'Harvey' & 'Ollie' for sale

Meet ‘Harvey’ and ‘Ollie’. 

These cheeky little brothers are ready to go on an adventure to their new home! ‘Harvey’ is approx 10” tall and ‘Ollie’ is 4”. 

Here & Now

Well it is that time again!  I'm pleased to be able to join in with Say Little Hen's November 'Here & Now' link up.  I love this aspect of community within the blogging world.  Of sharing, and of linking in with other bloggers.  It really is such a beautiful thing.  Though I cannot quite believe it is November already.   

Loving //   I’m loving living in the little old cottage now that it is finally done!  I’m enjoying every second of the light, the space and the cleanliness now there is no more renovating happening around me.  We have our outdoor area back and we all go out there every morning and afternoon for a cuppa and a chat.  Minus this morning - the midgies forced me back inside.  

And these flowers.  I don't know what they are but they are well into their second week!  I love their unruly,  informal form and the pretty delicate, bell shaped flower.  Does anyone know what they are?  

Simple muesli recipe

Do you ever wonder how come some items seem exorbitantly priced compared to what they actually are?  

I do, and muesli is one of them. 

Rolled oates are cheap as chips - but add a few bits and bobs and call it muesli and suddenly the price is more then doubled or tripled.  (Depending on the brand.)

So being the tight wad I am, I make my own, using all good quality Australian ingredients, minus the cinnamon which I'm not sure where that is from.  Do we even grow cinnamon in Australia?  

Its super simple and quick thing to do so here is my method.  You can toast the oates if you so please, but I don't bother as I'm all about the quick and easy.  Its one of those recipes you can easily adjust to your own taste.  

Weekend reads

Morning rituals.  I used to dislike mornings intensely, choosing to sleep in until the very last moment.  Then mornings were harassed and rushed.  Now, I am sitting at the computer, finishing a blog post, after having my first coffee outside in the garden.  The kids are dressed, kitchen tidied, lunches packed and now I'm drinking my second leisurely coffee.  Funny how things change huh?

The air is cool, crisp and clean this morning.  The coffee is strong and good and the reading interesting.  I don't buy many magazines, but Grass Roots is always an worthwhile read.  It has me thinking of our farm, knowing that in all likelihood we will be there within the next few months.  Our little old cottage is officially on the market and auction is set 3 weeks from now.  Open inspections are booked for every weekend and no doubt there will be mid-week viewings too.

I have been organizing the yurt shipment, apparently it is Brown marmorated stink bug season in the USA, meaning the yurt needs to fumigated and then certified before it can enter the country.  We also need a customs officer to help get the yurt shipment in, and apparently there may be some kind of taxes on the item once it hits Australian shores.  Who knew?  I had naively presumed that once I pay the shipping (which was approx $2500, crating $300 and the fumigation which I think is about $300) that the item would get delivered to port, moved to a storage warehouse and I would simply need to pick it up with the cattle trailer once they have given me notice.  Somewhat like the post system but on a gigantic scale.  Apparently it is a little more complex.  Welcome to the beginning of hidden costs as we start this next season of life!  There is little point worrying about it, it is what it is, but we are now officially in a season of severe penny pinching.  Lucky I wasn't used to living extravagantly huh? 

I hope you enjoy this weekends links, as much as I have enjoyed finding them!  There are some real gems in there.  

Who needs extravagance when you have this outlook?  The birds are singing, the coffee is good and hot, the washing is drying on the line and if you peak just behind the washing line you can see the wooden ladder that goes up the most magnificent gigantic, gnarled pepper tree.  

the little old cottage tour

Hello there dear readers!

Goodness, the last couple of weeks have been a total blur, hence my somewhat haphazard blogging.  We have been painting, gardening, and getting the little old cottage ready for market.  Its been quite the process and I'm utterly knackered.  But I am glad to say, the photography has been done and the cottage will be listed in the next day or so.  As we were getting it ready I whipped around and took a few photos to share, as I know I have been promising a few shots for ages.

I hope you enjoy the tour!

The little old cottage, circa 1910

10 ideas for mindful, clutter free gifts for young children

Continuing on from my recent post about 10 ideas for mindful, clutter free gifts for teen/tween boys I though I would move on to '10 ideas for mindful, clutter free gift ideas for young children.'

Children are such interesting little people.  They are often quirky and into the most fascinating things. They like what they like without understanding the pressure of social norms which comes into play later on.  It's really a beautiful thing, they are uniquely themselves.  Our aim as parents should be to protect and nurture this uniqueness.

I don't believe in giving gender specific toys, so this list is for both girls and boys.  Play is universal, and so often children play by mimicking the adults in their life, they learn, grow and experience through copying and working along side us.  Little girls can learn about tools and fixing things and little boys can learn about caring and nurturing things.  In fact I totally believe they should.  Children don't need a lot of toys, but there are a few basics that stand the test of time, some I have touched upon.

