Thursday, 26 November 2009

And the word is cheese.

No, we haven't been making cheese. It is Jonathan's random word of the week. He uses instead of cool and wicked. He uses it as a curse. He uses it to break the silence or to get your attention. He has made up a silly song that he sings when you least expect it. He has also been gathering a collection of 'ch' words, such as chocolate and chips and today we have all been joining in!!! Tom has been making up silly sentences with all the cheesy words!
We had such gems as chestnut, chafe, chaps, cheshire, cheek, is quite bizarre really that my least 'wordy' son has taken to thinking of 'ch' words and involving the whole family!!!

Thursday, 19 November 2009

So, what have we all been up to?

Rob and I managed a night away from the kids a couple of weeks ago. Tom babysat for us and we had a whole 18 hours to ourselves! Where did we go, I hear you ask? A hotel? B & B? Caravan? Nope. We camped wild, complete with camp fire!! It was lovely, although cold at night, and I could've done with a bit more sleep. But it was cool. We cooked soup, sausages and jacket potatoes and drank tea and hot chocolate. We had bacon for breakfast and then cleared away any trace of us, (except the ashes!) before walking back to the car. Along the way we saw a kestrel land in a field with a baby rook in its grasp. It was quickly mobbed by some magpies and rooks causing it to fly away to the edge of the field by the fence. Then, along came a buzzard. It swooped down, taking advantage of the situation, grabbed the baby rook, just as the kestrel was flying up into the hedge away from the rooks!!! Amazing!!!
I've been busy making some christmas presents for the boys, but no piccys yet for obvious reasons!!! The socks are coming along well, and they are all trying to work out who they are for! I've also finished another Waldorf doll, using the book Making Waldorf Dolls by Maricristin Sealey. It has turned out well, but is also destined as a gift, so no pic of that yet either!
Rob is still busy with his Fire training, and has made a good start on building our website. More about that another time.
Jonathan has made a new rat trap, using good old you tube for the design. Not that we really think we have rats in our loft, you know, but those scurryings really did sound like BIG mice the other night!!!!They went up to investigate yesterday, taking the cat with them!!! They found what they thought to be nuts nibbled by mice but no other signs of anything larger!! When it was time to come down, the cat took some persuading,and somehow the little tub of cat food got left up there by the hatch last night. This morning when Jonathan went up to set some mouse traps, he found that something had filled the tub with loft insulation and little plastic bits from a game that was spilled up there years ago!!!! Mice? Rats? Borrowers?!!! So the traps are set and we'll see what tonight turns up!!
David has started to really shine in his swimming class and is being moved up after the christmas break. He is also doing a distance swim next Sunday to earn himself his first badge. We have no idea really how many lengths he can swim so it will be really interesting! He can do any stroke that he likes and any combination, just as long as he keeps going!!!
William has a new swimming suit...we call it his super suit! It is a full length suit with floating aid built in. I've never done anything like that before for the boys, the most we ever did was arm bands, but none of them got on with those, and Will is very sensitive to how things feel, so we thought this would be the best option. He sees the other boys swimming and wants to do the same but hates his face going anywhere near the water. Ver confident in the pool though and now that he can float pretty much unaided it might just give him the boost he needs. He can swim with my hand under his belly when he wants to, but he is quite stubborn if you attempt to make him!!!! He loves going swimming so this way at least we all get to have fun.
And Tom.....
Well, just when we thought Tom had turned into a complete computer zombie, spending hours and hours on forums etc, we went into town and bought him some welding wire and HEY PRESTO!!!! Normal service has been resumed. He made himself a metal box for the back of his truck to hold all his straps etc, finished his exhaust pipe that he had started and then finally got a buyer for his wheels and tyres on Ebay, which enabled him to buy a new clutch! If you remember, his burnt out at his trucks first off road outing last month and has been in mourning ever since.
He had several offers of help from various people, but with a downloaded Haynes manual and lots of advice from other Vitara owners with experience in such matters, he started to dismantle the truck. Ooops, I mean take the relevant engine parts apart. Or something!!!
He had to take off the starter motor, and the gear box had to come out, which is VERY heavy, so it had to be supported with straps. Lots of the nuts were old and either seized or rusted or worse, rounded off. It took him a long time with the weather against him all the way.
But he did it!!!! He put it back together yesterday, with the new clutch in place and this afternoon he drove it out of the drive onto the front grass!!!
Totally unbelievable!!! He is 15 years old next month and has just fitted a new clutch in his own truck!!
It kind of puts everything else into the shade really, doesn't it?!

Sunday, 15 November 2009

A few pictures from our walk today.

So much for a catch up from the last week!! I thought I would upload these photos while I was in the mood. I can do the others another day!
We went for a walk in a local woodland after lunch while the sun was shining, as we have felt far too restricted the last few days, what with the wind and rain we have been having.
I took the camera with me, with the idea that it would give the boys more playing time if I had something to occupy me too!
This is Louis investigating a badger hole....quite brave I think!!

and having a good look round before coming out. He wasn't in any hurry!

One of the many pictures I took of the sun shining through the trees. It was hard to decide which one to use!

And some fungi pictures. I took loads of these too! I love fungi in all its guises. These are just a few of my favourite photos.

This one we saw last week, and it was newer. The edges were still much paler and thicker, making the middle look more shrivelled in comparison. Of course we made the joke of it being called 'Jonathan's brain fungus'!

These ones are William's favourites. He said they lloked like mouse's ears and they were soft like mouse's ears too! He was wearing gloves so he obviously felt that they looked soft as opposed to felt soft. He liked putting his gloved fingers inside the little hollow bits. So lovely to share my fascination of fungi with someone else for a change!!!

Friday, 13 November 2009

Free Food Friday

Free Food Friday. I've not done this one before, although I have always had plenty of things to write about for it!!
Ok, so technically speaking these free edible goodies didn't come our way today, but I am cooking/processing/eating them today so I guess they still count, right?
Cooking apples are always a big feature in our kitchen at this time of year. We pick them up while out and about in the car, while walking the dog, the boys bring them back in their paperound bags and people just turn up on the doorstep with carrier bags full!
This little haul was David's find.

And these walnuts were given to us by Hannah...thank you!!! They are the second lot she has given us, from her stash that she picked up. We traded them for some sweet chestnuts that we collected in the woods. The first lot were nearly completely eaten by Jonathan in a matter of hours so I'm keeping a few of these ones back in a secret place!!!

And these damsons are currently boiling on the stove to make jam. We've had our eye on them for a while now as they are along on eo fthe bridleways we frequent on Bob, but we never seem to get back to get them. We erm..err.. 'picked' these yesterday. Well, Jonathan shook the tree and me, David and Willie scrabbled around on the floor underneath the tree putting them into a box. Good old veggie boxes, where would our foraging goodies live without them!!

Also out on Bob yesterday we found an eating apple tree, of which I picked two from the windfalls. I had a hard time eating it on my bike whilst holding off the horse with my elbow I can tell you!!
Also in the spirit of free things we also drove round on our scavenger hunt yesterday and stopped whenever we saw a fallen branch...lots of Ash had lost branches in the wind and rain of the last few days. That, the damsons and the horse manure from the field, we had quite a boot full!!
Lots to tell from the last week but off to get the jam into jars now!

Monday, 2 November 2009

Allotment update

This is what it looked like today when we left.
Jonathan, with a little help from David, dug over the second patch again, and I planted around 300 onion sets!!!! The rows aren't straight as I forgot the string, but they are in a sort of row type arrangement.
A little excessive do you think? Well, I'm working on a 50% success rate so that will only be 150....we are a family of 6!!! We do a lot of cooking and onions feature very high on the list of ingredients.
It is just so frustrating not to be able to have the whole plot to plan for. It feels so unfair when we know that there are several plot holders that have more than one plot!!! As newbies though, at the top of the list we have to share the plot that becomes available with the next person on the list. If you want another half plot then you have to go back on the list and wait until another plot comes up. Above you on that list might be another person who already has a WHOLE plot but who wants more. How is that fair?!!! But hey ho. We have our half plot and we will fill it completely. We just live in hope that the person we are sharing with doesn't get round to clearing it (they have hardly touched it yet), and then it gets given to us. Yeah right.
But still, we shouldn't be short of an onion or two next summer!!!

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Socks and Samhain surprises!

The finished sock!!!!! A little short in the foot length even for me but it has proved that I can do it. The heel shaping was much easier than I thought and I have plans to make some in some proper sock yarn for the boys. There is some really cool sock yarn out there!

And so to Samhain or Halloween as it is better known. I am not going to begin to explain it here because my friend Liz does a much better job of than I could ever do, here. We did the 'usual' things..hollowed out pumpkin lit up with candles, or in this case, squash.But this time, instead of hiding indoors, we had a fire outside and lit the garden with candles and lanterns that were made from jars and black paper. The chimnea worked really well on this occasion and we played Chinese whispers and eye spy in the dark around the fire.

Some of the nice things we made to eat....

And some of the gruesome creations for the feely box, that Tom and I made up.
Mashed brains...

Eyeballs in intestines?....

Baked apples still warm (hearts), stodgy porridge oats with water (sick) and slimy pasta slugs which even looked like slugs as we died them very dark purple. If you look carefully you can see a stray one in the pictures above!!
I dug out the face paints, googled a few images, added a little imagination (and Rob's creative mastery for my hat)and this is what we all looked like!!!
Mummy witch and Willie Wizard..

The Mask and Milo, aka Tommy and Louis...

Jonny the Joker...

And David the vampire....

We all had a good time and it was good to celebrate something without any commercial influence. This is our prelude to Winter Solstice and Yule as opposed to the awful hyped up Christmas that now takes over our lives, whether we want it to or not. We have always tried to stay away from the mainstream cheap, plastic, throwaway culture but not managed to create what I felt was a really good alternative. This has given me hope that with them all on side we can create celebrations the way we want them to be. Neither of us have ever been 'religious' so that part of it eludes us, so the Pagan approach was the obvious choice as it already is a part of us without us realising it.