Summer books for Children

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I thought it would be nice to share the books we currently have in our book basket whilst it is still summer. I intended to write this at the beginning of the summer and it’s a shame it is rather late, but hopefully it will be useful nonetheless, even if just for ideas for next year. I always add a seasonal book or two to our collection each year. If you know of any that you would recommend, I would love to hear from you! I am now thinking ahead to the autumn since September is almost upon us….

I change the books in the book basket five times a year; for the four seasons and Christmas and I put most of them away (with my nature table things) so they are welcomed afresh each year.

Anyway here at last are some lovely book suggestions for you:

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I thought I would group them a little:

Books for Midsummer:

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The Longest Day – Wendy Pfeffer – lots of information about why we celebrate the Summer Solstice (for  older children 7+)

The Flowers’ Festival – Elsa Beskow – a firm favourite of ours. The flowers come to life on Midsummer’s Eve and a little girl watches as they celebrate. Would recommend getting the bigger size as there is so much detail in the pictures.

Little Fairy Can’t Sleep – Daniela Drescher – beautiful illustrations that really capture the magic of Midsummer’s night and a sweet storyline.

Books for Camping :

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Boris Goes Camping – Carrie Weston – a lovely book about young animals taking a camping trip with their teacher and all the mishaps and fun they have. Delightful!

Eddie’s Tent and How to Go Camping – Sarah Garland – we like all the Eddie books for their very down to earth approach to the subject matter. Eddie goes camping with his family, sharing plenty of adventures and making friends. There is lots of information in there too for children about how to set up camp.

Topsy and Tim Go Camping – Jean and Gareth Adamson – fun and adventures on the campsite with twins Topsy and Tim

Camping Out – Heather Amery – Poppy and Sam camp out on their farm. Sweet and pocket sized.

Books about gardening and nature

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A Year in Our Garden – Gerda Muller – this is a new one for us this year. Lovely pictures that capture a family’s garden throughout the seasons and lots of ideas about what to do in the garden all year round. Told through the eyes of the children. Love it!

How Does My Garden Grow – Gerda Muller – another Gerda Muller classic. A girl visits her grandparents and enjoys helping in the garden. We learn a lot about what happens throughout the year in the vegetable garden. Would recommend if you have a veg garden. Very accessible.

Eddie’s Garden – Sarah Garland – Another Eddie book. Once again very down to earth. Eddie is allowed to have a patch of ground to make his own garden and we learn a lot through Eddie how enjoyable and productive vegetable gardening is. Plenty of child-friendly information in there too.

Yucky Worms – Vivian French – all about worms and their uses in the garden. Useful guide. I learnt something too!

Nature guides for summer: 

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Little Guide to Wild Flowers  – Charlotte Voake – lovely illustrations of many of the wild flowers. We were pleased to add this to our collection this year.

Flight of the Honey Bee – Raymond Huber – very informative book about bees, told through the eyes of one worker bee, Scout ( for school aged children).

Planting a Rainbow– Lois Ehlers – board book for young children arranged in colour.

Flower Fairies of the Summer – Cicely Mary Barker -we love all the flower fairy books

 Summer books for Kindergarten age children and parents:

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Summer – Jennifer Aulie and Margaret Meyerkort – lots of poems,songs and stories for summer (many are used in Waldorf Kindergartens).

Summertime in the Big Woods– Laura Ingalls Wilder – a simple book for young children about all the fun there is to be had in the Big Woods. We love these. A good beginners reading book.

Summer board book – Gerda Muller – no words, but plenty of beautiful illustrations for you to make up your own stories. Very summery.

Other beautiful books with summery pictures

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Where Do They Go When it Rains?  – Gerda Muller – another Gerda Muller story. This is the first one we bought and a firm favourite for many years. Twins Marion and Luke visit their grandmother in the countryside. Lovely pictures and informative too.

Emily and Daisy  – Elsa Beskow – A sweet story about a little girl who has to look after the family cow. Lovely pictures and storyline.

Rosalind and the Little Deer – Elsa Beskow – Beautiful pictures and a sweet story about a young girl and her friendship with a deer. Another Elsa Beskow classic.

