Wednesday, 31 August 2011

A busy Summer

Well times have been busy, so busy in fact that I have just realsied that I haven't blogged since May. Now is that good or bad?
My lovely sister Emma got married in July, that took up a huge amount of my time, what with the super hen weekend in Bournemouth and the dress fittings etc not to mention the sewing tasks I had to squeeze in along side educating the children.
Enjoy the piccies!:-

The giant pink hat above was my first challenge....
Then came the call to craft the postbox....

Now I had intended to have these photos come out below my lessons needed me thinks!

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

The Moon Walk

This coming Saturday night, Kat Patrick, Jenny Ballam and myself are walking 26.2 miles in order to raise breast awareness and money for research into breast cancer.
We have been training now since Christmas, mainly alone but on occasions all together.
I had initially thought that this challenge would be easy, 26 miles, no problems! I thought I was pretty fit. WRONG!!!! Although I participate in a Jive dance classs every week and was when I started out jogging a couple of times a week (a miles or so), walking (power walking) is different.
Thankfully I realised this fact a good three months back so have been able to build up my walking stamina since that time. Back then up to 8 miles seemed such a long way, now it is a warm up. It really is incredible how quickly you can build yourself up when you follow a training plan.
I think the extent of this challenge really hit me about five weeks ago when I walked 13 miles. For the last three miles of that stint my pelvis felt like it was going to fall apart. I could have cried and did when I was condemned by Mr S for taking 'such a long time' to get home!
Thankfully 20 miles didn't seem too bad (well not whilst I was doing it, my feet suffered as soon as I stopped and I struggled to press the clutch to drive home).
So why am I doing this? Firstly my lovely grandmother died of breast cancer when I was only eight, secondly because it's a great challenge and thirdly because like every wild woman, I need the space!
Please think of me between midnight Saturday and 9am Sunday.....xx

Saturday, 30 April 2011

All change....

Well what a strange weekend I'm having! One minute life's events seems really quite consuming and create rather a sombre mood and the next I am dancing around and feeling totally elated....joyous times!

In case you are wondering....The continuing silent problem continues, but my heart leapt with joy when yesterday I learned that my beautiful sister was making a surprise visit to the UK, having not been here for ten whole years. She moved to America when she met and married an American man. I have loved spending the past two days in her company. I miss her so much.
Looking forwards to her visiting with all her little darlings for the whole of July xx

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Don't forget to smell the flowers......

I remember a friend of mine saying this to me once when I expressed how busy I was at that time.
I have been really busy recently and this short saying is constantly running through my mind.
I only noticed the Magnolia trees in bud just two weeks ago, for the first time this Spring. Usually I am aware of their beautiful buds ready and waiting to burst into flowers for weeks before they actually burst, this year it seems to have happened so quickly and already the pretty petals are falling and the bright green leaves are taking their place.
I spent so much time waiting through the long Winter for Spring to come and suddenly I feel I have been so caught up in my waiting that I have almost missed the events that amaze me every year.
Why I wonder is life like that? One minute you seem to have endless hours on your hands and nothing to fill them and at other times you are so busy that there don't seem to be enough hours in the day!
Time to slow down and enjoy the scent of those beautiful flowers, the sound of the birds calling, the lengthening days and the warm sunshine against my skin.
Don't forget to smell those beautiful flowers xxx

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Mother's day

It's taken me rather a long time to post this one, life seems to be in the fast lane again at the moment....

I wanted to share my lovely Mother's day treats with you.
My lovely children allowed me to sleep in until 8am (well they kept popping in to ask if I was awake prior to that)! I then came down stairs to be greeted with my breakfast, already made and a beautiful gift, made by Poppy.
Poppy had made me a lovely bag, as she knew I had been thinking of making one. She also wrapped her last four Jellybeans left over from Christmas and popped those inside. Poppy also created a beautiful card, and wrote a poem for me.....arrr these times are precious! Ruby and Fenton also made lovely cards. I shall treasure these memories xx

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Adventures alone

Myself and two good friends have entered into the London Moonwalk this coming May. We will be power walking around London with many thousands of other women (and men), to raise awareness and money for breast cancer research.
I was talked into this event by my lovely cousin, and managed to get a further fourteen people to agree to join us. As I said we now stand at a group of three!
In the early days, I had thought I would go into this event with no training, I thought I was pretty fit as I dance for three hours a week and run several short wrong and stupid!!
Power walking uses totally different muscles to other types of training. So glad that I have realised that now when I still have time to work on my fitness and technique.
Anyway, yesterday I enthusiastically ventured off to Blenheim to walk the grounds.
Armed with my MP3 player and mobile phone, I strutted my stuff for about seven miles. It is a long time since I have ventured away from the usual butterfly house and main palace, in fact last time I want off the beaten track was on a sponsored roller skate for 'Ponies in need' with my lovely school friend Joanna.
What a beautiful walk. Walking is so lovely I have come to realise, and walking alone too. I think we all need to do it. I find myself gazing romantically at my surroundings. Blenheim is full of the most amazing trees. Ancient trees. Then there are the many pheasants, walkers, mum's pushing push chairs, jogger's etc. Being by yourself isn't lonely, (or I certainly don't feel it), it's therapeutic, time-out from the goings on of daily life. I sing, think, gaze in admiration at the world around me, give thanks for the beauty I am able to experience.
Towards the end of my walk it began to rain. Lightly at first and then it poured. The enthusiasm was not stifled by mother natures actions. Rain adds a new dimension and something else to gaze and wonder at.
Another day of romancing the ordinary..............

Sunday, 27 March 2011

It's finally arrived!!

I have really felt like I have been suffering recently. Not with illness but more along the lines of becoming totally impatient with the dull, cold weather and the grey skies. Finally after what seems, months of waiting, I have realised that it is here! Spring has finally come to us.
This last week has been totally beautiful with sunshine and rising temperatures daily. I've been able to centre my attention to getting out the gardening tools and digging the soil over ready to plant. I've even planted some seeds in trays in the green house and some flower seeds into a freshly dug bed. I am truly inspired to have a cut flower garden this year and praying for better luck in my attempts then last year. (I only grew weeds!).
I recently read that March is the time to laugh, play, make love and get out there and enjoy the new freedom that the season brings! xxxx

Thursday, 24 March 2011

The birthday celebration

Birthday's are marked, recorded and celebrated in many ways across the globe. I remember how special I felt as a child every year when my 'special' day came around. The excitement, the feeling of being really important, the extra attention you received and the lovely gifts of course!
When I met my husband in my late teens, he used to spend a whole week celebrating his birthday. Everything he wanted to do and did was excused with 'I am allowed, it's my birthday!'
But there was nothing that I remember from childhood that happened every year, no special ceremony or little event that took place. So when I had children of my own, I wanted to create something that they would remember, something that would be special within 'our' family unit. Initially it became balloons. The birthday child would awaken to find a mass of brightly coloured balloons tied to their chair making them feel like they were sitting on some kind of 'balloon throne'. After a couple of years this was added to with our birthday ring. (shown above).
Tim cut the wooden ring out at work and drilled the holes in it. I bought some lovely beeswax candles and brass candles holders from Myriad and places those in the drilled holes, then proceeded to make the felt characters using wooden dolly pegs, which also fit into the holes. A friend gave me a lovely ceramic rose-shaped candle holder, which stands in the middle.
Of course there is also the all important 'birthday cake', well that area of my life needs a little work to say the least, so we'll not go there!!
I would love to hear what 'special' things others do to mark their birthdays xx

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Days 4, 5, 6 and 7 on the 'Home Front'

Day 4
Fenton asked for Marmite on toast for breakfast this morning....not sure that Marmite was available during the war but hey ho! Couldn't believe that he left most of starting to look at left overs with a creative view....what could Marmite on toast become? (It became chicken food).
Today (Thursday) we are meeting with other members of our home school co-op for a session on 'The Home Front'. To us this is a review of life throughout the past week. My children are quite knowledgeable on the subject now. Living the experience is such a good way of learning.
Poppy and I both dressed up today, I even dug out a pair of those wonderful tights with the line down the back! (Have to confess they were severely laddered by the end of the day....not practical, perhaps the tea staining or gravy browning with the black pencil line was in fact more efficient!).
Ruby and Fenton gave in to peanut butter today.......then Ruby decided she wanted to be back on rations!
I, determined to see this through, looked on longingly at the bananas and cheese that friends devoured  next to me....I will not give in, they had no choice in the 1940's.
Dinner- some leftover stew from yesterday (I made vast quantities), with added curry powder, along with mashed potatoes.

Day 5, 6 and 7

Well we managed to stick to our goal for the remainder of the week and our verdict is...that actually it wasn't too bad. I was rather over cautious with the use of eggs and cheese and we actually had some left at the end of the week. We also had some butter and quite alot of sugar too. I guess in the war years this sugar would have been reserved for making jam in the autumn as a way of preserving the hedgerow fruits.
On our final day we had a party to celebrate the end of the war. We decorated the dining room with red, white and blue bunting and held union jack flags. Rations continued for about nine years after the war had finished so we remained on rations for the rest of that day. Sunday lunch consisted of a roast dinner without the meat!

