Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Autumn Poem (or not Poem)

Autumn Colours

I was wanting to write a poem about Autumn. I thought about the colours of the leaves drifting slowly down. Persian orange, Bittersweet, Rosewood, Saddle brown. So many names, evoking. There seemed no more than this, a list of tones and hues. It said it all. But a poem is not a list, surely it is something more than Goldenrod, Honey and Papaya, Pearl copper and Fawn? Old gold seems stark alone on the page. And yet, as I read the lists of colours I had carefully gathered, I saw the leaves dancing across the lawn, swept up in a gust of wind, slowly floating down and up, drifting like so many light winged butterflies clustered. When all is said and done, what is a poem but a gathering of words.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Autumn Leaves and a Soup Recipe

At the risk of repeating myself, I love the colours of autumn! I like the crisp freshness in the air and the leaves swirling in the wind like butterflies caught in the air currents.

We collect a lot of those leaves every year. More leaves than I know what to do with. In the past we've made garlands to hang in front of our windows with torn up leaves, whole leaves, wool, felt and coloured paper. We've pressed leaves to stick in the children's nature journals and used them to garnish our seasonal table. Lots of leaves have been ground up into wooden tea pots and teacups to make fairy tisane and leaf cakes. Even more have been strewn across the floor in a way that infuriates me until I remember that I started this whole collecting thing.

This year I've been carefully pressing some of the loveliest leaves myself, Japanese Maple and Wisteria being two of my current favourites. My plan is to make our own inlaid recycled paper with them like this here. Maybe we'll make the sheets into notebooks and gift them for Christmas or maybe they'll just be for us. I don't know yet. This is going to be a big project.

In the meantime their our bouquets of leaves on our kitchen table and a whole bag full waiting for me to press. And the autumn colours have made it into the kitchen too with this amazing Tomato, Red Lentil and Lemon Soup adapted from the Convent Garden Soup Company's Book of Soups. Enjoy.

Lentil, Tomato and Lemon Soup

a good glug of extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
150g (about 2/3 of a cup) red lentils
570ml (about 2.5 cups) vegetable stock
1 x 400g tin of tomatoes
2 teaspoons of tomato purée
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf
salt and freshly ground black pepper
lemon juice to taste 

Gently fry the onions and garlic in the olive oil until they are softened but not browned, about ten minutes. Add the lentils and stir well. Add the stock and raise the heat to bring to the boil. Skim off any scum. Add the tinned tomatoes, tomato purée, rosemary and bay leaf. Bring back to the boil and then simmer covered for about 20 minutes. Taste, season, fish out the bay leaf and the stem from the rosemary (most of the leaves will have come off). Serve and let each person add their own lemon juice to taste.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Scribbling my way through November

Since starting NaNoWriMo I have to admit I've given up on a lot of other stuff like a tidy house or our monumental laundry pile or being sociable. Because every scrap of my time which doesn't revolve around my three lovely but pretty demanding kids is spent trying to keep on the curve. The curve is the graph I look at daily on my NaNoWriMo dashboard to see how on track I am for completing my 50 000 words by November 30th. Somedays I feel like the gull in the picture sweeping out to sea, my heart swells with the thrill of seeing the numbers. Other days I want to crawl in a hole and howl as it seems I'll never get there. 

Writing the words is not the problem and I suppose I should be really pleased about that. Finding the time to write the words is more complicated. Perhaps if I didn't take out a couple of hours to watch amazing Shakespeare adaptions I'd do better and if I'd said no to playing Carcassone with my sleepless 8 year old I would certainly of got more done today. But you know it's okay. I'm writing pretty much every day and I'm having a lot of fun and even though I know today I'm below the curve I can turn it around tomorrow and I'm pretty proud of my nearly 20 000 words done so far.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Autumn Reading

We have a lot of children's picture books, they're one of my passions along with beautiful yarn and material, papers of every description and Japanese pottery. 

I love the season's too and so it made sense for us to have a seasonal library. A selection of books that come out to accompany the season they're suited to. This is our selection of autumn books in English and French...

Fall Book Rotraut Susanne Berner

    • Autumn (Rotraut Susanne Berner) This book has no words, (well just a few on the back) and is part of a seasonal series by the author. They depict the same town in the four seasons. You can see the same people and the same places but the activities vary. In this book everyone is taking their pumpkins to be judged at the fair and leaves fly all over the place. The littlest ones love it and we've made up lots of our stories about what's going on in the pages, it's a great conversation starter and a great book for spotting things.

    Tout sur l'automne

    • Tout sur l'Automne (Charline Picard et Clementine Sourdais) has answers to a lot of the questions my kids have about this season like why do the leaves fall off the trees and what do all the animals do when it starts to get cold? There are some lovely botanical illustrations as well as a funny cartoon series.

    Autumn [Board book] by Gerda Muller

    • Autumn (Gerda Muller), nothing to say just love love love Gerda Muller.

    • La fête de l'Automne de la famille souris (Kazuo Iwamura). We love this series and the autumn book is divine, full of the colours of the fall and the usual emphasis on a family having fun together surrounded by nature. The children love the mouse family and I like to imagine they'll remember these books fondly when they'll be all grown up.

    What autumn books do you and your family enjoy together? 


    That's it, it's finally confirmed - I'm insane. As if settling into a new home and lifestyle, trying to find a new working and homeschooling rhythm and living with three children and a husband at home all the time wasn't enough, I've decided to write a novel in a month. Yay!

    From the moment I first heard about the National Novel Writing Month project several years ago, I've wanted to be part of it. And as my other half put it, if you don't do it this year when will you? We don't know if in one year's time he'll be back in full time work or still out cutting logs in the garden so... This is it, this year, this November, I will write 50 000 words. Yippee!


    Sunday, 2 November 2014


    I love autumn. The slowly changing colours on the trees and the sudden bite in the air. Finding ourselves indoors more and the way the children turn to their long abandoned knitting. And the apples, picking them, cooking them, eating them and this year crafting with them! Thanks to Jean over at the Artful Parent we spent a great afternoon printing with apples.

    We began with Jean's bunting project. I used some Kraft paper and old brown paper bags we had in the art cupboard and some scrap paper from the printer as I liked the idea of the apple print being over text, as well as some plain white paper. We used windfall apples from the tree in our garden which are unfortunately not very tasty but perfect for printing. 

    All three children joined in (8, 5 and 2) and really enjoyed themselves. I cut out the triangles and provided red ink and red water colour paint (from a tube) as that's what we had in the cupboard and then let them get stuck in. 

    When they'd printed on every single triangle I'd cut out (and there were a lot) Noah still wanted to do more. So we decided to have a go at apple printing on fabric. I grabbed some thick white upholstery cotton I happen to have a lot of (in a previous life it was the tablecloths at our wedding supper) and some red fabric paint and the fun continued. The sisters were back now we were moving on to fabric so I cut each child 2 oblong pieces of fabric, in the back of my mind were visions of apple totes.

    I've long been a fan of Jean's blog which is full of really fun craft activities for children and parents - I had an absolute blast with the apple printing too!