Sunday, 30 September 2012

Creative re-birth

Last week saw me hit by a creative lightening bolt. My creativity which perhaps lay mostly dormant since just before I had the kids suddenly seems to be surfacing. Creative thinking, creative doing, creative being ... 


... today I made this pair of leggings for Gaia out of an old pair of my pajamas using this tutorial .... I'm so chuffed with them, they were so simple and quick.

I prepared for the inevitable and made calendula syrup for coughs and colds and some sage honey for sore throats.

I baked a loaf of bread for the first time in a long while and brewed more winter vitamin syrup. I even hauled a box of my old clothes down from the loft ready for a bit of upcycling next week and I've started making salt dough home decorations again, inspired by nature and imagination.

It's quite refreshing. But I wonder, in amongst my fastidious creativity, weather I've been a good mama today or not.  There is no denying I need to flex my sleepy creative muscles. Yesterday was so intensely satisfying in the woods just them and me but today they've mostly been curled up with Cliff, who isn't 100% well, on the sofa watching films and playing PS3 games whilst I flit like a butterfly from one project to the next... is there any justifying this as quality down time with Daddy? How much does it really matter if once in a blue moon sunday is a total couch day? Funny how becoming a mother I've relinquished any justification for doing things for myself ... I wonder if other mama's feel the same or is it just me?

Love & Light X

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Of the Woods we are

A day that starts like this is bound to be a good one ...

Last night I watched a documentary about the New Forest, a place that I spent many happy summers as a child. And I knew that if morning brought sunshine Wandlebury Woods is where we were bound. It did and we were. And we were happy. No restrictions or rules just endless possibilities and fresh fresh air.



I spent most of my time sitting in an old partially fallen oak tree watching the children's contentment and connection with nature, breathing in breathing out letting the songs of the trees and the children's peals of delight resonate through to my soul.





tea and cake in a tree can't be bad can it? Especially when it's obviously where faeries gather too!

Though last Saturday was equinox and we celebrated indoors with friends on the rather soggy Sunday, I felt we were very much revelling in the season today too. And it really should be a season we celebrate not just one day ... I feel the beauty of the Celtic wheel of the year and it's myriad festivals gives me the flexibility to celebrate a prolonged period of time not just a single day at sparse intervals throughout the year.

I am certain that we will be holding our hands, hearts and heads skyward celebrating autumns enchantments as long as that teasing residual warmth of summer lets us - before we turn in homeward and call the season in for Winter.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Recipe: Winter Vitamin Syrup

As Gaia and I were hoarding ruby treasure in the country park last week an elderly couple stopped by and enquired as to what I was going to make with all the hips and hawes.  I told them and said I'd heard that in war time children were paid by pharmacies to collect rose hips to be turned into vitamin C syrup to keep them healthy through the winter.  My Grandad remembers his mother making the same syrup in wartime.  The elderly couple shared memories of actually doing this and told of how they were also paid to collect conkers for toothpaste (this I have to try).  Their hearts seemed warmed to see us doing the same - something connecting three generations, me passing this knowledge to my children - the generation that could really need wild local knowledge for resilience and self sufficiency.  I have a vision.  And it's where I try to change the world by empowering my children to change it too.

Winter Vitamin Syrup

I use whatever is about - so for their short season Elderberries, right through the winter Rosehips and hawes are available here too.
Elderberries have anti-inflammatory properties so soothe coughs and sore throats.  It is anti-viral and will fight certain strains of flu.
Rosehips are full of vitamins A, C, K and some of the B vitamins.  They keep coughs and colds at bay.
Hawthorn is good for heart health so great for circulatory problems and reduce anxiety and insomnia.

Either pick rosehips after the first frost so that they are slightly softer or start as soon as possible in september and stick them in the freezer over night to simulate a frost.  It doesn't matter how many berries you collect, the proportions are simple and so quantities can be adjusted easily.

500g rosehips/hawes/elderberries
roughly 250g sugar
1litre of water
12 whole cloves
2 sticks of cinnamon

Crush the rosehips slightly in a big pan (a heavy rolling pin works well) then add elderberries and hawes  if using.

Add the cloves, cinnamon and water then bring close to boil then gently simmer for half an hour

Cover and leave over night to stew.

Next day bring it back to the boil and simmer until the hawes have lost their colour.

