The beginnings of a rag rug…

My eldest daughter has been off school for a couple of days due to not feeling well. We spent our mornings (whilst her sister was in school), cosying up in the lounge with a big basket of old clothes that we have been planning to rag for a long time. My daughter wasn’t well enough to play or do any brain work, but she did feel up to a bit of simple crotchet.

Whilst we were on holiday, my daughters discussed how they would like to make their Little House in the garden more cosy and they remembered the basket of rags (mainly old pyjamas and stained children’s clothes) that we have been keeping aside to make a rug with, so I thought it was time to seize the moment and get started 🙂

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It was a nice and easy project to do together: I cut the material into long 1cm wide strips and my daughter crocheted chains with it, whilst we enjoyed a couple of episodes of  The Waltons 🙂  If we watch anything, it tends to be older films and shows where there is a slower pace and a more wholesome message.

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I have started sewing it into an oval shape, with zig zag stitch on the sewing machine, in the same way I made the coasters I mentioned here, but with a bigger stitch and a stronger needle. It is very rustic looking, but it’s a play rug in a ‘rustic’ location so we are fine with that 🙂

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We still have a fair bit of cutting, crotcheting and sewing to do, but it is good to finally get started!

On a side note, we also enjoyed reading this book – our favourite read when my daughters are unwell. We love the Bear Series; the books are so beautifully illustrated. This is a heartwarming story of friendship, where a sick bear is looked after and nursed by his animal friends until he is better again.

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Hopefully you and yours are keeping well. Illness can be tiring and disrupting, but it is also a time for renewed closeness. Every cloud has its silver lining 🙂

Sharing at Frontier Dreams

Simple Eight-Pointed Window Star tutorial

As I mentioned here, we started creating simple window stars on our holiday and are just a little bit addicted to making them!

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We have decided to include little rainbow stars in our Thank You cards for Christmas presents, in the hope that they will brighten up our family and friends’ windows as much as they do ours 🙂  (Can’t believe we are so late with our thank you cards this year, but hopefully the window stars will make up for the lateness?)

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I thought I would share a brief tutorial on how to make these very simple stars in the hope that it will help someone to get started with this beautiful craft. There is a luminous, stained glass feel about them that I really appreciate.

Materials:

Kite paper (we used  this paper of  16cm x 16cm squares)

Glue stick

Instructions:

1. Start with a rectangle. Our paper was square shaped, so I cut it into two rectangular pieces.

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2. Fold the paper in half, making sure to press along the crease firmly with your nails.

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3. At the bottom and top, fold both sides in towards the central crease as shown below.

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4. At one end, fold both sides in once again as shown below, to form a kite shape.

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5. Dab a little glue onto the right hand side of your ‘kite’ as shown below.

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6. Stick the next piece along the mid line of the first piece as shown, making sure the points meet at the centre. Continue this seven times.

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7. The last bit is slightly more fiddly. Dab glue on the right hand side of both your final pieces (here they are in blue and green) and slip the right hand side of the (green) piece beneath the first (yellow) piece to complete the star.

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And there you have it. A beautiful addition to any home 🙂

 

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There is a world of window star making out there to discover, but we are happy making these for now.  The stars can be any size you like and we have made large and small ones with the same technique. I have since found out you can make even simpler stars using squares, but these suit us fine. My seven year old can make them unaided.  I found the instructions in the book All Year Round;  a wonderful resource for all things Waldorf and seasonal. 🙂

May  your home be filled with beauty and colour!

 

 

 

 

 

Painting with Jack Frost

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One frosty morning last year, whilst my youngest daughter was still in Kindergarten, the children did some watercolour paintings which they left outside for Jack Frost to embellish. I remember the wonder in the childrens’ eyes at the magic of this moment and I wanted to try to recreate it for my daughters this year.

We have been having our fair share of frost here, but as one can never predict the weather here in the UK, you have to seize the moment when you can! As it was due to continue to be frosty over the weekend,  (-7 C  on Saturday night – Brrr!), I decided to be pro-active and put some watercolour paper in the bath to soak overnight.

