bright sunshine

Whole life sustainability looks different for everyone

bright sunshine

Bright sunshine

Last night I was going through my to do list and checking off a few things I had researched for some of my clients and I realised just how different whole life sustainability looks between people.

Whole life sustainability should cover all areas of your life, your mental, physical, and financial well-being, the planets well-being, your direct and indirect community.

For one person it is help in figuring out how to overcome the challenges their disability brings.  significant sight loss and memory issues due to traumatic brain injury. Learning how to cook meals that are nutritious, home made and affordable, working out a system that allows them to remember what to do when and how. Budgeting and saving even though the income is very low. And being able to find affordable ways to go out and meet new people and join clubs to ensure isolation doesn’t take over.

Another  client has recently lost her job and is suddenly on significantly reduced earnings. Because of this and because of her skill set we have worked out a barter system, I am getting help with a few big jobs that I haven’t been able to do on my own and she is getting my help fixing her budget, kick-starting her garden into producing some of the more expensive crops (mixed salad anyone?) and some super easy, super rewarding ones that give lots and lots of food over a long growing season (hello courgette!) which in turn reduces her dependency on shops.

What areas of your life are not sustainable as they are now? What would help you make them sustainable and what would you need to get started on this?

 

Courgette bread

fresh from the oven courgette bread

fresh from the oven courgette bread

AKA getting your kid to eat his vegetables!

The oldest twin has sensory processing disorder (SPD), for him some of this manifests in the inability to deal with textures of food. This means he is a picky eater who needs a lot of persuasion to eat most things unless they are chocolate covered.

He loves bread and would be happy with a diet that solely exists out of Marmite on toast! One day I made a courgette loaf to go with the tomato soup (that he will absolutely NOT eat) and he took a buttered slice of the breadboard. I was about to say something when somehow wisdom overcame my normal inability to keep my mouth shut and he ate the slice, said the bread was delicious and asked for another slice! He watched me slice it and noticed the green bits.

“Eew mam. Nooo. I want the delicious bread”

After some convincing he took a bit from the “gross bread with bits” and realised it was the same delicious bread. That was the start of him eating vegetables. In bread only.

Basic lazy bread recipe

  • 500 gr strong flour (white or brown. Both works)
  • aprox 300 ml hand warm water
  • pinch or 2 of salt
  • small glug of oil or knob of butter
  • tsp of instant yeast

mix all the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients. knead it through for a minute or 2 and place it, covered in the warmest spot of the house overnight. it will increase in size by more than double so ensure that the container can contain the rising dough!

In the morning (or 6+ hours later) knock the dough back, shape it and leave it to rise for at least an hour or when it has doubled in size. peheat your oven to 200 celcius/gas 7 and cook for 45 minutes for a medium crust. an hour and 10 mins for a thick and crispy crust.

For the courgette bread!

  • 1 small courgette
  • 1 tbs of parmesan or similar cheese (nutritional yeast works well for a veggie option!)

add these ingredients just after mixing all the dry ingredients but before adding the wet ingredients. Otherwise cook it the same way!

 

 

 

"dustcatchers" on the wall

You must be minimalist! {OMG! WHY??}

"dustcatchers" on the wall

“dustcatchers” on the wall

Ha! no way! I absolutely LOVE my stuff. My little sister calls them dust catchers and “tierelantijntjes”. She is the minimalist in the family whose house could have jumped out from the pages of some fancy home magazine.

I love my bits and bobs, my rocks and gems and little statues. Beautiful shells from my travels line the many tiny shelves and display corners. My window sill is a giant shrine to the things in life that I love. my walls have many pictures and paintings and tiny shelves that should hold herbs painted in fantastically kitchy colours. And yes, dusting takes f-o-r-e-v-e-r!

I LOVE stuff!