Thanks for reading....I will add photos when blogger lets me!

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Life on the 'Home Front' continued....

Day 3

The children were packed off to my friend's house in their 1940's gear today and their packet lunches wrapped in greeseproof paper - this consisted of stale bread, apples, carrot sticks and cucumber!
Dinner - Vege stew with bread (more stale) and sausages (vegetarian ones for us). Fenton stripped the fridge of many of our rations this afternoon, gobbling up a large amount of milk, some cooking chocolate and the sausages!!! Three year olds...arrrrrr!!

Tim and I ate out for lunch today. You could do that during the war. Resturants weren't rationed and meals had to be capped at 25p.
We pretended we saw a soldier whilst out and gave the children a small pack of sweets each for a treat.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Life on the 'Home Front' continued....

Day two of our 'Home Front' adventures.....
We started the day with some lovely porridge with golden syrup. No one is complaining, it is amazing how easy things are when you don't give the children a choice of cereals!
We then proceeded to make some bread to hopefully last a few days and some tasty 'Anzac' biscuits (more oats)! So lunch consisted of fresh bread and salad. (we figured that if we could grow items we could have them).
Tuesdays we are joined by the children from another home schooling family, so we took the opportunity to focus on life on the HF with them too.
A member of our church came to the house this afternoon with her lovely husband to talk to the children about her experience of life during the war years. Joan had grown up in Salford, Manchester by the docks. Her talk was very interesting and kept all of the children quiet and rooted to the spot for almost two hours, even Fenton, who actually fell asleep!
The children had prepared many questions for Joan, who was thrilled to be able to share her experiences.
Dinner - Jacket potatoes with baked beans and salad. Normally we would have cheese with this meal, but not this week!
 Pud - Pancake day, so pancakes made with one egg and part milk part water. Not bad, in fact much better then my usual effort.

Just as the children were ready for bed this evening, we played the 'air raid' siren which we found online. Tim had padded out the area under the table in the dining room with blankets and cushions and had set up a lamp for effect. We read the children their bedtime stories in our make believe 'Morrison' shelter. Of course they thought this was great fun! (Anyone questioning our sanity yet??).

Monday, 14 March 2011

Life on the 'Home Front'

As part of our project on World War 2, we thought it might be fun and interesting to try living on war time rations for a week.
The children became very enthusiastic about this idea and suggestions about us all wearing 1940's clothes, playing war time games and living without certain luxuries began to come about.

So here we go with our week living on the 'Home Front'. Gas masks ready.........

Everyone is really quite excited about our weeks project, especially the fact theat official 'school work' has been suspended for the week (they haven't worked out that they are learning through experience on this one)!

Poppy and Ruby dressed up in their 'War-time' clothes for church this morning. Our family does a cake sale once a month to support a child in Bangladesh, so this month all of the recipes were taken from our war-time cook book. The parishoners were delighted, altough a little sceptical about the food! They all happily shared information about their experiences of the war years.

Once again the children dressed in their simple clothes and today carried their gas masks (well covered boxes made to look like gas mask cases).
Fen went off to nursery so we had the perfect opportunity to do some uninterupted learning.
We started our day weighing our our rations.
We are prediminantly a vegetarian family and were really quite taken back by the rather pitiful 1oz portion of cheese that rations permitted per person per week. Sugar on the other hand, was to us rather 'over rationed'. 12 oz per person per week. That's quite a lot, although everywhere you read they complain that it wasn't much!!
We spent the rest of the morning deciding what clothes we would need for a year in exchange for our 66 clothing coupons. Lots of compromising was needed here and it promted much discussion. Ruby's needs used a whopping 250 coupons!
Poppy worked out that she could have 1 overcoat, 1 jacket, 1 raincoat, 1 skirt, 1 pair of shorts, 1 pair of trousons, 1 pair of shoes, 5 pairs of knickers, 1 cardigan, 2 blouses and 8 pairs of socks.
Adults clothes used more coupons, so my list was rather more limited then this.
Lunch - the children requested cheese on toast for lunch - not happening! Two slices of cheese on toast would have used up a persons cheese ration for a whole week, so we settled for jam!
The children spent the whole afternoon playing on the concrete outside. They used chalk to create good old 'hopscotch' games.
Tea - Cheese, potatoe and oatmeal vege pie with salad. Tim took one look at this and announced that he needed something with it....! Urrr there's a war on you know!!! He hooked a mariners pie from the freezer - this is only day one!
Pud - Dried fruit fritters....Poppy rightly pointed out that the recipe for fritters was the same as that which we use for glue....! Tasted good though....

