Wednesday 29 December 2010

Some friends need an Egg Donor

We're friends with a lovely couple who have had sad news about their own chances of conceiving a sibling for their son. They'd like the egg donor to be a known part of their family rather than anonymous, so have set up the following website.
If you think you, or someone you know may be willing to help, please contact them through their website.

Monday 27 December 2010

Seasons Greetings

Short days and long nights- brings pictures in my mind of curling up by the fire (carving spatulas of course, they're a little more house friendly than bowl carving in my experience) after playing out in the snow.

Only our snow has melted, leaving us with buckets full of ice but thankfully the van can get around again. We haven't found snow/mud friendly tires yet, so skid and skate with it if there is even the slightest coating of snow on the roads. Unfortunately we made the decision to get better tires after the snow started, and everywhere has sold out. I was looking rather enviously at a truck on our road with brand new snow tires!

I've been able to book onto a spoon carving course at the end of March. As we will be homeless then (our landlord wants the house for a family member as soon as possible, and our contract ends the beginning of March so we've been given notice) I luckily can use some holiday before my career break starts 1st April- travelling to work when having to live in a tent with two small children just doesn't sound fun. And that's without logistic issues like washing uniforms! We're looking on the bright side and will have a couple of weeks 'settling in' whilst being handy for where we're storing the 'living in a house' junk to rescue what has been packed or ( hopefully) store non-essentials we planned to travel with. DH is convinced we'll need a trailer as well as our long wheel based crew cab transit, and I think he might be right.
I am just hoping we'll keep warm enough in the tent with woodburner in March- we've done overnight in the snow in the smaller tent last Christmas, but that's not living in  it full time! I know we're planning on travelling in the tent all summer, but April was when I planned to start, and we might have even found somewhere with housespace for us to start off with!
I've sadly put away the sewing machine as the next 10 weeks or so will be far too busy packing up to start new projects...though I have just remembered some of our sleeping foams need covering, and the machine would hurry that up..anyway, apart from that my mother-in-law has got me onto something new.

For Christmas she has given me a crochet hook, some wool (yarn I believe may be the technical term), a patchwork bag (expertly made by herself) to keep it all in, and a book to get me started!
I've had approximately 2 dismal attempts at knitting, when I was much younger and that is the grand total of my experience of 'that sort of thing'.
Growing up in Canada meant I had options at Junior High like Hunter Education that caught my attention, with plans on Driver Ed for grade 9 had I stayed there -I think you could learn to drive at 14, back when I was there, anyway. Secondary school here didn't include much in the home crafts or cooking. I seem to recall about a school-terms worth of cooking but there being a horrible amount of writing for what I expected to be practical classes.
To avoid too much PE I did Latin GCSE- the teacher came from the 6th form next door, but the only place in the schedule meant missing out on an hour of Games and some other (non-GCSE) lessons a week. The Latin class was fairly evenly split between really brainy folk and the rest of us doing anything to avoid running around outside in just pants . That was something that really shocked me moving to England, uniform for school I could cope with,quite liked even,  but having a see-through top and big pants to wear for PE- and not being allowed to wear anything on top? Winter classes in a freezing gym 'if you're cold you need to run about more' being a repetitive strain and the classes in 'summer' (I use the term loosely, it wasn't warm most of the time by any stretch of the imagination) being outside where even more people could see you  half dressed?! I gladly scraped through Latin to avoid it, but quite possible missed finding out about fun crafting stuff (this might have been in the other lessons grouped with it on the timetable) for another decade or so.

Anyway, M-I-L has kindly given me the crochet things as something to keep me learning, and quite importantly with our travel plans, doesn't need a lot of equipment or space to work on. She's shown me how to get started, and I think she's taught me how to do doubles or something. I'm getting to grips with the row bit, but I seem to have a problem at each end of a row. I'm hunting on utube for tutorials I can follow -the first one I got showed you how to do a slip knot so quickly that, seeing as I watched it about a dozen times and still didn't see what she did, I gave up on her.
If anyone can point me to somewhere good to start online I'd be grateful!

