Friday, 18 November 2011

A Gift From Auntie Lorri!

 We had a package in the post today from my lovely sister in law - these gorgeous fleecy mittens and shoes for Idris!
 They are so warm and snuggly and he thought they were wonderful - great timing as the weather has finally started to turn nippy here! Idris likes chewing them until they fall off and then he can suck his fingers again - which he does a lot at the moment!
He loves to sit in the bumbo seat for a few minutes to watch the girls play - I think he likes being down at the same level as they are!

Thanks Lorri - you are a star - can't wait to see y'all at Christmas!!!!

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Handmade Gifts - Making Bath Salts

This is the only one of our Christmas projects that I'm going to share with you as many of the intended recipients read my blog and it will spoil the surprise! I think that we are safe in revealing this one though! I would love to join in with Tonya's 'Handmade Holiday' posts about the gifts that we are making but I can't so pop on over and see what others are making, perhaps I can add my ideas next year!!
We started by buying multiple packets of different salts. We chose rock salt, sea salt and epsom salts. the first two are available in supermarkets but the epsom salts involved a trip to the chemist. I wondered why the lady looked at me strangely when I asked for three boxes....... until I read the box..... apparently epsom salts are used to cure constipation...... did I laugh on the way home!!!!!! We also bought some bicarbonate of soda to use as a softening agent in the salts. I had some ready mixed oils to use..... clary sage, ylang ylang and lavendar - they smell really lovely! We mixed blue and green food colouring into one dish of salt, and a few drops of oil into another dish of salt and stirred them well. I would reccoment drying them in a warm oven and stirring over a few times (I didn't and the colours faded a little to a pretty grey).
We made a paper funnel and used jugs to pour each salt in turn to make layers of the different ingredients. We are putting them into recycled glass bottles with wide necks that Dewi's Mam collected from the lovely organic tea shop that she works in. I washed them in hot water to take the labels off and then dried them in the oven after using it for cooking. I'm going to make some little labels to tie around them with ribbon. And the rest of my homemade presents are going to have to stay un-blogged 'til after Christmas!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Autumn Lanterns

These make really beautiful table centres - I lit them this afternoon as the evening began to draw in. The girls really love candles and the gentle glow of light they produce........
 The girls made one each and one for Idris too! Then one for Cousin Samuel and one for Granny and Grandpa (of course!). I can see another package to Canada coming up soon!!
 I bought a bottle of mod podge glue an embarrassing two years ago to preserve leaves with after seeing the idea on another blog. Some how I never got around to it..... last year we waited and waited for Autumn colours and then the leaves just froze on the trees in the early sub-zero snap we had in November and there weren't any nice Autumn leaves to preserve (can't remember what happened the year before!!)
This year I was determined not to leave that mod podge in peace any longer so we went to the park to collect pretty and tiny leaves (and play hide and seek, feed the squirrels, have hot buttered toast from the cafe and use our coats as sledges down the slide - ahem!) Back at home we ironed the leaves flat between two pieces of baking parchment - the girls LOVED being allowed to use the iron - fancy doing some clothes girls?!
We then spread mod podge on the candle holders, chose a leaf, stuck it flat side to the glass with the veined side out and spread a layer of mod podge thickly over the top. It was messy and great fun. We left them to dry and voila...... 24 hours later they were ready for some candle action!

I was really impressed with the look of the leaves with the mod podge on. It really preserved the colours of the leaves and they stay flexible instead of crispy. I think we will have to try making a leaf garland with mod podge leaves next year!

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Rosecommon Acres

It is with hesitation that I share this blog with you, as at times it feels voyeuristic reading it, but she writes so I read.

I have it delivered to my e-mail inbox and read the posts the moment that they arrive.

I have even tried to respond to some of her posts through the comments box.

I won't disrespect the author by referring to her with cliches, you will know why if you read her blog.

I regard her with awe and read her words with such mixed emotions each time.

This particular post stuck with me and reminded me of a scary experience that I had with Faith. We were on holiday in beautiful Ayreshire in Scotland in a caravan. Faith was five months old. She was sleeping in amid all the noise of a toddler sister roaring around, our dog barking and the clanking of a cooked breakfast on the go. I went o check on her and my heart stopped. She was a yellow waxy colour, unnaturally still and with her head turned to one side, her neck over-relaxed. I snatched her up and burst into racking tears at the same time. She started and began to cry and we cried together. Dewi was really perplexed and didn't know why we were both crying. I couldn't speak, I was so scared, I thought what every mother fears the most, what Dana has to confront every day now. It was OK for us, but it makes me cry just thinking about it. Watching your baby sleep is one of the joys of motherhood - I keep Idris close and watch him every time, and I'm thankful for my blessings.

I have always prayed for others but this is the first time that I prayed with such intensity for someone that I have never known.

Dana you are in my prayers and thoughts, every day.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Changing The Way We 'Do' Food!

