Apple Sunday

We live in Glemsford – a typical little village in Suffolk, not far from Long Melford and Sudbury, very close to the Essex Border.

We moved here nearly a year ago and it’s a beautiful patch of earth surrounded by green stuff 😉 …

Me and my Husband would have been quite happy living in Victorian times… and if we could then we would like nothing more than having a little farm in the middle of nowhere with a cow and some chickens, growing our own food and living a fairly simple life …
We lived in Ipswich together for 6  1/2 years in a 2 bedroom newbuilt flat. It suited our needs perfectly at the time but it was not really how we wanted to raise our family… Craig works in Glemsford so he had to drive at least 2 hours a day to get to and from work, the kitchen was tiny and although there were parks and plenty of green spaces around us – we longed for a little garden for the kids to play in …
And so when Sameth came along last year and cabin fever set in due to severe lack of breathing space we got very lucky and found an ideal little family Bungalow in Glemsford.

As mentioned before we have been living here for nearly a year and now and it was the best thing we could have done. I can not emphasize enough how much I love living in the country side !!!
Of course, like everything else, it has it’s drawbacks – especially for me since I am too chicken to drive the car even though I am perfectly able to … but nevermind that …
There are so many little things, like being able to hang the washing out, having fresh herbs to cook with whenever I want, being able to let the kids blow off steam in the garden and of course the ability to go out the door and walk over a field to take in the view or scramble through a little wood and just take a break …
We have thoroughly enjoyed ourselves while picking daddy up from work, foraging for blackberries and growing things while getting wet and dirty in the garden…

And now Autumn is well and truly on the way and signs of the change of the seasons can be seen everywhere … It’s my most favourite time of the year – going for walks in the beautiful autumn air, all the colours and smells, hot pots and stews and soups, blankets and cozy jumpers, bonfires, baking and fluffy socks …

A few times now we have driven past a patch of apple trees by a turn off on the way from Glemsford to Sudbury… Several trees absolutely covered and heavy with apples…
Well this morning we woke up with no particular plans for the day and decided to go check out if those apples were any good …

Suited and booted in our sunday bests … not … we set of with a big flexi tub … well what can I say … we like to think big 😉

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Winry absolutely loved it – there were several branches low enough so winry could have a go at picking some …

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My husband is brilliantly ambitious and not easily deterred so he didn’t loose much time and made for the taller hanging fruit …

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We were there for about an hour … maybe a little longer and filled the whole tub … the apples were fairly small and quite tart but had lovely flavour … so much so that Sameth munched about 1 1/2 of them while watching the goings on … It’s a hard life being 13 months old you know 😉

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We set off home again, had some lunch and got the kids down for their nap …

Then my fun began …

Let’s just say – myself, the kitchen and several muslins and teatowels smelled of apple before very long …

I ended up making a whole pot of stewed spiced apples with vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, muskovado sugar and lemon juice – enough for 6 delicious something or others …

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We turned one portion into a German style spiced apple bread and butter pudding to have for dinner…

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Another 5 portions were frozen and can be turned into pie or strudel or crumble whenever we fancy it 🙂
The rest of the apples were turned into apple juice and then simmered and reduced into caramelised thick apple syrup, which was portioned into 6 little cups also to be frozen for later …

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If you have never made this before it’s definitely worth a try and ridiculously simple … just simmer and reduce apple juice and the natural sugars within the juice turn the liquid into a caramel like sauce/syrup … you can drizzle it over ice cream or pancakes or even use it in cocktails…

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(I like to make yorkshire puddings and then serve them with ice cream and this apple caramel sauce to make a fabulous failsafe desert 🙂 )

Once It was all finished it didn’t look like a lot of “product” considering the amount of apples I started with and the effort involved … But dinner was delicious and this really fun day will provide us with 11 more tasty treats basically for free …

And we all had a lovely, fun, autumnal family Sunday … without a penny spent … and that makes me very happy 🙂

Until next time …

Ta da

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Pink and Blue

Pink and Blue

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Ok, I admit I never really wanted a girly girl.
I would have struggled with a little princess since I despise Barbies, I dont really wear make up, I own neither hair straighteners nor curling tongues. I don’t wear heels – not even on my wedding day.
I find tutus to be highly impractical items of clothing for children, and the notion of the vulnerable but beautiful princess having to be rescued by a knight in shining armour makes me cringe ever so slightly.
I get very angry about “bra’s” and “bikinis” for toddlers and baby girls – in fact I have just bought a boy’s rash guard for winry to go swimming in as I could not find a plain and simple girls swimsuit in winry’s size…

However I do confess that I am a little dissappointed that Winry won’t let me put her hair in bunches or allow me to put the odd hair clip in her beautiful blonde head of hair.
And her drawer full of lovely dresses hardly ever gets opened because all she wants to wear are trousers and t-shirts.

Please don’t get me wrong – I utterly and unconditionally love my little tomboy.
I have every confidence that she will grow into a very strong independent person – she already speaks her mind very decidedly and most certainly knows what she wants…
It makes me happy that when she is allowed to choose a kinder egg at the checkout – she always goes for the boys rather than the girls version.

The thing is – I have a Daughter and a Son, and I do worry about her a whole lot more than I do him…

Feminists have a bad reputation these days and that concerns me as a mother…

I feel very comfortable in my role as a housewife and mother, It is fulfilling and important work – and it is work – make no mistake there …
My Husband works and provides for his Family and this is most certainly a good solution for all involved in this particular family…

But apart from Breastfeeding there is nothing my husband could not have done at least as well if not better than I did. I truly believe that. And the decision for me to take maternity leave instead of him taking paternity leave was simply based on the fact that his salary far outweighed mine at the time.

But alarmingly – even though we live in such an advanced society in a developed country such as the United Kingdom, I still feel as though my Son will have more opportunities, more freedom of choice and a generally safer life, in social terms, than my Daughter. I fear that his voice and opinions will carry more weight and that his feelings and worries might be regarded as weaknesses.
I strongly believe that my daughter should feel able to become an Engineer or mechanic or CEO if she so chooses and get paid the same as her male counterparts.
I would like my son to feel able to become a midwive or nursery school teacher or househusband without worrying if people might think him a peadophile or a wet blanket.

I would like my son to respect women wholly and not to think of a mini skirt and crop top as justification for disrespect or an open invitation and waiver of consent… I want him to feel able to cry without feeling weak.
I would like my daughter to be feel able to have nothing more than soap, toothpaste and deaodorant in her bathroom cabinet, to be able to be interested in science and politics without being called nerd,
or maybe become an athlete without concerns about appearing too butch…

I think you get my point …

So … I get ever so slightly annoyed at gender specific toys such as blue toolboxes and pink make up bags,
and I try to encourage Winrys interest in sports and books and superheroes and digging in dirt just as much as Sameths very obvious interest in baby dolls and toy kitchens.

It outrages me that womens nudity is smeared all over the media in a sexualised way to sell products as part of the “sex sells” ideology but every week I read stories about breastfeeding mothers being asked to cover up or leave public places due to other people being uncomfortable with it.

I am very aware of men in Car advertisements and Women promoting anti-ageing creams.
I do worry very much about the steady stream of photoshopped images of women in the media that both my children will be exposed to during their childhood and young adulthood and what it might do to alter their body image, perception of themselves and attitude towards the sexes …

I am very careful not to let my children overhear remarks like “Urgh I feel so fat” or “does my stomach look fat in this?”… When Winry asks me why she is not allowed anymore sweets my answer will be “because too many sweets are not good for you and will hurt your teeth”.

