Friday, 30 December 2011

Making, Baking & Utility Sewing

We have had a fair bit of 'making' around here lately. The Christmas Crafting almost reached fever pitch at one point, but we really enjoyed ourselves in the process. At the moment we are enjoying some of the Christmas makes, for example, hats
And leftovers cooked up with some stock and barley into a lovely soup.
New wool arrived though and I have began a new knitting project, (its a gift, so not too many details at the moment

The point is though, I really want to carry on with a fairly high level of making things. It has helped bring some structure into our daily lives, and especially for Oscar who wont be starting nursery until April (unless I change my mind AGAIN *ahem*).

One of the nice parenting blogs I read is HOBO MAMA and a few days ago (and a few weeks ago), she was asking for people to sign up to The January Carnival of Natural Parenting (POST HERE). The basic premise is to take the challenge to go 'greener' in one aspect of your life. I had a look at the examples and some of them were too easy, go vegi for a week (we do that often), use only natural cleaners (vinegar and bicarb, we do that anyway), and some were not suitable or too difficult, use cloth nappies, (Oscar is nappy free, or don't buy anything for a week, (no chance, lol). The upshot was, I didn't sign up for anything, but I was thinking about it a lot. Then I remembered a sewing project I had seen on Jeanette's Blog, and decided this was the perfect time to get on with it.

The next bit of this post is about sanitary wear so please feel free to move on swiftly.

For the past few years I have been using a MOONCUP when its that time of the month, and on the whole I am fairly happy with it. The only thing which has been bothering me is that I still need to use a pad(s) as well as the cup for the first couple of days (due to heavy flow) and a pad only on the last day (due to light flow). So although I have significantly reduced the amount of pads I use, they are not eliminated completely. Jeanette has a tutorial for home made washable pads in her side bar and every time I see it I consider having a go and then forget all about it. Yesterday I was pondering what to make next, and thinking about the Parenting Carnival and it occurred to me than now was the perfect time to get the tutorial and give it a go. TUTORIAL FROM JEANETTE.

If you read the tutorial you will see mine are a slightly different shape because I drew them up freehand (my printer is playing up), and because I couldn't serge the edges mine were sewn with the inside out method and then I zig-zag stitched around the outside. Considering I am pretty rubbish at sewing, I am pleased with the results. Pretty they are not, but if they are functional, that really is the whole point. I used cotton for the outer fabric and fleece for a bottom layer (between the cotton and the soaker fabric), and terry toweling as the soaker fabric. I haven't sewn the snaps on yet, I will do that today (the pattern will explain where they go, if you are interested). Although I haven't signed up for the Carnival I am pretty pleased I have done something anyway, it certainly leads on to other thoughts. What else can we make instead of buying?

While I was sewing away, Duncan and Oscar were playing with Oscar's castle and at the same time

Baking bread instead of buying some. Isn't he good.

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Thursday, 29 December 2011

Cheeky Gnome

Since Christmas, Oscar has been missing the excitement of opening his advent every day. It's not so much the chocolate (which he often left on the table for hours anyway), but the surprise of finding what was inside. With this in mind I decided a little game of hide and seek would excite him in the mornings. Having heard of these silly travelling gnomes who appear all over the world in people's photos, I decided a cheeky Gnome who hides around the house when we are asleep would maybe do the trick. This morning Oscar sped downstairs to find him. Here he is sitting on the mast of the pirate ship.

Oscar is already wondering where he will be tomorrow, so my plan has worked.

