Slowing down for Solstice

   Today I am so grateful for family. There is something extremely magical about this deep winter time. All the plants and lots of animals going into their hibernation, while we humans busy about like crazy in this run up to Christmas. This year I have had my fair share of crazy busy, but as the Winter Solstice approached, and the longest night and the shortest day were upon us, I found myself slowing right down.
   I am a great believer in simple living, slow living, slowing down the insane pace of modern life and bringing the really important things into brighter focus, such as family, good nutrition, nature time, crafting and nurturing. All these things in my life I am so grateful for. I love making time for lots of Christmas crafting  and baking with my kids. Their excitement brings me a lot of joy! ( Sometimes I think I may even be a little bit more excited than they are!)
   I found a beautiful book with twelve tales from around the world about the winter Solstice (The return of the light, by Carolyn McVickar Edwards) . I have been reading my family a story a day in the run up to the Solstice, sitting round our little Christmas tree, by candle light and fairy light. It is little, simple things like this that make me so happy and feel so fortunate to be alive and surrounded by dear ones.
   My thoughts and prayers go out to all those alone or suffering in this, the darkest time of year. May this new year coming bring comfort and joy to all those in need, and love permeate the darkness. Blessings.

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Autumn abundance!

   Today, I am so grateful for sunny September weather and Autumn's bounty! As I sit here, I am surrounded by the wonderful abundance of the September harvest time! We are lucky enough to have an elder tree, an apple tree and a hazelnut tree all in and around our garden, not to mention blackberries within a five minute walk! So far we have made and eaten quite a few blackberry and apple pies, which are a firm family favourite! We also made a batch of elderberry syrup, winter's medicine, which kept us all going through winter last year. It is a magical remedy for colds and coughs, through the colder months. (There is a recipe for this on my craft and recipe blog, 'Arisha's Gratitude Lounge. )
   Last year, we had a go at wrapping our apple harvest in newspaper and crates, and we were still eating garden apples, (albeit a little soft!), for many months into the new year! I felt a bit like a character from Brambly Hedge! This year we have done the same and also stewed a load and jarred it up to eat over the winter. Feeling so blessed! I suppose it is a kind of urban homesteading!

   September is my absolute favourite month, especially when that is still summery and warm! The quality of light is almost golden and everything feels magical and exciting! In our home school activities, we are busy with autumnal themed crafts and stories, which are a fantastic way to gently bring the turning wheel of the seasons into focus for the little ones.
   I adore the summer, but there is something wonderful about pulling out the woolly jumpers and hats, and the wee nip in the air, with a drifting smell of wood smoke on the breeze, which make me feel glad to be alive!
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Walking in the rain

Today I am grateful for waterproof clothing and adventurous spirit! It does not have to be a sunny day to go out adventuring with your children, in fact, I think it is a good idea to get out in every weather to experience the different feelings of rain, wind, sun and everything in between on our skin! I feel that in this time of more and more screen based work, leisure and play, we must make time to get outside as much as possible! When we reconnect with nature, we feel calmer, happier and less stressed out. I have noticed over the years of raising my children, that if there is fighting, bickering or impatience with each other, almost always, a trip out into the nature, or even simply a walk into town is the solution for everyone to feel better!
   Being outdoors in nature and seeing green all about, has such a calming effect. It is also a great way to have time to talk and share with each other as a family. It always seems to be easier to talk about a difficult subject whilst walking. We have found as home educators, that we cover such an extensive range of topics while we are out walking, and somehow information really goes in, more than covering the same topics sitting at a desk.
   In short, being outdoors, particularly out in nature is a fantastic way to reconnect with each other and to nature herself, and everyone comes home feeling refreshed and ready for the next part of the day! Now, where did I put my wellies ......
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   Today I am thankful for all the dear ones in my life. I have been reflecting on life and death recently. My Mother in law passed away peacefully at home aged 73, two weeks ago, and her death has raised so much for me to process and think about. I have thought a lot about mortality and dear ones and how shocking it is to lose someone, even if their passing is kind of expected.
   I have come to remember just how important that is to value every second of life, and treasure the moments with family and friends, while we are all still here together. I feel so lucky to be a mother, a wife, a sister, a daughter, a niece, a grand-daughter, a sister-in-law, an auntie, a friend.
   The passing of Edith has strengthened my resolve to make as much time to be with all these precious people as much as I can be, and be the best and truest version of myself that I can be while I have breath and life. I give thanks for the blessings in my life, and one of the biggest blessings of all is family and friends, and the opportunity to create happy memories with them to cherish for as long as I am granted life!
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