Friday 28 January 2011

Away from the Packing

Not technically mine, but Big One was busy with what we found in the bottom of a box- and made a farm with fencing and animals and people. She was busy for ages with it, and understandably upset when Little One walked in and kicked it. These things happen...

At some point, just after Christmas I think, I made some rather brittle flour tortillas. They didn't work too well, so the left overs got fried and turned into very yummy home made crisps. Much better than throwing them away!
I had a go ( from handmade loaf ) at picklets, one day when I woke up about 4 hours early. Plenty of time to have the batter rise for a couple of hours and have something fresh and hot at 8 am, before work...
 I hoped for something like crumpets, but they had quite a delicious bread taste instead.

I read The Mother Magazine (makes me feel very mainstream!), and there used to be a column by Star in it.Its not often I'm tempted to have a go, but her column really interested me, so when I realised she had a book I bought it ( after debating about it for about 6 months!). Its taken me another 6 months to invest in ingredients, but we've had a go at a few recipes so far.

We first made some 'hair soap'- shampoo to me. Big One chopped the black soap, and Little One loves shaking the bottle whenever she sees it- not necessary but fun because of all the bubbles. I like the feel of my hair after using it, but I have a suspicion its not ideal for daily use. Not much to look at either!

We (the girls actually did most of it) also made 'lipstick', highly technical involving vegetable glycerine and brambles from the freezer. Little One wasn't allowed to eat all the berries- Big One was definite we were going to make this! It has a definite flavour, which isn't sickly sweet for once. I'm not sure of how best to keep it, so its just in this plastic pot with fingers getting dipped in, which isn't ideal.

I've been wanting to try this since I got the book, making my own body spray. I've adapted it, using some jasmine oil as I haven't any infused flower water, and only making a small quantity to try out. My rose water is rather old, and I think it'll be worth investing in some fresh- but I think it smells quite good :-)
Not a very interesting spray bottle, but it does the job.I must remember that this has black specks in from the vanilla, otherwise I'll worry its past its best!

A few weeks back Little One was Very Poorly with a vomiting bug-the first 12 hours had me very tempted to take her to the hospital for dehydration, but she gradually stopped puking twice an hour and slowly improved. This of course coincided with having no hot water for the weekend, making handwashing painfully cold, let alone getting all over clean. We had to improvise, which thankfully worked well.

The following weekend we were away, Big One was slightly ill, but it was great that Someone was having fun with the marble run! DH's brother's girlfriend's son made some brilliant runs.

I'm sure I'll have mentioned getting a crochet book for Christmas, here it is:

 I have managed to make a fairly square 'square' ( Big One told me to make this).
 And our weekend away with family and poorly girl meant I had chance to really work on doing a few of the little flowers mentioned before. I like how quick they are, and how little girls just love them!
 I must confess to not doing as I was told with this one. Big One told me to make a square, but I enjoyed the rhythm of this pattern and decided to keep going and make a scarf. I obviously cannot count ( well, its remembering to bother to count that's my problem) so this one is definitely staying with me. I've considered unravelling it all to make the edges straight, but I like to be able to show progress. So when I can make a scarf with parallel sides it will be worth shouting about!

Now, I actually should be getting everything ready for camping for 7 months, starting in 4 weeks time ( head in sand moment).We had some foam mats made up to our size specification when we had a 4 m bell tent with a half circle as our sleeping space, which didn't fit in a double airbed terribly well. Our sleeping space is now huge with our 5 m tent, but we still have the same foam mats which we use however we need to.

I hope to add some Velcro so we don't slip down any gaps, but they work really well for us- especially once we bought a transit van to haul them around with us. They definitely take a lot more space than an airbed! They're quite dense, and should last us many years. Very kind and talented MIL made the first covers for some of the mats- the two largest and one of the little squares, which have been brilliant. Its a slippy water resistant fabric, which makes them a little hard to carry. My project has been covering the remainder of the mats, and sewing handles onto them all so they're easier to move. Luckily I went to a sewing class where the teacher really recommended Fabworks. I went in the summer, found loads of fabric for various projects ( enough for a couple of dresses for the girls, 3 doll slings, covering all the mats plus plenty left over for anything else, and a huge stash of fabrics that I have yet to think up uses for...) for only £10. the pricing was vague- I hadn't any real idea how much it would all be, but I really hoped it would be less than £40, just to give you a rough idea. They have many fabrics on the roll ( that's more clearly priced) but they also have different bins of remnants. Absolutely amazing place and somewhere, when I'm able to keep learning to sew, I'll definitely head back to.
 My hand sewing isn't great, but I was pleased to spend one evening making the cover for a small square (I had MIL's to copy from) and get a handle sewn onto it.

And, thanks to the generosity of friends we have plenty of cardboard boxes for the last few weeks packing.
Which means the girls have a den for the time being as well!

Nearly forgot to mention meeting 10 day old Harry yesterday as well :) No pictures (his dad's pics are bloomin marvellous, so even if I had taken a camera it wouldn't do him justice), but one gorgeous little man with very chilled and happy parents!

We managed to go play in the woods today as well. We were only 2 hours late, so most people were a bit chilled, even with the lovely fire going but it was so nice just to see some friends again, even just to say hi and bye- I've felt too stressed to make time to see people and its made me realise I have to prioritise. There's no point counting down to going if I'm not seeing anyone while we're local!

Sunday 23 January 2011

One Step Nearer!

Ok, this is quite a lot of blogging for me, but we've had three days of packing with children, and I'm really quite proud of what we've done. We've moved nearly all the huge things that aren't currently in use into the storage unit- one wardrobe still to dismantle but we had another first today instead.
Big One doesn't 'do' films. She enjoys the Peppa Pig DVD we have ( she doesn't know there's more than one, and have no interest in getting more just yet) and we also have several Wiggles Live shows on DVD ( thanks to DH's sister for starting that one- we all enjoy it!), so up until today the longest item she's watched has been a Wiggles show. We've started a few films, but anything not completely friendly ( Monsters Inc was NOT good) has not lasted long, we had a real struggle ( because DH and I wanted to watch it!) with Muppets Christmas Carol. Anyway, today we watched The Sound of Music. I forgot how long it was, but at least I could remember enough of the story to tell Big One what was going to happen next, so Maria did come back, and they did all get away safely. Trying to think of an explanation for the Nazis that wouldn't scare her more was more tricky... But she watched it all, enjoyed most of it and was only a bit upset when it finished, a bit late in the day and very tired out. A couple of hours in front of a screen is suprising tiring- I've not watched anything longer than, say Edwardian Farm for a while and I felt 'out of sorts' as well. We went for a little walk for fresh air, and I feel happy that TV isn't a regular part of our day anymore.
I bought a copy of Set Free Childhood once I was ready to do something about how stressful bedtimes had become in our house. I felt the 20 mins- 1 hr of TV in the evenings while we tidied up and got ready for bedtime was really making things worse. When we moved into the rented house we left the TV behind, and really noticed the difference. Recently we've had vomiting bugs, and I thought the TV would be our safety net- but we didn't put one iplayer programme or DVD  on to distract the children. Though ultimately, although the children benefit, going without the TV was to push us into using our time better. We'd both sit in front of the TV and laptop all evening after getting the girls to bed, not notice the time passing, skipping from channel to channel finding something else to watch instead of switching off, feeling 'out of sorts', tired but not quite sleepy after finally managing to turn it off....and I realised if we as adults have a problem, how much harder must it be for a child to deal with- no wonder the girls were acting up! I can really recommend Set Free Childhood, just as an interesting read about something that is in most homes, a major source of 'relaxation' or 'information' for so many people.

I was a bit worried about the van full of rubbish yesterday- but I really didn't need to. Less than 2 hours of sifting through it- and filling more rubbish bins- it seems a lot more managable. We have a small store of wood ( hope my parents don't want to grow anything in their greenhouse too soon!), a couple more boxes have been put away and  that just leaves a small pile of rubbish for when the wheely bins have been emptied again.
A few random boxes of junk were sorted through this evening, and I was finally ruthless and have only kept 2 boxes of glass jars- all with lids- and the rest have gone in recycling. I'd had a few left in the old house, so trying to get those together with my stash at the rented house has been one of those things that have taken such an annoyingly long time to happen- but the satisfaction in another little task completed is nice.
I wish we'd been able to sort through enough things together to empty another book case, but that requires  happy, well children and the two of us to both be awake at the same time, with brains still functioning. Hasn't happened yet but I live in hope!
I've been able to use my brand new Camping Mug this evening, that DH got me as a Christmas present a couple of days ago(its the thought, not the date that counts). I had to, he wants to borrow it tomorrow and I wanted to try it out first!
Hmm, I've not got pictures to add to this- I'm not wanting to photograph the rubbish in the van, and the half full storage or very full attics don't photo well..
Big One figured out what she was doing wrong when trying to tie a bow yesterday- and has got the hang of it, and even wore clogs today so she could tie her own shoes. I do have a photo of that first bow, but that's on my phone and requires more brain power to remember where the cable is to download it.
Oh well, I feel some crochet coming on instead. Photos can wait another day/week/month.

Saturday 22 January 2011

Slowly Does It

Packing,moving, packing, moving, even throw things out. That's how I assess each room I go into at the moment. I even managed to get Big One to sort through 3 of her various piles of 'important papers' and treasures- we've got a box of things packed away! The pile earmarked for travelling ( just her important things, not the shared resources of paper, crayons, pencils, pens, scissors, paint, paintbrushes!) is rather huge, but its a start.
Our van is full at the moment- mostly rubbish. I wish we could just take it to the tip. However, our van is tall. Our van is, well, a van. So, we've got take our council tax bill, get a peice of paper to allow us to take rubbish to the tip, and then, once we're allowed to do it- ask the man nicely to let us in as there is a height barrier and our van is too tall. Funnily enough I can understand the temptation of fly-tipping now we have a van- I can't believe its so hard to take rubbish and recycling in! Instead we've filled the bins at both houses, and will fill my parents bins as well. The folk who help themselves to anything not fastened down helped us out- we left scrap metal in the back yard at the old house and they obliged within a day!
I had hoped to get more boxes packed, the wardrobe dismantled and in storage- but the van is full of rubbish so we need to dispose of that before we can get another load shifted.
We've put a fair bit into the shiny new storage unit- the bed frames have gone, several book shelves, the filing cabinet, a coffee table....and that was just yesterday :-)
The other house is on the market To Let, and there's just cleaning and a few things left to move ( the van was full of rubbish, remember), so I hope we can get it finished very soon. Tomorrow we should at least get the van empty, but I don't know what else we'll get done.
5 or so weeks till we need to have this house empty. I think I'll go find a drink.

Tuesday 18 January 2011

The Plan moves on

We're well and truly working on getting ready for the Big Trip.
Its hard to forget, each time I walk from room to room in this house I hear the clock ticking- 6 weeks to being 'homeless', 10 weeks and we're on our way...
Today feels like we've achieved a lot. No more boxes filled unfortunately- need to find another source or even, gulp, have to buy some. However I finally signed the paperwork for getting the house marketed 'to let' instead of 'for sale'. We did have another viewing last week but the third bedroom was too small for them (dimensions are on the website, but go figure). It is annoying that the house next door is sold,  about to exchange contracts- and we're having to give up.
We have a few more van trips of stuff to sort out at that house ( need boxes!) and we've capitulated and asked a local handyman to do a couple of jobs we'd be annoyed with ourselves for taking too long over and not doing well enough, even if we had the time. So that house is just about sorted. Everyone tells us the rental market is going really well, and three bedroom houses are in demand, its a great rental fingers crossed.
This house is still rather full, only 6 weeks to empty it, but I'm hoping now we've sorted and paid for storage for 6 months that'll keep moving.
I want to get things moved because we still have to arrange how we're going to store  all our camping equipment and personal stuff in the back of the van. We've taken out some racks, and will need to put something else in instead ( currently looking at theIkea trofast storage we have in the living room), but can't fit anything until we've moved bulky things like bed divans.
I'd also really like to build something along the lines of this but I certainly won't have time, and despite DH's best intensions, seriously doubt he'll get chance either.

On a completely different note, I had chance, with a weekend away with DH's family (and one daughter- not the one from last week- puking and slightly ill), to keep crocheting. I was able to make loads of the flowers without constantly having to refer to the pattern- as I have less memory than a goldfish this is a major achievement! DH also let me in the Fent Shop in Skipton on the way to our weekend away, I'm so jealous that M-I-L has this as her local shop! I was only allowed a very quick look, Big One wanted a crochet hook to learn with, so I picked up some yarn as first yarn purchase, but I don't think it'll be my last.
Our weekend away was in Arncliffe, at a beautiful house we keep going back to. We like how well equipped it is, always warm (but we light the open fire anyway) and how there's enough space for the 10 or so of us to enjoy each others company but not be on top of each other, especially when its not been quite the weather for playing out. Of course, its not far for us to travel, but with various folk travelling after work and school, we don't want to go far. With our girls any overnight trip is major upheaval, so being quite local is fabulous for us as well!

Sunday 9 January 2011


We've got germs. Little One has been sick since yesterday morning. I thought she was on the mend so moved to the more -comfy-but-but-harder-to-de-vomit armchair an hour or so ago. Thankfully her aim is quite good and got the bucket.
I'm not actually joining her at the bucket, but definately not feeling well...
The plus side is a day with Little One sat on me means I've finished my first ever crochet square. Big One wants me to do another square, so that's the next plan. However, can't move from the chair and can't reach the yarn....
More photos another day, perhaps another week depending how we all go!

Sunday 2 January 2011

Festive Season Photos

Big One as Mary at her Nativity- Wellies essential for all the walking Mary had to do!

The Girls were so happy Santa had some of his mince pie ( made by Grandma) and warm  milk:
And left presents! Little One with some of her stocking presents-Big One was really into presents this year.

As mentioned in a previous post, Mother- In- Law gave me crochet things in a lovely homemade bag and scissor case:

First attempts at crochet- they might not look like much but its been interesting to learn so far, and even the girls can recognise the flowers as, well, flowers. I even figured out what I was doing wrong without help!
Thanks to Lucy at Attic24 for the pattern.


A quick picture of a gift I made to give: we have a Secret Santa thing at work, so I gave my first attempt at a spoontula- I prefer the spatula, but I just need more practice at a spoontula. The handle on the spatula works well, and I like the colours in the wood. I hope they liked them- I had a wobble at the last moment, so gave a jar of homemade mincemeat as well. The value of the gift is meant to be £10, so I feel my recipient got a bargain!

 The snow melted, but the ice stayed behind. the plastic bucket was ok, but the metal bucket split :(
The girls enjoyed playing with the watery bit in this one!

I've been able to get in the kitchen a bit over the last few days:
Some bread from The Handmade Loaf which is really called 'cucumber pickle juice rye loaf'! Well, we'd finished a jar of pickled cucumbers so I had to give it a try. The taste is much milder than a sourdough rye bread, and it rises more ( in this cold weather!) so I think its a pleasant change.

 DH normally makes the tortillas in this house- but we'd run out and he'd gone to try out his chainsaw on a tree that has fallen, so I had a go- no idea where he got the recipe from, he keeps it on his phone. Mostly slightly over-cooked, so not great as wraps but lovely dipped in home-made hummous. Again, something we had run out of, had the ingredients in so I had a go. This was from Delia's Complete Cookery Course (Vol 1-3), but next time I make it I'll omit the cooking liquid at the beginning, and only add a little if needed. I like my hummous scoop-able, and this came out too runny. Oh, and I use tinned chickpeas, much quicker when everyone's hungry!

Finally, some crackers, also from The Handmade Loaf . They puffed up a bit, so I guess I didn't stab them hard enough with a fork, but I'm happy they're edible for another first attempt.

We made some butter yesterday. We had a large tub of cream Grandma asked us to buy that didn't get used for Christmas.We don't usually use cream, and if we did  it would be for something that'd last a few days- not great for cream already passed its use by date.Anyway, lots of vigourous shaking later, it turned into butter and buttermilk. The buttermilk works fabulously in scones according to Delia's Complete How To Cook, and I left the butter unsalted. I'd share a pic but, as we finished the shaking at Grandma and Grandad's, the scones were made there ( and eaten up!) and we managed to forget to bring the butter home. We used some of the butter in the scones, and lovely on baked potatoes.
  One or two of us will go to get it later, so we can make our own batch of Delia buttermilk scones.