The paper needs to be nice and wet through (but not dripping!) and then all you need to do is fill a page with watercolour paint.  My daughters just used blue watercolour paint to fill their paper (as they were impatient to go out and break up the ice on our pond!). Last year my daughter’s class used blue and red.

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And then they took the paper outside for Jack Frost to do his magic. The paper should be removed from the painting board and placed on the ground at this point my daughter informed me.

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I sprayed the paper a little with water – it needs to be wet enough, but not soaking (or ice crystals will form -and then melt again once inside – I speak from experience!) and very soon, the typical feathery patterns started to appear.

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These photos don’t show the art work in all its glory, but I think you get the idea, hopefully. It was so magical and exciting for us all to see the invisible hand of Jack Frost at work. 🙂

I would highly recommend this activity for its simplicity and magic.

 

Winter Days and the Winter Nature Table

dsc07107We have had a week of wintry weather. No snow yet, but lots of ground frost and today we spent the entire day enveloped in mist and fog! It was quite eerie (I watched far too many Sherlock Holmes films as a child!), but I also experienced a feeling of acceptance and surrender – to not seeing clearly; to not knowing what was round the corner – it was freeing somehow. This could be a good metaphor for life: we so often feel the need to be in control of our lives; to know what the future holds, but perhaps we need to surrender to the mystery of it all, to let go of fear and cultivate curiosity and openness for what is to come next. I don’t know – it is just something that struck me today.

Here are a few photos from my morning walk (I am trying to get out and walk daily – we have a local park and the coast is on our doorstep, so there is no excuse really). Nature is so beautiful in all its guises and it was so good to get some fresh air in my lungs (even if by nature I prefer to stay indoors and hibernate until warmer weather returns!)

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The world certainly felt even more monochrome than usual today and the silence was only broken by an occasional solitary bird call.

Thank goodness for the ‘pop’ of colour of this front encrusted bush below.

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It is so invigorating to get outdoors. I need to remind myself often how important it is for me to walk in nature; for my health (both physical and mental) and to feel more connected to the cosmos.

On the nature table, things are very wintry now to reflect what is happening outside. King Winter has taken up residence and looks set to stay for a while.

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The root children are sleeping under the earth; you can just see their little blonde heads through the gauzy material 🙂

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I love the winter nature table. It speaks to me of magic. I always have a generous sprinkling of fairy lights around to create the feel of sparkling ice and snow.

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I made these littel hazelnut children in their walnut sledges many years ago. They are so sweet; we do love them so. I also have some little skaters on a little “ice rink”.

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The gnomes are busy looking after the crystals on the mantlepiece 🙂

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More lights on the nature shelf in our dining area.

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And our lovely window star “sun”, bringing us joy and hope for brighter days to come.

At the weekend we went for a winter walk in a National Trust Place near us. We love visiting these familiar places in every season: there is something so comforting in the familiar. The lake had iced over and my daughters (and husband!) enjoyed throwing stones on the lake and hearing the reverberations. 🙂

The world felt very still and lifeless, yet when you look closely, little buds are already forming and much work is going on deep in the earth, as the trees and plants prepare for spring.

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We still yearn for a proper snowy day, so we made these snowflakes after school today, in the hope that the angels will see them on our windows and send us snow. 🙂

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We have always made the round snowflakes, but I fancied trying something different. These six pointed snowflakes are a bit more fiddly to set up before cutting (and this really needs to be done by an adult or an older child), but after that, the children could cut out the shapes and we were all very pleased with the effects!

“Oh where do you come from? 

You little flakes of snow,

Falling softly, softly falling 

On the Earth below, 

On the hedges, on the treetops, on the mountains afar, 

Tell me snowflakes, do you come from where the angels are? “

On holiday in Fuerteventura with children…

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We returned last week from 10 days away on the sunny island of Fuerteventura (in the Canary Islands). We have visited the Canary Islands in the winter for several years now. My husband has a very physical outdoor job, as a Landscape Gardener and Designer and this is his quiet period, so we make sure we get away every winter for him to rest and warm his acheing muscles and it is a wonderful pick me up for us all. We also really craved some family time after all the viruses of December; it really was wonderfully relaxing and we regained our strength by the third/fourth day.

