Community garden

Friday, 23 September 2016

Spring has sprung!

I love spring, it must be my favourite season.  Mind you I say that every season......except in the middle of summer.....My fair skin is not designed for our hot dry summers.  Spring is full of new growth, new possibilities, new life.  Everyone looks to be outside. 



Henry watering the pots.  I thought by giving him a cup and a bucket to water with his exuberance would be contained, but alas 15 minutes later he was soaked through.  ha!

My camomile needs to be picked and dried for tea.

Fresh baked banana bread.

My beautiful bunch of sour sobs picked by little Henry.  A bit rumpled but picked with love and proudly displayed  "I pick you bootwiful fowers Mama."

Washing in the sun.  I love when its not draped around drying on racks inside our little cottage. 


I hope you all have a wonderful and relaxing weekend! 

Much love,
Emma
xx

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Fullness...

Things have been plodding along at the little old cottage.  I'm so grateful for these spring days.  There has been organising, soap making, gardening, study (oh my goodness the study.) and of course caring for the boys.  Life has been just so full.

Sometimes it feels like too many things demand my attention.  But then as usual, my mind wanders back to something I read in a book about the Amish.  One Amish woman has just done her housework, another came to visit and with a pot plant or something and accidentally knocked it on the clean floor, making a dreadful mess.  Instead of being exasperated together they laughed, and cleaned it up.  When she was asked if she was frustrated she replied (I'm paraphrasing here.)  "Surely it is a blessing to have my dear friend visit, I would much rather have work to do with my friend then not.  Work is a blessing from the Lord."  Or something along those lines. 

It stuck with me.

We seem to live in a time where busyness can easily be idolised.  Where it can be an avenue of people justifying their worth.  Their contribution if you will.  But each person is special enough without all that "stuff".  Work is important, but not more important then the person doing it.

But instead of busy, I like to think of things as full.  Full.  Its a good word isn't it?  A full cup of coffee, a full table of food, a full bar of chocolate,  what blessings, what joys! 

So right now my life is full.  The study, oh my goodness.  There is no quick way to skim over the Old Testament in Uni.  The only way is to go through it.  (I'm reminded of the book We're going on a bear hunt..."we cant go over it, we cant go under it, we have got to go through it!...")
The reality is, that takes time.  So.much.time.  The history, the stories, the dates.  So many names.  But oh so fascinating.  I feel my brain being stretched.  My thoughts challenged.  What a blessing it is to be able to learn.  To grow.

Mothering is never ending.  The tears to wipe, the tummies to tickle, to books to read, the daily tasks to help with, the lessons to teach, the frustrations to ease, the meals to cook, the cleaning to be done. 

But what a blessing it is to have a full life.  


My organisation point finally back up.  So helpful!  Chargers, pens, notices, sticky tape.  All those bits gathered in the same place.

An old sheet cut into rags for cleaning, enjoying a cuppa and the sunshine.

There has been the ordinary house work, cooking, cleaning caring for the boys, the ongoing renovations.  The never ending washing.  But what a blessing it is to have a family to care for, to be needed so much.  To breathe my sweet boys in as they are warm and clean after their bath.  Sleepy and tired from a day of being little.   

There are pets to care for.  Just look at Ronnie's face!  So much beauty. 

Herbs and greens looking happy, a little nibbled but there is enough for all of us.

Spring is in the garden.

Soap has been made. 

There is church work to do.  Families to help with, friends to check in with, work to be done in my chaplaincy roll.  But what a blessing it is to be part of the community.  To be able to do Gods work.  To have His peace in my days, through the seasons. 

Sometimes it feels so busy.  But then I correct myself and remind myself that my life is simply full.  Because the things we do are all important, carefully chosen.  They are all a part of us.  Of the work we choose to do.  Its the work that weaves the fabric of our lives, the way we teach our boys the important lessons in life.  Work is a blessing.  We are made to work.  To be challenged is a blessing, to grow is a blessing. 

So today as I look at the things I need to fit in.  I breathe in.  And then give thanks, pour another cuppa.  Pop on the washing, stoke up the fire and steady myself to do the work of today.     

