Thursday, 30 April 2009

Solace in a lampshade

Feeling particularly inspired by that lady on TV (a Kirsty someone or other), who is doing a show about tarting up a house in the south west (I believe), I decided to emerge myself in the art of lampshade making.

I have two side lights in my living room and both shades are looking a little careworn. How difficult can it be to cover two lampshades I wondered?

I sat in the room and pondered the colour scheme - a sort of mossy green and wooden tones. It suddenly came to me that what I would like is two lamp shades and a couple of cushion covers in a beautiful, delicate grey toile de joie.

How difficult can it be to cover two lamp shades I wondered? Very blinking difficult! I can't believe the price of this stuff. Should I perchance come across any in my charity shop rumblings I will carry it home ever so carefully. In the meantime I think I'll just have to go on dreaming....

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Just popping my head round the door..

Last week we woke one morning to find Miles grey and limp. No matter what we did we couldn't wake him. It was the longest six minutes of my life waiting for the ambulance. Thankfully he was totally himself again within an hour or so.

The doctors can offer no explanation for what happened at this stage. It may be we will never know what happened that day.

I have been rocked to my core. I think that gut wrenching fear and anguish will remain with me to a certain degree till the day I move on.

I've not felt much like talking since it happened but the numbness is passing. I'm thinking searching but rational thoughts now. I'm getting a grip and after more intensive mothering all round I'll be back - probably sooner than you'd think as after all I am a self confessed blog addict.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Blog Break

See you soon folks. I'm having a blog break. Back in a week or two.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

The Crusades, tadpoles, planting and more

We have certainly had a very busy start to the week. I'm weary but by and large ecstatic - so nothing new there *grin*. Here's a quick round up of the past couple of days.
1. Hermione went to a longer than usual French session and went on an imaginary trip to Switzerland which she enjoyed immensely.
2. We basked in the sun at our local Botanic Gardens with another three home ed families. The children played with the juggling balls Hermione made last week, watched birds from the hide and bees buzzing too and from their hive. There was also some paddling and tadpole chasing in the formal pond area. I feared staff may not approve but perhaps they decided to turn a blind eye on the hottest day of the year.
3. Hermione has been awarded her Bronze Paw Badge at Badgers.
4. Hermione went to a party about the Crusades and St George. Here she is in her fancy dress. I struggled with the pot luck buffet contribution as obviously there were no potatoes, chocolate or tomatoes. I finally packed her off with Dorittos and apples - very poor I know.
5. I had another girls night out. That is two girly nights out in one month. I'd feel guilty were it not that I have a few years worth to catch up on.
6. I've had a meeting with a local artist who is going to facilitate art workshops for the home ed community. I hope to help plug a gap between cut and stick art for little ones and very advanced art techniques for older ones. We're meeting again within a week or so by which time he will hopefully will be able to give me details of other local artists who have agreed to be come involved in our project. Yay!!!
7. I have planted more seeds than I could imagine. I've had to stop because I have run out of seed trays. In some respects I hate this time of the gardening year as it is very labour intensive with no instant rewards.
8. I have tried in vain to work out how to align my blog text to the left again. The buttons with pictures on are not working. Any clues anyone? Then there is also the issue of line spacing not working. Hmm, sick of this.
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Monday, 20 April 2009

When you're smiling...

When you're smiling, when you're smiling, the whole world smiles with you; when you're laughing, when you're laughing, the sun comes shining through...

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Messing about on the water

Our local authority occasionally offers free activities to encourage people to get active. Yesterday rowing boats on the river were free to hire. Due probably to the overcast weather and poor publicity on the local authority's part (that's my one gripe, they don't exactly shout about these things till after the event) there was no mad rush.

Beautiful colourful riverbanks.

Uh oh, we're on a collision course

The Count's (aka as the Polish Dwarf) house.

Signs of last years floods - twigs and debris stuck up trees. At first I thought it was the work of birds but there was so much of it and I eventually realised what it was.

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Saturday, 18 April 2009

Jam and bread for supper

What do you do with a surplus of hot cross buns rapidly approaching past their best? Well, you could make that delicious looking pudding that Jamie Oliver makes on television - the one with the carton of custard and apricot jam. Alternatively, you could just knock together your own version with what you have at hand which is what we ended up doing.
I cut the buns in half and the children spread them with strawberry jam. They arranged the bottoms in an ovenproof dish and added a handful of dates and a spoonful of Cinnamon. We then poured over half a pint of rice milk with three eggs whisked into it. Put the tops of the buns on and popped in the the oven for forty minutes by which time it had turned sort of custardy.
I think apricot jam would have been more aesthetically pleasing but hey ho, make and do.
It was delicious.

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Thursday, 16 April 2009

Henny Penny I am no more

I am so excited about all of the possibilities that are unfolding on the home ed front for us right now.

As some of you guys will know, towards the end of last year I had a full on Henny Penny moment - I truly believed that the sky was falling down onto my head. Fears of isolation and social exclusion saw me wearing down the carpet pile at unearthly hours.

Thankfully my fears have not materialised. Far from it to be honest. As one door closed a dozen new ones opened and I feel brimming with enthusiasm right now. I think that's possibly why I'm so tired these days - I'm lying awake at night thinking, planning and generally being really excited about life and new things that are going on. It's great!!

I know I have spoken before about our home ed hall which we can use for £4 per hour but here are some photographs that I want to share. Pictures of some of the great Steiner bits and pieces which keep the little ones happy there and also the lovely little outdoor space.

There's also a kitchen, a piano and more. I think it's great.

Anyway, since the turn of the year we have managed to establish a monthly Book Club, drama sessions and movement to music sessions here in the hall for home ed families. This is in addition to the French class that was already going on here. I think it's fabulous that we have this building at such an accessible cost and have come across excellent folks who are very experienced and knowledgeable who are willing to lead sessions also at low costs.

Today I was contacted by a local artist to arrange a meeting to discuss an art project for local home ed children. We hope to arrange something to include some theory on art history, demonstrations of art techniques, time and guidance in creating a personal work of art and then the opportunity for the children to hold their own exhibition in a 'proper' art studio. Like I said I'm ever so excited!
I'm not sure I told you about it but last week we went to a juggling workshop for local home ed children too. We had a fantastic day, even making our own juggling balls from extra thick balloons and rice. If anyone wants to know more about the juggling balls just say - they were cheap and easy to make.
Goodness, so much going on. It's just as well I have all of this to think about because the weather has been dismal the past couple of days which means I've not had the chance to do as much in the garden. When my head's swirling with these things at least I'm not willing seeds to germinate and grow before my very eyes!

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

My Story - The Great Plague

I have almost finished pre reading The Great Plague by Pamela Oldfield and have made a start reading it to Hermione.

A fellow home educator introduced me to this series of diary style historical fiction for children, and I have to say upon the basis of what I have read so far I am very impressed. I have ordered another one about the Irish Potato Famine.

At the risk of them all disappearing from the shelves I'm also going to tip you off that some of the titles in the series are just one pence (plus p&p of course) on Amazon Market Place. A generous saving.

Off to put my feet up now after an exhausting day chatting with a friend and drinking tea whilst the children played happily together, followed by a couple of hours reading Roald Dahl poetry to Hermione and Miles in readiness for Hermione's Book Club session tomorrow. I've just commented to Craig how odd it is that I get so tired these days and perhaps I need to slow down a bit. I pondered out loud if I may need an iron boost as I have been anaemic in the past. Apparently it's most likely nothing to do with what I do - it's just a sign of getting old. Well, really...

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Oh, bloomin' heck - updated

We have another goldfish which looks in desperate need of euthanasia.

