Saturday, 29 December 2012

Christmas wreath

I forgot to share with you some photos of the Christmas wreath I made, it was one of my advent calender activities.
It was so easy to make, I simply wrapped a polystyrene ring in thick hemp twine and some red ribbon, then glued on some white and red felt roses that I made by cutting a circle of the felt into a spiral and winding it up keeping one side flat.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Forgivness, Sin and Guilt

I have done a few things in my life which I have lived to regret, who hasn't?  Often I didn't know I was doing things that were stupid or hurtful till after, or later and, because I am the sort of person who wants people to like me and doesn't like to hurt other people's feelings I am left racked with guilt.   In response to knowing I have done something wrong, as well as asking for forgiveness from the person I have wronged (if this is the reason for the guilt) I ask God for forgiveness, being raised in a Christian home, it is what I have been taught to do and it's what the Bible tells you to do:

1 John 1:19
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

 Acts 3:19
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,

What I know is that I AM  forgiven by God, but I continue to beat myself up about the things I have done, I continue to feel bad about them.  For a long time I have been wondering what has gone wrong, if God has forgiven me why do I continue to feel bad, didn't the forgiveness's work? Why doesn't God take away the guilt?  

Then in a sermon the minister talked about how forgiveness is a gift that we have to accept from God and it struck me, I am not accepting God's gift of forgiveness, I don't accept that what he did was enough, I feel like I have to continue to feel bad about things in order to redeem myself for what I did wrong.  How ungrateful is that?  Jesus was horribly murdered in order to pay for my sins, receiving the punishment I deserved and yet I feel like I can somehow repay my debt by feeling bad about it!?
In the same sermon the minister referred to this Bible verse:
Philipians 4:6-7

Interestingly I had pinned this same verse just the week before (Has God been trying to tell me something?)
So then it occurred to me, yes I am forgiven, but by not accepting the forgiveness completely and still feeling bad I am continuing to sin, it is a different sin to the original one but it is a sin nonetheless.  So I realised in order to feel forgiven I need to continuously give these feelings of guilt and shame to God.  Every time they come to mind I pass them on to Him, just like in one of my favourite hymns:

 What a friend we have in Jesus, 
 all our sins and griefs to bear! 
 What a privilege to carry 
 everything to God in prayer! 
 O what peace we often forfeit,
 O what needless pain we bear, 
 all because we do not carry 
 everything to God in prayer. 

 Have we trials and temptations? 
 Is there trouble anywhere? 
 We should never be discouraged; 
 take it to the Lord in prayer. 
 Can we find a friend so faithful 
 who will all our sorrows share? 
 Jesus knows our every weakness; 
 take it to the Lord in prayer. 

        Are we weak and heavy laden, 
 cumbered with a load of care? 
 Precious Savior, still our refuge; 
 take it to the Lord in prayer. 
 Do thy friends despise, forsake thee? 
 Take it to the Lord in prayer! 
 In his arms he'll take and shield thee; 
 thou wilt find a solace there.

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Bo and Ted

I can't remember how Julia and I became friends but somewhere between years 9 and 10 of High school we did.  Maybe it was because we both liked Phil Allan or was it because we sat next to each other in English? I can't remember but something clicked.  We had some very fun times together Julia and I, the first time I vomited from alcohol was in her house one half term...good times, we went camping on the Duke of Edinburgh Award together and hung out in the music room at break time (yes I was a band geek at school).  Anyway at some point after year 13 Julia and I lost contact and through the power of Facebook just over a year ago we got back in touch and met up for a coffee.  Who would have thought that so many years had passed?  The chat came easily.   Thank you Facebook, finally after years of making me feel like everyone else was having more fun, you brought something good into my life. 
So what is the point of me telling you all this? well, turns out my friend Julia is pretty crafty of the knitting and sewing variety, she has a shop on ebay called Bo and Ted selling some really lovely knitted pram blankets and some other gorgeous items (which seems to be selling pretty quickly might I add, two items already sold since I last looked.) and I thought I would share them with you, take a look:



I am sure she would love it if you took a look, amazingly she is offering free postage!!

