"Although I speak from my own experience, I feel that no one has the right to impose his or her beliefs on another person. I will not propose to you that my way is best. The decision is up to you. If you find some point which may be suitable for you, then you can carry out experiments for yourself. If you find that it is off no use, then you can discard it." Dalai Lama...

Friday, 27 April 2012

Beautiful, bouncing Milly :-)

Milly has been taking quite a few photo's with her ipod. 
The trampoline has been her second home since we got it and she has been taking pictures and videos of herself doing backdrops and flips whilst holding the ipod and listening to music:-) 

Here is one she took the other night.
I love the look on her face and the vibrant blue and red :-) 

As soon as I can get her ipod for a while I will post some of her other images. 
I think she has a good eye :-)

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Celebration of Milly's Birth....

Milly's Celebration Tree...

When Milly - then known as Emily ;-)) - was born we decided to plant around the base of the large Sycamore tree to celebrate her Birth.
We could see the area from the living room and thought it would be nice to have a progression of plants flowering from around her Birthday in February to look out on.
First to pop up are snowdrops and then - as they go over - there are some really beautiful white Bluebells to take their place. The white Rhododendron is also now full of flowers.
 My picture doesn't really do it justice but as I looked out this evening it was almost glowing in the dusky light.
After the flowers fade of these two there is some ground cover planting that has small white flowers on and  a rather splendid Clematis ( climbs up the trellis ) with large flowers but it seems to have died and no new shoots are visible. I will replace it though as it really did look fabulous from around June time.

White signifies purity and perfection and can represent a successful beginning.
White symbolizes wholeness, openness, truth and kindness.

Milly's new blog! Celebrating her love of Marina and the Diamonds :-)

Monday, 23 April 2012

Online or outdoors. A real choice made by a girl who has no restrictions on screen time.

We went for a lovely walk along the river yesterday. It was Mily's choice of someting we could all do together.
We saw this ballet dancing tree :-) 
Milly went on a rope swing tied to a large tree...Many times:-)
There was also a bit of magic that happened with a shaft of light that I was able to capture :-)

We didn't walk too far but it was really lovely to be out together.

We got home and I prepped tea whilst Alan mowed the lawns and Milly went online to chat to El and Amy for a while. As we were eating she asked Alan if he would walk round the village with her after tea. He of course said yes and off they went with Milly filling him in on her new favourite singer Marina and the diamonds ...

This evening she joined Alan on a walk round the village and then bounced for a while before coming in to check out who was online. She had a brief chat with El I think. About 7.45 she came into the lounge and asked when it was likely to get dark... Alan said about 9.30 ish and then we asked why. She said she would like to go on the walk we had done yesterday. Alan was watching tele and the washing up was piled high in the sink. I was unable to go - headache again today and I am out early tomorrow to meditate with friends so need to conserve what little energy I have.... 
Alan was happy to go and I am resingned  happy to doing the washing up so he is able to take her :-) 

Just before they went she looked at her ipod and exclaimed that there were loads of folk online ( folk she could have chatted to ) but she said she would just let El know she was going and then she signed off.

Just an example of all the times Milly ( who has no restrictions on her screen use at all ) chooses - of her own free will - to do something other than sit in front of a screen.

Four years ago when we set out on this route I had read a huge amount of unschooling blogs and websites that had stories of families who had been through it and reading their stories assured me this would happen but I couldn't quite believe it. 
Freedom of choice does mean there are times when she watches more TV - or is online -  more than most people think is healthy.
Given true choice in how she spends her time and interesting options to do other things I have seen the balance that an overall picture gives though. 
I like the picture very much.  

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

The making of many meals and a good deal of resting:-)

Today began at about 8.30am - for me. Alan was long gone as he leaves for work at 7.00am and the girls were still asleep. I would have stayed in bed but I knew a courier was coming today to pick up a couple of parcels so decided it was best to get up and dressed. 