My husband and I fantasise of going to India, Egypt, Asia or somewhere exotic, but our children are both Highly Sensitive (there is a book about children like this – I have mentioned it before and will go into more detail in another post as I am currently reading the book and find it fascinating) and are quite inflexible about travel; taking a long time to adapt to a new environment and relax, so we try to keep things comfortable and simple for them as much as possible. I understand this trait as I am also slow to adapt to  new environments and it takes me a good couple of days to find my feet in a new place and relax. A week’s holiday is out of the question for us or I would only get 4 days of relaxation inbetween settling and packing to go home!

It is the third time we have visited this island. We stayed in a resort near the airport called Caleta de Fueste, which is relatively quiet. We mainly do very simple things and  like to switch off completely; to media and to outside influences and just have quiet family time. The children are still at an age where they can play for hours with a few toys and whatever they find around the place, so my husband and I managed to read and chat and slowly plan our forthcoming trip to the States in July (so excited!). We are taking a road trip from Colorado, where we are visiting a friend, to Portland, Oregon, where other friends are living. The planning is half the fun! We have booked the flights and car hire and are slowly working on the itinerary and accommodation. We have travelled a lot together and separately in the past and love it, but as I mentioned our daughters take time to adjust, so we are planning the trip with them in mind. To that end, we are going to stay at most locations for at least a couple of days and mainly in holiday homes, so we can cook and eat familiar foods with a home base. More of that to come…

Anyway, back to Fuerteventura!  I just thought I would share a few of our favourite things to do on the Island. Our children are not big beach goers as they don’t like sand sticking to their wet bodies, so we didn’t spend much time there, but we did swim a couple of times. Caleta has a man-made white sandy beach. Part of it is currently being redone, but we found a nice sheltered area to swim in and it was just about warm enough to stay in for half an hour. The outside temperature was around 20C most days, but the sea (ocean!) felt very cool – similar to swimming in the UK in the summer!

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I would highly recommend a visit to the Oasis Park Zoo in the South of the Island.  We have visited three times now as it really is amazing. The zoo is set in a Botanical Garden in the midst of an arid landscape. On the drive in, we noted a few goats dotted around, grazing on dry looking bushes and the occasional tuft of grass, but on arrival the lush planting and vivid colours really took our breath away; being in such sharp contrast to the surrounding area. We immediately felt relaxed as we left the barren landscape behind us. The planting really softens the feel of the zoo. It feels really organic and although the animals are caged off, their accommodation is generally spacious and naturalistic and they are well cared for. My daughters love animals and we have taken so many photos of the zoo in years gone by, I decided only to take a few this time to share here.

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We did get to see some hippos and giraffes being fed which was entertaining, especially seeing the hippos mouths with all their rows of teeth – fascinating!

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We also watched a sealion show and a bird of prey show, which were both very enjoyable (if a bit scary – the birds of prey flew quite close overhead!). The sealions are so sweet, clever and affectionate, they really captured our hearts.

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The Botanical Gardens themselves are magnificent, with many species of cacti, bromeliads and of course (my favourite) the Bird of Paradise. It really is an oasis in the desert!

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It is a bit pricey, but if you get there early, several shows are included and there is plenty to see and enjoy.

Before the zoo, we stopped off in Costa Calma for a light lunch and picked up some delicious German cake from Cafe Berlin. They have the best German bread selection and the cake is mouthwateringly good. There is a small sun terrace around the outside of the cafe and there are even a couple of Strandkoerbe to sit in (large basket seating that people can sit in on North German beaches – I loved them as a child!).

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Another place well worth a visit is the Sand Dunes near Corralejo in the North. We all loved running down the Dunes and our daughters don’t mind dry sand! They still have sand in their hair over a week later! There is white sand for as far as the eye can see. Quite breathtaking.