Some of the many Waldorf dolls I have made.  

A quick catch up

Goodness, where has the week gone?

Juicing the last of the oranges, and an abundance of eggs from the chooks - thanks ladies!  

Weekend reads

So yesterday the property settled and we became full and official owners of the farm!  Which is both surreal and exciting.    We have ordered the first 30ft yurt that should be delivered to a port in Sydney mid January.  I am in the process of finding homes for furniture and other bits and bobs which will not be making the move with us.  We hope to move there over the Christmas holidays, ready for the boys to start the new school year.

My internet is patchy today due to a coming storm, but here she is.  One photo is the best I can manage! 

'Buddy and Dog'

Meet 'Buddy' and 'Dog'.  These two are firm friends, for a boy and his dog share a truly special connection.  These two are ready to go to their new home and are eagerly awaiting a life full of adventure, exploring, reading books and quiet snuggles.  

10 ideas for mindful, clutter-free gifts for tween/teen boys

Christmas is coming - I know, I know!  How can it be?!

But it is.  If we want to give mindful, clutter free gifts over Christmas now is the time to start preparing to avoid finding ourselves at the last minute, panicking about what to give who feeling forced to buy gifts that don't quite align with our values for the sake of giving SOMETHING.  (Sound familiar?)

I thought I would do a short series of "10 ideas for clutter-free gifts" suitable for various demographics as we edge closer to the Christmas season.  To have a slow and clutter free Christmas where we consume mindfully requires a little planning, and gentle conversations around values and goals to ensure everyone be on the same boat, or at least in the same ocean.

I thought I would starting with "10 ideas for mindful, clutter-free gifts for teen boys" as I feel this age group is often under represented.  tween/teen boys are going through an really important transition.  No longer are they little children, but yet they are not quite an adult either.  It is a really difficult time for them to navigate, as expectations upon them begin to shift.  In cultures of the past a young teenage boy would be beginning to go through various rites of passage as they started the transition to manhood.  Slowly they would be given more responsibility, and they would be taken off with male elders to be taught how to become a responsible adult male within their village.  Today we see a lot about toxic masculinity and I think that it starts predominantly within the early teenage bracket.  Therefor it is of upmost important we create opportunities, whilst being mindful of our own family values for our tweens/teens to explore who they are whilst feeling loved, safe and free from judgment.  To allow them to learn about the next stage of being a kind, honest, respectful young man.  The kind of man their partners will be proud to bring home to their family (if they so choose) and for who stands up for what is right and good in this world.

Teenage boys, particularity younger teens may be able to identify what they are interested in, but will often need a little support to problem solve and to pursue it.  They may need reassurance to follow what they love if their interests are a little different from their mates.  They may need unhelpful and toxic attitudes towards their interests to be broken down so that they can have the courage to press on with what they love.

So below I have complied a list of gift ideas which I think are respectful, flexible and embracing of this transitional age.

1. Books
I love giving books, interesting books.  Think a beautiful coffee table book with stunning pictures on a topic they love.  Cricket?  Football?  Art? Cooking?  Music?  Photography?  Wildlife? Surfing? Travel?  Literature? Lets inspire and challenge our boys to help them find role models within their field of interests and help them to follow their dreams and passions in a way that recognizes that they are growing up.

Will loves Ed Sheeran, and photography - this book is about both and he has read it several times.  It inspires him to peruse his guitar lessons again, and as a budding photographer.  

2. Money towards lessons/experience
This one always comes up in these kinds of lists, for a reason.  Its a great idea.  Take swimming for example, to put my three children through swimming lessons it cost me hundreds of dollars per term.  It is a privilege to be able to pursue sports and out of school activities and one I know puts strain on families purse strings all over the place.

Have a discussion with your teen in advance about what hobbies they would like to take part in that year, don't be afraid to discuss the financial cost of it.  Finances are a part of life and a healthy relationship with money starts young.  Then discuss in that some people this year would like to give money towards the special lessons, and what that is going to look like on Christmas morning.  Its about managing expectations.

3. Gear for the lessons.
Think bathers, goggles, cricket gear, footy boots, basketball shoes, dance equipment etc.  Most extra curricular activities require "stuff" of some form or another each season.  Children tend to grow like mushrooms, or they might like to explore an entirely new hobby.  This kind of gear is going to be required anyway, so we may as well kill two birds with one stone and make a present out of it.

