Friday, 10 December 2010

An inspirational Mama

I read about this mama on a forum I use. After losing her three month old son to Meningitis, she is determined to raise greater awareness of the signs and to fundraise in his memory. She is also donating breastmilk. Her strength is inspirational.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Doing what we like to do!

We've not been up to much lately.... just a bit of mooching about the place doing bits and bobs. Not a lot of going out as it is a bit cold and slippy. So this is a little snapshot of what we have enjoyed doing this week.

Moo likes playing with a wooden toy which I got many moons ago from Freecycle. Its consists of four stacking hollow cyclinders (if you get what I mean!) which fit one inside the other, on top of which go 4 stacking shapes to create a pyramid. A bit complex for her now but she enjoys the two smallest cylindrical shapes.

She likes to post the smallest one inside the next size up one, but can't figure out why it just won't stay in and keeps falling out of the bottom! She has a good few attempts, each time she plays, before giving up and moving onto something else!

Beanie likes a simple little car track, given to Little Man for a gift when he was a similar age. He likes to sit and watch the car go around and around!


And I did a spot of proper cooking on Sunday. We had a lovely Sunday Roast. We've been so busy the last few weeks. I worked a few Sundays and we have visited my parents-in-law a few times too. It feels like ages since I cooked a Roast. I was quite proud of these Yorkshires!

Monday, 29 November 2010


Christingle to me is usually celebrated on the 4th Sunday of Advent or maybe Christmas Eve. In our area, however, we had our Christingle on the 1st Sunday of Advent, which was yesterday. It was a lovely start to the Christmas season for us. We trudged through the snow to a VERY cold church and celebrated a lovely children's' service with about 20 other families from our area.

Moo spotted the sweets on hers within seconds and devoured them one by one, quite quickly. It took a little skill to pull them off the cocktail stick, but she soon mastered this. Her eyes then wandered to everyone else's Christingles and anyone within her reach would find themselves a sweet or two short. By contrast Beanie clutched onto his preciously, gripping it tight to his chest. He kept setting it down on the bench to admire it and mutter different things about it, before picking it back up again and clutching it tightly. At the end of the service we all lit our Christingles, Beanie did his usual Happy Birthday/blow out the candle within seconds of it being lit, so after attempt number 3 we gave up. The Church looked lovely lit by the light from our Chritingles, on a cold, snowy November afternoon.

On the way home in the car, the thermometer display thingemy read -6. It felt like it too.

For anyone who doesn't know.... the orange represents the world, the red ribbon around the world represents the blood of Christ, the candle represents Jesus as the light of the world and the sweets (sometimes raisins) represent the fruit of the earth, ie the harvest.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Our Garden Friends

One of the things we really like to do each day is to put food out for the birds. We put out thistle seed, wild bird mix, sunflower seeds, fat balls, bird cake and peanuts too. We also have a rowan tree which has lovely bright red berries on at the moment, a favourite with the robins and blackbirds! There are trees backing onto our garden and also some ivy over the back fence, which provides perfect cover for them from several neighbourhood cats!

Right now in the garden I can see a robin, a pair of blackbirds, a chaffinch, several goldfinches, many sparrows and some starlings. Over the 9 months we have been here 15 different types of birds have visited our garden: robins, starlings, sparrows, blackbirds, blue tits, coal tits, great tits, goldfinches, chaffinches, greenfinches, a great spotted woodpecker, woodpigeons, doves, magpies and a pair of jackdaws! Not bad for our little garden!

Thursday, 18 November 2010

A Homemade Christmas

This year I'm trying, as far as possible, to make Christmas gifts myself. In fact, I plan to make sure each person we give to receives one homemade gift. Here's how I'm getting on.

So far I have made:
For hampers for various family- onion marmalade (recipe in last post!) and spiced pickled red cabbage
Some rainbow wax crayons
I have also almost finished a cushion  for my niece (photo to follow!)

