Monday, 30 July 2012

Happy Monday

Been thinking a lot about living a simpler life recently and have enjoyed looking at photos and watching videos of tiny homes.  This is a particularly lovely film, live the bit with Janine Alexander and her portable home.
Fantasising about living in a little caravan or something, or a small wooden house, Little House on The Prairie Stylee:

Would you like to live in a tiny house of couldn't you stand it?  How much stuff would you have to get rid of in order to live in a tiny house?

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Finally a Facebook page for Serendipity Child

Finally I have got my act together to create a Facebook page for Serendipity Child.  Please please check it out, and join, I hope you like it, I will update whenever I do a blog post or add a new item to my shop.  Click on the image to access my Facebook page:

What this blog is all about

This might sound really silly but the other day I realised what this blog is all about.  I had been feeling all bothered about not having a singular voice or a focus for the blog.  I wanted it to be cohesive, but felt it came across as muddled and without direction because of all my separate interests, ideas and aspects to my life.
It hit me whilst browsing some other blogs about parenting; The Minimalist Mom,  The imagination tree and Little eco footprints.  And now, having seen the way other people come across on their blogs, I can explain the content of my blog with one wonderful word, Alternative.  Let me explain first by examining what I see as being the opposite to "Alternative":
The Anti-to my "alternative" can be encompassed in three words; conventional, mainstream and conformist.  I see these things as following the status-quo, not questioning, accepting the way things are, not hoping for change.  Also, (perhaps rather more controversially) I see this way of life as being Capitalist; a life in which on strives for always more money and/or power; consumerism.
 My life, and this blog is about getting more of other things in my life than money, stuff and power.  More love, more joy, more peace, greater satisfaction, better relationships, greater autonomy,  more self-reliance when it comes to material things, better quality of life. And in so doing, following a way of life which is alternative to the mainstream of what most people do; challenging what is the norm and being more mindful of the planet as I do so.  Putting this into practical terms means my blog is about:
  • Trying to be financially self-sufficient through working for myself, selling my wares (Art, crafts) and my skills (teaching, photography),
  • Trying to be more environmentally friendly and self-sufficient through growing my own veg (Allotment), making things rather than buying them (crafts) and doing things that help the environment, or at the least cause it less damage,
  • Following alternative parenting approaches, (attachment parenting, eco-parenting)
  • Differentiating myself from secular, mainstream society, living a "good" life, (Christianity) 
  • Thinking about life, the world and everything in a different way, not conforming to how society expects me to behave, act, dress etc.
And all these things are of course interconnecting, so it looks something like this:

A bit messy I know, but that's just me!
So in summary, this blog is about my Alternative life.  
Hope you like it!

Friday, 27 July 2012

Re-usable wet wipes tutorial

If there is one thing that most parents seem to not be able to live without then it has to be wet wipes.  I often hear other mothers lamenting the cost of nappies, formula and wet wipes and I smile smugly to myself and think how glad I am that I am not having to spend money on two out of those three essentials.

Don't get me wrong, I am no saint, I was using cotton wool and water for this first five months of my son's life, but I realised the error of my ways and that I needn't be filling up our dustbins with yet more detritus, that, although admittedly will eventually bio-degrade, will take a long time under all that plastic.  So in order to eliminate that little bit extra waste I decided I could make my own wet wipes.  This idea struck me after reading the chapter about babies in The Self-sufficientish Bible, they suggest cutting up polyester fleece to use as wipes, but seeing as I had a lot of cotton flannelette left from the neckerchief/bandanna bibs I thought this would be a better material.  Not only is cotton more natural that synthetic fleece, but I figured it might also be more absorbent.

To begin with I tore up my flannelette into long strips which were the width of a sheet of toilet tissue.  I then cut these strips into smaller toilet tissue sized rectangles.  Initially I thought to make them wet-wipe sized, but decided that toilet paper size was sufficient, and should I decide they ought to be bigger in future I could just make more.

Next I stitched round each edge with a wide zig-zag on the sewing machine.  I don't think that this step is essential, but I thought it might make them last a bit longer as it will stop them fraying in the wash. 

Then just keep going until you have as many as you need.  I must have made about 50 initially, but may  make more depending on how many I get through in a day.

To store them I put mine into a plastic tupperware type box with a slosh of water to keep them moist.  You could also add a few drops of something like grape seed oil which is the only other ingredient in waterwipes, or soak the water in chamomile tea before putting the wipes in. 

Better for your pocket and better for baby's bottom too because they don't contain any of the nasty chemicals found in commercial wet-wipes.

