Slow & Sustainable Living

Continuing the plastic free journey - 5 simple tips you can implement

Slow & Sustainable LivingEllie Beck3 Comments

So Plastic Free July is over, but that doesn't mean you need to quit all the good that you've started. In fact, now is the time to really reassess how you went and how you want to continue. To look at the challenges you came up against, as well as the wins that you had. Yay! Don't stop the conversations in your family, with your friends or even at the supermarket. Keep on working towards less plastic use in your life every single week.

I wanted to share with you some of the simple ways that we reduce plastic. These become everyday ways of living, so you don't need to think about it too much. I believe that we're all going to have the best chances of change if we don't make it too hard for ourselves.

The reality is we're all busy, stretched as it is already past the extra time we have to make everything from scratch, go the extra distance to get food from a different place, or re-think everything we eat, wear or do. It has to be simple otherwise it won't last, it has to fit into our lives in a semi-streamlined manner. That's not to say it will always be easy. Sometimes it'll be hard.

My kids keep challenging me, I keep challenging myself, regular everyday stresses of life keep challenging me. I find that the times we fall down are when we're extra busy, tired, stressed, over-worked. We buy things we wouldn't normally - to treat ourselves when we're feeling down, or to make the evening a little easier for that day only. That's ok - remember. That's ok.

Our current society isn't geared towards plastic free. Some days it's seriously hard to push against that, to live a different way, to say no to the children (or ourselves) and not buy the plastic things. Some days I just give in, wearily.

  1. Be Organised, Write a Plan - I'm writing this for me, because it's when I haven't planned our week out then we fall down. When we are rushing or tired or there's no lunches for the kids that I let go a little. Setting plans of what day you'll bake the biscuits  or bread (instead of buying them), what day you'll soak & cook the legumes (instead of buying them), planning the farmers market shop into your regular weekly shop. What are your kids having for school lunches for the next 2 weeks?
  2. Arm yourself with great, yet easy, items to help you on the way. Saying "no" to plastic bags at the supermarket, or even the farmers market or fruit shop, is SO much easier when you have a system of what to use instead. You can't be carrying an armful of tomatoes every time you forget your bag. These produce bags are designed to make it easy for you to remember to take them with you, to use them, and they weigh less than 1g on the scales. In fact they're made from recycled plastic themselves, so there's a double yay! Make sure you always put them straight back into your basket, reusable shopping bags or your handbag so you already have them when you're out.
  3. Embrace the plastic free living with lovely reusable items - coffee cups, water bottles, straws and disposable cutlery are some of the worst offenders in the plastic world. Seriously you use a coffee cup or straw for less than 10 minutes and then it hangs around in our environment for eons and eons. Taking your own glass or metal drink bottle and reusable coffee cup is easy, and people don't look at your strangely at all. Taking a straw, fork or spoon does take a little more pre-planning. I carry little spoon-forks in a fabric zippered purse I made, and metal straws are easy to slip into my handbag too. Often you have to pre-empt people giving you straws & forks, as it's so automatic for them. When you're ordering your milkshake just remind them gently a few times.
  4. Set yourself some goals and what items are non-negiotables in terms of what you'll never buy/use, as well as what items you know you can't replace (even if for the short term). I very rarely ever buy tinned veggies, beans, etc . I never ever get water in plastic bottles; if we're out and forgot our drink bottles we'll ask for water in a glass or get juice in a glass bottle. I'll never ever get plastic bags at the checkout. But I will buy my kids occassional treats in plastic packets. We do buy cheese, coffee & milk (when necessary) in plastic. Sometimes it's about some give & take, what you can each day. If you're making changes then even small steps are much better than no steps.
  5. Be gentle on yourself. You'll slip up, I know it. Well - unless you're some version of perfect, then please tell me your ways. But the truth of anyone I know on the plastic free/ low plastic journey is that there's some items you simply can't get plastic-free, and some things it's really hard to compromise on. I wrote a list here of some things; this is the reminder to be gentle on yourself. Forgive yourself and move forward.

I'd love to know where you find  your inspiration for plastic free living - online forums, magazine articles, friends in real life who can motivate and encourage you. And of course online friends. I have great conversations on Instagram about plastic free living, slow living and the journey towards it all. Let me know what blogs you're reading or what books. If you want to read some more, check out my sustainable living posts.

