Thursday, 19 December 2013

A Cosy Yarn Along

Joining in with Ginny and sharing our very cosy knitting and reading this week.

Most of the current knitting is still gift-knitting, and the reading baby-orientated. I have just started this Active Birth book, handed down to me from a generous mum whom I only know through a local natural parenting group. I love that women will come together to support each other in this way, and hope I can pass on good sisterhood in this way too. My copy is from the early nineties or late eighties, and has some fantastic pictures of women in labour, but most especially I like the beards on the husbands! This seems to be a bit of a theme in these sorts of books (have you read the beloved Ina May Gaskin's Guide to Childbirth? Some cracking beards!). OK, OK, I know I should be focusing on something else here, but I find it hard to stay serious for too long! The lovely alpaca yarn is aiming to be a set of matching mittens for Sausages and one of his heroes, but I'm really struggling to turn the magic cast on into a row of knitting. Four or five times I have cast on this first mitten! I suspect that my tired, baby-addled brain is more to blame than the complexity of the project. I cannot for the life of me work out why it should be so difficult!

In preparing for Christmas I have dragged out my collection of cake-icing books, some gifted from my Grandmother-in-law, some from the rather fabulous Penn bookshop. This is part of an annual ritual, whereby I get out the books and ingredients, look at them for a while, and then chicken out and use ready-made icing from the supermarket. I seem to have a complete mental block in this area. I love to bake tasty things, but I just don't really engage with their prettification!

Sausages did help me marzipan the cakes

And we made mince pies

He also helped me to make some pretty gift tags using plain tags and my little collection of Christmas tapes. These tapes are seeing a lot of action at the moment! I'm fairly sure there isn't anything they can't cheer up! As you can see above, Sausages' contribution involved building the leaning tower of tires from the Casa Della Tires in the Pixar Cars film. He really will find a way to make ANYTHING about cars!

Today he's a bit under the weather, so he and I are snuggling under his duvet on the sofa, playing with cars and reading from the Advent books box. We had the pre-homebirth visit from the midwife yesterday, and are so close to making it to term with 'Madge. All is calm. All is bright. Not much reading, not enough knitting, but plenty of warmth and love. How are things with you? A last week of crazy before Christmas, or hunkering down like us? Merry Christmas!


Monday, 16 December 2013

Me and my Starter

A friend recently asked me what I do with my sourdough starter, apart from daily bread. The answer, sadly, is not very much!

What is a starter? A starter is a yeast culture that is kept in active or semi-active form, and used in baking instead of commercially available yeasts. Because the yeast culture in a starter is usually wild, harvested from the flour itself, or yeast spores in the air, it tends to be less aggressive than commercial yeasts, so you are not likely to get thrush infections from handling it all the time. There are different ways of creating and caring for a starter, and you can make one fresh for a single bake, or keep one alive for years.

Our starter lives in an ice cream tub with holes stabbed in the lid, in the fridge. It's called Honore, after the patron saint of bread, and because I am the daughter of a great anthropomorphist. Some things take a while to wear off...Ours is an old starter, handed down by my Mother in Law, and full of tasty sourdough flavour. Due to the living nature of the culture, it bakes differently according to the weather, especially temperature, and its flavour has changed over time. If it spends a bit longer in the fridge between feedings the sourdough flavour tends to get stronger. I love it! The living, changing nature of baking in this way really appeals to me.

I spend about a day making our daily bread (I refer to it as daily bread, but what I really mean is everyday bread. We don't eat a loaf a day unless we have company), but it's not a time consuming process; just a slow one. I start the night before, taking Honore out of the fridge and mixing him in a large bowl with 8oz bottled water and 8oz bread flour. I use bottled water because the culture doesn't like the chlorine in tap water. Overnight the starter is "activated," coming to life and respiring, producing lots of bubbles to show it. In the morning I put half of what's in the mixing bowl back into the cleaned ice cream tub, mixing in 4oz each of bottled water and bread flour. With the half left in the bowl, I mix in sugar, salt, oil, any extras I fancy (such as seeds or herbs), and enough bread flour to make a slightly tacky dough. Then I cover and leave to double in size. Round lunch time I knead the dough, and transfer to my loaf tin to prove for a second time. When I'm using the oven to cook dinner, I stick the bread in for around half an hour, and allow to cool in the tin overnight, ready for lunchboxes the next day.

I now use Honore to provide all of our yeast for baking, and usually this involves simply exchanging the yeast in a recipe for a spoonful of starter in a guessing sort of quantity, but there are a couple of exceptions: Pizza; and hot cross buns.

For pizza, I start out as though I am making my regular bread, but when making the dough I use half semolina to bread flour. This gives a base that cooks through well, and goes crispy underneath while still having soft crusts. I don't like hard crusts!

For hot cross buns I follow this recipe. I don't bother with the crosses (I make them beyond Good Friday!), and I swap the sugar glaze for warmed marmalade. Oh, and I steep the dried fruit in tea overnight. We drink leaf tea from a pot, so there's usually some left over to stand duty for this. The hot cross buns are spongy and light and delicious! And because they are not so cakey, they make a very nice breakfast, in the manner of fruit toast. Mmm...

They go quickly! The only thing I really struggle to make well with the starter is nice rolls for hot dogs. Any suggestions? I hope that has pushed someone to have a go with a starter, or maybe to try using it for something new, and I hope someone can come back to me with something new to do with mine! See you Wednesday for Ginny's Yarn Along!


Wednesday, 11 December 2013

A Woolly Wednesday

Well, this is Christmas knitting, but not gift knitting, so I can share with you and Ginny this week!

Last week I got an email from Sausages' playschool telling parents that all of the children were going to be sheep in the joint nativity with the school infant children. While searching for a nice little hat pattern this fell into my lap(top). Soooo...I got a bit carried away, ordered some delicious yarn and broomhandle needles, and they arrived on Saturday morning. Over the weekend, thanks to some enforced "feet up" courtesy of my lovely Outlaws and a girls' night at a friend's, I knitted up the hat (Saturday) and the tunic (Sunday). On Tuesday while Sausages was at playschool I sat outside in the car and did the making-up. Then, on Tuesday night, I had some sort of plot-losing experience when I decided that the costume was SO AWESOME that a stuffed-sock tail would be totally inadequate, and I had to knit one. It took several attempts while I messed around with diameter, stitch pattern and gauge, and thanks to pregnancy insomnia I finished it and sewed it on to the tunic before breakfast. Crazy!

He looks pretty good though! This is it: the pinnacle of my mothering career. Never again will I manage to appear so competent. This year I have produced the best sheep costume in school, thanks to the generous genius of Margot Stevens, who sadly seems no longer to run a blog. Unless Sausages has to be an alpaca next year, it is unlikely to be matched again, since I am no seamstress, but I have enjoyed my day of school-gate glory. It's over now, thank goodness!

Reading-wise I am still plodding through Daiper Free in a slow way, although my free time has been little of late. I agreed with a lot of the first half of this book, but as I progress the later chapters are troubling me a little. I was expecting a more child-led approach, I think, whereas a lot of the accounts from parents practicing "natural infant hygiene" seem to be increasingly about a parent taking the lead by "cuing" the infant to relieve themselves. This makes me worry that if I were to follow this path my child would be responding more to the cues than to their own body sensations, which strikes me as a little unhealthy. As does the preoccupation in the book with regular morning defecation as a healthy objective...I feel like I have wandered into some surreal world with this! It started so well! I might have to indulge in some trashy fiction after this to clear the brain.

Christmas present knitting continues, as do the crafts, although I'm definitely slowing down now towards Madge's birth. Thanks so much to all my cheerleaders, I am now almost two weeks further into this pregnancy than I managed with Sausages, and feel like a term baby (and all the wonderful things that go with it) is within my reach. Sitting in my cosy, Christmassy house knitting and crafting with my lovely son in our last few weeks alone together sounds like a really good way to spend some time. I hope you're enjoying the last two weeks of advent, and are ready to embrace whatever seasonal celebrations you are looking forward to.


