Monday, March 19, 2018

Popping in again and Autumn Preparations

A very late Good Evening to you 😊
Time passes quickly again and I struggle to share all we are doing.
Suffice to say we are working through our Lenten journey this year with a little more success than our Advent one.
With the last two weeks of Lent to go we are about to enter our very crafty stage of this time and finish up our Lenten readings as well.

As we are now into the Autumn season we are anticipating a relief to this hot summer weather that seems to still lingering. However we are starting to prepare for colder weather ahead.

One of the preparations is for our more frost susceptible plants to be placed in our greenhouse or in a home made poly tunnel we have yet to construct.
We lost a few of our more rain forest Australian bush-foods last year in our frosts, it being the worst year for frost in many years. I had locals telling me that they also had lost plants that they had never had a problem with before. My scented geraniums even suffered and they are very hardy plants.
Reading a beautiful Bunny themed Golden Book
We still have not put our autumn crop of vegetables in and so I am thinking we will have to get seedlings rather than starting from seeds this season.

As this is a very changeable time of year here with weather I had anticipated that I would need to stock up on my cold and flu preparations and start our Immunity Tea so we could have more protection when the 'seasonal illness' start.
True to form though I was only part way organised when a couple of the kids got a sore throat. So I responded a little slowly with some of the preparations we had on hand we had pretty good success rate but poor Moran has been much slower responding with getting her voice back. Yes, that's right she is virtually mute much to her annoyance.

On Friday night, just in time for the weekend, Stephen came home after a strenuous afternoon of strenuous activity with a cough, sore throat and feeling generally blah!! This time I was on it right away and although he isn't 100% recovered on Sunday afternoon he was quite significantly improved. The coughing which he tells me was about to settle on his chest on Saturday night has gone and I am very confident in saying it was the result of our home Herbal remedies.
Home made Elder flower Wine
We have also been quite busy with making more probiotic and  fermented drinks to keep our immune system healthy. Sadly I have not done as much as I would like but Autumn has started to take this on as a new passion.
As we reach the end of season for stone fruit we have also been cooking up apples butter, making plum jam without added sugar and dehydrating any fruit we don't want to cook. My favourites are apples and plums which I am certain the children love just as much as I do.

Warm clothing is also an item to check as we  have a fairly hard to heat house and the bedrooms are extra hard. In an effort to not use as much electricity, and money this year we are not planning on heating any of the bedrooms with electric heating so we are investigating thermals  for everyday use and hot water bottles to take to bed. This is a first for us as we have taken 'hot packs' in the past but I am told by a reliable source that hot water bottles last better, so we will see how we go😏

Naturally we will be engaging in some firewood gathering and cutting activities in the next few weeks and it would be nice to have our firewood all prepared before the wet and cold winter arrives.

I can't wait to sit around the fire with our family snuggled up reading together with some knitting and craft projects on hand and just enjoying the season I feel brings us together.
Having Tea Time as part of our Learning Week
So much more has happened in our lives the last couple of weeks and this is but a tip of what we have done and our planning but it is late and I need some sleep before the new week of learning so I will have to tell more tales of whats happening here as soon as I can.

Blessings to you and your homes,

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Changes and Reflections

I had thought as the new year, yes the start of 2018, would be a wonderful time to reconnect here with this space.
I had thought that somehow this year it would be different, that someway I would be able to carve out a time a few times a week to share as I have in years long past.
Only this evening as I was working on my study programme for one of the online courses I have been completing that I accepted that my life is so incredible different to what it was a few years ago.
In many ways it is the same and yet in many subtle ways it creates a different lifestyle that has changed who I am and what I can do - and tonight I am finally able to accept that and move on.

So what is new and what is old in my home and  in my heart?
Well lets begin with what is not changed- the essence of who I am and how I live my life.

Firstly I am still blessed and will be blessed all the days of my life to be married to my childhood sweetheart and the mother of our 12 beautiful children here on earth and our two precious souls who we did not get to have live with us.