Sunday, 16 December 2012

My advent calander

I know it is too late to share this calender as a tutorial or anything, but I thought I would share it anyway just to show I do follow things through!


In each of the envelopes is an activity to do on that day.  I can't say I have stuck to it rigidly because I didn't want to stress myself out with it at probably the most stressful time of the year.  
These are the activities from the list:

1st – Saturday - Photograph Orren in his Christmas outfit
2nd – Sunday – Make Christmas gift wish list
3rd – Monday – Design and make lino cut for Christmas cards
4th – Tuesday – Print Christmas cards
5th – Wednesday – Write Christmas cards
6th – Thursday – Post Christmas cards
7th – Friday – Drink spiced cider
8th –Saturday – Bring in the Christmas tree and decorate it
9th – Sunday – Do a Christmas puzzle
10th – Monday – Get Christmas books out of the library for Orren
11th – Tuesday – Make a gingerbread house
12th – Wednesday – Buy a Christmas scrap book 
13th – Thursday – Make a Christmas wreath
14th – Friday – Watch “it’s a Wonderful Life”
15th – Saturday – Buy new pyjamas for Christmas morning
16th – Sunday – Make  a Christmas tree ornament
17th – Monday – Make mince pies
18th – Tuesday – Wrap Christmas presents
19th – Wednesday - Make hot chocolate with a candy cane stirrer
20th – Thursday – Make Christmas place mats
21st – Friday – Make Christmas stockings
22nd – Saturday – Have a candle lit meal
23rd – Sunday – Drink mulled wine
24th – Monday – Go to crib service at Church, read the night before Christmas
Shopping list:

I made the calender by making my own envelopes from Christmas scrap booking paper the used a typewriter to type the activities on corresponding paper.  I mounted the envelopes on a piece of mount board which I covered with brown wrapping paper glues down with a pritt stick, I glues a little peg to the mount board with attached each envelope to the board with this.  I made a little number on each envelope by gluing brown wrapping paper to thin card the drawing round the lid of the pritt stick and cutting it out. I then drew on the number and glued them to the envelope. 
 As for me, I am happily getting ready for Christmas and enjoying my lovely little boy who is getting bigger everyday, I can hardly keep up.  He crawls now and can pull himself up to standing, he is charming.
Hope you are all good and enjoying the festive season.


Monday, 19 November 2012

F*** You Africa

Is it just me or do programmes like Man Verses Food and Heston's Fantastical Food make you sad?
I mean it is just the most outrageous waste of food imaginable, an absolutely licentious example of the excessive over-consumption of the west.  It's like we have so much food we just don't know what to do with it anymore so we are just going to eat as much as we can and gorge ourselves silly (Man v Food) or make ridiculously large, comedicly over sized food just for the sake of it (Heston)  It's like we are saying "F***you Africa!" we don't care that you are hungry and dying we have more than we know what to do with. 
These sorts of programmes are my bug-bear at the moment, they really bother me, the West should be ashamed of itself sometimes, it really should, if someone in real poverty saw one of these programmes what would they think?(rant over)
I have heard people say recently"First world problem" regarding complaints that really aren't that much of a big deal when you look at the bigger picture, I have been guilty of it myself, complaining about things like "it's so annoying that the holder for the shower head is broken so I have to hold the shower in my hand when I wash myself, woe is me!"  (Hello! some countries don't even have clean water to drink,) I saw this video a while ago which really sums up how pathetic this attitude it is.

Don't get me wrong though I am not saying that we should never over indulge or enjoy luxuries from time to time, just that these should be the exception, not the rule and that we should appreciate the every day luxuries that we have and not take them for granted all the time (I say "we"  what I really mean is "I").