Hope you've had a happy, healthy (sounds like half my friends have had 'flu this Christmas so hope you've escaped) and warm Christmas, and hope 2011 brings dreams to life, or at least one step nearer, for you.

Tuesday 14 December 2010

The Grand Plan

I recently posted out our Christmas cards mentioning our blogs on them, but haven't actually got around to putting brain in gear to spell out what we're up to, not the least why we haven't our own address for long!

Short version- we're going travelling around the UK for 6 months in 2011.

Long version:
We started discussing travelling around the UK about a year ago, and at some point on the One Show WWOOFing was mentioned. This is World wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, the detail in on their website but basically it means for doing some work on a farm, with no prior knowledge required, and you have somewhere to sleep and food to eat. There are many different permutations, varying from living with a family to having a tent and raw ingredients to cook yourself, and finally on to our variation where we hope for somewhere to stay and the odd shared meal- as our two are so young we can't both do full work hours. We both realise there is so much of this country we haven't seen, and with our young family weekend trips are just exhausting to fit in with a working week as well. We've vaguely discussed emigrating, but feel we really will find somewhere to suit us in this country without going to the other side of the world.
We do know we don't want to stay in our mid-terrace house in Halifax -though no one else seems to want to buy it, so we're working on getting tenants in it instead. Between us we have a dream of land to grow veg, trees for Alex and space for the children to grow up and play. Housing isn't a huge priority, though a vomiting bug earlier in the year has made somewhere to wash and dry lots of bedding more important. We'd like to have space to invite friends to- the limits of our little rented house has made it evident that we need some space for families to come and play.

We're about to become official in home-educating as Big One is 'school age' after Christmas. Home educating gradually crept in for us. It started out realising that DH worked in a school that wanted him to only take time off in school holidays, and I work in a department where school holidays are booked about a year in advance, if not longer, and my chances of getting when would suit me was quite limited. Then the realisation of the costs of peak time holidays, plus the cost of childcare for the other weeks...when we'd rather be with our children- home educating started to sound nice. We also happen to feel formal education starts too young at age 4 , when many places don't start until aged 7.
Meeting other home ed families in real life has been a wonderful experience. Just about everyone has a completely different reason for getting into it, but the main aim of doing what is best for their child is the common thread.

So DH quit his job last month, from next month he'll have Big One at home full time, and come April we're going on a grand tour of mainland UK on the cheap for 6 months. I haven't jacked in my job -yet-so have 6 months leave for our adventures. We hope to see places we've missed before, learn new skills, find out what aspects of a small holding really appeal -or we really detest, and hopefully come up with a plan for what and where our next, more permanent home will be.
We've been raising anxiety levels with my parents at least, discussing a yurt in a field (English planning laws alas are not helpful in this respect).
Our immediate family seem to hide their anxieties about our plans well- so far, anyway.

My current dream home would be a short commute to a hospital or clinic so I can earn a conventional wage a day or two a week as needed, but have woods for DH, a stream for hydro power, a big garden for the girls, lots of growing space for the veggies and polytunnel, a small house we can adapt to our needs with lots of verandas, insulation, something like a ceramic stove,a composting loo or two, solar panels and a wind turbine, and a busy home ed community nearby.
I think we'll need to win the lottery and compromise!

Sunday 5 December 2010

Festive Family Doings

We spent an evening and a morning making Christmas cards from various left overs, stickers and a bumper pack of cards. Big One especially had a wonderful time, reduced to tears for having to stop for bedtime, and she's still offering now to make more if I find I need more. Most were posted before I even thought of the camera, but these are three she has chosen who they are for. Though there were four, so I wonder if one has been posted to someone else by accident....

I have started to put things together for the hampers we intend as our Christmas gifts this year- this is one destined for someone highly unlikely to look here, so I think I'm alright showing it!
I'm copying Robin Woods line of using wood chips as packing material- these aren't being posted anywhere, so even though our wood shavings aren't as fancy, they'll still be functional.

