Friday, 29 April 2016

Education: learning to read, the story of C

So in school they teach you to read, but what if the method they use in school to teach reading, doesn't work for the brain of your child?

Well.... that's what happened to us. My child (C) could read simple books by the age of 4, C would read them to my mother and myself, nothing complicated, simple 3 to 4 letter words were in them. Then we started school. As we didn't want to have a standard government school, as wanted more arts and crafts for C, we choose a Waldorf school as they do a lot more than just the academics, which I found very important as I'm of the opinion there is more to life than just academics, especially to tease the brain into doing its work.

The years (age 4-5-6) before the academics started (around 7 years of age) were really good. C loved the teacher, who was one of the most wonderful people I have ever met. Juffie Hanneke was just amazing. She was very knowledgeable on the age group and really could "hold the space" wonderfully. It was very nice to watch the children play outside from a distance, which I sometimes could. There was rarely anything such as bullying going on in her class. Fantastic. I cannot say enough good about her. I have unfortunately not spoken with her in many years.

But then C moved from the kindergarten class to the first grade class and had a change of teacher. That is when the misery started. I was scolded by C's class teacher and the remedial teacher for having "taught" C to read the wrong way. I had not taught C to read. C had done this all without help. 
This is actually normal and within the Waldorf community is quite known. In a Waldorf school that works according to the principles of Rudolf Steiner, there is no method taught on how to read. Children are left to crack the code themselves, which they can, which results in them doing it the way that works best for their brain, which has the end result or rarely problems occurring with reading and writing.
C was unfortunately also relatively bored during lessons, this was seen as "not interested", which wasn't the case. C actually could usually tell me exactly what the lessons had been about as C has a very good memory. C ended up having difficulty with the way things were taught and the way the interaction with the various children was going. C was bullied. This didn't help the learning process of C at all, which was not acknowledged by the class teacher, who was of the opinion C was to blame for being bullied. C regularly came home with bruises and came home crying every day. The mornings became harder and harder. C didn't want to go to school and was trying to find all kinds of ways of being able to stay away. As it was not possible to just take C out of school or change schools due to local laws we were awfully stuck.

So C had to stick with it and I had to stick with a child that was getting more and more unhappy and was more and more becoming of the opinion that C was a problem to others. I did not like that at all. I knew C wasn't to blame for the whole problem. I just didn't know the details to it yet.

At some point the remedial teacher came to the conclusion that because C was behind on arithmetic and reading C needed remedial teaching, but in stead of actually getting further with things, C ended up going backwards in the learning process, which I found quite disturbing. The remedial teacher was unwilling to acknowledge that. She was of the opinion that that was impossible and that C had just had lucky shots before, so C didn't really know before.
There was one assistant of the remedial teacher that C got along with really well and who understood C and could work with C the way that was necessary for C. His name was Jos, he was a wonderful man, I have kept contact with him until he died unexpectedly. He explained to me that the problem didn't lie with C, but with the methods used. He explained that C was quite intelligent, no doubt about that, but that C needed a challenge and not dumb repeats. Unfortunately his views were not heard by either the teacher of C, nor the remedial teacher. As he had these same issues with several other children of this school, he ended up quitting because of these problems.

During this whole ordeal I was told that C was going to be referred to being tested for learning disabilities and behaviour problems, as in school they were convinced that C had ADHD, as the son of her class teacher had that as well and C was so much like this boy.
I was sure that was not the case, if anything than it would be something of high functioning autism and maybe dyslexia, which I had filled out in the forms, but it seemed that nobody was interested in that, as C was tested for ADHD and dyslexia, but not autism.

The result was that the verbal intelligence of C was well above 100, but the on paper intelligence was 94, which was the only thing that counted, not the verbal intelligence for some weird reason. I guess it's because school is pretty much only on paper. With regards to the ADHD there weren't enough markers to give C that diagnosis and it was recommended to test C for that in a few more years. I am still very pleased there weren't enough markers as I would not have wanted to go through the ritalin discussion as that would not have been something I would have been willing to discuss.

The result of these tests meant that the school of C was going to refer C to a school for children with Special Needs. This I found mindboggling as there wasn't much wrong with C. Several of these Special Needs schools I visited did not want C because there wasn't enough wrong with C. But one school was interested, later on I found out that this particular school was closely working together with the school C was in and they had a mutual financial interest. But that was also the school that was the furthest away, which meant I would have to send C by taxi as I would not be able to take C myself any more. This all really bothered me, something felt awfully off. 

