Seasons of Joy: January

Ribbet collageSeasons of Joy

In Our Home


The artist in me loves beauty.  The artist in me also thrives in mess.  It seems peculiar to me that the moment I get everything tidy and organised is the moment I can’t find anything.  Somehow I am more efficient when things are a bit haphazard and, to the untrained eye, messy.  With that in mind I want to really try to create a beauty in my home that doesn’t stifle or interfere with my need to be a little untidy.  A thrown together look which looks effortless because in all honesty it is-that’s my kind of home making!

One of my hobbies is trawling thrift shops for items we need or items I consider to be beautiful.  This week has been a week of good charity shop buys.  Often I go in and there is nothing, but I keep going because I know that one day, some day we will find treasure.  This week was one of those weeks.  For less than £20 I bought:

  • curtains for T13’s bedroom
  • Four science books
  • Two artist books on Brugal and Holbein
  • A full set of Shakespeare stories
  • A full set of Usbourne phonics books

Obviously it is hard to say what they would have retailed at for new but a conservative estimate would be over £150.  I’m slightly chuffed!

Last year we purchased a huge handmade patchwork quilt from the same shop for just £8, with a blue, red and white colour scheme and hand stitched stars over the surface (curtains left, cover right):

Ribbet collageseasons3

The curtains will go rather well don’t you think?

On My Bookshelf

Nourishing foods are so much more palatable to choose than diet foods.  I have been reading a very interesting ebook called The Nourished Metabolism by Elizabeth Walling and it has helped me to see that a mal- nourished body is often a body which craves for foods (not always good foods) to try to counteract the mal-nourishment.  Whilst I don’t necessarily agree with all her recommendations I have enjoyed the overall message of the book which is to nourish the body.  It was a timely message, given that nourish is my word for the year.

In My Sewing Box

I adore patchwork and have been working on and off (mainly off) for the past thirteen years on a hand-stitched patchwork to hang in our living room made from the older three’s out-grown clothes:

Ribbet collageseasons1

One of my goals for January is to actually finish it.  It is kind of thrown together and nothing like as beautiful as the patch-working my daughter did for my Christmas present but each patchwork letter is a reminder of times past.  I remember the children dressed in each of the cut up dresses and trousers and t-shirts.  It will be beautiful to Gary and I simply because of these memories which are so dear to us.  Here it is in its almost finished state:


In Our Garden

On the first day of this year we decided to get to work on our garden for our one year nature study.  January the 1st was all about getting rid of the rubbish, collecting kindling and chopping wood and restocking our wood stock as we went along.  There is little more fun than working in the garden together and I am always astounded by what we manage to achieve by working as a team:


I’m surprised by two things related to the gardening:

  1. I enjoy it so very much.  I’m no gardener and so far my jobs have entailed tidying the rubbish with more tidying the rubbish, but it is truly wonderful to be out doors even in the drizzle.  I have decided to save up for a pair of overalls to garden in.  Everyone else in the family owns a pair and I feel left out!
  2. And it is giving my body a fairly good work out.  We do our most work on a Thursday when Gary is home from work early and last Thursday I actually went to bed aching and it felt so good.  It occurred to me that the garden could be our cheap gym!

I am less surprised by two separate occasions where I might have made a bit of a fool of myself.  Yes, I know.  No change there then.  Except this time it resulted in a rather sheepish Claire who might need to become a little less gun-ho in her attempts to tend the earth.  The first occurred when I was asked by Gary to pull out all the weeds and grass in one of our beds.  Of course I don’t know a bind weed from a rose, but eager to impress I attacked those weeds as if my life depended on it.  The result was a bed which looked remarkably clear of any plants at all.  The alarm bells began when on pulling up what I thought was your everyday grass, an enormous root system followed.  Knowing that a few blades of grass couldn’t possibly require such an extensive root system I diffidently wandered up to Gary to request an audience.  He grinned and told me to replant it as it was a proper plant rather than just a bit of grass.  I felt a little foolish as you can imagine and tail between my legs I replanted as instructed.

However, this was nothing compared with how moronic I felt when I thought I had found an unusual and obviously highly educational toad stool:

The tiny bed I cleared along with the 'fungus'
The tiny bed I cleared along with the ‘fungus’

I had been clearing another bed and had cut down some bush looking plant exclaiming that a good cull would encourage new growth in the summer.  Not entirely sure that what I was saying was correct, I sent up a quick prayer that God would save the plant if I had just killed it.  And then I noticed it.  It was a round ball-shaped object which was black and spongy to touch growing right out of the middle of the bush.  I prodded it and in a (perceived) moment of absolute clarity, I exclaimed I had found a fabulous example of a mold and who wanted to come and have a look.  Really, my excitement was almost uncontrollable.  Alas, the words ball and sponge should have alerted me to the fact that the fungus was none other than a rotting sponge ball.  So not only do I not know the difference between a weed and a bona-fide wanted-in-the-flower-bed plant  but I also am unable to differentiate between a ball and a toadstool.  I was mildly mortified.  Gary at this point was all out giggling and wrapping me in his arms he told me how much he loved me.  He does the same when I am trying with all my might to hit a tiny golf ball with a tiny golf stick and failing miserably.  The hug is one of the ‘at-least-you’re-trying-and-that’s-all-that-matters’ hugs.  Next time we garden I’m watering.  I don’t care that the ground is saturated already.  Watering I can do.  At least I think can.