I am far more selective about it now. I have to be. If I mooch around a carboot sale or a nice little charity shop and I find treasure it needs to:

  • be small enough to fit on one of my shelves
  • be so beautiful I will smile every time I see it
  • fit into my mad colour scheme (some people say I don’t have one and its chaos, they may be right!!)
  • have meaning in some way
  • have more than 1 purpose

These are the “rules” I go through when I find something. Rules are there to be broken though and if I really really love it I will break one of the other rules and bring it home.

Sometimes things will no longer fit the purpose I bought them for, sometimes they break or sometimes a friend sees something and loves it much more than I ever did and the item leaves my home making space for something else.

I don’t think living tiny means living minimalistic. I think living tiny gives you more space to be you and if chaos and stuff is what you love living tiny won’t stop you!

wp-1454941042792.jpg

OMG WHY? How small is small? {small house living}

small house means we are all close together

small house means we are all close together

When I tell people my boys and I live small I always get asked “how small”. hence a post on how small our small living is.

We have three rooms in our home. A boys room, an everything room and a bathroom

The everything room

Size 6 x 4 metres aprox

This is the kitchen, my studio, my bedroom, our diningroom, our livingroom. It is truly everything! I have a very small budget so right now it doesn’t make best use of the space and it isn’t exactly as I would like it to be but I have made it work with what I have.

What is in this room?

you know writing this all down has made me realise just how well those hours of playing Tetris as a child where spend!!

  • non perishable food for at least a month ( and enough tea for an entire army!)
  • plates/cutlery/pots/pans/few select kitchen gadgets
  • cooker with 4 gas hobs and double oven
  • fish tank
  • lots and lots of house plants
  • seedlings
  • fridge/freezer
  • approx 500 books (and many many more on Kindle!)
  • sofa bed (no further storage in this)
  • dining room table (lid lifts to store craft supplies)
  • 6 crates of craft supplies
  • potato box doubles as a seat at the table

The boys room

size 4 x 4 metres

The boys bedroom. Generally know as the lego death trap!

in this room we have:

  • 1 bunkbed
  • 1 loftbed
  • 2 chests of drawers (one for clothes, one for lego)
  • Many shelves in the alcoves for books, projects, games etc.
  • Small TV with a WII so we can snuggle up and watch Netflix during one of those many rainy days
  • 2 bookcases
  • desk with pc (under the loft bed)
  • 8 crates with toys (under the bunk bed)

The bathroom

size 2 x 3 metres

In this room we have

  • shower
  • washing machine
  • toilet
  • washbasin
  • storage for all bathroomy bits (tp-paper, soaps, shampoos, toothpaste, washing powder etc)

The Harry Potter (known to most people as the cupboard under the stairs)

Size. awkward

This isn’t a room, its a built in storage cupboard. There is just about enough space for a bunch of crates. a large ikea bag of knitting yarn and my bedding.

wpid-IMG_20130814_141038.jpg

OMG WHY?? {small house living}

wpid-IMG_20130814_141038.jpg

View from my kitchen window

If people don’t ask me outright, the question lies on their face, their eyes betray their curiosity. Their shock.  And their complete lack of understanding.

I hope to explain just why I choose to live in such a small place, how it has benefited us and the handful of downsides that I am working out how to do better.

I have always love the idea of living in a double decker bus. Or one of the tiny homes that are increasingly popular in the USA. In England however the weather is cold, grey and unpleasant an awful lot of the time so keeping a tiny home warm is a difficult task. I am not able to drive and I have no intention of getting my drivers license any time soon. So a bus, whilst tempting, was out of the question. A tiny home sounds great, if you are able to build it yourself. Then kids came along and we bought ourselves a house. it seemed the right thing to do.

Fast forward 6 years and our marriage had broken down entirely. the one and only thing we agreed on was that whatever was going to happen next had to be in the childrens’ best interest. We looked at going our separate ways, each getting their own house but the cost! It would have mean moving far from where the children had settled, far from where I had settled and where the four of us had a group of friends. it would have meant both of us adults living a considerable distance apart which would have meant the children would have seen their dad a lot less. Not acceptable to us.