Strain through a muslin into a measuring jug so that you can see what quantity you have - DO NOT squeeze the straining liquid through the muslin as rosehips contain irritating hairs.  I suspend the muslin full of berries over the jug and let it strain at a natural pace.

Transfer to the pan (which I always rinse to eliminate those rosehip fibres) and add the same quantity of sugar as you have of liquid.  Stir until it dissolves and bring back to the boil.  Simmer for ten minutes.

Cool somewhat then pour into sterilised bottles.  Take a teaspoon or two a day and be sure to drizzle over porridge or pancakes!


Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Recipe: Lavender Bath Bombs

This is for Bec at wild nectarine dreams and all the kindred spirits out there who might chance upon this space.  And for my kids with love, who I hope will one day scour this blog for traces and recipes of favourite lotions potions and edible childhood treats!

Lavender Bath Bombs

makes 3 small - medium sized bombs

10 - 12 sprigs of dried lavender - flowers only
2 tbsp citric acid powder
6 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
20 drops of lavender essential oil
2 tsp almond or vegetable oil

3 x small/medium shaped biscuit cutters

Use a completely dry bowl (and hands) to mix the bicarbonate of soda and the citric acid together (the slightest bit of moisture could set the mixture fizzing!).

Add the essential oil, almond/vegetable oil and the lavender flowers and mix with a metal spoon

Place the biscuit cutters on some baking paper and spoon the mixture in.  Press down firmly with the back of the spoon and add more to top up if necessary, pressing it down to form a compact 'block' inside the cutter.

Leave to dry and harden for at least thirty minutes, over night if possible but not essential.

Add to a bath, lay back relax and enjoy!

** Definitely more favourite recipes to come **

Peace X

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

what I achieved ...

... today, was not what I set out to achieve.

I had planned to be an all-efficient-action-mama fastidiously printing copies of my CV and distributing it with a smile round the promising places on my list.  But various things (including a computer dragging it's sorry ass in from the stone-age at the library) conspired against me and that side of the day was rather dismal.  Feeling a bit woe is me I looked about noticed my to do list mocking me from the fridge and promptly started on a Ta-da list which looks something like this ...

made pumpkin loaf
made salt dough creatures and decorations with Gaia
got Gaia to nursery
did three loads of washing
made some lavender bath bombs which the children loved!
thrifted a gorgeous vintage duvet cover for the girl
made the effort to go to the library despite the outcome
made a roast
downloaded some application forms to fill in at work tonight

Tomorrow is another day.

Peace and light X

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Autumn Days

It's that time of year again when the aroma of stewing hips and berries and spices fills the house and every morning the children jostle to take their turn at a spoonful of the nutritious ruby syrup. This year the girl has helped me make it.

My garden gives a final harvest of the only successful above ground crop this year, thanks to the mollusc invasion we have had.

We are two weeks into the school year and we have spellings to learn. I'm not a fan of homework - certainly not at Zanders tender age so I'm trying to find gentle ways to let it into our lives. Last night we donned pyjamas, grabbed books and paper and pencils and jumped into my bed. Points to a very tired mama, it worked.


Gaia learnt to ride her bike last week and the weekend with it's blue skies and low sunshine seemed the ideal opportunity to make the most of both of them being able to use wheels! We biked through the meadows and along the river to the pub. I can't believe Gaia's little legs got her all the way there and back it must have been a good couple of miles.

We found a lane we've never ventured down before and joy of all joys it is a virtual treasure trove of blackberries, elderberries, hawes and rose hips!

Gaia is able to play Uno with us now in her own right and she has won the majority of the games she has played! It's such a fantastic way for her to really become familiar with numbers in an informal way and it's also a beautiful opportunity for Zander to proudly and tenderly share his knowledge with his little sister.

See his little skater dude look with these new shoes I pulled down from the loft? ... subtly liking a little style of his own.

Gaia started nursery this week ...

... and so my child free time is, for the foreseeable future, to be consumed by finding another job finally. This is big for me because in order to earn enough to stay afloat and get enough sleep to be a good girlfriend and mama I am going to have to ditch some irrational pride and the notion of a 'proper job' and go pull pints, stack shelves or serve coffees. I have shelved the idea of childminding I think because my house and my life are chaotic (read comfortingly messy) and whilst I am happy in comfortingly messy I haven't got the bothered at the moment to bring the house up to a standard ofsted and other parents would approve of.

