Slow Living :: July 2015

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July is a time when the garden really steps up a notch and we begin to get some sort of reasonable harvest from it (as chaotic as it currently is).  It’s also the time other people’s gardens are in full swing and our neighbour very kindly gave us a small plastic sack of blackcurrant boughs (as she’d hacked back an old blackcurrant bush that she will be replacing in the autumn).

We had a team effort stripping the currants off and then split the 6lbs into half for making syrup/cordial and the other half for wine.  From the syrup we made some rather delicious blackcurrant sorbet (as well as enjoying it as a drink).

We’ve also been busy harvesting and drying various herbs from the garden and keeping them either for cooking or medicinal uses (to that effect Moo has been infusing oils with calendula and lavender for later use in making skin products).

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We celebrated my second son’s 19th birthday with a cheesecake made my Moo (short of a few snaffled strawberries) and enjoyed meeting up with friends to enjoy some of the sunny weather.

 

 

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Slow Living :: June 2015

June was a busy month and it was hard to find time to blog.  30 Days Wild saw us getting out of the house every day (even if it was ‘only’ to walk the dog – something that I hadn’t done for a while due to mobility issues whilst pregnant and afterwards, when I had to be careful of any sudden pulls or jars), but I have had to take it carefully as I still have some residual difficulties with my knee, back and neck.

It was Minnie’s third birthday during the month.  Moo made a wonderful birthday cake: sponge flavoured and coloured with berries, layered with whipped cream and more berries, covered with a marshmallow frosting made from marshmallows she made herself, coloured with – yes, you guessed it – more berries (our strawberries have been busy in the garden!) She decorated the cake with a particularly impressive calendula bloom, surrounded with pinks and violas.  It was very pretty and tasted amazing!

June is the month for foraging for elderflowers and making elderflower cordial/syrup – some bottled in the fridge and some frozen for later in the year.  It’s wonderful for adding a dash to all sorts of things (including the crumble above).  I also made a mint syrup from chocolate mint in the garden (I have a few different mints) and Moo made various ice creams and sorbets.  We were gifted some rhubarb and, along with a punnet of strawberries, Minnie made her first crumble (which was served with some homemade vanilla ice cream made by Moo).

It’s been hard to get into the garden and do much.  Arty wants to be held all the time and isn’t great about being laid down (if he’s asleep he swiftly wakes up again).  He seems to know when there is work to be done, or if there is something else I’d like to do, but whenever we are out, he will sleep through with no problem at all (even in a busy indoor play area!)  Still, I managed to get a bit done and helped Minnie’s pot on the experimental tomato cuttings.

June also saw Erk back from university and doing a national tour of family and friends.   It may have been ‘slow’, but all-in-all it was a tiring month!

Slow Living :: May 2015

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With a newborn baby, May has seemed rather a blur. However, you generally don’t get much done at any speed in the first few months and it has been another lesson in patience, because even getting something as simple as the washing up done isn’t a given.  I started off using a stretchy sling, but problems with my neck and back have meant that towards the end of the month I’ve had to put sling usage on hold, which has affected the amount of household tasks I could do (because he’s not a fan of lying down without being directly on or next to someone).  So I’m struggling with some frustration at not being able to get things done that I feel I should.

The children have been variously helping to prepare food and Moo has, of course, been baking.  Amongst various other cakes, she made two different lemon drizzle cakes: one in a bundt pan, decorated with violas and calendula petals; another in a loaf tin, decorated with lavender flowers.

The loaves of bread may look rather simple and uninspiring to you, but these are the first two loaves that I was organised enough to make after Arty has been born.  I was very pleased to finally have got back to making bread again (and I’ve kept it up since – so a little bit of normality regained).

Plenty to sow this month and plenty growing.  The first of the tomatoes (Latah) are fruiting and our sweet peppers (approaching two years old) continue to fruit.  Currants are also fruiting and the strawberries flowering.  There’s a huge amount to do in the garden and I’m trying to rise above feeling frustrated that there is very little I can get done with Arty.  Thankfully plants will continue to grow (if a little haphazardly) even with a small amount of care and some things, salad for example, are already being picked and eaten.