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As you can see we all had lots of fun. My youngest decided to turn her cardigan back to front so she could protect her eyes from the sand!

There are lots of other things to do on Fuerteventura, including plenty of water sports (the winds are very strong at times – hence the name Fuerteventura!). We always take a few trips out as we hire a car, but generally we try to take things easy whilst the children are still young. You can read more of what we got up to here and here.

And last but not least, we enjoyed our favourite coconut ice cream from the supermarket Mercadonna 🙂 They are basically coconut shell halves filled with delicious coconut ice cream and as you can see the girls are very excited to have them again as a special holiday treat!

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We have taken the shells back home so we can use them to make bird feeders 🙂

On a side note, we play cards a lot on holiday. This year for Christmas we treated ourselves to the game Rat-a-Tat-Cat which I would highly recommend. It is a competitive game – we are used to cooperative games here – but it is so much fun and suitable for 7yrs +, so we all got the hang of it quickly and loved playing it (at home, in cafes, in restaurants, at the airport – you get the picture 😉 ). There is some strategy involved but it is also the luck of the draw.

That concludes my fourth post on our holiday and now back to home life for a while. I enjoyed reminiscing a little with you and sharing the highlights of our trip. 🙂

 

Celebrating New Year and Ephiphany

This is the third of my posts since returning from holiday and I suspect there will be at least a fourth as there is lots to fill you in with! 

Our New Year’s Eve celebrations went well. We didn’t arrive at our holiday home until quite late in the evening, but still manged to find a shop that was open late, so we could buy some drinks and snacks for the evening :-).

As I mentioned here, we have little traditions for New Years Eve that we try to carry on from year to year, regardless of where we are.

Firstly we wrote down what we were grateful for in 2016 on little coloured paper stars that we had prepared in advance.

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We all easily managed to fill both sides of our five stars which was encouraging. When we make it a habit of regularly focusing on the things we enjoy or feel grateful for, it changes the way we see the world (especially for the melancholic personality, who naturally see the difficulties and the struggles). We certainly find it very helpful.

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We hung these up by our patio doors using string and little pegs and it created a nice festive feel to the room for the rest of our stay.

We also wrote our wishes for 2017 on paper and although we didn’t have a fire to burn them in, we folded the paper up (like the angels my daughter made to sell at our Christmas Fayre) and improvised using a frying pan and a box of matches instead.

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It still felt symbolic and meaningful to us.

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After this, we did our little walnut boat ritual. We couldn’t fine a rectangular shallow baking tray, which we would ideally use, so we had to make do with a blue plastic washing up bowl! and we didn’t use tissue paper as it tore (the water was too deep).

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We also had to improvise in the healing corner with frankincense essential oil (a great healer and very apt at this time) and a little clay toadstool. Ideally some greenery would have been better, but we didn’t manage to locate any.

Despite being circular, we still managed to create four corners for abundance, love, healing and adventure, so all was well :-).  We enjoyed taking turns to light our candles and float our walnut boats on the water, waiting with bated breath to see where our little boats would take us.

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When the boat reached its harbour, we drew an angel card from the deck at that corner. Mine went to adventure with an angel card of abundance, which felt like a good omen fo the year ahead! We have a month long trip to the States planned this summer, so that should take care of the Adventure! 😉

Each day of the twelve days of Christmas, we hang one little felt booty from a red silk ribbon. We took them with us so we could continue this on holiday too. It made another pretty addition to our appartment.

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The twelve days of Christmas ended with Ephiphany on 6th January – the visit from the three Kings (or wise men). In Spain, Ephiphany is the main celebration, with people exchanging gifts and celebrating with their family and all the shops are closed that day. On the night before, there was a Three Kings Parade in our resort, which we enjoyed watching.

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Currently the Kings are with Mary, Joseph and Jesus on the Nature table.

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I will soon change the nature table for winter, but we thought we would enjoy the Nativity scene a little longer. Babouschka is almost there too.

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My daughters like to think Babouschka arrives in time to see Jesus and one of the books we read says just that. The other is the original version and it upsets them to think she never reaches Jesus and continues searching fruitlessly for the rest of her life, so we let Babouschka arrive before the Nature table changes.  I made both of my daughters their own Babouschka at their request last year.

