Tuesday, March 31, 2009

March Round Up

From now onwards I'm planning to do a quick post in this format at the end of each month so I can look back at what I have been reading, watching and listening to ...


The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
Sensational Socks by Charlene Schurch
A Street Without a Name: Childhood and Other Misadventures in Bulgaria by Kapka Kassabova
A Vicarage Family: a Biography of Myself by Noel Streatfeild


Lark Rise to Candleford (Series 2) - finished
Grand Designs
The Number One Ladies Detective Agency
The Apprenctice

On My iPod

English folk music - Kate Rusby, Seth Lakeman, Steeleye Span
Holst - St. Paul's Suite
Bach - Brandenburg Concertos and other

Activity Village

Looking for Pancake Day activities last month, I found a good, free resource for celebrating special days throughout the year: Activity Village.

Although it is a UK site, it also includes dates from the US and other calendars. Looking ahead over the next few weeks you can find links to crafts, colouring pages, puzzles, games and other activities for:

  • Easter (12th April)
  • 500th anniversary of Henry VIII's accession (21st April)
  • Earth Day (22nd April)
  • St. George's Day (23rd April)
  • Teacher Appreciation Week, US (4th-8th May)
  • Children's Day, Japan (5th May)
  • Mother's Day, US (10th May)
Have fun!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Literature Meets Life

I had a strange experience last night, when I unexpectedly came across someone I once knew in the book I was reading.

Alison Uttley's A Year in the Country, published in 1957, is a month-by-month account of a year in the Buckinghamshire countryside. I assumed it would be based on the south of the county where she lived, but in parts it roams further afield. This is the passage that caught my attention:

A small paper-backed book has come today in cold December, and it gives me peculiar pleasure for it is the short history of a Buckinghamshire village written by two people who have lived all their lives in the place, whose roots are deep in country earth, whose memories go back to simple ways of living. The record has been compiled by them as a labour of love, a preservation of their local traditions, lest the village, like so many others, is swept into the grasp of a town. This seems unlikely at present, but they are taking no risks with an uncertain future when their country lore may be forgotten.

This small history of Stewkley is well-contrived, and the authors have used their intimate knowledge of life and work during the last seventy years, with links through the centuries. One of them, William Capp, a man of seventy-five, is a craftsman whose thatched cottage I visited some time ago to see the violins and violoncellos he had reconditioned and cured. He buys old broken instruments at village sales, and makes new parts, using the smooth white wood of box which grows on the Chilterns, and pine and pear wood; lengthening the tail-piece, making an inlay of box, and replacing the ivory tip of broken bows with the hard white box wood which resembles ivory. He is a clever joiner, and artist in his work, belonging to a family of joiners and carpenters. Around the wall of the tiny cottage hung the instruments, seven of them, which he had mended and prepared for sale.
When I was a child my parents bought me a violin from William Capp. I remember him and his cottage clearly - a strange and exotic room, the dark walls hung with violins, with others he was working on lying around in various stages of progress. William Capp himself was a very old man at the time, certainly in his late 80s, maybe over 90. I remember him as tall, but that could just be my child sized perspective playing tricks. It quite startled me to have a memory brought back so vividly and unexpectedly.

Stewkley was my father's village. It was swallowed up not by a town, but by modern life and a tide of newcomers. My dad's was the last generation to remember the old ways and traditions. The book Cherub was "reading" in this post was the book Alison Uttley describes.

Simple Woman's Daybook: 30th March

Outside My Window ... light grey skies, but the rest of the week is forecast to be dry and sunny.

I am thinking ... how nice it is to have bunches of daffodils around the house.

From the learning rooms ... the last week of school before the two week Easter break, though Angel is going to miss at least some of it as she and Cherub both have a sickness bug.

I am thankful for ... my washing machine. Cherub was sick twice last night. Imagine having to clean up in the middle of the night in the days before washing machines.

From the kitchen ... no plans, as I have no clue who is going to be up to eating what by tonight.

