Wednesday, October 15, 2014

In the perhaps ludicrous hope that my life consists of more than feeding the little people, changing nappies and dealing with offal (more on that anon), I've reopened my Etsy shop.

And to celebrate, I'm having a sale! Woohoo!!!

Just purchase 2 kits from my online shop between now and next wednesday and you get a 3rd kit for free. Whoopeee!!

Etsy cannot deal with such complicated sales, so make sure you buy 2 kits and leave me a note on the purchase to say which kit you would like as your free kit. The cheapest kit goes free so make sure that is the one you ask for in your comment.

This offer ends next Wednesday 22 October at midnight and cannot be used in conjunction with any other coupons.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Invasion of the little people...

Yes, another extremely small person has arrived into our lives. This makes the wee man seem like Gulliver in Lilliput by comparison. 

It has only taken me a month to write this post and I am typing from under a sleeping babe right now so I'll be brief. Things will be quiet around here for a while as we all welcome the new lady into the household. It's been a veritable population explosion here this year between the sheep (from 4 to 7), the goats (1 to 3) and humans (3 to 4). The cats are maintaining their numbers thankfully. Oh, and we have a neighbour's horse who has come to stay for a while. So there are plenty of creatures to look after and not much brain-power left in the adults. Dealing with the poo, be it nappies or piles of sheep and horse dung is about as far as our mental capacities can take us at the moment.

In other news, for any of you about Longford on Culture Night, my sister and father and myself along with three others will be showing some work as part of the Engage Longford group show. I'll attempt to document it here after friday. In the meantime, back to dealing with poo.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Adventures in (extremely easy) liquid soap-making

I have become a convert to liquid soap. It has its pluses - the small person enjoys squirting it out (and anything that encourages hand-washing round here is a plus); it's handy to use when your hands are very dirty - say, covered in sheep poo just for example; and thirdly, I'm hoping it will be resistant to my mother's soap destroying tendencies - as someone who always washes the bar of soap after using it, she somehow manages to turn our soap to a bowl of goopy liquid within but a few hand washes. 

So, liquid soap is the new flavour of the month round here. But jaypers* **, the stuff is expensive. 
 A quick intermediate-length internet search later and a little tweaking, and I have an easy recipe for it that works. And is really cheap, hooray!

This recipe is for making liquid soap from bar soap, but it seems that not all soaps are made equal. I used olive oil soap - cheaply available from health food shops and known as Castile soap in the States. I believe a good quality handmade soap would be good for this recipe too. And smell even nicer. 

Without further ado:

How to make liquid soap from olive oil soap.

You need:
50g olive oil soap, grated
600ml water
Some essential oils if you want a smell

 Bring the water to the boil, turn off the heat, throw in your soap and whisk or stir to melt.

 Leave for 12-24 hours.

 That's it! Yes, it is THAT easy.

This recipe makes about 2 bottles worth of soap.

I added some essential oils to half of it and popped it in an empty soap dispenser. I had to use a whisk to get the oils mixed in as it was pretty set by then, so I wonder in the future about leaving the soap to cool for a while - just until it is cool enough to pour in a bottle, and then adding the essential oils and pouring it in your bottle - it would be much easier to pour in as a liquid than a soapy gel.

Perhaps my life has been reduced to a shell of its previous excitement pre having kids, but I found this extremely satisfying. I think that is because nice liquid soap (of which I have bought 2 bottles in my entire life) is 5 or 6 euros + a bottle, and this one cost me about 50c for 2 bottles worth. 

A note on essential oils:
I added 12 drops of lavender oil, 2 drops rosewood and 1of neroli to half of this quantity of soap but could easily have doubled that as it is quite mild smelling. But use your own nose for that one.

A note on quantity:
The ratio is 1:12 soap to water, so it is easily scaled up to make lots. I just wanted to make a couple of bottles worth and stored the excess in an old jam jar.

* Project stop-cursing-in-front-of-the-child is working.
** I was going to try and explain what jaypers is for those not familiar with Irish habits of mild cursing. But I have no idea what jaypers is really. Feel free to enlighten us all if you know!

Saturday, June 28, 2014


Small hands have been picking flowers. Every flower available is carefully picked clean of its stem and placed in a bucket for arranging later in a jar. The odd stem remains on which is handy for the flower arrangements.

Larger hands have been making gnome finger puppets and drinking rose tea - one of my favourite things about June is picking a big handful of petals and making rose tea...mmmm...

