Family

Balanced Care For Brassicas

One of Margaret Maeve’s jobs is to inspect the brassicas for white butterfly eggs and caterpillars. We cover the young seedlings in bionet to protect them from birds and butterflies.

I always look forward to removing the netting when they grow larger and stronger–it’s much more visually pleasing to see their big green leaves stretching out and not confined under the white tunnels of fabric. Sure, it’s more work to inspect them every other day, but the bionet security blanket means weeks can easily go by without any inspection at all (out of sight, out of mind), definitely not benefiting the plants if there’s a problem that we’re not seeing. So it’s a combination of early protection and later inspection that has worked for us over the years to produce a fine crop of broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, turnip and Brussels sprouts.

While gardening isn’t everyone’s idea of fun in nature, I hope you have your own way of connecting with the great outdoors and have plenty of opportunities to indulge yourself in it!

Cheers, Melissa Xx

Thoughts Planted by a Sycamore Seedling

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I’ve been absent for a couple of weeks, enjoying the children’s school break for Easter and generally just avoiding the computer. A burst of inspiration from the garden today brought me back — whispers from a sycamore seedling that got me contemplating…

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Hello, Monday Morning

 

We kicked off spring with a marathon weekend in the garden. Weeded, tidied, ground cover on, stones moved, some seeds planted.

Johnny and the boys finished removing the creig from one of the new tunnel beds; loads of work but we get needed depth and stones to use elsewhere in the garden.

My hands are sore from wild blackberry thorns, fingernails look unrecognizable, whole body is aching, and pulled a muscle in my bum from a running slip while racing the rain to get laundry off the line, but feeling accomplished and happy, happy! 

Have a wonderful Monday everyone, Melissa Xx

p.s. Daisy duck was no help at all, only poking her head up to see was I bringing her food or something like that, but we love her no matter.

 

Happy St. Brigid’s Day 2017

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It’s a beautiful first day of spring here on the island and we put the St. Brigid’s cross up on the house first thing this morning. The children are more wrapped up than usual as they head off for school because we had just returned from a wee trek to collect the bundle of reeds that Nuala is holding; they’ll be used at school to make crosses of their own.

The first day of spring here in Ireland falls about halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox.  One of the traditional ways of celebrating is by making a St. Brigid’s cross which is ‘placed on doorways to ward off evil, fire, and hunger from homes’. It’s also called the Feast of Imbolc, an ancient Irish celebration of the change of seasons from the short, dark winter days to the longer and brighter days of spring.

Here’s a link to a post I did a year ago that shows step by step how to make your own St. Brigid’s cross. It also has links to more information about St. Brigid’s Day, the meaning of the cross, and the Feast of Imbolc. https://thearanartisan.com/2016/03/15/spring-willow-project/

Joining in with the ‘One a Week Photo Challenge‘, word ‘happy’ and with Ronovan Writes haiku challenge, words ‘please & blow’.

please wrap yourself up

on this first day of springtime

the wind is blowing

Getting up early and taking a walk with the children was an amazing way to start the day and has me thinking we ought to do it more often. I’m wondering though if the adventurous feeling to it would soon wear off? Perhaps it was just the novelty that made everyone so happy and they would be less excited to do it regularly. I suppose there’s only one way to find out.

Create Without Limits

I think it’s understood by all who read this blog that there are six other creatives behind the scenes of The Aran Artisan that contribute in each their own means. If I had my way, everyone in our family would participate in the writing; they know they are more than welcome to. Johnny takes quite a few of the photographs and helps with the editing and I know he is happy with that role. I’ve encouraged the children to consider writing book reviews, poetry, or short stories but it just hasn’t been the right time for any of them to do so and that’s just fine with me. They certainly contribute plenty of material through their daily living for me to shape my writing around. My family is the heart and soul of this blog.

Yesterday my eldest child, Margaret Maeve, turned thirteen years old. I’ve mentioned her Instagram art account Create Without Limits before and several of you support, encourage, and follow her and for that I thank you. Her birthday seemed just the time to do something that we’ve talked about for a few months now, adding that account here on the blog. So that’s what I’ve done, here in the widget section on the right-hand side, you’ll find her most recent posts →January 2017 cardyestercolor.jpg

Above is a thank you card made using a drawing of hers. It’s drawn from a photograph and is the first grandchild of the cousin who sent the children their telescope at Christmas.  They each wrote a message of thanks and it’s been sent on its way to America. I’m both proud and happy to feature her here and hope the other children also eventually add their own personal touch to the pages of our blog.

Card’ is the photo word this week for the One a Week Photo Challenge hosted by Sandra and Cathy. Yes, I’m a day late with my entry. Again.

 

“We build deep and loving family relationships by doing simple things together.”  Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Believing Something Great Is Out There

Did everyone see the brilliant full moon last evening? All in my house went to bed while it hung directly out our east facing window and woke with it directly out the one facing west. This amazed my children. While we lie sleeping, the earth was revolving around the sun as the moon revolved around the earth; they know this fact. Yet, it was still an altogether beautiful discovery this morning.

They gazed at the morning moon through a telescope received for Christmas from cousins in America. A treasured new gadget for their curiosity toolbox. An extension of their eye and of their imagination that gives a view to endless possibilities. They can’t get enough of it. Outside, inside, upstairs and down. ‘Are there stars out tonight?’ Sadly most nights have been cloudy so they’re practising patience while anticipation is building. This is a good thing.

Yesterday we had a light brushing of snow. I honestly saw none remaining on the ground within fifteen minutes of it falling for it was washed away by the drizzle that immediately followed. Don’t you know, hours after the snowfall when my children returned home from school, it took them no time at all to pack a half dozen large ziplock bags full for storing in one of our chest freezers.

I asked them why they wanted to save it. Aside from it ‘being cool’ it was also ‘to help us remember’. The last time we had any significant snowfall on the island was seven years ago so most of my children have little or no memory of it. At their current ages, they’ll surely never forget this adventure. But lest they forget the emotion of that afternoon’s mudlarking (or should I say snowlarking), they’ve bags of frozen-fingered memories at the ready.

Earlier tonight, while clipping my son’s fingernails and listening to him explain how he was writing a new season to the Lego Ninjago cartoon series, I praised him saying ‘The skies the limit!’ His reply? ‘No, it’s not Mom. There is no limit.’ Well, he certainly set me straight didn’t he?!

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This photograph of a rainbow over our next door neighbour’s house was taken this afternoon from an upstairs window of my own home. I was thinking to frame it (sans quote) and gift it to them. What do you think of that idea?

It’s Entirely Up To You

With five children under the age of 12, superheroes are alive and active in my home and there’s no shortage of doubtless belief in their own abilities to achieve anything.

This amazing self-confidence is not strictly limited to moments of accomplishing great feats through imaginary powers while engaging in battles that aren’t real. My children, for the most part, exude extraordinary happiness. They know how to make chores not seem like work at all but rather games or fun challenges.

I could observe them forever- admittedly sometimes from another room when I insist that they either quiet down or take it elsewhere- and I’m taken back to when I too was fearless, daring, mighty, incredibly trusting and curious about everything. I wouldn’t mind feeling that way again.

Of course, there’s a difference between an adult being childlike and being childish. Childlike behaviour is not immature while childish is. It can be a hard balance to maintain as an adult; to think of oneself first without seeming selfish, to live out loud without seeming a nutter, to speak your mind without coming across as rude, having no filter, or being over assertive. But it is entirely possible to be that person again, to live life not with the purpose of always being productive and living off a list, not being overly concerned about money and reputation, but rather to live without these mental limits and instead in the moment more often than not.

I write this with a huge sense of relief for having made an overdue decision after months of worrying how others would be affected, disregarding my own needs and gut instinct.

I have a loving and supportive husband. I have adorable and caring children. I have kind and understanding friends and family. But no one is going to take care of me better than me (my mantra all these months despite my paralysis). It is, was, and will always be entirely up to me.

So I let go of my fear (truth-I did it afraid), dusted off my imaginary cape, took a leap of faith, and have been soaring ever since. It’s not so surprising that I feel uplifted since I took back my power and used it responsibly to do what I knew was right. Although not a resolution, it was a most brilliant way to start off the new year and I feel super!

“Life doesn’t give us purpose. We give life purpose.” — The Flash

What makes you feel Superpowerful?

What’s cooking good looking?

This time of year sees me in the kitchen slightly more than the garden.  My intention is always to produce food that is good for us, tastes amazing, and makes us feel good from the inside out.  Here are a few things I’ve created during this last month…

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I’m feeling these are my best fermented eggs ever. I added in some nice pickling spices this time including coriander & mustard seeds, ginger, chilies, cloves, bay leaves, allspice, juniper berries, peppercorns, and cassia (which has an amazingly cinnamon-like flavour). They’re both sweet & sour at the same time and super nutritious & delicious. The carrots and onions give some needed natural sugars but add so much more than that to the finished product. 😍 Wish I could let you all have a taste!   Continue reading

Our Children’s Chores

Several years back I read a couple great books by Robert Kiyosaki.   In one there was a quote about not giving children an allowance because it teaches them to work for money rather than learning to create money.  It made a bit of immediate sense and was worthy of more deliberate consideration.  In the end, Johnny and I decided to do both, give allowance earning opportunities as well as instruct in ways to create money for themselves.

We have five children aged six to twelve years, two girls and three boys.  Most of their chore doing is for no other reason than because we’re a family.  There’s no list of what they earn for which job so the lines are blurred between doing for the family and doing for allowance. They know we give them money in order to teach them how to manage and understand it.  It’s nominal, between 1€ and 2€ each per week.  We also give them €5 per week for depositing into their savings accounts and the majority of gifted money goes in there also.

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