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Month: March 2013

In Blighty

In Blighty

 

 

 

We are in England!  After months of planning we are here and loving all the spoiling we are getting at my Dad’s house.  Here are some glimpses of a lovely afternoon spent up at the headland.  headland-7973 headland-7978 headland-7983 headland-7986 headland-7988 headland-7992 headland-7995 headland-8000 headland-8008 headland-8013Happy Easter!

4 Years Old

4 Years Old

Last week my teeniest boy turned 4, that feels like a big number to me.  Yet he is still so little, still my teeny baby in lots of ways.  I don’t think that will ever change.

But now, when I am watching him play or draw or just be, I see that he truly is 4 now, that 3 year old has slipped away and has been replaced by this animated little guy, full of his own plans and ideas.  He is so alive, so full of life and so clear on how he wants to execute his inner dreaming.  He’s so…what’s the word… bossy?  Well a little, but even that seems charming.

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In the space of a few seconds a million ideas and thoughts seem to run across his brain, he is always in motion, his ideas coming thick and fast, his words even faster.  We can’t keep up.

So we just watch him, admiring this person emerging into his own self, each day a step closer to the adult he will one day forge himself into.  For now he is full of delight, charm, softness.  He still welcomes a cuddle and tolerates his Mummy’s kisses of those still soft cheeks.  He still hugs me with delightful fierceness when he finds himself in a moment of despair and woe.  He is the same as he ever was, he is different every day.

4-7935 4-7936 4-7939I’m so grateful that I have the opportunity to watch him, that I am not missing these transitional days.   I adore seeing him explore his interests, helping him when he needs it, introducing him to new ideas as the days slip pleasantly by.

I know that he is emerging into himself in safety, protected by the walls of our home, by the family that surrounds him every day.  He is finding his confidence in himself among those who love him and I wonder idly what he will make of this life that is unfurling beyond him.

But there is no rush, I am more than happy to linger.  I’ll enjoy the kisses and the hugs and the daily chatter for as long as I can.  These are the days to treasure.

 

Weekending

Weekending

 

 

 

 

 

This weekend was an exciting and fun one for us, we went to our very first poultry auction! I know it might not be everyone’s cup of tea but for us these were high times.  The exciting variety of poultry to admire, the decision making on which lots to bid on, the excitement of the bidding process, the…well the smell of lots of chickens in one place but we were able to overlook that.

We brought home with us a lovely set of birds, some of whom even gifted us with eggs yesterday, their first day on the farm.  We bought 2 black sexlinks, 2 Ameraucanas, 1 red/brown bird of indeterminate heritage, a mixed leghorn and what turned out to be a rooster, a pair of bantam Wyandotte and a pair of bantam Rhode Island Reds.  A mixed bag to be sure but when you are paying $6 for two birds it is hard to be churlish about their family history.

chickens-7917 chickens-7920 chickens-7925 Our new mini flock is  happily ensconced in the mini chicken run next to the main chicken pasture, that way they can settle in, find their feet and we can make sure no one is sick or carrying anything before we mix the flocks.  I have some grand schemes for a breeding programme but we’ll see how that goes along with all  the other projects we have going on around here this year!

chickens-7923 chickens-7921Yesterday was very cold but lovely and sunny, perfect for standing around watching our new chickens settle in.  We think some of them have been raised inside as they are very nervous of the outdoors, I’m sure they will soon get the hang of it, especially when the hay is replaced with real green grass and the fields are alive with delicious buggy treats once more.

After a busy weekend we enjoyed a hearty Sunday Dinner followed by some sofa snuggle time, what better way to finish off such a great weekend?

chickens-7927Happy Monday!

Battle of Hastings 1066

Battle of Hastings 1066

It is with great joy (and a little relief) that we move on from our Maths block and onto…History!  We’ve picked up Story of the World 2 and have thrown ourselves headlong into the wonder of the Medieval period and we are loving it.

If you are looking for ideas on how to expand on Story of the World, I have lots of fabulous ideas and activities pinned here, we are working our way through them but I’d love to hear what you are up to as well!

bayeux-7882 bayeux-7883 bayeux-7888 bayeux-7890After reading chapter 15 we then delved a bit deeper into the story of the Norman conquest and the most famous battle in English history, the Battle of Hastings.

First we watched an animated version of the Bayeaux tapestry, which beautifully brings to life the medieval version of the battle.  For a deeper and more complex view of King Harold and the invasion, this documentary was wonderful, even helping to understand how that invasion shapes society today.  Bliss.

The boys really enjoyed making their own version of the Bayeux Tapestry and I admit to adding a few soldiers in myself!  We rolled out a long piece of paper on the floor to give ourselves a sense of the scale and shape of the tapestry before drawing our own battle scenes inspired by our studies.

bayeux-7895 bayeux-7893 bayeux-7892 bayeux-7891I wasn’t sure how long the boys would enjoy this project for but they really went with it.  More rolls were unfurled, crayons put to use; I was suprised by how much Huwyl’s drawing replicated what he had seen when we looked at the tapestry.  I’m so enjoying sharing these stories with the boys, part of my history and part of theirs.

Ah History, we do love you.

Pirate Party

Pirate Party

So next week is pretty special for our family, our littlest member turns 4 years old. And since we always love an excuse for a good party…

party-7811 party-7876party-7875 party-7838Over the course of the last 4 years we’ve only managed to have 1 celebration around his birthday as someone has always been sick.  This year I was holding my breath to see if it would all come together, no friends getting ill, no family members getting ill and definitely no birthday boy getting ill.  Luckily  the stars were aligned and all went beautifully for our mid week birthday bash.

party-7874party-7829party-7828 party-7819 party-7818Neirin, being a lad who knows exactly what he wants, requested a pirate party  with decorations but a pink castle cake with pirate skulls.  He’s a boy who loves pirates, he’s a boy who loves pink and he’s a boy who loves getting what he wants!  On this occasion I was happy to oblige.  Even when I was instructed to add more decorations as there weren’t enough.  Ahem.

party-7861party-7880party-7872It was a lovely and fun afternoon, crafting treasure boxes, pirate hats and biscuits with the children, before they settled in for a good play and the Mamas all settled in for a good chat.  Thanks to two other photographic Mamas (much cleverer than me!) there are also some photos of me laughing and enjoying the party, a gift in itself.

The morning of the party, as I made decorations, baked cupcakes, gingerbread cookies and a big old birthday cake, I forgot for a while what it was all about.  Luckily I was reminded by the children who happily played, by the happy company of friends, by the generosity of spirit that filled the house that afternoon.

As I browsed the wonderful pictures that my friends had taken, sitting in the post party quiet that evening, I was struck by the pictures that actually included me.  I’m so used to being the one who takes the pictures and I’m not massively keen on being in front of the camera.  But I’ve realised lately that the boys might look back at the photographic evidence of their lives and wonder where I had gone!  So I’m determined to get in front of the camera a bit more, to share with them the special moments and set aside my self consciousness, because really it is silly.  I know, how I know, that when they are older and they look back at pictures of us together, they won’t notice the imperfections of body and face that I see, they will only remember the laughter and the happy times that we shared together as the shutter fell.

party-7870These are the times worth remembering.

Sourdough Goodness

Sourdough Goodness

So if you are anything like me you’ve tried sourdough and, well, failed.  If you are already a sourdough expert you will now understand why I feel the need to wax lyrical now that I have finally (finally!) managed to get it right!

I’ve spent quite a bit of time of late, reading and learning about preparing traditional foods. I will be writing more about this as time goes on but for now I’ll stick to the sourdough.  I’ve tried, in the past, to make my own sourdough culture but ended up with bread that could kill a man at 5 paces and you certainly didn’t want to risk dropping it on your foot.  Enough said.

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My extensive research lead me to the conclusion that I needed to buy a sourdough starter in order to really get things moving in the right direction, I wanted to buy from Cultures for Health as they have a great range and I love their educational videos.  Unfortunately the shipping charges to Canada were crazy so I looked elsewhere.  Luckily I found Linda at sourdoughbreads.com and she only charges $2 for shipping on her marvellous starter culture!  That’s practically as good as her driving to your house to drop it off.  Plus she is very nice and helpful and the information booklet that comes with her culture is invaluable.

Last week I started putting together my culture, fed it, loved it and generally treated it better than like one of my children.  Ahem.  And it rewarded me by springing happily and floofily to life like a happy floofy thing.  On Sunday I decided to make my first loaf and duly did so, I have to admit the results were…ok.  I was disappointed.  I decided to have another go and doubled the recipe, I was rewarded with bubbling sourdough overflow of the most magical kind.  It had finally worked.  This might have something to do with the fact that this time I actually followed the recipe properly.  Apparently that is important people, take heed.

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Due to the fact that I doubled the recipe and really underestimated the floof factor when you follow the recipe properly, I ended up with two massive sourdough loaves.  But they are (in Stephen’s words) just crunchy enough on the top, light but with just enough doughyness and all round delicious.  A sourdough triumph.  At last.

In addition to using the recipe from Linda’s booklet I am really enjoying the sourdough e-course over at Gnowflins.  Wardee, the creator of Gnowflins, has 7 e-courses all on different aspects of traditional food making; sourdough bread making, dairy processing, making cultured foods…you name it, it’s there.  Plus her style of teaching and the sheer volume of information you have access to is phenomenal.  I’m only just scraping the surface at the moment yet I feel that I’ve learned an extraordinary amount already.

So as well as making sourdough breads you could happily sleep on top of, I’ve also made my first foray into sourdough waffles, which were happily scoffed by my loving family.  Tasty, nutritious and honestly pretty easy.  I’m looking forward to much  experimentation and learning over the coming weeks (and years) as I explore growing and preparing foods in traditional ways.  Oh and, yes, there will be much traditional eating also.

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As Stephen said this morning while he made himself a sandwich from our own leftover roast chicken piled on top of homemade sourdough and slathered with tangy autumn chutney, “How lucky are we?”

Messy Kitchen

Messy Kitchen

It was with not a little despair that Stephen and I looked at our messy kitchen this morning. It had been thoroughly cleaned before bed last night and yet…there it was.  But as I commented to my beloved, it’s because we use it.

This morning we had ongoing: soaked pancakes, a double batch of sourdough bread, water and juice kefir, slow cooker stew, a test batch of birthday party cupcakes and milk warming to make yoghurt.  That makes for quite a mess and we hadn’t even finished breakfast.

kitchen work-7773 kitchen work-7775 kitchen work-7776 kitchen work-7777When Stephen designed our house I asked that the kitchen be in the centre of the open plan ground floor.  I wanted it to be literally and figuratively the heart of the home.  I can be happily working in the kitchen (or less happily cleaning the mess which seems to take even more time!) and can see what the boys are up to.

We cook here, eat here and even do work at the kitchen counter.  It feels like everything flows out from this space, it is the engine of our family life.  As I become more and more fascinated by the traditional style of eating and the use of cultures, soaking and even more home made goods, our  kitchen is even more a place of production than ever.

kitchen work-7778 kitchen work-7779 kitchen work-7780Imagine how much mess I’ll make when I have a cow!  I hope your Monday morning is productive and tasty too.