Saturday, 19 February 2011

The Hair Studio

As a home educating family I am always amazed and excited by the little things that my children think of and do. This morning P created a card board violin complete with bow, which was 3 diamensional. It didn't work, but the thought and detail that went into the design were incredible.
This afternoon, it's a different story:- 'The Hair Salon!'

Note the sign says quite clearly 'No children under 4'! (thats Fen out!)

We are always expected to pay...such entrepreneurs! Although on this one occasion I am told my style is free....

 Mmmm, no comment!

P and E even created their own 'Hairdressing club' T-shirts!

Friday, 11 February 2011

Romancing the Ordinary

I have to share with you a book I am reading....'Romancing the Ordinary - A year of everyday indulgences' by Sarah Ban Breathnach.

Written month by month, this little treasure helps one to see the romance in ordinary everyday things. Last week I found romance in soft luxury socks which prompted an affair with my feet.
Having re-discovered lovely socks I realised that the 'not so little' trotters positioned at the end of my legs were...let's say, in need of a little TLC. So my romance blossomed further as I took to work to lessen the damage to the poor workhorses and created a lovely foot balm which I have used every day since.

I modified a recipe that I already had. Here's what went into the scrumptious mixture:

A little Mango butter
2 oz Cocoa butter
2oz Shea butter
100ml Olive oil (just regular kitchen OO)
A couple of drops of Orange essential oil and a couple of drops of lime EO

Just melt the butters in a baine marie and stir in the olive oil. Leave to cool then add the essentail oils and whisk. Pop into lovely jars and use as required. I massage a generous amount into each foot before slipping each foot into a lovely sock.
Try it at bedtime and check out the results in the morning!

Saturday, 5 February 2011

My Mother

Some of my lovely friends called by yesterday (I was mopping the floor, see I can do it!), with the latest edition of 'The Scrumbler'  a poetry magazine for children. My daughter had submitted a poem which appears in the current issue, I'd like to share it with you.

    My Mother                                  

My mother is kind and gentle,
She feeds me food like lentils.
She's loving and caring,
And always sharing.
She likes to cook,
From the cookery book.
She likes the computer,
She's also my tutor.
She plants lots of seeds,
And grows many weeds.
She wakes up at eight,
Which is rather late!
But I don't mind,
Because she's my mother
and there could be no other.

The Scrumbler is printed three times a year and is available from

Less is definitely more.

 Having moved beyond Christmas and the season of 'over consumption', February is a month of birthdays in our family. Four family members share the 1st (Dad and his two brothers who are identical triplets, and my lovely cousin). Another cousin celebrates on 3rd, my darling daughter on the 15th and my grandmother on the 24th (a special 80th this year)! I am always stumped with the same problem of what to buy the person as a gift. I refuse to believe that there are many things that we actually 'need' these days that we don't already have or that we cannot purchase, when we do. The number of times I have bought Dad something which I consider to be really unique only to be told 'I've got three of these!' Really, what is the point? How do we get out of this consumerist mess that we have got into? 
On a daily basis I hear friends talking about how they are literally down to their last pennies, yet these same people wear designer clothes, eat out several times a week etc etc Why?
Somehow we need to return to the age where it was 'cool' to be be different, the time when houses contained the minimum amount of 'stuff', where people reused (to many of course this is the 'norm'). 
I visited a lovely couple today who are expecting their first child very soon. They are obviously thrilled about their imminent addition and it was lovely to share that joy. That was until I was asked to view the nursery and the 'things' they had purchased. The fancy pram, designer outfits, luxury furniture, the list is endless. I am not raving because I am jealous in anyway. I could have had these things too had I been that way inclined. But I decided that these things weren't necessary. Second hand was good, less was definitely more. I felt a little lump that formed in my throat as I viewed with a rather false sense of enthusiasm. I wonder how many of those lovely little outfits will ever be worn and will she realise that baby grows are by far the easiest and most comfortable item of clothing? I suspect not. How could I tell them that they could save themselves a huge sum of money, without appearing rude? Well of course I couldn't and wouldn't to someone I don't know too out sister! 
I'll leave you with this we go about our day today, how many of the things that surround us could we do without and would we feel more liberated without those items?
I speak from my rather cluttered bedroom that doubles up as a study....I think tomorrow I shall see if I can answer my own questions!

Friday, 4 February 2011

Puppy journey continued

The following night to our surprise, another 3 puppies were born (although two did not survive).

