Featured, Parenting

A home with no rules (we have these six things instead)

26 October, 2017

Every so often I look about me and think does this happen in other homes?  Six year old Ramona will be dipping her scalp in some mud out the window and four year old Juno will be picking through the pantry popping special ingredients into the smoothie maker, or it’ll be past 10pm and we’ll all be in bed and Juno will be in the lounge painting a magnificent, meticulous rainbow on her teddy’s tummy.

And I’ll remind myself it’s not like there’s a rulebook, is there? HA. (Is there???)

But there is, some are written down and some are just contained within our minds – rules about propriety and appropriate bedtimes and when and where exactly the fun should be had.

And it’s strange because humans thrive without rules. The dignity of a rule-less environment helps us step our game up, allows our natural respect and watchfulness come to the fore.

There have been experiments in various settings around the world – the school playground that threw out the rules and saw a steep drop in bullying or the town that gave up road rulebook and saw the death toll drop to zero.

One of the reasons we have chosen a rule-free home is because we want our children to bring their hearts and minds to each situation, to discover a trust in themselves, rather than leaning on whatever random authority is looming over them that day. We want them to engage deeply with their environment, to connect authentically with the people around them and all of that is made trickier if they are required to live under a set of (often quite arbitrary) rules.

We also deeply believe that our role as parents isn’t to control our children, it is to create an environment where they can blossom into the people they are. Humans are at their very worst when we try and coerce, manipulate and control the actions of others. It shouldn’t be a part of parenting! A home without rules gives us room to flourish and to focus on the most important thing – our relationship with one another.

After posting this Youtube video yesterday about whether we were a”feral family” and then watching a few clips of the same named TV show in the UK I was lying in bed trying to have a full on analysis of our family life. Did we truly have no rules?  I scanned our day from waking to sleeping and concluded that yeah, indeed, we are a family with no rules.

But in my thinking it became apparent that there is not a gaping cavern where the rules should be. Instead there is a bunch of stuff that helps us all be our best selves.

Here’s what we have instead of rules. They can’t really be a pik n mix – they all relate to each other. You can’t have “honest conversation” without “connection” or “a healthy view about mistakes” without “good self-care”…
a home with no rules

1-  Connection. If I have *one* word that sums up my parenting it is connection. I feel it almost as a tangible thread between myself and my daughters and I can feel when it wears thin, I can sense when it is strong.  I take every opportunity I can to build this love-filled relationship with my daughters – including toilet time. I cannot imagine having no rules in a home where this connection is not there. I imagine all members to fizzing around, with no orientation or grounding, grazing each other’s elbows and knees. Our connectedness – our play and laughter and cuddles and random conversation- is the foundation for our whole family life.

2-A healthy view of mistakes. Rules, and the punitive measures taken when they are broken, are a stupid way to view mistakes. Jeez. Failing, and failing well, is an important part of being human! It makes me feel sick that there are kids growing up out there who are punished for failing – they will spend their whole life unable to take beautiful risks, in creative jail simply for being raised in a home that can’t handle mistakes. We aim to be chill when messes are made, stuff gets broken, people get hurt because we all make mistakes and we can ONLY learn from them when were are given the chance to, shame free.

3- Good self-care. You know when I find it hard to have a healthy view of mistakes? When I am strung out, tired, overtouched. Me-time is not selfish, it is the key to good parenting!  Audre Lorde says  “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare” and it’s true! We can’t raise authentic, empathetic humans if we aren’t kind to ourselves. This whole no-rules thing requires us to be our most patient and joyful selves.  Just yesterday I wrote about how self-care is the second step towards becoming a Parent Ally and here are 60 acts of self-care for busy parents. 

4- A family culture. I loved this article about the main thing that builds resilience in children. Apparently it is the presence of a family narrative, the children having a sense of the family history and values and it being a story that ebbs and flows in success and failure. We talk alot. We tell the stories of mine and Tim’s lives, the girls birth stories, stories about our grandparents. We have rituals – we have a pot of questions that we pull out and ask each other at dinner, we light candles and say things we are thankful for, we go on family walks each evening. All of this is opt-in, and sometimes the girls opt out – although for many of the things they came up with the idea so they are keen beans! All of this builds our family culture, a safe place, a unit of values that we are all co-creating.