I am wearing ... blue velour pyjamas.

I am creating ... a beige, lightweight knitted cardigan for myself. Only one seam left to sew on Cherub's cardigan, but I need to buy buttons.

I am going ... to be away for Easter. We booked a week's holiday starting on Easter Saturday, then later were offered an extra two days free. It was too good an offer to turn down, but it means we will be away for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. It is going to seem very strange being on holiday during Holy Week.

I am reading ... A Year in the Country by Alison Uttley.

I am hoping ... Cherub and Angel recover quickly and nobody else gets ill.

I am hearing ... the washing machine, birdsong (a collared dove cooing loudly and the twitterings of smaller birds), Cherub snoring gently, an aeroplane overhead.

Around the house ... we have finalised plans and ordered our new kitchen (I am so excited about this!). I'm working on decluttering and reorganising so that it will be easy to pack up and then put everything back into the right cupboards when the new kitchen is installed at the beginning of June.

One of my favorite things ... watching Cherub sleep.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week ... finally collecting our new car tomorrow, after waiting an age for cheques to clear and legalities to be completed. Angel and Star are planning to go to a car boot sale* with my brother at the weekend to sell unwanted clutter and raise some holiday money.

* Car boot = trunk. You pay a fairly nominal amount for a pitch for your car at an open air market, then sell stuff from the boot.

A Picture Thought I Am Sharing ...

Check out The Simple Woman for links to other Daybooks and instructions if you want to do one of your own.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Next, Please!

If you use Google Reader, this is genius.

Thanks to Sandra at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom, I have discovered the Next button feature. In Google Reader, click on Settings, then on Goodies; from there, drag the Next button into your browser toolbar. If you are not sure how to do it, Sandra gives a video tutorial.

Once you have the Next button in your toolbar, you can use it to move chronologically from one new post in your Reader to the next. You then get the benefit of being taken directly to the link - no need to click through to leave comments or to see full posts, and you can see all those pretty templates. If you have your subscriptions organised in separate folders, you can add separate, tagged buttons - homeschooling blogs, knitting blogs, or whatever.

As I said ... sheer genius!

Friday, March 27, 2009

7 Quick Takes


1. What does it say about me that I started writing my Quick Takes from the bottom up, dotted around randomly in the middle, and ended with number one?

2. How is it that Lent can seem to rush by so fast, yet it seems such a long time without chocolate?

3. Poor Star is drowning under science homework in preparation for SATS tests in May. Last night there was sobbing, wailing and gnashing of teeth as she worked through a booklet of questions on plants.

4. Cherub loves to play I Spy, which is a surreal experience ...

Cherub: I spy with my little eye something beginning with D
Me: Can you give me a clue?
Cherub: Yes. It is something pretty. It is ... of course ... a rainbow.

Cherub: I spy with my little eye something beginning with W. It is something you open.
Me: Window?
Cherub: Good guess, but you are wrong. It is ... of course ... a door.

5. Elaborating on yesterday's snoozing post ... she slept like that for about ten minutes before I made the mistake of trying to pick her up and lie her on the sofa (one instantly awake, cross Cherub!). She was like a little nodding dog - her head would drop a bit, then she would jerk herself upright again. I tried to take a short movie, but I as I haven't a clue how the movie mode works on my camera it didn't work.

6. I cannot overstate how much I love Playmobil. Angel and Star played with it for countless hours, and I think Cherub would be perfectly happy if she never had any other toy.

7. Anyone else having problems with the Chinese blog spammer? If Blogger doesn't deal with him soon I'm going to have to start moderating posts until he goes away.

Read more quick takes at Jen's Conversion Diary.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Zzzzzzz ...

Cherub was sitting at her little table playing yesterday afternoon when I noticed little snorting, snuffling, snoring noises ... and there she was, fast asleep, sitting upright ...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Cherub the Toy Snatcher

I often take Cherub to a Tuesday afternoon toddler play session at the local community centre. As yesterday's session was coming to a close Cherub rushed up to another small girl and blatantly snatched a toy out of her arms. Mortified, we returned the toy and apologised, and Cherub got a lecture on (1) snatching, and (2) not doing it.

