Friday, 30 January 2015

7 things

The latest round of 'nominations' sweeping Facebook is the listing of 7 things that people don't know about you.  I was nominated by a friend to list mine, then took a moment to think "What the hell can I list?" and  "I can't think of 7 things" so I slept on it an wrote them up the following morning.  This is my list:

1. I am obsessed with homes, interiors and how other people live (maybe I'm just nosey) and wanted to be an interior designer from ages 10-16. My ultimate dream home is either a canal narrowboat or a proper old school gypsy vardo (complete with outdoor tripod cooking pot).
2. When we got engaged, Hubby and I considered eloping - I think there is something very romantic about that. But as we all know weddings are rarely just about the couple...and are really for the family - neither of us would ever have been forgiven if we had indeed eloped.
3. I was vegetarian from ages 16-21 - it all ended when I stayed the night at a then-boyfriend's, who's dad made rolls on bacon and brown sauce for breakfast next hungover self and ingrained manners meant I didn't refuse. I love bacon
4. As a teenager I always thought it would be cool to be arrested - but for something good, like at an anti nuclear protest. (I have never been arrested)
5. After dropping out of uni due to being on the wrong course and therefore bored, having had more jobs than anyone else I know, I discovered that I am not a good manager (too much interest in the people than the paperwork/organisation..and dislike of lack of autonomy), I have come to realise that I still don't know what I want to 'be' when I grow up.
6. I did a tandem 10,000ft parachute jump for charity. Loved the jump out the plane and the free fall, but was then bored for the next 10-15 mins as we floated back to the ground (plus the instructor I was strapped to was a total creep)
7. I used to play the violin...badly!

For one reason or another, I have revisited this list all day, and it is glaringly obvious to me that I have more in common with the girl I was at 16, than I have, with the woman I was trying to be for the following, almost 20 years. I have said to Hubby over the past couple of years that on reflection I seem to becoming more who I was as a teenager in terms of my outlook, interests, beliefs etc. Today's list cemented this for me. While its a comforting revelation, its also brings with it a deflated notion that the past 2 decades have been an inauthentic waste of valuable years. Or have they? Were they not authentic at their time? My love of Ally McBeal and the short skirt suits I used to wear to work were not exactly in keeping with the grungy indiekid that I was a few years prior; the heyday of Sex and the City with its excess, parties, cocktails and shoes is so far removed from my present Earth Mother lifestyle. Surely they have only been a waste if I haven't learned anything?

How did I veer so far off course that it took nigh on 20 years to find my way back?
When I think back to my childhood, I was a proper 'artyfarty' kid, always drawing or designing. If I wasn't creating I was reading. I adore books and as a child I could easily get lost inside the stories - some of which I read numerous times, particularly Enid Blyton's Malory Towers series and Come To the Circus (which was the first book I read which had me in tears). I remember first coming across the world of interior design  through Sweet Valley High/Twins (the Wakefeild Mother was an interior designer) and deciding that that was what I was going to be.  I had a folder with all my drawings and room designs (all bedrooms) that I'd drawn up in it and I was very proud of my 'portfolio', as any 10 year old would be...
In high school, my 2 favourite subjects were Art and Geography (I loved Mrs Stewart, my Geography teacher who taught me through all 6 years from S1 through to my Certificate of Sixth Year Studies. It was in 2nd year when we studied the Amazonian rain forests, that I got into environmental issues).  It was in 2nd year that my creative side started to be crushed. I wanted to take Tech (woodwork and metal work were brilliant, I loved working with the materials to make spatulas and letter racks), but I had to take Home Economics - worst subject for me as I found it to be incredibly dry and lacking in any learning, although I think my teacher may have had a liking for the cooking sherry...  Then again at Standard Grade subject selection in S3,  I wanted to take Drama, but I was "not allowed" (parental decision steered by school) and talked into taking Accounts (which despite achieving a credit grade 2, I found infinitely dull and boring). Come time for Highers and I took Secretarial, because "it is a really useful skill set to have and something you can always fall back on".  I can honestly say hand on heart I would an awful secretary, however I came away with a B, and an irrational loathing for letters that are addressed/signed off incorrectly. It is a major pet peeve and something which I have had to work with, particularly over the past 10 years with my current employers when staff members sent letters that did not meet my standards. The final death knell in my artistic path came when I made the mistake of comparing my work to others.  Never ever do this, people! It suddenly became out with the art and in with business studies and management.  This is what I was going to do - be a manager and make lots of money! Having previously had a conversation whereby I had stated that I would rather be skint and doing something I was happy in, rather than being wealthy and hating my job, only to be told not to be ridiculous.  Fast forward a few years and in 3 separate occasions that is exactly where I found myself, twice times making me ill through the process. Now, I can honestly say, I'm skint but happy! Money certainly did not bring me long term happiness.

My fantasy of living my gypsy bohemian dream on a narrow boat or in a vardo, I think, stems from my need for independence and desire to travel when I was younger. I never did travel other than package holidays to the Med (always had a 'secure' job then a mortgage at a young age), I went to university close to home, where it never crossed my mind that I wouldn't leave home to move into halls. As it happened I "wasn't allowed to move out" and then it was too late to pick a uni outwith a reasonable commuting distance. I dropped out of uni as hated course and didn't know what I wanted to do so got a stop gap job in an insurance call centre. I was desperate to leave my comfortable family home to strike out on my own, so I got better jobs with good salaries, jobs bigger than my maturity level/capability, but allowed me to be financially independent and achieve my long yearned for flat.  Of course, not going to halls or living in student digs meant that I did all my daft-living-on-my-own stuff once I was an adult, and as such learned a very valuable lesson in finance. There is a very good reason why I am so frugal now. Actually there are thousands of good reasons why...
Until I can convince Hubs that living in boat or caravan is a good idea, I have my pinterest board

The eloping scenario appealed as a truly romantic way of getting hitched. Doing it because we wanted to get married, not for the big show. Here's that indi streak again - desire to fuck it and just do it. But alas, the parent pleaser in me makes me a wuss, and I didn't dare.

Going veggie was me finding and setting my own moral compass and establishing my own beliefs/principals. It was a key stage in my own growth to understand that I could and should make my own decisions about situations that were important. I was horrified by what I discovered about animal welfare.  Yes, I lost my way after a while and happily munched unknown numbers of cattle, poultry and swine, with my head firmly in the sand of "I don't want to know". I can't say ignorance was bliss as I wasn't ignorant, just chose to edit my concerns. These days I am still not vegetarian, although I refused to eat chicken for a 3 year period.  Its all about welfare (animal and farmers, local and seasonal versus supermarket) and what we are actually eating/growing that concern me and dictate what I buy, but am constantly conflicted with moral ethics versus economy and budget.

Growing up I was known as the 'sensible one' and my sister the 'wilder one' - this was not strictly true in reality, but we all have our parts to play in family dynamics. I don't think getting arrested (regardless of cause) would be deemed very sensible...

Despite leaving school 19 years ago and trying my hand at different jobs, I still dont know what I'm meant 'to be' : from childhood and school ideas of interior designer/ geography teacher to business mgr, to going to university (for years I wanted to go to Glasgow School of Art to study Interior Design, in the end went to Stirling) to study business, psychology and Japanese (only choosing Japanese as I thought it would be cool to go to Tokyo for 6 months!)then dropping it after 3 classes for philosophy, which I hated so switched the following semester to social anthropology which I LOVED - people are such fascinating beings.!!! I  wasn't happy so I dropped out, to work full time in a call center, then a manager within the Civil Service, then pub/hotel HR & Training Manager, to supermarket Dept Manager, then Recruitment Consultant, running my own cleaning company, and back to supermarket retail, where I still am 11 years on, have gone from travelling with the company over the UK as part of the new store team, then into store as HR Manager, down to HR Supervisor, then dropped down again to part time Supervisor, to where I am now, 1 shift checkout chick. I'm qualified in Indian head massage, almost finished (3 years ago) training in meditation and massage. Currently full time mum and home educator - which I love and am very grateful and privileged to do, but I still need more. More for me as a person, and more to be able to financially contribute more to family, taking the pressure of Hubby a bit, I'm just not sure what that more 'looks' like, but know it has to be creative.

The violin I was rubbish at, only taking it up as the music teacher at my primary said that kids were joining some fancy pants orchestra and were travelling through Europe - how cool was that to 11 year old ears? (Actually it sounds really cool to 36 year old ears, but hey). My violin teacher was weird, I didn't like him and now each time I watch Grease 2 (some say its a terrible film, but I say boo to that, its better than Grease! Where else do you get songs about reproduction and  the cool guys all smoke and ride motorbikes?), Mr Spears (the teacher that had the nervous breakdown) reminds me of him.....not good!

There's nothing I can do about the past, but there is plenty I can do about the future. Starting with something I wrote about in Taking Care a coupe of months ago, and that is making decisions for me and my boys and not other peoples opinion/expectation of what those decisions should be.  Its all good and well thinking what could have been if I had followed the path I now think I ought to have, but that probably would never have lead me to Hubs and to Kiddo and the family life we have now, which is the most precious thing to me in existence. I am a great believer in the old saying, "whats for you won't go by you", and perhaps, I was meant to try other avenues and experience the life I had, inorder to fully appreciate where I am and who I am, and what/who I have now.  And who says that travelling is only for the young, or studying, for that matter? It's not too late. As I have said before, age schmage, who cares how old we are, or what order we do anything in, there are no rules (social expectations yes, but no rules).

I have debated with myself as to whether to post this or not - its been a little like a self therapy session to understanding where I am today. In my bio I state that we are always learning and forever growing, today I learned a little more about me and grew as a person; the person I am destined to be. Continually evolving.

Here's another list of 7 I found online. Seems quite a fitting bookend to this post.


Tuesday, 27 January 2015

100 Days To Go...Again

No. No, I am not going to run another 100 day count down to the vote.  The General Election already has me far too riled to start a daily ranting of everything that is wrong with the Conservatives, Labour (effectively Red Tories), Lib Dems (Tories diluted), UKIP (financed by the Tories and filling up with defecting Tories) and that is just the parties, nevermind the bias in the media (BBC run by the Tories).  I will probably post something(s) of a political nature in the run up, but not a daily digest.  I'll keep that for Twitterverse.
Looking back over my last 100days series, it pains me to see what was foretold coming to fruition. You know, fracking, TTIP, NHS, pensions, oil, war on terror, Trident, the currency fandango, the House of Lords reform, welfare (although I never finished that post), media bias, etc etc.
The political landscape has changed since the last General Election, and even more so since the Indy Ref.  Nothing is certain.  I just hope that we don't bugger it up this time - get the self serving, parasitic *insert your own expletive here*s out of Westminster.  Its time for change.  Proper change.  Time for the revolution. Time for another coalition, but how about a new coalition : SNP/Green/Plaid Cymru? Now that would be a government!



Wednesday, 21 January 2015

It's January

(image from here)

It's January
A time of endings and of beginnings;
Out with the old and in with the new.
A new year a new me.

It's January
A time of diets and sobriety.
No fun. No Thanks.
I'll pass.

It's January
A time to reflect and to plan.
A calmness fringed with excitement
Of the unknown in the coming year.

It's January
A time of Birch to start with,
Rowan to end with.
Following the ancient Celtic Ogham wisdom.

It's January
A time of true winter;
December was just pretending.
The Cailleach enjoying her dance.

It's January
A time of icy blasts 
And plummeting temperatures.
Yet shocking and surprising it would seem!

It's January
A time of bleak, harsh greys;
Beautiful pinky gold sunrises.
An unparalleled stillness.

It's January
A time to hibernate;
Embrace comfort until Imbolc.
For then, it's February.

Lissa Orr, 2015


Saturday, 17 January 2015

January : a start

The schools went back nearly 2 weeks ago following their Christmas holidays.  So too did we...sort of...

Kiddo has been asked regularly about going to school (being tall, people think he's older). We went shoe shopping (kids feet grow at some rate!) and the girl serving us was great with him, asking about school/nursery and he told her he "didn't go, because I would have to go for the whole week, and well, that's no fun!"
School has been on his mind, especially when all he hears when we are out is "oh, he'll be going to the school this year" or "is he excited/ready for the school?" (never asked directly to Kiddo, always to me, about him) or on the odd occasion when asked his age, is usually followed by "oh, you'll be at the school this year".  With this being the sole conversation surrounding him when we are out (apart from the woman in the light shop who warned him (when he didn't want to talk to her) that Santa's Elves were still watching out for all the boys and girls who weren't behaving after Christmas(!!) who was met simultaneously with an "Excuse me?!" from me and a withering stare from Kiddo.

