Thursday, 29 March 2012

Yarn Along

Linking to Ginny at Small Things for this week's Yarn Along.

This week I have started these wristlets for Miss Butterfly from Vampire Knits. There are some silly things in this book that I would never make, but there are actually quite a few patterns I really like, such as these wristlets, some capes.
The yarn is a grey/blue tweed from Bendigo Woollen Mills.
I am reading Down To Earth by Faith Addis, an English bookabout a crazy family that just keep taking on new country projects and often get in over their heads. It was made into a series that was great. This said of the few episodes I managed to see as ABC put it on at 6.30 pm! Can you imagine?! Is there any mother who could manage to sit down and watch an hour episode at that time?!

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Last Week - Our Happenings

First, my boys!

And does Cuddlepie remind you of something else in this photo?

Close resemblance, huh?!!

Not much in the schoolroom this week, due to illness enjoyed by all. Just kept up with our letters and lots of reading aloud.

The letter S was accompanied by the story of The Six Swans, my favourite fairy tale. And I absolutely love the Sevenwaters trilogy by Juliet Marillier inspired by this story.

The letters B and F are a bear and a fawn - you can tell that, right?

And R for Rapunzel. And that is the end of our first Language Arts block. 16 consonants and 4 vowels. The rest will follow in the next block.

This week we are onto a one week Autumn block which will round out the term nicely. And of course, Easter very soon!

We have been reading a fabulous little book found at the op shop - always find the best things there!!

The Dwarfs of Nosegay by Paul Biegel. It was originally published in the Netherlands in 1976. Absolutely delightful drawings and stories. In the story we read last night, little Peter Nosegay, the youngest dwarf, had been to visit Queen Zoe in the bee city as the dwarves had run out of honey for their Midwinter Feast.
I just love what you can find for 50c.

Independence Days with Adventures In Country Living

After reading this post and this post at Adventures In Country Living, I decided to give this challenge a go as a way of helping me along and making me more accountable. I had just finished reading the Sharon Astyk book when I stumbled across Anita's blog in that convoluted rabbit hole way you find things on the internet!

Anyway, this is my first challenge update so here we go! (I know, it should have been Monday, sorry about that!)

Plant something
There is a nursery next door to hubby's work and they often give us past sellable seedlings - still fine though, just a bit too leggy to sell. So planted some lettuce and onions. Unattractively covered in chicken wire to deter chickens!

Harvest something
Peaches, peaches, peaches! I wish I could send you some, Anita! Any recipes (especially if they don't involve peeling!) gratefully accepted. And, as you can, still tons more on the tree. We have been harvesting them a bit green as our district has a wasp problem this season.

Preserve something
Roasted pumpkin seeds, dried apples and dried tomatoes. See those tomatoes - that used to be a whole bag of tomatoes! I am also currently drying some peaches and have stewed and frozen batches of peaches.

Waste not
We always feed our food scraps to the chickens. I get a bit stressed out when we visit people and see them throwing food in the bin!
We have also been feeding the fallen peaches to the cows - the boys think it is great fun listening to them crunch away at them and then spit out the stones.

Want Not
Not sure what I can put here; maybe that we went op (thrift store) shopping and I found quite a few items of boys' clothing in bigger sizes to put away.
Whenever I grocery shop, I always buy at least two of each item, so we stay well stocked up. Everyone in the house now knows to get stuff from Mum's 'shop' in the plastic crates under our bed (even though they think I'm crazy)!

Eat the food
Spaghetti bolognaise last night from last year's cow we raised. And surprisingly, peaches!
Tonight a dried tomato, fetta and spinach quiche.

Build community food systems
We gave away some of our peaches to a friend who previously gave us some plums. We were given some beetroot by another friend. It all just seems to go around.

Skill up
Don't know - I would say just 'meeting' new people on the net and finding out how they are doing things. There is always something new to learn!

Here is the link to Anita's post for this week.

So how about it?! Even if you are not a full-on preparedness, self-sufficiency crazy nut, it can only help to do one, some or all of these things on a regular basis.

I've Been Tagged

I was tagged (um, 2 weeks ago - so sorry, Kelly!) by Kelly at Happy Whimsical Hearts, so here are my answers to her lovely questions.

What is your favourite childhood memory?

