Saturday, 14 September 2013

Infusing Autumn

The imps both lay sleeping, soundlessly snugged up in blankets on the couch.  They drifted off cosy in our nest as I prepar dinner from the garden and nature documentaries play on the TV: belly's full of fruit and cake.  Each afternoon since school began last week I have dug my heals in and said no to TV and playstation after school.  None at all, not a drop - just music and audiobooks and other more meaningful activities.  The impact it has had is as I expected, they are less manic, massive relief!  But today the boy took a nasty tumble on the unfriendly concrete of the school playground and so I wanted him to rest.  If there is one DVD that I can guarantee will grip them in a good way, interest and intrigue them, get their inquisitive minds enquiring it is Life of Mammals.  Vivid imagery and the soothing voice of David Attenborough.  They really love it.  Zander too was watching Horizon the other night - about the plight of bees and he seemed to be recalling extraordinary facts with surprising precision, his mind is hungry for factual information and it wants to rebel and freak out when bombarded with cartoons for cartoons sake.  So that is exclusively Daddy's bag.  He puts cartoons on when I am at work and so I have no guilt in depriving them of these when I'm on duty!  Our influences balance each other out and I can live with that - the imps will thank me when they are older.

Last days.  Of summer, of having my baby girl at home during the week .... I am feeling conflicted within, at odds, jagged edges.  No wonder.  Seasons of my life change as the seasons of the year do too, Autumn is infusing my home and my heart ... I want to wear jumpers and fill the house with smells of baking.  It is comfortable, even when it rains, comforting perhaps in a strange way.
 The last day of the summer holidays was truly the last day of summer ... made the most of with a paddling pool party ...

And those last weeks were the ones I embraced so much more convincingly than the ones that came before.  The knowing that the end was in sight made them more precious than my complacent imaginings that the summer holidays last forever ... as they did in my childhood.  Perspective changes.  We spent hours playing games and I embraced spontaneity, or rather the art of appearing to be spontaneous!

Breakfast fire in the garden


Breakfast in the woods



I got me this thing about spontaneous breakfasts in particular.  I guess its the least likely time of day to get up and do something exciting and unexpected so the impact the children feel is greater.  It's been so much fun and going out very first thing we are full of energy and good vibrations and we are home by lunch time, thus the day elongates and feels so timeless and infinite.  Yes! I am mastering the art of manipulating time!


Dude!  Rainbows in porridge! 

Zander brought me a handful of sage and said he'd picked it so I could make a sage bundle ... what perfect thoughtfulness ... he knows me, so very well.  Be still my heart.


I made this Tee-pee when they were oh so small, from branches of trees we cut right back in the front garden.  Somehow, it seems poetic and fitting that as my last baby goes off to school things shift shape, I dismantled it today.  Half coming down anyway it seemed to be calling quietly to me to be re-imagined into something new and exciting for them.  A reminder that things are impermanent - like the sinew the American Indians make their dream catchers from - it is only meant to last a while and will wither away with weather as the child grows.  I feel this here.  The possibilities for this space are exciting.  

Autumn starts to infuse our nest and I welcome her as I did when I was a child.  For different reasons but all the same she's here again.

... but thank you  my darlings for a wonderful summer.  Thank you for all that you've taught me, the challenges you've brought me (no really!).  

Mama X

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Store cupboard dinners challenge: Day 4 : Abundance

This challenge has really got me going!  This morning I compiled a list of things that could keep us going until Tuesday next week based around our store cupboard and the garden with minimal spend on essentials like milk, loo roll and eggs!  Today the garden has provided all but one ingredient for our dinner.  We have courgettes potatoes and spring onions still out there and I have mint in the fridge that is dried from ages ago.  The one naughty ingredient I bought in is a block of feta which combined with the veg creates a luxuriously flavoursome Greek casserole type thing and it is something we eat relentlessly here in the summer and never ever grow bored of.  It tastes unbelievable and is a recipe I have been making for over ten years now.  The kids go especially nuts for it when I use our homegrown veg.

For lunch we had a little party just me and the two imps as orchestrated by Gaia who is very aware of the need to celebrate this last day of the summer holidays.  I love that they already recognise  the importance of marking poignant days, even full moon has become a cause for their attentions now.  So I made pizzas, we had scones left over from breakfast and I bought some crisps as a treat and also a pineapple because there's no fruit left in the house.  Fruit is essential and I won't scrimp on it.

This is frugal living, yet it feels way more abundant and real than the depressing consumerist habits it is easy to fall into when I'm time poor, distracted or too tired to think.  Abundance is a theme I am exploring lately within the context of family life and the kids perception of it.  It is a constant battle for me as I am not a high or even moderate earner due to the part time nature of my work since the kids were born and I do not hold much importance on being so, happiness and balance are immeasurably more important than wealth.  But I have noticed myself saying all too often things like 'Sorry I don't have any money'  'wait till pay day poppet' 'I can't afford that' lately.  And I shouldn't - lest the kids grow up feeling deprived and impoverished even if only conditioned by me and my words to think that.  I am coming round to the idea that the trick here is to make everything seem abundant even if money is scarce.  And in working on seeming abundant I actually start to feel more abundant myself, then it all flows nicely round in a circle governed by the law of attraction ... what you put out you get back.  In this sense creating abundance is actually proving easier, less emotionally and physiologically demanding than stressing and frowning about the bread line each day. I am genuinely surprised at how much money I have saved this week and I'm kicking myself for not being more conscious of my spending more of the time.  Turning it into a pro-active project in these posts and on facebook with friends has given me an enthusiastic kick up the ass.  It's all in the mind, I see that now.