As we arrived home, I suddenly realised what was behind this sudden outbreak of anti-social behaviour ...

Me: When you took the toy, did you want to play with it, or did you want to put it away?

Cherub: Put it away!

Ah! All was explained. Like her eldest sister, Cherub is a rule follower. Once she has parameters fixed in her mind, they are well and truly fixed. At the end of the play session the children help to tidy up. Cherub had spotted the toy and decided that it had not been tidied. And it should have been tidied. So she took it upon herself to tidy it. Unfortunately, it happened to belong to the small girl, not the playgroup ... and her methods left something to be desired!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook: 23rd March

Outside My Window ... light cloud cover. Rain is forecast for tonight after a wonderful week of spring sunshine.

I am thinking ... that there has to be a way to persuade Cherub to sleep past six o'clock in the morning. Maybe next week's time change will help.

From the learning rooms ... Star grumbling about homework. She is getting more than usual as she has SATS tests in May.

I am thankful for ... belts, which hold up jeans that would otherwise fall down, making it much easier to find pairs that fit. Why did it take me nearly five decades to work this out?

From the kitchen ... baked potatoes with cauliflower cheese, and thinking I may bake some biscuits (cookies).

I am wearing ... pink pyjamas.

I am creating ... Cherub's lilac cardigan is nearly done. I love knitting but hate sewing it together!

I am going ... to be super-organised and efficient this week. Ha! I can dream!

I am reading ... A Street Without a Name: Childhood and Other Misadventures in Bulgaria, by Kapka Kassabova.

I am hoping ... we will get our new car this week. It seems cheques take three times longer to clear than they used to. Clearly the banks have been too busy throwing away money to focus on basic services.

I am hearing ... Cherub and Star watching Big Cook, Little Cook.

Around the house ... I want to get lots of decluttering done this week.

One of my favorite things ... the town we live in, which still has a traditional market town feel and is a great place to bring up children.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week ... playdate for Cherub today, man from John Lewis coming to quote for kitchen refit on Wednesday, man coming to steam clean carpets on Thursday (which means keeping Cherub out of the house for most of the day as damp carpets and toddlers are not a good mix), eating out with Tevye and K-and-A-next-door on Friday, brass band concert on Saturday. Busy week.

A Picture Thought I Am Sharing ... spring sky

Check out The Simple Woman for links to other Daybooks and instructions if you want to do one of your own.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Chinese Cherub

Last night's dinner was a Chinese takeaway. Cherub looked at her plate in disgust and demanded "lamb chops" ... then looked at the older girls and added "like theirs!".

"Ah! You mean chopsticks?"

"Yes! ... STICKS!!!!"

Of course. Lamb chops. Chopsticks. Easy mistake to make.

Friday, March 20, 2009

7 Quick Takes


1. I found a bumper crop of Cherub toys in Oxfam* today: a six foot long alphabet jigsaw; two more jigsaws; a simple counting game based on the nursery rhyme Hickory, Dickory Dock; a mixture of small cars and other vehicles; and a large, purple toy microphone. It is the kind of noisy, irritating toy I hate, but Cherub adores microphones and after her virtuoso performance of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star in the shop - much to the entertainment of the other customers - I hadn't the heart to say no. Six pounds, the lot.

* A charity shop - people donate goods which are sold to raise funds for a specific charity.

2. I forgot ... I also got Noel Streatfeild's autobiography of her childhood. I love finding out the real story of authors I enjoy.

3. Trying to coach Star through homework on the water cycle ...

Me: What do you get when you boil water?

Star: Tea.

4. Cherub is working on her English grammar. Yesterday I heard her calling Star ... "Where you are?" Then she realised something was wrong, thought hard, and corrected herself to "Where is you?"