Hermione is out with Nana. I think I will do the deed and not wait till she gets home and sees it in this state. I've taken advice, I bought loads of stuff and yet the things still keep dying.

What on earth made me think goldfishes would be easy to keep?

Edited to add I have done the deed. When the last one was sick Amanda posted a very useful link which talked about humane euthanasia for goldfish. He is currently in a bowl of his tank water in the freezer. As the temperature drops he will pass away peacefully.

I'm quite concerned - about telling Hermione and also about the fact two have died now. We have done all we can but there must still be a problem somewhere. We can't keep getting fish for them to die. I hate it when people take pets on lightly and we can't keep taking fish on if for some reason they keep turning into floaters *sigh*.

I'll probably pull this post later today as Hermione reads my blog occasionally and I would rather she thought he passed away without suffering in his tank as opposed to the freezer.

Monday, 13 April 2009

Fruits and roots

I came across a saying the other day which I'd not heard before - 'by the fruits you shall know the roots'. It's very much like 'you reap what you sow' but I think I prefer this one.

Anyway, I've certainly enjoyed the fruits of our roots this weekend. Sometimes there are a few days in a row when life is all in order and it feels like negativity, and even the hum drum normality, just drops away. Here are some of the fruits we have enjoyed.

A delicious dinner with friends during which I tasted bread and butter pudding for the first time. Chocolate bread and butter pudding no less. I'm now wondering how I've managed all these years without it.

Finding Hermione at the window at 2.00am on Easter morning looking up at the full moon in search of the Easter Bunny - then snuggling up together with the curtains open and watching the full moon till we both drifted off.

The look of sheer delight on the children's faces when they realised the Easter Bunny had been - and what's more he had left me a chocolate egg this year as opposed to Good Housekeeping Magazine as he did last year.

Eggs - decorating, rolling and hunting for.

A full day working on my vegetable patch. Fired up and raring to go after having spent quite a bit of time recently with friends who work the land and operate an organic veg box scheme. I've picked up a fair few tips and ideas from them and enjoyed starting to put them into practice. My mangetout and nasturtium seeds are nestling in a drain pipe as we speak, just waiting to burst forth.

A restaurant family lunch with friends.

Joining with others to celebrate the season and the earth's abundance. Singing songs and sharing an alfresco feast.

The good fortune that no neighbours were at their windows when I dropped my trousers in the garden in search of a creepy crawly. Craig helped to retrieve a rather gruesome hard shelled green beetle for inside my trouser leg. I'd just spent a fair while crawling around in the bushes (also know as Miles' den). Shan't be doing that again for a while.

Finding the first green leaves on my potato plants. Yay!!!

Oh, it's hard to believe tomorrow will be back to normal, whatever that may be. Craig will be back at work, Hermione will be doing lessons again and I'll carry on sieving the soil in my carrot bed. Talking about beds I'm off to mine now with a book which I've bought for Hermione about the plague. Sounds grim but I'm hoping it won't be too heavy. It looks good and I'll be able to tell you more tomorrow.

Wishing you all a wonderful week full of glorious fruits and roots!

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Woollen gifts and wayward eggs

Liquorice All Sorts noughts and crosses anyone?

Woollen mobile

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Happy Easter everyone!

Friday, 10 April 2009

Looking for the positives in the recession

I know the current economic situation is dire but the situation does present some interesting opportunities which otherwise may not have come about.

We met with friends at one of our cities newest up and coming art venues called Empty Shop today. Here you can hire the whole space for £7 per day for artistic purposes - what a bargain! I'm hopeful that the local home ed community may be able to tap into this opportunity in some way. We certainly had fun there today.

The possibilities are endless and I only wish I were more artistic and could hold my own exhibition - one of those swish affairs you know with champagne and canapes. Back to reality I've got a bit of needlework to do to add the finishing touches to the children's Easter gifts. Got to dash.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Urrrggg, I feel sick

Hermione is having a friend round for a sleepover tonight - a first in this house. Bless them, they were waiting for me to come in from meditation to see if I would get into my nightie too and join them for a midnight feast.

I've now scoffed more chocolate than I could reasonably wave a big stick at, (all in the name of serving their best interests of course) and feel thoroughly ill. Oh, the joys of parenting....

Wednesday, 8 April 2009


We had a peek at a new mummy soon to be unveiled at our local Oriental Museum today. A very kind member of staff took us to the storage area and let us sneak a peak through the curtains. There is already one mummy on display there but soon there will be more.

I don't know how I would get by without Youtube. No matter what you are wondering about there is almost always a short clip on Youtube about it. Here's a thirty second low down on mummys.

We did lots more exciting stuff today which I must tell you about, but for now this rather tired mummy must dash to meet friends for pizza to celebrate a birthday.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Nature detectives

It doesn't take much detective work to find lots of natural interest and beauty at our local botanic gardens. We met with a couple of other families here earlier in the week and enjoyed a pleasant afternoon picnicking, playing and generally exploring.

Daffodil carpets.

Houses for beneficial insects. This is on my 'to do' list.

A very active beehive nestled behind the rose hip hedge. We watched as dozens of bees came in and out. There was lots of activity and much fanning around the entrance. I suspect that providing we don't get too much rain this summer someone may pick up a decent yield there in that spot. Bees are still on my 'to do' list too - but not for a while yet I think.

Tropical swamps, bamboo and dripping leaf tips.

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Monday, 6 April 2009

Random things

Thank you ever so much to Lynn for this award.

I'm to list six random things about me. Here goes...
1. I was born on a Wednesday but contrary to the popular rhyme I'm not full of woe.
2. I have only watched the sun set and rise again once and that was from a balcony in the centre of Rome. Enough said.
3. I regularly went out for a beer with a murderer and only learned of his status when armed police came to recapture him. Should Hermione or Miles ever move away to university I will check out their flatmates (and their friends) very very carefully.
4. My first career was in the legal profession, secondly homeopathy. I'm still pondering the third but have contemplated sex therapy (as a profession not a client) since watching Meet the Fockers.
5. I have a spurred heel which I refuse to have operated upon and suspect that by the time I am forty five my only foot wear option will be flip flops. Hey ho, they come in a variety of colours and styles these days.
6. Despite being British I have never ever tasted 'proper' tea.
I'm not going to nominate folks for this but would just ask that if you want to play along then please do so and leave a comment here so we can come and find you.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Spring time surprises

I came up with what I thought was a great idea for an egg hunt this weekend - an idea which avoided filling lots of plastic egg shells with sweet treats. I put together a jigsaw, turned it over so that I could write on the blank side and wrote a riddle leading to the treasure. The idea was then to break the jigsaw back into pieces and place each piece in a plastic egg shell for children to find and piece together until they were directed to the treasure. I was ever so smug with my idea - that is until I came to put the jigsaw piece in the egg shells and they were ever so slightly too big. Arrghhhh!!!! So, we ended up with twenty four pieces of jigsaw gift wrapped and hidden around the house plus lots of plastic egg shells filled with sweet treats and hidden in the garden after all. I can certainly recommend the jigsaw idea - just make sure your pieces fit in your plastic egg shells.

Chocolate bunnies hiding in stiffened crochet pots.