Much love,
Emma
xx

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

The good old days......?

EDIT:  I'd just like to say thanks to the readers who have stuck around while blogging has been a bit patchy and haphazard, who continue to write encouraging messages and wish us well! It means as much as ever to have you all here plodding along the simple living path with me.  I have lost a huge stack of readers just recently (like 300-500 in about 5 days - ouch!) I must admit I was a little dis-heartened at first.  I wondered if I accidentally offended a bunch of people.  Perhaps it was a technical glitch, perhaps my content has been repetative.  I'm not sure to be honest, I am simply me.  Nothing more and nothing less.  But then I remembered I do this for us, for our family.  To record our story.  I don't pretend to know everything, in fact the more I learn the less I know.  But we love trying to diy, to live simply, to be present.  To put first what truly matters.   

I love feeling connected to you all out there.  We little home bloggers, blog for the love of it as life allows, there is no money for many of our efforts, and that's just fine.  So Thankyou for those who continue to pop over to our sometimes chaotic, sometimes messy but always honest and filled with love in our little corner of the world! Xx

When we hop on line and look around the internet there are so many people simplifying their lives.  Its so interesting to see how everyone is doing it.  Some are living on large properties and living self sustainably, some are renting, some are in the city and some are in the country.  Some people have children, some don't.  Some craft, some garden, some are minimalists, some op-shop, renovate and cook. 

Its amazing really isn't it?  That so many of us are all working towards similar life goals but all doing it all so differently. 

Sometimes we can look at all the advertising in the world and become cynical.  We can think that everyone in the world is obsessed with more. 

But when I see preserving jars in mainstream shops, I get excited.  It means that there is a demand for them, that preserving is hitting the main stream.  Cool huh?

Henry checking out the fresh picked daffodils from the garden.

We can get cynical of big fancy appliances like the thermomix, and all in one cookers.  Taking over the old skills, technology blah, blah.  But you know what I see?  A generation of people embracing home made foods.  They don't want to put preservatives in their food, they want to cook from scratch for their families.  They may well be the generation that missed out on being taught how to do it our grandmothers way, but they are forging their own path forward despite that!  They are looking for a way that makes sense to them, to cook the kinds of foods our grandmothers cooked, but doing it their way.  These are often families with two working parents, deciding that investing in home made foods is of upmost importance to them.  The savings then prove them selves, the health benefits become apparent, they begin to look around at what else in their house is chemical laden and they are already half way down the simple living rabbit hole! 

I remember an old high school teacher of mine.  Mrs Lill, she was a wonderful science teacher, quirky, kind and passionate.  She wore blue eye shadow and was just the loveliest lady.  She was the epitome of what a science teacher should be, there was something kind of wonderfully mad about her!  She loved a good story and would tell us all kinds of interesting things about history, science and everything in between.  Often starting with "in the good old days, which weren't really the good old days at all.."  It's a phrase that has stuck with me deeply ever since.

A quiet (rare) school morning.  Will is writing poetry, the little ones drawing.

And you know what?  She was right.  I wouldn't go back.  Modern medicine has saved millions of lives, especially that of women and children.  I would most likely have lost at least one child by now and possibly died myself in labour if it was not for modern medicine.  That alone is enough for me.  But lets look at women and education.  Even in my parents generation the fields at which women are now in has grown considerably, and is continuing to do so.  We have not reached equality, but we are slowly moving in the right direction.

I have the privilege of having a profession under my belt.  Because of it, I know I can provide for my family if need be.  But due to our life choices and a whole lot of luck, I have the choice to stay at home and care for my children.  That's why there is freedom in it.  When we romanticise the "good old days" we forget the brave, strong women that have paved the path for us today.  We belittle the amazing contributions they have made in politics, science, arts, education, religion, health and business. 

I love being at home, but I give thanks to the strong, hardworking, spunky women who have walked before me.  Because of them, I can go back to Uni and study theology.  Because of the battles they fought, I can both be at home, work and study.  Because of them I'm allowed to speak in church, fancy that! ;)

It is easy to sit in our modern thrones of privledge and look around and say things were better then, but there was still problems.  Serious problems that existed within society then, just as there are now.  Let's not look at the past with rose coloured glasses.  Thinking this generation is all doom and gloom.  It's boring and we should know better by now.  

I am forever greatful for the "good old days".  But I am greatful for the choices, for the pendulum making a gentle swing back there with a modern twist. 

I love that corperate companies don't know how to appeal to younger generations.  That they don't want fancy, formal furniture.  Eat in kitchens are a big thing, stiff formal dining rooms are disappearing.  "Vintage" is cool, so is op-shopping, the Internet is filled with cool patterns, people seeing and spreading creative ideas.  It is easier to buy fair trade then it ever has been!  I love that being environmentally friendly is a major branding thing now, and they best back their claims or they will be found out and dragged through the ringer if they claim falsely.  That people are demanding fair trade, co-ops are growing, farmers markets are cool.  In my state, it has become clear that the self serve checkouts are a failure.  Turns out most people don't like them here.  Ha!  If that's not a gentle protest to the bigger, faster, flasher movement I don't know what is.  People crave connection.  As much today as ever. 

So I encourage you to look around and see the good things going on.  The primary schools putting in veggie gardens, and bringing in chooks,  re-introducing cooking programs with the kids.  The parents searching for home made recipies, investing in their home kitchens so they can teach themselves how to cook from scratch, people getting chooks, baking and using green cleaners, churches helping the needing, caring for our mothers and children, Lets use the global connection we have to teach the importance of simplifying, show people how we are all connected, that our waste is all connected.

Little puss sleeping in a hand made wooden toy.  The Internet has been wonderful for allowing people all over the world having little home based businesses.  Allowing people to persue their hobbies, passions and creativity.  

Everytime we see someone trying to move towards a simple life, weather it be eating less processed foods, putting in some herbs or veggies, getting a worm farm or building a compost heap.  Weather they are walking to school or work, making their own cleaners.  We need to high five them!  Not look back in time and say things were better "back in the old days", or point out the way they could do it "more simply" (groan) or point out what they are doing wrong.  Lets celebrate them, like their posts on social media, cheer them on and share the love.  Lets use the checkouts with people to send the message we want them to focus on employment rather then speed.  

Let's not look at the past with rose coloured glasses, instead let's look forward.  Armed with everything we know, and move forward togeather in support of eachother.  Let's give thanks for the past, and for the wonderful oppertunities it has paved the way for us today.

How else can we celebrate the simple living community I wonder? 

Much love,
Emma
xx


Thursday, 18 August 2016

home sweet home.

Finally our electric oven is re-connected, Oh the luxury!  It must have been close to two months now, and finally we have a fully functioning kitchen.  Not aesthetically complete, but fully functioning none the less. 

Its hard when your renovating such an important room to make do for that period of time.  Its one thing when you bring in trades, they can usually fit a kitchen in the matter of a couple of days.  But when it is as big a job as restoration of the building, and THEN the renovation of a kitchen it is an entirely different process.  Add on doing it yourself, with a young family....well.  Its not easy. 

A random photo of Henry napping with all his cats.  Just because it's too cute not to share! ;) 

Having been through this process a few times now, with several different houses I know it is a season.  I know it will pass, and I have no desire to run myself ragged through an already difficult process trying to keep up all we already did.  When life if stressful, I focus on mental health, on rest, on our little family.

If you have been reading my blog for a while now, you might notice a pattern.  When things get hard we lean on conveniences.  I'm OK with that.  When we pick up extra work, when we pick up challenge's, we must lay something down to make room for that.  Or we will end up stressed out, over tired, and resenting the things we truly value.  Each and every time, when the challenge or the stress disperses, we quickly find ourselves back in our familiar and enjoyable lifestyle.   

If your a die hard simple living person who does everything from scratch all the time I might have just about lost you about now.  And that's ok too.  I'm here to represent the completely ordinary, the un-spectacular and the bumbling along kinda people.  Trying to live simply, growing over time, and simply enjoying the things we value in life and creating our life style to suit that.