P.S. Later this and my starter x

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Sneaking in the Joy

Joining in with Ginny again this week, but I don't have much reading or knitting to show you! I've reached a point where everything I'm knitting is a Christmas present, and since Husband and Sausages have continued to be poorly and need looking after, there hasn't been much time for knitting or reading (or anything else for that matter!). Husband suggested that since I can't show you the lovely Christmas present I have just finished, I show you his ongoing Doctor Who scarf instead, so here it is:

It's now about 7' long, so just over half way. His tension is lovely and regular after all those hundreds of rows of garter stitch! I'm still reading Diaper Free, and still enjoying it, but due to the crazy nature of my time at the moment I've been leaning more towards Christmassy magazines, so I can snatch a moment to fantasise about all the Christmassy things I am just not going to get done this year. Here's a little snatched moment from this week:

A cheeky festive indulgence, complete with cup of tea and Aldi leibkuchen, beautifully decorated with pink glaze and sprinkles. Perfect. As you can see, this moment of peace was sponsored by Sausages' box of crayons. He was colouring in one of his three advent calendars:

This is a fabulous free download from (link not currently working but I'll fix that as soon as possible. In the mean time it's on my pinterest), that I printed on A3 and washi-taped to some foam presentation boards that Bapar found doing nothing in his study. It looks ace, and makes the paper quite sturdy! The bit Sausages likes the most is getting to use "stick glue" rather than "gloopy glue" on each circle. The idea is that on Christmas Eve Father Christmas will have a full beard and be ready to whiz around the world doing his festive best!

Sausages and I have started to move further into festive mode, unsupervised by poorly husband. We've replaced the autumnal decorations around the hall mirror with some battery powered lights, although I think a little something more might be needed here! Due to the nature of Bungalow living, my three-basket laundry system lives under this mirror, as well as a handy shelf. I live in hope that decorating the mirror and putting something pretty on the shelf distracts visitors from the laundry! Soon there will be hyacinths on the shelf, but they are still hibernating.

We're enjoying the big box of advent and Christmas books, collected as and when in charity shops. This is not the complete collection, since I notice that a few have snuck their way into Sausages' everyday library, especially the nativity themed ones. We really enjoy these books. Sausages' current favourites are Harvey Slumfenburger's Christmas Present by John Burningham, and The Christmas Bear, by Axel Scheffler (the illustrator behind The Gruffalo and several other collaborations with the fabulous Julia Donaldson). There is something very delicious about curling up on the sofa with a book about Christmas with a small child who thinks he might be looking forward to it, but can't quite remember enough of last year to really know what's coming!

I'll have some more crafting pictures and ideas for you this week hopefully, but here are some better pictures of Sausages' snow shakers:

I picked up a "jar of Christmas craft activities" in a charity shop recently, and Sausages requested that we have a go at it this morning instead of the outdoor playgroup we have started attending in local woods recently. I'm starting to struggle climbing up the steep sides of the iron age ring ditch, so I couldn't really argue, and we settled down to do some deliciously messy sticking!

Husband is playing with his early Christmas present in the background, shhh!

 Not bad eh? I'm so glad Sausages has got back into crafts recently. I think we're going to have a very lovely and well-decorated winter! What Christmas crafts have you got going on? Are you busily making lovely unique Christmas presents, or are you one of those ruthless crafters who has liberated themselves from the annual torture of giving something you have put hours of love and care into to someone who doesn't really appreciate it? Or, like me, do you simply not have the time?

