Tag Archives: simple living

Continuing my Flurry of Crafting

So my energy levels have continued to stabilise – I’m still not able to bend over but luckily knitting and the projects in The Creative Family don’t really require it. It does mean I’m mostly bloggin’ crafting stuff since I don’t have the energy for gardening or other projects.


Rainy Day Square

I read the whole of Amanda’s book as soon as it arrived. I am pacing myself but the lure of her wool felt projects was too strong. Whilst I was online popping 100% wool felt into my shopping basket for the Wild Things Birthday Crown Project, I decided that the project for a Wool Felt Block would be a perfect welcome present for the Baby.  (In addition to the 3 cardigans, the hat, the carefully chosen and painfully orange plushie fish from her big brother etc.)


A Carrot – something I can reliably draw and it always looks right.

But sewing these felt squares is so tactile and so fun and I think 100% wool felt is my new craft crush.  I can  really appreciate the Waldorf philosophy of giving children good quality, natural crafting materials and toys.  Whilst R probably has more plastic than I’m comfortable with there is a solidity to his wooden toys which I think he enjoys and I certainly do.

It isn’t quite as portable as knitting but easy to knock a square out at 6.30am when my hips hurt too much to sleep and my brain is too tired to work on writing projects. And it uses up my stash of embroidery threads – so really it is a good thing.


Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy

Plus there is something compelling about getting artistic in such a minimalist space.


I can even use up my button stash!

Stay tuned for the last two and the final product!

p.s. you do not want to know how long it took me to get the photos the right way round for this post. One day I’ll get a decent camera… one day.


A lovely break in so many ways.

We’ve been away for a few days to Sussex for a beautiful, hippy wedding and I took the opportunity to leave my laptop behind and try a few days mostly offline.  Several bloggers having been talking about taking days offline and I had a sneaking suspicion I’d really enjoy so on the spur of the moment I decided I’d join in.  It was so spur of the moment I had packed my power cable!

Here is a picture of R at the wedding, rocking his homemade tie dye T-shirt and eating a stick. MMMmm tasty stick!


It was very refreshing and definitely something I’ll do again.  It probably would have been more refreshing if I hadn’t dealt with the slight stress of managing a 13 month old in a B&B for the first time but he was very easy going (as usual) and our B&B hostess was fantastically accommodating and so helpful.  I’d recommend the B&B to anyone staying in East Grinstead, East Sussex and here is her website: http://www.brambletyemanorbarn.co.uk/

The wedding was lovely, it was held at a Glamping site which was beautiful, the ceremony was in a woodland glade and the festivities were all informal, held in a field and barn with a big marquee and amazing views.  The weather was hot and sunny all day and there were parachute games, tug o’ war, rounders, and plenty of space for the army of little children to run around.  It was wonderful!

I’ve come back feeling a little torn between enjoying the time offline and wanting to get back to blogging and everything else.  So I think I’ll be trying to work out a sustainable way of blogging going forwards.

In the meantime I got back from Sussex to find that my Cavelo Nero (Italian Black Kale) was ready to eat.  I Love Cavelo Nero, it is my undisputed Empress of Kale and we started out having it for dinner last night and then early this morning I made a quick batch of these Kale Chips which I highly recommend.  There are some amazing tips in here that link so please do check them out.


I must finish writing my big No Plastic July Round Up post soon!


Taking Time to Enjoy the Good Life

We moved here as part of a larger plan to change our lives and live more of the Good Life. In many ways the Good Life means more and harder work (especially with a young baby) but it is called the Good Life because of the rewards.  One of the keys to living this way is making sure you squeeze every last drop of enjoyment out of your life.

(Actually that is just a key to life isn’t it…)

So this weekend I have been relaxing, pottering and really enjoying the life we have made.

This is my short post of good things we have enjoyed this weekend.

1. Shallots


All the shallots are harvested.  About 1/3 of them are dried and the rest are drying.  We’ve got an ok crop this year (but very good for our first crop in a long time!).  I’ll pickle a small amount (because homemade pickled onions are delicious!) and we’ll use the rest in cooking.

