Saturday, 27 March 2010

Wind the bobbin up, clap, clap, clap

My track record with sewing is poor to say the least. My first proper experiences of using a needle and thread came in secondary school during "Textiles", the modern name for Needlework. In my brief career, I managed to break two school sewing machines and a fair few needles. If my teacher remembers me, which I doubt, I would imagine her memories are not positive ones.

I hated sewing at school and struggled for hours at home with a lot of help from my mother to make my projects look vaguely acceptable. This makes it more strange that I should have suddenly had a desire to start sew again. I think it began with the baby leg warmers. It felt great to have made something cheaply that did the job well. I just wanted a bigger project.

My pram has been sitting forlornly by the front door for months now as I always wear Alice in the mei tai when we go out. I have been struggling to carry the bag full of bits and bobs babies necessitate. I decided I needed a backpack, but didn't like any I saw in the shops. Here was the perfect opportunity to try out my new found interest in sewing. My mother has very kindly leant me her sewing machine. It's the same one I swore at under my breath so many times ten years ago, but we seem to have got on much better now. I'm very pleased to have finally produced something I'm proud of. Lots of wonky hems, a few holes from unpicked threads and a very simple design, but I did it!

Thursday, 25 March 2010


Look what I found this morning!

The tiny plastic pond has worked its magic. The photo is a bit blurry, but those are two frogs who are obviously very keen on each other. I hope they don't mind my voyeurism.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Chemical Clear-out Part 2

I've trawled through the mountainous pile of cosmetics I had stashed away around the bedroom and bathroom and this is the result:

I have really mixed feelings about this.

Firstly, there's the thrifty part of me that hates to waste anything. That's probably what resulted in me keeping bottles with hardly anything left in them in the first place.

Secondly, I feel awful about this all ending up in landfill. My council don't recycle any plastics other than bottles, and even if they did I'd have to wash the contents of these things down the drain releasing the chemicals into the water system.

Thirdly, I'm embarrassed to have spent so much money on cosmetics. I've never really thought of myself as being taken in by advertising, but why else would I have six types of moisturiser? Despite what I thought, I have fallen for the empty promises of clear skin and shiny hair.

Fourthly, and most importantly, I am relieved. I have always felt a bit overwhelmed when thinking about sorting through the mountainous pile of unguents and creams. I'm a hoarder by nature, so the pile kept growing. I'm so glad to have finally shifted the lot and to reassess what I actually need. Fewer nasty chemicals in my cupboard is going to mean a healthier life for our whole family. I only wish I'd done it sooner!

Instant Pond

When we moved in to our house last year I was heavily pregnant and suffering from fainting spells, so we pretty much ignored the garden. As the days are starting to clear and even our north facing garden is starting to feel slightly less damp and dingy, I decided to get to work. The one thing we had managed to do last year was to drain the large, overgrown pond. It's a raised square one and I rather liked the idea of converting it into a vegetable plot. This weekend we started draining the last dregs of water and gunk, lowering some of the edges and generally clearing out a bit. Unfortunately, we discovered some ex-residents who were not impressed at the removal of their habitat. We counted eight frogs in all, who at this time of year may well have been hoping to spawn. I feel awful about evicting them, but I really don't want a large pond once Alice starts tottering about. I have tried to salve my conscience with a little compromise.

With Alice strapped to my back, I set my master plan in motion. I found a large plastic tub, half filled it with gravel, rocks and a water-plant and sunk it into a shady area near to where the pond used to be. I surrounded it with a few more large stones and bits of wood for shelter, and hey presto! An instant mini pond.

I still feel guilty about the loss of what to me was an overgrown, smelly eyesore, but to those frogs was obviously a desirable place to bring up tadpoles. Hopefully my mini pond might be a welcome rest spot for them before they seek out new places to live.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Chemical Clear-out

Lately, I've been doing a bit of research into all the lotions and potions we use in the house. It started when I was wiping down Alice's highchair and just couldn't stand the idea of her eating off something sprayed with disinfectant. After a bit of investigation on-line and some experimentation, I've started making my own solution. It's made up of crushed soap nuts, boiled for ten minutes in water, then strained with a few drops of tea tree oil. I pop that all in a spray bottle and away I go. I also use chamomile tea and washable wipes when changing Alice.

So far so good, but that got me thinking about all the stuff I use. The stash of moisturisers, hair products, cleansers and make up that I own is unbelievable and actually quite embarrassing. I can't even pronounce most of the ingredients that make them up. I am not a chemist, but I'm pretty convinced that I don't want to risk using these sorts of cosmetics on Alice, or myself. Having done a bit of research I found a few key things to look out for - parabens, parfum, triclosan and sodium lauryl sulphate for starters. I couldn't believe how many of my products had these potentially toxic chemicals in them. A little more investigation revealed that by-products of the manufacturing process even of products designed for babies include chemicals like formaldehyde.

I have always been a little sceptical of scaremongering stories, but I just don't think it is worth the risk of using these unappealing cocktails of chemicals, especially on my baby. I'm going to be replacing them with home-made or natural alternatives.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Growth Spurt

I can only assume that Alice is going through a growth spurt. If she isn't and this is the new feeding pattern, I may have to rethink my plans on self-weaning!

I have spent the past three days doing little other than sit with baby constantly attached. That might be exaggerating as despite her increased appetite, she is still following her usual pattern of feeding.

Stage 1: I want food. I need it. Give it to me this INSTANT. If I bash my head against any part of her torso, that should help.

Stage 2:
THERE IT IS! It is all I could ever desire!

Stage 3:
Oh this is goooood. Oh I feel amazing.

Stage 4: What was I doing? Oh right yes. Latch back on.

Stages 5 - 12: What was that? I must instantly throw back my head and stare at it.

Stage 13:
Hey, Mummy! Why have you put the boob away?

(Return to Stage 1. Repeat ad nauseum.)

It can get frustrating, but all the nipple biting, breast pinching and chest scratching is worth it when she turns her milk-drunk face to look at me and gives me a huge gummy grin.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Happy nappies

The other day, I treated myself to some new bumGenius nappies. Not only that, but I did the unthinkable and bought them in pink. So far, I've been very good and tried to keep most purchases unisex. Since I gave up work, our belts have had to be tightened a few notches, and we intend to use our cloth nappies for Baby No. 2. Anyway, if we do have a boy, I think that it will be good to challenge gender stereotypes by putting him in a 'zinnia' nappy. That and they're gorgeous!

I'm really pleased with the fit and they are very simple to put on. I've only got two and I'd love a few more. Fingers crossed for Mothering Sunday!

Here's Alice wearing one with her leg warmers.