Thursday, 31 March 2011

The Minimalists on Happiness

This is an extract from an article by Joshua Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus......

"Happiness is an expansive concept, it goes without saying. At its fundament, the term “happiness” is abstract and abstruse and can be a mind-numbing, migraine- inducing thing to try to explain with words. But it was this complex idea—the thought of being truly happy—that led us to live simpler lives. Happiness was at the precipice of our journey. It was happiness that led us to minimalism. Eventually........  

....... we embraced these concepts—the concepts of minimalism and simplicity—as a way of life and discovered that we too could be happy, but it wasn’t through owning more stuff, it wasn’t through accumulation. We took back control of our lives so we could focus on what’s important, so we could focus on life’s deeper meaning.
Happiness, as far as we are concerned, is achieved through living a meaningful life, a life that is filled with passion and freedom, a life in which we can grow as individuals and contribute to other people in meaningful ways. Growth and contribution: those are the bedrocks of happiness. Not stuff.
This may not sound sexy or marketable or sellable, but it’s the cold truth. Humans are happy if we are growing as individuals and if we are contributing beyond ourselves. Without growth, and without a deliberate effort to help others, we are just slaves to cultural expectations, ensnared by the trappings of money and power and status and perceived success."   Read the rest of this if you are interested here.

PS - I didn't write this but I agree with them.

This is for you kirsti

I think when I finish Sunny's crochet dress I might try to knit this vest - maybe in a dark green or maybe better still bright orange!  The pattern is here at Pickles.   I like the way they do their name!!

What is happiness?

I think happiness is a state of mind.

"There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so" -  Shakespeare.

Some days  life feels  absolutely fantastic - like today, its a beautiful autumn morning, the birds are chirping, the children are playing happily and one can enjoy a lovely cup of tea in the sun before embarking on the daily doings... other days babies are crying, the tea gets spilt and the chickens are in the garden squashing everything.   The challenge is to choose to be happy and calm amidst the chaos and relentless chores of life.

As Buddha once said  "Our life is the creation of our mind".   Do what you like but also like what you do!

"The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitude of mind.....If you change your mind, you can change your life. Each of us literally chooses by his way of attending to things, what sort of universe he shall appear to himself to inhabit" - William James.

"Smile, breath and go slowly" - Thich Nhat Hanh

A rainbow scavanger hunt

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

A stroke of insight

This is an amazing account of having a stroke - all the more interesting because she is a neuroscientist and understands what is going on as it is happening.  She can recognize as the brain is switching from the left side to the right. Her book - A Stroke of Insight is well worth a read too.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Song of the week

I can't believe I forgot about this song. I love it. It is a tingle deep inside type of song.

Babe, I got you bad  by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.( From (Are you), the one that I've been looking for?)

Monday, 28 March 2011

Why I love gardening...

 Gardening is great because:
*  You never get bored with a garden - there is always something to do.
*  It is very satisfying to go out into the garden to pick the ingredients for dinner.
*  It gets you outside - fresh air and exercise.
* It is great for the kids to see where food comes from and how plants grow. (But it is a pity they are not keener to eat their vegies)
*  It is a good hobby for the earth.  I often feel slightly guilty about my arty crafty hobbies as in the end it is just using resources and making more stuff. Gardening on the other hand is a healthy hobby in every way.

" Life's a garden - Dig it!"

Friday, 25 March 2011

Sharing is good

“One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is a signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly is lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.”     - Annie Dillard

From Keri Smith's cool blog. I really like her ideas, writing, art...... 
Check out her 100 ideas

 It is the same with everything ..... use the good stuff, don't save it for a special occasion.  Everyday should be a special occasion! 

(Except realistically I  don't wear my good clothes at home because I am always getting filthy in the garden, covered in paint or smeared with sticky fingers!!)

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Another good idea

I like this idea. You could make all kinds of large pictures using  photos  - a tree, a rainbow, sun on the horizon, a flower....

Rainbow Cakes

I found all these pictures here.  I'd love to make the first rainbow cake - not sure about eating so much food dye. Django would go nuts!!

Tuesday, 22 March 2011


I love writing lists.  I have lots of lists everywhere.  Some clever person has come up with a whole series of books about writing lists called  The Listography Books.  Todays list is for Sue - a list of 10 of my favourite books.

1.  Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austin (actually all of Jane Austin's books)
2.  Ahab's Wife - Sena Jeter Naslund
3. House of the Spirits - Isabel Allende
4. The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
5. Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
6.  Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
7. Jackson's Track - Daryl Tonkin
8. The Education of Little Tree  - Forrest Carter
9. The Year of Wonders - Geraldine Brooks
10. Chocolate - Joanne Harris

That list was straight off the top of my head without thinking too hard about it....i bet there are other books I'd like to add or that I actually like better but for now this will do.  I think I'll list some more books I like.  It is easier if they are not called "favourites" but just books I've liked. 
Alexander McCall Smith - The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency - actually all his books
The Children's Book - A.S.Byatt
Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
East Of Eden - John Steinbeck
Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
Heidi - Johanna Spyri
Tomorrow, When the war began (series) - John Marsden (for teenagers but I like it)
The Little Prince - Antoine De Daint-Exupery
The Reader - Bernhard Schlink
Those who Save us - Jena Blum
The Book Theif - Marcus Zusak
Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass - Phillip Pulman (also 4 teenagers but I like)

This could go on for ever - it is becoming a test of my memory, i'm going to give up now and go to bed.  There are probably hundreds of books i really like. That would be a challenge to try to list everybook I've ever read.  I try to write the titles of the books I've read as I read them in my yearly journal book - but often I forget to write some in. I wonder how many books I have read in my life?  My mum and Tristan's mum would have read even more. See I am already remembering more good books but i am going to say goodbye now before I bore you all to sleep. Goodnight.... love from Kate
PS I think one day I am going to try to write a very extensive list of all the books I have read - well the ones I can rememeber anyway, I'll do this during all the spare time I don't have!! (Maybe in ten years or so!!)

Monday, 21 March 2011

A Day of Sunshine

I love this poem.  I love days like these, when the sun is shining, there is a spring in your step and your whole body feels like smiling...

A Day Of Sunshine. (Birds Of Passage. Flight The Second)

O gift of God! O perfect day:
Whereon shall no man work but play;
Whereon it is enough for me,
Not to be doing, but to be!

Through every fibre of my brain,
Through every nerve, through every vein,
I feel the electric thrill, the touch
Of life, that seems almost too much.

I hear the wind among the trees
Playing celestial symphonies;
I see the branches downward bent,
Like keys of some great instrument.

And over me unrolls on high
The splendid scenery of the sky,
Where though a sapphire sea the sun
Sails like a golden galleon,

Towards yonder cloud-land in the West,
Towards yonder Islands of the Blest,
Whose steep sierra far uplifts
Its craggy summits white with drifts.

Blow, winds! and waft through all the rooms
The snow-flakes of the cherry-blooms!
Blow, winds! and bend within my reach
The fiery blossoms of the peach!

O Life and Love! O happy throng
Of thoughts, whose only speech is song!
O heart of man! canst thou not be
Blithe as the air is, and as free?

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Colourful Crochet

On one of my internet ramblings I came across Lucy's blog called Attic24 .  She made  these  colourful  rugs and the  beautiful flower shawl . I would like to make a shawl like this and  I'd like to crochet a blanket  for Sunny's bed. 

I love crochet and knitting as it is a nice relaxing thing to do at the end of the day, you don't need much space, everything fits in a bag and you can pick it up and put it down easily.  I don't like getting out stuff and having to pack away again afterwards. Oh to have a room of one's own!  It is such a tricky thing being a mother of three young children and having creative urges to fulfill.  I don't know how many mums (and dads)  fit in all the things they do.  I have so many ideas of things I'd like to do, but I have tried to let go of many of these urges as I don't like feeling frustrated and resentful towards the kids for my lack of time. So I try to make the bringing up of the kids a creative project.  I always remind myself of how short these early years with the kids really are and  in the future I would prefer to look back and know that I was really there for and with them.  I have to admit this computer project -  has been a bit of a distraction lately - oh well.  It is such a balance, we have to do some things for ourselves!!  All we can do is our best!   Anyway I think it is time to get out the crochet again...but first I must finish Sunny's dress! 

PS If you want an easy granny square pattern go to Meet Me At Mikes.

Sunny's Crochet Dress

I started this dress last year and put it away for months.  I think it is called add a square skirt.  Recently whilst browsing on the internet I got inspired to crochet again and thought I better finish this before starting a new project.
I found the pattern on a site called Groovy Crochet (there are lots of other cool patterns too):
There is also a newer site with the same patterns :

Bag Lady

Nelson drew this very cool monster on his pencil case and when I saw it I thought it would make a cool bag.   I quickly whipped  one up to give to our friend for his 4th birthday. When Nelson saw it he called me a copy cat.  I am lucky he is a good drawer as I'm not!!

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Friday, 18 March 2011

Dill Gherkins

This summer I have been making lots of gherkins. Some were delicious, some too salty, some went cloudy, some were too mustardy. There are so many different recipes and procedures. Anyway I tried several and I think this is what I'll do next time (this is a cross between 2 recipes).
     1 kg gherkins
     several cloves of garlic
     bunch of fresh dill
     2 tsp coriander seeds
     1 tsp mustard seeds
     1/2 cup white vinegar
     2 cups water
1.  Soak gherkins in iced water for 1-2 hours.
2.  Layer and salt very generously the gherkins  in a bowl  and leave for 4 hours.  Rinse thoroughly.
3.  Put vinegar and water together in saucepan and bring to boil.
4.  Slice the garlic and add to vinegar solution.  Add the dill and seeds and simmer 5 mins.
5.  Pack gherkins in sterilized jars add a sprig of extra dill to each.
6.  Pour hot vinegar into jars making sure gherkins are completely covered.  Put on lids.
7.  Seal and process - boil jar upright in a pan of water for 30 mins.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Funny kids and a snake

Here is a selection of some funny photos. Notice the beautiful carpet python riding Sunny's rocking horse. I am finally learning how to use digital photos. That is a project for this year - to make some photo albums of the kids. I haven't a single published photograph since Django was about 4 months old and none of Sunny. But where is the time to do all the projects I want to do????
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Friday, 11 March 2011

Is There Anybody Out There?

Hello Hello. Is there anybody out there?  Welcome to my blog and my very first post.  I look around the internet at all the amazing blogs and i wonder why I want to start one -  I am certainly no expert, artist or super talented human.  I am an ordinary person trying to lead the best life I can.  I love writting letters and keeping a journal and this is the modern version.   Anyway I wanted to start this blog for my own fun and any family or friends who wonder what I am up to. If anyone else stumbles across it, great.  It is quite fun actually and i am learning how to do lots of computery things.  Once I have mastered it Nelson and Django want to start one too.    

Albert Einstein once said:   " I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious."   Well me too!!
NASA puts the birth of the universe at nearly 14 billion years ago.  What was here before that? What will be here in another 14 billion years? The answers to these questions are unknowable and curious.  This is interesting but more interesting to me is life here and now.  Life is a miracle. A crazy, wonderful, thrilling thing and through this blog i hope to document for myself and whoever happens upon it all sorts of things that to me are interesting.  From simple earthly pleasures  to lofty intellectual musings.

Whilst on the topic of life I best demonstrate my first new skill - linking to a cool web site. Check out this link to put our size in the universe into perspective.  We  really are very small.

Goodnight (or morning)   Lots of love from Kate