After thinking about this and know that most of the test results were not making C a special needs child, but a child that could stay in a normal school with a bit of extra help, I came to the conclusion that I didn't want C in a school that was not going to do much for C, only to get C through secondary school at the lowest possible level and make C a practical worker. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but I knew C needed more out of life than just a simple job like that.
So I decided I wasn't going to let that happen to C, so I didn't register C for any of the special needs schools, which resulted in the remedial teacher having a fit. She was of the opinion that I was ruining the life of C and wrote me a letter that, as I wasn't following their recommendations (orders?) they were withdrawing from the duty to teach. My thought was, nothing different than the special needs schools, they only do the minimum and nothing more, and that meant from what I saw, a lot of computer games, which were not necessarily the ones I would consider educational and I am very liberal on that.
The remedial teacher also threatened to report us to Social Services as I was neglecting the needs of C. Luckily she never pushed that through.

So C stayed after the summer holidays, the school required C to attend, but didn't make any effort for C any more. This gave some peace for the both of us. After a while it became clear to me that our time in NL was numbered and that we would move to the UK, which I found a blessing as that meant that there was no way C would go to school again. C could play computer games at home just as much as they were doing in the special needs schools, but I was sure I could do more for C than just that.

So we moved and left the misery behind. I was dumb enough to try to immediately "play school" at home. Of course that didn't work. C needed to de-school and not such a little bit. C needed a lot of time to get over the school trauma, which was huge. C thought that C would never read or write or learn anything substantial. C was 10 at this time and completely illiterate (remember that C could read a bit at 4?).

My want for doing school at home resulted in a lot of stress and such and a lot of crying and upset people. So after a year of pushing I threw in the towel and gave up. This was a blessing in disguise. C could now deschool, which was sorely necessary and quite overdue, mess about with stuff and computers and get the brain working nicely again. C did all kinds of stuff that didn't involve paper or letters or numbers. We visited musea, we watched DVD's and did lots of stuff, other than just living. C asked lots of questions which we would talk about.

After another year, C was 12 by now I wanted to know whether C was actually dyslexic or not, so I had C tested by a friend who was doing this in our home. C was according to the results indeed dyslexic, but nothing bad, as C also is a visual learner, which meant that the dyslexia was because of the system of spelling taught in school. If C would simply learn words as pictures, there would be no dyslexia any more after a while. C could remediate it. The tests also showed that C was well ahead of C's age with knowledge, it showed the knowledge age was 14, while C was 12, so 2 years ahead with knowledge. So that meant that C was indeed not a retard, as I had been, in more polite words, told by the school in the past.

Due to the misery that had happened during the time in school of C, I was completely not interested in anything Waldorf any more, which was quite a shame I found out later, as the Waldorf system is not really what is used as such in Waldorf schools in NL. As the Waldorf schools are subsidised by the government, they have to play by the government rules and as such have to do tests and have to do 7 years primary school in 6 years and all kinds of things like that. So in essence it was a public school with some added on arts and crafts the Waldorf way, but not a real, proper Waldorf school.

This I only learned after several years when we ended up living in Switzerland and we had a very proper Waldorf school in the village right next to ours which was totally awesome. I also made a friend in Switzerland who had taught at a Waldorf school and was totally into it. This sparked my interest in Waldorf again and I ended up reading and reading and reading about it, much more than I had ever done before. I had read about Waldorf, but only the books that were available on loan from the school, which was interesting, but didn't go deep into the philosophy. Now I did and I was amazed. My friend Cari and I also had several conversations about Waldorf and she helped me learn quite a bit more about it, for which I am forever in her debt. Unfortunately we lost contact over the years, but I still remember her fondly.
So I adopted a more Waldorf type of talking to the kids and also did lots more arts and crafts with them and we ended up teaching more and more in the Waldorf way. This worked for all of our kids, not just C. They love the arts and crafts and love the toys, in the meantime several of them have outgrown most of the toys, but they still love the look of them :-)

At around the age of 15 C decided that C wanted to read and write properly as C wanted to write fan-fic stories. I stimulated this and within a few months C had it all sussed. I could not fully help as C needed to this mostly alone, C wanted that. So C only asked for help when it was needed. It was slightly more complicated for C to learn it all as C had first learned it without effort at 4 and was then taught that the way C had done it was wrong and was taught in school to do it in another way. So C had to unlearn what was taught in school and C had to find C's own way, which worked out just fine in the end.