First batch of laundry liquid made in our new kitchen.

When people ask us "how do you do it all?!"  And the simple answer is, we don't.  When we renovate, especially on such a big scale that where our energy goes.  That and our family.  We support the local family owned and run chippy shop once a week, twice if things are completely falling apart.  We eat spag bol for three nights in a row, eggs on toast, and slow cooked casseroles of whatever-needs-to-be-used-up-and-thrown-in-a-pot.  The thing is when you are working to save such a huge amount of money on trades, something has to give.  For us to spend a little extra on our grocery bill is the compromise we make.  For us, life is all about compromise. 

We have estimated, that once our kitchen renovations are completely finished, including the tiles and so forth, floors laid it will have cost us approx. $8000-$8500.  We saved money by keeping the vintage electric oven.  
Kitchen from Ikea : $5700 (including sink, taps, handles, dishwasher, range hood)
Wood oven: $300 (Will sell the old one for parts to re-coup some of the cost, this number reflects this.)
Big re-cycled wood beam: $160
Electrical: $400 (Grant laid all the new wiring in the ceiling and removed the old wiring and the electrician checked it all over, and did all the correct fittings to the power board, safety switches etc.)
The rest went on bits and bobs needed when you renovate.   

I reckon if we have of used trades this figure would have doubled, if not close to tripled considering the structural work like the demolition of the wall, new ceiling, treating the salt damp, restoring the brick fireplace, plastering, hours spent laying wiring, fitting the kitchen, tiling etc.  It does not take long for the trades to add up on an old house like ours.  Things are never as simple on an old place, and you will always encounter problems, which take time, which then costs more money.  Living rurally means tradies charge extra to come out here too.  We have local trades, but things that are a little more specialist like stone masons and kitchen cabinetry companies.   

When hanging a collection, it helps to lay it out, then take a digital photo to refer to as you go along to reference as spacing and layout. 

Since having the kitchen in I have found time in my day to potter about and fluff up my nest.  Sometimes picking up simple living jobs we had let slip.  Other times doing those fun little projects.  Hanging my vintage plate collection was one of them.  None of them are valuable, they are all bought from op-shops.  But I love them all! 

Grant laughed at me.  Now I have my rocking chair and my pretty plates out.  I would love to use them, but the dishwasher will strip off their paint.  So I will make do with just having a few out of display.  There is no point having our favourite things tucked in a cupboard! 



I bought this little glass house at the same time we bought the kitchen from Ikea.  We took cuttings from the garden and found some little pots and bowls and it was a fun little project with Will.  Now the cats cant knock them over.....cheeky things!

Anyway, the boys are all hovering about so it must be dinner! 

Much love,
Emma
xx



Friday, 12 August 2016

The garden waking up.

 The days are growing longer and warmer oh so slowly!  The garden is beginning to shoot out, flowers blooming.  Everyone is looking to be outside, much to my delight! 
 The Almond trees are all beginning to bloom.


 All sorts of bulbs are popping up, we have a lovely patch of daffodils. 

The tree is loaded with lemons!  Lemon butter and lemon curd to come soon. 

The boys and I planted some spinach tonight in the raised bed, dug in some organic matter to enrich the soil.  We cleared out some borage and comfrey and transplanted it in the garden.  The kale has been badly eaten, but hopefully it will bounce back.  Coriander is looking great, parsley is busting out of the pot.  Some herbs are frost burnt and I shuffled a few pots about into different positions to see if they would be happier, but as the sun comes out they will begin to bounce back.

Here is my night, completely un-filtered.  Sometimes I think we are tempted to only put forward the best of our lives,  so this is me, being real.  There are dishes in the sink, mess on the bench and todays lunchboxes cheerfully dumped waiting to be tended too.  The wood fire is crackling away and it needs a good sweep.  Clean washing waiting patiently to be folded, table loaded with books and study stuff.  Is it perfect?  Nope.  Is it Pinterest worthy?  HA!.  But its real, Its our life.  A home is for living in, friends are always welcome.  Clear a spot, grab a hot cuppa and settle on in for a good yarn!

Much love,
Emma
xx

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Juggling!

My goodness the last few weeks has been such a roller coaster.  Starting a new job, realizing that because it is ministry community work it has the risk of overflowing into all areas of my life.  But also loving the organic nature and flexibility of work hours. 

I am busy, I am tired but my heart is just so full. 

The almond trees are flowering, so pretty.  Little Puss has decided she likes to sleep in the napkin basket.

Study, oh my goodness my brain hurts.  I find myself falling asleep in piles of books, notes, cats curled up with me and the laptop on my lap. These people are so smart.  Everyone seems to be able to debate and think so fast.  There is only about 8-11 students internally, the class is so small, there is no where to hide!  Apparently it is quite a good sized class (about 35 in total, some external) for a theology subject.  Though coming from a nursing background it feels tiny.  The lecturer is fascinating.  She has such a huge knowledge, and very warm and friendly.  I quite like her, though am a little intimidated I must say!  I realized going back to uni to study starting with my weakest subject, Old Testament, was not necessarily the best thought out plan I have ever had.  But no doubt it will be interesting! 

But I am happy just bumbling my way through.  I seem to find myself bumbling and tumbling my way through all of life, so I have embraced that it is just my way.  I'm sure a rhythm will appear in time.  The sooner the better though.  I have not yet mastered synching my phone diary with my personal diary.  I'm a visual person and struggle to keep track when things are all digital.  I prefer paper books and diary's with pages.  Though I am slowly learning.  (I swear I was born in the wrong era!)

I managed to squeeze in some time to finally finish sewing my nephews Waldorf doll.  He loves green, and Super Hero's.  His clothing is made from Marvel fabric, and he is made of cotton tricott, wool hair and he is stuffed with pure wool.

You know the imagery of the graceful calm duck swimming in the pond?  That the duck looks lovely and calm on the surface but its legs are madly paddling underneath?  Well......That's not me.  I'm more like the duck that splashing about like a mad thing, ha!

The other day I woke up knackered, I looked at my diary, it was clear for the morning though I had Uni in the afternoon..  I decided I was stay home and do some research/emails/paperwork for my job.  So I had a bit of a lazy morning, knowing I didn't have to physically face anyone.  Instead of getting showered and dressed, I pulled on a hoodie over the old daggy trackies and plain cotton top I slept in, threw on my black walkers and rolled out the door. 

At this point something felt "off".  I rechecked my diary, all was good.  Shrugged it off as paranoia.  I loaded everyone in the car, coffee in hand and drove the 30 mins to school and childcare. 

Dropped everyone off, on time, all good.  Thought I would nip in to Foodland grab a few fresh groceries and put a simple casserole in the slow cooker, ready for the boys when they came home for dinner.  I was feeling quite content while thinking I was rocking the work life balance thing that morning. 

Then my phone beeped....It was a reminder for a meeting I had in 45mins.  It was a 1hr trip if I was to try and swing past my house to grab my work stuff and try and look even remotely presentable.  AKA not looking like I had just rolled out of bed.  Which I had....oops.

I rang my boss hopefully, thinking maybe I had programmed my phone wrong.  Nope.  As a small expletive slipped out of my mouth, I jumped into the car completely mortified.  RAN into Big W, grabbed a note book, pen, and loose casual comfy pants I knew I would wear again and again.  I was legit in and out in about 7 minutes.  Rummaged through the mountain of things sitting in my car, I have been meaning to sort through, found my favourite scarf I had misplaced, pulled off my hoodie as the top underneath was just a plain cotton top, tied up my hair, threw on some deodorant, rummaged through my "spares" bag, found some wipes I keep in the car to freshen up, pulled off my fluffy socks so I was wearing my plain black walkers, realized I had to change my pants in the car in the Big W underground car park, I was just  praying no one would walk past at that very moment.  I got to the meeting, looking almost presentable, and almost on time.....Thankfully it all went well.  Chaos I tell you, Chaos!

This afternoon I thought it would be nice to take some photos of the garden, pick some flowers for the table while the boys played......I wandered around the garden, snapping some lovely photos, trying to relax and be present.  The reality was, when I went to upload them here I realized I left the memory card out of the camera, which means none of the photos were saved, the kids fought like cat and dog, screaming blue murder at each other the entire afternoon.  So I gave up, wandered back inside, where it was quieter, poured myself a glass of wine, pulled up the rocking chair in front of the wood oven and chilled out while dinner cooked. 

But as I bumble though these days, things are good, there are simple moments scattered throughout the chaos, slow moments of togetherness. We are so very blessed, my heart is full.  It is so important to be able to laugh at your self rather then fret and worry.  I have peace that I will find my feet soon enough and I am meeting some beautiful people on the way. 
 
The kitchen is nearly done now  Goodness there is such freedom in having a workable space.  I did not realize how hard it had been trying to make do all this time.  The oven will be connected next week, the light oak laminate flooring will be laid once the back end of the house is repaired.  It is only a small kitchen, but very workable. The range hood needs to installed, Window repaired, tiling done.  Slow and steady.  The realities of DIY. 



Much love, 
Emma

Xx

    

Friday, 29 July 2016

New seasons.

Change is in the air around the little old cottage. 

The days are growing longer, the sun beginning to show its face again (kinda) after what has been a cold and wet winter.  Its been lovely to have such a real winter after the fires, there is so much green about.  But the sun is also wonderful.

Our kitchen is going well, though not finished yet, it is mostly functional now.  We have the top cupboards still to hang, the tiling to do, woodwork and walls to finish painting, the electrician to finish off and the floor to give another paint.  We will lay oak coloured timber flooring when the back part of the house is repaired.  For now the painted floor will give us a clean, sealed surface. 



Even though the kitchen is not finished, it feels like total luxury!  Clean cupboards, solid benches, a sensible pantry to build up a stockpile again..  Finally I can unpack my kitchen properly, we can drag away the old van from the front of the house which is blocking the light into the lounge and get on with an ordinary life.  I'm cooking on the wood oven for now, until my old vintage oven is re-connected which I'm getting the hang of, though not ideal this winter as we have not got wood stacked, cut, organized and dry as we usually would seeing as we have been flat out trying to get the place liveable since moving here. 

As this semester commences we are entering a new chapter in our lives.  I have been offered a job through the Uniting Church Synod to help women and children recover after the devastating Pinery fires that came through our district at the end of last year.  I feel so very blessed to be able to do the work that's in my heart of hearts.  It is one day/week for 6 months.  I am also doing another subject at college, this time a 1st year bachelor subject which is a step up in study too as I continue to explore ministry.

I'm very excited about these doors that are opening, but also aware that a new door cannot open without an old door closing. 

So it seems I am quite possibly coming to the end of my season of being a full time Mama at home, I have loved this special chapter of my life.  Its been beautiful, hard, messy and challenging.  So if my blog is quiet I am here.  Refelcting on life, the changes and making the most of it all.  Foucusing on being present, on working out how to do what I need to do in the time I have and honouring it all, and myself as I learn a new rhythm for our family. 

I am ready for these changes, I am excited for them and feel blessed to have this work to do.  It is a new season, full of possibility, new experiences, people to meet.  But it is tinged with just a touch of sadness.  After all there is beauty in all seasons.  Each one important and precious.

As I was typing this Ecclesiates 3 came to mind....


A Time for Everything

1There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
 
So as I enter a new season of life, I'm not sure how much I will come to blog.  My mind has been blank recently.  Perhaps it was the busyness of school holidays, the distractions of a new job to find my feet in, A job I will need to forge my own path in.  Study and the reality of the new season I am entering.  Perhaps it has been that with the renovations life has not been simple.  Perhaps it is a combination of all of them. 

I will no doubt return to blogging with my heart full of passion for it with photos of the cottage and our simple living life to share.  Stories of the boys, the garden and my usual random thoughts and ponderings.  But for now, I feel I am entering a season of rest for this little blog.  As I work to find my calm place in amongst the changes in our lives.

Much love,
Emma
xx