27 May 2014

Taking Stock...


Making : I'm still knitting Tiny's two-suh. Can you believe it? It's my go-to late-night mindless craft thing.
Cooking : Tomatoes - green tomato relish and passata from the slowly ripening bunches in the kitchen
Drinking : Hot drinks whenever I can - it's that time of year. I'm working on keeping my cup full most days.
Reading: Snippets. I'm stealing time and reading ebooks on my phone or a sneaky page of a book before I fall asleep at night.
Wanting: A little smidgen more time in my day to do the quiet things


Looking: At the forest floor, finding beauty amongst the decay and colour in the darkness.
Playing: A little bit more each day with my owlets. I'm finding play leads to connection and it makes me feel happy too!
Deciding: It's time for a big declutter. Again. 
Wishing: I could fit so much more into a day. Or master time travel. Or overcome the need for sleep. Not fussed which. 


Enjoying:  Our weekend forays into the local bush. Most excellent family fun. 
Waiting: For Dark MOFO next month and the eminent arrival of excellent friends on our island and in our nest. 
Liking: My day job. Facilitating learning for the owlets is lots of challenging fun right now. 


Wondering: Just how much more stuff we can declutter. Why is it so hard to let go of stuff? It's just stuff!
Loving: Spending time each week with some people who are dear to my heart. Sharing tears and giggles and hugs.
Pondering: How difficult I'm finding writing this post. Time to slow down and get some inspiration flowing...
Considering: Stepping back from some of my commitments My brain can really only hold so much. Seriously.


Watching: Them sleep. So peaceful and loving sometimes, fighting tooth and nail at others. Best of friends. 
Hoping: This depressing political climate changes for the better soon. People are unhappy and frightened*. It's not a good thing.


Marvelling: At Tasmania in the Autumn. So much colour and beautiful vignettes everywhere we look. 
Needing: A new chicken coop. The current nesting box just won't do for the winter. 
Smelling: Woodsmoke in the crisp Autumn air. And earthiness. That icy weather is coming.
Wearing: My pyjamas lots. And my favourite new green op-shopped cardigan. I blame fires and cups of tea. 
Following: Some magnificent blogs I've stumbled across during Blog With Pip. Now to find time to keep up! 
Noticing: Our first furry owlet, Nutmeg the cat, is getting much older. We think she's a bit senile and a bit deaf. She's a bit crotchetty about it all. 
Knowing: I've been a bit abrupt and inconsistent in my communication with my owlets lately. A bit shouty sometimes too. 
Thinking: It's time to step up the nurture and self-care and being kinder to myself so I can be kinder to them. 


Feeling: A bit overwhelmed at the pace of our weeks and especially our weekends. Time actually does fly when you're having fun. 

Admiring: Huz's beautiful photos of the awe-inspiring jewels we're finding in the forest. And his dedication to learning all he can about them. Unschooling in action. 


Sorting: All the owlets' drawings, artworks and paper scribbles. We have a home ed. monitoring visit looming...
Buying: New products for Spiral Garden and testing them out on our owlets. I can totally justify product research, right? 


Getting: Organised. Slowly. Evernote is helping with this. 
Bookmarking: Tiny House things...
Disliking: *See Hoping
Opening: My sketchbook less often than I'd like, but more often than I have in ages. Progress. 


Giggling: At Tiny's hilarious selfies and loving watching her character evolve. She's such a funny owlet. 
Feeling: Glad we finally put some art up on the walls in our bedroom. And amused at how long it takes for us to sort out things like that. Lightbulb moments


Snacking: On an old faveBeetroot and chocolate muffins.. SO YUM. 
Coveting: Some new Phoebe Wahl prints Time Spiral Garden put in a new order, right? 
Wishing: Daylight Savings was back. Or immediately after Dark MOFO. I'm rather fond of daylight.
Helping: Our owlets communicate lovingly with each other and friends. It's exhausting. But such a huge opportunity for us all. 
Hearing: Owlets chattering, singing, human beatboxing kettles boiling, records playing, cats purring, fires crackling Winter is almost here. 

**Taking Stock first appeared on Meet Me At Mikes as a list of prompts for people to join in with. You should totally have a go too! xx

13 May 2014

Owlets at play...


This was that time where a rather large box of gorgeousness arrived and part of it was snabbled up by our owlets before I could blink. And then they played and played and played…

I'm writing about it over on the Spiral Garden blog today. Won't you stop by? xx

11 May 2014

Weekend Adventurers :: Mushy Love

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Determined to not let the return of cooler weather get the better of us this year, we've turned our attention to the outdoors. To getting outside and exploring this beautiful island we live in and all of its wonderment.

We're looking forward, up, and most especially, as we often do at this time of year, we're looking down.

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We're collecting. Images and time spent together.

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We're falling in love with our corner of the island all over again, pinching ourselves that all this magic is right on our doorstep. Mount Wellington is just up the road a bit should we need to go exploring...

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We're making friends along the way. Slowing down, noticing and finding beauty in the smallest of things… Actually this worm was HUGE - the soil around the mountain is lush!

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We're finding inspiration. I'm feeling a little inspired to put pen to paper and DRAW SOMETHING for the first time in forever. Huz has found a little spark for photography and scientific study again… Our owlets are inspired to ask questions and get outside and learn alongside us. And all from spending time with these fun-guys ;)

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Aren't they amazing? We really do live in faerie land...


Best of all, we're making memories Happy ones, with chips and pots of raspberry lemonade at the pub, or snuggling by the fire afterwards. We're sharing stories of what we've witnessed, retelling conversations we've had and snuggling down to bed, exhausted after long, rambling days. I'm almost glad we have weeks in-between to rest and recover!

How was your weekend? Hope it was lovely and full of adventures! xx

PS. For some mushy loving inspiration, pop over to Huz's beautiful instagram @berondi

6 May 2014

Why We're Not Screen-Free :: 10 Ways to Find Balance


It's screen-free week this week. Inspired by a recent viral video entitled "Look Up", many of the people I normally chat with in online places are off spending time doing other things. Maybe they're playing with their kids or getting outdoors or working harder… Maybe they're cleaning their homes or baking bread or meditating at the bus stop. I'll never know, because they're not instagramming it.

On Sunday night, just after I'd shared a little note about Screen-free week on the Spiral Garden Facebook page, Huz announced that he might give it a go. We told the owlets that screen-free week was coming and asked if them if they felt like participating and they scrunched up their noses and said "Why?"


You see, after many years of thinking and battling and wafting and waning between lots of screen time and very little, we've found a happy balance. We don't always use screens in moderation. Sometimes we use them constantly. Sometimes very little. We use them when and how we need and want to, in a way that suits our family. By some families' standards it is a lot. By other families' standards it is not much at all.


What we've found is that life is too full to sit in front of a screen all day. Sometimes just hanging around daydreaming is more fun. We've also found that there's too much great stuff, accessible to us via screens, to eliminate them completely. Even for a week. We live in a time where information, entertainment and social interaction are freely available and immediate. How lucky are we?! Living in this time means our way of life, and especially home education, is so much easier. No opportunity to learn or question or read or find out is ever missed. We can all learn so much faster! We can spend time on creative work and receive feedback for that work almost instantly! We can even sell that work right now if we like. We can find a recipe or figure out what plants to put in the ground right now, standing in the garden. We can find out the weather report or connect with friends in an instant. How great is that?!

The time I've spent on screens has introduced me to communities of supportive people and like-minded souls who I wouldn't have met otherwise. We have friends we spend time with each week, all of whom we met online first. Huz and I have goddaughters because of screens! My world is smaller, less isolated and certainly enriched because of them.


Our owlets each have access to screens and, while we do recommend, for a portion of most days, that we move our bodies and use our brains for things like daydreaming or creating, they spend lots of time using screens. I wouldn't say that our connection suffers because of this. Usually we will spend time watching or playing with them. We share information about things we read or saw or heard or played and we operate as guides for this screen-filled world. We'll go on bush walks and pause to photograph the wonderment there. Even Tiny collects pictures for her screen. And when we go back home, we talk about the time we've had and what we've seen. Connection is not a thing we lack.

Our owlets play! All day! They've not forgotten the skill. It is their most-used learning tool. They get outside. They make mess. And with the benefit of an institution-free life, they have the freedom to devote a large chunk of the day to it.

