Community garden

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Thank goodness its Friday!

Edit:  So I started writing this post on Friday afternoon but then got called away by little people before I quite got to the end.  So its Fridays post on Sunday.....Hows that for keeping it real and ordinary?! 

As I sit here drinking my hot coffee, listening to the boys play outside I'm relieved the week is over.  There is nothing more I would like to do then curl up on the couch and watch movies.  In fact I think that's about all tonight will contain.

I always find Fridays like that.  The boys are tired from a full week, I'm tired from a couple of days of long days of parenting as Grant works long hours in our business at the end of the week and to finally come home after the school after dropping by at our business to catch up on plans and so forth before we hit home.....Well to simply stop......It feels like luxury.

We are out this weekend, visiting friends and family for birthdays.  Yes, the year is in full swing and the time for pressing in to be mindful is here.

Collage has started, though I'm still waiting on my course curriculum, workshops are booked in and brand new fresh Church ministries are in the pipeline.  Its going to be a big one I think!

Which means focusing on living simply is more important then ever.  Eating good food, getting lots of sleep, spending time in the garden and ensuring each area of our lives is given the amount of time it deserves.  It does not mean balance will all be achieved at once, because that only ends up with me running about like a headless chook.  Multitasking.....whats that even about??  I just end up feeling like I start 10 jobs and finish none.  Don't get me wrong I'm quite capable of tidying up the kitchen while dinner is simmering, with the washing machine whirring in the background but that my friends is as good as it gets.  Realistically I'm only doing one job at a time actually, which is tidying the kitchen as the stove is simmering the dinner and the machine is doing its own thing.  I'm grateful for fully automatic washing machines, if it was up to me to remember each stage I'm quite sure my boys would end up with no clothes to wear!  I can be a tiny bit forgetful.......OK........Totally absent minded at times.  I once sewed right through my finger with the sewing machine (I really don't recommend it.) and I cant tell you how many times I have completly forgotten the oven was on with my baking inside until the smoke detectors started screeching.....

I think when life is in a busy season, living simply becomes even more important.  Being mindful and present whilst doing the simple home making jobs brings a calm and peace I find.  When I'm stressed the thing I love to do is clear out the house from people and clean it top to bottom methodically.  It takes a good few hours and a cuppa or two is enjoyed and a sit in the sun, but by the end of the day I usually have a clean house, and a quiet mind.  When I am home alone I notice the little things, the smell of fresh air as I open the windows, the breeze flowing through, the very faint smell of home made laundry liquid on the clothes that reminds me of my Grandparents.  As order is restored in the home, order is restored in my mind.  My frayed nerves from small boisterous boys settle and I'm reminded that this season of teddies, duplo, freshly and neatly folded clothes carelessly shoved in wardrobes until they resemble a wrinkled mess, blankets and pillows strewn on the couch and muddy shoes throw where ever they land is not forever.  I try to ensure the boys look nice but alas I have to settle for slightly rumpled ragamuffins most of the time.

Anyway, I'm in dire need for my second coffee this morning, so I hope you are all having a lovely weekend.  The sky is blue and the sun is shining here.  A lovely mild day!

Much love,
Emma
xx

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Keeping it simple.

In today's modern world we are drip fed "convenience" everything, as if the non-convenient option is a dreadful time consuming thing.

Take meal times.  Drive thru's all over the place, entire isles in all the shopping centers dedicated to pre-prepared foods, short cuts and "quick and easy" food.

But when did food become so complicated?  Years ago the main meal was in the middle of the day.  I'm sure there were many reasons for this, but I reckon the biggest was possibly that Mum was tired by dinner and couldn't be bothered cooking a big meal, that she knew kids were often not all that not hungry by then, she didn't want a dinner time battle nor a mountain of greasy dishes to hand wash late at night.  As a result she and decided to cut corners and throw something simple of the table.  A sandwich,  eggs, yesterdays toasted bread with dripping/butter, or what ever was on hand.

I might be totally wrong here, but it appeals to me that it was her shortcut, that Mums back then were just as tired as I am by the end of the day and adjusted their routine accordingly.

There are many times in my parenting journey that lunch has been a hot main meal in this place.  Especially if Grant happens to be away or working a stretch of long days in our business.  During these times I'm about parented out by dinner.  I'm ready to throw the boys through the shower, into bed and put my feet up.    

So in celebration of the quick and easy dinner here is what the boys dinner looked like last night.  It took the whole of 8 minutes to get on the plate, there was no cutlery used and minimal dishes created.  This kind of dinner is faster then loading them up into the car to grab "fast food", they are happy to eat it, and its a perfectly healthy meal.  Dessert was home made chocolate custard.