Here is the Pattern For The Traveling Gnome

• Set of 3.25mm needles (UK size 10, US size 3)
• Yarn needle
• Toy stuffing

Yarn colours



Yarn weight: Double knitting/ worsted weight

Gauge: not important but make it tight so stuffing doesn’t show through

Finished measurements: approx 3.5" tall and 2.5" wide

Gnome Body:CO 6 in blue yarn
1. purl
2. *kfb, k1 * along (9 sts)
3. purl
4. *kfb, k2 * along (12 sts)
5. purl
6. *kfb, k3* along(15 sts)
7. purl
8. *kfb, k4* along (18 sts)
9. purl
10. *kfb, k5* along (21 sts)
11. purl
12. * kfb, k6* along (24 sts).
Change to skin yarn.13. purl
14. *kfb, k7* along (27 sts)
15. purl
16. *kfb, k8* along (30 sts).
Change to green yarn.
17. purl
18. *kfb, k9* along (33 sts)
19. purl
20. *kfb, k10* along (36 sts)
21. purl
22. *kfb, k11* (39 sts)
23. purl
24. BO

Cut yarn, leaving a long tail. Use tail to mattress stitch row ends closed up to the top and secure any loose yarn ends. At this point you may want to embroider on eyes to the face of the gnome.

Gnome Bottom:CO 6 with green yarn
1. purl
2. *kfb* along(12 sts)
3. *pfb,p1* along (18 sts)
4. *kfb,k2* along (24 sts)
5. *pfb,p3* along (30 sts)
6. *kfb, k4* along (36 sts)
7. *pfb,p11* along(39 sts)

Cut yarn, leaving a long tail. Use tail to mattress stitch row ends closed secure any loose yarn ends. You should be left with a flat disc like shape.

co 3 in orange
1. purl
2. *kfb* along (6sts)
3. purl
4. *kfb,k1* along (9sts)
5. purl
6. knit
7. purl
8.BO (Leaving a long yarn tail)


Attach the base of the gnome to the body stitching together the bind off edges, stop once you get 3/4 way round to stuff the gnome and then continue to close the remaining stitches. Weave in any loose ends.
Use the long tail of the beard and attach it to the part of the body where the skin yarn meets the green yarn


Oh yes and talking of knitting, here is one of my favorite Christmas makes. A mitt and scarf set for Duncan, which I obviously couldn't show you until after Christmas.

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Wednesday, 28 December 2011

New Year Cleaning I

It is traditional here in Scotland to go into a complete cleaning frenzy just before the New Year starts. It was shameful to start off the year with a 'dirty' house. I am at least thinking about it, if not actually getting off my bum and actually doing it, so I thought it might be a good time to look at some eco cleaning tips.

I am trying very hard to eliminate chemicals from our home, but of course its impossible to do it completely. What I can do though is eliminate it as much as possible. It gives me a sense of achievement to make something for use instead of buying something for use (it often works out less expensive too), and this applies to all levels, from food to knitting and sewing right down to washing powder. So here we have it.

The ingredients are as follows
1 cup of bicarbonate of soda
1 cup of soap flakes or grated soap bar
2 cups of soda crystals
a sprinkle of your favorite essential oil
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and decant into jars. I use 3 tablespoons (heaped-ish) per wash of this, so it lasts ages.
I have found it can be a little clumpy in the jar, but a quick mash with the end of the spoon does the trick.
If you find your clothes are too hard try adding half a cup of white vinegar (in the softener dispenser), this helps to soften the clothes, and does not leave a vinegar smell. If linens are softened they actually last longer, because hard fibers rub together and wear away faster.

I hope you have found that helpful? If any of you lovely Mama's have your own recipes, please feel free to leave them in the comments or leave a link to your own blogs.

PS take a look at this, if you are interested in old Scottish traditions THE STEAMIE



Tuesday, 27 December 2011


Merry Christmas All, I hope you have had a wonderful time. We have had a very relaxed Christmas and I for one am very pleased about it.

