Sunday, January 30, 2011

Weekend craftiness

 Finally finished my shirt. This was a pattern I have adapted from Weekend Sewing. It's my first attempt to make a blouse for myself with sleeves and I'm pretty chuffed. The fabric is a little thinner than I would normally use, and I'll be needing a cami underneath it, but all in all it's turned out well. I am intending to adapt it more and make some other shirts with yoke necks and maybe some with longer tunic style bodices.

Two pairs of trousers for the boys from a simple Burda patterns. Master Beehive the elder's in red are a brushed cotton and have a pocket on the leg, like a cargo style. Master Beehive the younger's are the cheap Ikea fabric I mentioned before, he has an extra pocket on the back. Again, this is an easy and very adaptable pattern. MB the younger chose a brass effect button for his fastener, but MB the elder will have a press stud fastening.

We took the kids to see Tangled today. It was a fantastic film, really enjoyable for all of us. Yesterday I was at work and so Mr Beehive cooked dinner for me. He is also cooking this evening, so I have been truly spoiled this weekend and haven't cooked a dot!

I have a new job on Monday for a few weeks, working with a new mama whilst she just adjusts to life and I've also had another article accepted for publication, so am just doing some edits whilst sat on the sofa drinking tea and listening to Mr Beehive scurrying around in the kitchen. Heavenly!

On other things, I've just found a way to cut down both my shopping bill and hopefully, some packaging by buying in bulk from here. I'm just using it to buy in the dry goods and cleaning things that I would normally get as and when.
We have had a friend here this weekend, so I've been "bin diving" at odd moments to ensure that nothing extra is being thrown that we can recycle. Fortunately she's from Germany where there is a recycling system that puts ours to shame in this country, so doesn't look at me funny when I fly out of my seat to grab a plastic bag that's heading to the trash or fight my way around carrot peelings to give them to the pigs.
I am still struggling with some variants of plastic that our council won't take, that the bag people at the Norfolk factory won't take and that I can't take to the recyling centre. I may be able to take the pot like plastics to a nursery, but they're not going to want to be inundated with my cast off recycling and ultimately, all I'm doing is passing the buck knowing full well that this stuff will actually just end up in the landfill anyway, only via someone else's bin!
I'm aiming to reduce supermarket packaging myself by using my cloth bags for loose produce, buying large pots of yoghurt and syphoning it off into small steel containers when the kids take some for school, trying to use the deli more and fresh meat and fish counters, but it's still there...there's still the stuff that won't recycle, the wrappings that no one will take.

Ah well, another week...another rubbish diet!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Wheels on the Bike

Teaching your child to ride a bike without stabilisers is one of those things life throws at you as a parent.

This afternoon my niece has been very chuffed with her efforts to rid herself of the Knieval wheels. According to my sister, she can now nicely take herself around the skateboard park, that is of course, unless there are any remote obstacles...within a 100 metre radius. I remember that fact well. It's such an achievement to learn to stay on, that learning to stay on AND avoid other people or kerbs or stationary objects are far buried in the depths of one's mind.

My niece and I are in fact, kindred spirits. I remember my father teaching me, age seven, to ride my red bike on the lawn in our garden. I have a feeling, buried even deeper that this was nothing to do with his sweet natured desire to protect my knees, but more to do with the fact that I was a wuss and "didn't do corners" so, he figured that riding on our grass where I'd have to stop (if I didn't turn) when I hit the fence was probably a better option than the road where I may not have stopped at something far more serious, like a roundabout or cross roads.

Luckily I am pleased to admit that I did pass my driving test the first time around and maybe this was just a hiccup in my ability as a child rather than something that hindered me through life - although I'm sure some, would beg to differ.

As my sister proceeded to give me the low down on my niece's progress, she revealed that my niece did seem somewhat unerved when my sister decided to run after her. Obviously, in my sis's mind, this is with my niece's best interests at heart, she wants to protect her baby if she falls, as any parent would! But no! My niece, bear in mind, she already calls me Mad Aunty Beehive, sees a grown woman lurching towards her, arms flailing and picking up speed, somewhat like a lumbering bear after winter hibernation and...well, what would you do?...She cycles faster, the adrenalin kicks in, heartrate picks up, pedal, pedal, pedal until...the straight, flat space runs out....Luckily my sis always takes the band aids!

In our house, bike riding takes a less pragmatic approach.

Master Beehive the younger has learned to ride his bike - in a straight line - by Mr Beehive taking him out, wobbly, along the canal path!!!

Yes, canal!

50feet of murky canal water on one side, thorn bushes on the WILL ride will swim, or hurt. Of course, this isn't actually Mr Beehive's intention, he is just looking for flat, straight, safe areas, however, were I to have known that this was the plan de jeux I may have thought twice. Still, the wee fella is an expert! He now rides with his daddy for miles along the canal, is a dab hand at recognising the flora en route (particularly distinguishing between holly and berberis!) and never complains about turning back...I think that MAY have something to do with doing a U turn within inches of the inky black depths rather than his desire for long distance bike riding!

Luckily I didn't ask Mr Beehive to teach them to swim as I do feel that Blackpool Pier is probably not the best place.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Size is everything and it may cost you too!

Waste rationing appears to be something that is on many councils' agendas and, while I think their hearts are in the right place, I'm not sure that this is actually going to impact on reducing the waste people throw each year.

80 bin bags a year seems a pretty reasonable feat actually. Even for us, a family of six, we are now managing easily with only 1 bin bag per week.

However, this is with a good-ish recycling service, guinea pigs who will eat broccoli stalks and some left over raw veg, a compost (and chooks in the future), and an educated family who truly believe there is a need to ration our waste, so make an effort.

We also have the benefit of a car - to get to the charity shop (we're also on a great bus route), access to the internet for freecycle and ebay etc etc.

My concern is the heavy handed approach to this. I am in full agreement that something needs to be done though.

