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Archive : November 2008
Sunday, November 30, 2008
I told you the glitter would come back ;) Well, it's the 1st December tomorrow - time to start opening the advent calendars, I have 2 very excited kiddies who can't wait to start theirs (especially April who has a mixture of stickers, cute magnets AND chocolates hidden behind the windows of hers!)
Sunday, November 30, 2008
A spot of breakfast time murdering
Was just enjoying my morning cuppa when I was disturbed by a loud ... well, how can I describe it? ... erm... "KE KE KE!!!". That's a rubbish description of the noise but the best I can do. It was clearly a bird noise so I rushed to the kitchen window and looked out JUST in time to see a brownish, fierce looking bird, talons out, swoop down on a small bird (dunnock I think) that was on our lawn. There ensued a rather stomach churning few seconds of "ke keing" and pitiful tweeting by the small bird before the intruder flew off with it's breakfast.
I got a good look at it - it was one of these (not my pic btw, it flew off too quick):
Yep, don't need to compile any dodgy photofit pictures for this murdering so and so - it's a sparrowhawk! Never seen one in our garden before.
I know it was justing "doing what it does" but even so it was horrible. I could see it swoop down on this little bird and wanted to shout "QUICK!! move!!"
The sparrowhawk was beautiful though and the whole thing was incredibly slickly done. Astonishing.
PS - got another interesting bird-related tale for you but that can wait till next time ;)
Friday, November 28, 2008
I got pretties!
Edited: I got an email from Nikki, *waves hi!*, asking where I got the decorations from. I thought I mentioned it in the post but when I checked, I realised I hadn't doh! Anyway, they came from Tesco and it's worth mentioning because they have a sale at the moment with all their Christmas things half price. The ones I got were in a set of 30 and were £2.00! Now all I need is some pink tinsel and we'll be all set ..... and Tim will be thrilled out of his brain NOT! *laughs*
We ended up going shopping yesterday when Tim got home from work and I can honestly say I'm definately feeling totally festive now :) We picked up a couple of pressies for people, some stocking fillers for the kids which involved a massive amount of sneakiness from me because they were there! I had to keep diving off, grabbing things, hiding them under my jacket and then plopping them in the trolly when they weren't looking - I was worried security might think I was a shoplifter!
I also got the decorations in the pic above - these are soooo gorgeously girly and pink, (much to Tim's delight ha! ha!) and I couldn't resist them. We're going to get a new tree this year and these are going to look perfect on it.
I also printed and cut out these and hung them on some string:
They're very cute and if I can flipping well remember where I downloaded them from I shall post the link! I'm not putting our decs up yet because there's a rule in our house that they can't go up until after Tim's birthday. I did hang these though ( over the double doors that lead from the hall into the lounge) because they're pretty fragile and I didn't want them ruined before Christmas. They look really nice :)
I'm also cleaning like crazy now, doing each room in turn. Today it was the hall/entrance way - I've dusted the ceilings (no small feat thanks to April busting my long handled fluffy duster by pretending to be a witch!) and the skirting boards. I've cleaned the front door and I've cleared off our hall shelf and just put out a few nice things (now I've got to find somewhere else to hang our notice board but I'll worry about that later!)
Right, off for a cuppa! See ya! :)
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Must .... have .... glitter
Y'know, however much I've been trying to co-ordinate my website and blog and make them look more tidy and (dare I say it!) grown up, I'm still partial to a bit of glitter. I'm thinking I must have a more festive look on this blog - it IS only 27 more sleeps until Christmas after all!!
So I guess I'll do that then ;)
Christmas-wise, Tim and I aren't actually doing THAT well although we are hoping to rectify that this Friday when we shall attempt to do some shopping (cue crowds, overheating, frayed tempers and grinding of teeth). Hoping to go to my favourite shop (Tiiiiim! can we go to the big Tesco by the hospital?) because there's a little something I want to get April from there and also I want to get the wrapping paper to match our Christmas cards (yes, I'm like that).
I'm feeling slightly more festive than I did a few days ago (boy, did I feel bad then!) and, generally, more upbeat. No, I'm far from 100% ok - I still have slight moments of feeling a bit sad and gloomy and Eeyore-ish. I've still got stuff going round my head (unbloggable stuff) that really, honestly shouldn't be there.