My next child was never taught to read in any way and managed, at the age of 9 to learn to read - without much help - in 3 months in 3 languages. This child just took books and went through them, irrelevant of the language. We have childrens books in 3 languages.

After this C became more and more confident that C could do things. It took several more years before C felt fully confident C could learn. In the meantime I think this has been achieved. But for a few years it was still a struggle to find out what C could and wanted to do in the future, work and such. C loves computers and loves drawing and such. It never occurred to me that that could be combined. But at some point my partner came with the idea that maybe C could be interested in Graphics Design. C had no idea what that was, so he had to explain that to C. Once C figured out what it was there as a spark. C liked the idea of it, so C looked into a bit and thought it was worth a shot to do a course or so on it.

Anyway C is now doing a series of Graphics Design courses on and has aced (93.1%) the first course C did and is continuing with the other 4 in the series and is actually having a great time doing it as well.
So much for that child never being able to reach anything and as I a parent I should stop dreaming and accept that my child was slow and such as I was not doing my child a favour by keeping up the pressure and such. The worst insanity I ever heard. As far as I am concerned there are no children that will never achieve anything. Some may need more time for certain parts, or less time, but anyone can achieve much more than is usually thought or even expected. Too much misery being created by thinking people cannot.
No such thing. I was ******* right!

*** Update 13 May 2016: Today C got the results back from course 2, typography and she aced that one as well, 97.2%. It feels awesome to be right :-)

Please do leave a comment or ask a question if you have one. I'd love to hear from you and will do my best to answer questions you have.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Parenting: Punishment..... or consequences?

Well...... neither really, if you value the trusting and loving relationship with your children.

These days people tend to go for the idea of not wanting to punish their child as that has gotten a bad reputation. So now we use "consequences", but is there really a difference? No, it is still an arbitrary action by a parent put onto a child for not showing the correct behaviour. Does it teach the child anything? No, at least nothing you want them to learn from it, they'll learn to make sure they're not caught next time and that they're aren't worthy of being respected in a way that adults usually do amongst each other. They'll get angry with you, they might even want revenge. So in all it's  a loose-loose situation. It doesn't bring the desired learning effect.

So why do people do it? Well, I guess a lot of people don't know what else to do.  Many have probably read articles in which it is described in a lot of elaborate words how different, ans bad, punishments are in comparison to consequences. But really it's just another word for effectively the same thing. It just sounds less harsh and nasty.  So it's effectively a euphemism for punishment.
You want your child to learn why certain behaviour isn't wanted. And with that you want behaviour to change. It's possible, but keep in mind that you cannot change a person or their character, you wouldn't want anyone to try to change you. So you can only teach and give them the right example. 
Teaching works quite well through talking and good example.

For example: if you want your child to tidy up after themselves; you'll have to do this yourself as well ALL THE TIME. Don't hold your children to higher standards than yourself.
Also don't be a hypocrite. Don't expect that your children will willingly not watch TV, but then do it yourself. Or don't expect them to not play games, but you're stuck on your game boy or telephone for hours on end.
It doesn't work that way. You are your child's world. Anything you do or say is right in their eyes, they look up to you.

Unfortunately punishments are based on the behaviourism school of psychology. But humans aren't pigeons. We are complex beings with complex minds. So that whole school of thought can simply be put in the bin.  Unfortunately it's the system used in schools and most work places. Gold stars and grades in schools. Bonuses at work. It just doesn't create the intrinsic motivation which is to be nurtured. It creates a pressure to do something. It kills motivation and joy in the task. 

There are more problems with punishment or consequences, whichever way you want to call it. Think about how you would feel if the person you love would arbitrarily decide that because you made a mistake it's right to punish you for that. I'm sure that wouldn't go down well. It's completely ridiculous for one partner in a relationship to punish the other for a mistake or wrong behaviour or wrong choices or such. They talk about it, maybe have an argument about it.  But I think it's safe to say that the one doesn't just punish the other, against which the other can't do anything but suck it up. I'm sure the relationship wouldn't last long as it's considered abusive behaviour. But why is that same behaviour fine towards children. I have no clue. 

It also messes up the relationship, but a child is stuck, they can't go anywhere. And the younger the child is the worse the effects. When a child is very young it will start thinking that they must be very bad, to deserve the people who are the ones that are supposed to love the child unconditionally, to be treated by them in such anawful way.  They will know they are awful and unworthy people. 
When a child get older they may not internalise is so much, but it still ruins the trust between child and parent. I have frequently heard parents complain that for some odd reason their child developed distrust to them. And on topof that those parents then want the child to help mend the relationship and frequently even blame the child to a certain extent for the problems for not having been obedient enough. The twist in thinking never stop to amaze me. I don't understand why people seem to think they can do anything to a child that an adult wouldn't accept and that child is still going to be trusting and loving. They really need a reality check. Children are just smaller and more vulnerable and sensitive people.  So you have to actually be more careful with your actions than with seasoned adults. But most of the time, it's the exact opposite way that children get treated. Mind-boggling!

The case of Q
I want to share a case story of a fiend with you.  I've been given permission to share the story of Q. The parents of Q are firm believers in punishment, for any little detail. So for walking on the toes as a toddler Q would be punished. The expectations of the parents of Q were very high so the fact that Q started walking on the toes has a psychological issue behind it, which was then punished. But this wasn't the only thing. Any minor misstep would result in punishment. At somepoint the parents were of the opinion that something was wrong with Q as Q started behaving worse and worse.  So they took Q in to get diagnosed. The diagnosis was ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder). Since I heard of this diagnosis it's been bugging me.  So I've been reading up on it  bit and frankly, the more I read, the more it disturbed me.  This is a diagnosis for non-obedient children, usually those children have been subject to high pressure or a high frequency of being punished for unimportant things,  in essence a form of abuse. So a child whose been subjected to the milder forms of abuse gets labeled, but the parents come out clean. That's twisted in my head.  
In the case of Q it didn't fully go that way, as family members regularly reported the family to Social Services for child abuse. Unfortunately it was just not bad enough for them to be able to do anything, but they did keep in contact with the family, though it didn't help Q in any way at that point. 
Eventually Q became a young teenager and decided to move. Q didn't want to live with the parents anymore, so Q moved in with an uncle. The uncle was a loving and caring person. So the uncle guided Q with loving care. As Q grew older counseling was discussed as Q bore quite some scars and had some wide open wounds from the parenting style the  parents had used. After a few sessions Q started feeling better and more trusting of the world. These days Q is a lovely and caring person, because Q was lucky to have the uncle and Social Services support the choices of Q.

Alfie Kohn has written quite a few books on the why's, what's and how's with regards to this topic. Several of his books I've read. "Unconditional parenting" and "Punished by rewards" are 2 outstanding books. Very well referenced and very well written. They are truly worth every minute you take to read them.

Alfie Kohn also has a website on which you can read many articles on various parenting and non-parenting topics. Here is the link: Alfie Kohn

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Play dough

Today we made play dough again. We have the best recipe in the world to make play dough :-) This dough is softer and better and nicer than the stuff you buy in the shop. My kids started out with the shop bought stuff, but then we ended up on a bit of a tough spot and needed to cut back on expenses, so I went on a search on the internet to look for play dough recipes. I found several that were non cooking and several that were cooking. I tried a couple and found that many do not turn out too well. So then I took the one that came out the best and played a bit with the recipe and then we ended up with the best dough ever. My kids, big and small, love it. Honestly, I do!

Here are the results of our efforts of today:

The picture on the right is the set that my oldest made for the fun of it as she loves cooking and kneading dough and such. She frequently uses play dough to train making flowers and such for cake decorating as she can use it over and over again.

The picture on the left is of my 3rd child, she loves play dough and kneading was not too bad, picking the colours were for her the best. 

The picture below on the left is the set my youngest made. She just loved making adding the colours and essential oils. She loves playing with play dough. It is her favourite game.

These picture are all of a little ball or pancakes stacked up. The amounts that we made were huge. One batch of the below recipe give you 1,5 kilograms of play dough. We usually divide it in 4 to 8 balls per batch and then add food colouring. I have a huge preference for Sugar Flair food colouring as it is a gel and not fluid so it will stay much better in the dough and it much more friendly for little hands to knead it in. Furthermore the colours are very bright and strong, you only need a little bit of colour. I usually just dip the back of a fork in the food colouring pot and add that to the dough ball and with that you get the colours you see above. 

