Sunday, 26 February 2017

So much to say - look out for the recipe for home made detergent!

This week has gone SO quickly! Being half term, Finley has been home all day and I haven't had to do things to schedule, which has been lovely.  The first couple of days were such nice weather, we cleared away some of the hedge cuttings and spent time outside.

We have been potting seeds in our new mini greenhouse, we've already sown Asparagus, Rhubarb and the 3 varieties of Tomatoes we did last weekend.  This week I only managed lettuce and garlic. I planted the garlic bulbs near the lettuce as apparently it deters pests.  I had my lettuce raised up on bricks last year and were left alone.

I have been building a website for Tiny Land, and am really enjoying it since I managed to spend time sitting down and doing it properly yesterday during the day rather than a few stolen minutes in the evening.  The Facebook site just isn't enough, it's not clear enough for people what I sell.  I'm genuinely really excited about the products too, because it's an amazing process making watercolours, then using them, it's double creativity!! 💖

Went on a metal detecting trip around our neighbourhood the other day too and found an old spanner, which I think is from the 60's.  They don't make them anymore and the only others I can find are quite old.  Our estate was built in 1969 and people moved into our house for the first time in 1970.

Our garden is quite difficult to manage with the boys as it is on 5 levels.  That's a small patio which I love, then an old wall keeps that back and it drops to a green area which I had a small white picket fence made around for safety from the drop to the dropping steps.   It makes you feel a bit enclosed when you sit in it (considering our views are so open to the countryside).
An old wall keeps that back and there is another small area of dirt which I had made into a little zen area with a pergola and stones on the ground.  It just needs a water feature really.  It's difficult to access for children as there are steps all down one side of the garden and you have to step onto a short wall to get onto that level.  

BEFORE (left) and AFTER (right)                                       

The next level is a garden shed sitting on hard standing of the same size.  It must have been made for that purpose.  The step or wall onto that area is even harder as it's a bit higher..the steps are still going down to the bottom..there is no wall to keep you from the next level is ground level on below...about 6 foot.   The shed is rotting, despite me trying to prevent it by paying for a new roof to be fitted - I also had it painted duck egg in protective paint.  The walls are being damaged by vines that I can't keep on top of and it's now damp inside. 

The bottom level is a double driveway.  I've been wondering what to do with the garden.  Level it off and fill in the driveway? Or even better build a garage which we can utilise the top of as a garden.  A driveway would be the hight of the shed's ground, so that whole area of driveway and shed would be another useable garden area, bigger than the garden area we already have.  And the current grass area could be for veggies!

Our neighbours have a single garage, so building a double wouldn't be an issue planning wise.  It's using the top as a garden which might be a problem.  The land is unusually hilly all around so privacy shouldn't be an issue.  
This is the area I'm working on at the moment.  Clearing the fallen hedge.  Do I build raised beds for the drive area as it is and replace the shed?  I don't need one that big I can get a small one..all would need to be incredibly cheap or free.  I'd much rather have 1 large utilisable space.  This is what I'm imagining: 

I have a concrete area at the front which I 
filled in a bit and made into a successful herb garden.  It provides us with almost year round herbs - I picked sage on Christmas day.  It also has Fennel, Thyme, Rosemary, Mint and Chamomile.

If anyone has any ideas on how to use my space for veggie growing, playing and parking please say! 

I've also been pinning some fabric for a dress I'm making.  I'm off to Cyprus with the boys for a week soon and always wanted to make a dress out of this gorgeous fabric I had.  The weather will allow me to wear it.  

I also wanted to share with you a recipe for the laundry detergent I use.  It's 'natural' which is a loose term! It hasn't any surfactants anyway, and works really well.  

Home Made Detergent (always wear gloves when mixing this)
1kg Borax Substitute - I get mine from Amazon (£3.50 ish)
5 bars of soap (grated) - I use Shield Fresh Aqua Deodorising Soap £1 or less for 4 bars
2kg Soda Crystals - £1 for 1kg in tesco
500g Bicarbonate of Soda £1.11 I buy it in bulk here

So that's £7.86 for a month's might last you more or less. **Update it's now 23rd March and I haven't even finished 1 of the bags yet and I use 2 scoops when I could probably use 1.  So this batch will last at least 4 months and it's £7.86 - that's not even £2 a month!**

I use for softener distilled white vinegar and lavender essential oil.

Natural Definition
Regarding the term natural, people use it when referencing Bicarbonate of Soda but its man made. The term chemical has also been used as a derogatory term and is used interchangeably with man-made..however chemicals are much more.  Oxygen is a chemical...they are everywhere.  Many man made products are safe and some originally found in nature but now mass produced.  Bicarb is also named E500.
 Natural soaps - most soaps - are made using a man made chemical called Lye (Sodium Hydroxide) which undergoes a chemical change (saponification) with an oil to make soap.  Even Dr Bronner's Castile soap has used liquid lye (Potassium Hydroxide) with natural (e.g Olive) oil.  Black soap IS natural  it uses cocoa ashes as the base to react with oils to make soap.  My brother in law buys it in Africa made by hand.

The only true way to be truly natural is to think like a Paleo and if you can't grow it - or buy it as organic - then it's been man made.  But man made isn't always bad.  And nature can be powerful and cruel.  Some natural products are really strong and need careful use (Asbestos is a natural fibrous rock).  We all need to decide for ourselves what we want into our homes.  The important thing is, that it's biodegradable and or harmless to the environment.  I'll be adding a definition to Tiny Land website too!

That's a big post but hopefully you enjoyed it - there's so much to enjoy in this world of       ours!   

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Gardening Season Has Started

Last week I mentioned multi-tasking, and whether it's really any good for us.  I think I concluded that that there are degrees of it, from not doing anything at all other than being in the moment, then just concentrating on 1 current task, being present while concentrating on many tasks, and then almost disregarding the present moment and be fixated on the next one - getting to school etc.  The latter being the stressful one.
I opened up A New Earth the next day and what did I see? A bit cheeky to be pasting from this book, but I know if won't offend the author (you might need to download them first).   It's basically saying give your children YOU..and to not become just the bundle of tasks that you are doing.  I've also watched my children and while in this 'space' of being, I've noticed and learned so much.  Children do not wait.  Yes that's obvious but they are only ever being in the waiting room, playing and having fun, they do not naturally anticipate, or suspend the present moment's activities for the promise of a future one ("Sit still, you'll be going to football soon and can run around then).

This week we've been spending a lot of time in the garden.  Last year we successfully harvested Lettuce, Potatoes, Chinese Broccoli, Kale, Cabbage, Spring Onions, Chives, Rosemary and other herbs.  Below pics of our brassica and potatoes harvested this week.

We unsuccessfully tried peas, tomatoes beans, and the strawberries were mostly eaten by slugs.

This year I'm going to cover everything in a fine
netting as I did with the brassica and redo a lot of them.  We've only got a small patio so I use pots.  

 We have a garden on 5 levels, so other than the patio, a small fenced lawn area, a stoned pergola covered area, a shed on another level and a drive way at the bottom which is currently covered in a really awful compost heap from a collapsed hedge.
Lots to do but just today I cut back the hedge, trimmed the lawn and my eldest and I built a mini greenhouse and sowed tomato seeds - 3 varieties!
In the next week we are hoping to build a large wooden composter and beds for the bigger crops.  I just need the wood!

I still need to keep marketing Tiny Land so tomorrow we will be making bubble paintings in the garden too.

Yesterday was lovely we took to the forest and cooked hot dogs over the fire.  Noah - my youngest - loves the outdoors so much when we told him it was home time he layed in the earth and hugged the ground.  We're so lucky to have such wonderful weather I think spring and summer will be a scorcher!

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Is multi tasking toxic?

I sometimes use angel cards.  Not very often but recently I did.  I reshuffled and reselected.  I did the same the next day (not content with the answer?  I suppose more not believing it).  The cards were the same.  Detoxify and cleanse came up.  So I went on a 1 day detox.  I had awful headaches.
I didn't think I needed to detox, after all being vegan I take lots of fruit and veg.  But I drink tea daily, and have been having a fair amount of salted foods.

I felt a little better the next day for it, but I now understand that the detox was not in relation to my food.  It was in relation to my mind.

After my revelational weekend last week, I practiced catching my thoughts.   Living in the present is not an issue for me as I went on a retreat about 6 years ago now where I learned the simple art of mindfulness and 'awoke' for the first time.  The issue for me is when the present moment consists of me in my dressing gown with 2 crying toddlers, a burning breakfast, and a knock at the door!  (I'm currently writing this on my bed with my eldest jumping up and down on it demanding I play rocket ships with him!)

I love planning, however one thing I have learnt is that when I had my eldest son, planning was still relatively achievable.  After my 2nd was born planning became futile.  Knowing when would be an appropriate moment to do x or y activity was impossible.  I couldn't say to the 2 boys, at 3pm you can't need a nappy change, have a tantrum, or need that nap you wouldn't settle for earlier.  Trying to control life when in this life situation is challenging to say the least!  Then there's Tiny Land.  My new business which I love..but I love my children more.  So I put my evenings aside for that.  My 2nd child still wakes often in the night and so even after their bedtime I usually am disturbed several times.  So I need to be realistic about what I can achieve and go for a slow burn.   I have been so busy these past few weeks I have not turned up to 2 meetings with people I have arranged! That is so unlike me.  I obviously can't plan in the same way that I used to.

Like most parents I can get cross with my children.  It is usually with the youngest as he loves to join me in the kitchen while the frying pan is on and maybe some pasta.  He loves to switch on the warming plate on the oven which is not childproof (items have melted int he past!).  He loves climbing on furniture and opening drawers that are impossible to childproof, and empty them and throw the content everywhere!   These are the moments when I lose my cool, I remove him from the kitchen and check on him intermittently (a serving hatch would be so useful!)

I have a bath once a week. Once.  Usually a Saturday.  My husband leaves at 7:15am and is not home until after 7:30pm during the week once the kids are asleep and I need that time to get other things done, so I have a wash during the week, and when he can watch the kids I have a long soak.  Sometimes I watch a program on my mac at the same time, but usually I just bathe.  It's a wonderful thing to just do 1 thing that you enjoy - so relaxing.  The rest of my time is taken up trying to multi task.  I'll be packing lunch for the boys while trying to get them and me dressed..responding to cries of "Mum, he's trying to take my toys" or "Mum he's climbed on the table again" etc.
Sometimes when I get a message from someone, I'll be so keen to answer, I'll respond there and then. Despite what I am doing at the time.  And when it's a bit chaotic and my answer under stress, I'll add an apology to the recipient about the current moment being a bit challenging etc..
Why do I do this?  Why not choose a better time to do it? Perhaps I feel there never will be a better time, but clearly now isn't the time! Sometimes I make (hands free) calls while driving.   A lot of the time the current moment is just a means to an end, I'm on my way home, I'm trying to get out of the door, I'm trying to move onto the next moment.  As if driving home isn't challenging enough, I need to cram more in!

However, how nice it is to surrender to what is currently happening, and not cram anything else in, and just focus on what you are doing.  On dressing the boys.  On driving through the countryside.  What a nicer experience for everyone when I am talking to them while not driving!  The pressure on my brain while I'm trying to plan or organise things mentally during an activity - or several -  is enormous...I tell myself I CAN DO's a mental challenge and about achieving an end goal.

But then there's another goal after that and another.   Being goal orientated is lovey, but if you are constantly SACRIFICING THE PRESENT MOMENT in favour of a future that you will only AGAIN SACRIFICE what is the point?  I sacrificed moments with my children yesterday in favour of doing some work that had a time pressure.  It felt wrong.  It then turned out that the deadline was lifted and I had more time.  It's funny how life finds a way to give you enough time to do the things you need.  More times than not it is myself who is putting me under the pressure in the first place!

Does everything have to be NOW?  Where is the space in life to listen? To smell and sense the enjoy the children's be alive?  I used to think that muti-tasking and achieving in this way was more alive, but actually life passes so fast and you look at your now older children and think..where did THAT go?  So I am setting myself this goal:

If multi tasking is causing me to sacrifice the now..then STOP.  Allow myself to live for this moment, and schedule in the things that need doing that would cause me to live outside of this moment if I did them now.  Don't worry about WHEN I can do something..put it on a list if now isn't appropriate.  Work through the list when there is a more appropriate time.  Planning time is for planning, not sitting on the loo and trying to plan mentally.  I wonder how achievable this is, especially as I place my laptop down to get fully dressed so I can open the door to the food delivery, while my youngest is screaming and husband is busy making breakfast.  I'm hoping for a more peaceful week next week :)

Monday, 6 February 2017

You don't have to be just have to 'be'

Hi again!

Last time I spoke about tolerance towards others and refraining from criticism.  I have been pondering tolerance and forgiveness and came to see that what we really need to 'tolerate' is ourselves..our own views of what should or shouldn't happen.

I then read more from Eckhart Tolle, and wanted to picture his theory which rings so true to me.  I'll try to draw it for you all for next week.
If you're not spiritual you can perceive yourself as having 2 minds, as opposed to a mind and an essence or soul.

When we say "I'll allow myself this", "I tell myself that"..(the french are big on reflexive verbs), who is the I and who is the self?  We can often hear our own internal monologue..that voice in our head telling us we are no good or someone else is no good.  We are aware of our thinking.  The one who is aware is the true you.  This doesn't change.

Throughout our life we adopt various identities or labels, explanations that may hinder or help us understand 'who we are'..I am shy, or I love people, or I am no good...all of these things change throughout our lives, we can learn to change these we react to the world and interact.   Obviously negative beliefs about ourselves make us feel bad and more often than not positive beliefs help us to feel good, or give us confidence.  These are just thoughts..constructs of our minds, so should be careful that we are not giving ourselves a superior position to others, making just another judgement about ourselves that reaffirms an if we should deviate from this identity we may suffer.   This hungry mental image of ourselves which loves to be superior, special, right called The Ego.

Allowing ourselves to just be in the present moment dissolves judgements, criticism, expectations etc and it CAN be done.  It is a very relaxing place to be.   It doesn't mean becoming a vegetable and not thinking at all.  On the contrary, you utilise your mind as you require it, you are no longer a slave to your exhausting

Among these identities is a list of rules we apply to our lives but also others...people SHOULD be kind, or SHOULDN'T eat meat..people SHOULD be christian etc etc.
When the world or people's actions don't meet with our approval, we respond with feelings of frustration, anger, jealousy etc.  In 'trying' to be tolerant sometimes we think "I will let them off not doing what they SHOULD have done"..and believe we are the better person for doing so.  Let's stick with the dishwasher example "They should have done the dishwasher, but I'll let them off"..we then expect in our own mental image of right and wrong that they should be perhaps grateful, or makeup for it..this expectation is a similar energy to when you give somebody something or do a favour and expect a great reward in return (be honest! Lol).    We are yet again trapped inside our own judgements of what life SHOULD be..rather than letting it just BE.

When we reject a situation - the current 'event' - in our lives, we are essentially saying we reject it.  And to be at war with life is not a good place to be.  Allow the reality of the current situation in it, and if you have any negative feelings, be aware of them and allow them to pass gently.  Do not feed this negative energy with more thoughts....the thoughts give power to this emotion...the irritability turns to anger, which turns to rage and becomes harder and harder to let go of.

Forgiveness loses meaning when you are in this space.   By 'forgiving' you label that person's actions as WRONG..and you are right..because in order to be right, they have to be wrong.  People can make mistakes..sometimes the washing machine might have been switched to 90 degrees in error...when you're in a space of non-judgement you only see the practical thoughts..the planning the correction..OK let's check if the clothes are ok and if not then we get new ones somehow.  Nothing ever really becomes a PROBLEM.

Humans' natural state is happy..we don't put happiness in to become happy. You will be pleased to know, that you just 'remove the crap' as a dear friend put it the other day.  We are very powerful beings and are naturally compassionate and kind.  You KNOW you don't need labels.  You know you can rise above the may be hard and take practice.  When you hear a thought being generated, stop it in it's tracks. The fact that you are aware of the thought is the first step and a great breakthrough.   Don't brood on it, let it pass, it will lose it's power.