Right now I am trying to value things that I often take for granted, I think I find them more enjoyable when I really meditate on how lucky I am to have them.  A hot shower for example (whether I have to hold the shower head or not) can be just the most luxurious thing if I pause for a moment to appreciate the gloriouseness of it. And the fact that I have a car and I can get in it and get to places quickly and in the dry is just brilliant.  I implore you to do the same from time to time, it can only be a good thing, you never know, one day we might not have these everyday luxuries.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Hama Girl

You may know that I am a fan of the Japanese fashion sub-culture known as Mori Girl.  Mori girls like to dress as if they live in the forest, with loose fitting, flowing clothes made from natural materials.  There is a fantastic description on this blog if you would like to know more. 
Whilst browsing some Mori girl websites I came across another Japanese fashion sub-culture similar to Mori called Hama Girls, this blog says that:

"Hama girls are the sisters of mori girls who live by the sea:
  • layers of clothing that is tattered by the wind
  • colours of the sea, blues, greys, whites, sea foam and deep green
  • tousled and sun bleached hair
  • long walks on the beach, watching the sun rise and sunset, collecting the treasures of the sea
  • adornments that are made of found objects, smooth driftwood, sea glass, shells and feathers
  • the ocean is freedom
You will find the hama girl wandering the beach, feeling the sand between her toes, the waves against her legs, the wind in her hair, tasting the salt in the air, her heart filled with yearning as the sails of the ship disappear beyond the horizon."

 I love this!  I don't live by the sea, but I would love to, and if I did I can just see myself fulfilling this description. 

Here are some lovely photos all from the above blog that epitomise the Hama Girl style:




I am pretty sure I will be doing more blog posts about Hama Girls in the future, I can just see some coastal themed Etsy treasuries and some Polyvore collages in the making.  Stay tuned.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Advent Calendar Ideas

This year we are planning on having a really special Christmas at home with our new little family.  It will be our first Christmas spent at home together and Orren's very first Christmas, we want it to be really special and lovely, I also want it to be as stress free as possible which is why I am already thinking about it, as it is creeping up quickly.  Everyone's Christmas usually begins with a count down, often a gaudy cardboard calender filled with cheap chocolates and decorated with a tacky kids cartoon character, not very festive in my opinion, so this year I have decided to make my own.  Pintrest provided me with myriad ideas and I am pretty set on the idea of having pockets, I was initially thinking I could make a fabric calendar with large pockets to hold a tasty chocolate, but now I am thinking of making paper envelopes and putting a little fun, festive Christmas activity idea in each, I think this is more fun and thoughtful.
Here are some of the fab advent calendars I saw on Pintrest, honestly I could make any one of these, they area all so it is so hard to make a decision.

Really like the use of burlap on this one, it is a simple design which I think I could manage,

Love the idea of stringing little envelopes across a large picture frame,

Decorated brown paper envelope advent calendar 

There intricately decorated envelopes are so beautiful but I think this could be a bit expensive for my budget,

Pocket advent calendar 

Love the idea of hanging little gifts of a branch, or tree, I have some driftwood branches that would work really well with this idea,

advent calendar tree 

I like the simplicity of this design, but I would probably make my own envelopes with Christmassy paper of vintage music sheet,

white paper envelope Advent calendar. 

I like the idea of using pegs to hold gifts or envelopes, but I am not sure what I would glue the peg to?

Advent Calander with pegs and presents 

Another fun design with beautifully decorated paper envelopes, this one is probably more realistic for me to make as there are less embellishments,

Advent Pocket Calander 

I like this simple design, it has a sort of Shaker/ New England feel that I love,

fabric wall hanging Advent calander

Lace and doilies!!  Need I say any more?

doily advent calander 

Another simple envelope design,

brown paper envelope pocketcAdvent Calendar!

I like the idea of using little boxes and decorating the lids with Christmassy paper, but I am not sure where I would get 24 little boxes from without spending money I don't have!

advent calander with small boxes 

What do you do Advent Calendar wise for Christmas?  Have you made your own? What did you do?

