17 April 2015

Outdoors



For many years the advent of Spring, with its warmer temperatures, marked a change in our rhythm.  You see for a few winters we took to hibernation, only venturing out to visit friends or do our weekly shop.  We are prone to having winters that are grey and heavy, with lots of grey cloud which brings the rain, damp cold is the very worse kind.  It gets inside you and chills you to the bone.  So when my children both reached that age where they were too heavy to be carried all day, but their legs were too short for walking about fast enough to keep me warm we virtually stopped going out in the Winter.

That time seems so recent, yet so far away now.  As the children grew I was determined to spend more of the colder months doing things outside but each time I tried something new, attempting to venture out seemed like trying to hold back the tide and when we were out all they wanted to do was go home.  I was clearly choosing the wrong activities.

I know that some people go for a walk at the same time everyday, I thought this sounded like a lovely idea.  But it just didn't work for us.  I thought perhaps if we did the same walk every week round our village, that might work?  No.  What has worked is setting aside one afternoon a week, usually the same afternoon to focus on being outside.  Going for a walk, a bike ride, birdwatching.....this year we have decided to vist the same wood every month to see how it changes through the seasons.  We did this once before, about three years ago and the children requested we did it again.  Our walks have taken us all over the place, up big hills, around lakes, through castle grounds, along rivers.  But what has been so wonderful is that we carried on doing this right through the winter without really noticing.

I know that much is written about the lack of time children spend out of doors, the lack of connection to nature.  What I always knew to be true was that the more time you spend outside the more time you want to spend, and that this would naturally lead to loving it rather than hating it.  We always fear the unknown.  So what started as a birdwatching trip once a month has turned into birdwatching every time we are out and about.  We have started to be able to spot birds by their flight and their song.  A very wet winter afternoon spent identifying trees by their winter buds has led to both children being able to identify a number of trees in this way far more reliably than I can!

I spent so much of my childhood outside.  I grew up in a town but we lived on a road with few cars, less people owned cars in the 70s, large gardens and there were lots of open spaces and tree belts nearby.  We rode bikes, built dens, cooked on fires in all weathers.  I worked outside for over ten years, all year round.  I need to spend time outside to feel recharged and connected.  

It makes my heart sing that, for now, I have found what works for us.

15 April 2015

Snore


"All was quiet on the farm"*

For the past few weeks I have been monopolising one of the small tables in our living room, much to the disgust of my family especially as on some days I spread out onto the sofa too.  The monopoly has been caused by some small knitted creations which I was picking up and working on each time I had a few spare minutes.  Knitting rows and then occasionally unpicking them as some of the creations had no pattern to work from.



"Cat was asleep, Dog was asleep, Cow was asleep"

How I would love to have my own dedicated crafting space, where I could leave my works in progress out and return to them in the knowledge that they will not have been strewn around the place.  If I am not monopolising the table then it is the back of a chair in the same room which sometimes has sewing in progress draped over the back of it, it has the perfect back for draping.  Once I have gone to the effort of ironing and cutting out material I don't want to fold it up and put it away, I will forget about it then and have to re-iron it, so it sits as a reminder that it needs attention and often gets knocked on the floor.


"Sheep was asleep. Pig was asleep, and so were all the Piglets"

Those small creations came about as a result of a conversation I had with my sister in law, some time ago, about presents.  She and my brother have four children all born in a four week period, my own daughter has a birthday during that time too, if I am to get presents sorted for them all in time I have to start early!  With two older siblings and mum being a childminder it is really hard to know what to give the youngest two (twins) as they have so many things in their house already.  Somehow that conversation got onto story sacks.

It was all so peaceful - till.... snore! and Cat woke up.  Cow woke up.

I had just the book in mind, one that I had long thought about turning into such a project.  One of my own children's favourite books when they were younger, Snore by Michael Rosen.  A very simple story of a snoring dog who has woken all the other animals on the farm, they would like to get back to sleep if they can just stop him snoring..........

"Sheep woke up. Pig woke up, and so did all the Piglets"

I needed a dog, a cat, a cow, a sheep, a pig, some piglets and a rooster.  I thought about sewing them with felt but they needed to be robust and I wasn't sure I could achieve that.  My twin nephews will be two next month and, as a childminder, mum wants to use it with her minded children when they have outgrown it.  It needed to last, I thought knitting them would make the animals stronger.  I had patterns for most of the animals some of which I had made before, the others I had to make up with varying amounts of success.