Somehow the decision was made to split the semi detached little house we lived in into two flats. The children and I would live in the ground floor flat and their dad would turn the upstairs into a flat of his own. And out of nowhere my desire to live in a smaller home was realised. I now have three rooms. The childrens’ bedroom, the kitchen/living room/bedroom and the bathroom. 3 rooms means a lot less cleaning but also a lot less place to hoard stuff.

Living in a small space like this obviously has its disadvantages! For me however the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages!

Whole life sustainability <3

Home made bread

The advantage of down sizing. Home made bread❤

What? you mean sustainability isn’t just a “green” issue?

This was the start of an unexpected conversation with a friend of an acquaintance who asked in that tone “what do you do“. you know, that slightly condescending, superiority complex tone. It is a tone most mums, especially the slightly out of the mainstream mums, are very familiar with I think( but that’s a story for another time!).

No! life, all of life needs to be sustainable. there must be a balance. not over a day or a week but over an extended period. life needs to be adjusted constantly just as the garden needs to be checked and changed so does life. It needs to be sustainable for people AND planet.

I believe we can all have a balance between working and play. I don’t think we should be all filled with stress and anxiety. I know we can create lives from which we don’t need to take a holiday. I believe in downsizing, reducing and with that expanding our lives.

I’ve never been one to chase after the Jones’ and instead was more likely to follow the Goods. Downsizing was the normal natural thing to do for me after splitting up with my husband. it wasn’t easy and it wasn’t without hiccups!

It was (and remains) the best thing I have ever done for my little family!

 

 

claiming the victim title (and being OK with it)

victim information sheet

Wiltshire police witness and victim information sheet

For the past ten months or so I have found myself to have a bit of a stalker, harassment its been called by the police.  A guy who joined a pagan group I co-run and whilst having some obvious issues he seemed harmless.

Being a nice person you try and help. He had no money so you buy him a drink when you are at a moot, you make sure he can get home. You know normal stuff that nice people do. Soon it started to go downhill. His issues that appeared minor to start with became bigger and bigger until I had to step in with my co organiser and tell him as nicely as we could that his issues where getting out of hand, He had show up at the meeting smelling to the point several of us near him where gagging. He carried around 3 or 4 bin bags filled with smelly rubbish. He appeared manic but firmly stated he was fine. Basic social etiquette had gone out of the window for him and he displayed a lot of very inappropriate behaviour. We wrote him a letter, thinking this would be the kindest way to explain things to him. We listed things factually, offered him support and suggested charities that would be able to help him with certain issues. Explained that he would be able to get support from his GP and what he could ask for. Told him we would be there to help if he needed it.

The police asked me why? why did I bother? Because. Its what people should do! We should attempt to help each other! we should try and support each other. If ever I am down in the dumps and struggle to make ends meet so much that I am fishing food out of a bin like he is, I would hope someone would offer a hand to help. I never expected it to backfire. I never expected for things to go from annoying to creepy.

My file is with a sergeant now. Up for review. To see if its worth it in the public interest to take this to court. Yep. Even though My kids and I are suffering because of this it has to be in the public interest to prosecute.

This file starts with stating my name followed by “I am the victim”. That was a hard pill to swallow. I have been a victim and overcome that. I didn’t want to be a victim. I had equated victim with weakness somehow. Worked so hard at overcoming my victim-ness and people telling me how strong I must be to have overcome so much that victim had become equal to weak.

How stupid was that. Us victims are some of the strongest people on this earth. We aren’t weak but rather we are in the midst of the hurricane that is attempting to tear apart our life. And even as it is tearing and pulling and wrecking we are going around with a roll of duct tape patching the pieces back together. Working hard to keep as much of our life together so that once that hurricane has finished we can start to unwrap the duct tape and put everything back together as it should be.