We are slowly no longer living on the earth's crust, instead we're living on an artificial crust of plastic toys and polythene bags.

Limiting families to 80 bin bags, whilst hard hitting, isn't actually going to work for the families who need educating the most;
  • What about the families who can pay the fine easily and it means nothing to them?
  • What about the families who don't care about recycling or don't know how to, and will fly tip?
  •  How do you monitor families who live in flats and use communal bins?
    • How do you fairly differentiate between the family of 2.4 and the family of 8 who will, undoubtedly, produce a little more waste. Is it actually going to make the family of 2.4 produce way less than 80 whilst the family of 8 or more, struggle, or will they think they have far more room to play and still produce 80 bags!
    •  What about the rest who can and will, but actually their excess waste will end up on the local tip anyway, but privately driven rather than in a council truck?
    • And finally, what about rewarding those that do now and will continue to do even if they are a family of 2.4, 6, 8 or even 12?
      Is this method going to work for them?

      Do we even need bin bags at all? Just as an aside I noticed the other day that TKMaax (yes I am going to name and shame) has brought back in their "free bags". They are apparently donating money to a charity for planting new trees if you bring your own, but how is that actually limiting people's immediate habitual reach for them and helping them remember their reusable shoppers? I don't see that the consequences of paying 2p for a plastic bag are quite as congruous on people and the earth as not having somewhere to dump your 81st bin bag.

      What if the only bin bags that are sold in the UK have to be biodegradable - we got rid of the old bulbs this way...why not bin bags? Maybe for those people who don't use bin bags at all, the council could offer a bin washing service?

      What waste was weighed and assessed on family size and then you get a reduction in your council tax according to your annual waste?

      Rather than telling people they "can't" throw away or they'll be fined, make it more of a challenge with a financial incentive as a reward - the donkey and carrot effect rather than hitting the mule with a stick to get it to move forward.

      And why is the onus totally on the consumer? Reducing landfill and waste has to start with manufacturers packing stuff in less or ensuring the package is fully recycleable. The numbers of plastic that are still not, would push me to be thinking, were I a CEO, let's use a different type of plastic then, one that IS recyclable. I would hope we have a scheme in the UK whereupon large business were penalised for their innappropriate use of waste and packaging. Rome wasn't built in a day, not everyone will buy loose food, not everyone will take their own cloth bags to the supermarkets to pack their loose apples or carrots, so we have to appeal to the masses. Baby steps as they say...

      Maybe if many politicians didn't have two homes with two lots of waste and two lots of carbon footprinting and two lots of taxes to fiddle, we'd have more support for these cockheaded ideas (I know, new government, everything is different ... of course...let's watch this space eh?)

      Our bins were collected this morning and I am proud to say we did only have the one bin bag...I do feel silently proud of our attempts this week.

      Thursday, January 27, 2011

      Creative space

      Not so many words today, my last couple of blog posts have been very wordy. Instead I thought I'd share my creative workspace with you. Inspired by Amanda at Soulemama to share, not to keep all my work neatly in one basket mind, here is a little insight into the birth and growth of my creative space which currently spills into every possible corner or basket. In the new house - I'm going to have a room...well, maybe a part of a room!

      So this is a wrap I felted and it closes with a pin. I am going to make another one as I have one more Facebook gift to give...

      This is a new arrival of stash that came today - some pretty cottons for a few tunic blouses for spring for LMB and myself and fleeces for each of the children.

      Neatly stacked stash just waiting for time.

      . Some Spring pants made from some Ikea Linen mix. Two metres cost me four pounds!!!! They have pockets, zip, waistband and I just finished the turn up hem this evening. I'll try to post a picture of the boy in them tomorrow.

      I have huge inspiration for my workspace, racks for threads, jars for buttons, shelves for fabric.

      Do you have any pictures of your workspace?

      Tuesday, January 25, 2011

      Decluttering, the holistic way!

      I am wondering if another important part of reducing waste is to also reduce the stuff that is cluttering your own mind.
      I'm sure, if I took a holistic approach to this, I would be thinking that cluttering begins from the inside out and, it's all well and good reducing your financial output, your waste, your car miles etc, but if your brain is still immensly cluttered and projects aren't getting finished yadda, yadda, is this really conducive to a cleaner, more useable workspace?

      As most of you know, I'm a student and I work, and I'm a mum. It's a continual juggling act to ensure that one doesn't take over from the rest and make sure everything stays balanced.
      My current workload is one night, one day per week and being on call for the next month. These are non negiotiable parts of my life and I don't want to impinge on these.

      Study, on the otherhand is another assignment for an OU module, one Certificate in Applied Health Science assignment, a piece of writing for a magazine and I'm also staying up to date on Midwifery info and reading up when I get the chance.

      Crafting; I have a pair of trousers pinned out for Master Beehive the younger and I'm still working on my waistcoat. I have one Facebook give back handmade pledge giftie to finish and a desperate idea for my friend who is having a baby in July.

      I sat down last night and looked at what was giving me the biggest stress in my life right now and it's the Open Uni module. It's a degree module in Human Biology, which I'm doing in order to broaden my knowledge of the human body before I begin in September. I don't need it as I have my unconditional offer, and frankly it's a massively tall order to go from GCSE grassroots knowledge to degree module standard, and independent learning at that! The TMA's are enjoyable, I'm learning loads and I think are doing me a lot of good, however, the thought of an exam in June whereupon I'm going to need to know the finer workings of the brain and eye, just fill me with undue nerves and stress. I am a visual and kinaesthetic learner, if I don't understand a concept and it is explained to me in other ways or demonstrated, it goes in and sticks, if I just read the same words and text over and over, my mind blanks out!

      What's the point? I will have learned what I need to learn from the textbooks and passed the assignments, yet I don't have the confidence, or, more importantly the time, to do the exam, the revision and give it the justice it will need. So, I think this may be the bit to let go of.

