Monday, 31 August 2015

Here's to being a shit mum

I've just had a wonderful few days by myself. I binge watched an entire season of Orange is the New Black, finished some bridesmaid dresses, had the laziest of lie ins and just generally mooched about happily at my own pace.
Little things like not having the TV on until the evening, not doing any tidying (and yet still having a tidy house) was all such a treat.

And I have a confession.

I didn't miss my crazies much at all.

I think I can say that without sounding like I'm completely devoid of emotion because of course I love them. And I knew they were coming home again.
And lately it's been tough. I meditate every day (no laughing at the back please) and although it's only for ten minutes, you would not believe how hard it is to carve out that time.

So when offered the chance to have three whole days to myself, bugger me if I was going to waste any of it on pining for my family who I knew were safe, well and quite happy without me too if truth be told.

I love my family. I am glad they're coming home. I am more grateful for everything I have than anyone else will ever realise. But I did not miss them because I am not just a mother and a wife. I am a person who also needs space and will occasionally rejoice in the thought that for a few days, the washing, the cleaning, the demands, the jumping on and lack of sleep, can fuck right off.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Checking in..

Life is a little hectic at the moment, but in a damned good way.

Work-wise I've managed to get back to where I was before my impromptu break and I'm still loving every second! The gamble I took with the shop's new direction has paid off and right now I'm itching to get the autumn stuff listed.  I'm a little behind though and there's still a lot to do.
So for the time being I'll try and manage my expectations a bit and keep plugging away slowly, as and when life allows.
*Whispers* Dr Who, bears, skeletons in dresses, sunflowers and ghost cats. That's all I'm saying.

The summer has been kind to us and despite August being a bit too soggy for my liking, I'm holding out for summer's swan song next month. This can't be the start of autumn already, it just can't.
I usually love this time of year and come September 1st I'm usually that annoying dick in your social media timeline, screaming that it's autumn. However, last year the colder months just dragged on for too long. There were too many dark and grey days, with weather so miserable that even Alessi would refuse to venture outdoors. Which wouldn't be so bad except that she goes a bit nuts if she's cooped up for too long and before you know it, you're having on of 'those' days.

Being able to throw the back doors open and give her free reign of the garden with all its joys has been utter bliss. I'm dreading losing this. So much so that I've been planning activities that can be done outdoors in crap weather. I'm hoping to build Alessi a mud kitchen and have been keeping an eye out for an easy-to-reach forest school type thing. Anything that will encourage her to get out and enjoy some fresh air when the weather isn't playing ball. Even ten minutes outside can make a massive difference to her mood (and in turn, mine), so I'm slowly building an arsenal of things to help stop us from climbing the walls this winter. Pinterest is my best friend right now.

If anyone has any suggestions or tried and tested games that can keep kids entertained on wet and miserable days , please do share!

I can pay you in..*looks around room*..Hama beads and jigsaw pieces.


Monday, 17 August 2015

Make Do and Mend - Sunflower Stalks

It's been a while since I wrote a make do and mend post so I thought it was time to write another one. And with summer in full flow this particular one seemed perfect.

Last autumn I cut down the giant sunflowers that had grown in the garden. They were definitely past their best by this point. The petals had wilted away and the seeds were ready for harvesting, so down they came. I chopped off the heads to dry out the seeds and trimmed the leaves off the stalks. Then I left them in the shed over winter.


By late spring it was warm enough to hang our washing outside again. This is one of my guilty pleasures. Not so much doing the washing or even hanging it on the line, but the fact that I don't have to see wet washing drying on every radiator in every room of the house. Something that comes hand in hand with winter over here.
However we needed a new pole to lift and support the washing line and I knew that one of the dried sunflower stalks in the shed would do the trick nicely. I actually ended up using the very one in the photo above as it was the strongest looking.

Once the stalks dry out they become very hard, (no sniggering at the back please) and depending on the size, they can take on the strength of small tree branches. The fact that they are so straight make them perfect for all kinds of things. I've used smaller dried stems to stake beans, peas and even other sunflowers in the garden.

As for the rest of the stalks I'd stored away, they helped create a tipi for Alessi, (and the rest of us) to play in.

So there you have it. If you grow sunflowers and have the space to dry them out, I would definitely recommend giving it a go.

Monday, 3 August 2015


This weekend we all packed ourselves in to the car and headed down to Bruton for Farmfest. It's a small, budget event and we thought something like this would be perfect for Alessi's first festival. Cheap enough to make it affordable even for the likes of us skintoes and local enough that we wouldn't face a mammoth drive home if it all went tits up.
And did it all go tits up? No. Although I'd be lying if I said it was all plain sailing, but I'll come back to that.