Wishing you all a happy and holy advent


Monday, 25 November 2013

Advent Crafting

Here's a very VERY badly kept secret: I love advent. I LOVE ADVENT. In a big way. It's officially the most wonderful time of year. It always puzzles me that of all the phases of the Christian calendar, the hard language of Lent has retained its place in the secular year, and yet the word advent only seems to appear in the context of advent calendars. The word itself is loaded with excitement and suspense! I do however love that lots of different religions and cultures have festivals at this time of year, so I approve of the idea of a "holiday season" for all. And the word "winterval." How delicious! If you're not a Christian, did you know that advent is the start of the Christian calendar, so that the first Sunday of advent is also new year? Did you know that advent starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas day, and not the first of December, so some years advent is longer than others, and you might be missing out on a few extra days of excitement? Probably not, and it probably doesn't matter to most people, but I am an advent lover married to a Grinch, and in this house we are not allowed to start decorating/playing Christmas music/watch Christmas films until advent is officially in session.

This weekend we all had the winter vomiting bug, and since Husband was already feeling poorly he is laid pretty low. He has mostly stayed in bed since Wednesday. Today I was feeling pretty rotten, but I had got quite a lot of jobs done, and Husband was asleep, so Sausages and I broke the rules and made snow globes!

Well, the photos are truly awful (I'm working on the camera problem), but here's what we did: first we superglued small Christmas figurines to the inside of the lids of clean jam jars; then Sausages poured some coarse glitter into the jars themselves; we topped the jars up with water and a little glycerin to make the water viscous; then we screwed on the lids tightly and gave them a good shake! I'm hoping to put a little superglue in the threads of the jars in order to prevent small people from unscrewing them, but Sausages is so pleased with them that I don't think he will. He keeps shaking them to see it snow, and then waiting to see who is hiding inside! Even Husband has to smile at that! Most of the equipment for this craft were already in the house, although I did buy some little Christmas cake toppers to go inside. They cost 20p each, and obviously you could use anything. I quite like the idea of a plastic dinosaur one! The most successful jar we used was actually one of those squat salsa jars. Hurrah for having a stash of such things under the sink!

Due to our nasty bug there has been no baking, but I had to cancel a yarn-dyeing play date last week, and had already prepped three 50g skeins of squishy merino, so when I had the chance I tried out dyeing them with Kool-Aid. I don't think I did very well, but it was a first attempt! The purple is made from a red and a blue mixed, and is beautifully variegated across the skein. The green and yellow was an attempt at dipping each end of the skein separately, but I didn't make up enough dye I think, and there are undyed patches that I have overdyed with a yellow-green made up from regular food colouring. The blue was supposed to be a sort of lavendar (I swear it was before it went on the yarn!), and is very patchy. At least the colour seems to have set really nicely. I'm not sure what they want to be yet, so all suggestions welcome. I notice there's quite a lot of green/yellow two tone appearing in my home dyed yarns; I obviously have some sort of draw to these colours, although independently I wouldn't call them my favourites. Maybe it's because I love daffodils so much?

Do you have many crafts lined up for advent, or the preparations for another festival? I'd love to hear about them. I'll be posting more advent crafts soon, and also giving you a glimpse of our collection of advent books in this week's yarn along on Wednesday. I hope you can join me then, and in the mean time, happy (secret! Shhh!) crafting!


Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Yarn Along

Joining in with Ginny...this week I am mostly reading in preparation for the new baby. Sausages and I (and Husband!) had quite a breastfeeding journey after his premature birth, and although I looked at biological nurturing online at the time it has been wonderful to sit down and read the book in a concentrated yet leisurely fashion. I really enjoyed it! Although it is basically a write up of Suzanne Colson's research, and the style of the book reflects this, it is a wonderful resource for any breastfeeding family. So much of it resonates strongly with me in terms of what I went through with Sausages, and I feel forearmed for 'Madge's arrival. I actually got to borrow this book from the fabulous collection available at our local children's centre. Sadly the children's centre has lost most of it's breastfeeding support, but their library is looking increasingly open to gentle and attachment parenting. I suspect that their rather lovely administrator has been ordering books she might read herself. I might pop in and hide the Gina Ford!

