Thursday 28 June 2012

Sewing and Pasta Making

Today Big One fancied making some pasta. She remembered we had a pasta machine lurking in the back of a cupboard ( a lovely wedding present I'm so glad we have, and kitchen space to use it). Its been stored for a couple of years, but carefully wrapped in clingfilm so it was ready to go today.
A Christmas present of River Cottage Family Cookbook was put into use, the pictures in it convincing Big One what she was interested in, and off she went. She decided the quantities, did the weighing, egg cracking (something she's been reluctant to do until recently) mixing, kneading, setting timer for resting the dough, lots and lots of handle turning for rolling it out, and spreading it out while the next batch was rolled. This worked really well for letting me finish off the sewing needed for my Onbag sewing nightmare (more later on that).

Big One even did the washing up and clearing up while the dough rested,and had boiled the kettle so I didn't mind dealing with the hot water and cooking the pasta. Apparently it tastes quite good raw, but I did persuade her to cook most of it!
One big bowlful which I was allowed to have a little of.

So, my personal project this week has been sewing my Onbag. This is a bag aimed for parents who use baby slings, so I hope it'll be handy once bump lands. The shoulder straps tie together, and the bag has loops on it so it can be worn as a rucksack too, so its really quite flexible. A recent post shows me having a practice with a bedsheet, so this week was making my proper one. I got the fabric a few weeks ago, and started cutting out and sewing on Monday while everyone was out at gymnastics and forest school. Thankfully our forest school site escaped the floods in Hebden Bridge on Friday.
I had a bit of a crisis with my bag though. The corduroy I chose as one of my fabrics is quite thick- so thick that the rolled hems in the pattern don't fit through my sewing machine, sob. Tuesday evening I really discovered the problem, and I was having a bit of a panic about it Wednesday. I did find some thicker needles which helped a tiny bit, but mostly I've been feeding it carefully through my machine and only using the handcrank (and still snagging and breaking needles, etc). I have learned that I will not try this again!
Today I finished off the last couple of tricky seams while Big One made pasta, and then doing the tidying up with handsewing, which thankfully hasn't been as awful as I expected. I constructed a couple of seams differently which left a few unexpected raw edges, so the finish on this isn't as good as I managed on my practice bag, but on the whole I'm happy it will meet my needs, and most importantly I will choose to use it and not be too embarressed to say I made it!

Just as a reminder I do love all things greenwood (though DH is better and much more practiced now at sharpening tools) he found a lovely four sided diamond stone for sharpening with. We use Japanese water stones for  the majority of sharpening, but these don't remain flat with use, and will need flattening to help sharpen well- which the diamond stone is great for, and we've acquired some carboot sale find tools that could do with some rougher sharpening before getting on to our wet stones. Fabulous.
Big One sometimes like to have a 'school day', where I play teacher and she does more workbook based learning. At the weekend we went through a bag of clothes that had been 'put away' and amongst it was a gift of school uniform clothes. Big One likes dressing up, so on her school day she wore school uniform, and really enjoyed sitting down to 'learn'. Some of it was in our school room (our craft room) but I persuaded her we could do school in the dining room so I could sew at the machine while she worked :-). We've both learned its more pleasurable when I'm not breathing down her neck as she works things out for herself! Workbooks don't keep our interest all morning, though I did try to be 'teacher' and keep going a bit longer than we would have otherwise. What I really noticed though, was our breaktimes. The paper based learning was numbers, multiplication, addition, subtraction (interesting) and writing and phonics (much more suffering). Breaktime chats covered the prehistoric aspects of ferns, spore reproduction, dinosaurs, a bit of religion (how Jesus was voted the son of god at a council in the middle ages, atheism, respect for others beliefs etc) , social history of a local historic church and how the church has since shut, and much, much more which I've forgotten. We also had a walk into town (road safety, noise and other pollution), returning an overdue library book and paying the fine (discussions of different types of fines, parking regulations, ill effects of smoking (someone sat next to us on a bench smoking) moving onto limb amputation and how it the surgery might be done, shopping (mental arithmetic, project planning- I'm wanted to make some butteryfly/fairy wings) more shopping, cake selection ( a most important skill!), and then knowing how much money I took out of the bank she was able to tell DH just how expensive popping into town for some sewing needles was. Hmmm.
Big One found it a tiring day, and I found the 'teaching' bit straightforward, but the actual learning happened in all the breaks, chats, shopping and that was the fun, most rewarding and hard part.