      When I was interviewed last year, I asked what I ought to be doing to ensure that my knowledge base was on a par with where it needed to be before commencing and was told to not do anything other than move and settle in. I was told my knowledge base was over par thanks to the NCT diploma. I guess I just didn't listen or believe them because my background wasn't rooted "in Science".

      But is midwifery purely a Science? Isn't there an element of Art too? Shouldn't a "good midwife" be able to listen to her clients and interpret their words, palpate a stomach rather than going on a recent scan or a tapemeasure, hear a baby's heartbeat through a pinard rather than relying solely on a CTG? Of course, it's fundamental that a midwife understands the female body and how pregnancy changes things. It's crucial she knows fetal diameters and landmarks of the head and pelvis. She should be able to read and intepret partograms. It's very important she knows about the heart and circulatory system, but not as stand alone subjects. Science and Art are symbiotically related within Midwifery, a midwife needs to be able to not only use her knowledge, but also her intuition and growing experience and that of the woman she is with.

      I am not being naive enough to say that midwives don't meet many women who have complex health problems that are affected by pregnancy, probably increasingly so with the age of first time mothers increasing and the rising rate of obesity, and that they don't need to know how to work with these women, because they do. So don't worry that I'll not be informed, knowledgeable or read up, or that I'll be an arse that thinks I'm "too good/radical/speshul" for the hard slog of medical text books (and my slog may be harder than most!).

      But if "normal" birth was actually perceived by everyone as spontaneous vaginal birth that is free of drugs or interventions and more births were left alone to just happen and not induced or augmented; if more low risk women were allowed the option to birth at home or in a birth centre; then the midwife, the expert in normal birth, will be able to do her job without feeling that science and medicine is taking over a natural, physiological life process. Midwives would see waterbirth on a daily basis, the art of birthing a breech baby would not be a slowly dying one, home would be the first port of call for most parents when they're contemplating where to have their baby as all this would be a normal, everyday occurrence - as it used to be!

      Birth is only as safe as life gets, sometimes life needs a helping hand, but most of the time we're allowed to make decisions that we feel are best for us, we aren't helped with our daily physiological processes normally, unless there is a problem and then...thank god for medicine. So...let's keep birth physical, normal and out of hospitals as much as we can!

      I'm not sure I'm doing anyone good putting myself under exam pressure over these next few months when I could be finishing other work in progress and maybe drinking tea?

      Intelligent tea drinking for the soul - who's in?

      And just because it's always good to digress from what you're meant to be doing and what is the inspiration of the blog...I sorted out my fat quarters - doesn't it look pretty - that has to open the heart and mind to more learning, just by looking at something pretty.

      Sunday, January 23, 2011

      How are we doing ?

      With one week left to go in January, I thought I'd give you a brief update on how we have managed in this challenge this month.

      January is a fairly easy month in which to have a "no-spend" policy on anything frivalous or unecessary. There's just been a huge week of celebrations that produce far more food that anyone can consume in one sitting, presents and vouchers!
      We have lived off our Christmas vouchers - we got a trip to the cinema last night with some free tickets, we went to see the amazing (secret girl crush *oops!*) Ani DeFranco using the tickets I bought in October (doesn't count, so ner!) and I'm off to buy a book today with my Christmas gift voucher.

      We have removed all take aways this month which, whilst has been harder work for me on a Friday night, has meant that our diet has improved, so I think we'll make this more permanent and only have a takeaway once a month instead of each Friday as has become the habit.

      Working through the contents of the freezer has opened my imagination up again to making stuff out of unusual odds and ends and the slow cooker has been on each Sunday night to ensure we've a meal for one day in the week from the left overs.

      I've done a lot more crafting this month when I've not been studying and this has resulted in three new pairs of trousers for me, a pair for LMB, a baby blanket for a friend, some knitted wristies for another, a couple of quilted table mats for two other friends, a huge proportion of my current WIP being knitted up and a quilted pyjama case for LMB.

      We have worked like bilio on decluttering and Mr Beehive took six bin bags of old sheets, towels, quilt covers, cot sheets and blankets, 3 year old girlie clothing and two huge boxes of books to Oxfam.

      The washing and drying has been a little more traumatic, particularly on the weekend when I have everyones sheets to wash and dry and my small utility room where the machine is, overflows with linen. I have *blush* put the dryer on twice today to get rid, but during the week, we're hanging on the airer and on the Sheila maid in the garage. It's still way too cold for any drying outside yet.

      The most noticeable difference for me has had to be groceries. I've made a list each week and stuck to it and I shop on a Tuesday and Tuesday only, when I'm waiting for the children to finish an after school activity. The only exception to this has been the joint of meat we buy on a Saturday for Sunday and the week ahead or the odd bottle of milk when we have run out. This has cut my grocery bill down significantly because I'm not buying off the cuff or buying in a bitty way through the week. It's also meant we've actually finished what we have in the fridge, and gone without if we run out, before I shop the following week.

      I have walked much more and used the bus so our car useage has reduced. I'm now filling the car every fortnight (if that) rather than every week.

      Things we have bought however, have been our ferry to France and paid the deposit on our gite as we would have lost out if we left it until February.

      I still haven't managed to persuade Mr Beehive to take a packed lunch to work - although food there is not expensive as they have a huge subsidy.

      A cup of tea each Wednesday before yoga as I have a half hour to "kill" beforehand.

      We have needed to mail things, so there has been some money spent on postage and Master Beehive the elder was invited to the funfair in the city before it left for the season a couple of weeks ago, so I gave him a tenner for use there as I felt *my* challenge wasn't necessarily to inflict him and prevent him doing things. That said, they have been really good in participating in the challenge and are taking drinks in reuseable cups to their activities and snacks from home etc (not that we ever really bought stuff out before).

      So, my challenge for next month may be the hardest one yet. I do intend to keep up the spending theme but rather than saying no to everything due to not spending, we'll just maintain the good habits ie: reading the paper on line, shopping once a week, not using the dryer so much, recycling and reusing etc.