To be made:
2 more cushions for my nieces and one for my sister from the children.
Courgette chutney
Apple and Garlic chutney
Cranberry Vodka
Mince Pies
Mini Christmas Cakes
Christmas biscuits

I'll also add wine, cheese, little sweets in jars and a few other bits to the hampers.

Some bean bags for Beanie
Some playsilks need dyeing for Moo
Some treasure baskets need 'creating' for Moo
Some craft baskets need 'creating' for Little Man

Better get on with it!

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Onion Marmalade

I found this recipe in a forum I often use, so I hope it's ok that I write it here. I had a big bag of onions left from my Riverford Veg Box and was also looking for things to make to add to home-made Christmas hampers which I am giving as gifts. I made it last night, and my hubby, who taste-tested it, says it's lovely!

You need:

1.5-2 kgs onions.
500ml balsamic vinegar
Half a small cup of sugar
Some sterilised preserving jars with vinegar proof lids

1. Peel and chop your onions finely and place them in a big pan.
2. Pour over the balsamic vinegar.
3. Sprinkle on about half a child-size cup full of ordinary sugar.
4. Simmer away for 2 hours stirring every 5-10 minutes.
5. After two hours  your mixture should be lovely and soft. Taste and add a little more sugar if needed. If not,  you can bottle it all then.
6. To sterilise your jars: wash in warm soapy water. Rinse with boiling water. Place on a baking sheet in a warm oven to dry for 10-15 mins. They are now ready!
7. Once bottled up, wipe the jars with a damp cloth to remove any spillage. Marmalade can be eaten straight away or kept in a cool dark place for up to 3 months.
8. Be warned, as the mixture cools in the jars, you will hear the seal 'pop' tightly to form a vacuum. Warn any husbands who may be in the house, that this may happen. Especially if you are going out. As they may a) get a fright and b) wander round the house wondering what keeps making the noise.

Hope they make nice gifts!

Friday, 5 November 2010

Caving with Toddlers

He's been in one of those moods all week. You know the ones, where they have more energy than they can burn off, more enthusiasm than you can direct into a task and, well, more to say for themselves than ever before! On days where we can get out and about, I really enjoy those moods. I feel Beanie's learning is almost tangible. His enthusiasm and energy for life radiate from him, and a walk in the woods, jumping from tree stumps, kicking leaves, hunting for squirrels and collecting conkers/acorns/pine cones in the spotty bag which goes EVERYWHERE, is an absolute joy. It's getting to the woods that's the problem or more specifically, getting to a point where we can leave the house, without leaving utter devastation behind us!

This morning, whilst attempting to dry my hair, Beanie began to play with the clothes airer. I remember playing with my Nana's clothes airer as a child so I watched him and listened as he chatted away. "Building a cave! Look Mummy! A cave!" he chatted as he turned it on its side and made a traingular prism shape with the sides. "I made a cave!" he shouted whilst crawling through. Now Mummy really ought to know better than  to interfere with children whilst role playing, but interfere I did and fetched a black bed sheet from the airing cupboard, draping it over the 'cave'. Feeling quite proud of myself for enabling his play further, I stood back. "No Mummy, that's not a cave," said the Boy quite indignantly, whilst pulling the sheet off the cave. He looked at me, picked the sheet up and said "I doing it!". The sheet was re-arranged and 10 minutes of crawling in and out of the cave ensued. Moo got in on the act and crawled in and out too, giggling away. They really do have a language and way of communicating all of their own.

2 hours later we still haven't left the house... whilst I tidied away the 'cave', he had water play with the toothbrush holder... whilst I mopped up the water he made a 'bed' with the duvet covers I had put to one side to take to the Thrift Shop and took a bath in the baby bath which was also headed to the Thrifty.... whilst I re-arranged my Thrift pile a whole train/car  track extravaganza was constructed in the lounge! Upstairs is tidy, downstairs not, and I haven't even touched the breakfast things. Moo is dressed, Beanie has been dressed three times, undressing himself again after 5 minutes. It's been one of those mornings, but at least someone has had fun. Daddy will be home soon, so maybe we will get out of the house this afternoon?