I have been able to live my vocation of wife and mother at home for most of my mother hood. We have had the privilege to have our children learn from birth to 'graduation' from our Home Education programme and become better and stronger as a family because of that, it is essentially our lifestyle......our very LIFE!

Within that though there has been change. We have 'graduated' from our Home Learning 7 students to higher education and the workforce. This only leaves me 5 students at home which was a very heart wrenching experience for me as I prepared the 'new school year' supplies and I only made 5 small piles of those supplies.

In the last 5 years we have moved from our 'perfect home' on 5 acres we built 95% of  with our own hands, learning many skills we had never thought we would need, to a rented home we live in, while we try to sell that outgrown (not in size but lifestyle and dreams)  house so we can put down fresh roots in this place we now call home.

Here though on this rented property we have done more of the 'dream' life than we did while on our own home territory.
Which brings me to the change of circumstances we now live with.
Our children are older and let me tell you that in itself means VERY LITTLE time for alone time.
I think it is something that many an older parent probably has said to those with lots of little children running underfoot through the ages, and those younger parents probably believed it little.

When we had just young children, when everyone was under the age of 12- 13 we lived a much simpler life! We lived a lifestyle revolving around our family, learning and our home. We had 'control and order' in our day because, I believe we had all we needed in those simple lives.

However the wheel of time turns whether we like it or not and we all age, parents and children alike. Children leave the nest and start their own lives and some fly a long way away to the delight and sadness of those left behind.

The reality of the children becoming young adults means that there comes added changes and responsibilities for both parent and child. These change the WHOLE structure of the family, it changed the whole way of life of our family, one in which the older children do not see in the same way.

Older kids and young adults have entirely different needs and  desires that take much more time from you as a parent that can not be understood until it is experienced. This of course can not be structured into the day but is often a late night event or overlapping some other crisis in life.

Now do not think for one moment that this is a whinge or a whine. I LOVE my 'big kids.' I love the relationships I have had develop with them. They are truly the people I love to spend lots of my time with. Life is different is all because of the 'time travel' of our family.

Other changes in our family have been the 'homesteading' and preparing for a more 'self sustaining' life style.
We have started here in this home that is not ours, the makings of our future self sustaining lifestyle.
We have been growing in many ways as we follow this long awaited dream, a dream that even now is evolving as we grow in this lifestyle.

We have been growing our homestead from our very first arrival of 2 chickens that were a gift from friends to where we are now with a very nice beginning for our future plans.

Are you interested in our little homestead and what we do here? Well I am going to share anyway. I am really proud of where we are now as well as where we are heading. Our children at home are a huge help in keeping this going and some are very active in wanting to utilize the space we have to the maximum out put of what we can have here.
So our little homestead has:
* Chickens- we have gold lace wyndottes, buff orpingtons, an australop rooster we are crossing with Isa Browns to produce a chicken that lays 'everyday' for its life time.
* We have Pilgrim Geese- 7 geese and 3 ganders (one will be our Michaelmas dinner this year)
* Peking Ducks- 1 drake and 5 ducks and two Saxony ducks ( 2 little ducklings)
* Turkeys- 2 Toms and 6 hens with 4 new hatched chicks
* Quail
* Budgies
* Doves
We have Anglo Nubian goats that we breed for milk and meat if we don't sell the offspring. We have yet to actually eat one of our goats, but that's the plan if they don't sell!
We started with 2 does and 2 bucks for breeding and had a successful birth of triplets from one of our does. The other one, my favourite, has yet to produce a kid yet.
We plan to milk our does but we were unable to do so with our first-time mum of triplets, and plan on making cheeses and soap from our own goat milk.
These are a new addition ( we have raised potty lambs before for meat) but these are Suffolk Sheep that we have for breeding. We will raise the lambs for meat at this stage as we don't have room to increase our herd here. We also plan on milking the sheep and making cheese from the milk.
Pigs-  We have again a breeding pair. These are Large Blacks an old heritage breed that are fairly docile and sweet.
Meat Rabbits -
Dogs- a cocker spaniel as a family dog and our two older boys (at home) have a border collie pup each they bought
Cats- we have some lovely barn cats that have been very excellent at keeping snakes away this year.
Guinea Pigs- a couple of girls and a boy

Our other main part of our homesteading is growing as much food as we can in a temporary state.
We have quite a few fruit trees and 'Aussie bush foods' and I try to grow edible weeds and flowers to add to our supply.
At the moment I grow these in large pots and try to establish the trees so that when we move to our own home again we can plant these straight away. We did this year have some successful fruiting from our trees and of course our various berries.

This past Spring and Summer we have attempted our first major vegetable growing season. We planted three 'trampoline gardens'- again we have had to do this in a temporary  way as we cant invest in the major requirements of a permanent garden.

We have just started to re-prepare for our winter gardens :)

As we try to treat our illnesses and injuries naturally I am increasing our herbal plants to add to our dried stocks for medicinal teas and home made cleaners and body care products.

In our growing knowledge and skills of this lifestyle ( I do teach our children that REAL Learning happens your whole life not just in school or even school hours) I have been following an education programme as well, which again does not allow a lot of free time.
I have completed a short Homeopathy course and a Family Herbalist Course.
Currently I am working on a Foraging Course, Medicine Making Course,  The Art and Science of Plant Medicine Making Course, Confident Family Herbalist Course and a Permaculture Course.
So as you can see our lives have very much evolved and we have added much more to our Home Learning Lifestyle which is very much a full and rewarding life.

Blessings to you and your homes,

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Welcome to our Piggies

We are gradually adding to our little homestead and are actually getting to the point where we can not add many more animals where we are living now.
While my last year I was able to get some beautiful Anglo Nubian Goats for my birthday and absolutely love them, some of the children have wanted to have pigs for ever so long.
Vellvin has always wanted a pet pig and take it for walks around town.
While I don't think she will be walking around town with these pigs I think we will walk them around the property.  
Naming our animals is always a fun task and this time as often we had already decided on a name for our boar. Years ago we watched Frontier House and they had a pig called JoJo Pumpkin. The children always said if we got a pig we would call it that. Beatrix Potter is a loved author in our home and her  Pigwig from The Tale of Pigling Bland is also a favourite.
Rogan has been chief researcher and he and I had a difference of opinion on the breed of pig we were going to get.
While we both agreed we wanted to have heritage breed pigs I wanted Gloucester Old Spots and he wanted Large Blacks.
We did compromise on this with Rogan winning me over with the fact that the Large Black is protected somewhat from sunburn due to it's skin colour. However one day I would like to get a Gloucester Old Spot 😍
What we have found with having any sort of livestock, whether it be poultry, rabbits or goats is that it's often  the housing of the animal that adds up in the setting up costs.
This time we decided to try and source pallets that are often around for free as our fencing materials.
We incorporated the fencing into the sty for the pigs and so eliminated the need for extra materials.

We didn't (Rogan and I) even try to 'square it out' much to Stephen's disgust but 'eyed it in' as we put the two separate but adjoining pens together.
We will add another one next to it when we have piglets to fatten up and sell.

We used the pallets and just ran star pickets down the center and have a crude gate system of opening and closing.
Now I know people say that pigs will get out easily but we are hoping that the 'docileness' of this breed will keep them in for now.
One day when we have our own homestead we will free range them a bit more but till then they will have to be content with a daily walk .

Blessings to you and your homes,

Friday, March 17, 2017

New e-book for sale - St Patrick's Day

Announcing my latest e-book 'A Cherished Hearts St Patrick's Day'
Buy Now
As I said in the last e book release I am hoping to do a number of these books to share with you all.
I know this is on the eve of St Patrick's Day and am sorry to drop it at the last minute but life circumstance forced my hand.