I have whipped up a bag for the animals, to keep them all together, and another bag to store everything in.  I have added a second book to this sack, a story written by a local author about bedtime.  I hope it gets lots of use!


Oh and the rooster?  He was my favourite to make, he, naturally, wakes the dog up!


Now my family can have the table back, until the next project that is............

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*All text in italics is taken from the book, Snore by Michael Rosen

13 April 2015

Moments...



...this week of...

...happiness the first seedlings of the year, sunshine, going outside without a coat, a beautiful family walk

...sadness at the tragic skiing accident in the French Alps

...creating two bags, a fabric basket, a knitted dog, piglets and cow, rows on my shalom

...reading The Making of the British Landscape by Francis Pryor, to the children 18 Mulberry Road  by Frank English

...learning about comets, asteroids, meteors, meteorites, meteoroids, shooting stars, nests, eggs, sound waves

...thinking about present making

...wondering about how to fit in everything I need to do before I go away

...hoping to move some plants this week to make way for an exciting new project

...enjoying this

...looking forward to seeing my parents




10 April 2015

Forethought

When buying food sometimes it feels like navigating through a maze.  The decisions to make can feel impossible.  I wrestle with food miles and it's like trying to hug an eel.  How far is too far, is how it is transported important.  I lose myself in the aisles floundering over every item.

It is hard to make sense of what you read.  What food production can do to an economy, monoculture destroying habitats, hedge funds skewing prices, fair trade a label not a given.

I read signs locally sourced, noble I am sure but a tad meaningless?  Locally sourced is the easy bit.  The quest for perfect and cheap food is stifling locally grown squeezing it until it no longer breathes. Food distribution chains are convoluted and long, at what price?  Should I feel remorse with each purchase, weighed down with these burdens, tangled up in the ethics.

Maybe, I am overthinking..............

I do need to be mindful. Thinking about the seasons.  Buying only what we need, food waste is terrible, we are so disconnected from food production that throwing it away is all too easy.  Reading the labels.

I am not evangelical, just quietly doing what I think is right.

08 April 2015

Halcyon



There is something uniquely special about coming out of hibernation as spring enters our world.  The peeling of clothes, the throwing open of doors and windows letting spring into the house.

As I fold my washing, the first this year that has that special smell.  A smell that holds a thousand memories that waft around me.  The birds singing, bees buzzing, strawberries picked and eaten straight from the plant, sleeping under the stars.

We are standing on the threshold, waiting.

What memories will we forge?

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prompted by writealm

06 April 2015

Moments...


...this week of...

...happiness sunshine, watching my children play, a lovely day out birdwatching as a family, sowing the first seeds of the year

...sadness my husband being ill for most of the week, the longest since I have known him

...creating a knitted cockerel and cat, rows on my shalom, the front of a cardigan, lots of picnic food

...reading The Making of the British Landscape by Francis Pryor, to the children Trouble at Rose Cottage by Emily Bearn, The Angel and the Dove by Sophie Piper and myths and legends about the stars

...learning about blood, refrigeration, cooling, insulation, constellations, star brightness, April Fools Day, Maunday Thursday, Good Friday, Normans, fractions, numbers

...thinking about my garden

...wondering about spirituality and beliefs

...hoping to get a few more presents made this week

...enjoying this

...looking forward to turning a few ideas into reality

03 April 2015

Slow Living

It is always lovely to look back and reflect on what you have done over the previous weeks or months, taking stock, observing changes and celebrating achievements.  Even better if you can join together and see hat others have been doing too in their part of the world, blogging is a wonderful way of making the world a smaller place.  Christine over a Slow Living Essentials started this wonderful reflection and has now passed the baton onto Linda at Greenhaven for the monthly link up here are mine for March...



...nourish the end of the winter is a time when I long for the foods of spring and Summer, salads and the 'lighter' foods.  But when we still have the odd day of snow, frosts in the mornings and the lazy winds* I am glad of the warm nourishing foods of Winter.  We are still eating lots of soup, especially on those days when we need an outdoor picnic, and pies.  I finally got round to sharing my pie recipes you can find them here.  The odd salad is finding its way onto our menu but often it coincides with a particularly cold day and it is the last thing we want!