What’s Hiding in There? – Daniela Drescher – a lift the flap book. Absolutely gorgeous watercolour pictures. For young children

 

We love books here and I love sharing these picture books with my children. I like to choose simple, beautifully illustrated, life affirming books, that connect us with nature and the seasons and with a generous sprinkling of magic   🙂 .

As for me, I am just finishing revisiting my favourite book Mitten Strings for God. I read it every summer when I have more time.  It is so soul nourishing and a gentle reminder for me to be fully present and to really savour these special times with my children ( time is so fleeting).

I hope you too are enjoying sharing books with your children and reading for pleasure over the summer holidays. 

 

 

Planning…

I was given a lovely day off by my husband on Saturday to spend all by myself. I really think I needed it. By the end of last week I was feeling quite frazzled, uncreative and certainly far from patient and compassionate 😦 My daughters weren’t getting on too well as the eldest was feeling out of sorts (possibly reflecting how I was feeling…)  I knew it was time for a break, a regroup and I must say it really helped. Now things are going much smoother, I feel I have the time and patience to attend to things when they happen and am enjoying being with the children again. Phew!

I am an introvert by nature and when I spend too much time in company it really affects me. I feel like my energy levels drop and with that so does my enthusiasm. I have been really enjoying spending time with my daughters this school holiday, but I have also been craving some solitude, some time to reflect, to think clearly, to reenergise. And Saturday was just such a day.

I had healthy vegetarian lunch in a local Buddhist Centre which also has a wonderful garden and spent some time writing my thoughts and meditating in the meditation room there. And once I was in a calm space, I spent a good couple of hours in local craft shops poring over the yarn and fabrics and then purchasing a lovely bagful of crafty goodness. It was so lovely to feel unhurried and to do the things that fill me up.   🙂

I have been itching to start some new projects, but couldn’t get to town before, so I think I was feeling a little frustrated by that too. I always feel calmer when I have a few projects on the go and I can choose the project to suit the mood of the moment.

At this time of year, I usually make a cardigan or jumper for my daughters for the autumn/winter months. We spent a fair amount of time looking on ravelry on Friday, considering what they would like me to make for them:

My youngest daughter is keen for me to knit her this gorgeous jumper in dark purple. I think it will really suit her. I couldn’t find a pure wool in the colour she wanted in the shops I visited, but this yarn is so soft and she loves it. I haven’t used a cable needle in 16 years and only used it once then for a baby top for a friend ( with some help from a woman I worked with)  but I am up for the challenge 🙂

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My eldest daughter took a while to deliberate on what she would like knitted for her. She has very particular tastes, so I make sure she decides as I don’t want to knit in vain! ( especially as she is a big girl now – nearly ten! ). She chose this pattern. She couldn’t decide on the colour, so I went to our local yarn shop to see what I could find. I decided on the blue colour below as it has other bits of colour in it  (that she may want me to use in the yoke ) and it is muted enough, but not too dark or dull. It only comes in a massive 500g ball! but the main thing is that she is amazingly really happy with it. It isn’t pure wool because she finds that too itchy. We will still have to decide on the other colours for the yoke, but it is a good start.  I have never done a fair isle pattern, intarsia or anything with this sort of colour changing, but I am once again looking forward to learning new skills and there is a lot of lovely mindless knitting in it too 🙂

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Unfortunately I don’t have the circular needles for either of these projects, so I have had to order them. Hopefully they will come in time for my trip to Germany on Friday so I have something to do whilst away ( I am going with my mother and my daughters to Hamburg for a few days – an annual trip to see friends and relatives). Fingers crossed!

I also bought some cream needle cord fabric to back my crotchet cushions. It is just being washed to preshrink it. The second cushion front is almost there. I bought some more yarn to finish it off.  Just another row or two of the cream border to do and I will be satisfied.

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I also secretly knitted up a quick pocket gnome for my youngest daughter with the same yarn. I will have to sew it up in secret one night soon. I used this book for inspiration and just halved the quantities to make the gnome smaller and used double knit yarn and 4mm needles.

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Apart from the little gnome, I also need to make a crayon roll and a bean bag before my youngest starts her first year of school in September. My eldest is getting quite proficient on the sewing machine, so she is going to make the beanbag as a gift.