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We have also been enjoying reading  The Fourth Wise Man.

We missed the Ephiphany celebrations at our school, which I believe involved a Three Kings cake and singing. Another year….

That’s all for now.  I hope you enjoyed your New Years celebrations too!

 

 

Full moon

Last night was a full moon and we had our first (and much longed for) snowfall. It was beautiful to see the featherlight snowflakes rushing to the ground in the darkness. Unfortunately it was short lived and the ground was too wet for the snow to settle, but it was magical nonetheless.

This morning we marvelled at the size and beauty of the moon just before it disappeared out of sight behind the nearby houses.

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I will always marvel at the beauty of nature. Nothing manmade can ever really compare. Breathtaking!

 

What we made on holiday…

We have just returned from 10 days of sunshine on the island Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands. When we go on holiday, as I mentioned here, I always go prepared with a range of open-ended craft materials and games, so we have no excuse ever to be bored!

My daughters are still in the phase of being happy to play for long periods of time at home and enjoyed many happy hours of fantasy play with the few toys they brought with them and various articles they found scattered about the appartment (that took on a new lease of life in their play!)  This meant my husband and I could recuperate well from our illnesses and I managed to fit in a bit of knitting and reading – bliss! I brought with me a lot of different unfinished projects as I wasn’t feeling too clear headed when packing (!)

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but only actually finished – well almost – the cardigans  for the mice I knitted my daughters for Christmas. I ran out of wool to make the hoods with, but will finish them off when I get a chance to purchase some more. As I have previously mentioned, I didn’t do a gauge swatch when knitting the mice, so they are rather larger than expected. My daughters are very happy with the size though and really dote on them, calling them their babies. They are so loving and sweet with them, and so thankful, I couldn’t be happier really. I will need to made the hood a lot wider I think to accommodate their larger heads 🙂

Here are a few photos of the mice on holiday 🙂 They came everywhere, except the beach and the Sand Dunes, because my daughters didn’t think they would like sandy paws!

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Here they are checking out the food for their babies in the baby aisle.

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Tucked up in bed at night

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My youngest knitting a little stripey scarf for her toy dog with her baby on her lap.

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And finally riding high on an airport trolley, all cosy and warm in their cardigans ready for their return to blustery, cold England 🙂

My daughters made the most of all the craft materials and drew many pictures  to decorate the appartment with and of course some of their beloved mice!

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I also brought some patterned card and kite paper with me so we could do a few special things together as it was still Christmastime after all.

I always try to trace around my daughters’ hands at some point during the 12 days of Chrismtas so we have a memento of how they have grown each year.

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I have done this in felt, gold card, hand-painted card and patterned card over the years and we also did a family tree with hand prints on it one year. This year we chose some festive patterned card.

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We still place their golden cutout hands on our Christmas tree every year as they fit in so well with the reds and golds and hold precious memories. Sentimental, who me?!?

dsc06415We also had quite a few craft sessions making very simple Window Stars (that I photocopied from the book  All Year Round) using this kite paper. I know the world of window stars and transparencies is rich and varied, but as this was our first proper attempt (hard to believe, me being a Waldorf mama!) we got totally addicted to making these simple stars. When we spoke about how addictive they were, my youngest daughter declared:

” Mummy some children are addicted to sweets, but we are addicted to making window stars!”

We decided this was a healthy addiction 🙂

As you can see we made quite a few!

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We particularly love the rainbow stars and the yellow “suns” as well as the red and pink “flowers”. They are so vibrant and beautiful and will bring much needed colour to our windows whilst the outside world still feels so monochrome.

They aren’t perfect, but we find them perfectly beautiful 🙂

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I took a few photos of my daughters’ making them that I might share in a simple tutorial soon,  just in case there are others of you who, like us, are also new to window stars.

I think I would like to try some more  intricate designs next –  if we can find enough window space!! And of course there are snowflakes to make; my daughters are hoping and praying for snow. 🙂

We are looking forward to unpacking all the holiday pictures and makings and hanging them around the home to freshen things up a bit.