Nostalgia plays a big part in our feeling that screens are a bad thing, I suspect. Remembering childhood in a time before i-Devices and Minecraft, if we really hearken our minds back to childhood, for many of us, screens were part of the picture. Cosy afternoons by the fire, watching the Goodies, Danger Mouse or Inspector Gadget still define wintry childhood evenings for me. School holidays playing Alex Kidd or Wonderboy 3 on my sister's SEGA Master System were fun for a while… My childhood was not destroyed.

I think we forget that technology has been around in one form or other for a very long time. And before that there were books… As the Louisa May Alcott quote goes "She is too fond of books, and it has addled her brain…" We've been having this discussion with ourselves for a long time.


Had I lived in our nest in the late 1950's, as the previous owners did, I'd have spent my days cleaning and cooking. I'd fill all the little kitchen cupboards with preserves and Huz would mow the lawn all day Saturday. Perhaps the owlets might play chess or play with the tin soldiers or marbles we've dug up in the backyard. We'd likely listen to music on our record player and sit around the television in the evening. Not that much has changed.

If anything, we have built a life here with more opportunity. We spend less time mowing. And cleaning. And we ditched the television in favour of choosing our own ad-free viewing online. And thanks to screens, I'm able to run a business from home and find information to help the owlets learn what they need so they don't have to go to the local school. We've shifted priorities.

Empty playgrounds have more to do with how busy we have made our lives. We fill our days with school and work and after school activities and there is just no time to stop and play. We focus on work and being busy all the time  -  so much so that we've forgotten how to wind down. We're exhausted and brain drained from being in an office/school room all day. We feel like being quiet… and there's this phone in our hands that will help us be quiet while still being busy and connected to others… Are screens the issue? No. We are.

For most of us, screens are not something we need to free ourselves from. They're something we need to learn to use in balance, if we choose to. It's all about making healthy and happy choices and using screens mindfully. Here are our top tips for finding balance in your nest:

1. Daydream. Reserve a portion of the day for play and a big portion for daydreaming. Be comfortable doing nothing for a little bit. Get a good night's sleep if you can.

2. Play/watch/work on a screen only when you want/need to. Do it when it's fun! Don't do it because there's nothing else or because you are bored. Boredom inspires creativity. Use it.

3. Lighten Up. Have fun with your time online and on screens. Screens don't hold or restrict your freedom in any way. Using/watching/accessing screens doesn't make you a bad person/parent. They are just a tool. Let go of the guilt and enjoy. 

4. Choose what you watch and access on screens. Look for new and creative ideas and ways of thinking and using screens. Enjoy them! Cut out as much advertising as you can. Don't just accept what the mainstream media chooses to expose you to. Seek your own answers to your own questions. Create your own lens for the world and share it.

5. Connect with like minded community online. If they live near to you, organise to spend time with them in person, regularly. Pick that thing that you all share in common and make it about that. You might be surprised to find what else you have in common.

6. Engage with people but don't get embroiled in online arguments with those whose views are hugely different from yours, trying to convince them of your point of view. They will never come to agree with you and you could both do without the anger, upset and waste of hours of your life. Agree to disagree and move on. 

7. Talk with your owlets about what they are watching/playing. Show interest. Get involved. Share your interests and enthusiasm too. There's a lot of great stuff out there to explore. Do it together and share the love and excitement where you can.

8. Remind each other not to get stuck for too long. Listen to your body and each others' needs. Move your body. Go outside. Shake things up. Point out great things going on around you, like sunrises and sunny days, and share them together. Become observers. Instagram/blog it if it helps!

9. Do all the things! Provide lots of real life distractions in your life that bring you joy. Get out fun things to do - together or on your own. Read a book, grow your own food, paint something... Get a hobby! Make a list (or a Pinterest board) of things you are bursting to do and do them! 

10. Abundance. Create a life that is so full and exciting and love-filled that you don't have time to fill the gaps with a screen. Life is too short to spend it worried about all the things you should go without. Fill it with what you love and make it varied and fun!


PS. Huz decided not to go screen-free after all… It's also International Composting Week so we're focussing on that ;)