Sunday, 21 October 2012

Autumn delights

I've been pottering about some what recently and just don't seem to have made the time to share our journey - sorry!

So much has been happening, life changes so quickly sometimes. One minute you think you know where things are going, the next it's all change and off in a completely different direction.
Within the last couple of weeks I've got a job! I know it's been ten months now that I have lived my very frugal life and got by without the need for much of an income. Life is funny, it was in the Summer that the children and I were discussing the future, they talked about wanting animals (more animals), ponies, dogs, cats, a pig (well that was my suggestion)....well this is all good and fair says she, but we have enough pets for now and don't have the space to keep any more, I shall have to meet a farmer......'Ooooh', they say...the next minute they are trying to fix me up with the next farmer to cross our path...highly embarrassing!!!
Anyway, several months later I have a job as a companion to a lovely farmer, local to me. This is not as the children and I had discussed (no to romance), but we will be on the farm often which should work out well for all. Male company for small boy, space (well we don't exactly lack that), and animals, machines, farming....we are starting this week, just six hours a week but it's a start and should keep the wolf from the door, not that he'd get anywhere near ours with the toys, bikes and doll's prams in the way!

Talking about living frugally, I have just finished reading 'How to be free' by Tom Hodgkinson. Have you ever wondered why you live to work? Yes it's true most people these days do seem to live to work. I find that quite scary and I (even in my current situation) wasn't about to compromise my life of freedom to join the majority. It's worth a read if you ever want out of the rat race folks! I got so hooked I ended up reading his guide to idle parenting too....I think I am there already, but good to read and re-inspire!

With the weather changing so rapidly I've been starting to snuggle and embrace to weather and changing seasons. I have held off on lighting that fire still although there is a bag of marshmallows calling to me from the bread bin that are tempting and awaiting the opportunity to be eaten, once toasted of course!

Then there are Winter projects that I'm starting to think about. I am yet to make small boy a quilt for his bed which I have been meaning to do for years. So yesterday I was in the area of my most favourite fabric shop in the world (Mason's in Abingdon) and became tempted to the extent to having to purchase the fabric. I want to create something 'boylike' and blue (I know.....), so went for various shirt fabrics, all cotton. Just a quarter of a metre of each should be enough for the front and an old white sheet for the backing. If there are enough offcuts, they'll do for the outer boarder. Ooooh I do get excited when I have a new project up my sleeve. I'll hand sew this one, it will take hours but there is something really rather satisfying about completing a quilt project by hand and the lovely thing is I can just take out little bits to sew when I have a spare moment. Waiting for the girls ballet class, the swimming lessons, waiting for dinner to cook....busy hands! :-))

My lovely grandparents have had a glut of tomatoes....I do so love it when people have an abundance of items that they are happy to share. People get fed up with stuff, especially when they have been eating for weeks. 'Thank you'! Mmmm now what to do with them......thinking tomato ketchup, pasta/pizza sauce, chutney...oh the options are endless. More for the 'store stump', goodie goodie I do love being creative!

Talking of vegetables, I have just discovered a loooovvvely farm shop near by that sells mainly homegrown organic vegetables. Well what a delight! I do usually buy all my veges from a national box scheme and have done for years, but having stuff growing right on your doorstep has to be better surely. And unlike the box scheme, I am able to go into the shop and choose exactly what I want. Last week I got rather carried away and purchased all this..........for £20....of course this further fuels up my creativity as I feel the serious need not allow any bit of my spend to go to waste nor to perish in the bottom of my fridge. Those green/yellow peppers were soooo delicious!!

I've been thinking about drying herbs and wild plants for use during the Winter months but haven't as yet been out to gather much. I have dried some yarrow and collected quite a bundle of lime flowers at the end of the Summer (how amazing they smelt). I did  manage to bring in a large amount of my lavender and have had that drying for weeks now in my study/utility room window. Often when I am sitting and waiting for photos to upload, I'll pull off some of the dried flower heads. Makes the room smell simply divine. I sense the need to make some lavender bags here, perhaps I might make them for Christmas presents? Talking of which, it's that time of year already. Time to think about and actually start making some little gifts to give to family and friends. It happens every year...I have these great plans to make all my gifts so that I can give something a little unique and special, but my oh my do I regret my decision every time. It's not the giving that's the problem, it's the time (or lack of). No one should ever feel that they have been short-changed by a home made gift. Sooo much time, dedication and commitment goes into the production of them. There is always a mad rush to be witnessed on Christmas eve in my house, stitching, sticking etc to get the jobs done.
Last year due to events most people got handed a bottle of my home brewed wine! Ummmm probably enough said about that one!!!!!

Had to share this I was going through the pictures stored on my camera I did have to literally 'laugh out loud'. Small boy has been loose with the snapper and oh my.....the pictures he has taken. A bottom, another bottom, further bottoms and yet more bottoms, then the front of girls and yet more.....and then this! Pretty good this one....sorry the bottoms will have to remain out of sight for now!!


Thursday, 4 October 2012

'Experience you cannot learn'

'Experience you cannot learn....'

