Towards a Good Life

My Journey Towards Living a Life I Can Live With

Summer’s gone 30/09/2009

So thought it must be time for another blog post and an update on the journey towards a good life.  I thought it might be a good idea to look at my original “So, what’s it all about?” post and measure progress against that:

It’s about trying to make my lifestyle fit in with my beliefs and values.

Well, this is kind of working.  I feel reasonably comfortable with my lifestyle as a stay at home, home educating mum.

It’s about learning to live with less stuff.

I have sold my Garmin and heart rate monitors on Ebay, have cleared out my wardrobe to leanest yet levels, freecycled excess stuff… My main downfall is books – I just can’t quite see them as “stuff”.  Can I learn to live with fewer books?  I’m just not sure!!

It’s about growing vegetables, and learning to sew, and turning switches off at the wall, and reducing waste, and other baby steps towards a more self sufficient and energy efficient lifestyle.

The first year of vegetable growing has gone reasonably well – successes included radishes, salad leaves (particularly the fabulous red mustard) and courgettes.  We are now enjoying home grown tomatoes and runner beans.  Still waiting for the fennel to plump up enough to be worth eating and have sprouts to look forward to in the winter.  The borlotti beans were a bit of a waste of space in the raised bed – they took up the space for ages and, although super pretty, only really provided enough of a harvest for 2 or 3 meals.  Next year I need to be a bit more on top of successional sowing of stuff so as to make better use of the space but I don’t think it has gone too badly!  I have certainly learned that my crops need protection, not only from birds eating my beetroot seedlings, but also from neighbouring cats loving to use any freshly dug soil as a toilet.  Grrrr.

The sewing has been the great success of 2009 so far for me.  I am still enjoying the morsbagging and recently met up with another pod in Norwich to do a bagging workshop in the window of Oxfam there.  It was a fabulous day and really inspiring.  I have now made 47 bags, and have just heard that I will be pod of the fortnight on the Morsbags forum next!

I am in the yellow t-shirt, concentrating hard!

I am in the yellow t-shirt, concentrating hard!

It’s about letting go of traditional models of school and learning to trust that my children will learn what they need to know when they are ready to know it.

The home education adventure is working well – will be blogging about it here.

It’s about coming together with others towards a transition culture.

The transition group has been less rewarding than I had hoped but rather a bit of an energy sapping uphill struggle to generate enthusiasm, participation and support.  The edible garden we have created has been quite a success but not much else is happening there and I am not sure if I have the personal energy and resources to keep banging away at it.  It does feel rather like flogging a dead horse!

It’s about sharing that journey with others and recording it for myself so I can see how far I’ve come and how far I’ve got to go.

Ok, so I have been a bit crap at keeping this updated…but I will try harder!

Advertisements
 

Not Stupid Courgettes 10/07/2009

Filed under: Community,Food,Garden,Home education,Lifestyle,Sewing,Transition — snoozerider @ 22:04

Yes, yes, I know, it has been ages.  I’ve been pretty busy living life – working on Transition stuff, sewing bunting (yes, it is useful, honest!), paddling in the sea, making and eating cakes, reading “The Joy of Not Working” (thoroughly recommended by the way), signing petitions and writing to my MP about the Badman Review, making use of my Family Railcard…

Anyway here’s a summary of the Towards a Good Life bits:

The Age of Stupid

Went to see this film a week or two ago, which was put on by Downham and Villages in Transition.  I was pretty excited about seeing the film and it almost lived up to expectations.  I imagine if you didn’t already realise the scale of the climate change issue, then you would find it quite a wake up call, it’s fairly visual and hard hitting.  My only criticism would be its bittiness.  It’s made for the channel hopping cable TV generation I think, skipping from one thing to another.  The best bit for me was a cartoon segment showing the relationship between the stuff we buy and coal emissions in China – can’t really describe it very well in words!  I may have missed a few key bits of the film due to the fact that there were lots of subtitles and a tall man sat in front of me 😦 .  I would recommend it, but still prefer the Wake Up, Freak Out film – which has the added bonus of being only 11 minutes long!  For those that haven’t already seen it:

On the Plot

Much excitement heralded the arrival of the first harvestable courgette, as you can see:

IMG_2126

Since this picture was taken a few days ago, we have harvested a couple more, but have also had 3 go rotten on the plant.  Looks like it may be a good idea to remove the flowers once they wilt, so will try this. It’s all a learning experience.

Elsewhere on the plot, the first few beetroot have been harvested (the ones that survived the initial sparrow attack), the next batch of radishes are nearly ready, the red spring onions are proving delicious – if a little potent, and we have beans growing on the runner bean and borlotti bean plants.  Got plenty of salads in pots, a chilli pepper on the Hot Wax plants, some little green tomatoes…sure to have missed some stuff!  I am discovering that I am giving everything a bit too much room in the raised beds, so there is the potential to have much more growing.  Can’t decide what to put in the gaps at the moment though – more salad leaves, radishes, oriental veg?!?!  Decisions, decisions.

Politics

There is to be a by-election in my ward in August and I have agreed once again to stand as a “paper” candidate for the Green Party.  Don’t yet know which other parties will be represented, but might put a bit more effort in to campaigning this time!  I WILL beat the BNP!!

Sewing

Sewing is coming on well.  I have made some bunting from scraps of material not big enough for the Morsbags, and I must admit it looks rather fab, although does remind me of a row of knickers hanging on a washing line!  I will post photo next time I have it strung up somewhere :-).  The bunting that is, rather than my knickers ;-).  Bagging has taken a bit of a sideline to that, but total is now up to 33, a rather poetic one bag for each year of my life.

Transition King’s Lynn

Have been working hard on keeping the momentum going on this.  We recently had our first public event, a picnic and planting day in the Walks which went pretty well. Hopefully the event will have spurred some more people into action so there will be more of us actively involved in keeping the bed going.  Read more about it on the Transition King’s Lynn website, here.

That’s all for now folks – will try not to leave it so long next time in the hope that I might actually remember what I’ve been doing!

 

Elections, Transition and Morsbagging 10/06/2009

Oh dearie me, I am a bit behind with my blog aren’t I?

I stood as a “paper candidate” in last week’s County Council elections for the Green Party.  I must admit, I wasn’t altogether convinced about doing this, having the view that the political process might be just be a bit too damn slow to change things for the better within a timeframe that is going to halt the worst effects of climate change.   I didn’t do any canvassing although did join with others of all political persuasions to deliver anti-BNP leaflets, designed by Unite Against Fascism.  I’m not sure if they did any good though, as the BNP polled 273 votes, against my 196 😦  Mind you, from a personal point of view, I was well pleased with 196 votes as I was terrified that I would only get 2 votes or something!

I have also been busy with stuff for Transition King’s Lynn – see the website for more details.  We are hoping to drum up a bit of support for our Grand Planting Out Day/Picnic on 5th July 2009 from 10am-2pm.  I am a bit worried that everything is a bit late for this year in terms of a superb display of plants, but think it will be good publicity and hopefully will raise a bit of awareness.

Thirdly, I have been continuing on my crusade to convert the world to Morsbags.  My tally is now up to 27.  I took these to the home education group on Monday and have managed to give away all but 3 of them.  Everyone was very sweet about how lovely they were and very grateful so that gave me a nice, warm, fuzzy feeling inside 🙂  And justified my purchase of more curtains at a weekend car boot sale…

Here’s a pic I took of a few of the bags before liberating them to their new homes:

On the home ed front, we have been enjoying a bit of arty stuff, painting some pebbles and making this rather lovely snake between us.  Isn’t he lovely?

 

Oh no, not more bags! 06/05/2009

Filed under: Food,Garden,Home education,Sewing — snoozerider @ 08:25

Yes, it’s another pic of a Morsbag.  My tally is up to 10 now!

Gman has been quite enthused by all the sewing and particularly the bags and decided we needed to all have a competition to design a morsbag.  He drew us all templates, complete with the morsbag.com label and we had a family “competition”.  Joint winners were…Gman and Waif!!!  Here’s their designs:

In the garden, we are finally rid (hopefully) of the ground elder from the second raised bed and will be sowing carrots and oriental leaves this week.  The runner beans are planted around their wigwam, the radishes are growing and my cotton seems to have done the trick in keeping the sparrows off my beetroot, cos the leaves are starting to grow back at last.  Hooray!

 

Radish Harvest for us and Beetroot for the Sparrows 29/04/2009

Filed under: Garden,Home education,Sewing,Transition — snoozerider @ 20:51

The highlight of the gardening week has to have been the harvesting of the radishes!  It’s pretty exciting to be eating produce straight out of the garden, and although I am not that keen on radishes, these definitely taste better than the ones from the shops :-).  As you can see from the photo, Gman was pretty pleased too.

Not quite so good is the fact that something’s been nibbling the leaves from my beetroot.  How dare they?!?  I have consulted my Joy Larkcom book and the only listed pest for beetroot is sparrows who apparently rather like beetroot seedlings.  Have constructed a bit of a web from cotton thread this afternoon to dry and discourage them from eating any more, so fingers crossed the beetroot will recover (and the thread won’t unravel despite my woeful knotting skills!)

Sewing Stuff…

I have made a few more morsbags (of course)

A big bag and a little bag ;-)

A big bag and a little bag 😉

In a bizarre twist, I have also found myself showing other people how to sew!  We did basic sewing skills at this week’s home education group and several of the kids made beanbags, which I had prepped for them.  I did feel quite a glow from this.  I am finding with the home education adventure that I am more open minded about learning new things and then in turn more enthusiastic about sharing these with other people.  I am fairly certain that if, six months ago, I had suggested to Gman that he might like to sew a beanbag he would have been unenthusiastic at best but because he sees me learning and enjoying learning, it rubs off on him.  At least that’s how I think it is working:-)

On the subject of home education, we had a fabulous outing this week to the Ecotech Centre in Swaffham.  Gman took a tour of the turbine and was wowed with the views and exhilerated by climbing 305 steps, while Waif and I had a tour of the organic gardens and orchards.  We then came together again for the children to do a recycling game.  There were quite a few home edders from the surrounding area and we met some lovely people and had a really excellent day.

 

Cress and Sprouts 06/04/2009

Filed under: Food,Home education,Sewing — snoozerider @ 20:34

This week, we have enjoyed a harvest of home grown stuff 🙂   Firstly, there was the cress grown in an eggshell, with face expertly drawn by Waif:

cresseggheadSecondly, I have finally gotten round to using the slightly bizarre “Biosnacky” contraption for growing your own beansprouts.  You soak the seeds ( I selected the Spicy Aromatic Mix) overnight then rinse and drain them a couple of times a day for a few days, whereupon they grow into these:

round-sproutsAnd they actually taste pretty good in a sort of radishy burpy kind of way :-).  I am trying alfalfa sprouts next.

On the sewing front, I spent a busy evening sewing a stuffed fabric Easter egg.  I will not be posting a picture!!  But here’s where I got the idea:  http://retro-mama.blogspot.com/2009/03/easter-is-in-air.html.  It took me about three hours, mainly because I got halfway through and ran out of bobbin thread, and then for the life of me couldn’t work out how to rethread the damned thing (it was late!)  Anyhow, I finished it in the end and was most proud, because it’s the first thing I’ve ever sewn all on my own without any help 🙂  But I will be making a Morsbag next…or maybe some beanbags for the boys…or just something not as small and fiddly and curvy as an egg anyway…

 

An Inconvenient Truth

Filed under: Environment,Home education — snoozerider @ 20:32

Watched this film for the first time at the weekend, as it was on the telly.  Here’s a trailer for it:

I thought it was very good at getting across the message that climate change is real and is already happening, with some great graphs and photography.  I was disappointed with how short it seemed to be on solutions, other than the insulate your house, drive more efficient cars type of thing.   I am considering letting Gman watch it as part of his Climate Change project but will have to carefully gauge his reaction, to make sure it’s not too scary for him.  Although to be honest, after watching an animation of the Earth roll downhill into a mass of flames (Wake Up, Freak Out, Then Get a Grip) it might be quite tame for him 😛