Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Extra Time

"So be careful to live your life wisely, not foolishly."

Ephesians 5 v 15 & 16

Happy leap year everyone!

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

In a Flash

I have always loved taking photos and have boxes full of happy memories recorded on film.  My little  while 35mm film camera was a good consolation for moving when I was a teenager  and the grainy, dark four by six results are treasures of happy teenage  years.  For my eighteenth I had a slightly better camera which followed me around Europe  that summer  and stayed with me for lots of happy and life changing events. That little black Olympus has given me boxes of crazy student memories (always printed using triple prints so my housemates could share the snaps), it was there at my wedding, and then captured those first  precious moments of three of my  children's  life.  I would probably still be using it if my husband hadn't given it to a colleague who held it while jumping into a  pool  on a work exchange in America! 

with automatic flash

The guilt prompted him to buy a digital camera to present to me on his return, and there started a new season in memory recording. Almost eight years later and I have acquired a slightly better camera  and am still snapping my way through our life.  Every birthday I long for a photo like the one at the top and always end up with one like the one above, until this year when in a flash of inspiration I suddenly looked at the camera settings and realised there was a no flash setting.   I realised I could achieve the  type of photo I always wanted  for that birthday candle moment  by turning  the flash off.     I am so pleased with the result, why did I never think of that before?

Do something different with your 
camera next time you use it,
  see if something amazing happens! 

Monday, 27 February 2012

Wash on Monday

Ma began the work that belonged to the day. Each day had its own proper work.  Ma used to say:  

"Wash on Monday,
Iron on Tuesday,
Mend on Wednesday,
Churn on Thursday,
Clean on Friday,
Bake on Saturday,
Rest on Sunday.”

Little House in the Big Woods  by Laura Ingalls Wilder , Chapter two

I found this verse last week whilst hunting for more pancake man information  and I have been thinking about it as I go about my housewifely activity.  As soon as anyone knows I have my very own little six pack at home, there very quickly follows a comment on how much washing I   must do

Every day as I feed my washing machine I am so thankful I live in a time when I do not have to devote a whole day to the Laundry.  The thought of washing it all by hand, after heating up all the water, having made the soap  and then having to dry it all make my four or so loads of daily washing  much easier to  deal with.

Today was the first day I braved hanging the sheets on the line this year, I am waiting for  the inevitable  rain  but it looks cheerful dancing in the breeze.

We have been trying hard not to use the tumble dryer as our little electricity usage OWL box shows a scary amount of electricity used when it is on.  We are very fortunate to have a big utility room; it was the old kitchen and is a perfect place for all the clothes to dry. I have done my best to surround myself with lovely things as I spend a huge amount of my day in there.

I have become such an expert on washing and how to cope with  drying  the mounds my family generate, one of the best things we did last year was to hang an old curtain pole up and hook the plastic IKEA drying hangers onto it, light clothes dry incredibly quickly this way.  Another top drying tip is to actually peg your clothes to the airer, because air circulates they dry much faster this way.

Dries so much quicker this way

Presiding over the laundry room is Pebble the cat who loves sleeping in the warm room.

Do you have any top laundry tips to share?  I would love to hear them!

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Bike Face

There was a certain look about some of the already tired and hassled mothers on the school playground this morning.  We wryly smiled and  shared our joy and enthusiasm for the cycling proficiency  course starting for the year fives:  Everyone has a slightly different version of the trauma involved in preparing our children for their training. It seems we were among the most organised as we at least hauled the bike out of the garage last week, although we quickly had to swap it for a rusting companion as the brake cables seemed to have vanished and would definitely not pass the roadworthy test.

I wish this was the bike we gave our daughter to ride but  sadly it is not, the image is from the Newport Flower show and taken by Sarah Rainwater.

The man of our house is not known for his practical skills but after enquiring about a bike service at the local bike shop and being quoted fifty five pounds, he quickly upped his skill in the area of brake cable doing something too and all the other necessary checks.  Feeling rightly proud of himself he announced the bike safe to use, the next step was to find a safety helmet deemed suitable to wear.  Obviously Barbie and Fireman Sam are not acceptable to an almost ten year old and the only helmet we could find belonged to younger brother, here entered intense negotiating skills  and bargaining to allow the loan  of this suddenly precious belonging. Compared to hunting through the mounds of rubbish in the garage  to find another helmet,  it was easier to negotiate but only just!  

The journey to school was fraught with danger, small son as usual scooted at high speed while I was laden with buggy, toddler, bags and cornet.  Cycling trainee wanted to ride and obviously misunderstood when I told her not to cycle on the pavement - I looked up and saw her cycling on the wrong side of the (not quiet) road!  When we finally arrived at school I was so pleased to know I was not alone in my morning stress.  We all wore a similar "Bike Face", hiding the underlying screams at our offspring.

As I listened to the news it was perfect timing to hear that MPs are to debate measures to protect cyclists, after the number killed on the roads last year rose by 7%.  I would love to cycle more and have an idyllic image of me riding around with my babe on the seat behind  but the roads are very scary to ride especially with a tot in tow.  It is also incredibly hilly where we live and the last time I cycled to work I arrived with my face as red as my hair, not an attractive look!

  However in an age of environmental awareness and increasing fuel prices to say nothing of rising obesity, to be able to safely travel by bike must surely be welcomed by all, young and old. 

What suggestions would you give to improve safety for cyclists?

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Ruby Twos day!

How can time have gone by so fast  and where has that sweet placid baby gone?  Very loudly announcing her two year arrival with many bossy demands "Daddy downstairs, Cheerios"  or maybe  "Shoes on now", our little babe is showing all the feisty spirit that helped her survive her traumatic early days.

She is fun to be with and mostly happy to be pottering around the house or traipsed along to a sibling event, her birthday was spent at Mass and later Parents evening.  She is very loved and enjoys playing with her older brothers and sisters  so much.  She is ever so helpful and really enjoyed making her cake  and playing with her new little dolly in between all the other events of the day.

I must get round to painting this highchair!

all we need is  for the birthday girl to put on her shiny new shoes so we can have ourselves a little party tea!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Pancake Men

"For Breakfast there were pancakes, and Ma made a pancake man for each one of the children. Ma called each one in turn to bring her plate, and each could stand by the stove and watch, while with the spoonful of batter Ma put on the arms and the legs and the head. It was exciting to watch her turn the whole little man over, quickly and carefully, on a hot griddle.  When it was done, she put it smoking hot on the plate."   
Taken from Little House in the Big Woods  by Laura Ingalls Wilder

(Illustration by Garth Williams)

There are some memories that vividly stay with you from childhood;  I was one of those children who were always reading and had a vivid imagination often sparked by something I  had recently read.  I first read the Little House Series, which tell the story of a little girl and her  family growing up as Pioneers on the   untamed Prairie in America  almost a hundred and fifty years ago, when I was about nine.  I was captivated by not only the stories of  bravery and adventure but also by the amazing illustrations that fitted so well with the text.  

Falling apart but still readable after thirty years!

One of these memories was of the pancake men made by Ma as described above.  Every year I try and recreate one but it seems I am not skilled in the art of pancake men making.  If Ma can make one in her log cabin on her hot griddle then surely I can make one on my gas hob in my warm 1950's house.  This  however  is about the best I came up with this afternoon:

It looks more pancake man after I have added the face which I know will make my little boys laugh!

I have just started reading "Farmer Boy" by the same author to my eight and nine year old, it tells the story of Laura's husband growing up in New York in the 1860's  and   he is about nine in the book. It's been far too long since I actually read them a story and I think I probably am enjoying it much more than they are!

Happy Shrove Tuesday!  Can you make a  pancake man?

Monday, 20 February 2012

Hastings Day

Still icy at midday

Half term went by far too fast but included some fun days out and meeting new members of our family.    It was fun to walk around the lake catching up with cousins and enjoying the beautiful seaside scenery.  

I really love all  the colourful seaside  houses

The park in Hastings was a good place for some little boys to get rid of some energy  before their train ride home.

For those interested the lens I used for the photos is a Canon 50mm f/1.4  which is a prime lens meaning it does not zoom so you have to move around to get a good photo of something moving like a small child!  It   takes such fantastic clear, light, crisp images and works so well for child portraits, it is my favourite lens and I use it pretty much all the time. 

The reason for the mini family gathering was to welcome this new little man into our lives, here he is looking cute in a hat I knitted  for him.

Welcome to our world little boy,  won't be long before you are running around climbing trees too!

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

A chocolate breakfast!

Happy Valentines day to all my lovely readers.  Here at the oldpolicehouse we like to celebrate this day of love as we do with birthdays and other celebration days throughout the year.  Really just any excuse for "a chocolate breakfast!"

We took full advantage of the free chocolate and cards in the supermarket yesterday!

Special day selection boxes for breakfast!

We found lots of beautiful handmade hearts around the house this morning, in particular this one gave me such a moment of happiness  and thankfulness for my careful, creative and very caring girl.

Remember to tell someone how much you love and appreciate them today!

Friday, 10 February 2012

snow beautiful

Sunday's snow was rapidly washed away  and playing time was minimal so it was very exciting to have a fresh sprinkling to wake up to.  There is something very calming and serene  about new  early morning undisturbed snow, it looked so pretty as I let the cat out earlier today.  The snowy bush looked amazing, the contrast between the pure snow and red berries was gorgeous.

These rooftops looked especially beautiful covered in snow.

We were all hopeful for an early start to half term with a snow day but it was not to be.  Sledging to school started off being lots of fun,

  but ended  fairly predictably  in  a  very wet way  with lots of laughter as they fell on top of each other,  lots of little boy fun was enjoyed.

I had fun playing with Ruby in the garden  after we returned home, she absolutely loved  being on the sledge!

Her laughter was spontaneous and her smile was as beautiful as the early morning snow, I felt very thankful to be sharing such simple pleasures with her.

I hope you find something   beautiful in your day today!

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

hearts to hang

Lack of sleep and ill children off school gave me some unexpected time to blow the dust of my sewing machine and put it to use this afternoon. I needed to do something more creative than housework and settled poorly man in front of a dvd.  I wanted to start making this gorgeous dress for a birthday coming up far too quickly but I knew the chance of interruption were high so opted for a more simpler project instead.

Valentines day is just around the corner so I quickly made some hearts to hang.  I took a few photos along the way:

First step - cut out

1.  Cut out two hearts from a gorgeous piece of fabric (I used a felt heart as a template but you could easily draw one on paper to use)

Secondly sew

2.  Sew hearts together right side facing together, leave a gap of about three centimetres, along a straight side.

 a: Thirdly turn right side out

c: then sew together using tiny stitches
b: and fill

3.  Turn inside out, stuff with toy filler and then sew up neatly

4. Using a needle with a large eye (tapestry needles work well) thread a ribbon through the top.

You could add a button

 I plan to make a set for the family and embroider a name on each one, so simple I think I will get the children to make their own.

Who will you make a hanging heart for?