The arrival of my order of Daiper Free ironically coincided with a massive influx of nappies into my life! Sausages was cloth nappied alongside a bit of elimination communication from birth to eighteen months old, when we just abandoned nappies. About a year later he decided to stop wearing one at night. There was no potty-training for us, just a natural realisation that nappies were no longer necessary, and a move towards greater self-reliance for his toileting. In the last year I lost my cloth nappy stash in a house move, replaced it for 'Madge, and managed to recover the original stash from our former land lords. The result of this chain of events is that we now have the most enormous stash of delicious soft white cloth nappies. I can sit and admire them...when I'm not reading about how I don't need them! Again, this is an exercise for me in being a bit more informed about something we followed naturally and without research the first time around. Again, a lot of it resonates with what we did without thinking about it.

On the knitting front I whipped up a pair of mittens for Sausages. He chose the yarn from the stash. He got out the ball winder and made two lovely centre-pull balls so I could knit them two at a time. I knitted them up, with a pattern I have used before, during his swimming lesson. He won't wear them because they are not green. 'Nuff said about that, really.

This is the start of my Christmas knitting! Not very festive! It will be a shawl, and the yarn is soooo soft that I have quite high hopes! I find it necessary to have a small project like a shawl or mittens on the go alongside the big projects, and this jumper for Husband is probably my most epic project to date! A full, man-sized sweater! The scale is a bit daunting, and has given me chronic cast-on-itis, which I am trying to resist. And no, for anyone who saw me mention it in a former post, I haven't designed the front yet. Or finished the back. Will it get finished for the 13th of December? Not massively likely at this point! I shall persevere!

What are you crafting and reading this week? Or has nobody made it this far, put off by my crunchy parenting reading? It's all very lovely, I promise! I hope you all have a good week, and are much further into your Christmas crafting than me!


Monday, 18 November 2013

A Foodie Post

It's been quiet here on the blogging front. Sausages is needing me a lot at the moment, I'm getting tired and slow moving, and I had to give the fabulous camera back to Bapar. Blogging seems pretty dull without photos! This week I have set myself up with the camera I had when I was a student. It's the same as Sausages', but he has 6mp and I have only 4! His life is more exciting than mine anyway! So I apologise if my photos are a little sad at the moment.

There has been some really hearty seasonal cooking recently, so I thought I'd share some of it with you!

This is Chicken Stew/Soup (this one lies on the cusp. If you mashed it it would definitely be soup, and if you chunked the components it would definitely be a stew, and would love to go with dumplings) in the style of my Gran. Again, it's a what-I-have-in-meets-slow cooker recipe, but well worth passing on. If you've met me, or read the blog recipes before, you'll know measurements and precise ingredients are not in my nature! This potful contains: three chicken thighs; a little marigold reduced salt bouillon powder; two sticks of celery and five carrots, chopped up fine in the food processor; about a cup of ubiquitous broth mix (barley, split peas, lentils etc. available very cheaply in any supermarket or wholefoods shop); and a good measure of boiling water from the kettle. Bear in mind that the broth mix will drink a lot of water. I cooked the chicken in the slow cooker first, then took out the bones and skin but left in the juices before adding all the other ingredients and cooking for half a day. Pulses don't really seem to soften well in the slow cooker, so I try to give them as long as possible. It made six hearty portions, wolfed down on a chilly lunchtime with hot crusty bread rolls and lashings of white pepper. The white pepper is important! It makes the dish!

The second slow cooker lovely I want to share with you is a sort of instant sauerkraut-inspired sausage and cabbage affair. This is a real autumnal meal. Into the pot went: a pack of six bratwurst sausages from Aldi, roughly quartered; half a white cabbage, sliced into around 1.5cm strips with a bread knife; one red onion; ground mixed peppercorns; a tablespoon of cider vinegar; and about a cup of cider (plenty left in the bottle to drink alongside!). We served it with mashed potato to soak up the delicious gravy, but we were not equal to the quantities, and so I would say this serves 5-6. There was plenty left over for another meal. Sausages especially loved this, and when I wasn't looking leaned over and liberated some of my sausage. He is the proverbial "good eater!"

I've also been making some fancy drinks this week. Sausages and I tried out a fabulous outdoor playgroup last week, and at snacktime they produced hot potatoes and a flask of mulled apple juice. Sausages loved the apple juice, so I made a big pan of it at home, and the three of us dealt with it pretty swiftly. I just chucked a carton of cheapy UHT apple juice in a pan with a sachet of mulling spice, long past it's B.B.E. and found lurking at the back of the larder. It reduced down a little, but the spices stopped it from being too sweet int he way apple juice can be come times.

I also had a go at making pumpkin spiced syrup, courtesy of the lovely home baked blog. I recently roasted and processed a delicious little pumpkin. Most of it went into an amazingly delicious risotto, but three spoons of puree were reserved for this little treat. I wasn't ready for the pumpkin spiced lattes to disappear from the cafes!

I ended up with one tall jar full of delicious, dark syrup, but I think I reduced it too far, so you should end up with more. Also it would have been cleverer to use several little jars instead, so that only the sterile seal on what you are using would be broken. I'm not too bothered though: I don't think it's going to last very long!

As I have emerged from the fug of pregnancy sickness I have been greeted by not only the change is season, and the culinary excitement it inspires, but also the push towards preparing for Christmas. Christmas this year is a "known unknown" for us: will we have a new bungalow resident? Will I be waddling around with a full-term-sized belly? It's a mystery for now, and Husband and I are focusing on every week as it comes, taking things very steady, and doing everything in our power (not much) to avoid having another early baby. This weekend in my fortune cookie I received the fortune "a happy event will take place shortly in your home." I'm taking this as a positive homebirth sign. I'm not superstitious, but even I can't ignore that one! However, it has occurred to me that it might well be Husband who actually cooks our first Christmas dinner in our own home. I have been doing as much preparation as possible, and the 4-bird roast, pigs in blankets, and baked red cabbage are all nestling in the freezer. Husband does the best roasties and veg anyway, it only remains for me to persuade him to cook sprouts the way I like them!

How is your festive prep coming along? I hope you are enjoying your slow cooking!


Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Wednesday Yarn Along

Joining in with Ginny...this week I spent a lot of time making up a jumper knitted by one of my lovely mummy friends, who I taught to knit "my very rown self," as Sausages would say. I actually enjoy making up, and like to think my seams are quite pretty, but in my first attempt at making up this jumper I made a silly mistake in reading the instructions, and had to rip out all the sleeve and side seams. This is a before picture:

It broke my heart to rip that out! It was done! But my silly mistake had made the arm holes too small, and nobody needs that, so out they came. My lovely friend fed me a lot of chocolate afterwards, and I'm just about over the trauma now. The moral of this tale? Don't read the pattern! Follow your brain! I have also finished knitting the leaves for Sausages' autumn decorations (as demanded. He knows what he wants knitted, that boy!), and they are awaiting forming into some sort of display. Maybe around our hall mirror?

This garish beast is the first thing I have knitted for 'Madge, even though I started it before we even imagined that we would be having a baby soon. It's really an exercise in using a basic chevron pattern, and uses a pack of rainbow yarn that came free with a magazine Husband bought for me when I was poorly at New Year. It's also full of mistakes, and one row of non-regulation red due to a miscalculation that saw the blanket abandoned in a project bag for a good month or so. In the end I decided that I had to get the project out of my system, and that 'Madge isn't really in a position to criticise, so a single row of the wrong red was endurable. Please forgive me if the colours have hurt your eyes!

Not knitting, but Sausages and I had a lovely day with our fellow woolly friends, making wet felt. Unfortunately it turns out Sausages still doesn't have the patience for wet felting, but his little friend (who is a year older) managed just fine and produced the best effort of us all! the above is what Sausages and I managed together, and will make a nice little coaster for my dresser. The slightly dodgy surface underneath it is my upturned sewing table, still awaiting repair by Husband before it can assume it's place in my overcrowded craft corner. We've been a bit busy lately!

Reading-wise I am half way through Eat Pray Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert. I am not enjoying it, and this is another case of my inability to walk away from a book before I have read the whole thing. This book seems to be a vanity exercise in navel-gazing, and not up my street at all. The end.

As you can see, quite a random week this week, but I had a very strong urge to finish the leaves and the blanket, and have soooo many new cast-ons lined up, so next week should be a lot more exciting on the knitting front! I have cast on the first of my Christmas knitting projects, which I will share with you next week, when hopefully I will have resolved the question of the final design. I know, I must decide these things before I cast on, but it's going to be a big project and I was aching to get it started!

Have you started your festive crafting yet? What are your personal rules about crafting gifts for others? Do you enjoy crafting with your children for Christmas and other celebrations? Let me know!

Sunday, 13 October 2013

All Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness in the Fen

It's been a clingy week for Sausages, hence the lack of the usual Wednesday blather, and I'm only managing to come online now because Husband has managed to prize him off me with a treaty boys supper of nachos with trimmings! Not a normal dinner in our house, but it's been a demanding day with a lot of food, and such moments are what rule-bending is for. I finished Sausages' pumpkin hat, and he was so chuffed with it that he put it on and ran around the house singing "I am a pumpkin head!" without even letting me weave in the ends!

There's no pattern, I just cast on a multiple of six stitches that was compatible with the circumference of Sausages' head and standard DK gauge, and worked in the round in six stocking stitch panels separated by two purl stitches. When I guessed it was tall enough I started decreasing two stitches per panel per round, and when I got down to six stitches changed to the green yarn, working a stalk in six-stitch rounds. Anyway, it's cute as pie and will be his hallow'een costume this year. Sounds lame, but hallow'een isn't really our thing, so it's a compromise because I want him to enjoy the festivities with his friends.

I've also got back in the kitchen in a bigger way this week. I've done a lot of cooking with leftovers this week. We had some sweet potatoes and butternut squash left over from a roast dinner, so I bunged them in the slow cooker with two tins of coconut milk, a red onion, and the end of a jar of Thai red curry paste for seasoning. I blended and froze it, and when Sausages and I had some for lunch this week he licked the bowl. It was THAT good, honest! We had it with hot, buttered, toasted sourdough from the end of a homemade loaf...bliss! Husband has also developed a taste for homemade quiche, so this week we had "leftovers quiche," containing mostly courgette and butternut squash. Both of these are yummy, hot autumnal meals, and I didn't have to buy anything in for either. Perfect!

Sausages and I have had a really autumnal week, reveling in the change of season. Yes, I do know how pretentious that sounds, but I'm just not a summer person, and the change in season has come at the same time as my morning sickness is waning, and I feel so contented to be breathing in the cooler air and autumn scents of conkers and rain. We had a lovely walk with friends at Wicken Fen, where we explored a fenland cottage along with the beautiful countryside. Can you see what my lovely friend is holding in her hand? A taxidermied mole! Our boys thought this was brilliant, along side the tractors, ducks, chickens, cattle and windmills that punctuated our walk.

 I know I do bang on about it, but our National Trust membership does give us a fantastic selection of days out available for no extra cost and on the spur of the moment. It's ideal when mummy needs fresh air and small boys need to run around with no restrictions. We've needed it a lot recently! Of course Sausages' clingy mood and difficult bedtimes have been caused by a huge developmental leap. I'm so proud of him, but I'm also very proud of Husband and myself, and our ability to look at changes in his behaviour, recognise that he's going through something we don't know about yet, and adjust our lives accordingly. It makes me feel like we can pause in our climb of the mountain of parenthood, look down, and be proud of the progress we have made. Oh dear, I do sound pretentious and sentimental this evening, but what I want to convey to other parents is: be kind to yourselves, if your child's behaviour is challenging you in some way there is probably something exciting coming, and bending the norm to make life supportive for everyone while this change is coming is fair, and not "copping out!"

I hope you've all had a lovely week and are enjoying the change of seasons as much as we are! Do you have any favourite slow cooker recipes for the autumn? 'Tis the season!