Archive for January, 2011

January 25, 2011

Make Narrow Straps with Bias Binding Foot and eat biscuits

I’ve posted before about adding bias strips to the edge of fabric in one easy move but then I was needing some thin bits of fabric to use in a drawstring bag and I thought I’d show you how to do that with your bias binding foot.

You need a strip of fabric 1″ wide. If you cut it on the straight grain it will go a bit twisty but it will be a bit more rigid. If you cut it on the cross grain (bias) then you will need to press it to get it straight and it might stretch a bit once you’ve sewn it. My strip is cut on the straight grain and isn’t too twisty yet.

Cut your strip to a point at one end to help you get the thing into the foot. Pull it trough a good way so that you have fabric under the needle to start with. Guide the strip into the foot as you sew, keeping it equally spread between top and bottom curvy bits and this is what you get

Raw edged strip in, folded in and stitched down strip out = magic.

Here’s another view

Then, eat biscuits. J is our biscuit maker and these are from a recipe by Hugh F-W that was in the paper this weekend. We didn’t have enough butter so he made half the quantity and didn’t bother separating yolks so just put a whole egg in and the whole amount of vanilla. This may explain the stickiness of the dough and the curvaceous finished biscuit! The jam was a pretty sharp homemade mirabelle jam that has been in the fridge for months.

Jammed and ready for the oven

On the plate

He definitely needs to make more of these. Yum.

January 23, 2011


In a discussion about autonomous learning someone mentioned change being beneficial, especially in terms of creativity. People whose children go to school can often wonder what we home edders DO all day sitting indoors looking at the walls… Little do they know that we go here, there and everywhere most weeks and often see more things than a normal person should see in the space of a day.

Without planning it, we made a change yesterday which has been very fruitful. We went to PoundLand! We made several purchases including cappuccino wafer curls, After Eights, silicone cake tin liners, Barbie-type doll clothing and the changemakers: new paintbrushes.

Within an hour of getting home this had happened

And by this lunchtime the fridge looked like this

I think it’s been quite a while since the last painting bender and I can see that there has been some evolution in ideas and execution. Miss Froo isn’t covering the page thickly with randomly mixed colours and Miss Amoo is painting as if she were drawing and also persisting to get the sky to touch the ground.

No practice required, just a time of not doing it. I wish I could get better at all sorts of things by not doing them!

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January 22, 2011

Many Moons

Such a peaceful moon rising in a week of social whirl.

Monday was Mr G’s birthday and, as always, a busy business day. Miss Amoo was desperate to see her best friend so we met her and her sister and her mum from school at 3pm. All four girls played so happily together with no crossness which was great compared to how they fight and slam bedroom doors when we hang out at theirs! That left L and I to drink tea and talk and talk.

Mr G is fatalistically negative about his birthday and spends a few days beforehand preparing to have the worst day possible. The girls are oblivious to this though and count down the days on their calendars and write so many cards that they will discard as too this or too that or not quite right. In the end, despite his best intentions, he did enjoy his first ever pair of slippers and Churchill:The Hollywood Years. Curry and cake for dinner finished the day well and elicited a confession that the day had not in fact been one of the worst birthdays ever despite returning him mum’s call and finding that his dad was unaware that it was his only son’s birthday.

So Tuesday found us up and on the street at 10am for posh tea from posh cups in town with two friends I haven’t seen for ages and one delightful little one year old who loved our girls to death with “baby dribble” and hugs. Then we caught up with another friend I have missed spending time with, for lunch at hers.

When I first met these four women we were all in a place of change and newness and now, seven years on, we are all still growing and changing and facing new challenges whilst enjoying many pleasures.

As a child I wasn’t keen on spending time with many girls for reasons I wasn’t sure of at the time but now recognise as some kind of fear and awe. As I grew older but didn’t grow very fast in any direction or wear the right clothes, they didn’t ‘get’ me and I didn’t ‘get’ them either. It was only when I had children that I began to feel some connection between myself and other women even though I still didn’t look like them or do the things they did!

