Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Scraggy hen, scraggy hen...

...it's not your fault, (sang to the Friends 'Smelly Cat' tune)


So relieved to find this link and discover that Henrietta is moulting. There is a reason for her sudden extreme scragginess. Oddly enough, none of them have ever moulted before.

Sheesh, she's not exactly a pretty sight right now when I'm sitting out the back with my coffee and my crocheting!

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Monday, 28 September 2009

Party prep

Miles is to have his first ever party this weekend.

We went into town today to buy some dried fruit, napkins, jelly, bits and bobs. He was ever so excited shopping for his party. I thought it would be good to involve him in the preparations but I now fear he may be hyper for the rest of the week. He's also now expressing preferences - he wants a birthday cake that looks like a teddy bear. Perhaps I should have just made the cake, decided what it looked like and surprised him.

It's certainly going to be a recycled birthday. No cash to splash on flashy gifts or party bag tat. Not sure if I would want to do that now even if I could actually.

We have a beautiful sturdy wooden garage for him which I traded for on our local community currency exchange.

A handful of his little friends are coming round to help us celebrate and a lady has very kindly offered to come and do a Punch and Judy show, (she does it professionally and has the real deal) in exchange for Craig doing some upholstery cleaning for her. How cool is that!

A friend has offered to help with the baking, and although she doesn't know it yet, Hermione will be making a pull string piniana (spelling????) from an old cardboard box - also some cute little rock people and chunky recycled crayons for prizes and party favours.

All wrapped up with lashings of love!

Just hoping and praying now that the weather will be fine. Pack away your rain mats folks. I want sunshine!

Anyway, got to dash. I'm off to bed. Tired after figuring out how to lapbook child labour. 'Are you educating our child or trying to turn her into a political activist?' Craig asked tonight. Okay, okay, I get the point *grin*.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Harvest home

It's that time of year again and I love it.



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Saturday, 26 September 2009

So much to smile about...

Grapes and berries - which incidentally looked divine but tasted foul.

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Picking apples.


Stopping to smell the flowers.


The wonders of a rose petal with a ladybird on it.

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Talking to the animals.


Team work.

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Thoughtfulness and generosity. Hermione is now the new proud owner of these books and she's one happy bunny.


Pressing virginia creeper leaves to preserve the colour.


A night spent doing a jigsaw as a family in preference to watching TV.

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Hearth cat in a pool of wax.

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Other things which have made me smile in the last day or two are; having had the six monthly all clear from the dentist (me and Hermione), tight rope walking whilst harnessed high in the trees (Hermione not me), persuading Craig to dig a fire pit in the garden, sunshine, finding a hen in the attic, collecting sage for decorating and drying, finding our first conkers of the year and more...

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Romantic gifts

It's our wedding anniversary in a few days time. He had better not be thinking along these lines.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Northumbria Water and stuff...

Well, what have we done today?

Miles went to his group this morning. He is coming round to it but still hates it when it's very noisy - as it can often be with numerous small children and a piano in a small enclosed space! He much prefers having friends round to play and going to other people's homes to play, and I can understand that. Not everyone is comfortable in groups.

After lunch a lady from Northumbria Water came to talk to the 7 - 11 age group of our local home ed community about the water cycle and a little bit about treatment works. I had organised the talk and have to say it was quite stress free. They didn't charge for coming out so I just had to sort out room hire - which is quite straight forward since we have a special hall for our use. There's a huge difference between organising a trip/talk where it's free and folks can just turn up as compared with places where they need precise numbers and you have to chase folks for money.

The talk was fine. The lady was very good in comparison to the man we saw at the recycling centre a few weeks ago. I still came away querying whether she had imparted any information that I could not have done quite simply at home. I don't mean that in an awful way. She was good. I just think perhaps that if I come to organise further home ed trips/talks I might try to make sure it's something I can't offer myself. For example, I didn't have enough information to be able to teach Hermione about the history of Durham Cathedral and answer all of her questions - therefore it was great to go and have an education officer tell us all about it. Just as I had to turn to a bee keeper when I wanted to show her a bee hive. I'm going to ponder this.

Perhaps I'm just pondering because after watching this over the past few days the lady had a hard act to follow *grin*.

