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Whoops didn’t tag these puppies

Whoops didn't tag these puppies

Our European Bombaround: We need you!

28 May, 2013

In about 7 weeks time we are upping sticks and going for a 3 month bombaround Europe in our camper, Betty. We could well emerge as Gandhi like pillars of peace and wisdom; all that forestry and earthy shizzle molding us into mega living-in-the-present sages.  Alternatively,  we will all go cuckoo- living in a 2m x 3 m box with only each other for company and WITHOUT THE INTERNET. *weeps*

Betty and Ramona Ramona making a cuppa in Betty

What with selling the house (it has finally sold, HOORAY!) and getting Betty fixed up (she is all better, WHOOP!) and having a new baby (Juno arrived, WAHEY!) we haven’t had much time to focus on the #bombaround. But this morning I woke up all Action Stations.

This is a pretty epic adventure… for which we are ill prepared. We know when we are leaving – the start of August- and we will aim to be back at the end of October (ish, depending on the weather.) We are thinking of meandering through France, Italy, Croatia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Germany (all making sense so far)- um, and also Spain.  We are thinking Spain might still be warm at the end of the trip, you see, it’s just quite a drive away from Germany. (GAH, FRANCE! Why you have to be so big, darn you?)

We aren’t primarily going for city sightseeing (hot, sticky crowds make us shudder) but for the wild swimming and walks amongst trees (we are down with the leeches) so will be skipping a few of the obvious stops.
ramona in woods
Ramona on a secret swing in a little slice of the wilderness in South London

We hope to visit some exciting happenings… things like Nature Play project in the Black Forest, a commune on an organic farm outside of Annecy, a revolutionary childcare centre in Budapest.

Perhaps you can help us?!

Have you visited or heard of any lovely happenings or sites or projects or beautiful places in any of these countries?

Do you know any people or families in these countries who are living life a bit differently and wouldn’t mind making new friends? (They wouldn’t have to put us up as we’d be sorted in Betty.)

Also… we have other questions… (novices? us?)

Do you have any tips for travelling around as a family?

How will Ramona cope without a little gang of buddies?

What are some things we MUST TAKE? (So far on my list are; my collection of retro tins, a 3 month supply of pear drops and a few vintage crochet blankets.)

Where do we find the charity shops in Europe? (Er, addict? ME? OUTRAGEOUS)

Any advice for coping, generally?

Also…

WHAT ABOUT THE INTERNET?

Any tips, tricks and advice MOST GRATEFULLY received, we’ll send you a postcard….

Whoops didn't tag these puppies

Alternative Advent Calendar – Recycled Christmas Link -Up

26 November, 2012

My sister’s chocolate advent calendar wasn’t long on our mantelpiece before I worked out you could undo the bottom flap and slip the whole tray out. She’d open the odd window and be like “THEY FORGOT TO PUT DAY 16’s MORSEL IN!!!”

It was a few year’s before my beautiful Nana caught on to the fact that her grandchildren would rather have meaningless, Christmassy Bartman themed but delicious edible advent calendars, rather than little windows depicting the arrival of Baby Jesus.  I suspect  in her wisdom she knew exactly what kind of festive angst it could cause between greedy siblings!

For a 14 year old, I was pretty self controlled, and only ate a few of my sisters, but my whole tray was gone by Day 6. “WELL! CHECK MINE OUT! THEY HAVE FORGOTTEN EVERY SINGLE DAY! OUTRAGEOUS!!!”

I am not opposed to traditional or chocolatey advent calendars one bit but as part of my drive to instill some precious rituals in our family’s life, I have opted to make our advent a bit of a bigger deal. There are some gorgeous, crafty ideas out there, and I gathered a few, mixed it up with the thing I always do involving scrabble letters, and came up with this:


Instead of numbers, I have 25 pockets, with Joy, Love, Hope, Peace (for me these sum up the Christmas message) and Christmas spelled out on them. The pockets are held onto string with decorated pegs, and are meant to be in a bit of a Christmas Tree-ish shape. I found the pegs in a charity shop, the scrabble letters at a jumble sale, and the fabric is part of a vintage bundle that I have held onto for a while, waiting for the perfect moment to use it.

There were some lovely suggestions on the Lulastic Facebook Page, of how other people do advent, and I am totally pinching the ideas, like leaving little notes in the pockets for family members.

This week I am going to fill the pockets with things that will hopefully delight each of us – some sweets, a poem, a prayer, a task like “Make Ginger bread house” or “dance to The Boy Least Likely To‘s Christmas album”  – a brand new album I am loving by the way, like a festive, twee Pulp.