Have been reflecting over things of the last few months quite a bit lately. It's been a funny old time really - I think what started it off was that it popped into my head that it's almost a year ago since I started the Structured Home Ed Yahoo group. Obviously, I chose someone else to run in the end (although, God knows I wish I'd spent a bit more time and chosen a bit more wisely ....) Whoever might be running it though is irrelevant because I still consider it my baby *laughs*. It was a needed group and I'm proud of myself for starting it.
Over the last few months there have also been friendships gained ... and then lost again. Friends I wish I still had but there were just too many cases of "taking things the wrong way", but I wish they were still around .... and yes C I mean you, if you still read this.
Blimey, I'm starting to get morose again! Actually, I'm not that bad - just reflective.
Anyway, I'm ....
- Going to put the Structured Home Ed thing to bed ..... finally. After a year, I think it's time to get over myself *grins*.
- Stop thinking about past friends - what's done is done and that's all there is to it.
- Be postive about April's school thing (yes, she said today that really does want to go). So I'm going to put a postive spin on this and consider the good points rather than dwelling on the bad.
- Try VERY HARD to stop thinking about the unbloggable thing (actually, in blogging-land, probably only Nat knows about it) even though it's pretty much doing my head in.
Right, that's it - watch out for the festive glitter coming soon and a definately more upbeat attitude. 'Specially once I start my Christmas shopping!
PS - I did put the extra brandy on my Christmas cake btw, and despite my fears over hexing *laughs*, it was actually GORGEOUS! It smelt so Christmassy and yummy!
PPS - the vocabulary bag and cards that I blogged about yesterday. I had a really long think about it and I've decided to send them as a surprise to someone I know. Sowwwy!
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Apple & Cinnamon Muffins
I've just finished making these for tea today so I thought I'd share the recipe as they are rather lovely :)
There are 3 things which are really important with making muffins - first, get the oven on before you start doing anything else because once the muffins are in the cases you need to get them in the oven pronto. Second, get all the ingredients ready and then mix the whole lot together (you'll see what I mean in a minute!) - do NOT try and weigh and prepare things as you go along as you need to be quick. Third, don't over mix - with muffins you need to end up with a sort of lumpy (rather revolting in fact!) looking batter.
Ok, ingredients (makes 6 large muffins):
250g self raising flour
1 level tablespoon baking powder
125g caster sugar
100g unsalted butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon (approx. you can vary to taste)
1 large cooking apple diced into very tiny pieces
- Turn on oven 200c/400f/gas 6 - do this BEFORE you start measuring stuff out to give it enough time to heat up.
- Place muffin cases into muffin tin.
- Place butter in glass bowl and stand this over a pan of boiling water - melt, stirring occasionally. While butter is melting:
- Sieve flour, baking powder and cinnamon into another bowl. Stir and put to one side.
- Measure milk into jug and beat in the eggs. Put to one side.
- Make sure the sugar and apple are measured/chopped and ready to use.
- When butter is melted, remove bowl from pan and leave to cool for a short while (but don't let it solidify again!) then stir in the sugar, then the apple and then the egg/milk mixture.
- Pour the liquid into the bowl containing the flour mixture and, using a metal spoon, stir in roughly (this is one recipe where you can be a bit haphazzard!)
- Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases and put STRAIGHT into the oven.
- Leave to cook for 15-20 minutes (they should look lovely and golden brown when done).
- When done remove to rack to cool down.
(and yes, I did draw this cupcake on my paint programme - cute eh?)
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
A hat and some birds
I made a little stocking filler pressie for April today - a rather funky purple fleece hat complete with huge pink and white flower!. Here's a piccy although, for obvious reasons, the young lady who it's intended for couldn't put it on so my kitchen roll rather obligingly became my model ;)
After blogging about the bird food this morning, we've had a LOT of feathery visitors today and I managed to get a new bird picture! This, I believe, is a juvenile dunnock and he was VERY difficult to photograph on account of moving very quickly! This was the best I could do in the end:
I also got pics of some of our more regular visitors - a blackbird pecking berries off the bush by our side gate and the robin, in rather agressive, "this town ain't big enough for the both of us" stance *laughs*.
I also took a short video of a HUGE pigeon on the same gate as the blackbird, again pecking at berries, only he toppled foward as he was eating them and I ended up with a video of a pigeons backside. You don't want to see that do you? Thought not ;)
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
So, it's 9.30 and I'm blogging - April is sat at her little table behind me practicing her letters in a wipe-clean book. Rosie and Tim are still in bed but they both have good excuses - Rosie has a cold and Tim is catching up on some sleep after a spate of (very!) early starts at work. He always starts early but he's doing extra time now (makes it sound like he's in prison!) because two of the other inmates ... er, sorry ... STAFF, had a fight which ended up in a full scale punch-up with one saying to the other "take your glasses off, I'm going to hit you" ... and the other one did - HE DID!! I'd have said "erm... no" Anyway, he did get hit and had his front teeth knocked out and the one who did the punching got sacked. Hence Tim doing extra days - still, it's all good what with Christmas coming up, the extra pennies are helpful.
What I can't understand in this whole saga is why on EARTH no-one else there noticed that this full-on fight was going on and put a stop to it before anyone ended up needing a trip to the dentist?! Anyway, Tim was most disappointed - he was off that day and missed it *laughs*.
I'm in sulk mode at the moment because after Tim's promising remarks about them doing a Christmas dinner, it turns out that it's just a lunch thing and only for staff (I wanted to go somewhere nice and wear a pretty frock! *sulk, sulk*). So anyway, I shall spend the day with the kids putting up the decorations (which I love doing anyway) so it looks pretty and festive when he gets home .... and try not to drink all the Bailey's whilst doing so. Ahem.
Talking of Christmas, I've got to unwrap my cake and put some extra brandy on it because, due to the cracking up fiasco (the cake, not me!) I forgot before I put it away. I'm loathe to go near it because I've got a baaaaad feeling about this cake - I've never had any problems with them before but this one seems hexed. Still, I shall do it in the next day or two because at least I've got time to do another one if it is knackered.
We've been faithfully feeding our little feathered friends every day (especially now the weather is colder). We made up our own wild bird food from porridge oats, crushed almonds, chopped up sultanas, crushed weetabix and some bits of bacon (chopped into tiny pieces). We keep it in a jar in the kitchen so we can put some out every day - we get a lot of birds but frustratingly, every time I go to get my camera, they've gone by the time I get back. This morning I saw the robin, a male and a female blackbird and a bluetit out there all at the same time!
Me and the kids are going to get started on some Christmas crafts soon - the first thing we're going to make is our winter wreath to replace the autumn one that's still hanging up (will post pics) and redo our nature table with a more wintery theme. I love the winter nature table, it always looks so pretty and sparkly :)
Monday, November 24, 2008
The "store" page is back up ....... a store with a difference *laughs*. I've also added a new item to the regular free materials page.
That's it for now - will do a "proper" blog post again in the next couple of days - PROMISE! :)
Monday, November 24, 2008
Fiddling with the shop!
My shop page is temporarily down while I make a few minor adjustments ;)
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Flower cards pouch
One thing I'm trying very hard to do is store the kids homeschool stuff in a more attractive way. We've got a lot of it and our homeschool area is shared with our lounge/dining room so I do like it to, well, look nice! Plastic crates and boxes are all well and good but they just don't look pretty do they?!
So, I started today with making a pouch to store the flower 3-part cards - it was just some old fleece I had stored away with a felt applique flower on the front. I love sewing with fleece and felt because neither needs hemming (I'm really lazy that way *laughs*).
Anyway, here are a couple of pics:
I kind of like this :) I'm thinking of making some extra ones and putting them in my shop as a set with cards - I've got enough fleece left to make a few more. I'm also going on a hunt round the house for more outgrown clothes and things to make some other card storage!
Right, got to go and plan out Rosie's work for the coming week and have dinner - got yummy beef in red wine casserole tonight.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
I wanted to share some of Rosie and April's recent pictures - they do LOADS but I just selected a couple each of my favourites. I've done these bigger than my usual pics so you can see the details better.
Rosie's imaginary map, complete with grid references to locate different landmarks :)
A dragon by Rosie. I LOVE the detail that goes into her drawings!
April's continent tracing. She used the Montessori map for this and did them all by herself! :) She even coloured some sea in the background. Clearly, I wrote the names in ;)
A curious little number here *laughs* April informs me that this is a witch dancing with her dress blowing about (and you can see it is) What I love is the way her eyes are stuck on! April was also practicing her letters on this paper and you can see an "m" and an "i" (not sure what that is above the m though!)
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Been pretty much glued to the pc today (ok, I did take a break to clean the bathroom and dust the living room and do some stuff with the kids!)
So far, I've smartened up the front page and this blog, uploaded the webstore (although not all products are there yet, just the maths section) and sorted out the free printables page. As yet the craft, recipe and contact pages have not been done - obviously the homemaking page has been taken down while I sort out the recipes.
Phew. Hard work! I've boggled my eyes doing all the coding for the pages - that's the only problem with writing html from scratch, if something goes wrong you have to spend AGES scanning the code to find what it is (and it's usually a TINY thing!) However, I did learn from Tim today how to convert decimals to hexidecimals via a rather nifty tool he has and this is going to make the webpages much smarter (nice matching colours instead of rough guesses!)
Right, time to give my poor eyes a rest and have tea!
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Ok, I'm completely overhauling the entire site! There's probably going to be a lot of "mess" and swapping around over the next week or so, so do expect things to vanish, swap, appear and re-arrange! *laughs*
I'm going to add separate pages for crafts and recipes, another page which will be just for free homeschool materials and then a separate webstore for my Montessori materials which will come in both download and print formats (print format only for UK customers at this time - sorry!) The materials will all be available individually rather than as a complete set (as I've been selling them up to now) because the folders are just so huge that they take ages to send! I will also be adding a "contact me" page if you have any questions or comments about the site.
Just as I'm in the process of making things pretty and lovely at home, so I am here too - hope you'll like the results! :)
Friday, November 21, 2008
I know, I know, it's the ubiquitous comic sans but I needed a change.
Been in a fairly dark place over the last couple weeks or so, had a lot going on, lots of scarey stuff on my mind and I felt crummy. However, I think that's all over now and I feel brighter than I've done in a long time hence the glittery and bright blue graphics. Hence the cuddly, friendly comic sans *smiles*.
This blog has not been how I'd like it for a long time now .... not even sure why. I always said (and I maintain) that I wanted it to be a happy place and somehow I don't feel it's been that lately. So, again, a change - I'm going to make a point of making it more upbeat and happy again (not that I won't occasionally be prompted to write something a little more low-key if the need presents itself, just that it will be generally more fun).
I'm going to post more kids homeschool stuff, more crafts and more recipes - I'm also going to revamp my links, get rid of some and add some lovely new ones to sites which my readers might enjoy (that I LOVE)
Thursday, November 20, 2008
So much for not blogging
I can't be bothered not to. If you see what I mean?
Anyway, here's the pic of April in her Indian headdress that she made at the Museum the other day (which I promised and never got round to). Still haven't got a picture of Rosie's cat because the camera is playing up. This pic is a bit crap on account of the light in the room at the time:
Btw, is is just me or is anyone else not feeling IN ANY WAY festive yet? Normally, by now, I'm starting to feel really excited by the whole thing but not this year.
Anyway, off for lunch now.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
....and on that note!
I shall be taking a bit of a blogging break. Got loads (LOADS!) of thinking to do (re the benefits or otherwise of homeschool versus school), loads of Christmas present buying/wrapping, TONNES of decluttering and cleaning of the house and the birthdays of 2 special people (April and Tim - one week apart!)
So, for now, I shall say a temporary farewell and see you again soon - certainly before Christmas but I shan't say an exact date! :)
Take care everyone!
PS - there'll also be some general website/blog tidying up going on so mind the dust please ;)
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
*Completely re-written post based on the fact that earlier I was upset and now I've calmed down*
I REALLY hope to home ed April, I believe she deserves the same happy childhood Rosie has had and I believe she would do better in an environment where she can be free to run about/make a mess/make lots of noise. I believe school would, in the long run, be too stifling for her.
- The school up the road is VERY good (outstanding according to OFSTED)
- She does like to be with other people more than Rosie
- I have been worn a bit ragged with the sheer volume of problems we've had over the years whilst home edding Rosie (mental mother, issues with other home edders with over-inflated egos or personality problems that are worse than mine)
- Rosie's on-going phyiscal and learning difficulties make her very high need which I'm worried will take attention away from April
Its a question of weighing up the pros and cons which I will be doing over the next few months (particularly during my blogging break - see next post!) I want to see how things go over that time and I want to sort out some social activities for her for if we do home ed her.
We're hopefully going to meet up with the family we saw on Tuesday again and I'm going to re-enrol April in Tumbletots (which she can do until she's 7) in the new year (we hated it but, hey, she loved it). I'm also going to stick her name down for Rainbows (after reading that, apparently, they HAVE to accept there are people of different faiths - or no faith - going to these things now and therefore they have to be understanding if they don't want to do the prayer/pledge to God thing)
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
The school application has gone in the post and so, really, there's not a lot else to say on the matter. In the end, i couldn't decide so I took April to the school's website, showed her some pictures, explained how she'd go (to start with) every morning and come home at lunch and so on. She said she wanted to go and see if she like it and since I always try and let my kids make decisions about stuff themselves, I said she could. So that's that. Tim says I should just forget it for now and then, towards the end of the school year make a decision one way or the other whether to homeschool or not, so, I shall talk to April about it again then.
Well, today we went to the Red House Museum in Christchurch with another home ed family. They've got a display on at the moment for old Ladybird books (Make and Do) and there are craft tables set up (with loads of materials) so the kids can make some of the things in the books. It was really good fun and we pretty much had the whole place to ourselves! In the end we did the crafts, looked round the museum and filled in a "spotting" quiz along the way and played in their beautiful gardens for a while - all for free! Apparently they do those sorts of activities all the time - the last one was about the Tudors or something and they had craft tables set up to make Tudor-ish type things. This time, Rosie made a pom-pom cat and April made an Red Indian headress and I did take pics but haven't sorted them out yet so I'll do that later.
Right, that's it for now - time for tea!
Monday, November 17, 2008
.....when I was at school, did I have teachers who explained working with fractions (indeed, ALL maths) in such a bloody stupid, confusing, all-round-the-houses way? Why could I have not had a teacher like this ......... so simple, so straightforward, no messing about.
Working With Fractions -- powered by ExpertVillage.com
Sunday, November 16, 2008
When all else fails, there's always food
What may not be apparent from my recent blog posts is that I'm feeling distinctly under par recently - in fact, it's fair to say that I'm verging on the slightly depressed. I've been trying very hard to work out why this might be because I normally LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this time of the year and would normally be getting childishly excited about Christmas and so on. Don't get me wrong, I'm getting excited about Christmas (I mean, CHRISTMAS! Come on!) but I just have this faint, underlying hint of weariness and sadness going on that I just can't shift.
I've come to the conclusion that it's because I've spent the best part of this year fretting. Fretting over money, the house, my weight ..... f*****g school place for April (grrrr!!!!!). Never mind what the Chinese might say, this has been the Year of the Worrier. Now, we're getting to the end of the year and it's like I've boiled over - I've realised I've wasted sooo much time fretting and not enough time relaxing and enjoying being with my family and homeschooling and stuff.
So here's my (public!) brain dump....
Money: Tim and I have NEVER had much - never worried about it before so what's the point now? No point, so bloody stop it Sarah!
The House: Now the landlords have jibbed off the crappy agents, things are sooo much better. The agents were nosey and lousy at passing on messages. Now, they're gone and we're being left alone and things are peaceful. Hurrah. Stop worrying!
My weight: No, I'm not hugely fat but being slightly abbreviated in height means I look a little dumpier than I should. Tim loves my figure and most of the time it doesn't bother me. Or does it? Maybe it's been getting me down more than I thought BUT I have been trying to do something about it with the trampolining and yoga. Sticking at it is the problem.
School place for April: In my heart of hearts, I KNOW that I'm going to end up homeschooling her. She's coming along in leaps and bounds, she's happy and she hates to be stuck in one place too long. So why am I'm even THINKING about posting that ruddy form tomorrow? Why do I do it to myself?! *sighs*.
So there we have it. Maybe now I've realised (at least part of) the problem, I'll start feeling better.
Anyway, one thing I've always been able to rely on to make me feel a hell of a lot better, is cooking *smiles*. Here is the lemon drizzle cake I made yesterday (with icing running all over the worktop!):
Today, I made lovely, crusty bread rolls for lunch (they were sooo yummy with tuna mayonaise!):
Tonight, we're having a lovely chicken casserole made by Tim and I intend to crash out in bed with Pride and Prejudice on dvd. Oooo! Mr Darcy! Bliss.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
I've filled in the form for April's school place - will post it on Monday, whether she ends up going remains to be seen. If she does, I do at least have the knowledge that we are bloody lucky to live in an area with VERY good schools. I'm hoping she'll get offered our first preference but any of the 3 I put down are excellent - there really are no particularly duff schools round here, right from first through to upper.
Anyway, for the moment at least, they are both still at home so today we got on with some stuff. Rosie did land/water form work today starting with the 3 part cards:
She then made a model (using green plastecine and blue tinted water) of a strait but the photo turned out rubbish so I can't include it.
Oh, and this is her sorting out her rocks and minerals (not from today) - I forgot to post this pic before!
April used the moveable alphabet to copy out words from some cards I made her - she also tried to identify as many of the letters as she could and you can hear her doing that on this little vid I took of her: