering from the symptoms of what I now know is urticaria (hives) and eczema on my hands.  It took me ages to work out what it actually was and what could be triggering it.  There are several triggers which I have now removed some food and some external.  The external triggers meant that overnight I could not use a single item of household cleaning or toiletry products in the house.  They were all carefully chosen to be low impact on the environment and humans but still they contained an ingredient my body found intolerable, Limonene, an essential oil added to all of the products we were using.  So I had to, very quickly, come up with my own.  Two years on we are still using all those 'products' which we make ourselves, only buying toothpaste and washing up liquid neither of which we have been able to satisfactorily make ourselves.  We had several bottles of our original products in the house each containing a small amount which we have slowly been using up, either my husband using them, or me with rubber gloves when my hands are good.  What we have noticed is the smell.  Even though the smell is more natural than most products, they smell really strong to us, my children even commenting 'What is that funny smell' when I was washing the kitchen floor with some of these 'leftovers' this month!

...grow there is not a huge amount growing in my garden as yet, despite the warmer weather during the day we had heavy frosts overnight most nights last month.  I usually wait until April to sow my seeds otherwise the seedlings die of the cold, even in the polytunnel!  I have chitted potatoes, pruned and tidied the garden this month in readiness for sowing.  We are still harvesting last years crops, we have had cabbages, kale and purple sprouting broccoli and in the polytunnel some self seeded, hardy salad leaves, red mustard, corn salad and greens in snow.

...create I have been doing a lot of sewing this month.  A daisy headband for a friend's daughter recovering from major surgery, a purple bag and a fabric bucket there is a tutorial in the post if you wish to make one for yourself. I have also been knitting.  A cardigan which I frogged more stitches than I knitted and a fulled/fellted bowl depending on your take on such things.

...discover I read a wonderful book this month Kith by Jay Griffiths which was an affirmation to me that some of the decisions we have made for our children have been good ones, even though they ver far from the mainstream.  She also talks in this book about having a strong desire, sometimes from a young age, to follow a particular path in life.  This might be the career that you choose or a skill that you can hone and excel at.  Again I feel that she is right and I have been pondering what this has meant to me and the way I have lived my life thus far.  This book, unlike so many on children and parenting, is not lecturing in its tone.  It is an essay, the authors opinion which you can take or leave depending on your own opinion.  It is a book I would recommend all parents to read.

...enhance a couple of months ago I mentioned a dilemma I was pondering over the Scouts in my area.  I have now decided to concentrate on my local Explorer pack and have been much more involved with them since then.  I really enjoy all my time I spend in the company of these wonderful teenagers, it troubles me that they get such a bad press.  Perhaps if those that say such things were to spend more time around teenagers they wouldn't be so negative.  In any section of society there is always those who break the law or who are difficult to get along with but the whole group  are not tarred with that brush.  Teenagers are at a bridge in their lives a transition from childhood to adulthood they need supporting not persecuting.

...enjoy this has to be the warmer, drier days which have enabled us to have some wonderful days out, walking, cycling and bird watching.  Our rhythm has changed with the transition in the season.


....and continuing from my usual moments posts....

...reading Awakening by William Horwood, All About the Bullerby Children by Astrid Lindgren, and these picture books* you can read a short review of them here. 93. The Pied Piper of Hamelin by Robert Browning, 94. Rats and Mice by Honor Head, 95. The Princess and the Pea by Lauren Child, 96. No Place Like Home by Jonathan Emmett, 97. The Pirates Next Door  by Jonny Duddle, 98. Rita and Whatsit go on a Picnic by 
Jean-Philippe Arrou-Vignod, 99. The Bear in the Cave by Michael Rosen, 100. Boom, Baby, Boom Boom by Margaret Mahy, 101. The Knight, the Princess and the Dragon by Helen Craig, 102. The Talkative Tortoise by Andrew Fusek Peters, 103. This Old Man by Pam Adams, 104. What the Ladybird Heard by Julia Donaldson