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Slow Living :: March & April 2015

violets-300x300Living in the moment may well be good advice, but as I mentioned in my Slow Living February post, I find doing so in February particular hard. Much as Imbolc (Candlemas) brings the promise of greenery and warmth to come, I long for the coming of Ostara and the Spring Equinox and the year seems to shudder and lurch towards this turning point.  Being heavily pregnant exacerbated this and, as I got larger and required crutches to get around, I became increasingly frustrated because I was lacking for fresh air and countryside (Minnie and the poor dog were similarly frustrated, relying, as they do, on me to give them a good daily airing!)  Pregnancy may well make one slow down, but not necessarily in the way one might like.

Craft

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With a baby due and being unable to walk far, it’s unsurprising that I did a bit of knitting, but it has only been some, because I struggled to be enthused (I blame the heaviness and anaemia that mean I feel perpetually exhausted). I’ve been sporadically knitting up a cardigan for Stinkers and have repeatedly cast on and frogged a lace scarf for myself because it just hasn’t been quite right, even though the yarn for the scarf is gorgeous hand-dyed stuff from the Natural Dye Studio.

In preparation for labour I made up some essential oil blends for a massage oil, a facial spritz and a post labour bath.  As it happened, I didn’t end up using them in labour, as I had a caesarian instead, but the mixes can still be used in the bath and refreshing facial spritzes are always useful!

Grow

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I’ve posted a separate entry regarding what we’ve been up to in and around the garden during March and April:  March & April Gardening.  It’s not been a huge amount, certainly not as much as I would’ve wanted to do, but have had to be realistic this year.  There’s been plenty of help – gardening is a team effort here – but without my ‘organised head’ on, I’ve forgotten to remind people to do the watering I haven’t been able to manage, or the various little jobs that you notice need doing when pottering around the garden (because pottering isn’t something I’ve been able to do much of).

There’s also been the ongoing frustration of the garden itself being sorted ready for new plants.  Having moved here last year and the first few months being taken up with care of the (many) pots we’d brought with us, lapsing into morning sickness (which doesn’t exactly inspire one to get into the garden) and then moving into issues with mobility due to getting bigger and heavier, it’s been difficult to get much physical work done.  J is wonderful, but works long hours and the weather really hasn’t been conducive to getting the bulk of ‘groundwork’ (digging up turf, mending runs and building fencing) that has needed doing.

It’s been quite some lesson in patience for me.  I haven’t always borne it with grace…

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A bit of fun exploring colour with the little Minnie.  Moo already understands what happens when various colours of mixed, but it was an exciting activity for a 2 year old!

Celebrate (and Bake!)

March and April are busy months for celebration in our household, with J’s birthday at the beginning of March, followed by Ostara (Spring Equinox), my father’s birthday shortly afterwards and then various birthdays of friends and family in and around and through these months (including my own in April).  Once March starts to get closer to the Equinox, I find my mood begins to cheer and there’s a palpable shift in energy (although it clashed rather with physical ability this year!)

Moo has been busy making various cakes that have mostly featured chocolate (far more cakes than those pictured below!)

I had the pleasure of attending a friend’s Blessingway (she’s due some six weeks after me) and had a lovely day of celebrating her pregnancy and the impending arrival of her baby (a few of my friends are either expecting babies, or have already given birth).

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By far the biggest event of the past couple of months for me, however, was the birth of my youngest son, Arty.

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Slow Living :: December 2014

I’ll admit that I’m not a ‘winter person’ – likely a candidate for a lightbox and a steady supply of D3 supplement, I tend to shut down as mid winter approaches.

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So rather quiet as a result.  Mostly hiding away.

COOK:

Fudge for gifts (‘blinged’ by Nin); gluten free mushroom and caramelised onion tart for a Solstice celebration followed by homemade fudge icecream; and a gluten free lemon and almond tart for a Christmas dessert (we actually had turkey for a change as a main).

MAKE:

I’ve been on a bit of a crochet thing and am on to the second blanket (Stinkers eagerly helping), plus snowflakes destined to eventually be part of our seasonal decorations.

MUSING:

December is always a quiet month.  Where many are particularly festive, I’ve found that difficult this year and have retreated back somewhat, giving some serious thought into what I want this time of year to mean and feeling very pushed and pulled from external sources for it to be something I don’t want.  It’s very hard to find balance when you feel that other people are yanking on the arms of your scales.