Sunday, May 31, 2009

Shadow Shot Sunday

Inspired by some of the beautiful blogs I follow, I have decided to improve my photography skills. I have been trying to adopt a different way of seeing things, rather than just mindlessly point and shoot,usually cutting heads off or including overflowing rubbish bins and passers by in my picture. I saw this meme on Sunnymama's blog and liked the idea of shadows. So here is my first offering. These are pictures of our ancient garage. We inherited it when we moved into the house and my husband reckons it dates from the 1930s, just after the house was built. It is constructed from - shock - horror - corrugated asbestos! We have been assured by asbestos experts that it is perfectly safe, so it is still here in it's red oxide glory.

Check out Shadow Shot Sunday for more shadow play.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Book Sharing Monday (v)

For our fifth week of book sharing, we would like to share James's favourite book - Dogger by Shirley Hughes.

This is a lovely warm story about a boy, his family and his favourite toy - Dogger - old and worn and loved. The illustrations are gloriously detailed and the characters are just the sort of people you would see in your neighbourhood.

The story is about how Dave loses Dogger and the desolation he feels when he realises his loss.

At teatime, Dave was rather quiet.
In the bath he was even quieter.
At bed-time he said
"I want Dogger"
But Dogger was nowhere to be found

The whole family try to help to find Dogger, but he is lost. He turns up the next day on a toy stall at the school fete, but then a little girl buys him. and then big sister Bella saves the day and it all ends happily. Phew!
We have always been Shirley Hughes fans in this house, but had not met Dogger until last Yule. He has now become a firm favourite, and James even dug out a soft toy dog, which he promptly named Dogger, and indeed Dogger was one of his early words. No bedtime is complete now, without the nightly ritual of looking for Dogger - thankfully he can always be found.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Pizza presence.

Just in the last two or three weeks, we have seen a huge changes in James - his language skills have developed significantly and in tandem with that there has been almost an explosive increase in his imaginative play. Yesterday, James played busily on the bed for almost the entire morning, making pizzas out of the pillows, and using a piece of corrugated card as his "pizza cutter". I spent the whole time just being with him, watching him play and following his lead (I also ate a massive amount of pillow pizza!). His wee face was just beaming as he played and I could see that he really was so involved in his world. I felt so connected to him and I am loving this new stage in his development.
In the evening I was reading through one of the back issues of The Mother magazine, which I have just received and came across an article by Tish Clifford about "being present" which really echoed my experience earlier on. Isn't it wondeful how these things coalesce? I feel so grateful to be present at this time.
She writes:

Children are so much more joyous than adults are, and when I am in a feeling space, my heart area can burst open with bliss and happiness; just to watch them playing is enough. I am not able to be this sensitive when I am not present.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

What the best dressed boys are wearing

Being a Woodland Elf in the morning.

Followed by a spot of nude drawing in the afternoon :)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Book Sharing Monday (iv)

Our choice of book this week is a very old copy of Six Tales of Brock The Badger, by Alison Uttley. This book belonged to my Father – given to him in 1942, when he was 5 years old. He remembers that he was in hospital with scarlet fever, and this book was waiting for him when he came home. He went on to read these stories to my sister and me when we were children,, and I can still recall lying in bed listening with rapt attention to these magical tales. I loved reading them to my older children, and I am so looking forward to James being old enough to appreciate them.

It was hard to choose one tale from the six to share, as they all have that wondrous otherworldly quality about them The one I have chosen, however, can still make the hairs on the back of my neck rise up with sheer wonder. It is called Magic Water, and is the story of a very rainy day at the cottage. Sam Pig loves the rain and makes up a little song, inviting the rain to stay. And Rain does stay! He comes to visit and spends the night in the cottage, disappearing into a rainbow the next morning. It is then that Brock the Badger realises in awe, the identity of their guest.

“Thank you for your hospitality,” said he, bowing low. “I’ve not stayed under a roof for many a year, but when I heard that fiddle’s music, and when I saw that cap of raindrops, I knew I should be welcome.”

There are other beautiful details in the story, like Ann Pig knitting
with flowering blackthorn twigs, trying and succeeding (with Badger's help) to sew raindrops on to Sam's cap, or the descrition of the music when Rain plays Sam's fiddle. A truly magical book.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Our Seasonal Table - late spring

Gina, who writes the beautiful and thoughtful blog, Our Unschooled Family, asked to see pictures of Seasonal Tables. Here is ours. Still one or two rabbit and hen figures remain from Eostre but several things added: a sprig of apple blossom and posy of bluebells from the garden. Their honey scent drifts up to meet us as we walk past. A small wooden bowl filled with fallen petals, leaves and rosemary; some seed packets; a bright yellow sun, painted in watercolour by James, and cut out by myself; and, what a friend refers to as our Totem Pole:) This is a lovely tactile piece of wood carving, by a local craftsman, given to us as a housewarming present 10 years ago. It somehow seemed just the right addition for Beltane. I must draw attention to our flowered table cover, which is a family heirloom. This was embroidered by my Grandmother just after the war. My Dad remembers her sitting in the evenings sewing away, and how it took such a long time to complete. I love to use it, and it has pride of place from now until the end of summer (with a few careful washes). Seasonal tables are such a good way to celebrate the year.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Good things...

Just some of the good things from the past week...

Discovering a local source of raw goats' milk

My two boys playing in the garden

Add ImageK's last day of formal schooling! Good luck with the exams xx

Giggling over old school photos. K and K aged 7 and 5 :)

A boy and his dog.

Chatting with Gran and Papa.

My refillable left-handed fountain pen.

What a good week! Let's have a coconut cup cake to celebrate :)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Book Sharing Monday

This week we have gone for a book that we have been reading lots lately. The Whales' Song, written by Dyan Sheldon and illustrated by Gary Blythe. Again this book originally belonged to Krissie, my younger daughter, and still sits on the bookshelf in her room, but James has been captured by it and pretends to be one of the whales.

It is a gentle story about Lilly, whose grandmother tells her stories of when the whales came to visit, and what magical creatures they are. The voice of the world - in the guise of uncle Frederick dismisses the stories as nonsense, but Lilly falls under their spell.

And right enough - one night the whales do come to dance and sing for her.

She raced outside
and down to the shore.
Her heart was pounding as she reached the sea.
There enormous in the ocean, were the whales.
They leaped and jumped and spun across the moon.
Their singing filled up the night.

How wonderful to see such a sight. And with Gary Blythe's heartbreakingly beautiful illustrations, you could almost be there.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Jam today ... and tomorrow ... and yesterday!

The first of this year's jam - Rhubarb and Ginger is now all potted up and arranged on the cool cupboard shelf. I am so pleased with this, because we are just finishing the last of the plum jam from 2008. We have been self-sufficient in home-grown, homemade jam for a whole year!!!. We give pots away as presents and being Scots, we eat lots of pieces on jam (jam sandwiches), so to have made it through the year without buying any is quite an acheivement, even if I say so myself. Rhubarb is the first of the year - I will make 2 or 3 batches before the end of June (yes, we have a big rhubarb patch :) . Blackurrant and strawberry will be next, followed by raspberry and plum.
Molly Weir, in her wonderful biography of growing up in Glasgow between the wars, describes her delight at finding anold forgotten fruit garden in an empty property next to the office where she worked. She and her mother and brother returned later and filled bags and every container they could carry with rasps and blackcurrants to make their jam. Molly's mother scorned manufactured jam "She's the kind o' wummin that would have shop bought jam oan her table!"was how she dismisively described a woman who had a different view of homemaking from herself :)
James enjoys the skimmings on a crumpet - appropriately still wearing his jammies

Friday, May 8, 2009

Ladies (and lads) who lunch.

