Sunday, 16 February 2014

Pretty stuff made for York Incredible Edible Bike Rides

There are a series of Incredible Edible Bike Rides planned for York to coincide with the Tour De France - read more about them on Facebook here.  To make these rides more fun Ryan, my kids and I decided to make some fun hama bead things related to growing fruit and veg and the Tour De France.  Here are the results:
  Here is a yellow carrot Here is ds's interpretation of a marigold and Ryan's version of a flowering chive

Here is ds's interpretation of alpine strawberries and carrots

Here is ds's interpretation of a marigold and Ryan's version of lavender

Here are all the things that were made as if they were in the ground.  From the left there are:
alpine strawberries, carrots, alpine strawberries, yellow carrots, lavender, carrot, chamomile, carrot, pea, swiss chard, yellow carrots, chive and a deformed carrot!!

Here is then the full lot of what was produced by ds, dd and Ryan.  Ds made the bike in the colours of the French flag as well as the TIM logo which can be seen below next to the actual logo.  Dd made the Minion and horse.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

January Juicy Jewels

Let's start with a wonderful example of how we are so down on ourselves about our appearance and not being good enough - watch here.  Notice how the women describe themselves in negative terms but describe others in positive terms.

Fantastic beach art - view here.

Watch a free diver spend four minutes holding his breath and diving into an abyss.

Watch the Centre for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy's film Enough is Enough here.  It is the based on the book 'Enough is Enough' by Rob Dietz and Dan O'Neill.  It is a book about the need for a new kind of economy.  Due to the overuse of the earth's finite resources and excessive consumption failing to improve our lives Dietz and O'Neill give us a realistic alternative to the perpetual pursuit of economic growth. "They explore specific strategies to conserve natural resources, stabilize population, reduce inequality, fix the financial system, create jobs, and more – all with the aim of maximizing long-term well-being instead of short-term profits."

Silliness that resulted in 3 men being charged with removing food due for landfill from an Iceland skip.  Read here.  Luckily after much petition signing the case was dropped by the CPS.

Ashton Kutcher's Teen Choice Awards sppech - watch here or read the good bits here -
"I wanted to share [some] things [which] I think helped me be here today. So, it’s really 3 things. The first thing is about opportunity. The second thing is about being sexy. And the third thing is about living life.

So first opportunity. I believe that opportunity looks a lot like hard work. When I was 13 I had my first job with my Dad carrying shingles up to the roof, and then I got a job washing dishes at a restaurant, and then I got a job in a grocery store deli, and then I got a job in a factory sweeping Cheerio dust off the ground. And I’ve never had a job in my life that I was better than. I was always just lucky to have a job, and every job I had was a stepping stone to my next job and I never quit my job until I had my next job. And so opportunities look a lot like work.

Number two. Being sexy. The sexiest thing in the entire world, is being really smart. And being thoughtful. And being generous. Everything else is crap, I promise you. It’s just crap that people try to sell to you to make you feel like less, so don’t buy it. Be smart, be thoughtful, and be generous.

The third thing is something that I just re-learned when I was making this movie about Steve Jobs. And Steve Jobs said when you grow up you tend to get told that the world is the way that it is, and that your life is to live your life inside the world and try not to get in too much trouble, and maybe get an education and get a job and make some money and have a family.

But life can be a lot broader than that when you realize one simple thing, and that is that everything around us that we call life was made up by people who are no smarter than you, and you can build your own things, you can build your own life that other people can live in. So build a life. Don’t live one, build one. Find your opportunities, and always be sexy."

Scary music video where a woman gets photo-shopped throughout the video.  Watch here.

An interesting article about why phonics don't work - read here.

Five foods that are costing the earth - read here but if you don't want to, they are bluefin tuna (bluefin populations don't stand up to heavy fishing pressure), conventional coffee (substantial use of herbicides, pesticides, etc.), factory-farmed beef (replacing tropical forest for corn and soy to feed the cows), genetically modified corn (violates many sustainable boundaries) and palm oil (rainforest destruction).

Great fake underground signs - see here.

Fantastic artist - she does charcoal with her whole body - see here - it's amazing.

Fab acrobatic gymnastic routine - see here.

Look at the state of the world through pictures of where different children around the world sleep.

Mapping emotions of the body - see here - happiness and love look pretty good.

"He doesn't wear shoes, doesn't wear shoes and brushes his teeth with a pine cone" - read about Mike Dodge who lives in a rainforest here.

family dynamics

Love Letter to My Daughter
(which I composed in the car on the way to a meeting this morning)

It’s me who doesn't see the beautiful person that you are
And the growing potential you have to be a kind and loving star
It’s me who doesn't see all the wondrous gifts you have
And all the quirky things you do to make other people laugh
It’s me who’s frosted glasses mean I cannot clearly see
The marvellous, eccentric person standing right in front of me
I need to take off those glasses and make sure I get a proper view
Of the person who stands before me, the very special you
I'm sorry that I sometimes yell at you – squashing your authentic self
Instead of nurturing those unique traits that add to your true wealth
I'm sorry that you feel that I love your brother more than you
Because you think I am more like him and daddy is more like you
Maybe sometimes that is what I show you and that is my fault and not yours
So here is my promise to you – a mother-daughter relationship clause
I will try to take the time to see you for the unique person that you are
And try to help you continue to be a kind, loving, authentic star

I have been having a hard time recently with connecting with my dd.  She’s an amazing, eccentric, quirky, beautiful, funny, joyful, caring, sharing, helpful 9 yo.  She is also very, very different to my ds whom I seem to be on the same wavelength with and so that makes the times when dd is pessimistic, unhelpful, a bit whiny, stubborn and a bit mean, more of a problem because those are not traits I would ascribe to my ds and they are traits which I find challenging especially when I am not in a good place myself.  

I love both my children unconditionally but I have to admit I do sometimes find it a lot easier to like my ds than my dd and I feel awful saying that.  And that got me thinking – why do I feel awful saying that?  When I quizzed my daughter about whether she understood, and therefore, “got on with” daddy more than me she said yes and I can totally understand why.  They have a similar outlook on life the same as ds and I do.  What I want to do though is make sure that my dd knows that I love her as much as I do my ds and that will never, never change.  I also want her to know that in life there are people who you are going to “get on with” more than others and that is ok too.  

However want I need to remember is to find a way to re-frame, or deal with, those traits which I find problematic so that they don’t grate as much.  At the same time I want to help my dd to maybe master the time and place where those traits are beneficial and don’t end up annoying or hurting people unduly.  I can totally see times when being whiny and a bit stubborn can be beneficial and even when being mean (maybe in a more constructive way) could actually have a positive outcome.  I cannot do that if I am not seeing the beautiful person my dd is under those characteristics and that is what I have been doing of late.  

As parents we have a huge responsibility to our children because we chose to have them.  My dd didn't choose to be born and also didn't choose to have those character traits that sometimes wind me up.  I have to see and nurture the best in her whatever she does and I need to love her even when I don’t feel like it.  But also I need to steer her to be the best she can be and that can never be done with putting her down or consistently having a go at her.  

I read my dd the above and asked her permission to put it on my blog.  She also said that in return for my trying to do what I have said, she will give me hugs in return.  Who could want for more than that!!

Following on a little later, my dd and I had a chat about stuff and we came up with the idea that she could make a badge that reads “I am upset and will talk about it when I am ready.”  This is because she says that she thinks she can be more annoying or whingey when she feels upset but that she doesn't always want to talk about it then.  We are going to try it and see if it works and she is also going to make one for daddy too!!!

This reminded me of the fact that a while ago dd, ds and I had a major discussion about how dd annoys ds and vice versa.  Dd tried to vocalise that she sometimes feels pressured to say sorry or work out how she feels too quickly in these scenarios.  There is an imago relationship theory about there being a maximiser and minimiser in every relationship (read about it here.)  My dh and I can definitely attest to that.  What is interesting though with our children is that it seems that ds is a maximiser like me  - where everything has to be out in the open and sorted out now (if not sooner) - and dd is a minimiser like my dh - where they need time to mull things over.  It can be a very frustrating dynamic from both sides but I would say more so when 2 maximisers are finding 1 minimiser annoying.  I had forgotten about this so having now written it as a blog post maybe I will be able to remember this minimiser/maximiser stuff and come up with other coping strategies for all of us to live life more harmoniously.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

tyre sand-pit to hugelkultur / mound garden

Deciding what to do with my tractor tyre sandpit today, my friend Ryan came up with the idea of using the tyre as a mound garden for growing squashes, courgettes or asparagus.  

Ryan got the idea from the book "Forest Gardening" by Robert A de J Hart and "The Permaculture Garden" by Graham Bell. Having made that decision we got on with it whilst also clearing the bottom of the garden which is covered in wood for the stove which needs sorting and chopping.

The great thing about this idea was that we could use the trimmings from pruning the massively overgrown hedge as part of this plan as well as some of the sand from the sandpit; some of the rotten logs and kindling from the log-pile and some of the apple tree prunings.  

We could also start emptying our compost bins and use that. So as not to have to totally empty the sandpit we decided to do the conversion in 3 stages. 

The idea of mound gardens originated in China and is used a lot in Germany hence the name 'Hugelkultur' or German Mound   We started by clearing some of the sand to make a trench about one-foot deep.  This spare sand will be mixed with compost in containers and used for growing carrots and other veg.

We then piled up woody material such as small branches, hedge cuttings and apple tree prunings.  This makes a porous core which enables air and water to circulate freely.  
We used rotten logs from the log-pile that were not going to burn well, followed by smaller twigs and then the fresh hedge trimmings.

We covered the hedge trimmings with compost from the compost bins and started the middle section.
Having discovered a big bag of well-rotted chicken poo we decided that could be used as well. So the first two sections got a good dose of chicken manure on top of the hedge trimmings.

This isn't the conventional way that a German Mound is made but in true permaculture-style we used what was easily available at the time.  The worms seemed happy enough!!

We then moved all the sand left in the sandpit on top of the first two sections and started phase three.  Again rotten wood and apple tree prunings made the base.  Followed by hedge trimmings straight from the hedge.

Then compost bin compost and sand to cover the whole lot.  At this point it just looks like the sand-pit we started with earlier in the day until we finished it off with some bagged compost we had lying around in the garden.

Now I just need to get some squashes, courgettes and maybe asparagus seedlings growing so I can transplant them and see what happens.