Thursday, 21 March 2019

Hits And Misses

We managed two of last weeks 40 Acts challenges and seem to have totally lost the plot this week!  Last Tuesday was 'Chocolate Tuesday' so I choc bombed the staff at our local Booths Cafe :-)  I always enjoy this challenge, showing practical appreciation and sharing a bit about the challenge but boy does it take me way out of my comfort zone!

 The challenge for the following day was to share some joy and complete a task with another person.  I wouldn't say that baking totally fills me with joy but I'm wondering if that is a kick back to my current dietary needs which are decidedly wacky!  However we are pretty good at adapting recipes in this house, so made no sugar drop scones and topped them with no sugar hazelnut spread.

Friday was most definitely a miss!  We arrived at Dave's hospital appointment for ten o'clock as planned, only to be told we were in the wrong place.  I guess alarm bells should have been ringing at that point!  A lovely nurse gave directions to where we needed to be and so the kids and I settled for our usual hospital home school.  Less than ten minutes later Dave appeared with the news that, Dr Majeed was in Pakistan and that Dave should have received a letter to state that his appointment had been cancelled!  By now we were all fed up and Pip had not been feeling at all well that morning, so it was a case of raid the shop for snacks and coffee bar drinks for Dave and myself.  A plastic full Friday for sure! 

 However we have now sourced a butcher that will wrap our produce in grease proof paper and place in our own glass Tupperware containers so that is most definitely a win!

We had a ray of sunshine on a very cloudy day when we attended Ollie's 1st Birthday party on Saturday.  Everyone brought a dish to share and there was plenty of food to eat.  Time really has flown and this boy is most definitely a toddler:

 Ben and I attended diabetic clinic this morning and thankfully his blood averages have remained fairly stable which is encouraging.  On the way there, I had an issue with the driver's side window which then meant another trip out this afternoon to our car dealership.  The mechanic managed to make the window safe but the car is booked in for the replacement part on Thursday of next week. I could have done without the extra trip this afternoon as my health isn't great but thankfully Dave and Ben held the fort at home.  Ben made a super yummy lamb casserole, served with broccoli and boiled potatoes and Dave took Pip and AJ into town on the bus to the library.

It's Friday tomorrow and Saturday is a much needed home day, Thank God :-) 

Saturday, 9 March 2019

Lent Challenges

Yesterday's challenge was about period poverty.  It is sad to read that young girls are missing an education as a result of being unable to afford sanitary protection.  There are lots of websites offering washable pads that are not only good for your purse but the environment too.  However given the fact that many families who attend food banks are also struggling to wash clothes and heat a home, I cannot see that re-usable pads are a realistic option. have several petitions on their site calling for an end to this problem.

As a result of the challenge I actually bought items in plastic because God calls me to love my neighbour aswell as his earth:

 In the shopping basket ...

... and safely ensconsed in the food bank shelf.

Today's act is making a generosity jar.  We had already decided to use our coffee trip money as a form of almsgiving with the exception of the odd visit to Wesley's coffee lounge.  Wesleys is a Christian establishment so in supporting them we are in a way making a financial donation to the Methodist community in the town.

The rest of the day has been a mix of cleaning in stages and making meals and I even had the house to myself which is a rarity! After breakfast, Dave and Pip made the 40 minute bus journey back into our old home town; they had a lovely day together. They did some shopping and had an all day breakfast for lunch.  On the way home they stopped off into the village to meet Ben at work and then all three of them caught the bus home, a mere seven minute journey.  Travelling by bus has really revolutionised our family and most importantly given Dave his independence which is precious. 

