Saturday, 28 February 2009


A friend from our local Timebank came round this afternoon to show Hermione and a couple of her friends how to make candles. Here are some chunky tea lights and a chunky votive which Hermione made.

These were made by arranging wax chunks in transparent tea light holders or a mould and then pouring some melted wax over the top. Doing it this way reduces the need for the children to be involved with the hot wax and it also means that they set quickly as a lot of the wax is still hard.

This candle below (which hasn't photographed at all well - you can't even see the wick) was made by putting a thin candle wick side down into a cut off small juice carton. We then filled the cavity between the candle and carton with crushed ice cubes. Then we poured the melted wax on top of the ice and left it to set. Once it had set we cut the carton away and were left with a lacy effect candle from where the ice had been.

Now we know the basics I foresee lots more candle making around here.

Friday, 27 February 2009

Good things happen in threes

I have managed to plant out, hen proof and frost proof the first of my broad beans. Yay!!!!

Hermione and I finished reading The Tempest. Hooray!!! Not sure that she really 'got it' though. May have to look at it again before we go to see the play next week. I'm ever so excited about going, which is more than I can say about Hermione. Hopefully given time she will come to love the Bard!

Nana has finished this beautiful bag and matching purse for non other than yours truly.

Oh, I am a happy bunny today, and it's still only afternoon - there could be lots more good things to come!

Thursday, 26 February 2009

A depressing read - with no apologies

I went to a party,
And remembered what you said.
You told me not to drink, Mum
So I had a Sprite instead.
I felt proud of myself,
The way you said I would,
That I didn't drink and drive,
Though some friends said I should.
I made a healthy choice,
And your advice to me was right,
The party finally ended,
And the kids drove out of sight.
I got into my car,
Sure to get home in one piece,
I never knew what was coming, Mum
Something I expected least.
Now I'm lying on the pavement,
And I hear the policeman say,
The kid that caused this wreck was drunk,
Mum, his voice seems far away.
My own blood's all around me,
As I try hard not to cry.
I can hear the paramedic say,
This girl is going to die.
I'm sure the guy had no idea,
While he was flying high,
Because he chose to drink and drive,
Now I would have to die.
So why do people do it, Mum
Knowing that it ruins lives?
And now the pain is cutting me,
Like a hundred stabbing knives.
Someone should have taught him,
That it's wrong to drink and drive.
Maybe if his parents had,I'd still be alive.
My breath is getting shorter, Mum
I'm getting really scared.
These are my final moments,
And I'm so unprepared.
I wish that you could hold me Mum,
As I lie here and die.
I wish that I could say, 'I love you, Mum!'
So I love you and good-bye.

Thanks to Suzanne for sharing this with me. I don't drink and drive but it has still really made me stop and think.

Please feel free to copy, paste and post this where ever.

Photos, laughs and a request

I've been tagged by Dawny for the sixth file, sixth picture challenge. I have to go into the 6th photo file and find the 6th picture.

I was going to cheat and pretend that it was an amazing family snap but that would be naughty. It's actually a picture of some of the devastation following our fire.

So here are a few more interesting snaps sent to me by a friend.

I think most bloggers I know have been tagged with this one now so I'm just tagging one person, Clare over at A Sea Change into Something Rich and Strange.

REQUEST - does anyone have a copy of Sula by Lavinia Derwent which they no longer want and would be happy to send to me asap for £4 or less to include p&p? Goodness, I know I'm getting cheeky. Please forgive me.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

World War 2

When I first decided to look at WW2 with Hermione I ordered a few books from Amazon. I thought they were good, I particularly liked the Dorling Kindersley one, but it was apparent within about twenty minutes of the parcel having arrived that they were not going to spike Hermione's interest or inspire her to explore the topic.

Hermione is a very sensitive child and I started to wonder whether it was a good subject to cover right now or whether it would be best left for a couple of years. It's a fine line I feel when you try to educate and protect - all those age appropriate issues - all those factors appertaining to the individual child to be considered.

Anyway I decided in the end to give it a try with When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr. This book tells the story of a Jewish family who fled from Germany when the Nazis rose to power. She really enjoyed it and learned lots.

Next was Twenty and Ten by William Pene Du Bois. This is the story of twenty French children who were sent to safety in the mountains during the German occupation of France. While they were there a man came to ask them to take in ten Jewish refugee children.

When we finished Twenty and Ten Hermione was keen to start a new WW2 fiction but unfortunately we didn't have any. I'm awaiting an Amazon order right now to include Number the Stars by Louis Lowry and The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips by Michael Morpurgo.

Now that she has a feel of what happened I think we can go back to more factual issues - not so much through text book style resources but more practical exercises. I've listed a few below in case they may be of use to anyone else. I can't take credit for them all as many are from a resource a lady online kindly sent me.

Colour the countries Germany invaded on a world map.

Design a poster to warn people about the introduction of blackouts.

Design a poster to inform people of the benefits of evacuation.

Fill in a pretend evacuation tag as worn by the children being evacuated.

Listen to air raid siren clips on the Internet. How would that make us feel?

What would we have put in our air raid shelter?

Write a story about being evacuated.

Think about how different it would be in the country. Design and write a postcard home.

Visit a museum or look at pictures of gas masks.

Create a recipe using very basic store cupboard ingredients.

Devise a Clothing Ration Book and a clothes shop price list. How would we spend them?

Devise a Food Ration Book and work out how much of each rationed food we would get for a family our size.

How did life change for women? Draw a picture of the women doing jobs they had rarely done pre war.

Interview someone who lived through the war. A dictaphone could be a good idea.

I am hoping to find some suitable and educational programmes about life in Britain during this time period. One of my few clear memories of my school days is of trooping off to the assembly hall once a week to watch How We Used to Live. I loved those programmes and learned so much from them. I've looked on Amazon but most of them are unavailable now and the ones on Amazon Marketplace are really quite expensive. I'm looking for something along those lines. Any thoughts anyone?

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Birthday bash

It's Hermione's birthday today and we have spent a wonderful day at home, chilling, chatting, toffee sauce making, pancake scoffing and much more.

In contrast to the day she was born (which saw some of the worst blizzards I have ever known) the sun shone brightly this morning. We pottered around the kitchen making toffee sauce. Naughty but nice.

We weren't the only ones pottering around. Not only was this pesky hen spotted in the kitchen she was later spotted making her way upstairs too. Sheesh!!!

She couldn't decide which she liked best, the wooden hen or the balloons.

Much time was spent writing letters and stories on the new electric typewriter. Both Hermione and Miles were fascinated by it. Strange to think how unfamiliar they are with things that I take so for granted - makes me feel ever so old!

Opening beautiful cards.

Enjoying a pancake party with friends.

I am delighted that Hermione chose to spend her birthday in this way. She doesn't differentiate between people of different ages, races or abilities. A friend is a friend - regardless of factors such as these. She's also just as happy with a china tea party as a lively disco. I'm thankful that she has these qualities. So many people ask me as a home edding mum if I worry about my children growing up and possibly not being able to read or write or such like. Sure, were that a possibility I would be worried sick - but equally I would worry myself sick if I thought either of my children were possibly to grow up with prejudices or an inability to be open to different opportunities and experiences.

Reading poetry written by a friend especially for the occasion.

It wasn't a sarnie
That tempted Hermione
To celebrate her birthday today
And it wasn't a jelly
To fill up her belly
That brought her friends round to play
It wasn't the rabbit or the chickens
Or a story by Charles Dickens
That made everyone want to stay
But a fantastic platter
Made from a batter
To guarantee a great pancake day.

She received lots of fabulous presents and declared late in the day that she never wanted the day to end. One of her presents is a dvd of photographs of all of us (including the animals) complete with music and captions. I'm off to put my feet up now with a glass of wine to watch it again with Craig. No doubt when that's finished I'll bring it up again about how exceptionally angry I was when half an hour before Hermione was born Craig listened to a midwife rather than me, tried to convince me I was not in labour and urged me to go back to the car and drive down to the coast (about half an hour away) for some fish and chips! Thank heavens Hermione wasn't born on the pier in a blizzard - although we could always have wrapped her in salty newspaper from the chips!

Monday, 23 February 2009

Rubbish rant

I was going to post tonight about how we are romping on with our WW2 studies and all of the ideas we have for related activities, but I'm going to have a rant instead.

Waiting for our home ed French Group to begin this morning we received a text from one of the mothers who was late arriving at the group, telling us to head to a part of town where we could get loads of files, brief cases etc for free. As it was we didn't make it in time before literally hundreds of box files, trolleys (like those used by air hostesses), brief cases, lever arch files plus lots of other things had been flung from the pavement into a huge rubbish cart to be taken away to land fill.

The items were like new. Our friend had been allowed to take what she wanted by a member of staff who was organising their removal. As we understand it the items belonged to the the local council - Durham Council - and were just being discarded to make way for new things.

What a waste! A waste of the items themselves but also tax payers money!

A friend took photographs on her mobile phone and called the local press. I hope they take the mater up and publicise what happened. It's outrageous!

On a brighter note you may have noticed the fabulous new photograph at the top of my blog. This was taken by a friend, Peter. It is a picture of the sky as seen from our village as the sun set on Saturday the 21st of February. Isn't it amazing? Here are more below.

These pictures are really special to me. Before we moved we used to have a fantastic view of the sun setting. Because of the position of our house now we rarely see the sunset - although we do see the sunrise if we are up early enough. I'm going to hang onto these to remind myself that we are still part of that fabulous sunset here where we are now - it's just that I don't get to see it as much as I would like.

Oh well, may get round to talking about WW2 tomorrow.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Divorce Cakes

Thank you everyone for the comments below. It's not Hermione's actual birthday till Tuesday but as I said the fun has started early this year *grin*. She is away off out with friends for lunch right now and Miles and I are busy wrapping and sorting.

Anyway, I just had to take a quick wrapping break to share these pictures a friend sent me this morning. Having never been divorced I've never contemplated a divorce cake. Here's hoping it never happens but if it does I may now consider something like one of these - I suspect that in times like that taste and decency can sometimes go out of the window!

Saturday, 21 February 2009

In the sack

It's Hermione's birthday this week and there's lots of fun and frolics here.

I have to say I was a bit worried on then run up to her birthday as I feel a bit low on resources right now - time, energy and general ooomph - not to mention the dreaded 'cash' word as we continue to battle a large insurance group following our fire disaster. I've not mentioned the fire and insurance fiasco for a while but it's still going on. It's in the hands of legal experts and experts from various scientific backgrounds. Still not had a penny. Still feeling very much like a small business being stamped on by a huge commercial enterprise. Still trying to keep our heads above water and trust that all will be well in the long run -sometimes easier said than done!

Thankfully I have been overwhelmed with offers of support from organising games, baking, live music and the offer of craft workshops. I've also had some wonderful pre loved toys given to me by one of my best mates. I am so lucky!

The celebrations kicked off today when a handful of local families called by for brunch.

Berries, cinnamon swirls and lots more too.

Dads in sacks! I have some great shots of this but whilst I'd happily embarrass Craig on here I think it best not to identify the other dad - I like him and want him to continue to be my friend!

Iced ring limbo.

Home made pinniana. We filled a used gift bag with sweets, sellotaped the top and decorated the bag. I have to say it was much better than the ones I have bought in the past. I'll never buy one again.

Her birthday certainly has a different feel this year. No big party and no extravagant gifts. Much more low key, homely and relaxed. It feels good though and I'm very much looking forward to more fun as the week progresses.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Tree of Happiness Award

Many thanks to Lynn who has given me a Tree of Happiness Award.

I am to write about six things that make me happy.

1. My children make me happy. More happy than I could ever have imagined. Craig and the rest of my family make me incredibly happy too. Incredibly happy, scared, angry, upset and more. Happy to feel everything so deeply and enjoy the rollercoaster ride with such wonderful companions. Happy to be truly alive and feeling all of my feelings!

2. The creative process makes me happy. The results aren’t always what I would hope for but the process can bring much happiness in itself. It took me a long time to learn that I don’t have to be Picasso to paint a picture. I don’t need to be an expert at anything in order to enjoy creating something myself.

3. I get a real happy buzz when I produce food for my family. Growing food and keeping hens brings me much happiness. It’s something over and above the organic and environmental issues – it’s the feeling of having provided for my family in that very basic way.

4. Being outdoors and close to nature makes me happy. It helps me to feel grounded and keep good perspective of things.

5. Meditating is one of my great pleasures in life. Releasing all physical tensions and clearing my mind of conscious thought.

6. An early night with my journal, hotwater bottle, cup of cocoa and preferably heavy rain beating off the window.

7. Am I aloud an extra one? I confess to being an Eastenders fan. I watch very little television, this is the only thing I watch on a regular basis. I think it deserves a place in this list as no matter what kind of crappy day you have had you can always watch Eastenders and feel much happier knowing life could be a whole lot worse *grin*

If you would like to share six things that make you happy then consider yourself tagged.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Snowdrop Days

It's that time of year again. The snowdrops are here.

The face of the babies I longed to hold, and hopefully at some point in time and space will do.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Off the hook

Hot off the crocheting hook is Miles' first waistcoat. It's wonderfully chunky and bright.

Here's a skirt I made for Hermione last week too. Please ignore the hitched up nightie.

Talking of 'hot' it never ceases to amaze me the things you can find online to support you in home edding. Yesterday I came across an online game for learning hot and cold colours. How obscure and bizarre is that? Fitted in nicely with an activity we were doing. Where would I be without the Internet and my needles?

Must dash. It's half term in our area, and as ever the school holidays are always busy catching up with folks who are usually at school. Hermione is off to spend the day with another family. Miles and I have a morning coffee and play arrangement. Busy, busy busy....

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Medical madness

We're home from hospital. After a long trip, a thirty five minute wait for a parking space, a twenty minute wait to check in and then over an hour waiting at the appropriate department, we were seen by the doctor who claimed that to carry out the suggested procedures at this time would be little short of 'madness'. Rather irritating - but it could have been worse - the doctor could have felt that he required the procedures.

Only wish I hadn't whiled away last night frightening myself with all kinds of risks and contraindications I managed to dredge up on Google. On the brighter side I did also have a good laugh at reflections on some medical issues as once were.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Fun and Games

I have been sorting out activities for out home ed Book Club this month. We are looking at The World According to Humphrey by Betty G Birney. I have prepared a crossword and am going to take pastry ingredients along for baking Humphrey scones. I have also made a board game which I'm ever so pleased with as I think it has great potential for us to use at home across a wide range of themes.

This is the basic board I made. Rather arty eh? No? Well at least I managed to use up all the paint scraps left in pots from Miles' mega paitning session yesterday. That is Miles standing on it. No respect for my efforts *rolls eyes*.

I need to stick on a start point. I'm also going to add some stickers which say 'miss a turn', 'return to go', 'loose a token' etc. The idea then is that you roll the dice and if you land on a square with a dot you get to answer a question (which has been prepared in advance with a sheet of questions and answers) - in this case about The World According to Humphrey but could be about any book or topic. If you get it right you receive a token. When you have ten tokens you are the winner. I know it's not exactly rocket science but I'm pleased with this and can foresee the use of our basic board game in our water cycle studies and possibly even our ongoing world war 2 explorations.

We went to a Zoolab Workshop today. Miles stroked a rat, snake and cockroach. Hermione could only be tempted to touch the rat. I don't *do* touching. I struggled as ever with the whole issue over caged animals and the opportunities for children to learn.

Our bedraggled hanging baskets are fresh and blooming again. Bursting with colourful primulas. I'm really pleased. Dead hanging baskets are unsightly.

You know I mentioned a week or so ago that I was hoping to grow ornamental gourds with the children this year? Well I decided to ask on our local home ed lists if anyone would like to share the seed order with me so that it would be cheaper and we could try more varieties. I've already had one response so I'm ever so pleased. One friend in particular has lectured me for years about the need to ask for help and about being open to receiving life's blessings. I think I'm finally getting the message and agree that it does make life so much easier and fulfilling.

On the not so bright side Miles has a hospital appointment tomorrow. I say we have an appointment but actually we have been told we must be there for 9.30 am and *should* (not *will*) be seen before 12.30pm. Not looking forward to having to find the place (it's not our local hospital) and then entertain a three year old in a hospital waiting room for what could turn into hours on end - then to be topped off with what I have been advised could be a rather unpleasant experience. Arrrghhhh! I think I'll need to pack lots of toys, snacks and chill pills!

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Broad Bean bother

I bought an extra early variety of broad beans which said they were best sewn outdoors Nov - Jan.

I have spent the last few weeks imagining the development of strong root systems building lots of strength ready for the plants to burst forth any day. Well, I could wait no longer and have just unearthed some seeds. Nothing. Not a root, no sign of activity.

I know I'm a novice gardener and probably shouldn't contradict the 'experts' but I think the seed manufacturers have may be got it wrong. Perhaps the beans may grow in low winter temperatures - but only once they have germinated (which presumably requires a certain amount of warmth).

I now have broad bean pots keeping my chitting potatoes company in the attic.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Beautiful Day

I have had a beautiful day surrounded by beautiful people and things.

Firstly, Hermione awoke with a very swollen and dark lip but at least it had started to heal and was no longer flapping - which is always good. She felt a bit self conscious about it, but right on time some pictures arrived from a friend which cheered her up no end. I wish I knew how to do this funky writing on pictures.

Little surprises and smiles.

A gathering of friends for china tea, cake, stories and crafts. I am truly blessed to have a friend who is a professional children's story teller. She loves coming to read and craft with a small group of local children every few weeks. I put on the china tea and cakes and she takes care of stories and crafts. It works like a dream and she makes sure never to leave without having arranged the next date, which I am delighted about.