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As you can see I enjoyed a bit of fabric retail therapy 🙂 I am planning to make some patchwork bits and pieces. The girls have chosen the fabrics below for their crayon rolls this term. I am making my eldest a roll too as hers is a bit worse for wear and she needs a bit of a fuss making over her too at the beginning of term.

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On our making day on Thursday, both girls were busy with their projects.

My eldest is sewing a baby ‘angel’ doll with a bit of help from me as it is a tricky project. I made one for her sister for her first birthday and H has always wanted one, so now at last she can make one herself!

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My youngest daughter has decided to make little finger puppets from this book

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She says she would like to make a whole handful! I think we might keep making these in September in the afternoons ( in the couple of hours between when she finishes school and when we go back to pick up her sister). A new rhythm will begin then.

I am so glad and grateful I had the time to regroup on Saturday. I feel so much more refreshed and motivated. Hurrah!

Joining the crafty folk at Frontier Dreams KKCO.

What to do with all those eggs…

Monday is baking day in our weekly summertime rhythm. Our chickens Lily, Ruby and Delilah generously present us with two to three eggs every day.

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Sometimes we find it rather a lot to keep up with – my daughters aren’t so keen on eggs now they know where they come from!! 😦 so we often gift eggs to friends, teachers and neighbours and of course we enjoy them ourselves. It is nice to share the bounty.

Today the eggs were overflowing out of our bowl ( we need a basket methinks…)  so we thought it was a good time to do an egg-themed bake. We chose to make these coconut macaroons as you need six egg whites for them! We also made jam tarts from this book with some of the egg yellow and I used the rest to make tofu fingers.

The girls pretty much made them themselves with some direction from me. My eldest daughter took charge of the macaroons. It was a bit of a messy business, but they did really well and the macaroons are really soft and chewy and very moreish!

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My youngest was in charge of rubbing the butter and flour for the jam tart bases ( her older sister is highly sensitive and the feel of flour on her hands is deeply unpleasant for her ). C really loves getting her hands dirty so she had a great time!

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H helped her sister with the jam and cutting out the tart bases. Didn’t they do well!

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Both recipes are sugar free, using honey instead. Needless to say my daughters were delighted with these two sweet treats today!

A big thank you to our lovely ladies ( seen here scratching about in the gravel outside their coup, looking for tasty morsels no doubt!) We love their quirky selves 🙂

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Catching up

I finished a couple of projects this week that I have been meaning to finish for a while.

Firstly I finally finished my shawl. And I love it so. It is so soft and cosy. It’s the first time I have made a shawl and I don’t think it will be the last! It was a pleasure to test knit it 🙂 and the alpaca yarn is divine!

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I have also sewn my crotchet cushion together now. I just need to back it and make a simple envelope back to it. I think I will just use fleece for speed. Any other tips welcome? I am pleased with how it looks for a first attempt. My early squares were a lot bigger than the later ones, but I wanted to include them anyway.

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I also finally hemmed some curtains that have been waiting for ages to be finished. I pinned the hem in May and hung them up and then forgot about them! But this week  I needed the long pins for blocking my shawl (I don’t have any traditional blocking equipment so had to make do) so I finally had to do it! I am so pleased I did as the girls have been doing a few little shows for me since then! The curtain divides their play/craft room from our main family area. It is a very dark room (as there are no windows) so we leave the curtains open most of the time, but the girls also like some privacy in there, so they are very useful.

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Here is my eldest checking that I am sitting comfortably before the show begins 🙂

                  (can you spot some more of those Oyos de Dios that they made on holiday!)

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And last but not least I have been making a couple of coasters  (and plan to make lots more) from some more finger knitting I spotted squirrelled away upstairs. I am so in love with these. Simple pleasures – I just love homemade 🙂

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They take very little time to make. The beginning bit is rather fiddly, but once the circle gets bigger, they are easy to make. You just need to make sure the machine foot stays right in the middle between the two rows so they are both captured by the zig zag foot.

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Hope you too are Keeping Calm and Crafting On 🙂

Weekend camping checklist

Last weekend we went camping with dear friends whose daughters are close in age to ours ( the younger ones are only 16 days apart!). We have been going every year, since the little ones turned two ( so five years now ) and it is the highlight of the summer for my daughters as they love spending a whole weekend in the company of their favourite friends; exploring, giggling and sharing. These are the memories our girls will treasure for a lifetime.

