02 June 2020

Sustainable Living May


This blog has always been about living life in a mindful and intentional way, for me this means that most of the decisions we make have been thought about carefully, even if we decide to continue as we are a decision has still been made.  When we take a product from a shelf in a shop or tap a button on a screen, should we stop and think about how it has got this point before we do so?  It can be hard to make decisions over many aspects of our lives, we are often far removed from the means of production and it can be hard to find out how this operates.  Maybe we shouldn't be thinking is there a more sustainable replacement for something, rather do we really need it at all?

To help me keep on track I have come up with some words that I will be using to keep my decision making mindful and intentional, and my life in general as sustainable as I can make it.  If you you want to join me you would be most welcome, either using the same words for inspiration or your own that are more meaningful to you.  These are the words (you can read my thoughts behind some of them here and here) that I have been using in May:

Nourish
May has been a wonderful sunny month, mostly, the temperatures have definitely gone up.  I love to eat salads all year round but I do love the vegetables that are available at this time of year that means we can have a greater variety.  We have had a butter bean salad with fried capers and lots of salad leaves, a mixed bean salad with fresh herbs, a carrot salad with ginger and mint, roast almonds with beans and salad leaves, a white bean salad with lots of chopped veggies and herbs, and a broccoli salad with toasted sunflower seeds, sour cherries and grated cheddar.  I have also been making our old favourites which we eat year round, coleslaw, roast beetroot with feta, chickpeas with wonderful herby, paprika dressing and a couple of filling rice based salads.


Lessen
We have a wood burning stove which produces lots of ash which we usually put on the garden.  Some years ago we discovered a series of historical farm programmes made for the the BBC, each series focuses on a particular period.  We loved them so much we bought the DVDs and watch them regularly.  One of them, based in the Tudor period, shows how to make lye from wood ash using straw and stones in a bucket.  We have been meaning to have a go at this since first watching it and this month we did.  We have made about a litre.  We have used to wash the dishcloths, really greasy items like the old cloths I use in the place of kitchen roll when making onion bhajis which I deep fry,  I have also put a couple of tablespoons in the washing machine with my white washing and it has definitely made my whites whiter.  I would love to venture into soap making, I think that might just be our next use for it

Thankful
I have mentioned that May has been a sunny month in these parts.  We British talk about the weather as a past time because it is very changeable and totally unpredictable.  We can have warm temperatures one day and jumper needing cold temperatures the next day in the middle of the Summer.  One year when Cameron was little it was cold in the Summer we carried on wearing our winter jumpers right the way through.  We are not guaranteed long spells of warm sunny weather, so when we get two weeks of wall to wall warm temperatures it is worth talking about!  The blue sky and the warmth have made this past month so much easier to cope with the life that we are needing to lead right now.  Throwing open all the windows and giving the house a good air makes it feel a much healthier place to live after the months of having to have them shut as it is too cold, wet and windy.  Not to mention the fact that line dried washing smells wonderful and it dries in a day rather than the two or three days it can take in the winter months, I have finally found the bottom of my laundry basket this month!  Sunshine and blue skies are guaranteed to make us feel happy here.

Create
I thought I hadn't made very much this month, but when I wrote it all down I realised that was not the case at all.  The embroidery that I started in April has now been turned into a small bag for knitting projects.  I have made several of these bags as gifts and have been wanting to make one for myself but there are always other things above it on my list.  I had a good look through my fabric and found exactly what I was looking for to make the embroidered pieces I had made into a little bag.  I am loving that I am forced to go through my stash rather than go to the local haberdashers.  I know that I have got into a routine of automatically going out and buying what I need rather than having a look at what I already have to see if there is anything suitable.

The cardigan I was knitting for Alice was completed in time to be gifted to her.  It is a bit of tight fit which is a real disappointment.  I measured her against the measurements in the pattern and my knitting gauge was right.  She loves it though which is the main thing.  The yarn was some I found in a charity shop and cost very little, I also have plenty left, enough to make another one in a bigger size if she wants another one.

I have been knitting more rows on my shawl, which is the only project I have on the needles right now, I am over half way through.  I finished knitting the socks that I shared here.  I have gifted these to a friend and failed to take a photo of the finished item before I sent them off......I have plans to cast on more socks but that hasn't quite happened yet.

I made some birthday bunting, a project that I have been meaning to do since the children were really little.  I have appliquéd the letters onto the flags.  I wanted them to be a surprise for Alice and sewed them when she was on her video calls each afternoon.  They took me several days to make as I only had an hour or so at time and not having a dedicated sewing space means that some of that time is spent getting everything out and putting it away again.

I think I will do a separate post with all the things I have made recently otherwise their photos would take over this post!