Thursday, 4 November 2010

To Do...

Inspired by PixieMama, these are the things I really need to do in November:
  • do some real sorting out and selling- clothes toys and other general clutter- and take it to the thrift shop/sell on ebay or take to charity.
  • Have a good hunt in charity shops, thrift, car boots and at the market for lovely Christmas stocking fillers, and for some lovely bits and pieces to brighten up the house.
  • Do some Christmas making and baking. Christmas cake, Christmas pudding, sausage rolls, cheese rolls, muffins, chutneys and other lovely nibbles won't make themselves! I also like the look of making some of these for the children.
  • Make some Christmas hampers: a yummy goodies one for my Father-in-Law, a pamper one for my Sister and some arts and crafts ones for Little Man.
  • Sign up for some craft courses at our closest Arts Centre- there's a Christmas wreath making one and also a beginners crochet I'd like to try.
  • Do my tax return
  • Do 2 CCRS (Catholic Certificate in Religious Studies- a Catholic Teaching Certificate) to complete the course by December.
  • Print off lots of photos and update the family albums.
  • Start a season table and do some seasonal crafts with the children. Take them out and about more too.
  • Blog more
I'll let you know how I get on!

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Pumpkin Fun!

Ready to roll!

Beanie's technique is just to let it go! Not even giving it a push!

Who won? Beanie of course, he's just one of THOSE children who can turn his hand to anything and be good at it!

The boys were even quite enthusiastic about fetching the pumpkins back up to the top of the hill!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Weekending with Us- Part Two- Lazy Saturdays?

Lazy Saturdays? Not in our house.

We popped into town to see if the library had any free range education/ Montessori books in. They did not. Nor did any of the libraries in the rest of our county, or the neighbouring county, have any of the 8 books on my list. They weren't particularly unusual books, maybe its all the cutbacks!

We were slightly luckier in a charity shop where, although they didn't have any jigsaws, I did find these beautiful Chinese bowls, which I snapped up.


My lovely friend Bev has quite a collection of these, which she uses with her minded children at Chinese New Year. It was lovely to watch them tucking into chicken and sweetcorn soup last time we did a 'Festivals Day', so I was watching out for some of my own. I'm chuffed to have found them.

We also picked up a threading toy for Beanie. Again I had been looking out for some cotton reels or similar for a while for him to thread onto a shoe lace. This was even better though, brightly painted wooden animals. He loves it!

The afternoon saw us doing some bits and bobs in the garden. The boys made a great raised bed from an old wooden pallet.

Just another lazy Saturday with us then!

Weekending with Us-Part One

Weekends have been a bit busy here lately. There have just been so many things that needed doing in the house or the garden that it seems like ages since we had a really chilled out weekend, just for us. So that's what the aim was this weekend!

With daddy often home from work by lunchtime on Fridays, we had planned for the weekend to start on Friday afternoon! So shortly after lunch we set off for a little wood a friend had told me about, promising it would be perfect for a certain over-energetic toddler. Expectations were high! We had been looking for somewhere locally for a while now, that we could go to for a few hours of family time. The essential criteria for our perfect place were:
  • suitable for longish walks, that's toddler long! 2 miles ish.
  • close to nature, with lots of things to look at, touch, collect and hear, but on reasonable paths for small people not to keep tumbling over.
  • Not too busy.
  • A cafe would be nice too and maybe a little adventure park.
After parking (£3, which we didn't mind as it was donated to the RSPB), we secured Moo in my lovely Joey Mei Tai and set off across the car park, only to discover these lovely specimens! Beanie was fascinated.

"Look Mummy, mushrooms," declared Beanie!

The wood was absolutely beautiful, and Beanie thoroughly enjoyed running off to find sticks, collect acorns and seek out squirrels, who were equally as eager to avoid him!

We found some lovely sculptures in a clearing, which Beanie said were curtains! I love a toddler with imagination, that uses their knowledge of what they know to make sense of new things!

