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:
NourishMay 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.
LessenWe 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
ThankfulI 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.
CreateI 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!
GrowAll 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!
SanctuaryWhen 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.
FunWe 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.