Grow
All the lovely warmth and sunshine we have had this month has meant that all the seeds I sowed in late April and the beginning of May have sprouted and many are now taller and stronger.  The frosts stopped in the middle of the month when I got busy planting things outside, the broad beans, onions, French beans and sunflowers are all in the ground now.  We also planted out eleven hazel plants and two apple trees that we have been nurturing in the polytunnel over the winter.  We are hoping the hazels will grow and create a hedge in the front garden and provide us with a harvest too.  We don't have any squirrels here so hopefully they won't all get pinched!  The lettuces, various salad leaves, cucumber and courgette are all in the ground inside the polytunnel, none of these will reliably grow outside because of our unpredictable weather.  I also have some squash and gherkins which are nearly ready to be planted out in the polytunnel too.  It is going to be full in there again this year.  Now that the ground outside is warmer I shall be sowing straight into the ground with the root veggies this month.  We are still harvesting purple sprouting broccoli, kale and cabbages, they are all running to seed a bit now but the leaves and flowers are edible and tasty on all these plants.  I am loving all the extra time I get to spend in the garden with being at home all the time.  It is has never looked so tidy and well weeded!


Sanctuary
When we moved into our house and started landscaping the garden we knew that we wanted to create a place for our hammock to hang up.  We bought it from the maker at a wonderful market in Ecuador full of beautiful and colourful homemade items.  We loved all the places we stayed at, which had hammocks hanging between the trees in the garden, when we were travelling there.  We had had it for four years when we moved here and had had no where to hang it in that time.  We built a trellis with two posts that were spaced to accommodate a hammock between them, there is a third post which creates a triangular shape over which a large unruly honeysuckle grows.  I have spent many hours in the hammock this month.  On those days when I just need to rest and recharge I can be found hanging there knitting or dozy, watching the birds flying around busy feeding their young.  We have many bird boxes in our garden, and there are nests in the wood shed and the honeysuckle above the hammock.  It is a wonderful place.

Fun
We celebrated a birthday in our house this month, Alice's birthday, that is another post that I need to write......I knew it was going to be difficult for her as she loves to spend time with her best friend on the day and then have a party with another set of friends on different day.  I tried to make the day as special as possible for her without being able to be around her friends.  We had a lovely day together and she loved it all, I think it will be a birthday she will remember for many years!

Thank you once again for reading through this very long post.  I realise that it may seem that I do an awful lot, I suspect you do to, if you were to write it all down like I have here.  You are most welcome to join me, either use the same words or your own which mean more to you, let me know in the comments below and I will head over and have a read.  I will post my Sustainable Living June roundup on Friday 3 July.

30 comments:

  1. This wall-to-wall sunshine is what we enjoyed here when we first moved to Wales over 30 years ago. May up the West coast was a reliable month for sunshine and it would be so hot (like it has been again) that our stream would dry up (much to the disgruntlement of our ducks back then). Weather patterns changed and we have had 20 years of wetter springs. I prefer the sunshine!

    It has been wonderful to be able to be at home and enjoy it, although the distractions of selling at Antiques Fairs or visiting them, going to car boot sales and auctions for stock have been much missed (as this has been our way of life for a few years now), but it has been lovely to be able to dedicate time to playing catch up. Doing things as they should be done instead of rushing round doing half a job, sitting down with a book mid-afternoon without feeling guilty, doing LOTS of sewing and enjoying the garden. Being mindful.

    The garden has been a delight, but finding a decent growing medium for seeds has been a challenge, and we have had to re-use compost from a couple of growing tubs as we couldn't get out to buy any and the heat has been a challenge to seedlings too - turn away and they are burnt to a crisp in the greenhouse! Now things are in the ground, "watering round" is the main chore of the day!

    P.S. I enjoyed all those programmes too, especially Tales from the Green Valley (I could have moved in there!) and the other series which followed on from them and have most of the DVDs too.

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    1. It seems I shouldn't have written about it, the sun has gone now! I am glad to hear that you are also been enjoying time at home, and yes it is good to dedicate time to play catch up. I hope that we will all feel less guilty when we are doing those things we have enjoyed now in the future too.

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  2. I agree with you that the warm sunny days have helped us to become grounded in our new ways of living on the one hand but on the other it really shouldn't be like this and it all feels so un natural and reminds me that we are going through not only the pandemic but also serious climate change. However we do have rain forecast here for tomorrow and I am hoping it will be heavy enough to refil the water butts and give us some respite from the wall to wall sunshine for a change!! Also an excuse to do some indoor games instead of feeling I should be out in the garden keeping the weeds at bay! I remember that TV programme too and really enjoyed it.

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    1. It is true that the weather is not how it should be. We had a really windy couple of days over one weekend in May, it coincided with an easing of lockdown. It felt like Mother Earth was expressing her opinion on that. Lovely as the sunshine is we do need rain too you are right, I don't want to run out of rainwater to water the garden.

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  3. Ah yes, a bit of sunshine makes everything better. Love your purple flowers -are they lupins?

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    1. The flowers are lupins, they are one of my favourites along with tulips and one of the few flowers I seem to be successful at growing. They are the first thing you see when you enter my back garden. I have two they were gifted to me by two different people a lovely reminder of each of them as I walk past them.

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  4. The sunshine is very welcome, although we could do with some rain now after such a long dry spell. I have been making the most of it for, as we well know with such unpredictable weather, this could be our summer.
    Belated birthday wishes to Alice. It's a shame the cardigan is a close fit but if she's grown in the way Lily has these last couple of months I can't say I'm surprised. X

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    1. It was the same last year wasn't it, a hot dry April and May followed by a mostly wet cool June, July, August, I do hope it is not the same this year too.

      Thank you for the belated birthday wishes, yes Alice has grown a lot she is nearly as tall as me now!

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  5. Such a shame about Alice's cardigan, but she loves it and that's the main thing. I look forward to seeing all your recent makes when you post about them. I've so enjoyed the beautiful weather we've been having but it looks as though it's coming to an end, we're forecast rain all day tomorrow. We definitely need some, the ground is so dry, but I've got a line full of washing making the most of the last bit of good weather today.

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    1. It is a shame about the cardigan, but you are right if she loves it then all is well. I am collating photos of my recent makes for a post soon.

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  6. Are they mountain pansies at the beginning of your post? I have always wanted to see some. Your lupins look lush. X

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    1. They are mountain pansies, there are loads of them, along with violets, on the hill above our house.

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  7. Dear Sustainablemum
    There has been a lot to enjoy and be thankful for. Your post sums that up beautifully.
    Best wishes
    Ellie

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    1. Thank you! I am glad to hear that you have been feeling the same x

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  8. Yes, writing it down, is a good way, to see what we have done. -smile-

    And you do a lot, since you are at such a time in life. Wonderful...

    🌱🌸🌱

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    1. Thank you WoW. I am at such a time in my life you are right x

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  9. how nice that you keep track of what you've created, I do the same and it inspires me to do more. I'm sorry that birthday celebrations aren't the same but maybe next year or in half a year??

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    1. There is always next year for a birthday celebration isn't there, somehow when you are eleven that doesn't quite cut it! We did our best in the circumstances.

      Keeping a record of what you have made is a great way to inspire you to do more, especially as it has made me realise just what it is possible to do!

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  10. when I come to visit your blog it's so very much like a sit down over a cup a tea visit, I enjoy every word, every photo, take care and keep sharing with us,, you bring joy to the days!

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    1. Thank you so much for you kind words, I am so glad to hear that you enjoy these posts.

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  11. I am intrigued by your lye production! I make soap regularly but always with pure lye. Getting the ratio of lye and fats right is quite fiddly and I'll be interested to hear how you get on with your own soaps-making. So lovely to hear that Alice loves her cardigan. I loved to make garments for my children but they are no longer keen.

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    1. I figured that as the lye didn't cost me anything it would be interesting and less costly to work out the ratios of soap making. I have never tried it and has always wanted to.

      I am sorry to hear that your children no longer want you to make things for them, I hope that day is a long way off for me!

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  12. I am impressed with your lye, you certainly are creative re making all your own household items, I'm sure you'll manage the soap. It is always wonderful when all the washing is finally done and you can't beat having all the windows open. Your veggies sound like they are romping away! I would enjoy that hammock too! Happy belated birthday to Alice, I'm sure you make the occasion very special.xxx

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    1. It has been a long slow journey to master all these things but they have all been things I have wanted to do since reading John Seymour books from my grandfathers shelves when I was a child.

      Thank you for the belated birthday wishes.

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  13. Oh gosh! I've finally posted my month!!! I just couldn't remember and spent several days pondering but since I so wanted to join in again, I persevered! It's really lovely to look back and be reminded of what I've achieved since its so easy to just move on and never really give myself a pat on the back! This month I shall start a list and add to it as I go ;o)
    I'm totally in love with Ruth and the boys on the Farm Series too! Aren't they just the best? They have one where they are in France building a castle and thats quite interesting as well. I love reading about all your English gardens - growing and producing so abundantly while ours are being frosted and frozen here! So nice to see all the green and colour. I suppose we can return the favour when it's summer down under ;o)
    Lovely to read about your creative and sustainable endeavours xxx

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    1. Thank you so much for joining me once again, I really enjoyed reading your post too. I usually make a list as the month goes on and I forgot this time. There are a few things that I have missed from this one, but I can add them to next month!

      My daughter loves watching the Farm series and we loved the Castle one too.

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  14. It really does sound like you do so much! But as you say, probably if we write it all down, we are also doing more than we think. It sounds like your kitchen garden & polytunnel are hugely productive right now. Our allotment has been a complete lifesaver for me during this period. I love your hammock - did you travel to Ecuador with the kids or during pre-children days?

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    1. It never ceases to amaze me how much we get done in a month! It is lovely to look back on these posts I am so glad I started them up again.

      We travelled to Ecuador years ago not long after we met, it was pre-marriage and children!

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  15. What a lovely post you have been busy, I think the gardens have been getting lots of attention due to the good weather and people being home. The hammock looks fabulous and what a great spot. x

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    1. Thank you. You are right about the gardens, mine has never had so much attention as it is getting this year!

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