This is easy. A visit to a farm. I cannot remember whose farm it was, where it was; I can't even remember how old I was (I think about 5), but all I know is this was the moment I knew I wanted to live on a farm. I never wanted to leave there! It was a pretty ramshackle old farm house with no heating other than fireplaces; it had that slight mildew smell about it. But I loved it! I wanted to take all the sheep home with me. After that, all my pocket money was saved for 'my farm' and I started to keep an exercise book with lists of the animals I would have and what their names would be. And now I have some of them!

Maybe not quite this ramshackle!

If you could travel anywhere where would you go?

I know this is super nerdy, but nowhere. Legoman actually said something this morning that is exactly how I feel. He was looking at the cover of a book I am reading at the moment - this one:

And he looked at the photo and said "You know, if you lived there, you could have your holidays at home - they have forest to go camping and lakes for fishing and so much room!" And that would be my idea of a holiday (or everyday life!)
I have my eye on a 200 acre property on the edge of the Grampians National Park at the moment, so wish me luck convincing hubby!

When do you feel most fulfilled?

Oh my goodness, I am about to write another homebody type answer! But I would have to say when we all have a lovely day at home, working together on a common project, like building the new chicken house or something similar.
After that would come, of course, when I am knitting, quilting or some other craft.

Which book character do you identify with?

This is easy - most definitely Elinor Dashwood from Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility. I can so relate to all her feelings. I am definitely a keep it all in, suffer in silence, kind of person and would have acted exactly as Elinor did. I adore Emma Thompson's portrayal of her - that scene where it finally works out for her and she allows that little cry to escape after holding it together all that time is so perfectly done.

How old do you feel?

Still feel like I am in my early twenties, but definitely am NOT! The other day I noticed grey hairs and I wondered how long they had been there without me even seeing!

What is your favourite time period?

You can probably already guess but would have to be late Regency - 1830s or so. Tasha Tudor is my heroine and I would love to dress that way every day. Mind you looking at that photo, that pretty much is how I dress!

And I so would love to have a meadow of daffodils!

A large group of friends, or an intimate circle?
Most definitely an intimate circle. I don't do small talk very well and so am not a great mingler at parties. And I tend to have some 'different' ideas and am far from normal (according to Miss Ballerina), which makes it hard to engage in conversations about fashion or whatever else seems to come up in small talk. I try not to be too weird though, I promise!!

What do you wish for your children?

I think we all say the same here - I wish for them to be happy and fulfilled. I wish to feel they can pursue their goals, no matter how weird, without being made to feel ashamed or embarrassed by their choices. Most of all, I want them to not just 'follow the sheep' and do what they think they should do. rather than what they feel is right for them.

What is your favourite season?

Autumn or winter - I definitely like to hibernate! Perfect for crafting and lots of reading aloud in front of the fire.

Who wouldn't want to curl up on that chair and read by that fireplace?!

If, and when, the time comes, do you think you would want to be called nana, grandma, etc and why?

I don't know on this one. My mother-in-law is Nanna and my mum is Gran, so I kinda feel like those names are taken at the moment. It would be weird to use one of them. Also, it is a bit too close to comfort to think about that, with a 16 year old daughter!!

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I always wanted to be a farmer (refer first question above!). Once I reached teenage years, I wanted to be an animal technician and work at Melbourne Zoo or Healesville Sanctuary, or a librarian.

Thanks, Kelly, for the fun!

Finally Back!!!

Woman Sick in Bed clipart
I have been sick, sick, sick - and then everyone else was sick too. With seven in the family, illness can seem to last forever by the time it has been through everyone!

Also, my internet has been slowed down - the pleasures of living rurally. We have limited download (and it still costs about 6 times what 'city folk' pay for unlimited) and we always use it up before the end of the month. One day the broadband network may reach us here! So I am sitting in front of the computer with my knitting as it takes about five minutes to load a new page. Lucky the boys are happily set up making a Lego city! And I will get on to catching up with some posts.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Our Week In The Schoolroom

I am a bit slow posting about last week's school as we had visitors over the long weekend.

Last week, we did the letters M,D,E,L and H.

Legoman's lady had a path leading to her house on the hill.

We did beeswax modelling. Whirlwind made (with some help) snail bodies for his snail shell collection.

Legoman made a sword.

And just some more of my darling big girl, Miss Butterfly's, artwork.

The background is done with Caron d'Arche Neocolour II watercolour crayons. I love these crayons - they blend so beautifully - so I purchased some for Miss Butterfly and she has been doing some lovely work with them.

