January Blues (and Reds)

Well Christmas was lovely, and now we are back to school, back to work, back to dealing with Chateau d’Omnishambles and all her leaks and mould and general disaster areas.

January has been an odd month – swinging wildly from huge uplifting moments of happiness to irritable grumpy rage.

Yes, thanks for asking I WILL tell you all about it!

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Communicating with birth families

I thought I would write a blog post on this as it’s quite a big subject and we have had some interesting experiences recently.

So, in the UK, in most adoption cases, direct (in-person) contact with birth parents is usually not allowed once adoption is approved by a judge as a course of action. (Unlike in the US where they have open adoptions – this is usually down to the fact that in the US a lot of women give up their children for adoption at birth voluntarily whereas in the UK most children have been removed from their parents by the state due to neglect or abuse – so the safety and trauma of maintaining contact has to be managed in the best interests of the child).

When a child is first removed from a parent’s care, they continue to have visitation and direct contact visits, supervised via social services in a neutral location until a placement order is made (meaning that child will be put up for adoption). Once this decision has been made by a judge to be in the best interest of the child, a final contact visit with birth parents will be arranged, and the parent (and child if they are old enough) will be told this is the last time they can see each other in person.

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2023 Book Challenge

This year I have set myself the same goal as last year – to read 25 books!

Got a good xmas haul this year so should keep me going for at least a few months!

I was feeling a little underwhelmed by my goal as 25 books doesn’t seem like a lot (I used to be able to read up to 40 books a year before I had kids!) – however my daughter has pointed out that if I include all of the story books I read to my youngest daughter every night at bedtime I am probably reading around 1000 books a year, so that certainly made me feel better!

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Creamy Tomato Pasta sauce

Here’s another recipe for you!

Cost (based on Aldi prices):

  • 2 x red onions – £0.56
  • 4 x red peppers – £1.72
  • 2 x packs of cherry or baby plum tomatoes – £1.54
  • 1 x block of feta – £0.70
  • 1 x packet of basil – £0.52
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • Drizzle of balsamic and a teaspoon of sugar
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil

Total cost: £5.04

Makes 4 x 350g tubs so cost per tub of sauce = £1.26

Equivalent cost of a 350g tub of tomato and marscapone sauce: £1.45

So it’s not massively cheaper to make it yourself BUT it is SO DELICIOUS and it’s mostly vegetables so no nasty hidden sugar and e-numbers in there.

Roughly chop the peppers and remove the seeds, roughly chop the onions into quarters, and peel the garlic. Add it all to a large roasting pan with all the tomatoes and some olive oil, salt and pepper.

Roast at around 190 degrees for about 30 mins or so until soft and roasted. Add a drizzle of balsamic, a sprinkle of sugar, the chopped basil stalks and the whole block of feta and return to the oven for another 15-20 mins.

Then carefully add the whole lot to a blender along with all the fresh basil leaves and blend until smooth.

Pour into tubs and freeze. Delicious with spaghetti and meatballs, sausage pasta or any other type of pasta. The kids love it and it’s packed with vegetables. All kinds of wins.

The Christmas Letter 2022

Well I highly enjoyed writing last year’s missive so I thought I would go ahead and do another one!

Let’s see, looking back on 2022, well…

In January we started the year with a glorious sunny walk in the woods, just me and my gorgeous girls on New Year’s Day which was a lovely way to blow away the cobwebs and start fresh and new.

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Confused.com

Honestly all the conflicting advice out there at the moment has left me totally confused.com

Almost all the cost of living advice involves blocking up draughts as the main way to avoid heat loss in your home and spend less on heating.

And almost all the mould and damp advice says to ensure you have not blocked any vents and keep all ventilation holes open for air flow.

Except that the giant ventilation holes in my house are pretty bloody draughty. Cos they are literally huge holes in the walls of every room. Sucking all my lovely heat straight out and letting all the cold damp air straight in.

(Other people tell me they have ventilation vents under the floorboards or in hidden places you can’t see, but ours are in the walls directly over the beds, where the cold air blows directly onto you while you sleep…)

So do I block them up to save money on my heating or keep them open to avoid more mould? There doesn’t seem to be any clear advice out there on how to tackle both of these problems at once (trust me I’ve been googling for weeks and I’m none the wiser for it).

I’ve currently got a plan to install an uber-fancy extractor fan in the bathroom that will run all the time to try and reduce the humidity, and am looking at installing some sort of high-tech airex vents that open and close based on the humidity and temperature. But who knows if that will solve the problem.

I also can’t work out if I’m being the most energy-efficient with my heating. I’ve been warming it up a little in the morning (up to 17 degrees) and then keeping it off all day, and have the evening heating set to 19 degrees. However at the moment the house is dropping temperature quite a lot during the day, down to 16 or 15, so in the evening when it kicks in, it takes FOREVER to come back up to 19 degrees. So I’m wondering if it’s using more energy letting the house cool down during the day as it takes so long to come back up to temp, or would it be better to keep the temp hotter in the day so it comes on little and often rather than for hours in the evening? Anyone know what would save me the most money?

And while I’m facing this conundrum here is another one….

The eco-settings on my washing machine all seem to be ridiculously long cycles that wash at cooler temperatures for hours and hours, (literally 3-4 hours for the eco washes). But surely it’s costing a hell of a lot more money/electricity to run the machine for so bloody long? I really want to be eco friendly but am currently running the shortest cycles possible to keep costs down. Is there some sort of trade off or balance to be had between the environment and the cost of living?

All these things seems to be either/or options.

Answers on a postcard please!

The Chateau strikes back….

So, once again I am learning more and more about the pros and cons (mostly cons) of Chateau D’Omnishambles…. This week it’s mould (mold?) and condensation…

Last winter this wasn’t something I noticed or cared about as last winter this house was a building site, with broken boiler, no radiators, plastering and construction going on and the doors and windows were open all winter while workmen trudged in and out etc. My previous house was a new build and extremely well-insultated so didn’t have this issue (that I was aware of).

This winter in the new house, we have discovered mould in all the windowsills, a result of the condensation running down the windows every morning since it turned cold.

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The Tree Quilt

I’ve been wanting to make this one for ages. The original pattern had the tree “leaves”/circles all in one colour, which I think would have looked a bit better, but this was for my newest daughter and as we don’t have any of her baby clothes we wanted it to include other special memories for her like her football kit, school cardigan, pyjamas and nighties, favourite dress etc.

So it’s more colourful and a bit random in terms of a colour-scheme but it’s special and she loves it.

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