Knowing I don’t have to buy onions for a couple of months feels surprisingly good!

2. Barbeque!

The weather this month has been incredible.  In fact both the Summers since we moved to Derbyshire have been glorious and I love hot weather.  (I liked it less last year when I was recovering from a c-section and trying to breastfeed – then the hot weather was a lot less nice.)  But knowing that I didn’t get the most out of it last year has meant I’ve really appreciated it this year.

When we bought the house we noted there was a brick built barbeque but we didn’t think much about it.  How wrong we were not to realise it’s potential.  For some reason this lovely brick built thing makes it a million times easier to have a lovely BBQ in the Summer months.

Josh made marinated lamb steaks and we had Abel & Cole Chipolatas, homemade rye bread, salad, and marinated anchovies.  It was all delicious!

3. First Cucumber


The BBQ also saw us eating our first cucumber of the year.  The others on the plant are all tiny but this lovely sized one was just right.  I’d never really appreciate how amazing a home grown cucumber is before we did our own a few years ago.  They are less wet and slimy and much more crunchy – which I totally prefer.

4. Borlotti Beans – first pods

I’ve never grown these before so when I was feeding the pigs this morning I was so excited to see these two pods peeking out from the leaves! I’m hoping to eat a few fresh but mostly dry them all for the Winter!

They are all small things, but they were all relaxing, simple, fun and pretty inexpensive to enjoy (and yes I do realise they are all food related – but that is just how my mind works!) I hope all of you are taking the time to enjoy your Good Lives and I’d love to hear more about them below.

A Huge List of Things Part 3.

The inspiration for the Huge List of things is here  and Part 1  and Part 2.

I have finally got round to finishing it!

A sunny afternoon photographing my father-out-law' garden.

A sunny afternoon photographing my father-out-law’s garden.

