Towards a Good Life

My Journey Towards Living a Life I Can Live With

Easy Peasy Cushion Cover 29/10/2009

Filed under: Sewing — snoozerider @ 22:08
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I am feeling very pleased with myself, having made a cushion cover – from scratch, without a pattern, in less than an hour!!  The material was an offcut mother-in-law bought me from a car boot sale, the thread was some mum gave me, which came from my step-grandfather’s curtain shop and must be at least 30 years old!  So a very cheap, easy to make, recycled, thrifty project.  Just what I like  🙂

Front of cushion cover

Back of cushion cover

Here’s the instructions if anybody wants to make them.  It makes a cover to fit a 17 inch square cushion pad.

  1. Cut one piece of material for the front – mine measured 20 x2 0 inches as I was erring on the side of caution, but think 19 x 19in would be a better fit.
  2. Cut two pieces of material for the back, each measuring 18 x 12 inches.
  3. Hem the two back pieces (approx 1/4 inch hem) – you could actually probably get away with just hemming one end of each piece as that’s all that will show!
  4. Lay one of the back pieces onto your front piece, right sides together. Sew around three sides (you need the other side free to get the cushion in)
  5. Do the same with the other back piece – they will overlap slightly.
  6. Turn inside out and there you have your easy peasy cushion cover.

I am looking forward to making more of these out of my stash of old curtains, offcuts etc.  Maybe try a patchwork one, or embellished with ribbons and ric-rac…I am quite excited!

I am so glad I have learned to sew, it has become a real pleasure.  I only wish my beloved Nan was here to see it – she would have been so proud.

If it’s easy peasy food you’re after, have a look at my Home-Edible blog for lentil soup and apple pudding recipes 🙂

It’s at http://homedible.wordpress.com

 

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!

 

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!

 

Downham’s Not Stupid and Saving the World Geek Style 19/06/2009

Last Saturday, me and the boys took the train to Downham Market to help out the Downham transition group with publicity for The Age of Stupid film showing.  We used our new family railcard and were pleasantly surprised that the fare was only £2.65 for me and £1 for Gman.  What a bargain!  It was a beautiful sunny day and we parked ourselves outside Tesco there.  Downham Trannies (is that the right term?!?) had a banner “Downham isn’t Stupid”, together with their portable argument kit, leaflets and a poster for the film.  Gman was a bit disappointed that no-one was prepared to climb onto Tesco’s roof to unfurl the banner over their logo…he is going to make a proper eco-warrior I feel :-).  Anyhow, the boys did a champion job of handing out leaflets – people weren’t unkind enough to refuse to take one from such cuties.  Did feel rather cynical, but they did enjoy it, honestly!!

The boys handing out Age of Stupid leaflets

The boys handing out Age of Stupid leaflets

You can read about it in the EDP here:

http://www.edp24.co.uk/content/edp24/news/story.aspx?brand=EDPOnline&category=News&tBrand=EDPOnline&tCategory=xDefault&itemid=NOED15%20Jun%202009%2010%3A46%3A13%3A843

In Transition Film

Later on the same day, M² and I settled down to watch the live streaming of the In Transition film, which was available from the Transition Culture website.  I thought the film was pretty good in as much as it showed loads of positive projects that transition initiatives have been part of, from all over the world.   There were also some good titbits of info on peak oil eg one litre of oil is equivalent to seven hours manual labour in energy terms.  On the negative side, it had a really annoying sound track and it was a bit twee in places.  I certainly don’t think it will help to dispel the idea that transitioners are all disorganised, white, middle class do-gooders in woolly jumpers :-).

BOINC

Now I don’t claim to fully understand how this works…but we have signed up to help out http://www.climateprediction.net/.  It’s a project that uses people’s computers to help run a complicated climate change model.  Or summat like that.  The technology is called BOINC – google it and see if you can work it out!!  Do get nice little model of the Earth to look at how the model is working and data on how many work hours your computer has put in.

Morsbags

It wouldn’t be a blog entry without a morsbag mention, would it?  Tally is now up to 30.  Gonna have a break for a few weeks now, while I make some fabric bunting 🙂

 

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?

 

Update 18/05/2009

Filed under: craft,Garden,Sewing,Transition — snoozerider @ 16:42
Tags: , , ,

Oh dear, haven’t posted for a while have I?  I think it’s mainly because of living life getting in the way of writing about living life…

So what’s been happening?

GARDEN – The plots are both coming along nicely.  Radishes, beetroot and choy sum are all looking pretty good in the first raised bed.  Germination of the cumin wasn’t so great and the spring onions are looking a bit spindly, think it might be better to grow from sets next year.  Just got some pak choi and more radishes coming up in the second raised bed, and also some borlotti beans (having finally got rid of all the ground elder and deterred the cat who kept using the bed as a toilet, grrrr).  We also have runner beans growing nicely up their wigwam and courgettes nearly ready to put in the ground.  What else?  Erm, chili peppers in the greenhouse and some tomato plants donated by a colleague of M²’s.  Oh yeah, and potatoes growing in an old compost bag.  Phew!  It’s making me hungry just thinking about it 🙂

TRANSITION – Transition King’s Lynn is really starting to come together.  We have formed a Steering Group and nearly sorted out a constitution.  Boring stuff, but have to do it before we can raise any money.  Much more exciting is the fact that the bed in the Walks has been given the go ahead so I will be getting involved in nurturing a plot of edible and useful plants in a public place.  Inspiring stuff!

MORSBAGGING AND SEWING – Morsbags tally is now up to 16, and I have been pulling together a stash of suitable fabrics from a combo of car boot sales, the remnant section in the wonderful Fent Shop, and best yet, a load of fabric gained via Freecycle.  The best £2 spent was on these two pairs of curtains:

I have also been using scraps of leftover material to make these:

What do you mean, what’s the point?  The bottom right one was given to friends who are moving house…not sure what to do with the others but sure someone will appreciate them for some other occasion 😉

VOTE FOR ME! Last but not least, I am standing for County Councillor for the Green Party.   The local election agent assures me that I won’t get in (not sure whether to be insulted by that lol) but it at least gives people the option to vote Green, and hopefully I will get more votes than the BNP who are also contesting the seat, much to my disgust.

That’s about it for now I think!!

 

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!