Friday 22 June 2012

PIcs and peices

Hmm, need to work on my routines. It seems I get around to sorting photos for here about once a month. I prefer blogging with pictures. This would have happened sooner, but our internet isn't behaving at the moment, its not always working, or working fast enough- its been a problem these last few days.
Crowns for the jubilee

hard at work parenting
I'm on a forum which includes some very crafty ladies, so I wanted to share my recent cloth makings. I've done some mama pads. I've really enjoyed having something quite small to make using my 'new' sewing machine. Using different stitches (figuring out the controls was a sense of achievement- I didn't need youtube for changing stitches in the end, but it was very handy for figuring out how to fill a bobbin). The pads started off with an old flanellette sheet and hand towel, but I did buy some extra flanellette from Fabworks. With thread and snaps as well, I've probably spent about £10 on these pads. Buying them (yes, people do buy washable sanitary protection) would be about that for 3 (though that does depend on the fabric- some are really fancy), and I know the re-used fabric has been very well used in its old life as well.
Mama pads in progress

Nearly finished mamapads
 Yesterday Big One and I finally got the box of Fimo out. We got it a quite a few weeks ago, but as its new to me, I wanted time with just me and her to investigate it- I've not used it before. We have a few moulds in the kit, but  after one attempt at a flower I decided to decorate a spoon instead. My wood carving is suffering at the moment- I rest my work against my abdomen usually, and its not working the same with baby bump.I have a bowl I'd like to tidy up a few bits on, and I'm finding it difficult. Anyway, I was able to be a little creative with a spoon in another way.

My first attempts at fimo

 I've just taken some pics of my practice Onbag. I've struggled to find pictures of the inside of the bag , and didn't quite understand the pattern instructions without. So, I decided to use a ripped old sheet to have a practice, which I'm really glad about. Now I've made one, I know I like the overall style of the bag, but also the side pockets need adapting slightly to fit our family waterbottles comfortably. The sheet was white (as the girls are talking of adopting it, I imagine fabric pens will be put into use) so the photos don't show it very well, but here they are, with Little One as willing model. I haven't actually looked at the suggestions for how to tie the bag (there's a website of course!)- the point of this bag is the tying straps, so its all soft and can be used under/over/around a baby in a sling (though sling + baby not compulsory!). A friend has suggested padding the strap for additional comfort, and I think when I get my proper one made I'll do that. I'm just waiting on a cutting ruler -mum in law gave me a rotary cutter which is brilliant, but I think using a patchwork see-through ruler type thing will help me be a little less wasteful with straight lines.

Over the shoulder Onbag with Little One

Tied as a backpack

Trying to show one of the pockets with flap out of the way

Comfy enough over her shoulders!

Wednesday 13 June 2012

Back to Busy

OK, for the last post I was just having a bad couple of days- the last few days have been so busy they've flown by!
We've been out of the house every day, and that's included trips to fabric shops. I've had making a baby bag in mind, and found some gorgeous fabric. Bombay Stores in Bradford was nice for haberdashery side of things, and some very fancy fabrics to oggle, but for fabric choice Fabworks in Dewsbury just can't be beat (yet- happy to be proved wrong!). DH did the driving, which meant I wasn't too tired to wander around trying to decide, and failing miserably. My fabric stash is growing - which must be the same as the slugs in the allotment- as our plants don't seem to get chance to grow!

We fit in an educational trip to Ikea. It was going to be backup fabric shop, but instead it was lunch and discussions about Fire Regs, evacuation signs, sprinkler systems and alarms- we timed our visit to coincide carefully with the end of a fire alarm evacuation.

Big One saw the ironing board out (I only seem to iron fabric for sewing projects) and wanted a go, so who am I to stop her? The lowest height is just nice for her, so she was so happy ironing some sewing fabric we set off later to something she wanted to go to! Long may it last.... Little One was interested, but a bit too wary of the safety info- thankfully I reckon- she's a bit easily distracted so I can imagine her ironing fingers.
I inadvertently bought spirulina powder rather than capsules last time I shopped, and today my solution to that problem arrived- a capsule maker! The girls and I have got a bit messy filling a few dozens of capsules this evening, but its better than wasting a whole big bottle of powder (I really can't stand the taste), and a bit of interesting fun too.

The last few days have also included gymnastics, our regular weekly group and also fit in a trip over to Lancashire to have a look at a pushchair and carseat for bump- getting organised at last. If we're lucky we'll sort out the birth pool tomorrow... And so much for home ed being at home!

At Walsden there's an amazing permaculture place behind Gordon Rigg's- wow. We just had a quick look around, with DH telling me bits from the visit I missed a couple of weeks back, and I can see why he and our friends are so inspired. They've been there less than 2 years, have amazing (well made) raised beds, polytunnels- with passive heat stores, 100s of tree saplings grafted, a series of ponds (alas, a plethora of midges too)- its had some money invested in the infrastructure which really shows, compared to other places we've visited and is looking really, really interesting. I was a bit exhausted by the time we got there though, and Little One has been under the weather today, the others were hungry so we'll just have to plan to go back when we can ask intelligent questions/and/or get stuck in and work.

Looking forward to a few quieter days with the allotment and sewing- or whatever the girls come up with!

Saturday 9 June 2012

Good Days, Bad Days

Right now it feels like my blog is a misnomer. I'm not busy. Well, I am, if you count sitting down, lying down and sleeping as busy. Watching family life happen around me, explaining that although we planned x, y and z I'm not up to even thinking about x at the moment.
I've finished work, and had a few days feeling great. Tired, but great. Then I realised I'd run out of iron tablets, and have had a few days of not taking quite as many (well, feeling great, busy, etc, it wasn't my priority). Oops. I'm hoping I'll go back to having a bit of bounce when I get more tablets. Loads of Spatone doesn't seem to hit the spot the same way.

The last couple of days I've been at my best just after the girls have gone to bed, after spending the mornings shattered, the afternoons napping and then slowly coming round from sleep. Its frustrating.

I know life slows down when pregnant, and I'm truly grateful I don't need to worry about being fit for work anymore- that really is a huge weight off my mind. My last day was Jubilee Tuesday, and I had my first pregnancy 'ohh, I know how to do this but I can't find the right button' moment.  My poor patient had to be very understanding while we swapped rooms so I could do my job, but at least there was a solution, and an hour later I could do that task just fine, without thinking. Glad that if it had to happen, it was on my last day.

I'm finding my head is going all over the place these days- I've had a few great days, full of plans and ideas, and considering 'big thoughts'. That ranges from when we'll plan to move again, and where we want to end up (DH has been to an inspirational permaculture place which has thrown in a whole new range of things to consider), to reading about Bobby Kennedy- wow, he sounded to have amazing things to say, especially for back in the 60s.
Here's a bit from wikipedia that caught my eye:

A good idea of his proposals come from the following extract of a speech given at the University of Kansas.