This evening I have read this book which a friend brought along for Hermione today. She knows that Hermione loves this series so snapped up a couple when she saw then in a charity shop. I read it first in case there were any grizzly bits but it's fine. Sobering thoughts but no gratuitous details if you know what I mean. It has taught me a lot about the FANY.

While I was reading Nana made these two necklaces below. The first is beaded felt and the second is crocheted wire. She's clever isn't she?


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On a local home ed list someone posted about an article she had read in her local newspaper. Here is part of it.

"It's about time someone took charge and reminded pupils that they are not at school to be individual people or to think for themselves. For too long .. students have been allowed a level of creative independence and radical thought that has no place in society. At school they should be taught to fit into the societal structure that made learning institutions formidable places and turned out young adults who firmly knew their place and did not challenge authority ..."

Unbelievable eh?

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Bringing in the pumpkins.


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I wish I could have been bothered to go outside. I'm sick of feeling sick. I never thought I would say it, but I'm looking forward to my next hospital appointment in the hope of getting more answers.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

It's over...

...and I'm trying not to scream and shout - but the DISHWASHER is dead!!!!

Need to work something out - and quickly!

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Ganesha Festival

We were honoured and privileged to be part of a Ganesha Festival today. We are not Hindus and were under no obligation to partake or convert - we were welcomed to observe, partake to the extent we felt comfortable and generally immerse ourselves in what was a spectacular occasion.

When we arrived we were served breakfast. It was a rather spicy sort of porridge made with rice as opposed to oats. I think it was called pongo. It had nuts and spices in it. There was a pale green puree on the side which looked like pistachio ice cream but wasn't. As much as we would have liked to have tucked in, it was very spicy. Nana could probably have managed it later in the day but not for breakfast. Hermione and I couldn't manage it at all - but then we never order from the 'hot' section of the curry menu either *grin*.

After breakfast we observed prayers and the calling in of various deities. Incense burning and bell ringing. Offerings were made to Ganesha.


Following this formal part there was singing and music.

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There was a workshop running alongside the other happenings where children could make Ganesha elephants. This is Hermione's creation. I don't know about you but I think it's a miraculous transformation of an old plastic milk bottle!


Lots of fabulous dancing.


At lunch time we had various spicy dishes, (non of which were familiar despite the fact that I consider Indian to be one of my favourite kinds of food), followed by an Indian dessert. I think Hermione was surprised to learn that what we think of as a traditional Indian dish may not necessarily be what Indian people eat - it's adapted to our taste.

I loved the dessert and asked a lady how it was made. She told me it was rice, cream, fruits and a special kind of brown sugar which is in lumps! I'm not sure I will be able to recreate it from that, but may certainly make further enquiries as to this brown lumpy sugar, as from what she said I think that is an important ingredient.

What a day! I am so pleased that we were able to go along and experience this. I was also pleased for the people who organised the festival as it was their aim to open it up to non Hindus, to share their beliefs and culture and they certainly did this today. It would have been nice if there had been more folks like ourselves there - we were very much in the minority - but hopefully in time people will come to see that it is about sharing as opposed to converting and will go along and have the special experience we had today.

This has restored my enthusiasm for introducing my family to different faiths and cultures. Some of you guys may recall my efforts at a household Diwali evening last year - yes the one where Craig and Hermione thought that would be great providing it didn't clash with the X Factor *sigh*.

Last but not least, thanks to Jude, who I know calls by here occasionally. If you had not mentioned it I would not have known about it!

Friday, 18 September 2009

What a load of crap - politicians and toilets!

We set out this morning in search of an example of the underfloor heating system the Romans used. Suprisingly, we were not diaaspointed!



As an added bonus we also enjoyed a little bit of togetherness on Roman toilets...


...and marvelled at how thick the walls in those forts were!

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Hermione received another reply from an MEP in response to her honey bee campaign. I think she is hoping to have Craig scan the responses and post them on her site for all to see. One reply from a female MEP was quite impressive but this guys reply which arrived today may as well have just said 'buzz off'. Hmmm, I guess it's an important lesson for her to learn about politicians

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Going back in time

After a few days working around the clock on our ever so tiresome and on going insurance dispute, I wasn't quite sure if I was awake or asleep when I walked down stairs today. Full on fog.