5- Honest conversation in an environment of trust and respect. Oh, how we talk! We talk and talk! Ohhh, boy, we talk. And this, perhaps more than anything, takes the place of rules.

ME “Oh hey, girls, I see there’s a sign about no throwing balls on this lawn. Hmmm.”
RAMONA “what, why, why is that there?”
ME “Maybe they are worried about windows?”
RAMONA “Or maybe they don’t like balls?
JUNO “Or kids?”
ME “They might have a bunch of reasons its a good idea to put a sign up saying “NO BALLS. What should we do.”
JUNO “Play over there?”
RAMONA “I wanna play here.”
ME “Hmm, you really wanna play here.”
RAMONA “Yeah. How about we play until we get told off?”
ME “That could work. Or we could play that ball game where we sit on the ground and roll it?”
(and on for another ten minutes…)

Whenever there are rules, I raise them and we talk about them. We have agreed strategies when there are rule-based places we go to regularly. They are engaged in this idea that we have a very rule-based society and it’s pretty awesome to see them developing their own wisdom and consciousness about it all.

Here in New Zealand we try and observe Maori protocol, a common one of which is not to sit on tables that serve food. We could make it “a rule” or we could just remind them every time, and have a big conversation about it, and usually it goes down okay because the conversation is taking place in an environment of trust and respect. I trust that their hearts and intentions are good. I respect them as people. I respect their choices. And (not all of the time, but most!) it’s mutual.

6- A guiding principle. We’ve no rules but we have a guiding principle and that is “We don’t hurt each other or things around us” and it’s a principle we have come to together, through discussion. It’s something we all raise with each other when needed and it can be helpful for the sibling relationship and when friends come over to play, it also relates to how we all try and be in the world more generally – kind to our community and the earth around us.  I’ve been enjoying Gretchen Rubin’s podcast lately and she’s been speaking about the 4 different temperaments and there are a whole load of people out there who seem to enjoy having some stiffer parameters for life.  Perhaps you are one of them, or your children are – this still doesn’t mean you get to impose rules on your family. It means you are invited to cocreate a healthy framework, some bottomlines or guiding principles.

So there we go. No rules… but our kids don’t fling all the libraries books off the shelves or strip naked and paint themselves blue at the museum kid’s area (only in the comfort of their own home!)

I’d love to hear from you.

Do you have things instead of rules? Have you discovered a co-creation of guiding principles?

Feminism

Dear daughters

12 October, 2017

I just found out it was International Day of the Girl yesterday, which is interesting because all day somewhere in the back of my head I had a leaking lament as we bustled from library to supermarket to home for dinner which was deconstructed sushi (I forgot to buy seaweed.) I’m not surprised it passed me by, these last few days I’ve been this tearful mix of exhausted and restless, I’ve hardly known what day of the week it is, let alone what Day of the International whatcha it might be.  Ramona and Juno have just made a narrow mountain ridge of mattresses and pillows and are jumping off their bunk on to it. I bid them good luck and sit down to spill these words.

 

Daughters of mine.

May I never tell you shush.

May I absorb your corrective “ACTUALLY, mum”  with grace.

 

May I be present

to your bombastic roars and your full body rages on the floor.

May I say “Mmmhmmm” appreciatively

in the dead of night

when you float a theory about Barbie’s Secret Door.

 

May I nod at your spun-out animal facts and labyrinth speeches

that last from breakfast to lunch and beyond and

may I squeeze Tim’s hand that he too might hold his tongue when you “ACTUALLY, dad” him.

 

May I make room for you in our dinner party conversation

ask you for your thoughts

like I might an honoured guest.

 

May I deep-breathe and tea-drink when you are in a mood for singing Avril Lavigne

at the top of your voice and I

am not.

 

May I de-brief with you when your friends say shut up and

may I not see it as a blight on your character when your face becomes a screaming mouth to be heard and

may I not see it as a blight on your character when you warrior-pose on the roof of the car with the last packet of toffee-pops begging to be seen.

 

May I answer your army of marching questions with all the truth I hold and

may I even beat the drum to keep your queries soldiering on.

 

May I swallow my shushes,

bite on my tongue,

fill my ears with the

sweet

audacious

sound

of

you.