4. Camping gear. 
Do you have a boy that loves to camp?  Camping is a great family holiday, and it doesn't have to be expensive if its kept simple.  Camping or even just day hikes are great for helping our kids develop a love for nature, so that as they grow into adults they will have a desire to protect and care for our planet embedded in them.  Some ideas that come to mind are:
*A swag
*good quality sleeping bag
*pocket knife/whittling set.
*torch/head lamp
*good quality hiking boots
*enamel cup/bowl/plate set in a cotton bag with cutlery
*day pack (comfortable backpack)
*Bear Grylls/David Attenborough/other famous scientist or adventurer depending on the childs interests.   There are some great stories out there.  Books to inspire adventure.
*Trangia metho stove (this will grow with them.)
*Fishing gear

5. Good quality camera
Teens are growing up, they should be capable of caring for their belongings.  A good quality camera is a great gift, it teaches them to observe and to look for interesting shots.  It can be a great tool for getting them out in nature, asking questions about the things they discover.  It is a gift that can grow with them and it has the bonus of technology without the internet or computer games.  They can learn how to edit and crop photos which is a useful skill for teens and adults alike.  If your child would like to share their photography with friends and family, perhaps you could create an album specifically for this on your Facebook page you can use together.  This way you can monitor their online activity, but they get to share their hobby.

6. Writing gear/art supplies
We often think of this kind of thing for girls, but man it up.  Boys can enjoy writing and art too.  Typo sell some cool leather look journals and stationary that can appeal to boys.  Get a kit of quality water colour pencils, a small set of brushes and pair it with a cool graphic magazines/book and a "how to draw" book they can follow along with.  Create an experience for them, allow them to explore other facets of their personality in a way which is age appropriate and respects the stage they are in. 

7. Gardening gear
Got a kid that loves gardening?  Set them up with a seed starter kit.  Challenge them that if they can grow the seedlings that you will buy them off of them, decide on varieties together.  Something they love and that is useful for your garden.  Think herbs and veggies, the bonus here is that there is an opportunity for ongoing supply.  Encourage them to sell them to friends and family.  Challenge them to start their own little business.  In my experience boys usually like a decent reason for doing something.  They are often motivated by an outcome, so its about framing it in a way which resonates with them.

8. Supplies to build something/tools
Teen boys are actually pretty capable beings if given the responsibility.  Does your kid want to build something?  A fort? A go cart?  Do you need something simple built like a gumboot stand, or a few small boxes to make as cool shelves on the wall?  Is your kid interested in how stuff is made?  Encourage it.  Begin to set them up with decent tools and a tool box and buy the materials needed for a small project that interest them.  Pintrest is full of ideas.  You may just end up with a carpenter or architect on your hands later.

9. Clothes.  
Boys are often beginning to develop their own identity at this age.  Lets help them carve out their own style.  They may be pretty relaxed about most things they wear but you can guarantee they are noticing brands and who has them and who doesn't, and they are likely feeling the pressure.  Even if they don't really talk about it. I'm not a fan of brands for the sake of brands as a rule, but I also recognize that many of us lean towards our own favorite particular items.  I for example, love Birkenstock shoes.  I don't generally buy 'brand' name clothing for my kids.  Its expensive, and not necessarily produced in a more ethical or sustainable manner just because of the higher price tag.  The reality is that feeling accepted can be important as teens navigate growing up.  I manage this by buying mostly non-branded plain items, but I do splash out on a cap, ($20-$30) sneakers and a perhaps a hoodie or something similar.  Nike is a main stream sporting brand which has worked really hard to improve the ethics and their accountability along their supply chain in recent years and I'm sure there are other brands out there too.

10. Cash
I know there is a feeling among some people that they don't like to give cash.  But frankly I think it is an excellent option.  It allows kids to save towards one big item they will treasure, rather then mindless gift giving for the sake of gift giving.  My kids love getting money, they all have things they are saving for.  This teaches discipline, planning and patience.  As well as financial responsibility.  They are all winners in my book.  the bonus is that you know its a gift which is not going to be tossed aside.

Well, there you have it, my top 10 ideas for mindful, clutter-free gifts for teen boys.  I have tired to include smaller gifts, as well as some larger items which could be bought in collaboration with extended family members.  Of course there are a ton of other things out there, but for me these ideas tick the box for mindfulness, encouraging a healthy lifestyle and low clutter whilst embracing this tender period of self exploration.

Helpful links and online distributors:
Dragonfly Toys sell an excellent round nosed children's whittling knife which can be helpful for the younger tween, which my boys use and love.  Still super sharp, but less stabby.  Otherwise camping shops have a great range of pocket tools. 
Diggers  sell all kinds of fantastic gardening gear and are a well respected company.
Typo is a sub branch of cotton on, have a scroll through their stationary as they have a great range of gear aimed at boys.  I'm quite partial to items like this and this.
JB Hi-Fi We recently purchased Will's new camera from JB Hi-Fi after lots of online research.  Their pricing was the best we could find, and they price match.
Book Depository is a great online book shop, where I usually head too.

(I am not affiliated with these companies in anyway shape or form, these are just companies I have used and continue to use as I am pleased with their products and service.)

 If you have any other great ideas for mindful, clutter free gifts for teen boys, let us know in the comments!

Much love,
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