It was the home ed Book Club today and I had prepared activities but felt unable to string my words together. Nana came to the rescue and agreed to take Hermione (and the activities). Where would I be without her?

What do you do when you're feeling weary and foggy? Going back to bed felt like a good option but Miles didn't fancy that. Instead we stepped back in time. We revisited the spot where we placed his placenta to rest.

Standing there, I felt as if I could experience and harness all of the power and love in the world. It was amazing and reminded me quite starkly of the absolute polarities in the state of mothering, home making and relating. Highs and lows, fogs and sunshine, ups and downs, laughter and tears, dancing/crawling out of bed, songs and sighs ....

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

In the garden

After a brief dalliance with summer last week, autumn seems to have set in again. That's okay. I'm ready. Ready to welcome the changing season and all that brings.

Gathering seeds to dry for next year. I've not done this before. I'm just going to place them in a paper bag in a cool dry place and see if they last till spring. There's nothing to loose and possibly lots of flowers to gain!


The tail end of this seasons veggies. I pulled out the runner beans from the greenhouse the other day. They have produced continuously for a few months. Some of the last ones were rather tough. They'll just do in stews and well cooked currys.

I took some to friends on Saturday evening, friends who very kindly invited us around for dinner - rustic pasta with wild mushrooms, goats cheese and truffle oil accompanied by herby scones - delish. I filled my boots but still had room for melting moment cookies with ice cream and fruit coulis. I really need to brush up on my cookery skills and return many invites. I just get scared cooking for folks who can make their own pasta and ice cream!

Oh, then of course there is always the expanding pants issue!


Remember months and months ago I put some apricot pits in the fridge wrapped in tissue paper? You probably thought I was crackers but they did sprout in the end and here they are at the end of year one.

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Monday, 14 September 2009

Sunday, 13 September 2009

The Romans return

The Romans returned to one of our local country parks as part of the English Heritage Open Days event this weekend.

We enjoyed a day of cavalry re enactments, weaving, pottery and more. Excellent!




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I am so impressed that it was a Roman event when we happen to be studying the Romans. I may put in a special request next year for the Vikings or Victorians *grin*.

Friday, 11 September 2009


I'm breaking one of my golden rules and posting twice in one day to explain the arrival of the large pants above.

I have managed to ignore the voices in my head and the aches in my bones. I'm now hoping that this picture here, (my proverbial fridge door for want of a better explanation), will have the desired effect.

'Why do your trousers make that pattern on your tummy?' asked Hermione this week. 'Oh, because they're special' I muttered, making a mental note to eat more lettuce and drink less pinot grigio.

Keep on expanding at the rate I am and I'll be cheering if I actually fit into these pants come Christmas *sigh*.

Don't get me wrong, I'm certainly not seeking some distorted unattainable sexist image - (sorry Craig, but it's time to give up hope if you've not already). I just want to be healthy. I don't want to go on trying to justify a situation which impacts upon my physical health, with all that, 'but I'm happy in my skin as it is' clap trap. Surely, in order to do the best by my children I have to do the best by myself, and that means looking after my body, after all I only have the one.

Oh, crickey. This is all getting a bit heavy (pardon the pun). How can you tell it's weighing (*groan*)on my mind right now?

Hive visit

One of the highlights of this week has had to be when Hermione and I went with a friend and his mum to join a local bee keeper and observe him checking one of his hives.

Hermione looked a bit uneasy at first. The weather was very windy so a lot of bees stayed around the hive when it was opened. She was very calm though and quickly adjusted to being surrounded by buzzing bees.


Here to the left you can see the queen bee which has been marked with a special paint on it's abdomen.


That odd looking thing beside the hive is a smoker. The keeper uses this to calm the bees.

The piece of glass with a white looking paste on the top of the hive is a treatment to help kill the varroa mite.


Here are the base sheets of wax that go into the hive. The bees draw them out with thier own wax to make honey comb and create cells in which the queen can lay eggs.

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I do love home ed. We're not confined to reading about things. We can go out and experience them!