...prepare last month I shared with you my sourdough starter which I had just started to make.  This month I have been getting to grips with using it.  I have started off with a 100% rye one and have been making 100% rye bread with it.  It makes two small loaves which is perfect for us, we are not big bread eaters in this house but we do like a little every now and then.  At first the loaves did not rise very much, if at all.  Now they are rising a little and each time I make a loaf they are a little bigger.  I have been reading and researching as much as I can about sourdough and wild yeasts so that I can get a feel for what to do next.  One thing I discovered is the more you make bread, the more yeast you have in the air which means your bread will rise more.  This has helped me not to be too disappointed with those early flatter loaves.  I know that rye does not rise as much as other grains but I knew they could rise more than mine were!

...reduce some months ago our washing machine died.  We were loathe to sent it to landfill so my husband stripped it to see what we could do with the bits.  We kept some for ourselves, we took some to a scrap metal merchants and local recycling facilities, the rest we tried to sell.  At first we thought that no one was going to be interested, we had listed them on eBay and no one looked at them, but slowly and surely, one by one all the pieces have sold, the last one the last week in March, it seems we have done it.  We have disposed of an old wasting machine without adding to landfill.

...green a few years ago I developed the symptoms of hives or urticaria on my hands, luckily for me it didn't and hasn't spread anywhere else.  Once I worked out what it was and more importantly what was causing it, I have managed to keep it mostly at bay.  I have always used skin products that were gentle on the skin and the environment, the sort with a list of ingredients I could understand, but the hives put paid to using any of the things I had in the house or any that I could buy.  It was easy to make most things myself mostly using bicarb but there were two things I had always used, moisturiser and lip balm, which I couldn't find an alternative or a satisfactory recipe to make them, so I simply stopped using them.  To my surprise I found I didn't need them, if I drink plenty of water then my skin doesn't get dry, my skin needing nourishing from within. I protect them from the cold by always wearing gloves, which I have also started to wear for washing up and cleaning as I find water to be the worst for drying out my skin.  There are occasional days, usually just after a flare up, that my skin gets ultra dry, damaged by the hives.  I have now found a cream which I can use and I do for one or two days but no longer all the time I not sure that was really helping my skin at all.

...grow I had hoped that March would see the start of me sowing seeds the month started off cool and then started to warm up.  Just at the point when I was ready to go the temperatures nosedived again.  We have finished the month with frosts and lots more snow!  So the seeds area still waiting..........in those warmer days some of my spring bulbs did start to put in an appearance I just hope that the cold has not killed them off!  I still have some salad leaves, that I sowed last year, still producing in the polytunnel and I have been sprouting beans, alfalfa and lentils in my kitchen as a welcome addition to our winter salads.



...create I have started lots of projects this month as we are moving towards a birthday season for me. I made a rainbow story sack for a friends little boy, I started on the contents of another one for my twin nephews.  I ventured into the world of fairisle with a jacket for Alice which is knitting up fast.  I cast on a project for myself with the wool that I ripped out of another project as it wasn't quite right.  I have also designed a pattern for a dress/top for Alice, the fabric has now been cut out and is waiting to be sewn up.



...discover we were lucky enough to have a partial eclipse this month which I used as an opportunity for us all to learn about the sky, sun, stars and moon.  It has been a great topic and we have learnt a lot, we have decided to continue for a few more weeks and learn about all the interesting planets.  We are also hoping for some clear skies at night so that we can actually see the things we have been learning about!

...enhance I had a busy end to the month with several D of E commitments.  It's a shame that these always get bunched together but as most of the participants are in school its inevitable that in the school holidays I am suddenly having to be here there and everywhere......


...enjoy I joined a local amateur orchestra back in October last year.  They are part of an outreach group started, about fifteen years ago, by a professional orchestra .  I have been attending their weekly rehearsals since then and have really enjoyed getting back into playing the violin and being in an orchestra, two things I have done little of since leaving school.  They also hold regular events at weekends too, concerts, play days, sight-reading days amongst others.  In March they have an annual get together of all the orchestras (there are now nine) to play together the music we have all been rehearsing for the past few weeks, this year the theme was dance.  It was such fun but very tiring, I ended up playing for the best part of five hours!

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*where I live they talk about a lazy wind being one that blows right through you rather than round you!