I am Vera and I am a victim.

To be continued…..

Hoop and Hide ready for lacing

Drum Birthing

large alpaca rug with Altar in the middle

large alpaca rug with Altar in the middle

On Sunday I spend the day in Avebury. Leaving early by cab (my ride had cancelled!) I spend a good half hour on my own by the beeches before Adam arrived. I love the silent moments before people start to arrive. sitting with the crows (and sometimes sheep too) there is a peace amongst the stones that you can’t find in other places.

The rug in the above picture is the one I have spend restoring for the past month and a half. the leather had dried out so much it was almost parchment resulting in some unpleasant rips and tears! Many nights I had it spread over t he dining room table rubbing leather cream into the back until the pieces felt soft and smooth. then stitch by stitch each rip was carefully sewn up by hand. I unrolled it with mixed feeling on Sunday. Satisfaction for having finished it but also a tinge of sadness as I had enjoyed working on it very much.

We started the day with tea (obviously!) and followed it with a drumming journey. once finished we got to choose our hides, or perhaps I should say we picked up the hide that was meant for each of us.

Hoop and Hide ready for lacing

Hoop and Hide ready for lacing

My hide, a much larger than I anticipated hide, from a Red deer. Usually Adam has what he refers to as “Avebury deer” (known to most people as Roe deer). We cut our circles of hide, punched the holes and set upon cutting the lacing to lace the hide on the frame and tension it. Lace cutting sounds simple but its hard work! hide is tough and you need a long length of lace to build your drum. After cutting lace you get to stretch it. outside with the lace around the tree and the maker using their body into something akin to a trust fall.

Adam cutting more lace

Adam cutting more lace

Lacing the drum and slowly tensioning it,  bit by bit, was next.  Experience helps for this and I handed the last round of tensioning over to Adam who has made many many drums. Once I had laced the drum and before tensioning I had maybe 10 centimetres of lace left over. After tensioning I had several feet. Enough to bind a bulky handle around the cross laces.

Laced hoop

Laced hoop

The drum is hanging up to dry in my utility room, the coldest room in the house, and I can’t wait to take her up somewhere peaceful and play her for the first time. I will update this post with a picture once she is fully dry. The hide was so large that there was enough to build a second drum and a large rattle. Both are in the process of being made still!

I have done several workshops with Adam and as per usual there is the right mix of sacred and silly. Space to be you and relax. He puts you at ease and walks you through the process step by step. If ever you want to build a drum and you are anywhere near Avebury, I can highly recommend going to one of Adams workshops.

He doesn’t have a site (yet!) but can be found on his Facebook group  here.

fungi!

Home ed highlights

its been a quiet week filled with lots of walks.

my boys following the path to the mudsprings

my boys following the path to the mudsprings

tracking

tracking

leaf fungi

leaf fungi

Even though we go walking here quite often we always find something new. Like this fungi on a leaf!

snailshell

snailshell

The dangerous mudsprings!

The dangerous mudsprings!

The mud springs are an SSSI and far less exciting than they sound! you really have to know what you are looking for to see them. Sometimes if you are very lucky the mud oozes out towards the stream and its easier to see what all the fuss is about.

best time to have a train stopped!

best time to have a train stopped!

funghi!

funghi!

incense supplies!

incense supplies!

These crab apples where dug out from the mud given a rinse in the canal and taken home where I cut them into slices and strung them and hung them up to dry. once dry I add them to my own incense mixes.

Dave going in for the attack

WIP Wednesday

A WIP is a Work In Progress.

WIP Wednesdays is so I can show off one or two of my current WIPs🙂

 

This is a tapestry that was commisioned for someones ritual room. Picture was taken when the sun was already setting so the colours don’t pop as well as they do in reality….

Water

Water

I got some “help” from Dave the cat🙂

Dave eyeing up the yarn

Dave eyeing up the yarn

Dave going in for the attack

Dave going in for the attack