5. I made a discovery this week. Hair straighteners. All those annoying kinks in my almost-but-not-quite dead straight hair ... gone! In seconds. Suddenly I understand why Angel considers them an essential. Why did it take me so long to catch on?

6. They say mid-life motherhood keeps you young. In my case it just makes me confront the aches and pains of middle age head-on. I can sit on the floor with Cherub at her music-and-movement session, but I have to make a conscious effort to suppress the creaks and groans when I get up again.

7. Star and Tevye are supposedly watching TV. It must be a fascinating programme. They are both fast asleep on the sofa.

Read more quick takes at Jen's Conversion Diary.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Book Review: The Mother's Day Mice

The Mother's Day Mice In the UK Mother's Day falls on the fourth Sunday of Lent, so I bought The Mother's Day Mice by Eve Bunting to share with Little Cherub. It is illustrated by Jan Brett, which is a guarantee that it will be good to look at. The story is cute and simple: three mice go in search of presents for their mother for Mother's Day. The littlest mouse is prevented from getting the honeysuckle he wants by a cat, but thinks of something extra special instead. A nice gentle story for preschoolers. I particularly like the way the three little mouse brothers are willing to share credit for their gifts.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Answer? Yes!

We did go to the zoo ... not for too long, and feeling a bit blurry, but we went. (And yes, thank you, I feel a lot better today. It was just a 24 hour thing.)

I took my camera, and thanks to Sandra's suggestions decided to experiment with different colour settings. A bit of hunting through menus and I discovered my camera - a cheap but adequate Panasonic digital - has five options: standard, natural, vivid, sepia and black-and-white. This otter was posing beautifully on a rock while he ate some fish. Here he is in standard colour ...

And here in black and white. I rather liked the effect of the water ...

Then I started playing with the vivid colour setting. Here is Cherub looking vividly pensive in a playhouse ...

And here she is naturally pensive (at least, I think this was on the natural setting, but it may have been standard. I lost track.) ...

The only sepia shot I tried was of a bison and it was not a success. Two photos I did like were this mongoose (natural, as the cage background was vivid enough in its own right!) ...

... and the dwarf crocodile, which being grey on grey with odd lighting (his heat lamp) needed a colour boost from the vivid setting.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

To Zoo or Not To Zoo?

... that is the question.

I planned to take Cherub to the zoo today, but suspect I have succumbed to a headachy, woozy, queasy virus that has been doing the rounds locally. Last night I had the queasy bit, and this morning it has moved on to headachy and woozy.

Ordinarily I would simply have given up and gone another day, but the weather this morning is glorious and it seems a terrible shame to waste it. Also I can't go tomorrow, and won't have the car on Thursday or Friday (how I am looking forward to getting our new little car!) ... so it is now or next week.

What to do? Lie on the sofa for an hour or two and see how things go, I think.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook: 16th March

Outside My Window ... a beautiful, bright, early spring day - and more of the same forecast for the rest of the week.

I am thinking ... about cleaning the kitchen. I prefer thinking about it to doing it.

From the learning rooms ... nothing noteworthy.

I am thankful for ... having more energy than I have had in months. I finally seem to be over the lingering effects of winter bugs and bronchitis.

From the kitchen ... something with minced beef for dinner. Maybe cottage pie? Sponge cake with strawberries and whipped cream for Angel's birthday.

I am wearing ... old jeans and a long sleeved green t-shirt. My house cleaning clothes.

I am creating ... a cute little lilac cardigan for Cherub using baby bamboo yarn.

I am going ... into town to look for summer shoes and to take Cherub to the park. It is too nice a day to stay inside.

I am reading ... a biography of children's author Alison Uttley.

I am hoping ... to do better with my Lent reading this week. It kind of fizzled out last week.

I am hearing ... Cherub counting pencils.