Christmas sometimes weighs on me. That we have this season, rooted in a story about a life of love, but yet it splays out in excessive consumption. It leaves the earth groaning with waste and debt.

This year, rather than getting ranty about it, I would rather celebrate how people are doing Christmas in an exemplary fashion! So here is a link up, a blog hop, for Recycled Christmas. A little spot where people can promote their blog posts on crafts they are making, gifts they have bought, decorations they are pulling out, all with a recycled theme. It will stay open until Christmas so keep adding anything you have! And then we can use it as inspiration for ever. Until the internet ends, anyway.
Link Up your posts here – click box below to see them. Please remember to visit other people’s blogs and leave a comment!


PS- As if this post isn’t jampacked enough, I have just ONE more tiny, little thing to mention. Another way to have an angelic Christmas. For five years now I have run an ethical Christmas Fayre in London – this year we have two! Over the coming weekends, the 1st December, on Oxford Street, and then the 8th & 9th December, at the Horniman Museum. There you will be able to buy fairtrade, eco, vintage, handmade and upcycled gifts for every single person on your list, all under one roof. I would LOVE to see you there! More info here. Please help me spread the word!

Whoops didn't tag these puppies

DIY placemats with HomeMade Chalkboard Paint

30 August, 2012

One of my favourite blogging chums is Lakota over on Faith, Hope and Charity Shopping. I love her hilarious, thrifty, crafty and chazza shop loving ways. Almost in the same week we posted about chalk board paint – me with my revolutionary home made coloured chalkboard paint recipe, and Lakota with a thrifty take on a snazzy placemat. Together we thought they would make a COMPLETE MAXIMUS GENIUS BLOGGING COLLABORATION! 

So here is her post about that: 
A little while ago the Not on the High Street catalogue dropped through my letterbox, and whilst it is a lovely treasure trove of independent makers of stuff – erm, that isn’t on the high street, what it isn’t is cheap. Look at these chalkboard placemats – great fun, but a set of six is £64.99! Yes, you read that correctly. If you want matching coasters, the total would be £91. Blimey. Clearly ‘Claire’ moves in more exalted circles than I.

This is not just any strawberry cheesecake…
photo credit: Not on the High Street.com

Anyway, last week I found these at the bottom of the kitchen drawer – I used to use them all the time but as you can see they’ve got a bit battered and scratched over the years so they were relegated for visiting toddler use and then forgotten about. However, if you don’t have any mats ripe for a makeover you quite often see hideous ones at your Granny’s house charity shops or car boot sales, you know, nasty ones with scenes of fox-hunting or twee thatched cottages.

I used a tester pot of Annie Sloan chalk paint in ‘graphite’ and gave each mat a few coats. It dries very quickly so didn’t take very long at all. A quick scribble with my pastel pencils – I know, posh – and I had my own version ready to wow my guests. (Ed. Only meeee!  Forget Annie Sloan and make your own with a dash of acrylic and some tile grout WOOPIEE.)

 

Of course, if you’re not a gastronomic wizard like myself, you can just use them for playing hangman between courses, writing instructions for your butler, shopping lists, or perhaps improving slogans for the benefit of your offspring.

What would you doodle?

How wicked is that? We are cut from the same cloth, Lakota and I. Looking at expensive things and going home and doing a version on the cheap! Imagine making these in different colours with the homemade recipe? Next Level.  Every Tuesday Lakota hosts Ta-Dah Tuesday where bloggers can show off thrifty finds, craft magic, anything really. Do get involved 😀

Whoops didn't tag these puppies

The Sickness and Sympathy Pains

13 March, 2012

Beware all who travel these parts, behold the red cross upon our door. Do not enter here. We have The Sickness. The red spotty, itchy very contagious one currently doing the rounds and otherwise known as Poxy Chickens. Well, officially only one of us has it and unfortunately it’s little Ramona, with one limb in a plaster cast. Ramona is coping brilliantly, a constant sunbeam. (Well, apart from yesterday morning when I took Dr Google’s advice and decided an oatmeal bath was in order. But instead of a bath (due to non waterproof cast) more an oatmeal wipe down. Which basically involved Tim and I covering the little darling head to toe in porridge. Ramona was not a fan.)

While Ramona is being stoic, Tim and I are not. We have a Sympathy Sickness. I have come out in itchy spots, dizziness, pins and needles, aches and shakes, fever and Tim has come down with a severe form of that unmentionable condition effecting ones bowels.

