Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Cherry Blossom Picnic

Having lived in Japan, we fell in love with their spring tradition of o-hanami, a spring picnic under the cherry blossoms (sakura). In late March and early April, in parks, gardens and along river banks around Kyoto, famed for its cherry blossom, you would find o-hanami in full swing. Grandparents and grandchildren. Mums and dads. Lovers. Lots of students. Many in traditional kimonos. All out to celebrate the season's snow-petal beauty with mochi (rice cakes), plum wine, rice balls...

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Today's random acts of beauty

"Eye of the storm"
Made in magnolia blossom snow around a lonely daisy.

"I hold you in my heart"
Made from growing daisies.
Join me in making random acts of beauty. Grab my button (look right!)
And add a link in the comments box below to your own random acts of beauty.
For more about random acts of beauty, see herehere and here

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

It's Scooby Doo O' Clock

Time in our house is measured thus: there is the day pre SD and post SD. And then there is that sacred time, when visitors must be gone, walks must be gotten home from and craft activities suddenly become meaningless: Scooby Doo O Clock.

Mama sometimes has "Come Dine With Me" O' Clock, but the children groan when I turn it on. But long live Scooby Doo O' Clock it gives me half an hour at a point where they are getting tired and cranky where they are hypnotised by crazy dog cartoons and I get to: check my email/ blog, read a book, or get a head start on supper. It is a breathing space in my day - though one the "no-TV brigade" would NOT approve of.

But it is more than just that, Scooby Doo O' Clock became the motivating factor for our five year old to want to learn to tell the time.

We got a proper clock for the kitchen (previously we had only had a digital one on the oven) and printed some images off the internet. First of course was Scooby Doo. But then I thought - this will be a way of helping them to understand the passage of time which they have little handle on, living in their own little world of constant NOW. This way they don't need to keep asking me when something is, they can see for themselves if it is time.

So on the clock they can see the order of the day, our daily rhythm: breakfast, school, Mr Tumble O Clock (for our 2 year old - who incidently claims to like Scooby Doo, I won't even go there!), lunch, home from school, Scooby Doo O Clock, supper and bed.

Read more on Rhythm and Routine and its importance for children- written when I was an idealisitic mama of one!!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Why, thank you!

So hot on the heels of being long listed, though unfortunately not short listed, for the Irish blog awards, your dear hostess (that'd be me then!) has be awarded a Stylish blog award from a fellow blogger who described it as..."A truly professional, profound and philosophical blog by Lucy Pearce where she shares her 
dreams and insights to parenting with kindness and sustainability."

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Secret garden Supper

Once in a while magic happens. This seems to happen more often than one would expect at Ballymaloe Cookery School. Which is great for us, because we live just next door. I LOVE that! 

A lesson which life has taught me is: when you spot something special, do not to let it slip through your fingers, grab it while you can. So when I spotted the homemade poster on the door of the Cookery School shop last week advertising Gill's Garden Supper Club,“a new dining experience” happening at the Cookery School this weekend, I knew I had to go!

Pop-up restaurants and supper clubs are ideas of our time. I first saw supper clubs mentioned on TV last year on Jamie does America. They were all the rage in London and New York, where wannabe chefs who didn't want the overheads and bureaucratic hassle of opening a restaurant would instead host dinners at their homes to paying customers. Customers raved about the sense of community which added to the experience, rather than having your own anonymous table in a carefully packaged restaurant.

It seems that a poster made and printed on a home computer, sellotaped to the door of the Cookery School Shop, and a Facebook page are all that are needed in this day and age if you have the skills and support to try your hand at a running restaurant. We texted our reservation five days before the big night (how 21st century!) and were lucky to get the penultimate table.

It was also to be the first meal out we have had sans kiddies since... well actually we couldn't remember when, but certainly since Baby Ash joined us a year ago! We love eating out. We live for good food. We have had more than our share. For two years running whilst we lived in London, my father gave us a meal out a month - my goodness did we have some good food. So we despair of eating out in most places around here.

We later discovered that my sister was one of the waitresses for the evening, and my step mother and brother had also booked a table, so it was quite a family affair, rather than a romantic night for two, tant pis!

Our chef-patron for the evening was Gillian Hegarty who currently teaches at the Cookery School and previously cooked at much-celebrated River Cafe in London, for Rose Gray and Ruth Rodgers.The influence of all three chef-mentors was apparent on the menu. To add intrigue to the evening, the local, seasonal (of course!) four course set menu is revealed when you arrive.

We were greeted and seated with a bitter campari and cava spritzer, which we all, being previous campari haters, were surprised to find higly enjoyable. Except my brother (17) who apparently "doesn't drink"... except, he informed us, for beer-u, oh and vino, oh yes and the occasional whiskey, and vodka, and absinthe!

And we finally got to see our menu – and what a menu it was - like poetry to my bored-of-Irish-restaurant-staples eyes: a classic Italian menu of anti-pasta, pasta, meat and dessert - made with the best of Irish local produce - hurray for Gill!

The room was magicked up with hundreds of sparkling nightlights, and monumental stems of rhubarb in crystal vases, and little vases of grape hyancinths  - a veritable twinkly magical indoor garden! The flowers, like the food and service struck the right balance of formal and informal, and the bubbles had got us in the mood...

However, we are used to having dinner at 5.15 with kiddies, and it was now 8.15, and 1 1/2 drinks later. Mama's tummy was rumbly, Dada's tummy was rumbly, even big little brother's tummy was rumbly.

The bread arrived, ripped out of my sisters hands. And oh what bread.  A wonderfully chewy sour dough, served with olive oil to dip. We rhapsodised over it. THIS is bread! Bread to eat with cheese, with Nutella, as bruschetta, our hungry fantasies tumbled out.

Another ten minutes and starters arrived, a refreshingly astringent spring salad of crisp fennel, juicy blood oranges and rather redundant toasted almonds and parmesan. From here on in the food, timing and service were faultless and smooth. No first night jitters here. Then came ravioli, pillows of fresh egg pasta stuffed with light homemade ricotta and aromatic herbs, topped with fried sage leaves in butter. Supreme. I would have had seconds and thirds and fourths...

The meat course was an achingly tender braised shoulder of pork with tomato, anchovy and a zingy gremolata. Served with the first of the sprouting broccoli, and swiss chard from the Cookery School glasshouses. The pork was smoky and savoury, highlighted by the gremolata. But no carbs, in the Italian mode, (according to my step mum who's lived there for 10 years.) Hubby and I were having a shared fantasy about a creamy pomme puree. We requested more bread to soak up the juices. But then a large bowl of seconds was offered, and gratefully received (and later regretted!) Followed by an unannounced salad of feisty winter greens. Proper salad - a bit tanniny for me - but great to have real salad, not the floppy hydroponically reared bland baby leaves you find in most restaurants.

This being March, the menu being Italian, dessert was, as I had predicted, pannacota, quivering and virginal, freckled generously with vanilla seeds, and annointed (to my dismay) with grappa. This was accompanied by faultlessly baked rhubarb with orange zest. I've done mushy rhubarb and rubbery pannacota enough times to know that this aint easy.

Locally roasted coffee, fresh herb tea and sexy dark chocolate truffles followed, but at 10.15pm, a little later than we had wanted to be still eating. And I had to disappear before they arrived as baba had woken - booo!

I love when people have creative ideas, take risks, follow their dreams and do it with style. So hats off to Gillian - we're behind you all the way. We LOVE having County Cork's best restaurant just 10 minutes walk from our front door.

This was food as it should be, cooked with panache. It has set a new gold standard for what restuarants can and should be doing with local produce. At €35 a head, it was exceedingly good value for money (when's the last time you could say that about eating out in Ireland?) We cannot wait to go back... I have a feeling we might have to fight for a table!

Find Gill's Garden Supper Club on Facebook

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Weekend goodies (Sunday Surf)

Here are some gems I have come across this week in the blogosphere...

A wonderful Waldorf inspired idea - creating a wonder book of poems and pictures undercover as a Rhyme Elf... oh look just read it and you'll see!

Calamity Jane at Apron Stringz writes a touching and true Love Letter to New Mamas - I know I've mentioned it already, but I LOVE it!

My friend Laura has the most gorgeous tutorial for upcycling a man's jumper into a toddler's needle felted jacket...

For gentle inspiration My Year in Haiku does exactly what it says on the tin!

And if you want a chuckle from a dad's perspective on the parenting life check out Rumours Spread By Fish - your sides will be sore by the end!

And if you're wanting to do something lovely this weekend - pop over to Sweets for a Saturday to get the round up of the week's best baking ideas on the blogosphere - you'll find my Queen of Puddings Luscious Lemon Squares there too!

And to Magic Onions for wonderful crafty nature table ideas.

Happy weekend

Friday, March 25, 2011

Stop with the sunshine posts!

After speaking to a couple of mother friends over the past few days who feel overwhelmed and despondent, I realise that I'm in danger of turning into one of those annoying mamas who wears hippy skirts, bakes cakes, makes endless craft with their kids and is always happy... oh wait a minute, I am that woman. Hurray! I have made it. For a while anyway!

But let me share a secret with you- I used to read posts by people like me and HATE them! Bloody earth mothers! How do they bake their own bread and write a blog and home school and be NICE all day?

Well they are not, I'm sure, and I'm not either. Only 2 months ago I was bawling my eyes out at women's group cos life was shit, I was shit and I HATED being a mother and wasn't doing ANYTHING, I was barely surviving, let alone baking bread.

So dear reader, you and I need a little agreement here, that just cos all is roses in my world today, just cos I had a home birth, just cos I am a mighty fine cake baker, doesn't mean all is perfect, nor does it mean everything in your life is not perfect in comparison. so don't begrudge me the roses. I share them to share a little happiness, not to make you feel shit in comparison if your day was less than rosy.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Happy days

Another sunshine day...
Children playing in a room full of patchwork quilts...
There is a gorgeous exhibition at the Grain Store where our playgroup is.
Washing on the line...
Spring flowers nodding in the sun...
A walk in the Cookery School gardens...
A picnic on the lawns...
Random acts of beauty whilst waiting at the school gates...
And another on the way home...
A dandelion sun...
(We made it on a big patch of living dandelions on the communal grass area in our housing estate)

Home again...
Watercolour painting in the sunshine...
A pot of chilli bubbling on the hob
Luscious lemon squares baking in the oven...
And eaten in a flash - more yellow to fill our souls.

And for the sake of balance...
We were up VERY early, the kids are waking when it gets light...and the baby had woken multiple, multiple times in the night.
I yelled at my daughter cos she wouldn't keep her shoes on, and so she whinged walking bare foot over the stones to playgroup, where she clung to my skirt driving me mad. And she slammed the baby onto the ground and lay on top of her whilst she screamed. The baby whinged the whole time I was hanging the washing. And I'm going to have to cook something else for number two's supper cos she won't eat chilli. And the kids spend their whole time calling each other "stupid, stinky idiot", and they're now watching TV... So it's not perfect, we're not perfect. This is cherry picking the good, the wonderful good of which our life is full, though there are plenty of stinky bits thrown in to chomp on. But let's celebrate - all is well in my world!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

There's a shop in my cupboard... why bulk buying makes sense

The end of the world is nigh... well to look in my utility room and larder cupboard you'd think so...
Note the couple of kilos of fair trade chocolate!!
I bulk buy... I get a weekly order of basic groceries delivered from the supermarket, a large wholefood delivery every 6 weeks, and other occasional deliveries from specialist food suppliers and eco retailers. We buy in bulk in both ways: quantity and size. Now I'll tell you why you should consider it too:

Sanity. It means I don't have to trek three squabbling kids round the shops, look for parking etc. Instead we can get fresh, local fruit, veg, meat, dairy and bakery from local shops as and when we need them. And someone else gets to pick all the boring, heavy. mundane stuff off the shelves and lift the heavy stuff and bring it to my house (and they get paid!) 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Wishing Day

Today has been a sunny wishing day. Timmy has been home from school for the past two days, awaiting spots, which never arrived! I have enjoyed our couple of home-schooling days. Since we can't formally flexi-school, then we are freestyling it. We take a day out of school, now and then "for family reasons" and have a special day of craft and educational outings. A day for the soul and creative spirit which doesn't get much nurturing at school.

So we made wishing eggs, inspired by my dear friend Laura at Nestled Under Rainbows. The eggs came from our happy-ish free range hens who live under the trampoline. we wrote wishes on paper, put them into the empty shells and wrapped them in bright tissue paper and raffia ribbon. Wishes included... "I wish I was a digger driver", "I wish for a pants super hero birthday party at my house" and "I wish it was Christmas"!!!

They are now adorning our seasons table and will be taken out and hidden in the woods at Easter time where the fairies will find them and grant our wishes. We are waiting for the arrival of our very own fairy: the cherry blossom fairy, who will grace our nature table any day now. The buds are swelling in the garden outside and we're counting down the days till our first o-hanami (Japanese cherry blossom picnic) under the cherry trees in our very own garden in the Pink House. But for now we are enjoying the bright yellow daffodils, and blue wood anemones and grape hyacinths we planted last September.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Me and my girl

Attachment theory has it that if we have a natural birth, if we bring our baby to our breast within minutes, if we lie skin to skin with our newborn, then the magic happens.

For me it did not.

Parenting wisdom say that we will love all of our children completely, though perhaps differently.

But I did not.

In fact, if I were to be totally honest, which I will, we have only bonded in the past couple of months - nearly three years after her birth.

Despite being the only one of my three children to be completely "planned" and "consciously conceived", one cannot, as I have discovered, plan on love.

Chicken and egg, this dance of detachment, of missing the mark, of not quite bonding... round and round we have gone, trying to find a way to fit together, to find each other.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Choosing to live

Today is spring equinox which marks the balancing of equal light and darkness.

In the early 20th century, the existentialist Jean Paul Sartre claimed that we only had one authentic choice: to choose to live, or to kill ourselves. He argued, rather bleakly, that suicide was the true expression of man's free will: one that distiguished us from all other animals.

According to the National Office of Suicide Prevention here in Ireland:
  • A lifetime history of suicide related thoughts in certain general population groups can be as high as 49% 
  • Registered deaths from suicide in 2009 reached a record figure of 527, a 24% increase on the previous year. The first two quarters of 2010 show a small increase in numbers.
  • We have 11,000 episodes of deliberate selfharm presenting at hospital A&E departments each year. 
  • And levels of depression run at 16% in Ireland, similar to the USA, UK, Australia and Canada. 
Multiply that up... how many thousands of suicides, and millions upon millions of depressed people is that in the world?

In our modern, wealthy western world people who seemingly have everything to live for, are choosing NOT to live, whether by alcoholism, drug addiction, addiction to gambling or video games, eating disorders, through depression, hypochondria and suicide. Of course material wealth is not everything. But when you have everything you need for human life: health, food, a home, family and friends, why are so many in our culture turning to death?

I have been there myself. For short periods, but I have. So I have some personal understanding. But I also understand the frustration of dealing with a depressed person whose dark thoughts dominate not only their lives, but those of their loved ones, spewing blackness everywhere, removing joy, direction, hope and draining energy, resources, sympathy into a seemingly bottomless black hole of need, despair and stultifying inertia. I have one immediate family member in this place right now consumed by depression, suicidal thoughts and anger. Another two have been there in the past couple of years. A friend from my past killed herself a month ago. As have other people in my local area.

Why? Why do people in the prime of life, in the most privileged time in history, in comfortable circumstances find themselves so discontent that the only answer is not to live?

The Buddha taught that life is suffering, and yet we seem believe that we should be happy all the time and that if we're not then we've been cheated and we're not playing anymore. "It's not fair," "I deserve more," "I just can't carry on," it's all too hard, too much," "everyone else is alright and only I am struggling," our mind tells us. We feel alone, angry, isolated.

Depression is a very self-centred illness: it muffles everything else except the voice in our heads. In depression the mind turns against itself, just as in auto-immune disease (also hugely prevalent in our culture now) the physical body turns against itself. 

As a culture we seem to be on self destruct. We have become a cerebral civilisation: a fact which has benefits, and dark costs it seems. Our culture is very good at creating dark "soul food": horror films, fantasy war games, a lack of meaningful interpersonal interactions, incessant bad news, readily available drugs and alcohol, a lack of time in the natural environment, unnourishing food, a lack of work with purpose and meaning...If each is seen as a "poison" it is little wonder so many cannot "see the light", they are consuming darkness, and you are what you eat.

But also we do not teach people about the dark side of the soul. We insist on happiness or nothing, perfection or bust, achieve, achieve, more, more. We do not mention the other side. We do not educate our school children in how to recognise and navigate the dark waters of the soul - we instead label and medicate. The darkness is not perceived as normal or natural: it is a disease, a mental illness, something aberrant, for which the "sufferer" bears little or no responsibility: they are cast as the patient, the victim.

I was watching Comic Relief (a UK charity telethon) on Friday night and I saw the power of the human mind to survive, the will to live despite horrific circumstances: a 16 year old African boy who had lost his parents through murder and was in charge of his household of 4 younger siblings, living in a one room shack next to the slum latrine; a new mother with TB and AIDS who was watching her baby die in front of her because she had no milk to give him and no money; a woman who had lost 7 of her children: a cancer sufferer in England; a girl who is the main carer for her mother. These people are, despite enormous physical and emotional hardship, despite loss, trauma and  poverty, choosing to live...

And it is a choice.

Whatever our circumstances it is a choice to live or to die. For some it might be taken on a minute by minute basis. But if we choose what Sartre refers to as "good faith", we choose to live. And once we make that choice (and it is one we can only make for ourselves, the ultimate act of personal responsibility) why not make it a life well-lived, as full as we can make it of love and gratitude, not negativity, anger and suffering? We each have a choice every moment what to focus our minds on: is it the pain in our heads or the beautiful tree swaying in the wind outside our window? We choose. Now, in this moment. What are you choosing, right now? And now? You can choose again. And again. However if you choose death you can never choose again.

The problem with depression is that we see that life is suffering, and we see nothing else. Life is suffering, but it is also sunshine and flowers, and warm food in our bellies and kisses from loved ones. But depression numbs us to all this to make it invisible to us.

We are both light and dark and need to experience and explore both sides. Existential crises are parts of life as we break out of one ingrained way of being and into another. "I cannot carry on like this" is an important place to get to... but then we must move on, not feed the negative voices in our heads.

Eckhart Tolle in his superbly insightful book A New Earth has a concept he describes as the pain body  

"This accumulated pain is a negative energy field that occupies your body and mind. If you look on it as an invisible entity in its own right, you are getting quite close to the truth. It's the emotional pain body. It has two modes of being: dormant and active.

The pain body wants to survive, just like every other entity in existence, and it can only survive if it gets you to unconsciously identify with it. It can then rise up, take you over, "become you," and live through you. It needs to get its "food" through you. It will feed on any experience that resonates with its own kind of energy, anything that creates further pain in whatever form: anger, destructiveness, hatred, grief, emotional drama, violence, and even illness.

Once the pain body has taken you over, you want more pain. You become a victim or a perpetrator. You want to inflict pain, or you want to suffer pain, or both. There isn't really much difference between the two. You are not conscious of this, of course, and will vehemently claim that you do not want pain. But look closely and you will that your thinking and behavior are designed to keep the pain going, for yourself and others."

I find this an extremely useful way of understanding our suffering and how it develops. Unfortunately becuase it is part of the ego, it is deeply wrapped up with a person's identity and is therefore defended to the hilt.  Trying to tell someone who is suffering from darkness that they are helping to contribute to it and can help to get themselves out of it never makes you popular! For this seems to blame the sufferer for their affliction, which is not the done thing. 

But if we can understand this for ourselves it makes it easier to be aware of how we navigate the darkness, and feed it. If we think of the dark "soul foods" and light "soul foods" that we are absorbing each day. If we can be aware of the pain body and how it works. If we can allow our minds not to run the show, especially when they are  dark - if we can get ourselves out of our heads through connecting with others, with meaningful work, with being outside, with physical activity, with creative expression and with a sense of perspective then we can help to shift the darkness in ourselves. And that means a little less darkness in the world. And a little more light to shine for others. 

“Life is not what it's supposed to be. Its what it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference.”
~Virginia Satir

For more read my post: You are not a victim

Friday, March 18, 2011

Joy Pockets

a warm house again
great books
cream risotto
chicken pox spots!
Red Nose Day comedy all night
a husband on the mend
3 children with clean, cut hair - well done mama!
my cooking!
seeing my garden emerge from sleep 
lots of new blog readers

Check in with Mon for more on joy pockets...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

All is Well in My World

I am by nature a little Eeyore-ish, some might say a practised moaner! These past few weeks have been, shall we say, challenging. My poor husband was sick enough to be hospitalised and is still very sore, our teething baba is waking too many times a night, and now both girls have chicken pox. I feel a migraine hovering. I am tired to my core. But I am also doing great.

The secret?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

For Japan, With Love

Japan is on my mind even more than usual since the devastating earthquake on Friday.
But never a day goes past anyway that I don't think of Japan.
Kiyomizu temple in the cherry blossom
I was brought up on tales of Japan from my father. He lived there for a year as an apprentice potter.
I was conceived in Kyoto, Japan, on my parents' honeymoon.
And it was in Kyoto that I lived for 6 months, and proposed to my now husband (who is responsible for most of these wonderful images.)
Japan is like a member of my family, a cherished loved one...

Never have I experienced a culture so unique, so beautiful, so bridging the divide between the past and the future. (Though being fiercely independent by nature I always thanked my lucky stars I wasn't Japanese, I found the level of conformity required very challenging.) Their level of organisation and resourcefulness are beyond compare. Their hospitality and gentle kindness touched us deeply during our stay.

So let us send thoughts, and find creative means of support to help the people of Japan. But first, let us celebrate Japan...

Let me share with you some of my happy, happy memories of our time living in Japan, a country which shaped my soul...
A land of extraordinary natural beauty...
of mountains, forests, shores and mighty rivers
Of exquisite delicacies and beautiful, sweet natured children
A culture which celebrates its seasons - autumn leaves and cherry blossoms, and thousand year old festivals of fire and ice...
Of ancient spiritual wisdom

Which is celebrated in the traditional way with pomp, in the midst of futuristic cities
A country which brought us wabi-sabi, a sense of beauty in the everyday, which celebrates the aesthetic nature of the mundane through stunning craftsmanship

Blessings be to Japan and all her people.
May they find comfort in the midst of devastation and the strength to rebuild their country and their lives.

Monday, March 14, 2011

growling at our mothers

My 5-year-old is feeling unsettled. Life is not right. Daddy is ill. And he has started rolling his eyes when I talk to him. It makes me feel cross and frustrated. Respect me, I think, I'm your mother! I'm your friend, I wheedle, I'm just trying to help! I explain myself more. To which he mutters under his breath and rolls them some more. I am his mother. I am the font of all his problems. Of course! This is all a little scary... imagine when he is 14... And I have two girls. Girls and their mothers...oh-oh!

I am 31. I still roll my eyes when my mother talks. Well, she didn't know this till now (sorry Mummy!) But I do... I just do it so she can't see!

And she was 59 yesterday. And she still grumbles at her Mum's general failings. Rolling her eyes at her lack of this and that... Even though she's been dead for 15 years.

But why?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Catching the tiger by the tail...

Our last baby has just reached her first birthday. An enormous milestone for us parents as much as our baby. We know she is our last because we took definite, final steps to ensure this.

The day after her birthday my most recent Amazon order arrived. In it was a book I had discovered... Red Moon: Understanding and using the creative, sexual and spiritual gifts of the menstrual cycle. I won't be needing this for a while, I thought, and put it to one side.

Two days later my period came back.

So now I am at the beginning of a new phase of my life. Free for the first time from the worry of getting pregnant. Free from the wondering if we want any more children. Knowing that each moon will bring the light and dark of my soul. My creative surges and moody exhaustion. That the only babies I will be able to make now are the children of my creativity rather than my body. My nurturing self is mine alone. That is a very empowering thought. To have that clarity. And yet I am only approaching 31. So I know that I face another 10, maybe 20 years of periods. Unending, ceaseless cycles. Cramps and crankiness. And inappropriate tears and tantrums.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

If You go Down to the Woods Today...

If you go down to the woods today you're in for a big surprise!

We were there first! Weaving our magic.

We made a sun web out of catkins...

And rearranged fire stones to make a heart ...

A home waiting for fairy folk to inhabit it... a project for another day!

Want to know more about random acts of beauty? Read here for my introduction to them...

Tomorrow I will post some more on them...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Away with the Fairies

A confession: I am officially away with the (flower) fairies...

There, now I've lost my three male readers!

I adored the Cicely Mary Barker Flower Fairies books as a child and am delighted that my two-year-old loves my original books just as much. These are some of my favourite images from them...

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Top Ten Reasons Why Home Birth Rocks

Welcome to the March Carnival of Natural Parenting: Natural Parenting Top 10 Lists
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants
have shared Top 10 lists on a wide variety of aspects of attachment
parenting and natural living. Please read to the end to find a list of
links to the other carnival participants.


Top Ten Reasons Why Home Birth Rocks

I am the proud mama of three home birthed babas. I would not have done it any other way....and this is why!
  1. Home is the natural space for a natural birth. Feeling safe at home, in the birth space you have created during your nesting frenzy in the preceding month, is the most natural of things. No trying to ride the contractions in the back of a car at rush hour, or fill out hospital forms whilst you're dilating. No beeping machines, bright lights, shiny blades, white coats, trolleys or monitors. In a home environment your hormones of love - oxytocin and prolactin - are most likely to function as they should, and stress levels, which produce cortisol and inhibit labour, are kept low. My first birth was an ecstatic birth for just this reason. My third was a wonderful water birth. All were quick and easy – the longest being 6 hours from start to finish.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Walking Labyrinths of Sand

Today was a celebration.
More than 20 groups throughout the UK and Ireland gathered.
To celebrate...
Being alive,
Being Women,
In honour of 100 years of International Women's Day.
At 12 noon, 
The Flare groups connected in spirit.
We hope our sisters had as wonderful a time as us.

This was our gathering.
You are welcome to join in spirit too...

An icy cold mist and wind surrounded our corner of East Cork, Ireland. 
A true sea mist.
I walked the forty minute walk to our local beach.
With our baby in the buggy
Forming a plan as I walked...
Still unsure as to what we would do...
Or who would be there...
The circle of stones series from this week was circling in my mind
I had a few of my favourite books with me...
Labyrinths of Birth with lots of labyrinth seeds
Make it Wild - for ephemeral art inspiration
and of course Circle of Stones if readings were needed...

Shanagarry strand in the mist
The way to Garryvoe...before we worked our magic!
The island, in all its misty glory
rivers of sand...

Friday, March 4, 2011

Something for the weekend

Banana Loaf Cake

From my cookery blog, The Queen of Puddings

A homely cake which fills the house with a wonderful cakey fug which seductively lets everyone who enters know that you are truly a domestic goddess. A crisp crust and moist springy sponge. Kids love it. And the adults do too! It's perfect for using up those deep brown spotted bananas that populate the fruit bowl.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Lines and Circles - A Meditation in Words (4) in the Circle of Stones Series

Our life is an apprenticeship to the truth that around every circle another can be drawn; there is no end in nature, but every end is a beginning; under every deep a lower deep opens.” Emerson

Circles are one of the simplest geometric forms, we are surrounded by them: in literal forms, symbolic representations and in terms of energy.

Circles are ancient symbols of sacred wholeness used across human cultures: standing stones, beehive cells, labyrinths, rose windows, chalices, mandalas, even the wedding ring...each is based on the circle.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Weaving virtual circles - Circle of Stones series (3)

Firstly a brief apology,  I have been distracted with other thoughts, (of clay and animal welfare) so my Circle of Stones week has been interrupted over the past couple of days! Sorry! You got some other goodies instead, and I, because of my general impatience, wanted to share those musings whilst they were fresh!

So on with the Circle of Stones series...
I discovered an online circle of stones. It is bursting with inspiring interviews with wonderful women. I cannot recommend it highly enough. 

Circle of Stones
Click me!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Our Daily Bread

I have just watched a documentary called Our Daily Bread.
No music. No commentary. The director has let the images speak for themselves.
And what images. Simply recording what happens in the fields and factories around the world which run our agribusiness and keep food cheap.
If this is modernity I don't want it.

Rhythm of the Home

I have a piece in the beautiful Spring issue of Rhythm of the Home. Click the button below to visit it!

I urge you to take the time to savour this stunning online publication which is compiled with love by three visionary mamas and contributed to by dozens more. It is sure to inspire, lift your spirits and help you to celebrate the changing seasons. I find it nothing short of magical!

May I also recommend my pick of other favorites


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