      February's challenge is to see if, as a family, we can bring our waste down to one bin bag per week.
      This is coming at a time when we're decluttering and trying to downsize our lives ready for our impending move, so I think will add the extra challenge. I intend to make full use of the charity shops, the piggies will eat veggie peelings if they're clean and uncooked from most of the veg, I will reuse leftovers such as sauces, pasta, rice, potatoes etc, we already recycle glass, plastic, paper, tins and cardboard and Master Beehive the elder uses his stainless steel flask and washable sandwich wrap for his pack up on Tuesdays. Master Beehive the younger suffers from enurisis, so we still use nappies on him. I cloth nappied all the children during the daytime when they were babies, but we always used disposables at night and still use the pyjama pull ups for him. However, I have now been given a catalogue from the clinic we go to with him and there are washable pants in there that I am costing up, in whichcase could have a twofold effect of - helping him wake when he's wet and reducing the waste of one throwaway a week.

      I think my biggest challenge is the children and the move. Broken toys or bits of toys that end up in the bin - where do they get recycled? We also are no longer using our compost heap due to the move and it being full for now. So, what will we do with the apple cores and banana skins and other biodegradable food waste that are no good for the pigs- hmmm?

      So, who's in with me for this month's challenge? Let's see if we can at least try to keep up with Rachel over at My ZeroWaste who manages to fill just one CARRIER BAG - yes, you read that right - PER YEAR - and no, your eyes weren't deceiving you there either! Admittedly, my family is double the size, there are six of us here, but, by mathematical terms, that should only mean I use two carrier bags a year, right ;-) ?
      So, we'll start with one bin bag a week eh? 52 per year and see where we go from there.

      I'd love your suggestions throughout the month to help me come up with places to recycle or reduce things that we may have normally just binned.

      Wish me luck! x

      Oh lookie, I'm adding a post script, or is that an Easter Egg?
      Anyway, you'll have missed this if you already read the blog, but here are a few links that might help with getting rid of the "tricky" stuff:

      Medicines: for donating unused or surplus but IN DATE medicines, you can send them to this organisation who can then use them overseas.

      Packing Peanuts and Bubblewrap can apparently be taken to your local mailboxes etc. store.

      Polythene wrapping from bread, magazines etc this company in Norwich will take Bags used to cover electrical appliances or furniture
          •    Bread bags (shaken out)
          •    Bin bags (clean)
          •    Bubblewrap
          •    Can & drink pack outers & joining rings
          •    Carrier bags
          •    Cling film (clean)
          •    Compost sacks (clean)
          •    Courier bags (without paper labels)
          •    Drycleaning garment covers
          •    Mailing wrappers (without paper labels)
          •    Polythene recycling categories 2 and 4 (as marked on the film)
          •    Thin bags used in supermarkets for fruit & veg etc (shaken out)
          •    Toilet roll and nappy pack outers

      Which is a phenomenal find for me as this is where I find I struggle. I buy loose carrots and veg and most fruit, but bread is still in a bag when I'm in a hurry as I'm not a stay at home mum all the while and baking fresh bread everyday isn't always a possibility, so we need some sliced ready to go stuff in the freezer! Magazines or catalogues often come packed in polythene wrappers and despite being on the "no junk" mailing list.

      Lots of this month's challenge will be around changing my habits BUT, these habits have to be ones that I can maintain and live with. It's all well and good supporting the local butcher and buying my meat from him, re-filling oil bottles from the local deli that will do that, but if I can't do that on a daily/weekly basis due to work committments or travelling to uni and back, then it isn't going to help.

      Packaging: of some sorts can be sent to this organisation who use them for workshops and community projects. You can also see if your local nurseries or schools require anything for their art work.

      Old DVD's and CD's I use as bird scarers in the garden. String them up and hang between two canes and the shine scares birds away from your seeds. they also make cute mobiles that catch the light in the garden!
      You can also send them here if you don't have a garden. Or if they're in good condition you can take them to charity.

      So, that's it for now. If you have more links, please add them!
      Ciao xx

      Wednesday, January 19, 2011

      Old Father Time

      There is a viscious rumour that I reside with George and Mildred.
      Well, he is George and I am Mildred!

      Snuggled up at 10pm with a cup of peppermint tea.
      He is playing Sudoku - or should that be "brain training for the elderly" on his electronic game thingy.

      There is a companionable silence!

      The university students in my current antenatal class, don't get my jokes about Friends (they were only 8 i suppose!)
      They wince and roll their eyes when I talk about "CD players".

      The gym requires the wearing of an iron hammock to restrain the boulders from avalanching.

      My favourite shoes look like they met Jesus in the cobblers.

      Taking off make up requires exact precision to extrapolate the gubbins from between the crevases caused by the Rift Valley permanently etching it's whereabouts around my eyes!

      Of course, the mini Beehives are dutifully trained to respond "but you're only 21 mummy!" ad infintum, or at least until my ear trumpet gets blocked!

      But, all is not totally lost. There is hope on the horizon. I am off to a gig on Thursday night! I'm going to be living it large down wiv da youf! Well, okay, not really, so I'm going to see Ani diFranco whom most of you probably haven't heard of and the rest of you are aware that she's drinking more peppermint tea in bed than I am but...who cares!! She rocks, she's ace and I'm going to a gig at the O2 in Glasgow!

      However, I have told him to kill me if I request ear plugs, complain my feet hurt or ask for Ovaltine before I retire to bed!!

      Tuesday, January 18, 2011


      I have resisted posting this and have had it stashed away for a few days now.
      I have been hesitant, mostly because my blog posts are primarily upbeat, happy and lighthearted and I don't want to put all my laundry out there, but  I think that I need to tell you this story and  it's currently eating at me inside.