Autumn rolling into town all spangly, crisp with the scent of change hails a pause for reflection and inner workings. I muse ... upon how I must know myself better in autumn than at any other time of year. It is now that I am most critical, introspective but paradoxically most inspired, most hopeful and excited too. Inspired by the words of this beautiful Mama I am going to start mapping where I want to go - inside and out, who I really want to be - now and when I grow up, how I can be this and do that - on a daily basis and in the longer term. Already the promise of this process is reminding me of forgotten dreams, dreams that I could perhaps realise sooner rather than latter.

My chaotic nature often sees dreams flutter nervously in and out of my consciousness without me pinning them down and visualising the journey, I waste too much precious time procrastinating.

There is much warming my heart I am grateful for at the moment ...

... like the children's ability to compassionately recognise a true crisis. When I awoke with a migraine I had no choice but to crawl back to bed after dragging myself downstairs to unconsciously throw cereal and milk into bowls for them. Zander tucked this under my arm as I rested and I didn't hear a peep out of them.

like their love ...

and togetherness ...

And as if it were not possible for mother nature to enchant or delight me anymore with autumn just look who Gaia spotted snuffling through a pile of felled branches in our front garden yesterday afternoon!

Tomorrow we celebrate Equinox with fire, food and friends. One thing I fervently resolve is to bring folks together more as the wheel turns instead of only wishing it always would be so.

So love, light and happiness one and all x x x

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Adventures in Utopia

A few weeks have passed since we returned from Shambala and this is, maybe not surprisingly, one of the first things the kids did the first morning back .... I give you ... Zander, Gaia and the Tin Pots ...

... coming to a festival somewhere in the future!

Since we had kids festivals have been a paradox ... I love them and couldn't imagine a year where we don't go to at least one but I cannot deny camping with small people is exhausting. I've always maintained though that the more we do it, the easier it'll become until one day when they're seven, eight, nine or ten, we'll smile at one another and our little festival pros and drink smugly under starry skies to the initial effort.

Shambala was a gentle mix of hedonism and a safe and stimulating environment for the family. There were so many workshops we have resolved next year we'll do more of together. It made me silly happy to join a Bollywood dance class on the Sunday morning under bright blue skies and I've got to big up the strategically placed sandpit actually allowing mama's and papa's to have a bit of fun.

The dance classes took place outside these amazing tipi's which we have fully decided we are going to live in one day!

And Gaia shook her tush at the kiddies wake up shake up dance class ...


Tree hugging is compulsory in our family, that is all.  Yes we are a bunch of smelly happy hippies!






My inner mama grins stupidly at how these simple yet suggestive instillation's might ignite their imaginations!



All hail the high imps!


the enchanted woods were ... enchanting, psychedelic by night. I know not who this pretty stranger is but I'm a bit in love with the shot.


Success on the music front as we made sure we saw more bands this year, I was super excited about Belleruche and bounced up and down wildly with Zander on my shoulders for a good half hour ... yes I ached like fury the next day! And it felt like I'd come full circle watching Billy Bragg, as an anarchic late-teen I dug the certain something raw protest songs have about them.


Sharing bedtime story time with other families in the family yurt was hearty and warming, like a good soup. Free cocoa ... they thought of everything! Though I get better at it every year I still resolve that we should participate even more the next. Community and participation is where it is all at as far as I can see, it brings me so much joy and again I imagine how the children will reflect on these things, I only hope they remember fondly the vibrations thousands of people coming together can create.

I am in a quandary about the night time though. Previously we've taken the kids to festivals in July when the nights are still long so they have stayed up or snoozed and reawaken and rejoined the party and so staying out late hasn't been an issue. But going at the end of august when night time rocks up at 8 and the children sleep in pushchairs whilst we look awkward on the fringes of the melle, felt a little oppressive. I wonder if we'll go somewhere different next year in June at midsummer so I have hours in which to whip them into a frenzy before the veil of night settles on us all.


Zander's focus and enthusiasm on tight wire walking was intense. He spent a long time building his confidence, you could see he'd set out to master it. I get so excited watching the children take instruction and inspiration from other young people. I'm learning to step back and let this happen more and hold back on getting too involve, letting them learn to stretch their wings without me.


Forever gobsmacked by Gaia's confidence which knows no bounds. Merrily chatting away to this girl at least five times her age as she tried to get this hoop going on her as yet non-existent hips!

Roll on summer 2013, my imps and I are ready for you!

Peace and light X