I hope you are having lots of crafting fun, wherever you are. 

Joining Nicole at Frontier Dreams KCCO.

A New Year begins…

This is my first post of 2017 and to begin with, I would like to wish you all a very Happy New Year!  May it be a blessed year for us all.

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I have been thinking a lot about my intentions for the coming year. I think it is a good idea to start the year with a sense of how we would like things to unfold. The Universe / God / the Angels or however you would like to think of it, can then help you to create more of what you would like and hopefully less of what you want to let go of. That is how I like to see it anyway.

I  intend to continue sharing in this space and I so appreciate the connections I am slowly making here. I hope this will continue in the coming year. From generally steering clear of modern technology – I am an old fashioned girl at heart – I am finally embracing the advantages and am planning to finally get a smart phone ( my old nokia phone is slowly dying on me) so I can share photos on Instagram and hopefully reach more like-minded folk. I have a small, but lovely 🙂 readership, but the sharing brings greater rewards for all, if more people can actually find this space! I never used to take many photos, except of the children, but have absolutely loved taking photos and sharing them here. Seeing the world through the lens of my camera has been an enriching experience. It is definitely a new hobby of mine 🙂

My daughters are growing fast and I know that in a few years, the things I am sharing here will no longer be part of our lives any more. Sob! They will have moved on, so I am pleased that I have started to record the lovely things we do here for us to read about and remember fondly in the years to come. Do you find it difficult to remember things you did with your children in the past clearly, or to recall your children at different stages? I certainly do..I can only fully imagine them in the present; the past is all a bit of a haze, especially the early years (with all the sleep deprivation…). Thank goodness for photos that take us back in time. I feel I have so much more clarity and head space now (with more sleep and two girls over 7 years) to write and record our lives and blogging here is a wonderful hobby for me right now. As my youngest goes to school half days, I don’t feel I can commit to any other study or paid/unpaid work right now, but I am so happy to have this little “job” to get me started.

Over the years, with young children, and living a non-mainstream life, I have found a real sense of solace and a feeling of “coming home” when reading some of the lovely blogs I visit. I have been inspired and reassured that the vision I have for our family life is good and wholesome and realisable, but most importantly we are not alone, even if it has sometimes felt that way.

I am lucky to have made wonderful friends through our Waldorf School Community (many of whom have since left our school). What we have in common, is that we are all trying to live gentle child-centred lives, as much as possible. In our actual School Community, there is a mix of motivations for sending a child to a Waldorf School. The school certainly has a very wholesome curriculum and outlook, which I so appreciate and there is no computer use until the teenage years. They do not advocate screen time at home during the school week, especially in the elementary school years, but this cannot be controlled and my eldest daughter, who at 10 years, is in the fourth grade, sometimes feels quite upset that most of  the (only nine) children in her class play computer games at home and know all the latest film releases. She still just wants to play simple imaginary games. A lot of her class also think swearing is cool 😦  – whereas my daughter certainly doesn’t. I had hoped that having my children in a Waldorf school would protect them somewhat from such influences, but it is a City school with City children and the inherent City influences. I think my daughter basically craves the connection with like-minded individuals, as I do, which isn’t proving the case at our school right now. The only alternative is another quiet private school, but I think my daughter would find the academic work too taxing at the moment and the influences will be similar, or home schooling, which once again wouldn’t work as she does not like to be taught anything by me or my husband! The creative curriculum at our school suits her and we try to fill her out-of-school life with like minded friends, free play and wholesome activities as much as possible.  That is what we can do right now.

I hadn’t meant to write that, but it is something I think about, as we all do with our children. Trying to find the right fit for schooling isn’t easy. Maybe there is no perfect fit?

I have been away from this space for a couple of weeks now and as always I find I have much to say (!) 😉 so I am going to write three more posts shortly to fill you in with the goings on here.

I hope your year has started well and I look forward to sharing more glimpes of our lives with you in the year to come 🙂