I grew up in Canada, and one essential ( along with ice skates and skis- snow shoes were only tried out once at school that I can remember!) was the toboggan. Mine came back with me when we moved, and has been sat in my parents garage for about 20 years.Its in need of some TLC and another cross-brace, but is functional enough for my two. It was quickly located for the first time on Christmas Day last year, when Big One and DH had spent Christmas Eve in our tent with woodburner listening for Santa, and funnily enough noone else was on the sledging hill Christmas Day Afternoon ( Little One was too little to enjoy it, but Big One had a fab time!). We're keeping it handy in the van for further snow adventures, as the van has been snowed in and my parents garage isn't that handy for us to walk to.

 We had a go at making mince pies. I have limited imagination, so I follow recipes. So, this was mince pies courtesy of Delia. With mincemeat courtesy of her too. Usually my pastry is fairly uninspiring, but something- no idea what- went incredibly well.

So this is as close as you get to seeing a baked one! Oh, the mix made 3 dozen plus 2, plus a small amount of pastry for Little One to make 'biscuits' with. They were baked in the oven for a few minutes around the last 2 mince pies, and both girls loved scoffing them and want to make more. Little One won't eat the mince pies- well, after seeing me and Big One scoff so many, she graduated from eating the points off the stars to poking through and finding the raisins in the mincemeat- she spat out the orange zest in it. I do enjoy how different in taste the girls are!

This weekend we also found an excuse for DH to try out the chainsaw he bought last week ( he got all the protective gear straight after his course, but decided to wait a bit for the saw) but I suspect he'll have blogged about that.
As a result, I've started work on a spoon-tula, but thought I'd blog instead of being dangerous with a knife tonight.

From a couple of months ago- a great use of an Ikea cheap wok and a few curtain brackets. I was most impressed!

Wednesday 1 December 2010

Bah Humbug

To the Agenda For Change. For those of you who haven't heard my tirade, Agenda for Change was something the last government came up with, to equalise hours and working practices across the NHS. The out of hours system they came up with -actually, I don't think they ever did come up with something workable. But the changes they did come up with have affected me ( and my colleagues).
This all started 5 years ago, and from a pay point of view, it was good for me. Our trust had a local agreement, with one rate of pay for newly qualified sonographers, another for experienced, and a third teir for those who did specialist scans or put drains in. AfC did away with all that, so that as long as I kept working, I worked up the pay band. Now I'm at the top of my band, with no financial incentive to do further training, and incidentally on the same pay point as my colleagues who do put drains in or do specialist scans.
They've been on pay protection for the last 5 years, so no pay rise now is no different for them.
Why am I grumbling about this now?
Well, today I start having to work 10 minutes later to maintain my pay. Last time this happened I was returning from maternity leave,so it wasn't quite as obvious. But from today I'm working longer days.
So, on top of a pay freeze for my colleagues for the last 5 years, they've also had to increase their working week- we were all originally working a 35 hour week, and working up to 37.5hrs. Of course, for other folk in the NHS this has been an improvement for them, as their working week was previously much longer- but I'm not talking about them!
So, its advent calendar time ( which I have still to get out of the Christmas box and put something in the pockets!) and I'm working longer days. I just wish we could win the lottery!

Sunday 21 November 2010

A competition entry

A blog I follow is having a competition, giving folk chance to win a doll. As Little One, Big One and I had a rather random conversation about willies earlier, the chance to have an anatomically correct one around is rather appealing (yes, another doll would have to go to the charity shop if we were lucky enough to be chosen!), and I can believe they are nicer to look and feel in real life than what they look like on the web.
Merry's blog is listed down on the right, but here's the link to the particular entry:

Christmas is starting!

So last week it was the tree, this week its gifts. Robin over at the HCA posed a question on facebook, which prompted me to finally decide what we might be giving, and put together a photo :
a bought basket ( next year I hope at least one of us can learn to make a basic basket) my horse-chestnut bowl, a few jars of preserves and possibly a spatula, spoon-tula or maybe even a spoon. Our first Christmas gifts are finally wrapped! I've only got as far as carving my own spatula though, DH learned the rest and when we get chance he's sharing his learning.
He's only one more week until he 'retires' and becomes fully devoted to home life and home educating.
He managed to fit in some baking this week- all I did was eat the results! Fabulous cheese scones, but he wants to improve on them. I'll look forward to another batch, these were definately good enough for me.