 

For if, the research is right, you’ve only a few years left

of being freely opinionated.

 

A few more summers where

you feel able to bloom so boldly.

A few more winters where

your femaleness doesn’t freeze your voice.

 

Nine times less likely than a boy to speak up in class.

Four times lower the self-esteem.

Twice as likely to be insulted for showing  leadership.

 

One day the world will want you to be small.

Today I will give you all the space you need to be big.

 

dear daughters of mine

You might like one of my latest videos:

Featured, Green things, Shampoo Free, Thrifty

Ten Shampoo Alternatives for healthy, shiny and clean hair

27 September, 2017

Updated post: I have now been using 100% natural shampoo alternatives for six  years. My hair is stronger, shinier and healthier than it has ever been! I hope you enjoy this post featuring (still) my favourite No Poo shampoo substitutes. I am pretty surprised that the ingredients I fell in love with at the very beginning of my shampoo free journey have remained my favourites. For the last couple of years I have been working as a columnist for Cosmopolitan, writing up beauty experiments, and I also published a bestselling book all about how to give up shampoo which you can grab here.
Amazon Price- $5.56 My Price- $3.56 (2)

At a mere $5.20 or £3.40 (purchase in your own currency) it is a SNIP – less than a bottle of swanky shampoo. But unlike your shampoo it comes with a full refund if you don’t like it!

Why did I give up shampoo?
At the start of this year I began an experiment with my hair.  The purist in me was tired of putting toxins into my body, the spendthrift in me was weary of pouring so much money away on these toxins and the optimist in me was persuaded by our bodies ability to cope without reliance on products! I was in a wash-every-other-day-routine and was a slave to dry-shampoo. I knew there had to be a better way.

Enter the No Poo way of life!

In a typically extreme move  I totally gave up shampoo and have in the last 10 months put everything from a homemade nettle brew to mustard powder on my hair! It has gone quite wrong at times but ultimately my hair is a million times more healthy, voluminous, and grows much faster. Plus I can go away for weeks at a time and need nothing for my hair but a good bristle brush. This really appeals to my hopes of living more simply and with less impact on this beautiful earth (even though I am rubbish at this in lots of ways.)

Here are TEN options for shampoo alternatives I have played with- and sometimes made a lot of mess with! Most are the BEE’S KNEE’s for me and the rest are the dog’s whatchya’s for others…

One- Amla powder

Amla is a brilliant hair ingredient- it is actually dried goosberry! It must be prepared the night before use in an iron vessel. A cast iron pan or pot would be ideal.

Mix with a little water until you have a ruunny paste. Ideally it feels like henna. Or, if you don’t use henna, like dipping your ginger nut in your tea for too long and then mashing it into a bowl!

The next morning take your amla into the shower with you. Once your hair is wet apply the paste and leave it for half an hour. (Squeeze all your black heads and all those other things you can do alone in the bathroom. Don’t entertain guests you’ve never met before, which is what I had to do when I realised i couldn’t wash it straight out! More in video…)

I used two table spoons which was enough for my long hair.

Wash out well!

Read all about Amla for hair here. 

Two- Rye Flour.
Rye flour is fast becoming the star of the No Poo movement, the Bieber of all the shampoo alternatives! it has just the right mixture of saponins and exfoliating properties to make it super kind and cleaning on your hair. I wish i could say “Stick it on” but once again it is a little more complicated – mainly, you need to sieve it first! This video will give you the big HOW TO for rye flour.

Three- Egg.
I use the whole egg, whisked in a cup. I pour over my head and massage in. I leave for a few minutes and rinse well.  It leaves my hair SO clean and SO soft and shiny. However, the water must be cool! I have had a couple of scrambled disasters venturing into too warm territory…. Here is some info about how an egg works and how to apply egg on hair effectively.

Four- Soapnuts.
These are a natural cleaner and work incredibly well. My hair is like silk after- certainly the closest to shampoo I have found. I heat them in water on the stove for 10 minutes, whiz them with my hand blender and use the liquid. I am too lazy to make this my Go To alternative, but use it if my hair has become filthy. Buy them here and use them for cleaning a million and one things! Buy them from my affiliate chums, Ethical Superstore. They come in a 1 kilo pack and are a real bargain – over 300 washes in there!