Are you on the plastic-free journey for life? Do you think joining Plastic Free July helped you start, or have you been living plastic-less for a long time? I love that it's a growing conversation in our communities (both in real and online). Having these real discussions, sharing advice, tips and products to use really helps to make it easier.

#theartofslowliving - are you living an Instagram hashtag?

Instagram, Slow & Sustainable LivingEllie Beck1 Comment

are yoy living an Instagram hashtag? #theartofslowliving - the art of slow living isnt quite what it might be. I'm working towards intentional living.

I came here to write a whole totally different post, but I really have to write the words that want to be written. I think that's part of what true writing (art making of any kind) is about. Not what we want, but just what comes, what happens.

I've been thinking so much about all this slow living that I keep reading about, seeing everywhere all over social media. Seriously it's my catch-phrase… maybe it's the motto of the year. No? But really I keep questioning what it means because currently life feels anything but slow. The only slow at the moment is the speed at which I manage to get through my epic to-do list.

are yoy living an Instagram hashtag? #theartofslowliving - the art of slow living isnt quite what it might be. I'm working towards intentional living.are yoy living an Instagram hashtag? #theartofslowliving - the art of slow living isnt quite what it might be. I'm working towards intentional living.

I'm weary, I'm completely exhausted. I don't know some days how to even drag myself out of bed and do all the things I have to do. I know I'm not alone - golly. Far from it. I see the other parents at school drop with faces scurrying to the next thing, thinking of all that needs to get done before school pick up, and dinner and the tussle to get the kids to bed. All the things to achieve before we ourselves fall into our beds. Every day feels like I'm going backwards in every sense of what I need to do just simply to get through the week of living.

There's always a pile of dishes to finish, and clothes simply get moved from one pile of clean clothes to being on a body to dirty clothes, to clothes line, back to clean clothes pile. Endlessly and always things that I didn't do. There's a year's worth of weeding, gardening, mowing, clearing to do outside. It'll take me at least a week to sit down with all my paperwork and sort it out to do my taxes. If I want to bother cleaning out the kids clothes I know I'll need to scrap the thought of doing anything for a whole weekend, and then some.

And all this before I've even actually started thinking about this work I do. This business we're making / living / running / working. To do one thing - sit here and build a website, email customers, write these blog posts (that need to be spoken), take those photos, hustle the work. To do that means leaving the dishes for another time, for later, for tomorrow, for my kids to whinge about not having to do. To do the dishes and put the clothes away, and go shopping and make biscuits for my family means I don't get that important part added to my website, or that photo taken when the light is right. Driving my kids to school and then picking them up, making lunch for my baby and then feeding him to sleep means I don't get to my dye pots to dye the fabric people are waiting for. All these things.

BUT the most important thing I've been realising I'm not getting. The thing that keeps getting pushed off the list, pages and pages down the process of any lists. Simply sitting in the sun, simply having a real conversation with my husband or my sister or my friend, simply sipping tea, simply playing with my little ones. Any of these things without thinking of all the other things I should be doing, need to be doing, I'm behind me, I've forgotten, someone's waiting for……..

Instead of #theartofslowliving I'm working towards a new way of thinking for myself. To give myself space to breathe and to think and to simply be. I'm working towards intentional living. Doing these things I need to do, but with an intention. With a meaning. Going through my day not thinking of what I should be doing - but actively choosing to be intentional with what I am doing.  If my to-do list is giant, that's ok - I cannot do more than I physically can. The reality is I need to embrace each job, give over to it, allow it to be. And then move on to the next thing. Rather than rushing from thing to thing to try and get it all done. All this talk of slow just feels like rushed.

I keep wondering what I can drop, let go of. Seriously nothing - there's nothing that can be scraped from the list. I cannot push aside the work of making my business and my income, yet I cannot push aside the time with my children and family. They must somehow work and learn to live and co-exist. Somehow. People talk about working smarter and not harder, but sometimes I don't know how to move towards that. For me - I'm choosing instead to work intentionally, thoughtfully, purposefully. To give fully to one thing, and then fully to the next thing.

I know at the end of the day I will never ever EVER finish my to-do list. Perhaps most of us never will. Maybe that's ok. As long as we realise that, and be ok with it. As long as we're honest about it, and share it with others. And don't lump things on someone else's to-do list thoughtlessly.

