Seasons of Joy: Nourishing Rhythms

Ribbet collageSeasons of Joy

Nourishing Rhythms

Ever since I met Gary and we began a brand new life I have purposefully and intentionally created an environment in which we both can flourish.  Whilst Gary would probably do equally well in a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of environment, I really wouldn’t.  The routines and rhythms of life help me to feel grounded and secure.  I have never craved excitement, just stability.  A home where love lives and laughter is heard almost constantly.  A happy home.

One lovely tradition we began at the beginning of the year was to have my mum round to us each Saturday night.  I make a nourishing vegetarian lasagna and we all sit together in front of a roaring fire and watch an episode of the Darling Buds of May:


Mum brings each of us a favourite cookie or mini iced cake, which we have as a treat after a very healthy lasagna:

Everyone gets to choose their own tasty dessert
Everyone gets to choose their own tasty dessert (mine’s the strawberry cup cake)

I cook the lasagna from scratch and it has about 101 different vegetables in it.  Well, maybe not that many but there are lots.  I fry gently some chopped onion, garlic and chopped up celery.  I peel and cut into very small cubes lots of carrots.  When these are softening I add a finely chopped red pepper, yellow pepper, green pepper and courgette; quartered little mushrooms; a couple of tins of sweetcorn; a few tins of tomatoes and chopped herbs.

This is a picture taken before I add the tomatoes.  Isn’t it just so beautiful with so many colours:


Then I layer with lasagna sheets, white sauce and a sprinkling of mozzerella and cheddar cheese, along with some freshly chopped basil leaves.  It goes in a medium oven for an hour and is so tasty.  Mum says she looks forward to it all week, and it is her favourite meal of the week:

Ribbet collagelas

The Darling Buds of May is about a lovely carefree family who live on a farm.  They laugh and joke their way through life, supporting each other and their friends through good times and bad.  One of my twins said something which brought tears to my eyes, although she wasn’t aware of this.  She said that apart from the food (they eat a HUGE amount of food each day- even more than us!) their family reminded her of us.  My goal to create a happy family atmosphere was paid off in that moment.  Her throw-away comment caused me so much joy.  We shared a hug and off she went on her way, having no idea how deeply her words had affected me.

Nourishment, just for me

I feel selfish just writing that title!  However, my dried roses are really my joy.  Everyone else thinks they are pretty, but for me they are comforting and homely.  I know I mention them every week, but honestly that just reflects the affect they have on me.  So much beauty.  I buy roses every fortnight.  The day I swap them over I hang the old bunch upside down from my banisters:

Ribbet collagebliss2

This last lot I bought for less money because they were going out of date.  I loved the colour and the shape of the petals, so I went ahead and bought them.  Two weeks later they had dried themselves in their vase.  Slightly weird because I had kept them watered.  I was surprised by their shape as they dried:

Ribbet collagejoy1

They dried with their flowers open and bent over.  I think they look really pretty.  When I dry roses upside down they dry with their heads dead straight upwards, but these were bent and open and looked very different:

On the left are this weeks roses and on the right are roses from a couple of weeks ago
On the left are this week’s roses dried in the vase and on the right are roses dried up side down from a couple of weeks ago

I cut the stems shorter and popped them into the vase my lovely friend, Nik, designed and made for me by hand for my fortieth birthday:


Simple and pretty.  This week I’ll not be buying any roses.  This week I shall spend gazing at last week’s roses and marveling at their beauty.

The Nourishment of Being Yourself

dr seuss

I have discovered it’s nourishing to follow one’s gut.  I never thought I would see the word nourish and gut in the same sentence but there you go!  Last week, as a family, we decided not to carry on with unschooling.  I had really tried to embrace the whole trusting my children and letting them choose how to use their time.  It was funny though.  I have read about unschooling families for whom unschooling has brought closer relationships and a more peaceful home.  I can’t tell you how much family relationships and peace in the home mean to me.  Our home is generally peaceful.  We don’t allow bickering so, although it happens it doesn’t happen often.  Most of the time we have lots of fun together and enjoy each other immensely

In my head I had visions of happy children almost skipping through their day with such enthusiasm that I would feel peaceful and charmed by the whole experience.  And there were moments like that.  However, what I found is children who were a bit lost with the vastness of the opportunities and time which stretched ahead of them each day.  I was also antsy.  I have spent thirteen years being deeply involved in my children’s lives.  They have an enormous amount of freedom but it is always carefully measured against their maturity to cope with it.  In the past we have discussed everything and made decisions as a family.  This became lost.  I’m not sure why.

