Influences Nov 2014- May 2015

Today sees me finally getting around to posting the third installment of my ‘Influences’ posts. This post covers what I have been up to over the past 7 months. During this time the Diploma designs that I have been working on are, My health and well-being and South Leicester food group. I have also been busy with running Muddy Boots allotment playgroup and training as a Forest School Leader. 

COURSES AND WORKSHOPS

The six month health and nutrition programme that I started last summer called ‘Eat smile live’ came to an end in December. I also did a 30 day Spring cleanse with the same company during April and May. I learnt loads and made lots of new meals and have sustainably changed my diet for the better.

I took part in the Vegan January challenge, attending various events locally and being part of the FB forum. I managed the transition from Veggie to Vegan pretty easily and I am still eating a diet that is around 90% vegan to date.

I am still involved in helping to facilitate the PDC in Leicester. I did some of the publicity for the event and designed this poster. perm flyer with logos jpeg

 

I attended the first three PDC sessions but have pulled back a little from helping out over the next few months due to being rather overwhelmed with other work and short on time. I hope to get more involved again after the summer holidays.

I began my Level 3 Forest School Leader training in March and am loving it. The course takes around a year to complete and involves practical taught sessions, practical assessments, lots of written assignments and the facilitation of 6 sessions of Forest school. It is taking up a lot of my time and head space, I plan on using Permaculture to help me to plan my 6 sessions and a taster session I have planned for June. I have wanted to do this course for many years so am thrilled to have made a start. The photo shows us all looking exhausted at the end of our tools, knots and den making assessment day.

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I attended a two day Outdoor first aid course in April. It was a requirement of my Forest School training course, but was actually very interesting and useful for lots of areas of my life. I spend a night away from home, staying in a tiny room in a youth hostel, which was a real change for me, I have hardly spent a night away from my children or husband in 9 years!

EVENTS

This week I went on a wild food walk in a local Arboretum organised as part of National Vegetarian week. It was a lovely day and I saw lots of familiar faces there including some people who I’d studied Permaculture with over the years. The event re-inspired me to make the most of wild greens and I discovered some new uses for edibles in my garden, some of which I had previously considered to be weeds.

I attended the Permaculture Diploma accreditation of Reevsie. I was on his peer accreditation panel. After watching his presentation we had to discuss his designs and provide him with feedback. It was an interesting experience and great to see Reevsie complete his Diploma.

I am meeting regularly with six other families as part of the South Leicester food group  (I really need to come up with a more catchy name for this!) We have a shared meal, the kids play together, we share recipes and we order from Suma. The ordering process needs more work as it is rather long-winded currently. I am working on a diploma write-up about this group. Its been lovely connecting with a group of people, some of who are new friends for me and my children. We had a lovely day together recently enjoying good food, good company, and good weather! IMG_6668

I have taken part in three muddy runs, The Wolf Run in November, The Reaper in March and The Iron Run in May. Each of these invlved a 10KM run, lake swims, obsticles, mud pits and loads of fun. It is like being a kid again and I would recommend it to anyone wanting to find motivation for inproving their health and fitness. I have another run scheduled in for two weeks time, this time taking along my sister, I can’t wait! 11206608_10152818719262045_7253652698380650693_o

GUILDS

I set up a guild group at then end of 2014, especially for people who wanted to guild on weekday daytimes. Lots of the other local guilds are evenings and weekends and these times are not possible for me. We met up three times and chatted and ran through the four questions. The group seems to have rather fizzled out currently. I was a little fed up of being the person pushing for it to happen, so decided to sit back and see if anyone else made the effort. They haven’t! I am so busy at the moment that I can’t take on the leadership of the group so will let it do dormant for a while and see what happens in the autumn when people typically have more time for reflection.