Life as a parent is this weird split reality where I have plenty of time on my hands while I am with my son, and while I am away from him I am working non-stop to try and get as much done as possible. So while I feel so busy and overwhelmed with all the stuff I am trying to get done while working, there are these really quiet, slow and often boring times where it takes about half an hour to get the post because Every Single Daisy on the driveway needs to be decapitated picked. I still don't quite know how to handle this split, but at the moment I am enjoying the slower times with the wee man. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Doubling the flock

Our stock has doubled in number from 5 to 10. (I'm including the sheep and goats together there.) It has been a big learning experience and we have a better picture now of what work is involved in lambing and kidding, which is quite a lot! 

We have tried to learn from this year for subsequent years. In the future it would be great to have better ways of corralling the sheep. We have one very nervous sheep and it would be great to have a run to catch them in so that they can be housed easily without too much handling or stress. We will use pallets to make separate lambing pens in the barn.

The goat on the other hand thinks she is a human, and is totally easy to handle. I'm looking forward to increasing the goat herd and in the future having goats to send to Bothar

For now, we have plenty of new animals and are glad to be out the other side of lambing. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Bag

Warning: Extremely nerdy and overenthusiastic post ahead.  About a bag. Yes, thats the kind of excitement my life is filled with folks.

Having some issues with my back has always meant being very choosey about bags. I have made several purpose-designed bags before to take the cushions I carry about with me and always made them very light and as small as I could - easy to carry.

Enter being a parent, and it has become apparent that NO bag is big enough for all the crap you need to carry around to feed/clean/entertain the small person in your life, never mind your own stuff.

In the early days of parentdom we carried roughly 47 bags around with us all the time, including my cushion bag and a massive changing bag, with enough equipment to change a whole daycare centre worth of babies' bums.

(We have since learned the error of our ways and edited the changing bag down to The Small Changing Bag (essentially a small pouch) and The Auxiliary Changing Bag -  The Small Bag being enough for a couple of changes and the other one just living in the car for restocking.)

But I have been dreaming of a one-bag solution. A bag that fits The Small Changing Bag inside it, along with my cushions, a bag of food, hats, suncream, jumpers, etc, etc. A bag so adaptable it could be carried in one hand, or on one shoulder, or on my back. A tall order for a bag.

I have been dreaming of The Bag. Obsessing about The Bag. Researching The Bag. 

It turns out many other people have made their own versions of The Bag. It turns out when I start researching convertible strap bags that many of these people are also parents who carry too many bags/children. I am not alone.

So welcome to The Bag. And thank you to all those people on the Internets who have made their own Bag and blogged about it, because I got a lot of inspiration from you. Mistakes were made, as were prototypes, and it may be further refined, but without further ado, I give you...
(insert drum roll)...

The Bag.

"Is it a messenger bag?" I hear you cry.

"Aha, a messenger bag with handles to make it a tote then?"

"And a backpack? What magic have you worked?"

"With a recessed zip on the top so nothing need ever fall out?"

"AND inside and outside pockets?"

Yes, all of these things my friends, and more...

Behold, the boxed sides and upper and lower tabs with rings to affix the strap onto. (The strap adjusts length to be a short messenger-style strap or a longer one that slides through a tab to become two shoulder straps.)

The top can be flipped over when the bag is less full to create a less enormous bag. Which brings me to size - this bag could contain a small goat-kid. (Okay I haven't checked but I'm pretty sure.) It will certainly carry all I need.

Yes, you may have noticed that I am ridiculously happy with The Bag. I have been boring those around me with details of all the design solutions I have fixed with The Bag. I have been banned from talking about The Bag. I have lain awake in bed at night thinking of how to sew certain elements in The Bag.

And finally, The Bag is here. All hail The Bag.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Lambs and rain

 How cute is this boy? Look at that wool!!! Look at those markings! He was born outside on Sunday morning and got a wee bit cold in the rain and wouldn't feed. After getting a few bottle feeds and lots of care from The Shepherd (AKA The Fabulous K), he recovered well and began to feed from his mammy. He's a very wee fella - excuse the dark shot below for scale.
It's a strange thing to be caring intensely for this little animal in the hopes he makes it - only so you can kill him when he gets big enough and eat him! Perhaps it is best it wasn't me that bottle-fed him! I was really hoping he was a girl as that wool is just gorgeous. We will keep him over a year so that we can at least shear him once.

 The rain has been raining and the wind has been blowing and the tulips have all fallen over with the weight of all those drops.
 The Lady's Mantle is filling with raindrops.

And empty eggshells are falling out of the trees.

We are very much enjoying Spring!