Thursday 24 February 2011

Another busy day

It's been my birthday. I can remember last years quite clearly- it was snowy, it wasn't half term ( a rarity) and, as it wasn't a school holiday I was able to have the day off work. So, I had the week off work and went to learn how to carve wooden bowls with Robin Wood. I had a fabulous time, and this last week I've been able to get the axe out ( I really love my carving axe!) and do another little one.
There's a story with it though:
Last week I had a day off and planned to do a bit of 'wood'. DH had been itching to use his chainsaw, so my parents kindly found a cherry stump that required some help.

I naively thought that sounded good, I could have a go at a little bowl from that. Well. DH said it was a little hard work cutting a short length off with the chainsaw, but I eagerly got the splitting axe and tried to split it. I tried quite hard, then admitted defeat and called DH to help. Two of us putting serious welly into it, got about 1 mm into the end of the log.

see the tiny line almost parallel to the cliff edge? thats two adults giving the axe and maul serious welly!

DH then recalls Robin mentioning that cherry did beautiful spoons, but it was hard on your hands....we agree. If DH can manage to chainsaw a blank out of it he might try a spoon, but he's not sure his chainsaw ( and him) are up to that challenge!
Anyway, we had a bit of old willow around, and DH and I easily split that in 2 seconds flat- a good learning curve for how different wood can behave.
Lovely little bit of wood. Can you see a bowl in it? I could....

 Although it isn't finished yet, DH has been able to to teach me a little about knife handling- no cuts at all, and the only blood from a grazed knuckle which always happens when I start splitting wood. This bowl is quite small, so I didn't use my carving horse (handy as is moved to our next temporary abode ahead of us, and hopefully travelling around the UK with us if we've space for it in the van)and after the initial adzing just used the bowl gouge a little before using my curved blade that Duncan made.
Unfortunately I've found another learning curve- my sharpening skills really need some work. I've had repeated attempts, but everything I've sharpened leaves little scrapes, and although it'll have sharp spots, it'll have more dull ones. I reckon DH could do with some practice as well, so I've asked him to have a go at sharpening- then I can finish off the inside of my bowl.

Onto another topic completely....

I had a really lovely day the other day- and I was at work! I've started inviting folk to a farewell gathering, so more people are suddenly aware we're off on our travels, it really is happening, etc.
I was speaking to someone who works in a similar area, but different area at work, and I found it really inspiring. She works in an area where her personal beliefs are completely at odds with what she does, and she finds it a strength. She knows her clients get a really clear explanation of risks, possible repercussions and the options put in front of them, because she ultimately believes everyone should choose their own path- but that it should be a well-informed choice rather than being pushed into something without realising the potential consequences. I came away from a short conversation feeling a lot more positive about my work, and that realisation that other folk may not always agree with their work but can find the positive side to it, rather than complaining but doing nothing, or just being miserable and demoralised. I enjoy aspects of my job, but sometimes wonder about the 'making a difference' side of it being lost, and instead I'm working to tick boxes that 'this population gets offered x' irrespective of if 'x' actually makes a difference to outcomes, let alone improving outcomes.
I'm also hoping that when I return to work after our trip  that I'll be refreshed, revitalised and able to enjoy work more. I recall enjoying the novelty of working after maternity leave after little one, so I'm hoping I'll have that positive feeling, without the exhaustion of a little one!

Another tangent ( I've had an alcoholic beverage, I feel the need for tangents!)
We have a week and a half left in this house, before we move into my parents garden. This weekend is 'Moving' weekend, and I plan that we'll just be camping with the bare minimum of clutter around for the last week so the cleaning and final pack is quite straightforward. DH has other ideas so we'll see how it goes!
We also have the good news that our prospective tenants have leaped through all the hurdles the letting agents have thrown at them, and handover day is planned for the 4th March - yes, the same day we have to move out.
This means we'll not be liable for any utility bills, the house will be occupied, and the rent ( fingers crossed they pay) after agency fees should cover our planned (admittedly minimal) expenses for our trip- fuel, van maintenance and insurance, food for us and some holiday week camping fees. Day trips and meals out will be extra, but that's a huge difference to spending what we've saved over the last year. I think I'd better go look at prices to go visit my sister!

Final tangent ( but I've lost the picture, I'll add it another day)
A couple of weeks ago I realised the jigsaw board needed putting into storage, but had a jigsaw started. The time to finish it had come, so I got to have a peaceful time doing a jigsaw. Its a map one, and I enjoy finding new places each time I do it. And odd places- did you know there was a Starbuck Island?
I'm still plodding on with my crochet- I'm working on a square that's patterns done in treble crochet, and I've not got the tension right. It should be a square, but instead its very much a rectangle. Its a second attempt so I had hoped I'd figured it out, but not yet.
Enough tangents now!

Sunday 20 February 2011

Not our dream....

quite yet, but we've been able to help friends get a little nearer with theirs. We had so much fun the first day we asked to go back the next- ok, it wasn't quit so much fun or productive in the snow ( and we got a little stuck getting there!) but it was lovely.
We were able to focus on a task and get on with it. The girls had fun with friends back at the house, and we could relax and enjoy because we knew the girls were so happy.
A welcome distraction to packing up and making decisions ( as in 'which storage place does this need to go to? When will it be needed again? Or does it go in the charity bag, or, gulp, the bin?'). One more week until  we mostly move- I plan the last week living here as 'camping'. Next weekend we hope to get all the furniture into storage, our travel fridge to be in use ( its currently our freezer so we need to eat up!) and my parents house to be a bit full. It would be good it we could put off putting up the tent for another week, but that depends if we run out of corners to cram things when we get this house mostly empty.
Our travel plans are coming together, we've decided to try to go to particular events, so The Bodgers Ball, Natural Mamas forum camp and The Mother Camp are all on our itinerary. Not all of these have been easy decisions for us both, but we're willing to try different experiences. We had hoped to fit in a festival or two, but the ones that have caught our interest really have been at the wrong time/wrong end of the country, and/or completely astronomically priced. Much as I love my yoga, and expect my teacher will be doing a Yoga family friendly Camp, I'm not quite up to talking DH into a week of it.This year.
It looks like we're going to have a couple of weeks proper holiday in the South of England. WWOOF hosts there either have changed their email addresses or are so un-keen on our family they haven't responded to enquiries, but it looks like this will work well with doing some touristy bits as a family. Just looking at the National Trust Book there's tons to see, but I'm hoping to get onto the permaculture website to see what projects we can visit just for the day. We have one host lined up in the South East, I just need to decide which dates to go for. We don't want to clash with DH's landrover show (I'd do a link but TBH I know nothing about it :-)  ).

Monday 7 February 2011

An Unexpected Holiday

I went to work today- and I didn't need to. I'd booked some annual leave a few months ago, planning that I'd need some time to pack and get organised, but forgot to write it down. As it happened, they'd booked a patient at my start time anyway, so I had something to do for half an hour, and then I came home. I'd have been annoyed if I had a commute, but at a two minute walk I can't really complain, and it was lovely finding out I had extra time, and I have tomorrow off as well! I won't make the same mistake tomorrow...
I've had a lovely day, which I'll say more about later. When I got the photos off the camera I realised I'd not shared us making Flowery Foot Powder from The Holistic Beauty Book :
Firstly- this wasn't made for any necessity or desire- purely that I had offered to use the grinder to make curry powder with the girls, only to find we were out of coriander ( and it just isn't curry powder without coriander)- and this was the first thing I found I thought we had the ingredients for at short notice!
The main ingredient being flowers, rose petals (bought) and lavender (home dried):

I had some help:
And a shot with the ground flowers:
It smells lovely, incredibly messy to use with small children, and very obvious when its all over the bathroom floor!

I've had a little time to do a bit more crochet while the girls chose to stay playing at a soft play place for hours- and I still had to drag them away- we'd been the only folk there for ages too! Anyway, I have now learned how to change colours which was something new for this week.
A neighbour returned  a book today, which personally I think all expectant mums should have access to. I had no idea about what was behind the low breastfeeding rates in so many places- that we are all exposed to so much marketing its no surprise so many mothers have no choice ( or feel they have no choice) but to use formula, and as a culture 'not breastfeeding' has been the norm for so long today's grandparents have no breastfeeding experience either- my friends mother-in-law came out with the classic 'its just not natural!'. Although I have been aware of people boycotting Nestle for years, now I actually get why its worthwhile to deprive us of Smarties and Aeros (you can get non -Nestle alternatives!). I can't explain it well- you'll just have to read the book!

