Community garden

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

The importance of the quiet work.

We live in such a loud, switched on world these days.  Every one is connected, the world is pushing us to do better, to be better.  To be MORE then we are, to have more then we have.  Like what we are and what we have is not enough in this world.

But you know what?  I'm not buying it. 

I guess if I pull it apart there are many contributing factors that help me see past this story that's flung in our faces on a daily basis.  Perhaps because I have seen it not work,  I have seen the emptiness it eventually brings, perhaps because I have felt the hollow, short lived joy of consumerism many times that has left me searching for more.  Perhaps its because my because my faith teaches me we are all wonderfully and fearfully made by a God who loves us, unconditionally.  Flaws and all.  That he made us enough just by making us in the first place.  Sure we grow and and change and we reach our potential, but at the very heart of it lies the truth that we are enough just as we are.  For me there is immense freedom in that.  I guess realistically it is a range of experiences and thought processes that allow me not to buy into the excessive on going consumerism trap.  If you are reading this, your possibly much the same in many ways. 

I truly believe it is the quiet, loving daily work of many that transforms the world.  That this is the most powerful kind of work there is.  Take parenthood for instance.  It is unconditional, it is un-relenting, it is guiding, teaching and patient.


We may not be patient all the time, we lose our temper, we get fed up - of course, we are human.  But there is a level of patience that lies withing the heart of parenting that is un-matched.  Why else would we get up for the 18th time to a sick baby in a single night when we can hardly open our eyes?  Why else would be teach the same lesson 100 times in 100 different ways because we believe it to be SO important that we refuse to give up on it.  Parenting can be head bangingly repetitive over many, many years.  Its beautiful, its messy and its awe inspiring.  If that's not the epitome of patience I'm not sure what is.

Parents, your doing great even if you feel like you spend your entire parenting life floundering.  I know I do, if that brings any comfort!  But despite that, we show up, day after day, even when we don't want too.  Because that is the weight of the responsibility and love we have for our children. 

When I look at the beautiful parents around me I'm reminded of a Jesus like love.  Walking along side his disciples, teaching them, guiding them, encouraging and unconditionally loving them, despite their imperfections.  Except, you know, messier.

But in a world that's so foucussed on the loud and the shiny, this kind of quiet transformative work gets all too often overlooked.  When I look at those that have impacted my life the most, its those that have showed up time and time again.  The people who have walked with me when I was broken, picked me up when I fell down, encouraged me to go on and celebrated with me when I got something right.  This is a transforming kind of love.


The quiet work that's done, the volounteers helping with animals,  the men and women selflessly serving in church week after week, the community volunteers that care our precious oldies, the bake stalls, the school helpers, the community gardeners, the parents homeschooling their children, the teachers, the nurses, the parents cooking nourishing meals for their babies, even when they are sick or tired themselves, the time taken to talk to and help a friend or a stranger in need.

This is the most powerful kind of work there is.

This the kind of work that will transform our world.

The quiet work, the selfless work, the work done in love and for love for the good of another.  The work that takes time and patience, that is not shiny.  Its sometimes hard, complicated and stretches us beyond what we knew we could possibly handle.

So I'm calling out the worlds message of being more, of doing more.  Of bigger is better.

(A good friend suggested I make that last line g-rated.  I had used stronger language.  Ha!)

So I just wanted to give a shout out the parents, to the volunteers, to the friends, to the people spreading kindness and love.  To the carers of the world.  THANKYOU. 

The work you do matters, YOU matter. 

I truly believe it is the quiet consistent and loving work of many that is key to healing this world. 

Much love,
Emma
xx 

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Well our long weekend was successful in that the big old supporting beam is up, the wall is down and we can finally see the space that we imagined.

The old re-claimed jetty beam looks just perfect in the space.  Grant was amazing to get it up on his own.  it took some careful planning and quite a bit of time, but he did it. 

And its perfect!  By opening the hole up we can suddenly appreciate the height of the ceilings in this part of the house.  You can see out to the back yard and the whole space flows more naturally.  As outdoorsy people, that is so important to us. 