      As many of you know, we rent our house here and our "real" home, our beautiful, special, family home that we all chose together two years ago, is being rented out.

      We have rented our home out before.

      We had another home, one where the boys were born, but it grew too small for us. However, we rented it for nearly seven years.

      In that time, we lost 6K on a tenant who eventually went bankrupt. We felt sorry for him in the early days and gave him a chance to pay his rent...he didn't.
      We allowed a tenant to have a "cat" only for the cat to actually be of a canine variety who proceeded to piss all up the walls and on a carpet destroying it...and then move out *sigh* leaving us with little deposit left for repairs.
      We have known friends who have rented their homes out to professional couples who have punched holes in the walls and had animals chew the carpets despite tenancy agreements saying "no pets".

      Yet oddly enough, we look after our rented house here.

      We care for it and tend it, we mend the things that get scratched, we clean it every week and ensure that our pet doesn't trash (sticking to our tenancy agreement too). We pay our rent on time, pay for any breakages that we cause, inform our landlord if things go wrong such as heat or electrics and allow access for people to come and mend.

      Why is it then, that others do not seem to care in the same way.

      I deliberately use the word "home" for our home in Oxfordshire because it is that entirely. We are not millionaires with pads dotted here and there around the world, we are not business people who have properties for commerical reasons. This home, that someone else is living in, someone else who is currently not paying the rent, not looking after it as we would, is ours and we love it.

      We don't want to come back to something that is destroyed, or worse still, as is currently filling my nightmares, that still has a tenant in it when we have served her notice correctly and given her ample time to move.

      I am saddened that people do not have respect for things that they are guardians of.

      I know, you're all shrieking - get a grip, it's just a bloody house, just bricks and mortar, which, yes, truly at the moment, it is.
      It's not seen the births of any of my babies, it's not heard any of our children's laughter or tears, it's not seen birthdays or Christmases with us either, but...we have not lived in our own home for TEN years and this is so incredibly special for us. There are indeed "far worse things that happen at sea"  and I know that families have lost their homes in terrible floods and earthquakes here and abroad this year, but, selfishly, there is a burning desire for me, so deep when you've been travelling for a while, to put down roots and develop a sense of community and I have such strong hopes that this will be "our spot".

      I just hope we can get past this rather dubious wavering fence at the moment.

      So can you send us some positive vibes please that, for the next few months, things will go smoothly with the move. That our tenant will not have left us a terrible mess, or, worse still, that she'll still be there.

      Monday, January 17, 2011

      Y'see, it was like this m'lud...

      How many have you read this article?

      Or should my question read, how many of you have read this article and nodded along with it in silent agreement?

      C'mon, we've all been there, we've all done it.

      Of course, for those of us that blog, we either air our dirty wares or skirt over the issue with a nose larger than Pinnochio's.
      I will admit to a touch of artistic license every now and then, but really, life is too short and I'm not imaginative enough to think of things to cover over my misguided intentions!

      • I have bought shop cakes and passed them off as my own!
      • I have eaten my kids' sweets and blamed my husband!
      • I have put on the tv when I am so bloody fed up of the bickering and it is the quickest and quietest way out!
      • I've served food without a vegetable on the very rare occasion that my motivation has died or the frozen peas have been finished!
      • I have co slept with my kids, but actually because I was too lazy to get out of bed to deal with them in the night!
      • I have pretended I have had an essay to write to get out of taking the kids swimming (I haaaaaaaaaaaate swimming - if I wanted to get out of my nice warm clothes into a ridiculously cut swim suit (not designed for the long in body), walk through veruucca viruses in my bare feet, swim in other people's wee stream and pubic hair I'd say so - so forgive me for feigning homework!)
      • I have pretended to be working whilst my kids are doing their homework, only to have facebook hiding behind my main screen!
      • I don't play anything with my kids except board type games. I do not play Barbies or lego or playmobil - so shoot me - because I strongly feel that: a. they have each other b. if they don't have each other then it is giving them a lifelong skill of being able to be content with their own company. c. I couldn't possibly stifle their imagination!
      • Made something up to get out of reading the same book for the gazillionth time.
      • "Lost" a noisy toy and fibbed about where it is!
      • I have sworn in front of my kids!
      So, 'fess up, what have you done that is "so awful" that you've lied about it or just not exactly told the truth?

      Sunday, January 16, 2011

      Sunday, Sunday!

      Nice Sunday roast, washing up done, glass of wine, and ahhhhhhhhhhhh! That's always a great way to round off a nice family-fied weekend I think. All that's missing really is the log fire, but that'll be April when we move.
      Everyone will be sick of me saying it by the end but "in April...when we move...".
      My problem is I have always been a planner and a dreamer.
      We are moving to a gorgeous old house that used to be two farmhouses and I have so many dreams for the place that I'm running out of notebooks to put all this in. Not that I'll have time to fulfil many of the dreams for the first three years whilst I'm studying, but it is our longterm home and we're not intending any more gypsying for a while, well, not on a longterm basis, so eventually I'll fulfil many of them, or they drop out of my range of importance as time goes past! However, having not lived in our own home for nearly 10 years now, my creative urges and dreams are close to exploding out of me in a cascade of cacophonous fireworks!

      This weekend we've been home. I had an OU biology tutorial on Saturday and then today I had a yummy reunion with some of a previous class of mums and dads. It's always nice being "the teacher" as you get to have all the baby cuddles!
      Mr Beehive and I have also booked our holiday for this year. We had our blowout last year, but we knew we'd want some sun. We could have stayed in the UK, but that never guarantees that small stipilation.
      I'm actually really looking forward to it.
      The children and I are having a week with a friend from Edinburgh and her son, at a craft camp in Gloucestershire as soon as school is out. I'm very excited about it. There's the opportunity to do crafts that I'd never have thought of trying due to the need for so much specialist equipment. Things like, bronze casting, leatherwork, wood work, stained glass are on the agenda and what makes it so amazing is that it is like living in a big commune for a week, where we'll all be camping and chipping in with cooking and chores as well and it's totally safe for the children who also get to craft. That's always so important when you have kids that not only they have the ability to play safely, but due to that, you get the opportunity to relax and enjoy your time as well. Which then leads me nicely to our family holiday.

