Sunday, 30 November 2008

Counting down

Ok, I think I've got it sussed. Our advent calender come planner is done. Each little bag contains an activity for the day, a joke and a couple of sweeties, shells or fir cones. I've got a list of all of the activities so that I know what is coming up and when we're doing what.

Some bags have pictures on to indicate a particular day such as when we go for the Christmas tree. I'm hoping this will stop me having to answer the same question over, and over, and over again, as the kids will be able to see for themselves when things are happening.

The bags are attached to two bamboo canes which I sprayed gold and stuck in a big plant pot. I didn't buy luggage labels for the numbers in the end - I just cut the labels from some brown paper. Hermione decorated that lovely star on the top herself.

I'm not sure what that strange white circle is to the right of the plant. I thought perhaps it was an orb of light but Craig is quite confident it's dust on my camera lens. Really, he has no imagination!

It was only after I had started making the bags that I stumbled across a picture of this beautiful calender above. It's very pretty and no doubt would have been a lot easier to make! Never mind, maybe next time...

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Advent candles

In the past we have always bought an advent candle but this year we have made our own. It doesn't have marked days on but I think that's good - we have never managed to burn it in keeping with the markers in the past.

We used a cookie cutter to make shapes from Stockmar wax sheets and pressed them on. Easy and not at all messy - which is good at this time of year I think when everything seems to be covered by glue and glitter!

Friday, 28 November 2008


Why is it that the children have chosen this time to discover and insist upon baking every blinkin’ recipe in my old children’s cookery book? A rather sticky 1970’s affair full of sugar and fat laden stuff. The sort of stuff which sticks to your ribs for a good few days before coming to rest on your thighs. Then there's the cheesecake I scoffed with a friend after meditation last night...

Lying awake I realise that with every biscuit, every crumb, that very elusive Little Black Dress will become more difficult to find. Hang on a minute perhaps that should say Medium/Large Black Dress? In the early hours of the morning I vow that I will not make my search harder – but come daylight my resolution has gone *sigh*. Never mind, I’ll be easy to spot amongst the revellers – I’ll be the one sporting the black sack.

Am I alone in this particular festive stress or is it more common than I think?

Words I've been waiting to hear

Miles and I went to visit friends yesterday. It was months since we had seen them and it was lovely to catch up. Chatting, munching home made biscuits and drinking wonderful liquorice root tea. When we came home Miles was ever so excited and showed Hermione how to play a pirate game he had discovered when we were out.

After an hour or so Hermione got bored and suggested watching a bit of TV. 'No, we're too busy playing to watch TV' shouted Miles.

I was so pleased. Miles has been watching quite a bit of TV recently and I really don't like it. Don't get me wrong, I'm not anti TV - I'm just pro other stuff *grin*

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

First snow

With the arrival of the first snow at the weekend I thought I had best crack on with my advent creation. The snow may have all washed away now but December is still approaching fast.

Nana has sewn little bags from the gingham and I have started preparing some little notes to go inside.
I have talked to Hermione about the things she enjoys most about the holiday season. The thing she enjoys most of all apparently is 'tree day'. It's always a full day thing around here. Much of it is taken up by Craig dragging the said tree in and out of the house, sawing a bit more off, marking the ceiling with sap again in the process of finding out it still doesn't fit, having a minor 'I'm sick of this - didn't you learn last year that we don't have a vaulted ceiling' strop, refusing to drag it out and back in again, bringing saw into house to make necessary adjustments, sawdust everywhere ... you get the picture. Once the tree is finally erected we crank up the carols, crack open the ginger wine and heat the mince pies. We all join in the whole affair and have great fun.
Other things she has talked about are going into the woods to collect evergreen and decorate the house, making orange pomanders, writing out her Christmas cards and baking mince pies. We always do these things. I'm going to make a little note about each - just a few facts or a bit of historical information and put them in the gingham bags. This way I can ensure that the things which are most important to us will actually happen because we will open the bag each evening, read about the particular thing and agree to do it the following day. It's going to take a bit of planning but at least this way we get to do the things we really want to as we can plan them around social engagements and I can make sure I have the things we need for activities to hand because I know when we are going to do it.
I'm going to include some new things which we've not done in previous years. We are going to make gingerbread houses, read The Fir Tree by Hans Christian Anderson, discuss an interview with Santa (something I have written myself after reading this one here and liking the idea but not liking all of the content), visit a local animal rescue centre and take some dog and cat food, include a token for a movie evening with popcorn and another token for a moonlit walk and more. Basically emphasising the *doing* and *being* as opposed to *receiving*. Things are cheap and easily forgotten in comparison to experiences I feel.
I'm trying to make the notes look old. I've soaked them in a weak coffee solution, splodged them with used tea bags, put them in the oven and attacked them with a lighter! Still not happy with the look but I've a few more days to play before they're needed *grin*.
Must get back to my bits and bobs. Life seems to be very full these days. I'm feeling a huge upsurge in energy in the sense of new things coming about, opportunities, possibilities and so on - unfortunately my physical energy is lagging behind *grin*.
Thank you for stopping by to read about our stuff even though the formatting of my blog is totally up the creek again. Sometimes I just hate Blogger grrrrrr

Monday, 24 November 2008


It's been a busy day today. French class, ice skating, visitors and more. It was also the day that the lady I spoke of last week made her last journey in the physical sense.

The sadness I felt has faded into joy. To live and die knowing love is something to be celebrated.
I've learned lessons about life and death this week. Lessons that won't leave me. When I reach that mega dimensional place I know now how I want it to be.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Friday, 21 November 2008

Ho ho ho

We just got back from town and you should have seen the crowd at the grotto - and it's not even December! Needless to say we were not in the que *grin*.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

I've been 'styled' !!!!

I think I've mentioned, (quite a few times), that my sister is here to stay. What I don't think I've mentioned is that she's an artist, with experience of working in interior design, with funky canvas, fine art and more.

Well, she's restyled my living room and I love it. It no longer resembles a wide open bus stop. No more sitting in line like you're waiting for the number thirty seven. It's inviting and social whilst also cosy and intimate. I'm so pleased and can't wait to spend lots more time in there blissing out and chilling.

If you have a moment to spare you can call by and see my little sis's art work here. I'm not sure that she ships out of Canada but you may see something that inspires you all the same.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Bumpy road

It’s been an odd few days. The death of a very dear lady I know, in a most beautiful and moving way, seems to have brought a lot of emotion to the surface.

Sleepless nights, tears, anger and more. A need to know I worked hard, for something good. That it wasn’t all in vain. Lonely nights with my head down the toilet. A feeling that I had just regurgitated a huge chunk of my life into the pan. Acknowledging, accepting, moving forward.

My brother in law has returned to Canada and we are all missing him. Thankfully my sister is still with us. It saddens me that we can’t spend more time together.

Amidst the trials of the bumpy road we’ve spent lots of time chilling out, crafting, laughing and being together as a family. Precious time.

Baking, pompoms, potions, fat and seed bird feeders, felting, cup cakes and more....

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Waiting for a pearl

If one attends to deep feelings and pensive moods, often a pearl emerges from the grit and tears - Jeri Bodemar.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Getting it all wrapped up.

I'm feeling inspired and challenged by our current situation, ( flat out of cash while we fight large insurance group who are still refusing to pay out on the loss of our livelihood), and also by Unplug the Christmas Machine by Jo Robinson.

I've decided that this is to be a truly blissful Yule and Christmas for us. We're not in a position to join in the whole outrageous consumerism even were we minded to. This year by necessity as well as choice the focus will be most definitley upon people, places, pass times and peace.

I think I've got it all wrapped up. Well, in rough planning format anyway *grin*. I'm armed with some clothes pegs, blank luggage labels and a few pieces of gingham fabric that I picked up on Freecycle.

All I need now is to complete my Seasonal Fantasy Wish List (leaving aside thoughts of Robbie Williams under the Christmas tree of course) and turn it into something real. I'm hoping to make an advent calendar, come seasonal planner, come activity resource, come much more - all with the gingham, pegs and luggage labels. Time to get to it!

Thursday, 13 November 2008


Henrietta our white hen is unwell. She has a limp and her comb is a bit floppy. She's lying in an isolation hutch looking ever so sorry for herself. I hope she pulls through. A lot of people have said to me that there is no half way with hens - they tend to be well or dead.

Here she is on a happier occasion munching corn with her chums.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

More organised than I thought!

Back in summer I decided one evening that I would write up a list of homeopathic remedies and symptoms for coughs and colds. Trying to figure out what to take for yourself when you're feeling grotty isn't always easy.

After a few days of feeling snuffly and hoarse I've finally remembered where I saved the list on my computer. Yay!!!!!! Hopefully I'll be fighting fit really soon again.

Incidentally, if anyone would like a copy of my list I'm more than happy to share.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Saving the best till last

We cut into our last pumpkin yesterday - an absolutely huge one. We had heard that Uncle Brian loves pumpkin pie so we saved it until now when he is here.

We may have still had more had I known better about allowing them to ripen on the plant. I think I picked them too early this year and consequently they didn't store well. We live and learn!

Pumpkin soup and pumpkin pie for dinner last night and me and Miles are just about to start transforming what was left into yet another pumpkin pie!

We have saved and dried some seeds for next year. I'm not sure if they will work - perhaps it's not so simple as that? We'll give it a try.

I was reading the other day that now is a good time to sew an early crop of broad beans. Sounds like a good idea but we'll have to sort out or chicken dilemmas before then - more on the chicken dilemmas another day.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Anyone near Sheffield?

Anyone near Sheffield fancy getting out their knitting needles for a good cause?

Read more here.

Saturday, 8 November 2008


My sister and brother in law are arriving today all the way from Canada. It's going to be lovely to have them around for a couple of weeks.

Shame the no cheese cheesecake I made for them hasn't lasted. It's ever so good.

Never mind. It's grey, windy and raining - a traditional British welcome!

Friday, 7 November 2008

Enlightenment - Durham Festival of Light

We had been looking forward to our trip to see the Festival of Light for over a week now. The brochure made it sound ever so good.

Enlightenment is a stunning and truly international light festival celebrating Durham’s religious and industrial heritage. Four new light-based artworks show Durham as viewed through the eyes of two very different cultures. The installations are a fusion of cultural identities, creative styles and methods of working. The individual pieces take their inspiration from the sacred texts, iconic images and traditions of Durham and a number of Eastern societies. The major pieces will be supported by Intermittent, a light trail of smaller installations, projections, film works and light boxes which will illuminate shop windows, bars and office spaces across the City.

The reality was somewhat different.

The illuminations on the bridges were alright. Well hang on, no, they weren’t alright. One was good (below), one wasn’t on at all and the other two were only partially illuminated!

As for the light trail, well, that was something else again. At first it was fun. We tried to guess whether what we were seeing in shop windows was actually part of the trail or not. A small light box in amongst lots of bottles of cleanser in a beauty salon window, a pile of plastic rubbish bags outside of the building society and what looked like a misshapen sweet jar with mushrooms inside.

What is it? Is it art? Is it not? I don’t know. What is art? We carried on the trail. I tried my best to jolly Craig and Hermione along as it had been my idea to come and neither were particularly enthusiastic.

Standing outside of Woolworths window watching three blank television screens which periodically showed flashes of pavement I suddenly had a lights on moment. I wasn’t viewing and appreciating art – I was the proverbial emperor with new clothes!

Time to go home. Why treck around town in the dark and rain to discover a work of art aka a blank television when I can wander into my living room and observe one (a much nicer one I might add) whenever I like? Why were other folks wandering around town in the dark doing the same thing?

I’m all for a very broad interpretation and appreciation of ‘art’ but come on guys – there are limits!

Never mind culture, experiences etc etc – that was the last time I will pretend for one second that I consider something so inane to be art. From now on this emperor(ess) will be keeping her real clothes firmly on!

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Dona Nobis Pacem

It’s quite a monumental task I feel - raising the next generation. Yeah, so I may only have two children but that doesn’t make me feel that my efforts are insignificant, far from it. Two candles without which the sun wouldn’t shine so bright. Two drops without which the ocean wouldn’t be so deep.

I often ask myself how can I raise my children to know peace, to be peacemakers, to live peaceably. How can I best equip them to take part in the evolution of a peaceful world?

I don’t have the answers. The answers I do have tend to change, develop and sometimes turn into something else entirely. Living peaceably is one of those things that sounds so easy but can be quite tricky.

Anyway, I’m pleased I stumbled across this blog blast for peace. It’s made me think. I still don’t have the answers but I have renewed my commitment to raise my children peaceably and hope that I have some success.

Here’s to a world where people can live in peace and free from fear.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Bonfire Night

Do we celebrate bonfire night because Guy Fawkes was caught or because he tried to do it? Hmmm, good question Hermione. Depends upon your point of view I guess.

I have spent the last few days hunting for a book we have about the gunpowder plot. I've not found it. Don't you just hate it when that happens? It's just like how you can always find the Christmas crafts book at Easter and Halloween decorations near valentines day. Or perhaps it's just my slack housekeeping that makes for such confusion?

Bonfire night isn't a big thing around here. Hermione isn't too keen on the loud bangs and Miles has some reservations about the dark. On that basis bonfire night is a bit of a non starter for us these days. We had a couple of sparklers in the garden but Miles favoured a torch in the living room with the curtains closed. Wish I'd known in advance and I could have saved myself £1.99!

We plan to do something with a bit more fiery fizz and crackle at the weekend.

Lots of work been going on here over the past couple of days - digestive system, bleeding, the Celts, times tables, counting in french, glaciers, coastal erosion and so on. Great stuff. Lots of enthusiasm and interest. Dipping in and out of this and that - flitting from book to Youtube to book to written stuff and so on. I hope it lasts!

We dug up more jerusalem artichokes today and they were good. No worms. Made a wonderful casserole with dumplings. Plenty left over for tomorrow too *grin*. While I washed and chopped for dinner Hermione read stories to Miles. I do so love these harmonious moments. Thankfully they seem to be happening more often these days. I think we are possibly reaching a state of greater equilibrium.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008


Daniel is a member of our local home ed group and also an occasional reader and commentator of my blog. He's a boy of many talents including joke and story telling. He has entered into a story telling competition and would be delighted if anyone had the chance to drop by and vote for him. I hope the link works - you should find him here - half way down the page telling the story of The Two Frogs.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Chopping mushrooms

One of those scarce tranquil and productive moments.

Sunday, 2 November 2008


We had our Diwali celebration last night. It didn't go quite as I had planned but never mind. I was feeling decidedly under the weather and decided to leave Craig to it.
We ate home made onion bhajis, chapatis and rice - accompanied by a couple of curry dishes and garlic naan bread from the take away. The chapatis and onion bhajis were lovely and so easy to make. We'll certainly never order them in again now we have discovered how to make them ourselves.
Craig explained a bit about Diwali and chatted about Lakshmi the Hindu goddess of wealth and prosperity. He had printed the picture below of Lakshmi onto a large, (too large) , piece of paper, and we ate our feast with her looking down on us from the mantle surrounded by tealights which we imagined to be special Diwali lamps.

The plan was to play cards for money after dinner as apparently is customary at Diwali, (the thought being that Lakshmi will help you to win I believe), but we were all feeling rather sleepy after bhaji overload and crashed out. Maybe next time.
Anyone want a really large coloured picture of a four armed Hindu goddess? Only joking. I am going to take her down from the mantle but I'm going to stick her up in the play room and perhaps she will be a talking point for different customs and beliefs.
My formatting has gone all wonky and will not be corrected. Bother! Anyone else having Blogger issues?

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Jerusalem artichokes

I dug up one of the Jerusalem artichoke plants today. Initially I was impressed - lots of tubers from one plant. On closer inspection it became apparent that they were riddled with worms. I've put them in the shed to use as next years tubers. Hopefully the rest won't be so badly affected and we will get to eat some!

Miles dug a surprisingly deep hole with a wooden spoon.

Craig and Hermione are currently preparing a Diwali feast although Hermione is making disapproving noises about a potential clash between Diwali and the X Factor. Hmmmm.

Where am I going wrong?

Hermione revealed her life plan yesterday. She would like to have fun and sell the Big Issue.