Any way in this book - "A Cherished Hearts St Patrick's Day" it continues with some of the same content as the last one along with  a host of new activities.
'A Cherished Hearts St Patrick's Day'  contains over 90 pages of content: including crafts- of which some are edible, recipes, A St Patrick Snakes and Ladders Game, mazes to solve, pictures to colour and information not only on St Patrick but some information about Ireland and it's heritage.
The book has all original content and is still only $14.99 AUD for over 90 pages of printable information.
  Buy Now
 Blessings to you and your homes,

The Lights are out!!

So it's been over two weeks since we started Lent and we are now well and truly into our Lenten sacrifices.
Apart from our usual extra prayers and sacrifices this year we have undertaken to not use electric lighting at all.
Let me say that not everyone was on board with this plan and it took a couple of days for everyone to get the hang of what this actually meant on an ongoing basis and that yes we were doing this all night every night, even when you need to use the bathroom.
We have been using our old fashioned oil lamps that we have a few of mainly because I love them and have collected them over the years.
It took a while for us to adjust not to flicking on the light as we walked from room to room and bedtime took a little bit to work out but now it is almost second nature (well to most of us we occasionally have a dissenter in the ranks)
Next we have used the little lamps. Originally we used those little battery operated tea lights inside but for most of the time we substituted the top off a garden solar light and use that in it instead.
The solar light means we can then just charge this up the next day and it is completely free of cost.
These are quite effective little lights. The Solar lights give a more white glow as compared to the tea lights.

We also have a couple of camping lanterns that are charged up in the power points and these although technically are electric powered are still used by us.

I also bought two new solar lights form Bunnings and removed the top from them and they actually sit just like little lamps on top of a flat surface. They have been keeping their charge over night and I am pretty happy with the results so far.
Naturally we have been using candles and it is quite amalgamating how much light they throw when you have adjusted to not having the abundance of electric lighting we all seem to be used to.

In fact one night for some reason I don't remember we turned the over head lights on and were practically blinded by the intensity of light 😊

Seriously it is interesting to see how fast we have adjusted to using different lighting but also it is less over all light all round.
We have all also adjusted to carrying our lights with us as we go about our evening duties.

It certainly is a different atmosphere in the home and although we have always used candles and lamps etc going completely electric light free has been quite an experience.

Hopefully we can keep it all the way through Lent.

Keep a look out for my next e-book for St Patrick's Day. It is even more packed with information and activities than my St Valentine one was 💓

Blessings to you and your homes,

Monday, March 6, 2017

Comfort Food is Good Medicine

I spend a lot of the my time in our kitchen.
After all this is the area where a major part of our lives is directed at.
We all tend to want at least three meals a day, plus often there is a snack involved at least once a day, not to mention the various drinks etc that also tend to come out of the kitchen environment.
Of course there is a  huge difference between simply eating and being presented with a atmosphere of dining pleasure.
Food prepared with love and care that is presented in a way that says you are special has many more health benefits than plonking the food on the table, or sometimes not even that.

Studies show time and again that proper digestion is achieved not only with healthy food but a pleasant environment and time to actually eat without rushing and allow food to pass through the system at it's correct rate.
I am a big believer in making food from scratch.
Not only does it save you money but it allows personal satisfaction in being able to provide a dish that not only gives the person preparing it joy but also the recipients who are eating it also with a sense of worth.

Naturally when preparing food from scratch you can tailor make that food to the personal preferences and desires of the family or guests.
Some of the foods we eat carry very strong childhood memories! Food that was served in a way that appealed to the senses in some way. Or perhaps at a time of year that triggers fond memories of that event - traditions that happened again and again over a number of years.
I also love the idea of providing from our own backyard the food we give to those who eat at our table. There can be nothing better than the satisfaction of providing a gift of love in a beautifully prepared meal from the time of planting or growing to the now ready to eat phase.

It is such a blessing to  know that a family member requests a meal that is one that you have made as just a normal meal, nothing special in your eyes, but to the other person it  is so more than that - it is special. It is a treat to have again , it is comfort food!

Over the years it has amazed me what each  of the members in my family consider comfort food.
Some have been around since before the older children can even remember a time with out them.
Some of the foods and drinks have been added over the years and not every item is loved by all. However  I think there is something absolutely special to be asked to make a favourite treat, some comfort food that not only fills the senses but provides nourishment for the soul as well, by someone you love so much.
Wouldn't you agree?
That is a gift to be treasured every day.

Blessings to you and your homes,

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Shrovetide- It's almost Lent

Today we are celebrating 'Carnival' in our home. Sadly this is not a very understood tradition in most homes. We have tried to add this to our yearly liturgical celebrations but usually only start now instead of after Epiphany.
Next year I hope to add many 'celebration type activities' to our home during this time to emphasise the penetential aspect of the Lenten season.

This is the frist part of our 'Shrovetide' traditions.

It's a fairly tame celebration really.
We colour in masks and pictures, make home made masks.
Later this arvo we will make Mardi Gras cup cakes
Tomorrow we will Celebrate 'Fat Tuesday" and then we will have Ash Wednesday which is the first day of lent.

These are quite busy organising days for our home. We really try to prepare our hearts by using these outward signs to direct our thoughts to our Lord and the penetential season of Lent.

"The Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday are known as "Shrovetide," from an old English word "shrive," meaning "to confess," a name gotten from the tradition of going to Confession in the days before Lent started. Shrovetide is traditionally the time for "spring cleaning," and just as we clean our houses in these days in prepation for Lent, we also "clean our souls" through confession so we can enter the penitential season fresh,
Shrovetide is the last two days of "Carnival," an unofficial period that began after the Epiphany and which takes its name from the Latin carnelevare, referring to the "taking away of flesh" (meat) during Lent which begins on Ash Wednesday, the day following Shrove Tuesday. Catholics want to eat while they can and get the frivolity out of their systems in preparation for the somber Lenten spirit to come.
source - Fisheaters

Blessings to you and your homes,

Monday, February 20, 2017

Encouraging the gift of giving

Part of our family culture  is to make gifts for each other for Christmas and birthdays as well as for any other special occasion.

This tradition started really when we were first married and as is usual birthdays and Christmas came around on a regular basis. As Stephen was still a student and I worked casually we did not have a lot of money and so the cheapest way to give gifts was to make them.

It was not until some time later that I realised the worth that is in a hand made gift- the giving of your self in thinking of the person and what they like and then investing the time into creating the gift to be given.

As such we have continued on with the making of cards and gifts and I am thrilled to see our younger ones carrying on this tradition.
We happen to have a most beautiful selection of true old fashioned roses that have a truly full fragrance to them. They make the most delicious Rose Petal Jam and candied roses for special occasions.

I have also dried them for herbal teas and pot-pourri  and so it was not surprising and also a little exciting and sweet to see Trahaearn collecting a basket one day and ask for his 'lefties' to go and cut some flowers to make a gift for his sister.
Once he started to collect the flowers he soon had another partner in crime to help him.
I think he and Arwen spent quite a while outside enjoying the time together selecting the flowers they deemed perfect to add to the collection to be given as a token of love.
I have been using my new dehydrator quite a lot lately and while the old one does not work at all I kept the old racks for 'natural'air drying.'

These were perfect for this little project and they were able to put the racks where they could see blossoms drying and still be involved int eh creating process.

Such a quick and simple gift.
A beautiful gift from nature.
A gift from the heart- given with true love and from their own hands.
What more can you ask for?

Blessings to you and your homes,

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Looking for some fun things to do on St Valentine's Day???

Buy Now
Are you looking for fun family activities?
Well, if you are looking for fun activities to do together for St Valentines Day I am sure you will find some  great activities to do in my new e-book .

The book has decorating ideas to make and keep for future celebrations of St Valentine's Day.
There are special foods to cook, colouring for children, a word search, crossword puzzle, card game to play and a ready made banner to cut out and put up straight away.
All this plus information about St Valentine and more for only $14.99 AUD.

I hope you will consider purchasing this labour of love 💗

Blessings to you and your homes,


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