Last week there was a very important birthday. I won't share the resulting mess, despite asking for no 'Things' we'd have to consider packing. It could have been much worse, but I feel children just don't Need Things- hugs and time with family and friends are more important right now.
A very talented friend made and decorated a wonderful cake as gift- the cake didn't last long but the figures were worth an extra photo, even once the cake had gone.

I was rushing to finish this, and nearly forgot the Elderberry liqueur! Its been regularly agitated- I'm sure I've found new muscles for hefting that huge jar from the top shelf- but apparently its now ready for bottling. I have a suspicion its meant to be left now until next year, but we'll be giving it away this Christmas and then its up to the recipients. I tried a small sample now, and its alright, certainly more drinkable than the tincture, though I don't enjoy alcohol particularly so I'm not the best judge of these things.

Friday 19 November 2010

A Lovely Day

For once we didn't have appointments or social obligations  on my day off work, and I didn't have a huge list of tasks I felt I had to drag the girls through.
So, we painted pictures. We made bread dough - its sourdough so DH will get to bake it tomorrow. Our house temperature means it takes about 24 hrs to prove. We made a huge den. We did lots of washing up and a couple of loads of washing-even had some washing pegged out. We did lots of colouring in, trying out various birthday gifts that Big One recieved . We tried asking for nothing, but that didn't go down so well, so we asked that Big One was given painting/colouring things, thankfully these things pack down small, but we still haven't found places for everything to go. We visited a neighbour to loan a book ( The The Politics of Breastfeeding: When Breasts are Bad for Business) and the girls were amazingly silent until the protests about time to leave started.
We walked to the park and played in the mist. It's been a lovely autumn day today, though not good for drying washing!  Little One seems to be dropping her nap on family days, but she did ask for the Slinga-licious mei tai sling to carry her home from the park.
We managed fairly well without tantrums ( that's the major achievement) to tidy up each activity before getting too involved with the next. We just haven't the space to leave everything out.
We even had a proper tea- roast  organic lamb ( from friends farm just along the valley), gravy, rice and carrots and squash. The sweet potato might be cooked now, it wasn't ready at teatime!
I thought a few times throughout the day about getting some photos, but we were far too busy living today to break the flow and find the camera to record some of it.

Christmas landed in our house last weekend- we have our tree up. Historically I used to decorate for Hallowe'en, then Christmas started the 1st November. But then babies came along! Big One asked one year to decorate the tree on her birthday, but now it just normally happens after her birthday. I really enjoy the build up to Christmas. Thankfully we don't have a TV so the adverts don't drive us mad, and Christmas shopping normally happens in the January sales (apart from this year) so we've just gift making and card making to do. DH is completely bah humbug about it all- he might get me a gift Christmas Eve, or perhaps not!
We haven't yet decided where we'll do Christmas Day, but I don't think we've the space to invite family over. The lack of TV and comfortable chairs is also an effective deterrant... I wonder if we might have Christmas just us. We've not tried that yet.

I have finally started to learn some new carving techniques from DH, after his spoon carving course. I have made a couple of spatulas, but I really would like to get some more practice.
I've nearly finished a willow bowl I started a month or two ago. A forum I'm on has a spoon knife set being passed around, and its got to my turn. Duncan has made some really nice knives, and I'm really enjoying using one of them in particular. Its working well for improving the shape and depth I get to the bowl, especially as I'm not really using my carving horse, and learning to hold my bowls without slicing chunks off my fingers.

I'm slowly working on contacting potential WWOOF hosts for our Big Trip next year. Suddenly April seems very close, and I need to also book the various camps and festivals we've decided to fit into our 6 month expedition around the UK.

Coughs, colds and various bugs seem to multiply in our house, so we've turned the heating on to see if being less damp and more warm might avoid some bugs, and with help from the plumber we even have heat in the bedroom, as of yesterday.
I think that's about it, really. After we've got them to bed I'll see about some photos.