Anyways, back to the topic of school : Kiddo decided that he wanted to play at schools. I was to be the teacher, and he, with his Lego mini-figures were the pupils. Great! I used to love playing schools and the best bit was always being the teacher.  Unfortunately, Kiddo did not enjoy my class.  He did not think it was fair that I asked him to wait until the bell had rung before leaving to go and play, or when I asked him to stop talking to Batman whilst we were reading, or that I split him and The Riddler up for making too much noise when we were meant to be learning about the Gruffalo, or indeed the fact we were learning about The Gruffalo and not dinosaurs as per his preference.....after 5 mins, I rang the bell signalling 'Play time'. It was at this point, the rebellion was formed... they hatched a plan...but it's ok - Kiddo informed his mother of the plan before it went ahead, so as not to get into too much trouble (well I do keep telling him that it is better to be truthful than lie or be sneeky - if you are bold enough to try something that might get you into trouble, be bold enough to be honest about it).  So, back to school and the bell rang.  Back to class, next lesson was to be writing - the letter G (for Gruffalo).  As soon as lessons began, so too did the revolt.  "We are learning about dino's not The Gruffalo", "We're not listening" "We are going out to play". "School is rubbish we are going home". So endeth this lesson and the playing of schools.

Since then (actually from later that very same day and for the following 5 days in a row) we have been studying geography.  It was lead by Kiddo, I followed behind him (still got my 'teacher' groove on by using his chalk board to write up our findings. I just cant help myself...)
Kiddo has an enormous world map on his bedroom wall (got it when he started remembering where Dino fossils were being discovered and he loved knowing where USA or Mongolia were on the map, which moved to "Auntie N lives in New Zealand, Auntie E lives in Sweden and we live here!"), he also has another map which we sent away for after collecting 10 barcodes from the wrappers of Bear fruit yo-yo's. It came with 80 stickers of flags from around the world - the packets of yo-yo's has cards in them, each card a different country and he's been collecting them.

The game started with Kiddo picking a country on the Bear map, matching it to the collector card, deciding which of the 7 continents it was part of and then finding out from the big map, the country's capital city and currency.

We discussed what animals lived there, what the weather was like and what sort of food people ate.  Some of the info he knew, some was found from using the big map or the atlas and some of it was guess work based on where the country was, ie Spain was warm so there must be lions.  Did it matter that he was wrong? Nope, I could see how he thought that lions could live in Spain.  Will he remember all the info we gathered? Maybe some, def not all . Did he have fun? 5 days of this, each time a different country, and lasting upwards of half an hour each time, suggests that he did.  What did he actually learn? Apart from what we were actually studying : country, continent, capital, currency, weather animals and food, that not all info is right infront of you and you have to go looking for it, there is more than one way to source what you are looking for. Plus it is improving his reading.  He enjoys identifying the flags of different countries, and made some flags of his own, both in paper with crayons and in Lego too.
We bought the new magazine that has come out - the 3D Globe one - part one came with part of the globe, a statue of the Eiffel Tower and info about the planet and France. He loved it so we have subscribed for the future issues. Which incidently arrived today after first publishing this post!

January so far has been a contrast to the buzz and biz of December, in that it has been really quite chilled, relaxed and we have just gone at whichever pace has suited at the time.  Its been a time for going slow and enjoying the peace.  Lego has featured heavily in the first weeks of 2015, days have been spent doing little other than making and playing with it.  Connect 4 has not left the table in over a week, having become the game we play over breakfast and supper.  Books have been read, by all 3 of us. I have finally switched off the telly (apart from one episode of Celebrity Big Brother - purely for that epsisode, and wished I hadn't, and then again for Question Time, again I wished I hadn't).  It has been lovely to take our time to refresh and relax.
My current pile