Around the house ... clothes. Dumped randomly all over the place. From my desk in the sitting room I can see two radiators covered with clothes drying (actually now dry and waiting to be put away), Star's abandoned school sports fleece, Angel's leather jacket and a pashmina style scarf hung over the bannister post at the bottom of the stairs, a pair of pink Cherub trousers on the stairs waiting to be put away, and a heap of dolls' clothes in the middle of the floor.

One of my favorite things ... sunshine.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week ... a trip to the zoo to take advantage of the nice weather before our zoo pass expires; an open band rehearsal in aid of Oxjam; otherwise a fairly quiet week.

A Picture Thought I Am Sharing ...

Check out The Simple Woman for links to other Daybooks and instructions if you want to do one of your own.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

7 Quick Takes


1. Angel will be 14 tomorrow. How did that happen? Having both a teenager and a toddler certainly makes me appreciate just how fast children grow up and how precious the time is.

2. Today's Cherubism: we had pitta bread for lunch, which we haven't had for a while and Cherub was intrigued ... "Peter? Is that Peter like Peter Rabbit?"

3. On Thursday I took the sides off Cherub's cot (crib) and turned it into a toddler bed. I had suggested it several times over the last few months but she was very reluctant. Suddenly she decided she liked the idea and is very pleased to be able to climb in and out of her own bed.

4. Sorting out Cherub's bed was one of those jobs that started simple, but set off a chain reaction. The chain of events went this way: take sides of cot ... realise Cherub's nose will be five inches from a plug socket and she will almost certainly manage to remove the socket cover ... bow to the inevitable and shuffle furniture around ... decide it is all in the wrong place and shuffle again ... end up with a chair that no longer fits ... decide I would like the chair in our bedroom ... shuffle things round in our bedroom ... discover shoving heavy furniture with my knees was not the best idea ... spend next two days with stiff, bruised knees.

5. Thank you to those of you who gave suggestions about clothes for skinny toddlers last week. No cheap versions of Gap here in the UK, unfortunately - can't believe I didn't think of eBay though! And they don't seem to sell long socks for Cherub's baby-sized feet, only for school aged children. But I did find a couple of pairs of cheap leggings to wear under skirts, which should tide her over until the weather gets warmer.

6. I decided on desserts to make for our Irish themed meal with our neighbours tonight ... baby guinness (chocolate mousse with whipped cream), though I'm going to use Bailey's Irish Cream instead of guinness to add flavour, and blackberry and apple crumble. It was going to be gooseberry crumble, but gooseberries are so out of season I can't find any. K-next-door is cooking braised lamb shanks and vegetables for the main course, and A-and-D-next-door-but-one are making potato, leek and smoked salmon soup for the starter.

7. Saving the best news of the week until last ... we bought a car! After fourteen years of being a one car family we finally caved in and decided to get another. No more juggling around Tevye's office hours, or logistical nightmares involving needing to be in two places at once. It is a Renault Clio, in a colour Renault call "eclipse", but I would call "gunmetal grey" (it was that or black or an awful lot more money). Hopefully it will arrive in time for Tevye's birthday in a couple of weeks.

Friday, March 13, 2009

What is Your Passion?

Amy at Epiphany Springs asks "Do you know your passion? What is it?". An interesting question that took some thinking about. What is a passion? Where is the boundary between a passion and a hobby or interest? I have plenty of those, as you can see from my sidebar introduction. I even used the word passionate when I wrote it: "reader, writer, musician, scrapbooker, knitter, cross-stitcher, lifelong learner; passionate about Catholicism, good children's books, educational ideas (especially those of the early 20th century English educational pioneer, Charlotte Mason) and medieval history".

Thinking it through in more depth, I think I have pinned down what makes something a passion for me, and have narrowed it down somewhat. Being passionate about my family and my faith is a given, and not what I am talking about here ... I'm looking for those things that build me up; that leave me feeling refreshed and relaxed; that re-energise me. Passions lead me into a state of flow - "the mental state of operation in which the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing by a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity" is the Wikipedia definition, and sums up exactly what I mean.