      When I was a child, we used to go to France nearly every year. My parents would set the alarm for abour 3 or 4 in the morning and we'd head off when all the world was still asleep to catch the first ferry out. We'd then drive down through France to our destination, a gite somewhere, Aquataine, The Loire, The Dordogne.
       The sheer excitement of packing up everything we needed in the car, waking up just after we seemed to have gone to bed, the absolute silence as we left the house as everything was asleep even the birds, the turning round at the bottom of the road (yes, EVERY year!) because we'd forgotten something, the blankets over our legs keeping us warm, eating breakfast at 4am in the really was an incredible tingly feeling.

      Our children have been incredibly lucky in their short lives. Thanks to our ex pat lifestyle, they've seen countries such as Jamaica, America, Mexico, The Bahamas, Belgium and Kenya. All these bring a certain type of adventure and excitement, but there is something, when you're a parent, about bringing an adventure or a part of your own childhood to your children. It's really special. It's like when I share books with my children that I read as a girl, or we play a game that I used to play, it's almost like a rite of passage.
      We've chosen to give the kids this exact same "adventure".

      We're catching the first ferry out of Portsmouth, heading to Caen and we will travel down to the Dordogne, to our gite that we've booked for a week. I hope it will be as exciting for them as it was for me and my sister.

      In other "feel good" things this week, I just got a note from Beth, to say she'd received my care package!! Yay, I'm so happy. It's nice to think she's got a few "bits" and it also must be fun to receive random parcels.

      On that same subject of random parcels; three of my six handmade pledge parcels have gone out now - look out in your mail Emma, Jenny and Holly and I've two more done.
      I have taken some photos of some things and also took a picture of the "Saskia" pants.

       Wristies, made with Noro silk yarn. This stuff feels so rough, but when it is knitted together is incredibly soft and the colours are divine. I was soooooooo tempted to keep these for myself  rather than send them out to my handmade recipient but...hope you enjoy them ;-)

       This picture was taken in a rush and doesn't do this bag justice. I made a quilted patchwork crafting/knitting bag for another of my handmade gift recipients.

      Aha! The trews. These weren't the ones that drove me demented in the last blog post. I sussed those out and they were a linen fabric. These have taken me most of the morning, not the design, but the alterations. Wool is not such a great fabric to hang in this style of pant. It's a bit too heavy and made the trousers look bulky (okay, more bulky, they are already an unusual design). So I had to adjust by taking in tucks and pleats and actually styling a leg more. I also made them turnup at the bottom as they were so long. This means they actually really rock over a pair of biker type boots and with a long cardigan. I'm pretty chuffed with the result.
      I now have three pairs - one linen, one in a kind of herrigbone but have no idea of the fabric (it does hang well) and the woolen pair. I have one more pair to make which is a kind of viscose type material with sequins. The style of pants means that the lighter fabrics are the ones that actually drape best.

      Updating on spending of course having fallen off the wagon a little bit with material over the last couple of days, has gone back to nothing much today.
      However, the machine has been on three times and I have used the car once to go into town when I probably could have walked, but it has been a horrid hissy rain day.

      I'm already starting to focus on next month's challenge which is to try to eliminate our waste to just one bin bag per week instead of our average two - three.

      Friday, January 14, 2011


      Never has there been such a truer curse than "Oh Pants!"

      I have been fighting this week with angles and triangles, oh how I wish I'd paid more attention in geometry.

      My friend, Saskia, wears the most amazing pants that I have been secretly coveting for a long time now. (The above pic. isn't her and her pants btw, I found them on a google image search when I was trying to find directions.)

      She has shown me how to make them using a rectangle of paper and they are apparently "the easiest pants" to make.
      Of course, not if you're geometrically challenged ;-)

      Take one piece of fabric, fiddle, snip, sew, unpick, reshape, resew, unpick, shave more, reshape and resew is NOT the way to make them, however, fold, stitch, stitch and wear, is!!!

      It took until 9pm last night to work out the folds and how to stitch and even then, I didn't end up making them the way Saskia had suggested. Today, however, I now own two pairs of much coveted trews, one made the Saskia way and the other, thanks to google!

      Of course, this inspiration has meant that I have spent some money again! I bought 2 metres each of two different fabrics to make the trousers, but I guess two pairs of pants for under 20 quid is a bit of a bargain!

      On other fronts, the contents of the freezer are getting lower, the car has been used less and...the washing machine DID NOT RUN today!!!
      This evening's entertainment is homemade curry from remnants - it's amazing what you can do with squid and cauliflower and some imagination - no, really!
      Oxytocin levels have been increased by some David Tennant in a couple of recorded Christmas episodes and music has been supplied by "the dog" howling and wailing at the wolves as we now watch the amazing "Yellowstone" documentary that was on the Beeb last year or the year before. She'll learn one day that she's 1 foot nothing and all noise and no trousers.......that'll be me wearing the trousers then ;-)

      Wednesday, January 12, 2011

      It's all too jolly!

      I've done it again. Left you all. Betcha were thinking I'd gone off on a shopping spree eh?
      I was on a residential course. I'm doing a Certificate in Applied Health Science at the University of Worcester - yes because I really hate to sit still. It's a yoga for pregnancy course alongside the NCT and it was a fantastic first weekend.

      I did have a small stumble on the "buying" block - a gorgeous handmade shrug from this amazing artist on  Folksy...eugh! I know, I know. Not essential, not necessary, not needed.