Ever since Ramona was born I have seen her as a little part of me, it has always come as a shock when she flashes such independence as she does, but this, THIS, is ridiculous. As if my body refuses to believe we are different entitities or if out of some deep sense of responsibility my body wants to share her pain. IT’S OKAY BODY, SERIOUSLY, IT’S BETTER FOR ALL INVOLVED IF WE KEEP IT TOGETHER.

So, here we are, all three of us, moping around the house, opening the fridge, shutting the fridge empty handed, trying to nap, going to the loo, moping, watching Sesame Street.

If only we were as tough as Ramona.

Not impressed, mum. NOT IMPRESSED.

PS: Britmums have some blogging awards happening at the mo and if you enjoy reading this mix of parenting/ crafting/ thrifting, or if I have inspired you to get thriftier or greener, I would LOVE you to nominate Lulastic and the Hippyshake! It closes in TWO DAYS though (EEK) but it is quite easy to nominate, and you can chose from a few categories. *awkward smile*

Whoops didn't tag these puppies

Trotsky pigs

2 March, 2012

Have you seen the Guardian ad where they retell the story of Three Little Pigs yet? I started watching it with Ramona this morning and a few seconds – and a few shocked jumps -in realised it was perhaps not too child friendly. (Not that the original is either, to be fair. What is with fairytales being truly traumatic?)

I loved this ad (watch it here.) I love that the Guardian are poking fun at themselves, and I love the main point of it – that context is everything. I need to hear it as a parent, and want others to hear it – hold fire on your judgements, there is always a background story to hear. To the sideways glances of mammas in the playground checking out Ramona’s FREEZING bare feet. She can’t wear shoes because she has broken her leg and she has pulled her socks off for the 46th time! And she broke her leg because….!!

Anyway, the Three Little Pigs story reminded me of how we do “This little piggy”. We do the Guardian reading version, mocking ourselves. But if anyone ever heard it they would certainly think we were a bit doolally…

This little piggy went to the Co-op
This little piggy stayed at the Commune
This little piggy ate falafel
and this little piggy had her equal share
And THIS little piggy went wee wee wee wee weeee all the way back to the yurt.

Do you free style any nursery rhymes?

(This is Ramona and her big cuzzy Hudson who is moving out of London tomorrow with his family. PEOPLE. I have 12 hours to work out a way to get them to stay. I feel like Mcaulay Culkin in Home Alone. I’ve got gaffa tape, some No More Nails, a rubber ring and some massive pots. Any ideas, call me)

Craftiness, Whoops didn't tag these puppies

Feasting at the Occupation- a glimpse of utopia

16 October, 2011

There is a little old lady who lives round the corner from us with a tree in her garden that is spilling over with fat, juicy apples. A few weeks ago we plucked up the courage to knock on her door to see if we could pick some.  She was completely delighted as she can’t reach them and doesn’t even like them (I know! Who doesn’t like apples?!) and in all her time living there (she has lived there FOREVS) no one has asked.

So this morning we packed a few bags of those scrumpcious morsels and took them up to the protest camp in front of St Pauls – Occupy LSX. As we wandered over to the kitchen we saw a table GROANING under the weight of abundant fruit, sandwiches, chocolate, lentil soup. It was exactly like the harvest festival at my primary school when I was a nipper but with a lot less baked beans.

Throughout the course of today this food has been handed around, shared out, feasted on. It is a beautiful, utopian picture of how the world could be. Where people who have lots, bag it up and pass it round the crowd.  Mums and babes getting served first (woo!) along with the really hungry and vulnerable. Skips delved into, bringing out still the freshest of delights; nothing wasted.

It is a really tiny aspect of Occupy LSX, the feasting, but the rest of it is pretty up there with ideal too; the huge diversity – every age, religion, ethnicity, sexuality and salary represented, the creativity and friendliness, the slow and steady democratic process – and the patience shown throughout it.

Of course it is only a tiny corner of the world, but it reveals what is possible AND highlights what a complete, criminal, joke our current global system is- where people simultaneously die of obesity and starvation.

If you haven’t already joined your local occupation, take a few hours this week to join in the antics – even if it’s just for the food. (Jokes, that would be well cheeky. You should at least make a placard or something.)

Today we started a Kids Space, which will be every afternoon from 2-5pm by the big statue in front of the steps. We have bubbles, toys, paper and pens.

This blog was written for Blog Action Day 2011, the theme is Food, coinciding pretty superbly with World Food Day. Check it all out here.