Meal times with kids don't have to be hot, elaborate or have several different components.  Sure its nice to sit down to a good meal.  But it doesn't NEED to be.  That kind of thought process is simply about trying to guilt and con us into buying convenience foods I reckon. 

A few things I like to ensure I have on hand is a bowl of hard boiled eggs in the fridge.  They are quick to do, and a great nourishing protein rich snack.  Also fruit and veggies, risotto rice, cheese and yogurt.  These are some of my pantry staples and usually the base of my "I can't be bothered cooking dinner" dinners.  Avoiding take away and convenience foods is not difficult, it simply takes a little bit of organization.  If I'm honest and think about it critically, it doesn't even take that much organization.   

Don't get me wrong, we fall into the trap of getting take away too.  I'm totally human.  Sometimes we plan it like fish and chips as a treat, but more often then not its due to organization or lack of it on my behalf.

This year we have some pretty serious financial goals in place and paying debit down.  Grant has it mapped out and like most families the biggest variant in our fortnightly budget is food.  If there is an area we are going to blow out I can almost guarantee it is the food budget.  And if there is a cause it is usually organization.  So really, it is simple enough to fix with just a little forward planning.

A few of the things I'm going to focus on to minimize meal time blow outs are:
- Ensuring I have a backup of the essentials in my cupboard.
- Meal plan. (roughly)
- Keep a bowl of hard boiled eggs in the fridge.
- Go grocery shopping BEFORE I have totally run out of food.  (I'm not the only one that does this no?)
- Change the way I think about meals.
- Cook double batches most meals and serve meals myself onto every ones plate.  If I cook a double batch and allow these people to self serve you can guarantee they will eat the entire double batch.  They eat past full, and if they are still hungry fruit is always on hand.

I think when it comes to simple living, the most important thing is to actually keep it simple.  Set just one goal, work towards it, master it, then slowly add another.  Sometimes it feels like I have mastered very few of my simple living goals, sometimes I impress myself!
Cloth napkins from my grandmothers stash.

This blog is not one to tell you how to live simply,  there are enough about who tell you how to do that and are far more inspirational then I ever could ever be.  Its here to document how we do it.  Our slow and ordinary progress.  Including our failures, our "try agains" as well as our successes.

Sometimes I fall back into old bad habits.  But that's OK.  I don't count it as failure, I think failure only exists when you give in.  Its OK to put something on a shelf and say "I'll try again later."  I think the biggest thing from stopping us achieving a new goal is the story we are telling ourselves.  That its "too hard", "too complicated", "I don't know how", "too time consuming".  But the reality is many of these stories are simply that.  Just stories in our minds stopping us from exploring our potential.  When we don't achieve something we get the opportunity to look back upon it.  Too explore why it didn't go like we hoped.  Self reflection is a great skill to have.  As long as it does not fall into the damaging territory of poor self talk.  For me when it comes to meal times its nearly always organization, so this is on my radar. 

Do you have any tips to share with other readers here, whats on your radar to reflect upon?

Much love,
Emma
xx



 

How to clean a waldorf doll.

When you have purchased or spent many hours making a special one of a kind doll, with beautiful natural materials like wool and cotton, knowing how to clean it can be tricky.  Most toys in today's world are either disposable, machine washable, or plastic!

Waldorf dolls are none of these things, and whilst they are made carefully to last many years it is still important to know how to clean them if the need arises.

Generally the recommendation is to simply spot clean the dirty area. 

"Jimmy" is the very first doll I made my son about 3.5 years ago.  After a gentle scrub and some more natural wax crayon rubbed on his cheeks to make them rosie, he is looking fresh and clean.  He has many more years adventure in him! 

You will need:
Velvet soap
an old soft, clean tooth brush
a soft clean hand towel
bowl of warm water
hairdryer

Basically I gently rub the dirty area with a soapy tooth brush and wipe away the excess moisture with the soft clean cloth.  I continue this process until I'm happy and then I thoroughly and evenly dry the area with a hairdryer until it is dry to avoid watermarks forming on the fabric.  The hairdryer is key to making it dry evenly.  I make sure I'm gentle throughout the whole process and avoid the embroidery details when rubbing also.  Its not tricky, just a little time consuming but well worth the effort in caring for the beautiful hand crafted, natural fiber dolls.  There are so many amazing doll makers around, Happy cleaning!

Much love,
Emma
xx


Monday, 15 February 2016

Days like this will never get old....

You know those days when you have a list of things you need to achieve but the little ones just demand all. your. attention.  RIGHT. now?  Well this day was one of those.  And I'm so very glad I dropped my "to do" and hung out with this sweet little fellow, taking photos, soaking my feet in the cool water and chatting away, cuppa in hand.  These beautiful days will pass and I will be forever grateful I stopped, was present and savored it.    