I think I have two passions, one simple enough, and one I found it hard to put a finger on, because it is broad enough to encompass a number of different interests. I enjoy various crafts, but they are relaxing hobbies rather than passions (though maybe knitting comes close). My first real passion, the easy one, is music. Not listening to music - though I do enjoy it - but playing. In times of crisis, my instinct has always been to pick up an instrument and play. The amount of music making I do fluctuates, and I go through periods where I don't play much at all, but they are usually brief. Currently my preference is playing with others rather than alone ... in the last several years I have dotted around between orchestra, wind band and brass band, according to what is most manageable. For the last couple of years I have been playing in the brass band, rehearsing a couple of times a week, which is a nice amount for now. It energises me, and I usually come home feeling more "up" than when I left. I should say that I am not a brilliant musician. I have a very modest amount of talent and pick up new instruments easily, but I am very much a "jack of all trades and master of none". The only instrument I play moderately well (by amateur standards) is the violin ... but I get the sense of energy and flow from the challenge of practicing a new instrument just as much as from playing more challenging stuff on my fiddle.

The second passion is research. I find searching for and organising information utterly absorbing. This is why I love academic history ... learning about history is interesting, but it is the research side that gets my juices flowing. One of my favourite ways to spend a day is in a research library or archive. I can get the same excitement from visiting a record office that others get from attending a big sporting event. Just walking through the door gives me a thrill, and hours pass like minutes. Who knows what I might find? All those hidden nuggets of information, the clues that allow me to piece together a puzzle, all waiting to be uncovered.

Other interests flow from this passion for research: genealogy, educational ideas and planning, learning about new subjects in general. Tevye calls me an information junkie, and a lot of my planning mania is probably rooted in the pleasure of researching things to put in my plans. I wondered whether to include books as a passion - I am a bookworm, after all! - but decided many of my literary interests are subsumed in my passion for research - reading for information, literary rabbit trails, book collecting, and putting together book lists all tie in. Maybe books are a sub-passion? Writing, similarly, is a sub-passion. I love putting together my nuggets of information into a clear, readable form. I am totally a non-fiction writer. Creative writing holds no appeal for me whatsoever. I just like collecting facts and building them into something interesting to read.

So, echoing Amy ... do you have a passion? And what is it?

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Cherub sits in my bed "reading" a book with no illustrations. Star asks her what it is about ... "it's about words, of course".


Cherub complains that the car radio is "too loud ... please put it more slowly".

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Word Cloud

It is a while since I have done a Word Cloud based on my blog. I rather liked this one.

Make one of your own at Wordle.

HT: Dorothy

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

4 x 10 Reading Challenge: Update 2

Finished book titles are blue, with those completed since my last post in bold; books in my current reading pile are green.