Monday, 5 November 2012

Tiny houses

A while ago I wrote THIS blog post about tiny spaces.  There must be something in the nations consciousness about wanting to retreat to a small space because there have been two programmes on TV recently on such a topic.  First was Kevin McCloud's Man Made Home, where he builds a small portable shed from trees on his own land and furnishes it with a bespoke chair and bed.  He is able to cook on a hob which is supplied from methane gas gathered from an outside toilet and bathes in a bath made from aeroplane parts.

And then there is George's Clarke's Amazing Spaces.  Clarke investigates other people's small spaces and builds his own from an old 1970's mobile home.

What is it about small spaces that we are all craving?  Is it that we are all becoming over whelmed by the bigness of our lives these days?  We live in a global community; we eat food and consume goods from the other side of the world, our friends and family are scattered across the country, sometimes the world, many people don't even know their neighbours.  

The expectation is that as we progress through life, we will get more money and more stuff, then we need more space for all our stuff so we buy a bigger house which we fill with more stuff.  But all this extra stuff and space is not making us happier is it?  I remember reading that, as a country, we are far richer than we were 50 years ago, and yet cases of depression and increased. 

It seems to me that there is something clicking in people's subconscious that is driving us to crave a simpler way of life, one where are needs are met simply and practically.  The smaller space also encourages us to venture outside and become closer to nature where we are cleansed and healed from the constant bombardment of information, images, sounds and things that is the modern life. 

I already live in a fairly small space, but I still crave a little shed or caravan where I can escape from...what?...Life?  I am not sure, what I want to escape from, perhaps it is just the chaos and confusion of life which you can shut out more readily in a small space, or rather there is no room for it to come in!

So lets fantasise a little about tiny houses and little spaces and pretend we can shut ourselves away and be alone with our thoughts just for a while before we have to face reality, messy, chaotic, big, reality.

tiny house tiny house

Tiny House | Tiny House Swoon

house boat

hobbit house



Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Talking about parenting is a minefield

Or rather talking about parenting is like walking through a minefield.  A really horrible minefield filled with lots and lots of different footpaths to follow, all filled with lots and lots of mines.  Whichever one you take you still trip over some, there is no safe path.  Sometimes I think it might be best not to choose any path at all, just hide under a rock or something!
This has been my experience anyway which is why I have closed this blog down for a few days.  After receiving some worrying comments on a post I did about Baby Led Weaning, I discovered that I offended some people that I know personally and I felt exposed and vulnerable.  Obviously, if you know me at all you would know that I am not the sort of person who goes out of their way to upset people.  But I am someone with opinions, strong ones, which begs the question, talk about parenting or not? Clearly if you have strong opinions about something you are bound to upset someone at some point even when you don't mean to, so does that mean it's better not to say anything at the risk of upsetting someone? Or do you say what you need to say because you have a voice, a heart, an idea, a truth and it needs telling? It is a hard a difficult road to take, the truth road, and I am not talking about right or wrong, good or bad, but personal truth, my truth.  
And yet I find it so hard to remember that what I see as truth, someone else might not.  Is it possible to hate something for myself and yet not hate it for someone else?
Is it possible to love something for myself and not want to share it with the world?

I really am truly sorry for upsetting people with my words, my truth, I used to think "Those who mind don't matter, those who matter don't mind"  but perhaps life isn't as simple as this because sometimes the truth hurts and I don't want to hurt people.

I took a risk with my Baby Led Weaning post, I exposed part of myself that I haven't exposed before, I expressed what I thought about something in an uncompromising way, no "if it's right for you" but my own thoughts on something without apology.  But I made a mistake.  Not in what I said, but in how I said it.  
And I think that is the key to this experience, (and thank goodness I have learnt something from it, or else it would have been for nothing) I have to think carefully not about what I say, but about the way I say it, because, unlike when chatting friends where intonation and emphasis can change the meaning of what is being told, the truth of a message can be lost in the facelessness of the written word.  