Yarn Along

Same book as last week! Depletion and Abundance by Sharon Astyk. Really loving it!
Knitting is the ugly yarn pants that I am making for Cuddlepie, although I may have to change the name as I am quite liking the way it is knitting up!

There are many ideas to implement from this book, but the chapter I have just read is an issue that I know I have to work on.
It is subtitled "I Don't Know How She Does it!" and the author's answer to this is - I don't!

Every time I am doing something, I'm letting something else lapse, usually something that probably shouldn't.

If I look at what I didn't do, at the mess, the chaos, the exhaustion, the failures, it doesn't look so hot. So I try not to look, and hope to do better tomorrow.

Do the best you can, trust yourself, and be pleased with what you do. Embrace the chaos

These are just quick little quotes; the whole section is quite funny as she lists all the things that WERE accomplished rather than focusing on what was not. I musat admit to feeling overwhelmed when looking at the all the undone tasks; for example, right now I SHOULD be weeding the strawberry bed and winterising it. And tomorrow I will look at it and feel guilty that I was blogging instead!
But I have decided to take a leaf out of the author's book and I am going to keep a little journal of all the things that I did do in a day. I just have one of those little pocket diaries and will jot down a few sentences each day. Especially the little things that otherwise would be forgotten and that we don't usually count as being tasks achieved. Cuddling baby on the couch for half an hour as he had fallen asleep in my arms is just as noteworthy as making 20 jars of jam, don't you think?

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Yarn Along

I missed Keep Calm Craft On yesterday, so I had to make sure I was here for Yarn Along!

Two books that I have been reading simultaneously - People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks and Depletion and Adundance: Life on the New Home Front by Sharon Astyk.

People of the Book - lovedy, love, loved it!! This is my genre - historical fiction - but done from the perspective of the people who were involved with a particular book throughout its history. I have always had a thing for objects throughout history - just imagining that, for example, Marie Antoinette sat in that chair or Queen Victoria drank from that teacup, really thrills me. This book is for my book club which is tonight. I tried to finish the book last night but was just too tired. So I arose early this morning and just as I was reaching the conclusion, children woke up! I had to sneak in the last chapter in bits over the morning - not quite the same!!

Depletion and Abundance - well, as my hubby would say, not another Peak Oil book! Sometimes I wonder why I read them, as it is preaching to the converted. But there is always something new and this book is particularly interesting. Written by a woman about how women have the most to lose from climate change and peak oil and thus the solutions should come from the domestic front. We cannot wait for the politicians or big business to solve the problems; we must wade in for ourselves.

And knitting - one hot cross bun is completed and I am knitting more. I really like it - bigger than I expected though, about the size of a real one.

And progress on my shawl - slowly, slowly!

And just a cute photo of Cuddlepie! This is how I found him asleep this morning, draped over a teddy bear. And what is with the stripes, mum! Three different stripe patterns! I read someone's (can't remember who now!!) blog entry on photos of her children in stripes. I think it is because I get bored doing one colour knitting and what else do you do for boys - stripes or cables seem to be it!!

Happy yarn along, all!

Sunday, 4 March 2012

The Thrift Book by India Knight

The Thrift Book: Live Well and Spend Less

I have been flicking through this book and there are so many thoughts in there I so totally agree with. I particularly like what she has to say about clothing. She talks about how there is a reason that clothing is so cheap in KMart, etc.- that someone, somewhere, probably a young child or overworked mother, has paid the price for your cheap clothes. There is a new advertising campaign here in Australia for KMart that just makes me cringe every time I see it. It talks about how we all love low, low prices and how much they have lowered their prices for us. I must admit that KMart is amazingly cheap now - you wonder how they do it. And then you think and you KNOW how they do it. I would so much rather buy Fair Trade items for twice, three, four times the price and have a much smaller wardrobe.

But I particularly like this in a chapter at the end of the book called 'Emotional Thrift'. It is a long quote but so meaningful.