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Saturday, 4 April 2009

Rosemary boquet

A beautiful fragrant gift from a friend today. She suggested drying it for my wardrobe but I think it may end up topping roast potatoes!
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Friday, 3 April 2009

Herbs on wheels

I'm hoping I have solved our herb problem. Not last summer but the one before I didn't use as many herbs in cooking as I would like, because it often would have meant trekking across a muddy and hen plopped lawn to fetch some. Last year I planted a basket container and kept it near the door, but there was never enough. This year I have decided to utilise this rather sad old wheelbarrow. I've covered it with plastic in the hope the seeds will germinate quickly. Here's hoping to lots of handy herbs!
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Thursday, 2 April 2009

How To Build Community

How To Build Community

turn off your TV
leave your house
know your neighbors
look up when you are walking
greet people
sit on your stoop
plant flowers
use your library
play together
buy from local merchants
share what you have
help a lost dog
take children to the park
garden together
support neighborhood schools
fix it even if you didn't break it
have pot lucks
honor elders
pick up litter
read stories aloud
dance in the street
talk to the mail carrier
listen to the birds
put up a swing
help carry something heavy
barter for your goods
start a tradition
ask a question
hire young people for odd jobs
start a block party
bake extra and share
ask for help when you need it
open your shades
sing together
share your skills
take back the night
turn up the music
turn down the music
listen before you react to anger
mediate a conflict
seek to understand
learn from new and uncomfortable angles
know that no one is silent though many are not heard
work to change this

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Vitriolic shopkeepers in a climate of fear

Well, where do I begin? I’m going to skip the bit about how tired I’m feeling because that just seems par for the course these days and is getting bit boring. Just because I’m knackered doesn’t mean I’m not ecstatic and loving life, so I guess it’s not that important.

Hermione was invited to a celebration with friends today in a quaint little market town many miles from here. After a quick swoony moment of cake stand envy I left Hermione happy and content and took myself off to sneak a quick child free shopping excursion. I popped into a shop to buy incense and a couple of cards. The lady behind the counter was ever so pleasant and helpful. On my way out I asked if there were any charity shops in town. That was when things changed. I would not have imagined that such an innocent question could illicit such a venomous response were it not that I had heard it with my own ears. Apparently the town has lots of charity shops and the independent retailers don’t like them because they pay lower rates, most of their staff are volunteers and items are priced below their commercial value. Errmmm, yes, I hate to state the obvious but is that not the nature of charity shops? I thanked her for making free with her opinions and left, not wanting to spoil my excursion by entering into an argument. Thinking about it later I pondered how fearful someone must feel to behave in that way. Perhaps it is understandable that she may be fearful in this economic climate, but really, that’s no way to make it better.

Anyway, I’m delighted to say that I did eventually find a cup cake stand to fit the bill. Here it is. Do you like it? Saddly that is not my tidy kitchen and they are not my cakes. It's the picture from the Homebase website which is where I bought it from.

There was talk amongst parents at the celebration about how cup cakes are so ‘now’. One lady knew of a local stockist who charges £2.50 each for cup cakes – and they’re just basic sponge with lots of cream swirled on top. Now, even for someone as partial to cake as I am that is absolutely crackers!

This evening Hermione and Craig went on a brief woodland walk (Craig doesn’t ‘do’ nature) to pick some blossoms. They picked the smelliest blossoms I have ever encountered. My kitchen smells like a lift close to a nightclub on a Monday morning. Urgghhh. Having said that they are ever so pretty so I’m going to keep them and just burn the incense that I bought earlier.

The spring decorations are coming along nicely. I know it’s still quite some time to Easter but we do have a tendency to get over excited here. Always one step ahead when it comes to these things.

A picture I painted with a little bit of help from Miles and a lovely card which I picked up today. It says on the front, "Dance like nobody's watching; love like you've never been hurt. Sing like nobody's listening; live like it's heaven on earth."

Hermione announced this evening that if I listen very carefully to her and we approach lessons in the way she suggests, I will soon be a ‘proper’ home educator. I’m so pleased someone is finally going to show me the way, and by virtue of the fact it’s Hermione I think I must have taught her well *grin*. Seriously though, I fear there hasn’t been enough going on in the education stakes round here recently. Time to spend a bit more time at home focusing on whatever the topic of the day may be.

Things are coming along nicely in the garden. Just been looking at the weather forecast and I think there could be a frost risk here on Saturday night. I hope nothing is blighted.

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