So here I am facing the future, I am not hiding away any more, but I am carefully selecting which bits of myself to reveal, which thoughts, which truths, and thinking carefully about how I expose them.  I am facing the future with love and kindness, sensitivity and peace, trying to remember that some truths are not universal even if they mean the world to me.

Friday, 12 October 2012

My life right now

I haven't logged on for a while because I have been doing a bit of thinking about where this blog is going, whether to continue with it, whether to start another blog or to keep going but with more focus.
I was this space to be more authentic, I am tired of reading blogs containing photos of the contents of the author's handbag, or photos of desirable "wish list" items for that month, or how-to's for things that are either entirely obvious or else hideous!
I have very little time on my hands these days for frivolous blog posts and I need to think about what this blog actually does for me, what it adds to my life rather than trying to get readers, or followers, or comments (although all those things are lovely), if I am not getting anything from blogging then I am not sure there is that much point in it.  Maybe that sounds selfish, but I am not sure that this blog touches enough people's lives in any significant way for it to be purely altruistic.
So I am left thinking that if this blog is a reflection of my own life, my own real life, and not a idealistic dream, then it needs to focus on what is important in my own real life. So, what is important in my life?  Well I suppose all the things that I list in my about page:

  • Self-sufficiency,
  • Environmental awareness,
  • Alternative parenting,
  • Christianity,
  • Art and craft,
  • Simple living.
It would be lovely to have a blog like soulemama but I don't take any where near enough photos...maybe I should start taking more photos...I like renegademothering but I am not as articulate, or funny.  I want to just be ME, but I am afraid people won't like me, or that they won't I am not interesting enough, or funny enough, or clever enough (actually come to think of it, these feelings stop me from doing a lot of things in life).  I have a lot of thoughts about things that I am too afraid to say in case they make people not like me.  I am a nice person, honest, but some things confuse, infuriate and annoy me, should I share those here?  Or should this blog just be all flowers and bunny rabbits?  You know, everything nice and lovely.  But that wouldn't reflect me either would it? I also have to remember that people I know and love read this blog and I don't want to offend them.  *sigh* what a middle class, western dilemma!    Put things into perspective Helen. 
Ok I am blabbering now.  Right, it's decision time.  No more blogging for hits, no more blogging for comments, I am blogging for me now, like me or loathe me.  (ooh err, that's scary)  Just REAL things, a diary of sorts. I shall see how it goes, let me know if you like it or not.

p.s. I am not even sure people who read this blog know much about me, (note to self: update "about" page)
Right, night all, I am of to a wedding tomorrow, of a couple that neither I nor my husband have ever met.  I am sure I will tell you about it!

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Holiday 2012

Last week we finally went on a holiday!  My first for nearly 3 years, and let me tell you, it was a looong time coming, and it was soooooo good!  I just RELAXED the whole time, wonderful!  And I am afraid I didn't really want to come back home to the hum drum of every day life, doing laundry and endless dished, tidying and stressing about getting to places on time. It was so nice to spend hours reading, and putting my feet up, not worrying about cleaning and tidying, playing with Orren, spending time talking to my husband, doing cross words, visiting lovely old houses and romantic ruins, walking on the beaches, not having to be anywhere in particular.  It was bliss.  
We didn't travel far, just to the North Norfolk coast to a little fisherman's cottage in a village called Blakeney.    Thankfully we had some wonderful sunny, if a little blowy days, and only one day of drizzle.  
On our holiday we:
  • Walked along the Quay at Blakeney,
  • Visited three National Trust properties; Felbrigg Hall, Blicking Estate and Oxburgh Hall,
  • Visited two lots of ruins; Binham priory and Baconsfield Castle,
  • Visited three seaside towns and walked on their beaches; Wells-Next-the-Sea, Cromer and Sheringham,
  • Ate lunch at the Blakeney Hotel,
  • Had lots of picnics,
  • Laughed a lot,
  • Took lots of photos: