Sunday, 29 November 2015

Pulse Power (Part One)

Split Yellow Pea and Rhubarb Curry with rice and Rhubarb Pear Chutney

Meat and alternative products can be costly.  Supplementing them at mealtimes with pulses is good for the purse, health and planet.  They are a good source of protein, so there is no need to worry about replacing chunks of animal protein with these "vegetables".

Easy Cowboy Beans
You could, of course, as I have often heard people advise, just throw red lentils into everything willy-nilly:  I am sure it will make a cheap filling and healthy meal.... but don't you sometimes want something a bit different to the usual lentil-heavy chilli? And what if the family just won't go for the new mealy woolly bolognese?  In Part Two I will post ideas about what to combine for interesting, tasty and easy family meals.

But for now... what if, like me, you have noticed the hiking cost of red lentils which were pennies only a handful of years go...?

Friday, 13 November 2015

The Best Card Games for Preschoolers

I have mentioned before that we play cards quite a lot in this house, and include it in my curriculum details for our home ed checks. (See free preschool curriculum here.)

A few kind people have gifted us several children's versions of card games over the years, such as Uno (basically Switch but with special designs instead of using ordinary playing cards) or playing cards in a larger size which just seemed to make a hand even more difficult to hold!  Some just had childish pictures on them.  We always come back to a straight playing deck.

Cards are great for helping numeracy in the early years, and continuing into later years with games of Fish and then 21.  The best thing about this activity is that unless you tell the kids that this is a "lesson" they would never know.  We enjoy card games sometimes on family evenings and occasionally the kids get them out in their own time.

Our favourite games for our preschoolers are:

Sunday, 8 November 2015

To Poppy, Or Not To Poppy

Today on Remembrance Sunday, the papers are not only full of Remembrance Day coverage but seem to be debating on whether or not to wear a poppy determines the sort of person you are i.e. good or bad.

I could never decide which to wear: the red for remembrance, the purple for all of the animal victims of war, or to wear the white poppy of peace. I am more inclined to wear the white, though the response to the possibility that the current Labour Leader might have worn a peace poppy, I wonder if it would be taken as an insult to some.

Anyway, I decided to give to each cause and crochet my own poppy declaring support for each of the issues. Unfortunately, last night when I was getting my things together to make leaving for Sunday service easier the next morning, I could not find it! Having turned many things upside down as quietly as possible at 11.30 last night I found myself hastily creating a replacement through sleepy-squint.

Red for remembrance of the human victims of war,
Purple for the animal victims of war,
White in hope of and supporting future peace.
I think the crochet poppy looks really cute, and am thinking of crocheting a little flower to keep permanently pinned to my collar. I had a couple of very kind compliments at church too, so I feel quite pleased with how it turned out despite slightly wonky work due to the late night crochet session!

As for the children... although I see a few wearing poppies and I remember them being sold at primary school twenty (or so) years ago... I would rather wait until my children can understand the issues and are able to take their own feelings into making a decision on whether to wear one or not.  I will happily crochet custom colours as long as my children are more organised than I am so I am not madly crocheting numerous versions in an annual Saturday midnight session!

Are you wearing a poppy, and if you are, what colour?

We still have 3 days before Armistice Day and so you still have time to make one...
This flower in whatever colours would also make a cute brooch to give as a gift.
The pattern was really simple and was as follows:

Saturday, 7 November 2015

State Savings

I have recently been reading and thinking about socially accepted views of the working class and social security or "benefits" as they have become known. (Chavs: the Demonization of the Working-Class by Owen Jones for reference: although no longer immediately current, it is still very significant in its updated edition; I always find his political articles very interesting reading and look forward to reading last year's The Establishment - And How They Get Away With It .)

As I stay at home to educate our children, have more than the generally accepted two children, and we are working class living in a relatively well-off area, I am fairly often reminded of the assumption we must be"on benefits".  Of course, the tax I paid when in work and that my husband continues to pay and that which we pay through purchases etc do not seem to be enough of a contribution.

Those casting aspersions are likely to also be recipients of the same rate of child benefit as us (it is for anyone earning less than 50k pa) but the occasional few seem to assume we must collect various other benefits from somewhere, though it is unclear what these mythical benefits actually are.

I am glad of state provision and know that should we need to rely on it e.g. NHS, social care, schooling, tax cuts, or financial aid, that it is available.  We do our bit to support it to help others also. Surely that is the point in tax and social security.

So perhaps others who "benefit" from state provision in whatever area, shouldn't be so hasty to cast aspersions for me not being in paid work in order to educate our own children...

Especially when you consider if I was to return to work on the minimum waged salary I would pay under 50k in tax over the period of 18 years...

 Though this article is 5 years old, it shows that at 2011 costs, each of my children will save the state at least just short of 50k.

In essence: the tax I would have paid if working for 18 years is equivalent to that saved by not using state education for just one of my children.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Bonfire Night

Looking for some last minute Bonfire Night activities and recipes?

One of our majority readers from the U.S. and confused?

Look no further...!


Bonfire Night Colouring and info

Ideas for Bonfire Night schooling activities

Main Meals

Sloshed Steak Stew

Barbecue Feast Pizza

Heritage Sausage Casserole

Cakes and Sweet Things

Bonfire Night Chocolate Cake with Treacle Cream

Root Beer Ginger Cake


Gingerbread Cookie Dough Ice Cream

Jam Roly Poly

Victoriana Squash Pie

Heritage Sausage Casserole

This is one of the most comforting casseroles ever for me; a real autumn/winter warmer.  It brings back memories of cold evenings after school, overheating by the fire and staring at the TV with a plateful of this on my lap.  Back then, it was a simpler casserole: flour, stock, sausage and onion.  But that is all you need; the basic recipe to which you can add your own interpretation.  I still keep it simple; at this time of year we have pumpkin hanging around, or chunks of swede work well too; both make the meal feel really seasonal.  I sometimes think I have more sausages in stock than I do; in these cases, I cut the sausages into chunks and augment the vegetable component.  I also like to add a little herby warmth and digestion aid with a bay leaf and some thyme from the garden.  I like to serve it like I was always given it in childhood i.e. with chopped white cabbage and mashed potatoes, but it also goes very nicely in bowls with some bread to mop it up with.

How we make our Heritage Sausage Casserole: