Month in a Word – October, Nature

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At this time of year, every sunny day is a bonus and to be embraced and enjoyed.  The past month has got cooler but there have been many bright, crisp days and we have been able to enjoy many longs walks and adventures outdoors.  This month we have done lots of outdoor activities, the advantage of staying at home for half term was the opportunity to explore and play outdoors everyday, we went to the beach, local beauty spots and country parks and it felt a very wholesome and fulfilling holiday.  I love being out it grounds me, connects me to our environment and inspires.

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Halloween 2016

 

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Halloween in the 80s

Unusually Halloween lands on a school day this year and with clubs running we won’t be celebrating on Monday evening as a family.  I have such fond childhood memories of Halloween that on Sunday we will be doing some of my childhood favourites, bobbing for apples, swinging sticky pudding and dressing up.  Whilst we have so many family traditions, trick or treating has never been a feature of Halloween and again the children won’t be doing it for Halloween 2016, the Beavers are going on a haunted walk in the dark and the Brownies have a fancy dress party. Both the children are really excited by their planned activities.

Today we have been decorating the house for Halloween. I do love a decoration to add a little sparkle to a celebration.  A lot of my decorations have been collected over the years but this year we have our first  Halloween tree.  It’s a tree which gets recycled for Easter, Christmas and now Halloween! I bought some lovely felt decorations last year and with some new diddy pumpkin lights, the tree is gorgeous.  My lightbox has a seasonal message and some of Little Man’s Lego figures have been added to the display since the photo was taken. The little Frankenstein toy is a musical toy which plays Ghostbusters.  Mr S bought it for the children’s first Halloween and it is a much loved toy.  To retain the magic, I pack it away with the Halloween decorations so there is always great excitement when the children see it every year.  The Halloween table is in the living room and I will add a bowl of treats  for Halloween too.  The window display is in the kitchen by our table where we sit for our meals.  The haunted house light is new this year from a local shop, it can be programmed to change the light patterns whilst the pumpkins balloons and the pumpkin scarecrows were presents.  The candle holders are last year’s decorations and a battery tea light enables the flickering candle effect.  My decorations always reflect a cute side to Halloween. I don’t want to scare the children with guts and gore.

Halloween has always been a special time and I hope that the little treats we do over the weekend will make it so for the children too. 7127d129-b02e-4e8f-b056-94222a7d716c

 

Harvest Festival

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As a teacher and parent I tend to do school events twice, once at work and then repeated at my childrens’ school.  The work events are more stressful as I am usually involved in preparing and presenting the event, but at the primary school, I enjoy relaxing and watching the event as an enthusiastic and supportive parent.  At this time of year its harvest festival, our school event this year featured a scarecrow parade which was brilliant.  We simply offered some ideas and inspiration to our classes and the results were stunning, ten life size scarecrows accompanied me in presenting our harvest festival and the children dancing Dingle Dangle Scarecrow with their models was just a classic moment.  The primary school’s festival took place in our local church, a gorgeous and atmospheric setting.  All the children sat at the front in their classes and sang and did the actions to their well rehearsed songs.  There are some lovely harvest songs now, my favourite contemporary song is Harvest Samba, but the reception children singing Big, red combine harvester is always a super sweet moment too.  I do miss Colours of Day and Autumn days from my primary school days, I may add one to our school festival next year for a retro feel!  Thanks to some helpful advice from Little Man’s 1:1, we were able to secure prime position to see our little ones perform at the church.  Little Man needs reassurance and to be able to see us clearly at such big events, so it was a relief for us to be right in front of him and able to give him broad smiles, thumbs up etc.. Little Miss was two rows behind him.  For her, singing and performing come easily and confortably, she has a beautiful voice and loves to sing. It was wonderful to see them both perform and be proud of their role in the festival.  I do enjoy harvest festivals, they are a lovely autumn tradition and I’m lucky that even when my children leave primary school I’ll still be able to continue celebrating them annually at my work and to give thanks for our harvests.

Hygge

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At this time of year as Autumn draws in, I like to focus on creating a cosy, warm home. A home that from the first step in feels comfortable, relaxed and safe.  In the autumn, it may be the smell from a slow cooker recipe wafting through the house, the blanket on the sofa to snuggle into whilst reading a book, a candle or essential oils filling the air with a warm and spicy aroma .  Much of this is compatible with the Danish philosophy of Hygge which is very much in vogue at present.  I was introduced to hygge last year in the Simple Life magazine and recently read a book on the subject by Pia Edberg. Hygge is a difficult word to translate from Danish, Edberg describes it as ‘the concept of cosiness ….. the art of creating warmth, comfort and wellbeing…’ From my reading it’s creating a simple, purposeful life and a philosophy so much to my own too.  I think living in a small rural town, we have less materialistic  pressures, we have small, mainly independent shops and buy what we need.  When I visit big town I feel quite overwhelmed by the choice.  In a small town we create our own leisure time as facilities are limited, there is a culture of joining clubs and supporting local events.  Daytime activities are using and appreciating our environment whether it be for running, walking or water sports and evenings are for sports, drama and creative activities.  We live surrounded by the wonder of our natural environment, I love to walk along the beach in wellies, wrapped up in a scarf and woolly hat and just look out to the sea.  Until I lived at the seaside I never realised the different shades of blue for the sea, it really is different every day.  I tend to run off road in the fields and countryside and again the colours as they fade from green to brown show the changing seasons.  The beauty of spending time outside is the opportunity to warm up in front of a fire or relaxing in a warm, bubble bath.

I am interested in the concept of hygge and how it relates to our happiness, I think being with nature grounds us, enjoying simple pleasures relaxes us and being with friends and family in comfortable environments encourages good mental health, everything always seems better once discussed and problems less surmountable.

Resources for Hygge

http://www.thesimplethings.com/blog/hyggetalk

 

 

The little sparkles of Dad’s 70th birthday

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I enjoy the preparation and planning of celebrations, big or small. To me life is not about the big, brash displays but events created with love and effort. Today is my dad’s 70th birthday and part of the fun for me was being able to be at his house this morning to start the day with some sparkle. We were able to travel up to my parents’ last night as by some fantastic fluke the children had an Inset day at school today, such perfect timing.

Since we’ve had the children, I love the magic of the night before a birthday, decorating the kitchen table with balloons, bunting and cards and presents. Today was no different, although I had to wake early this morning to decorate as Dad would have spotted the surprise last night as he locked up. Along with the 70th balloons and banners, I had prepared photo table decorations. I colour copied a variety of photos, laminated them and then stuck them to coloured straws and displayed them in glasses. It’s something simple which brings back happy memories and is also a way of remembering those whom we loved. My dad could recall the details of all the photos this morning and told us his memories of the days, some of the stories I hadn’t heard before and it was lovely to hear the history of our family.

Normally I like to make a cake, especially for my dad who has always been a keen recipient of my bakes but I knew it was going to be a really busy week and I wasn’t sure when I would be able to fit in the baking and decorating. Instead I tried a photo cake, I chose a photo of my dad driving a tram, that’s his passion in life and was taken on a recent holiday with his tram society, and wrote a greeting, princie is a family nickname. The cake was delicious and an acceptable alternative to a homemade cake. We’ll be back visiting at half term and I’m sure I’ll take a homemade treat for dad then.

In addition to the decorations,music is important to me, I like a soundtrack to the important events in life, so I had also made a playlist for this morning. As my dad came into the kitchen, Congratulations was played and then over the cards and presents and a lazy, family breakfast we played the number 1 hits from his birthday over the decades, there were some cracking tunes in the list and I might have had a little dance in the kitchen.

Whilst a birthday is for cards and gifts, my dad is a really difficult person to buy for, he is not one for presents, he prefers treats which cannot be bought, for example time with his family. However at a birthday it’s nice to have something to open, so I had bought a Grandad’s special treat box filled with his favourite sweet treats from the children and a clock from Mr S and I, which I chose in a local art gallery to fit in with the style and decor of his study.

I really enjoyed our relaxed, family morning with my little family and parents and I hoped that my dad appreciated the little extras to make his 70th birthday sparkle.

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