Friday, April 11, 2014

knitted lately

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In the interest of full disclosure I feel the need to tell you that I had to bribe those three girls to pose for these knitting pics for me. So involved were they in their game of cubby cooking that it was my only way. One chocolate biscuit each. They tried to raise it to two but I didn't budge. It was a one treat shoot.

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First the Chunky Bear Beanie.

Knitted in the squishiest, softest wool I have ever felt.

Last year when we were in Israel, one of my instagram friends, Dria, contacted me and invited us to lunch at her family's bakery, in the community where they live. It was so gorgeous to meet properly and hug her after years of looking at the pictures of her life online.

A few weeks after we got home she posted me the wool. Five different colour ways, each one equally as divine. I'm tempted to knit them all into chunky bear beanies but I should probably play around a bit, we'll see.

Ravelled here.

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Next up, a Little Scallops.  The fourth I have made. I love this pattern.

I cast this one on at The Seven Sisters Festival a few weeks back. I thought I'd knit so many stitches that weekend. I packed the boot of my car full of wool just in case. But somehow I didn't get past the band.

I think it needs a pom-pom.

Did you notice the first lost tooth? This Mama's last first, sob.

Ravelled here.

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Then I made a From Norway With Love for the sister of someone who reads my blog. Her story touched my heart and I wanted to send her a bit of my love in return. Knitting feels so nurturing and I feel so grateful for that.

Ravelled here.

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And then I knitted another one for us.

Miss Pepper chose the colours and while I found them a little challenging and out of my comfort zone, I love how much she loves it. I feel like it looks straight off the shelves of a chain store, but she'd probably love that too.

Ravelled here.

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Another Chunky Cable Beanie for my farmer boy.

He loves this pattern, it suits him, it is the closest I have ever come to replacing his favourite Nana knitted beanie and it is warm and thick.

The last one I knitted him ended up wet left out on the tractor so many times that it is all mishapen and stretched. I've been thinking about unraveling it and knitting it up all over again. Can I do that? Will it work?

Ravelled here.

IMG_8921 And now I'm onto this, a little cardigan. A Tikki test knit.

I wanted to make the cream the main colour, with the charcoal the stripe, but Miss Pepper had other ideas. I kinda like the way it's turning out now.

I love the fact that my smaller two don't wear a school uniform anymore and that I can wrap them up in snugly hand knits over the icy months to come. I love the fact that they have clothes that are made just for them; from the measuring of their body parts, to the choice of the pattern and yarn, all the way through to the stitches. Every stitch a little story of the time; a grey and rainy week, a Wonder Years marathon, tomatoes and quinces and apples on the stove. Cozy times.

Keep warm my friends.
And tell me, what's keeping your hands busy these April days?

Big love

xx

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

i say tomato

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IMG_8853Can I tell you a secret?

I don't like fancy tomatoes. I know, so very wrong for an organic farmer to admit. But I'll take an under-ripe, red, round, firm tomato over a fancy, overly tasty, pulpy tomato any day.

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I think it started way back about seven years ago. We were growing tomatoes in a pretty serious way for restaurants and shops and markets and I was growing Miss Pepper in my belly. And while the tomatoes were blossoming and blooming and growing beautifully, I was sick, sick, sick.

And all through those early months of my pregnancy, my main job was to rummage around through the foliage in the poly tunnel and pick out the juicy, red tomatoes. Sounds like fun huh?

Imagine a hot sunny day, condensation dripping down the sides of the poly tunnel and off the roof and occasionally dripping onto your head or down your neck. Imagine the sticky tomato tar that covers your hands and arms up to your elbows as you reach through the plants to grab the fruit. Imagine thinking you've spotted the most perfect, plump, red tomato and when you wrap your fingers around it it disintegrates in your hand, a warm, overripe pulpy mess. Imagine breathing in that humid hot-house air and feeling like there wasn't enough oxygen for both you and the tomatoes. Imagine the overwhelming smell of the tomato plants and the tomatoes themselves, kinda acidic and sweet and strong. Imagine spending hours and hours, filling buckets and crates and feeling sick and pregnant and gagging and so over everything tomato. Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

IMG_8869 IMG_8876Seven years on, every single March and April day I've been spending an hour or two in the poly tunnels picking tomatoes, and that tomato smell and the feeling on my fingers takes me straight back there and I feel a little queasy. Seven years on, while I've still lost my love for the exotic and heirloom tomato, we most certainly, unquestionably have won with our wonderful Pepper Berry. I'll take her over a Cherokee Purple or a Purple Russian any day.

Bye now

xx


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

blogging bits & burning sticks

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I'm afraid my blogging has been getting away from me. Where my monthly average used to be 13 or 14 posts, these days it is down to four or five. I don't know what's changed. Maybe I have less time these days, maybe facebook and instagram are to blame, maybe it's because I feel like I've said it all before, maybe it's because I just got out of the habit, or maybe it's because each post seems so big and overwhelming that often it's simpler to let it go.

But I miss it. I miss taking the photos and telling the story. I miss watching the post come together. I miss that feeling of satisfaction I get when I press publish. And I miss your beautiful words and stories in the comment section. And someday in the future I know that I will desperately miss the gaps in our family's illustrated history.

The other day Miss Jazzy sat down to do a timeline of her life and there the last five years were, every birthday party, every major event and so much in-between. She had a ball scrolling through remembering her life.

I've been thinking about ways to make blogging easier for myself ever since.

And I've come to the conclusion that I need to make it simpler and quicker for myself. So for the next little while I am going to aim to publish a blog post every, or every second day. Quick little stories with only a couple of pictures that tell the tales of where we are and what we are doing right now.

I've said it before and I know it to be true; the more I blog - the easier and better I blog.

Look out for stories in the coming days about what I've been knitting, what's growing in the garden, what we are doing with all those tomatoes, what we are reading, how I'm going with the whole kind thing, what's bringing me joy and anything else that pops into my head. Feel free to offer me any suggestions you might have too.

Yay! I'm excited.

IMG_8844 IMG_8848 IMG_8843 This particular story above is one that began yesterday morning when I bumped into a friend who was taking her family away camping for the holidays, and left me feeling guilty that all our plans are for home. But then when I came home to our little farm and had a good look around I realised that our home, and all the adventures it holds, is a pretty incredible place to holiday in too.

And once I'd realised how much we all really need a holiday at home, we set about collecting sticks and building a bonfire where we spent the day cooking and pottering and playing and experimenting and getting absolutely filthy.

I love that despite the cold and rain, I found Jazzy and Pepper back out there in their wet weather gear first thing this morning wanting to keep going where they left off. I can remember doing that so clearly when I was little. The sign of a great day I think.


I'm going to sign off now and go and stir my bubbling pots of tomato sauce and quince jelly, but I'll be seeing you real soon.

Big love and happy holidays!

xx

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Seven sisters

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A three day women's festival promoting health, creative expression and community spirit. Hosting stimulating and insightful workshops, exceptional live music, art and performance in lush natural surrounds. 

From the Seven Sisters Festival website.

IMG_8755It's funny, I've had the photos loaded and ready to go on this post for a few days now but I can't seem to get the words to feel right. I so badly want to record the days and nights I spent away with Indi so I can hold on to them and go back to them in the future when I need to remember and relive that time, but I can't. Everything I write seems too hippie and I feel too self conscious to put it out there.

Maybe it's too soon. Maybe it's all too fresh and alive still dancing around in my mind. Maybe some experiences just cannot be captured in a one dimensional space. I'm not sure.

I do know that over the two days away I went from feeling overwhelmed and out of place, to surrendering and owning my place, to reconnecting and recentering my place, to returning home to my place feeling refilled and recharged.

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I guess the biggest moment in my festival experience, my biggest blessing, happened on the Saturday afternoon while walking back down the hill from the chai tent to our tent when Indi turned and whispered to me;

you are who you want to be mum

Inhale. Exhale. Such big words from my 13 year old. Such big words that I've probably always wanted to hear and feel, yet there I was completely overwhelmed when I finally heard them.

Over the next day or so I took Indi's precious words and turned them over and over in my mind. Am I? Do I? Can I be? Should I be? And then sometime later, while listening to the beginnings of a workshop about making your dreams come true, I came to the realisation that I know she's right.

I have work to do and I know I'm not nearly there yet, but I am heading in the right direction and I feel  empowered and inspired and excited to be here. Right here. And I feel grateful, ever so grateful for the time out of our everyday lives that allowed us to really see our lives for what they are.

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Maybe I'll follow up this post with a nitty-gritty - this was what Seven Sisters was actually like - post, maybe not. I'm discovering that these things don't like to be forced. But if you are interested, you can check out their web-site and look at these 497 gorgeous photos (if you look closely you'll see us in a couple).

Big thanks to Jessie and the Happy Glampers for the loan of the cutest bell tent ever, to Miss Indi my traveling companion (look at that golden aura in the first pic!) and to Miss, Zoe and Nina for making it so much fun. xx

I'm pressing publish before I change my mind again.

Big love and light

xx

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Autumn break

IMG_8727 IMG_8747 Last night Autumn broke and now winter is on her way.

It's funny but although Autumn always makes me feel a bit melancholy about the loss of sunshine and the cold to come, Autumn also seems like the time of year that I am most sure of who I am. In Autumn I feel the most me.

In Autumn there are heads and hands to keep warm. Knitting becomes less of a hobby and more of a necessity. Patterns are chosen, baskets of wool are brought out and considered and a queue is made. As soon as I cast off something it is grabbed and worn and I cast on the next.

Ravelry details here.
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I love how in Autumn we can go from - there's nothing for dinner - to a table full of freshly picked tomatoes - to a saucepan full of passata - to the most delicious tomato and noodle soup ever. And all in the space of an hour.

IMG_8396 In Autumn we try to spend as much time outside while we still can. We walk to do the farm chores and sometimes we find little friends in the egg trailer.

In Autumn we pick up sticks for the wood stove wherever we go. We stockpile them in the kitchen basket and in the wood shed. It wont be long before dry sticks will be hard to find.

IMG_8616 IMG_8609 In Autumn there are always crates of fruit everywhere I look, the floor is sticky, the stove top is full and the sink is full of jam pots. In Autumn there are always rubber bands soaking, jars warming and the Fowlers machine gurgling.

IMG_8620 IMG_8674 In Autumn the shelves start groaning under the weight of filled bottles and jars and containers. We come to the end of what we preserved last year and put away what we have for next.

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In Autumn every year I think of this fruit and veg grown with love, with no nasties, by us or by people we know and know love what they do and I know that we couldn't do this any other way. It makes a difference to the flavour and how good it is for us - I'm sure of it.

IMG_8624 IMG_8658 In Autumn the garden changes again, everything looks lush and green and stands up tall. Out with the old, in with the new.

This year I've been making wreaths on wisteria hoops to dry the seeds and roots for later. The world looks pretty good through coriander glasses don't you think?

IMG_8348 IMG_8578 In Autumn I feel confident that I'm where I need to be. I am busier than at any other time of the year, but as each job gets ticked off my mental list; as each tree in the orchard is stripped, as each crate of fruit gets emptied, as each pile of fire wood is covered, I feel that we are getting closer to being ready for winter. Autumn brings with it a sense of achievement. It is the end of one cycle and the beginning of another.

Ours is a slow way of living but it sure is beautiful and it tastes delicious too.


Go gently friends.

xx

ps this one's for you Heike - thanks for being so patient. x


Friday, March 21, 2014

grape stomping

IMG_8435IMG_8430 OK, let's hop off this self-rediscovery train for a bit and come and visit our place on a sunny Sunday afternoon in March. The grapes on the back deck are swollen and juicy and if we don't pick them today, the birds will beat us to it.

IMG_8440 IMG_8443 Let's pick bunch after bunch after bunch. We can use scissors or just snap the vines off with our hands. You go up the ladder and pass them down to me and I'll fill the bucket and after a while we can swap. Let's sing and laugh as the grapes explode in our hands and the juice runs down our arms. The grapes are warm, the day is filled with sunshine, life is gorgeous.
IMG_8478 IMG_8480 When we've filled our buckets it's  time for the fun part! Let's tip all those gorgeous grapes into a cut off drum, stalks and all. Let's hose off our feet and jump right in. Let's stomp on all those grapes and make juice baby! IMG_8519 IMG_8501 IMG_8515
After we've all taken turns stomping and the grapes are feeling squooshed, it's time to strain the juice out. If you reach down into the barrel and get a cup full, I'll pour it through the strainer and into the saucepan.
IMG_8507 Yep, it's thirsty work this grape juice making. We're almost there now, have a drink, hose off your legs, feed the scraps to the chooks and let's go inside and bottle it up. IMG_8543 IMG_8552 IMG_8539 We're not really wine drinkers in our house, so we'll pop these bottles up on the shelf for now and bring them down as we need them for icy poles, fruit leathers, vodka cocktails and cordial.

It's delicious don't you think? the perfect mix of sweet with a little hint of sour. Yum!

Thanks so much for your help, it's been such great autumn fun.

See you next week for tomato squooshing?

Big autumn love!

xx

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