Once used place them into another plastic container with a tight lid which will not only keep in any smell but will keep them moist making them easier to wash.  (much harder to get out dried on poo than the soft wet stuff) You can wash them as you would washable nappies.  I will be washing them at 30 degrees with Bio D Laundry Liquid.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Neckerchief/Bandanna bib tutorial

Have you seen there sweet bibs you can get now that look like neckerchiefs?!  I think they are really cute and much more fun that an ordinary bib, it makes the bib part of the baby's outfit rather than just covering it up for the sake of dribble protection.
I was on the verge of buying some when I suddenly remembered that I can sew, and have half a brain #9the other half went out with the placenta!) and therefore could make some myself.
What's more I though I could share it with you so you can have a go at making one for your baby if you have one, or as a gift for a friend with a new addition.
It is dead easy to make one of these bibs, as I am sure you know by now I don't really do measuring, so haven't included any, all lengths are by rack of eye! (Or by what I figure will fit round a baby's neck.)

For this tutorial you need two types of fabric, I used a flannelette type cotton which I figured would be fairly absorbent, then a patterned jersey type fabric for the front.

Begin buy making a paper template for the shape you want, I loosely wrapped mine around my baby's neck to get an idea of the size and included enough room for hemming.

Pin the template to the fabric then cut around it.  

Next pin the flannelette to the jersey and cut around it as before so you have two triangles of the same shape and size.

Keeping the fabric pinned together sew the two pieces together using a straight stitch.  Leave about 1 cm for hemming.  

Make sure you leave a small gap of about 3cm to turn your bib the right way round.  I left one of my corners open.  

Next trim off the excess from the edges so they are nice and neat:

Then turn the bib the right way round through the small hole you left at one end:

It should look like this now:

Now to finish off tuck in the un-hemmed edges on your open corner like this:

Then simply sew a straight line over this edge (you could do a chain stitch by hand if you so felt inclined, I am a bit lazy though and want to get it done quickly, so it was just a straight stitch for me.)

Now you need to add some velcro.  Cut a piece about 3 cm long and pin one piece to either side of your bib:

Sew them with a straight stitch and you are done!

Hope you are all having a great week, I am writing this tutorial in my garden because we finally have some sun in the UK!

Saturday, 21 July 2012

made a button bouquet!

After being sooo inspired by THIS button bouquet I saw at a wedding and seeing all THESE beautiful bouquets made by the same lovely lady I decided to have a go at making my own button bouquet.  My mum had a stash of buttons that she was keen to be used up and I had a pile of wire left over from the table settings at my wedding, so I though why not give it a go (according to Google analytics they are a rising trend!!).  I looked up a tutorial for how to make a stem then just went from there really, I made 50 in the end and then stopped.  So for about the past two months I have had 50  of these stems lying about the house and finally this week I bundled them all together and finished off the bouquet with some pretty lace and tulle netting.  What do you think, not bad for a first attempt even if I do say so myself.  Which is why I have put it for sale here, and here and here.  Who knows, if it sells I might even make another one!
What do you think?

Friday, 20 July 2012

How my baby is growing!

I am always feeling like I am not to sure how much you guys want to see pics of my little baby, but he is such a big part of my life now I just can't pretend every thing is going on as normal!  I am so busy with his all day he really does take all my attention I have virtually no time for anything else.  He is so sweet and growing so quickly, at the moment he is really discovering his body and what he can do with it, sucking his feet, tugging at his ears and making all manner of noises.  He is still waking up a couple of time most nights for extra feeds and doesn't sleep much during the day.  He likes to be entertained and gets bored quickly, he goes a bit stir crazy is he is indoors all day, loves being held, looked at, talked to.  He doesn't like being left alone.  The day before yesterday he sat by himself for the first time (for a few moments before toppling)!  Anyway I could go on and on about him.  I love him so much. Who knew!?
Here are some pics:

Hope you are all good, anyone still reading this blog?

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Is it possible to live 100% ethically?

Is it possible to live an 100% ethical and environmentally friendly life?
I have been inspired to ask myself this question by my own passion for the environment and noticing that I absolutely don't live as ethically and environmentally friendlily as I could; also by observing contradictions in the lives of others who claim to be passionate about the environment and particularly animal welfare.
Let me give you some examples;
  • Three years ago my now husband and I decided we wanted to have an eco wedding, I had an organic silk dress made by my sister, UK grown flowers, organic food served at the reception, home made soap for favours and home made name places made with all found, natural materials.  And yet, we made our guests drive for an hour on the motor way to get to our wedding reception!
  • Husband and I buy all organic veg from a local supplier and buy organic and locally grown food when we can, and yet every Friday we buy a takeaway which contains meats, cheeses and grains from who knows where (and certainly not organic)
  • I use partially bio-degradable nappies which I pack into bio-degradable nappy bags, but they are still not as environmentally friendly as using washables, but I choose to use disposables because they are easier. 
  • I walk to anywhere within a mile or so of my house and use the car as little as possibly for short journeys when I can walk, but at weekends we drive around the south of England visiting National Trust properties in my husbands fuel guzzling car. 
  • Many people would say that having a child is the most unethical and the most damaging thing to the environment I can do.
And in the lives of others:
  • People who buy plastic shoes rather than leather because it is kinder to animals.  I am not sure this is more ethical because oil production causes devastation to many countries, including harm to both human and animal residents. 
  • People who use maple syrup rather than honey because it is kinder to the bees, and yet, how kind is it to the environment to fly maple syrup over from Canada?
  • I could say a few more things that Vegans who say they are passionate about the environment and animals do that seem unkind to the environment but I don't want to sound like I have some thing against Vegans, I just think sometimes their ethics seem a bit muddled. 
(I think sometimes people underestimate, or just aren't aware of the human cost of pumping oil.  Read a book like Cruel World by Peter Maass to find out more)

Sometimes practicality makes living ethically and living in an environmentally friendly way very difficult or nearly impossible, for example it is not practical for me to have my own hens, my garden is too small and my allotment is 4 miles away, so I have to buy eggs, which, even when they are organic will have been through some sort of process in order to be classified, packaged and transported.
Other times it is just too expensive to be ethical and environmental, for example a train journey to Swansea could cost as much as £206 (a standard price ticket, not first class) and driving would cost less than £70 in fuel, but it is far less environmentally friendly.
On these occasions is it ok to be unethical or un-environmental?
Also if we assume that any product or process that involves using oil is unethical, or damaging to the environment then how is it even possible to live in the UK? Oil is an integral part of everyday life, if you are reading this post now then oil has been found, drilled, transported, refined and turned into computer parts (and that is before we even go into the despicable circumstances in which minerals that are essential in making computers are mined).
Virtually every activity I take part in on a daily basis will have used oil in some way, my bed sheets, made of poly-cotton, my cereal manufactured in a factory, packaged, transported etc, to bake a cake for my friends used electricity, made burning fossil fuels, I could go on and on.

Ok so I have answered, my own question, no it isn't possibly to live in a 100% ethical and environmentally un-damaging way; sure it might be possible to live ethically in a wooden hut growing my own veg in the middle of no where, but you couldn't do this in the UK as far as I'm aware because the cost of land is too high for my budget, so I would have to move away from my friends and family to, I don't know, Outer Mongolia, but where would be the fun in that? What would be the point of being alive at all? One might as well kill oneself, that would be the most environmentally friendly thing to do!!  But then I am a Christian and the Bible does advise against self murder, so that, along with the fact that I quite like being alive discounts that option.  
On the flip side, if you can't be 100% ethical and environmentally friendly, then why bother trying at all, just one person can't make a difference, one might as well just go with the status quo and enjoy oneself.  When I asked this question on Facebook one person questioned why you would want to try and my lovely dad had a great answer:
"Life is always a balance of what is ethical and what is not. For everything you do that is ethical there is something however that is not. You can only do your best and try to be ethical as possible...maximum consumption with unethical supply will eventually result in misery all round for everyone. Being Ethical is a view of doing what is correct for everyone in general not just doing what is best for you as an individual. Being selfish without concern for others is unethical, do unto others what you would like others to do to you, is an ethical view.  Alternatively, do as you like and sod everyone else if you are a self centred miserable git. As the saying goes, you reap what you sow!"

 Like my dad, I am a person with a social conscience I could not justify behaviour which didn't take into account the well being of others. So how can we find equilibrium between the opposing forces of wanting to do what is right and yet being practical about it?  Another friend had a good answer:

"I think it's good to be as ethical as you can manage to be without getting uptight about it. Different people have different levels of comfort with this and I think it's reasonable to accept that someone else's comfort level may not be the same as yours. I think you need to be flexible to be ethical in the modern world. I also think worrying about it is unproductive. I grew up in a very ethical family and have struggled for years with guilt trips on this one. My policy is now to be "ethical" when it is reasonably practical to be so and don't worry about it any other time."

This seems like a positive view to me with they key word coming out as "Balance", creating equilibrium between doing what is right and what is practical leads to a sense of mindfulness towards the world as well as being kind to oneself in terms of pressure to do the right thing and guilt. 

For me, I feel strongly that when I leave this world to go home, I want to be able to look back and think yes, I have left that place in the best possible condition for my children to live in.  I can feel like I have been a good custodian to the gift that is planet earth and have been mindful of my fellow humans with whom I shared it.

What are your thoughts?

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Lower Earley Yarn Bombing

I had a perfectly ordinary walk to the Doctors on Thursday, and then, on the way back....THIS:

Thankyou phantom year bomber of Lower Earley, I felt like it had been made just for me! Made my day.