"Once your consciousness has been raised, it cannot be lowered"

My parenting journey, our home educating family and some other stuff here and there....

Tuesday, 24 November 2009


The UK Government is trying to rush through a new Bill which will fundamentally change the role of the state in family life. It is contrary to European Human Rights Law and UK Law, and will put a size 13 foot in the door to having compulsory CRB checks and monitoring of parents. 

So many people I've spoken to have been supportive of the principle of Home Education, and almost awed by the degree of energy and dedication required to home educate. The energy I have for my children is being sapped by worrying about these proposed reforms, and desperately trying to understand the political process which might be the best way of showing disagreement with the bill. 

This e-petition will send a clear message to the government. It's so quick and easy to sign.  Please, please...everyone who is eligible to sign, please do....and let me concentrate on setting up the Kindergarten and educating our children ;)

Monday, 23 November 2009

Crazy Esme

Here is a selection of some of the totally bonkers names Esme has assigned her playmobil people/fairies over the last week or so:

Eddie (for a tiny wee playmobil dolly- don't really know why I found this funny, but I did. sorry to anyone called Eddie)
and, most bizarrely "sins of the sons". What??!

I loved hearing her compare her flat Northern vowel sounds with a friend who speaks "proper".

E: Uh
Z: Ah. ah...uh. You sound perfect saying "uh"
E: Uh...heheheh.

Just gorgeous.

There were tears at bedtime tonight, prompted by the book of Watership Down. Followed by many questions about the nature of mortality, reincarnation and where the first man came from. Just the exercise my tired brain needed at the end of a long day ;) cor I love her so much....

Thursday, 19 November 2009

All cluttered up

I've been de-cluttering since we moved into our home almost four years ago. I am doing really well, when I think about how it was. I must have got rid of at least two or three (full) rooms worth of "stuff". It is still something I always have to count as a job on my "to do" list, and I am getting sick of it now. I just want life to be sorted and tidy! I'm really, really looking forward to the day when I just have a "for the charity shop" basket in a corner somewhere. It'll be the only place there are things that no longer need to belong to us.

I don't really understand how I came to be in such a pickle with all this. I don't "collect" for the sake of it, or even to have a collection of something. Paper is my weakness I suppose. I save things- articles, pictures- that are inspirational, precious, informative. Oh, and there's my fabric stash ;-S Other than that I've really moved away from my old mindset where I'd keep things "just in case". I can chuck out just about anything now. In fact, I'm coming close to throwing away even the things I really value. Having stuff lying around is just reminding me how little time I have to do all the things I want to do with my inspiration, creativity and knowledge. It's irritating me. Aside from that, I really want to foster a sense of responsibility towards having (less) things in my children. I am striving to model this now.

I am all too aware that we need barely any of the things we have for the children. Though I am really so glad I have managed to completely avoid flashing battery eating tat, we still have more plastic (albeit vintage Fisher Price and Playmobil) than I would like. I would be perfectly happy to get rid of about 80% of the stuff they have. I have recently culled a lot of our soft toy population (ugh...why do even they make these things?), puzzles and Esme's "special things" by stealth. It was underhand, I fear. I now feel I'm stuck at a point where I can't really "magic away" too much more without discussing it with Es, and that's where I get stuck because she flat refuses to part with anything. I feel terrible stealing the things she has. She has the memory of an elephant and still asks where cuddly toys she was given as a baby are. I don't like to encourage clinging to stuff, but I can't completely disregard her. What to do?

All I know is that I feel nervous, as Christmas approaches, about the influx of more things that will have to be kept somewhere....we have so little space even for things that are practical or beautiful. I have tried to ask for only useful things, things we need, money towards experiences, less, or even no gifts. How nice it would be for everyone to have a Buy Nothing Christmas .

I also feel really nervous at the prospect of moving house, which will hopefully happen sometime in the next year or so. I just can't do another four years of making somewhere into a home. Hopefully all my hard work here will pay off and our moving boxes will just be full of bare necessities and love.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Pumpkin madness

We don't really "do" halloween that much here, but there has been a distinct shift towards celebration this year, with the accompanying hustle and bustle you might expect in the kitchen.

I chanced upon an episode of Jamie at home last week. After cooking a few Jamie recipes from Annie's blog recently (sweet and sour squash, sticky carrots), I was keen to watch, it's been ages since I saw him in action. I settled for the "pumpkins and squashes" programme. I'm glad I did, my corner shop had some fine specimens in stock...

I've always liked these beauties...good to eat in so many different ways. Jamie says just to cook the skin. Cool. I'm not sure if this is old hat and everyone else knows this already, but it was news to me and I was very excited! So, I went and got my pumpkin and started with some really easy and absolutely delicious muffins.

Now this is my first foray into blogging about food so forgive me if it's all a bit clunky and messy and my pics aren't great.

Pumpkin Muffins

400g squash or pumpkin, skin on
250g light soft brown sugar (Jamie used 400g but I couldn't bring myself to use that much...)
4 eggs
pinch salt
300g plain flour (I used wholemeal)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
handful of walnuts
175ml oil

Whizz up the squash or pumpkin as finely as possible in the food processor, add all the other ingredients, whizz up again. Fill the muffin tins 3/4 full, bake at 180c for 20 min, until brown. Leave to cool in tins for a few minutes and turn out. Mmmmmmmm! This makes 24 muffins, be warned you may want to eat that many...

Actually these were so good, I baked several batches to sell for charity at Esme's riding school, and to give to friends.

Then i decided to make some soup to take to a friend's Halloween party. Again, very easy but really tasty.

Pumpkin Soup

3kg pumpkin, skin on, cut into wedges
2 carrots, sliced roughly
few cloves garlic
red onion- 1 or 2
fresh rosemary
2 sticks celery
2 litres stock
olive oil

Heat olive oil in a big pan (this makes a lot of soup), add onion, celery....then carrots, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper. Chuck in the pumpkin. Sweat it for a bit then add stock and simmer for about 45 min until the pumpkin is absolutely obliterated. (About 6 minutes in a pressure cooker. Guess what's on my Christmas list!)

Blend it with a hand blender............

This bit was tricky for me as I managed to blow up my hand blender some time ago ;)

We enjoyed this with cheesy croutons

Fry some sage leave in hot olive oil to infuse it, then remove the sage. Dip some crispy/slightly hard bread in the oil, then grate cheese over it and pat into the bread on both sides. Fry in a dry pan for about 1 min on each side.

I still have the enormous pumpkin (pictured) left over so I'm going to make some more muffins, the sweet and sour dish from Annie and some more soup to freeze. I also fancy having a go at this ...but I still have all those pears from Jodrell Bank waiting to be made into chutney, and looking at that picture, I really need to scrub the grout....blush ;/

Anyway, thanks Jamie Oliver. After a looooooong break from watching TV I am going to be tuning into you more often.

And we had a great time at the party, with friends we haven't seen for ages. It was really good to reconnect. I miss you guys.