Incidentally – when she got to choose underwear and picked a pack of boys underpants with funny faces on them I didn’t bat an eyelid.
When Sameth puts a pink necklace over his head or plays with her pink toy hoover it does not concern me in the slightest, and I have no quarrels about putting him in a pink sleeping bag either – these things aren’t cheap after all …
We call their genitalia by their actual names and try to be honest, factual and open with them as much as we can.

I realise I am going on a bit here …
But since having children I have realised more so than ever before that it is still going to be a long time before men and women are truly equals and treated as such.
It is a complex issue with room for many discussions and varying points of views …

But the one thing I as a mother can do to help is to raise my Son and my Daughter as equals, teaching them the same set of values, applying the same set of rules and affording them the same opportunities.

So I try not to show my slight disappointment when winry refuses to let me put bunches in her hair and will in a few years time let sam play dress up with dresses and jewellry if he so chooses…
I make sure that I communicate with them openly and honestly and make sure they understand that they can both come and talk to me about ANYTHING without shame, embarassment or fear of judgement.

“Why do people say ‘grow some balls?’ Balls are weak and sensitive. If you want to be tough, grow a vagina. Those things can take a pounding.” ~ Betty White

Until next time …

Ta da xx

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Watching them play in the Garden …

Some days as a parent are so so tough – tougher than you had ever imagined possible …
but just now I am stood in the kitchen watching my two fed, clothed, healthy and happy children run around after a ball in the late summer sunshine and nothing makes me happier!!!

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I often feel like this when I watch them play in the garden …

Until we moved to this house I have always lived in flats and never had a garden although we sometimes had access to a communal garden – but it was never “ours”.
A Garden offers such a great space for children to learn and play. They can run around and be noisy, they can grow things and harvest fruits, vegetables and herbs. They can watch birds and insects and see the seasons change right in front of them…

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Most people’s fondest childhood memories are of some kind of outdoor play… and deservedly so! Boxes, sticks, mudd… anything and everything can be turned into anything and everything … no limits to a childs imagination and all of that in the fresh air – what could be better?
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My two have the priviledge of having so much “normality”… So many parents would give their right hand for their children to be able to have this …
Our two little monkeys are offered 3 healthy meals as well as snacks each day – even though much to my frustration they don’t always eat them…
Their clothes are clean and comfortable and kept in good condition – and I am in no way ashamed of telling you that about half of them are either hand me downs or second hand –
you’d never know if I didn’t tell you …
They are vaccinated and have regular check ups and if ever they need healthcare or medicine they have easy access to it…
They have appropriate toys and books and access to free education.
They both have their own large rooms where they are safe with plenty of space to play or retreat.
We have heating and light and hot running water.
They have a mother and father who are far from perfect but love them more than words can express. We’d sooner starve or go naked than see them miss out on anything.
We make mistakes but are never too proud to say sorry. We can’t give them everything they want (in fact even if we could we wouldn’t… ) but will always find a way to give them what they need.
Thinking about how little they have to worry about makes me feel utterly grateful – that is what childhood should be like!
Carefree days spent playing and singing and digging and reading and running and cuddeling …

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I will never forget Christmas 2001.My mother had recently become unemployed and me and we stayed at my brothers flat in candlelight under blankets because we had not been able to pay the bills for electricity or heating in time…
There was no tree or festive meal – let alone presents … I was 13 … That was probably our lowest point …
I never had to go hungry but financial struggles and worrying about money was as much a part of my childhood as doing as many chores as I could to relieve some of my single mums pressures, since she often worked double shifts 6 days a week to make ends meet …
I didn’t have an unhappy childhood as such, we learned to deal with things and adapted – but I had to grow up quick and would have given anything to spend my childhood the way my children do now …
I do not regret or resent anything when I stand here watching them happily play the day away, I just hope I can keep them from growing up too quickly and let them be carefree for as long as possible …

I thank my wonderful Husband for eveything he does for us and for taking every hurdle with my hand firmly in his …
In the end I am very blessed with the set of cards I was dealt in my life – of this I am certain as I stand here … watching them play in the garden …

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Until next time …

ta da