Thursday morning is when Gran come to play with James, and my elder daughter and grandson come for lunch. It is a hectic day, but very pleasant, and we look forward to it. Gran has Alzheimer's disease - a living death by degrees. It is advancing slowly but surely and every now and then we notice with a jolt that another piece of her has gone missing. Today as we enjoyed a leek and potato tortilla, green salad with a honey dressing, she said "That was lovely - I really must start learning how to cook." This woman has inspired me to do many things in life, but one of the most important things I learned from her was how to cook. From baking jam tarts to helping with her "Greek nights" she allowed me into her kitchen and pretty much gave me free reign from an early age. When I was 14, she bought me the Reader's Digest Cookery Year, which is in constant use to this day. Her meals were delicious and quite imaginative for central Scotland in the 60s and 70s. "Oh Mum - you are the best cook!"
We still have her, though, and for that we are thankful. James has only ever known his Gran with AD - not the strong, creative, organised and capable woman my older children, niece and nephews knew. But somehow, from a tiny tot, he has had a special bond with her, and they play, draw and read books for long spells of time. My Dad remarked the other day how gentle and patient James was with her. I read on Sunnydaytodaymama's blog the other day, the famous passage from The Prophet by Khalil Gibran - Your children are not your children:

You may strive to be like them, bur seek not to make them like you
For life goes not backward, nor tarries with yesterday
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

I will strive...

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Watery Wednesday

Today was Wednesday. It was rainy. It rained...

...and rained...

...and rained...

...and rained all day.

So - we played with water...

...and then made a squidgy orange cake and choclotate chip cookies!

We like watery Wednesdays :)

Add Image

Monday, May 4, 2009

Book Sharing Monday

This week I would like to share a classic book – Winnie The Pooh by A. A Milne. This is my younger daughter’s copy, although my own childhood paperbacks are around somewhere. If your only experience of Pooh Bear is the bowdlerised Disney cartoon versions, then I would strongly urge you to give the original gentle text a glance. Surprisingly, as it is seems a bit long and wordy for him, James will sit quietly and listen to stories being read to him from this book.His favourite is the first one – In which we are introduced to Winnie-the-Pooh and some Bees and the Stories begin.

Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin. It is, as far as he knows, the only way of coming downstairs, but sometimes he feels that there really is another way, if only he could stop bumping for a moment and think of it. And then he feels that perhaps there isn’t.

I love this passage. In the hurly burly of family life I often find myself feeling the same way – for a moment – then off we go into the whirling reel again! I must try to bump more mindfully.

As the story progresses, Pooh bear spies a honey tree and tries to trick the bees into thinking he is a black cloud floating in the sky – with the help of Christopher Robin, a blue balloon and some black mud.

If only he had come to beekeeping classes with me - he might have learned that bees do not like the colour blue - Silly old Bear!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Tonight I am wearing.....

I went to my first practical bee keeping class yesterday and absolutely loved it. How amazing and wonderful bees are! And it was such a mindful and serene experience handling them - not at all frantic as you might imagine. The beekeeper has to be calm, measured and purposeful when handling the bees and show them utmost respect - for they are Zen Masters.
There is more about my bee experience on the garden blog.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Another prickly post.

Further to my nettle post the other day, I now have 2 gallons of nettle wine fermenting away. The recipe came from the blog of the inspiriational Mrs L.
Some picture of the process - started yesterday.

Half a gallon of freshly picked nettle tips.

Simmering away with lots of grated ginger

In the fermenting bin - lemons, tea bags and yeast added,

Frothing up nicely today.

I'll leave it in the bin until Sunday and then transfer to the demi- johns to finish fermenting out. Can't wait to try it, but I'll do my best to be patient.

I was very kindly asked for my nettle soup recipe. It is one of those things that doesn't really have a set format. Usually I collect some nettle tips - just over half one of those bag for life carriers, or about 2 litres. I sweat 2 onions and a couple of garlic cloves until they are nice and soft - add a large diced potato and cook a little bit more - then add the nettles and some good stock ( about one and a half litres - ish) salt and pepper and simmer until the potato is soft. Blitz it well with a hand blender or liquidiser. I add a glug of cream at the end and reheat. If you happen to have a couple of leeks about you, then feel free to add them in place of one of the onions. Some chopped chives sprinkled on top look nice too.
I love this soup. No-one ever believes it is made from nettles. I served this as the first course for Easter Sunday lunch and it went down a treat - seconds all round! Do try it.