What I do know though, is that we were not being ‘us’.  When we are authentically just being, everything, and I really do mean everything, falls into place.  School, chores, hobbies, life become one seamless adventure.  Unschooling may have made us more authentically ‘us’.  It may have.  But it didn’t.

As my journey into nourishing myself and my family continues, I have learnt an important lesson.  It is good to try things out. And it is good to lay some things aside if they do not fit.

We have a wonderful life together.  It is happy, nourishing and worthwhile.  It is one big adventure; together, hand in hand, navigating the smooth sailing with the same enthusiasm as the rough.  It is us and it makes us smile.  Every day.

My family.  Happy, happy sigh!

I have really got to get more photos with me in it!


  1. I love your quote, Claire! Again, I enjoy watching your family navigate its way through life 😉

  2. Lovely post. I look forward to these each week, even though I’ve never left a comment before. I really enjoy your blog.

  3. Oh, what a sweet post, Claire. First, your roses are beautiful. It is nice you are doing something for yourself. The vase Nik made for you is beautiful. She is very talented and you are very blessed to have such a dear friend. Your lasagna looks so delicious. I had to look up courgette – zucchini over here. We have zucchini bread right now. Love it. I think I shall try your recipe soon. As for The Darling Buds of May. I am so glad you told us about it over a year ago. We immediately bought it and just loved watching it. We are going to start it soon with the kids, after Ballykissangel. We just bought a region-free DVD player, so we are finally going to be able to watch Goodnight, Sweetheart. Haven’t seen it in years. I think spending every Saturday evening with your mum is just the best! Wonderful memories for you and your children. I am sure she loves her time with you all. And she brings dessert…yummy.:)

    I love these Saturday posts. It is nice getting to know another side of Claire. I hope you have the most excellent of weekends enjoying time with your precious family.

    P.S. We looked at our local grocer for jerky from England! Couldn’t find any, imagine that!

    1. I’m glad you enjoy these posts. I’m never sure if they are a bit self indulgent and therefore boring to read! I really enjoy writing them. I’m determined not to crumble under empty nest syndrome! It’s kind of fun finding out about the Claire who has been happily buried under child rearing for the past 13 years!

  4. Being authentic to oneself is the best way of being. So glad you’ve been able to provide that loving environment for yourself and your family! 🙂

  5. My children have their routines and things they look forward to being the same every week with their Nana and Grandad. Your Saturday night tradition reminds me of that….I tend to like change and be restless, so I have to slow down and relax my itchy feet to make space for their traditions 🙂

  6. Happy Mother’s Day Claire!! I’m sure you are currently basking in the affection of your children. Have a wonderfully, nourishing day! (Your lasagna looks amazing and I’m craving it for breakfast)

  7. That lasagna looks absolutely delicious, Claire! We make ours too but I think I may have to give your recipe a try this week.

    I really appreciate your honesty about the unschooling. I love the idea of it but an all-unschooling approach would make…..well, at least the parents…. very miserable! Overall, for older children anyway, we much prefer project-based learning.

    1. Thank you Erin. I’m glad we gave it a try. It has definitely got it out of my system. It has been good to return to what we know and love and know works for us.

  8. That was so sweet of her. It’s statements like that which make parenting so happy.

    We do better with some amount of structure too, left to myself I obsess over random hobbies of the moment. I’m busy doing stuff, but it’s not necessarily what I should be doing. But, if I get a structure I actually achieve the things I need to do. (I was coming back to check for replies, and discovered I hadn’t commented. My kids have discovered a new website, so my computer is being mucked with a bit more than usual).

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