Sunday, 30 September 2018

Trains, Trains & Dinosaurs

days out with kids the natural history museum London
I convinced myself that I had to make the title of this post a play on the film Planes, Trains and Automobiles and after a good ten minutes the best I could manage was Trains, Trains and Dinosaurs. At this point as a writer I should have abandoned the notion and selected a different title but I am a woman of conviction, a woman of my word, I am the sort of idiot who sticks with a ridiculous idea even when I know there must be a better way.

I have not had a day of just Sebastian and I since Humphrey was born and I felt I needed it. The truth is Sebastian is so devoted and really is the best big brother ever, I know it sounds like something I am just saying because this is a blog and life has to be perfect here. Sebastian has his faults but not in this department he is so tolerant of all the destruction our little baby sized berserker has brought into our lives, the perfect big brother.
days out with kids the natural history museum London
Given that Sebastian loves museums, dinosaurs, Andy from Cebeebies and rocks, yes really rocks The Natural History Museum was the obvious choice. Here is a little fact it is faster and cheaper for us to travel from our old apartment in Paris that it is to travel from Yorkshire to London, a pretty poor show from UK trains. I managed to find the cheapest trains I could by booking through Loco 2

As the title of this post suggests we started with a train, followed by another train and then an underground train. We left the house a 5.40am and Sebastian was a trooper. Excited and chatting all the way to Leeds where we changed and he fell asleep soon after boarding, on my lap, with my bladder full and my bag with a book in just out of reach. During the first very long walk to the Piccadilly Line I was incredibly grateful that I took the Babyzen YoYo this was the best thing I bought in Paris, it allowed me to get everywhere in his baby years, it is so small and light you can carry it on your shoulder and flick it out when needed.

I will share with you now some of my favourite quotes of the day. This is Sebastian on London;

"It is big but a little bit too littery for me"

"There are a lot of adverts in London"

"Did they steal that Henry Moore from Yorkshire Sculpture Park?"

"London is a bit loud and in my grill really"

When we got off the tube and walked into the grounds I was reminded once again how breathtaking the building is, a wonder I will never take for granted. My gaze was interrupted by Sebastian yelling , "Mummy mummy look a fossil of a tree" in full on grown up mode I told him we should not guess we should go and read about it first, but I ate humble pie because he was bob on it was indeed a fossil of a tree. I did not learn my lesson as the same thing happened later on with some Iguanadon bones.
days out with kids the natural history museum London
After getting a picture with Andy's clock we chatted about where Andy might be we settled on the fact that he might be working on a safari adventure. The dinosaur exhibition is wonderful and I love that Sebastian wants me to read everything out, and I mean everything. He was also pretty keen on hiding behind a meteor.
days out with kids the natural history museum London
days out with kids the natural history museum London
Benugo run the T Rex cafe so the food is really good and healthy and we were in need of a bit of down time after our early start and full on Dinosaur heavy morning. It is impossible to get round the whole place in one day so over lunch Sebastian and I had a look at the guide to see which section he wanted to see.
days out with kids the natural history museum London
I have spent his entire life hiding my fear and distaste of creepy crawlies so not to pass those fears onto Sebastian that unfortunately he is now mad about mini beasts. We spent a very long time there and Sebastian worked on his sketchbook, I will tell you more about out sketchbooks in another post. 
days out with kids the natural history museum London
days out with kids the natural history museum London
Whilst Dippy is on tour the blue whale looks fantastic. Although the museum is free donations are appreciated and there are usually special exhibitions on that do have a fee. Until January Life In The Dark is on but under 16s are free, despite the fact we are both afraid of the dark the exhibit was amazing and was split into 3 sections; nocturnal animals, cave dwellers and the deep deep sea!
days out with kids the natural history museum London
days out with kids the natural history museum London
The other section we visited was rocks and minerals, yes a whole hour of reading out rock and mineral names to a 4 year old. Don't get me wrong I love that he is so engaged in everything but mineral names are a dreadfully dull thing to read out for an hour!
days out with kids the natural history museum London
days out with kids the natural history museum London
On the way back to the station we took in some street performers. I felt so bad as all of the children were happily dancing to the steel drum until the bubble guy came along. Sebastian's smiling face fills my heart with pure unadulterated joy.
days out with kids the natural history museum London
days out with kids the natural history museum London
A quick supper at Yo Sushi, or as Sebastian calls it Hey Sushi we headed home. We had such a fantastic day it was so special to have a special day to ourselves just the two of us. He was utterly exhausted. He fell asleep on the train home, I managed to transfer him to the pousette, then the car seat, then out of it and into bed and he stayed asleep the entire time.
days out with kids the natural history museum London
Do you ever go further a field for a day out with little ones?

