Tuesday, 31 January 2012


We're really enjoying BrainPOP at the moment. We signed up for a free trial, which is still live a week on. I think we may well join properly once the trial has expired.

I'm a bit disillusioned with educational resources at the moment. Five In A Row was my resource of choice for early years, and without doubt, Galore Park for KS2, but now Hermione is moving into KS3 all I can find is really dull and more concerned with box ticking than expanding the mind.

All suggestions gratefully received. At the moment we're muddling along with project based work but that requires lots of input from me, and sometimes I would like to have a 'lesson in a box' to fall back on.

Sunday, 29 January 2012


It just occurred to me today that it's Candlemass this week. We dipped candles last year but I'm feeling quite inspired by these eggshell candles which I turned up here.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Toadstools, spindles and giant jaffa cakes

Well, as promised, here's the fruit of my spinning labors to date! To one who has never spun wool, it may look pretty pathetic, but believe me, this spinning malarkey is tricky. I guess it's one of those things which suddenly 'clicks'. I've not quite reached that stage yet.

One of the problems is that the wool seems to unravel itself, effectively unspinning, when I finish. I need to read up on 'setting the twist'.

Feeling encouraged by my drop spindle efforts, I've had another bash at Nana's wheel. It almost caused a domestic between Craig and I after dinner this evening, as he tried to explain to me about 'tension' and things. I don't understand technical terms - I just needed to know when to twist the knob!

To say it's a bit like patting your head while rubbing your stomach is an understatement. I can't believe the co ordination required even just to keep the wheel spinning in the same direction. Or perhaps I'm just exceptionally uncoordinated?

Friends are calling by tomorrow evening for cake and craft. One quite fancies herself as Rumpelstiltskin so I'm hoping she'll spin all my straw to gold! I'm not sure if she's ever spun before. I think it could be good entertainment!

With my spinning adventures done for the day I sat down this evening to make a needle felt toadstool for Miles' nature table. I'm much happier with this than my spinning achievements. It's a first attempt and could be better, but I'm happy with it and hopefully he will be too.

A little bird told me it's the time of year for gnomes to be digging up crystals! Can you see the little crystals which we collected by the seashore today to scatter by our gnomes?

A while ago a wise mama told me about a very interesting cake she had made. It was a huge jaffa cake! Craig loves jaffa cakes so when he grew another year younger last week, I decided to make one for him. well, I'm not sure where I went wrong but it didn't pan out as I had expected.

I made a flat sponge. That was fine, I'm quite good at flat sponges. I also made an orange jelly in a shallow dessert bowl. So far so good.

Shortly before dinner the plan was to flip the jelly out of the bowl onto the sponge, then cover with dark chocolate frosting. Sounds like it couldn't possibly be simpler.

Fast forward five minutes and the jelly was on top of the sponge but not in a smooth disc, it was like the Alps. Have you tried to apply a even layer of cake frosting to a mound of smashed up jelly? I'd advise you not to bother trying. I tried a spatula, a spoon, a knife and even my hands (both wet and dry) all to no avail.

In the end I decided the only thing to do was to put the jelly under the sponge and frost the top of the sponge. Comparatively easy.

I felt a bit of a failure and it has to be said, as birthday cakes go, it didn't exactly have the 'wow' factor, but Craig loved it and that's all that matters. I'll certainly make this again as an after dinner dessert. Sometimes rich cakes can be too heavy after a meal, and in my opinion, no matter what the time jelly on it's own is always too wobbly. This was a nice combination which did actually taste just like the real thing. A resounding success!

Thursday, 26 January 2012

All in a twist

How difficult can it be? I decided to add a drop spindle to my roving order and had visions of producing breath taking yarns with the flick of my wrist. Well, after a frustrating evening of tangles and yet more YouTube demonstrations I'm now giving in.

Perhaps I should have chosen a different day - one when I hadn't taken the children to the dentist and a hen to the vet. I was in a spin before I even began!

Tuesday, 24 January 2012


A lady shared this with me this evening. It made me smile so I'm sharing it with you.

A Smile costs nothing, but gives much.

It enriches those who receive, without making poorer those who give.

It takes but a moment, but the memory of it sometimes lasts forever.

None is so rich or mighty that he can get along without it, and none is so poor, but that he can be made rich by it.

A Smile creates happiness in the home, fosters good will in business, and is the countersign of friendship.

It brings rest to the weary, cheer to the discouraged, sunshine to the sad, and it is nature’s best antidote for trouble.

Yet it cannot be bought, begged, borrowed, or stolen, for it is something that is of no value to anyone, until it is given away.

Some people are too tired to give you a smile;

Give them one of yours, as none needs a smile so much as he who has no more to give.

Monday, 23 January 2012


Perhaps it's just another sign of the mild winter, but having had the windows open for a while this morning, I discovered a huge, drowsy, wasp on the blinds!

Urrrghh, the Geordies of the insect world!

Friday, 20 January 2012

Coffee or ice cream?

Have both!

I forgot to show you this when I posted about our trip to the ice cream parlor last weekend. I felt I needed a coffee afterwards to warm me up and it came with yet more, albeit dinky, ice cream! Cute.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012


Where would I be as a home educator without YouTube? I just don't know! I'm so thankful that there's a song for every occasion out there.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012


I'm not sure this is what I had in mind when I posted about needing snow for closure on 2011 and enforced rest. It's not snow; it's frost which is growing as deep as a light snow covering; building every day as the sun just can't seem to reach high enough to penetrate it.

Ah, flowers which a friend gave me this evening. Made me feel warm and fuzzy despite the sub zero temperatures!

Monday, 16 January 2012

What's on

On the needles...

This has to be the funkiest wool I've ever knit with. It's undoubtedly the quickest to grow when I'm knitting it up! Only trouble is it has tiny fibers which seem to irritate my eyes. It's yet another scarf as I can only cope with 'mindless' knitting these days. A pattern would be overload and require my undivided attention. With this I can rattle off a quick row while directing the children to get their shoes and coats on!

On the Kindle...

I have been wanting to read this since reading this. I love to explore a women's perspective of a story you may (or may not) have already heard. Comparing, contrasting and generally figuring out the differences.

It's a long one and I need to crack to it as I have a couple of interesting looking books in waiting too.

On the MP3 player...

She's a bit mainstream and poppy in comparison to what I generally listen to, but I love her voice. Go girl! For once the X Factor seems to have done good for someone.

She's playing at a venue in the region soon and I was initially keen to go, but it's on a night I meditate with friends so have decided to pass. My bank balance will be appreciative of my choice.

On the floor..

Miles, learning to skip. more often on the floor than his feet!

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Friday, 13 January 2012


Some women think you can never have enough shoes. Personally I feel you can never have enough scatter cushions.

Changing season is something that often prompts me to buy new cushions; well I say buy new ones, I usually just recover the existing ones.

I love the selection at Fabric Rehab and have pulled together four of my top spring cushion choices, from which I'm going to pick three.

I think I may well forego the top one as it's a bit too orange for my kitchen. I'll make a final decision tomorrow but I suspect it will be the bottom three.

Thursday, 12 January 2012


Where is winter? Are we to have a winter this year? I feel like I've not had real closure on 2011 because we've not got to sit holed up in the living room, in front of a big open fire, drinking hot chocolate, reading stories and watching the snow fall.

I've enjoyed being rendered nigh on housebound for a couple of weeks each winter in recent years. I realise now that I really benefit from that enforced slower pace; at a time when we're programmed by nature to take it easy, rest deeply and think calmly. How is one to come even close to anything like deep rest and reflection without three feet of snow? If the snow doesn't materialize soon I think I need to give that one some real thought. I'm not quite ready to dance through the tulips with a spring in my step. I want my winter rest.

We wandered out to a local wooded area earlier in the week. It was scarcely coat weather - certainly not big hat and scarf weather! The plan was to find a tree we really liked and photograph it; which we did. Here it is below. Not a particularly large or striking tree, but it's the chosen one and who am I to argue?

The plan is to return each month and record it's progress, in words and pictures. I only hope we see it through. I'm so good at starting these projects which require sustained effort, yet not always so good at seeing them through. No staying power, or always looking for a new challenge? I'd prefer to think it's a case of the latter.

I was astounded to see these daffodils shooting away.

Yet more surprised to spot this clump coming into bud. A sharp frost could kill them and I guess that would be the end of those little daffs till next year. Oh, how I hate this topsy turviness!

Green bursting through here, there and everywhere!

There was lots of activity on the woodland floor with squirrels and small birds. I tried in vain to capture one squirrel with a particularly bushy tail, but alas he was camera shy and lead me quite a dance. Can you see him?

What a wonderful tail!

We can still see you!

We can still see you too Hermione. It's hard to hide in shocking pink wellies!

Perhaps I ought not to say this, but here's hoping to flurries of large flakes very soon.

Monday, 9 January 2012


Now, I'm not a big fan of the movies, and have to say I wasn't hugely impressed with Chipwrecked which we went to see yesterday, although the children loved it. It was actually our first ever successful trip to the cinema in so far as we all stayed in till the end.

Anyway, I did make a mental note that a couple of the trailers showed films which may have educational potential.

Firstly there was War Horse which may well appeal to Hermione as she's a Morpurgo fan. Need to check out it's historical accuracy first though. I don't want to present it to her as history if it's not. Morpurgo's usually fairly accurate but you never know what the film makers may have done to it.

The second one, I'm hoping someone can help me with. It was an animation if I remember rightly, something to do with Atlantis. Does anyone know what it is called?

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Lazy notice or memory board

I've had a large notice board lying around for ages. I've loads of scrappy odds and ends of leaflets and things lying around too, and I can never find the one I want when I want it! So, I decided to do something about it.

I covered the board with a piece of fabric I had in my stash, and I have strung ribbons and raffia across which I received on wrapped gifts from friends this Christmas. A good way to remember special times and hopefully get a bit more organised.

I'm a lazy crafter these days. The other day it was fabric glue, this time it was an upholstery staple gun. It's great when you can see results quickly; I think this was less than half an hour from first thought to being on the wall!

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Warm welcome up the patch

Now that natural food is much more scarce, our beasties need extra food in the afternoon. We used to fill up the trough on a morning and that would last all day. That's not always so now. They know as soon as they see me coming that they're going to get tasty treats (they often get grains which are their favorite at this time). What a racket they make! I can't believe that I spent years worrying about the potential noise of a cockerel - cockerels have nothing on a bunch of ducks! I'm quite certain that they can be heard at the other end of the village sometimes!

Sometimes I'm cornered when I come to leave the greenhouse where the grain bins are stored. They block my way and jump up, often till I relent and put the bin lid down.

'It's mine' said the rabbit.

'It's mine' said the hen.

'It's mine!' said the duck.

It amazes me how, despite being domesticated in so far as we clean their houses and put in fresh bedding, they still follow the seasons. Here below you can see how they have dragged lots of fallen leaves into one of their houses, so much so you can't see their original bedding. Must be feeling chilly!

They've taken to laying in the warmth and comfort of the play house couch. Sheesh, the little tinkers!

Can you see the hidden face here? I can! Certainly two eyes and a nose at least. I can also see all the mud they've brought in on their feet!

Friday, 6 January 2012

Three Kings Day

Yesterday we baked fairy cakes, and when cool, I hid a tiddly wink in one. The person to find the tiddly wink in their cake was to be crowned king with a crown the children made together.

The tiddly wink wasn't in Miles cake but he somehow came to be the one wearing the crown anyway.

It's not an occasion we usually mark, but did so as it was in our Little Acorn guide and it sounded interesting. I knew the children would find the cake part fun. Just to clarify, the guide didn't suggest tiddly winks in fairy cakes - I think it was a dried lima bean in bread. We improvised.

So, there you have it, so far as I know one of the final celebrations/notable days of the Christmas period. The three kings arrived at the stable. Time to well and truly return to the grind.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012


Sitting at the poolside with my knitting this evening, waiting for Hermione and her mate to actually get out, I thought I was about to develop RSI. Thankfully I had a couple of magazines with me.

Now, I don't often read celeb type mags and it would be a huge fib to suggest for one minute that I'm 'in the groove' or whatever the term may be for hip people these days.

I guess what did surprise me is just how completely not in the groove I am!

Did you know that if someone offers to vajazzle you it probably won't involve being handed a packet of dinky chocolate buttons with colourful balls on?

Vajazzling seems to be the latest celeb trend which involves waxing and be-jeweling your lady garden.

Urgghhh that just looks like metalic shaving rash to me. Can't help but wonder if it could trigger store alarms too. How would you explain that?

Now, this one is better! Why the heck didn't someone tell me about these alternative greetings before I bought my Christmas cards?

Next time my arm starts to ache I'll keep on knitting. There are something I'd just rather not know.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Flowers, acorns, fungi and dreams

Having woken to gale force winds and torrential rain, I didn't have huge hopes for fun excursions today. Add to that car issues and email troubles and I might as well have not bothered changing out of my nightie.

Did you know that if you spill a cup of coffee on your dashboard, in some makes of car it can make it's way into a fuse box, and cause all of the electrical functions in your car to take on a life of their own? No, neither did I. I do now though. What I need to know is who spilt the coffee. Answers on a postcard please. I didn't spill any and the children don't drink coffee. Should be a no brainer but some folks just won't put their hands up.

The other day Miles and I made this beautiful herb sachet. I had intended to hang it inside of the linen cupboard in the hope it would fragrance the bedding with restful aromas, but I decided we all needed to feel chilling vibes day to day, so hung it on the outside instead!

Here's what we put in; lemon balm, lavender and chamomile heads.

Today saw us (predominantly Miles and I) embark upon a program of Steiner style life enrichment with Little Acorn Learning. I must admit to having just 'jumped in' today without really pre reading or planning. Yet, we still enjoyed what we did very much. I look forward to being better prepared in future, but also relieved to have learned that when needs must, it is something you can just 'jump in' there and then.

I would like it so much if Hermione were willing to embrace more Steiner crafts and ways. I like it and it has always puzzled me why, my down to earth, outdoorsy, story loving, crafty girl, is so entirely anti Steiner. I think perhaps her first Steiner experiences were not the positive experience I would have liked them to have been, and that has maybe stayed with her? I don't know; all I do know is that she came over to me when I was looking through the materials this evening and said in all seriousness, but with a very cheeky grin on her face, 'Stand back from the acorns Mama. Stand back. Too many acorns and gnomes make you scary!'

Over the years it's never really bothered me that Hermione is openly anti Steiner, whereas Miles really embraces it. Horses for courses and all that, each to their own. After all, we don't do Steiner in a big way; her disdain shouldn't be a big deal for me. We don't follow Steiner principles as regards academia in any way whatsoever. For us it just provides some pattern and rhythm to the way we tend to live anyway - outdoorsy, crafting, storytelling, season watching type of people. Why does Hermione strongly resist something which in many respects is just a name for many of the things we do anyway? Perhaps she would rather not take what we do and try to fit it into an 'ideology' or 'philosophy' box? That would make sense as really that's only right - it's important to find a box that fits your shape as opposed to squeezing into a different shaped box.

I guess I'm just going to have to chill and accept that she does now goes online, has a mobile phone, texts friends, goes on sleepovers etc. and whats more, no amount of watercolors or felt gnomes will make my growing girl stay young, and nor would I want her to. I just desperately don't want her to become consumed by a fast paced society and throw away her earthiness (if such word exists!)

While Nana and Hermione set to work rustling up a pan of soup and some apple crumble, Miles and I played Fungi Top Trumps. Well, blow me, I was quite surprised at the entertainment value of a pile of mushroom cards!

After playing the game we laid them all out and then separated them into categories; poisonous, just a bit poisonous and not at all poisonous. I agreed to take pictures of his favorites from each category to share with the world.

This was his favorite 'poisonous' one. What's not to love about those fairy tale toadstools? Oh now I know - they're toxic!

This was his favorite 'just a bit poisonous' one.

This was my all round favorite - partly because of it's name and partly because I spot this growing in various places where we regularly meet with friends; I'll now be able to bore them with tales of how I know what this fungi is called!

Favorite 'not at all poisonous' one.

Just in case anyone is wondering, I got the cards from the BBC Nature Detectives Club. They're very flimsy. I must hunt out my laminator before Miles decides to take them out and about to play with friends.

I'm pleased to say that last night saw me have a good night's sleep. I think in part that was because I had finished my walk on The Progress and was no longer guessing what may happen next. The downside is I've just downloaded the next in the series onto my kindle and will have to make sure I don't get too drawn into it tonight!

Come what may with my bed time reading, I still think I'll sleep more soundly tonight. I think the beginning of the new academic term has been weighing very heavily on my mind. I've been having performance anxiety! Well, what can I say? It's only day one! However, it's been a good day with both of the children happily settling down to doing a fair chunk of academic stuff. It makes a change to start on a high and not have to be cajoling everyone out of holiday mode - and for that I'm very thankful!

Sleep well m'dears.