As if there hasn’t been enough moving around this year I’ve decided to move blogs too. Basically I wanted to change the title of my blog to more reflect the life we are moving toward but once a name is set, that’s it. So I decided to set up a new blog. The name I have chosen reflects the significant and life altering move we are about to make, a leap into the unknown, but one that has been desired and dreamed of for nearly a decade.
The initial idea to change my blog came a little while ago when it became apparent that we were no longer just talking but now in fact doing. I began musing about making the change but set the idea aside as life got frantic. More recently, as we approached closing on our land I thought about it again. I was surprised by the resistance within myself and took some moments to wonder why?
I found a bundle of worries, what if no one comes to visit any more? What if I lose all of the posts and connections that I’ve been writing about for the last 2 years? Will it feel the same to blog in a new space? Will I feel obliged to be different, to change the way I write and connect with others? But mostly, I realised, that the anxiety I’m feeling about this change is more to do with the big change that is coming, the real change as we move out of the suburbs and onto a 95 acre parcel of land. As we build a home and move into a totally different way of living. Then I thought if I can’t make this change, how on earth will I make that change?
So I’ve realised that by changing my blog I am making a statement to myself about my commitment to our future, to this dream that will take lots of energy and hard work to become a reality. Energy I don’t know I have, skills and determination I am afraid won’t make themselves known to me. But I have to try.
So here is my new blog 95 acres of sky. I will be sad to lay down my blogging bonnet but, as anyone who really knows anything about anything knows, those of us who have bonnets wear them on the inside, that way they can travel with us.
I hope you’ll visit me in my new blogging home and follow along as we take our first steps towards a new life.
January (Welcome new camera!) My lovely Dad.
February – King Winter rules
March – Dreaming of the spring
April – Tomato seedlings bring the scent of summer to our kitchen
May – Summer comes early
June – Jam making season at last
July – A birthday boy and a first taste of cake
August – A long held dream, our trip to Nova Scotia. Everything we’d hoped and more.
September – We are officially homeschoolers!
October – Putting up, the work of the harvest
November – Setting our sights on the future, new beginnings everywhere we look
December – The Sun dies and the Sun is reborn. And with him a new future begins.
As I scrolled through my photos there were literally hundreds to choose from and it struck me what a lucky life I lead. This year we have dealt with sickness, death and upheaval. But those are not the moments that stick with me. Instead I am struck by the journey we have embarked on, by a year defined by change. So many new beginnings this year, homeschooling, selling our house, moving, buying our land, planning our future home, driving through the night to visit another part of the country. Yet I feel that we are on the path. Exhausted yes, afraid no. The butterflies in my tummy are from excitement and anticipation because I know that where we are headed is where we want to be.
So welcome 2011, let’s see what life brings this year. A happy new year to all, what does the year have in store for you?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
for auld lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
We are saying a final goodbye to 2010 tonight and to those no longer with us, we are saying hello to the joys to come just as they would wish us to.
“Laura felt a warmth inside her. It was very small, but it was strong. It was steady, like a tiny light in the dark, and it burned very low but no winds would make it flicker because it would not give up.” Laura Ingalls Wilder
Though we say goodbye to another year it is worth remembering, as Laura Ingalls Wilder reminds us, that the things worth having are forever entwined in our hearts. Wishing all a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year filled with joy, love, laughter and the memories that keep us warm.
Well it has been quite a year, with much beginning and some endings too, as is the way of things. For us the end of the year was also the beginning, on the solstice 95 acres of land became legally ours, though my heart has called it home for a little while now. As the old year ended and the new began, under the gaze of the full moon and the solar eclipse, our new life began. This week I’ve walked on the land 3 times knowing that I am entitled to do so, knowing that it is ours and that we are free to do as we please there.
It is hard to explain the feeling I had when Stephen and I walked the land together on Christmas Eve. It really is a large parcel, though 50 acres of it is environmentally protected forest which means that half the land cannot be ‘used’. For many this would be a negative but for us the knowledge that we will always have this beautiful view, looking out over fields and down to the tree line that marks the border, is blissful. We walked as much of the land as we could safely reach, following a track left by the vehicle of the departing owners. We walked beyond the confines of what is becoming known as home field and found our way down to the lower pastures and the wide open sky held within the arms of the trees that border half the land’s perimeter.
I felt so uplifted by the blue sky and the space around me, so freed. At the same time the trees seemed to surround me too, providing a feeling of security, of boundaries that prevented the space from being overwhelming. I feel welcomed and safe when I am there, I see the endless possibilities; future days filled with activity and purpose. In the bottom fields the wind is stronger, scouring my mind and leaving me feeling exhausted and clean. I feel enlivened but also ready for a long sleep, the fresh air doing it’s work on my body and washing away the hubub of suburban life, replacing it with the quiet of trees, the silence of the ice bound earth.
When I see the boys there, so occupied by the theme park that is nature I feel secure in our choice. I’ve yet to see them bored by the natural world, they never seem to run out of things to do or ways to be creative. There is always another thing to look at, pick up, build, ride on, slide on, jump in or off. Their cheeks are red in the chill air, their bodies moving and exploring. What seems an impossible challenge one moment is an obstacle overcome the next, building confidence or teaching caution.
As I stand in the place that will next year be our home I have no difficulty pushing aside the image of a derelict field that needs clearing, instead I see the home that Stephen has spend hours designing and planning. The ice melts away and I see green and productivity. I see the kids playing, a neat driveway that beckons our friends as they pull up to visit. I feel warm breezes on my skin and smell the sharp tang of woodsmoke on the breeze as night approaches. I see stars encrusting the sky unhindered by electric lights, giving them full reign of the blackness above.
In these moments when I am so consumed by this perfect vision, more real than so much of what I see around me but aim to tune out, I try to remember my motto “Work imagined is easier than work done”. I remind myself that there will be bad days, bleak days, lonely days. I remind myself that I do not know this life, have only imagined it and really know nothing of the challenges, the work, the exhaustion it will hold. I remind myself this is an unknown future.
But there must be some trick that the wind is playing on me because these thoughts will not stay in my mind. The icy breezes snag them and toss them aside, I laugh as they are blown high and away, I cannot remember what those worries were as the trees smile at me. Looking around I can only exist within this perfect future, all I can feel is the freedom of the wind and the openness of my spirit, all I see is the sunshine. And the sky.
Well it has been a busy week around these here parts, there has been so much great inspiration out there in the world of blogage that I haven’t been able to resist! I made the wonderful granola that was listed on Soulemama earlier last week (from the great book Feeding the Whole Family), it is a real hit with me and my Dad though the boys haven’t quite warmed up to it yet (they aren’t really granola fans). But my cunning plan is to convert some of the granola into tasty bars and I’m sure they won’t be able to get enough!
Also from Soulemama and Orangette was a delicious peppermint bark recipe. I’ve had peppermint bark but it was store bought and nothing like this (the only time I’ve had anything to compare was when my friend Karen made some a few years ago which was snaffled tout sweet but it has been a few years so withdrawal has set in!). If you’ve had store bought peppermint bark before cast it from your mind, if you haven’t try this first. The blissful layers of white chocolate, brights spots of peppermint along with a deep, truffle like ganache centre are not to be missed. I’ve been sneaking a square along with a hot cup of peppermint tea, melty chocolaty bliss.
To celebrate the solstice we made lovely beeswax candles, the boys made one each and it was a really worthwhile activity. We purchased the sheets of wax from a local store that sells beekeeping equipment and candle making supplies. Huwyl and I have been hatching plans to expand our candle making to larger ones using moulds but I think that is going to have to wait until after christmas. The smell of beeswax in the store was so heavenly I can see myself returning time and time again. I think the lads who work there might have thought us odd for sniffing all of the lovely candles but Huwyl and I were very happy!
For our candles we chose sheets with a lovely leaf pattern, this seemed so appropriate as we wish for fecundity and abundance in the coming year. The top tip given to us by the lad at the store was to first warm the sheet with a hairdryer to remove the white residue that builds on the sheet. Huwyl particularly enjoyed this job and gave up the hairdryer very reluctantly (after spending some time drying everyone’s already dry hair as well as rewarming his wax sheet several times).
First you trap the wick under a folded edge then continue on rolling the wax tightly until you have a lovely pillar candle. The results from this craft were pleasingly quick, though juggling both boys and a new craft was a bit tricky. Rewarming the sheets with the hairdryer did help prevent cracking and we also used the same technique to hold down the last edge. It was lovely to light a candle last night that was made by our own hands, I couldn’t bring myself to adhere to tradition and let it burn down so we should have some handmade candle action right up until Christmas.
No matter what kind of day we’ve had (and some days we seem to have all the ups and downs a day can have) a candle flame, glowing on the table signifying the end of the day, the time of snuggles and stories and falling to sleep, never fails to bring me solace. And when the candle has been made by the hands of my family I am reminded of how lucky I am to be surrounded by their glowing flames. Sometimes they burn hot and I feel scalded, sometimes they are hard to ignite and I am frustrated but, at the end of each day, when I regard the two flames who define my life and rule my heart, I know that fortune has smiled on me indeed.
Happy Solstice and Celtic New Year to one and all!
It is cold outside, there is snow on the ground, it’s gingerbread time. This seems to be more of a north american festive tradition (though inherited from the British of course) but it is one that I am willing to embrace, with a couple of tiny tweaks. After a bit of a bad experience with the ‘traditional’ candy and store bought version, I decided to opt for a more home made approach and let’s face it, that is always a good idea.
This week Huwyl and I have been reading the story of the Gingerbread Man as well as Jan Brett’s Gingerbread Baby so it seemed appropriate to make some lovely biscuits to go along with our reading time. And tea-time. And mid-afternoon-it’s-time-for-a-biscuit-time. We did actually make some of these prior to today but due to the speed at which they were snaffled no pictures were possible.
It’s tough to beat the satisfaction of a cutter pushing through sweet, sugar crunchy dough. At first Huwyl told me he wasn’t interested in doing any cutting but the lure of the cutters soon pulled him in. We made little people, angels/fairies, snow men and solstice suns.
Huwyl decorated the suns with raisins as we talked about the meaning of the coming solstice. I’ve been telling him a simple solstice story since he was a baby, I remember walking the woods with him on my back, knowing he wouldn’t understand but taking pleasure in the story none the less. Now here we are, years along and he is beginning to take notice of these familiar words.
I tell him that as we approach the winter solstice the sun begins to die (he gets a little worried at this point) but all is well. Though the sun dies at the end of the day we light candles and send him wishes for strength to be reborn the next day. He returns to the Earth goddess and is reborn the next day. But like all babies he is weak which is why it stays cold and wintery for many months to come. But by summer he will have gained his full strength and that is why summer is the season of heat when all our food for the next year is grown.
I love that alongside the traditional gingerbread man with raisins for buttons (much less deadly than the green and red candy that sends my children into the stratosphere) we have christmas bells, snowmen, fairies (or angels) and the solstice sun, smiling out at us. What could go more perfectly together than the story of the sun’s life and the warming sweetness of gingerbread biscuits, soft yet crunchy and adding a tingle to the tongue.
12 oz / 350g of all purpose (plain) flour
1 tea spoon of bicarbonate of soda
2 1/2 teaspoons of ground ginger
4 oz / 100g of butter
6 oz / 175g brown or yellow sugar
4 table spoons of golden syrup
2 beaten eggs
raisins or currants for decoration
Preheat oven to 190c/ 375f. Mix together flour, bicarb, ground ginger and butter until it resembles breadcrumbs, then stir in sugar. Add the syrup and eggs until the mix resembles a soft dough. Roll out to about 1/4 inch deep and cut into appropriately festive shapes then place on a greased baking tray (I use baking parchment). Bake for 10 mins for a softer biscuit with a nice crunch, if you want something that challenges the dentures a little more bake for up to 15 mins but watch carefully for burning as they turn quickly. I baked for 10 mins and they were about spot on.
Enjoy with a cup of tea and a snuggely read in front of the fire.
Here is one of my special moments from this week. I’ll be joining Amanda at Soulemama in her lovely weekly ritual. One image, one special but ordinary moment from the week. I think this image speaks for itself as to why it was so lovely : )
Wishing everyone a happy and peaceful weekend xxx