On Christmas Eve we had a lovely dinner together, a tradition I started when the 2 older children were small and had Christmas lunch with their Dad every alternate year. It was a way for us to make sure we had a celebratory feast as a family. Then Duncan, Oscar and I went to the Christmas Eve service at church, which was quite lovely and Oscar really enjoyed. When we came home it was after 8pm, so it was time for bed (for Oscar), so we put out our carrot and milk and mince pie for Santa and the reindeer. Daddy still thinks Santa should get a brandy or a whiskey, but Mama thinks we shouldn't encourage drink driving, I can see this debate coming up every year again ;)

Oscar slept until 8.15am on Christmas morning, which I doubt will happen every year, so we took full advantage of it. When we came downstairs he was a bit afraid to come into the lounge and asked me to go first in case Santa was still there, he is a bit afraid of the big guy. I have to say he was fairly chilled about the presents, handing them around one at a time and having me help him open his (manic and frenzied paper ripping may come when he is older, I am not sure though). The unsurprising hit was the ELC wooden tower which we bought him (opting for this instead of a large Noddy Car, although we did get him a small Noddy car).

My eldest son came to see us at 10.30am and we opened more gifts and Oscar enjoyed having his big brother around (we don't see Christopher all that often, much to my regret).

Christmas dinner was at 3pm and ran very smoothly. There were 8 of us in total and everyone said it was very tasty. Even my Mum noticed how chilled I was and commented on how amazingly relaxed I was considering I had just served a feast for 8 people by myself.

As is customary, we all spent the rest of day trying to get our food to digest, sipping champagne and watching the children play.

I can only hope that every Christmas will be as peaceful as this one.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Christmas Eve



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Friday, 23 December 2011

Finishing Off

  • A necklace with an old photo of my Granny.
  • Home made crackers, with hat, snap, gift and VERY bad jokes inside
  • And a little blue pointy hat with a bell, in the style of a much beloved Enid Blyton CHARACTER
(Its blue-er in real life)

And that, as they say, is all folks. I am done and dusted with the gift making, and just in the nick of time, whew.

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Thursday, 22 December 2011


The Shortest Day

So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive,
And when the new year's sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us - Listen!!
All the long echoes sing the same delight,
This shortest day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, fest, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Welcome Yule

by Susan Cooper

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Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Too Many Tasks

When I woke up yesterday I had a mental list of all the things still needing done before the weekend and the list was huge. Finish making presents, finish buying presents, wrap the already bought and made presents, finish posting Christmas Cards and send one parcel. Check the glasses and cutlery for Christmas day. Go over and amend the grocery list, shop for the grocery list, buy trinkets to put in the crackers, make the crackers, do the banking, cook some food for dinners, clean the house from top to bottom and on and on and on.

Quite frankly on a cold wet Monday I found the whole thing far too overwhelming. So Oscar and I played with the Winter table instead.

Duncan thinks my 'old father winter' looks like a yeti so perhaps I will have to put off my million tasks and make another one? Ok, so maybe not.

I was very tired all day but after dinner, Oscar went to bed early (for him), because he fell asleep sitting beside me on the sofa at 7.30pm, so I found the last push of energy and finished these.

The owl hat only needed one ear stitched on and the beak knitted. The grey beanie needed the ends sewn in, the bow scarf needed the second bow end finished and the ends sewn in and the slouch hat needed sewn up and the ends sewn in. All in all it was only a couple of hours work and so worth the effort because that's 4 things ready for wrapping. Duncan used the time to fill my teacups with candle wax and tidy up a bit (pictures of the cup-candles to follow when they are done).

Today Oscar and I are going into town to finish the shopping and do the banking, and the groceries are being delivered on Thursday morning. We are getting there, slowly but surely, we are getting there.

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Monday, 19 December 2011

Family Day

Yesterday (Sunday) was my Mum's birthday and also the Family Christmas Service at church. Duncan is not a church go-er in any manner, however he very kindly agreed to accompany me to the family service. The primary reason being our uncertainty that Oscar would be suitably amused through a one and a half hour service. If Duncan was with me it meant two sets of arms to go between and also Daddy could pop outside for a respite with him and Mummy wouldn't miss the service.

As it turned out he was very much entertained for most of it, with only one toilet trip and one 5 minute breather during a long lull in the music. The church is what Duncan would affectionately call a 'happy clappy' church, which just so happens to appeal ever so much to little children (standing on a pew singing his heart out and dancing and jumping, whats not to like?).

After church we walked into town to catch a bus to my Mum's house. It is quite a walk for little 2 year old legs, but luckily there are some pretty good walls along the way.

We spent the afternoon with my Mum (and my brother and sister and niece and nephew), and Oscar had a marvelous time. That little boy is never happier than when he is in the midst of his family.

Happy Birthday Mum

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Saturday, 17 December 2011

End Of The Week - Aaah

Today has been another pleasant day, and I have to admit that despite some (seasonal) financial worries, the atmosphere in the house has definitely lifted quite a bit. I am not sure what the reason for this is, maybe it is the spirit of Christmas (something I previously thought was my Grandad's malt whiskey lol).

Oscar and I were off into town by 9.30am and after some errands we met up with my Mum. We used to go shopping every Friday with her, but Oscar's tolerance to shopping in town is extremely low these days. It must run in the family though because my sister reminded me recently that she didn't take my niece into town for roughly 3 years (aged 3 to 6-ish).

Today Oscar was exceptionaly well behaved and not whiney at all. We let him free from the pushchair after we stopped for a coffee and he walked very nicely until we caught the bus home. We did manage a wee vistit to the Grotto though.

As for the big man himself, I am afraid Oscar developed a case of acute shyness and would nt say a word, or in fact get any closer than 2 feet to him. He did wave goodbye though, clutching his present at the same time.

The present incidentally consisted of a car made out of click together bricks which I though was great, and a Fireman Sam reward/behavior chart, not so great. I told Oscar it was a sticker book since he wouldn't be parted from it and we all now have gold stars about our persons.

Oscar was dozing in the pushchair on the bus home, but I lifted him out and cajoled him awake. Cruel perhaps, but the little man needs to get his sleeping pattern back on track, for his own sake more than ours.

I did treat him to the largest chocolate coin in the world though, slight exhaggeration, (watch out for a post in January about getting our eating habits back on track).

Daddy came home unexpectedly early which rounded off the end of the week rather nicely.

A tiny 'den' made from Oscars 2 'sookie' blankets and the stool. I don't think Daddy quite fits inside.

And then they made pizza together for dinner, yum.

Oscar likes to do his own.

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Have A Lovely Weekend

Friday, 16 December 2011

No Drama

Well, yesterday didn't go as badly as expected. I do worry when I am very very overtired, its not something I cope with very well. In the past I have mistook tiredness for actual illness it affects me so badly, and I have been known to weep all day on and off due to sheer exhaustion (and wondered if I had depression, when in fact a few days rest sorted it out).

Maybe we were just both too tired to kick up a fuss over anything, but the day went fairly smoothly. And something lovely happened too. When Oscar was a baby he gurgled and cooed and sang and hummed all day long. Then as soon as words formed he stopped singing almost completely. He didn't even like music being played to him and would cry to have it turned off, (probably a bit disappointing for his Papa who was(is), a musician when I met him.

Over the week I have sneaked some Christmas songs on, but only occasionally. Well, yesterday, Oscar spent the whole day singing. With music, without music and making his own music (piano, drum beating, keyboard etc). After a long period of no song it was the cutest thing ever, ever, ever. FYI Duncan sings to him at night and that's ok, but normally he covers your mouth and says 'don't sing' Maybe he only associates it with being put to sleep, I used to sing to him until I was hoarse when he was tiny, Duncan wondered how on earth I knew so many nursery rhymes and lullabies.

All in all, it was a pretty chilled out day. In the afternoon we attempted some paper chains, but it didnt last long.

So we snuggled up on the sofa to watch THE POLAR EXPRESS, one of my own personal Christmas favorites. This didn't last long either and the afternoon nap made a one off appearance again.

I tried a little bit of knitting while Oscar slept but I was going cross-eyed so eventually I gave up and I dozed beside him instead. Then there were 4

We have a busier day ahead of us today, I can only hope it runs as smoothly.

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Thursday, 15 December 2011

Onwards We Go

Oscar decided it was a fine time to start the day at 4.50am this morning. We thought we would talk him back to sleep (sometimes it works), but by the time an hour passed and he was pleading for breakfast, we knew the day had began. I don't often see Duncan in the morning because he leaves by 7am and on the whole Oscar, and in turn I usually snooze until 7.30am-ish. While it was nice to commiserate on the earliness of the hour together, we would both have swapped for an extra hour in bed without a doubt. It wasn't all bad though, because Oscar noticed that the moon was shining in the bedroom window, and as cute as can be, asked us all to stand in the moonshine together.

By the time I yanked my nightgown off and threw on a dress it was 8am and I/we had been up for over 3 hours, yawn. I can see we have a long day ahead of us.

We have some crafting to finish off from yesterday and I have a mountain of little guys to knit...........
I have a wise man knitted but not sewn up, so only 2 more wise men, 3 shepherds and the baby (Je as we affectionately call him in this house, pronounced Gee). I expect I could find patterns for animals, but I think that livestock should wait for next year, and we can raid Oscars farm set for the required ensemble. Ah well, time to stop hiding behind the laptop and address the fact that I have allowed my child to eat peppermint bark at 9.15am (it is Christmas you know).


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Wednesday, 14 December 2011

A Mixed Bag

Today has been a real mixed bag of activities and emotions. Oscar was up at 7am, crying in the dark for a bottle of milk (I have set his 3rd birthday as the rough time to withdrawn the baby accoutrements, whew, ain't looking forward to it). When we wake I usually fetch him a drink in our bed, pull back the curtains and we watch the sky changing colour together. It is a peaceful start to the day, blighted by the sudden memory of a chocolate advent stocking hanging up downstairs.

I still think the littlest one is not getting enough sleep and in turn neither are we (his middle of the night wakings and lack of daytime nap are to blame). It makes the highs and lows in a day too numerous to document. He looks quite sad in the picture above, but here he is dancing and twirling and being very joyful just a moment later.

And that pretty much sums things up. Up and down, up and down. We made some star cheese scones (RECIPE HERE), which were very easy to make and very tasty.

I would say they were a 50/50 success because one lump of mix was thrown on the floor in a temper (because he couldn't get it out of the cutter and didn't want me to help), and he then refused to eat them but licked the butter off and said they were 'yucky' (which they weren't).

By the time Daddy got home the mood was tense to say the least and dinner was a disaster because we were all tired and grumpy. The weather isn't helping. because the wind and rain is back again with a vengeance. This is what I could see out of the window tonight.

Not a lot except some blurry lights and slashes of rain

Strangely enough though, Oscar's mood picked up greatly after bath time and he ran around being silly before going willingly to bed. I tried to photograph his rather fetching ensemble for bed (mis- matched PJ's, sunglasses and his tatty pink vanity case), but it proved more difficult than I expected.

I am looking forward to going up to bed tonight, if for no other reason than a change of vibe. On wet winter days I seem to tread the same circle on the ground floor, the lounge the hall the dining room the kitchen, the lounge, round and round all day.

I don't have a bedside table just now, because the bed is a super-king-size (6ft wide and 6ft2 long), and to fit everything in was impossible, so on the bedside chair I have this waiting for me.

I fully intend to put on a nice cosy nightgown and crawl in to my giant bed (with tea and a bit of chocolate) long before the clock strikes 9pm and not come out again until we pull the curtains back again to watch the sky tomorrow, (although I expect the wind howling all around the house will break into the peace a bit, brrrr).

PS I want to give a warm welcome into the world to a beautiful little lady, arent December babies just wonderful (says a December baby lol). LINKY

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