  • Nella Last's War: the Second World War Diaries of Housewife, 49 (ed. Richard Broad)
  • Nella Last's Peace: the Post-War Diaries of Houseife, 49 - interesting, but I didn't like it as much as the first book. The sense that although the war was over, things were getting worse rather than better, was depressing.
  • Flora Thompson: the Story of the Lark Rise Writer (Gillian Lindsay) - I enjoyed getting to know Flora / "Laura" as she really was, and what happened to her after she left Lark Rise and Candleford (which I discovered was based largely on Buckingham, a town I know well). The biggest disappointment of the book was the discovery that in real life Laura's father was not the conscientious family man shown in the TV series of Lark Rise to Candleford, but an increasingly embittered man who spent much of the family income on drink.
  • Alison Uttley, the Life of a Country Child (Denis Judd) - following my own rabbit trail after reading Little Grey Rabbit's Pancake Day to Little Cherub.
  • A History of Hand Knitting (Richard Rutt)
  • Sensational Knitted Socks (Charlene Schurch) - also in my Amazon package, thanks to the enthusiasm of Elizabeth de Hority (a homeschooling mother suffering from breast cancer ... please say a prayer for her).
  • The Shrines of Our Lady in England (Anne Vail) - still reading as this is an easy book to pick up, read a snippet, and put down.
  • My Life With the Saints (James Martin, S.J.) - three chapters in so far.
  • A Pocket Guide to St. Paul (Scott Hahn) - arriving from Amazon any day, thanks to Alicia's review.
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (Mary Ann Shaffer) - set in 1946, the novel is framed as correspondence between English writer Juliet Ashton and members of a literary society on the Channel Island of Guernsey. Juliet gradually uncovers details of life on the island during the German occupation while simultaneously developing a relationship with her new friends that leads her to travel to Guernsey. Written with a light touch and easy to read, but includes serious themes of wartime suffering and loss.
  • The Uncommon Reader (Alan Bennett) - a witty and clever short novel (120 pages). The Queen borrows a book from the Westminster travelling library, and begins a literary journey that accelerates until books begin to outweigh duty in her estimation, and her courtiers feel obliged to try to deflect her. Excellent.
Geography and Travel
  • Beatrix Potter At Home in the Lake District (Susan Denyer) - started but stalled. Hoping to get back to it.
  • The Road to Wigan Pier (George Orwell)
Science and Nature
  • Electric Universe (David Bodanis)
  • A Year in the Country (Alison Uttley) - part of that Little Grey Rabbit / Alison Uttley rabbit trail.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook: 9th March

Outside My Window ... blue-grey early morning light and clear skies.

I am thinking ... thinking? It's too early in the morning to think!

From the learning rooms ... Star is taking part in a gym/dance showcase at school this week. She needs to record some music onto a CD for today's rehearsal. She told me this at 6.30am and we have no blank CDs. Hoping against hope that K-next-door will have a spare and avert meltdown. (ETA: She does! Oh wonderful neighbour!)

I am thankful for ... cute new toddler nighties. Sleepsuits don't work well with potties, and pyjama bottoms fall down on Cherub.

From the kitchen ... beef casserole.

I am wearing ... pink pyjamas.

I am creating ... plans for a new kitchen. Exciting, but oh! so many choices to make! Trying to balance our wish list and our budget.

I am going ... to take Little Cherub to see the nurse. Her eczema won't clear no matter how much cream I slather on it. Looks like it may be infected. (Been there before with Angel, so this is a familiar scenario.)

I am reading ... My Life With the Saints by James Martin S.J.

I am hoping ... all the winter coughs, colds and sickies are over and done with.

I am hearing ... Little Cherub announcing that she is going downstairs.

Around the house ... surface clutter multiplying again.

One of my favorite things ... daffodils.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week ... parent-teacher meeting at Star's school; a kitchen-planning appointment; an Irish themed meal with our neighbour friends in honour of St. Patrick's Day next week (my turn to make dessert - any ideas?); Angel's birthday next Sunday.

A Picture Thought I Am Sharing ... another old photo. My adopted great-aunt's parents, William and Annie Wilson, taken late 19th century.

Check out The Simple Woman for links to other Daybooks and instructions if you want to do one of your own.

Friday, March 06, 2009

7 Quick Takes


1. I am vindicated. After years of torturous maths lessons, Angel has finally admitted that yes, she accepts that she really can do maths, as evidenced by being moved up to the top maths set.

2. One reason I'm glad to be British ... a senior government minister can have green custard thrown in his face and the protestor responsible doesn't even get arrested. And all credit to Peter Mandelson for taking it with rather more good humour than John Prescott did during the egg-throwing incident.

3. The older I get, the more my reading skews towards non-fiction, but I have just thoroughly enjoyed two pieces of fiction: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer, and The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett, recommended by Shari and Lissa respectively.

4. Getting into Grandma's car after lunch, Little Cherub asked if I was going to "push" the car. I think she meant drive.

5. How to find easy-to-pull-down trousers or leggings for a newly potty-trained but very tiny 2.75yo? Ones that pull down as opposed to fall down? The best fit seem to be ... gulp ... Gap, which is sadly out of my budget. I know they fit as she has one pair from an outfit that was a gift, and I found another pair in their sale. But £20 for a pair of toddler jeans, anyone? Dresses are not working for the time being as she can't manage tights yet.

6. Mister Linky has reappeared as mysteriously as he disappeared from my computer. Joy! I can now find other people's Quick Takes and Day Books.

7. Little Cherub is taking a nap for the first time this week. Even more joy!

Read more quick takes at Jen's Conversion Diary.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

March 5th: St. Piran

I had relatives in Cornwall when I was a child, and fell in love with this beautiful, mysterious, Celtic county in the far south-west of England. As March 5th is the feast day of St. Piran, the patron of Cornwall, here are a few ideas for celebrating St. Piran and all things Cornish:

Who Was St. Piran?
Piran's origins are obscure, but it is known that he was born in Ireland and died around 480. He built a small oratory at Perran Beach (near Perranporth) where he first landed in Cornwall. It is likely that he was either a follower of the Irish saint, Kieran of Saighir, or maybe Kieran himself. Read about him at the Patron Saints Index or the St. Piran Trust. St. Piran's oratory was a place of pilgrimage throughout the middle ages, although a second church was built further inland when attempts to stop the first being smothered in sand were abandoned. Today the St. Piran Trust is trying to raise funds to excavate the sites of both the Oratory and the Old Church. The Oratory is believed to be one of the oldest surviving Christian buildings in Britain.

Cornish pasties ... if you can't get to Cornwall or a good pasty shop to buy the real thing, you can make your own. I haven't made them for years, but I think I will try this year. My recipe is much like this one.

Cornish splits with strawberry jam and clotted cream.

Say the Lord's Prayer in Cornish
(If you would like to hear some Cornish, listen to the BBC News in Cornish here)

Cornwall colouring page

Daffodils are associated with St. Piran's Day celebrations, so any daffodil craft such as this handprint daffodil would be appropriate.

The Cornish flag is the cross of St. Piran - a white cross on a black background. Legend has it that St. Piran lit a fire on his black hearthstone. Tin ore within the stone was smelted and rose to the top in the form of a white cross. Make or colour some Cornish flags of your own.

From black Cornish rock he built his hearth

A blaze of fire rose hot and bright
And from the fire a molten river
Pure metal was made, of splendid white.

Explore Cornwall
Cornwall in Focus has information about all aspects of Cornwall, and an extensive photo gallery.

You can find lots of pictures to use as wallpaper here

Monday, March 02, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook: 2nd March

For Monday 2nd March

Outside My Window ... almost dark, at 6pm. The evenings are getting lighter, though.

I am thinking ... that spring is round the corner. Little Cherub and I were picking catkins yesterday.

From the learning rooms ... Star insisted on spending her own money to buy a Little Miss Sunshine costume to wear to school for Book Day. This is despite the fact that she doesn't actually know when Book Day is.

I am thankful for ... success with Little Cherub's potty training. Mostly.

From the kitchen ... chicken stir fry and noodles.

I am wearing ... jeans, a brown and cream striped cowl neck sweater, and dark blue Crocs.

I am creating ... a half-finished sock that has been ignored in the bottom of my knitting bag for a while.

I am going ... to cram in a quick trip to the supermarket between dropping Angel at dance, picking up Star and taking her home, and then going back to collect Angel.

I am reading ... An Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett.

I am hoping ... to accept that Cherub is an early waker and embrace the early mornings instead of fighting them. Very hard for a natural night owl.

I am hearing ... Little Cherub talking to Tevye and Angel.

Around the house ... a second load of washing waiting to be dried; a pile of Cherub's games in the middle of the living room floor; heaps of flung-off clothes in both the older girls' rooms.

One of my favorite things ... staying up late when the house is quiet and everyone else asleep.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week ... nothing special, just the usual routine.

A Picture Thought I Am Sharing ...

Check out The Simple Woman for links to other Daybooks and instructions if you want to do one of your own.