JOBS

I taught two three day Photography workshops in December and January to year 8 and year 7 students. That was good fun as always. I have recently started one-to-one teaching a teenager on the Autistic spectrum. I see her every monday and we take photographs, use the darkroom,visit the museum and galleries and are planning a photography exhibition together. She is fantastic and I really enjoying the calm pace and responsive way that I need to interact with her.

My Muddy Boots Outdoor playgroup is going from strength to strength. I put the price up this year and I finally take home a little money! This feels great after doing it totally voluntarily for 3 years. I am fully booked with a long waiting list so am exploring the idea of running a second weekly session. IMG_6620

BOOKS

My obsession with healthy cook books continues. I get a lot of enjoyment from a shiny new cookbook! I am cooking lots from the books below and feel I am finally beginning to master the art of meal planning! IMG_6678 IMG_6679 IMG_6680 IMG_6681 IMG_6682

I have not been able to continue helping out with the gardening club at my children’s school this year. I am too busy and I also felt rather under valued there. I have so many skills to offer the school but I am not willing to give these away for free forever! I enjoyed spending time there but have realised that if I spread myself too thinly, then all aspects of my life suffer. I can’t do everything all the time, so sadly I declined to help out this year. Maybe another year I can resume my work at school, hopefully in a respected and paid role next time around. I enjoyed reading this book below and would love to design a school garden one day. Maybe I will do this as a fantasy design?  IMG_6677

This book was on my Christmas list and I really enjoyed it. I loved the way the chapters were divided up like zones and the recipes look interesting. IMG_6676

I have had a quick flick through this but not read it cover to cover yet. I have pretty much decided that I don’t want to teach PDC’s, at least not to adults. I don’t feel I have the depth of knowledge. I am very interested in the idea of doing a PDC for teenagers, children or family groups, so will keep this idea bubbling away on the back-burner and see what comes of it in the future. IMG_6674

I have been going through a bit of a desert island phase lately. I re-read all three of Lucy Irvine’s books. Castaway is one of my all time favourites. I am learning about den making, knot tying, firelighting etc at FS training, so it was interesting to read about these skills in real life or death situations! I also watched The Island with Bear Grilles and enjoyed that a lot. I think I would cope on a desert island as long as I had a good supply of water, plenty of coconut trees and somewhere comfortable to sleep! IMG_6673

Spring Equinox

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One of my aims for this year is to learn more about the special days of the year following the Pagan calendar. I have always been interested in the changing of the seasons and the solstice, but I want to learn more. I plan to post on each special day this year with a reflection on what is happening in my garden and what I am up to.

Today is March 20th, Spring Equinox, the point in the year when hours of darkness and light are balanced. The midpoint between the longest day (summer solstice) and shortest day (winter solstice) This year the Spring Equinox co-insides with two other special celestial events, a supermoon and a solar eclipse.

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Noticing more bird-song everywhere

Feeling over-whelmed by my to-do list but grateful to have such interesting things to do!

Wishing there were more hours in the day

Eating the first wild garlic shoots as they appear

Wondering when I will get around to planting seeds this spring

Wearing thermal leggings, thermal t-shirts and thermal socks

Watching Orange is the new black (again)

Listening To my neighbour’s music, son’s DVD, my kids rowing and wishing for silence

Drinking Not enough water and too many cups of tea

Planning My Outdoor playgroup activities

IMG_5815Yellow flowers on the Forsythia. Primroses and Daffodils are opening to splashes yellow around my garden too.

IMG_5829  The ornamental cherry tree is speckled with pink today. A few brave buds have opened their baby pink flowers and the rest are sure to follow suit as soon as we get a bit of sunshine. I cut some branches from this tree a week ago and brought them inside to hurry spring along a little. They opened within days and brightened up my kitchen just in time for mother’s day.

IMG_5823The first wild spring greens are appearing, nettles and wild garlic pop up around the margins of my garden. I love to eat both of these plants, yesterday I nibbled on a few garlic shoots straight from the earth, delicious, strong and a real sign that spring has arrived.