I have always shopped weekly with a meal plan sketched out and a shopping list - and I shop on a fairly contained budget and we eat well! Over the years my cooking has changed and improved (I think) from mainly using processed foods when Dewi and I had our first flat, to mainly cooking from scratch now with fresh and healthy ingredients. The exception to this is when I am ill or life goes crazy and then I buy a few processed things like breaded fish, frozen pizza, pre-made fresh pasta bags etc and make use of them until I feel better again!! I have gradually evolved from eating meat every day to eating it about three days out of the week. This has happened as I have discovered delicious meals to make from lentils, beans, rice and my current favourite ingredient...... pearl barley!!

Shopping weekly has become a tiresome chore so I am attempting to change our main shop to monthly and eventually quarterly, with a weekly shop for fresh veg and fruit as well as dairy products. Pictured here is my first such order - this should be three months worth of supplies of this part of my shopping but as this is my first order I'm sure that I will tweak the quantities and types of foods as we go! This was from the company Suma Wholefoods and consisted of rice, beans, lentils, tinned tomatoes, pearl barley, pumpkin seeds, nuts, porridge oats (10kg of!!), brown rice, whole wheat pasta (fusilli, spaghetti, shells and lasagna sheets), apple juice concentrate (for the girls), ginger cordial (for me!), flour, sugar......erm, oh yes, tomato paste! Dewi's face was a picture when it arrived but he will see the sense of it I'm sure!! I also did a months shop of things like cereal, bread, the meat that we will eat, mayonnaise, and some frozen veg. I still have some work to do to find sources for the part-bake rolls that Dewi loves to take to work with him. I think that will have to wait until we can have a chest freezer though as buying in bulk requires serious storage capacity!!

Before I did any of the shopping I wrote a list of a month's meals by day, then it was easy to write a shopping list for the weekly veg and dairy shop. I simply scanned down the list and jotted the ingredients for that week or ten days. I mainly planned main meals but also thought about what yummy hearty soups I would make for lunch, and what baking we might do for snacks. I dabbled with the idea of making each night of the week a certain 'food' night such as Monday - pasta, Tuesday - sausage, Wednesday - beans etc. It helped me focus and get meals down as there were so many recipes in my head (I surprised myself with how many I knew actually - way too many for a month!!). I think that this will change over time as well as we find out what we like to eat when and what I have time to cook on which day!

Now, this is a work in progress as I have strayed from the list already - chips for tea tonight anyone??!! But I am pleased that I have just jumped in because in the past I have had a tendency to over think and over plan and then never actually get anything done! It was hard to fit in the time to plan and order and organise this but I am convinced that it will be good for us (and me as main chef and shopper!!). I am keeping receipts and lists, and keeping notes on what is working and what isn't - I will update some time with how it's going and any yummy recipes I find!

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Bonfire Night Fun!

Dewi dug a fire pit in the veg patch to create a contained fire for us to enjoy - we had such a lovely time sitting around the flames chatting. I taught the girls some campfire songs from my Guiding days and we let rip with a competitive 'jelly on the plate' match! Only once a year will I allow my children to yell at the top of their lungs at 7pm at night...... that's what made it so fun!!


Ooohs and Aaaahs over fireworks.....

Eve made paper fireworks and put sweets in for everyone - she's so creative and generous!

Idris wrapped up to enjoy the fun..... my friend Harriet is holding him!

Idris was underwhelmed by the whole experience - he slept through the fireworks but was mesmerised by the fire afterwards!

 We toasted marshmallows and made smores with them!

Smores by firelight!

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Am I Making Myself Too Busy?

I am writing this with one hand, Idris is feeding and I have a porridge spoon in the other hand....... erm, yes, quite probably I am 'doing too much'. Or more accurately I am trying to, and failing, then feeling bad for not doing those things!!

Two friends, and my husband have suggested that I might be trying to do this in the last week, and I think my mum permanently thinks that I try to take too much on!!

The thing is, that I have so many great ideas..... life just gets in the way of doing them all! So some I am pushing on with, regardless, and some I am shelving!

I have another sore throat and Idris is snuffly and has gone back to feeding very regularly in the night, so I have less sleep which I find hard! He also has thrush (again) which I haven't managed to clear up since I had to have strong antibiotics for a breast abscess when he was 2 weeks old. It is really frustrating me and must be horrible for my sweet boy. I am back to the doctors this afternoon with a stroppy attitude and a leaflet from the BFN which will hopefully get me listened to this time and get it treated effectively!!

We are also in the midst of our 'seasonal shift' which for us, means that the girls shift to spending less time in the garden playing, and more time indoors. It takes them time to adjust and we have bickering and grumps whilst it happens. It is loud and wearing and whilst I know I need to be more pro-active in getting them outdoors and busy, I don't have the energy....... energy which is sapped even more by the very loud and grumpy behaviours..... hmmmmm...... spot the vicious cycle anyone??!! I know it will all pass but I'm not enjoying it!!

I am only writing this because Dewi has taken the girls out for breakfast and peace reigns supreme! Time to sign off and go prioritise my to-do list now!