On with the list…

Following: I just added some more people to my feedly feed including the Zero Waste Chef, Westywrites, Mammasauras, MargotandBarbara, dayspringacres, Doing it For Ourselves , Chasing Piggens and Eco Thrify Living.  I’ll probably sort out a side bar in the blog at some point but for now I’m enjoying catching up on so much news and so many ideas and thoughts.  Long may it continue!
Noticing: The contrast between the weather reports (promises of non-stop rain and tropical storms) and the reality (a little bit of rain, but gloriously warm sunny days).  Long may it continue.
Knowing: That bringing up a child in this world of consumerism is going to be tough.  I don’t want him to feel different (in a bad way) from his friends, but I want to bring him up with values that don’t revolve around consuming and that is really hard today because advertising, and advertising at children is so much more aggressive than it was.  I honestly believe that he will be happier into his adulthood if he can navigate consumer culture without letting it consume him – but not to the extent of ostracising him from his friends. I’ve just got to keep thinking about it, discussing it with Josh and working out together how to do the right thing.
Thinking: About waste mostly.  I am watching how much waste we as a society are producing and like many before me it is making me worried and anxious to do something to change it.  I thought we were doing well in terms of waste.  And we might be compared to the average person, but compared to what we need to do it probably isn’t enough.  Momentarily I felt completely overwhelmed by that.  But I am not the sort of person to let that get me down for too long.  I’m looking at what we can do better and maybe by blogging about it here we can give other people ideas they wouldn’t have thought of and slowly, one step at a time we can recover ourselves.
Feeling: Sore – I have a very stiff neck, I’ve had it for about 2 weeks and it is getting betting but so very slowly and it hurts all the time. I’m poised to make a wheat bag and then get myself to a physio/aromatherapist.
Admiring: My Auntie H.  My Aunt H is one of those people I would love to be more like. She has this fabulous *Can Do* attitude.  She will try her hand to anything (especially DIY) and doesn’t worry about getting it perfect – she just gets it done.  I wish I could be more confident to dive into things generally but DIY in particular because I’m sure I’d get a lot more accomplished if I did. But I greatly admire her confidence and her ability to get stuck into a job no matter what.  In my new life of smallholding I try to be more like her.
Sorting: My study.  I have a home office/study/studio/retreat space  at the front of the house.  It is a lovely little room but still a little cluttered from the move.  By the end of the month I really want to get it cleared and ordered as a space so that I can get more use out of it and so that I have a space which is always tidy (free from baby finger smears, toys, clutter) so that whenever I have the opportunity to grab a bit of creative time for writing, knitting, sewing etc I can just dive up hear where it is all ready and laid out, get 20 concentrated minutes and then get back to other things.  I have already learned that if I’m going to keep up a creative output with a baby then I have to be really efficient at using the time I do get wisely.  Clearing out my study will help with that.
Buying: Not much at the moment.  We are not on a Buy Nothing New challenge or anything (yet!), but we are not buying things for the sake of it.  We have plenty of books, role-playing games, knitting yarn, seeds, clothes and a Netflix subscription and I have a real desire to get stuck into enjoying all the cool stuff we already have rather than looking for more. We bought the presents for R’s birthday ages ago so we don’t even have a birthday present spree planned.
Bookmarking: A whole bunch of posts like this here and here on mending.  I have a big pile of clothes which could do with some mending and I want to learn how to do those almost invisible patches on jeans.
Disliking: This article on slavery in the prawn trade.  I eat a fair amount of prawns because I was under the impression they were relatively sustainable.  Other sustainable fish is hard to find where I live and Prawns (I thought) were a good option.  Now I’m being extra careful where I get my prawns from, but generally I am absolutely disgusted that people are being worked as slaves to get cheap prawns in the supermarkets.   If slavery is illegal in the UK (thankfully it is!) then it should be illegal to sell good produced using slavery, even if they were produced in countries where slavery is illegal.
Giggling: This piece of writing An Open Letter to the Child I Hit – sounds like it is not going to be funny… it really is!
Snacking: Blueberries.  I’m really trying to clean my diet up.  Snacks at the moment are fruit cacao nibs and similarly healthy biznitz.
Coveting: Gardening success.  I’m not really interested in more stuff right now, but at this time of year I’m seeing lots of people’s pictures of their veg gardens all of which look far more lush and abundant than mine does.  I really wish things would hurry up and grow already!
Helping: Transition Chesterfield.  I’ve only really starting working with the group recently and I’m trying to help out in a number of ways, balancing it with the rest of my life.  But I love the Transition Network which is a grassroots organisation which empowers and upskills local communities in the face of climate change.  They do small scale activities but which make a direct and powerful impact on local communities and I love that, because the little things all add up.
Hearing: A mixture of traffic and birdsong – such is the nature of our eccentric house.  One side faces a mini-tescos on a fairly busy road, the other side comprises our 1/4 acres garden and backs on to 5 acres of fields with a line of popular trees at the bottom.  It is like living on the cusp of town and country (and I love it!)

The Good Things

Elizabeth from the Margot and Barbara blog (I can’t tell how you much I *love* that title!) has suggested people write happy posts, about The Good Things.

I wholeheartedly support the idea of recording The Good Things and so here is my first post, as unlikely as it seems…

1. Weeding the Vegetable Patch

"I think you'll find those are *my* weeds."

“I think you’ll find those are *my* weeds.”

Why, on Earth, would this be a good thing?

Well I can tell you it wasn’t always a good thing and there are still aspects of it I don’t like – namely all that bending over. But this is the first time I’ve had a vegetable patch next to a pig pen.  It is a revelation! I can’t tell you how satisfying it is to pull up a handful of weeds and casually toss them into the pen only to have the pigs race for the fresh greens as if they were the most delicious treat.  Listening to them grunt and snuffle their way through the pile of weeds is so satisfying.  Composting weeds is all well and good but having the animals get such enjoyment out of eating them is great and makes me feel closer to fulfilling my Permaculture principles – Maximum yield, minimum cost and effort.

The Good Things