We met and chatted to a few people as we wandered along the trail, including a lovely older couple walking their beautiful Jack Russell dogs. Beanie loved stroking them and kept saying " Hello darlings!"


It was a lovely place for a relaxing afternoon walk, it definitely ticked all the boxes we needed it to!

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Alternative Blog Names!

I should have started writing a blog several months ago. Many posts were written mentally and ideas noted of things I loved from other blogs, that I much enjoy reading. Posting on my own was something which I was keen to do. However, procrastination, indecisiveness and general dithering over what I should call my blog got in the way. Every time I decided on a title, I doubted whether it was catchy enough, if it summed up me and my little brood well and countless other doubts too. So, her are some of the other blog names on the list!

  • Somewhere in the Middle- we live in the midlands, and I find myself sitting 'in the middle' on most things: we babywear sometimes, we grow our own (but not loads)... you get where this is going!
  • Beanie, Moo and Mama too- me and my little ducklings... but I didn't want to leave dad out!
  • Butterflies and Buttons- two of my favourite things. I just love butterflies, hence the banner, and buttons too.
  • Wonder mama- not because I'm big headed or anything like that. Trust me, I'm far from wonderful! More that I seem to constantly hurry and rush these days!
  • Time for another coffee?- Isn't it always? Not the instant kind, or those awful cappuccinos from a machine where you just press the button. But proper filter coffee. Freshly made.
  • Mummy to the Monkeys- and they are little monkeys! One is going through a 'mountain goat' stage, of climbing on everything! So maybe mummy and the Kids? In the nicest possible way, of course!
  • Adventures of our Free Range Family-  I do like to think that we allow our children to be a little free range. We use gentle discipline and like them to explore outdoors. We like them to be their own little people and explore at their own will. There are a few 'free range' titled blogs that I've stumbled across and enjoyed. They do, however, all seem to be much more free range than us though, and give me something to aspire to, both in how we encourage our children to learn and grow and in the lifestyle of our family.
But in the end Make, Do and Mend won the day. I know the phrase is more 'Make-do and mend', but I like it the way I've written it. I hope to use this blog to show you the things we have made, to talk about the things we do as a family and also that it will bring out our up-cycling/mending skills! It sums up the things we enjoy; boot sales, thrift and charity shops and also making and mending from various other sources!

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Re-discovering the Creative Me

In the years BC (before children), time was aplenty. I remember long lie ins, I mean REALLY long, way past 9am! I remember turning my hand to card making, meticulously keeping photo albums of holidays, summers, city breaks, friends and one extra-special one of my step-son's time with us. Now I have to-do lists; lists of bits the children need for the autumn/winter, list of things I have been meaning to do for a LONG time, lists of things I need to do today, this week, in the garden... and so the lists go on. The photo albums haven't been updated in months, a bag of card-making and craft bits sits dusty on the shelf waiting for me to finish our honeymoon album, and several pairs of curtains(well 4 pairs actually) are that little bit too long. There's no room in this busy family filled lifestyle for a more creative me, despite the lovely old singer sewing machine sat up in our bedroom, kindly given to me via freecycle by a lovely couple whose mum sadly no longer needs it since she went into a home. I feel a duty, an obligation to put it to good use and hem the curtains, make some lavendar filled hearts for my Mother-in-law's Christmas Present and maybe even some lovely Christmas bunting. My lovely (half-knitted) scarf sits in the dining room screaming to be finished and those albums arent going to complete themselves.

Top of my lists is the need to make room for my creative side. The practical need for Christmas gifts to be made and various pairs of curtains to be hemmed aside, since we moved here in February I haven't been myself, I've been feeling down in the dumps, not sure which direction to take my life in, and generally quite sorry for myself. I'm hoping that by making time for my creative side my confidence will increase, I'll be happier in who I am and the life I live... oh and there'll be less on my to do list too. Well at least this is one thing off my list, start a blog. Chance for my literary creative side to be explored.

I hope you enjoy reading the adventures of my wonderful, fun-loving, life-loving brood as much as I enjoy and feel privellaged to share their lives with them.