IMG_5822I have finally finished the new chicken run and the chucks are happy with their new spaces. I can now clear the paths and begin planting. I went mad with pruning last weekend and tidied up ready for spring. I love this time of year so much.

 

 

Food from my garden – May

This month I have been keeping a record of foods we have eaten using ingredients from our garden. I was expecting May to have slim pickings from our little patch of goodness. The quantites of veggies we picked were limited but we actually had far greater variety than I had expected.

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In a previous post I mentioned; rhubarb crumble, salads, wild garlic, fresh eggs, mint tea and lemon balm tea.My eldest daughter has become a top-class herbal tea maker. I think in the summer we will drink these teas cold over ice too.

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Throughout May we have also enjoyed mange-tout, radishes, fresh herbs especially basil, chives and oregano. Also ‘posh’ salads with calendula flowers, chive flowers, sorrel, numerous types of lettuces, beetroot leaves, pea shoots and a few small spring onions.

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One of my biggest crowd-pleasing dinners was pasta with homemade wild garlic and basil pesto. Here is the reciepe, I didn’t measure anything, so just use quantities you have to hand in this more or less balanced ratio.

HOMEMADE PESTO

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Take a big handful of basil and the same of wild garlic and chop them up finely.

Grate about 150g of cheddar cheese

Using a pestle and mortar, bash up handful of mixed nuts (I used half salted and half plain) Pine nuts would be lovely in here too.

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Combine the ingredients in a bowl with a good glug of olive oil and some black pepper.

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Serve over hot pasta and let everyone help themselves! Yum!

 

Food from my garden

From May till October, I hope to keep a record of what I grow and eat from my garden. Over the last few weeks we have been enjoying …

Rhubarb crumbleIMG_1555

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Omlette with wild garlic

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Salads with parsley, lettuce, radish and wild garlic flowers

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And also Fresh Lemon balm tea and fresh mint tea

 

Wild Garlic

IMG_0930Some of the first green shoots to appear in my garden are those of Wild garlic. As early as mid March I saw small, green, pointed fingers reaching for the sky. About ten years ago we stumbled across a huge patch of wild garlic in a local woodland. We had wandered off the beaten path, following our dog Frankie. We smelt the garlic before we saw it, it is such a distinctive smell and so pungent, especially if trampled under foot. We filled our pockets and feasted but then never managed to find the spot again.

IMG_1307Wild garlic growing with nettles and cleavers at the bottom of my garden.

Wild garlic is a relatively new addition to my garden. A friend of my mother has a front garden filled with wild garlic, the plants have multiplied over the years until the point where they have totally overtaken her garden and she wanted rid of them. My family and I happily took away buckets full of plants and carrier bags of leaves to make into pesto. (The pesto was delicious) I planted lots of her plants around the shady margins of my garden. It is typically a woodland plant , so happiest in cool, damp corners.

Last spring I was rather pre-occupied with a new baby boy to care for, so I left the wild garlic to its own devises. It turns out that was the ideal thing to do. as its best not to harvest leaves in the first year after planting or transplanting. This allows the plants to get established and provide a good crop the following year. My plants are now doing very well as we already have more leaves than we can use.It doesn’t keep well, so i have found picking just before use to be the best idea. I may try making pesto again and I am wondering if it would freeze well?

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I have been eating the wild garlic leaves for the last few weeks now, treating the plants in a cut and come again manner. I have been adding raw leaves to salads, stirring it into pasta sauces, finely chopping it and adding a lovely flavour to omelettes and, as my garlic breath will attest to, munching on the leaves straight out of the garden.

IMG_1026A lunchtime salad of rocket, spinach, peppers, sprouted seeds, haloumi and potatoes.

The plants will soon send up pretty star-like white flowers, these taste good too and look very pretty sprinkled over dishes. I am getting a lot of mileage from wild garlic and am glad to have such an early, pretty and tasty perennial in my garden.