I tidied round, sat down and got comfy to drink my hot water and lemon thinking I would have a bit of time on my own before the girls woke. I was tired and really felt the need for a bit of time alone before the two giddy kippers came down :-)  Low and behold  - as if on cue - I opened up the laptop and the window cleaner came round the back with his long water brush and began scrubbing at the girls bedroom window!! I was sure they would be woken and would be making their way down very soon. However they didn't and I managed a peaceful hour online and made and drank ( ate? ) my green smoothie. Some really great links on Facebook today and one posted reminded me of my affirmation journal. It was amazing how beneficial in changing my outlook and mood it was to write in my journal and read all the positive quotes form various pages on Facebook. 
  I went upstairs about 10.45 and heard them chatting in Milly's room.

They went out to bounce whilst I made pancakes with choc spread for El and potato waffles and sausages for Milly - the first of many meals with various options for different people... Hoovering and washing up for me and more bouncing for them 

We had arranged to go to the rescue center to walk dogs when Alan got home at 4.00 ( he had needed the car )  but I was very, very tired and - unusually - Milly wasn't really keen to go so we cancelled and they said they were happy to just go out to the park later...
The day has been punctuated by bouncing - hours of bouncing, practicing flips and tricks - and whatever else they did on there but they were outside on the trampoline a lot!  :-) 
I have enjoyed their company when they regularly came in and sat with me in the sun room and I spent as much time as possible doing very little!

Lunch was sausages on brown bread for El and toasted muffins with ham and cheese for Milly ( who loves sausages but not on brown bread or muffins and we had no white bread left ) I had tuna and sweetcorn pasta  ( leftovers already prepared from the fridge ) with lettuce.

More of the same activities in the afternoon. 
They also spent time online whilst I sat and chatted with them. They can talk for England! 
I had wanted to get my vision board together and got some things out to decorate it before I stuck the images I have sourced on but really didn't have the enthusiasm so decided to leave it til later in the week and rested instead - I broke resting briefly to make a juice then went back to resting :-)

When Alan got home I began to make tea and chatted to him. After he had a cuppa he took the girls out to the park and to get some shopping for me and I gave the girls some money to buy some sweets.

I made portas granado from Hugh Fearnly Whitingstalls veg book. It is a tasty South American stew with butternut squash , kidney beans, cannellini beans and uses smoked paprika which I have become slightly addicted to after first using it in this recipe a while ago. Even humble baked beans can be jazzed up with a sprinkle of it and some chilli powder:-)

The stew is for tomorrows tea with plenty left to freeze two portions and have some for Thursday tea as well. We are out tomorrow and it will be lovely to come home and not have to cook. Milly won't want any stew but I have chilli in the freezer for her. 

I had got burgers for alan and the girls for tea as I know El likes them but when I mentioned what the plan was Milly didn't want them. So, as I had some chicken breasts I said I would make her the chicken nuggets she loves ( Easy to do ... dip chunks of chicken into egg then crushed doritos to coat them and cook in oven for about 15 mins at 200 ) when I mentioned them El said she would try them so Alan ended up with the burgers and chips and the girls had the chicken with chips
I didn't have room in the oven whilst their food was cooking -  basically I forgot I have two ovens ( one tends to just get used as a grill ) and when I finally thought of it it was too late to heat it up. So as they were eating I cooked off two chicken breasts in tin foil and peppers roasted with tomato, garlic and basil inside drizzled in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. When the chicken had cooled slightly I sliced them and mixed them with sweet chilli sauce. I made a salad with green leaves and added sliced sugar snap peas and red onion and topped with the chicken and peppers and made up the same concoction in a Tupperware for my lunch tomorrow.

As I was cooking I took many opportunities to rest as things cooked and although it sounds a lot it all worked quite seamlessly :-)

More rest tonight as I snuggle on the sofa whilst the girls do what they do :-) 
Ready to spend an exhausting day drinking tea and chatting to Liz tomorrow:-) 


It's late and I ache soooo much. However the aches and pains are worth it as we have had a lovely day today.
Back to school day for many but for us it was spent visiting Grandparents for lunch and then meeting friends from afar at a halfway point and enjoying a rather chilly walk round the lake. 

Ice cream for the kids who just don't seem to feel the chill and coffee for those of us that do :-) 
Then off we went along with a happy, bouncy Blue dog and Charlie, persistent as ever at trying to catch himself a duck :-)

Sitting in a tree for some of us ...

