Month: August 2016

Holiday Planning

Holiday Planning

We’re a little late in the year with our holiday plans this year, so I’ve decided to get planning. There has been a lot of adjusting going on in our lives after making the decision to home educate B, both practical and emotional. I made the choice to give up my business as I knew I couldn’t dedicate time to both B’s education and run it successfully. I’d tried working around family life previously and 2 am finishes and 5 am starts are not good for the health so it seems! Fortunately, as one door closes another one opens, and there are all kinds of plans in the pipeline. This time projects that allow for some kind of semblance of balance. For once I actually learnt my lesson from previous disasters – go me!

With our new found freedom to go on holiday any time we liked, we kind of just assumed it would happen. Normally I am working out when and where we can go early in the year. Will this country/that country be too hot in the summer holidays? Should we go at half term? What will happen if B misses a day or two either side of a school holiday. We also had to depend on when the man who pays for it all could get time off (kind of important that one). School holiday time is like gold dust for workers all fighting after the same few weeks. I

I think without the constraints of having to go in the holidays, I didn’t see how quickly the months were whizzing by. We now had a life we weren’t trying to escape from. Everyday was now exciting and an adventure. If we needed to recharge our batteries, a few tweaks to the social calender and we felt better already. Sadly this doesn’t apply to the poor man, who has to go to work to support us, but two thirds of the house were now a whole lot less stressed.

Usually each January we make a list of where we’re dreaming of going. From days out, short breaks, or month long trips. It’s all allowed on the list, you never know if its achievable after all. This years list looked like this:

  • Japan – for a trip on the bullet train
  • New Zealand – an our summer/their winter trip for skiing and fun in Queenstown
  • Australia
  • Scotland – train rides and waterfall hunting
  • Wales – for a visit to Snowden
  • Cornwall – one of my happy places
  • France – camping
  • Lapland – to meet the big man in the red suit
  • Iceland – frozen waterfalls, geysers and aurora borealis
  • Crete – Sensatori (B sees no reason why this shouldn’t be an annual visit)
  • Brentwood – to play crazy golf

To be honest, this years list has been the most ambitious (for ambitious, read unlikely). B has upgraded from last years day trips to Frinton requests that’s for sure! I thought we might be able to achieve a couple, and then Brexit happened. Boom! With the man working in the financial sector life is suddenly a little more unpredictable. From suddenly back to working all hours as the country adjusted to this brave new world, to financial uncertainty, the list kind of got ignored. So 6 weeks later, I’m back on the holiday hunt! Our list has had additions, including a month long trip around India on a train, and a trip to Cuba, are just a couple that were bandied about. Where we end up who knows, but I’m sure it will be fun!

The Big Plastic Project

The Big Plastic Project

This weekend we’ve been discussing just how much plastic we go through as a family. I can tell you now, it’s a lot, and I’m pretty dismayed about just how much we are using. Out of all the recycling that leaves our house, the plastic is the most plentiful. Although we’ve always recycled religiously, I’ve never been particularly hot on the “reduce” part of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Over the years I’ve tried to reduce our carbon footprint in other ways, we’ve looked at air miles and being vegan helps our impact somewhat. But there is always more that can be done.

We’ve been thinking of all the plastic things we can do without and we’re a bit stuck on these ones:

  1. Tetra Pak cartons – although these go in with our plastic recycling do they count as plastic? We drink soya, rice, almond milk etc and I’ve only ever found them in these type of container.
  2. Sandwich bags – I’m sure I’ve seen material type pouches for packed lunches. Any pointers would be appreciated.
  3. Pasta, rice, Cous cous, etc. All in plastic packaging. Any alternatives out there?
  4. Tofu – I’ve only ever found this in plastic. We tend to eat tofu once a week and I would miss it. It has a lot of calcium in which is vital for growing bones so I’m not sure how we’d replace that.
  5. Cleaning products. We’ve used soap nuts before so will be switching back to these. I think I could manage with baking soda and lemons to clean with, but what about washing up liquid?
  6. Take away boxes. Ok yes we could live without an occasional take away, but why does Chinese take away food come in plastic and curry come in foil? Is there a reason?
  7. Bread! Due to our problems with dairy intolerance, cross contamination with fresh bread often makes it a no go area for us. I usually bake a loaf at home at least once a week, but sometimes time gets the better of me.
  8. Fruit and vegetable packaging. Are cucumbers always shrink wrapped? Does spinach always come in a bag? Are lettuces always in a bag? A trip to the market will solve a fair amount of our packaging problems with more paper bags available for delicate goods but I’m stumped on the others.
  9. Tortillas – I’ll need a fail safe recipe for these as I’ll miss these!
  10. Bin bags and dog poo bags – ok this ones a bit grim, but I’ll need a solution none the less. We have a fair few pets that need regularly cleaning up after, and cage detritus always ends up in bin bags. Any environmentally friendly alternatives?

I think a tour of the local recycling plants is a must for us to fully appreciate how much waste we make. I’d like to discover just how much of a demon plastic is? Should we choose glass over plastic? What’s the consensus on what causes the least damage?

Looks like we have a lot to keep us busy for now. Keep us posted with your tips!

Making a Mud Kitchen

Making a Mud Kitchen

We’ve had a couple of old wooden crates knocking around the garden for ages, and I’ve finally found a purpose for them. We are making a mud kitchen. Now if you ask anyone who knows me, DIY and me are not the best combination. I’m not so bad on the ideas front, I’ve even been known to start many a project. But finish them? Not me. This is probably the first time I’ve managed to see something the whole way through, so I’m hoping its a whole new side to me emerging. Maybe I’ve turned into a grown up!

We made our mud kitchen with a minimum of materials. This is what we collected / bought:

  • 2 wooden pallets
  • A packet of wood screws (long ones)
  • 9 coloured tiles
  • A bird bath to use as our sink
  • Hooked plant pots for storage
  • Pots, pans and utensils for mud pie making

​B wanted to make as much of it as possible so I let him do the sawing (not for the faint hearted). Here’s how we made it:

  1. Take one of your pallets and cut roughly in half. I’d choose to do it where there is a minimum amount of sawing.
  2. Take your two pieces and screw together to make an “L” shape.
  3. Screw your “L” shaped pallet to your remaining pallet, to form your kitchen.

4. It’s time to paint your mud kitchen. We chose lots of bright colours for ours as we both love a rainbow. (We used a lot of left over paint up this way too!)

5. Once the painting part is done, add your tiles (we stuck ours down with adhesive suitable for showers to cope with the British weather)

6. Add your finishing touches and you’re done!


Our Positive Living Challenge

Our Positive Living Challenge

I’ve had a bit of a cull on my social media lately as I’ve noticed that some things (pages and people) really bring out a side of myself that I’m not too keen on. It could be a little of the green eyed monster, or it could just be an irreconcilable point of view. Either way, I decided that if I don’t speak or see these people in real life, I didn’t need to see things that irritate me that much.

I’m a big fan of action, if something is getting you down, so B and I have embarked on our new positivity challenge. B can become quite self-deprecating and I’m trying to enable him to deal with his emotions and channel his negative energy and learn some coping mechanisms when things don’t go quite right. It wasn’t that long ago when he would declare that whatever was causing him offence should be put in the bin. This could be anything from a drawing not going to plan, a game, his dinner, or a friend. The outbursts are decreasing, which is a huge progress, but his confidence could definitely do with a boost.

So we are taking on this challenge together. We’ve sat and designed and made our new “positive bracelets” together, and the challenge is this:

  • For every negative thought or action you have to switch the bracelet from one arm to the other.

Our goal is to build up from a whole day off of negativity to 30 days. I’ve already had to switch mine 3 times this evening – oops! We’ve discussed where we sit with anger, and how that affects our positivity. So far we’ve looked at things we think are unjust and that we should tackle them with positivity rather than apathy. I don’t want to remove anger altogether if it promotes us to partake in change for the better. But I also think there’s a lot to be said about anger being one letter away from danger.

I think its going to be quite a challenge. We’ll keep you posted on how we get on!

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