Tuesday 31 August 2010

Keeping my hands busy

Well, after it taking three months to make Sophie's birthday present, I have rather enjoyed making a few quick things this last week. I have to have something to keep me busy, gone are the days of sitting around in the evening surfing channels!

So, first project was crocheting a dishcloth (what better way to practice crochet!) but there is no picture as it is already put to use! I love homemade dishcloths, they last so much longer, and have such a lovely feel to them. It's just awful though, that first time you use it. That pristine cloth, never to be the same again, wiping away all the mess from cooking.

I then turned my attention to a sleep pillow I wanted to make for a neighbour who lost her husband recently. I had been collecting herbs to go in it, and drying them out. Then made a little sachet to put the herbs in. Lavender, Rosemary, Chamomile, Lemon Balm, and Rose all making quite a heady aroma. I loved doing this, and I can see perhaps a few more being made, perhaps for Christmas. Next on my list, something for Luke for his birthday. Will have to wait til he's back at school to get started on it. ;)

Friday 27 August 2010

You learn something new everyday!

I consider myself a fairly well-educated person, and conscientious too. I make informed choices about where I buy my food, grow my own, have my own chooks. Can you imagine how foolish I felt then, when at the childrens farm the other day? I discovered that most calves are taken from their mothers within days, to be reared on bottles. I had assumed that they were weaned more naturally, and that as they reached a natural age for weaning, the milking machines took over, but this is sadly not the case.

I had also assumed that male calves were reared for beef, but again this is not the case, more likely they are shot, or used for veal.

I have spent some time on the compassion in world farming site, and had a rethink on my eating habits. I am fortunate that we have a local farm shop that can provide free-range chicken and pork, but it looks like I've got a few more questions re: beef and dairy products.

Looks like oat milk may have a bit more of a place in our cupboards from now on. And a reduction in other dairy products too. Does anyone know if goats milk is any more "ethical"?

Thursday 26 August 2010

A very piggy birthday

For a little girl, who I still can't believe is 2 already! She has had a love of pigs, ever since the farm shop started rearing pigs. She was taken down to see them by one of the lovely farmshop ladies to feed them some carrots, and then that's all she would talk/ sign about!

So what better place to visit on her birthday than the local childrens farm. We had a ride on a tractor... Saw some 2 week old piglets (I always feel slightly sorry for the sows, as piglets are so fierce in their feeding, a bit like a little 2 year old I know!)

I fell in love with some week old chicks, and was tempted to bring one home in my pocket!!
Alec spent alot of time chatting with the goats, and was rather sad to learn that the male goats will have to be sold, possibly for meat.
We spent a long time handling rabbits, chicks, and guinea pigs. Alec having one of each at the same time at one point!
Sophie was intrigued, but not happy to hold one, despite pointing at her hand alot, suggesting she wanted to hold one.

Stuart fell in love with the rabbits, and Alec declared it was the best day ever, as he loved all the animals, especially handling them.
And we finished our trip with a play in the play barn. Shooting balls at each other. Stuart and I had a whale of a time ;)
A quick tidy up at home, and then it was time for a little tea party with Nanny, Grandma and Grandad. The cake, banana cake topped with the unsweetest butter icing and pigs (of course!) And all the practising of blowing out candles worked!!
And then lots of playing with her new Sylvanian pig family, in her new tree house. Which was actually a hit with all of the children!
Grandma and Grandad got Sophie a Peppa Pig DVD box set, having never watched it before Grandad was very impressed with it, and was laughing out loud at times. Sophie of course was delighted!
Our darling little daughter, who brings smiles to every part of the day, is two!! It still hasn't sunk in. I love spending time with her, watching her grow, marvelling at how she is obviously watching us and learning how to do so many things, amazed at how she makes herself so perfectly understood, despite having very few words in her vocabulary. Here's to the next year of wonderment with her.

Monday 23 August 2010

Mama Made Monday - Cinderella

Look at me! I'm organised!! 3 months in the making. Finished just in time for Sophie's birthday on Wednesday! A Cinderella topsy-turvy doll. One way she is Cinders, and the other way she is Cinderella. This is my first attempt at toy making, and I have loved doing it. Just hope Sophie likes it now! Cinders.
And all for the price of one ball of pink wool. Everything else was used from my stash :)
This wonderful idea of sharing mama makes is from Talie at Being Me.