 


 

 Splash!

Our new, kind rooster protecting his girls.

 Ronnie and the chooks chilling out.  This is the very same dog that went on a chook killing spree last year I write about HERE, after much TLC and de-sensitising, he is doing just beautifully!!

Much love,
Emma
xx

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Finding my mojo!

You know when you life seems chaotic and your rhythm is out of whack?  Or if you have a partner, you and your partner seem out of whack?  Well that's what things have been like here since the move.  Not that things have been bad, we love it here, but we have not been able to find the easy rhythm of our daily lives that we are used  too.   

Moving, bush fires and renovating will do that!  Then throw in school holidays which are always busy and I'd totally forgotten what the bottom of my washing basket looked like!  I'm pleased to say I have re-discovered it, and Grant is happy to wake up to fresh shirts in his draws.  There *MAY* have been a morning semi regular occurrence that in the mornings Grant would wake up to find no clean shirts, washed one himself and wore it to work wet to "air dry".  I am many things, but a morning person is not one of them.  Admittedly it was the middle of summer and by the time the customers came it was well and truly dry.....But still.  Not my finest house keeping moment.  But Grant never once complained, just chuckled in his cheerful way and teased me.
Making more laundry liquid. 

But after many ongoing conversations about what was, and wasn't working, we seem to have "clicked" again into our old rhythm.  Its not one singular thing, its just we are both on the same page again.  Its lovely!

This weekend we were at home, pottering about.  We did a trip into town to buy some timber to fix the sheds.  $200 of new timber and we will re-use the old timber where its still good and and the old iron which we will re-use.
Fixing one of the sheds.  Its a rustic fix but it will suit the place just fine once its done. 

I have re-found my preserving mojo and 9 big bottles of peach jam have been made from our home grown peaches.  Its seriously delish!
 Making jam....
 mmmmm.....

I'm really excited for this year.  Things seam to be falling into place.  This week I received all my paperwork for the Diploma of Ministry I'm doing.  I also received a scholarship which takes away the financial burden and that's a huge relief!  Paperwork is not my strong point, and Im totally adulting my way through it.  Its only taken 32 years to face paperwork but you know, better late then never!

The mothers and children's group I help with is all go, the youth group I help with for vulnerable or struggling youth is also shaping up well after a few unexpected changes ready for a fresh year.  The local Rev here and I have chatting and are very much on the same page to help support the community after the fires and I'm seriously energized and full of ideas to help the tiny local church be a safe and nurturing place to help support the community through this tragedy.  We have some beautiful people here.  Its a good place to be.  Its a matter of finding time to sit with them, listen and to hear what God is saying to them and hopefully God is stirring their hearts in a similar way to which he has stirred mine.  I have had some great chats to the local Rev.  I had met him and was amazed to hear his ideas line up along mine.  Which are a little un-conventional so I see that as a real "God moment".

Yep things are falling into place all over the place.  Have you noticed the harder you try to get your ducks to line up in a row the more they scatter?  A lot of my last year was like that.  Well I gave up trying to line them up and suddenly they seemed to have lined themselves up.  Its a little bit of a wonky line but that suites me just fine.  Its funny how God often works like that.
 Little Sooty is so loved, she spends half her life being snuggled and carted about by the boys.  She is settling into our family beautifully.  We have forgotten what life was like without her! 

Well little Henry is standing at my side asking to make chocolate cake so who am I to argue with that?

Much love,
Emma
xx





Friday, 5 February 2016

A simple, beautiful day.

Here I sit, having morning tea with my little man.  

What a beautiful morning.  The sun is shining, there is a slight breeze which is making the leaves rustle and sway.  The air is fresh and clean.  The dust settled temporarily. The bees are buzzing busily around the flowers and herbs.  Birds are nipping in and out of the trees and bushes and the chooks are scratching about and eating the dropped fruit under the trees with great delight.  The proud rooster is keeping a protective eye out for his girls and herding them under the trees when a butcher bird comes too close.  

The washing machine is swishing and sloshing away in the outdoor laundry behind me, the first load is swaying gently on the line.

It is a completly normal, ordinary morning.  But its beautiful and peaceful and life is good.  My heart is full and my my mind is at peace.  I wish I could hold onto these moments where things feel so lovely.  But instead I will have to make do with savouring them, soaking them in and letting myself be still in them.  The moment will pass, chaos will re-enter.  Possibly once all three boys are home again!  But for now I'm going to let it fill my tank and give thanks for the simple beauty in the here and now.  

This week Angus started school.  Goodness.  I'm excited for him on this new adventure, but aware a chapter of my parenting journey with him has come to a close.  Gone are the days of he and I at home, pottering about during the week.  It is a big change for all of us.  But as one door closes another opens.  I look forward to hearing stories from his days at school, watching him learn new things and make new friends.  I look forward to spending our weekends catching up, and pottering about with my littlest fellow.  

I think once our garden is in full production I'm going to be kept very busy.  The fruit trees were not netted this year and the birds have had a mighty feast.  I actually don't mind sharing to a degree, especially considering the recent bushfires where so much land and habitat is now bare.  But I do wish they would have a little restraint and just start and finish one peach at a time!  The cheeky things have pecked holes in half the crop, and then knocked it on the ground and wasted perfectly good fruit!  Little buggers have no manners.  ;) 
This batch is earmarked for Jam making on the weekend. 

This week I preserved a dozen jars of peaches in a medium sugar syrup.  Felt good to dig out my kit, wash off the ash and get preserving again.  It's very satisfying seeing homemade jars of fruit lined up.  

My old water bath is a generous size.  They all just squeezed in.  This is my electric one, my dad picked it up from the tip shop.  I have a stovetop one aswell though I don't want to take up my stove top for that long.  

Anyway, I best be off th enjoy this beautiful day.  I hope you can sit in some beauty today too! 

Much love, 
Emma
Xx



Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Garden progress and a growing menagerie.

One of the things about renovating on a budget is deciding if, and when to splash out on something.  Every time we pay more for something, we choose to pay less for something else, or prolong a project.  So splashing out needs to be worthwhile.  We have a set budget on this place, and it's small and won't be extended if we run out of money.  I don't believe in the saying "bigger is better" especially when it comes to the family home.  It simply doesn't bring me joy!

One of the biggest struggles for us since moving here is the garden.  The block is great, the fruit trees are amazing but it was dusty, hot, and no where really for the kids to play.  I noticed it immediately as my usually outside boys suddenly wanted to spend lots of time inside.  Which is not great for them, or my sanity -  lets be real! So we have bumped the garden up the list of priorities.
William is still working on his cuttings project.

We have tried with other houses to plant lawn by seed, but with two big dogs, kids and an outdoor family is has proved to be a failure, even when sectioning off areas.  We crunched some figures and did some research on suppliers and we splashed out to buy roll out lawn,  I love this product.  We choose Sir Walter.  Its a buffalo so it's thick and fleshy.  Its tough for high traffic areas, and it is a water wise option.  We have planted a couple of varieties in the past but Sir Walter is a winner for us.  Also it spreads well, so from this point on we will just cut squares and transplant them in the orchid where the chooks are and in the front yard eventually.

Grants moved the clothes line - 4 hours it took him to smash up the cement around the bottom.  4 hours of sweat dripping, jack hammering work.  We could not believe it.  It was the toughest cement we have ever seen.  Filled with rocks and gravel.  You'd think they were building the foundations for a sky scraper not a simple clothes line!  If we were not such tight wads we would have cut it with an angle grinder and got a new line - the thought crossed our minds by about the third hour!  But they don't make Hills hoists like they used too and eventually he won.  The seal of the wallet is strong in this one!
The washing line is near the laundry still but tucked around the corner a bit out of plain sight which is nice.

I now have a sitting area with a lovely shade sail to make it comfortable.  Gosh this space makes all the difference in the world to our home!  I cannot describe how healing it is to now overlook green lawn.  Suddenly we are all outside!  The dogs are lazing on the cool lawn, the kids playing out there, the dust is suddenly far less.  The horror of the pinery bush fires seems just a little further away....
We got some good rain the other day too.

More recycled brick edging from the piles of old bricks around has been laid.  Free is good!

We also welcomed a new member into our family on the weekend.  Meet Sooty!

She was a give away kitten from a house seemed to be breading kittens.....and fleas.....But after a bath and a flea treatment she is looking, and smelling far better.  

We were asked by bewildered family members "Why do we need another cat?"  And the answer is because of love.  I want my boys to grow up looking after animals that rely on them, to grow up loving lots of animals, to know we look after those smaller and weaker then us.  The joy we get from having pats far outweighs the cost for us.  (Besides we do have an awesome old school, cheap country vet who is in it for the love, not they money.) We are homebodies, they are not a burden to us, but a joy.  Besides Max is such a social cat.  It makes me sad when we are not home he has no one.  Now he has a little friend.  Not that he is thrilled about that at this moment in time, but he will come around.  I do like the idea of having pairs of things,  everyone needs a friend.  The cats keep the mice down also.  Which can be attracted by the chooks, and keeping mice away will help keep snakes away also.  It all works.  I also may be just a little soft and making excuses.  ;)

But I think this big old world needs a little softness, so I'm quite OK with that.

Well I best be off as it is dinner time here soon and a stir fry is on the menu and I need to get started on it.  Simple. quick, healthy.

Much love,
Emma
xx