Five- Rhassoul Clay.
This is LOVELY stuff. For skin and hair.  It is one of the better shampoo alternatives out there as it not only cleans but also conditions. I make a paste with two spoonfuls and boiling water. Once cool I smooth it into hair, after a few minutes I brush it through hair and rinse off. It is truly divine but a little on the expensive side for my thrifty self. (But doesn’t come close to the expense of good shampoo.)Shampoo alternatives for healthy hair

Six- Henna.
This is one of the more colourful shampoo alternatives, something to suit those who like to play around with their hair. This is my once-every-six-weeks deep treatment! I mix up about ten spoons of it with hot water to make a paste. Once cool I apply it all over and leave it for two hours. (Epic I know, I use a plastic bag and grips to keep it all in place.) It needs a SERIOUS rinse, and a good brush, but my hair after is brighter, cleaner, softer.

Seven- Tea.
This relies very much on the massage bit too, and the result is the same as water except you get a nice smell! Some people swear that the different aspects of the tea change your hair – chamomile adding a special softness and lightness to blonde hair, for example. My favourite is to take some lemonbalm leaves and make a tea out of it. A little video here of that happening and an explanation of my motto “If you can’t eat it, don’t wash your hair with it!” ….

Eight- Water!
Oh groan, I know, I’m sorry.  What kind of a shampoo alternative is this?! I hear you cry. The best, truly. It took me 9 months to realise it was all my hair needed – and now it has been one month since anything has been on my hair at all. The key is in the massage and the brush. As you soak your hair, get your fingers stuck in, pushing away at your scalp and any particularly grease-o bits. I do a five minute massage every five days.

I also brush my hair each night with my trusty boar bristle brush. I use Kent Brushes who have an amazing ethical record. They’ve been making boar bristle brushes since 1777 and can HIGHLY recommend either the barrel brush, which I inherited from my Nana and LOVE. The Moroccan Oil and Christophe Robin brushes here are pure boar bristle too – they are pricey but consider it an investment in natural beauty that will last your lifetime! (Those are affiliate links, they ship globally for free!) More info here about what the best boar bristle brush for you might be.

My hair is thick and voluminous and does whatever I want it to do. Whooppiiee for H20!! I have to say that some water is kinder to hair than others! Sometimes the chemicals or the limescale in the water of city residents can be a little unkind. Make sure you use lots of lovely natural homemade conditioners every so often, and if after a little while it becomes clear that your water isn’t nice enough consider getting a shower filter or just committing to one of these other shampoo alternatives below.

For more information see this guide on washing your hair with water only. 

Nine- homemade dry shampoo
Sometimes if you just need to get through an extra day or two, you just want to soak up an extra bit of shininess without doing a full wash, you might want to consider a quick dusting of homemade dry shampoo.

If you have dark hair try mixing a tea spoon of corn flower (or corn starch) with a teaspoon of cocoa.
For red hair, mix a teaspoon of cornflour (cornstarch) with a teaspoon of cinnamon.
For light, simply use cornflour or arrowroot.
Use an icing sugar shaker to give your hair the lightest dusting and keep the rest in a little jar.

Ten- Bicarbonate of Soda/ Baking Soda. This gets your hair SQUEAKY clean. Every ten days or so I put one teaspoon in a cup of water and dissolve it, chuck it on my hair mid shower and wash it straight out. The only reason it isn’t number one is because it isn’t free and I’m a cheapskate. Using bicarbonate of soda regularly and often, and using too much of it will damage your hair more than shampoo. (Please read this ultimate guide to using bicarbonate of soda/ baking soda on your hair! It is a much needed step but you can have too much of a good thing.) My hair gets a bit bicarb weary after too many times in a row, brittle and waxy and needs some of the other, more nourishing ingredients.

Extra helpful ingredients:

Lemon.
Lemon has some seriously potent anti-bacterial properties and can work as a lightener for people wanting to be blonder.  Squeeze a whole lemon into a cup of water and pour over your head mid shower. Rinse well, unless you have hard water in which case you might want to leave on. Not recommended for greasy hair.

Tea Tree Oil.
Full of incredible properties! Add tea tree oil to the bicarb paste, the lemon or the water only wash to turn them into very effective anti dandruff shampoos. Tea tree oil is perfect for people with scalp issues. In fact, one person I am VERY close to but who shalt remain nameless has had a life-long scalp issue fixed by dabbing on a couple of drops of tea tree oil to the problem areas.

A note on conditioner- Half of these, everyone apart from the rye flour, the clay and the egg and the lemon need a rinse with Apple Cider Vinegar. I use a splash in half a cup of water and throw it over the ends of my hair, leave for a few minutes then rinse out. It’s a WINNER.

The biggest lesson in all of this is to not give up  and be a brave old soul – often different hair just needs different proportions of things.

For the ultimate guide to giving up shampoo check out my bestselling book –  a shed load of advice and recipes for alternatives to shampoo and conditioners and styling products can be found here.
Happy Hair No Poo Book

FREEDOM FACE BEAUTY GUIDE

Thrifty

4 ways to becoming a lycra-loving healthy new you!!

21 September, 2017

Hehehe. I’m sure you know by now my title is in jest! Because you KNOW I don’t think you should be a NEW you. You should just be YOU. The youest you you possibly can be!

(It’s like the self-love version of she sells sea shells on the sea shore.)

And lycra. UGH. I am only into lycra if it is baggy enough for me to feel REAL comfortable in, which I’m not sure is exactly the point! Apart from the leggings with the really beautiful prints on. Those I can get on board with. Baggy ones.

My attitude to health sometimes means green smoothies (which I have every morning) chased by the green mint chocolate Dairy Milk because YUM! When it comes to healthy living we aim for that beautiful balance of nutrition, mental health (meaning not becoming overwhelmed by healthy eating etc) and pleasure! It’s a wellness model, really, seeing the whole of us (not just our bodies and guts) as being sites for healthiness. (I am exploring wellness in an exciting, honest mini-series on my Patreon if you are interested in more on this.Today’s post was all about headlice and our life’s purpose!)

Having said allllll of that…. here are the 4 healthy things I do. Amongst all the coffee and caffeine intake that I feel REALLY comfortable with.

1- Make Sauerkraut.  I have come to believe that things like my gut are hugely relevant to my overall physical and mental health. I even have a saying “when in doubt make sauerkraut” because in times of crisis I always find my self chopping cabbage. Ha. I have actually dreamed of being a fermented vegetable more than once in the last year of homesteading.

Sauerkraut is sooooo easy to do and a tiny portion provides well over and above your daily probiotic and vitamin c requirements. There are complicated ways of making kraut but I just:

  • Chop a whole cabbage thinly into a large bowl
  • Sprinkle 1.5 tablespoons of non iodised rock salt through it and massage it in
  • Push it into a massive jar and push it down with my pestle – over the next few hours the brine will release and cover it.
  • Lay a cabbage leaf over the top and weigh down with a glass paper weight
  • Leave for 3-5 weeks and then refrigerate

2-  Give up the shampoo. Ugh I AM SO BORING ON THIS!!!! I won’t go on too much about it. But I am completely convinced by both my personal experience and reading the science on acid mantles and microbiomes that eradicating store bought bottles of goop has made my skin and hair far, far, far, FAR healthier. And saved me a stack of cash. Read more: How to Wash Hair Without Shampoo, No Poo Hair photos, and this week’s post No Shampoo for 5 years – an honest FAQ.

SAMSUNG CSC

I also want to invite you to my Facebook group Self loving Sisterhood– a group of people committed to supporting each other to live as low tox a life as we possibly can.

3- Outside everyday come what may. The other day before I went to bed I realised I had been inside all day either working or cooking. I’m not generally inflexible kind of person… I do tend to go with the flow and not hold too tightly to various dogma. But I try, try, try to connect with the nature around me every day rain or shine. Sometimes I am great and plan a bunch of outdoor activities for kids, sometimes, like the other night, it is just lying on the deck for 8 minutes staring at the milky way before I hop into bed. This daily ritual does something for me. There’s a billion reasons to play in the wild, but this commitment of mine runs deep – it is a mental and spiritual health, a way to understand my place in the scheme of things and remind myself of my relationship to the earth.
4 quick healthy living tips!

4- A solid bookshelf of natural living inspo.
This natural living tip is going to be Right Up Your Alley. (Not that alley.)

My book Freedom Face is part of this incredible Healthy Living Bundle of Ebooks and Ecourses. It covers off grid living, healthy eats (a billion gluten free recipe books!!), homesteading and natural beauty and homemade cleaning and all sorts of my fave things. It is for both holistic health freaks AND complete newbies and contains stuff written by some of my favourite authors. It is a completely ridiculous bargain – over the last few years I have bought some of these books for the same price as the ENTIRE PACKAGE. No jokes. If you were to add everything up it would come to $3708 but for the next 4 days it is $29.97. It is laughable and sounds kinda sketchy but it is one hundred per cent solid!!! This is no pyramid scheme, just a way to connect wellness authors and educators with blog readers.  You get a super dealio on heaps of incredible wisdom and I get a cut whilst promoting something I whole-heart-love, and it is win win.

Watch out for some of my fave titles:

  • Fermenting Veggies
  • Eat Beautiful: Grain-free, Sugar-free & Loving It
  • Clean, Naturally! Non-Toxic Cleaners for Your Non-Toxic Home
  • How To Embrace An Off-Grid Lifestyle: Our Journey & A Step By Step Look At The Lifestyle
  • Herbal Skincare 101
  • Real Food FAST
  • Cooking for Hormone Balance. Rebalance Your Hormones with Food
  • Grow Love Garden Planner
  • Go Low Tox Minus the Overwhelm: Face. Body. Kitchen. Laundry
  • Intro to Kombucha, Fermented Sodas, Kefir, Kvass and More

Whhheeeeee! That is just the START of this digital library!! Sometimes committing to a holistic lifestyle can be massively overwhelming.  Having instant access to these resources (over 100 books & courses) makes this overwhelm WAY less.

It is only available from now until Monday, so definitely get on it, and spread the word.

Would, as ever, love to hear your thrifty and healthy living tips. x x

PS My latest video on a day in the life of our unschooling yurt living family might be interesting too!

Some great quik tips for healthy living right now

Thrifty

Eight surprising wild foods to forage (Plus how to eat a raw stinging nettle!)

8 September, 2017

Oh, my friends! We are home safe and sound back in our yurt in New Zealand. It was the actual snot-face, heave-weeping saddest thing saying goodbye to my family. We had the most wonderful couple of months ever over in England, so many treasured times with my nephews and niece especially. It was such a wrench to leave,  but now that we are home, on our land, it feels like the soul-place we know we ought to be.

Before I move on from that trip completely I wanted to share a bit about the summer foraging we have done because it represents a lot of what our summer over there was like; living in suburbia but still staying connected to the wild around us.

Foraging for wild fruits and leaves is such a precious way of getting to know our natural environment and nurturing a connection with the earth. (Humankind’s connection with the earth is something I feel is a missing link in our well being. When we nourish that relationship I feel like we truly flourish. My book 30 Days of Rewilding goes into this quite a lot if you fancy reading more!

So we all know about blackberries right? Yummy, juicy nuggets of sweet flesh with the occasional tiny worm tucked away inside. But do you know about holly leaved barberries? Stag horn? Purple clover? They are all over the place once you’ve identified them! Not just in England either –  heaps of these can be found all over the world.There are so many delicious free edibles all around us that are jampacked with nutrition!

Oregon Grape / Holly leaved Barberry / Holly grape
These grow all year round in great clusters just like grapes, often in rural hedgerows. They are sour but moreish. Can be used for jams or in puddings with sugar of honey to sweeten.

Staghorn
Quite a common tree, with furry fruit that have a lemony zing. Can be munched but also added into drinks for a lemon flavour.

Wavy Bittercress
One of the many bittercresses you can eat all year round. This one grows abundantly in damp places and makes a lovely peppery addition to salads.

Hawthorn Berries
These grow everywhere and abundantly throughout the summer and autumn. They are the superfood of the wild, an amazing antioxidant and great for your heart. Munch raw as you wander around the countryside or take home and turned into jams or fruit leathers. Don’t eat the seeds though as there is a bit of cyanide in them, like apple seeds.

Elderberries
The end of summer and autumn is also a big time for another superfood, elderberries. Jam packed flavonoid antioxidants, potassium, and Vitamin C, can be eaten raw or turned into jam.