Monday 25 October 2010

Hot Lemon and Honey

WARNING (not a making/doing/interesting post- read on at your own risk)!
OK more a 'tea and sympathy' post...
The girls have spent the last week suffering with colds,culminating in a Saturday Night of Vomiting (Little One makes too much snot....)- of course when we were away from home. Though I am grateful for not having to wash and dry two changes of bedclothes and a load of towels- thanks Mum!
A couple of nights earlier Little One did a god job of coughing in my face most of the night, so I think she's very kindly shared her germs which has started with me over the weekend.
DH will tell anyone how pathetic I am when under the weather, and I don't think this week will be any exception.
With Little One still feeding, anything stronger than paracetamol is off the menu, so we've another load of lemons in (ah, dreaming of the greenhouse that one day will let us grow our own lemon tree!) and although I dislike honey, I reckon it does something to help in hot lemon and honey. Warm drinks are, well, just nice (I don't usually drink coffee except in extremis, and urgghhh to tea) sometimes.
I was taking echinacea, but with Little One's vomiting (someone on a forum once mentioned echinacea and feeding didn't go well) I stopped until I could remember to check kellymom (ok, that was only just now, but at least I remembered!), so I'll get back onto that.
Hmm, looking there, fenugreek tea is meant to be helpful, so I'm off to try that as well.
Oh, why am I posting at this unreasonable time in the morning? ( its 5.30 am here). Well, with the 'Night of Vom' I got little sleep, and Little One STILL insisted the day started at 6.20 am. That doesn't agree with me at all, so was in bed nice and early last night, but woke up at 3 am today instead.Sigh. And work today too.
No photos, but I did get the Apple Butter from last week in jars, and even given a few jars of various jam/jelly/butter to the local coffee shop to sample.

Sunday 17 October 2010

So, what have you been up to?

That's the question I was asked yesterday and, of course, couldn't think of anything back more than 24, err, I'm sure I must have been doing something!
Looking back, we have been camping. Here's some proof, our new wood burner in place. I've never been so warm camping, its fabulous. Everyone should have one- we got ours from The Windy Smithy.

stove in use for breakfast
 We were camping so DH could do a spoon carving course, which he really enjoyed.
After that, a dear friend had a baby and was keeping me updated step by step by text. It was far too dramatic so rather than sleeping I was busy sewing a gift. Version 1 (before I knew of her labour) was grabbed and hugged by Little One as soon as it was finished. Even as the explanation 'its for J....' hugging it involved lying on the (sort of clean, but not suitable for near a newborn) floor.

my cushion, and J's ball. It even has crinkly noises in it
Oh well, no time to wash and dry it, so Version 2 was sewed through the night, love and positive thoughts put in with every stitch during the last hours of friend's labour and first hour of J's arrival- though I didn't know it at the time! I didn't even remember to photograph it until it had been given, so just a shaky photo on my new phone:
The ball J actually got!

DH doing the spoon carving has given me more encouragement to make time for bowl carving again. I have been continually cutting myself, and losing heart over it. Robin kindly had a length I could use for a bowl, so even when we were camping I did some roughing out with the axe ( I really, really love the axe work!) and I'm still plodding on with it now.

This was it the week before last after a couple of hours work

New willow bowl on left, and older
bowl- both still need finishing off

DH and I both had an evening of putting new skills into practice on Friday. Mainly because we needed to sort out birthday presents for a 6 yr old friend on Saturday. We're both quite proud of a couple of hours work:
DH carved this beautiful spoon, personalised with an M. This is the first spoon he's carved since the course, and I'm still waiting for mine......
I had an idea for a toy sling for M's present, as her mum mentioned she liked playing with dolls at the moment. I had a quick google but only found patterns for 'proper'mei tai slings.I'd decided to make a mei tai so hopefully M can use it without too much help from mum, and as I didn't find anything to use as a ring for a ringsling on my fabric shopping trip.
I made up my own pattern, guessing at the sizing as the kids were sleeping, but found a website useful for how to sew it together- which I would link to if I could remember it.
I had a loan of a toddlerhawk from a friend
 when Little One was younger, and
copied the padding/stitching style from
what I remember of that.
Just finished!

A nights sleep and I was able to think of something to just 'finish' the sling off- some daisys just to break up the fabric a bit. I hadn't the confidence to put applique on, after all this was a first attempt. However I just needed to  jazz it up a little as it turned out good enough to gift.
Here's the final look just before we had to go to the birthday party:

This was when I found out my guesses on strap length weren't too great, but M's mum knows I'll adjust it as needed.....

After the party yesterday I got stuck in to the 9 lbs of apples I've been given over the last couple of days.

Doesn't look like 9 lbs, does it?
and chopped up for two recipes

3lbs of apples cooking away

and draining through muslin
This smaller quantity turned into 4 small jars of  Apple, Mint and herb jelly, and the larger batch will become  Apple Butter when we get more sugar. My mother-in-law has a lovely book which I have borrowed, Farmhouse Kitchen  by Mary Norwak so that's where the recipes for this weekend are from.

I imagine the next few weeks, if things go to plan, won't be as visual. We need to get emailing more WWOOF hosts for next years big trip, sort out paperwork that I've let pile up for a while, and investigate the rental market for our house as selling doesn't seem particularly effective (on the market 3 months with 2 viewings), amongst other things.
So, back to the original question, with one thing or another, work,  children under the weather, keeping up with the washing, or a new bath (something else that's happened recently!) I have been keeping rather busy, even if I can't quite remember when I'm asked!

I love the rings in the base of this willow bowl

Sunday 3 October 2010

Another evening gone

I've just spent 2 hours finding photos, getting them off the camera and ready for the web, only to have problems getting any onto this blog. Finally got three of 18 up, only for my browser to crash and lose those three. grrr doesn't quite do it so I think its wine o'clock!

So, the last month or so has included sourdough bread, some not quite as successful in looks but still went down well.
leaven going well in the jars ready for bread

not-so-great looking bread, but still tasty. I think its over-proved possibly.
We've been harvesting, both from pots in our yard and the allotment. We haven't been at the allotment much this year, so hardly planted anything ( the in-laws did loads) and not been tending to it so we're lucky to have anything with the size of the slugs we grow!
the blueberries disappear as soon as they are ripe!
I wonder who ate them all?!

mostly onions with a layer of beetroot on top
our peas and the tomatoes that weren't eaten immediately!
these did last a few weeks, but we've still plenty to dig when get chance- if the slugs haven't got them all.
Our own potatoes with our own parsley. The kids picked off the 'green bits' but we grown ups liked it all!

some mint, marjoram, bay,  rosemary and sage by our back door

This was the first round that had to go to the cellar, our kitchen cupboards were overflowing! I've found a huge jar that takes all the elderberry liqueur, so that and the tincture are in the kitchen so I hopefully remember to give them a shake, but the rest is out of the way now. I'm hoping these will be Christmas presents, with a few left over for us. Jam is off the shopping list! A couple of good friends came over last week, and sounded interested enough that they've taken a jar each of chutney- the recipes said wait a few months but I wonder when they'll give it a try? It smelled good when cooking, and once it was in the jars the pan scrapings were ok, so I'm hoping it'll be lovely in a few months. As someone who hasn't often strayed far from Branston's pickle, I'm not really a connoisseur.


We've still been keeping nice and busy, and just back from a 4 day camp in Edale where DH was learning spoon carving from  Robin Wood. We all have a fabulous time, and I've been able to start on another bowl, and keep going with my horse-chestnut bowl. DH has been sharing his new knowledge so I'm working on getting a good edge on my tools- apparently I've been doing it all wrong, sigh.
I'm back at my sewing class so I've made a cushion cover, and have a pile of ideas to make, and the jam and chutney cupboard is getting rather full. I'll be editing these last posts when and if I can get photos to appear.

Monday 30 August 2010

Too busy doing!

I will get the photos off the cameras sometime soon, life's been too full recently.
I've been sick, Big One's been sick but she's better today, thankfully.
I've climbed onto a roof and then climbed the tree to get a load of plums (well, the tree owners got first dibs so we only got a bucketful) so tonight I've made plum chutney, plum and bramble jam, plum and raisin jelly for the girls.

the plums before...
and after! plum and bramble jam and plum chutney

  I made a big batch of soup and bread for a friends Blessingway a few weeks ago, and then I had a go at drying peas, we've got some parsley and marjoram drying, the sourdough bread is still happening- the latest loaf even has some dates  in it. Big One wanted apricots in the bread, but we didn't have any- she likes it toasted but not keen on it as cold bread. I also think I forgot to salt the bread, which probably has something to do with it. Its amazing how much flavour sourdough bread has even without salt!

date sourdough bread

I've also got some kevlar gloves and managed to finish one willow bowl off, and keep carving at the horsechestnut. I don't think it counts as green wood carving when its this dry though.

'night light' carving- it didn't work!

We managed a night under canvas as a family, and tried a different car boot sale as sellers (raising cash for the Big Trip next year)- it was a later start but also veeeery quiet- we still came away with profit ( even with Him buying a burger!).
Usual problem, not enough hours in the day....
I still want to do a course with Flying Shavings, some family camping, sort out a wood burner for the big bell tent so we can enjoy bad weather in the tent,carve a bowl (well, mostly) in a day, sew a skirt, change a pair of trousers into shorts for Big One, make a cushion cover, make a hot water bottle cover, make plum brandy, make rosehip syrup, something with elderberries, more chutneys.....I haven't time to be ill or work!

Thursday 12 August 2010

Kids can be fabulous

I'd just like to say I didn't even ask Big One to try everything on- she decided now her hat was finished, she wanted to wear everything I've made for her to nursery. Boy am I chuffed she chose to wear it.
I'm also very proud- she's not yet 5, has never had training wheels on her bike, and today has started riding around, pedalling and using brakes on the handle bars. When I learned, older than her, I just had to pedal backwards to stop! She did use a balance bike when she was smaller.
Oh, well, just one 'personal' post. I am aiming to keep this blog for 'doings'. 

Sunday 8 August 2010

Another sunhat, and bread...

The finale of the sunhats -I hope!

It does have a HUGE brim- all the better to keep the sun of her neck, but mum-in-law suggested a great fix:

with a button on the brim!
I'm really chuffed with it- I've selected the pattern, sized it (albeit accidentally!), sewn round circles, learned to used stiffener (I've forgotten what its called at this time of night), got right sides together, and its even lined. I haven't had to ask anyone for help- which I really didn't expect after the last 3 attempts.

This week I've been patiently feeding my starter (leaven)  for sourdough bread, and it was ready today:

I didn't manage to follow the recipe timings religiously, something I try to do for first attempts at least, so it had one less kneading and about double the suggested rising time. That didn't seem too much of a problem.
Our oven, despite being the recommended temperature (I have an oven thermometer- get me!) cooked the bread much quicker than the book said, only about 35-40 mins instead of 50-70 mins, so it has a 'well coloured crust', and a great but not very different taste to our usual homemade bread. I guess the leaven is really quite young yet, hopefully get stronger as it gets older.  The husband reckons the texture was nice, a bit like crumpet, and Big One just kept eating it, so it must be ok!
My leaven has also escaped from the jar, it did it last night and looks like its on its way again tonight. Hopefully a night in the fridge and I can have another go Tuesday, a days holiday to catch up a bit.

While I was waiting for the leaven to be ready, I had a go at milk loaf, apparently its a British Thing. I remember stacking the round loaves of it when I worked in Asda, but know nothing else of it. Anyway, my version got a bit well travelled- made in one house, transported via supermarket (for butter for the dough) to the other house for rising and baking. It should have been in one tin, but I put it in two and thought I'd killed it- it looked flat as a pancake going in the oven, so an edible loaf (or two) was a nice surprise.
I forgot a brush, so a bit of milk was sloshed over at some point a bit late in the cooking, which I reckon is why the sides are darker than the top. Really lovely tasting bread though!
I'm a bit brain dead tonight, I think I'll stop here and get some sleep.