In My Kitchen

We compost everything.  Fruit and veg peelings, loo rolls, rabbit and hen hutch sawdust and straw, grass cuttings, tea bags and coffee grains, really anything which will decompose within a year gets transferred onto one of our compost heaps.  Each day we collect compostable bits and bobs in our trusty can and then each morning its contents are chucked onto our compost heap:


This week we uncovered last year’s compost which had been sitting for months untouched except being tucked in with Oscar’s old duvet.  Oh my goodness, it was really good stuff and there is loads of it:

Just look at how rich that is
Just look at how rich that is

This week has been a pleasant week full of joy.  I’ve beautified T’s bedroom with some useful and needed curtains bought for next to nothing; I’ve educated myself on nourishing foods; I’ve resurrected my long forgotten sewing project which I will finish by the end of January; I partook in a bit of ‘gardening’ (of sorts) and surprised myself by really enjoying it and I found out how a little bit of something unwanted faithfully thrown on the compost heap daily will produce the most nutrient rich soil I’ve ever seen.  Of course, I’ve not seen that many with which I could compare….


  1. Oh how I’m going to enjoy these Seasons of Joy posts, Claire! You have an exquisite talent for spreading joy to everyone around you – even across the inter-ether-waves. (I’m so technical.)

    I love the quilt made from outgrown clothes idea, and your bargains (amazing!) and your gardening stories really made me chuckle! Have a wonderful weekend.

  2. Love this post! Your patch work looks like it’s coming along beautifully. I love all the effortless homemade chic! 🙂 I’m not much of a gardener either, and I’m not sure I’ll ever grow into it either, although I do appreciate beautifully grown gardens — especially when someone else has done all the hard work! 😉 Thanks for spreading your joy. Have a good weekend!

    1. I think I will beget green fingers if I could only listen to my husband! I have decided gardening is my new hobby and I’m terribly enthusiastic. Gary has to rein me in somewhat!

  3. I love the thrift shops too (charity shops to you) – maybe we should arrange some cross-continent bargain hunting (swap lists?)! Those curtains are fantastic!

    I love your garden stories. I am very guilty of some major goofs on the garden front, so it’s nice to laugh along with someone else’s little foibles for a change!

    1. Oh, yes! I love the idea of a cross continental thrift shopping – although maybe the postage would cancel out how thrifty it was in the first place?!

  4. I almost woke the three-year-old sleeping beside me with laughter when I got to the part about the ball in the garden! LOL I would likely do the same thing if I got out into a garden. My children are blessed in that my Dad is a gardener in the years when he has time, so they know more about weeds, plants, etc. than I do 🙂

    1. I read it out to my family just after posting it and they thought it was very funny. They love anything where their mother is the butt of the joke!

  5. What a precious post! Your patchwork is just lovely and will be something to treasure always. I have to laugh at your garden stories. All I could think of was Margo plodding away and slipping in the mud. You truly live The Good Life!
    Blessings to you, my friend. Have a wonderful weekend.

    1. How funny! As soon as I read that I could instantly picture the scene in the Good Life. Yes, that would be me, although I’m not sure I would ever polish the goat’s horns!

  6. Oh my! I am sitting here in a hospital lobby (nothing to be concerned about) and thought I’d use this time to finally catch up on my favorite blogs – and now I find myself shaking as I try not to laugh out loud (one doesn’t want to seem too merry in a hospital) – ah Claire, thank you for sharing your excitement at the “fungus” sponge ball! (That quilt looks lovely – what a beautiful way to preserve memories!)

    1. I was mortified! I had been so vocal and built it up so much for the children and Gary comes along and unveils its blueish inside sponge!
      A gardener I am not, but one day I just might be…

  7. The ball in the garden…so funny! Wouldn’t be nearly as much so if it wasn’t just typical of life. We’ve all been there, I’m sure. But, I’ll admit, I’m secretly glad it was you, this time 🙂

    1. Don’t worry Leah, I have broad shoulders! My family enjoys nothing more than jesting with (and about) me. Never again though. I have learnt my lesson. Mold is not a florescent blue inside. I know that now. I will never make the same mistake again!

  8. Hello Claire! I am back in the world of blogging. I have followed your blog via e-mail and love that I can now comment again! Loving your Seasons of Joy posts! Love from Scotland… a very cold South African sending hugs!

    1. Hello!!!!! (Imagine me doing a very excited jig up and down!) How are you? I’m so pleased you are back! How’s Scotland? Yes, it probably is a bit cold given you are used to slightly hotter climates. Are you settling well? It must be wonderful to be with your husband every single day instead of just a few days a year. I do hope you are happy here! Happy new year to you!

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