And trying to capture interesting looking fungi high up on a tree for me. 
Not too sure you will be able to make it out ( right hand side of tree trunk near the top ) but I like the picture because of the solid dead trunks in the middle and the filigree effect of the branches either side  :-)

Home with an extra for a sleepover :-) 
A good way to spend a day...

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Triple delicious, planning ahead and problem solving...

Today started  - for me - at 8.30. I lay in bed waking slowly and then did my stretches and came down about 9.30 to find that Alan was already outside continuing with the job of digging out the rockery in the front garden. This rockery has been one of those areas that I just haven't been able to get right. It got overrun by plants and a couple of years ago we cleared it and started again. It got out of hand again. We are blessed with a very large garden but it requires a great deal of effort to keep on top of all areas . We decided that it was one area that we could do without and it would mean that Alan would not need to maintain and weed it.

Two days of very hard work and he is at the stage where he can build the stone wall back again. 

The space gained means that we should be able to get two cars in the driveway. A way to go yet as when the wall is built back up he will put membrane down and then gravel on top to match in with the driveway as it is now. Then it is on to replacing the trellis fence that has given up the ghost and more changes to do in the side garden. 

The side is going to be rejigged so we can fit the paddling pool in .

It was such a lovely sunny day...
 I wandered round to the back and took a few pictures.

As it was such a fabulous day Alan suggested downing tools at lunchtime and we could all head out for a walk.
There is a long story about why we didn't end up doing just that and how the day ended up following a different pattern. It involved a conversation between the three of us ( when Milly got up ) about how to accommodate each others needs when we all want to do different things. 
We came up with a solution - well clever old Milly did :-) 
I am tired though and can't record it in any kind of coherent way so may just come back to it another day...

After making a cuppa for Alan I sat in the Sun room and checked out some green smoothie blogs ( I have started juicing again but am making green smoothies for the first time ) and found some tasty new recipes. 

I then began making Delia's special Shepherds pie for tea tonight with enough left over to have for tea tomorrow night. 
When I planned my two weeks of menus on Friday night I had set aside today to do some batch cooking as we have a very busy start to the week. I have to be doubly organised when we are busy because I have to allow for my low energy levels and so I tend to batch cook to make those days easier. 
I could have chosen an easier to prepare meal for tonight but I had planned it because Alan loves shepherds pie. For some reason I don't often make it. I found a recipe as I was looking through my books and decided to make it as a treat for him :-) 
The topping has leeks in that have been cooked slowly and also has cinnamon in the meat mixture and was Delicious. Some left over for Alan and I tomorrow but I will be making it again :-)

Amy came round and after Milly had eaten her breakfast ( Amy wasn't hungry ) they hung out for a couple of hours or so.

I then made this ...

and this...

into this...

Juiced the first lot then added the kale to that mixture and blended it all together :-) 
I drank some and put the rest in a flask in the fridge to have later in the day. Cleaning the juicer takes longer than the juicing :-)

The afternoon then involved me making lunches and more cooking making Mushroom soup ( a new recipe that has brown rice, white beans, and celery in ) taste test done after blending it and it was Delicious! 

Alan watched some TV with Milly and then headed off for a walk with Beauty. He had just been going to go on his normal walk that takes about an hour around the village. It was such a lovely day and I knew he was keen to do a long walk so I suggested he head into town and park up and do a walk along the river that he and Milly have often done and enjoyed. He took a flask of tea and some biscuits and headed off about 3.30 with the intention of being home about 6 to watch fottie on TV...

Milly spent the afternoon watching TV, bouncing on the trampoline and generally chilling after a sleepover on Friday and in preparation of a busy couple of days as Eleanor is coming to stay :-)

We are going to see my Mum and Dad for lunch tomorrow and to pick up two new Monster high dolls that we had bought online from Toys are us. My Mum very kindly picked them up as we were unable to get to the store on the day the order was delivered. Then we meet up at Talkin Tarn for a walk and to bring El back with us. She is here Tuesday and then we meet up  with Liz and the kids again on Wed at Walby play farm with a mix Death slides and cuddly bunnies :-)

Friday, 13 April 2012

Butterflies and blueness :-)

January 2010 and we had finished Millys bedroom. 
Planned and designed with Milly in line with our budget - story of how we set about it here...