Today I searched cheap accommodation in our region. I thought a night at the beach would be the best. And it would. Oh yes indeed - a night with my family in a swish hotel (remember we have outdoor toilet + shower, we don't have a tv, we share a bedroom). But oh…..of course nothing in our budget, but also. To go away for a night would mean leaving jobs undone, time away from jobs to be done. Instead we've decided to go to the beach for the afternoon. To soak up the fresh sea air and be content with those moments. A compromise perhaps - but while I'm at the beach tomorrow afternoon, I'll be feeling as if I'm on holiday. Even if it's only a 3 hour holiday. Intentional living will help me work towards being in those moments, fully soaking them up.

Be gentle with yourselves Friends. Take time to remember the beautiful moments. Choose what you do wisely, choose intentionally to live the life you want rather than scurrying about. And hot chips for dinner at the beach every so often is highly recommended.

*though if someone were to ring and say we'd won a night's holiday at the beach. We'd be there in an instant that's for sure!

If you're living an Instagram hashtag #theartofslowliving or any of those other idealistic labels we keep putting on ourselves, please don't tell me - don't rub it in my face. Go off and live your happy little Instagram-filtered life (jokes people, why doesn't sarcasm translate properly in text!)! All I'm saying is….. next time you see someone's perfectly beautiful idealistic slow-living life, just remember that it may not be all that we see. And ok, if it is as perfectly beautiful, then you know what….. let that go too - just go live your own version of an intentional life; slow, fast or most likely a combination of both.

going plastic free ~ overcoming the challenges

Slow & Sustainable LivingEllie Beck2 Comments
Ellie Beck Petalplum blog Homegrown veges peas in a pod and purple carrots with childs hands

We're a third of the way through Plastic Free July, and I'm shyly admitting that we've failed in more ways than expected. Actually, we've failed worse than a regular month - which, *if I do say so myself*, our regular living isn't entirely that bad.

On the first of July I had to buy supplies to top up my workshop kit for my natural dye classes… rubber gloves in plastic packets. Cause not everyone wants blue hands like me! And then I ran out of time (and gas for our oven) to bake a birthday cake for my Grandma and horror of all horrendous horrors had to actually buy a cake. {I'm whispering that, because I never ever ever buy cakes. I always make them. I don't think I've ever bought a shop cake in a plastic packet ever}. And one time I was so tired after a whole day out - working or school-event-planning or something I can't even remember - and we were home late and we bought those little spinach pies in a packet to bake in the oven. These are things I don't buy very often - and you know, especially not when I say let's join #plasticfreeJuly.

I told my dad we were taking part of this annual event, and he half snorted - because my dad is the sort of person who lives his own quiet life doing his own thing that just so happens to be the sort of slow living, quiet plastic free, back to basics, living a regular but whole real life. He does not have an account on Facebook, nor Instagram - he does not even have a mobile phone. He's not a full on hippie, but just a regular living guy - living a meaningful life. He also laughed slightly scornfully at the new trend for 'mindfulness' and 2 minute meditation...... This whole hashtag slowliving thing does sometimes go a bit too far.

So - the 'not doing so well' at Plastic Free July got me thinking about the challenges we face in making changes to our life, and the way it sometimes seems the whole of society is geared towards making it not work. Buying milk in Australia without plastic is really hard - earlier this year almost all the cardboard cartons were replaced with plastic bottles. Previously we had been buying 1L milk in a cardboard carton, that brand now only offers plastic for ALL their sizes. There are still one or two cardboard cartons available, but only from Coles and not from our local IGA or even the farmers market, plus it's at least twice or more the price.

Other things that we eat in our everyday meals are cheese, coffee, yoghurt, tofu, and the occasional organic meat that Sam eats (us others are vegetarian) - these are our biggest and hardest to not get in plastic. I know that I should be making our own yoghurt, and it's on my list when life gets less busy…(haha). I haven't done a full stocktake of our plastics list, but

the things we don't buy include:

  • margarine - we only ever buy butter wrapped in paper
  • plastic bottles of drink or water - we drink our tank water (filtered) and very occasionally buy juice in glass bottles
  •  frozen berries in plastic packets
  •  biscuits, crackers, popcorn, chips in individual bags (we do occasionally buy chips when we're on car trips, and corn thins cause baby likes them!).
  • pasta in plastic packets (we buy the one in a cardboard box, and compost it) or pasta sauces
  • dips, hummus, etc in plastic tubs (we make our own hummus from cooking our own chickpeas)
  • tinned veges
  • oils, vinegars, dressings in plastic - we buy Aust olive oil in a big tin and vinegar in glass and make our own salad dressing
  • lettuce or fresh veges in plastic wrap or packets - we shop at the farmers market each week, or the local fruit shop and choose to not buy the plastic wrapped/bagged items.
  • throwaway cleaning cloths, plastic dishwashing brush or single use wipes - we use hand crocheted fabric cloths in our kitchen and a wooden dishbrush. We also keep old toothbrushes for cleaning little things or rubbing at a spot on clothing once I'm dressed (I have a 20month old - there's always a spot on my clothes!).

Oftentimes it might mean we go without - my kids are very regularly telling me I'm mean and horrible and why can't I be like the other mums, but I refuse to buy the convenience prepackaged lunches or the snack pack treats. I simply say no and we just don't have them in our home.

Also....I could write a whole blog post on the plastic things that do come home. I'm the only one who uses a bamboo biodegrade toothbrush, the others don't like them and my persuasive skills aren't that good!

BUT - I know the biggest challenge is time and finding the time to make alternatives. Because not as many families as mine are happy to put up with not having the items - my husband is ok to live this way, but I know some husbands aren't. Which makes it super hard for one mum to make a difference in her own home.

So, my advice if you're on the plastic free journey is:

  1. Be gentle with yourself - don't try and cut back on everything straight away if it's going to mean mutiny
  2. Start slowly - make changes to the things that you can do without, but slowly. Don't guilt yourself or others around you, and don't let other "perfect" zero-wasters guilt you either. What you're doing DOES make a difference.  You not taking plastic does change things, even if the whole rest of your street uses plastic. I can't help but hope that our small changes will slowly but surely change people's perceptions, and the possibilities for our future. And if we aren't prepared to make a few sacrifices for our children's future...well….

How are you going with plastic free living - is it a massive challenge, are you only cutting out the top 4 plastics (straws, coffee cups, water bottles &  plastic bags), or eliminating all / as much plastic as you can?

little ways I ease the busy

Slow & Sustainable LivingEllie Beck5 Comments

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

'busy' - it's a word I dislike, I don't feel it achieves anything other than showing off…. 'oh, I'm much too busy' said in a super-important voice. I don't like being busy, or even playing at being busy. I don't like being 'time-poor' or filled up with things I don't want to do. Yet lately - perhaps this whole year so far, even, maybe? - I've been 'busy'. I feel like there's been too much hustle (another word I highly dislike) and too much busy.

I feel like every time I sit down for tea or coffee or even to eat, there's things I'm doing. All my talk of slow, of quietly, of sitting and soaking and being …… it's all for nothing - because mostly I'm rushing, and doing and 'busy'. Oh yes - a lot of it comes down to that sweet little toddler of mine. The one who doesn't sleep as much as he should, or sit and play quietly as I'd like; the one who likes to climb all over me as soon as Sam hands me a morning coffee, or demands to go walking whenever the kettle is boiled.

But it's more than that. It's not just a baby pulling at me. It's some inner scurry that's got me all worked up. It's a combination of needing to work, needing to create, needing to make more work happen, make income, mother, volunteer at school….. and keep it all going, all together. Those things. It feels like taking the quiet moments mean I'm not actively working towards something. Or that my to-do list is getting bigger and being neglected. I'm always noticing things waiting for me to action them - something sitting waiting…. little jobs here and there, little things to keep up with, to cross off my list.

Often I feel like I'm battling to stay standing upright; I've forced a smile on my face when people in the street ask how I am (cause I don't need to break down and cry to the post office lady, or the people selling my veggies at the farmers market); I'm living in pockets of breath --- those moments when I remember to stop look up, notice the trees, and breathe.

Tea and exhaling - I think they're pretty great at solving lots of things. If you have time for either! Shall I say > make time, force time, push something off your list, ask for help somehow or other (just so you know; that's not a weakness - there's strength in asking a school mum, a friend, your husband, your sister for help!). Say no to something. Make the time - or otherwise your body will possibly take control of the situation itself in fairly drastic ways.

My head might explode with all of the everything I've got going on, but just a small pocket of time with no-one on me, at me, needing or wanting me, and quiet to do as I please goes a long way to re-setting the timer on those self-destruct buttons I often feel close to pushing.

What are your magic, solve the stresses tricks?

watching the light

Creative Process, Slow & Sustainable LivingEllie BeckComment

IMG_9230IMG_0212 The change of season has shifted in, it was ever so slight, barely perceptible at first. But I see it now, feel it. Autumn is here and I know that Winter won't be too far away - while Summer takes her time to go, leaving us with extra hot days, more than we want; Winter quickly fills our forest home with cool mornings, early evenings, and foggy windows.

The light has changed, and the shifty shadows leaking throughs the trees are different - the slants softer, shorter, briefer than on our Summer days. We wait for the sun to come up, to shine through those trees perched upon the hill. The trees that every Winter we say we need to remove to give us more sunshine. Living in a forest home is beautiful, but it shortens our days, our sunlight hours. (Those trees are all big camphor laurels, which is terrible weeds around our area - so removing them isn't a bad thing).


I know soon we'll have our fire going all day long, we'll drag ourselves out of bed and cluster around the warmth of the wood-buring fireplace. We'll chase the sun all day long, following it in patches across our yard. But for now, before Winter well and truly settles down, I'm enjoying these glorious Autumn days. Enough warmth during the day - windows and doors wide open, but those stinking hot days are (hopefully) gone for now.

The subtle shift of the trees changing - the leaves, those goldens, oranges, reds tinging the green. It's a little bit magical. And the light in my home ……. it sorta makes me smile seeing it all.

So - here I am embracing each season as it comes. Seeing the beauty, noticing the small moments around me.

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ways to be kind

Slow & Sustainable Livingellie5 Comments

Things lately haven't been the easiest around here as we may be hoping for. 

Lots of things piling up and sitting solidly in my stomach. And keeping me awake at 1am, 2am, 3am, 4am... Finally to fall asleep at 5.30ish as the light comes up. 

I am trying to be kind to myself. To be gentle and soft. To have few expectations of myself. To see the good in the little moments around me.

I haven't felt this tired since.... well maybe since I had Ross River Fever combined with Barmah Forest Virus. Or maybe since I was breastfeeding two children at once... Anyway. Tiredness adds to the overwhelming feeling of everything. 

I know all the things I have to complain about are nothing compared to so so SO many people around this planet of ours. And I know I have to put it into perspective. But sometimes it's ok to mope and feel down as well. 

Things I'm doing to be kind to myself. To find some quiet and peace and simple joy amongst it all. ::

- daily creative. Crochet, weaving, styling and taking photos, writing

- picking flowers for our home

- sticking things on the wall that make me happy to look at

- reminding myself with verbal quotes - visual cues help too

- hugging my kids when they need it and when i need it

- walking outside in the forest and the fresh air

- ignoring the outside noise that keeps pushing in in in to my brain (oh these school holidays really are stretching us to the limit of patience with both children, who will not stop talking or making noice of any sort. And yes- both my kids talk in their sleep!)

- seeing friends and just being with them - creative conversation is sometimes hard to make; it's ok to sit and be together quietly

- telling myself stories and dreams and planning new adventures

- thinking about a little getaway on my own or with my man (boy do we need some time away together!)

- I bought myself a new pair of sunglasses and they have a rosey tint. I've decided I'm looking at life with a rosey hue this year.

What do you do when you need to be kind to yourself? When life is throwing lots of things at you and you are trying hard to stay afloat?

making from scratch || seaweed & sesame crackers {a recipe}

Recipes, Slow & Sustainable LivingellieComment

With back to school looming a week ago, I was trying to think of ways to ease myself back into the school morning routine. One of the things that was so lovely about homeschooling, was the not having to make school lunches and deal with half-eaten school lunches every afternoon. Or the other kids making of fun of my kids' school lunches. And such matters.

I knew I would get myself in a fluster and a flurry every morning if I wasn't prepared. I am not naturally an early riser, so dragging myself out of bed on a cold Winter's morning in the dark little shack to make school lunches isn't the top of my list!

Best way to remedy this was make a plan. A school lunch menu was talked about, and written down. A list of options to choose from, then a daily list of what the kids wanted to eat compromised with what I wanted them to eat, and what I knew they really would based on experience. 

Added to this is my ban on buying packaged sweet or savoury biscuits / crackers, or any fast lunch-box packaged items.  For more reasons than one; the sugar / salt content is so much more than I like in either sweet biscuits or savoury crackers, the plastic packaging is crazy and thoughtless (Ryvita's are one of the few that have minimal non-plastic packaging, and aren't really kid-enjoyed!), the cost and the speed at which a packet of biscuits is consumed in my house. I haven't been buying any biscuits, bare the occasional few, for all year. 

Some time ago, Ari declared he wanted some crackers, so set about making some. Yep - my 8year old boy came up with this recipe! With a few tweaks from me, and a continual change of additions and tastings, here's our recipe for:

Go Crackers for Ari's Crackers!  Seaweed & Sesame Crackers

2 cups of flour (of your choice, can be gluten free flour or nut 'flour')

1 cup LSA (or almond meal or similar)

1/2 cup each of white + black sesame seeds (or mix up with whatever seeds you like, sunflower, pumpkin seeds, flaked almonds, etc etc)

1 TPS each ground cumin, coriander, rock/sea salt

1/2 cup olive oil (or whatever oil you like using)

A few sheets of nori roll seaweed or wakame

Mix together with enough water to just make a workable dough, not too soft. Wrap in a cloth (I use these

beautiful beeswax wraps

) and leave in fridge for 1/2 hour. Roll out in batches between two sheets of baking paper until very thin, chop seaweed sheets into sliver using scissors, and roll/press into crackers. Add more seeds and press in too, if you want. Score into shapes and place on baking tray (leave it on one sheet of baking paper and transfer whole lot to tray). Bake 180-200C until looks cooked; 8-15 mins. Once cool they will be crispy. 

Enjoy with homemade dips, cheeses or on their own; I've been loving beetroot/yoghurt & a homemade cheese dip lately. Nibble nibble yum yum.

I'd love to know if you make some, and any variations you work with.

thoughts on schooling at home {homeschooling}

Motherhood, Creative Process, Slow & Sustainable Livingellie7 Comments

Last week I announced on my instagram feed that the kids were going back to school. That we had tried homeschooling, and had decided it wasn't right for us. 

Oh, but my heart is torn about this decision. For many reasons. Some I don't know I can share here. Some....

Firstly. I want to share with you why homeschooling didn't "work" for us. You might be thinking we only gave it a short trial, and yes, that's so true. But I think we threw ourselves into it as quickly as I throw us into other things. Of course, I'm the one doing the throwing / pushing / pulling, and they all come along with me. 

I wanted homeschooling to be us. I wanted us to be homeschooling. But in reality, the situation that we are currently living in ~ one tiny house, with no space for study, or creativity, or spreading out of books, reading, drawing, making, doing. No space to be away from each other. No space to choose to be together. No space to be organised and planned. Only space to feel on top of each other constantly. Not really very good to suddenly throw us into 24hours on top of each other. Suddenly it felt like the school hours were 7 hours of baby-sitting we were missing out on, 7 hours (that includes bus travel time, etc) of peace and quiet that we were missing. 

And sometimes I realised it also included 7 hours of doing something separate to each other. I stopped asking the kids what they'd done during the day. Because I'd been there with them the whole time, I neither needed to ask, nor wanted to hear their voices whining at me again. And maybe perhaps they didn't want to go over school work with me again, either.

Sam and I lost time to be alone together. To talk with no-one interrupting, or over-hearing, or wanting to be part of it all. No time to just sit and enjoy being with each other; a quiet coffee in the sun (once the kids have gone off to school) with your partner is surely an important thing in any relationship.

I did barely any - actually maybe none - crochet or screen printing or sewing or anything once the kids started schooling at home. Everything creative I did involved them, and had them at my side. And oh yes, that's what I wanted. It is what I DO want. But I also wanted just snippets of myself. My head my thoughts. Small snippets that I never got. 

I think, really, the biggest thing was that our little

skateboard jewellery making business

got a little bit busier. YAH to that!! And I needed to spend time working on all that was needed for that. And that meant taking time away from schooling and the children. And whenever I wasn't there at their side doing work, preparing work, pushing and enticing work to happen it just didn't. The kids thought they were on holiday if I wasn't teacher at the school desk. 

I guess it's unfair of me to have expected them to be any different. But I think that I expected they would "self learn" a lot more than they did. I think they were maybe too used to school where the teacher walks them through everything. I wanted them to grab their passions and interests and run away with it, and me be there to offer thoughts and advice and encouragement and assistance, and drive them to the library or show them how to make papier mache. Oh. How naive was I!!

Having said that; some school days were excellent. They made me the happiest mama in the world. To sit with my two babies and see them soaking up the learning. To talk with them about things that interested them, and help them discover more. To hear them sharing and learning and teaching each other. For them to be side-by-side learning were some of the happiest moments. 

and therein lies my heart ache. For though I know we can continue much at home, now that they are going back to school, I also know that after-school, weekends and holidays are brief, and that mostly they want to play and explore and 'not do school work'. We will always, as a family, be learners and explorers and teachers in our home (that is something I cannot give up), but I know that with them at school it is in a limited capacity, and that sometimes I am battling against the norm of a public schooling education with my thoughts and ideas to stretch their little minds further and bigger and deeper. Sometimes they feel locked into a system that they don't want to break out of. The ease of cut and paste from a google page, instead of exploring the library or art gallery or museum for the answer. Of saying that their school teacher says their work is good enough, and they're happy with good enough.....

Oh the sadness of a mama who knows her children have more potential than they will receive at school. 

I want it to be known that the school they go to, the local public school, is beautiful and supportive and loving, and has a solid foundation of honest and real values. I just feel that the education system in general lets education and learning down. Every week it seems I hear a teacher, or ex-teacher, talking about the stupid paperwork rather than actual teaching they have to do. And having 20-something other kids in a classroom isn't always the best learning environment. But then, maybe sometimes it is. Children are strong and resilient and perhaps we can give them enough (more than enough!) at home to counter what they will miss.

This for me is an on-going thought / feeling. I hope that with them and me together we can make learning endlessly happen in our family, in a happy contented joyful manner. Perhaps this can be the best of both options - the 7 hours of space that we all needed (them and us), and then the other time of sharing and learning and evolving and growing and expanding.

The one thing I do know about schooling of our children, is that there is rarely a "right" answer, and sometimes that right answer changes weekly. As parents we are always weighing the options of right and best against mediocre. I guess a school who openly cares and supports and knows my children is a wonderful thing indeed and that I should embrace.

I'd love to hear your thoughts, ideas, experiences, feelings on this.

an under the lemon tree list

Slow & Sustainable Livingellie1 Comment

I am one of those people who wants things to happen. And dreams about it happening. But doesn't really put the planning into how to make it happen. Hmmmm - sometimes it (whatever this


is I'm talking about?) happens on it's own, mostly it just doesn't happen.

So, with the year already half gone and disappeared, I've decided now is a good a time as any to change 35 years of training to be a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants type girl. AND MAKE SOME PLANS!

You don't really want to hear them all. Plans are plans. But some, can I share some? Here goes:

+ garden. Get it happening and growing again. It was such a beautiful and nourishing place for me to be, and so good to gather our dinner ingredients and share country goodness with our city family.

+ learn my big (expensive) camera. How to make it work to it's best. Often times I'm finding my photos are massive file sizes, but fuzzy resolution. So disappointing. 

+ spend more time using my real real (film) camera. Is it even possible to get film anymore?

+ dedicate time for connecting and gathering with other creatives. Monthly? Is that too often? 

+ Write that big list of jobs around the house and land and make them happen. 

+ have more photos taken of me, with my family. Be happy with the photos taken of me (that's a hard one sometimes.. any excellent "make-me-look-better-than-a-model" type of photographers out there?).

+ baking and cooking :: bread, wholesome sweets for my little ones, overcoming my "irrational fear" of preserving and canning.

+ weekly dedicated planned crafting / making time with my little ones. 

+ more walking on and around our land. Exploring time and time again. 

Ah. That's a few for now. Good to start with giant leaps isn't it. Just do it all at once, no baby steps or anything. Yep. Life solved. Go forth and be fantastic now that I have my list. Uh Huh!?

How are you at list making? 

Do you make and follow? 

Or make a list of the things you've already done, so you can cross that off?

Here's to an excellent, exciting, exploring, enticing week for you all. xxx

{oh, and I think I

just realised

the lemon tree significance - ok, I must make lemonade or maybe lemon curd or preserved lemons out of life}.