In a similar vein, my Moby slings have come home for a few days, ready to pass onto the next mum:

Something I think all maternity units ( or some other stretchy wrap, other brands are available, lol) should introduce all mums to- I remember being taught how to bath a baby (which seemed incredibly faffy, I preferred the 'getting into the bath with baby' version that I figured out for myself) but its would have been much more useful to know how to use a stretchy wrap. I heard of them before Little One, so got myself to a sling meet and bought a cheap one off ebay before bump landed. I was very glad to get good advice, but the downside is seeing so much of what is out there, and there are so many lovely slings out there!

We order food from Suma, and we're stocking up for being away. They have had a special offer for customers of a goody box for the New Year, with orders before this Friday:

The Goody Box was advertised as being worth £25, and I'm impressed with it all- we ate the spaghetti for tea ( nice, not too smooth so the sauce sticks to it!), so that's not in the picture. The only thing we won't eat is the liquorice, but we probably know someone who'd like it...
We used to order with neighbours as you had to be a business to order wholesale, but they now recognise you might be a neighbourhood co-op and order with friends, so anyone can order (you need a customer number to see the prices on the wholesale pages, which have different quantities and prices to their retail page). We usually ask around relatives and sometimes remember to ask friends if they want anything, but we order enough for it to be worth our while. We get 3% discount for collecting as well, so it all adds up, enabling us to get organic 'things' that we might not otherwise be able to afford to get organic.

Anyway, that's part of the nice day, but the other bits aren't pictures. Seeing DH and Big One playing fireworks, Big One picking up a picture dictionary and asking questions and sneakily learning things (which kind of camel has two humps anyone?). And I've had a holiday- I was instructed to work on a jigsaw I'd like to finish before packing it away, so I did. DH planned a swimming trip this afternoon before we found out I wasn't at work, so I took her swimming while DH did other things. Apparently its different going with me, but we both had fun and I'm worn out! Later Big One got some rice out to play at making pictures, which DH joined in ( I was distracted in the jigsaw again), and not only did we tidy up enough to find some floor, we even found the vac again so a small amount of what I think may be termed 'housework' happened. Wonders will never cease!
We've also got another week arranged through WWOOF, though it sounds a bit tight for getting our van to it....
And we're getting some time to go visit  while the girls have quality time with Grandparents. I nearly rented accomodation at uni round the corner from there...but that was many, many moons ago now.

Thursday 3 February 2011

A better day

A nights sleep and things are better again.
A few more things in storage- that huge fridge freezer moved as well as a few more boxes, food ordered from Suma to collect tomorrow, nice plans for tomorrow- all going well.

A phone call from estate agents this morning( they tried to sell our house for over 6 months, failed, now its up to rent instead) went something along these lines:
exchanged pleasantries then she said 'so, I've got some good news, there was a viewing last night and she really loves the house'.
Me: 'mmm' ( thinking we've been here before)
Agent: 'She'd like to offer £xxxxxxx for it.'
Me:' She wants to BUY it???' ( extremely surprised)
Agent: 'Yes, but she has to sell her house first. So, she'd like to rent it until she's in a position to buy.'
Me: ' Oh, ok. Yes, that all sounds good to me. thank you!'

Wow. it sounds very good, but we'll see if anything comes from it. And any offer she makes to buy won't be binding. After living there she might change her mind. She might say this about every house she views and not sign to rent it. However, I'm hopeful we might have a tenant. Oh, she wants to move in as soon as possible as well.
It couldn't be better for a phone call- so we hope the paper work will back it up.
But I'm just enjoying the day, not getting my hopes up too high. If we get a signed tenancy agreement then I'll start believing it!

Tuesday 1 February 2011

Too Much to Do

And I hardly know where to start. I'm feeling the pressure today- at work all day, politely requesting DH contacts the campsite we're going to first (his delegated job from months ago, I know he's busy but it STILL hadn't happened!), reading how another family is a zillion times more organised than we are, and knowing that when I'd really like to have a bath, or just chill with a relaxing book, I really should be finding more hosts and emailing them.I've been packing up the cellar a bit, but need to 'politely encourage' DH to get on with it.
I know how busy the day is with the children, getting food, sorting food,washing up, washing clothes, all essential for daily life. But we are out of this house in 4 weeks and it HAS got to get packed!!!
I know I'm tired and grumpy from working the weekend, and I'm very glad I'm off Thursday to compensate- that's when we plan to move the fridge freezer from parent storage to paid storage, hopefully sort out addresses with banks, and I'm hoping a whole lot more packing can happen as well.
Home educating can be about working to a deadline this month....
Hmm, better tell DH to read this, though I think he might be getting the idea already.