I do not know when this happened or indeed how, but Miss P has suddenly become assertive...far more so then me! She is eleven, soon to be twelve....what has happened to the sweet little girl I had who just did as she was asked without question? This pre-teen is suddenly putting me in my place, organising me, preaching things I know little about....How can that be?
Today things started when I asked Miss P to remove her spindle and wool from the kitchen worktop to her bedroom. Well, I was not prepared for the response I got. 'Why should we spin wool for Helen anyway, we dyed the wool, you're carding it, and SHE gets the finished jumper! It's not fair!!!!! I quit'. 'Me too' replies The little lady. Goodness me, you could have knocked me down with a feather. I could not argue accept to point out that she was gaining valuable spinning skills and helping one of my friends. My my!!
Then there was the maths exercise, long multiplication. It's been a while since I've had to use such skills but I am prepared to try and help her. Miss P became stuck on a question and I tried to answer it. Three times I tried until I finally got it right (how bad is that?!!), 'you see' she says, I am better then you, I am better then the teacher. So I'm probably not behind after all!' Oh help!!!
Don't get me wrong, sometimes this assertiveness works in my favour, like the other day when I was trying to order some underwear on line. I couldn't seem to proceed and finish my order....'You haven't typed in your size...', Oh no, so I haven't. And here, now as I am typing all of my spelling errors are being pointed out....I have spell check!!!! (Wry smile from Miss P)!!!
It's all good really and I am grateful that she is developing such skills that will be useful, it's just going to take a bit of getting used to.
What would happen if I said 'I quit?'

Here's a recipe for energy bars....I feel the need for them!

5 oz butter
6 oz brown sugar
5oz peanut butter
3oz honey
8oz porridge oats
zest of one orange and one lemon
6oz mixed fruit
6oz mixed seeds/nuts

Melt butter, honey and sugar in a saucepan. Add remaining ingredients and stir well. Transfer into a rectangular baking tin (mines probably 30cm x 20 cm), flatten and bake for about 15 to 20 minutes.
Allow to cool before cutting into squares or slices.

'Mummy I don't suppose anyone will want to make those, look you've burnt them! You shouldn't have mixed the honey and raisins together as the raisins always burn......' arrrrhhhh!!!!!!

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Embracing the change

'It is important that there is something sacred in the human life'....this is the quote on the Yogi tea bag I am just using.
I've just snuck in from the garden to indulge myself with a slice of delicious Green and Blacks chocolate that I have sneakily hidden at the side of the provisions cupboard. Could that be the sacred thing in my life? I think it's certainly one of them right now!
What a funny time of the year this is. I can honestly say I feel a little unsettled right now, it could be the fact that the Summer is at an end and Autumn is most definitely here (I feel quite in denial at that). It could be that I have a lot on at the moment, commitments with the children, deadlines to meet, snippets of work trickling in, home ed lessons to plan etc etc I'm not sure. Take today for instance, we were supposed to be going to London to visit the Museum of London to compliment our project on the history of Britain. I can honestly say that I have been stressing about this trip for the past couple of weeks. London just isn't the place for me. Don't get me wrong, I actually do like it when I get there but I feel completely the 'Country Mouse' when I go. It seems that everyone is in a rush and I am left dodging the traffic. With three children in tow, it's always quite stressful negotiating the tube and making sure that everything is just so. Anyway, as it happens, I couldn't find anyone to look after my little Jenny dog, and the thought of leaving the poor little hound at home all day alone and potentially crossing her legs if in need of a pee, was unthinkable. So first thing this morning I made the decision not to go. Then the phone rang and one of our lovely friends asked if Miss P would like to go with her. Miss P of course did want to go so a quick dash to the station and on the train she hopped. Another lovely friend was at the station too running his delightful coffee bar and he very kindly gave the little people an early morning hot choc.......Then what to do? A little old lady from our previous village had invited us over, we were going to cancel due to our trip to London, but as plans changed we were able to go ahead and visit. She suffers with a sore hip at the moment so an afternoon helping out fixing a drawer, tidying a cupboard and fixing the door handle followed, much to her delight! I do love the gratitude you get when you help someone out.
My life is never predictable!
This afternoon was spent in the garden. I chopped up the remaining wood (well some of it) and stacked it neatly in preparation of the Winter when we shall be lighting our lovely fire and then life in front of the hearth begins. I was holding out on the heating and fire lighting until 1st October, but that date has now passed and we are not too cold as yet, so shall keep things as they are and add extra layers until I can hold out no longer. The Winter is long and I do wish to feel the benefit of the heating when I shall need it most. I suspect this house is going to be some what chilly to say the least, but I am prepared, thermal vests and snugly blankets at the ready!

Whilst I was busy swinging the axe, the Little Lady took it upon herself to rescue the terracotta flower pots in firing range of my flying logs, and she set up her own so-say garden centre. What a shame no-one was around to visit. Small boy, pruned the bushes....huummmm!

We tried to light a bonfire with all the prunings from the weekend and as I came inside the flames were looking good billowing out of the top of my washing machine drum which I salvaged for a fire pit. However, it seems to have rapidly diminished since Small boy intervened, not sure what happened there, perhaps he dampened it in a boy sort of way!
I am very excited right now, my first ever magazine article is due to be published very soon. It's one of a series I have been asked to write for a natural parenting magazine called 'The Mother'. I stumbled upon this wonderful magazine/parenting companion when I was on holiday in Wales about eight years ago. It was around the time I was umming and arrhhhing about educating Miss P 'otherwise'. The articles are on the Montessori method and implimenting it at home. I've had to re-read through all of my books and notes which has been a really good exercise. Perhaps the cooler months and that time by the hearth can be my time to scribble away!
Check it out :-) Does that make me a writer? lol xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Ed note: I've just pushed the button, it's freezing!!!