I’ve known my friend Lizzie since we met in Sydney at a working hostel when we were in our early twenties. She is also British and lives in the South East. We make sure we get together every six weeks or so with our daughters as we always have a wonderful time together and they are often mistaken as sisters as they have a deep bond. We are so lucky that our girls get on so well too as this isn’t always the case.

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Camping is tiring and there is lots of organising for the parents, but nothing beats running about in the outdoors, barefoot and free, so it is totally worth it!

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I have written camping lists over the years but I always seem to lose them, so I thought I would write another and share it here this time so that I know where to find it when I need it (!) and in the hope that it might also help someone out with their camping packing. There is always so much to consider when packing for a camping trip with young children I find. I try to make these times as special and memorable as possible and I pack with comfort in mind. Of course, things could be more basic than this and I imagine this will be the case as the children get older,  but if you have room in your car, these little luxuries make for a comfortable and more enjoyable experience I think. Lizzie helped me add a few more items to my list so it is as comprehensive as possible! Take or leave whatever you think isn’t necessary 🙂

This list is for a long weekend of camping. We never camp longer than three nights as we don’t sleep very well and the girls ( and we) start to get a bit overtired.  Longer camping trips might require more organisation?

I take all the kitchen items and other camping gear in one or two big plastic boxes as they stack well in the car and are easy to carry.

Anyway, here goes. The optional extras are in pink!

  • Tent and extra tent pegs ( you always need them!) and a hammer.
  • Camping mats or camp beds.
  • Sleeping bags or duvets and blankets ( we even bring a sheet for our camping mats sometimes and the girls each lay on a sheepskin for extra warmth!) and pillows.
  • Rugs, plastic sheets, picnic blankets etc (to make the tent more comfortable inside and for sitting outside and picnics ) and  a selection of cushions for lounging on
  • Spare tarpaulin (for rainy days).
  • Camping chairs and folding table for the cooker to go on plus a folding picnic table and chairs.
  • Gazebo ( for shade).
  • Spare pop up tent ( for children to play in or for quiet time with books, colouring in  and toys ).
  • Cool box and cool bag ( for storing food in) and ice blocks.
  • Windbreak ( for windy British weather! Good for cooking behind!)
  • Mesh food cover ( to protect food from flies/wasps etc).
  • Portable cooker and gas canister.
  • Portable bbq with charcoal (and oven gloves).
  • Kettle, frying pan, big pan, smaller pan, colander, thermos (for picnics). 
  • Chopping board, grater, wooden spoon, tongs, turning spatular, tablespoons ( to double as serving spoons), can/bottle opener, corkscrew ( or penknife with multi-functions), apple corer ( for delicious baked apples!).
  • Large-ish plastic (or glass) containers with lids for salads or storing left over food in). 
  • Large water dispenser and/or several bottles of water.
  • Washing up bowl or plastic trug, sponge, all purpose cloth,washing up liquid, tea towels x 2 and washing up gloves.
  • Large black sacks ( for rubbish).
  • Kitchen towel and toilet paper.
  • Dustpan and brush ( for cleaning tent afterwards – much appreciated with all the crumbs I find in there!)
  • Table cloth and clips.
  • Washing line and pegs and string for all kinds of things!
  • Foil ( for baked apples and popcorn) – I only use aluminium foil on camping trips as i don’t know any alternatives for this at the moment.
  • Cutlery roll including: knives, forks, teaspoons, peeler, scissors, sharp knife and napkins.
  • Plates, bowls, cups and glasses ( we use enamelware). 
  • Torch and camping lantern to hang up in the tent. Batteries for these.
  • A  camping lighter, matches, candles, tea light candles.
  • Firewood, newspaper, firelighters and some kindling ( or pick up in the forest)
  • Plastic trug for ice and beers.
  • Wipes ( for all manner of things) and a potty (can be useful to have with you if your children are scared of the dark).

Other idea of things to bring:

  • First aid kit : bug spray, tea tree oil cream ( for cuts), lavender oil ( for all manner of problems!), sting relief cream and/or zapper, plasters, homeopathic arnica and aconite,  rescue remedy and tweezers.
  • Wash bag and towels.
  • Pyjamas, warm socks and warm cardigans for everyone and hot water bottles and cowls if forecast is really cold at night.

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  • Bunting, decoration, solar fairy lights and glass jars for candles ( to hang from trees) to make the pitch pretty – and make sure the fairies pay us a visit 🙂 

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  • For the children :  clothes, teddies and teddy sleeping bags ( that I made a few years ago),

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  • Open ended craft materials, games and books like these.

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  • For hikes : sturdy footwear for  hikes, rainwear and wellies if rain is forecast – hopefully not!
  • Basic Food : Olive oil ( or coconut), sea salt, tea, coffee, milk, plenty of snacks.

 

And psst :  bring some fairy magic with you too 🙂 

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The girls made the fairies a rope ladder, a hammock and a leaf shelter and fairy trampoline. Lucky fairies! We were richly rewarded in the morning with little sequins and scatterings of fairy dust.

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Magical times 🙂 May you enjoy your camping experiences as much as we do!

Not the best photos especially those in the dark/dust, but hopefully they still capture the atmosphere a little. 

 

Summertime rhythm

We started our summer break with a trip to France, followed this weekend by a fun and surprisingly relaxing camping trip with friends. Now we can settle back home for most of August. We have plans to see friends and are looking forward to a few adventures, but one thing my daughters really appreciate about the holidays is our morning rhythm and our Mondays at home. I have always cherished the summer holidays with my children: it is so nice to have a long break from the school routine. Things feel freer, more spontaneous and anything seems possible, including today’s impromptu trip to the beach for ice cream and splashing after the girls’ horse riding late this afternoon .:-)

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Saying that, I do rely on a daily and weekly rhythm to help the time go smoothly during the summer holidays.

I have been thinking a lot about rhythm lately since reading the second chapter of this book  (several times!) whilst on holiday.  Rhythm is so important to us; a daily, weekly, yearly rhythm is like a reliable steady beat that carries us through our days and through the year.

Ever since we joined our local Waldorf Parent and Child group seven years ago, I have tried to make the days of the week a little different so the children knew which day of the week it was. When they were really small, I dressed us all in a different rainbow colour every day! ( I smile as I remember this early attempt at rhythm!), but it was fun and the children knew what was coming next. I have continued to use various rhythms to mark the days of the week over the years, especially during the summer holidays, but in term time, the children are carried by the Kindergarten and school rhythms.

Rhythm in a Waldorf Kindergarten is strong: there is a set rhythm for each day of the week and the children know it in their very being. Each day they eat a different grain for their substantial snack at around 11am; for example in my daughter’s Kindergarten, Monday is ‘rice day’, Tuesday is ‘porridge day’, Wednesday is ‘millet day’. Thursday is ‘bread and honey day’ ( everyone’s favourite!) and Friday is ‘soup day’ ( with barley). The children refer to the days by their grain as they are not yet ready to think of the days of the week by their name. Waldorf education believes in letting the child stay in a dreamy state for as long as possible, certainly until the seventh year, when they naturally awaken more and are ready for schooling.

When my eldest daughter started school at nearly 7 years and was only doing one longer day until 3pm, we continued the Kindergarten rhythm of baking, nature walks, crafting, painting and making soup in the afternoons and we even did a ring time for a while as my daughter was missing her Kindergarten days.  So a weekly rhythm at home has been part of our lives on and off for a long time.

In the summer holidays we have always had a set daily rhythm and a few years ago I painted a chart of our week with pictures of all the things we did each day  so the girls knew what came next. It has since become very dog eared (!) as it was so often referred to, so I can’t share it here.

At the beginning of the holiday, my daughters and I decided what our daily and weekly rhythm should look like and my eldest daughter decided to draw the weekly activities out for us ( with some embellishments 🙂 ). It is awaiting lamination to keep it safe for longer.

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I have always protected our mornings for home time to keep them un-rushed. The afternoons are free so we can meet friends, take trips or to simply just see what happens. A typical morning here would be:

  • On rising the girls will play a little while I write my morning pages.
  • We feed the animals and have our own breakfast
  • We clear the dishes ( one of us clears the table, the other sweeps and the other washes up – we do a lucky dip for that to make it fair)
  • We get dressed and make beds and the girls are then free to go off and play
  • Snack and activity – there is a different activity for every day of the week
  • Girls go off to play while I make lunch.
  • Lunchtime

To be honest it doesn’t always go to plan (!) and the children don’t always fancy making their bed or things take longer than expected but we try to keep more or less to this rhythm.

After lunch, if we are at home, we wash the dishes and then we have a quiet hour, where the girls either play, draw, craft or listen to audiobooks and I sit down with a book or some knitting. Yesterday afternoon I treated myself to a nice cup of tea and my favourite book for summer reading and went to sit on our swing seat at the top of the garden. Bliss!

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I also try to take some out breaths during the morning; my first happens on rising with my writing and then there is a chance for a mindful cup of tea just before our activity to ground myself. Some days I forget and I end up doing too much housework and activity ( breathing in) and not enough stopping to be present ( breathing out). I really notice my mood is affected if I don’t take time to just be present. The book I am reading right now is setting me straight about what really matters; being present with the children, slowing down, noticing the beauty all around. It is such a gift to me this book, which is why I read it every summer, when I need it most. I would highly recommend it.

So to our weekly rhythm:

Mondays are sacred to us. We never arrange anything. It is nice to settle back home after the weekend and to have a slow home day. My daughters really appreciate this cosy time at home with time stretching out in front of them and so do I. Our morning activity is BAKING ; we bake bread rolls for lunch and cakes or biscuits for snack time.

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Tuesday is our PAINTING day. Today we sat out in the garden as the weather was lovely and we have a big table out there.

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Amongst other things we made these symmetrical pictures. I always join my daughters in all their activities as it is good for them to see me having a go too. It seems to spur them on to try new things.

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On Tuesday afternoons, my daughters go to a small local stable to do some horse care for a couple of hours and my youngest goes horse riding with her sister leading her.  In the meantime, I go to a cafe and write to you lovely people 🙂 We all enjoy this time.

On Wednesday we play BOARD GAMES. Our current favourite is Wildcraft

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We love playing games as a family and have quite a selection that we enjoy! They are mainly co-operative games.

Thursdays is for CRAFTING. Last week the girls made a start on the projects they are planning to do over the summer. My eldest daughter wants to make a baby Waldorf doll and the younger one wants to make a simple standing puppet. We made a start on the heads last week, which is the trickiest part I think. They also have been finger knitting for weeks and I promised them I would finally sew it together to make a small rug for their rooms ( for a toy cat to sit on or as a Sylvanian rug). I was surprised how beautifully they turned out and really enjoyed making them, (just using zig zag stitch on the sewing machine to hold them together) so I am asking the girls if they could finger knit me some more when they get a chance so I can make some coasters and who knows what else…! 🙂

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And Friday is for GARDENING or NATURE WALKS depending on the weather and our plans. As we were going camping last Friday, we just did a little gardening including harvesting a large amount of calendula from the veg patch where it is growing quite prolifically. I love Calendula; such a happy little flower with great healing properties.

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We have just started reading about the healing powers of Calendula in our herb fairies series so the girls were keen to get started making calendula oil for all their cuts and grazes. We packed calendula flowers loosely in a glass jar and filled the jar with olive oil and it is now sitting on our window ledge in the sunshine for a week or so. We are also drying some calendula flowers in our larder. Not sure yet if we will use them to make calendula oil or tea or other potions….

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On Friday afternoon, my eldest daughter goes horse riding and I spend a cosy hour reading and chatting with my youngest daughter in a nearby garden centre cafe.

It feels so grounding to have a reliable rhythm through the week and a steady rhythm to the day; the children know what to expect and look forward to it. I think also for the adult, a rhythm carries us along. The day flows better and there is definitely comfort in it.

It is now late on Tuesday evening. We really enjoyed our spontaneous trip to the beach followed by a late dinner and late bedtime… that is the joy of summer; long days with endless possibilities 🙂

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Joining KKCO at Frontier Dreams – hoping  that the round placemat/rug qualifies for crafting. I certainly enjoyed it! I am five rows away from finally finishing my shawl. Things take longer than you think sometimes!  🙂

Unwinding

For me a holiday ( vacation) is a time to unwind, to slow down, a time to simplify, to eat well, get plenty of rest, play, spend time in nature and above all to spend lots of good quality time with loved ones with no agenda except just to be together and relax. We were fortunate to have just such a break in Normandy last week.

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We were staying in an old mill cottage with a series of outdoor spaces to play in and a stream running all the way around the property. It was very rustic in places but that made it all the more relaxing somehow; a real change of scene. My daughters spent a lot of time paddling in the stream.

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and most mornings they would go out to look for the coypus who live in the river bank  ( they are about the size of our guinea pigs and brown with a long tail). The girls were captivated by them and on many a morning they dragged their duvets and a picnic blanket down to the river to sit and watch for them. They were richly rewarded for their patience. I tried to take some pictures but they are rather unclear as they are fast swimmers and my reaction time was less so! …all that slowing down…  🙂

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I managed to do quite a bit of reading and knitting which was lovely. We established a quiet time after lunch for an hour and a half, when the girls ventured off around the large grounds of the property to explore and go on “spy missions” and my husband and I could read and relax. Bliss!

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I have decided to try to keep this rhythm of an hour of quiet time after lunch for the rest of the school holiday as our daughters really respected our need for some time to ourselves. Fingers crossed!

After this quiet time, we reconvened for our afternoon tea, which was usually tea and tasty french biscuits and pastries. Yum!

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One day a good friend of mine visited and I put a tablecloth and cushions on the rather worn looking picnic bench to pretty things up and from that day on, the girls decided they would like that to be their job; to lay the table daily for teatime.

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They clearly delighted in their role, getting everything ready for us and put a lot of love and attention into presenting things beautifully. I remember, as a child, really enjoying the sense of occasion of laying the table for Kaffee und Kuchen ( German for coffee and cake – a marvellous tradition! ) when staying with my German grandparents every summer, so it was lovely to see our girls enjoying it too.

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After tea, we usually played games together. There was a badminton set and net and we got to know a new board game Wildcraft which I had been saving for our holiday and is a current favourite. We subscribed to the Herb Fairies series in May and are really enjoying learning all about wild plants and their uses, so it was great to use our new knowledge in the game and to learn a lot more besides. I highly recommend the game and the series. We are learning so much and see the natural world with even more fascination for its healing powers.

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We also went on a couple of excursions; to the staggering majesty of Mont St Michel,

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and to the beach on a glorious sunny day.

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We found these lovely shells at the beach, which the girls made into a sweet mandala around the candle on our dining table. We are never without some form of nature table and a mealtime candle 🙂

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But mainly we stayed around our cottage, just playing together and taking things gently.

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As for Keeping Calm and Crafting on, I am just about to start the border on my shawl. I had to do some ripping back as a stitch count revealed that I had dropped a stitch some rows back 😦 I was knitting in the dark whilst camping with family at the beginning of the trip and wasn’t really concentrating as the pattern is easy to memorise. It was a bit of a painful experience as the alpaca wool tends to felt together a bit and tear. Sob!  Anyway, I took a few deep breaths and rescued it. I am looking forward to finishing it very soon.

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I also finished all the squares for my crotchet cushion. Now I just have to sew them up – any ideas about techniques for that are welcome!

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I started crocheting another cushion on our long journey home from France. As I mentioned in a previous post,  I usually feel quite nauseous when looking down in the car, so I thought crotchet was out of the question , but this time I was wearing anti-nausea wrist bands (to help with sea sickness for the ferry journey) and they amazingly allowed me to crotchet quite happily – an unexpected bonus!  It is another granny square number, using the same colours but this time crocheted in one piece. I have really begun to appreciate crotchet now and its portability and think I may be making a few more crotchet items for around the house. I might be hooked 🙂

My daughters were also creative on holiday. Almost every morning on rising – before seeing the coypu – they each made a little Ojos de Dios. Here are two, but we have a quite collection at home now!

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They also took a lot of photos for memories – taking after their mother 🙂

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Here is one my eldest daughter took of a butterfly that I thought was beautiful.

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and they made all kinds of things out of paper, glue and cellotape with those craft materials I brought along 🙂

It was a lovely break. Now we have a camping trip to plan…

I do hope your summer is allowing  you plenty of  moments to relax, unwind and enjoy the now.