I'm sure that by now you must be thinking, give me the recipe already, woman! Here it comes:

Origin: my kitchen :-)

Difficulty: easy peasy
Time: about half an hour for a batch
Serves: adults and kids alike :-)
Yield: 4 to 8 pieces 

* scale to measure ingredients, I find a scale much more accurate, so I get more consistent results
* measuring cups and spoons, if you prefer using those
* pan
* hob
* silicon mat, if possible

* 55 grams / 5 TBS oil. I used sunflower oil as it doesn't have a strong scent at all. But any other will do.
 * 625 ml / 625 grams / 2 1/5 cups water
* 380 grams / 1 1/4 cups salt, any white salt will do, it is to preserve
* 15 grams / 1 1,5 TBS cream of tartar
* 420 grams / 2 1/2 cups flour, any flour will do, as long as it is not strong flour
* food colour, I used sugar flair, because it is a gel and very strong colours
* essential oils, we used lavender for all this time, usually we use rose for red colours and others, today I was lazy, I had a blog post to write :-)

* Add the ingredients in order mentioned above, but leave out the food colouring and essential oils. Those come in at the end when the dough is done.
* It starts out as a wet lumpy batter that looks like it is never going to work out well. No worries about the lumps. They cook out of it in the end. Don't ask me why, it just works. Below you can see it in the pictures how it went for us today. So no worries, you can see the end results above, they look and feel very, very good. 
* Put your pan on the hob when it is still cold. Do not let your pan heat up first. This is a great thing for cooking food, not for cooking play dough. So pan cold, hob cold, ingredients in pan, stir well, turn on the hob. Do it on your lowest setting. I have a ceramic hob and put it on 1, that's it. It will make it take time, but prevent burning and prevent overcooking. The water will cook out and it will become a lovely dough. It just needs it's time to get ready. 
* Stir regularly. At some point this becomes really hard, but keep at it. 
* You will see that the dough starts sticking together and comes of the sides of the pan and with your spoon you can almost lift it out of your pan. It is really weird how all of a sudden it goes from a batter to a dough. To check for readiness you take a bit of it and then it isn't goo, it's ready. Keep at it until then. When you have made it a few times you will easily spot the point where it is ready.
* Tip out of your pan onto a silicon mat to prevent food colouring going everywhere. This will go easy when it is ready, when it doesn't come out easily, it isn't ready yet, you can then cook it a minute or so more, it will be done soon. There will be lumps of dough that will stick to the sides of the pan, no worries, it's fine.
* So now you have it on your silicon mat and you can start kneading it. It is nice and warm, not hot, just nice and once you have a totally smooth dough you can divide it into several balls, we sometimes do 4, sometimes 8, and knead in your food colouring and essential oils to reach your desired strength in colour. Remember you can always add, but not take away.

You can keep it in double zip bags, we use Ikea bags for this purpose and it will keep for months. Once it starts to dry out, just chuck it and make new.

 To the right you see the batter just before cooking. See how lumpy and awful it looks? 

To the left you see the dough just before it is ready to tip out of the pan. Completely different consistency and nicely sticking together.
To the left you see the dough on my silicon mat, just before kneading it.

To the right it is just after kneading, it feels so smooth and lovely!

And below you see the division in 4 balls that we do most frequently. If you'd like you could even add colour, or no colour for that matter, to the big ball and just make one big lump. It is lovely to play with. My kids love a variety of colour, so we always do that. At times the whole lot in the end ends up brown as too much has gotten mixed, no big deal, they don't like it any more and I just chuck it onto the compost heap and we make new. At the top you will see the results of today's event :-)

To the left and to the right you can see the things DD3 has made with the play dough today. 

To the left you can see the rose that DD1 made today. She is practising a cake decorating technique that she learned from YouTube. She can practise lots and lots with playdough.

And to the right you see the rose DD3 made after she saw what DD1 did. She just wanted to give it go as well, it turned out very nice!

I hope you will enjoy this recipe. We certainly do.

Please do leave a comment or ask a question if you have one. I'd love to hear from you and will do my best to answer questions you have.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Tibetan scoby

A few weeks ago I received a Tibetan scoby in the post. I was so exited, a new baby!
I already ordered Pu-ehr tea for it, as that is the tea that is necessary for brewing kombucha tea with this particular scoby.

In the first picture (to the right) you see the sweetened hot water in which I have just put my tea tube with Pu-ehr tea in there, you see the tea change the colour of the water a little bit around the tube.

In the next picture (to the left) you can that it has steeped quite a bit more.

As I have been brewing Kombucha and Jun fermented teas for quite some years in the meantime, I am sure it will not be difficult to get used to brewing this one as well. So far it has proven to be just as simple as black tea Kombucha and Jun

Since I received the scoby I have been making Kombucha with it, which has been three times now. We have one bottle with fermented tea in there, while another round is brewing. I have just started last Sunday (17.4.2016) with the newest round.

I have been amazed at the lovely flavour of the Kombucha tea this scoby with the Pu-ehr tea provides. This was the bottle that was empty the fastest, as the whole family loved the flavour. The next one is black tea Kombucha and last is the green tea Jun. I am the only one drinking the Jun fermented tea, no one else in the family enjoys that. Which is fine, more for me :-)

On these 2 pictures you see on the left my Jun tea brewing, which is green tea with honey. On the right you see my Kombucha tea brewing, which is black tea with sugar.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Crochet: Hellebore flower

A few weeks ago I decided to crochet some of the flowers that I have in the pattern book "100 flowers to knit & crochet" by Lesley Stansfield.
This flower was so quick and easy to knit, it was done in minutes. There are only 4 rows to make. Haven't made a faster project.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

The truth about cancer docu series.

A few years ago my mother was diagnosed with Mesothelioma, a type of cancer that is in the cavity behind the lungs because of exposure to asbestos dust. It was awful to see what it did to her. She ended up with having the cavity behind her lungs fill up with fluids, which compressed her lungs, which made breathing very hard. This happened several times before her passing. The way she ended up breathing was heartbreaking.
Unfortunately there is very little to be done for this type of cancer. Her consultant told her that the only treatment available was very harsh and required her to be quite fit to be able to go through it, but as her health wasn't great, he recommended against it, as without she would live longer than with.
This ordeal triggered in me an interest to learn more about cancer and to especially learn a lot more about prevention of cancer.

I have read various books and looked into quite a lot of research with regards to cancer. I have learned over the years is that I am frequently appalled by how the present day medical establishment treats people with cancer. The treatments are very harsh, painful and debilitating, but the part where people get told they are going to die within x amount of time really bothers me as well. It would be psychologically much nicer to talk about staying alive and how the plan is to achieve that. Some research has shown that having a positive view on it and surviving it tends to give very good results in people living much longer.
Besides that there are so many other choices people can make. Unfortunately most of those choices are completely unknown to the vast majority of people, which is quite sad, as it would be so much better if people were given a choice on they would like to treat themselves and their children.

I have read up on Dr. Gonzalez and his treatments, I watched various presentations he did. All very very fascinating. I have also read up on Dr. Burzynski. His treatment is also totally fascinating. And there are many, many more Doctors who treat cancer in different way, which aren't the standard way of treatment, with very, very good results.

Today there is a trailer of a docu-series (free to watch online) available about cancer.
Here is the link where episode 1 starts: The truth about cancer
This series is actually tremendously interesting as it goes into a lot of detail about cancer, prevention and treatments. The information shared in this docu-series has the potential to save lives. Therefore, I recommend watching the series, or buying the DVD if that suits you better. It is never bad to learn more about such a difficult illness.

On this post you will find a few pictures of my mother. The series being broadcasted online made me think of her, so here it is in her memory.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Recipes: Crumpets, sourdough

Recently I made sourdough crumpets for breakfast. I had had the crumpets one buys in the supermarket on occassion, but didn't really like them. I tried to home made version with white flour every now and then, but still I wasn't satisfied, there had to be a more nutritious way to make them with sourdough. So I read a lot online and experimented a bit. The result of my experimentations you will find below. It is certainly very tasty and my children loved them, hopefully yours will as well.

As for the toppings, you can use a variety of things, savoury and sweet.
Sweet toppings can be: sliced or mashed fruit, whipped cream, clotted cream, butter and cinnamon, home made fruit butter or such. The possibilities are endless.
Savoury toppings can be: home made nut butter, tomato or any other vegetable, either cooked or raw, with some salt and pepper, melted cheese with a vegetable, such as tomato or mushroom, cheese, fried or poached egg, ham, salami, fried bacon, pulled pork, or whatever takes your fancy. You can add some herbs or spices, or chilli to make the flavour you want. Again the possibilities are endless. 

Recently we made pizza crumpets, just add a bit of tomato sauce, salami, ham, mushrooms and cheese and put them under the broiler. The kids loved them :-)

Origin: United Kingdom

Difficulty: easy
Time: about 1 hour start to finish
Serves: 4
Yield: 8 pieces 
Traditional, Vegetarian

* egg, crumpet or american pancake rings, I used silicon ones that I bought on Ebay
* frying pan
* bowl for the batter

* 2 cups / 500 ml sourdough starter
* 2 TBSP sweetner, such as sucanat or any other whole sweetner (you can omit if you prefer, for instance for savoury crumpets)
* 1 tsp celtic sea salt
* 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
* 1 TBSP water to dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in
* butter, coconut oil, ghee, lard or beef drippings for greasing your pan and rings
* optional - herbs and spices to your liking

* Warm up your pan, grease it, grease your rings.
* Put the sourdough starter, sweetner and salt in a bowl, mix well. 
* Mix the bicarbonate of soda and water together.
* Once your pan is hot mix the bicarbonate of soda/water mix with the sourdough mix. Now it will start bubbling and poofing up. 
* You can now put your batter in your rings, make sure you do not fill them up too high as they crumpets will rise while baking. I used a gravy spoon to fill my rings, which was halfway up the ring, but by the time the crumpets were cooked they were to or slightly over the top of the rings, which wasn't a problem as the batter had cooked and was firm.
* Once you see the characteristic holes in the top of the crumpets and they are dry at the top you can flip them over and cook the other side a bit, or, if you prefer tip them out onto a plate right away. When you choose to cook the other side, take them out when they have the colour you want.
* Grease your pan and rings again (clean the rings in between in case they have dough on them) and make your next batch.

Possible substitutions:
butter - ghee, coconut, tallow, lard, beef drippings etc.
sucanat - honey, maple syrup, coconut/palm sugar, maple sugar
celtic sea salt - himalaya salt, persian salt

Monday, 4 April 2016

Unpasteurised milk UK

There is an online petition in the UK to support the possibility to buy unpasteurised milk in UK. I think it should remain an option to buy unpasteurised milk in the UK.
The milk produced by farmers who sell it unpasteurised is of a much higher quality than the milk bought in the supermarket. The farmers that I know who sell unpasteurised milk are treating their animals much better. Their animals have a very good quality of life.
The farmer where we buy our milk also has the calves drink directly from the cow for the time they need it. They are not bottle fed at all, unless that is necessary. According to our farmer this is a much easier way of working with much less problems, and therefore a win-win.

I have signed the petition and hope many more will do so. You can find it here:
unpasteurised milk petition

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Knitting: apple

Recently I was asked to knit an apple for one of my children.
While I was knitting it I got a bit worried that it wouldn't look as good as I would like it to look. I followed a pattern by Susie Johns. By the time it was done I was very pleasantly surprised as it looked very good.
The one that I knit it for has used it for its purpose as that was only short lived as it had something to do with her course work.
So now it has been handed to my youngest children so that they can play with it in their kitchen and shop :-) Multi purpose apple :-)

Here is a picture. It knits up really fast :-)

I used Womens Institute Unique Yorkshire yarn from Hobbycraft. This is a 100% wool yarn, as I prefer to work with 100% wool yarns, as this makes felting and needle felting at the end really easy to do.

Making the stalk was very very easy. It was a 3 stitch i-cord and it knit up really fast and easily.

Adding it to the apple was once again super easy. The stalk created the indents at the top and bottom as I left the thread very long, so that I could use a doll making needle to stick it completely through to the bottom and go back and forth a few times, while leaving a little brown visible at the bottom, so that is really looked very much like a real apple.

It was such fun to do!

I've made photo's from various sides of the apple, so you can see how it turned out. I knit it in the round as I really do not like sewing projects up, so I'll knit a project in such a was that I can knit or crochet as much as possible together before resorting to the needles. As this was a project that was with 2 colours and in the round I twisted the yarn around each other all the time. On the photo to the left you can see how this ended up having a really cool effect. Through the green you see the red, as it is twisted round all the time. You also see some green through the red. I found that that gave the apple a much more natural apple effect than just having a part red and a part green. Apples don't have that :-)

Quite pleased with the result all round :-)