Hubby and I got some time to ourselves with a treat date day/night through to Edinburgh (Kiddo stayed at my mum's).  Our favourite city and go-to place when we get a chance to get some some couple time. Lunch, dinner, drinks and browsing in book shops, breakfast, coffee and cakes, train, chatting, laughing.  Bliss.
Post-breakfast coffee and cake in here for a change to the Elephant House. Lovely as it was, will be resuming custom at the Elephant House next time.  The EH holds a special place in my heart - Hubby and I drank coffee and ate chocolate cake here on our first date

The snow adds to the feeling of peacefulness, the winds however.... We haven't really had very much in the way of snow (thanks Grangemouth for the thermal fug that hangs over the district melting any snow before it falls), much to mine and Kiddo's disappointment. He is desperate for proper snow to build a snow man and have a snowball fight.  The winter I was pregnant we had real proper deep snow, same the following year (when Kiddo was not even a year old), but now I have an almost 5year old desperately wishing for "a real wintertime".
Yesterday Kiddo and I ventured out into the bright January sunshine and blue sky (and freezing temperature, but in my new sleeping bag, aka puffa coat got in the sales, I was super cozy) down to the empty park, save for a couple of dog walkers. From the park something caught my eye - we took a wander and ever so quietly, watched 4 deer grazing on the grass. I took my gloves off only long enough to take a rubbish photo. Then from nowhere a blizzard was hitting us sideways.  Kiddo was in the middle of a "real wintertime" snow storm. He really ought to be more specific with his wishes! We trudged back to the car walking sideways like crabs, where upon arrival, the snow stopped, the wind died and there was a blue sky once again!!!  Never mind, back home we had hot choc and mallows.

We have met up with some of our friends, whom we have not seen since before Christmas for some playing and blethering, who too have been enjoying their start to 2015.  Looking forward into the rest of the month, we are starting a new forest school for 6 weeks, which has us super excited, and are going along to a new home-ed group that one of our friends has started in Fife, where the topic of the session is pirates.

Living and learning more simply in 2015 is so far, serving us well.


Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Simplify 1 - Coconut Oil

One of my New Years Resolutions was to 'Simplify' my life.  So the first thing I am simplifying is my "beauty regime".  This is in inverted commas as you could hardly call my daily ablutions and the products I use as a beauty anything, but go with me here please.

Since puberty I have used probably every product in Boots and the Body Shop on my face from Biactol and Clearasil to Oil of Olay.  I was never blessed with clear skin and small pores. Oh no, I had acne and wide open pores, which plague me still today, despite leaving my teenage years behind not only in a different decade, but a different millennium. The only time I have had 'nice skin' was as a child or when I was on one brand of contraceptive pill (which in the end gave me migraines and weight gain - what a trade off!).

Which brings me to today's post. Simplifying my regime.  Pre 2015, what did it look like? This :

Its fairly basic, to be honest. No Cleanse,Tone & Moisturise gittering about here. Ordinarily I used only pure soap and water to clean my fizzog, and moisturise (been using Pure Nuff Stuff's Cream Dream moisturiser for 6 years, alternating between the Geranium & Lemon and Rose & Vanilla - which is the one I am currently using. It smells fabulous.) afterwards. Sometimes I use distilled Witch Hazel as a toner if my skin is needing it, or if spot is bothersome/large.  Sometimes this is fine, other times I feel the soap quite drying, but I try to keep the amount of crap I use on my skin to a minimum (including make-up; I don't wear foundation or powder as it just clogs my pores.  Even mineral make-up seemed to amplify the pores around my nose..not a good look! So I go bare faced and keep the colouring in for the eyes and lips).  Also, since having Kiddo, my skin has been in quite a poor condition, particularly my cheeks which have developed a rosy colour and acne scars appear more visible (I'm painting a braw picture here!).  This could also be attributed to aging as well, but I'm not entertaining that one.  Age schmage! Same goes for the wine consumption, although I really could do with drinking more water, less coffee/tea.

During my wander along the path of reducing toxic chemicals and trying for a more 'natural' (which can still be toxic if used incorrectly, and can create 'chemical' reactions of their own when mixed) lifestyle, I have, over the years tried a couple of different toothpastes.  Moving away from the usual brands in probably the vast majority of bathrooms up and down the country - for reasons such as animal testing, use of flouride, plastic tubes (this one was when I was trying to live with as little plastic as possible and found a toothpaste in a metal tube.)  I really liked the fennel paste (no flouride, no SLS etc) but it was too expensive to use regularly, despite the great flavour, cleaning power and fresh breath. As it stands I've been using Sensodyne, because its the the one Hubbs needs for his sensitive gnashers.  I am always swinging back and forth between the flouride yes/no debate - I'm protective of my teeth.