Thursday 19 August 2010

A bit of creativity

A few odd socks lying around the house, some bored children, some buttons from my Nan's button collection I inherited, and some lavender from last years harvest, what do you get?

Some hardworking children, some learning new skills...

A very heady aroma of lavender, plus a bit of mess...
... and some rather fragrant sock creatures to stuff into smelly shoes at the end of the day!

Then today, a wet rainy afternoon, and a request to do some WarHammer. Sophie was fast asleep, so I took the chance to have a go at painting some of the Wood Elves I have been collecting over the past year or so. It took me an hour to paint this dryad, my first attempt at a dryad, and I am so pleased with the results.

Not the prettiest of woodland creatures, but great fun to paint!
Luke helped Ethan paint one of his Orcs, and we had a wonderful afternoon. I even managed to paint the leaves whilst breastfeeding, I was quite impressed with my multi-tasking!
I will have to take some pictures of Luke's armies he has created. It really is quite something. He is a wizz at playing the role playing game too. Much too strategic for me, I just like the painting!


The caterpillars all turned into chrysalis', we even saw one shedding its skin as it went from one stage of caterpillar to another. And now they are turning into butterflies. We have not had a fantastic success rate. Some were parasitised, others just died. One died whilst attempting to get out of the chrysalis. It makes you realise how miraculous the whole process is, metamorphosis really is amazing. We have released 5 butterflies, with another 2 awaiting release once it stops raining. And despite close watching, we have yet to see one come out from the chrysalis.
Another update is on Bramble, the cat. Having gone around many of the neighbouring houses to where she was nesting, we found a lady who had just noticed her coming into her garden. She fed her, and kept us updated on her. She put an advert in the local paper, had some replies, but none were Brambles owners. The other day, Bramble took her four kittens into this ladies garden, so she phoned the Cat Sanctuary, and they came to collect Bramble and the kittens. We missed them by a couple of hours :(
We have been in touch with the sanctuary and expressed interest in adopting Bramble once she has weaned the kittens. At least for now she is safe, and getting lots of food and the attention she needs. They will microchip her and spay her, and hopefully she will be able to come to live with us. Fingers crossed.

Wednesday 18 August 2010

Blog Awards and blogging

I am aware various people over the last few months have awarded me blog awards of differing types. Thank you for thinking that I warrant some kind of award. But such things make me feel rather self-conscious, and have got me thinking about why I blog.

I see my blog as a record of our adventures, some of my musings and just as a lovely way to be able look back on our life. I could do this privately, but choose not to. Why? To be honest, I do not know. I guess it is "the thing to do" at the moment, and really, I would never get around to it if I was only doing it privately.

Blogging has helped me to see beauty and creativity in the normal aspects of life. Helped me to be content with what I have, as I value it all the more. I enjoy reading other people blogs that come across as honest, I guess just like I like people IRL who are honest, and not trying to make something bigger or better than it really is.

Half of me thinks I should pass the awards on, as intended, but then what if I offend someone. I will not pass them on, but would like to thank all of those people whose blogs I read for showing glimpses of their lives, and also a thank you to those who leave comments here. I guess it's as close as you can get to sitting in someones lounge chatting about what's going on in our lives. So here's a virtual cup of tea or coffee, and some homemade cake, whilst we all go about chatting about our lives.

Saturday 14 August 2010

Welsh Adventures

The last 5 days have been spent camping in Wales. The largest tent only campsite in the UK, apparently. The drawback of this is lots of other campers about, but that didn't stop us from having fun. Luke spent the first day with us before going to his cousins house on the nearby Lleyn peninsula. We were camping amongst sand-dunes, which added a certain element of excitement to it all when we managed to ground the car, soon after our arrival! Once we made camp there was lots of playing to be had...