Hermione was a very lucky girl today (which I'm pleased about as she needed a boost after her nose dive last night) and received cards and gifts. A cute hama bead heart and a hand made bag which is absolutely fabulous. My photographs don't really do it justice - particularly not the embroidery. I love the way it opens and fastens.

All of this and I still have valentines celebrations to come! Craig and I don't celebrate on the 14th as the first year we were together we were both working that evening and made a dinner date for later in the week. Although moving valentines day to suit your work shedule isn't particularly romantic, when we did meet up later in the week for our delayed valentines dinner, he asked me to marry him and we have celebrated valentines on that later day ever since. It's quite good actually as restaurants are quieter by then and cards and gifts are in the sale!

I often wonder where I would choose to celebrate valentines evening if I could choose anywhere. I always conclude that I would like to go to The Witchery. I've never been but I read about it years ago and have always wanted to go.

I hope you too have had a fab day!

Friday, 13 February 2009

Dreaming of cherub lips

What a wonderful day we have had today - an absolutely fabulous day. It seems that we are all finally recovering from our various lurgies and life is returning to normal. You can no longer write your name in the dust on the hall table, we all sat down to lunch around a clear table and listened to music while chatting. It was so nice that I didn't even care when during the course of the conversation Hermione said, 'Oh no, I didn't mean Shakespeare - I was getting him confused with Britney Spears'.

We baked fairy cakes and decorated the house ready for Valentines celebrations tomorrow. Do you like our Valentine wreath?

Sadly the bliss was shattered when Hermione some how dove face first onto the kitchen floor this evening. I'm still not entirely sure how this happened. I just know there was lots of blood (bucket and mop job as opposed to kitchen roll) and she now has a really deep cut where her tooth has sliced her lip. She also has a bit of an egg on her forehead and what looks like the makings of a black eye but these are less noticeable alongside the frilled edge lip *sigh*.

When I finally managed to have a good look at it I was horrified and wondered whether to go to A&E in case it requires stitches. I decided against this after looking online and reading that lips are not usually stitched unless they are pierced or the cut crosses from the fleshy lip bit to the ordinary skin of the face. Also, at the risk of sharing to much information, I have to say that my nether regions were much happier second time round after having instructed my midwife in no uncertain terms to keep her needle kit in her bag (to which she agreed, 'unless I'm faced with something like the Grand Canyon' - oh how those words gave me a chill!) .

Well, she's had lots of arnica and reiki - which I'll repeat throughout the night. Here's hoping that she wakes tomorrow looking more cherub less Donald Duck.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

My name is Claire...

...and I suffer from vacuum rage.

I publicly apologies to all of the stuffed fluffs currently stuck in the workings.

Even though everyone refused to take the hint when I dumped the vacuum in the centre of the living room, and just stepped over or walked around it for three hours, does not justify my vacuuming over the top of everything as opposed to going around it.
Off to tell Craig we've got a gonk in the tube - again!

Wednesday, 11 February 2009


I'm still convalescing from my lurgy here and am trying to rest my voice - or perhaps I should say I'm trying desperately hard to talk but it hurts. This has made me realise just how much of my time I spend having those educational 'purposive' type of conversation with the children and reading aloud to them. I'm ever so frustrated. I always think of myself as a rather quiet person but now being very conscious about the amount I do talk I'm really not so sure.

Anyway, stuck in this frustrating low volume space I have been doing lots of thinking - I've been doing lots of crafting too but that'll keep for now.

I tend to be a bit slow on the uptake of many things so it's not at all surprising that I am relatively new to Facebook. In addition to being slow on the uptake there was also a considerable period when I was aware of it but just wasn't quite sure. I suppose I've never been quite sure for lots of reasons but I just started pondering that again today.

I know that Facebook and other similar sites can be useful in some business networking scenarios. They can also help you to track down people who you may otherwise have never regained contact with - which is great. But at what cost?

Facebook and the other sites are businesses. What kind of business? What's their product? How are they making their money?

Could we be forgiven for thinking that Facebook et al represent capitalism gone mega crazy? Trading not in friendship and reunions but collecting information and matching it with businesses making everyone a sitting target for sophisticated marketing. Encouraging us not to connect with people we know in a direct form but rather sitting alone at a screen tapping away at a keyboard. Eroding many aspects of community in the process of creating a new community - a community which operates in a way in which some folks make wads of dosh!

I don't know. I'm still thinking. If you have ever thought about this (or are thinking about it now) then have a look at this article. It explains lots of points much better than I could.

I hope my throat feels better tomorrow. All this quiet thinking is giving me brain ache!