The blog housekeeping has been a bit of a headache.  Dodgy websites aside we are now trying to find a way to save the blog content because we are not sure if some posts will be deleted once Google+ disappears.  For the last few years I have been using that platform to upload posts and so potentially they could disappear.  I'm sure there is an answer somewhere :-)


Blog Housekeeping Headaches

My friend Penelope in America alerted me to the changes going on regarding Google+  I had wondered why she had been quiet over in this space and the reason being she was no longer able to leave comments!  I followed her instructions which should hopefully have worked but then I unearthed another slew of problems :-(  

I am not a stats person and write here as a means of sharing with family and friends (some in real life and some on the net) so I have never taken a real look behind the scenes.  What I found today was quite disturbing and opened my eyes to the darker side of the interwebs.  I have two options one is to make this blog private which means folk have to sign in with an email address or the other is to close down this site and begin a new blog where I document our days minus the photos of the kids.  Any thoughts?

In addition I am also looking into doing what I have intended to do for a long time and make this blog into a book, so that Ben and Pip have a tangible record of our days these past ten years.

Right now I'm off to do another round of real life housekeeping :-)  

Thursday, 7 March 2019

World Book Day :: Harris Museum :: Lent Challenges

World Book Day

I gleefully thought we could dispense with World Book Day once home schooling, how wrong I was!  The notion itself is a very honourable one; provide a £1.00 book token for every child with the chance to purchase from a selection of books for said value.  As a result you are encouraging children to read who might otherwise not have access to the luxury of owning a book or being able to attend the local library.  In reality World Book Day on the whole, has become an opportunity for mass consumerism and another round of cheap Chinese imports, with definitely no opportunity for those in the 'sweat shops' being paid a fare wage.

This morning AJ wore her WBD outfit and I was promptly declared a bad mother for not having organised a costume!  Youngest girl is very hormonal at the moment as her body has advanced way beyond her emotional well being, so we all ride the hormonal roller coaster together!  Even though she didn't really want to hear what I had to say it was an opportunity to talk about consumerism, marketing ploys, plastic in clothes and wrappings and fare trade.  To make amends for the oversight we took both girls to Waterstones to choose a book each from the buy one get the other half price stand:

 The one on the top is Pip's the bottom AJ's

Harris Museum

We have visited here before but this time we had a thorough look around.  There was plenty to see but unfortunately I could not find the time traveller quiz for the kids, so they were all over the place with their wanderings!  

 The Fashion Monster is quite apt don't you think given my earlier rant in the day!

 An impressive head :-)

 This brought back many happy memories for me.  I loved my Sindy doll, she looked just like this one but with blonde hair and my mum spent hours knitting her a wardrobe of clothes.  When Emma and Kathryn were given their first Sindy doll out came the needles once more.  

Looking at her now is quite telling, she doesn't have super long exaggerated legs and a nipped in waist.  Neither is she wearing a face full of make-up and sporting a push up bra!  Thankfully their are companies challenging the sexploitation of girls and hitting back with dolls that any girl would be proud to own.


Lent Challenges

Today's 40 acts was to step away from the screen and 'look up not down.'  I do connect with other folk online but I am very good about monitoring my time.  I use Instagram to link in with; home school friends, green parent mums, the crafting community and family.  Twitter is a recent addition and largely came about as a throw back from my previous online job, it is here that I connect with the disability and Christian community.  In fact there was a big debate on Twitter regarding some folk giving up social media for lent and the consequences of that for those who are housebound.  As a result of this the matter was discussed further on a local radio network.

In our trip out this afternoon we observed how many items are wrapped in unecessary packaging and even managed to share our plastic challenge to the chap in Waterstones who offered us a 5p carrier bag!  He readily admitted to having way too many plastic bags as a result of forgetting to carry one with him when out and about.  I pointed out that he could stash one in his pocket or purchase one of the literary cloth bags sold by Waterstones instead :-)

Reducing plastic really does require planning ahead.  I knew that the girls would be hungry and thirsty mid afternoon so I needed to ensure that they had drinks and snacks.  Dave and I had a pot of tea in the cafe at the Harris Museum, served with proper tea cups and saucers.  We used the last of our pasta this evening for tea so from here on in, it is boxed lasagne all the way!

 Our subscription the Radio Times is due to end but I will be emailing them and asking them to consider changing their packaging.  I think there is a place not too far from here where we can purchase nuts from a wholesale bin.  The Sweet Freedom syrup is really good low GI porridge topping for the kids.  However it is easy enough to switch to honey or regular syrup instead.

The toilet tissue packaging can be recycled so that is better than land fill.  However there is a company called, " Who gives a crap!" and their toilet tissue comes in paper packaging, so I will look into the feasibility of buying from them.

  The supplements container is a non negotiable as they are inportant for my health.  I managed to buy a paper sack of potatoes but alas it contained a plastic handle!  I bet with some forethought a reinforced cardboard handle would suffice. 

Buying plastic free also incurs extra costs.  The Pilgrim Cheddar was bought before the challenge began and a 500 gram block on offer cost £2.50.  To buy that same weight in a paper packaging from Booths, cost twice as much.  Although I guess it could be argued that is the real cost of the item and not the knock-down version!  The same applies for the Tuna, four cans wrapped in plastic is cheaper than four cans individually.*

This plastic less journey really is an interesting one :-)  

*DH note:- Have a look into what externalities are.


Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Not Sorted :: 40 Acts :: Plastic Less Lent

Well Pip's weekend away has been cancelled :-(  The National Deaf Children's Society wanted us to speak with the Orthopaedic Clinic and they in turn couldn't countenance the trip.  Poor kid was really upset but Dad managed to console her with the promise of a 'dad and daughter date' on Saturday a bus trip to Lancaster and lunch in town.  There is also the opportunity for a future weekend away in the summer so she went to bed with a smile on her face.

 40 Acts 2019

We attended mass this morning for ashes and everyone left with a very visible cross on their foreheads!  It is day one of 40 acts and our challenge was to find a buddy for the challenges, we have paired up, 'mum and son' and 'dad and daughter.' 

  Excuse the mucky mini mirror :-)

Plastic Less Lent

I made home made tomato sauce from tomatoes that were not wrapped in plastic but loose in a cardboard box, yay!  Ideally I would normally use tinned tomatoes but they contain citric acid a product not allowed on my current diet.


In addition to the sauce I made raspberry jam muffins and two banana cakes, some for now and some for the freezer.  I also concocted another batch of yummy peanut butter and raisin granola.

We are slowly working through existing foods even if they are wrapped in plastic.   Once they are gone the challenge is to find a suitable alternative and if one cannot be found then they will be dropped from our food list for the duration of Lent.  We do however have two exceptions: we will still continue to buy rice cakes as these are a staple for me especially since I cannot for the time  being eat gluten free bread or oatcakes;  I will also continue to drink organic soya milk that comes in tetra paks with a plastic cap.

Even at this early stage of the challenge it is eye opening to realise that you can do your best to knowingly avoid bringing plastic into the home, but you have very little control over what comes through the post.  I did however read an interesting post that challenges the consumer to go back to the source and to write to companies and engage them in a conversation about the need to reduce unwanted plastic.  As a result of the increased media awareness around plastic waste, the RSPB changed their packing for the magazine from unrecyclable to plastic, to a cover that is fully compostable and made of corn starch.  We do have the technology available so it is up to us as consumers to speak out :-) 

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Shrove Tuesday And Other Stories

 Shrove Tuesday

Purple corn pancakes were the order of the day for our breakfast; very liturgical and very nutritious!  The dried purple corn powder was a gift from our French friend Fred, who came to stay last October to help unpack the house.

 A Broken Scaphoid Bone

We had some unseasonably hot weather recently and it was an opportunity for Pip to meet with some of the local youngsters in our area.  She met with a really lovely group of girls and was enjoying riding her bike and having a race when she collided with another girl and landed awkwardly on her hand.  I initially thought that she had sprained her wrist and so did the usual ice and compression and painkillers.  However it did not work and I was disturbed twice in the night when she was complaining of pain.   So after breakfast off we went the local A&E department and an x-ray confirmed that the scaphoid bone at the base of her thumb/top of her wrist was broken:

 Pip will be wearing this cast for the next five weeks.  She is scheduled to attend an activity weekend courtesy of the National Deaf Children's Society but thankfully she can still attend.  There will be some activities that won't work but there are still plenty of other activities that she can try.  We have also found a fully water proof cast cover which means that she can resume her swimming lessons on a Monday evening,yay!
DH STOP PRESS:-after speaking with the clinic where she had the cast fitted, as they have advised against this activity, it now looks like we will have to cancel it after all!

St David's Day

We remembered St David's Day and made our customary Leek and Potato Soup and Welsh Griddle Cakes:

 Daffodills For St David

Volunteering Saturday

We were all out of the house on Saturday morning and scattered in various directions.  Pip's guide troop ran a pop up cafe from 11am-2pm, so I was able to drop Pip and her dad at the edge of town and they walked/wheeled to the guide hut.  Ben and I volunteered at the Mustard Seed/Wesley's Coffee Lounge.  Dave then met us back at Wesleys for lunch and we enjoyed a yummy baked potato and salad.

I did however have an interesting start to the morning when I realised that I was minus some much needed muffin tins!  Pip's patrol were contributing cakes for their stall, so despite being up at 7:30 to make the cake batter, I was dashing to Barton Grange just before opening time to buy the muffin trays!  Phew :-)


 Lent Challenges

As per the last three years we will be doing the 40 Acts challenges and in addition we have also decide to adopt the Lent Plastic Challenge 2019.  For a good while now we have been buying our fruit and vegetables loose and where possible we buy other items in tin and glass.  However it is all to easy to be complacement and so we will be doing our best to be more intentional about our shopping habits.

We completed a food shop this evening and did quite well, we found our favourite washing brand in powder form aswell as a boxed alternative to bleach in a plastic bottle.  I knew that bin liners were going to be troublesome but thankfully found some that were compostable, although I'm really hoping that we won't have to use too many of them.  The young man behind the cheese counter was also very helpful and our purchase was packaged in greaseproof paper :-)

 My last mug of treat tea courtesy from Fred. 
 We will be using up our other supplies of fruit teas that are minus individual wrappings and this should give us time to find plastic free alternatives.  Hoping to document our challenges here on the blog and over on Instagram. 

Friday, 15 February 2019

Home School Days

 Harry Potter Book Night

Just over a week ago the girls attended the Harry Potter night at our local library.  They had a brilliant time and the librarians had worked really hard to make the evening fun and informative.  Upon arriving they had an encounter with the 'sorting hat', Pip was in Ravenclaw and AJ in Gryffindor, which is in fact Pip's favourite house!  Next their first task was to make a 'Marauders Map' and then using this as the backdrop they had to answer the challenges on the Welcome to Hogwarts sheet.  The two hours flew by!


In the Plant World Cafe the following day wating for Ben to finish college.  Pip has now finished 'Philosopher's Stone' and currently working her way through, 'The Chamber of Secrets.'  I have recently discovered a whole slew of lesson plans pertaining to the first book and so we are using these as part of our English curriculum for the next few weeks.

Chinese New Year

The Harris Museum

We had a trip into the local city south of us so that Dave could undertake some bus training; not for him to drive the bus, but to prove to the inspector that he could manoeuvre his mobility scooter safely onto the vehicle.  Needless to say he passed.  Whilst we were in the vicinity we popped into the local museum and enjoyed a visit to one of the new exhibits.  There was so much to see and do and since we were running short of time, we promised ourselves a return visit soon:

Valentine's Crafts

I have had another organised week and enjoyed putting together these craft activities for the kids.  The faith based crafts were from " Look To Him And Be Radiant" and can be found on my side bar.  I used a simple shortbread recipe to make the gluten free hearts and we used the last of the Christmas Coins melted down for the topping!  The girls had a whole heap of fun and the results are lovely:

 Pip's bag and associated goodies are on the left and AJ's on the right.


We are officially on mid-term break for this next week but I'm hoping we can squeeze in a return trip to the Harris Museum and we will still be keeping up with reading, spellings and time tables.  I might even manage to be ahead of the game and plan our lessons for the next few weeks, which is infinitely preferable to 'whinging it!'