Nowadays, I value the time I spend with my women friends and realise that I can probably count my good friends on the fingers of more than one hand, unlike my childhood or teen self. Years ago, I would have been anxious about sitting at a pub table of women but now I really look forward to that and I’m growing into liking what I once feared. Perhaps we have all grown up.

January 16, 2011

Chicken or Egg?

Miss Amoo will be eight next month and has only recently started to want to read books and Dr Who magazines or First News. However, she has been writing since she was about four and we have both paper and wall evidence of this! I’ve been ignoring the wildly grand reading skills of her schooly friends and waiting patiently, sitting on my hands. The boys were reading all sorts by her age but they were bumped into learning to read fast by being at school. My mum is a bit perplexed by this but now just about gets why I am not being ‘pro-active’ and drilling Miss Amoo til she cries or throwing her toys out or calling her garbage. (See Tiger Mom.)

Miss Froo has become excited about writing this week and after only one morning of thinking that she would like to write her name, trying it out and getting some feedback from us, has now written her name at least a dozen times and then gone and found books and bits of paper to copy the letters on them onto more bits of paper. Tonight she has demanded that Mr G write all our names down so that she can copy the letters too. Paper and pens are strewn around our house so it is not as if she has to seek out the tools to write or fight for her right to write!

I am hoping that this developmental leap is the companion of some intolerant and shouty behaviour which may be resolved at some point as her writing urge is satisfied. How busy must the inside of her head be right now? Today, after several snatched conversations with El Famosisimo, Miss Froo and J, I truly appreciated that I have no idea what is in their heads at all: any of them! Every one of the five people I live with has a mind which I cannot penetrate and understand to a great extent. Aargh! What lack of control! I knew this already but today it freed me a little bit from the anxiety that I can’t help them ‘fix’ things.

Back to the writing before reading thing; is it common that children want to write without showing much interest in reading? I’m not talking about great literary works, more about the labelling of stuff, notices and messages demands Miss Amoo has been producing for years. Maybe not all children do this but there must be some because my kids are not odd or special, at least I don’t think so.

I googled and found:

This from the DfE standards site which is a puzzle or a recipe

Main purpose: To teach children one grapheme for each of the 44 phonemes in order to read and spell simple regular words.

Outcome: Children link sounds to letters naming and sounding the letters of the alphabet. They recognise letter shapes and say a sound for each. They hear and say sounds in the order in which they occur in the word, and read simple words by sounding out and blending the phonemes all through the word from left to right. They recognise common digraphs and read some high frequency words.

Typical duration: Up to 12 weeks.

This from WikiAnswers which is obviously written by someone who thinks that we only have in our heads what has been put in there by someone else

You can incorporate more words into your writing if you have a better vocabulary.

Then this abstract which makes more sense to me

The phrase “reading and writing” reflects the implicit assumption that reading comes first and that writing must follow. First graders can “write” all the words they can say, albeit in their own manner and using invented spelling. Encouraging this kind of writing gives children control over letters and texts, giving them an understanding that they need ultimately for reading. The word learning itself tends to promote reading over writing because we often assume learning refers to input, not output, that it’s a matter of putting other people’s ideas inside us. Writing is more caught up with meaning making, however, and encourages students to break out of their characteristically passive stance in school and in learning. “Reading tends to imply ‘Sit still and pay attention’, whereas writing tends to imply ‘Get in there and do something.’” It’s not the case that putting writing first–output before input–will encourage rampant individualism. Reading and writing are joined, in fact, at the hip. Students will put more care into reading when they have had more of a chance to write.

How many children are tormented by reading and made to feel that the world is alien to them because they can’t read at age 5? How many children aren’t allowed to have access to pens in case they draw on the sofa so never discover that writing might be their thing right now?

Over the years I’ve seen many adults learn new literacy and numeracy skills at ages well beyond the point where most parents have long since given up on them or died thinking their adult child was a bit dim. Their moment comes, something happens and it all comes together, often in a rush of excitement. That is what has lead me to believe that it is not worth panicking about and hanging on to see what happens may show you something that you didn’t expect. I do feel bad for all those people who may have had a desire like Miss Froo’s but had it stamped on at some point or their moment came and no-one nurtured it.