      However, I paid for it from my credit card that gets paid off at the beginning of February,'t count as a spend for January...does it? ?! *slinking off*

      I've also been busy knitting and sewing stuff both for the Facebook Handmade Gifting  Pledge and also a pair of Bodenesque trousers for LMB.
      I wanted to add some funky red polka dot ruffles at the foot of each leg, but I thought that, at six, I maybe ought to check that she wanted them first because more than anything, I actually want her to wear them.

      Apparently red polka dot ruffles on funky flowery trousers are just "far too jolly"!!
      I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry really, laugh at her choice of words or cry that she was thinking that life was too grey to be jolly.
      However, I guess, at six, you have a desire to look cool but not so cool, not so red ruffle cool that it morphs into different so...point taken!

      I'll try to get some photos up on here of the things I've made, but I've just realised that I've parceled three of the four up already, so I'll have to beg the recipients to send photos instead!

      I've really enjoyed doing the pledge, maybe I ought to do a Blog giveaway?

      Friday, January 07, 2011

      Mindful Birthing: Self-Publishing: practical necessity or just pure ...

      Mindful Birthing: Self-Publishing: practical necessity or just pure ...: "There was a time when publishing your own book led to the assumption that the text had not been subjected to rigorous review and therefore l..."

      I recommend all my doula, midwife, birth educators, aspiring birth companions and interested friends to take a moment to read Adela's blog.

      Adela was my mentor in the UK when I arrived here - albeit already with five years of doula experience under my belt.

      But, sadly, needs must and she was gracious enough to listen to my berating and misgivings about the UK doula organisation not recognising my US equivalent and more experience than many of the committee members and writers of the programme themselves.

      Surely birth is birth, no?

      Surely our jobs as doulas is to support and assist women through pregnancy, labour and birth as a companion, sister, friend, this doesn't need to be different in different countries?

      Surely writing an essay or two isn't going to suddenly make me a "good doula", that will be my experience and learned wisdom of my fellow doulas no?

      We, as doulas are not medics or academics - okay, re-phrase, as DOULA's we don't need to be medics or academics.

      Doulaing is a craft and a calling over a book learned subject alone.

      All women need the same thing during birth, to feel safe, loved and secure - not sure why having to do more essays or suchlike would prove one more capable of providing that, but there ya go!

      Anyway, I digress.

      I urge you to read this book, I have Adela's first book and it is an inspiring read, refreshing and calming. I am looking forward to the end of "no spend January" in order to get my hands on this book - although I do have a birthday in March...

      I will be away this weekend so won't be able to update you on my spends or, hopefully lack of. I am on a yoga for pregnancy training residential which will incorporate my need to buy train tickets and lunches, however, I've packed my tea bags and snacks - that is good right? So why do I suddenly feel like my gran who used to "save" the sugar and little pots of milk when she went out for tea?

      Thursday, January 06, 2011

      Potty Predictions and Barmy Banners

      About five years ago I went to a Native American Indian festival in the US. Being the sucker I am for elderly ladies in tents telling me that they know who I was in a former life, I opted to part with my beans. What stuck in my mind most from this telling was that she told me that my daughter would be a leader and grow to great things.

      How my heart swelled with pride - my girl - a leader eh?

      This morning she wanted to watch Horrible Histories. For those of you overseas who aren't familiar with HH, in a nutshell they are the brainchild of Terry Deary who wrote these as books telling kids the "real" things about history. The are really funny, interesting and pretty gruesome at times. CBBC now re enact some of the books. We love them in this family.

      So, she was promised an hour of HH after lunch today as long as she entertained herself for an hour this morning so I could revise.
      True to the prediction, she'd spent the morning creating a demonstration banner out of paper and lollysticks. She will be up there, standing up for human rights, women rights, animal rights, defending her fellow man, her country, Emmeline Pankhurst of the 21st century.
      What was she demonstrating against or speaking up for you ask...


      Yes, the brown sticky stuff! 

      She wanted to have a banner like the rat from Horrible Histories, so she could wave hers when he waves his *sigh* 

      She needed a poo sign!

      What with that and the mooning episode I am beginning to wonder...

      Why me? What have I done? I bet the fortune teller is laughing in her teepee! Gah!

      On saner matters I've signed up for a Facebook handmade pledge thingy. I'm normally not one to jump into all the FB ideas and bandwagon status updates, but figured that this one was harmless enough and would encourage me to find time to sit and craft this year rather than spending all my life with my head in a book - there'll be time enough for that in September. I now have six people for whom I have to make something during 2011. It can be as simple as a cup of coffee, but it's so nice to receive a parcel of love through the mail with a little something in it to brighten up a day. I will let you know what I've made as I go along, but not until I've posted the gift to its relevant participant as I know they read this blog ;-)
      I've nothing much to report on our spends today. 

      Washing machine - was on once only - YAAAAAAAAAY!!!

      Car - has been used once to take Mr Beehive the elder to a playdate. He's then going to make the most of the free swim time and they're going to go swimming later. The playdate's mum will drop him back home later.

      Food - We're having a meatless Thursday today - I'm doing a vegetable lasagne which has probably cost around 2 quid in total to make for six, so not bad. Master Beehive the younger won't entertain the idea of it, so his portion will go another day too - what a bad mama I am !! 
      Lunch was scrambled eggs courtesy of the eggs I was given by a friend for Christmas.

      I do have an invoice to fill in for Isobel's ballet and jazz lessons however, so that will make a dent, albeit a necessary one.

      Wednesday, January 05, 2011

      To learn or not to learn, that is not really a feasible question!

      The Fetal Skull - tick,
      The Heart - tick - well anatomically anyway - physiologically (the heart) I'm not so clued up, but give it time.

      It's amazing what you can do when you're not lured to the high street and you're on a strict no spend policy. Actually - that sounds like I spend my life shopping - which is far from true!

      I've got two days to log today as I didn't get on to blog last night I was too busy cheaply entertaining myself by knitting the second side of my waistcoat and watching Silent Witness (not that that was remotely traumatic and causing me to lose my place in the pattern *sigh* although I had worked out "whodunnit" after 20 minutes into Monday evening's episode - I am such an irritating person to watch a forensic/murder mystery type programme with as I've normally worked it out and spoiled it all by half way tend to be the least obvious person who seems so "nice" - they're always the nutters !) So, if midwifery fails, I'll try forensics next!

      Master Beehive the elder had a playdate yesterday - which was nice for him as it seems like we've been holed up for a long old time what with the holidays and the snowdays prior to that.

      In the old days when the kids were younger, there were always so many amusing things I could fill my blog with when a playdate came over. Spending half an hour "listening in" often resulted in the most hysterical of double entendres and funny stories. These days playdates are boring...well most of the time...that is unless your youngest child decides to completely humiliate you and herself.

      I've always prided myself on thinking (and sometimes being told) that my kids are polite, pretty good kids. They have good manners, look out for other kids, only hit each other and not their friends (yeah, you got that last bit!) - that's all a mama can ask for right? I don't want saints, I want kids.

      I know kids are noisy, they say embarassing things, land you in it, they whine, they sulk, they screech, they argue, they love to talk about poo and the toilet is the height of hysteria , but WHY does LMB decide that the playdate was to be on the receiving end of her "giving her butt an airing" ?? Cue mass embarassment from me, mass hysteria from three "ewwwwwwwwwwing - girls stink" boys, a shed load of giggling and fishwifery from the culprit and "a serious word" as to why it's inappropriate... I really have no idea at all what goes on in their heads sometimes. Mooning at six??? What IS the world coming to, I'd never have done such a thing *snigger* !!!

      So update on the spending situation:

      Tuesday - spent zero

      Wednesday -

      Coffee at Sainsbury's whilst waiting for the children to finish their Explore session 2.25

      Week's groceries - 59.85 - which is an absolute bloody record for me. Let's see if it actually lasts a week!

      Washing machine: 3 times yesterday but no dryer and once today and still no dryer. The whole house smells of laundry powder as the stuff is drying from any free space!

      Car: used once today to take children to Explore and grocery shop - all at Sainsbury's. Used once yesterday to get to yoga.

      Food: Yesterday I made pasta with pesto for lunch all with stuff we already had in and then we had toast for tea. Today we had rolls for lunch and I made a stew with some liver I had int he freezer - so cost there was nothing into January's save month!
      Mr Beehive spent 48p on his breakfast and 1.16 for lunch - there's no learnin' some people. Guess I'll be making and extra pack up in the morning!

      Entertainment: has been a midwifery quiz this evening, killed two birds with one stone really - learned lots and tested what little I know ! - Free!

      Monday, January 03, 2011

      The third day

      There are many blogs I read in forumsville that inspire me, fill me with enthusiasm through their crafts/calmness/presence/life choices etc. I often try to pick up on some ideas or use the inspiring blog entries to help me reconnect with myself.

      Along with the New Year/No spend theme is another idea that I am going to try.

      As a mother, wife, daughter, sister, doula, teacher etc my life leads me in all kinds of wonderful directions, I need to be able to multi task, balance, please, encourage, direct, facilitate, host, love, etc etc (I'm sure there are a gazillion more) However, in all of this, there is often a lack of time to stop and really connect with me.

      I know I will be doing my midwifery course this year, that is "for me" but it's also a job that will require much of me for others. So I am going to join Tara with her 11 permissions for 2011.
      11 things I will be allowing myself unadulturated time to do or be. These are 11 things that I will not have to answer for, will not over think and will aim to make part of who I am - naturally.


      I hereby give myself full, unapologetic permission to….

        • Meditate regularly and go to Yoga.

        • Say "no" to things that I really don't have time or the inclination to do. 

        • Wear what I like and like what I wear.

        • Have time to study uninterupted.

        • Seek out calm places.

        • Get rid of the clutter both physically and mentally.

        • Have time and space set aside to finish projects and craft more new ones.

        • Not feel "mother guilt".

        • Be happy in my skin.

        • Read a book (novel) in the middle of the day.

        • Connect more and surround myself with beauty and nature.


        Spend update:

        Guitar lessons for the boys: £25

        Coffee and Hot Chocolate (Mr. Beehive bought this for Master Beehive the younger after his long bike ride today whilst they were waiting in the cold for me to pick them up!) £4.40

        Fuel for the car: £16

        Obviously #2 could have been saved if they'd taken a thermos ;-)

        The washing machine has been on three times today as it's Monday and I change the bed linen, but we've hung it all up rather than use the dryer!

        Tonight's meal is from our freezer, I'm jazzing up some chicken breasts with ham and cheese and then I'll do some sliced potatoes and some cabbage and peas.

        The car has been used three times, once to take Mr Beehive the elder to a playdate in Portabello, once to get me to the gym and once to pick up the cyclists from leith as the youngest was too exhausted to cycle back home (to be fair, he'd done nearly five miles!)

        In all honesty, the gym is probably near enough to walk - it's around two miles each way, but the problem I am going to have is time management, in order to walk there and back adds nearly another hour to my day that I don't have. I'm not sure how to get around that little predicament.


      Sunday, January 02, 2011

      Day Two


      Well, happily we're not being tempted at the moment, it still being the holidays.

      However, we did spend:

      £14.16 on diesel, topping the cars up before the increase on the fourth! So, technically spending in order to save as we will have to buy fuel this month somewhere, might as well be now whilst it's cheaper.

      Sis and family left today, so the house is suddenly incredibly quiet and flat.

      We've taken down some of the decs as Mr Beehive is back at work on Tuesday and we've had a big clean up too. I cooked a chilli for lunch with freezer contents and spiked up the brussels to make them appeal for another meal ;-)

      So total sum ups for today are:

      Fuel - £14.16
      Washing machine - two washes on 40
      Dryer - none
      Groceries/Food -  none - leftovers and freezer stock.