Stinging Nettle
Oh, the most underrated plant ever!!! It is a nutritional powerhouse, packed with as much iron as spinach, but, like, free! Use gloves to gather handfuls and make a gorgeous rich soup or throw into risotto. The heat takes out the sting and it acts just like spinach. You can also eat them raw- see video below for this trick.

Purple Clover
Clover grows left, right and centre and is also an excellent antioxidant. It’s got a subtle taste and can be chucked in tea, smoothies and salads.

Poppy petals
Poppy petals are the beautiful little bonus in this list. They don’t taste of much but grow abundantly in meadows across the UK and look gorgeous in any baking or salads.

I made a little video about them all too which you can check out here. As a little bonus I show you a trick about how to eat a whole, raw stinging nettle leaf!!! It’s an exceptional party trick that everyone will love! (By “party” I mean “picnic” and by “everyone” I mean “that earthy friend you have and small children.”)

Some tips and rules:
It’s not likely that you will be able to make a scrumptious meal out of your foraged finds, but finding ways to add little foraged tidbits into your weekly meals is such a winner. Think about throwing them into your smoothies, salads and jars of ferments. They so often contain nutrients we lack and it is one way to bring to life your connection to nature.

Only take what you need. Where there is masses, such as stinging nettles, go nuts as they wilt down to very small amounts of actual food.

Don’t forage from busy road sides or places that could be contaminated (heavily farmed areas or industrial sites)

Make absolutely certain you know what you are eating.

I was given Alys Fowler’s foraging book for a birthday many moons ago and I reference it whenever I get the chance to galavant amongst a British summer! We take it with us and check each edible by the pictures and descriptions in it. It is such an accessible way to learn about all the wild fruits, leaves and weeds that live in the urban cracks and rural hedgerows.  It’s called the Thrifty Forager and you can buy it through my affiliate peeps The Book Depository here.

Here are a couple of videos featuring the other wild and wonderful ways that we enjoyed the English summer. Would love to hear what season you are in at the moment and what adventures you are having!

writing

Be not afraid

25 August, 2017

Don’t be afraid, though your child only wants to eat white bread, pasta and grapes and the food pyramid is burned upon your mind and grapes are so expensive. Fear not because one day, in a month or a year or five, they’ll discover that vegetables are delicious and they’ll crave carrots and mushrooms. Take a breath and think of my flatmate Mel who didn’t eat any vegetables apart from peas until she was 19 and now she is a healthy mum who love stir fries and curries and even salads.

Don’t be afraid, though your children are fizzing shards of asteroid bouncing up the street on a pavement right next to a road where the trucks thunder by and your throat closes as you imagine… fear not, because you call them close and wise them up on staying on the inside of the pavement and you let the next rush of wind behind a bus blow away your pictures so you can focus on the fireworks your child is lighting into the sky with her excited words about her day.

Don’t be afraid, though your daughters are growing up in an image obsessed world, where teenagers photoshop their selfies for Instagram and write their name and address on the depression database.  Don’t fear it, because you call yourself a Goddess and they will see you and know it’s true and they will hold their bellies and called themselves a Goddess too.

Don’t be afraid, though there are facists marching under a president that won’t condemn them and there is more racist grafiti on the walls and vehicles driving into crowds in all your favourite cities. Rest in this; love is more powerful than hate. Humankind’s love is an ocean deep that can absorb the trickle of sewerage. Don’t be afraid; you are raising your children to look into the eyes and hearts of their neighbours, you are raising a generation of people bound by their humanity not cut off from each other, severed by difference.

Don’t be afraid, though it sometimes seems the whole world is doing things differently to you and someone told you you should be doing this and you need to have done that. Fear not, because you are listening to your heart, feeling deep and thinking hard and you know exactly what to do. Lean on your wisdom and shrug off convention and hear thousands of women through the ages whispering to you “we did it that way, too.”

And, finally, don’t be afraid of that, because that hasn’t happened yet and right now, in this moment, you are here and you are trying your best and just this morning you heard your children’s laughter ring out like a peal of bells and you understood that happiness flooded them from head to toe and your love for them is the sea and they are the boat.

Rest easy, mama. Don't be afraid

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