We rocked up on the Friday morning and found a great spot in the family camping field. I was a bit worried about pitching the tent. As it was new it was also the first time we'd attempted it. Turns out it was just as easy as our previous tent and it is AMAZING. Seriously I am out of my mind in love with this tent. She's a bit of a beast, but the perfect size for us and our needs. She will now be known as Bertha. Bertha with the big gertha. 
Anyway, we put Bertha up, made friends with the family behind us who were also pitching their tent for the first time and admired the view. As we were camped at the end of the field, we were spoiled rotten by the view. Seriously it was beyond beautiful and the weather was glorious too. We couldn't have asked for more.

The only thing I would do differently in future is to make sure we brought something to keep Alessi entertained while we sorted the tent out. As she informed me later, "putting up the tent is very boring mummy." Sorry kiddo.

Then we went exploring. The first thing I always do after pitching the tent is familiarise myself with the nearest loos, sinks and coffee tent. The coffee tent had the fantastic business sense to pitch himself as close to the family camping field as he could. Smart man. Smart, wonderful, beautiful man. I have to take my hat off to Farmfest for their loos too. They were compost loos so very environmentally friendly and no, not wiffy either. Well ok, they did start to get a bit wiffy towards the end, but it was a festival after all. Also I think it had more to do with people not using them properly while being a bit hammered. That said, a damned sight nicer to use than other long drops I've experienced in the past so as far as poop buckets go, thumbs up.

The site itself if very small. It's one field, but they do pack a lot in to that! Alessi's favourite things by far were the kids tent and Cake Henge (a cake themed installation in the middle of the field to celebrate Farmfest's 10th birthday).

Kids loved to play on these and there was one that was triangle shaped. Alessi watched in awe as the bigger kids scrabbled up one side and slid down the other. She got very cross on more than one occasion that she couldn't do it herself. Having us hovering over her asking if she need our help cramped her style it seemed.

Obviously bedtime routines don't exist at festivals and her face when I told her she didn't have to go to bed until she wanted too will remain one of my favourite memories for as long as my brain holds out. Pure joy.

Which brings me to the trolley. This gets a special mention as it was worth every penny we paid for it and then some. Not only was it a god send to transport our stuff from the car to the camping field (which took several trips), but as the night drew on, Alessi was clearly getting more and more tired.

We made the inside all cosy with an old sleeping bag, pillow and blankets and she was content to just lie down and watch the world go by as we ferried her about. Yup, the trolley was a hit and it got a lot of compliments. It was a bit of an investment price wise, but if you have a lot of heavy camping gear to cart around I can't recommend it enough. And the fact that you can also ferry tired children around in them is an added bonus!

She didn't actually sleep in it though. We had brought her ear defenders with us, but she refused to put them on. She just found everything too interesting and didn't want to miss a thing. This was cute as heck, but as the night drew on I could see she needed to sleep so we went back to the tent, put her to bed and she was out like a light.

Which turned out to be a bloody good thing because this is where things got a little rubbish. 
We were knackered by this point too and having seen all the bands we wanted to see, decided to go to bed too. The noise from the dance tent was mental and made the air bed vibrate, but we just figured that it would calm down a bit as the other stages shut down and stopped competing to be heard over one another. Oh how wrong we were.

All other stages stopped around 11pm, the dance tent however didn't stop until 4am, so we knew it was going to be a noisy one. 
Don't get me wrong, we've been to our fair share of festivals before so we weren't dumb enough to expect it to be blissfully quiet. But this level of noise was a first for both of us, the bass was so loud that our tent roof was jumping along with it! 
And it didn't stop. In fact around 2.30am (yes I was still awake) the noise actually increased, as if it had been turned up a notch. This was confirmed when we spoke to other festival goers the next morning.  
This is where Alessi staying up late came in so handy. She slept pretty soundly through the whole night. How I have no idea, but I am so grateful that she did. Dan put her ear defenders on at some point so was able to get some sleep. I didn't manage too until after the dance stage shut down. I lay awake for a little while, listening to the tractors and cows, it was milking time down on the farm I guessed. Then I finally fell asleep. Alessi was woke up just after 7am.

If anyone was wondering what three hours sleep at a festival looks like, it's something like this.

I got through Saturday only with the help of coffee, nutella pancakes and more coffee.
So Farmfest, I'm all for noise and believe it or not, I can actually sleep pretty well with the sounds of a loud stage in the background, but that level of noise was extreme, even for a festival and the reason why we did not stick around for the second and final night. 

It also had an impact on how much we took in on the Saturday. Alessi was buzzing having recharged her batteries and was ready for more. Dan and I however were flagging. So armed with coffee and the aforementioned nutella pancakes, we headed to the kids tent for yoga and a spot of morning crafting. She was like a pig in mud. Gluey, glittery mud.

The plan had been to stick around until the evening, watch the last few bands we came to see then head home. Unfortunately we didn't last that long.

We mooched about, ate some more yummy food, put on silly hats, had our photos taken in a photo booth and dipped in and out of sets at the various stages. Then we climbed back in the car and headed home.

Yup. That's Alessi under the reindeer mask. 

All in all it was a great little festival and I needn't have worried, Alessi loved the whole thing. In fact she told me that she wants to go to a festival again tomorrow. That's my girl!

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