The end product looked like this.
Here is one of the pictures.

Her tastes have changed and she asked if we could redecorate. Once again she knew how she wanted it to look and after initially wanting a vintage look decided on a butterfly/vintage theme :-) 

Picture frames were sanded down and repainted and prints were found for those that required new ones.

I painted them with eggshell then waxed them and distressed them for a shabby chic effect.

Furniture was sanded. Quite a job getting the layers of purple gloss off! 

Initially - with an eye to costs in the future - I had persuaded Milly that a neutral colour of paint on the furniture would work best so that we wouldn't need to sand and paint them every time we decorated... She agreed but was really not too happy, she said it just wasn't her and she really wanted a particular shade of blue. When I thought about the options to sort things for her I decided that planning ahead to an imaginary time when the bedroom furniture might need painting was irrelevant to the decisions made about this project and that if they were ever valid reasons at a later date then we would deal with them then and solve the problem when/if  it actually was one....

Milly choose all the colours combinations for the frames and  we were lucky to have tester pots in the colours of the scheme she wanted. We bought new curtains and bedding cheaply. I searched the internet and showed her ones that fit her brief and were in budget and she choose the ones she liked. We had a couple of shopping trips but were lucky that she had already got a lot of items with butterflies on and in the new colour scheme so the main cost was paint. B&Q anywhere paint in antique white enabled Alan to paint easily on the walls and woodwork and reduced the time spent cutting in.
He took time off work and we cleared the room so he could get on whilst we were away. 
Very exciting to come back to a bright new room, then it was painting furniture and final titivating with all her special things collected over the years:-)) 

Take a walk through her bright new room...

A picture of Renesme from Breaking Dawn.
 Three butterfly images found online with peace hope and faith written on.

A picture we made a couple of years ago full of images of friends.
 We have plans to make a new updated one :-)

A new butterfly cushion cover bought from Ebay.

Edited to add... Storage and easy access ( and consequently easy tidy up ) for all the things she uses regularly were very important considerations when putting things back and a major de-clutter of boxes went on. Some things were too precious to throw out but were no longer needed to hand to we packed them lovingly into boxes to go in the loft for the time being. They may get edited in a few years or they may just stay to relish the box of memories in years to come :-) Even after a sort out ending with two large Ebay bags, beloved soft toys are to be found in boxes under the bed, on top of the wardrobe and yet more in wicker boxes on the landing! 

It has a very calm feel and it turns out she was right about the blue furniture :-)

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Dining with Miss Milly :-)

Milly always used to say that cooking/baking wasn't her thing. Over the years I continued to ask if she wanted to be nvolved in any baking and on occasions she would,  but mostly,  she would say no thanks. I could have been more insistent - because of course it is so educational all the weighing and measuring out and chemical reactions and we couldn't possibly miss an opportunity for that could we? At times in the early days I was more insistent. Did it end in a happy experience with learning happening.... Erm, no it ended with bad tempers  unhappy participants and reinforcement of the idea she had that it wasn't her thing.
What was the use of that!

 Over time she has begun to show more of an interest in making cakes, pancakes, and other things she enjoys eating. She has made sandwiches and cups of tea and began some time ago ( without us asking ) to make us cups of tea and gained such immense joy from doing it - it really did make her happy to do that for us. She loves pancakes and began to show an interest in making them. One late night she asked if I could make them for her. I said I was very tired and would appreciate if she could help me get the ingredients out. She did that and also had a go at making one although she is still wary of the gas. That happened a few times and I see it  progressing slowly until she is confident using the gas hob. She has done a similar thing with making eggy bread ( french toast ).

One thing she has perfected is how to make crispy skin baked potatoes.
Six or seven mins in the Microwave ( less if a small potato ) then rub with olive oil and put in oven at 200. Cut  and top with lashings off butter and other toppings of your choice:-)

She made some for her and Amy last week. She enjoyed it and was so excited at having made them for her that she asked if instead of going to my Sisters for Easter Monday lunch could we invite everybody round and she would make lunch for them!

She was very excited about her first lunch party :-)

On Saturday we talked about a plan of action and how we could make things easier for her on the day by forward planning and preparation. 

We made a list of things she needed for toppings and drinks she wanted to serve and created a shopping list from that.
Toppings were to be Tuna mayo, ham, beans, and cheese. Drinks were Elderflower cordial with sparkling water and also smoothie. We broke down the tasks and decided it would help to wash the potatoes and put them ready on a baking tray, grate the cheese and set the table on the Sunday. She went round to my sisters on Sunday afternoon to make her signature chocolate fudge cake for the pudding. Alan assisted whilst she did the potatoes and cheese and I helped with setting the table. In effect all we did was to be there with her for moral support as she did it all herself :-) 

We also had a plan of action written down for timings on the day.

Monday morning and Alan and I set about the housework.
 Milly got up and ate before we needed to start on the cooking the potatoes.

Milly was involved all the way along, making the tuna mayo for the first time ( minimal input from me about how much mayo and balsamic vinegar to use ) microwaving all the potatoes ( she had decided to cook 12 so people could have seconds if wanted ) and then I rubbed them with oil as they were too hot for her to handle.

They went into the oven and 45 minutes later we had gorgeously crispy skin baked potatoes :-) 

A really lovely meal and she was very pleased with herself - quite rightly :-)

It was harder than she thought it would be though and she doesn't think she will be doing it again any time soon :-)))

Maybe she will learn new cooking skills and want to do it again in the future maybe she won't ..... Really that is unimportant.
Her enthusiasm, excitement and joy at creating a meal for those she loves came first .....The whole experience was a learning experience ( as everything in life is ) but that was not the driving force.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Today has...

by necessity ( Migraine starting and very achy body )  begun with a slow transition from bed to movement and the stretching exercises the Physio has given me to do. 
These exercises have significantly decreased the pain I have had in my shoulder and - even though today is not evidence of it - the amount of Migraines I have been having :-) 

The morning routine of picking up, hanging up and transferring back to where things belong - as I move from the bathroom to downstairs - was an easy process today. No soggy towels from late night baths, no empty shampoo bottles that haven't found their way to the bin, no cups or other crockery to take down, a solitary piece of clothing to put into the laundry basket and a few to hang in the wardrobe....

The sun is shining and although the urge to curl up on the sofa is quite strong I resist and put the kettle on for hot water and lemon and take a pill to ease my head. A few pots to wash and then sit in the sun room and enjoy the sun on my back. 

The medication has started to take effect..... 
Some time enjoying the peace of the morning with a snoozing Beauty snoring at my feet and a browse on here.

Sister and Brother in law for supper later.... Turkey lasagna, salad and garlic bread to prepare. A stroll round the garden later to cut some foliage to add to the daffodils already decorating the table. ..

Today is an ideal day to live slowly, mindfully and focus on the many good things I have in my life.
<3 <3 <3 

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Easter Saturday - What did you do today?

Today we accomplished something that has been on our jobs to do for many, many, many months   years actually! 

I have always wanted a linen cupboard but have never had the space in any of the ( very few ) built in cupboards we have. There has never been space in any of the rooms to fit a piece of furniture in specifically for bed linen.

Re decorating Milly's room - blog post to come ..... Milly is happy for it to go on as soon as family members have seen it :-) - meant that we had a piece of furniture, albeit painted in deep purple gloss :-) Ebay sales and a major sort out meant we had room in the spare room to site it so the idea came to me one evening as we were deciding what to do with the cupboard.

Alan sanded it and painted the outside antique white and used some of the blue from Milly's room inside - small taster of scheme ;-))

Today we gathered all the bed linen from various cupboards and drawers and all the spare pillows and quilts. It ended up as a mountain on our bed! 
 We cleared a mahoosive pile of ironing from the spare room and laid it on the dining room table where it will be worked from over the next few days....

The space made, we brought the cupboard up and I sorted all the bedding into it...

Single bedding, double bedding, spare quilt and pillows for sleepover all ready on the bottom shelf with a lovely quilt that was my Nan's.
I have put some cotton wool balls inside with Lavender essential oil on and spritzed the bedding with Avon sleep therapy spray so it smell divine when the door is opened :-)

I also used an under bed zip bag to put a duvet with clean cover on, pillowcases and bed sheet in it ready for sleepovers and stored it under Milly's bed. The rest of the quilts and pillows were stored in a cupboard in our room and our bedding was put in the drawers under our bed. All sorted - feels good! 

The room has another side to it that houses my Ebay empire ;-)) I now have the task of clearing this ( and more in the loft! ) in the next few months.

  It is a bit daunting but...... one item at a time I will get there :-))

Easter Saturday....

We had planned to travel to Yorkshire to see relatives this weekend but they have been struck down with a viral cough that is not wanting to leave them! 
They were still happy to have us go down. My Aunt is the type of person who really looks after you and is never still and if we were there - even though she was under the weather - she would still be the same. 

Listening to them both so badly coughing whilst on the phone it was obvious it was a really nasty cough and although they felt like they could manage our visit I decided that it would be best not to go to enable them to have time to rest and also - not being in tip top health - I am susceptible to picking things up and could do without catching it if it can be helped! 

So we have a weekend free :-) 

Yesterday Alan was out in the garden early and got a number of jobs done before I got up. We had some time together before Milly rose and then after lunch I went in a long bath whilst they counted the money from the jars we are saving to go to London and played cards :-)

We watched a movie together.....Submarine
The choice from Love film by Milly as the main character is being played by an actor she likes from Young Dracula and Being Human.
It was a really interesting film, comedic, yet poignant and thought provoking . 
A sign of a good film for me is that I am still thinking of it days after and am interested enough to find out more about the cast and director if I don't already know them. As I am in the process of doing that at the moment..... for me it was a good film :-)

As soon as it finished it was time to go to my Sisters for tea - having been invited by my brother in law when plans changed for the weekend.
 A really lovely night with lots of laughter, eating tasty easy to prep food, chatting, playing Scatagories . Predictable winner each time in brother in law Charles. This doesn't detract at all from the fun of the game though. Nephew Alex and his Dad have great banter about it :-))
 Milly loves to be on Unc Charles team :-))) 

So grateful to have Family living close to us and to have the kind of relationship with them that means we all want to actually spend time together :-) 

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

A simply perfect day:-)

Meet up with friends... Friends we have known for many, many years :-)

After the snow flurries yesterday - and the forecast for today being for a bright but cold day- plans were made to spend time indoors with the option of outdoors if the weather was suitable.
A sunny but very windy and chilly day it was so The Beacon museum fitted the bill perfectly.

Lunch in a small cafe first then a short walk along the harbour to the Museum.
Right up to the top floor of the lighthouse style building to take in the panoramic view. 

We moved down a floor after a while and spent some time at the archaeological dig hands on exhibit. Lisa and I sat down with bags, coats etc and the kids went off to play pirates on the replica ship. Some time later - quite some time later:-) ) the four of them ran back and Amy and Emily found it hysterical that we were still sitting chatting in the same place :-)) We had a lot of catching up to do! 

They had all been playing hide and seek as well as pirates :-)  We then accompanied them to the next floor down. Milly had seen this new exhibit of 50's and 60's memorabilia and attire and feel in love with this 50's dress.

A half a mini felt cramped with four in but apparently you can get 21 people in a full one! 

They then went off to check things out and we sat with all the bags and coats and chatted some more. In a comfortable and calm setting :-)

The coffee and ice creams were called for so down to the cafe and as the afternoon was still sunny we decided to head down to the beach. A short walk along the harbour to this....

Shoes and socks off and off they went right to the waters edge - four dots in the centre of the picture :-) 
It was FREEZING!!!! They came back with red cheeks and wet feet:-) Time to head back to the car and make our way home.
 Amy came back with us for a sleepover and the two of them headed out to the trampoline with a sleeping bag....


That was about 5ish.... They came in for food about 6.45 and went back out til 8!
Quick trip to Amy's to pick up her overnight stuff and they are back out again.
 It's now getting dark though so no sure they will be out for long:-) 

Thankful for so many things today....
Good friends and a dry, bright, fun filled day just a few of them :-)