“ If we believe that we, as Americans, are bound together by a common concern for each other, then an urgent national priority is upon us. We must begin to end the disgrace of this other America. And this is one of the great tasks of leadership for us, as individuals and citizens this year. But even if we act to erase material poverty, there is another greater task, it is to confront the poverty of satisfaction—purpose and dignity—that afflicts us all. Too much and for too long, we seemed to have surrendered personal excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our Gross National Product, now, is over $800 billion dollars a year, but that Gross National Product—if we judge the United States of America by that—that Gross National Product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them. It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities. It counts Whitman's rifle and Speck's knife, and the television programs that glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children. Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.[48]

Wow. I know its all what ifs, but what if he had been elected president? What if he had actually been able to implement his words? How different would the world be today?

DH and I are very conventional compared to many our friends, but yet still have many who consider us a long way from mainstream, its a funny place to be. A friend mentioned to me this week  'Well, you probably even go to the dentists, you pay council tax- how unconventional is that?!' Good point. Anyway, back to Bobby, if the world changed the way he was heading with it (prioritising things I think are important!), we'd be completely mainstream.
However, as he mentioned above 'integrity in public officials' -I wouldn't believe a politician today who said anything like the above, let alone have any faith they could implement it. So it comes back to politicians who run entire countries yet you wouldn't trust them to care for your loved ones...when did corruption and manipulation become so acceptable?

On to other things- I've dug out an old sheet this evening that's ready for a new life, so have a few baby sheets to hem and finally getting around to starting to make some mama pads. I've got as far as considering a baby bag- specifically an Onbag, but it still feels a bit much. Some days it feels like tempting fate to prepare for baby- I don't know if I'm just having normal pregnancy paranoia, or if my perspective is tilted from work, or something else is going on. I know getting to this point doesn't mean having a live, or neccesarily well baby. Babies die at any stage in pregnancy, when they're born, or just after. Often with no 'reason' or explanation.
 With Big One I had firmly in my head 37 weeks, after that point I could consider having a live baby to figure out. That stage was from a young mum I scanned in my first year qualified, came in for a relatively routine scan, had felt baby move that morning- but I had to tell her that her baby was dead- a complete shock to her. I don't remember being quite as concerned when expecting Little One, but I'm sure I had my moments. Since Little One two bloggers I follow have had babies who died at birth/a few days old, and I sometimes it feels like tempting fate having a third child. This time around, well, I've felt so ill all pregnancy I've barely had the energy to think,let alone consider the future when bump lands- but I've talked to both girls so they are aware babies can grow fine inside mummies tummies but not always live when they are born. I really hope that I'm just having a gloom and doom day today. Thursday was a really positive day, and that wasn't long ago.

Saturday 2 June 2012

Sewing Day

We had a problem with our boiler, which meant I had to miss out on a trip out we had planned. Looking on the bright side, it made me finally keep my promise to Big One and make her a new sunhat- she's finally grown out of the one I made 2 years ago. 
The little daisy button is my first try at covering a button with fabric- my button selection wasn't up to the job.

My lovely sister-in-law has given me a fab sewing machine, and with the help of youtube (to figure out how to disengage the clutch for filling the bobbin) I can use it.
Its been so long since the last sunhat, I've moved laptops so I had to upload the free software again.
At this point I wondered if it would actually turn into a hat....but it did!
With sewing happening, Big One decided to join in. She asked for help making the templates (to her own designs) and then decided she'd prefer me to help cut out the felt as well. Everything else was her own work- while I had a doze on the sofa. She's made 2 other shapes since the photos, and invited a friend in to sew with her!

Friday 1 June 2012

A month of photos

Enough about how rough I've felt (feeling better now!) here's the photos that have been sat on the camera.

fun in the sun- clothes not compulsory!

a trip out in York
Home made frozen peanut butter chocolate yoghurt and homemade quick chocolate sauce- yum...
Eczema-friendly raw cocoa butter and shea butter moisturiser bars
chocolate eggs made by Big One
Boat with anchor made by Big One. Playing with food does not mean it gets eaten!
sourdough white bread

butter delivery system!
Dressing up at Skipton Museum