Raising four puppies has been an amazing experience. Until three weeks of age, Jen did all the work. Feeding and clearing up the pooh. From that point onwards things do get a little more full-on for the pet owner. The pups manage to get out of their whelping box and attack everything in their path (legs, laundry etc) and this continues.
Christmas was probably the most challenging time when the pups reached 6 weeks. At that point the box was being kept in the dining room. I could not tell you how many times I had to clear up pooh that day, not so nice when you have just sat down for lunch with a room full of guests!
We started to advertise the puppies after Christmas. I had not wanted to let them go before this point as I had been worried that they would be sold as presents (not good). The initial take up was very slow and I did fear that no-one would buy them and that we would be stuck with 5 dogs!
Luckily they have now been sold, apart from the one remaining one that we intend to keep. So I guess our journey is just beginning.......

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Puppy journey

When we bought our terrier bitch Jense four and a half years ago, it was always a thought that one day we would allow her to have a litter of puppies.

Bitches come into season once every six months, so the window of opportunity to actually mate your canine friend is relatively small. Our biggest and most difficult task was actually finding a suitable mate, that was firstly of the look we wanted (rough haired and similar to Jen), and secondly a mate that was 'all male' (you would not believe the number of potential suitors out there with their manly tackle removed).
I scouted all over the local area, cunningly trying to suss out all potential victims, even resorted to leaving a note under the collar of one rather attractive dog chained up in the foyer of Sainsbury's (no response there)!
It was last September that a lead came to light whilst we were at the Wychwood Forest Fair. To cut a long story short, a couple with a pair of lovely terriers (tack removed), suggested a local guy (no luck there), who suggested another local guy (Jim Downs). We in fact bought Jense from Jim, so a complete circle has been done there.
Jim had the perfect dog.....(with bits)!
Tiger (stud dog)

 Jen came into season at that time (great timing)! The most fertile period for a bitch is supposed to be between 9-12 days after they start bleeding. We introduced Tiger on day 6, but Jen was definitely NOT interested. On day 8 Tiger was more interested in me,  9, a little interest from Jen, 10 hey presto!

We were not certain that Jen had become pregnant until about week 4 when her nipples darkened and appeared slightly bigger. 9 weeks later, and I engaged in my role as midwife......
Jens waters broke at around 11pm on my bed (Tim's side). I had actually thought that Ruby had wet the bed as she had crept in. But on close inspection it was very much mucus and Ruby was out of the frame. So where was Jen? For the three weeks previous, I had suspected that she wanted to birth her babies under the bed and that was exactly where she was. The question was how to get a dog in the midst of contractions out from under the bed without upsetting her? Well, I had to call Tim in from the garage. He was reluctant to help as it was his 'car' night! We had to literally take the bed apart to  remove the poor darling. She was most annoyed, but it really wouldn't have been practical to have puppies under the bed and the initial mess would have ruined the carpet (rental house).
We watched with excitement as Jen experienced contractions. Her tail clearly lifted and she bore down each time. I cannot imagine why but we thought the birth would happen straight away. Not the case! I sat and slept next to her whelping box whilst the rest of the family slept close by.The first pup arrived at about 1.30 am. Jen birthed with ease and no sound. The little bundle slipped from within her and lay helpless on the soft surface of the box. Jen proceeded to clean up the rather disgusting looking green mess (afterbirth) and then moved onto opening the little sack which contained her new born baby. The licking of its fur and tugging motion of the umbilical corn stirred the pup into life. The first baby had been born.
The second addition arrived about an hour later and once again our lovely dog knew exactly what to do. Feeling confident that all was well I took to bed myself.
When I awoke another pup had joined the team!

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Women who run with the wolves

"We are all filled with a longing for the wild. There are few culturally sanctioned antidotes for this yearning. We were taught to feel shame for such a desire. We grew our hair long and used it to hide our feelings. But the shadow of Wild Woman still lurks behind us during our days and our nights. No matter where we are, the shadow that trots behind us is definitely four-footed".
                                                               Clarissa Pinkola Estes 'Women who run with the wolves'

So that sums me up. I (as we all do) have a definite wild side, a side that is not and will not become domesticated by the rigours and socially accepted norms of modern life. I realise that the true spirit of myself does not conform and why should it? I am alive and living life to the full.
For years I felt a bit of an outcast for being a little different, for having different views and values to what seemed, the rest of the world. But in recent years I have come to realise that that is who I am and should be celebrated. Let the party begin...........
So if you see me cartwheeling in the street or looking in amazement at the blossom on a tree accept it, that's me!