Appreciate what you've got, even the really small things. For me, those really small things are often domestic, and I hope this book has communicated my enthusiasm for the nourishing significance of the very small. Everyday happiness, as opposed to one-off bursts of pure ecstasy, is intricately tied in with tiny everyday events: the jaunty-looking teapot that pours without dribbling, the children's bathtime, blossom in spring, an especially good book. These things aren't sexy, or glamorous, or envy-making, but they are the fabric of all our days. Concentrating on them, and on all the small joys they provide, can be intensely fulfilling.
Be happy. We are all blessed, in thousands of different ways. So we're not a size 6, cavorting on a yacht with George Clooney. So what? I'd rather be sniffing my babies' heads. There is enormous beauty in everyday life, and it doesn't cost any money to look at it and feel glad to be alive.

Exactly, so exactly!! When I read the last sentences in the book, about sniffing babies' heads, I thought, here is a kindred spirit!

I just had to put these quotes here, if only for me to refer back to when I am feeling down. I must admit to feeling as though I am not where I always wanted to be or should be, and I must remind myself to just live each day and appreciate.

Our School Week

This week, Legoman started his first Language Arts block. We did the letters P,K,Q,W,G,J and O.

I have already posted the handwork we did - washing the fleece, carding and making a wool angel.

Watercolour painting was also on the agenda. We went back to single colours and did yellow, blue and red.

Yellow was done using the story 'The Purse of Gold', so Legoman started out painting the 100 gold coins. Whirlwind was painting a dinosaur - totally unrelated!

Then they both seemed to decide it would be better to fill in the whole page with yellow.

Which I guess was pretty useful as Legoman's yellow paper is now being used to make the golden stars that are used to represent the vowels in his Language Arts block.

A Beautiful Parcel Arrived In The Mail

I just love receiving special mail and this was a totally lovely one to receive. Beautifully wrapped . . .

And the goodies inside!!

Some gorgeous hand dyed wool felt and a knitting toadstool. Don't know what happened to the girls' knitting nancys - they had doll ones - but they seem to have disappeared, maybe in all the moves we have made.

I ordered these beautiful items from Jo at the lovely Indigo Inspirations. You must visit her - she has such beautiful, beautiful items. (I know, how many times can you use the words beautiful, lovely, gorgeous - I need to get a thesaurus to find some more words to describe her shop!)

I must admit to being a teeny (OK, a lot!) jealous of Jo - she is living exactly what I have always wanted - crafting for a living, living in a community that supports her beliefs and values, and the verandahs on her house are to die for!

Anyway, you MUST hop on over to her shop and have a look - you will LOVE it!!

Friday, 2 March 2012

Autumn Nature Table

I do so love autumn, so we were very excited to set up the beginnings of our autumn nature table this week.

I love the little toadstools! I made them today, after seeing this post at Hinterland Mama.
What a great idea - I loved it so much that I actually went and bought some door knobs from the hardware (they were only $1 each though as they had lost the attaching screws).

I managed to convince Whirlwind that five shells from his empty snail shell collection would be enough. This is some of the collection as he displayed it on his table. He actually has about thirty snail shells now. He is so excited when he finds a new one.

And just a funny photo from today. This, apparently, is how we must dress now that the cooler weather has arrived!

No need for long sleeves as long as you have gloves and a beanie!

Creative Friday - - - - With The Kids

Today I am turning Creative Friday over to the kids.

Miss Ballerina made this in a subject at school called Edible Art. They had to design a cartoon character cake from playdough.

Miss Butterfly is studying surrealism in Art at the moment. Drawing halfway finished.

Whirlwind drew a pine tree.

And for Handwork today, Legoman made a carded wool angel.

Teasing and carding the wool, which he really loves doing.

As we were making the angel, he lay down on his pile of carded wool - 'oh so soft!'

Later he came back to me and dictated his instructions for making a wool and silk pillow so I could 'put them on the computer'.

First, you have to dye a silk, whatever colour you like. Then wrap the wool in the silk and put a rubber band around it. He did say if you were good at tying bows then you could use a nice ribbon!

How cute are kids!!!

Linking to Creative Friday at Natural Suburbia.

We've Been Baking

We actually made this on Tuesday (and then again on Wednesday - we had a lot of bananas to use up and it was delicious!).

It is the Banana Dream Cake recipe from Everyday Food Storage. A great site for recipes. I do have powdered eggs on hand, but only use them if I have none of our own. So we used fresh eggs in this recipe. I did use the buttermilk made from powdered milk though. And I used half white and half wholemeal flour. And being unable to make a recipe without changing it, I added some nutmeg and chopped almonds. Just made a quick icing with nutmeg in it.

Linking to Happy Whimsical Hearts today.