I'm a Soft & Gentle girl - Lavendar and Patchouli roll on - used it for years, certainly the past decade.  Again, there was a spell around 2009/2010 (especially when pregnant and when breastfeeding), whereby I tried alternatives such as crystal deodorant (run the crystal under the tap and rub under the armpit) - Pitrok solid and spray - the solid worked much better than the spray for me. But after a while, I returned to my old faithful.

So what does all this have to do with Coconut oil? Everything!

I have traded the above old faithfuls for coconut oil. Its something I have been meaning to get around to for quite some time, its ridiculous really that it has taken me so long. I have had the recipes and ingredients for years. I don't mean that I have had the same ingredients for years, thats a bit rank, I mean I always have the stuff required in the cupboards.

For face washing, exchanging soap and hot water for oil and hot water. This may seem bizarre for someone with an oily complexion to then use oil to cleanse the face, but I have it on good authority (other bloggers, people on 'natural living'/ green forums) that it does actually work, and reduces the excess oil produced by the skin to combat the stripping away of oils from washing with soap! I've mixed together warm oil (its solid at room temp, but liquifies in the heat of your hands) with some extra virgin olive oil and used lavender and patchouli essential oils.  I love both these oils (patchouli being a particular favourite along side frankincense), not just for their scents but also their healing properties - both area antiseptic, and good for healing acne scars while patchouli is also astringent.
A simple, dampening of the face with warm water, massage in the oil, wash off with a face cloth in hot water (as hot as is comfortable).  Been using this for just under a week now, and my skin is so soft, and not nearly as greasy/oily as before. So far so good, will keep going.
(Recipe used was found on pinterest)

To replace 'normal' toothpaste, mix the same quantity of coconut oil with bicarbinate of soda plus peppermint essential oil.  I initially made a small batch try - 1tsp of oil and soda, but the taste was too weird, a little 'salty' so I then added the oil.  I wanted fennel oil as it is good for destroying the bacteria that causes tooth decay, but Holland and Barratt have discontinued it.  As I wanted to get started straight away, I bought peppermint essential oil instead.  It has made a big difference to the flavour.  For my 1tsp measure of the above ingredients, I added 5 drops of essential oil.  The texture took a little to get used to.  I am not usually a 'tidy' brusher of teeth, I have foam everywhere, so it is pleasant not to be quite so messy, plus I no longer get that red marking around my mouth from where the toothpaste foam has irritated my skin.  In the past week I don't know that there has been much differnce to notice so far, so will just keep going and see what my dentst says at next weeks check up.

Confession! I have the oil and bicarb (and bought sachets of arrowroot powder) to make my deodorant, but I have yet to make and use it.  I am procrastinating. I like and trust my S&G an am nervous that my home made replacement won't work and I end up smelling...granted it is winter and I am always dressed in layers, that any chance of smell being actually able to get through is slim, This really is the best time to try it out before the summer and bare armpit season.  I haven't embraced this one as I have the others. I need to.  Even just to show myself if it works. Really think this one ties in more with the whole drinking more water (less toxins than in my coffe/tea, and it flushes the system).  OK have talked myself round. home made deodorant will be made and used. At some point...

I have glass food storage dishes with plastic lids that I store the mixes in. (I read somewhere a few years ago that essential oil does not store in plastic containers) and the bathroom cabinet now looks more like a kitchen one!

This may seem like a lot of extra work for someone who is trying to simplify their life, but simplifying is not restricted to doing less, but also using less. It took a grand total of 15 mins to make both products, using the same base ingredients, using less packaging and spread out/broken down, costing less per product too.

My aim at the moment is to use the above 2 'products' 'potions' for a month and see how it it going (and obviously report back) and take it from there.  So that's my first step into 'simplify simplfy', is if I don't include the method of simplification I used for last nights dinner - take-away pizza...its 2forTuesday, it would have been rude not to...


For more info and 101 uses for Coconut Oil, click here to the Wellness Mama site.