Sunday, 23 September 2018

8 Sustainable & Inexpensive Ways To Stay Warm

8 sustainable and inexpensive cheap ways to stay warm in the winter
Sustainable and sustainability are words that are banded about a lot these days everyone wants to be sustainable. Everyone wants to tell you how to be sustainable but before I go any further let's see what that actually means. The dictionary tells us this; sustainable, conserving an ecological balance by avoiding the depletion of natural resource. Well then that is pretty full on and as I sit on a laptop that contains a battery made from horrid substances, using electricity, clogging up servers with my blog and pearls of 'wisdom' I feel somewhat hypocritical but just because we are sitting in a burning building with nothing but a thimble of water it cannot hurt to chuck it at the flames and give it a go?

I am doing okay financially but there was a time when I only ate one meal a day and would send an unsigned cheque to pay for the water rates or send the cheque for the gas company to the electricity company. Yes in the days before online paperless billing and one company for everything you could do that and buy yourself a little time. Being well versed in living on the breadline I get upset when you look around for sustainable ways to stay warm and see endless articles on loft lagging, new boilers, cavity wall etc etc. Whilst all of those things are valid none of those things are cheap, in fact they are huge amounts of money. We do okay but we still opted to replace a valve and the heat exchange on our boiler because a new system is a huge amount of cash and we do not have a bottomless pit of that stuff.
8 sustainable and inexpensive cheap ways to stay warm in the winter
Most of these things are common sense but they work and they are worth mentioning.

1. Find & Where Possible Eliminate Draughts

New windows, fancy floors all of those are great but again costly, find the breeze and block it even if the result is not pretty. When we bought our home in Yorkshire we came back to the UK to a very cold Autumn and a home that had wind whistling in at most of the windows, old broken sash with very visible gaps to the elements. We also had wooden floors with huge gaps and cold air flow. The worst room was the lounge so we put down a rug that we had, it was too small so we created a patchwork effect to stop the cold air from the cellar, cheap rugs from Ikea and rugs we had it did not look chic or boho it just did the job. We also taped cling film up over the windows with the largest gaps. It looked awful but it worked. Making draught excluders is another cheap and simple way to keep the heat in and leads me neatly to my next point.
8 sustainable and inexpensive cheap ways to stay warm in the winter
2 Close The Doors

I know all of the house shows want you to knock out all of the internal walls but I like walls and separate spaces are easier to heat so if you have not already gone sledge hammer crazy in your home close the doors. Now when I was younger I was always told to turn off the heating in rooms you are not using or you do not use as often but now I am married to a physicist who works in energy and he tells me this is poppycock. All that will do is create a cold spot in your home so that any warm air will flow straight into it.

3. Wear A Jumper 

Seems like it is common sense but people honestly think that jumpers are outdoor clothes. I am always baffled when I go to visit people and they are dressed for summer in the house when it is 10 below outside, I am equally confused when they remark on my home being cold because I have a jumper on. It is cold wear warm clothes.
8 sustainable and inexpensive cheap ways to stay warm in the winter
4. Close The Curtains

Curtains they keep the warmth in. The number of times I see people close them when the sun is bright, (even in winter) because it is annoying or making it hard to see the TV and open them again as the sun goes in is huge. Let the sun come in, even winter sun has heat and as soon as dusk hits close them.

5. Blankets 

There are blankets all over our house. In a chest in the lounge, in all of the bedrooms and they do not have to cost a fortune. You can get really good quality ones from the army surplus store and if you really cannot stand the look of them add a little embroidery with wool remnants. Layering blankets on the bed or over you on the sofa will really help keep out the chills.
8 sustainable and inexpensive cheap ways to stay warm in the winter
6. Socks Slippers & Dressing Gowns

You do not need to break the bank on these items and you should buy for snuggle power rather than how pretty they are. Yes the silky gown and the foofy slippers may make you look all fancy but shivering is not a good look, think fluffy, think warmth. Wear socks and slippers it is not sexy but then again I am sure that in a diverse world someone, somewhere has a sock and slipper fetish just by the sheer law of averages. The same goes for socks in bed, my feet are always cold so bed socks do happen.

7. Hot Water Bottles 

These have to be the most sustainable form of extra heating. I work from home so long days at home mean I am responsible for the heat I do not have an office and an employer who legally has to heat me. If I am at home without the children I am not going to turn the heating on I get a blanket and a hot water bottle and localise the heating. Hot water bottles are great for bed too, there is nothing more luxurious than slipping into a pre warmed bed in the winter much more environmentally friendly than an electric blanket.
8 sustainable and inexpensive cheap ways to stay warm in the winter
8. Don't Block The Radiator

I have ranted about radiator covers before here but this goes beyond the inefficiency of covers it looks at furniture placement too. The way that they work is by creating a cycle of air flow if you plonk your sofa right up against it it blocks that flow. Now I accept we do not always have full control as to furniture placement due to space and in those cases pull things as far away from it as you can. This is not a matter of taste it is just science, let the radiator work effectively.

If you or anyone you know are in real trouble this winter go and seek help people do die from the cold. If you have a neighbour who is in need or you feel is suffering from the cold please go and check on them and please remember those without a home and help wherever you can. Thank you for reading.

Saturday, 15 September 2018

Cotton Cleaning Cloths

how to live plastic free waste free eco cleaning products diy craft
So unless you are Donald Trump or you have been living under a rock for the past decade you are aware that plastic is a problem. Well in fact the way we use plastic is the issue, certain plastics are a necessity, for example if you are trying to dissolve that dead body, (I just started re watching Breaking Bad I am not actually a murderer, I don't have the time). The world is literally drowning in pointless plastics, from wrapping bananas to hidden in our clothes causing micro plastics every time we wash our clothes. 

Now the grumpy defeatists will say that as individuals we make little to zero impact and heavy industry needs to step up. Of course they are right but just because our impact is small it does not mean we should absolve ourselves of personal accountability. Hopefully we will educate a new generation if we can all change the mind of one person and they change the mind of one, you see where I am going with this. My word I feel so bloody woke writing this.
how to live plastic free waste free eco cleaning products diy craft
There are lots of ways plastic still enters our home but I am eliminating it wherever I can, cleaning cloths was one of  those ways. I use these the same way I use any cloth but they are 100% cotton. For scrubbing I use a loofah and a brush click on the links to buy. Because they are cotton they wash really well just pop them in the machine with your other bits, they may stain but they hold their shape.
how to live plastic free waste free eco cleaning products diy craft
All of the cloths were made using chain and treble crochet (U.K. & Aus), double crochet in the U.S.

Here's how;

Chain Stitch

Begin by making a slip knot.
Be sure to hold the tail of the slip knot between the thumb and middle finger of your yarn hand. With your hook hand, rotate the hook toward you so that the throat faces the slip knot. 

One chain is now complete, and one loop remains on your hook. Each chain stitch should be the same size as the one before it, which means you must maintain even tension on the yarn for all your stitches. If your stitches are very tight, don't pull so hard. If your stitches are too loose, shorten up the distance between your yarn hand and hook hand.

Treble Crochet

With a loop on the hook wrap the yarn around your hook first.Insert the hook into the stitch (or chain space). Wrap the yarn over the hook and pull the yarn through the stitch (or chain space).  You now have 3 loops on the hook.Wrap the yarn over the hook again and pull the yarn through the first 2 loops already on your hook. Wrap the yarn over your hook once more and pull the yarn through the 2 loop already on your hook.

Confused? You might be but these crafts were supposed to be taught in person so feel free to check out You Tube there are lots of videos on there, I have not made any, (maybe one day), but they are there.

Remember say no to plastics!

Thursday, 13 September 2018

How To Make Your Own Incense

how to make your own incense or smudge sticks craft diy
So I am not going to start making huge claims that incense sticks are slowly killing you with particulates because I do not know if they are, if you look on the internet lots of people say they are but lets face it you're reading this blog so you are already aware of the fact that you can find pretty much anything on the internet. I also have zero knowledge of the benefits of burning certain herbs to clean the energy of your home, mostly because that is all a bit woo woo for me. What I will say is these smell really nice, they were fun to make and the room they dry out smells nice the whole time they are drying which was an added bonus when you have a dog!

The glorious summer that we had gave me an abundance of herbs and I like making things so I thought I would make some smudge sticks.
Gather together a selection of herbs. I used;
  • St Johns Wort
  • Lavender 
  • Sage 
  • Rosemary
  • Bay Leaves 
  • Thyme 
  • Lemon Thyme 
These are all things I grow in my garden but you often see these in community gardens and guerrilla gardening areas.
how to make your own incense or smudge sticks craft diy
The mixes I made were random and the quantities varied in each bunch. I made sure that I wrapped larger leaves such as bay or sage on the outside of the bunches to help them stay together. Use a natural twine or string with absolutely no plastic in there as it needs to burn. 

Wrap the bunches tightly, you can make this mish mash, it looks better that way. Tie them off and hang to dry fully. I hung mine from the clothes airer in the utility. The whole entryway had the loveliest odeur for weeks.

Wait until they are fully dry, err on the side of caution there is no harm in leaving them hanging longer than needed. When you are certain they are dry all the way through store them in an airtight tin. Burn them on a heatproof dish, they will naturally burn out and you will need to re light them.

Monday, 10 September 2018

A Nature Adventure Kit - DIY

how to create a nature explorers kit craft diy
The love that Sebastian has for the great outdoors and nature knows no bounds and he has an unrelieved attention span for a 4 year old. When you have children despite all your best efforts the toy situation reaches critical mass long before they can walk and talk so when Joe and I get them gifts for birthdays and Christmas we work really hard to make them things that will engage them for a long time as opposed to nonsense that does nothing but take up space in the house.
how to create a nature explorers kit craft diy
This year I was inspired by an image I saw on Pinterest, after following back links for quite sometime I tracked it back to The Merrythought.  It gave me the idea to create something similar for Sebastian's birthday this Summer.
how to create a nature explorers kit craft diy
how to create a nature explorers kit craft diy
I found a vintage travelling bar case on eBay and decorated it with line drawings using a Posca marker. Sebastian loves Stag Beetles so that had to be pride of place on the front of the case.
how to create a nature explorers kit craft diy
how to create a nature explorers kit craft diy
how to create a nature explorers kit craft diy
Inside I added a few sections with plywood and used an old belt of mine to make a slot for the book. 
how to create a nature explorers kit craft diy
how to create a nature explorers kit craft diy
The kit was made specifically for Sebastian and his interests and passions you can easily adapt the contents for your child.

Sebastian's Kit Contained;
  1. A Song Bird Whistle 
  2. A Watercolour Tin
  3. A Portable Microscope (we are in love with this it gets the most use)
  4. Field Guides
  5. A Small Sketchbook
  6. An Outdoor Activity Book 
  7. Binoculars
  8. Bug Box
  9. Mini Flower Press
  10. Small Scissors 
  11. Magnifying Glass 

Friday, 7 September 2018

Overnight Oats

easy vegan overnight oats recipe
When I am rushing in the morning it is so easy to default to toast but doing the same thing every day is not my style so I have been preparing overnight oats. They also fill me up a lot more than toast so I am not needing to stop for snacks so my time can be focused on work and children until lunchtime. I topped this recipe with my raw granola recipe. You could add soft fruit as well if you wanted to.

you will need (for one)

3 tbsp rolled oats
1 tbsp wheatgerm
1/2 tbsp chia seeds
1 cup hemp milk
1 apple grated
1/2 cup orange juice

  1. Wait for it.......mix everything together and leave in the fridge overnight.
  2. Hey it's morning time enjoy your oats.
easy vegan overnight oats recipe