A walk to the beach included a detour to go down the BIGGEST sand dune they could find, and then climb back up it! No mean feat! Just to give you an idea of how big it was, that little red dot is Alec at the bottom of the sand dune!!
Once we got to the beach we found all sorts of treasures. Lots of cockle shells, oyster shells, razor shells, and then some crab shells. I was particularly excited to find a little starfish inside one, unfortunately it was dead.
And then we found a skull. Probably a herring gull. Alec and I were intrigued by it. It is so nice to have a companion to go beach-combing / rock pooling with. I was in my element!
There was some down time too. Alec is very much into his graphic novels at the moment. Currently working his way through Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl books.
We managed to visit the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) which is near Machynlleth. Apart from it being a breathtaking part of the world (oh how I would love to live somewhere like that) it was a wonderful afternoon out. Learning about the water powered cliff train...
Wave power...
Dynamo power, wind power, solar power, looking at the wonderful vegetable gardens, and getting inspiration for a green roofed house. It had been my suggestion that we went there, and had fears that I would be the only one that got something out of it, but I think everyone enjoyed themselves.
We also went to Harlech castle. Ethan was particularly excited about this as he had learned about castles at school last year. Alec and Ethan at one of the guard room look out points in the gate house.
Another lovely spot to do some reading, this time about Harlech castle. I can't believe I was ever worried about him learning to read, it is so wonderful to see him reading at every opportunity now!
An impressive castle even in its ruined state. Built over the course of 6 years in the 13th Century. Which is an astounding achievement. Unfortunately it isn't particularly toddler proof, and we spent alot of time trying to stop our littlest adventurer from climbing through the barricades which are supposed to stop people from falling! I must admit, despite its splendour, I heaved a great sigh of relief when we walked out of there all in one piece.
On our way back from the castle we called in at some waterfalls that were signposted from the road. Oh, what a find it was! Magical woods surrounding the waterfall, we found a little elf house...
And some beautiful toadstools, just the right size for the magical creatures of the woods to rest upon...
Alec made friends with a grasshopper we found on the moorland above the waterfall...
And we found a tree man! Can you see the face peeping out of the tree between the two lighter bits of bark?
It was a beautiful place, full of nature, serenity, and we all came back to our tent feeling refreshed, and vowing that it would be our next campsite when we return to the region. (I forgot to say that there were lots of rope swings too, which made it for the boys!)

To end our Welsh adventures we bought a sky lantern. Waited til night fall, and then lit it.

Each making a silent wish to go with the lantern into the sky. It drew our adventures to a close in such a peaceful way.

Monday 9 August 2010

That time of year!

My birthday this time! I could quite easily forget aboutmy birthday, as it isamongst so many others at this time of year, and lots more things that need doing, but celebrate it we did, and we had a lovely time.

I woke early-ish and went downstairs to sort the chickens out. Then sat and did some knitting whilst waiting for the rest of the house to wake. Stuart and the children bought me a lovely celtic fairy and some chocolates, and then asked me to go back downstairs as there was a suprise for me. Well, what a suprise it was, a walnut tree!! I had been talking to Luke how I would like to find a walnut tree in the wild, as I would love some foraged walnuts. Well, now I have my very own! Just got to work out how to keep the squirrels off it!

After a breakfast of pain au chocolat (a birthday treat again!) we went out to a nearby museum that was holding a medieval day. The museum itself has buildings of various eras rebuilt on site, all from the midlands. There was the usual re-enactments, and camps. I got talking to a wonderful lady, sat breastfeeding her 3 month old baby, all in medieval attire. She had the spinning wheel below, and we were talking about different natural dyes. She showed me some walnut dyed thread, which was a lovely brown. Looks like I'll have some more dying to do in the future!

There was this fantastic windmill as part of the museums rebuilds. It took 7 years to restore after falling into disrepair about a century ago.
There were bits of armour for the children to try on.

An Anderson shelter that the children took a shine to. I bet they wouldn't have been so enthusiastic about it if they were having to use it for real, day in and day out! I never realised they were so small. The thought of a family of six or more sat in there, with bombs dropping around them, really does not bear thinking about.
The return home for a birthday tea of chinese take away, and birthday cake (made by Mum).
And then to top it off. As we were waving goodbye to Stuarts parents I noticed a fledgling thrush on the lawn. It was joined by a sibling and they made their ways onto a neighbours lawn. They were so beautiful, and let us get so close to them. I hope they survive all the perils of living in the wild.

Later this week, I will take delivery of another birthday present. A second-hand cello! I have wanted to play the cello for years, so I think this will be the year to learn!!