Tuesday, 29 October 2013

The Creative Home and Garden Hop #15

Welcome to the 15th Creative Home and Garden hop. It's the perfect fit for all of your wonderful posts on creative home-making and gardening, whether you live in the suburbs, the city, or out on the range. Sorry I am so late in getting the hop going this week; we are staying at my parents' longer than expected and I haven't been able to devote the time to blogging.

I have written some FAQs for the hop so you know what to link up and how; you can read them here. Please do have a look at these guidelines, especially if you are new to blog-hopping in general or this hop in particular. If you have any other questions, feel free to ask them in the comments section below. 

Week 14's featured post here at Mumtopia is In Sickness and in Health by Tammy Taylor. I loved this encouraging post about getting through the hard times together.

Don't worry if you didn't get picked this time. Each host will share her own features each week. This means you have an even better chance of being picked! Be sure to visit all of our hosts to see if your post was featured! The Creative Home and Garden Hop hosts are: Kathy from Creative Home Expressions, Mary from Back to the Basics and Mary’s Kitchen, Alison (that's me) from Mumtopia,  and Lisa Lynn from Little Homestead on Hill. We'd love it if you would like to follow us!

Saturday, 19 October 2013

The Creative Home and Garden Hop #14

Welcome to the 14th Creative Home and Garden hop. It's the perfect fit for all of your wonderful posts on creative home-making and gardening, whether you live in the suburbs, the city, or out on the range. 

I have written some FAQs for the hop so you know what to link up and how; you can read them here. Please do have a look at these guidelines, especially if you are new to blog-hopping in general or this hop in particular. If you have any other questions, feel free to ask them in the comments section below. 

Week Thirteen's featured posts here at Mumtopia are:  

DIY Halloween Memory Tree at Second Chance to Dream

and Gentle Beauty at Paper Seedlings

Friday, 18 October 2013

No Hurry Curry

One of the things that has really freed me up as a cook has been the confidence to adapt recipes, rather than following them to the letter. Often I adapt them because I don't have exactly the right ingredients, or because I want to make the meal cost less.

Another liberating strategy is an acceptance of the Evacuees' likes and dislikes. After eight years, I know that Prima regards chicken korma as the only curry there is. It is absolutely soul-destroying to spend time and effort in the kitchen, creating an authentic curry from scratch, only to have both children turn their noses up at it (even if there is no pudding as a consequence). On the other hand, the King and I do not want to eat the same old child-friendly dishes week in, week out. Furthermore, we want to all be sitting round the table, eating together at the same time.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Attacked: I refuse to sink

Today's a day when I'm especially glad to be part of bloggerland. I really need supportive, like-minded people around me at the moment. Sometimes it's easier to be open about things with people who aren't involved or affected.

I was indecently assaulted yesterday, walking home from a yoga class, 3.45pm, in daylight, on a main road.

I'm determined not to let this experience beat me, although it has left me shaken and angry. Mumtopia is supposed to be a blog about positive things, I know. I'm writing about it because the police have been very supportive and have taken me seriously, and I absolutely know that, just a generation ago, I wouldn't have been listened to. I'm grateful that I had the opportunity to swear and shout at my attacker, and that it was not a prolonged or more serious assault. It was also a chance to show my children that I can be strong, and the North Yorkshire police are there to help us.

I had to give my apologies for a meeting at school yesterday evening so I could give a witness statement (I was open about what had happened - I refuse to be ashamed); today I received a bouquet of flowers from the school. And I am lucky enough to have a family who love me and friends who care.

I suspect the man who groped me doesn't.


Multivitamin Giveaway (US and Canada only)

We are giving away one bottle of Dr. Mercola's Whole food Multivitamin Plus Vital Minerals (240 tablets) to one lucky winner! This prize is available for shipping within the US and Canada and will be awarded to one winner, chosen at random. Please be sure to follow through by liking the facebook pages (use your personal facebook page!) or leaving comments on any, or all, of the giveaway hosts' blogs for your chance to win. My fellow hosts are:

Ann @ Summers Acres

Nancy @ Prudent Living On The Home Front

Marissa @ Abundance Farms

and Lisa @ The Self Sufficient HomeAcre & Little Homestead on the Hill!

Enter the giveaway by clicking on this Rafflecopter link

Saturday, 12 October 2013

The Answer is in your Slow Cooker

Photo from The Slow Cooker Cookbook
courtesy of Spring Hill 
The Evacuees come home from school, starving as usual, shedding backs, coats and shoes with every step. We're all frazzled and have been drizzled on most of the way home. I need to fire up Old Man Desk Top so they can watch Horrible Histories on bbc i-player. At the same time, Prima lists all the girls she is and isn't friends with, and Secundus has an important letter in his book bag that I must read immediately.

Toast and a drink arrive (as if by magic) from the kitchen, and the children look a little less wild-eyed. I have another cup of coffee, realise the washing up's not been done, and notice that there's just over an hour until dinner should be ready. Cooking is the last thing I feel like doing. I'm tempted to open a tin of beans.

If the above scenario is a familiar one in your homestead, you too will benefit from Audrey Deane's collection of time-saving and delicious recipes: The Slow Cooker Cookbook. Many people have vague memories of their mothers throwing raw meat and vegetables into a slow cooker before heading off to work; chicken casserole was the only thing my mum used hers. But it doesn't have to be all about stews and casseroles.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Lego Ninjago Garmatron Giveaway (ended)

This year I’m planning to get all my Christmas shopping/ making done in October, to keep festive stress and expenditure to a minimum. If there’s a Lego fan you need to buy presents for, this giveaway will be right up your street.

Argos, which has a great range of construction toys, including a super Lego Ninjago selection here, is offering Mumtopia readers the chance to win a LEGO® Ninjago Garmatron Playset, worth £29.99. 

As well as the Garmatron, a tracked-tire LEGO machine with a hidden missile straight from the underworld, the playset includes Lord Garmadon's most fearsome soldier, General Kozu, who has stolen the elemental ice blade; Zane, who is trying to retrieve it on the Ice Spider without getting locked up in the Garmatron’s prison; and a swordsman mini figure to help fight the battle between good and evil. 

The Garmatron playset would make a fabulous Christmas present for 8-14 year-olds. Or keep it safe in your present drawer for an upcoming birthday.

To enter the competition, click on the rafflecopter link.

 *Terms and conditions. *
By participating in this prize draw you are deemed to accept these terms and conditions.
Prize draw open to customers and non-customers aged 18 or over who are UK residents. Draw is not open to employees of Argos, their families or anyone associated with this draw. Proof of eligibility must be provided on request.
The prize is a LEGO® Ninjago Garmatron Playset - 70504, includes postage to winner’s UK address. Promotion runs from Friday 11th October 2013 and all entries must be received by 11.59pm on  Thursday 31st October 2013 latest.
Winners will be drawn at random at the end of the promotion.
The prize is not transferable and there is no cash alternative. The promoter’s decision is final in all matters and no correspondence will be entered into. The promoter reserves the right (a) to add to or waive any rules on reasonable notice (b) cancel or postpone the promotion at any stage in the event of circumstances beyond its reasonable control; or (c) in its reasonable discretion to substitute a prize of equal or greater value.
If a prize remains unclaimed after reasonable efforts have been made to contact the winner the promoter will be entitled to dispose of the prize as it sees fit without any liability to the winner for having done so.
The promoter reserves the right to alter, amend or foreclose the promotion without prior notice.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Small Good Things We All Can Do #3

Changing the world may start at home but sometimes I'm a bit reluctant to take that first step on the Paying It Forward Path. It's so easy to tell ourselves we haven't got enough money to shop ethically, or not enough time, but it's just a matter of priorities. Once again it's time to put my money where my mouth is and do some good deeds for Mother Earth and my Fellow "Man". 

Give Blood
Most adults in the UK can give blood. Only 4% do. It's not difficult or painful - I don't really like needles, but it's easy to look away - and the feel-good factor is so high! Being able to make a difference between life and death is not an everyday activity for most of us, but when we give blood, we may well be giving someone a second chance at life. 

National Blood Service - Do Something Amazing - Give Blood

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Grand Day Out #1: Magna

Sheffield, home of British Steel and birthplace of Sean Bean, is an hour's drive south from our homestead, and houses Magna Science Adventure Centre. Magna is not just any old museum. It is set in a former steel works near Rotherham, and is absolutely colossal. 

What I love about Magna is the way it echoes with the rich industrial heritage of the UK steel-making industry which once used the natural resources of earth, fire, water and air – celebrated at Magna today - to manufacture steel products which were shipped around the world. The ‘Steel, Peech and Tozer’ Works produced 18 million tonnes of steel a year and employed 10,000 people in its heyday. Closed since 1993, the original building has been preserved as a tribute to its hard-working past, and I found it as breath-taking as a cathedral. 

The kids loved the hands-on science areas, each one representing one of the elements. There was no-one telling you not to touch or to be quiet - experimentation is positively encouraged. Our favourites were Water with its artificial rainstorm, and Earth, where we got to try operating a JCB, but the tornado of fire in the Fire pavilion was pretty impressive too. 

The mixture of hi-tec display and old-school industry, plus indoor and outdoor hands-on fun and learning makes Magna a brilliant place to visit, however old you are. Secundus, who had been there once before on a school trip, was absolutely in his element, and I know my dad (Keith the Teeth) a retired engineer would love it too. The King and I are even considering attending their Christmas party - it is a hell of a venue.

Before our visit (which occurred because Prima's Brownie Pack Holiday was cancelled), I spent over half-an-hour searching for money-off vouchers online to reduce the cost. I found  printable vouchers at MoneySupermarket.com and WhatToDoWithTheKids.co.uk, which enabled a child to get in free with each adult paying full price. This meant our day cost around £25 including diesel and a (shared) coffee, which, considering the priceless smiles on all our faces, was fabulous value. 

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

31 Days of Nothing: October

I hereby declare that I am undertaking the 31 Days of Nothing challenge, which means there will be no spending on:

* Eating at restaurants.  Eating out is expensive. You can make delicious wholesome meals at home in minutes for the entire family for less than the cost of one person eating out. Check out the Easy Crockpot Recipes and Menus e-book for ideas.

* Takeaways. We never get take-out, not since the children were born, but I have sometimes been tempted. I make sure we've always got basics in the store cupboard so that, however tired we are, or pushed for time, we can still have something like eggs or beans on toast.

Snug and Smug: Menstruation for Enlightened Meanies #2

Most aspects of my life are a work in progress, with lessons to be learned, and crafting is no exception. I thought I'd reached a hippie/ self-sufficient pinnacle when I began to make my own menstrual pads, but I soon found that there was room for improvement. 
My days since June have mainly been taken up with converting our loft into a bedroom and ensuite, so I haven't had an awful lot of time at the sewing machine, but picking up this project was one of the first things I did once I had rescued all my sewing stuff from storage. 
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