Treasures

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Getting hold of a wider range of goods and services without using the car usually involves a journey across the estuary, and what a delight it is. A short walk takes us to our local ferry and a bumpy ride over the sea transports us to Fleetwood, a town packed full of interesting architecture and a good range of independent shops.

Designed by Decimus Burton in the 1830’s, the town was originally designed to accommodate the working classes in  ‘golden sands, sea, air like wine and breath-taking views across Morecambe Bay on clear days.’ It certainly felt that way as we enjoyed a beach side picnic today.

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A train load of books in Fleetwood Library…

And so to more domestic matters…..

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Planning this year’s harvest- inspired by the permaculture movement we are going to plant some full-size trees this year..more later

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Finding a much prettier alternative to filter cartridges

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A handwritten letter from a dear friend on the most gorgeous notepaper

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Making naan to go with our lentil and tomato curry.

The Beauty Of Zero Waste – part deux

Having a family can certainly add to the waste we produce, an estimated 1/2 tonne of disposable nappies are produced every year per child- nappies in landfills take up to 500 years to degrade and around 200, 000 trees are lost each year to make disposable nappies for babies in the USA alone. The arrival of a baby often means that we are inundated with ‘essential’ items from well-meaning family and friends or from exhausted shopping trips in a vain effort to secure the one item which we believe will make our lives easier.

The simple truth is that having a home with just a few good-quality baby items make parenting much easier on both our health and pocket.

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Baby bathing essentials: muslin cloths, baby balm in a glass jar from a good friend, coconut oil and a gorgeous washbag made by a lovely lady.

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Toddler mealtimes- metal cutlery and enamel ware espresso size cup – perfect for little hands

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Washable nappies from Bambino Mio and bamboo wipes from Ma Petite Chou

For those precious spare moments….

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Fountain pen from Allan Lloyd in Kendal, ink, blotting paper and writing paper- for those times when only handwritten letter will do.

 

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Shopping kit

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Woodstore, wormery and apple trees ( taken last May)- for time spent in the garden ( either alone or with my little boy) – bliss!

A Few Lovely Things this week…

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Treasures on the beach- mermaid purses (shark eggs)

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Veg boxes- two ways

A delivery from Growing With Nature ( plot to plate less than 2 miles)

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Learning…

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Building wooden towns -and then knocking them down…

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music two ways….piano by CC, gramophone by me..wish I could play the piano!

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Finally getting around to stripping the lavender flowers from my dried bunches.

Why far fewer toys mean a happier and healthier child.

Children with too many toys struggle to focus properly and fail to gain meaningful experiences through play.

Our son turns one next month and we have made a special effort to limit the number of presents he is given this year. We have requested that people do not buy him gifts, asking friends and family to join us for a small celebration instead. Many studies have shown that a child who has far fewer toys experiences more enjoyment from them and will take far better care of their belongings.

Professor Kathy Sylvya of Oxford University writes about the harmful effects on concentration in a study of 3000 three to four year olds, her research showed a link between greater development of perseverance and intellect when children had fewer, well chosen toys and parents who spent time reading, singing and playing with them. Her research shows that giving children too many toys or the ‘wrong’ toys may actually be harming their development. She suggests a ‘distractive element’ in some toys may lead to children to struggle to focus and subsequently play and learn poorly.

Family homes also benefit from far fewer toys. We have a small basket in our living room with some simple wooden blocks, board and fabric books and a puppet. These toys are brought out when we play together with our baby and tidied away in the evening when it is time for bed. The adults in the house gain a restful living space, free of visual distraction and our son learns to take care of his special things. In his bedroom he has a compact shelving unit with some special toys for now and later on as he develops, wooden toy vehicles, a few books, some gorgeous hand made toys and a small selection of music making toys. Like any other family, these toys use used throughout the house and garden during the day, but are carefully returned to their designated place at night. The result is a restful home, pleasant for the whole family.

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It isn’t easy to achieve this, reminding well-meaning friends and relatives that you place more value in experiences and time spent is difficult. In our cash rich-time poor society it is so much easier to purchase a gift than to consider something that may add more meaning and value to a child’s life.

Next time you need to express your love why not consider the following ways to enjoy your time together?

A special day out -a picnic in the park,visit to a nature reserve or a trip at the beach?

An hour or two teaching a new skill-Spend some time baking scones, making pizzas or kneading bread together and treat yourselves to a cream tea at the end. Build something together such as a cardboard car or fort, defend it from invading armies and retreat for essential ’emergency’ supplies.

A special experience– a treasure hunt or scavenger hunt in the park or garden, a visit to see a seasonal display such as a bluebell wood or falling leaves in Autumn or exploring a castle or stately home.

A special journey – a trip on a steam railway, a seaside tram or funicular or a bicycle ride.

The memories of these special times will last a lifetime and are far more likely to be enjoyable and developmentally beneficial to our children.

Please share your stories and ideas, have you managed to make a birthday extra special ? We would love to hear from you.

 

 

Slowing down, re-evaluating

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January always lends itself to reflection and re-evaluating  life’s priorities. CC and I had a wonderful Christmas spent with family and our new baby. We shared time with our families, including CC’s mother who came to visit from Canada. I know that the memories of this Christmas will stay with us for a long time.

 

Even though Christmas isn’t about excess in our family ( we give mainly homemade gifts or things that people have requested), I still felt a little overwhelmed by the steady accumulation of ‘stuff’ (for want of a better term). Our little home has begun to feel too full, primarily because our baby needs equipment, such as a high chair, cot and playpen.

During January CC and I have been having something of a purge, slowly transforming our little house into the family space we need and  selling or donating the items which we don’t. The result has been SPACE !, gorgeous, calming, necessary room for life. Out have gone the multiple wine and beverage glasses, the additional dinner set, my large wardrobe ( and half my clothes and bags!),the spare coffee table for our guest room-now our baby’s nursery.

The result? Our home has begun to transform into the relaxing family space we have dreamed of. There’s less to dust under or over, fewer items to move about when hoovering and significantly less laundry. Less stuff has equalled more time spent playing and talking as a family. Fewer clothes in our wardrobes means that getting dressed takes a fraction of the time and putting away laundry is far simpler, since I don’t need to constantly rearrange items so that they will fit. Fewer pots, pans and plates had made our little kitchen a joy to cook in, I can now open a cupboard and just get out the item I need, instead of having to navigate surplus equipment in order to get what I am after.

Best of all, it has allowed us to put our unused items back out into the world to be used by someone who needs them, meaning that precious energy and the Earth’s resources will not have to be used to make those items again.

The money raised has allowed me to make a very carefully considered purchase (second hand ) -a wonderful child carrier to take our little one on hikes to see the beautiful countryside, recycling our excess has allowed us to enjoy the most precious thing of all…time.