We have finalized our kitchen plan, some dear friends kept me company in the final bits of planning while Grant stayed back and worked, not wanting to loose time on the long weekend.  I also picked up a range hood which should tie in with our vintage oven OK, quite tricky to do!  Its interesting to see how kitchen trends change. 

This week we want to get the wood oven fitted so we can work in the warmth, channels for all the new power to be run and Grant wants to get the ceilings up over the weekend.


I'm looking forward to it being done and life being more normal.  This is a mighty tough season we are in and I must admit it is difficult staying on top of my feelings and not letting myself become too overwhelmed by the mess and the dust.  I feel happy and relaxed in a clean, clear space and this place is not.  Talking to Grant is the key, working on the best plans forward, prayer, time out and focussing on the positives help.    Though not a cure for the reality that is our living space. 

But we are blessed to have a strong healthy family, to be in our little home.  One day soon enough it will be warm, cosy and an escape from the world.  A place of refuge for our family and friends.  Where we can invite people over, care for them and enjoy life together.  Ready to stand for another 100 years. 

Much love,
Emma
xx

 

Friday, 10 June 2016

The life we value.

Sometimes I look at my life and I just feel tired. 

Knowing we are at the beginning of a big haul.  I look at my friends posts on face book about building their new big brand new home, or their beautiful homes that a team of tradies has come in and renovated for them, the expansive space and the fact each of their kids has their own room.  I feel like I would quite like that!  

I look at the holidays, or the shiny new cars, sometimes the shopping trips with bags from shops I can't really afford to buy from. 

Then I look at my life, with its little old cottage, all 5 of us sharing a bedroom.  A kind of chaotic house in full swing of renovations.  Knowing my beautiful Grant will come home after working a full week of work to spend the full weekend renovating. 

Sometimes I wonder why we are doing it.  Why don't we embrace the big mortgage and buy a beautiful finished house?  What are we putting in fences to grow veggies?  Why don't we just buy them and save ourselves the hassle?  Then if we didn't have all this work to do we could spend our weekends doing things together. Going out, watching movies, going to the beach. 

And then the voice of realism speaks into the green eyed day dream that's taking over my mind.  It reminds me we can have time OR money.  Not both.

Every choice we make has a cost.  Either financially or time wise.  There are other costs of course.   Like emotional, physical and spiritual costs which need to be given their due weight and consideration. 

I remind myself that if we were to have that big beautiful home, I would have to work.  A lot.  We wouldn't have those wonderful weekends together that exist within my imagination because I would be working every weekend to pay for the house we would hardly get to be in together.  We would never be able to afford to buy a farm one day because it would mean our mortgage would be over 30 plus years.  And a 30-year mortgage would mean we were near 60 by the time we paid it off, and well it’s not ideal to go into farming at 60 years old.  A dream requires sacrifice. 

In this modern, fast paced world we are not so good at sacrifice, discomfort or even contentment for that matter.  There are things you can buy today to ease the sensation of nearly all those things, I'm quite sure.  But to be able to sit in them and find some kind of peace?  Now that is a gift and a skill of immeasurable value.

So in this life, as we work towards our dreams - we choose time and trying to live simply, within our means.  Time for me to be at home in this season.  It is not easy, and it is not without its frustrations.  We take on as much work as we can ourselves because we have chosen to have time in our lives, with our young family.  Not money. 

The space we get from trying to live simply means we can give to worthy causes.  To help others.  not as much as we would like perhaps, but a good amount considering our budget.  If we had a bigger, fancier house or a newer car this would not necessarily be the case.  It may not be the biggest, the best or the most beautiful little cottage around.  But it is enough, in reality it is more than enough.  The fact we even have such incredible choices in our lives means we are richer than most.   

The best bit about me being at home is that I can do some of the work that's in my heart of hearts.  Working within various outreach ministries in the church.  Working with beautiful troubled kids who need people to mentor and walk with them through these formative years of their lives, the kind of work that can only be done with time and presence.  We can and are setting up a new ministry in our town to our support families, to give TLC to beautiful Mums who are doing their best with their little ones.  One day soon I hope that includes a community garden.  It allows me the time to study ministry, to deepen my knowledge, my faith and my understanding of God.  (well ok, I am not managing my study as well as I would like, but I try and I do love it when I can eventually get into the groove.)


If it were not for living simply, for making the choices we have, I would not get to explore whats in the depth of my heart of hearts.  What I truly believe I should be doing with my life.  My life would be richer financially perhaps, but poorer spiritually.  Our family would spend less time together. 

So as I take another look around my life I shake away the lens of the green eyed monster and I look through the lens of truth.  The reality that choosing this life means we are able to live out and work towards the things that are on our heart of hearts.  We get a deeper life.  Perhaps a more challenging life in this season.  But it is far richer in all the ways that truly matter to us.  So I look at the little old cottage and see her beauty.  Not just in what she is going to become, but in what she allows us to give as a result. 

May you see the beauty in your life this long weekend, though the cracks and the crumbly bits.  Blessings for a safe and happy long weekend for those in Australia. 

Much love,
Emma

xx

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Stage 1: Demolition

So my least favourite stage of renovations has begun.  Demolition.  There is no nice way of doing this I don't think.  Do it fast, get it over with and clean up the as much dirt as you can each day to make living in it bearable.  I find this part really difficult.  Its the stage where you are the furthest away from your end goal, the thing you ripped out to fix suddenly looks like a palace in comparison.  Ok, not a palace, but in this case the old kitchen was still mostly functional, even if ugly, saggy, poorly wired, and falling apart in places. 

Before....

Stripping it out...

But in the aim of being positive I thought Id share some tips. 

1.  MOVE OUT!!!! 

Only joking.....kind of.  The reality is that it depends on the depth of renovating your doing.  It is absolutely a valid option if you can afford it.

2. Have a plan in place before you start pulling things apart about how your going to live your life in the space.  This stage of the kitchen and second bedrrom will probably take us close to 2 months to finish.  We need to be able to function during this time as a family.  Meals need to be cooked, homework needs to be done, life goes on.  The more "normal" you can make it and the more organized you can be, the easier the renovation process will be. 

Renovating, especially with young children is stressful, a bit of prior planning about the spaces you will need throughout the process can really help reduce this.   

So for us, we have pulled up the old van up to the veranda which will give us a small, but perfectly functional cooking, eating and living space.  The veranda will provide shelter as we walk in and out which is important in the middle of winter.  Depending on what your doing, will depend on how you set up areas to overcome this.  Be creative, remember its temporary.   

Caravan, food, little gas burner for kettle, cooking etc.  Its not pretty, but functional enough.  I cant be bothered staging pretty photos,.  Just keeping it real.  ;)

Blogging headquarters in the van.

3. Have all the little discussions and decisions sorted BEFORE your tired, stressed and living in a demolition zone.  No point adding to an already stressful situation by trying to make major decisions in the middle of it.  Its not a reality TV show, take the time to plan it all well.

4. Go into it with clear plans and knowing exactly what your design is.  Changing your mind half way through can slow things up and add in extra expenses.

5.  Stick to your budget.  There may be un-avoidable blow outs, but if you have a budget for your finishes that you have carefully planned, don't get way laid by the shiny pretty, really expensive things and suddenly upgrade everything.  Mindless consumerism is rife in all industries.  Research well, plan well.  Buy the best you can afford absolutely, but stick to your guns.  Don't get way-laid by the top of the range designer tiles when you have already settled on a good, mid range tile that fits in your budget and your style.  Being talked into an up-grade here and there can add thousands to your bill at the end, with no real functional advantage.       

6. You know those expensive pre-packaged foods that people who are living simply try to avoid?  Embrace them.  Its ok to let some things slide in a difficult season.  You don't have to do it all, in every season of life.  There are some good products out there these days that are decent quality.  Farmers markets can be great for home made cakes and snacks too, and the bonus then is your supporting local, home business.  Buy for the week, spend 15 minutes cutting into portions and freezing for lunches throughout the week. 

7.  Try ensure your eating good quality fruit and veg, drinking lots of water, and TRY and get some sleep.  Meals don't  have to be fancy by any stretch of the imagination.  Fruit for snacks is great.  The reality is your more suceptable to illness when your tired and stressed.  By being mindful you can try and prevent getting too run down.  No one wants to be sick when your in the middle of a big renovation job. 

8.  Make meals as simple as possible.  A slow cooker is great, a BBQ, simple pastas, salad and nibble platters with raw crunchy veggies, sliced meat, bread, dips etc.  Survival with an ounce of sanity left is the goal here!

9.  Go gently.  Its stressful, its tiring.  Give yourself some grace and lower your expectations of yourself.  Give your partner some grace.  Go out for a nice meal and leave it all behind you regularly.  Even if its a coffee in a cafĂ©.  It is a season, and it wont be forever, even though it might feel slow and never ending at times.  Treat yourself a little during it, your working really hard and its nice to look forward to something.  If its at the end of a particular stage it can be a lovely motivator. 

10.  Wine, chocolate and a camera for lots of before, during and after shots.  Need I say more? 

Old ceiling sagging and falling down.

Brrrr.....drafty!

Do you have any sanity saving tips? 

Much love,
Emma
xx



Saturday, 4 June 2016

Simple gardening solutions with dogs.

We are animal lovers, and owners of two big dogs, a 10 year old Labrador named Tessa and a 3 year old boarder collie named Ronnie.  We also have a black cat called Max, a little fat, round kitten called Sooty 7 chooks, a rooster called Bruce and a turtle whose name changes regularly.  They are much loved members of our family but as much as they bring us a lot of joy, they also bring the odd challenge.  The dogs being the biggest challenge.....Digging.

We love to garden, and dogs love to dig.  They especially love to dig in damp, moist, fluffy soil.  AKA where ever the best, most recently planted out, and freshly turned garden beds are.  Throughout our new garden we have watched where their favourite spots are and have brought in various different measures in which to combat this natural behaviour.  There is plenty of great space for them to dig, roll and do doggy things - just not right by the back door, in my veggie area or around my entertaining area. 

One solution is of course putting in a dog yard.  Which is not really our thing.  They are social, pack animals and we are part of their pack.  They love to be near us and greet us as we go out the door, and I like the added security of having them roam freely around the back of the house.  So instead we work with them, problem solving as we go along the way. 

We brought in a long raised bed to grow herbs in, and I have many big ceramic glazed pots which I have accumulated over time.  I can move these about if need be, well Grant can if I'm totally honest about that one.  I like to keep the herbs right near the back door where we pass all the time, semi sheltered from harsh wether and close to the tap for easy watering.  The tall beds prevent digging and damage as they are high, the dogs can't tread of them or bump them.



Another thing we have done is put a fence around what will be the veggie patch.  It has gates for easy access, but it will keep the dogs out of that area just fine.   

This weekends job was fixing a garden bed near the back door that they always dig in, it causes me great frustration as there is little point spending money on it or too much time as when we re-do the back end of the house it will be covered over.  So the solution has simply been to back fill the holes and mulch. 

This morning, much to my irritation, I woke to gaping holes with dirt flung in every which way, clearly they had a wonderful time.  Grant and I stood looking at it and pondering for a little while and he came up with an awesome solution. 



Weld mesh. 

He scraped out the top layer of soil, measured up the space, cut out a couple of pieces to make space for some pre-existing plants.  (now beaten and bruised after the last exuberant dog digging session....) and laid it down. 



We then dug up a big bunch of bulbs that had popped up in our lawn and were needing to me moved and we popped them in among the holes like so.....see the weld mesh near my hand?


After that we back filled it with the soil, mulched and now we have a dog proof garden for free.  They can walk on it of course, but if they try to dig they will soon grow tired as they wont get far.  We dragged a couple of old pots that were here to weigh it down, though it would be easy to peg it down also.



I think its a really great solution.  The weld mesh has holes suitable for planting seedlings in, or flowers and most plants will readily adapt to it.  The mesh is hidden so not unattractive and you would never really know it was there.  My little patch of civilization is in order once again.


I'll let you know how it goes, but its certainly a solution we will be doing again.  You can cut holes for bigger plants too very easily, and its a cheap solution that doesn't require a lot of structural work like raising beds can. 

Much love,
Emma
xx


Thursday, 2 June 2016

Preparing to start the kitchen renovations.

Well this weekend is the week.  We are going to pull out our old kitchen and we start on the big works.  Eeek!

I'm going to be honest, this level of living and renovating is really hard.  Its old stonework and the dust is just insane, and it gets absolutely into everything and everywhere.  I can't believe I agreed to do it again after our first stone cottage, but clearly I did at some stage, as I find myself facing it all again.  Ha!  I'm an old romantic, I love old homes.

I must admit I'm dreading this next stage and crossing everything that Grant can smash out the worst of it in relative speed.  His father who is a builder will come and help us with the big timber lentil which will be needed to be put in place as we open up the rear stone wall. 

But it will be so lovely when we are finished.  Clean, well designed, bright and airy.  We will be restoring the old sash window in the kitchen which is broken, and re-installing the original bedroom door which at some stage was replaced with a sliding door.  We will be widening the fireplace and putting in our bigger vintage wood oven we sourced recently.    



Our last kitchen we did HERE we bought a solid timber kitchen off ebay for $1300 then Grant re-configured it, painted it, installed it and it was amazing.  But this time round we are going to Ikea.  This space is quite small, we need every nook to matter and be functional.  Also it is a time thing.  Our last kitchen had less structural work to do, so we could afford the extra time in which it took to re-configure the second hand kitchen to make it fit.  This time we have an extra child, and a little less energy and a whole lot more structural work to do. 

We are going for grey cupboards, (partly to work alongside the 1930's enamel electic oven we are keeping) white hand glazed subway tiles, wooden bench tops, a white butler sink and black taps and door knobs.  Grants not certain about the black hardware but I think it will nod to the black cast of the wood fire.  The walls and timberwork will be painted white and the floors will be an oak laminate which is through the rest of the house.  I'm thinking about painting the fire place wall a soft earthy grey to draw attention to it, and then it would add a good contrast for my vintage plate collection I plan on hanging above it. 

Perhaps something like THIS....

I was going to do white cabinets, but these children and their grubby hands....It will drive me mental.  So grey it is, with lots of bright white elsewhere and cute vintage accessories, our wooden dresser which is currently in storage, as well as the old wood stove to try and keep some soul in the kitchen.  I think it will look cozy, but I'm a little concerned it will look too "new" and shiny.  Hopefully the wood bench tops, the wood fire, the old vintage electric stove we are keeping and by disguising the dishwasher as a cupboard we can be sympathetic.  But the reality is, it needs to be done.  Kitchen design and kitchen technology has come a long way!  The little old cottage needs to be gently shifted into this century, to suit our current lifestyle so that this space works for us.  Currently it is awkward, cramped, poorly designed and saggy, our fridge is living under the enclosed back porch.  Despite it looking kinda vintage cute, a kitchen to me, needs to be a good functional working space, easily accessible, with good storage, safe electricity points and simple to clean.  All points which my current kitchen fails on.



We have pulled up the caravan to the front of the house, and this will be our kitchen/dining room while the renovations take place.  Grant did a fantastic job of pulling it up so we will be under cover as we walk in and out, even in the rain.  It has a great little reverse cycle aircon/heater in it so will be plenty cosy, and no doubt with a BBQ, slow cooker and my Thermomix we will manage the cooking side of things quite well.  I might have to ask to borrow my neighbours oven for baking, but I'm sure with a trade of eggs they will be more then happy to help out.  They are just lovely.



Anyway we are due for a Dr appointment for little Henry, I think he needs a preventer as he seems to be developing asthma.  Since the weather has cooled he has struggled quite consistently.  I was hoping it was a run of viruses but I think it is a combination.  It has been the case with all three boys from varying degrees, asthma is a family thing.   If you could keep the boys in your prayers for those that do, for strengthening and healing, that would be so greatly appreciated. 

Much love,
Emma
xx