Bon Appetit! 

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

This moment

When the youngest is about to fly a little, 
stretch her wings some and branch out, 
it is bittersweet.  

A moment 

of deep aching to have those pre-school years all over again.
A disbelief at how quickly those years passed,
nostalgia for the days she babbled like an incoherent brook and poked me with sticky pudgy fingers
always beaming, always smiling, always radiating the purest of joy.

How did we get here?  

Sentimental tears risk breaching the tiny well springs in the corners of my eyes at any moment
as I watch her now, fascinated.
The sun drenches her corn gold curls so that they are illuminated like a halo around her
A bow I made hangs across her back, 
her little arms milk bottle white and she runs to the back door...
'I love you mum' she says, then scampers off again for more merry mischief.

When I really stop and let the blessing of my children permeate my deepest soul

Time stands still.  
Love and purpose pulsate the ether.  
I love watching, 
just watching them discretely, so that they do not realise I am watching at all.  
So busy and blissfully uncaring for time 
they are truly living, I mean REALLY living
BEING, human beings.  

I muse that once I would have greeted life the very same way,

only indulging each and every moment as it came ... with wonder and imagination, 
spontaneous and curious.

I am enchanted, 

mesmerised by her every move as I sit here.  
She is magic.
I am blessed.

Store-cupboard dinners challenge: Day 2 & 3

Day 2 of the challenge we spent happily lazing in the park - a sort of last chance saloon to hang out with friends before the kids start going back to their separate schools for the autumn term.  I managed to create a picnic entirely from garden and store cupboard supplies!  We had jacket spuds and hommous, homemade bread rolls, buckwheat, quinoa, courgette, tomato and herb tabbouleh, raw beetroot and tomato salad plus i shortbread for treats.

For dinner we had spaghetti bolognese and the only ingredient I had to buy was spaghetti - the organic wholewheat stuff was on offer so a proper bonus.  The sauce was made from homegrown tomatoes, onions and courgettes, garlic, herbs and soya protein mince and we had apple and blackberry pie left over from the night before for afters.

Day 3  has been just as successful.  There was left over spag bol and tabbouleh that we devoured at lunchtime and for dinner I made samosas from scratch ... potatoes, peas, herbs and spices, flour and water.  I also made chickpea and tomato ketchup curry - a favourite River Cottage store cupboard recipe.  We made more Tansy Shortbread for pudding and I even found some glimmer sugar in the back of the cupboard which we decorated them with.  I actually feel like we've eaten better this week than normal because I've been creative rather than approaching dinner time with dread and lethargy.  Food made with love and inspiration always tastes ten times better I think.

love and light X

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Store cupboard dinners challenge week! Day 1

So again, well as usual but extremely so, I am broke and the cost of living keeps on keeping on up.  I hate feeling like I can barely afford to feed the family.  It could either depress the hell out of me or spur me on to rise to the challenge.  So I'm challenging myself to a week of store-cupboard dinners again ... if there is the odd ingredient that is a game changer and not in the house I'm prepared to buy it otherwise if it's not in the cupboard or the veg plot its not on the menu.

Yesterday got off to a great start.  We went blackberrying.  I am besotted with the subtle start of autumn, she turns me into a hopeless romantic, poetic and whimsical ... my thoughts are poetic my food is poetic, I'm just utterly in love this time of year.  The kids and I are almost addicted to the high we get from gathering in all the blackberries we can carry  if pots and bags become too full then bellies are good for transporting berries too!  So we had apple and blackberry pie for pudding ... i bought 1 x cooking apple for this otherwise it is totally FREEGAN!

For main course I assembled an alternative lasagna.  Chestnut mushrooms from the fridge and courgettes from the garden very finely chopped which I charred with garlic and homegrown tomato, herb and honey passata arranged ratatouille style between the layers of pasta from the freezer and homemade bechmel sauce.  It was probably the best vegetarian lasagna I have ever eaten and I'm not just blowing my own trumpet.

For lunch the kids ate jacket potatoes from the garden with a bit of butter and hommous (which I bought as they won't eat my home made hommous ... whats with that??!!) and I had some raw beetroot salad that was left over from yesterday ... also entirely store cupboard/garden made.

Gaia made shortbread biscuits which we had all the ingredients for and we even had icing sugar too so they are a slightly naughtier treat now!

Tomorrow I have a picnic to prepare for too but I have scanned the cupboards and made a list of all sorts of possibilities for the rest of the week, I can do this!  And with the money I am saving I  plan to take the kids to the cinema tomorrow for kids am as the tickets are only £1.75 each even for mama.  I am working a night shift tonight so it is perfect - they watch the film, I snooze in the dark and a lovely end of school holiday treat. 

always love X